Terence's life story is an ancient tale of rags to riches. Terence was the slave of a Roman senator. Apparently, his master was so impressed with young Terence's intellect that he released him from his service and even funded Terence's education. During his adult years, he crafted comedies which were primarily Roman-styled adaptations of Greek plays by Hellenistic writers such as Menander.
In addition to being a playwright, Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a lawyer and a Roman senator. He witnessed some seriously dark days of the Rome's empire. He served under the sadistic Emperor Caligula. (Learn about him in history books, children but DO NOT watch the movie.) The next emperor in line, Claudius, banished Seneca, sending him away from Rome for over eight years. After returning, Seneca became the advisor of the infamous Emperor Nero.
According to dramaturg William S. Turney, Nero ordered the assassination of his own mother, and then commissioned Seneca to write a speech that excused Nero's crimes. During the playwright's lifetime he wrote tragedies, many of them re-inventions of Greek myths of decadence and self-destruction. For example, his play Phaedra details the sensual depravity of Theseus' lonely wife who lusts after her step-son, Hippolytus. Seneca also adapted the Greek myth of Thyestes, a sordid tale of adultery, fratricide, incest, and cannibalism with enough carnage to make John Webster cringe.
Seneca retired from public life, assuming that he might spend his elder years writing and relaxing, but the suspicious Nero ordered Seneca to commit suicide; Seneca complied, slashing his wrists and arms, slowly bleeding out. Apparently it was too slow, because according to the ancient historian Tacitus, Seneca called for poison, and when that failed him, he was placed in a hot bath to be suffocated by the steam. Claque brings together large numbers of people to create a total theatre experience unique to the community that it...
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