Roman Tragedy: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Roman Tragedy

1st Edition

By Anthony J. Boyle


320 pages

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pub: 2005-10-07
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The first detailed cultural and theatrical history of a major literary form, this landmark introduction examines Roman tragedy and its place at the centre of Rome’s cultural and political life.

Analyzing the work of such names as Ennius, Pacuvius and Accius, as well as Seneca and his post-Neronian successors, Anthony J. Boyle delves into detailed discussion on every Roman tragedian whose work survives in substance today. Roman Tragedy examines:

  • the history of Roman tragic techniques and conventions
  • the history of generic form and change
  • the debt that Rome owes to Greece, and text owes to text
  • the birth, development and death of Roman tragedy in the context of the cities evolving, institutions, ideologies and political and social practices
  • tragedy proper and the historical drama (fabula praetexta), which the Romans allied to tragedy.

With parallel English translations of Latin quotations, this seminal work not only provides an invaluable resource for students of theatre, Roman political history and cultural history, but it is also accessible to all interested in the social dynamics of writing, spectacle, ideology and power.


'To sum up, this book is a well-thought-out and original piece of scholarship, which will advance considerably the debate on these tragedies and enhance their understanding … I can warmly recommend the book both to experts who wish to have an up-to-date account of the latest studies in Roman tragedy and to undergraduate and graduate students who can mine this useful volume for relevant paper and even dissertation topics.'Tsoka Aikaterini, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, Jan 2007

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Birth of Roman Drama 1. Staging Rome Part 2: The Evolution of Roman Tragedy 2. Founding Fathers: The Appropriation of Greece Livius and Naevius 3. The Second Wave: Generic Confidence Ennius and Pacuvius 4. Tragic Apex: Poetic Form and Political Crisis Accius 5. Canonisation and Turmoil: The End of the Republic 6. Roma Theatrum: The Early Empire Varius, Ovid and Pomponius 7. Seneca’s Tragic Theatre Part 3: The Death of Tragedy at Rome 8. Tragedy and Autocracy: The Liberty of Silence Hercules Oetaeus, Octavia and Maternus

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
DRAMA / Ancient, Classical & Medieval
HISTORY / Ancient / General
HISTORY / Ancient / Rome