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Seneca: Letters

5. Letter 54

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about Letter 54, which starts with Seneca suffering one of his frequent asthma attacks. In particular, we focus on Seneca’s old age, illness and meditations on death, as well as the Stoic view of fate and predetermination.


In this course, Dr Liz Gloyn (Royal Holloway, University of London) explores Seneca’s Epistulae Morales. We begin by providing a brief overview of Seneca’s life and literary output, before focusing in more detail on the letter as a literary form. In each of the five modules that follow, we focus on a single letter, providing close-reading, drawing out the key themes, and making links to Stoic philosophy more generally – including the Stoic theory of ‘indifferents’, the theory of the passions (or pathē), Stoic moral psychology, and Stoic views on the immortality of the soul.


Dr Liz Gloyn is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research focuses on the intersections between Latin literature, ancient philosophy and gender studies, with a particular focus on Seneca the Younger and his approach to Stoicism and family. Her previous publications include The Ethics of the Family in Seneca (2017), while her current book project explores the way that contemporary popular culture imagines and uses classical monsters, and will be published 2019.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Gloyn, L. (2018, August 15). Seneca: Letters - Letter 54 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Gloyn, Liz. "Seneca: Letters – Letter 54." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,