Kyd and Shakespeare Medieval tragedy Fortuna. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. The medieval concept of tragedy was quite different from that of classical literature. In the illustration, Fortune, traditionally female because of the association of women with the moon and changeability, stands behind the wheel with outstretched wings.
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Kyd and Shakespeare Medieval tragedy Fortuna. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. The medieval concept of tragedy was quite different from that of classical literature. In the illustration, Fortune, traditionally female because of the association of women with the moon and changeability, stands behind the wheel with outstretched wings. She continually moves the Wheel--on which at the top is a king, at the bottom a beggar.
Sad stories. Such stories are known as de casibus tragedies, after the work by Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum Illustrium Examples of Famous Men , which is a collection of moral stories of those who fell from the heights of happiness.
It is a translation of a French work, which itself is based on Boccaccio. Richard II, 3. Lessons in tragedy In medieval works, the tragedy of those who fell was often less the result of any failing in their lives or actions than the result of the capriciousness of Fortune. But by the Renaissance, the moral effectiveness of pointing out the dire result of vice and sin meant that the protagonists were more often shown to be responsible for their falls.
The best, and most popular example of the genre in the renaissance is A Mirror for Magistrates, Wherein may be seen by example of others, with how grievous plagues vices are punished; and how frail and unstable worldly prosperity is found, even of those whom Fortune seemeth most highly to favour.
The Mirror was published in , and many times after. In each case, however, he could have found the story in an English version.
Internet Shakespeare Editions
It is a compilation of moral stories about the tragic ends of famous men and women. This is a copy of a version rendered into French by Laurence de Premierfait in the 15th century. Each of its nine books is illustrated by a high quality miniature. Producing works of great literature in both Latin and the vernacular, his home was a centre for early Italian humanism. The De Casibus Virorum Illustrium was written in the late s. Influenced by a friendship with Petrarch , Boccaccio had turned to religion in his later years and his work became increasingly imbued with a sense of morality.
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