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Pierre Corneille and Military Drama: Power, Potlatch, Mérite This article calls for a reappraisal of Pierre Corneille’s career-long treatment of military subjects. I contend that “military drama” represents a missing, yet essential part of conceptualizing his dramatic production, theory of tragedy, and heroic vision. I examine the case study of mérite, a key term in period martial culture indicating a cherished noble virtue and a patron-client relationship between king and grand capitaine . Analyses of Le Cid, Nicomède , and Suréna through anthropological theories of the gift (Derrida, Mauss, Gregory) and historical research on seventeenth-century military culture (Smith, Neuschel, Drévillon) illuminate the significance of mérite as a martial topos and exemplify Corneille’s crafting of military drama.