Gregorio Correr, James Calfhill, and the Early Elizabethan Affordances of Senecan Tragedy

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This essay re-examines the relationship between James Calfhill's lost play Progne, which was performed before Queen Elizabeth at Oxford University in 1566, and Gregorio Correr's (or Corraro's) fifteenth-century neo-Senecan tragedy Procne. It argues that Calfhill likely based his play closely upon Correr's, which had been printed by Paulo Manuzio for the Academia Venetiana in 1558. In addition to considering how and why a play based on Correr's Procne might have been chosen for performance before Elizabeth at Oxford, the essay argues that the possible existence of such a play should prompt reconsideration of the affordances of early Elizabethan Senecan tragedy more generally. Correr's play, it is proposed, is an exceptionally sophisticated study of Senecan characterization, and locating a play based closely upon it within the context of early Elizabethan Senecan imitation casts new light on the question of how Senecan tragedy was taken up in England.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-135
Number of pages19
JournalTranslation and Literature
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younge
  • Progne
  • Procne
  • James Calfhill
  • Corraro
  • Gregorio Correr
  • neo-Senecan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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