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Senecan Drama And Stoic Cosmology
by Thomas G. Rosenmeyer
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Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Nero's tutor and advisor, wrote philosophical essays, some of them in the form of letters, and dramas on Greek mythological topics, which since the early Renaissance have exercised a powerful influence on the European theater. Because in his essays Seneca, in his own eclectic way, subscribes to the philosophy of the Stoic school, scholars and critics have long been asking the question whether the plays, also, could be regarded as transmitters of Stoic thought. Various answers, ranging from a categorical no to an uneasy yes, have been given.
With few exceptions, the students who have concerned themselves with this question have looked for their enlightenment in Stoic psychology and Stoic ethics. In this book, Thomas G. Rosenmeyer proposes instead to look at the Stoic science of nature, of the world and human beings in the world, as a more plausible grounding for the difference between Senecan drama and its Greek predecessors. In the process of looking at what the Stoics, especially the early Stoics, had to say about the forces determining natural phenomena, the author uncovers a deeply pessimistic strain in Stoic cosmology, and an interest in physicality and environmental tension, that he finds replicated in the theater, not only of Seneca, but also of the later European tradition indebted to him.
About the Author
Thomas G. Rosenmeyer is Professor of Greek and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent book, The Art of Aeschylus, was published by the University of California Press in 1982.
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