Skip to main content

Natural Questions

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, statesman, and adviser to the emperor Nero, all during the Silver Age of Latin literature. The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a fresh and compelling series of new English-language translations of his works in eight accessible volumes. Edited by world-renowned classicists Elizabeth Asmis, Shadi Bartsch, and Martha C. Nussbaum, this engaging collection restores Seneca—whose works have been highly praised by modern authors from Desiderius Erasmus to Ralph Waldo Emerson—to his rightful place among the classical writers most widely studied in the humanities.

Written near the end of Seneca’s life, Natural Questions is a work in which Seneca expounds and comments on the natural sciences of his day—rivers and earthquakes, wind and snow, meteors and comets—offering us a valuable look at the ancient scientific mind at work. The modern reader will find fascinating insights into ancient philosophical and scientific approaches to the physical world and also vivid evocations of the grandeur, beauty, and terror of nature.

Read an excerpt.

240 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2010

The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Ancient Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: Classical Languages

Philosophy: History and Classic Works

Philosophy of Science


“For the Natural Questions . . . a new translation was badly needed. Corcoran’s Loeb translation was outdated when it was published forty years ago, and our understanding of the text has advanced greatly since then. Hine . . . has contributed more than anyone to this progress. . . . The most striking innovation of Hine’s translation is a new sequence of the books. . . . If the corrected order is right, as seems probable, the reader has the advantage of starting with the opening that Seneca gave the work.”

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“Hine’s translation is clear, elegant, and energetic, and the introduction and notes allow us to read the work within the contexts of ancient science, philosophy, culture, and literature. Most of all, by conveying both its intellectual urgency and its artfulness, this edition reveals the Natural Questions to be among Seneca’s most powerful writings and in the league of such masterworks as Lucretius’s De rerum natura and Virgil’s Georgics.”

James Ker, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Deaths of Seneca

“From the rainbow in the heavens to the iridescent scales of a mullet dying at the gourmet’s table, Seneca examines the face of God and its distorted human images to find, at the last, himself. One of the many virtues of Harry Hine’s lively new translation of the Natural Questions is the variation in its registers, encompassing satire, scientific argument, moral dialogue, and epic grandeur. Backed up by an extensive critical introduction, this volume makes an auspicious beginning to the series.”

C. A. J. Littlewood, University of Victoria, Canada

Table of Contents

Seneca and His World
Translator’s Introduction
Analytical Table of Contents of Individual Books

Natural Questions
Book 3: On Terrestrial Waters
Book 4a: On the Nile
Book 4b: On Clouds, <Rain, Hail, Snow>
Book 5: On Winds
Book 6: On Earthquakes
Book 7: On Comets
Book 1: On . . . Fires
Book 2: On Lightning and Thunder


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press