Francis Cairns Publications

Latin and Greek Texts ISSN 0951-7391

Seneca’s Phaedra.
Introduction, Text, Translation and Notes

A.J. Boyle

LGT 5. ISBN 978-0-905205-66-3. Paper. x+228pp. 1987, repr. 2010  

Phaedra, a disturbing drama of unnatural love, violence, and perverted loyalty, is one of eight surviving tragedies written by the millionaire philosopher and littérateur Lucius Annaeus Seneca (ca 1 B.C. - A.D. 65), chief minister to the Emperor Nero. A.J. Boyle's penetrating introduction and extensive notes show why Seneca so deeply influenced Renaissance drama: psychological insight, vivid and powerful verse, highly effective staging (although the question of performance is controversial), and an intellectually demanding conceptual framework. The translation, printed facing the Latin text, aims at verbal and stylistic fidelity.

The book is suitable for class use at senior school and undergraduate level, for students of Latin and of classical civilisation/literature in translation. Students of English and of drama will also find it of value.


JACT Review 5 (1989) 15-16 (C.D.N. Costa): "B.'s book can certainly be recommended to the school and undergraduate readership he envisages, and will be used with profit."

Greece and Rome (1988) 213-14 (D.P. Fowler)

Latomus 49 (1990) 868-70 (Freddy Decreus)

Journal of Roman Studies 79 (1989) 210-11 (Elaine Fantham): "Boyle's compact, well-produced Phaedra is admirably suited for teaching."

Gnomon 61 (1989) 394-7 (Konrad Heldmann)

Cahiers Elisabéthains (J.W. Binns): "This is a book which, because of the esteem in which Seneca's dramas were held in the Renaissance, should be brought to the attention of all students of Renaissance drama. ... I cannot think of a better introduction to Seneca for students of vernacular drama than this attractively printed and well-presented book."

Les Etudes Classiques (1988) 403 (J. Filée)

Anzeiger für die Altertumswissenschaft 41 (1988) 11-17 (Glenn Most)

L'Antiquité Classique 57 (1988) 418 (Michel Dubuisson) "L'auteur n'en mérite que plus d'éloges pour avoir réussi à élaborer une transposition qui satisfait le souci d'exactitude du philologue tout en présentant une qualité littéraire qui frappe même le lecteur étranger. ... Une oeuvre méritoire, donc, et qui vaudra à son auteur la reconnaissance des latinistes."

Classical Review 38 (1988) 250-52 (esp. 251-2) (Roland Mayer)