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Deconstructing the Female Body in Seneca’s Elegiac Reconstruction of Phaedra

By Chiara Blanco (University of Edinburgh)

Phaedra has been recognized as one of the most elegiac of Seneca’s tragic characters (Armstrong, 2006; Mocanu 2013). By inverting the traditional gender roles of love elegy, Seneca characterizes her as the elegiac amator, hunting her erotic prey, Hippolytus, in a desperate attempt to obtain his love. In this paper, I want to show how Seneca uses references to Phaedra’s body and bodily parts to stress the elegiac connotation of her character and get in direct conversation with Roman elegiac poets.