Seneca and the Early Elizabethan History Play

  • Michael Ullyot
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


The history plays of Christopher Marlowe, George Peele, Henry Chettle and William Shakespeare are indebted to their forebears’ Senecan ambles. Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville’s Gorboduc (1561/2) and Thomas Legge’s Latin Richardus Tertius (1579) are both Senecan in style and conventions, in their narratives of high-born and ambitious characters brought low. Both adapt historical subjects to the forms and conventions of Senecan tragedy, owing to their common origin in academic settings, where their authors witnessed performances and read translations and imitations of Senecan plays: Norton and Sackville were students of the Inns of Court, while Legge was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Each of these plays reflects its academic origins by combining domestic history with a Senecan form. And Norton, Sackville and Legge’s choices of Seneca as a model of style and conventions influenced the development of the English history play later in the century.


English History Domestic History Historical Drama National Biography Caius College 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Michael Ullyot 2008

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  • Michael Ullyot

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