The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim

The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim

The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim

The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim

Excerpt

This book is for students, historians and lovers of drama, to some of whom Hrotswitha's plays will be a new experience. The translations are adaptations for the stage, though the sense is close to the original. Although the plays are frequently studied and occasionally performed in their original Latin, English translations of all six plays have been hard to find; those texts that do exist are better suited to study than to the stage. I hope this new edition in modern English will fill the need for a readable and stageworthy text.

The translations are all my own, with the exception of one play, Gallicanus, translated in collaboration with Alexandra Bonfante-Warren. Stage directions, which are lacking in the original text, are always put in parentheses, so that the reader should not be misled into thinking they are anything but a guide to an interpretation of the text.

Although the plays are in chronological order, they may be read in a different order. The reader new to the plays of Hrotswitha would probably enjoy beginning with her most romantic play, Callimachus; continuing with her farce, Dulcitius; and Abraham and Paphnutius, the two plays dealing with monastic life, with their moving portrayals of love and conversion. These plays are perhaps easier to appreciate at first reading than the more formal Gallicanus and Sapientia.

I am grateful to many for help and encouragement: to Marianne Nichols, Irene Zajac, Joel Bromberg, to my anonymous reader, and to the students in my classes on ancient comedy. My greatest debt is to Helene Homeyer, whose 1970 edition of Hrotswitha's works (see Bibliography) has made my work so much easier. The translation is based on this edition.

Larissa Bonfante . . .

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