Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Thyestes

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In his play


, Seneca utilizes the tragic tale of the house of Tantalus to explore the psychological depths of tyranny, revenge, and dynastic miasma. The


details the relationship between the brothers Atreus and Thyestes and their struggle for supremacy, which results in Thyestes’ cannibalistic consumption of his own children. This is a mythological house known for such transgressions and the opening scene presents the ghost of Tantalus (grandfather of Atreus and Thyestes), who infects the household with his insatiable thirst and hunger. These motifs resonate both physically and figuratively throughout the play. Atreus and Thyestes were supposed to rule the kingdom alternately but their power-sharing agreement had been broken, first by Thyestes and then by Atreus.…

1643 words

Citation: Trinacty, Christopher . "Thyestes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 May 2009 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

13467 Thyestes 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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