Last updated: March 20, 2002

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Classics at BGSU
Romance Languages
Bowling Green State University

a detail of the "Death of Seneca" by Rubens
from Carole Gerten-Jackson's virtual art museum, CGFA


By which I mean Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger (1 B.C.-A.D. 65), the voluminous Roman writer of philosophy and tragic poetry, sometime tutor and prime minister (and ultimately victim) of the Emperor Nero.

Eventually I hope to put a fair amount of Seneca on-line. At the moment, the primary offering is Seneca's most gruesome tragedy, the Thyestes, at the URL below.
It is a sensitive story of fraternal hate and intrafamilial cannibalism-- a great favorite in the ancient world, apparently; many poets (Greek and Roman) wrote versions of it, although Seneca's is the only one which survives intact.

The electronic text was proofread to match the Latin printed in the Loeb, accompanying a translation into dense, splendid Loebsprache by Frank Justus Miller. (Loebsprache: "language one would only see on the English side of a Loeb edition." It's an old joke that old classicists make about old Loebs. The newer or redone Loebs tend to be much more readable, but the Miller translation is one of the first generation of Loebs, from pre-WWI.) The Latin text is originally from an even earlier Teubner edition, and so must be considered public domain. Only in one or two places did I find it impossible to suspend my judgement, and altered the text from Miller's skeletal (even ghostly) apparatus criticus. It is perfectly possible that my fingers made other erroneous changes on their own: I welcome corrections under either heading. (Thanks are due here to Dr. Michael Hendry, who provided some technical help and much encouragement; anyone interested in Latin literature should have a look at his website, Curculio.)

Serious study of the play should begin with obtaining the judicious, concise edition with commentary by R.J. Tarrant, Seneca's Thyestes (American Philological Association, 1985).

Because I have them handy, I also put up page-images of Seneca's De Paupertate (in the Teubner edition of F. Haase). This is actually a set of excerpts from Seneca's Epistulae ad Lucilium that were collected and circulated as a separate work, and it is already up on the web (at the Latin Library)-- as the letters in their original contexts. The scans, though far from beautiful, do provide a readable text, and I thought it possible that these might be useful to someone somewhere (since the work has apparently not been printed since 1902, and Haase's original edition was published in 1852, and even then Haase didn't really edit it, but printed it intact from earlier editions. ("Adieci deinde Excerpta de paupertate ex superioribus edd. expressa; neque enim eorum ullum cod. ms. habui," Haase, p.VIII.) De Paupertate can be found at the URL below. (All four scans are on one webpage, but as the images are not of especially high quality, they should load within a minute or two.)

On-Line Libraries with Senecan Texts

Those for whom Thyestes and De Paupertate are not enough should probably seek more (or seek help) immediately.

The Latin Library has a goodly amount of Seneca on-line, including the Letters (from which De Paupertate is drawn), the prose essays often called the Dialogi, four of the eight tragedies generally considered to be by Seneca (and one tragedy that may or may not be, the Hercules Oetaeus), and the satire on the death and apotheosis of Claudius, Apocolocyntosis.
David Camden's Forum Romanum, on his Latin Literature page, has links to the Latin Library texts, and also has on-site the Controversiae of Seneca the Elder.
Project Gutenberg is slated to release in 2003 a public domain translation of one of Seneca's longer prose works, the De Beneficiis ("On Benefits"). You may or may not be able to download it from the URL below.
Go to Thyestes
Go to De Paupertate
Go to Riddles Page
Return to JMP home page
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