1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Encina, Juan Del

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ENCINA, JUAN DEL (1469–c. 1533), often called the founder of the Spanish drama, was born in 1469 near Salamanca probably at Encinas. On leaving the university of Salamanca he became a member of the household of the second duke of Alva. In 1492 the poet entertained his patron with a dramatic piece, the Triunfo de la fama, written to commemorate the fall of Granada. In 1496 he published his Cancionero, a collection of dramatic and lyrical poems. Some years afterwards he visited Rome, attracted the attention of Alexander VI. by his skill in music, and was appointed choirmaster. About 1518 Encina took orders, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he said his first mass. Since 1509 he had held a lay canonry at Malaga; in 1519 he was appointed prior of Leon and is said to have died at Salamanca about 1533. His Cancionero is preceded by a prose treatise (Arte de trobar) on the condition of the poetic art in Spain. His fourteen dramatic pieces mark the transition from the purely ecclesiastical to the secular stage. The Aucto del Repelón and the Égloga de Fileno dramatize the adventures of shepherds; the latter, like Plácida y Vitoriano, is strongly influenced by the Celestina. The intrinsic interest of Encina’s plays is slight, but they are important from the historical point of view, for the lay pieces form a new departure, and the devout eclogues prepare the way for the autos of the 17th century. Moreover, Encina’s lyrical poems are remarkable for their intense sincerity and devout grace.

Bibliography.Teatro completo de Juan del Encina (Madrid, 1893), edited by F. Asenjo Barbieri; Cancionero musical de los siglos XV y XVI (Madrid, 1894), edited by F. Asenjo Barbieri; R. Mitjana, Sobre Juan del Encina, músico y poeta (Málaga, 1895); M. Menendez y Pelayo, Antologia de poetas liricos castellanos (Madrid, 1890–1903), vol. vii.