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Greek Laughter and TearsAntiquity and After$
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Margaret Alexiou and Douglas Cairns

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403795

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403795.001.0001

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The Tragic, the Comic and the Tragicomic in Cretan Renaissance Literature

The Tragic, the Comic and the Tragicomic in Cretan Renaissance Literature

(p.375) 21 The Tragic, the Comic and the Tragicomic in Cretan Renaissance Literature
Greek Laughter and Tears

David Holton

Edinburgh University Press

Greek tragedy and comedy re-emerge in late sixteenth-century Crete, now based on Renaissance neo-classical prescriptions. Besides ‘pure’ examples of the genres we also find a tragedia di lieto fine (the biblical drama Abraham’s Sacrifice) and a pastoral idyll with a tragic outcome (The Shepherdess), while Kornaros’ verse romance Erotokritos plays with the possibility of a tragic ending before settling for the outcome proper to romance. This intermingling of the tragic and the comic – of tears and laughter – is common in Cretan Renaissance literature, and most fully realised in the new hybrid genre of tragicommedia pastorale, which seems to have been popular in Crete around 1600. Taking Panoria by Georgios Chortatsis as its main textual focus, this chapter explores the interaction of tears and laughter both at a textual level and in plot structure. While the theoretical bases of tragicomedy, as propounded by Guarini, clearly underpin works like Panoria, in the case of works belonging to other genres other factors are involved: Petrarchising tropes, which are common in Cretan literature, and the antithetical structures characteristic of the folk tradition. Panoria, set on Mount Ida, is thoroughly Cretan and at the same time thoroughly imbued with late-Renaissance poetics.

Keywords:   Cretan Renaissance, Georgios Chortatsis, Vitsentzos Kornaros, Pastoral tragicomedy, Petrarchism, Folk poetry

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