One of the most ambitious Neo-Latin plays of early modern England, Matthew Gwinne’s Nero (1603) has remained widely unacknowledged among scholars, since F.S. Boas decided to omit it from his pivotal study on academic drama. Instead, new light needs to be shed on this gripping tragedy, which also represents one of the few contributions given by academic drama to the history play, a genre highly successful on the London stages at the time. By analyzing the several female characters in Nero, namely Messalina, Agrippina, Octavia and Poppaea, I will highlight Gwinne’s significant and highly personal refashioning of the historical accounts of the lives of these Roman women as provided by Tacitus, Suetonius, Dio Cassius and possibly even Seneca and Juvenal. A likely sign of the influence exerted by the multifaceted female characters created in London by playwrights such as Shakespeare, whose echoes in Nero have been timidly proposed by some critics, Gwinne’s novel attempt at providing an unprecedented insight into these women’s psychology will be particularly underscored. In a play where the male characters are generally portrayed as somewhat inferior when compared to such remarkable women, I will argue that Gwinne aimed to somehow reassess the image of some of these usually mistreated Roman matrons.

“Timidae obsequantur”. Mothers and Wives in Matthew Gwinne’s "Nero"

Ragni C
2020

Abstract

One of the most ambitious Neo-Latin plays of early modern England, Matthew Gwinne’s Nero (1603) has remained widely unacknowledged among scholars, since F.S. Boas decided to omit it from his pivotal study on academic drama. Instead, new light needs to be shed on this gripping tragedy, which also represents one of the few contributions given by academic drama to the history play, a genre highly successful on the London stages at the time. By analyzing the several female characters in Nero, namely Messalina, Agrippina, Octavia and Poppaea, I will highlight Gwinne’s significant and highly personal refashioning of the historical accounts of the lives of these Roman women as provided by Tacitus, Suetonius, Dio Cassius and possibly even Seneca and Juvenal. A likely sign of the influence exerted by the multifaceted female characters created in London by playwrights such as Shakespeare, whose echoes in Nero have been timidly proposed by some critics, Gwinne’s novel attempt at providing an unprecedented insight into these women’s psychology will be particularly underscored. In a play where the male characters are generally portrayed as somewhat inferior when compared to such remarkable women, I will argue that Gwinne aimed to somehow reassess the image of some of these usually mistreated Roman matrons.
9781501518560
Academic Drama
Matthew Gwinne
Nero
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1056088
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