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The Senecan AestheticA Performance History$
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Helen Slaney

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198736769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198736769.001.0001

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(p.165) 5 Hypertragedy
The Senecan Aesthetic

Helen Slaney

Oxford University Press

When English theatres reopened in 1660 following the restoration of the monarchy, Seneca remained a resource for tragedians. In particular, playwright Nathaniel ‘Mad Nat’ Lee made extensive use of senecan tropes and modes of expression. His early work Nero draws on the pseudo-Senecan Octavia, and later in his career he collaborated with John Dryden on a version of Oedipus. The use of densely figured language to express passion, resulting in a feeling of excess, may be termed ‘hypertragedy’. But this important aspect of the senecan aesthetic was entering a period of decline as developments in scenographic technology began to prioritize spectacle over speech.

Keywords:   Nathaniel Lee, John Dryden, Restoration, Oedipus, Nero, regicide, gender, spectacle

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