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About this Lecture
In this module, Helen looks in more detail at Seneca himself. She begins by placing him in his Roman context, before looking at some of the characteristics of Senecan drama: rhetoric, excess, and horror. She ends by considering the influence of Stoicism on the tragedian, asking the question: 'Is it right to act in accordance with Nature when Nature is inherently evil?'
Shakespeare’s most famous – and infamous – tragedies draw on the Roman playwright Seneca for their dramatic form and theatrical style - including ‘Hamlet’, ‘King Lear’, and ‘Titus Andronicus’. Seneca also had a huge influence on Shakespeare’s contemporaries: Thomas Kyd’s ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ brought the Senecan themes of revenge and ultra-violence onto the English stage, while Tamburlaine’s thundering rhetoric and superhuman ambition in Christopher Marlowe’s play of the same name echo Seneca’s ‘Hercules’. But who was Seneca? What did he write? And why? This course introduces Seneca and explores his enormous influence on theatre in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Helen Slaney holds the Randall McIver Junior Research Fellowship at St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she is currently conducting practice-based research into Roman tragic pantomime. Helen's main field of interest is classical reception studies. In 2012 she completed a doctorate on the performance reception of Senecan tragedy. Her postdoctoral research will focus on embodied encounters with antiquity in the late eighteenth century.
Cite this Lecture
Slaney, H. (2018, August 15). Seneca and Early Modern Drama - Seneca [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/seneca-and-early-modern-drama/seneca
Slaney, H. "Seneca and Early Modern Drama – Seneca." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 31 Jan 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/seneca-and-early-modern-drama/seneca