Elizabethan Seneca

Elizabethan Seneca: Three Tragedies

James Ker
Jessica Winston
Volume: Volume 8
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 349
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  • Book Info
    Elizabethan Seneca
    Book Description:

    In the early Elizabethan period, nine of the ten tragedies attributed to the ancient Roman statesman, philosopher, and playwright Seneca (c. 1 BCE–65 CE) were translated for the first time into English, and these translations shaped Seneca’s dramatic legacy as it would be known to later authors and playwrights. This edition enables readers to appreciate the distinct style and aims of three milestone translations: Jasper Heywood’s 'Troas' (1559) and 'Thyestes' (1560), and John Studley’s 'Agamemnon' (1566). The plays are presented in modern spelling and accompanied by critical notes clarifying the translators’ approaches to rendering Seneca in English. The introduction provides important context, including a survey of the transmission and reception of Seneca from the first through to the sixteenth century and an analysis and comparison of the style of the three translations. James Ker is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Jessica Winston is Professor of English at Idaho State University.

    eISBN: 978-1-78188-015-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Andrew Hadfield and Neil Rhodes

    The aim of theMHRA Tudor & Stuart Translationsis to create a representative library of works translated into English during the early modern period for the use of scholars, students and the wider public. The series will include both substantial single works and selections of texts from major authors, with the emphasis being on the works that were most familiar to early modern readers. The texts themselves will be newly edited with substantial introductions, notes, and glossaries, and will be published both in print and online.

    The series aims to restore to view a major part of English Renaissance literature...

    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-62)

    In 1559, a classical tragedy appeared in print for the first time in England. This was Jasper Heywood’sTroas, a translation of Seneca’sTroades(Trojan Women), a play about the women and children who survived the fall of Troy. Today,Troasis not often read, and without biographical and literary context it can seem like little more than a typical example of mid-Tudor verse.Troaswas, however, a turning point in English Renaissance literature. Most immediately, the translation established Heywood as a significant writer of the day. Contemporaries praised his ‘smooth and filed style’, ‘perfect’ and ‘thundering’ verse, and ‘learned...

    (pp. 63-66)
    (pp. 67-134)

    To the most high and virtuous princess, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, her highness’s most humble and obedient subject, Jasper Heywood, student in the University of Oxford, wisheth health, wealth, honour, and felicity.¹

    If consideration of Your Grace’s goodness toward us all your loving subjects, which flying fame by mouths of men resounds, had not fully in me repressed all dread of reprehension° (most noble princess and my dread sovereign lady); if the wisdom that God at these years in Your Highness hath planted had not seemed to me...

    (pp. 135-204)

    To the right honourable Sir John Mason, Knight, one of the

    Queen’s Majesty’s Privy Council, his daily orator Jasper Heywood wisheth health with increase of honour and virtue.¹

    As bounden° breast doth bear the poorest wight°

    That duty doth in trifling token send,

    As he that doth with plenteous present quit°

    Of prouder price and glittering gold his friend;

    Whoso repay’th with money’s mighty mass

    The good that he at others’ hands hath found,

    Remembrance of the benefit° doth pass:²

    He thinks himself to him no longer bound.³

    The poor, whose power may not with price repay

    The great good...

    (pp. 205-278)

    Non secus ac rostro crudelis vultur obunco

    Caucasei rodit iecur immortale Promethei,

    Invida mens stolidi, vitio contorta perenni,

    Derogat assidue famam nomenque merentis.

    Cum legis hanc igitur, si quicquam versio ridet,

    Non quid verba velint, sed quid res ipsa, videto.

    Sanguine spumantes pateras cum mente revolvit,

    Saevit in Atridem mens impia saevit adultri.

    Et Deus Atream, patris de crimine, prolem

    Perdit; et iniustae tollunt Agamemnona parcae.

    Debuit exemplum quosvis terrere superbos;

    Et, cuivis, opus hoc iuvenis laudare molestum.

    Sed si turba ruant in quaevis aequora praeceps,

    Flumine poenarum iusto Deus obruet illos.

    Just as the cruel vulture with its curving...

    (pp. 279-288)

    The translators knew Senecan tragedy both inflorilegiaand in Latin printed editions. Specific traditions of textual transmission, commentary, and translation shaped their understanding of Seneca and his writings. They may have been familiar with the recent Italian translations by Lodovico Dolce (c. 1550).¹ The tragedies had already been subject to critical attention in fourteenth-century Italy, with commentaries by the Paduan Alberto Mussato (d. 1315), who also wrote his own ‘Senecan’ tragedy, Ecerinis, and by the Oxford scholar Nicholas Trevet (c. 1315). The most recent commentary was by Jodocus Badius Ascensius (Paris, 1514), and there are some signs that Heywood...

    (pp. 289-298)

    For each of the plays, the copy-text is the first printed octavo. There is some question about the first printed edition ofTroas(discussed below).

    We have silently expanded and regularized speech tags and punctuation. The spelling in the texts (and all quotations throughout) has been modernized. The modernized text has the effect of obscuring an interesting feature of the early editions, the printing of many rhyme words with similar orthography, something that is especially noticeable when the rhyme seems (to a modern ear) to be only approximate. For example, inTroas, ‘display’ at 2.2.19 appears as ‘disploye’ to rhyme...

    (pp. 299-312)
    (pp. 313-324)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 325-342)