Fall for 2015-2016
Seneca’s tragedies brilliantly explore fundamental themes of the tragic genre (e.g. family, love, political life, gods, revenge). This course will focus on the Phaedra, which concerns the twisted love felt by Phaedra for her stepson Hippolytus, and Thyestes, which focuses upon the corrupt and perverse household of Thyestes and his brother Atreus (the father of Agamemnon). Both plays take as their point of departure deeply dysfunctional relationships within a family and then develop them in quite different and explosive ways. Close attention will paid to Seneca’s use of meter and diction in a dramatic context, as well as practical aspects—such as staging, performance—of Senecan (and, more generally, Roman) drama. We will also discuss the significant influence of Seneca’s handling of the genre upon later writers such as Shakespeare, and we will also look back to some classical Greek drama as a way to understand better some of Seneca’s technique.
Other academic years
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