drama_medieval_hrosvitha_dulcitius.pdf - :hwblAl Lei ~ 0-r~cJ ~ I\"~kc.h to ~ L~oShth tVJ ~ ~'1c0L(~ ej(J ~vi'h Mo.1 i I:2oos Medieval Drama The Role of

drama_medieval_hrosvitha_dulcitius.pdf - :hwblAl Lei ~...

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.:hwblAl' Lei.) ( ~0-r~cJ'~I"~kc.h·"",to ~(~/-!..ej,) L~oShth.tVJ ~~'1c0L-'. (J~~vi/ 'h-.Mo.,+, '".1 .: iI :2oos-) /;! The Role of the Church Medieval Drama The medieval period in Europe (A.D. 476-1500) began with the collapse of Rome, a calamity of such magnitude that the years between then and the beginning of the Crusades in 1095 have been traditionally, if erroneously, called the Dark Ages. Historians used this term to refer to their lack of knowl-edge about a time in which no great central powers organized society or estab-lished patterns of behavior and standards in the arts. Drama, or at least records of it, all but disappeared. The major institution to profit from the fall of the Roman empire was the Roman Catholic Church, which in the ninth and tenth centuries enjoyed considerable power and influ-ence. Many bishops considered drama a godless activity, a distraction from the piety that the church demanded of its members. During the great age of cathe-dral building and the great ages of religious painting and religious music -from the seventh century to the thirteenth -drama was not officially ap-proved. Therefore, it is a striking irony that the rebirth of drama in the Western world should have taken place in the heart of the monasteries, developing slowly and inconspicuously until it outgrew its beginnings. The Church may well have intended nothing more than the simple dramatiza-tion of its message. Or it is possible that the people may have craved drama, and the Church's response could have been an attempt to answer their needs. In either event, the Church could never have foreseen the outcome of adding a few moments of drama to the liturgy, the church services. LITURGICAL DRAMA began in the ninth century with TROPES, or embellishments, which were sung during parts of the Mass (the public celebration of the Eucharist). The earliest known ex-ample of a trope, called the QUEM QUAERITIS ("Whom seek ye?"), grew out of the Easter Mass and was sung in a monastic settlement in Switzerland called St. Gall: ANGEL: Whom seek ye in the sepulchre, 0 ye Christians? THREE MARYS: Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, 0 ye Angels. ANGEL: He is not here; he is risen as he has foretold. Go, announce that he is risen from the sepulchre. Some scholars think that in its earliest form this trope was sung by four monks in a dialogue pattern, three monks representing the three Marys at Christ's 143
144 MEDIEVAL DRAMA Miracle Plays tomb and the other representing the angel. Tropes like the Quem Quaeritis evolved over the years to include a number of participants -monks, nuns, and choirboys in different communities -as the tropes spread from church to church throughout the Continent. These dramatic interpolations never became dramas separate from the Mass itself, although their success and popularity led to experiments with other dramatic sequences centering on moments in the Mass and in the life of Christ. The actors in these pieces did not think of them-selves as specialists or professionals; they were simply monks or nuns who

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