Octavia: Attributed to Seneca

Shadi Bartsch writes:

Following on the heels of a renaissance in Senecan studies, the Octavia is enjoying a surge in critical interest. In the last decade, there have been two new English editions, including the excellent 2003 text and commentary by Rolando Ferri. Now comes A.J. Boyle’s critical edition and commentary, with facing English translation in literal but elegant blank verse. Boyle’s commentary goes to pains to situate the drama in its historical and social context. The introduction starts by discussing the authorship and date of the play, and moves on to the Neronian principate and the theatrical nature of Nero’s reign. We then get a review of the history of Roman theatre in the republican and imperial periods (Boyle observes that political drama seems to decline as it becomes more risky) and a good account of the genre of the fabula praetexta.

(LRB 26 February 2009)

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