University of Tasmania
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The cyclic nature of crime and the notion of heredity in Agamemnon, Troades and Thyestes

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posted on 2023-05-27, 08:38 authored by Claxton, Anne
This thesis argues that the plays Agamemnon, Tkoades and Thyestes are thematically related and also that there is sufficient alternative evidence to support the system of dating by sense-pauses advocated by J.G. Fitch. The unifying thread of these three a Senecan tragedies is the Tantalid line with its ongoing cycle of crime and revenge. In each play we find a family feud with the members of each present and successive generation setting out to surpass in bloodshed both their ancestors and their contemporaries. There are modified echoes of the‚Äö atavistic crime of Tantalus in varying degrees but the dominant motif remains that of revenge. I argue that there are important parallels between the Greek and the Trojan royal families, and between the races before, during and after the war at Troy, not the least in the contexts of crime and suffering. I also examine the dramatic tensions and the psychological development of the characters within these three tragedies, and conclude that any development in Agamemnon is minimal. However, in Troades and in Thyestes in particular, there is a tightening in dramatic form, while the psychological progressions and emotional tensions become more fully realized. I argue therefore that these plays are not static rhetoric but contain sufficient thematic evolution to deserve a higher reputation than hitherto. Seneca uses imagery with telling effect, drawing on the example of Vergil, in particular in the stock portrayal of passion and anger. However, he adds his own philosophical doctrine, which whilst not contributing greatly to Agamemnon, has more relevance in Troades and Thyestes which I suggest lends more weight to Fitch's thesis. I discuss the role of the gods in these tragedies, and show that in this world of Tantalid revenge, that the gods have little relevance and that there can be little optimism for divine benevolence.


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Copyright 1990 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Includes bibliographical references (leaves 145-154). Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1991

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