Charles Sumner, His Complete Works;
A word on the nomenclature to be used in this Essay. It will be understood from the purpose in view that we are engaged with the beginning an art-farm, and consequently are long antecedent to the date of precise terminology and delined technique. The drama with which we have to do is in its formative period, in process of growth. It is obvious, then, that terms, which have a very definite meaning when speaking of the classical drama, must be employed loosely, and in some instances, merely analogically, when reference is to early and imperfect forms. The classical terms tragoedia and comoedia are not normally applicable to the religious play until the Renaissance influences come in toward the end of the fifteenth century. In fact their Mediaeval sense, as Mr. Chambers notes The mediaeval Stage, implies nothing distinctly dramatic. Claetta, in the first volume of his work on the history of Mediaeval and Renaissance literature Komadie und Tragadie im Mittelalter has collected and analyzed in historical order, descriptions of comedy and tragedy which have little in common with Aristotles definitions. Few if any of the Mediaeval authors that the historian cites can be said to have in mind the purely praiessional or academic connotation of the words in the sense that Aristotle had rather it was with the popularor analogical import of the terms that they were concerned. Chaucers familiar reference in the Millers Tab, for instance, makes no pretention either to technical accuracy or completeness. Nobody would impute to Dante ignorance of the classical definition of tragedy and comedy, his analogical use of the wards, however, may be taken as illustrative of Mediaeval usage generally......
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