De Bello Civili, more referred to as the Pharsalia, is a Roman epic poem by the poet Lucan, detailing the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Roman Senate led by Pompey the Great. The poem's title is a reference to the Battle of Pharsalus, which occurred in 48 BC, near Pharsalus, Thessaly, in northern Greece. Caesar decisively defeated Pompey in this battle. In the early twentieth century, translator J. D. Duff, while arguing that "no reasonable judgment can rank Lucan among the world's great epic poets", notes that the work is notable for Lucan's decision to eschew divine intervention and downplay supernatural occurrences in the events of the story. Scholarly estimation of Lucan's poem and poetry has since changed, as explained by commentator Philip Hardie in 2013: "In recent decades, it has undergone a thorough critical re-evaluation, to re-emerge as a major expression of Neronian politics and aesthetics, a poem whose studied artifice enacts a complex relationship between poetic fantasy and historical reality."
The poem was begun around 61 AD and several books were in circulation before the Emperor Nero and Lucan had a bitter falling out. Lucan continued to work on the epic – despite Nero's prohibition against any publication of Lucan's poetry – and it was left unfinished when Lucan was compelled to suicide as part of the Pisonian conspiracy in 65 AD. A total of ten books were written and all survive. Book I: After a brief introduction lamenting the idea of Romans fighting Romans and an ostensibly flattering dedication to Nero, the narrative summarizes background material leading up to the present war and introduces Caesar in northern Italy. Despite an urgent plea from the Spirit of Rome to lay down his arms, Caesar crosses the Rubicon, rallies his troops and marches south to Rome, joined by Curio along the way; the book closes with panic in terrible portents and visions of the disaster to come. Book 2: In a city overcome by despair, an old veteran presents a lengthy interlude regarding the previous civil war that pitted Marius against Sulla.
Cato the Younger is introduced as a heroic man of principle. After siding with Pompey—the lesser of two evils—he remarries his ex-wife and heads to the field. Caesar is delayed by Domitius' brave resistance, he attempts a blockade of Pompey at Brundisium. Book 3: As his ships sail, Pompey is visited in a dream by Julia, his dead wife and Caesar's daughter. Caesar plunders the city, while Pompey reviews potential foreign allies. Caesar heads for Spain, but his troops are detained at the lengthy siege of Massilia; the city falls in a bloody naval battle. Book 4: The first half of this book is occupied with Caesar's victorious campaign in Spain against Afranius and Petreius. Switching scenes to Pompey, his forces intercept a raft carrying Caesarians, who prefer to kill each other rather than be taken prisoner; the book concludes with Curio launching an African campaign on Caesar's behalf, where he is defeated and slain by the African King Juba. Book 5: The Senate in exile confirms Pompey the true leader of Rome.
Appius consults the Delphic oracle to learn of his fate in the war, leaves with a misleading prophecy. In Italy, after defusing a mutiny, Caesar marches to Brundisium and sails across the Adriatic to meet Pompey's army. Only a portion of Caesar's troops complete the crossing; the storm subsides, the armies face each other at full strength. With battle at hand, Pompey sends his wife to the island of Lesbos. Book 6: Pompey's troops force Caesar's armies – featuring the heroic centurion Scaeva – to fall back to Thessaly. Lucan describes the wild Thessalian terrain as the armies wait for battle the next day; the remainder of the book follows Pompey's son Sextus. He finds the most powerful witch in Thessaly and she reanimates the corpse of a dead soldier in a terrifying ceremony; the soldier predicts Caesar's eventual assassination. Book 7: The soldiers are pressing for battle, but Pompey is reluctant until Cicero convinces him to attack; the Caesarians are victorious, Lucan laments the loss of liberty.
Caesar is cruel as he mocks the dying Domitius and forbids cremation of the dead Pompeians. The scene is punctuated by a description of wild animals gnawing at the corpses, a lament from Lucan for Thessalia, infelix – ill-fated Thessaly. Book 8: Pompey himself escapes to Lesbos, reunites with his wife goes to Cilicia to consider his options, he decides to enlist aid from Egypt, but the Pharaoh is fearful of retribution from Caesar and plots to murder Pompey when he lands. Pompey suspects treachery, his headless body is flung into the ocean, but washes up on shore and receives a humble burial from Cordus. Book 9: Pompey's wife mourns her husband as Cato takes up leadership of the Senate's cause, he plans to regroup and heroically marches the army across Africa to join forces with King Juba, a trek that occupies most of the middle section of the book. On the way, he refuses to consult it, citing Stoic principles. Caesar pays respects to his ancestral gods. A short time he arrives in Egypt.
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome; the Roman Empire was ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and Ravenna, an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Roman Senate sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople; the fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict.
In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC; the following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus making him the first emperor; the first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan. A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West.
Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, the Western Roman Empire collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD; the Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453. Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, architecture, philosophy and forms of government in the territory it governed Europe; the Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of republics such as the United States and France; the corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian peninsula until the 3rd century BC, it was an "empire" long before it had an emperor. The Roman Republic was not a nation-state in the modern sense, but a network of towns left to rule themselves and provinces administered by military commanders, it was ruled, not by annually elected magistrates in conjunction with the senate. For various reasons, the 1st century BC was a time of political and military upheaval, which led to rule by emperors.
The consuls' military power rested in the Roman legal concept of imperium, which means "command". Successful consuls were given the honorary title imperator, this is the origin of the word emperor since this title was always bestowed to the early emperors upon their accession. Rome suffered a long series of internal conflicts and civil wars from the late second century BC onward, while extending its power beyond Italy; this was the period of the Crisis of the Roman Republic. Towards the end of this era, in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was perpetual dictator before being assassinated; the faction of his assassins was driven from Rome and defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC by an army led by Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavian. Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, ending the Final War of the Roman Republic. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian princeps ("first citi
Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He wrote Latin prose. In 60 BC, Caesar and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years, their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic through a number of his accomplishments, notably his victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC. During this time, Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both the English Channel and the Rhine River, when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to invade Britain. Caesar's wars extended Rome's territory to past Gaul; these achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC.
With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Leaving his command in Gaul meant losing his immunity from being charged as a criminal for waging unsanctioned wars; as a result, Caesar found himself with no other options but to cross the Rubicon with the 13th Legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. This began Caesar's civil war, his victory in the war put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence. After assuming control of government, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar, he gave citizenship to many residents of far regions of the Roman Empire. He initiated land support for veterans, he centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was proclaimed "dictator for life", giving him additional authority. His populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites. On the Ides of March, 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus, who stabbed him to death.
A new series of civil wars broke out and the constitutional government of the Republic was never restored. Caesar's adopted heir Octavian known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war. Octavian set about solidifying his power, the era of the Roman Empire began. Much of Caesar's life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns and from other contemporary sources the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust; the biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are major sources. Caesar is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history, his cognomen was subsequently adopted as a synonym for "Emperor". He has appeared in literary and artistic works, his political philosophy, known as Caesarism, inspired politicians into the modern era. Gaius Julius Caesar was born into a patrician family, the gens Julia, which claimed descent from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas the son of the goddess Venus.
The Julii were of Alban origin, mentioned as one of the leading Alban houses, which settled in Rome around the mid-7th century BC, after the destruction of Alba Longa. They were granted patrician status, along with other noble Alban families; the Julii existed at an early period at Bovillae, evidenced by a ancient inscription on an altar in the theatre of that town, which speaks of their offering sacrifices according to the lege Albana, or Alban rites. The cognomen "Caesar" originated, according to Pliny the Elder, with an ancestor, born by Caesarean section; the Historia Augusta suggests three alternative explanations: that the first Caesar had a thick head of hair. Caesar issued coins featuring images of elephants, suggesting that he favored this interpretation of his name. Despite their ancient pedigree, the Julii Caesares were not politically influential, although they had enjoyed some revival of their political fortunes in the early 1st century BC. Caesar's father called Gaius Julius Caesar, governed the province of Asia, his sister Julia, Caesar's aunt, married Gaius Marius, one of the most prominent figures in the Republic.
His mother, Aurelia Cotta, came from an influential family. Little is recorded of Caesar's childhood. In 85 BC, Caesar's father died so Caesar was the head of the family at 16, his coming of age coincided with a civil war between his uncle Gaius Marius and his rival Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Both sides carried out bloody purges of their political opponents whenever they were in the ascendancy. Marius and his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna were in control of the city when Caesar was nominated as the new Flamen Dialis, he was married to Cinna's daughter Cornelia. Following Sulla's final victory, Caesar's connections to the old regime made him a target for the new one, he was stripped of his inheritance, his wife's dowry, his priesthood, but he refused to divorce Cornelia and was forced to go into hiding. The threat against hi
Hispania Baetica abbreviated Baetica, was one of three Roman provinces in Hispania. Baetica was bordered to the west by Lusitania, to the northeast by Hispania Tarraconensis. Baetica remained one of the basic divisions of Hispania under the Visigoths down to 711. Baetica was part of Al-Andalus under the Moors in the 8th century and corresponds to modern Andalusia. Before Romanization, the mountainous area, to become Baetica was occupied by several settled Iberian tribal groups. Celtic influence was not as strong. According to the geographer Claudius Ptolemy, the indigenes were the powerful Turdetani, in the valley of the Guadalquivir in the west, bordering on Lusitania, the Hellenized Turduli with their city Baelo, in the hinterland behind the coastal Phoenician trading colonies, whose Punic inhabitants Ptolemy termed the "Bastuli". Phoenician Gadira was on an island against the coast of Hispania Baetica. Other important Iberians were the Bastetani, who occupied the Almería and mountainous Granada regions.
Towards the southeast, Punic influence spread from the Carthaginian cities on the coast: New Carthage and Malaca. Some of the Iberian cities retained their pre-Indo-European names in Baetica throughout the Roman era. Granada was called Eliberri and Illiber by the Romans; the south of the Iberian peninsula was agriculturally rich, providing for export of wine, olive oil and the fermented fish sauce called garum that were staples of the Mediterranean diet, its products formed part of the western Mediterranean trade economy before it submitted to Rome in 206 BC. After the defeat of Carthage in the Second Punic War, which found its casus belli on the coast of Baetica at Saguntum, Hispania was Romanized in the course of the 2nd century BC, following the uprising initiated by the Turdetani in 197; the central and north-eastern Celtiberians soon followed suit. It took Cato the Elder, who became consul in 195 BC and was given the command of the whole peninsula to put down the rebellion in the northeast and the lower Ebro valley.
He marched southwards and put down a revolt by the Turdetani. Cato returned to Rome in 194. In the late Roman Republic, Hispania remained divided like Gaul into a "Nearer" and a "Farther" province, as experienced marching overland from Gaul: Hispania Citerior, Ulterior; the battles in Hispania during the 1st century BC were confined to the north. In the reorganization of the Empire in 14 BC, when Hispania was remade into the three Imperial provinces, Baetica was governed by a proconsul, a praetor. Fortune smiled on rich Baetica, Baetica Felix, a dynamic, upwardly-mobile social and economic middling stratum developed there, which absorbed freed slaves and far outnumbered the rich elite; the Senatorial province of Baetica became so secure that no Roman legion was required to be permanently stationed there. Legio VII Gemina was permanently stationed in Hispania Tarraconensis. Hispania Baetica was divided into four conventūs, which were territorial divisions like judicial circuits, where the chief men met together at major centers, at fixed times of year, under the eye of the proconsul, to oversee the administration of justice: the conventus Gaditanus, Cordubensis and Hispalensis.
As the towns became the permanent seats of standing courts during the Empire, the conventūs were superseded and the term conventus is lastly applied to certain bodies of Roman citizens living in a province, forming a sort of enfranchised corporation, representing the Roman people in their district as a kind of gentry. So in spite of some social upsets, as when Septimius Severus put to death a number of leading Baetians— including women — the elite in Baetica remained a stable class for centuries. Columella, who wrote a twelve volume treatise on all aspects of Roman farming and knew viticulture, came from Baetica; the vast olive plantations of Baetica shipped olive oil from the coastal ports by sea to supply Roman legions in Germania. Amphoras from Baetica have been found everywhere in the Western Roman empire, it was to keep Roman legions supplied by sea routes that the Empire needed to control the distant coasts of Lusitania and the northern Atlantic coast of Hispania. Baetica was rich and utterly Romanized, facts that the Emperor Vespasian was rewarding when he granted the Ius latii that extended the rights pertaining to Roman citizenship to the inhabitants of Hispania, an honor that secured the loyalty of the Baetian elite and its middle class.
The Roman Emperor Trajan, the first emperor of provincial birth, came from Baetica, though of Italian stock, his kinsman and successor Hadrian came from a family residing in Baetica, though Hadrian himself was born at Rome. Baetia was Roman until the brief invasion of the Vandals and Alans passed through in the 5th century, followed by the more permanent kingdom of the Visigoths; the province formed part of the Exarchate of Africa and was joined to Mauretania Tingitana after Belisarius' reconquest of Africa. The Catholic bishops of Baetica, solidly backed by their local population, were able to convert the Arian Visigoth king Reccared and his nobles. In the 8th century the Islamic Berbers of North Africa established the Caliphate of Cordoba
Historiography of the fall of the Western Roman Empire
The causes and mechanisms of the Fall of the Western Roman Empire are a historical theme, introduced by historian Edward Gibbon in his 1776 book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He started an ongoing historiographical discussion about what caused the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, the reduced power of the remaining Eastern Empire, in the 4th–5th centuries. Gibbon was not the first to speculate on why the Empire collapsed, but he was the first to give a well-researched and well-referenced account. Many theories of causality have been explored. In 1984, Alexander Demandt enumerated 210 different theories on why Rome fell, new theories emerged thereafter. Gibbon himself explored ideas of attacks from outside the Empire. "From the eighteenth century onward," historian Glen Bowersock wrote, "we have been obsessed with the fall: it has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline, hence, as a symbol for our own fears." Historiographically, the primary issue historians have looked at when analyzing any theory is the continued existence of the Eastern Empire or Byzantine Empire, which lasted a thousand years after the fall of the West.
For example, Gibbon implicates Christianity in the fall of the Western Empire, yet the eastern half of the Empire, more Christian than the west in geographic extent, fervor and vast numbers continued on for a thousand years afterwards. As another example, environmental or weather changes affected the east as much as the west, yet the east did not "fall." Theories will sometimes reflect the particular concerns that historians might have on cultural, political, or economic trends in their own times. Gibbon's criticism of Christianity reflects the values of the Enlightenment. In the 19th century socialist and anti-socialist theorists tended to blame decadence and other political problems. More environmental concerns have become popular, with deforestation and soil erosion proposed as major factors, destabilizing population decreases due to epidemics such as early cases of bubonic plague and malaria cited. Global climate changes of 535–536 caused by the possible eruption of Krakatoa in 535, as mentioned by David Keys and others, is another example.
Ideas about transformation with no distinct fall mirror the rise of the postmodern tradition, which rejects periodization concepts. What is not new are attempts to diagnose Rome's particular problems, with Satire X, written by Juvenal in the early 2nd century at the height of Roman power, criticizing the peoples' obsession with "bread and circuses" and rulers seeking only to gratify these obsessions. One of the primary reasons for the vast number of theories is the notable lack of surviving evidence from the 4th and 5th centuries. For example, there are so few records of an economic nature it is difficult to arrive at a generalization of the economic conditions. Thus, historians must depart from available evidence and comment based on how things ought to have worked, or based on evidence from previous and periods, on inductive reasoning; as in any field where available evidence is sparse, the historian's ability to imagine the 4th and 5th centuries will play as important a part in shaping our understanding as the available evidence, thus be open for endless interpretation.
The end of the Western Roman Empire traditionally has been seen by historians to mark the end of the Ancient Era and beginning of the Middle Ages. More recent schools of history, such as Late Antiquity, offer a more nuanced view from the traditional historical narrative. There is no consensus on a date for the start of the Decline. Gibbon started his account in 98; the year 376 is taken as pivotal by many modern historians. In that year there was an unmanageable influx of Goths and other Barbarians into the Balkan provinces, the situation of the Western Empire worsened thereafter, with recoveries being incomplete and temporary. Significant events include the Battle of Adrianople in 378, the death of Theodosius I in 395, the crossing of the Rhine in 406 by Germanic tribes, the execution of Stilicho in 408, the sack of Rome in 410, the death of Constantius III in 421, the death of Aetius in 454, the second sack of Rome in 455, with the death of Majorian in 461 marking the end of the last opportunity for recovery.
Gibbon took September 4, 476 as a convenient marker for the final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, when Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Odoacer, a Germanic chieftain. Some modern historians question the significance of the year 476 for its end. Julius Nepos, the Western emperor recognized by the Eastern Roman Empire, continued to rule in Dalmatia, until he was assassinated in 480; the Ostrogothic rulers of Italia considered themselves upholders of the direct line of Roman tradition, the Eastern emperors considered themselves the sole rightful Roman rulers of a united empire. Roman cultural traditions continued throughout the territory of the Western Empire, a recent school of interpretation argues that the great political changes can more be described as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall; the decline of the Roman Empire is one of the traditional markers of the end of Classical Antiquity and the beginning of the European Middle Ages.
Throughout the 5th century, the Empire's territories in western Europe an
Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger Lucius Annaeus Seneca and known as Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, and—in one work—satirist of the Silver Age of Latin literature. Seneca was born in Córdoba in Hispania, raised in Rome, where he was trained in rhetoric and philosophy, his father was Seneca the Elder, his elder brother was Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, his nephew was the poet Lucan. In AD 41, Seneca was exiled to the island of Corsica by the emperor Claudius, but was allowed to return in 49 to become a tutor to Nero; when Nero became emperor in 54, Seneca became his advisor and, together with the praetorian prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus, provided competent government for the first five years of Nero's reign. Seneca's influence over Nero declined with time, in 64 Seneca was forced to take his own life for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, in which he was to have been innocent, his stoic and calm suicide has become the subject of numerous paintings. As a writer Seneca is known for his philosophical works, for his plays, which are all tragedies.
His prose works include a dozen essays and one hundred and twenty-four letters dealing with moral issues. These writings constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for ancient Stoicism; as a tragedian, he is best known for plays such as his Medea and Phaedra. Seneca's influence on generations is immense—during the Renaissance he was "a sage admired and venerated as an oracle of moral of Christian, edification. Seneca was born at Córdoba in the Roman province of Baetica in Hispania, his father was Lucius Annaeus Seneca the elder, a Spanish-born Roman knight who had gained fame as a writer and teacher of rhetoric in Rome. Seneca's mother, was from a prominent Baetician family. Seneca was the second of three brothers. Miriam Griffin says in her biography of Seneca that "the evidence for Seneca's life before his exile in 41 is so slight, the potential interest of these years, for social history as well as for biography, is so great that few writers on Seneca have resisted the temptation to eke out knowledge with imagination."
Griffin infers from the ancient sources that Seneca was born in either 8, 4, or 1 BC. She thinks he was born between 4 and 1 BC and was resident in Rome by AD 5. Seneca tells us that he was taken to Rome in the "arms" of his aunt at a young age when he was about five years old, his father resided for much of his life in the city. Seneca was taught the usual subjects of literature and rhetoric, as part of the standard education of high-born Romans. While still young he received philosophical training from Attalus the Stoic, from Sotion and Papirius Fabianus, both of whom belonged to the short-lived School of the Sextii, which combined Stoicism with Pythagoreanism. Sotion persuaded Seneca when he was a young man to become a vegetarian, which he practised for around a year before his father urged him to desist because the practice was associated with "some foreign rites". Seneca had breathing difficulties throughout his life asthma, at some point in his mid-twenties he appears to have been struck down with tuberculosis.
He was sent to Egypt to live with his aunt, whose husband Gaius Galerius had become Prefect of Egypt. She nursed him through a period of ill-health. In 31 AD he returned to Rome with his uncle dying en route in a shipwreck, his aunt's influence helped Seneca be elected quaestor, which earned him the right to sit in the Roman Senate. Seneca's early career as a senator seems to have been successful and he was praised for his oratory. Cassius Dio relates a story that Caligula was so offended by Seneca's oratorical success in the Senate that he ordered him to commit suicide. Seneca only survived because he was ill and Caligula was told that he would soon die anyway. In his writings Seneca has nothing good to say about Caligula and depicts him as a monster. Seneca explains his own survival as down to his patience and his devotion to his friends: "I wanted to avoid the impression that all I could do for loyalty was die."In 41 AD, Claudius became emperor, Seneca was accused by the new empress Messalina of adultery with Julia Livilla, sister to Caligula and Agrippina.
The affair has been doubted by some historians, since Messalina had clear political motives for getting rid of Julia Livilla and her supporters. The Senate pronounced a death sentence on Seneca, which Claudius commuted to exile, Seneca spent the next eight years on the island of Corsica. Two of Seneca's earliest surviving works date from the period of his exile—both consolations. In his Consolation to Helvia, his mother, Seneca comforts her as a bereaved mother for losing her son to exile. Seneca incidentally mentions the death of a few weeks before his exile. In life Seneca was married to a woman younger than himself, Pompeia Paulina, it has been thought that the infant son may have been from an earlier marriage, but the evidence is "tenuous". Seneca's other work of this period, his Consolation to Polybius, one of Claudius' freedmen, focused on consoling Polybius on the death of his brother, it is noted for its flattery of Claudius, Seneca expresses his hope that the emperor will recall him from exile.
In 49 AD Agrippina married her uncle Claudius, through her influence Seneca was recalled to Rome. Agrippina gained the praetorship for Seneca and ap