Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

of Caricature 
That this mediceval drama was not derived from that of the Roman 
is evident from the circurnitance that entirely new terms were applied to 
it. The Wefiern people in the middle ages had no words exactly equi- 
valent with the Latin comwdia, tmgwdia, thcatrum, 8zc.; and even the 
Latiniiis, to delignate the dramatic pieces performed at the church 
fefcivals, employed the word ludus, a play. The French called them by 
a word having exactly the fame meaning, jeu (from joczzs). Similarly in 
Englith they were termed plays. The Anglo-Saxon gloliaries prefent as 
the reprefentative of the Latin theatrum, the compounded Words phage- 
stow, or pleg-stow, a play-place, and pleg-hus, a play-houfe. It is curious 
that we Englifhmen have preferved to the prefent time the Anglo-Saxon 
words in play, player, and play-houjie. Another Anglo-Saxon word with 
exactly the fame iignification, lac, or gelac, play, appears to have been 
more in ufe in the dialect of the Northumbrians, and a Yorklhireman 
{till calls a play a lake, and a player a laker. So alfo the Germans called 
a dramatic performance a fpil, i.e. a play, the modern  and a theatre, 
ajjvil-hus. One of the pieces of Hilarius is thus entitled " Ludus fuper 
iconia fancti Nicolai," and the French jeu and the Engliih play are 
conltantly ufed in the fame fenfe. But be-{ides this general term, words 
gradually came into ufe to characterife different forts of plays. The 
church plays contiited of two defcriptions of fubjects, they either reprefented 
the miraculous acts of certain faints, which had a plain meaning, or 
fome incident taken from the Holy Scriptures, which was fuppofecl to 
have a hidden mytlerious fignification as well as an apparent one, and 
hence the one clafs of fubject was ufually fpoken of {imply as miraculum, a 
miracle, and the other as mgjierium, a myfcery. Myfieries and miracle- 
plays are {till the names ufually given to the old religious plays by writers 
on the hiliory of the itage. 
We have a proof that the Latin religious plays, and the fetiivities in 
which they were employed, had become greatly developed in the twelfth 
century, in the notice taken of them in the ecclefiaftical councils of that 
period, for they were difapproved by the Ptricter church difciplinarians. 
So early as the papacy of Gregory VIII., the pope urged the clergy to 
"extirpate " from their churches theatrical plays, and other feftive 


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