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Anger, Mercy, Revenge (The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca) Paperback – November 20, 2012
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This contains three works : On Anger, On Clemency, and The Pumpkinification of Claudius
Seneca is most known for being a avid stoic and the tutor of Nero. A basic understanding of Stoicism will really enhance your understanding of these texts which there is a little discussion of Stoicism in the intro.
On Anger is a philosophical text on the pitfalls of anger. It was actually written for some male relation of Seneca, his nephew maybe? For this being a text translated from Latin, it is really easy to follow. In general, I find Senecan writings translate a lot nicer than other Roman authors. Seneca's basic argument relies on stoic principles to point out why you should never give into anger. Even, according to Seneca, if you see your mother being raped or your father killed, you should not give into anger. Overall, this work gives a real good look into the turmoil and treacherous environment ancient Rome was, especially in politics.
On Clemency is just what it sounds like, a work about being clement. This work was written for Nero. However, never finished. It was started at the beginning of Nero's reign, then it is speculated Seneca stopped writing it when it became obvious Nero was not going to be a clement ruler. Once again, Seneca relies on stoic principles to make his argument for clemency. Since this was written for Nero, it is impossible to read it and not see how Nero fails. Though Seneca certainly works through his Stoic values in this work you can really see how he turns them to appeal to Nero's vanity. Such as repeatedly painting a ruler, i.e. Nero, as a God, such as making Rome to be a body, and Nero the head, such as making one of his largest points for clemency that it is most beneficial for the ruler to be clement.
Lastly, the Pumpkinfication of Claudius, this is probably my favorite Latin text I've ever read! This deals with the deifying of Claudius, the previous ruler before Nero who was his step-father. Basically, when an emperor died, the senate would vote to make him a god. So this is a parody of Claudius' journey into godhood. Note, that Seneca was not a fan of Claudius at all since he was exiled by him. Basically, this work utterly cuts Claudius to shreds. Very humorously it criticizes Claudius for killing many of his relatives, just being an overall idiot, marrying his niece, loving etruscan culture, writing histories, and just so much more. Seriously, this is a great work and it is such a contrast to Seneca's philosophical works like On Anger and On Clemency, and even his tragedies that still take a serious note in Stoicism. If anything, you can enjoy the contrast in Seneca's writing to these other two.
Overall, this was a collection of Senecan works that had nice introductions to help understand them better.