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Piso's conspiracy or not, is a matter which has been warmly discussed, but cannot be determined ; nor if we suppose that he was in the conspiracy, would that circumstance be an additional blot on the life of a man who had aided the tyrant in killing his mother. Seneca's fame rests on his numerous writings, which, with many faults, have also great merits.
The following are Seneca's works: —
1. De Ira, in three books, addressed to Novatus. Opinions vary as to the time when it was written. Lipsius concludes from book iii. c. 18, that it was written in the time of Caligula, in which case it would be the earliest of Seneca's works. But this conclusion is by no means certain ; and it is unlikely that he wrote so freely of Caligula while the " beast" was alive. The author has exhausted the subject. In the first book he combats what Aristotle says of Anger in his Ethic.
3. De Consolatione ad Polybmm Liber, which has also been already mentioned: it was written in the third year of Seneca's Corsican exile. It is sometimes placed after the treatise De Brevitate Vitae. Diderot and others maintain that it is not the composition of Seneca, because it is not worthy of him, and contains sentiments inconsistent with the Consolatio ad Helviam and ad Marciam. But this internal evidence is not supported by any external evidence ; and an unprejudiced criticism will vindicate the work as Seneca's, though it disgraces him. It contains (c. 26) a humiliating picture of the Roman world crouching before an enfranchised slave and a stupid master (Schlosser, Univ. Hist. UebersicJit, vol. iii. pt. 1. pp. 221, 410.)
4. Liber de Consolatione ad Marciam, written after his return from exile, was designed to console Marcia for the loss of her son. Marcia was the daughter of A. Cremutius Cordus. (Tacit. Ann. iv. 34 ; and the Consol. ad Marciam, c. 22.)
5. De Providentia Liber, or Quare bonis viris mala accidant cum sit Providentia, is addressed to the younger Lucilius, procurator of Sicily. The question that is here discussed often engaged the ancient philosophers: the, stoical solution of the difficulty is that suicide is the remedy when misfortune has become intolerable. Lipsius calls this a Golden Book. In this discourse Seneca says that he intends to prove " that Providence hath a power over all things, and that God is always present with us." (c. 1.)
6. De Animi Tranquillitate, addressed to Sere-nus, probably written soon after Seneca's return from exile. It is in the form of a letter rather than a treatise: the object is to discover the means by which tranquillity of mind can be obtained. This work may be compared with the treatise of Plutarch TTtpl ev6vjj.ias. This treatise was written soon after Seneca's return from exile (c. 1), when he was elevated to the praetorship, and had become Nero's tutor. He speaks as one who felt himself ill at ease in the splendour of the palace after living a solitary and frugal life.
*'* betokeneth a great mind, as great a wit, and much eloquence ; in one word, it is one of his best."
8. De Clementia ad Neronem Caesarem Libri duo, which has been already mentioned. There is too much of the flatterer in this ; but the advice is good. The second book is incomplete. It is in the first chapter of this second book that the anecdote is told of Nero's unwillingness to sign a sentence of execution, and his exclamation, " I would I could neither read nor write." The work was written at the beginning of Nero's reign.
9. De Brevitate Vitae ad Paulinum Liber, recommends the proper employment of time and the getting of wisdom as the chief purpose of life. Life is not really short, but we make it so.
10. De Vita Beata ad Gallionem, addressed to his brother, L. Junius Gallic, is probably one of the later works of Seneca, in which he maintains the stoical doctrine that there is no happiness without virtue ; but he does not deny that other things, as health and riches, have their value. " No man hath condemned wisdom to perpetual poverty." The conclusion of the treatise is lost.
11. De Olio aut Secessu Sapientis, is sometimes joined to No. 10.
12. De Beneficiis Libri septem, addressed to Aebucius Liberalis, is an excellent discussion of the way of conferring a favour, and of the duties of the giver and of the receiver. The handling is not very methodical, but it is very complete. It is a treatise which all persons might read with profit. The seventh chapter of the fourth book contains the striking passage on Nature and God: — "What else is Nature but God, and a divine being and reason which by his searching assistance resideth in the world and all the parts thereof? " &c.
13. Epistolae ad Lucilium, one hundred and twenty-four in number, are not the correspondence of daily life, like that of Cicero, but a collection of moral maxims and remarks without any systematic order. They contain much good matter, and have been favourite reading with many distinguished men. Montaigne was a great admirer of them, and thought them the best of Seneca's writings (Essay of Books). It is possible that these letters, and indeed many of Seneca's moral treatises, were written iu the latter part of his life, and probably after lie had lost the favour of Nero. That Seneca sought consolation and tranquillity of mind in literary occupation, is manifest. The thoughts which engaged him and the maxims which he inculcated on others were consolatory to himself at least, while he was busied with putting them into form ; and that is as much as most philosophers get from their speculations in the way of comfort. Seneca was old when he wrote these epistles. (Ep. 12.)
14. Apocolocyntosis, is a- satire against the emperor Claudius. The word is a play on the term Apotheosis or deification, and is equivalent in meaning to Pumpkinification, or the reception of Claudius among the pumpkins. The subject was well enough, but the treatment has no great merit; and Seneca probably had no other object than to gratify his spite against the emperor. If such a work was published in the lifetime of Seneca, he must have well known that it would not displease either Agrippina or Nero ; and it leads to the probable inference, that the poisoning of Claudius was not a matter which he would complain of. In fact, the manner of the death of Claudius was a subject