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Thinking about reading Seneca. Where to start?

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Thinking about reading Seneca. Where to start?

Postby whsiv » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:31 pm

Salvete omnes,

As the subject indicates, I have been thinking about dipping into Seneca lately. I understand that he has written in a wide range of genres (I'd like to stay away from his tragedies for the moment). I also understand that he tends toward a more paratactic style. Are there any of his prose works that are typically recommended as starting-off points for Seneca? Some, maybe, that offer a smooth (easy?) introduction to his style and thought?

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Valete!
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Re: Thinking about reading Seneca. Where to start?

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:14 pm

You might start with the Epistulae Morales. They have the virtue of being relatively short, so you will have the gratification of completing each one sooner than you would a longer work. There's a commentary with translation on some of them in the Aris & Phillips series:

http://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Letters-Classical-Texts-Latin/dp/0856683558/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406650375&sr=1-2&keywords=seneca+aris+and+phillips

There is also a commentary in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series on two longer essays, de Otio and de Brevitate Vitae, which might be helpful.

http://www.amazon.com/Seneca-brevitate-vitae-Cambridge-Classics/dp/0521588065/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1406650180&sr=8-17&keywords=seneca+cambridge+greek+and+latin+classics
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Re: Thinking about reading Seneca. Where to start?

Postby whsiv » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:47 pm

Thank you, Qimmik, for the response.

I had known about the Green-and-Yellow de Otio and de Brevitate Vitae, but that edition of the letters is new to me. I'll see if the local university library has a copy of it. If not, I am positive they have the OCT, so maybe I'll just slog through that myself without the aid of a commentary.
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Re: Thinking about reading Seneca. Where to start?

Postby thesaurus » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:41 pm

A few years ago I started Seneca by just reading a bunch of his Epistulae Morales, more or less at random. As Qimmik points out, they are short and snappy (a difference of Silver/Golden age Latin) and low commitment.

De Brevitate Vitae which is also pretty accessible. I don't recall having any particular problems with Seneca, other than a handful of words I hadn't seen before that aren't common in Caesar/Cicero etc. Seneca tends to be down to earth in his language, so you may get references to everyday things in Roman life that you hadn't seen elsewhere.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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