Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Seneca was born in Córdoba, Spain around the year 3 BC. His father was a famous teacher of Rhetoric in Rome. He was the second born son of three in his family. He went to a school in Rome called Sextii, where he was educated in philosophy, more specifically Stocism and ascetic neo-Pythagoreanism. He developed a reputation for excellent public speaking while in school. He later experienced illness, and journeyed to Egypt to recover.

He returned to Rome around the year 31 AD. He began a career in politics and law. In Rome, he was also known for writing tragedies and essays. In 39 AD, he fell out of favor, and in 41 AD he was exiled to Corsica by Emperor Claudius for committing adultery with Claudius’s niece, Princess Julia Livilla. While in Corsica, he studied philosophy and natural sciences. During this period of time, he wrote the three treatises titled Consolationes. He was invited back to Rome in 49 AD by the emperors wife, Agrippina . In 50 AD, he married Pompeia Paulina, an influential woman . He then became a praetor. He was appointed tutor to the future emperor Nero, the adopted son of Claudius. Seneca’s enemies soon turned Nero against him, calling him a threat because of him wealth and popularity. Although he was a Stoic and despised riches, he was still very wealthy. He retired from public life in 62 AD so that he could devote his time to philosophy and writing. in 65 AD he was accused of being part of a plot against Nero . He followed emperors wishes and commited suicide.

Seneca thought of himself as being a stoic. His works were influenced by “ Middle Stoicism.” His tragedies were very influential on western literature. His techniques influenced the Renaissance tragedy. His plays were meant to be read out loud, and not performed on a stage. He wrote nine plays. They are Hercules Furens, Medea, Troades, Phaedra, Agamemnon, Oedipus, Hercules Oetaeus, Phoenissae, and Thyestes.

“The philosopher: he alone knows how to live for himself. He is the one, in fact, who knows the fundamental thing: how to live.” –Seneca

“Philosophy’s power to blunt all the blows of circumstance are beyond belief.”- Seneca

”Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.”-Seneca


55-135 AD

He was born in Hierapolis, Phrygia, which is in south-western Turkey, in the year 55. He came to Rome when he was young as a slave of Epaphroditus, who was once a slave to the emperor Nero. Even when he was a slave, he spent most of his time studying stoicism. He was believed to be tortured by his master, who was said to have broken Epictetus’ leg, yet some believe this is not true, and that Nero was kind to Epictetus and encouraged his work in philosophy. In 89 he was banished from Rome, so he went to Greece where he opened up his own school. His school had a good reputation, and attracted many upper-class Romans. Epictetus did not marry, nor did he have children. It is believed that he lived to a very old age, and lived a life of simplicity, staying true to his stoicism.

Some people believe that Epictetus wrote nothing himself, and that the works that were believed to be Epictetus’, were actually written by a student of his. Epictetus stayed true to early stoics in his teachings and beliefs, but his techniques of teaching were unique. Epictetus metaphorically refers to his school as a hospital where students come looking for treatments for their illness. He believed everyone suffers from illness, and it is caused by mistaken beliefs about what is good. Epictetus was possibly one of the greatest stoics there ever were.

First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” – Epictetus

“What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.” -Epictetus

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was born as Marcus Annius Verus on April 26th 121 as an only child to Domitia Lucilla and Marcus Annius Verus. His father was a praeter, and died when Marcus Aurelius was only three years old. Antoninus Pius, his father’s brother-in-law, adopted Marcus and designated him to be his successor. This was when his name changed from Marcus Annius Verus to Marcus Aurelius. He was tutored by the best tutors in Rome, and was a loyal Stoic. A few years later he married Antoninus’s daughter, Annia Galeria Faustina.

When Antoninius died, Marcus became the emperor of Rome, along with Lucius Veras, Antoninus’ other successor. Many times during his reign, Marcus was at war with several different peoples at one time. He solved this problem by sending Veras to command troops, and Veras stayed loyal to Marcus up until his own death. Marcus had one son Commodus. He died on march 17, 180 in Viena . The cause of death was a plague. Marcus believed no man could be hurt by another man, he can only hurt himself. He believed that to live a happy life, you need wisdom, justice, fortitude, and moderation.
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”- Marcus Aurelius

Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself! – Marcus Aurelius

Very little is needed to make a happy life.- Marcus Aurelius