Ten plays are attributed to Seneca, of which most likely eight were written by him. The plays stand in stark contrast to his philosophical works. With their intense emotions, and grim overall tone, the plays seem to represent the antithesis of Seneca’s Stoic beliefs. Up to the 16th century it was normal to distinguish between Seneca the moral philosopher and Seneca the dramatist as two separate people. Scholars have tried to spot certain Stoic themes: it is the uncontrolled passions that generate madness, ruination, and self-destruction. This has a cosmic as well as an ethical aspect, and fate is a powerful, albeit rather oppressive, force.


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