Miguel Venegas and the Earliest Jesuit Theater

Choruses for Tragedies in Sixteenth-Century Europe


In Miguel Venegas and the Earliest Jesuit Theater, Margarida Miranda takes a fresh look at the origins of Jesuit theater and provides a detailed account of the life and work of Miguel Venegas (1529–after 1588) within the Iberian tradition. The book details Venegas’s role as the founder of Jesuit theater in Portugal and the creator of a new musical genre, choruses for tragedies, which was gradually codified and emulated by successive generations of Jesuits. Venegas’s Latin tragedies in turn provided the model for regular dramatic activities in the global network of Jesuit schools, including, significantly, the first tragedies to be staged in Rome: Saul Gelboeus and Achabus, both of which had originally been performed in Coimbra in the mid-sixteenth century.

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Margarida Miranda, PhD (Coimbra University, 2002) is professor of classical and humanistic studies at Coimbra University. She has published monographs and many articles on classical and Jesuit studies, including a modern Portuguese translation of the Ratio studiorum (1599).
List of Abbreviations

1 Miguel Venegas of Ávila
 1 Venegas, Vanegas, or Banegas?
 2 A Teacher from Alcalá Joins the Society of Jesus
2 Miguel Venegas: the Master and the Jesuit
 1 The Days in Plasencia
 2 Miguel Venegas and the First Jesuit Performances in Portugal: at the Colégio de Jesus or Santo Antão, in Lisbon
 3 At the Colégio Real or Colégio das Artes in Coimbra
 4 In Rome (1563)
 5 In Paris (1564–66)
 6 A Long Pilgrimage: from Paris to Rome and from Rome to Ávila and Alcalá
 7 Miguel Venegas, Teacher of Rhetoric in Salamanca
3 The Alcalá Legacy: from Grammar to the Bible, from Rhetoric to Theater
 1 Grammar as the Basis of All Studies: from Grammarian to Theologian
 2 From the Teaching of Languages to the Polyglot Bible
 3 The Specific Features of the Colegio Trilingüe de San Jerónimo
 4 The Complutensian School of Rhetoric
 5 The Christian Humanism of Alcalá and the Dramatic works of Venegas
 6 Conclusions
4 Miguel Venegas and the Dramatic Tradition in Spain
 1 The Biblical Theater of Miguel Venegas and the Dramatic Context in Spain
 2 The Biblical Plays of Miguel Venegas and Jesuit Theater in Spain
 3 The Plays of Miguel Venegas and University Humanist Theater in Spain
 4 New Forms of Drama in Non-school Theater
 5 The Latin Tragedy Saul furens (1555)
 6 Conclusions
5 School Theater in Coimbra during the Time of Miguel Venegas: the Colégio das Artes
 1 George Buchanan, Guillaume de Guérente, Marc-Antoine de Muret
 2 Student Theater at Coimbra University
 3 Theater in the Coimbra Colégio das Artes before the Jesuits: Diogo de Teive
 4 Performing Plautus or Seneca? The Testimony of Luís da Cruz
6 The Literary Works Miguel Venegas Produced in Portugal (1559–62)
 1 Saul Gelboeus (1559)
 2 Oration in Praise of King John III (1559)
 3 In die praemiorum Dialogus (1561)
 4 Gratulatio and the Orations by the Four Arts (1561)
 5 Poems (1559–62)
 6 Oration in Praise of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (1562)
 7 Dialogus in praemia and Achabus (1562)
7 Drama sacrum et Latinum: the Tragoedia sacra ex 3° Lb. Regum Cap. 18-20-21 and the Beginning of a Cycle of Tragic Plays
 1 Tragoediae sacrae: the First Jesuit Tragedies in Rome and the Gradual Codification of a Dramatic Genre
  1.1 1565: Achabus at the Collegio Germanico
  1.2 1566: Saul at the Collegio Germanico
  1.3 1570: Drama sacrum et Latinum decretum est
 2 Venegas’s Tragedies and the Poetics of Sacred Tragedy
 3 The Beginning of a Cycle of Tragedies
 4 The Comedy Tobiah and the Tragedy Absalom
8 Optime more tragico canebantur: Francisco de Santa María and the Dramatic Choruses of Miguel Venegas, 1559–62
 1 Choruses in Jesuit Drama: Sine harmonia theatrum non delectat (Theater Does Not Delight without Music)
 2 Pero Dias’s Letter: “The performance could not have been bettered in ancient Greece […]”
 3 The Latin Version of the Same Letter: Optime more tragico canebantur (Sung in the Finest Tragic Style)
 4 The Choruses in MM 70: “They are usually sung, accompanied by recorders at festivals in the main church”


Appendix : Miguel Venegas: Bibliography

Readers interested in the history of the Society of Jesus, especially in its earliest days, as well as education, rhetoric and the performing arts, in particular theater and music.
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