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Title: In Med(e)as Res: Seneca the Advisor on the Reigns of Jason and Claudius
Authors: Currie, Michelle Lynn
Keywords: Text;Honors papers;Greek and Roman Studies
Issue Date: May-2012
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Abstract: As an advisor in the imperial household, Seneca wrote tragedies whose portrayal of mythological rulers was doubtlessly influenced by his firsthand experiences. Though scholars have already analyzed instances of historically relevant themes in these tragedies, this new angle sheds light on facets of ruling that are particularly problematic for these first Roman emperors and reveals Seneca’s thoughts on the inner workings of ruling in the early imperial era. Among Seneca’s tragedies, Medea in particular seems concerned with issues of power and ruling. In retelling a story already markedly similar to Claudius’, Seneca naturally remolds this traditional storyline to draw parallels between the situations of these two rulers and issues they face in asserting their power. Both Claudius’ and Jason’s authority is overshadowed as their own families directly impede their rise to power; they face serious difficulties in their relationships with their wives and heirs; they travel even to the ends of the world to assert their control over and seek benefits from foreign lands and peoples; and they must nevertheless rely on others for victory, given their own lack of military ability. The remarkable similarities between Claudius’ and Jason’s circumstances suggest that Seneca noted and wished to draw attention to the political advantages and pitfalls of different aspects of rulers’ dealings with power. These shared trials suggest that decisive resolution of these challenges was necessary for the successful acquisition and maintenance of power, both for the mythological ruler and the historical one whose position Seneca understood so well.
Description: The author granted permission for the digitization of this paper. It was submitted by CD.
Appears in Collections:Honors Papers

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