Past Event

Jeri DeBrohun on the Dionysian Poetics of Oedipus

March 22, 2018
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Columbia University Faculty House

The Columbia University Seminar in Classical Civilization will meet on Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 pm. Jeri DeBrohun (Brown) will discuss "The Dionysian Poetics of Seneca's Oedipus."


The evening will begin with drinks at 5:45 PM at the first-floor lounge of Faculty House, followed by dinner at 6:15 PM. Please email the rapporteur, Jeremy Simmons (, by noon on Monday, March 19 in order to make a dinner reservation. Note that the price of the meal is $30, payable only by check to "Columbia University." The lecture will begin promptly at 7:30 PM.

Seneca augments the Sophoclean kernel of his Oedipus, from the start, not only with a Bacchic dimension generally but also, more specifically, with allusions to the tragedy of Agave and Pentheus as it was presented in Euripides' Bacchae. In his final scenes, Seneca vividly stages the culmination of the multilayered nightmarish effects he has created, over the tragedy's course, by adding Dionysiac and underworldly dimensions to the Apollonian foundation of Oedipus' story as it was made most famous by Sophocles. For the dramatic finále of Oedipus, Seneca employs tragic contaminatio, blending elements from the closing scenes of Euripides' Bacchae with those of his primary model, Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus.  Through a kind of allusive metamorphosis, the Bacchus-inspired madness of the earlier tragedy's mother and son pair is partially and temporarily transferred to the figures of Jocasta and Oedipus, thus further ensuring that Seneca's characters both meet their required fates.