L. Annæus Seneca, the author of the following Tragedies, was born 6 years A.C. and was a native of Corduba in Spain. At an early age he was distinguished by his extraordinary talents, according to Lemprière, and was taught eloquence by his father, and received lessons in philosophy from the best and most celebrated Stoics of the age. He was appointed by Agrippina, the fourth wife of Claudius, as the tutor of her son Nero, who sentenced him to destroy himself, and he is said to have remarked that such a mandate was quite in harmony with the truculent character of the man, who murdered his own mother (see Octavia). I pay no sort of heed to the various aspersions that have been levelled at the character of Seneca, as a renowned poet, for the best of men in all ages have come in for their share of popular abuse and have been made the targets for the poisoned arrows of their calumniators; for further information concerning the life of Seneca, I refer my readers to Lemprière, from whose pages the foregoing remarks have been quoted. The function which I have assumed is to do the greatest justice to his tragedies, as a Translator.
I have been so long favorably impressed with the force, beauty and artistic skill as portrayed in the Tragedies of Seneca, as to be convinced that a great loss has been sustained at the hands of many who would have fully appreciated the labors of that admirable poet, presumedly because they have never been presented to the reading world in a suitable English form.
They have been translated in various continental languages within the last century, but an English reader unacquainted with such tongues would be quite at sea in