TitleThe ethics of the family in Seneca
NameGloyn, Elizabeth A. (author), Kronenberg, Leah (chair), Connolly, Serena (internal member), Code, Alan (internal member), Schofield, Malcolm (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, ca. 4 B.C.-65 A.D.
DescriptionSeneca, a Roman philosopher of the first century AD, provides our best source for understanding Stoicism under the early Roman empire. Seneca’s writing focuses heavily on the family, especially the consolations addressed to people mourning the loss of
relatives. My dissertation focuses on family relationships in Seneca’s philosophical writing. I seek to explain how Seneca’s emphasis on correct familial conduct is not only compatible with the sage’s self-sufficiency, but enriches our understanding of how the Stoic wise man attains virtue. I argue that throughout his philosophical works, Seneca demonstrates the importance of the family to the sage as a resource for moral development. Chapter I considers the nature of motherhood and a mother’s relationship to her
children. Through two case studies, we see that a mother provides her children with the model from which one may learn how to become a Stoic sage. Chapter II turns to the “Consolation to Polybius” and examines the relationship between brothers. Seneca reminds Polybius of his duty to his surviving brothers, and of the supportive network they provide him in his grief for his biological brother’s death. Chapter III examines Seneca’s conception of marriage as a site of stability and a relationship which should result in a couple’s mutual progress towards virtue. It includes
the first discussion in English of the fragmentary evidence for Seneca’s “On Marriage”. Chapter IV examines how Seneca uses the imperial family as an example of how not to act within familial relationships. Their failings remind the reader that only the Stoic sage
is capable of virtue; worldly power does not lead to moral perfection. Chapter V considers the picture of family relationships found in the “Moral Epistles”. Seneca writes for a philosophically-inclined reader, and so focuses on helping the reader acquire a virtuous disposition. However, he does not omit the practical
implications of Stoic virtue for the family. He introduces discussion of familial topics as the collection progresses and the reader advances on the path to becoming a Stoic wise man. Even this work, which primarily discusses the sage’s internal disposition, ultimately reconciles the sage with his family.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Elizabeth A. Gloyn
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.