Francis Cairns Publications

Latin and Greek Texts ISSN 0951-7391

Seneca's Troades.
Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary

A.J. Boyle

LGT 7. ISBN 978-0-905205-88-5. Paper. x+250pp. 1994.  

Seneca (ca 1 B.C.-A.D. 65) sets his Troades in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Troy. The Trojan women (the troades) were to become the prizes of the victorious Greeks. As the play opens, their husbands and sons dead, their city in ruins, they wait, lamenting, to be allotted to their new masters. But before the Greek warriors sail home with their spoils, further horrors are in store. Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, demands the sacrifice of the Trojan princess Polyxena as a blood offering to his dead father. And the prophet Calchas decrees that the little son of Hecuba, wife of the Trojan prince and hero Hector, must be slaughtered. In this cruel situation the thoughts, actions and reactions of both sides, Greek men and Trojan women, create the unfolding drama. The themes of power, culture, freedom, delusion, history and death make Troades a brilliant piece of theatre, whose concerns speak as directly now as they did to the spectacular, histrionic and self-consuming world of early imperial Rome.

The English translation, like that of Boyle's earlier Phaedra edition, is printed facing the Latin and aims at verbal and stylistic fidelity. The introduction and detailed commentary fill in the play's background for students of Latin and of Roman civilisation, and for the generally interested reader.

A.J. BOYLE is Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He has written widely on central Roman literature.


JACT Review 18 (1995) 22-3 (James Wright): "an ideal introduction to Senecan drama for the serious student"

Classical Review 45 (1995) 446-7 (C.D.N. Costa): "The verse translation is readable enough not to be simply a crib, and accurate enough to give help with the Latin to those who need it. ... There are frequent stage directions which reflect the fact that this translation was in fact acted on stage, and underline B.'s conviction that Seneca did write for some sort of 'performance'. The commentary on the whole is helpful and well judged."

Anzeiger für die Altertumswissenschaft 50 (1997) 138 (Otta Wenskus) (brief)

Latomus 55 (1996) 411-12 (Peter Davis): "Boyle's translation is exemplary. It is line-for-line and remarkably accurate. As in his edition of Phaedra, Boyle employs a flexible decasyllabic iambic line as the equivalent of Seneca's iambic trimeter. And it works. Other meters are represented by lines of similar syllabic length. Along with Guy Lee, Boyle must be reckoned one of the best contemporary translators of Latin verse. I hope that he will translate more Seneca plays."

L'Antiquité Classique 65 (1996) 335 (Bruno Rochette): "Le commentaire est d'une grande richesse."

Maia 47 (1995) 318-20 (Stefano Rocca)

Revue des Etudes Latines 72 (1994) 274-5 (F.R. Chaumartin)

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 6.6 (1995) 470-72 (Matthew Leigh)

Greece and Rome 42 (1995) 230-31 (Duncan F. Kennedy): "Whether or not you believe that these tragedies were written to be performed in one way or another, B.'s utter commitment to their dramatic qualities is continually refreshing, and even infections. Given that we are being asked on all sides to see theatricality as a constitutive feature of the Neronian period ... B.'s position seems ever more reasonable. I used his edition of Phaedra a few years back with a group of students just cutting their teeth on their first Latin text, and it proved an excellent teaching tool. I suspect this Troades would stimulate a similarly positive response."

Les Etudes Classiques (1997) 269 (Hélène Perdicoyianni)

Gnomon 71 (1999) 314-18 (Karlheinz Töchterle)