A Roman philosopher.
Correspondence between Seneca and Paul.
The Pumpkinification of Claudius.
Many others (links below).
between Seneca and Paul (Latin and English).
Latin texts available at the Latin Library.
English translations available at Stoics.
The Pumpkinification of Claudius from
Project Gutenberg (English only).
Epistles of Paul.
Letters of Paul and Seneca (Homer D. Klong).
Quotes from Seneca (BrainyQuote).
Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher who flourished in Rome late in the
middle of century I. The correspondence
between Seneca and the apostle Paul is spurious,
but was of great interest to many in medieval times.
Jerome, On Famous Men 12:
Lucius Annaeus Seneca Cordubensis, Sotionis Stoici
discipulus et patruus Lucani poetae, continentissimae vitae fuit, quem non
ponerem in catalogo sanctorum nisi me illae epistolae provocarent, quae leguntur
a plurimis, Pauli ad Senecam et Senecae ad Paulum. in quibus, cum esset Neronis
magister et illius temporis potentissimus, optare se dicit eius esse loci apud
suos cuius sit Paulus apud Christianos. hic ante biennium quam Petrus et Paulus
coronarentur martyrio, a Nerone interfectus est.
Lucius Annus Seneca of Cordova, disciple of the Stoic
Sotion and uncle of Lucan the Poet, was a man of most continent life, whom I
should not place in the category of saints were it not that those epistles of
Paul to Seneca and Seneca to Paul, which are read by many, provoke me. In these,
written when he was tutor of Nero and the most powerful man of that time, he says
that he would like to hold such a place among his countrymen as Paul held among
Christians. He was put to death by Nero two years before Peter and Paul were
crowned with martyrdom.
Livio C. Stecchini and Jan Sammer have suggested that
Seneca provides a testimonium to Jesus
of Nazareth in his book On Anger (the
footnote is theirs):
That Seneca had received some information about the founder
of Christianity may be inferred from the allusion in one of his works to an
unnamed individual who had aspired to royalty, but instead was condemned
to suffer a cruel death upon the cross.*
* In his De Ira (I.2) Seneca lists six great men of
the past who aspired to royalty but came to an evil end, the last being
condemned to have his limbs split asunder upon a cross. The context indicates
that this unnamed individual was of foreign nationality, and that his death
occurred later than that of Pompey--hence within living memory. See Léon
Herrmann, Chrestos (Brussels, 1970), p[ages] 41-43.
But this interpretation does not seem at all certain. Seneca writes
in On Anger 1.2.2:
Aspice nobilissimarum civitatum fundamenta vix
notabilia; has ira deiecit. aspice solitudines per multa milia sine habitatore
desertas; has ira exhausit. aspice tot memoriae proditos duces mali exempla
fati; alium ira in cubili suo confodit, alium intra sacra mensae iura percussit,
alium intra leges celebrisque spectaculum fori lancinavit, alium filii
parricidio dare sanguinem iussit, alium servili manu regalem aperire iugulum,
alium in cruce membra diffindere.
Behold the foundations of the noblest cities which can
scarcely be noted; anger cast them down. Behold deserted solitudes [going on]
for many miles without inhabitant; anger wasted them. Behold so many leaders
who have been handed down to memory as examples of an evil fate; anger stabbed
one in his bed, struck another amidst the sacred laws of the table, tore another
to pieces amongst the laws and as a spectacle for the crowded forum, forced
another to give his blood by the parricidal act of his son, another to have his
royal throat opened by the hand of a slave, another to have his limbs stretched
upon the cross.
I asked for candidates for these six victims of anger on the FRDB
(formerly the IIDB), and Jeffrey Gibson further submitted my inquiry to
Classics-L, and the following are the suggestions for
- Stabbed in bed: Candaules by Gyges.
- Struck down at a banquet: Cleitus the black by Alexander of Macedon.
- Killed in the forum: Lucius Appuleius Saturninus by a mob.
- Parricide: The only suggestion was Oedipus as a sort of archetypal figure,
but the one making the suggestion acknowledged that it seemed less apt than
the suggestions for the rest of the list.
- Throat slit by a slave: Ptolemy of Mauretania on orders from Caligula.
- Crucified: Gavius by Verres, or Hannibal (a Carthaginian general, but
not the famous Hannibal Barca) by his own men.
With at least two solid candidates for the victim of crucifixion, there is
no call for assuming that the victim has to be Jesus.