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The Role of Description in Senecan Tragedy


Victoria Tietze Larson

This study focuses on the descriptiveness of Senecan tragedy, a characteristic which sharply distinguishes it from the practice of classical Greek tragedy. While the Senecan descriptions can and have been explained in terms of the influence of rhetoric or as devices that compensate for the absence of performance, this book presents them as an integral aspect of a conception of tragedy which, sui generis, is quided distinct from classical Greek precedent. Senecan tragedy is, in fact, an amalgam of narrative and dramatic «modes», - a kind of «epic theatre» - the descriptions of which are to be seen as an imported narrative technique which affords Seneca the means to control his audience's «view» of the moral meaning of the plays.
Contents: The occurrence of description in Greek and Senecan tragedy - Seneca's epic theatre: the departure from dramatic illusion - The set-piece: the rhetorical tradition of the Senecan descriptions - Enargeia and animation - The description as a «point of view.»