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Self-representation and Illusion in Senecan Tragedy$
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C. A. J. Littlewood

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267613

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267613.001.0001

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The Broken World

The Broken World

(p.15) 2 The Broken World
Self-representation and Illusion in Senecan Tragedy

C. A. J. Littlewood (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the ambiguities of self-representation in a world of moral and physical disorder. Particularly in the bare paradoxes exchanged as sententiae it becomes difficult to distinguish the polar opposites of vice and virtue, the inhuman alienation of the maniac from the autonomy of the Stoic sage. Seneca's distinctively artificial style — his presentation of reality and fate as mere constructions — poses distinctive moral challenges for his characters. There are discussions of Medea's knowledge of her own myth, Lycus' statement (in Hercules Furens) that the victors write the histories, and the intervention of the second chorus in Troades which dismisses the reality of Achilles' ghost as empty words, and a play like a bad dream.

Keywords:   Stoic sage, autonomy, artificial style, Medea, Hercules, Troades

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