How SENECAN tragedy influenced Elizabethan Age drama?

What is Senecan tragedy?

Senecan tragedy is a set of ten ancient Roman tragedies, probably eight of which were written by Stoic philosopher and politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca. His highly popular and widely influential blood-thirsty tragedies were written in Latin and based on Greek mythology.

Influence of Senecan Tragedy on Elizabethan theatre

The earliest inspiration for the English tragedy were the Latin plays of Seneca. It was the retributive revenge motive, belief in fortune or chance, stage declamation and soliloquy of the Senecan plays that made the plays of Thomas Kyd, Marlowe and Shakespeare extremely popular with the Elizabethan audience. The appeal of the blood letting Seneca to the Elizabethans, bred on the Christian morality tradition is apparently strange and curious. But the Elizabethans found a satisfying correlation between the contradictory traditions. F.P. Wilson sums up the Senecan appeal to the devout Elizabethans.

The extent of his influence on the English tragedy, academic and popular would have not been so great if the themes, the doctrine and the form have not proved congenial. The Elizabethans would enjoy the impression which his tragedies gave that crime meets its punishment in this life. They had the same appetite, or at least the same stomach for sensational incident and violent passion. Also, they shared with him a taste for moral statement for pity sentential and love for rhetoric. His doctrine, it might be thought would have repelled a Christian audience but this was not so. The medieval contemptuous mundi had held that we are born in sin linked to it before we are able to sin.

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