"The life and works of Seneca pose a number of fascinating challenges. For one thing, how can we reconcile the bloody, passionate tragedies, with the prose works advocating a life of Stoic tranquility? An even more challenging question is, how are we to reconcile Seneca the Stoic philosopher, the man of principle, who advocated a life of calm and simplicity, with Seneca the man of the moment, who amassed a vast personal fortune in the service of an emperor seen by many, at the time and afterwards, as an insane tyrant? In this biography, Emily Wilson will present Seneca as a man under enormous pressure, struggling for compromise in a world of absolutism. His work and his life both show, in fascinating ways, the fissures and cracks created by the clash of the ideal and the real: the gulf between political hopes and fears, and philosophical ideals; the gap between what we want to be, and what we are. The book will assume no prior knowledge either of ancient Roman society, Stoicism, Seneca's life or work, but will weave these features together into a lively narrative, while presenting new insights into an author whose reputation is currently experiencing a revival within the academy."