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Ambiguous allegories: what the mythological comedia reveals about Baroque tragedy.

I. The Double Bind

Drawing on the ambiguous postclassical conception of classical myth, the serious Baroque mythological comedia, as practiced first of all by Lope de Vega and Calderon, (1) flaunts a paradoxical coexistence of what appear to be mutually exclusive mythographic perspectives. On the one hand, spectators and readers are presented with a series of "horizontal" readings of individual myths dominated by the empathetic and moving representation of subjective feeling and a realist depiction of characters' psychology. On the other hand, a fundamental detachment is perceived as the plays simultaneously launch a transcendental interpretation of myth that renders it yet another comic or insignificant event on the world's great stage: a folly, a fiction, a chimera of the human imagination, or even, theologically speaking, an error.

The result of this intriguing double reading of classical myth is an extremely complex genre, which meditates on the cosmic convergence of the jocose and the serious--the insignificance or "comedy" of individual destiny in the greater scheme of things--even as genuinely tragic events may be represented on the stage. (2) The much noted scenographic lavishness, especially of that part of the mythological theater written for the court, only emphasizes this double bind even more. Here, conspicuously ostentatious sceneries paradoxically reinforce the engano of what is presented as a fabulous, imagined, and ultimately untrustworthy mythical world.

Critics have brought to light a series of general characteristics of the serious mythological comedia: the tongue-in-cheek and even desacralizing treatment of the mythical universe on the part of the donaire (clown) reflecting the "democratic" propensity of Lope's early myth plays written after the smash hit formula of the dramatist's new comedia; (3) the Fenix's closely associated tendency toward anti-heroic or even negative characterization of the mythical hero and the gods; (4) Calderon's allegorization of the figures and stories of classical mythology as intricately entwined with Christian didactic poetics; (5) conversely, as the expression of a universal, transcultural psychosemiotics; (6) the eventual development of Calderon's serious mythological theater into mythological burlesque occasioned by the crisis of the Renaissance world; (7) the political, representational or propagandistic function of these plays; (8) conversely, their aestheticist tendency to dissolve all referentiality in sophistic reflexions on the nature of theatrical illusion (9)--to mention just a few fundamental studies of the genre.

However, despite the fact that a considerable number of the mythological comedias by the dramatists in question (three out of eight plays by Lope; seven out of seventeen plays by Calderon) (10) qualify as tragic, in part or in full, existing studies fall short of accounting for the specific tragic mode that characterizes the mythological comedia, not to mention the special relation between this genre and tragedy. (11) Quite to the contrary, the mythological comedias have often been characterized as insignificant showpieces or dramatic bagatelles meant to divert a decadent royal audience interested in nothing but idle amorous intrigues and pretty words. Besides belittling the spiritual capability of some of Europe's most well-bred princes, taught by the best teachers and surrounded by the brightest intellectuals and most consummate artists, this recurrent interpretation severely derrogates a number of highly complex artworks. Thus, the significant characteristics of Baroque tragedy brought to the fore by these plays are generally overlooked, which is especially a pity since the "status quaestionis" of Baroque tragedy studies has not advanced decisively in recent decades despite increased scholarly attention. (12)

Delving into the problem of Baroque tragedy from a new angle--that of its interrelation with myth--I will subsequently present a generic discussion of the serious mythological comedia. Focal point of this discussion will be the part of this corpus that may be termed tragic. I will begin by surveying the ambiguous Baroque mythography which provided the material of the serious mythological comedia and proceed to a consideration of the serious comedia that was its mold, ending my survey with an inquiry into the striking Baroque interrelation of myth and tragedy.

II. Postclassical Ovidianism

When considering the mythographic backdrop of the comedia mitologica and the other Baroque genres based on Greco-Roman mythology (notably the epyllion and minor mythological poetry), (13) the most important thing to recognize is that it was rooted in the fertile if problematic encounter between the two major postclassical Ovidian trends. First of all, the Baroque view of myth was influenced by what may broadly be termed moral Ovidianism, a notable intellectual current that culminated in fourteenth-century French commentaries on the Metamorphoses (the anonymous Ovide moralize; the Metamorphosis Ovidiana moraliter explanata included in Petrus Berchorius's Repertorium morale, c. 1340), but dated back to the allegorical mythography of late antiquity (for example, Heraclitus's Homeric Questions) (14) and the early Christian age (Fulgentius's Mythologies; Lactantius's Argumenta Metamorphoseon Ovidii). Here, classical myths were viewed either as stories containing a hidden philosophical-moral meaning or as secretly transmitting testimony of the dealings of remote historical figures. (15) In both cases, myths were not taken at face value, but attributed a meaning different from the obvious narrative signification.

There can be no doubt about Baroque dramatists' dependence upon the moral Ovidian tradition that was passed on to them by mythographers such as Juan Perez de Moya (Philosophia secreta, 1595) and Baltasar de Vitoria (Theatro de los Dioses de la Gentilidad, 1620/1622) and emblematists such as Juan de Borja (Emblemas morales, 1581) and Sebastian de Covarrubias (Emblemas, 1610). Furthermore, it was spread in early modern Spain via Jesuit curricula (16) and the moral expositions of the Ovidian "opus magnum" by laic translators and exegetes. (17) Calderon made Perez de Moya and Vitoria's works the basis of his treatment of myth, as did the epigones Juan Bautista Diamante (Alfeo y Aretusa, 1672), Agustin de Torres y Salazar (Triunfo y venganza de Amor, 1681), and Marcos de Lanuza, count of Clavijo (Jupiter, y Yoo, los cielos apremian desdenes, published 1699), who saw the mythological comedia to its final jocoserious stage. (18) Long before any of them were even born, Lope wrote an aprobacion for the first edition of Perez de Moya's work in which he emphasized that nothing in this "historia mitologica" was averse to Catholic faith and that "los antiguos envolvieron la filosofia bajo fabulas." (19)

Notwithstanding the considerable influence of the moral Ovidian tradition, the Baroque mythological comedia was also, and to a similar degree, the product of what may be referred to as poetic Ovidianism. By this term, I understand a broad aesthetic current that first flourished in the twelfth century and culminated in the Renaissance, and which exploited classical mythology as a storehouse of entertaining and moving stories about intriguing dark passions and forbidden feelings, violent deaths and malevolent destinies. This poetic Ovidianism was brought into being by the authors of the so-called "aetas Ovidiana" (Guillaume de Lorris / Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose, 1230/75; Juan Ruiz, El libro de buen amor, 1330; Boccaccio's Decameron, 1350; Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, end of the fourteenth century), when the Ars amatoria was part of every school curriculum and the Amores influenced cancionero and courtly poetry. (20) It was introduced in Spain by the Archipreste de Hita and consolidated in the poetry of Garcilaso de la Vega (Eglogas).

Although the two Ovidian traditions perhaps cannot be so easily separated, (21) it is surely permissible to speak of an upsurge of poetic Ovidianism, a "disinterested" mythographic boom even, during the Renaissance. (22) However, this tendency was shortly to clash with the ideology of the Counter-Reformation, hostile to the Olympians and the creatures of their world inasmuch as they represented a pagan religiosity. In the Counter-Reformation era, the two Ovidian traditions that had been cultivated side by side since antiquity renegotiated the terms of their relation, with the one highlighted in the humanist mythographic vogue of the late Renaissance and the other revived in the cultural agenda of the Counter-Reformation as it represented itself, above all, in the Jesuit institution. Therefore, a conciliatory act was perhaps more urgent than ever before precisely at this moment.

Of course, the implied controversy between moralism and poetry was ancient. Yet it was arguably enhanced at this particular moment, with the upsurge of a new historical conscience on the one hand, (23) and the well-known Counter-Reformation moral rearmament on the other, entailing a whole new wave of biased readings of the culture of the past, notably classical authors and most notably Ovid's Metamorphoses, the "poets' Bible." The outcome of this negotiation was not immediately harmonious, but it was literary: in the Baroque period, the two Ovidian currents fused into an essentially binary poetic mythography, which was aesthetic as well as moral. Baroque poetic mythography, of which the mythological comedia is an important exponent, may thus be seen as the hybrid, ambiguous or even contradictory, encyclopedic, reflexive result of the negotiation that followed the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century rekindling of a latent conflict between the two major postclassical Ovidian trends. Their interaction and mutual relativization determined the literary expression of the mythological comedia that is, thus, a peculiar blend of poetic and moral approaches to myth. As I shall argue, it was exactly this blend, which made it the privileged Baroque medium for exploiting the tragic, and this was because it matched the serious comedia's duality of dramatic perspectives particularly well.

III. The Serious Comedia

In another context, (24) I have presented the Baroque serious comedia as an essentially allegorical dramatic form, in the most basic etymological sense of "saying two things at once." (25) This means that the plot of plays like Fuenteovejuna and El Alcalde de Zalamea must be recognized as double-edged--both realistic and metaphorical--and that the characters, correspondingly, may be seen as both individuals and abstractions. Just as the period choryphaeus, Don Quijote, is simultaneously a particular personality (Alonso Quixada) and an idea (the idea of chivalry as incarnated by the knight of the sad countenance), so the protagonists of the serious comedias are both individualized personae and more or less sharply drawn figurations of abstract ideas such as Power, Jealousy, or Man. This means that both the individual and temporal are suggested as carriers of the universal and immutable: double-edged characterization counterbalances double-edged plot as the serious comedia hints at the mysterious entwinement of ephemeral, sometimes even violent, tragic, and meaningless historical existence with immutable transcendental significance.

Although this early modern dramatic technique, which pays tribute to the medieval sacred theatrical tradition, (26) resembles the moral allegorization of the autos sacramentales, it also differs from it considerably, endowing the moral stereotypes of this tradition with a modern feel of flesh and blood--much in the same manner that Shakespeare famously grafted a nuanced psychological portrait of the Scottish nobleman, Macbeth, onto his morality-inspired study of Ambition or Treason. Far from the abstract sceneries and ethically unequivocal figures of the autos, the serious comedias generally present morally ambiguous characters and action set in realistically drawn, oftentimes historically and geographically recognizable settings. However, actions tend also to have an exemplary character or didactic quality, and the characters are generally modeled on the central topic or idea of the play, which they rehearse in the manner of musical variations: as someone who succeeds in changing his destiny, Segismundo incarnates the idea of freedom around which La vida es sueno revolves, while Rosaura, as an individual bound by the determinism of honor, and Basilio, with his unblinking faith in limiting horoscopes, personify its negation, and so on.

As these examples suggest, we are far from the abstractions of the moralities and autos here. Indeed, the material human aspect of the allegories are elaborated with astonishing psychological precision and depth: the famous case of the Polish prince, for example, shows an individual grappling violently with his destiny and underscores the multiple emotional trappings that threaten the exercise of freedom. Thus, in the serious comedia, characters and action are simultaneously characters and action and an elaborate allegorical design constructed around a central metaphor or topic that they serve to illustrate as exemplifications or perspectives either "ex similis" or "ex contrariis." (27) In these plays, Lope and Calderon certainly create live, realistically drawn individuals, first of all through the innovative use of monologue and the "ante terminem" psychopathological exploration of emotion revealed therein, (28) all the while their characters have a figurative flavor or a touch of allegory (not necessarily moral, although it mostly is). Despite the particularity of the tale told, it is clear that a "universal" lesson is implied, that there is more to the spectacle than meets the eye: it is not only a good story, but also an "exemplum," and it aims both to move and to teach (movere and docere).

Besides recognizing the allegorical structure of the serious comedia, it is essential to make a distinction between the tragicomic comedias (Lope's Fuenteovejuna and Peribanez y el Comendador de Ocana; Calderon's La vida es sueno and El Alcalde de Zalamea)--plays where a tragic denoument is suggested but finally avoided--and the tragic comedias proper. The latter of these end in tears and death and thus qualify as tragedies according to the traditional definition. (29) However, in accordance with contemporary usage, their authors insistently termed them comedias, thereby underscoring their transcendental backdrop, their being essentially divine comedies on the stage of the world. Here, the tragic potential of themes such as honor and destiny is certainly explored with great pathos and comprehension, but it is done within a moral framework of the Christian conception of human life as a divine comedy and of the historical world as a colorful and vivacious theater of ever-changing tableaux in a cosmic "opus magnum" created and enjoyed by the "deus artifex."

Thus, as will be clear from the terminology applied here and in the preceding, I think it important to retain the term comedia for all the subspecies of the Spanish Baroque theater and then qualify it by way of different adjectives according to the nature of the plays in question: comic comedias (including comedias de capa y espada, comedias de enredo, comedias palaciegas, and various subspecies), tragicomic comedias (historical, hagiograficas, and martyr plays such as Calderon's El principe constante and El magico prodigioso, Lope's Lo fingido verdadero), and the tragic comedias under examination here. This proposition has important consequences for the understanding of the Baroque concept of tragedy: the prevalence of the transcendental "comic" outlook, implied in the factual (if gradual) ostracism of the term tragedia from the dramatic vocabulary in the first decades of the seventeenth century, and the closely related triumph of comedia as the hegemonic term for the serious drama, annuls tragedy in the absolute, Greek sense and even instates a virtual tragic taboo: the systematic, conscious, and critical confrontation, and even repression, of deterministic and pessimistic patterns of thought. (30)

However, the complete repression of the tragic was neither possible nor was it, in fact, intended. The Counter-Reformation reinforcement of the transcendental, comic outlook did not entail the expulsion of tragedy from the Baroque republic of letters, but it did mean that there was the same amphibology of tragic and "comic," empathetic and detached perspectives in the tragic comedias as in the tragicomic comedias. Yet in the tragic plays the stakes are raised. In the tragic comedias, the existential poles of the essentially tragicomic Baroque theater of the world are far apart as the cosmic convergence of historical meaninglessness and transcendental meaningfulness is strung to the breaking point. Pity and fear threaten to take over the scene completely, yet are not allowed to do so by what may be termed the transcendental imperative imposed by the dramatists "from above" with the very classification of these plays as comedias and manifest in the plays in the various forms of comic relief (the gracioso's verbal wit; the presence of "low-status" characters) and recurrent metadramatic references (to tragedy, to el gran teatro del mundo, and so forth) that constantly remind the spectator that what he is beholding is merely the shadow of a dream, a fiction, a fancy: brief and insignificant events, which must be considered as such, neither taken at face value nor too seriously.

As several scholars have pointed out, the tragic comedia is a peculiar mixture of the tragedia patetica favored by Aristotle and the tragedia morata (moral tragedy), discarded by the Stagirite as untragic. The latter would subsequently become the paradigm of Senecan and Christian tragedy. (31) As such, it oscillates between the perspective of the individual trapped in his tragic ordeal and a cosmic perspective concerned with the universal history of humankind considered as a species. It now assumes an individual-psychological perspective, now a moral-transcendental outlook. One moment it beholds the occurrences of the historical world from a moral vantage point up high, the next moment it perceives them from within, empathizing with the dramatic characters.

The tragic comedia thus depicts situations where the cosmic balance has tipped toward the tragic. There appear to be three main reasons for this imbalance, informing three types of comedias, which thus become instruments for "venting" the tragic in the essentially anti-tragic Baroque theater: 1) the play represents action which occurs in a Christian setting, but is incompatible with Christian morality (the honor plays: Las tres justicias en una, El castigo sin venganza, El Caballero de Olmedo, and Los comendadores de Cordoba by Lope; El pintor de su deshonra, El medico de su honra, and A secreto agravio, secreta venganza by Calderon); (32) 2) the play is set in barbaric pre-Christian Roman, Iberian, and Semitic historical milieux clouded by spiritual darkness before the coming of Christ (Cervantes' Numancia; Virues' La gran Semiramis; Argensola's Alejandra; Tirso's La venganza de Tatuar; Calderon's Los cabellos de Absalon, La hija del aire, La gran Cenobia, and El mayor monstruo del mundo); or 3) the play is set in the entirely fictive, but likewise pre-Christian universe of pagan mythology, dominated by wicked unpredictable gods who play mercilessly with human destiny as if humans were their puppets.

IV. Myth and Tragedy

If we may (as I have argued elsewhere) take Calderon's emblematic La vida es sueno as a key testimony of the Baroque interpretation of tragedy as "unfreedom," or that which runs counter to the Christian notion of free will, (33) then it immediately becomes clear why the mythological comedia provides such fertile ground for exploiting the tragic. Indeed, the pagan world with its deterministic concept of fate and pantheon of infantile, selfish, and merciless gods lends itself most willingly to the Baroque exploitation of tragedy as unfreedom. (34)

The implicit confirmation of the Counter-Reformation view of ancient myth, which identified the world of the pagan gods as a barbarous stage in the history of humankind, (35) probably did not make the serious mythological comedia less attractive to Baroque dramatists drawn by the unfreedom of irreversible late and picturesque "Liebestod." It provided them with the perfect means for transgressing what I have above termed the period's tragic taboo and for venting the tragic under the cloak of exemplarity--happy are those who are called to His supper while wretched are the pagans who happened to live before the coming of Christ--the tragic mythological comedias unfailingly imply. And what better, more dramatically apt and appealing material than Ovid's colorful fables to demonstrate the wretchedness of the pre-Christian world? As a result of this perfect match between Baroque conceptions of myth and tragedy, we find some of Lope's and Calderon's most solemn involvements with the tragic among the serious mythological comedias. (36)

While they are not full-blown realizations of the tragedia patetica, clearly, but exactly "involvements" and experiments with this tragic mode, (37) these plays are a series of examples of how the Baroque period explored the affective potential, dramatic possibilities, and ethical issues afforded by the tragic pagan universe yet simultaneously relativized tragedy "a la greque." Even in the tragic mythological comedia, Melpomene, the tragic muse, is not allowed to triumph as the pathos derived from this exploitation is persistently held in check through more or less direct reference to the superior spiritual "ordo" that lies outside or beyond the pagan universe as an underlying frame of reference: these are pagan destinies, not Christian. Although they must be ascribed an irresistible fascination, they must simultaneously be recognized as fictions, lies, dreams, or errors. Thus, even in the tragedy-prone mythological genre, Baroque tragedy remains a tragic comedia, or a mixture of tragedia patetica and tragedia morata where the balance may have tipped toward the pathetic, but where pathos is still contained within a moral frame that relativizes it and places it at arm's length. Even if it may be tragic, it remains a comedia in the moral meaning of the term: a divine comedy. Hence, in sharp contrast to Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis poem, Lope's Adonis y Venus and Calderon's La purpura de la rosa both temper tragic catastrophe with an effect-laden metamorphosis-turned-apotheosis. By so doing, they recast Ovid's tale in a way that simultaneously exploits the tragic value of the source and alludes to a truth that cannot be contained within the limits of its pagan universe.

As I have said, such fundamental ambiguity with regard to the tragic found an ideal counterpart in the essential duality of morality and poetry of postclassical mythography, which formed the material backdrop of the mythological comedia. The mythological comedia flaunts a perfect match between the allegorical poetic of the serious comedia and equivocal postclassical mythography. Here, the tragic comedia's already described duality of empathy and abstraction, psychopathology and transcendentalism, tragedy and comedy, align with the ambiguity of postclassical mythography, as moral notions of tragedy and myth align on one side and poetic notions of these same phenomena join on the other side. Relying on poetic Ovidianism for pathos, on moral Ovidianism for emotional detachment and cool analysis, these mythological comedias have a highly ambiguous impact, which concurs conspicuously well with the sketched amphibology of the tragic comedia. Here, Roman levity and Christian severity for once make their peace and form a genuine synthesis: the Metamorphoses' ludic depiction of tragic destiny from an elevated and elegant, disinterested, or aestheticizing viewpoint found deep resonance in the Christian transcendental view of tragedy as "comic" or even "fictitious" (a fatalist fancy, the shadow of a dream or, perhaps, a nightmare from which we will eventually wake up when we leave this world's stage), that is, insignificant and even irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. (38)

V. Ambiguity Brought Into Play

There can be no doubt, then, that the allegorical mold of the serious comedia fitted into the ambiguous poetic mythography of the Baroque period, ambiguity of form matching ambiguity of content. Yet, how is the sketched double ambiguity of tragic and mythographic perspectives present, more specifically, in the plays? The influence of poetic Ovidianism and its companion in drama, the tragedia patetica, makes itself felt quite clearly on the plane similar to what narratologists term the diegetic level of a text, that is, the level of the main characters with their thoughts and feelings and action. (39) We may term it the foreground of the stage. Here, the tragic mythological comedia constructs the moving sceneries of the main plot with its noble, mythical protagonists. (40) The representational mode is empathetic psychologizing immersion in human emotions such as jealousy, unrequited love, revenge, and "amor constante mas alla de la muerte." It reflects the poetic Ovidian tradition's interest in classical mythology as a fountain of human experience, augmented through the effective use of the tragedia patetica's core stylistic characteristics as well as the effective use of rhetoric (tragedizing sololoquies, hyperbolic locutions: "Crece la tristeza mia / con tanta violencia, amor / que en el temor y el dolor / mil veces muero en un dia" [La Bella Aurora I: 9-12]), generic markers such as tragic irony, peripeteia, and anagnoresis (the irony of Narciso not realizing that he is in love with his own reflexion [Eco y Narciso]; Orfeo's fatal turn toward Euridice [El marido mas firme]; Cefalo's recognition that he played a crucial part in his lover's death [La Bella Aurora]), (41) and last but not least, the indispensable ominous sense of fatality in the development of the plot. Like the two other types of Baroque tragedies, the mythological comedias certainly display "la construccion climactica," "la tecnica de la premonicion," and the "circularidad and clausuramiento caracteristico de la estructura tragico" that have been identified as defining characteristics of the genre. (42) However, more than both the honor plays and the pre-Christian historical plays, these works simultaneously reveal the ambiguous moral-pathetic design of Baroque tragedy, which explains its rather mysterious parading under the name of comedia. Although in the tragic mythological comedias we are, to quite an astonishing degree, met with a preoccupation with the tragedia patetica, such intense focus is consistently framed by a transcendental perspective underscoring the ultimate futility--comicality, even--of the tragic vision. This was the result of the interference of the tragedia morata and its mythographic "vade mecum"--the various handbooks of moral Ovidianism.

Evidence of the influence of both these moral traditions is found above all in what would in narratological terms be called the extradiegetic plane, or the plane of representation itself. We may term it the backstage or the stage machinery of the mythological comedia. Here, we find clear reminiscences of the transcendental, comic view of the classical myths as vanity, fiction, and futile conceits (the Metamorphoses as a "comedy of errors") in the very allegorical structure of characterization and plot, a legacy of the serious comedia, which arguably reached a high point in the tragic mythological comedia due to its subject matter. In the ambiguous allegoresis of the mythological comedia, the industriously drawn mythical characters simultaneously present themselves as more or less clear embodiments of abstract moral notions such as self-love or Vanity (Narciso), Lasciviousness (Venus) or Constancy (Orfeo), and Ovid's presumably amoral fables translate into dramatizations of psychomachic issues such as enslavement to sensual appetites versus self-control, the succumbing to the power of appearances, passion versus reason, or the choice between good and evil. Here, myths are held at arm's length and their didactic function--revealed in motto-like titles such as Celos aun del aire matan or El marido mas firme--is underscored. What is significant about these fictions is not the individual details (however sad and moving they may be), but the moral lesson that they teach.

The legacy of moral Ovidianism also comes to the fore from the margins of the stage, that is, in the obligatory comic subplot. Here, the gracioso or donaire (in Lope's theater) in various ways guides the spectator toward a meta-aesthetic awareness of the dramatic universe as pure fiction, hence destroying the tragic illusion constructed in the foreground of the play (the main action; protagonists). This comic stock character of seventeenth-century Spanish drama exhibits the fictitiousness of the mythological universe in various ways, ranging from his scenic ubication (in the margins of the scene or perhaps even in the stalls, (43) crossing over into the space inhabited by the spectator, addressing him, and thus oscillating between intra- and extra-dramatic perspectives), (44) to his plot function (burlesque mirror image or countertype of the noble characters), (45) and witty and coarse manner of discourse (debasing the hero's tragic stature and jeopardizing the elevated status and credibility of the mythical universe. (46) All this essentially creates a distance from the events on the stage, preventing the spectator's identification with the tragic characters and revoking the "willful suspension of disbelief" provoked by the main action. The presence of the gracioso thus sustains both the proposed view of Baroque tragedy as tragic comedia and the moral notion of the drama as theatrum mundi. (47)

It is difficult to imagine how the fatal liaison between poetic Ovidianism and the tragedia patetica with its piteous scenes of eloquently dying pagans world have passed inquisitorial censure without the help of the various amending strategies provided by the moral Ovidian tradition and the tragedia morata; (48) and yet the self-reflective and witty moral fables resulting from the happy marriage of these traditions would not have conquered the imagination of their spectators in the first place were it not for the influence of poetic Ovidianism and the tragedia patetica. Thus, rather than the one cancelling out the other, the two traditions work together in a highly ambiguous circumvention of that conspicuous seventeenth-century tragic taboo that I will now briefly address.

VI. Culture of Crisis and Tragic Taboo

I have suggested that the peculiar and idiosyncratic seventeenth-century Spanish development, where Aristotelian tragedy was apparently ostracized from the literary republic while comedia became a hegemonic term for drama and even for tragedy, be perceived as the terminological and dramatic historical equivalent of the contemporary view, that in the superior divine scheme designed by Providence there can be no such thing as unmerited misfortune or abysmal hopelessness (as supposedly claimed by the Attic tragedians). "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good," Genesis stated, and vis-a-vis Luther's bondage of human will, Counter-Reformation theology underscored the Christian individual's essential freedom to change his of her destiny through the exercise of virtue and prudence, even when things were at their worst.

The historical situation was surely not at its best when the Spanish dramatists began to term their serious plays comedias in the first decades of the seventeenth century. Symptoms of crisis included Cellorigo's Politica necessaria y util restauracion (1600); continuous rebellions in the Spanish Netherlands (1566-1648), calling for costly and exhausting military intervention; upsurge of significant Protestant communities in Valladolid, seat of the royal court 1601-1609, and in other important cities; the expulsion of the moriscos (1609); administrative reforms; formation of the Junta de Reformacion de las Costumbres (1622) as an instrument of moral rearmament of the public; British attack on Cadiz (1626); aggressive foreign politics during the rule of Count-Duke of Olivares, the king's privado from 1621 to 1643; third bankruptcy of the state (in 1627, first two bankruptcies in 1557 and 1575); and Spain's intervention in the Thirty Years' War.

According to the argument proposed here, it makes good sense to relate the intimately entwined ostracism of tragedy and triumph of the comedia to the much discussed Baroque culture of crisis revealed in these events: the anti-tragedizing outlook of the tragicomic and even of the tragic comedia was the logical product of a historical situation where the divine light guiding Spain through the prime of its Golden Age had turned into the chiaroscuro twilight which would eventually, around the mid-sixteenth century, escalate into a virtual noche oscura. (49) In an artful conjuration conducted so as to make political, economic, and social catastrophe go away, Baroque writers and thinkers underscored again and again that in the theatrum mundi that is human life, tragedy is never absolute, but always redeemable through recurrence to piety, virtue, and faith in the "comic" nature of the historical world--undeniably tragic, yet mysteriously imbued with transcendental significance and, hence, filled with hope.

I have shown how the mythographic and dramatic ambiguity of the tragic mythological comedia illuminates this Baroque taboo on tragedy and argued that it reveals the anti-tragic core of Baroque drama: in accordance with the ambiguity implied in the prefix "anti," (50) the various forms of tragic comedia at the same time embraced tragedy and kept it at arm's length, relegating it to either a barbaric aberration of Christian civilization in the honor plays, to uncivilized pre-Christian times, or to the polytheist age with its demonic agents and unyielding determinism (as in tragic mythological comedia). Thus officially disavowed, tragedy could be explored "therapeutically" as an exotic, savage, or primitive phenomenon, which obviously evoked a kind of unconscious contemporary response and an apparently irresistible fascination, but could not be unconditionally embraced.

The ambiguity characterizing the anti-tragic serious comedia reflected the contemporary endeavor to reconcile the inherited, metaphysical and moral worldview with the historical pessimism (Baroque desengano) and tragic secularism haunting the period. The early artistic culmination of this seminal seventeenth-century endeavor, the serious comedia was a symbolic triumph over or, at least, a coming-to-terms with what to contemporary minds appeared as the tragedy of history. Although consciousness of crisis is also found in nonpoetic genres (in the aforementioned work by Cellorigo, for instance), there can be no doubt that the most successful attempts to deal with national tragedy were produced by literary authors, notably the dramatists who were officially entrusted with staging Spanish history--Lope's Los espanoles en Flandres and Calderon's El sitio de Breda.

The most conspicuous expression of the ambiguous Baroque notion of the tragic and, as such, the consummation of the aforementioned literary-therapeutic coming-to-terms with contemporary cultural crisis, the tragic mythological comedia is arguably the most striking aesthetic form of the late Baroque period (1650 onward). (51) As I have suggested in my introduction, the scenographic aspect that was most conspicuously developed in the plays written for and performed at court only emphasizes this point: if the tragic mythological comedias, as texts, reveal something significant about the Baroque concept of tragedy as a mixture of tragedia patetica and morata, the ambiguity of empathy and transcendental contemplation is even more evident if we look at them as parts of the mythological fiestas. These were simultaneously splendid and ostentatious representations that seduced the senses by all possible means, compelling the spectator's total absorption in the mythological universe and severe moral lectures intimating the engano of the senses and the vanity of the physical world.

Thus, the fiestas underscore the proposed interpretation of Baroque drama and tragedy (a lo mitologico or not) as an essential amphibology of perspectives. Radicalizing the ambiguity of both the tragic mythological comedia and the allegorical poetics of the serious comedia through the use of music, lights, scenography, and special effects, mythological plays written for court such as Lope's El amor enamorado and Calderon's La purpura de la rosa enabled the complete unfolding of the Baroque view of history as a tragicomic theatrum mundi wherein tragedy is relativized, aestheticized, and even made comical through inscription into a transcendental worldview, but is by no means absent.

University of Copenhagen


(1) The full list of plays includes Adonis y Venus, El laberinto de Creta, La fabula de Perseo, El vellocino de oro, El marido mas firme, La bella Aurora, El amor enamorado, and the Hercules play Las mujeres sin hombres by Lope, and El mayor encanto, amor; Los tres mayores prodigios; La fiera, el rayo y la piedra; Fortunas de Andromeda y Perseo; El laurel de Apolo; La purpura de la rosa; Celos aun del aire matan; Apolo y Climene; El hijo del Sol, Faeton; Eco y Narciso; El monstruo de los jardines; Ni amor se libra de amor; Fieras afemina amor; Fineza contra fineza; and La estatua de Prometeo by Calderon. See Juan Antonio Martinez Berbel, El mundo mitologico de Lope de Vega: Siete comedias mitologicas de inspiracion ovidiana (Madrid: Fundacion Universitaria Espanola, 2003) and Sebastian Neumeister, Mito y ostentacion (Kassel: Reichenberger, 2000), whose list coincides with the plays contained in the first volume of Angel Valbuena Briones's Aguilar edition of Calderon's works. Curiously, the third great dramatist of the period, Tirso de Molina, did not write a single mythological comedia.

(2) As these introductory words make clear, I will not deal with the comic mythological comedias (Lope's La fabula de Perseo, El vellocino de oro, and Las mujeres sin hombres; Calderon's El mayor encanto, amor, Ni amor se libra de amor, Fineza contra fineza, Fortunas de Andromeda y Perseo, and Fieras afemina amor) nor with the mythological burlesque (Calderon's Cefalo y Pocris) or the "piscatorial eclogue," El golfo de las sirenas.

(3) See Agustin Sanchez Aguilar, Lejos del Olimpo. El teatro mitologico de Lope de Vega (Caceres: Universidad de Extremadura, 2010), 189-96.

(4) See Berbel, 549 (see note 1).

(5) See, for example, W. G. Chapman, "Las comedias mitologicas de Calderon" Revista de Literatura 9-10 (1954): 35-67; Angel Valbuena Briones, "Eros moralizado en las comedias mitologicas de Calderon," in Approaches to the Theater of Calderon, ed. Michael McGaha (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1982), 77-93.

(6) Thomas O'Connor, Myth and Mythology in the Theater of Pedro Calderon de la Barca (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1988); Everett Hesse, "The 'Terrible Mother' Image in Calderon's Eco y Narciso", Romance Notes 1 (1960): 133-36.

(7) See Edwin Haverbeck, El tema mitologico en el teatro de Calderon (Valdivia: Universidad Austral de Chile, 1975), 107-10, 131-48.

(8) See Neumeister, Mito y ostentacion (see note 1) and Margaret Rich Greer, The Play of Power: Mythological Court Dramas of Calderon de la Barca (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). For a European perspective, see Kristiaan P. Aercke, Gods of Play: Baroque Festive Performances as Rhetorical Discourse (Albany: State University of New York, 1994).

(9) See Anthony Cascardi's interpretation of Calderon's Los tres mayores prodigios, Eco y Narciso, and La estatua de Prometeo, in The Limits of Illusion: A Critical Study of Calderon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

(10) In both cases, but especially when it comes to Lope, this is a conspicuous percentage. Thus, Edwin Morby in "Some Observations on Tragedia and Tragicomedia in Lope," Hispanic Review 11 (1943): 185-209, surveying Lope's involvement with the tragic, concludes that Lope was "by temperament unqualified for tragedy;' emphasizing the tragicomic character of Lope's serious plays (207-9).

(11) Thus, Maria Rosa Alvarez Sellers' monumental three-volume study of Golden Age tragedy, Analisis de la evolucion de la tragedia espanola en el Siglo de Oro: la tragedia amorosa (Kassel: Reichenberger, 1997) has Calderon's Eco y Narciso as sole mythological example (vol. 2, chap. 14). Important recent contributions to the question taken up here are included in Hacia la tragedia aurea: Lecturas para un nuevo milenio, ed. Frederick A. de Armas, Luciano Garcia Lorenzo, and Enrique Garcia Santo-Tomas (Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana, 2008): notably Frederick de Armas on Adonis y Venus (97-116) and Santiago Fernandez Mosquera in Los tres mayores prodigios (153-80). See also Susana Hernandez-Araico's readings of Apolo y Climene and El monstruo de los jardines in Ironia y tragedia en Calderon (Potomac: Scripta Humanistica, 1986), 83-84 and 87-98.

(12) The fact that Antonio Serrano Agullo's resume of recent contributions to the discussion quotes no fewer than seven different notions of tragedy (by Adrados, Rodriguez, Vitse, Diaz Tejera, Sellers, and Berbel)--ranging from the view of tragedy as the expression of frustrated desire (Rodriguez, Vitse) to the idea of the tragic as existentialist inquiry (Adrados, Sellers)--proves the bewildering status of the question. See his Teatro e historia en Mira de Amescua: Don Bernardo de Cabrera (Kassel: Reichenberger, 2006).

(13) The "epyllion" ("minor epic" in Greek, or mythological epic) may be defined as a narrative poem with mythological content with a psychological take on events, written in an ornamental lyrical style mixed with tragic notes, and favoring secondary plots and the erudite digression (often in the form of ekphrasis). For a theoretical discussion of the Baroque epyllion and an "empirical" study of an important specimen of the genre, see Sofie Kluge, "Espejo del mito: Algunas consideraciones sobre el epilio Barroco," Criticon, special issue on the epic (forthcoming), and "Un epilio Barroco: El Polifemo y su genero" in Centro y periferias, ed. Rodrigo Cacho Casal and Anne Holloway (London: Tamesis, forthcoming).

(14) The Roman mythographers of Stoic and Neoplatonic filiation, notwithstanding their considerable internal differences, viewed the archaic myths as allegories and attributed a moral-philosophical meaning to them.

(15) The latter type of allegoresis is also known as euhemerism (continued in the rationalizing mythographic interpretation founded by Palaephatus in Incredible Tales). As Sanchez Aguilar explains (see note 3 above, 17-18), there was a close genealogical connection between moral and euhemerist allegory. However, the euhemerist interpretation of classical myth is not vital to my understanding of Baroque poetic mythography.

(16) See Antonio Possevino's Bibliotheca selecta (1593), chap. 17: "The Fruitful Use of Ethnic Poets," et al.

(17) See Jose Maria de Cossio (Las fabulas mitologicas de Espana [Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1952]), 38-71. In this category we find the translations of the Metamorphoses by Antonio Perez Siegler (1580, versified with allegories) and Sanchez de Viana (1589, with annotations "reduciendo" the fables to "filosofia natural y moral") as well as Herrera's annotations of Garcilaso's poetry (1580).

(18) For abstracts and analyses of the work of these authors, see Kazimierz Sabik, "El teatro de tema mitologico en la corte de Carlos II (texto y escenografia)" Dialogos hispanicos de Amsterdam 8 (1989): 775-92.

(19) Quoted in Chapman, 50 (see note 5 above). In 1619--as Sanchez Aguilar recalls (31)--Lope wrote another aprobacion, this time for Bahasar de Vitoria's Theatro de los dioses de la gentilidad. He also embarked on a translation of Images of the Gods [Liber Ymaginum Deorum orDe deorum imaginibus] by the so-called "Albricus" (possible pseudonym for Alexander Neckam).

(20) See Ludwig Traube, Vorlesungen und Abhandlungen, vol. 2, ed. Paul Lehmann (Munchen: Beck, 1911).

(21) The difficulty of separating the two threads of Renaissance mythography is beautifully demonstrated in Giovanni Boccaccio's famous Genealogia deorum (1360), which inaugurated both the humanistic study of myth and the poetic Ovidianism of the Renaissance, but still applied the fourfold patristic method of biblical exegesis to classical mythology.

(22) See Hans Blumenberg's exposition of the new, liberal treatment of mythology that began in the Renaissance (Arbeit am Mythos. [Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1979]). As Jean Seznec's now classic study (La survivance des dieux antiques [London: Warburg Institute, 1940]) showed, the moral allegorization of Greco-Roman mythology coexisted with the poetic trend reaching into the Renaissance proper. However, notwithstanding this persistence of moral mythography, the literary-aesthetic innovations of the Renaissance were obviously considerable and unquestionable. See Stephen Greenblatt, Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (London: Bodley Head, 2011).

(23) This development is especially evident in the new translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses on "modern" philological-humanist principles, which saw the light of day during the sixteenth century: the Italian humanist editions by Dolce (1553) and Anguillara (1563), and the Spanish translation by Jorge de Bustamante (1545, in prose and without allegories, but insisting--in the "Prologo y argumento sobre la obra"--in the allegorical meaning of Ovid's work). Whereas medieval mythography usually constituted a hodgepodge of translation and commentary, the philological methodology of these new translations entailed a general interrogation of the ontological status, cultural function, and aesthetic representation of myth far removed from the interested stance of moral Ovidianism.

(24) See Sofie Kluge, Baroque Allegory Comedia: The Transfiguration of Tragedy in Seventeenth-Century Spain (Kassel: Reichenberger, 2010).

(25) The category "serious comedia" covers the works contained in the first volume ("Dramas") of Valbuena's three-volume Aguilar edition of Calderon's works; the Obras of Lope, as published by Emilio Cotarelo y Mori in his impressive thirteen-volume edition (Madrid: Real Academia Espanola, 1916-30) are not ordered according to genre (curiously, the mythological comedias have found no place in this edition).

(26) By medieval sacred theatrical tradition I am referring broadly to the various popular dramatic traditions of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, including the English mysteries (e.g., York, Towneley), morality plays, and interludes, the French mysteres, German Mysterienspiele, Fronleichnamsspiele, and Passionsspiele, and the Spanish autos sacramentales.

(27) I thus adhere to the set of global characteristics of the Golden Age serious comedia proposed by Alexander Parker: "I) la primacia de la accion sobre el desarrollo de los personajes; II) la primacia del tema sobre la accion con la consecuente inaplicabilidad de la verosimilitud realista; III) la unidad dramatica en el tema y no en la accion; IV) la subordinacion del tema a un proposito moral a traves del principio de la justicia poetica [...] y V) la elucidacion del proposito moral por medio de la casualidad dramatica" (quoted in Calderon y la critica: historia y antologia, ed. Manuel Duran and Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria, 2 vols. [Madrid: Gredos, 1976], 1: 357).

(28) For a description of this phenomenon in its relation to Baroque aesthetics, see Emilio Orozco Diaz, El Teatro y la teatralidad del Barroco (Barcelona: Planeta, 1969).

(29) That is, the definition found in the dramatic theories of the grammarians Donatus, Diomedes, and Evanthius of the fourth and fifth centuries. See Margarete Newels, Los generos dramaticos en las poeticas del siglo de oro (London: Tamesis, 1974), for a synopsis of the traditional theory of tragedy and comedy on the basis of Lopez Pinciano's Philosophia antigua poetica, 1596, bk. 3: "1) La tragedia ha de tener personas graves [o sea, de elevado rango], y la comedia, comunes [o sea, de origen humilde y caracteristicas tipicas mas bien que individuales]. 2) La tragedia tiene grandes temores llenos de peligro, y la comedia. 3) La tragedia tiene tristes y lamentables fines; la comedia. 4) En la tragedia, quietos principios y turbados fines; la comedia, al contrario. 5) En la tragedia se ensena la vida que se deve huyr, y en la comedia, la que se deve seguir. 6) La tragedia se funda en historia, y la comedia, es toda fabula, de manera que ni aun el nombre es licito poner de persona alguna. 7) La tragedia quiere y demanda estilo alto, y la comedia, baxo" (71).

(30) For a survey of the terminological development from tragicomedy to comedia and its relation to the contemporary cultural climate, see Sofie Kluge, "A Hermaphrodite? Lope de Vega and Tragicomedy," Comparative Drama 41 (2007): 297-335. See also Newels, chap. 9: "Comedia espanola y tragicomedia." See further Kluge, Baroque Allegory Comedia, for an in-depth discussion of how this terminological process was intertwined with the cultural climate of the period.

(31) See, for example, Jose Maria Ruano de la Haza's introduction to his edition of Calderon's El mayor monstruo del mundo (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1989); Ignacio Arellano, Metodologia y recepcion: estudios sobre el teatro del siglo de oro (Madrid: Gredos, 1999). The notions of tragedia morata and tragedia patetica were introduced in Spain by Pinciano (Philosophia antigua poetica, epist. 9), who took his cue from Minturno, and further formalized by Francisco de Cascales (Tablas poeticas, 2:2). They may

ultimately be derived from Aristotle's Poetics (1453a), which distinguishes between the perfect tragedy (based on hamartia, involuntary error or frailty in the hero, evoking pity and fear) and an inferior kind of tragedy (showing "the downfall of the utter villain," and hence "satisfying the moral sense" [philanthropon exoi], but not provoking real tragic emotion).

(32) See Agullo, Teatro e historia en Mira de Amescua: "por el hibridismo de nuestra comedia aurea, conviven a veces en una misma obra situaciones propias de lo comico junto con otras propias de lo tragico. Es frecuente que los personajes se encuentren ante disyuntivas en las que tienen que elegir una opcion u otra, pero dependera de la trascendencia de esta opcion y del origen de la decision para que la question quede como propia de la comedia o de la tragedia" (294).

(33) For an interpretation of this play as key to the anti-tragic poetic of the serious Baroque comedia, see Sofie Kluge, "Calderon's Anti-Tragic Theatre: The Resonance of Plato's Critique of Tragedy in La vida es sueno," Hispanic Review 76 (2008): 19-52. According to my analysis, Calderon here confronts tragedy/unfreedom in the various forms of dependence upon determining external factors (astrology, horoscopes); enslavement to irrational feelings, creeds, and passions (love, revenge); subjugation to social, ideological, and aesthetic codes (honor, politics, classical poetics/ tragedy); physical or psychological confinement and oppression. With regard to Calderonian tragedy, Francisco Ruiz Ramon, Calderon y la tragedia (Madrid: Alhambra, 1984) distinguishes between tragedies based on the conflict between freedom/destiny and honor tragedies (3). However, if we recognize the universe of honor as one governed by determinism and, hence, unfreedom (or an absence of freedom), the fundamental interrelation of these two tragic categories becomes visible.

(34) Thus, various individual studies confirm the recurrence of the theme of free will in the mythological comedias. For Lope de Vega, see Michael McGaha, "Las comedias mitologicas de Lope de Vega" in Estudios sobre el Siglo de Oro en homenaje a Raymond R. MacCurdy, ed. Angel Gonzalez, Tamara Holzapfel, and Alfred Rodriguez (Madrid: Catedra, 1983), 67-82, who interprets this theme in psychological terms: "Es razonable, entonces, interpretar estas comedias [La fabula de Perseo; El laberinto de Creta; El vellocino de oro] como proyecciones de la lucha interior de Lope por conquistarse a si mismo" (77); for Guillen de Castro, see the unpublished PhD thesis by Jean Schneider Escribano, "The Function of Classical Myth in the Theater of Guillen de Castro" (Emory University, 1971); for Calderon, see Robert Ter Horst, "A New Literary History of Don Pedro Calderon" in Approaches to the Theater of Calderon, ed. Michael McGaha (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982), 33-52, esp. 45-47; for the post-Calderonian dramatists, see Sabik (note 17 above).

(35) See Perez de Moya's "Libro Primero, en que se dice como entro en el mundo la Idolatria, y la muchedumbre de Dioses de la Gentilidad, acerca de varias naciones." The mythographer takes care to identify the fables as false fictions and the polytheistic worldview that they represent as an obscure, idolatrous stage in the history of humankind marked by the natural bewilderment and confusion before the coming of Christ.

(36) See Adonis y Venus, El marido mas firme, and La bella Aurora by Lope; and Calderon's Los tres mayores prodigios, La purpura de la rosa, El laurel de Apolo, Eco y Narciso, Celos aun del aire matan, Apolo y Climene, and El hijo del Sol, Faeton. To these may be added Lope's El amor enamorado, a bitter recognition of Love's destructive omnipotence, where the happy ending is only secured "in extremis" by the "deus ex machina" (Juppiter).

(37) Although his article contains many fine observations about the manifestation of the Baroque idea of tragedy in Lope's mythological comedias, McGaha (see note 34) claims that of all Lope's mythological comedias only La Bella Aurora qualifies as tragic (81). This view must be ascribed to an implicit identification of the tragic with Aristotle's concept of tragedy, as confirmed by his analyses of Adonis y Venus (73) and especially El amor enamorado (81-82). In this context, we may recall that in the Poetics Aristotle had praised tragedies with happy endings, notably Iphigenia in Tauris.

(38) The meta-aesthetic aspect of Ovid's poetics was convincingly demonstrated by Gian Biagio Conte in his now classic Memoria dei poeti e sistema letterario (Torino: Einaudi, 1974) and, above all, by Gianpiero Rosati's article "L'esistenza letteraria: Ovidio e l'autocoscienza della poesia," Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 2 (1979): 101-36.

(39) Although Gerard Genette's concepts were, of course, originally formulated with regard to literary narrative (Figures III [Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1972]), I believe they may be applied to the various types of allegorical drama with their complex mode of enunciation.

(40) Of course, the gracioso and the subplot usually dominated by him cannot be related to this tradition.

(41) Aristotle describes peripeteia and anagnorisis in Poetics, chap. 2. The concept of peripeteia (abrupt turn of events or reversal of circumstances) describes a self-destructive action, committed by one of the characters and leading to the opposite of what was intended; anagnorisis is the acquisition of the knowledge needed to prevent it. The so-called tragic irony, not mentioned by Aristotle, constitutes the pre-knowledge of dramatic events on the part of the spectator that leads him to understand the significance of words and actions before it is recognized by the characters themselves.

(42) See Arellano's definition of Baroque tragedy (131, 156).

(43) Hence, Neumeister, Mito y ostentacion, 128-30, recalls that in one of Baccio del Bianco's scene drawings for the luxury edition of Calderon's Andromeda y Perseo, the comedia's gracioso is placed outside of the scene.

(44) See Robert Lauer, "La funcion dramatica de Clarin en La vida es sueno de Calderon: prolegomenos para un estudio del 'gracioso' en la tragedia barroca calderoniana," in Calderon 1600-2000: Jornadas de Investigacion Calderoniana, ed. Aurelio Gonzalez (Mexico City: El Colegio de Mexico, 2002), 151-67.

(45) See Jesus Gomez, La figura del donaire o el gracioso en las comedias de Lope de Vega (Sevilla: Alfar, 2006).

(46) A few examples may suffice: "FEBO Yo soy Apolo; BATO Senor Pollo, ..." (El amor enamorado 1: 371-72); meta-aesthetic commentaries: "!Y habra bobos que lo crean! / Mas sea cierto o no cierto / tal cual la fabula es / esta de Narciso y Eco" (Eco y Narciso, 3: 1111-14). See Sanchez Aguilar a propos El marido mas firme: "Y es que, justo cuando Orfeo alcanza la cresta del dolor, asoma en el drama el contrapunto de lo comico, pues Fabio se burla de su amo, le da la razon como a los locos y derrocha comentarios jocosos a costa de sus disparates de viudo rabioso. [...] lejos de explotar tan solo el potencial tragico del mito y de buscar la catarsis del espectador por medio de la compasion, Lope utilizo la historia de Orfeo para hacer reir a su publico. Tal decision puede sorprendemos, pero es consecuente con los principios esteticos en que se funda el teatro de Lope, quien aposto siempre por hermanar a Terencio y Seneca argumentando que tambien en la vida real la tristeza y la alegria se entrecruza de continuo" (129).

(47) See Georges Guntert, "El gracioso de Calderon: disparate e ingenio," in Actas del Sexto Congreso Internacional de Hispanistas, ed. A. M. Gordon and E. Rugg (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 360-63: "Al tener que traducir o 'transponer' continuamente los cuentos del gracioso, el espectador acaba por comprender que no existe solamente aquel plano y, tambien, que el punto de vista de los persona)es, siendo limitado, no es el unico pensable" (363, italics original).

(48) Jean Seznec's much-cited view that the moral Ovidian tradition was essentially an apologetic strategy invented to circumvent the censure of Ovid's pagan stories ma), be recalled here (La survivance des dieux antiques [London: Warburg Institute, 1940]).

(49) For an intellectual-historical presentation of the Baroque along the lines proposed here, I submit to Jose Luis Abellan, Historia critica del pensamiento espanol, vol. 3 (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1981), and to the complementary historical documents in Fernando Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana en sus documentos (Madrid: Catedra, 1987).

(50) As opposed to "un-tragic" "anti-tragic" suggests the conscious confrontation with tragedy, which is not simply denied or ignored but actively opposed and, hence, allowed a say.

(51) In a different key, Neumeister sees Calderons mythological fiesta as anti-comedia (meta-aesthetic and transcendental and as such far removed from the claustrophobically closed or immanent social universe of the comedia, especially that of "cloak-and-dagger") and, hence, as an aesthetic phenomenon that replaces the traditional comedia as the most representative artistic form around the mid-century (103-14).
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Author:Kluge, Sofie
Publication:Comparative Drama
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUDE
Date:Jun 22, 2012
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