Last Updated 17 Apr 2020

Roman Empire and Nero

Category Roman Empire
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Explain the role and contribution of Seneca to the reign of Nero Seneca was the personal advisor of Nero during his reign. He was a stoic philosopher who played a vital role in the running of the empire. Seneca contributed in many aspects of Nero’s reign by introducing reforms, bringing stoicism into practice and playing a key role in the senate. Seneca aided in important decision-making. He led Nero down an appropriate path, particularly when Nero became extremely erratic. He served Nero well and made an excellent contribution during his reign.

Seneca understood the problems of Rome so he was able to introduce reforms, which benefited the people. He made conditions for slaves more humane, introduced fiscal reform and introduced a more enlightened administration in Britain. This positively contributed to the empire as he had the happiness of the people in his best interest. By introducing reforms that pleased the people he gained popularity for both himself and Nero. This was beneficial for Nero as the people of the empire could look back on Nero’s reign years later and reflect on the good decisions and excellent reforms that had taken place during the period.

Tacitus says “Nothing in human affairs is more unstable and precarious than power unsupported by its own strength. ” This quote by Tacitus shows us just how great the impact of Seneca was. It is telling us that without Seneca, Nero may have had the power, but had no support to advice him to make the correct decisions. Seneca was the strength to Nero’s power. Seneca composed Nero’s first speech to the senate. This speech offered additional power to the senate and shows that Seneca was contributing to the reign of Nero right from the very start.

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The speech also promised to return to what life had been like under Augustus. Of course, the empire was considered a Republic during the Augustan period and the people cherished this time. Seneca and Nero were looked upon favourably when they promised to return to a time of happiness. Therefore Seneca helped encourage an excellent start to the reign of Nero. Stoicism influenced the writing of Seneca for Nero as he wrote “on clemency” which encouraged Nero to rule leniently. Stoicism is particularly shown as he writes “…worthy to do the ork of the gods upon the earth” It is known that the Roman’s were very religious, so to do the work of the gods would be seen as ethically and morally right to Seneca. These traits are one of the beliefs of Stoicism, reflecting his influence. This contributed to Nero’s reign as it meant that Nero came across as a self-controlled, morally right stoic man who would run the empire leniently and satisfy the people of Rome. Satisfied Romans meant that they would continue to give their support to Nero during his reign. Seneca worked efficiently with the senate allowing Nero to remain popular within the senate.

A key role that Seneca played was to ensure that the Neronian government had good relations with the senate. He did this very effectively. This was an excellent contribution to his reign as it allowed Nero to remain popular within the senate, as well as with the people. Remaining popular among Rome meant that he had the support of its people and could continue to rule effectively with Seneca by his side. Seneca’s influence was particularly shown as he wrote the speech Nero gave where he declared his administration for the senate and his desire that they resume their ancient function.

Seneca’s successful speeches helped contribute to the healthy relationship between Nero and the senate as he told them what they wanted to hear. He also issues coins, which were a further indicator of the good relations between Nero and the senate. Credit for this successful relationship must go to Seneca who put the words into Nero’s mouth and was able to satisfy the senate by giving them what they wanted. A cooperating senate meant that the empire was able to run much better during Nero’s reign.

Further on in Nero’s reign, Seneca began to see a change. He grew more erratic and extreme. From here it became the role of Seneca to curb his enthusiasm. Tacitus describes this job as “To direct his deviations from virtue into licensed channels of indulgence. ” The shows that Seneca fulfilled his job by avoiding activities that would result in scandal. Nero’s frustration grew out of many of his liberal ideas failing and it was the role of Seneca to alert Nero about his policies if they were ineffective or bad policy.

Although Seneca was unable to change the personality of Nero and his behaviour, he was able to contribute to the outcome of his actions. Seneca benefited the empire by avoiding decisions, which would consequence in revealing Nero’s awful erratic side. This benefited the empire in that Nero was still able to be favoured as the Romans did not see the worst of his erratic and extreme personality, as well as stopping Nero from making rash decisions that would not help his reign by informing him when policies or ideas were not recommended.

Seneca’s contribution was beneficial for all aspects of Nero’s reign. He was able to advise Nero on important decision-making and was able to put a stop to Nero introducing policies and ideas that would not benefit his reign. Seneca provided a voice for Nero and was able to tell the Roman people wanted to hear and in turn earned their support. Seneca’s introduction of new policies and creating of stoicism contributed further to increasing the success of the empire, as well as the success of Nero.

Seneca provided the strength to Nero’s power and without his contribution the reign of Nero would not have been as delightful. Seneca was able to make people dream of a “Republic” which further forced their support onto Nero. He also played a role in creating and maintaining a healthy relationship with the senate so that through Nero’s reign they were able to run the empire in collaboration. The role and contribution of Seneca was vital to the success of Nero, he acted as an excellent advisor to the emperor, particularly through giving a stoic voice to Nero.

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