This essay takes up the question of what impact Greek tragedy had on original plays written in Latin in the sixteenth century. In exploring George Buchanan's biblical drama Baptistes sive calumnia (printed 1577) and its reworking of scenes and images from Sophocles' Antigone, we see how neo-Latin drama provided a valuable channel for the sharing and shaping of early modern ideas about Greek tragedy. The impact of the Baptistes on English drama is then examined, with particular reference to Thomas Watson's celebrated Latin translation of Antigone (1581). The strange affinities between Watson's and Buchanan's plays reveal the potential for Greek tragedy to shape early modern drama, but also for early modern drama to shape how Greek tragedy itself was read and received in early modern England.
Jackson, L. C. (2020). Proximate Translation: George Buchanan's Baptistes, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Early Modern English Drama. Translation and Literature, 29(1), 85-100. https://doi.org/10.3366/tal.2020.0410