Seneca and the Soul of Nero

When Seneca, the philosopher and dramatist, suddenly becomes the advisor to the emperor, his faith in stoicism and desire to shape Nero into a virtuous leader inspires him to write Rome’s most enduring tragedies, but Seneca’s attempts to influence the despotic Nero ultimately fail, leaving Rome in flames and Seneca condemned to suicide. Focused on the power and failures of the political insider, Seneca and the...
When Seneca, the philosopher and dramatist, suddenly becomes the advisor to the emperor, his faith in stoicism and desire to shape Nero into a virtuous leader inspires him to write Rome’s most enduring tragedies, but Seneca’s attempts to influence the despotic Nero ultimately fail, leaving Rome in flames and Seneca condemned to suicide. Focused on the power and failures of the political insider, Seneca and the Soul of Nero looks back to the ancient world to hold the mirror up to modern politics.
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Seneca and the Soul of Nero

Recommended by

  • L . Jan Eira:
    30 Jul. 2020
    I was honored to have had the opportunity to read Seneca And The Soul Of Nero and participate in a group discussion with the author and other playwrights. As I read the play, the first scene captured me and catapulted me deep into the piece. Until now, I hadn't given historical pieces much thought, but this play has shown me the sort of great inspiration I've been missing. As such, I have changed my stance about the genre. The play is well-written and captivating. I can't wait to see it on stage.
  • Megan Ann Jacobs:
    27 Apr. 2020
    I was blessed to be part of the workshopping process and have seen this play grow and become what it is now. Marcia is not only a brilliant story-teller and a true knower of Nero and his countless flaws, but how she presents this age-old tale rings true in so many elements of today's world. This well-crafted tragedy evaluates what it means to be a teacher and examines what responsibilities they have to their students and showcases the struggle of wrestling between our ideals and the willingness to not give up on a student. A fantastic piece!
  • Steven G. Martin:
    27 Apr. 2020
    I attended a workshop reading of "Seneca and the Soul of Nero" through Indiana Playwrights Circle, and came away impressed by Marcia Eppich-Harris's skill. Of special note are Nero's character arc from uncertain young man to hellish despot and the subtle parallels created between ancient Roman political personalities and contemporary ones. This full-length play has a strong foundation of historic research; strong, individualized characters; and a plot that is equally horrible and inevitable.

Character Information

  • Seneca
    50-60
    Around 50 at opening, dies at age 61 by
    ordered suicide. Tutor and then advisor
    to Nero. Stoic philosopher. Wealthy.
    Married to Pompeia Paulina. Uncle of
    Lucan. Son died early on and has no other
    children. (Doubles with Thyestes -- character in a play)
  • Nero
    20-30
    17 at the start of the play, dies at age
    30 by assisted suicide. Son of Agrippina
    and adopted son of Claudius. Marries
    Octavia, but is lover of Acte and Poppaea
    Sabina. (Has sex with his mother, too.)
    Becomes emperor as a teenager.
  • Pompeia Paulina
    35-45
    Pompeia Paulina (aka Poppy): Around 35
    years old at start of the play and 46 at
    the end. Seneca's wife and best friend.
  • Agrippina
    35-45
    38 at start of the play, dies
    at age 43. Mother of Nero, married to
    Claudius until he dies (murdered by her
    to advance Nero). Murdered by Nero's
    soldier, Burrus (first attempt - a trick
    boat set to sink; second attempt - same
    night, Burrus sent to kill her and she
    requests being stabbed in the womb for
    having given birth to a tyrant).
  • Octavia
    18-30
    Wife and adopted sister of Nero. Never
    loved him. Exiled and then commits suicide with Burrus
  • Sabina
    20s-30s
    Second wife to Nero. Nero kills
    her by kicking her to death when she is
    pregnant with their second child. (First
    child, Claudia, died at age 4 months.)
  • Burrus
    45-55
    Co-advisor with Seneca to Nero.
    In charge of the Praetorian guard.
  • Britannicus
    14
  • Lucan
    20-30
    Nephew of Seneca, poet of the
    court. Initially favors Nero, but turns
    against him.
  • Servant
  • Nurse to Sabina
    kind woman who convinces Sabina to
    prepare her dead child for funeral rites.
  • Messenger
  • Guard 2
    Non-speaking
  • Guard 1
    Gives both Seneca and Nero the daggers that will
    kill them.
  • Ambassador 2
  • Ambassador 1
  • Actor playing Tantalus
    15-20
  • Actor playing Nurse in Medea
  • Actor playing Medea
    35-40
    wife of Jason and killer of her own
    children in Seneca's play Medea
  • Actor playing Jason
    20s-30s
  • Actor playing Creon
    Actor playing King in
    Seneca's Medea.
  • Claudia
    infant
    infant, best to use a doll.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Indiana Playwrights Circle
    ,
    2020