Troades (Seneca)

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Troades
The Sacrifice of Polyxena MET DP307492.jpg
Sacrifice of Polyxena (Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, 17th-century)
Author Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Country Rome
Language Latin
GenreTragedy
Set inTroy
Publication date
mid to late 1st century
Text Troades at Wikisource

Troades (lit.'The Trojan Women') is a fabula crepidata (Roman tragedy with Greek subject) of c. 1179 lines [1] of verse written by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Contents

Characters

Plot

The siege of Troy is done and the city is now smouldering ruins. The victorious Greeks have gathered the rich spoils of Troy upon the shore, among these the Trojan women who await their lot to be assigned to their Greek lords and taken to the cities of their foes. But now the ghost of Achilles has risen from the tomb, and demanded that Polyxena be sacrificed to him before the Greeks shall be allowed to sail away. And Calchas, also, bids that Astyanax be slain, for only then can Greece be safe from any future Trojan war. [2]

Act I

Hecuba laments with the Chorus of Trojans the destruction of their country and the death of Hector and Priam. [3]

Act II

Talthybius relates that the Ghost of Achilles has appeared, and reproving the Greeks for their ingratitude, demanded that Polyxena, under the pretext of marriage with whom, he was slain, should be sacrificed at his tomb as an offering to the chthonic gods. Otherwise the Greeks will not have a favourable wind for their return. [3]

Agamemnon and Pyrrhus quarrel about the sacrifice. Calchas is summoned and he asserts that not only must Polyxena be slain, but Astynax must also be hurled from the tower. [3]

The Chorus denies that Achilles appeared as a spirit, and asserts that the soul dies forever with the body. [3]

Act III

Andromache having taken alarm at a vision in her dream, hides away her son in his father's tomb. Ulysses in his cleverness discovers where he is, and drags him forth to meet his death.

Andromache mingles curses and threats with her supplications entreating Ulysses, but not prevailing upon him. The Trojans, once allotted to the Greeks, are to be conveyed to various parts of Greece—some to Sparta, some to Mycenae, some to Ithaca, and to the country of Helen, Agamemnon and Ulysses. [3]

Act IV

The plan is discussed as to how the sacrifices to the chthonic gods and manes of Achilles are to be conducted; and in what garments, Polyxena, who is to be sacrificed under the impression of a real marriage, is to be arrayed. Also what part shall be played by Helen, in order that she may cajole Polyxena with the vain hope of marrying Pyrrhus: she at first, keeps up the pretence, but after a time dismisses the deception, having argued with Andromache, she confesses everything and openly recommends the fulfilment of the scheme. [3]

The Chorus derives consolation from the misfortune being shared by so many; "as if for the wretched to have companions in sorrow were a solace," and then draws attention to the fact that the solace in question will lose its efficacy, as they will be separated by the allotting that has been going on. [3]

Act V

The Messenger informs the mothers, Hecuba and Andromache, that Astyanax has been hurled from the tower and Polyxena slain at the tomb of Achilles. [3]

Reception

Translator R. Scott Smith wrote that Seneca's attempt in the work to weave two episodes together "means that the play is somewhat dissociated – a 'flaw' that critics have sometimes brought to bear against it", but stated that "in the place of unity, however, there is symmetry." [4]

Related Research Articles

Agamemnon Figure from Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was a king of Mycenae, the son, or grandson, of King Atreus and Queen Aerope, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra and the father of Iphigenia, Electra or Laodike (Λαοδίκη), Orestes and Chrysothemis. Legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area. When Menelaus's wife, Helen, was taken to Troy by Paris, Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War.

Trojan War Legendary war in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of the most important events in Greek mythology and has been narrated through many works of Greek literature, most notably Homer's Iliad. The core of the Iliad describes a period of four days and two nights in the tenth year of the decade-long siege of Troy; the Odyssey describes the journey home of Odysseus, one of the war's heroes. Other parts of the war are described in a cycle of epic poems, which have survived through fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets including Virgil and Ovid.

Hecuba spouse of king Priam in Greek mythology

Hecuba was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priam of Troy during the Trojan War, She had 19 children, who included major characters of Homer's Iliad such as the warriors Hector and Paris, as well as the prophetess Cassandra. Two of them, Hector and Troilus, are said to have been born as a result of Hecuba's relationship with the god Apollo.

Polyxena

In Greek mythology, Polyxena was the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy and his queen, Hecuba. She does not appear in Homer, but in several other classical authors, though the details of her story vary considerably. After the fall of Troy, she dies when sacrificed by the Greeks on the tomb of Achilles, to whom she had been betrothed and in whose death she was complicit in many versions.

Helenus of Troy

In Greek mythology, Helenus was a gentle and clever seer. He was also a Trojan prince as the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and the twin brother of the prophetess Cassandra. He was also called Scamandrios, and was a lover of Apollo.

Neoptolemus Greek mythological figure; son of Achilles

Neoptolemus, also called Pyrrhus, was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia, and brother of Oneiros in Greek mythology, and also the mythical progenitor of the ruling dynasty of the Molossians of ancient Epirus.

Andromache Woman in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Andromache was the wife of Hector, daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes. She was born and raised in the city of Cilician Thebe, over which her father ruled. The name means 'man battler' or 'fighter of men' or 'man fighter' or 'man's battle', from the Greek stem ἀνδρ- 'man' and μάχη 'battle'.

Astyanax

In Greek mythology, Astyanax was the son of Hector, the crown prince of Troy, and his wife, Princess Andromache of Cilician Thebe. His birth name was Scamandrius, but the people of Troy nicknamed him Astyanax, because he was the son of the city's great defender and the heir apparent's firstborn son.

Talthybius

Talthybius was herald and friend to Agamemnon in the Trojan War.

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<i>Iliupersis</i> Lost ancient Greek epic

The Iliupersis, also known as The Sack of Troy, is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the Trojan cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. The story of the Iliou persis comes chronologically after that of the Little Iliad, and is followed by the Nostoi ("Returns"). The Iliou persis was sometimes attributed by ancient writers to Arctinus of Miletus. The poem comprised two books of verse in dactylic hexameter.

<i>Helen of Troy</i> (miniseries)

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<i>Posthomerica</i> Epic poem by Quintus of Smyrna

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References

  1. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (2018). Fitch, John G. (ed.). Tragedies I. Loeb Classical Library: Harvard University Press.
  2. Miller, Frank Justus (1917). Seneca. Tragedies. Loeb Classical Library: Harvard University Press.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Bradshaw, Watson (1903). The ten tragedies of Seneca. S. Sonnenschein & Co.
  4. Seneca (2011). Phaedra and Other Plays. Translated by Smith, R. Scott. Penguin UK. ISBN   978-0141970943.

Further reading