Envied by Caligula, exiled by Claudius and finally executed by his pupil Nero, the playwright and philosopher Seneca the Younger (c.4 BC-65 BC) wrote in a violent, epigrammatic and extreme style which has often seemed excessive to those living in calmer times. Yet it was from him that Shakespeare and his contemporaries adapted some of the crucial elements of their tragedies: the general atmosphere of lust, fatalism and murder; the vengeful ghosts crying out for blood; the heroes facing death with unflinching resolve; even the basic five-act structure. His works were imitated by writers ranging from Jonson to Johnson, from Milton to Marvell, and, in our own turbulent century, they have also inspired T.S. Eliot, Robert Lowell and Ted Hughes. This superb selection of translations, adaptations and variations opens in the 1550s, focuses on the Renaissance and closes in the 1990s, vividly demonstrating Seneca's powerful continuing presence in English poetry.