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Ovid in the Andes: The New World Morality Play, El rapto de Proserpina y sueño de Endimión Barbara H. Jaye Peruvian drama of the seventeenth century comprises a little-known branch of European theatrical tradition. El rapto de Proserpina y sueño de Endimión* is a morality play written in Quechua, the language of the Inca Empire and their descendants, between 1644 and 1666, by the Peruvian poet and churchman, Juan de Espinosa Medrano, known as El Lunarejo (the Freckled One). Although European language versions of this Quechua play were performed in Madrid and Naples/' the existence of a complete Quechua text was not known until 1939. A contemporary of Calderón, El Lunarejo received a fine education in Latin and Spanish theological and literary works at the Colegio of San Antonio Abad in Cuzco.1 In the Quechua Proserpina y Endimión he drew on his European training and on the conventions found in European morality plays and the religious Autos of Golden Age Spanish drama but incorporated indigenous symbols as well as devices of his own. His task paralleled that of the Ovidian allegorists of the Middle Ages from whom he drew. As a Peruvian Catholic clergyman, he was concerned with maintaining an acceptable syncretism between the indigenous nature deities of Peru and European Christianity.4 Sources. The well-known classical myth as elaborated by Ovid in Book V, lines 376-571, of the Metamorphoses^ provides an explanation of the origin of the seasons. Proserpina, the daughter by Jupiter of Ceres, goddess of grain, is abducted by Pluto, ruler of the underworld. Ceres seeks her daughter, is assisted by Arethusa, daughter of the river deity Alpheus, learns her daughter is now queen of the underworld, and appeals to Jupiter , who rules that Proserpina shall be returned to her mother if she has not eaten anything during her captivity. However, the 510 Barbara H. Jaye5 1 1 youth Ascalaphus reveals that Proserpina has eaten seven seeds (septem . . . grana) of pomegranate, whereupon she in her role as regina Erebi turns him into a screech-owl (bubo). Nevertheless , Jupiter rules that because she has eaten the seven seeds, Proserpina must live for half of the year in the underworld as the wife of Pluto but shall return to her mother for the other half year. Thus through the instrumentality of Ceres the earth is barren for the half-year Proserpina is absent and fertile when she returns. Medieval Christian writers, assigning allegorical values to Ovid's story, were no longer concerned with explaining the seasons but utilized the tale to illustrate concerns of a religious and spiritual nature. Hence the search of Ceres for her daughter was interpreted as the search of Holy Church for Anima, the human soul. Ovidian allegory was a widespread genre,6 its imagery influencing other religious allegories as well as secular texts7 such as the Romance of the Rose. El Lunarejo 's principal source was probably one of the numerous redactions of the Ovidius Moralizatus of Petrus Berchorius (d. 1362), an allegorization of Ovid's Metamorphosis which circulated widely both in manuscript and early printed editions.8 The Ovidius Moralizatus forms part of the fifteenth book of Berchorius ' Reductorium Morale: in this work the Ovidius Moralizatus is preceded by an introductory chapter, De Formis Figurisque Deorum, an important iconographical text related to the work known as the Images of the Gods, which described systematically how the gods should be painted or visualized.9 The popularity of both the Ovidius Moralizatus and De Formis Figurisque Deorum also dictated that they should be circulated separately from the Reductorium Morale. In Proserpina y Endimión El Lunarejo loosely follows the Ovidius Moralizatus. In El Lunarejo's morality play, as in Berchorius' work, Proserpina is identified explicitly as the human soul, Ceres as Holy Church, and Plutón as the king of hell. The fusion of the Proserpina story with that of the love of the moon goddess for the sleeping shepherd, Endymion, and the allegorization of Endymion as Christ seem to be El Lunarejo's own contributions. In Berchorius' work Alpheus is variously the compassionate Christ and a good prelate. To be sure, other sources are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 510-526
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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