This close reading of Seneca's most influential tragedy explores the question of how poetic language produces the impression of an individual self, a full personality with a conscious and unconscious emotional life. Originally published in 1986. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
Living in Rome under Caligula and later a tutor to Nero, Seneca witnessed the extremes of human behaviour. His shocking and bloodthirsty plays not only reflect a brutal period of history but also show how guilt, sorrow, anger and desire lead individuals to violence. The hero of Hercules Insane saves his own family from slaughter, only to commit further atrocities when he goes mad. The horrifying death of Astyanax is recounted in Trojan Women, and Phaedra deals with forbidden love. In Oedipus a nervous man discovers himself, while Thyestes recounts the bitter family struggle for a crown. Of uncertain authorship, Octavia dramatizes Nero's divorce from his wife and her deportation. The only Latin tragedies to have survived complete, these plays are masterpieces of vibrant, muscular language and psychological insight.
Seneca's Characters addresses one of the most enduring and least theorised elements of literature: fictional character and its relationship to actual, human selfhood. Where does the boundary between character and person lie? While the characters we encounter in texts are obviously not 'real' people, they still possess person-like qualities that stimulate our attention and engagement. How is this relationship formulated in contexts of theatrical performance, where characters are set in motion by actual people, actual bodies and voices? This book addresses such questions by focusing on issues of coherence, imitation, appearance and autonomous action. It argues for the plays' sophisticated treatment of character, their acknowledgement of its purely fictional ontology alongside deep – and often dark – appreciation of its quasi-human qualities. Seneca's Characters offers a fresh perspective on the playwright's powerful tragic aesthetics that will stimulate scholars and students alike.
Tragic Seneca undertakes a radical re-evaluation of Seneca's plays, their relationship to Roman imperial culture and their instrumental role in the evolution of the European theatrical tradition. Following an introduction on the history of the Roman theatre, the book provides a dramatic and cultural critique of the whole of Seneca's corpus, analysing the declamatory form of the plays, their rhetoric, interiority, stagecraft and spectacle, dramatic, ideological and moral structure and their overt theatricality. Each of Seneca's plays is examined in detail, locating the force of Senecan drama not only in the moral complexity of the texts and their representations of power, violence, history, suffering and the self, but the semiotic interplay of text, tradition and culture. The later chapters focus on Seneca's influence on Italian, English and French drama of the Renaissance. A.J. Boyle argues that tragedians such as Cinthio, Kyd, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Webster, Corneille, and Racine owe a debt to Seneca that goes beyond allusion, dramatic form and the treatment of tyranny and revenge to the development of the tragic sensibility and the metatheatrical mind. Tragic Seneca attempts to restore Seneca to a central position in the European literary tradition. It will provide readers and directors of Seneca's plays with the essential critical guide to their intellectual, cultural and dramatic complexity.
The plays of Seneca the Younger, minister and philosopher under Nero, are today increasingly studied, appreciated and performed. Here, in twelve new papers from a distinguished international cast, scholars explore established questions, such as whether the plays were written for the stage, and newer topics such as the playwright's subtleties of characterisation, his relation to contemporary Roman spectacle and art - and the problems arising in translating him to modern text or stage.
In their practice of aemulatio, the mimicry of older models of writing, the Augustan poets often looked to the Greeks: Horace drew inspiration from the lyric poets, Virgil from Homer, and Ovid from Hesiod, Callimachus, and others. But by the time of the great Roman tragedian Seneca, the Augustan poets had supplanted the Greeks as the "classics" to which Seneca and his contemporaries referred. Indeed, Augustan poetry is a reservoir of language, motif, and thought for Seneca's writing. Strangely, however, there has not yet been a comprehensive study revealing the relationship between Seneca and his Augustan predecessors. Christopher Trinacty's Senecan Tragedy and the Reception of Augustan Poetry is the long-awaited answer to the call for such a study. Senecan Tragedy and the Reception of Augustan Poetry uniquely places Senecan tragedy in its Roman literary context, offering a further dimension to the motivations and meaning behind Seneca's writings. By reading Senecan tragedy through an intertextual lens, Trinacty reveals Seneca's awareness of his historical moment, in which the Augustan period was eroding steadily around him. Seneca, looking back to the poetry of Horace, Virgil, and Ovid, acts as a critical interpreter of both their work and their era. He deconstructs the language of the Augustan poets, refiguring it through the perspective of his tragic protagonists. In doing so, he positions himself as a critic of the Augustan tradition and reveals a poetic voice that often subverts the classical ethos of that tradition. Through this process of reappropriation Seneca reveals much about himself as a playwright and as a man: In the inventive manner in which he re-employs the Augustan poets' language, thought, and poetics within the tragic framework, Seneca gives his model works new--and uniquely Senecan--life. Trinacty's analysis sheds new light both on Seneca and on his Augustan predecessors. As such, Senecan Tragedy and the Reception of Augustan Poetry promises to be a groundbreaking contribution to the study of both Senecan tragedy and Augustan poetry.
Phaedra is one of Seneca's most successful tragedies. This book introduces the reader to the complex dramatic and literary inheritance which Seneca appropriated and in his turn bequeathed, and he sets out some of the main lines of contemporary interpretation and performance practice for this play.
One of the primary objectives of comparative literature is the study of the relationship of texts, also known as intertextuality, which is a means of contextualizing and analyzing the way literature grows and flourishes through inspiration and imitation, direct or indirect. When the inspiration and imitation is direct and obvious, the study of this rapport falls into the more restricted category of hypertextuality. What the author has labeled a cryptic subtext, however, is an extreme case of hypertextuality. It involves a series of allusions to another text that have been deliberately inserted by the author into the primary text as potential points of reference. This book takes a deep dive into a broad array of literature and film to explore these allusions and the hidden messages therein.