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Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero Hardcover – March 11, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 108 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Was Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger an exemplar of Stoic virtue who, pulled into politics in the service of Emperor Nero, did his best to modulate the young despot’s cruelty? Or was he a shrewd manipulator whose ethical treatises were just a cynical attempt to restore a reputation sullied by his complicity in Nero’s cruel and decadent court? Tacitus, who wrote a lot about Seneca, seems to have had trouble making up his mind. Romm suggests that we might bring together these conflicting portraits by understanding Seneca as a serious thinker who suffered from passivity and obsequiousness, and had the misfortune to live at a time when intellectual activity had become particularly dangerous. Seneca’s elegant humanistic vision (which would influence, among other things, Roman Catholic church doctrine), therefore, was not fraudulent, but aspirational, and somewhat tragic: ideals articulated by a flawed man who was all too aware of his inability to live up to them. Vividly describing the intensity of political life in the Nero years, and paying particular attention to the Roman fascination with suicide, Romm’s narrative is gripping, erudite, and occasionally quite grim. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

Praise for James Romm’s
 
DYING EVERY DAY
 
 
“Romm adeptly expounds the puzzle of Seneca’s life.”
 
                                                            -The New Yorker
 
“James Romm stitches this tapestry of evil together with a practiced hand.”
 
                                                            -Michael D. Langan, Buffalo News
 
“A splendid and incisive historical page-turner... This is how history should be written: vivid storytelling springing to life at a master’s touch... Romm’s narrative proves so compelling precisely because he concentrates on character, combining erudite scholarship with a novelist’s flair for telling detail. The result becomes an exception to the rule: When exercised with wisdom, dexterity and fervor, literary power shines as incorruptible.”
 
                                                            -Arlice Davenport, Wichita Eagle
 
“Thoroughly engaging and fascinating...A high-stakes drama, laced with murders, madness, and despotism...The highlight of the spring season.”
 
                                                            -Anne La Farge, Hudson Valley News
 
“Romm's compulsively readable account of imperial intrigues (incest, murder, suicide) brings contradictory visions of Seneca into three-dimensional focus.”
 
                                                            -Chronogram
 
“Romm's approach combines the commonly known with the fascinating, but more obscure. He makes a sustained point of showing Seneca as neither black nor white, neither totally deserving of his fate, nor so noble that all charges should drip off his well-oiled back. He shows different sides to the emperors as well and puts the women of the Caesars into their well-deserved positions of prominence…The fact that Romm presents the Stoic philosopher in this novel complex light and that he shows sides of the more famous that aren't common knowledge leaves me feeling [like] I got an awful lot out of reading it.  Have I mentioned, I really, really liked this book?”
 
                                                            -N. S. Gill, About.com
 
“Historians from Seneca’s contemporaries through the present day have puzzled over his true character. Ascetic Stoic moralist or conniving courtier?  Romm doesn't claim to settle the centuries-old mystery, but sheds light using ancient sources and occasional references to modern critics, joining his readers in marveling at a regime remembered by history for its shocking excesses.”
 
                                                            -Julia Jenkins, Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)
 
“Extensively researched.  A book that will be welcomed by both scholars and those with a more casual interest in history. In addition and most important to our time is the detailed study of power politics and the inevitable consequences of weakness and corruption allowing power to be concentrated into few hands… An engrossing account of a time when rational thought was set aside in favor of passion and when good men cowed in the face of tyranny and did nothing to stem it.”
 
                                                            -Jeremy McGuire, New York Journal of Books
 
“A compelling, and terrifying, vision of a bloodthirsty, ruthlessly ambitious emperor and his court.”
 
                                                            -Jenny Yabroff, Biographile


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4.5 out of 5 stars
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108 customer ratings
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Top international reviews

E. L. Wisty
5.0 out of 5 stars "A unified Seneca"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 22, 2017
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CFive
3.0 out of 5 stars LEFT FIELD
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2019
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Tempus Fugit
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to put down!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 22, 2018
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Lionel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 17, 2015
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BCM
5.0 out of 5 stars This book really deserves more attention than it has received ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2016
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Paulo Leite
4.0 out of 5 stars Morremos todos os dias?
Reviewed in Brazil on July 22, 2017
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Amazon Kunde
5.0 out of 5 stars „Wenn im Leben nichts mehr geht, dann greif zu Seneca und Epiktet“.
Reviewed in Germany on March 13, 2018
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Ricardo Bezerra Cavalcanti Vieira
4.0 out of 5 stars Retorno ao Presente
Reviewed in Brazil on March 13, 2015
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Fred Somerville
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book
Reviewed in Canada on May 23, 2014
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Patrick Sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars Seneca`s Life As Nero`s Top Advisor
Reviewed in Canada on January 15, 2015
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ratcliffe
3.0 out of 5 stars A fairly good read in the hour before sleep
Reviewed in Canada on April 13, 2014
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