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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.
Emily Wilson is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania.
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