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Roman Tragedy

Theatre to Theatricality

By Mario Erasmo

Publication Year: 2004

Mario Erasmo draws on all the available evidence to trace the evolution of Roman tragedy from the earliest tragedians to the dramatist Seneca and to explore the role played by Roman culture in shaping the perception of theatricality on and off the stage.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Any study of Roman tragedy must begin with Otto Ribbeck’s Römische Tragödie (1875), which remains an important study of the myths and Greek precedents of Latin plays. Equally important, and perhaps more . . .

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Introduction: Theatre to Theatricality

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pp. 1-8

In the De finibus (1.2.4), Cicero claims that Roman dramatists copied their Greek originals “word for word.” If we read further in the same passage, however, Cicero states . . .

One: Creating Tragedy

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Livius Andronicus

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pp. 9-14

So a character in Livius’ tragedy asks of the value of an early deed in relation to the present. Should something be admired solely because of its age, or rather because it possesses some other quality besides antiquity . . .

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Naevius

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pp. 14-18

The second tragedian at Rome, Gnaeus Naevius (c. 270– c. 199 B.C.E.), faced a dilemma: should he reject Livius’ innovations and present a tragedy on the Greek model, or adopt the format introduced by his . . .

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Ennius

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pp. 18-28

Ennius experienced an early and formative contact with Greek culture owing to his birthplace at Rudiae in southern Italy. According to Suetonius, the proximity of his birthplace to . . .

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The Audience

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pp. 28-30

Interpretation of tragedy requires interpreters in the audience. The “audience” of the earliest tragic productions was, of course, not a monolithic group, but one that was composed of various diverse groups. . . .

Two: Theatricalizing Tragedy

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pp. 31-33

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Pacuvius

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pp. 34-42

Pacuvius, the nephew of Ennius, was born at Brundisium in 220 B.C.E. and died in 130 b.c.e. Little is known about his career except that he was a dramatist of modest output in the circle of Laelius, and that . . .

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Accius

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pp. 42-51

Lucius Accius (170 – c. 86 B.C.E.) was born at Pisaurum, the son of a freedman. Although his fame in antiquity was achieved as a writer of tragedies, the literary breadth of Accius resembles that of Ennius. Accius . . .

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Three: Dramatizing History

Ovid’s jesting interpretation of the reasons why women attend the theatre illustrates how the audience itself provided as much “theatre” as the stage did.1 But what if the barrier between actor and audience were . . .

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Theatricality of History

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pp. 53-68

The fabula praetexta, or historical drama in Roman dress, was so termed after the praetexta, the purple-bordered toga worn by magistrates and senators.4 The term “historical drama” is misleading, . . .

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Staging History

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pp. 68-80

The praetextae, as dramatic recreations of reality onstage, are informed by cultural events performed by historical and contemporary figures but presented in a dramatic, rather than a realistic, setting. Examining . . .

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Four: Creating Metatragedy

After killing her children, Medea (Seneca Medea 982–994) considers the effects of her anger and voices her one regret: that she did not turn Jason into a spectator, since her crime does not exist without him as . . .

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Pompey's Theatre Opening

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pp. 83-91

When Pompey celebrated the gala opening of his theatre, which was the first permanent stone theatre at Rome, in 55 B.C.D., the lavish displays of the various ludi dazzled his audience with their . . .

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Staging Brutus

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pp. 91-101

The contaminatio of a tragedy with allusions from the audience’s reality, whether or not these were physically incorporated into the drama onstage, finds frequent expression soon after Pompey’s theatre opening. . . .

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Thyestes on the Roman Stage

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pp. 101-117

The myth relating the rivalry between Atreus and Thyestes was popular on the Roman stage and involves three main episodes in dramatic versions, two of which take place in Mycenae and the third in Epirus. . . .

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Nero: Imperator Scaenicus

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pp. 117-121

Although Nero—dubbed imperator scaenicus by Pliny131—taxed the interpretive skills of his subjects more than had any of his Julio-Claudian precursors, his reign should be seen as the culmination and not . . .

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Five: Metatragedy

When the audience’s own theatricalized reality is incorporated into stage reality, the metatragedy of Seneca results: theatricality replaces theatre as characters become their own audience watching or commenting on . . .

Seneca's Actor-Audience

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pp. 122-137

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From Tragedy to Metatragedy

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pp. 137-139

By looking forward from Livius rather than back from Seneca, this study has traced, in general, the development of theatre to theatricality that transformed tragedy to metatragedy. The fragments from the plays . . .

APPENDIX: Tragedies Listed by Dramatist

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pp. 141-152

NOTES

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pp. 153-192

Bibliography

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pp. 193-205

Index

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pp. 207-211


E-ISBN-13: 9780292797543
E-ISBN-10: 0292797540
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292702424
Print-ISBN-10: 0292702426

Page Count: 223
Illustrations: none
Publication Year: 2004

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