In the Ancient Age, the very rare appearance of the phoenix in the world became proverbial and was exploited in constructing similes, aiming to praise exceptional individuals or stress the uniqueness of an event. This paper focuses on Seneca’s comparison between the rarity of both the true sapiens and the mythical phoenix. This is found in Letter 42 and also alluded to in De constantia sapientis (ch. 7), where the role of the sapiens-phoenix is played by Cato the Younger. Nonetheless, the proverbial feature which those Senecan passages also exhibit should not obscure a deeper meaning embodied here. What we attempt to argue is precisely that not only the device of Stoic paradox in itself is involved here, but also the main, philosophical question of how to define a truly good man is posed. Accordingly, the phoenix simile is not simply one of the manifestations of the Stoic sapiens, but rather the expression of this paradox in itself; or, better still, permeated as it is with ambiguity and hyperbole, the phoenix may constitute the portrayal of the essence and conceptual possibility of the Stoic paradox and Senecan utopia as such.

Seneca e l'utopia del Sapiens: le immagini animali / C. Torre. - In: GIORNALE ITALIANO DI FILOLOGIA. - ISSN 0017-0461. - 70(2018 Oct), pp. 153-178. [10.1484/J.GIF.5.116137]

Seneca e l'utopia del Sapiens: le immagini animali

C. Torre
2018-10

Abstract

In the Ancient Age, the very rare appearance of the phoenix in the world became proverbial and was exploited in constructing similes, aiming to praise exceptional individuals or stress the uniqueness of an event. This paper focuses on Seneca’s comparison between the rarity of both the true sapiens and the mythical phoenix. This is found in Letter 42 and also alluded to in De constantia sapientis (ch. 7), where the role of the sapiens-phoenix is played by Cato the Younger. Nonetheless, the proverbial feature which those Senecan passages also exhibit should not obscure a deeper meaning embodied here. What we attempt to argue is precisely that not only the device of Stoic paradox in itself is involved here, but also the main, philosophical question of how to define a truly good man is posed. Accordingly, the phoenix simile is not simply one of the manifestations of the Stoic sapiens, but rather the expression of this paradox in itself; or, better still, permeated as it is with ambiguity and hyperbole, the phoenix may constitute the portrayal of the essence and conceptual possibility of the Stoic paradox and Senecan utopia as such.
Seneca phiosopher; animal imagery; wise man; sapiens
Settore L-FIL-LET/04 - Lingua e Letteratura Latina
Settore L-FIL-LET/02 - Lingua e Letteratura Greca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/598170
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