Phaedra and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)

Phaedra and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0140455515

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Jupiter,* leader of the Titans* in their war against Jupiter and the other Olympians; they were defeated and bound in Tartarus; Saturn was k. of heaven during the Golden Age on earth. Sciron: Monster dwelling along the cliffs of Megara who used to make passing travellers wash his feet and, while they did so, kicked them into the sea, where a giant sea-turtle would devour them; Theseus* killed him in the same fashion. Scylla: Sea monster with the face and torso of a woman, but with six dogs

Livius Andronicus translated and staged a Greek play for the Ludi Romani (‘The Roman Shows’), all of these plays have wholly perished or are preserved in only a few (usually short) fragments. Thus, we have only the barest traces of the extensive oeuvres of the early republican playwrights Naevius, Ennius, Pacuvius and Accius, which were regarded as classics both by Cicero (106–43 BC), who quotes from them liberally, and Quintilian. From the late Republic we have, for instance, Horace and Vergil’s

why his sorrowful eyes drench his face with mournful streams of tears. ACT IV MESSENGER: How sad, how harsh is my lot! O heavy task! Why must I be the messenger of such an unspeakable tragedy? THESEUS: Have no fear; take courage and tell me the bitter details of the disaster. My heart is not unused to hardship. MESSENGER: My tongue refuses to give voice to my sorrow, my grief. THESEUS: Speak! What calamity convulses our already shaken house? MESSENGER: It’s Hippolytus – oh, the pain! – he’s

Deep sleep gently unwound his aged soul. OEDIPUS: My father, dead, without bloodshed! You are my witnesses: I may now with a clear conscience raise my hands to heaven – they are untainted and no longer fear committing murder. Yet another, more fearful part of my destiny looms over me. OLD MAN: Once you take your seat upon your father’s throne, all of your fears will vanish. OEDIPUS: My father’s throne I will come for – it’s my mother I dread. OLD MAN: Why do you fear your mother, who

Our father stands there in a sluggish daze, turning his head back and forth, unable to make up his mind. THYESTES: Thyestes, why are you indecisive? Why torture yourself so long over a decision so easy to make? Will you put your trust in things most insecure, your brother and power? Why do you fear the troubles you’ve already surmounted, already tamed? Why are you running away from the hardships you’ve come to terms with? You are now happy being miserable – turn back while you still can and save

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