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Title: The characters of Herod the Great and of Herod Antipas in medieval drama of Western Europe
Author: Smith, Jean E. E.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3440 6947
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1976
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This thesis describes the origins and development of the comic archvillain of the medieval stage: Herod, the historical Herod the Great; and also examines the dramatic treatment of his son, Herod Antipas, who also features prominently in medieval drama, sometimes as a second version of his father, sometimes as a character in his own right. Summarizing the facts about the historical Herods, as recounted by Josephus, and tracing the subsequent distortion of these facts by religious commentators, the thesis demonstrates how Herod the Great entered the liturgioal Latin drama as a tyrant who was to develop into the popular 'tyrant figure' of vernacular English drama A comparative study of the vemacular drama of Germany, France and Italy reveals that, although the English type of presentation of Herod the Great (and also, of Herod Antipas) was known elsewhere, it was employed only sporadically, as a form of low comedy, with no other motive. In England, however, the treatment first applied to Herod the Great was extended to include not only his son but also other evildoers, to create the discernible pattern of moral comedy that gives English medieval drama its own unique character. This pattern is shown in its most perfect form in the Magnus Herodes of the Towneley Cycle and is actually transcended in a much lesser-known Herod play, the Trial before Herod of the York Plays. The thesis discusses Herod plays of six languages, many of which are little known outside, or even inside, their countries of origin; and attempts to describe how the early popularity of Herod the Great, in particular, as a stage character, was an important factor in the development of medieval drama itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available