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Marcus or Lucius Annaeus (the praenomen being uncertain), usually called Seneca Rhetor to distinguish him from his more celebrated son, was a native of Corduba in Spain. His birth may be placed about B.C. 60 and his death shortly after that of Tiberius (A.D. 37). His family was of equestrian rank and in good circumstances: his character, as revealed in his writings and described by his son, was marked by sobriety, industry, and sternness. We know little of his life, except that he resided on two occasions at least and for several years at Rome, where he is usually supposed, though on insufficient evidence, to have practised as a speaker and professor of rhetoric, without, however, attaining any very high distinction. He informs us that, except Cicero, he had listened to all the great masters of Roman eloquence; and Cicero he might have heard had he been willing to brave the risks of a visit to Rome while the Civil Wars were raging. But then, as for the greater part of his long life, he preferred the quiet dignity of his estate in Spain; and it was there that, when well advanced in middle age, he married Helvia, a lady of good lineage and ancient virtue, by whom he had three sons, all of whom attained distinction—Novatus, better known as the Gallio of the Acts of the Apostles; Seneca the philosopher; and Mela , father of the brilliant poet Lucan.

Seneca was the author of a Roman history extending from the commencement of the Civil Wars to the close of the reign of Tiberius. To this work two allusions—one in Lactantius ( Inst. vii. 15.14) and one in Suetonius ( Tib. 73)— must be referred. From the former we gather that, like Tacitus, he commenced his history by a brief generalizing retrospect of Rome's entire past, in which he compared the various epochs of her development to those of a human life. Lucius Seneca, in a fragment of a lost biography of his father, claims for it a place among the literary monuments of the age; but with some diffidence, as if conscious that his filial piety overpowered his critical judgment. At all events, we hear nothing of it from any other source. His other work, a series of reminiscences of contemporary rhetoricians, written in his old age, has, to a great extent, survived. It consists of ten books of Controversiae, or discussions of legal cases, and one book of Suasoriae, or themes for rhetorical declamation. The Suasoriae were written last, but come first in order of publication from grounds of educational convenience. The commencement is lost. The first, second, ninth, and tenth books of Controversiae, with their prefaces, are almost perfect. The gaps in the other books are partially filled up by an abridgment (excerpta) of the fourth or fifth century, the prefaces to books v., vi., and viii., however, being lost. These prefaces are by far the most interesting portion of the work. They are written by Seneca in his own person, and contain, besides pleasant commonplaces and sallies of genial humour, many valuable criticisms of the different speakers quoted, expressed in a pure and classical Latin. The Controversiae, which are almost entirely made up of quotations, are for the most part treated under three heads: first, the Sententiae, or opinions of the rhetoricians as to the applicability of the law to the question proposed; second, the Divisio, or distribution of the legal argument into its various points or subdivisions, each of which is considered separately; and thirdly, the Colores, or pleas for consideration, which, while admitting the fact, extenuate its gravity or alter its legal complexion.

It is evident that a considerable proportion of the rhetorical quotations was in Greek, declamatory exercises being indifferently undertaken in either language; but as the book was used exclusively in the Western Empire, the Greek portions were to a great extent discarded, and but few are now preserved. It is remarkable that Seneca himself displays a purer taste and literary style than any of the rhetoricians he quotes, in most of whom the characteristics of the Silver Age are already prominent.

The subjects of the Suasoriae are of the kind ridiculed by Juvenal: “Shall Alexander cross the ocean to find a new world to conquer?” “Shall Cicero plead with Antony for his life?” “Shall Leonidas withdraw from Thermopylae?” etc. They are mere school exercises, and, though ingenious and often eloquent, can hardly be called profitable reading.

Bibliography.—In the earliest editions the above writings are mixed up with those of Seneca the philosopher, and were not separated before the editions of N. Faber (Paris, 1587-98) and A. Schott (Heidelberg, 1603-4; Paris, 1607-13). An edition was issued by Gronovius (Leiden, 1649; Amsterdam, 1672). Modern critical editions are those of C. Bursian (Leipzig, 1857); A. Kiessling (Leipzig, 1872); H. J. Müller (Prague, 1887). The following critical notices are mostly from Teuffel: H. Höfig, De Sen. Rhet. IV. Codd. MSS. Schottianis (Görlitz, 1858); J. Vahlen, Rhein. Mus. 13, 546; A. Kiessling, ib. 16, 50; Beitr. z. Krit. lat. Prosaiker, 32 (Basle and Geneva, 1864); Neue Beitr. zur Kr. des Rh. S. (Hamburg, 1871); Cl. Konitzer, Quaest. in Sen. Crit. (Breslau, 1864); Beitr. z. Krit. des Rh. Sen. (Breslau, 1866); R. Wachsmuth, Quaest. in Sen. (Posen, 1867); O. Rebling, Obss. Crit. in Sen. Patrem. (Göttingen, 1868); C. Bursian, Spicilegium Crit. in Sen. (Zürich, 1869); H. T. Karsten, Spicil. Crit. 33 (Leiden, 1881); Elocutio Rhetorica Sen. Rhet. (Rotterdam, 1881). Also J. Körber, Ueber den Rhetor Sen. (pp. 1-23, 58-66) und die röm. Rhet. seiner Zeit (pp. 23-58) (Marburg, 1864); O. Gruppe, Quaestiones Annaeanae (pp. 24-47) (Stettin, 1873); M. Sander, Quaest. Syntacticae in Sen. Rhet. (Greifswald, 1872); D. Sprachgebrauch des Rhet. Sen. (Waren, 1877-80); A. Ahlheim, De Sen. Rhet. usu Dicendi (Giessen, 1886); L. A. Senecae Oratorum et Rhetorum Sententiae Divisiones Colores, ed. H. J. Müller (Bibl. Script. Gr. et Rom. ed. Carl Schenkl) (Vienna, 1887).

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