From ‘Seeing’ to ‘Feeling’. Monastic Roots of the ‘Theatre of Mercy’ (IX-XI sec.)

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Recently, theatre studies have focused on the relathionships between dramatic action and both the rhetorical mechanisms of writing and reading - based on locational memory’s techniques - and the construction of mental or artistic images. This article aims to demonstrate that in monastic circles, throught ninth and eleventh centuries, there is a deep change in the rhetorical memoria’s device for visualizing the Passion of Christ. It is a change that characterizes both silent, daily prayer and the public rites of Good Friday, especially the adoratio Crucis’ cerimonies. I will describe this change using three textual exemples of prayers to the Cross: we shall see that when the point of view changes, at the same time there is a change in the textual structure and in the dramatic system; in addition, the emotional response from the beholder also changes. From Peter Damian to Anselm there seems to be a process that moves from an ostensive intention of Christ’s body (quite a ‘seeing’ the broken body, covered with blood and injuries) to an affective sense of the Passion’s event (quite a ‘feeling’ and ‘sharing’ the pain for those wounds). The analysis would try to highlight how this change represents the historical foundation of the ‘theater of mercy’, so important in late Middle Age.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)579-589
Numero di pagine11
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017


  • medieval drama
  • medieval rethoric
  • theatre of mercy


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