Lucius Annaeus Seneca, also renowned as Seneca or Seneca the Younger was a Roman Stoic philosopher, a dramatist, an orator and a statesman. He was born in c. 4 BC in Corduba (now Córdoba), Spain, but was raised in Rome. As part of his education, he learnt usual subjects like literature, grammar and rhetoric, similar to other high-born Romans. At a young age, he gained some philosophical teaching from Attalus the Stoic. Also, by Sotion and Papirius Fabianus at the school of the Sextii, which combined stoicism with an ascetic Neo-Pythagoreanism.
In AD 41, Seneca was banished to the island of Corica by emperor Claudius. But was permitted to return in AD 49, where he became the tutor of Nero, son of Claudius and Agrippina. Seneca became his advisor in AD 54 when Nero became the emperor. But with time, his influence on Nero declined and a time came in AD 65 when he was alleged to be in conspiracy to assassinate Nero, due to which he was forced to take his own life.
Works of Seneca
Seneca, as a writer, is known for his philosophical works, his plays with tragedies, and other writings. He has a keen interest in ethics and mostly followed Hellenistic philosophy, which is a period of both Western as well as Ancient Greek philosophy. His works have always been an inspiration for later generations. During the Renaissance period, he was a sage-admiration as an oracle of morals, a master of literary style and a model of dramatic art.
He had written many philosophical essays and one hundred and twenty-four letters on moral issues as well as satire. All his works contain one important body of primary material for ancient Stoicism. His notable works are Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, Discourses of Epictetus, The Meditations, and many more. As a main philosophical discern of the Roman Imperial Period, Seneca’s lasting contribution to philosophy has been to the school of Stoicism. His writing is incredibly available and became the difficulty of interest from the Renaissance onwards through writers including Michel de Montaigne. He has been defined as “a towering and controversial figure of antiquity” and “the world’s most interesting Stoic”.
“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” -Seneca
Let’s Imagine Seneca as an Architect!
We all have known Seneca as a great philosopher and an outstanding orator. But what if he was an architect? Can you imagine what his design philosophy would be? Let’s find out together the possibility of the style of architecture he would likely use in his works.
“If thou art a man, admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail.” –Seneca
Seneca mostly worked on Hellenistic philosophy and was taught about it. This can be said that his architectural works could have depicted some features from this style of architecture. The Hellenistic architecture was characterised by way of means of its eclecticism and more freedom of shape than architecture in Ancient Greece, in part due, among others, to the usage of the first natural cement concrete, and the construction of large-scale projects and towns conceived from scratches, together with Pergamon or Alexandria. This urban planning turned pretty modern for the Greek world. This style of architecture was influenced by the Gothic style of Architecture. Seneca would also have designed some monuments as we find from the Hellenistic period.
Seneca was brought up in Rome by his aunt and spent his life there itself. Roman architecture was started in 44 BC, so it was the starting period. It is a possibility that the architectural works of Seneca would have some touch of the fresh Roman style of architecture. At his time, he must have used ‘true arches’ in his works as it was the beginning of Roman Architecture.
As Seneca was an artist who worked with literature, his creativity can never be doubted. He was a smart and hard-working person. As an architect, he must have done some innovations with the designing and also the materials used by using innovative techniques.
Seneca was once exiled to an island where he must have used locally available materials for making a shelter for himself. He must have had great experience of utilizing the local materials to their best. At his time, pozzolana was a commonly used material which indicates that he could even use it as an architect.
“If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.” -Seneca
Imagining Seneca as an architect is a new experience for us. He was a well-known philosopher. But would it be the same if he was an architect? Finding out the answer to this is difficult as a lot of time has passed after him and he is only alive in the texts. But one thing is sure that his knowledge and perception of everything was clear. His works were always influential and it also inspired many famous writers. Seneca as an architect would have been very creative, and creativity is very important for an architect.
- Reynolds, L. D.; Griffin, M. T.; Fantham, E. (2012), “Annaeus Seneca (2), Lucius”, in Hornblower, S.; Spawforth, A.; Eidinow, E. (eds.), The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199545568
- Brockett, O. (2003), History of the Theatre: Ninth Ed. Allyn and Bacon. p. 50
- Dando-Collins, Stephen (2008). Blood of the Caesars: How the Murder of Germanicus Led to the Fall of Rome. John Wiley & Sons. p. 47.
- Fitch, John (2008). Seneca. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 32.
- Bunson, Matthew (1991). A Dictionary of the Roman Empire. Oxford University Press. p. 382.