The engagement with Epicurus in the Epistulae morales is a multifaceted literary device essential to the fabric of that epistolary Bildungsroman. It characterizes a Letter Writer “Seneca” and contributes to the dramatic structure of the Epistulae morales as an introduction not just to Stoicism, but to philosophy itself. The Letter Writer develops into a serious philosopher and progresses from naïve endorsement to a more sophisticated account of Stoic thought. He draws increasingly sharper distinctions between his own views and Epicurean tenets. (...) There are two layers of reception: While the Letter Writer might be blissfully unaware of a theoretical problem, the author L. Annaeus understood Epicurus well enough to know exactly what he was doing when he cunningly manipulated Epicurean tenets and expressions in order to unfold an intellectual drama. (shrink)
Drawing on a range of sources such as Roman oratory, love elegy, Carmina Priapea and Petronius, the paper claims that the Priapic model of Roman Sexuality entails a particularly vulnerable form of male sexuality which can best be observed in descriptions of young men in the transitional period to manhood, such as, e.g., Achilles in Statius' Achilleis.
Considers the paradox of demonstrative retreat from public life, as illustrated by scenes like Sen. Ep. 78.20f. and Epict. 3.22.23 with ailing philosophers almost scurrilously eager to display their heroism. Why would a philosopher want to withdraw and, at the same time, make a show of his withdrawal? How can this kind of exemplarity fulfill its therapeutic function? And how is this kind of communication, with one’s back turned to the audience, as it were, supposed to work? Tacitus’ narrative of (...) Thrasea Paetus’ end in the Annales (16.22ff.) is analyzed as illustrating this form of communication and compared with a similar communication strategy of Seneca’s Epistulae morales as a document of exemplary withdrawal. Concentric circles of audiences and interactors are layered around the role model, and he reader is pulled into the center of the circle, into direct contact with the exemplum. The way in which this happens determines the reader’s role in the story and thus the import the role model. (shrink)
Patientia, the virtue of enduring physiological pain, poses a problem for Roman elite masculinities. The male body is supposed to be unpenetrated, but when pain is inflicted the body is often cut and pierced. This paper looks at literary and philosophical representations of the moral exemplar Mucius Scaevola to see how Roman writers and philosophers deal with this dilemma.
Reconstructs the original Greek version of the confatalia-argument that Cicero attributes to Chrysippus in De fato and misrepresent in crucial ways. Compares this argument with Seneca's discussion of determinism in the Naturales quaestiones. Clarifies that Seneca makes a different distinction from that attested in Cicero's De fato. Argues that problems with interpreting both accounts derive from disregarding terminological distinctions harder to spot in the Latin versions and, related to this, insufficient attention to the ontological distinction between bodies (such as Fate) (...) and predicates (e.g. "what is fated"), which unfortunately does not square well with the modern ontological category "event." Contains some corrections to the author's earlier discussion of the topic in Seneca und die Stoa: Der Platz des Menschen in der Welt, De Gruyter 2006, ch. 3.3.4. (shrink)
Epictetus' thought is defined by an antithesis of mine and not-mine, which is an antithesis of externals and self. From this arise a number of questions for Epictetus‘ theology, which are addressed in this paper: How is the self delimited from God, given that God is all-pervading? Is God inside or outside the self? In which way is God the cause, creator and shaper of the self? And how does human agency and self-shaping through prohairesis spell out within this determinst (...) framework? If, as will become apparent in the discussion of the previous questions, the shape and activities of human selves originate from God and should be perfectly aligned with God, in which sense is there still a separate, individual human self? (shrink)
Reads the frame of Plato’s Symposium and analyses this dialogue’s humor and literary form with a view to the philosophical import of such means of expression. Argues that the frame introduces the Symposium as an over-the-top parody of Platonic dialogue. Multiple layers of reporting and the leitmotif of mirror-imitation points the reader to the futility of such forms of reception.
Argues that Tacitus’ shaped his account of Seneca and the characterization of Nero within his social environment according to features characteristic of Seneca’s conception of friendship. Surprisingly, Tacitus assigns to Nero an active power: The emperor drives a ubiquitous inversion of the social values promoted by his mentor. Patterns of Seneca’s social thought are adduced to characterize not only the portrayed emperor but also the political institution itself.
Discusses conceptions of freedom displayed in Tacitus' Agricola. Tacitus seems to have had a clear-cut conceptual grid in which the German defectors, the Usipi, mirror the futile demonstrations of freedom by senators seeking a "ambitious death." The British provincials, including Calgacus and his followers, correspond to the ordinary Roman people and their leadership. It is in the army that a form of non-debasing hierarchy for the common benefit can be conceived, as long as the army and their leader is in (...) the field. Problems arise when the military meets the civilian sphere. (shrink)
This paper is a first publication on my ongoing research on the sources of the extant doxographies on Stoic ethics. It argues that there are identifiable traces of a copy-and-paste strategy in the “Outline of Stoic Ethics” generally attributed to Arius Didymus and transmitted in Johannes Stobaeus’ Anthology. The author of the Outline took extant doxographic texts and supplemented it by inserting additional material. The editing process also resulted in transpositions, omissions, and rewriting to connect the original material with the (...) accretions to it. This kind of source criticism is important because sometimes there is still an identifiable train of thought that can be restored, and the relation of parallel accounts, their sources, and the choices of individual source authors can be spelled out more precisely. (shrink)
Fun for those who know a bit of Latin and still remember the 2000s. A modern version of Cicero's Somnium Scipionis, in which Seneca appears to the author and tells us what he thinks about our times and ways.
Perspectives on old age are characterized by an antinomy of veneration and contempt. This paper explores how this antinomy is spelled in philosophical discourses and how it intersects with the antithesis of fool and sage. According to a Platonist or Antiochean account of ontogenesis, an individual’s development is conceived as an approximate instantiation of an ideal form of “man,” which tends to divide old people into successes and failures. In contrast to this, the Stoic theory of oikeiōsis envisages a continuous (...) process of self-constitution and self-integration that allows for continuous progress and a fundamental reorientation at any age. The elderly and ailing Stoic thus exemplifies not resignation but hope, that it is never too late to turn one’s life into a success story. (shrink)
Argues that the demarcation between humans and animals in Stoicism is made in functional terms, by their different capacities, but also quantitative terms, as smaller or larger shares of pneuma and thus the active principle Gods. Discusses how they Stoics may have related these two categories and makes a case for the possibility to formulate a non-exploitative animal ethic in Stoic terms.
This dissertation in classics might be of interest for gender studies as well since it is a sustained demonstration how one social and literary sterotype (the elegiac lover -- der elegisch Liebende) is systematically transformed into another (the artist of love -- der Liebeskünstler) as part of generic transformation (turning Latin love elegy into didactic poetry). The counterpart of these stereotypes is the "harsh lady" (dura domina), who is domesticated in the third book of the Ars amatoria. The copyright for (...) the book belongs to the author, who has uploaded it to the site. Please feel free to use it for non-profit purposes. (shrink)
Close reading of the argumentative and logical structure of Diatribe 1.4 and the means of protreptic persuasion used in it. The paper argues that Arrian represents Epictetus as using deliberately bad arguments to showcase and exemplify the audience's muddled thinking.
Discusses Stoic ethics and cosmology in Lucan. Argues that Lucan's Cato embodies a perverted, distorted form of Stoicism that corresponds to the inversion of Stoic cosmology and theology generally. All those forms of inversion serve to create alienation and a dystopian world view.
The review contains detailed comments on the English translation of Hierocles' treatise with discussion of the philosophical import (terminology, meaning, structure of the argument, etc.) of choices made.
Seneca's 90th Epistula moralis is one of the very few Stoic accounts of the origin of political bodies. Seneca references Posidonius and probably draws on earlier Stoic material too. The review summarizes and discusses Zago's important contribution to the question of sources for this letter.
Addressing classicists, philosophers, students, and general readers alike, this volume emphasizes the unity of Seneca's work and his originality as a translator of Stoic ideas in the literary forms of imperial Rome. It features a vitalizing diversity of contributors from different generations, disciplines, and research cultures. Several prominent Seneca scholars publishing in other languages are for the first time made accessible to anglophone readers. (See also the attached file with ToC and Introduction).
According to an ancient stereotype, prominent in Cicero’s writings, Stoics hated rhetoric and were really bad it. But Horaces’ Satires are populated with lecturing Stoics using colorful, effusive language to cure their audience. The paper asks how “rhetorical” Stoics really were and argues that there was a continued tradition of Stoic rhetoric linking the diatribic speech of the Imperial period to its Hellenistic practitioners. It surveys the evidence for Stoic orators and rhetorical writers in the Hellenistic period and presents evidence (...) that Greek Stoics were more eloquent than their stereotype. The paper also suggests reasons for the wood-cut and sometimes fictitious representation of Stoic rhetoric in ancient accounts, in particular a propensity for classification in rhetorical theory, Cicero's dissatisfaction with Stoic terminology, and Cicero's own agenda in self-fashioning his image as an orator and writer of philosophy. (shrink)
Argues that Seneca distinguishes two modes of philosophical learning understood as concept formation: fortifying accretion and critical weeding. Progress is achieved by alternating between the two modes. A reading of Epistula moralis 102 illustrates the two types of philosophical discourse Seneca employs for each of the two modes: dialectical argumentation and high-minded “big talk,” very often in a style alluding to and evocative of Plato.