Seneca and Epicurus: the allure of the other

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A complex relationship with Epicurus and his philosophy spans much of Seneca’s oeuvre, with admiration, critique, imitation, and competition vying for primacy in different works and at different times. These approaches are based on direct knowledge of the complete or partial text of some Epicurean letters (at least five) and of a collection of maxims probably arranged by topic (gnomologium). Direct knowledge of other Epicurean texts cannot be ruled out. References to Epicurean doctrines and citations of Epicurus’ works can be found throughout Seneca’s philosophical corpus from the Dialogi to the Epistles, where they become particularly frequent, but Epicurean concepts are voiced in the tragedies as well. Lucretius, both as the foremost Roman interpreter of the Greek philosopher and as a master of Latin poetry, plays a distinctive role in Seneca’s negotiations of Epicureanism and Stoicism, his influence being particularly strong in the Epistles to Lucilius and Natural Questions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge companion to Seneca
EditorsShadi Bartsch, Alessandro Schiesaro
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781139542746
ISBN (Print)9781107694217 , 9781107035058
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Seneca
  • Epicurus


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