Alkestis (Griechische Dramen) (German Edition)

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Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube. Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. Thirdly, the moralities , or moral-plays , teach and illustrate the same truths—not, however, by direct representation of scriptural or legendary events and personages, but allegorically, their characters being personified virtues or qualities.

The attitude of the clergy towards the dramatic performances which had arisen out of the elaboration of the services of the church, but soon admitted elements from other sources, was not, and could not be, uniform. As the plays grew The clergy and the religious drama. A Beverley Resurrection play c. Miracles were less dependent on this connexion with the church services than mysteries proper; and lay associations, gilds, and schools in particular, soon began to act plays in honour of their patron saints in or near their own halls.

Lastly, as scenes and characters of a more or less trivial description were admitted even into the plays acted or superintended by the clergy, as some of these characters came to be depended on by the audiences for conventional extravagance or fun, every new Herod seeking to out-Herod his predecessor, and the devils and their chief asserting themselves as indispensable favourites, the comic element in the religious drama increased; and that drama itself, even where it remained associated with the church, grew more and more profane.

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The endeavour to sanctify the popular tastes to religious uses, which connects itself with the institution of the great festival of Corpus Christi , confirmed , when the symbol of the mystery of the Incarnation was borne in solemn procession, led to the closer union of the dramatic exhibitions hence often called processus with this and other religious feasts; but it neither limited their range nor controlled their development.

It is impossible to condense into a few sentences the extremely varied history of the processes of transformation undergone by the medieval drama in Europe during the two centuries—from about to about —in which it ran Progress of the medieval drama in Europe. A few typical phenomena may, however, be noted in the case of the drama of each of the several chief countries of the West; where the vernacular successfully supplanted Latin as the ordinary medium of dramatic speech, where song was effectually ousted by recitation and dialogue, and where finally, though the emancipation was on this head nowhere absolute, the religious drama gave place to the secular.


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In France, where dramatic performances had never fallen entirely into the hands of the clergy, the progress was speediest and most decided towards forms approaching those of the modern drama. The earliest play in the French France. On the other hand, the Theophilus of Rutebeuf d.

These series of religious plays were both extensive and elaborate; perhaps the most notable series c. Its revision, by Jean Michel, containing much illustrative detail first performed at Angers in , was very popular. The miracles of saints were popular in all parts of France, and the diversity of local colouring naturally imparted to these productions contributed materially to the growth of the early French drama.

The local saints of Provence were in their turn honoured by miracles dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. It is less easy to trace the origins of the comic medieval drama in France, connected as they are with an extraordinary variety of associations for professional, pious and pleasurable purposes. The ludi inhonesti in which the students of a Paris college Navarre were in debarred from engaging cannot be proved to have been dramatic performances; the earliest known secular plays presented by university students in France were moralities, performed in and These plays, depicting conflicts between opposing influences—and at bottom the struggle between good and evil in the human soul—become more frequent from about this time onwards.

But thought is taken even more largely of the sufferings of the people than of the controversies of the Church; and in we even meet with a hygienic or abstinence morality by N.


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Other confraternities and associations readily took a leaf out of the book of these devil-may-care good-fellows, and interwove their religious and moral plays with comic scenes and characters from actual life, thus becoming more and more free and secular in their dramatic methods, and unconsciously preparing the transition to the regular drama. The earliest example of a serious secular play known to have been written in the French tongue is the Estoire de Griseldis ; which is in the style of the miracles of the Virgin, but is largely indebted to Petrarch.

The beginnings of the French regular comic drama are again more difficult to extract from the copious literature of farces and soties, which, after mingling actual types with abstract and allegorical figures, gradually came to exclude all but the concrete personages; moreover, the large majority of these productions in their extant form belong to a later period than that now under consideration. In the neighbouring Netherlands many Easter and Christmas mysteries are noted from the middle of the 15th century, attesting the enduring popularity of these religious plays; and with them the celebrated series of the Seven Joys of The Netherlands.

Maria—of which the first is the Annunciation and the seventh the Ascension. To about the same date belongs the small group of the so-called abele spelen as who should say plays easily managed , chiefly on chivalrous themes.

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Though allegorical figures are already to be found in the Netherlands miracles of Mary, the species of the moralities was specially cultivated during the great Burgundian period of this century by the chambers or lodges of the Rederijkers rhetoricians —the well-known civic associations which devoted themselves to the cultivation of learned poetry and took an active share in the festivals that formed one of the most characteristic features of the life of the Low Countries.

Among these moralities was that of Elckerlijk printed and presumably by Peter Dorlandus , which there is good reason for regarding as the original of one of the finest of English moralities, Everyman. In Italy the liturgical drama must have run its course as elsewhere; but the traces of it are few, and confined to the north-east. The collective mystery, so common in other Western countries, is in Italian literature Italy. The Italian religious plays, called figure when on Old, vangeli when on New, Testament subjects, and differing from those of northern Europe chiefly by the less degree of coarseness in their comic characters, seem largely to have sprung out of the development of the processional element in the festivals of the Church.

Besides such processions as that of the Three Kings at Epiphany in Milan, there were the penitential processions and songs laude , which at Assisi, Perugia and elsewhere already contained a dramatic element; and at Siena, Florence and other centres these again developed into the so-called sacre rappresentazioni , which became the most usual name for this kind of entertainment. Such a piece was the San Giovanni e San Paolo , by Lorenzo the Magnificent—the prince who afterwards sought to reform the Italian stage by paganizing it; another was the Santa Teodora , by Luigi Pulci d.

Passion plays were performed at Rome in the Coliseum by the Compagnia del Gonfalone ; but there is no evidence on this head before the end of the 15th century. In general, the spectacular magnificence of Italian theatrical displays accorded with the growing pomp of the processions both ecclesiastical and lay—called trionfi already in the days of Dante; while the religious drama gradually acquired an artificial character and elaboration of form assimilating it to the classical attempts, to be noted below, which gave rise to the regular Italian drama.

The poetry of the Troubadours, which had come from Provence into Italy, here frequently took a dramatic form, and may have suggested some of his earlier poetic experiments to Petrarch. It was a matter of course that remnants of the ancient popular dramatic entertainments should have survived in particular abundance on Italian soil. They were to be recognized in the improvised farces performed at the courts, in the churches farse spirituali , and among the people; the Roman carnival had preserved its wagon-plays, and various links remained to connect the modern comic drama of the Italians with the Atellanes and mimes of their ancestors.

But the more notable later comic developments, which belong to the 16th century, will be more appropriately noticed below. Moralities proper had not flourished in Italy, where the love of the concrete has always been dominant in popular taste; more numerous are examples of scenes, largely mythological, in which the influence of the Renaissance is already perceptible, of eclogues, and of allegorical festival-plays of various sorts. In Spain hardly a monument of the medieval religious drama has been preserved.

There is manuscript evidence of the 11th century attesting the early addition of dramatic elements to the Easter office; and a Spanish fragment Spain. But that religious plays were performed in Spain is clear from the permission granted by Alphonso X. The earliest Spanish plays which we possess belong to the end of the 15th or beginning of the 16th century, and already show humanistic influence.

In the couplets of Mingo Revulgo i. Domingo Vulgus, the common people , and about the same time another dialogue by the same author, offer examples of a sort resembling the Italian contrasti see below. Other festivals besides Christmas were celebrated by plays; but down to the Reformation Easter enjoyed a preference. In the same century miracle-plays began to be performed, in honour of St Catherine, St Dorothea and other saints.

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But all these productions seem to belong to a period when the drama was still under ecclesiastical control. Gradually, as the liturgical drama returned to the simpler forms from which it had so surprisingly expanded, and ultimately died out, the religious plays performed outside the churches expanded more freely; and the type of mystery associated with the name of the Frankfort canon Baldemar von Peterweil communicated itself, with other examples, to the receptive region of the south-west.

The Corpus Christi plays, or as they were here called Frohnleichnamsspiele , are notable, since that of Innsbruck is probably the earliest extant example of its class.

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The number of non-scriptural religious plays in Germany was much smaller than that in France; but it may be noted that in accordance with a long-enduring popular notion the theme of the last judgment was common in Germany in the latter part of the middle ages. Of this theme Antichrist may be regarded as an episode, though in an Antichrist appears to have occupied at Frankfort four days in its performance. Though many of the early German plays contain an element of the moralities, there were few representative German examples of the species.