When it comes to studying the Stoics, Seneca is often cited as one of the most prolific because of the number of works he produced and the sources about his life. A complicated man, Seneca was a proud Stoic who often lived at odds with the philosophy he claimed to love under the corrupt regime of Nero.
Was Seneca a philosopher who sought the simple life? Was he a hypocrite who failed to practice what he preached? Was he a man who found himself in an impossible situation and did the best he could to mitigate the excesses of an emperor? Was he all of these things and more?
Such questions are the topic of Emily Wilson’s Seneca: A Life, which provides a nuanced portrayal of one of antiquity’s most complex figures.