Seneca and English Political Culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Early modern writers associated Seneca with sententious socio-political wisdom and saw, in his plays, dramatizations of tyranny and the breakdown of conciliar government. This chapter traces the changing ways that Seneca was used in Elizabethan and early Stuart England, with an emphasis upon the reception of his plays and their developing association with political thought. Changes in the deployment of Senecan drama correlate to broader changes of attitude towards the exemplarity of Rome. Where early Elizabethan writers tended to accommodate Seneca to Ciceronian humanism and the Elizabethan ideal of monarchical republicanism, later writers tended to focus on Seneca’s imperial provenance and to associate his plays with autocracy and the erosion of governmental balance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Age of Shakespeare
EditorsR. Malcolm Smuts
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199660841
StatePublished - Jun 21 2016


  • Seneca
  • tragedy
  • monarchical republicanism
  • Rome
  • reception
  • Stoicism and Neostoicism
  • humanism


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