Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Octavia

Joseph Smith (San Diego State University)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

is the lone drama surviving from antiquity exemplifying the genre

fabula praetexta

, or Roman history play. Preserved along with nine other plays ascribed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca (in one family of medieval manuscripts labeled ‘A’ by scholars of the Senecan dramatic corpus),


evokes and references Senecan tragedy, but cannot be the work of Seneca. The drama portrays the historic moment of the Roman Emperor Nero’s decision (made in early June of 62 CE) to divorce and expel his first wife, Octavia, from Rome’s imperial palace (and ultimately to execute her), and thereupon to replace her with a new wife, Poppaea Sabina. Seneca himself is portrayed in the drama as Nero’s disengaged and ineffective advisor whose naïve and idealistic political philosophy is dismissed by…

2334 words

Citation: Smith, Joseph. "Octavia". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 January 2014 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

33497 Octavia 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.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.