Speсtacularity before the "Renaissance" of Theater: Visuality and Self-Image of the Quattrocento papacy
Theater as Metaphor
The humanist culture of the Quattrocento has left no visible traces in dramatic genres. Humanists paid a most respectful attention to the legacy of ancient theater, but their attention was scholarly in nature, manifesting itself in commentaries on plays by Plautus and Terence and citations of the playwrights' words in research papers-but rarely, with very few exceptions, in imitations. The whole Quattrocento era produced about fifty comedies, but only two plays, Polyxena, attributed to Leonardo
... ributed to Leonardo Bruni (Aretino), and Chrysis, by Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini (Pope Pius II), can be considered as outstanding products of the humanist culture. 1 It seems that tragedies were even more rare; their study seems to be a matter for the future. It could be assumed that, given the weakness of theater as a social institution, humanists invested all of their potential as playwrights into the dialogue, the genre that prevails in humanist literature. 2 Dialogue was particularly in demand as it not only served the purpose of "art for art's sake" successfully, but, being close to Menippean satire, it also allowed the author to probe the limits of any accepted truth freely, testing its resistance to various kinds of critique, putting it into serious and funny contexts alternatively, and listening to how it sounded in a polyphony of voices, stated by different characters. In that period, searching for solutions to scholarly or ethical problems was considered to be more important than aesthetic objectivizations of possible solutions through individual characters, and the logic of scholarly inquiry was more attractive to intellectuals than the attempt at building a well-wrought dramatic plot.