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Roman ReflectionsStudies in Latin Philosophy$
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Gareth D. Williams and Katharina Volk

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199999767

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199999767.001.0001

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Minding the Gap

Minding the Gap

Seneca, the Self, and the Sublime

(p.172) 9 Minding the Gap
Roman Reflections

Gareth D. Williams

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the literary apparatus of the sublime plays a key role in Seneca’s configuration in his prose works of the totalizing consciousness of the sage. On this approach the sublime functions as no mere occasional adornment or affectation of Senecan prose style, but as a deeply embedded feature of his philosophical enterprise—a feature importantly shaped by various Latin poetic precedents, but, the chapter argues, a feature influenced in particular by Lucretius’s experimentation with the sublime. Beyond denoting a stylistic register, the Senecan sublime constitutes a transcendent state of completeness, a whole way of being that lacks oscillation and inner division; it amounts to a sublimity of self that gives distinctive artistic coloration to the Senecan sapiens, thereby illustrating an important yet underestimated aspect of the conjunction between philosophical substance and literary ambition in Senecan prose.

Keywords:   Seneca, Lucretius, the sublime, Stoic sapiens, magnitudo animi

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