Emergence of Medieval and Renaissance Dramatic Genres

        If you think about any of the dramas we are reading, you can see buried within them the varied strands of the history out of which they have arisen.  Religious drama, philosophical drama, historical and political drama are commingled with the classical Latin and Greek origins of all Anglo-European theater in varying degrees and manifestations in each play.  If you look at each play separately as an inheritor of some of these theatrical "genes," you may be better able to tell us how the play works.

476 CE--fall of Rome to Ostrogoths and beginning of the end of Roman theater as well as knowledge of the Greek theater

c. 960 CE--"Quem quaeritis" trope performed on Easter Sunday to dramatize The Resurrection

c. 1100-1600--"Mystery" or "Miracle" plays dramatize other Biblical events ("Wife of Bath's Prologue" l. 564) to teach Biblical narrative to the largely illiterate populace

At the same time, non-cyclical allegorical "Moralities" were written to teach Church doctrine, drawing on the model of the poem, "Psychomachia," or "Soul Struggle," by the late Latin poet Prudentius (c. 400 CE)

c. 1450-1600--Continental Humanism rediscovers pagan classical Latin and Greek literature (Petrarch, Boccaccio, Erasmus, Agricola, Celtis, Reuchlin, More, Linacre, Colet, Latimer)

c. 1450-1600--Moveable Type Printing: affordable editions of the Greek and Roman classics produced in octavo format by Aldus Manutius (Venice); English editions of Holinshed's Chronicle and The Chronicle of John Hardyng represent the quasi-mythic past history of England (e.g., kings Arthur, Lear, etc.), and Malory's Morte Darthur presents a coherent translation and complilation of the French and English Arthurian romances as a historic foundation of English continental imperial aspirations.