Date of Award

Summer 1927

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Foreign Languages and Literatures

Abstract

Students of the present age are too apt to think of Latin and Greek as languages whose sphere was limited to dim, distant eras, long forgotten by all except those whose interest is centered in the class-room. The word Greek recalls to their minds a period of a few centuries at the close of the pre-Christian era. Latin they think of as occupying a slightly longer period of time, extending from a few centuries before the birth of Christ to a day when hordes of barbarians from the north of Europe swept over the land, enslaving the people and obliterating their language, except for a few crumbs of literature which have been preserved for the discomfort of school-boys. They either do not know, or else they too easily forget, that the Latin tongue was preserved, as a language, by the Christian church and that many centuries after this barbarian invasion there was a period marked by a definite form of Latin literature. It is this period which is to be the subject of our consideration now. It was a period whose literature was distinct, a form unlike anything which had preceded. It differed from previous Christian literature in that it was essentially dramatic; it differed from classic Latin drama in that it did not contain even a suggestion of paganism. It was not created merely for amusement and entertainment, but chiefly for instruction and edification. It was strikingly different in that, while every classical Latin work we know sprang from the pen of some individual writer, though there may be doubt as to the identity of the writer, the mediaeval Latin drama is rather the result of common effort, so much so, in fact, that in our study we shall meet with very few names which are to be assigned as authors of definite writings. It wan not a literature by individuals, but by humanity itself, - Christian humanity.

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