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Page updated 14 March 2016

Elizabethan Seneca: Three Tragedies.
Edited by James Ker and Jessica Winston.

MHRA Tudor & Stuart Translations Vol. 8
Pbk ISBN 978-0-947623-98-2.
Pbk £13.99 / $21.99 / EUR14.99

Hbk ISBN 978-1-78188-082-1.
Hbk £27.50 / $39.99 / EUR32.99

Google ebooks £4.99

October 2012

Cover image for
            Seneca: Three Tragedies

In the early Elizabethan period, nine of the ten tragedies attributed to the ancient Roman statesman, philosopher, and playwright Seneca (c. 1 BCE–65 CE) were translated for the first time into English, and these translations shaped Seneca’s dramatic legacy as it would be known to later authors and playwrights.

This edition enables readers to appreciate the distinct style and aims of three milestone translations: Jasper Heywood’s Troas (1559) and Thyestes (1560), and John Studley’s Agamemnon (1566). The plays are presented in modern spelling and accompanied by critical notes clarifying the translators’ approaches to rendering Seneca in English. The introduction provides important context, including a survey of the transmission and reception of Seneca from the first through to the sixteenth century and an analysis and comparison of the style of the three translations.

James Ker is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jessica Winston is Professor of English at Idaho State University.


"This important edition will act as a stimulus for further comparative work: it will help to reconfigure our valuation of Elizabethan Seneca not just in terms of its legacy (important though that is) but as an innovative literary endeavour in its own right."

Sarah Dewar-Watson, TLS, 5 April 2013, 27.


"It is appropriate and welcome that one of the first volumes in the attractive new MHRA series gives [the translations] the stage to themselves for a while, and an occasion even for those who already more or less know them to look at them afresh."

Gordon Braden, Translation and Literature 22 (2013), 274.

"Seneca is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, prompting reevaluations of both his plays and their afterlives. This intelligently conceived and carefully edited volume offers a valuable opportunity to examine the evidence firsthand ... This volume is clear, intelligent, and informed by current scholarship; it will be valuable for scholars with an interest in Seneca, Elizabethan translation, classical reception, academic drama, and/or the development of tragedy."

Tanya Pollard, Renaissance Quarterly 66 (2013), 1513-14.

"This edition will be tremendously useful not just to scholars working on classical transmission or early modern drama, but also to those looking at Elizabethan literary culture as a whole. Ker and Winston successfully demonstrate the centrality of Seneca to the Elizabethan literary landscape and open doors for a wide variety of potential areas of enquiry."

Kavita Mudan Finn, Sixteenth Century Journal 45 (2014), 474-5.

"an excellent entry-point for students to the contexts both of the Senecan originals and of the Tudor translations."

Andrew J. Power, MLR 110 (2015), 238-9.



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