Thyestes

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Thyestes

Postby Iacobulus on Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:57 pm

Salvete omnes:

Just finished Thyestes for a class, a great read! For those who aren't familiar with it, it's a tragedy attributed to Seneca, probably written late in his life (circa 54 AD) immediately following his tenure as Nero's advisor. Many overtones of the capability of a brutal tyrant are evident in the play.

To make a long story short, this play in a prequel of sorts to the Orestaia. Atreus and his brother Thyestes are reuniting after a long exile from Mycenae. Atreus wants revenge from his brother for sleeping with his wife (Atreus is the father of Menelaus and Agamemnon). And so, Atreus kills Thyestes' sons and serves them to their father at the banquet, unbeknownst to Thyestes until after he has eaten them.

A good bit from the play (this is my own translation mind you):

THYESTES: What is this trouble that stirs my insides? What trembles within me? I sense an impatient burden and my stomach groans not with my own groan. Come, sons, your unfortunate father summons you, come! Will this grief flee at the sight of you? From where do they speak?

ATREUS: Ready your embraces, father. Here they come (servants bring out the leftovers of his children, namely heads and feet)! Surely you recognize your own sons?

(at this point Thyestes soliloquizes in grief for a spell, thinking that his sons have only been killed by Atreus, and not realizing yet that he has eaten their corpses)

ATREUS: (in an enigmatic response to Thyestes' questions) Whatever remains from your sons you have, whatever does not remain you have.
(Meaning that he has what remains on the table, namely the heads, but what doesn't remain otherwise is inside of him, Atreus is deriving great pleasure from mocking Thyestes' grief)

THYESTES: Do they lie as fodder for savage birds, or are they diced up for beasts, or do they feed wild animals?

ATREUS: You yourself have dined upon your sons in an impious feast.

Atreus was a vengeful guy. The meter is tough in this play, mostly iambic trimeter, with a sprinkling of Glyconic and First Asclepeid meters. It's very short, only five acts, and a worthwhile read. I read the version edited by R.J. Tarrant from the American Philological Association
Quis fallere possit amantem? ~ P. Vergilius Maro
Quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~L. Anneus Seneca
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Thyestes

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:17 am

Salve, Iacobule -

The version you cite - is it in a physical book or is it on-line somewhere? I have never read any of Roman drama. (If it's indeed short, perhaps I should try to fit it in.)

Vale.
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Re: Thyestes

Postby Iacobulus on Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:49 am

Valerius Claudius Ioh. wrote:Salve, Iacobule -

The version you cite - is it in a physical book or is it on-line somewhere? I have never read any of Roman drama. (If it's indeed short, perhaps I should try to fit it in.)

Vale.


Salve Valeri

It is in book form:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/089130 ... e&n=283155

You can also find it online at the Latin Library:

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/sen/sen.thyestes.shtml

I would recommend the APA book. Tarrant's commentary is excellent and very useful, as this text can be quite obscure in places. It's very engaging, although the chorus tends to ramble a bit.

The entire play is one of Seneca's many treatises on anger, in the spirit of De Ira. The play shows the capability and senselessness of anger.

Valeas optime

Iacobulus
Quis fallere possit amantem? ~ P. Vergilius Maro
Quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~L. Anneus Seneca
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Roman Drama

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:12 am

Salvete omnes...

If you've never read Roman drama, Seneca might be some rough going. I started with Plautus. Fun to read, great stories, the Latin's not too complicated...and it doesn't kick-start my depression!

In fide,
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Re: Roman Drama

Postby Iacobulus on Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:03 am

Aldus Marius wrote:Salvete omnes...

If you've never read Roman drama, Seneca might be some rough going. I started with Plautus. Fun to read, great stories, the Latin's not too complicated...and it doesn't kick-start my depression!

In fide,


Your quite right about that. Senecan drama is pretty tough, and a metrical nightmare. But if you read Vergil, then Seneca's dramas aren't too bad. I think the hardest part of Thyestes isn't the grammar and syntax, but all these subtle, yet all-encompassing Stoic principals, that are cleverly disguised. Tarrants commentary deals with those issues more than the grammar.

Yes, Plautus is great stuff to read. It's nice to read texts without having to flip to a commentary or a dictionary every two minutes. I like reading the Latin Vulgate, I don't need a dictionary at all (minor sholastic achievment)!
Quis fallere possit amantem? ~ P. Vergilius Maro
Quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~L. Anneus Seneca
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Late, Late Thank-You

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:45 am

Salvete, Clari Amici -

Revisiting this thread, I realized I had never done a thing with the copy of Thyestes I downloaded back in 2005. So reprinted it and plan to try to read through it in the next few months, time allowing.

But I also realized that I never said, Gratias, quirites, ago, for pointing me to it.

Valete omnes.
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