Critical response: Thyestes

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Yejin Lee

Professor Leticia Garcia

Drama 40A

October 29, 2014

Critical Response: Thyestes by Seneca

The tragedy of revenge brings another revenge of insatiable desire. This another tragedy which is brutal, remorseless and cold-blooded drive the royal family into the dreadful death. Seneca separated into five acts including chorus in each acts. The play begins with Fury summon ghost of Tantalus and predicts the becoming tragedy in Tantalus's grandsons between Atreus and Thyestes. Fury summon Tantalus from hell and says "Long live the father's fury, and let eternal sin/ enter the hearts of his offspring. Let nobody have the time/ to hate a bygone sin. Let new ones always rise,/ with more than one in every one, and let crime grow/ until it is avenged"(26-32), and shows that the tragic revenge passed down from Thyestes' grandfather Tantalus to the next generation. Tantalus killed his son Pelops as a meal to the gods to test their abilities and gods punish him ruthlessly(tantalized eternally).

The curse leads to his grandsons fighting to seize the throne and dreadful and wicked barbarism begin between these worst-fated brothers.

One of interesting things about this play is that Fury saying, "Will he ever strike? Now let the fires be lit,/ to boil the cauldrons; chop up the bodies in pieces, let children blood pollute the ancestral hearth,/ let the tables be set. You will come as a quest to a crime" (59-62), not only explained the situation but also tried to arouse the anger with audience and attract their interest. Moreover, Atreus in act Two, to heighten the tension of the play, tries to find more cruel method to revenge and finally kills Thyestes' sons and make him to eat his sons. According to the Norton Anthology of Drama, in Seneca's era,