Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/18

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comprehending them, or of availing himself in estimating the striking beauties of that Poet. They were done in 1581 by several hands, but in very inadequate verse, as also 4 Tragedies, by Sir Edward Sherburne, in 1702, and a perusal of the latter will be an ample justification of my unmitigated objection to verse translations of any Latin or Greek author, especially if he should belong to the genus "Poet." I have done my utmost to transform these Tragedies into impressive readable English, without detracting from the original material, and as far as it is possible, when translating one language into another, owing to idiomatic difficulties. I am sanguine that they will be universally admired for their intrinsic merits, and as they have never been offered in an English form, the public, the enlightened portion too, have been kept in absolute ignorance of their dramatic pretensions. It has been a work of considerable labor, but I shall consider myself amply compensated for the same, if they are destined to afford that satisfaction to the reader, which I have every hope they will fully command at his hands, and that they will, moreover, bear reading and re-reading.

Seneca, as before stated, was appointed tutor to Nero, by Agrippina, fourth wife of Claudius Cæsar; but all the sound precepts which he had inculcated upon the mind of his pupil were entirely ignored as soon as that matricidal tyrant gained power, and he was commanded to destroy himself, on the discovery of Piso's conspiracy, and after taking poison and opening his veins to no effect, he was suffocated in a warm bath. He ranked very highly as a Poet, Moralist and Philosopher, and has bequeathed to posterity much admirable literature. His Latinity was chaste and unaffected and a reflex of his own modest and unassuming morale. Amongst the rest of his useful and enlightening productions, he has handed down the unsurpassable Tragedies, which form the subject of the present volume.