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Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. J. Wedgwood   [1867–72]1

A passage from Seneca’s Letters, which seems to me to establish the fact that hiding the face, as a sign of shame, was not a classical gesture.


“Players who imitate the effect of various passions, imitate shame in this manner— they hang their heads lower their words, fix their eyes on the ground & keep them lowered, but they are unable to blush—this can neither be prevented, nor done at will” Sen. Ep. 11. 52

Artifices scenici, qui imitantur affectus—hoc indicio imitantur verecundiam, dejiciunt vultam, verba submittunt, figunt in terram oculos, et deprimunt, ruborem sibi exprimere non possunt;— nec prohibetur hic, nec adducitur.

CD annotations

3.2 hang their heads … at will 3.4] scored pencil
Top of letter: ‘Hanging down Head’ pencil


The date range is established from the fact that the content of the letter relates to CD’s work on expression (see n. 2, below). CD was working on expression with a view to publishing between 1867 and 1872.
CD cited this passage in Expression, p. 323. See also the letters from F. J. Wedgwood to H. E. Darwin, [1867–72] (in this Supplement). The passage is from Ad Lucilium epistulae morales 11: 7, with some words omitted.


Extract from Seneca’s letters establishes that hiding the face in shame was not a classical gesture.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances Julia (Snow) Wedgwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 195.1: 53
Physical description
Amem 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7062,” accessed on 20 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20