Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ronnie Ancona

Subject Categories

Classical Literature and Philology | Classics


Intertextuality, Roman Poetry, Seneca, Virgil


This dissertation explores the relationship between Senecan tragedy and Virgil's Aeneid, both on close linguistic as well as larger thematic levels. Senecan tragic characters and choruses often echo the language of Virgil's epic in provocative ways; these constitute a contrastive reworking of the original Virgilian contents and context, one that has not to date been fully considered by scholars. This study is organized according to three main themes that are argued to have strong intertextual aspects: repetition of the past, victor and vanquished, and maius nefas, or greater crime. In each case Seneca tragicus is seen to take a theme present in the Aeneid and give it new life, in the process questioning or undermining some of the assumptions, political, philosophical, and otherwise, that underlie Virgil's epic program. This project focuses on the two Trojan War plays of Seneca, the Troades and Agamemnon, as well as on his Medea. Consideration of the intertextual dialogue between Senecan tragedy and Virgil's Aeneid helps enlighten the nature of Senecan tragedy, Virgilian epic, and the process of aemulatio in Latin poetry in general.