1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Drama/11b

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(b) Greece.

The dramatic literature of the later Hellenes is a creation of the literary movement which preceded their noble struggle for independence, or which may be said to form part of that struggle. After beginning with dramatic Modern Greek and Dalmatian drama. dialogues of a patriotic tendency, it took a step in advance with the tragedies of J. R. Nerulos[1] (1778-1850), whose name belongs to the political as well as to the literary history of his country. His comedies—especially one directed against the excesses of journalism[2]—largely contributed to open a literary life for the modern Greek tongue. Among the earlier patriotic Greek dramatists of the 19th century are T. Alkaeos, J. Zampelios (whose tragic style was influenced by that of Alfieri),[3] S. K. Karydis and A. Valaoritis. A. Zoiros[4] is noteworthy as having introduced the use of prose into Greek tragedy, while preserving to it that association with sentiments and aspirations which will probably long continue to pervade the chief productions of modern Greek literature. The love of the theatre is ineradicable from Attic as it is from Italian soil; and the tendencies of the young dramatic literature of Hellas which is not wholly absorbed in the effort to keep abreast of recent modern developments, seem to justify the hope that a worthy future awaits it.

Under Italian influence an interesting dramatic growth attained to some vitality in the Dalmatian lands about the beginning of the 16th century, where the religious drama, whose days were passing away in Italy, found favour with a people with a scant popular literature of its own. At Ragusa Italian literary influence had been spread by the followers of Petrarch from the later years of the 15th century; here several Servo-Croatian writers produced religious plays in the manner of the Italian rappresentazioni; and a gifted poet, Martin Držić, composed, besides religious plays and farces, a species of pastoral which enjoyed much favour.

  1. Aspasia; Polyxena.
  2. Ephemeridophobos.
  3. Timoleon; Konstantinos Palaeologos; Rhigas of Pherae.
  4. The Three Hundred, or The Character of the Ancient Hellene (Leonidas); The Death of the Orator (Demosthenes); A Scion of Timoleon, &c.