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Sejanus: His Fall

Ben Jonson

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Prepared for servitude!——which shew'd that he. Who least the public liberty could like, As lothly brook'd their flat servility. Sil. Well, all is worthy of us, were it more, Who with our riots, pride, and civil hate, Have so provok'd the justice of the gods: We, that, within these fourscore years, were born Free, equal lords of the triumphed world, And knew no masters, but affections; To which betraying first our liberties, We since became the slaves to one man's lusts; And now to many: every minist'ring spy That will accuse and swear, is lord of you, Of me, of all our fortunes and our lives. Our looks are call'd to question, and our words, How innocent soever, are made crimes; We shall not shortly dare to tell our dreams, Or think, but 'twill be treason. Sab. Tyrants' arts Are to give flatterers grace; accusers, power; That those may seem to kill whom they. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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 Tac

Apparently booed off the stage on its first performance (with one William Shakespeare playing the Emperor Tiberius), this is Jonson's go at Senecan poetic tragedy, and, while there are some great bits, it feels a bit lacking in something. Whereas one kind of gets behind Marlowe's antiheroes, and fin

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.

Read as part of the "Extra Mile" Shakespeare Institute readathon in the summer of 2020.

Four hours! It's not really surprising its first public performance was a flop, though there are some fine speeches in it.

Very long indeed, even by Ben's standards, and with little redeeming lightness about it. Some very good speeches, but I'll stick to "I, Claudius" for my history of this period, thanks.

Some very good poetry that did not make up a very good play.

This play has an interesting plot, but it's so difficult to understand because Jonson's writing is so entrenched in the era and antiquated.

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

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