The two faces of Seneca

"Despise poverty, because no one lives with such as he had when he was born. Despise pain, pues el u will end the end. Despise fortune, because I did not give weapons that could offend the spirit. Despise death, that just the transfiere. "

SENECA – Chapter VI of Divine Providence

It was a visit to the Museum Island in Berlin which made me notice this issue sovereign. The impressive Pergamon Museum, in a room devoted to Roman sculpture, I found this amazing bust of Seneca Cordoba stone attached to Socrates (Superior photo). Looking at it I realized that I know Seneca had nothing to do with the figure in front of him now and no doubt representing the Cordovan philosopher, because as you can see his name was carved in stone. Why such different representations for a single character?. I decided to do a little research on this matter and this is what I could find.

National Archaeological Museum, Napoles Mármol Lunense, 35 x 21 cm. Third quarter century D.C..

It seems fue Fluviá Orsini, Alessandro Farnese librarian and collector of antiquities, the Venetian induced first and Seneca misrepresentation, who identify with a bust of his collection in Rome found. The original, bronze, comes from Herculaneum and conserved in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

The Renaissance figure revitalize Seneca, which is worshiped by the intellectual classes of the time. It is a matter of paintings and sculptures that take as reference the wrong bust Orsini. Great painters of the coming centuries portray the suicide of Seneca roughly epic form but all used the wrong face pattern.

En el siglo XVII Gerardo Of The Night, named for their nocturnal master, Seneca portrays death and portrays her bangs trimmed beard and. In 1773, French artist Jacques-Louis David also paint the oil “The Death of Seneca” also with the same appearance. But among the many notable artists who addressed this issue, A particularly important work of Peter Paul Rubens.

Rubens's fascination for different Seneca warns his oil sketches and, the most famous of Seneca, found in the Museo del Prado. Rubens worked in Death of Seneca 1636, although we now know that the only painted the face and the rest Disciples Workshop.

Boceto of Rubens
Boceto of Rubens

Rubens had a copy of the bust discovered in Rome in the Renaissance, associated with tradition that Seneca. This copy is still visible on the facade of the house of the artist, Antwerp.

Both Della Notte as Rubens convey a sad countenance and bitterness in the face of the Cordovan philosopher, that has little to do with the stoicism of his thinking and has helped bring some character of sadness and bitterness to the Stoics, not actually reflect the true spirit of this thought.

It spread to bust Fluviá Orsini corresponded to the Seneca bell possibly Hesiod, Euripides the Calímaco. The melancholic character could not be a stoic philosopher: A face? Cut off by the fear of death could meet the requirements of ataraxia, that sweet impassivity to the destination?. Since then everyone figure is called the Pseudo Seneca.

This rather sad stereotype of Seneca and still today serves as a model for representation, I was removed by an archaeological find in the Church of Santa Maria in Domenica in Rome 1813. El busto bifronte, today in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, sample identified two philosophers who had to take his own life, this may be the reason for your sorority or perhaps another. On the one side with Socrates unkempt beard and neck screed warns her chubby body, by Seneca other a serene features and advanced alopecia, straight nose, eyes fixed on the horizon, conveying the tranquility of one who knows how to live with the destination. A very different Seneca the tormented face of Pseudo Seneca and more consistent with Stoic philosophy.

Seneca sculptures in Cordoba

The Museum of Fine Arts of Cordoba has a collection of plaster casting of Matthew Inurria among which is an impressive Seneca sitting and having the face commonly accepted and sculpture based on falsely attributed to the figure of Cordoba thinker. Know if this sculpture is cast in bronze reached sometime, but I think not. Which if melted at recently was the bronze sculpture of Eduardo Barrón, who now chairs the Plains of Praetorian, representing Seneca lecturing to an indolent Nero. Barron also uses misrepresentation even knowing it was already recognized then that found in 1810 as true. Matthew also Inurria there another bust the Alcázar and use the representation of the first model (Pseudo Séneca). Amadeo Ruiz Olmos made in 1965 sculpture there in front of the Puerta de Almodóvar subjecting themselves to new and more accurate face Seneca, I think it's the only one that is based on actual model, certainly, patron of this sculpture was Manuel Benitez “The Cordovan”. I guess the success of Seneca false to the true to the greater plasticity and beauty should be first on the second, more current appearance. It also influences the patterns made by Rubens and who have served as patron to artists who have depicted. But what is certain is that Seneca's face has nothing to do with the figure of bangs and trimmed beard that usually represents.


Finally there is also a stamp belonging to a number of large Spanish thinkers, where Seneca presents a true image true to his appearance and flees the misstatement in the Seneca is a painfully sad man with thick hair.

There is also a ticket 5 issued in pesetas 1947, that design features the bust Pseudo Seneca.

Also in 1997 issued one of the last pieces of our beloved peseta and wore the face of Seneca in the face, and door Almodóvar in his cross. It was a small coin 10 pesetas, for which also chose the Pseudo Seneca, on its true but less recognizable appearance.

© photographs: The Innkeeper (least the paintings and drawings)
Sources: The Art of Dying. The (false) Pictures of Seneca.


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