Martin Svatoš

Roaming Jupiter and Aeneas in Captivity (ancient gods and heroes in 18th century school dramas in the town of Broumov)


The paper deals with school dramas written and staged in the Benedictian gymnasium in Broumov (northeastern Bohemia) in the first half of the 18th century. The author outlines the function and the staging practice of the school dramas within the framework of the curriculum and presents a brief survey of their topics in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these topics biblical material and church history, but also ancient material prevailed.

In the next step, the author focuses more closely on two dramas with an ancient subject matter: 1/ A musical one-act play  Iupiter peregre profectus (1706); 2/ A musical drama Gemina Pietatis et Amoris virtus in Aenea praemiata (1769).

After a brief survey of the contents the author analyzes the plots against the background of their possible ancient models and shows that the plays were designed as staged exempla of Christian virtues. In this respect they did not differ from other specimen of the same genre staged at Latin monastic schools at that time. The conspicuous predilection of the Broumov Benedictians to connect declamatory and musical elements is typical of Benedictian school dramas in the central European region. What makes the Broumov plays specific, however, is the reason why ancient topics were chosen, or why ancient gods and heroes were considered worth staging. Both plays were written as an expression of loyalty and respect of the monastic school towards their patron and mercenary, the Broumov abbot. The main character of the drama represents the model of the father superior in ancient cloths, the ancient world is a mere coulisse for the depiction of the abbot’s virtues. The play was not only an allegorical praise of ideal abbotial virtues, but also a glorification of a specific superior of the monastery who was the patron of the school. The epilogue in the form of a chorus recalls final choruses of operas staged at princely courts in which the prince was assured of loyalt.