Like the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca's Letters are a treasure of practical wisdom on how to live and enjoy life. The focus is on living a simple, stress-free life thorough the use of rationalism. Seneca's timeless essays provide practical steps for people to deal with the human suffering that comes with life's problems. Topics featured range from discussions on the shortness of life and anger to immortality and death. The Letters are part of the foundation of Stoic thought making Seneca one of the indispensable thinkers from Ancient Roman philosophy. Although Stoicism is not now as widely practiced as it once was, many people can still find wisdom and inspiration through Seneca's words of advice.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BCE. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in 39 CE and Claudius in 41 CE), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligula's sister. Recalled in 49 CE, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in 54 CE, the emperor Nero. On Nero's succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In 65 CE following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from which the twentieth century has seen a considerable and immensely valuable recovery. Robin Campbell is a well-known translator.