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On the Dissemination of Quern quaeritis and the Visitatio sepulchri and the Chronology of Their Early Sources David A. Bjork The relation between the Easter dialogue Quem quaeritis in sepulchro and the dramatic resurrection ceremony Visitatio sepulchri has long been regarded as crucial for the history of European drama, since its oldest known example, the Visitatio, builds on the exchange between the three Marys seeking the body of Christ and the Angel keeping watch at the tomb: Interrogate): Q u em quaeritis in sepulchro, C hristicolae? R espo n se): Jhesum N azaren u m cruxifixum , o caelicolae. N o n est hie; su rrexit sicu t praedixerat, Ite nunciate qu ia surrexit d e sepulchro. 1 This dialogue was not always part of the Easter Play; at least it seems to have been independent at one time, when it was sung without dramatic elaboration at the beginning of Mass or just before it, in the simple version given above and in others not much longer. In some versions—most of the simpler ones— Quem quaeritis is a trope to Resurrexi, the Introit for Easter day. In others it is part of the festal procession preceding cele­ bration of Mass. In the vast majority, however, it stands at the end of Easter Matins, just before the Te Deum, and in this posi­ tion it is known as the Visitatio sepulchri, for here it achieved fuller dramatic development.2 In trying to clarify the relation between Quem quaeritis and the Visitatio, scholars have looked to the earliest sources to provide an answer. Once these were found and their chronology determined, it seemed perfectly clear that Quem quaeritis orig­ inated as a trope, and that it gradually assumed greater length and more dramatic form until becoming what could justifiably 46 David A. Bjork 47 be called the first play of medieval Europe (or, at least, the first that survived). Léon Gautier, in the course of his pioneering research on tropes, uncovered the connection: “L’histoire du Quem quaeritis n’est riens moins que l’histoire des origines du théâtre sacré, et nous allons essayer de le montrer en quelque lignes.”3 This idea was elaborated by E. K. Chambers,4 then given definitive form by Karl Young.5 Stated concisely, the theory proposed by Young is the following:6 1. The Visitatio sepulchri developed from the Quem quaeritis dialogue by gradual accretion of other material. 2. In its original form, Quem quaeritis was a trope that stood before the Easter Introit Resurrexi. 3. The simplest version of Quem quaeritis is the earliest, and it appears first in a manuscript from St. Gall dating from the mid­ dle of the tenth century. 4. The one earlier manuscript source comes from St. Martial and dates from 923-34, but its version is slightly more elaborate than the one from St. Gall. 5. Thus it may be presumed that Quem quaeritis was written near the beginning of the tenth century, probably at St. Gall, and possibly by Tuotilo, the monk named by Ekkehard IV, in his history of that monastery, as a composer of tropes.7 6. The longer versions of the dialogue are assigned to other positions—some to a procession before Mass, but more of them to the end of Matins, where the most elaborate ones—fullfledged plays—were performed. 7. The earliest version of the Visitatio, complete with directions for staging, comes from Winchester, in the Regularis concordia of c. 970; but it has its ultimate source in continental practice, perhaps that at Fleury or Ghent. Young’s theory has come under attack from several quarters. His contention that Quem quaeritis was written at St. Gall is no longer accepted as fact: Jacques Chailley and William Smoldon believe it was written at St. Martial;8 Helmut de Boor argues for a North Italian origin;9 others point toward the North of France or the Rhineland.10 And it is becoming increasingly common to admit that no deduction as to provenance can be drawn from the evidence.H Two scholars have recently sug­ gested that Quem quaeritis was not originally a trope at all. O. B. Hardison, Jr., has argued at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 46-69
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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