The Death of Seneca

Seneca’s Moral Letters

Latin 343
Spring 2023
MWF 9:20am–10:30am

Stoicism is having a resurgence. The Washington Post, the Atlantic, and other major media outlets have noticed the trend. In particular, the ethical doctrines of Stoicism are being increasingly embraced for their relevance to our modern anxieties. Perhaps if we remember our deaths we can lead richer lives? Should reason always rule emotion? If events of the universe are out of our hands, how can we have meaningful livestoday?

In this course we will examine the philosophical writings of Seneca the Younger. Seneca is one of our best representatives of later Stoic philosophy. His letters and dialogues address many perennially important moral topics, including the role of the emotions, our attitude towards death and loss, our duties to others, and the place of fate and responsibility. We will be closely reading 16 of his Ad Lucilium Epistulae Moralesin Latin. These, though in the form of letters to a friend, are in fact philosophical essays.

In addition, we will be reading a recent scholarly (but highly readable) biography of Seneca, along with a substantial selection of his other works. And in order to properly situate his thought, we will be reading some supporting literature in the stoic tradition that preceded him.The class is tagged PI. Get your philosophy requirement while also enjoying reading in Latin.