Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. G.M. Paul


The persuasiveness of Seneca's paraenetic prose-works is owed, in large measure, as Seneca himself is aware (Ep.59.6), to the use of imagery - metaphor, analogy, and simile. As such, this stylistic device suggests itself as an important subject of enquiry. Its significance, however, extends further: in so far as many of Seneca's images are demonstrably traditional, they help in defining the tradition to which these prose-works may belong. In particular, they bear on the question of the relationship of Seneca's prose-works to the so-called 'diatribe', in the paraenetic effect of which imagery plays an important part.

D. Steyns (Gand, 1907) and C.S. Smith (Baltimore, 1910), have made limited lists of Senecan prose-imagery without consideration of its sources. F. Husner (Leipzig, 1924) has investigated the sources of Seneca's imagery within the confines of a narrow topic, while appreciating their implications for definition of the tradition of Seneca's moral prose-works. In the present work I apply the same approach in greater depth to the topic of central analysis of the moral prose-works: the state of the Stoic sapiens, of his antithesis - the sinner- and that of the proficiens between them.

Part I collects by category of allusion the relevant extended images in the moral prose-works, excluding the fragments. Part II investigates their sources. It is shown that, while the possibility of Seneca's originality cannot be discounted, precedents for his images can be found in the vast majority of cases; that Plato frequently provides an ultimate source, and that some of Seneca's imagery was also used by the Old and Middle Stoa. It is clear, however, that a stock of imagery is shared and passed on between 'diatribists', and that it is primarily from these - mainly via the philosophical schools of contemporary Rome -- that Seneca draws the images of his moral prose-works.

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