Federica Rossetti

The Reception of Seneca in 16th Century
Stoic and Christian Ethics in Paratexts of Printed Editions

Reinterpretation of Stoicism in the Renaissance period was encouraged by the progresses of press and philology, so that Stoic ideas spread out and become a necessary point of reference for religious and moral controversies. Stoic values become a topic of discussion in the Catholic and Protestant debate, through both their rejection (e.g. Calvin) and their systematic reorganization (e.g. Justus Lipsius).

In this cultural context, Seneca’s prose work is often connected to Christian Ethics and the classical author is interpreted not only as simple moral leader in pedagogical field but also as Stoic champion in every field of Ethics. The project proposes a research about the reception of Seneca in the 16th Century in the context of the religious debate between Catholics and Protestants.

The investigation will be based on the analysis of paratexts of editions and commentaries of Seneca printed in Europe in the 16th Century. My aim is to create a repertory of paratexts (letters, dedications, prefaces, afterwords) providing information about the personalities involved in the literary process (authors, editors, typographers, dedicatees), the material aspects of the text (mise en page, images, form) and its transmission (reprints, editions, footnotes).

The research will highlight the preconditions of Christian Neo-Stoicism through the exam of Seneca’s editions of 16th Century in their historical and cultural context.