|dc.description.abstract||In this thesis I analyse the references to Ovid (Met. I.89ff., Amores III.8, and Heroides IV) and Virgil (Geor. I.121ff. and Geor. II.493ff.) in the Golden Age speech of Hippolytus in Seneca’s Phaedra (483 - 564). The two Augustan authors have a marked presence in this passage, a fact acknowledged by most commentaries. But interestingly, there has not yet been made any attempt to interpret these references as something more than a simple borrowing of phrases and topoi. The references expose that Hippolytus constructs his Golden Age from two incompatible ideals, the soft Golden Age of leisure found in Ovid and Virgil’s notion of man as ennobled through a hard primitivist existence.
By applying Richard Thomas’ method of analysing poetic reference I have found that the use of references to Virgil and Ovid allows Seneca to reveal to the audience the mechanism behind the delusion of Hippolytus. As a term for this delusion I have used Anthony Boyle’s expression, pathological idealism, and given it my own definition. The results yielded are strong indications that Seneca use poetic reference to illuminate Hippolytus’ character. He is irrational, in Stoic terms, because he assigns moral value to an emotive response, in this context the impulse to flee urban life and women. But the impulse takes on a rational cloak, thereby earning the definition of Pathological Idealism, which is characterised through the development of a complex fantasy world, the Golden Age, the purpose of which is to lend credence to his passions.
I also show that Pathological Idealism can be read, in the terms of Denis and Elisabeth Henry, as one of the conflicting abstracts of Senecan tragedy and that this paves the way for a political reading of the plays. This does not imply that the plays are a form of subversive criticism of the Imperial court. Instead, I hope that my thesis will convince the reader that Pathological Idealism as a motivating force, used by Seneca in the characterisation of Hippolytus, can be understood as a contribution to a larger discussion important to Seneca, the Stoics, and indeed, any citizen: The Dilemma of Political Participation.||eng