Fulfills the L & S breadth requirement in Arts and Literature.
This course will be based on a close reading of Seneca’s De otio and De brevitate vitae. We will examine the role that Seneca assigns to philosophical studies in the life of an individual and, in particular, the relation he envisages between philosophy and political engagement. Seneca believes that only philosophy enables us to live a full life in which no time is wasted in useless pursuits, but while he condemns the pursuit of fame, he also praises the value of honor and of a life devoted to public service. To better understand Seneca’s position we will read, in addition to the two moral essays mentioned above, some of his letters. Throughout the course we will pay close attention to the sophisticated style of Seneca’s prose, and we will examine how and to what end he uses rhetorical devices and exempla.