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Morals and Villas in Seneca's Letters

Places to Dwell

Morals and Villas in Seneca's Letters by John Henderson
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John Henderson explores three letters of Seneca describing visits to Roman villas, and surveys the whole collection to show how these villas work as designs for contrasting lives. Seneca's own place is ageing drastically; a recent Epicurean's paradise is a seductive oasis away from the dangers of Nero's Rome; once a fortress of the dour Rome of yesteryear, the legendary Scipio's lair was now a shrine to the old morality: Seneca revels in its primitive bath-house, dark and cramped, before exploring the garden with the present owner. Seneca brings the philosophical epistle to Latin literature, creating models for moralizing which feature self-criticism, parody and re-animated myth. Virgil and Horace come in for rough handling, as the Latin moralist wrests ethical practice and writing away from Greek gurus and texts, and into critical thinking within a Roman context. Here is powerful teaching on metaphor and translation, on self-transformation and cultural tradition.
Cambridge University Press; March 2004
201 pages; ISBN 9780511189357
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Title: Morals and Villas in Seneca's Letters
Author: John Henderson