La fides e la fraus: i doni del tiranno nel Thyestes di Seneca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Thyestes, Seneca rewrites the practice of the gift (536, 984) as a tool of tyrant’s revenge, which takes advantage of its captivating power. By combining the category of fides with the mechanism of fraus, Atreus intends to perform a deceit that can meet the ‘unfair expectation’ (spes improba, 295) of Thyestes, who hopes to obtain the kingdom (regna nunc sperat mea, 289), and provide him with a tangible guarantee of peace (fides pacis, 294). Such a dynamic takes the form of a “simulated gift”, a practice of reciprocity in which Atreus plays the role of the giver (dans) and Thyestes is led to assume the role of the receiver (accipiens). The tyrant represents it as a way to close the gap between him and his brother and reciprocate his iniuriae. The paper aims to explore how Seneca shapes the tyrant’s gift as a tragic pattern of revenge-system and a reversal of the theories on gift and benefit provided in De beneficiis.
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)456-490
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this