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Die ‚zweite Geburt‘ der Tragödie

Joachim Küpper

Pages 3 - 19

From the eighteenth century onward (at the latest), Early Modern tragedy is seen to be continuing the tradition of the famous pieces from Pagan Antiquity – a view that attained to its most concise expression in Nietzsche’s essay ‘The Birth of Tragedy’. This paper draws attention to the fact that Early Modern tragedy is also indebted to configurations that emerged before the rediscovery of the Ancient texts – occurring after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Two crucial points deserve to be highlighted. Regarding the conceptual level, it is worth taking into consideration that a quasitragic worldview emerged within the philosophical and theological debates triggered by Nominalism, notably in Ockham’s thought. With respect to form, it needs to be mentioned that the Church had lifted the initial anathematization of theatrical performances. From the tenth century onward, the ecclesiastical authorities encouraged dramatic productions for the purpose of catechizing the masses of analphabetic believers. In a final section, the present paper briefly discusses two prominent Early Modern tragedies, ‚Hamlet‘ and ‚Phèdre‘, with a view to demonstrating the extent to which they are marked by the Medieval tradition of drama—even if they are bound to Classical patterns at the level of plot, ‚personae‘, and motifs.


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