Works

Works

Works attributed to Seneca include a dozen philosophical essays, one hundred and twenty-four letters dealing with moral issues, nine tragedies, and a satire, the attribution of which is disputed. His authorship of Hercules on Oeta has also been questioned.

Seneca’s tragedies

Fabulae crepidatae (tragedies with Greek subjects). This genre probably originated in adaptations of Greek tragedy beginning in the early third century B.C. Only nine have survived intact, all by Seneca (the nine below). Of the plays written by Lucius Livius Andronicus, Gnaeus Naevius, Quintus Ennius, Marcus Pacuvius, Lucius Accius, and others, only titles, small fragments, and occasionally brief summaries are left. Ovid’s Medea also did not survive.

Fabula praetexta (tragedy in Roman setting): a genre of Latin tragedy introduced at Rome by Gnaeus Naevius in the third century B.C. It dealt with historical Roman figures, in place of the conventional Greek myths. Subsequent writers of praetextae included Ennius, Pacuvius and Lucius Accius. The name refers to the toga praetexta, the official dress of Roman magistrates. All Roman Republican tragedies are now lost. From the Imperial era only one play has survived, the Octavia.

  • Octavia: certainly not written by Seneca; this play closely resembles Seneca’s plays in style, but was written a short time after Seneca’s death (perhaps between 70-80 A.D.), by someone with a keen knowledge of Seneca’s plays and philosophical works. First rejected by Lipsius.

Essays and letters

Dialogues

Traditionally given in the following order:

  • (64) De Providentia (On providence) – addressed to Lucilius
  • (55) De Constantia Sapientis (On the Firmness of the Wise Person) – addressed to Serenus
  • (41) De Ira (On anger) – A study on the consequences and the control of anger – addressed to his brother Novatus
  • (book 2 of the De Ira)
  • (book 3 of the De Ira)
  • (40) Ad Marciam, De consolatione (To Marcia, On Consolation) – Consoles her on the death of her son
  • (58) De Vita Beata (On the Happy Life) – addressed to Gallio
  • (62) De Otio (On Leisure) – addressed to Serenus
  • (63) De Tranquillitate Animi (On tranquillity of mind) – addressed to Serenus
  • (49) De Brevitate Vitæ (On the shortness of life) – Essay expounding that any length of life is sufficient if lived wisely. – addressed to Paulinus
  • (44) De Consolatione ad Polybium (To Polybius, On consolation) – Consoling him on the death of his brother.
  • (42) Ad Helviam matrem, De consolatione (To Helvia, On consolation) – Letter to his mother consoling her on his absence during exile.

Other essays

  • (56) De Clementia (On Clemency) – written to Nero on the need for clemency as a virtue in an emperor.
  • (63) De Beneficiis (On Benefits) [seven books]

Letters

  • (64) Epistulae morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters To Lucilius) – collection of 124 letters dealing with moral issues written to Lucilius Junior.

Other

Spurious

“Pseudo-Seneca”

“Pseudo-Seneca” the name used for the uncertain authors of various antique and medieval texts such as De remediis fortuitorum, which purport to be by the Roman author. At least some of these seem to preserve and adapt genuine Senecan content, for example Saint Martin of Braga’s (d. c. 580) Formula vitae honestae, or De differentiis quatuor virtutumvitae honestae (“Rules for an Honest Life”, or “On the Four Cardinal Virtues”). Early Mss. preserve Martin’s preface, where he makes it clear that this was his adaption, but in later copies this was omitted, and the work became thought fully Seneca’s work.