Lucius Annaeus Seneca: Octavia

(2334 words)
  • Joseph Smith (San Diego State University )

Octavia 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), Octavia 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 …

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Smith, Joseph. "Octavia". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 January 2014
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]