"She liked Cecily to read to her from Seneca in the evenings"

 Seneca was an ancient Roman writer and Stoic philosopher. He wrote works of philosophy, morals and meteorology, as well as nine tragedies and a satire. As a Stoic he believed that there was a divine and rational purpose behind life, that enduring suffering would improve the soul, and that a simple, balanced life of study and learning was the best route to happiness. He also discussed the best ways to approach death. Seneca was looked on favourably by the early Church, and printed copies of his writing became common in the Renaissance.