Weeping verse: Jasper Heywood's translation of Seneca's Troades (1559) and the politics of vicarious compassion

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Abstract

Jasper Heywood's Troas (1559) was the first English translation of one of Seneca's tragedies. Although Heywood's and later Tudor translations of Seneca's tragic corpus have predominantly been studied for their influence on Elizabethan revenge tragedy, recent criticism has focused on the way they respond to contemporary politics. This article takes a fresh approach to the question of the translation's political significance by analysing its intended emotional effect on its readers. Dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I as a New Year's gift in the month of her coronation, his translation seeks to intervene in the new queen's religious politics. By arousing Elizabeth's pity with the Trojan women, Heywood's Troas was intended to kindle vicarious compassion with English Catholics, for whom the death of Queen Mary I was as momentous as the fall of Troy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-706
Number of pages27
JournalRenaissance Studies
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

Keywords

  • compassion
  • heywood, jasper
  • history of emotions
  • senecan tragedy
  • tudor translation studies

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