Among the Ancients: Seneca

Emily Wilson and Thomas Jones

For the final episode in Among the Ancients, Emily and Tom look at Seneca, whose life is relatively well known to us. A child of the established Roman Empire, born around the same time as Jesus, Seneca had turbulent relationships with the emperors of his time: exiled by Caligula, he returned to tutor the young Nero, but was eventually forced to commit suicide after being accused of a treasonous plot. For a long time, Seneca the Philosopher was often assumed to be a different person from Seneca the Tragedian, as they seemed such different writers. As a philosopher, he is the main source of what we know about Roman Stoicism, which prioritises virtue and the dispelling of false beliefs. Seneca's dramas, however, are full of extreme emotions and violence. Emily and Tom focus on two of these tragedies, Thyestes and Trojan Women, and consider how the two sides of Seneca fit together.

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