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England" The merchants, who frequented these fairs in numerous caravans or companies, employed every art to draw the people together. They were therefore accompanied by juglers, minstrels, and buffoons; who were no less interested in giving their attendance, and exerting all their skill, on these occasions. As now but few large towns existed, no public spectacles or popular amusements were established; and as the sedentary pleasures of domestic life and private society were yet unknown, the fair-time was the season for diversion. In proportion as these thews were attended and encouraged, they began to be set off with new decorations and improvements: and the arts of buffoonery being rendered ftill more attractive by extending their circle of exhibition, acquired an importance in the eyes of the people. By degrees the clergy, observing that the entertainments of dancing, music, and mimicry, exhibited at these protracted annual celebrities, made the people less religious, by promoting idleness and a love of festivity, proscribed these sports, and excommunicated the performers. But finding that no regard was paid to their censures, they changed their plan, and determined to take these recreations into their own hands. They turned actors ; and instead of profane mummeries, presented stories taken from legends or the bible. This was the origin of sacred comedy. The death of saint Catharine, acted by the monks of saint Dennis, rivalled the popularity of the professed players. Music was admitted into the churches, which served as theatres for the represention of holy farces. The festivals among the French, called LA FETE DE FOUX, DE L'ANE', and des Innocens, at length
h See supr. vol. i. p. 279.
“ Monseigneur le duc de BERRY. A iFor a moft full and comprehensive ac “ LAUSANNE et a Geneve, 1741." 4to. count of these feasts, see “ Memoires pour Grosthead, bishop of Lincoln in the ele. “ servir a l'histoire de la Fete de Foux, venth century, orders his dean and chapter qui se faifoit autrefois
dans plusieurs eg. to abolish the FESTUM ASINORUM, cum “ lifes. Par M. du Tilliot, gentil. fit vanitate plenum, et voluptatibus fpurcum, “ homme ordinaire de fon Alteffe royale which used to be annually celebrated in
became greater favorites, as they certainly were more capricious and absurd, than the interludes of the buffoons at the fairs. These are the ideas of a judicious French writer, now living, who has investigated the history of human manners with great comprehension and sagacity.
Voltaire's theory on this subject is also very ingenious, and quite new. Religious plays, he supposes, came originally from Constantinople; where the old Grecian stage continued to flourish in some degree, and the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides were represented, till the fourth century. About that period, Gregory Nazianzen, an archbishop, a poet, and one of the fathers of the church, banished pagan plays from the stage at Constantinople, and introduced select stories from the old and new Testament. As the antient Greek tragedy was a religious spectacle, a transition was made on the fame plan; and the chorusses were turned into Christian hymns'. Gregory wrote many sacred dramas for this purpose, which have not survived those inimitable compositions over which they triumphed for a time: one, however, his tragedy called Xpistos Taoxwv, or Christ's Passion, is still extant". In the prologue it is said to be in imitation of Euripides, and that this is the first time the Virgin Mary has been produced on the stage. The fashion of acting
Lincoln cathedral on the feaft of the Cir. THE SHEPHERDS; which remained uncumcifion. Grossetesti EPISTOL. xxxii. abolished till the year 1738. From the apud Browne's FASCICUL. P. 331. edit. Ritual of the church, pag. 1939, ad Lond. 1690. tom. ii. Append. And p. ann. 1582. See Carpentier, SUPPL. Du 412. Also he forbids the archdeacons of Cang. Lat. Gloss. tom. i. p. 523. in V. his diocese to permit ScoT-ales in their And ibid. V. BOCLARE, P. 570. chapters and fynods, (Spelm. GI. p. 506.) See fupr. vol. i. p. 244. and other Ludi on holidays. Ibid. Epiftol. mi Op. Greg. Nazianz. tom. ii. p. 253. xxii. p. 314. (See fupr. vol. i. p. 247.] In a manuscript cited by Lambeccius, it is See in the MERCURE FRANCOIS for Sep called Δράμα και’ Ευριπίδην. iv. 22. It tember, 1742, an account of a mammery seems to have been falsely attributed to Acelebrated in the city of Besançon in France, pollinaris, an Alexandrian, bishop of Laoby the canons of the cathedral, consisting of dicea. It is, however, written with less dancing, singing, eating and drinking, in elegance and judgement than most of Grethe cloisters and church, on Ealter-day, gory's poetical pieces. Apollinaris lived called BIRGERETTA, or the SONG OF about the year 370
fpiritual dramas, in which at first a due degree of method and decorum was preserved, was at length adopted from Constantinople by the Italians; who framed, in the depth of the dark ages, on this foundation, that barbarous species of theatrical representation called Mysteries, or sacred comedies, and which were foon afterwards received in France This opinion will acquire probability, if we consider the early commercial intercouse between Italy and Conftantinople: and although the Italians, at the time when they may be supposed to have imported plays of this nature, did not understand the Greek language, yet they could understand, and consequently could imitate, what they saw.
In defence of Voltaire's hypothesis it may be further observed, that the Feast of Fools and of the Ass, with other religious farces of that sort, so common in Europe, originated at Constantinople. They were instituted, although perhaps under other names, in the Greek church, about the year 990, by Theophylact, patriarch of Constantinople, probably with a better design than is imagined by the ecclesialtical annalists; that of weaning the minds of the people from the pagan ceremonies, particularly the Bacchanalian and calendary folemnities, by the substitution of christian fpectacles, partaking of the fame fpirit of licentioufnefs. The fact is, however, recorded by Cedrenus, one of the Byzantine historians, who flourished about the year 1050, in the following words. Εργον εκεινε, και το
το νυν κραιεν « εθος, εν ταις λαμπραις και δημόλελεσιν εορίαις υβριξεθαι τον θεον, και τας τον αγιων μνημας,
δια λογισμαίων ασρεστων και γελων, και παραφορων κραυγων, τελουμενων « των θειων ύμνων» ους εδει, μελα καλαλυξεως και συνώριμμε
καρδιας, υπερ της ημων σωληριας, προσφερειν τω θεω. « Πληθος γαρ συστησαμενος επιρρήτων ανδρων, και εξαρχον
* Hift. Gen. Addit. p. 138.
« αυλοις επιςησας Ευθυμιον τινα Κασνην λεγουμενον, ov « αυλος Δομεσικος της εκκλησιας προυβαλλείο και τας «
σαλανικας ορχησεις, και τας ασημες κραυγας, και τα εκ
τριοδων και χαμαιλυπειων ηρανισμενα ασμαlα τελεισθαι « Edidater. That is, Theophylact introduced the
prac“ tice, which prevails even to this day, of scandalising god " and the memory of his saints, on the most splendid and “ popular festivals, by indecent and ridiculous songs, and
enormous shoutings, even in the midst of those sacred hymns, which we ought to offer to the divine grace with
compunction of heart, for the salvation of our souls. « But he, having collected a company of base fellows, and
placing over them one Euthymius, surnamed Casnes, whom “ he also appointed the superintendant of his church, ad11 mitted into the facred service, diabolical dances, exclama« tions of ribaldry, and ballads borrowed from the streets " and brothels ." This practice was subsisting in the Greek church two hundred years afterwards : for Balsamon, patriarch of Antioch, complains of the gross abominations committed by the priests at Christmas and other festivals, even in the great church at Constantinople; and that the clergy, on certain holidays, personated a variety of feigned characters, and even entered the choir in a military habit, and other envrmous disguises P.
I must however observe here, what perhaps did not immediately occur to our lively philosopher on this occasion, that in the fourth century it was customary to make christian parodies and imitations in Greek, of the best Greek classics, for the use of the christian schools. This practice prevailed much under the emperor Julian, who forbad the pagan poets, orators, and philosophers, to be taught in the christian seminaries.
• Cedren. COMPEND. Hist. p. 639. B. edit. Parif. 1647. Compare Baron. AnNAL. sub ann. 956. tom x. p. 752. C. edit. Plantin, Antw. 1603. fol.
P Comment. ad CANON. Ixii. SYNOD. vi. in Trullo. Apud Beverigüi SYNODIC. tom. i. Oxon. fol. 1672. p. 230. 231. In return, he forbids the profeffed players to
Apollinaris bishop of Laodicea, abovementioned, wrote Greek tragedies, adapted to the stage, on most of the grand events recorded in the old Testament, after the manner of Euripides. On some of the familiar and domestic stories of scripture, he composed comedies in imitation of Menander. He wrote christian odes on the plan of Pindar. In imitation of Homer, he wrote an heroic poem on the history of the bible, as far as the reign of Saul, in twenty-four books ? Sozomen says, that these compositions, now loft, rivalled their great originals in genius, expression, and conduct. His son, a bishop also of Laodicea, reduced the four gospels and all the apostolical books into Greek dialogues, resembling those of Plato'.
But I must not omit a much earlier and more singular specimen of a theatrical representation of sacred history, than this mentioned by Voltaire. Some fragments of an antient Jewish play on the Exodus, or the Departure of the Ifraelites from Egypt under their leader and prophet Moses, are yet preserved in Greek iambics'. The principal characters of this drama are Moses, Sapphora, and God from the Bush, or God speaking from the burning bush. Moses delivers the prologue, or introduction, in a speech of sixty lines, and his rod is turned into a serpent on the stage. The author
appear on the stage in the habit of monk.. 9 Sozomen (ubi infra) says, that he com-
Socrates, iii. 16. ii. 46. Sozomen, does not appear, that these sports were cele
v. 18. vi. 26. Niceph. x. 25. brated within the churches. “ In fanctis “ festivitatibus choros ducendo, cántica lux s In Clemens Alexandrin. lib. i. STROM, “ uriosa et turpia, &c. Jfti enim infelices P. 344. feq. Eusebius, PREPARAT. E.. “ ac miseri homines, qui balationes ac fal. VANG,"C. xxviii. xxix. Eustathius ad Hex. “ tationes ANTE IPSAS BASILICAS fanc p. 25. They are collected, and translated * torum exercere nec metuunt nec erubes into Latin, with emendations, by Fr. Mo“ cunt." Serom. ccxv. tom. x. opp. S. rellus, Paris. 1580. See also CORPUS. Auguftin. edit. Froben. 1529. fol. 763. B. POETAR, GR, TRAGICOR. et COMICOR. See also SERM. cxcvii. cxcviii.
edit. Genev. 1614. fol. And POETÆ CHRISBenedictin. tom. v. Parif. 1683. p. 904 TIAN. GRÆCI, Parif. 1609. 8vo. et seg. Bb b 2