The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0160  Wednesday, 29 January 2003

From:           Claude Caspar <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 2003 16:22:52 -0500
Subject:        Seneca

Seneca is more interesting the closer one gets.  He was, for a time,
among the ruling clique of the entire Roman Empire- think of what that
implies, and might have to our Author, struggling for his place in a
royal hierarchy. And, fabulously wealthy, yet partial to usury. He was
outspoken about the Jewish influence on his culture, something that
might have caught the attention of Shakespeare.  His philosophy is full
of amazing insights and not confined to mere Stoicism.  Especially,
perhaps, in Seneca's "classical" sense of siding with intellectual over
natural loyalties, derived from Aristotle's treatment as exemplified in
the Ethics. The way this plays out in Shakespeare's relationships with
his "friends," within his works & without, is foundational- Friendship,
for the classical world, is the epitome of an intellectual loyalty
opposed to a natural one, and the priority in an ethical choice. [Just
the other day I saw E. M. Forster quoted as saying that he had hoped, if
confronted with a choice of loyalty to a friend or of his patriotic duty
to his country, he would have the courage to choose his friend...]  Let
me point you towards a new course produced by the Teaching Company,
Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists by Luke Timothy Johnson,
where he talks at length about Seneca's thought at large, especially
regarding Friendship, and the ancient concept of Friendship and its
priority over the natural.


Thinking back to last summer's production of "Two Noble Kinsman," [at
Ontario's Stratford Festival] where this ancient concept of friendship
plays itself out in a world no longer "classical," is suggestive.

Also, see:



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