Article Title

The Christos Paschon and The Byzantine Theater


Sandro Sticca


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

It is possible to provide a critical analysis of the Christos Paschon solely on aesthetic grounds, considering the play as a work of dramatic art; however, it is desirable that a formalized discussion of its imaginative range, intellectual and liturgical content be undertaken against the background of the origins and development of the Byzantine theater, especially since, over the years, that problem has hardly been cleared, or resolved. The lack of a substantial dramatic corpus has complicated the process of interpretation and has prevented scholars studying the religious drama of Byzantium from reaching definite conclusions, limiting their inquiries to conflicting and disharmonious statements, to extreme critical polarizations, and often to misleading deductions that are contradicted by the meager evidence available. Because of the paucity of extant dramatic specimens, scholars have been unable to reconstruct fully the historical and literary dimensions of the Byzantine Christian drama; indeed the Christos Paschon, a long cento of verses from the Greek tragic poets and particularly from Euripides, variously dated from the fourth to the eleventh centuries, constitutes the only extant attempt to put together in dramatic form the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. For this reason, the majority of earlier studies on the religious drama in Byzantium have concerned themselves either with the nature of the dramatic form or with arguments and speculations concerning the primacy of the Western or Eastern Church in the creation of a Christian drama.

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