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On Benefits

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, statesman, and advisor 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.

On Benefits, written between 56 and 64 CE, is a treatise addressed to Seneca’s close friend Aebutius Liberalis. The longest of Seneca’s works dealing with a single subject—how to give and receive benefits and how to express gratitude appropriately—On Benefits is the only complete work on what we now call “gift exchange” to survive from antiquity. Benefits were of great personal significance to Seneca, who remarked in one of his later letters that philosophy teaches, above all else, to owe and repay benefits well.

184 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2011

The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Ancient Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: Classical Languages

Philosophy: History and Classic Works


“Griffin and Inwood’s work breathes new life into Seneca’s essential text, which has been neglected for too long.”

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“An excellent volume in every way. Seneca’s essay has a potential interest for readers going far beyond scholars and students of ancient philosophy, and all those involved have, clearly, made every attempt to make this volume highly accessible and informative. I can think of no translators better qualified to tackle this text, and the end product entirely justifies their efforts.”


“The translation is excellent: Seneca’s Latin is not easy, and the translators successfully turn it into English that is true to the Latin and enjoyable to read.”


“[Griffin and Inwood’s translation] is elegant, flowing, and for the most part highly readable. . . . Ultimately, the beauty of Seneca’s text is his alone, and one must enjoy his style, rhetorical twists, and intricacy of thought in the original. But for those who cannot, Griffin and Inwood’s translation is the next best thing!”

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Beautifully introduced and translated by Griffin and Inwood. . . . [On Benefits] reveals much about how elite members of Roman society interacted and what they regarded as important.”


Table of Contents

Seneca and His World
Translator’s Introduction

On Benefits

Book 1
Book 2
Book 3
Book 4
Book 5
Book 6
Book 7

Textual notes

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