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Ben Jonson: Sejanus

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Complete text of play first performed in 1603. Modernized English text, explanatory and critical notes, and Introduction. From the Yale Ben Jonson Edition.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1603)
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read at college, a searingly brilliant read, about political machinations of course, and with no illusions. The play of language is just perfect. You come away battered. Is that good? Yes.
This is a moderately entertaining play to read. It moves quickly and features some nice poetry as well as a crescendo of action that leads to a surprise twist at the end. Overall, though, its purpose outweighs its art. Jonson’s theme is painted with a blunt brush. Sejanus is a stock villain. There’s little subtlety or nuance in his portrayal.

Where another artist may have been ambiguous about Sejanus’ purposes, Jonson leaves no gray. Shakespeare’s Roman plays, Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, by co
Those with a keen interest in the ups and downs of Imperial Rome, or the heedless comparison between this age and King James' England (even our own oily oligarchies) might find something of interest in this play. Others who have a fixation on line-for-line adaptation of classical historians like Tacitus would have a field-day here. Yet the poor unfortunate few who have stumbled upon this play and seek to be entertained have an uphill battle before them, almost as if Jonson wrote this history so ...more
The play is perhaps not the best *drama* (its first performance was a disaster apparently and it isn't too hard to guess why), but it's a good read, especially if you've read Tacitus' Annals or other works of Roman history.
Mike Jensen
Much better than I expected: the story of a Caesar and the power mad General who seems to help him. It is a theme Jonson also visited in his comedies. Strongly drawn characters, an OK story, and Jonson's wit pervade. We would probably not read this play if Jonson did not write his comedies, but it is worth seeking out.
With powerful language and intense scenes, Jonson is not as wonderful as his admired Shakespeare (and I think he knew it at heart) but he's nonetheless one of the greatest playwrights I've read. His interpretation of the terrible fall of emperor Tiberius' favourite is both poetical and shocking.
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Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems. A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, Jonson had an unparalleled breadth of influence on Jacobean and ...more
More about Ben Jonson...
Volpone The Alchemist The Complete Poems Bartholomew Fair Volpone and Other Plays

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