Reflections in Seneca's De Clementia
Seneca's fame arises from three different personas: he was the advisor to Nero, a brilliant rhetorician, and a Stoic philosopher. Seneca employs all three of these personas in his De Clementia, which is a treatise advising Nero to be a virtuous -- and specifically a clement -- ruler. To accomplish his task of advising a sometimes volatile emperor, Seneca offers his treatise to Nero as though it were a mirror. Seneca claims that the image it reflects back is of Nero as someone who will be among the happiest of men. Upon a close reading of the treatise, however, one finds other reflections created by Seneca's mirror, as well as other eyes besides Nero's that will catch sight of these reflections. This thesis explores the reflections of Nero, of the Roman people, and of Seneca found in De Clementia. The meaning of each reflection is teased out, relating each image to its own particular audience.