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Christian Weise and his Gedichte von der Sicilianischen Argenis (1683): The Practice of Politics

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-311
Number of pages19
JournalStudia Aurea
Volume10
Early online date23 Nov 2016
DOIs
Accepted/In press15 Jun 2016
E-pub ahead of print23 Nov 2016
Published23 Nov 2016

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Abstract

In March 1683 the pedagogue, dramatist and novelist Christian Weise directed his German stage version of Barclay’s Argenis, which was performed for parents and local dignitaries by the boys at his grammar school in the Saxon city of Zittau. The Gedicht von der Sicilianischen Argenis was, in fact, one of three plays performed on consecutive days during Shrovetide 1683, and one of well over fifty plays written by Weise for performance on the school stage. Weise adapted Argenis as a play in order to teach schoolboys important political lessons, to prepare them for their roles as future civil servants, and toprovide them with essential training in practical modern rhetoric. This article discusses Weise’s intentions in staging Argenis, and considers how he adapted the novel for the demands of a necessarily large cast (65 named parts). It sets it in the context of the 1683 trilogy, which included a biblical drama about Saul’s persecution of David and a comedy entitled Die Verkehrte Welt (The Topsy-Turvy World), and it analyses the play against the background of his dramaturgical, pedagogical and political writings.

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