Legends of Corsica: Seneca, the exile in Corsica and… the nettle

legends of Corsica: Seneca

The life of Seneca the Younger (Roman philosopher, playwright and politician) has always been very troubled. In 41 BC, the emperor Claudius, instigated by his wife Valeria Messalina, condemned him to exile in Corsica. The charge was adultery with the young Julia Livilla, sister of the former Roman emperor Caligula.

Here a very peculiar legends begins. Exponent of Stoicism (a philosophical doctrine according to which happiness was a condition that could only be reached through ataraxia), on the island of beauty Seneca was strongly opposed and criticized for his lifestyle.

The ancient Romans didn’t split hairs. Especially considering that in those years (Seneca was exiled in Corsica from 41 to 49, when he returned home he became the tutor of Nero) our philosopher was particularly disliked by the emperor of Rome. The fact is that Seneca was often whipped with a very stinging nettle growing only on the island of beauty.

This very peculiar legend shows how, in ancient times, even the great men, if necessary, would be subject (rightly or wrongly) to quite imaginative and very mocking punishments. After all, if this story of Seneca is a legend or not, Corsica is used to host men who have made the history.


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Image source: “David La morte di Seneca” di Jacques-Louis David – https://www.artrenewal.org/asp/database/art.asp?aid=40&page=3. Con licenza Pubblico dominio tramite Wikimedia Commons

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