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Seneca and the Idea of Tragedy$
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Gregory A. Staley

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195387438

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387438.001.0001

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Theorizing Tragedy

Theorizing Tragedy

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 Theorizing Tragedy
Source:
Seneca and the Idea of Tragedy
Author(s):

Gregory A. Staley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387438.003.0001

Seneca himself never wrote a poetics that might explicitly explain his plays. For other poets or poets of other genres this would not necessarily be an issue, but Seneca was a philosopher, and poetic theory was in antiquity part of a philosopher’s portfolio. This chapter turns to Sir Philip Sidney because he articulates and applies to Seneca a version of Aristotle’s ideas that in their later transmission had passed through the hands of the Stoics. Seneca comes between Aristotle and Sidney, yet both theorists are relevant to his idea of tragedy. Aristotle defends tragedy on epistemological and psychological grounds that were later to influence Stoic thinking about images, ideas, and the emotional component in judgment. Sidney in turn illustrates what Aristotle looked like in a Stoic guise; he thus provides the kind of Aristotelian-Stoic poetics that would have been contemporary with Seneca.

Keywords:   Seneca, Poetics, Sir Philip Sidney, Stoics, Aristotle, images

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