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The Figure Of Seneca In Tacitus And The Octavia

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Chapter Summary

Sir Ronald Syme observed that Tacitus was not just the exponent of a process of historical change but "also an item in it, a personal document". Likewise Seneca, whose dramatic and philosophical writings defined the literature of the Julio-Claudian age, was himself implicated in the world they so richly represented. This chapter proposes to examine how this symbiosis of auctor and actor functions in the opposite direction: that is, to consider how Seneca's identity as a writer-"the embodiment of an epoch," as Syme described him-has generic and thematic implications within the historical world constructed by Tacitus. The precise terms of the affinity that Tacitus and the Octavia share can be demonstrated quite immediately in their respective treatments of the assassination of Agrippina.

Keywords: Agrippina; Julio-Claudian age; Octavia; Seneca; Tacitus



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