Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Gift and GainHow Money Transformed Ancient Rome$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Neil Coffee

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190496432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190496432.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 24 June 2019

Seneca’s Philosophical Cure

Seneca’s Philosophical Cure

(p.151) 13 Seneca’s Philosophical Cure
Gift and Gain

Neil Coffee

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Seneca’s response to the yielding of gift to gain. Seneca writes the longest Roman treatise on gift giving and identifies most precisely the process by which commercial culture appropriated gift exchange. Seneca faced alarm among the elite about rising ingratitude, the transactionalization of dinner invitations, increasing elite financialization, and the distancing of the poor from the elite-dominated sphere of gift exchange. In contrast to Augustus’s efforts, carried out through the law and personal example, Seneca chose a therapeutic philosophical approach, trying to counsel the elite to change their mentality. The key move he advocates is to content oneself with giving, without looking for a return. To do otherwise leads to treating gifts as debts, which undoes the whole concept of gift giving, along with its ability to unite Roman society in harmony. Despite analyzing the problem precisely, Seneca was unsuccessful.

Keywords:   Seneca, Roman dining, Adam Smith, Augustus, Lucan, Petronius, martial, Pliny, ingratitude, benefactions

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .