Lucius Annaeus Seneca was probably born around 4 BC in the southern Spanish city of Cordoba. In Rome, Seneca was trained as an orator and lawyer in order to enter a career in the the service of the state. Under the influence of his mother, he soon moved on to studying philosophy.
During these studies he was introduced to Stoicism, and became a fanatical supporter. His associated ascetic lifestyle lead to a life-threatening deterioration of the state of his health. As a consequence Seneca was sent to his father in Egypt for recuperation.
With restored health, he began his career in office in 31 AD, encountering great success as a court speaker in Rome. His talent as an orator, however, attracted the envy of two emperors and Caligula even asked for him to be murdered. But the emperor's assassination plan was not carried out, as Seneca was not believed to have a long life ahead of him because of his ill health.
Under emperor Claudius he was later alleged to have had an adulterous relationship with Julia Livilla, Caligula's sister, and Seneca was banned to Corsica in 41 AD. Seneca devoted this time in exile to scientific and poetic work. He did not return to Rome before 49 AD, and in 50 AD, already famous for his literary work, he was appointed praetor.
A little later, Seneca even became the teacher and tutor of the young imperial prince Nero. This position involved plenty of power for Seneca, acting on behalf of the underage and psychopathic Nero, he ruled over the imperial court, senate, Rome and the entire empire, but his influence on the juvenile emperor diminished from year to year, and Seneca increasingly withdrew from his position.
During this time in retreat, in the last three years of his life, Seneca managed to develop, perfect and complete his philosophical works. The emperor Nero, who was withdrawing more and more from Seneca's influence and became increasingly alienated, finally accused Seneca of having been involved with the Pisonian conspiracy in April 65 AD and sentenced him to death.
In his friends' presence Seneca committed suicide by cutting his arteries.