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Anger in the Jesuit Theatre of the 16th Century

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Discussions of affect in the tension between Christianity, Neo-Stoicism and Aristotelianism

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In line with the general popularity of Neo-Stoicism around 1600, several Jesuit plays address Neo-Stoic ideas in an affirmative or dissenting way. Neo-Stoicism offers an ideal of asceticism and virtuous conduct, but also holds a restrictive attitude towards the affects, which contradicts the positive view on the affects flourishing among Jesuit theorists as developed by Aristotle. Three plays are discussed in this contribution in order to study the interrelationship between Neo-Stoic, Aristotelian and Christian notions. The plays are based on mythological, biblical, and legendary sources and reveal different models of a virtuous conduct of life, ranging between religious obedience, private ethics, and political activity: Francesco Benci: Hercules in bivio (1580); Anonymous: Saul (1600); Jakob Bidermann: Cenodoxus (1602).

Affiliations: 1: Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria,


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