What Roman Paradigm for the Dutch Republic? Baroque Tragedies and Ambiguities Concerning Dominium and Torture [chapter]

Frans-Willem Korsten
Politics and Aesthetics in European Baroque and Classicist Tragedy  
In 1641 Jan Vos (ca. 1610-1667) wrote and produced his successful play Aran en Titus of Wraak en weerwraak: treurspel (Aran and Titus: Revenge and Revenge in Response: Tragedy). It was a play that has been read and received by many in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a serious tragedy, although most scholars, at some point, will admit that the play is spectacular and at times strangely farcical. In the light of the play's being serious, even as a spectacle, the regular scholarly
more » ... ar scholarly approach to it is that it is didactic in nature.1 Still, it was a play that, were it produced in our times, could have been a mixture of slasher movie and screwball comedy, with more than a touch of camp.2 It is surely possible that those who had seen Aran en Titus turned home seriously pondered how dangerous it is not to restrain your passions. Probably much more members of the audience returned home having fully enjoyed the spectacle and the horror, with a couple of good thrills, many good laughs and some moments of the sublime. Or, if they were pondering, they may have been considering the play's reflection on the extreme violence in classical imperial Rome. The text of the play is dedicated to Caspar Barlaeus (1584-1648), the distinguished scholar of the Amsterdam Athenaeum Illustre, who was so kind to present Vos with a praise poem that ends as follows: 1 A paradigmatic case is a passage from the national site on Dutch literary history (www .literatuurgeschiedenis.nl): 'Passion and violence were the regular ingredients with Vos, not because he enjoyed them so much but to show that it is dangerous to lose your self-restraint' ('Emotie en geweld waren vaste ingrediënten bij Vos, niet omdat hij daar zo van genoot maar om aan te tonen dat het gevaarlijk was om je zelfbeheersing te verliezen.' ). 2 Were it to be performed it could be much like Zoé Ford's Titus Andronicus in 2013, with an audience that resembled the jeering audience of Shakespeare's time; for a response to this 'fringe production' of a play that is described as a 'gore-fest' see for instance http://www .standard.co.uk/goingout/theatre/titus-andronicus-arcola-theatre-review-8878513.html.
doi:10.1163/9789004323421_003 fatcat:iz3l4vcguncolpuupiktaqkwr4