Six Tragedies (Oxford World's Classics)
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Here is a lively, readable, and accurate verse translation of the six best plays by one of the most influential of all classical Latin writers--the only tragic playwright from ancient Rome whose work survives. Tutor to the emperor Nero, Seneca lived through uncertain, oppressive, and violent times, and his dramas depict the extremes of human behavior. Rape, suicide, child-murder, incestuous love, madness, and mutilation afflict the characters, who are obsessed and destroyed by their feelings. Seneca forces us to think about the difference between compromise and hypocrisy, about what happens when emotions overwhelm judgment, and about how a person can be good, calm, or happy in a corrupt society and under constant threat of death. In addition to her superb translation, Emily Wilson provides an invaluable introduction which offers a succinct account of Seneca's life and times, his philosophical beliefs, the literary form of the plays, and their immense influence on European literature. The book also includes an up-to-date bibliography and explanatory notes which identify mythological allusions.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
yourself, why murder your true self? The farmer profits most from the field whose crop grows free in its tender youth, rejoicing* in rich corn. The tree whose towering top is tallest of all the grove is the one which no grudging hand has hacked or pruned. The virtuous mind attracts its proper praise if vigorous liberty has fed its noble soul. 460 Will you remain a savage wood-man, ignorant of life, spending your youth in gloom, despising sex? Do you believe this is duty, that men should
who stole his wife?* Not unless maybe even Hades smiles on love. HIPPOLYTUS The gods are just; they will return him home again. But while god leaves our prayers unanswered, I 630 shall act with dutiful love towards my brothers; I will make sure that you should not feel widowed: I will myself act as my father to you. PHAEDRA Deceptive love! How lovers trust their hopes! Perhaps I have not said enough—I will beseech him. Have mercy, listen to my prayer, from a frightened heart. I want to
you provide a defence speech for my life? Did Tiresias hear my case? No! But you think I am guilty. You set the example. I follow. CREON What if I am innocent? OEDIPUS Kings usually fear possibilities as much as truth. CREON Those with false fears 700 deserve real ones. OEDIPUS When guilty men go free they feel resentful. No more doubts for me. CREON The perfect way to hatred. OEDIPUS A man who shrinks from hatred does not know how to rule. Kingdoms stay safe through fear. CREON The
darkness. But we must see this evil; all is now revealed. CHORUS Why, Lord of Earth and Sky? Why is all beauty gone, why is dark night 790 risen at noon? Why this change of yours, why destroy day in the middle of day? Why, Phoebus, do you rob us of your face? The messenger of night, the Evening Star, has not yet called the night-light out; the turning of the western wheel has not yet set to rest its tired horses; day had not yet switched to afternoon, the trumpeter had not sounded the
Andromache is singing as she calls her son out. Priam . . . threats of fierce Hercules: Priam’s father, Laomedon, promised to give a gift of mares to Hercules in exchange for building his city’s walls. Laomedon reneged on the promise, and Hercules came to kill him—but, in Seneca’s version of the myth, spared the boy Priam’s life (a detail which does not appear in early versions of the story). you killed even Greeks: Ulysses plotted the death of Palamedes, a Greek. fighting by night: Ulysses