Jean Racine: Britannicus (2115 words)


In December 1669, as he approached his thirtieth birthday, Racine prepared the première of Britannicus. One of the foremost yet most controversial playwrights in Paris, he had previously looked to the world of Ancient Greece for the subject matter of his tragedies: La Thébaide, 1664, reworked the feud between the sons of Oedipus; Alexandre le Grand, 1665, an episode from the career of Alexander the Great; and Andromaque, 1667, the fate of Hector’s widow, Andromache. After a single foray into comedy (Les Plaideurs in 1668), he now returned to tragedy, but with a new twist – it is important not to underestimate Racine’s taste for experimentation. He set out to prove his credentials in the …

Citation: Worth-Stylianou, Valerie. "Britannicus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 December 2011 [, accessed 21 October 2020.]

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