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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

From its origins in antiquity, tragedy was a very unstable literary genre and had been interpreted in a variety of conflicting ways. The rediscovery of the tragedies of Lucius Annaeus Seneca by Lovato dei Lovati (1240/1241–1309), however, provided a firmer foundation for Neo-Latin tragedy during the next three centuries. Humanist tragedy (although only ten Latin plays have survived) reflected some of the most important cultural and literary changes during the period of the Italian Renaissance. Later Neo-Latin dramatists across Europe deployed tragedy as an instrument in propaedeutic and pedagogical instruction, in doctrinal and sectarian debate, and in matters of national and cultural identity. Thus, this chapter explores the most prominent permutations of the genre as seen in the school plays at university, in the vigorous Neo-Latin drama of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and in Jesuit tragedy, which continued unabated until the mid-eighteenth century.

Keywords: Neo-Latin drama, poetics, humanist tragedy, Seneca, university drama, Reformation tragedy, Counter-Reformation tragedy, Jesuit tragedy

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