Sejanus, the King’s Men Altar Scenes, and the Theatrical Production of Paganism

John Kuhn


This article traces the lineage of the popular performance set-piece of the ‘oracular altar scene’ from its inception in Jonson’s Sejanus through its frequent reuse by the King’s Men and their imitators later in the century. By doing so, it demonstrates how material practices of reuse in the seventeenth-century theatre helped shape the production of popular knowledge about the nature of ‘pagan’ ritual and its practitioners in the Stuart era of intensified antiquarian discovery and colonial expansion.

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