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Theaters of Pardoning$
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Bernadette Meyler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501739330

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501739330.001.0001

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From Sovereignty to the State The Tragicomic Clemency of Massinger’s The Bondman

From Sovereignty to the State The Tragicomic Clemency of Massinger’s The Bondman

Chapter:
(p.143) 4 From Sovereignty to the State The Tragicomic Clemency of Massinger’s The Bondman
Source:
Theaters of Pardoning
Author(s):

Bernadette Meyler

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501739330.003.0005

Philip Massinger’s 1623 play The Bondman appealed to a number of very different audiences, from King Charles I, to republicans resisting Charles II’s return to England, to spectators after the Restoration. This chapter argues that the play proved so versatile because it placed priority on the preservation of the state over any particular form of sovereignty. This political orientation derives in part from The Bondman’s debt to Senecan stoicism. Stoicism shapes the play’s approach to mercy as well. Rather than relying on a sovereign pardon, the play emphasizes a kind of rule based on equity as well as a variety of clemency derived from Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s De Clementia. Clemency as presented by the play entails preservation of the body politic through enlargement of the sovereign’s compass of concern.

Keywords:   Philip Massinger’s The Bondman, Clemency, State, Stoicism, Seneca, De Clementia

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