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SENECAN POSTSCRIPT

  • A.J. Boyle (a1)

Extract

Eliot was always right to a degree, banally so. Much of the visceral, emotional and intellectual force of Senecan tragedy, like that of the great Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists whom Seneca inspired, is necessarily verbal. But, as Trinacty's closural analysis and the other studies of this volume attest, there are ‘further realities’—many and diverse: poetic, theatrical, political, rhetorical, psychological, moral, cultural—‘behind’ the language itself. This collection of critical essays is the latest manifestation of the resurgence of Senecan scholarly and intellectual energy which has taken place in the thirty plus years since the 1983 publication of the Ramus volume on Seneca Tragicus. That volume not only displayed with disdain the above quotation from Eliot, but paraded itself lamentably as ‘the first collection of critical essays devoted specifically to Senecan tragedy to be published in English’.

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1. A recent article on the topic may be cited: Augoustakis (2015). The monograph awaits its author. On the larger issue of the contemporary concern with Senecan reception, note that even ‘Companions’ are following the ‘reception trend’: see, for example, Dodson-Robinson (2016), one of several Brill ‘Companions’ to the reception of classical authors.

2. For dramatic performances in a private house, a phenomenon even in Marius’ day, see Sall. Iug. 85.13.

3. Crocetti (1973), 184.

4. Charlton (1946), lxxx n.6. The last sentence and a half of this paragraph reuse (with slight alteration) the language of my Tragic Seneca (1997), 12.

5. Pantomime, most especially: see Zimmermann (2008), Slaney (2013), Zanobi (2014).

6. Again I reuse with slight alteration the language of Tragic Seneca (1997): see 11f. Sutton's much cited (but all too brief) study (1986) and Harrison's collection (2000) are useful starting-points for dramaturgical inquiry. They need a worthy and more substantial successor, nescio quidmaius et solito amplius / supraque fines moris humani (‘something greater, larger / than the norm, beyond bounds of human custom, Thy. 267f.), as Atreus might say.

7. Two major new operas have been staged in the new millennium. Sylvano Bussotti's ‘tragedia operistica’, Tieste, premiered at the Teatro Brancaccio Rome, June 8 2000, conducted by Arturo Tamayo. Jan van Vlijmen's Thyeste, based upon Hugo Claus’ adaptation, premiered in Brussels at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie on September 27 2005; it was directed by Gerardjan Rijnders and conducted by Stefan Asbury.

8. Readers interested in the long history of Thyestes’ reception (from antiquity to the present day) may find a detailed account in the Introduction (§ viii) to my Seneca: Thyestes (Oxford, 2017), from the Preface and Introduction to which some of the language and material in the final two paragraphs of this postscript have been taken.

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SENECAN POSTSCRIPT

  • A.J. Boyle (a1)

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