On Clemency (De Clementia, 56AD, and reprinted with English translation and full scholarly paraphernalia in OUP edition, ed. Susanna Braund, 2009 )


by Lucius Annaeus Seneca - Seneca The Younger (1 - 65)

Seneca’s profound understanding of the psychology of State terror makes this more than standard advice literature, going beyond ‘clemency’ strictly defined into a wider warning about unrestrained violence. The use of realpolitik arguments, sly reminders and veiled threats keep the prose grounded, despite the obligatory flattery of the form. Sadly, scholars believe the ending is missing.

Related recommendation: Montaigne’s first essay, ‘We reach the same end by discrepant means’

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