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Herakles and Hercules: The Hero's Ambivalence in Euripides and Seneca

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image of Mnemosyne

Madness presents Herakles/Hercules in an unprecedented state of extreme vulnerability and becomes an apt device for dramatizing the fragility of life and the responses to tragic reversals of fortune. The present article compares the dramatic treatments of this theme by Euripides and Seneca not in terms of a strict adaptation of a source/model but in terms of the dramatic purposes underlying and determining both similarities and differences. It investigates the connotations of madness and explores the ways in which the associations of themes such as the reversal of fortune, the nature of violence or the political overtones may have guided the reception of each drama by a Greek and a Roman audience respectively.


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