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Jonas A .


The Antitheatrical Prejudice


M OST epithets derived from the arts are laudatory when

applied to the other arts, or to life. If one describes the
quality of a landscape as “poetic,” or a man’s struggle
with adversity as “epic,” or a woman’s beauty as “lyric,” one is
using terms of praise. In the movie comedy The Lady Eve, an
affected matron expressed her appreciation of a dinner by declaring
that “the fish was a poem”-obviously the most rapturous word
of approval she could come up with. Similarly, terms like “musical,”
“symphonic,” “graphic,” “sculptural” (or “sculpturesque”) tend
to be eulogistic.
But with infrequent exceptions, terms borrowed from the theater
-“theatrical,” “operatic,” “melodramatic,” “stagey,” etc.-are
applied in a hostile sense. Surrounding these, we find a wide range
of expressions drawn from theatrical activity to indicate disapproval :
“acting,” “play-acting,” “playing up to,” “putting on an act,”
“putting on a performance,” “making a scene,” “making a spectacle
of oneself,” “playing to the gallery,” and so forth. Nor are such
terms confined to English. The French speak belittlingly of those
who “jouent la cornkdie,” or dismissingly of an action that it was
merely “du thkcitre.” One does not, in Italian, if one is behaving
well, ‘yare la comrnedia” or ‘yare il pulcinella,” nor does one, in
German, “sich in Szene setzen” or “sich in den Vordergrundspielen.”
The European languages swarm with such expressions, and most
of them are pejorative. They embody, in current idioms, the
vestiges of a prejudice against the theater that goes back as far in
European history as the theater itself can be traced. Thespis, who
gave his name to the art of acting, was called a liar by Solon,
because acting involved feigning,l and Plato, in The Republic,
notoriously made Socrates the spokesman of a radical mistrust
of plays and players.
The really bulky and sustained literature against the stage,
however, commences with the writings of the Church fathers,
and from their time until recently the history of the antitheatrical
prejudice has consisted largely of ecclesiastical efforts to suppress
what the church has viewed as one of its main enemies in the world.
Like later writers, the fathers attacked the theater on a variety of
grounds, many of them extrinsic or accidental. They complain of
the brutal atmosphere of the stage, of the coarse and rowdy
behavior of audiences, the debauched lives of the mimes, and the
bloody or lascivious character of the spectacles themselves. These
grounds are extrinsic in that they concern the social context of
the theater, particular abuses at particular times, features that
may be present on some occasions and absent on others. More
interesting are the protests against the theater in its essence, those
that arraign it as intrinsically and necessarily evil, irrespective of
local conditions.
Tertullian, the most exhaustive on the subject, reharrows the
well-tilled ground of the theater’s pagan origins, concluding that
since it derives from heathen rites, it owes its existence directly to
Satan, and must therefore be anathema to Christians. He repeats
Solon’s charge against Thespis, that acting is a form of lying and
that the theater, as it is composed of live actors impersonating
people other than themselves, is founded in pretence. “The Author
of truth,” writes Tertullian, “loves no falsehood; all that is feigned
is adultery in His sight. The man who counterfeits voice, sex or age,
He will not approve, for He condemns all hypocrisy.”2 One
observes at once that though Tertullian is speaking of a funda-
mental attribute of theater-its reliance on counterfeiting-he is
at the same time denying it its status as theater, its context in
theater. He will allow no distinction between homo ludens and
homo laborans, no realm of play in which counterfeiting is acknow-
ledged as one of the rules of a game. “The calling to mind of a
criminal or a shameful thing,” he maintains, “is no better than the
thing itself: what in act is rejected, is not in speech to be a~cepted.”~
Here, by a pair of quibbling antitheses (“in facto,” “in dicto”;
“reicitur,” “recipiendum”), Tertullian erases the distinction between
committing a misdeed and simply describing or portraying it:
to make it known in words, to “remember” it, is to approve and
endorse it, to express a wish that it should come to pass in the
actual world. As though language consisted of nothing but declara-
tive and imperative sentences, barked out like army directives, or
as though there were no differentiating between degrees of serious-
ness or intentionality in our acts and utterances. To portray a
murder is as wicked as to perpetrate one, though in the first case
the murdered man gets up, walks off, and drinks a pint of ale with
his assassin. One may observe, however, parenthetically, that the
same principle is never extended to the portrayal of saintly or
heroic deeds; these are not allowed the same degree of reality as
their offstage counterparts. If the thing represented be bad, it is
truly bad, as bad as its original; but if good, it is merely a represen-
tation, a lie, and hence worthless. Tertullian seems to think of the
actor’s work as involving him in an escalating sequence of false-
hoods : first he falsifies his identity, then he counterfeits particular
sighs, tears, and smiles. The second level of feigning, far from
validating the make-believe character of the first by giving it inner
consistency, simply compounds its fraudulent character.
What strikes one throughout in Tertullian’s exposition is the
literalness with which he lumps together the world of the spectacles
with that of everyday existence. The concept of a fictive domain
with its own laws of operation is ignored, or rejected, in favor of
a monolithic world in which each thing must remain one thing
and that thing alone, forbidden ever to modify itself or change, for
any purpose or however fleetingly. “Nowhere and never is that
permitted which is not permitted always and everywhere. Here is
the perfection of truth . . . in that it never changes its decision,
never wavers in its judgement. What is good, really good, cannot
be anything but good; nor what is evil anything but evil. In God’s
truth all things are definite.”4 The principle whereby things have
come into existence is thus a principle of inflexibility. What has
once been decreed remains eternally binding; laws issuing
from a changeless deity operate unalterably through all the vicissi-
tudes and ambiguities of human experience, with no modification
allowed for time, place, or manner.
The concept of the human self that emerges is marked by the
same literalness. One’s identity, for Tertullian, is absolutely given,
as one’s sex is given; any deviation from it constitutes a perversion
akin to the attempt to change one’s sex. The wearing of feminine
clothes by actors playing women thus becomes as sinister as the
castration of the pantomimists. It falls, moreover, under the well-
known prohibition in Deuteronomy: “The woman shall not wear
that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a
woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the
Lord thy God” (xxii. 5).
As one’s identity is absolutely given, so it is given in detail.
Tertullian condemns the shaving of the beard because, to borrow
Gibbon’s paraphrase, “It is a lie against our faces, an impious
attempt to improve the works of the C r e a t ~ r , ”and~ on similar
grounds he attacks the dress of actors: by wearing the cothurnus,
they blasphemously seek to add a cubit to their stature, and so try
to make a liar out of Christ. Athletes who groom their bodies with
exercises are infringing the same edict. As for boxers and gladiators,
with their split lips, scarred cheeks, and cauliflower ears, they too
are infamously striving to disfigure God’s handiwork. In each
case men are usurping the functions of their creator, tampering
with an identity that has been entrusted to them for safekeeping,
but is not theirs to alter.
One may surmise that it was to a considerable extent this onto-
logical subversiveness that made the theater for so long an object
of such especial horror. Along with acting, playgoing ranked
abnormally high, as we now would think, in the hierarchy of sins.
In a sermon on worldly amusements, Bourdaloue, at the end of the
seventeenth century, is concerned to curb two dangerous passions
in his parishioners : gambling and theatergoing. But whereas his
reproof of gambling is merely partial and contingent, his condemna-
tion of the theater is total. Gambling, he explains, is sinful in
excess, when it involves ruinously high sums. or becomes obsessive,
so that it draws the Christian away from the cares of business or
family. But engaged in after all needful affairs have been transacted,
it can be encouraged as an innocent pleasure, to be enjoyed in
tranquillity of mind. The ban against the stage, by contrast, admits
of no exceptions. Acting and playgoing, evil intrinsically, remain
evil under all circumstances.8 Gambling, we may infer, belongs
among the sins attendant on our fallen nature; it reminds us that
we are sons of Adam, prone to error. Playgoing, on the other hand,
smells of brimstone; it repeats the sin of defiance, of disconnection,
that brought about the revolt in heaven, and enlists its adherents
at once in the legions of the damned. The Italian actor Cecchini
had defended the theater earlier in the century by claiming that
it held men from vicious pastimes; when the playhouse was filled,
the gaming house was empty, and those who lived by promoting
card games lived in fear of the arrival of the players, who would
lure away their customers.; For Bourdaloue, the forsaking of the
gambling table for the playhouse would have meant a jumping
from the frying pan into the fire, the abandonment of a venial sin
in pursuit of a mortal one.
The Puritans of the English Reformation had arrived at similar
conclusions, though only after more than a generation of violent
pamphlet warfare. They started, in Elizabeth’s reign, protesting
against wicked plays, plays filled, as they claimed, with incite-
ments to passion and violence. Reform of the stage, they implied,
was possible; plays might help form sober citizens and godly
parishioners. They ended, half a century later, with a root and
branch attack on all drama. Prynne’s Histriomasfix-“the whipping
of the player”-a gargantuan encyclopedia of antitheatrical lore,
anathematizes every form of theater known to the author in the
most scorching terms, and with the most crushing weight of erudition
he can muster. Prynne revives the charge that acting is based on
hypocrisy. For what, he rhetorically demands, is hypocrisy,
in the proper signification of the word, but the acting of another’s
part or person on the stage: or what else is an hypocrite, in his true
etymology, but a stage player, or one who acts another’s part: . . . And
hence is it, that . . . sundry Fathers . . . style stage players hypocrites;
hypocrites stage players, as being one and the same in substance . . .
And, indeed, the margin at this point, as often, is choked with
citations to Tertullian, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Augustine, and the
rest. Having alleged hypocrisy to be the foundation of the theater,
Prynne goes on to make explicit the concept of an absolute identity
that was merely implied in Tertullian. God, asserts Prynne, has
conferred on every creature a being that may neither be denied nor
For God, who is truth itself, in whom there is no variableness, no
shadow of change, no feigning, no hypocrisy; as he hath given a
uniform, distinct, and proper being to every creature, the bounds of
which may not be exceeded: so he requires that the actions of every
creature should be honest and sincere, devoid of all hypocrisy, as all
his actions, and their natures are. Hence he enjoins all men at all times,
to be such in show, as they are in truth: to seem that outwardly which
they are inwardly; to act themselves, not others . . . etc.
God requires us, that is, to live in strict conformity with the self
he has designed for us. Any interference with that self constitutes
a sin. As Tertullian had reprimanded shaving, so Prynne, with
other Puritans, inveighs against “the common accursed hellish
art of face-painting,’’ since it “sophisticates and perverts the works
of God, in putting a false gloss upon his creatures.”s
Players are evil because they try to substitute a self of their
own contriving for the one given them by God. Plays are evil for
analogous reasons : they attempt to substitute “notorious lying
fables,” in Prynne’s phrase, for things that have truly happened.
In this respect they resemble chivalric romances, epic poems, and
merry tales, and the attack on them forms part of an attack on all
fiction. Plays, like players, threaten God’s primacy as creator:
they attempt to compete with him in his most awesome attribute,
his demiurgy. Puritan respect for history stemmed from a reverence
for the world as made by God. History recorded events that had
actually happened, had been set in motion by God and brought
by him to edifying conclusions. It charted the temporal dimension
of the creation. But to invent countries that never existed, to people
them with grotesque creatures of one’s own brain-Arimaspie,
Grips, Pigmies, Cranes-to set them to enacting fables spun from
one’s own fantasies, was to place oneself in rivalry with God.
It was to insinuate that what had not occurred might be even more
interesting than what had, that the original creation left something
to be desired. Puritan extremists were unlikely to be mollified by
Sidney’s view that the creative powers of the poet were a sign of
his celestial origins, or that by his feigning he delivered a golden
world in place of the brazen world of n a t ~ r efor, ~ the claim that the
poet, in constructing his world, was surpassing nature, was a
claim that too much reduced the gap between sinful, wormlike
man and his omnipotent maker.
One corollary of the concept of an absolute identity was the
belief in an absolute sincerity. If it was possible truly to know the
“unifomi, distinct and proper being” one had received from God,
then it was possible either to affirm that being in all one’s acts-
to be “such in truth’’ as one was “in show”-or to deny it by
disguise or pretence. Ideally, all one’s acts would be directly
revelatory of one’s essence. Not only the Puritan attack on the
stage, but the Puritan attack on the liturgy, it may be suspected,
drew strength from the belief in a total sincerity. Worship, to be
genuine, could only be a direct translation of one’s inner self.
It could only be unique, spontaneous, an unpremeditated out-
pouring from the grateful soul. To reduce it to set forms, to freeze
it in ritual repetitions of word or gesture, to commit it to memory,
to make it serve a variety of occasions or a diversity of worshippers,
was to make the individual a mimic of sentiments not exactly, or
not entirely, his own, to introduce a fatal discrepancy between the
established gesture and the nuances of feeling. In Paradise Lost,
Adam and Eve improvise their prayers afresh each morning.
Lowly they bow’d adoring, and began
Thir Orisons, each Morning duly paid
In various style, for neither various style
Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise
Thir Maker, in fit strains pronounc’t or sung
Unmeditated, such prompt eloquence
Flowd from thir lips, in Prose or numerous Verse,
More tuneable then needed Lute or Harp
To add more sweetness, and they thus began. (V, 144-52)’O
Our first parents thus command a “various style,” which flows
unhampered, and requires neither study nor memory. Their elo-
quence is “prompt”; it does not need the services of a prompter.
It is “unmeditated” since to meditate would be to introduce the
element of reflection, and hence the self-consciousness, that would
corrupt sincerity. Worse, it would introduce the element of rehearsal
into their worship, the element of acting, and hence of falsehood.
To adopt the very words today that one used yesterday, to imitate
even one’s own previous prayers, let alone those of others, would
be to put on a perforntaiice of piety, instead of simply being pious.
In France the polemics against the stage commence in the seven-
teenth century and continue for over a hundred and fifty years.
As in England, they reach their greatest vehemence in the moment
when the stage becomes a major cultural force; one of their chief
targets, notoriously, is MoliQre, denied Christian burial because
of his profession, and brutally pilloried from the pulpit after his
death. On the whole, however, the tone of the debate in France
is more philosophical than in England. The clerical antagonists
come from the reflective center of the ecclesiastical establishment
instead of from its lunatic fringe, or from its most austere and
intellectually disciplined group of dissidents, the Jansenists. But
the substance of the charge remains the same. Plays are inventions of
the devil, even if their detractors harp less on their kinship to hell
and more on their pitiable distance from heaven. Writers like the
Jansenist Nicole revive the Platonic theses: plays reflect the illusory
quality of the world, and encourage spectators to dwell amid
unrealities. They confirm men’s taste for the ephemeral, and sour
their palates for the more enduring delights of eternity.
The polemics in France, however, contribute at least one new
element to the debate, an interest in the psychology of acting.
The chief issue concerns the relation between an actor and his role.
To what extent, it was asked, did a player experience the emotions
he portrayed while he was portraying them ? Did he really feel them,
or did he merely simulate them ? The seventeenth century answer
was, he really felt them. Georges de ScudCry applauds actors for
their power to metamorphose themselves into the personages
they play, to undergo the same joys and sufferings felt by their
dramatic selves.ll Opponents of the stage, like Nicole, agreeing,
found in this very circumstance evidence of the intrinsically cor-
rupting nature of the actor’s craft. His trade required the kindling
in him of passions which, once aroused, he was powerless to quell,
and which henceforth decisively tinged his offstage or “regular”
personality. The actor lived by stirring up in himself-as of course
in others-all the violent desires and immoderate affections that
it was Christianity’s mission to expel or calm.12
For these writers the player, obviously, could not be a hypocrite.
He did not so much pretend to become someone else as he actually
became someone else, and for Nicole, he could never thereafter shed
the role he had made his own. In the eighteenth century, the belief
in the actor’s identification with his part became a clichk, to be
laboriously parroted by commentators like John Hill, and violently
overturned by the paradoxes of Diderot. Like Scudkry, Diderot
wishes to praise actors, but the Paradoxe sur le comkdien does so
by taking an opposite course: it exalts them for their power to
remain aloof from their roles. The great actor, for Diderot, is always
self-possessed; in the midst of the most tragical tirades he can
count the buttons on his partner’s coat; while expressing the most
poignant suffering he can coolly take note of imperfections in the
. . . I require in this man [the actor] a cold and tranquil spectator;
1 demand, therefore, penetration, and no sensibility,the art of imitating
everything . . . Great poets, great actors, and perhaps in general all
the great imitators of nature . . . are the least sensitive of beings . . .
they are too engaged in observing, in recognizing, and imitating, to
be vitally affected within . . . all his talent [the actor’s] consists not in
feeling, as you imagine, but in rendering so scrupulously the external
signs of feeling, that you are taken in.l8
The great actor, in short, is magnificently, consummately a hypo-
crite, and to be admired as such. By reviving emphasis on the
element of calculation, Diderot restores acting to its rightful status
as an art and a discipline, against the “sensibilists” like Hill and
Sainte-Albine, with their insistence on “identification,” feeling,
and the like. For Dr. Johnson also, the notion that the actor
transforms himself into the personage he plays is a vulgar error.
If true, it would be a black mark against actors: “If Garrick really
felt himself to be that monster Richard the Third, he deserved to
be hanged every time he performed it,”14-a characteristic stroke
of brutality following the equally characteristic touch of good
sense, the drift of which reminds us of Tertullian’s equation of the
real crime with the feigned one. Johnson makes the inner persuasion
of evil as heinous as the evil itself, though in the first case the
murdered dukes and strangled princes rise cheerfully from the
stage, to be sacrificed again on the following night.
As Nicole had agreed with Scudery’s account of the actor’s
talent, but found it dangerous, so Rousseau, to continue the tale,
had already put forth a view of acting akin to Diderot’s, but found
it baleful, baleful enough to warrant forbidding the establishment
of a theater in Geneva, as proposed by the Encyclopedia article
on that town. Protesting against D’Alembert’s suggestion, the
“citizen of Geneva” writes lengthily about his mistrust of the same
talent that Diderot admires, the power to feign what one does not
feel, to express passion while remaining glacial within. Diderot
views the actor’s mimetic virtuosity partly as a result of his having
no character of his own. For Rousseau the process is the reverse:
as he learns to mimic others the actor gradually obliterates himself.
Intrinsic to acting is that the player wrap himself in a character
not his own, say what he does not think, make gestures alien to
his true feelings. In the course of playing others, he comes to erase
and annul his proper self.15
Self-cancellation thus becomes the cornerstone of acting, and
it seems as criminal to Rousseau as it had to the fathers of the
Church, and for analogous reasons : it violates the preordained
sanctity of the human person. The fact that men are born good
rather than in sin merely intensifies his repugnance toward deeds
whereby they deface their original selves. In Rousseau’s improvised
account of the beginnings of society, men, good by nature, grew
evil when they commenced to seek each others’ aid. Mutual need
led them to strike poses toward each other, instead of simply
being themselves. For the sake of profit they learned to practise
concealment ; they acquired the habit of drawing over themselves
a “uniform and perfidious veil of politeness.”16 In Rousseau’s
view, society is evil in itself because it is radically theatrical, a
perpetual game of masks and deceptions. The stage simply takes
this worst feature of our existence-our tendency to wear false
faces for each other-and consecrates it, quintessentializes it.
Logically enough, the theater being predicated on the self-
violation of the actor, and affording an image of society at its
worst, it offers the worst possible models for emulation. Seven-
teenth century moralists like Nicole, resuming an ancient theme,
had already pointed out that most Christian virtues-silence,
patience, moderation, etc.-by their very nature resisted successful
translation to the stage, the stage specializing as it does in flam-
boyant gestures repugnant to true piety. They had argued, in effect,
that religious behavior was intrinsically untheatrical, and theatrical
behavior intrinsically irreligious. Rousseau, conducting a tenden-
tious inquiry into theatrical imitation by way of a series of para-
phrases of Plato, reaches similar conclusions. Philosophy, he
observes, teaches us to check our appetites, to obey reason, to
bear calamity wisely, and to value at their true insignificance the
trivialities of the world. The stage, by contrast, gives us as its
heroes men agitated by every passion, victims of a sensibility we
should be ashamed to display in our own lives.” It is as unsuited
to the portrayal of a virtuous man as, for Nicole and the Jansenists,
it was unsuited to the representation of virtue. The stage specializes
in change and movement, but virtue, whether Christian or secular,
is a function of constancy.
It is of interest to recall that Rousseau had been in his younger
days a skilful man of the theater himself on at least one occasion,
and that even while arguing heatedly against the theater he con-
fesses to an unslaked appetite for performances of Molibre. One
recurrent figure in the history of the stage is the actor or playwright
or impassioned playgoer who feels his presence in the theater to
be sinful, and ends in apostasy from it. The fact is that the anti-
theatrical prejudice is a more pervasive phenomenon than might
at first sight appear. One finds it lurking within the walls of the
playhouse as well as besieging it from without, and one finds it
directed not only against plays and players, but against various
manifestations of the theatrical impulse in everyday life, as the
idioms cited at the outset may serve to suggest.
If we cling to the thread we have followed so far, and take
theatricality to mean the mimetic faculty, the power to become, or
pretend to become, what one is not, we find (we perhaps share) a
widely diffused tendency to view it as immoral. Writers of plays can
be as hostile to it as enemies of the theater. In late sixteenth century
English drama, the villain par excellence is the Machiavellian,
who is conceived as possessing exceptional powers of impersona-
tion, which make him sinister. Exhibit A in this category is Shake-
speare’s Richard 111, and his soliloquy in 3 Henry VI in which,
while still Duke of Gloucester, he confides his ambition to become
king, constitutes a locus classicus of deceit.
Why, I can smile, and murther whiles I smile,
And cry ‘content!’ to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.
1’11 drown more sailors than the mermaid shall;
1’11 slay more gazers than the basilisk;
1‘11 play the orator as well as Nestor,
Deceive more slily than Ulysses could,
And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murtherous Machiavel to school.
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
Tut, were it farther off, I’ll pluck it down. (111. iii. 182-95)18

Richard’s trump card, in his own view, is his flair for dissimulation,
a control over his face and voice and limbs as absolute as that of a
professional actor, which permits him to feign emotions he does
not feel, which may even be the opposite of what he feels. He likens
himself to an imposing array of virtuosos in deception-the mer-
maid, the basilisk, Ulysses, Sinon, the chameleon, Proteus, and
Machiavelli. Two of these-Proteus and the chameleon-deserve
particular notice because of the frequency with which they crop
up in Renaissance literature, and also because of the implications
of the references to them. Unlike the other deceivers listed by
Richard, neither Proteus nor the chameleon is bent on harm.
Proteus does not lure sailors to their death, as the mermaid does,
nor does the chameleon, like the basilisk, kill with its gaze. Neither
is known to have ruined cities, like Sinon, promoted murder as an
instrument of policy, like Machiavelli, or specialized in guile, like
Ulysses. What entitles these two to their place in this formidable
company is simply their metamorphic power, their changeability.
We find, when we look further, that this power is customarily
associated, as here, with deceit, and that the same emblems recur to
designate it. Jonson’s Volpone boasts of his readiness to contend
with “the blue PROTEUS” (111. vii. I53), and Massinger’s Flaminius,
nearing the climax of a criminal career, soliloquizes on his need to
show himself “a Protean actor varying every shape With the
occasion (Believe A s You List, 11. 1204-5). Sejanus, the villain
of the anonymous Tragedy of Tiberius of 1607, may perhaps be
echoing Shakespeare’s Richard in his assessment of his own prowess,
but more probably he is simply recombining a series of notations
that are felt to go naturally together.
He that will climb, and aim at honor’s white,
Must be a wheeling, turning politician:
A changing Proteus, and a seeming all,
Yet a discolored Chameleon
Framed of an airy composition:
As fickle and unconstant as the air:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
With wise men sober, with licentious, light:
With proud men stately, humble with the meek:
With old men thirsty, and with young men vain:
With angry, furious, and with mild men calm:
Humorous with one, and Cat0 with another:
Effeminate with some, with other chaste,
Drink with the German, with the Spaniard brave:
Brag with the French, with the AEgyptian lie,
Flatter in Crete, and fawn in Graecia. (667-84P
This Sejanus is more modest than Richard. He does not claim to
surpass his mythic predecessors, but merely to equal them, to be
able to shift his manner in accordance with national characteristics
or standard character types. The identification of Proteus and the
chameleon with the ambitious actor-politician remains, however,
constant. Fifteen years later, the spectacle of men shifting their
styles to suit their surroundings arouses the derision of Democritus
Jr., Burton’s alter ego in the satiric panorama that introduces
The Anatomy of Melancholy:
To see a man transform himself into all shapes like a Chameleon, or as
Proteus transform himself into all that is monstrous; to act twenty
parts & persons at once for his advantage, to temporize & vary like
Mercury the Planet, good with good, bad with bad; having a several
face, garb, & character, for every one he meets; of all religions, humours,
inclinations; to fawn like a spaniel, with lying and feigned obsequious-
ness, rage like a lion, bark like a cur, fight like a dragon, sting like
a serpent, as meek as a lamb, & yet again grin like a tiger, weep like
a crocodile, insult over some, & yet others domineer over him, here
command, there crouch, tyrannize in one place, be baffled in another,
a wise man at home, a fool abroad to make others merry!’O
The assumption governing the sequence is that the transformations
will be bad. The key to them, as to those of Richard or Sejanus,
is self-interest: men “act twenty parts” (the theatrical metaphor
is explicit) “for advantage.” The random semblance of honor
counts for little better than a diversion. To meet good with good
hardly qualifies as virtue if followed immediately by meeting bad
with bad; to show meek as a lamb in one instant can scarcely be
attributed to innocence if it is followed by grinning like a tiger.
The goodness and meekness are as calculated as Sejanus’ humility,
and as insubstantial. Self-transformation, in all these cases, seems
conceived as a negative process, a shifting about from one undesirable
state to another, and a refusal to maintain one’s proper identity.
The figure of Proteus, we may notice, in Burton begins to blur
with that of Circe. The original Proteus, as described by Virgil
and others, turned himself into various natural phenomena and
natural creatures-fire, water, tree, lion, panther. But in Burton’s
reference he transforms himself instead into “all that is monstrous,”
just as, on occasion elsewhere, he is thought of as not directing his
own transformations at all, but as passively submitting to them,
allowing himself to be degraded into brutish shapes as at the hands
of an enchantress.21
Prynne, we recall, urged constancy as a virtue because in God
there was “no variableness, no shadow of change.” Men therefore
came closest to God when they preserved themselves as unchanging
as possible, when they conceded as little as they could to their
natural bent for mutability. For moralists like Prynne, change is
assumed to be in principle bad. It represents a lapse from some
state in itself at least relatively good, a lapse dictated by weakness-
passion, pleasure, or profit. To change, seemingly, was to fall, to
re-enact the first change whereby man alienated himself from the
being in whose unchanging image he was created. Needless to say,
the actor, his trade founded on change, thereby became the lively
image of the fallen man, the one who renewed the original degrada-
tion every day of his life, and so placed himself beyond the pale.
There was, however, another side to the picture. Christian tradi-
tion contained not one God but two. Alongside the God of self-
sufficiency, dwelling in his perfect repose and total immobility,
there was the neoplatonic God of emanation, the streaming source
of creative energy who delighted to unfold himself in lower forms
of beingz2 And alongside the severer moralists, who summoned
men to imitate the perfection of the divine unity, there were others,
like the Florentine neoplatonists, who responded more to the
divine multiplicity, and for whom the figures of Proteus and the
chameleon took on a more dynamic significance, expressive of the
variousness of human potentiality. Pic0 della Mirandola, in his
oration on the dignity of man, asks why it is that on the stage of the
world, as he puts it, man is the supreme creature. The answer, he
indicates, lies in man’s indeterminate nature, in his power to become
all things as a result of his free choice. The other denizens of creation
each occupy a fixed place in the hierarchy of being. A sponge
cannot choose not to be a sponge, nor can it alter its nature us a
sponge. Only man possesses no certain position, no traits or func-
tions preassigned to him, but is permitted to choose what he will
be in the scale of creation. And Pic0 rhapsodizes on the unpre-
cedented nature of this blessing:
0 supreme generosity of God the Father, 0 highest and most marvelous
felicity of man! To him it is granted to have whatever he chooses,
to be whatever he wills. Beasts as soon as they are born . . . bring
with them from their mother’s womb all they will ever possess. Spiritual
beings, either from the beginning or soon thereafter, become what they
are to be for ever and ever. On man when he came into life the Father
conferred the seeds of all kinds and the germs of every way of life,
. . . Who would not admire this our chameleon?It is man who Asclepius
of Athens, arguing from his mutability of character and from his
self-transforming nature, on just grounds says was symbolized by
Proteus in the mysteries. Hence those metamorphoses renowned
among the Hebrews and the Pythag~reans.~~
Proteus and the chameleon thus become positive symbols of man’s
self-transforming power, rather than emblems of cunning or
shallow inconstancy. “Mutability of character” itself is exalted as
a good: the power to change involves the power to experiment
with forms of life, to enhance oneself as well as, no doubt, on
occasion, to debase oneself.
The same idea is elaborated into a specifically theatrical fable
by Pico’s Spanish disciple, Juan Luis Vives. In Vives’ Fable of
Man, Jupiter creates the universe, for Juno’s amusement, in the
shape of a giant theater, stationing the other gods about it as
spectators, and peopling the stage with the lower creatures as
actors. The last actor to take his place is man, who proves also
to be the most expert. As the astonished gods look on, man imper-
sonates first a plant, then each of the savage beasts in turn, then
a social being, then a star, and finally a god. “0 great Jupiter,”
exclaims the author, “What a spectacle for them! At first they were
astonished that they, too, should be brought to the stage and
impersonated by such a convincing mime, whom they said to be
that multiform Proteus, the son of the Ocean.” But when man
appears in his last and greatest role, imitating Jupiter himself,
the other gods, thunderstruck at such talent, request Jupiter to
invite the wondrous creature to join them in heaven. At this point,
then, man, “so diverse, so desultory, so changing like a polypus
and a chameleon,” becomes himself an immortal.2P
“So diverse, so desultory, so changing like a polypus and a
chameleon”-such terms imply a profoundly different attitude
toward change, and toward acting, from that of more orthodox
moralists. Tertullian had used words like “mutare” and “variare”
to indicate what men should not do, and Plato’s Socrates had
argued against the inclusion of poetry in the Republic on the ground
that it imitated the shifting phenomena of the world rather than the
changeless archetypes. For the Puritans, for the Jansenists, human
change reflected human weakness, and was tantamount to a falling
away from God. For Ficino, Pico, and Vives, it might represent a
way of drawing closer to God. For their follower Sidney, the poet’s
creative power, instead of constituting an impious defiance, con-
stituted further evidence of heavenly bounty, God being so eager
to raise his favorite creature to his own level that he endowed him
with seeds of the divine creative potency itself.25It is noteworthy
that the Renaissance writer who perhaps most exalted and exem-
plified change-Montaigne-should also be one of the warmest
advocates of the theater, ready to reprove its detractors and to
commend it to princes as a valuable diversion for their subjects.26
Christian teaching, in fact, contained no necessary reason to
condemn change, or even such expressly histrionic forms of change
as disguise. God indeed might be unchanging, and the devil the
master of disguise. But at one critical moment in history, God also
disguised himself, and assumed the condition of change. There
were two archetypcal disguises, that of the serpent and that of the
incarnation (German: Verkleidung); and the latter, no less than
the former, contained a significant element of de~eption.~’ The
second disguise, doubtless, was necessitated by the unwelcome
success of the first. The incarnation came to reverse or mitigate
the ill effects of the serpent. Nevertheless, by turning disguise to
holy purposes, it sanctified it; it accorded it the highest possible
authorization, and this fact was reflected both in the mediaeval
drama, with its representation of scriptural history as a contest
of guile between Christ and Satan,28 and in such Renaissance
motifs as the character of Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure,
using craft against craft for holy ends. One is driven to conclude
that the antitheatrical prejudice has little to do with such supposed
facts as the pagan origin of the drama, or the invention of disguise
by the devil, but that at certain historical moments it made use of
such facts for its own reinforcement. The prejudice wells up from
deep sources; it is “antepredicative,” and seems to go before all
efforts to explain or rationalize it. It belongs, however, to a con-
servative ethical emphasis in which the key terms are those of order,
stability, constancy, and integrity, as against a more existentialist
view that prizes exploration, process, growth, flexibility, variety
and versatility of response. In one case we seem to have an ideal of
stasis, in the other an ideal of movement, in one case an ideal of
rectitude, in the other an ideal of plenitude. And if the negative
projection, in one case, gives us the skulking hypocrite or the shallow
chameleon, it gives us in the other the starched and sanctimonious
The defences of the stage, until recently, have often been feebler
than the attacks on it. The defenders tend to share the moral
assumptions of their opponents. They frequently concede in advance
that Christian-Stoic constancy represents an ideal, and together
with their opponents they equate changeability with hypocrisy.
Such concessions make it difficult to defend an art, or a mode of
existence, founded on flux. It is mainly within the fictive world of
the drama itself, and pre-eminently in Shakespeare, that we find
theatricality adequately explored and championed. Shakespeare,
with his astounding comprehensiveness, gives us not only the
theatrical villain, as in Richard 111, but the theatrical hero, and
the nontheatrical protagonist as well-plenitude and rectitude both.
In the latter category we may reckon figures like Desdemona,
Cordelia, Horatio, etc., who do not change, and in whom change
would be a denial of their beings; each exemplifies the total sin-
cerity desiderated by the moralists, the unswerving adherence to a
recognized code of behavior. Looming above them are figures of
another sort-Falstaff, Hamlet, Cleopatra-who are conceived as
flickering, as multiple, as forever in change, as endlessly engaged in
mimicry and metamorphosis; in them multiplicity seems an
enlarging and liberating principle, conferring something like heroic
stature on them. Common to these characters is the other cardinal
trait of the theatrical personality, about which nothing has been
said in the present sketch-ostentation, 0s exhibitionism. And
it is in keeping with the persistence of the antitheatrical prejudice
that we should never quite lose, with these characters, a certain
ambiguity of response, a slight uneasiness in the face of their
emancipation from conventional restraints, and, also, that in
readers in whom the antitheatrical prejudice is strong, these same
characters should tend to provoke hostile responses and invite
moralistic interpretations, be regarded as incarnations of this
deadly sin or that, and the plays in which they appear as digressions
upon this or that pious text.
Writers with a professional connection to the theater could of
course readily recognize the compliment involved in calling a man a
Proteus. The prologue to the 1633 revival of The Jew of Mulra
ranks Edward Alleyn, creator of the Marlovian protagonists, with
“Proteus for shapes, and Roscius for a tongue.”29 Richard
Flecknoe, chronicling the English stage later on in the same century,
terms Burbage delightful Proteus, so wholly transforming
himself into his Part, and putting off himself with his Cloathes,
as he never . . . assum’d himself again until the Play was d0ne’’.;~0
and John Hill in 1750, even while locating the actor’s skill in his
“sensibility,” sees the latter partly as the pliancy of disposition
that enables him to become seriatim all the persons required by
the author.31 But none of these writers thinks of the mimetic talent
as much more than a trick of the actor’s trade, a sort of professional
knack like the barber’s manual dexterity or the businessman’s
head for figures.
It remained for nineteenth and twentieth century authors, not
men of the theater, to look more deeply into the implications of the
Protean faculty. D’Alembert had already retorted against Rousseau
that the latter should have levelled his fire at dramatic authors,
since much more than actors they needed to transform themselves
into the personages they wished to make speak on the stage.32
Keats’s celebrated letter on the poetical character lodges that
character in the poet’s capacity to become all things:
As to the poetical Character itself . . . it is not itself-it has no self-
it is every thing and nothing-It has no character-it enjoys light and
shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor,
mean or elevated-It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an
Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosop[h]er, delights the camelion
Poet . . . A Poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence; because
he has no Identity-he is continually in for-and filling some other
Body-the Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are
creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable
attribute-the poet has none; no identity . . .s3
“What shocks the virtuous philosopher, delights the camelion
Poet”-this might stand as epigraph to the history of the anti-
theatrical prejudice, a chronicle of virtuous philosophers who have
reproached poets with being chameleons, and accused actors of
carrying the chameleonic principle to damnable extremes. For
Keats, the lack of fixity that the moralists reprehended becomes
the prime fact in the creative sensibility. The power to lose oneself
imaginatively in evil becomes as needful as the capacity to enter
in fantasy into the good, or the poet forfeits his status as creator.
Baudelaire’s words on the poetic nature strike a similar note:
The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being, at will, both
himself and other people. Like a wandering soul seeking a body, he
can enter, whenever he wishes, into anyone’s personality . . . He takes
as his own all the professions, rejoicings and miseries that circum-
stances bring before him.
Even more plainly than in Keats, the poet’s metamorphoses here
resemble those of the actor; his cardinal talent is his ability to
shed his identity at will and assume that of others. The sentence
that follows, with its suggestions of erotic and demonic abandon,
carries us into a more ambiguous realm:
What men call love is a very small, restricted and weak thing com-
pared with this ineffable orgy, this holy prostitution of a soul that
gives itself utterly, with all its poetry and charity, to the unexpectedly
emergent, to the passing unknown.u
But neither Keats nor Baudelaire is speaking of the stage as
such. It is only with “dramatistic” philosophies like those of
Kierkegaard and Nietzsche that the polymorphism of the actor
begins to be seen as a metaphysical model, a pattern for humanity,
and only in the twentieth century that the idea has begun to verge
on the commonplace. Camus, in The Myth of Sisyphus, designates
the actor as one version par excellence of “absurd” man. All men,
in Camus’ bleak exposition, are doomed to live in the shadow of
death, in ignorance of the meaning of life, to accept the perishable
moment and make of it what they can. The sole limitation on their
freedom is that they are compelled to be free, to fashion themselves
out of nothingness. The actor, who accomplishes in a single evening
what other men take a lifetime to complete, thus builds into his
me‘tier the universal condition. Instead of trying to hide the imper-
manence of life from himself by the various desperate strategems
to which most men resort, he founds his existence on it. Like Keats’
or Baudelaire’s poet, he practises the art of Proteus. “To penetrate
into all these lives,” says Camus, “to experience them in their
diversity, is precisely to play them.” So the actor becomes the
traveller in time, the haunted voyager among souls. And like the
traveller, the actor “exhausts something and passes on without a
pause.’y3sThe more deeply he enters his roles, the more intensely
he can realize them while they last, the more profoundly the actor
may be said to be enacting the common lot. And his art encourages
him to play his roles to the hilt. The feelings that the rest of us
express only hesitantly or imperfectly, the gestures we curb, the
words we choke back or soften-the actor takes all these and
triumphantly realizes them. What ordinary people merely sketch
out, the actor executes with all the resources of voice and physique
at his command.
Camus, then, consciously overturns the older attitudes. For
Pic0 and his colleagues, even the most audacious self-creator
among men was confined by a tradition that lodged human felicity
in the attempt to resemble the angels and to repudiate one’s like-
ness to the brutes. “Whatever seeds each man cultivates will grow
t o maturity and bear in him their own fruit. If they be vegetative,
he will be like a plant. If sensitive, he will become brutish. If rational,
he will grow into a heavenly being. If intellectual, he will be an
angel and the son of God. And if, happy in the lot of no created
thing, he withdraws into the center of his own unity, his spirit,
made one with God, in the solitary darkness of God, who is set
above all things, shall surpass them all.”36For a believing Christian,
the choice of the earthly self constituted necessarily a rehearsal for
eternity. But for Camus, there is no eternity. Men fulfill themselves
in the present alone, through their self-assumed roles, and the
concept of self-elevation, of imitating other beings of the cosmic
hierarchy, has lost all meaning. One is whatever one elects to be,
and the man whose livelihood consists of a perpetual and exhausting
series of becomings touches the heroic by the very fact of his
activity. Instead of a hypocrite, seeking to dissemble his true nature,
or a fickle chameleon, vainly striving to blend with his surroundings,
the actor becomes a larger-than-life symbol of what life is about:
the bringing to birth, enactment, and relinquishment of a role
that has no other justification than the style and energy with which
it is played. By the same token the theater, instead of being a mere
evanescent glint off the surface of life, becomes a reflection of the
only truth about life. Camus resolutely sets aside all that traditional
moralism had seen fit to urge against both actors and theater, and
all that survives in the idiom of our own time to express distrust
of those who “play a part.” He ignores, as well, the hints from
psychologists and philosophers, and from actors themselves, that
theatrical behavior may be construed as pathological: it may
signify the intent to escape from the self, or to fashion a self felt
somehow to be wanting; it may bear witness to the sickness as
readily as to the health of the human condition. When we reach
Camus, therefore, with his determination to confer the most exalted
metaphysical glamor on an institution once banned from society
altogether, and a profession once stricken from the rolls of humanity,
we may be tempted to conclude that the whirligig of time has
brought about its revenges indeed, that the metamorphic principle
has seized on the antitheatrical prejudice itself, captiously converting
it, momentarily at least, into something strangely resembling its
own antithesis.

1. Plutarch, Life of Solon, Loeb ed., tr., Bernadotte Perrin, I (London,

1959), 488-9.
2. Non amat falsuni auctor veritatis; adulteriuni est apud illuni onine quod
fingitur. Proinde vocem sexus aetates mentientem, amores iras gemitirs
lacrimas asseverantem non probabit: omneni enim hypocrisin damnat.
Tertullian,Apology, De Spectaculis, etc., ed. T. R. Glover, Loeb ed. (London,
1931), p p . 286-7.
3. . .. nullius rei aut atrocis aut vilis comniemoratio nielior est: quod in facto
reicitur, etiam in dicfo non esi recipiendum.-p. 276. In my English version
I have departed slightly from the wording of the Loeb translation.
4. . . . nusquam et numquam excusatur quod deus damnat, nusquani et nirmquam
licet quod semper et ubique non licet. Haec est veritatis integritas .. . non
inmutare sententiant nec variare iudiciuni. Non potest aliud esse, quod vere
quidem est bonum seii nialum. Omnia auteni penes veritatem dei fixa sum.-
pp, 280-1.
5. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Modem Library ed. (New
York,n.d.), I, 414.
6. Bourdaloue, Sermon pour le 3e dimanche aprPs Piques: Sur les divertisse-
ments du monde, in Sermons, I1 (Paris, 1716), 93.
7. Piermaria Cecchini, Discorsi intorno alle commedie (Vicenza, 1634),
Sig. D2V.
8. William Prynne, Histriomastix; the players scourge (London, 1633), Sigs.
X3v-X4v. I have modernized spelling and (more sparingly) punctuation.
9. An Apology for Poetry, in G. Gregory Smith, ed. Elizabethan Critical
Essays (Oxford, 1904), I, 156-7.
10. Paradise Lost, ed. Frank Allen Patterson, in Milton, Works (New York,
1 1 . L’apologie du thkitre (Pans, 1639), Sig. L3.
12. Pierre Nicole, Traite de la comddie, ed. George Couton (Paris, 1961),
pp. 41-2.
13. . . . il me faut dPns cet homme un spectateur froid et tranquille;j’en exige,
par consequent, de la pdnhration et nulle sensibiliti, I’art de tout imiter . .
Les grands podtes, les gram3 acteurs, et peut-@treen gPn6ral tous les grands
iniitateurs de la nature . . . sont les 6tres les moins sensibles ils sont trop
occupPs a regarder, a reconnaitre et imiter, pour @trevivement affectis
au dedans d1eu.x-m2mes. . . tout son talent consiste non pas d sentir, comme
vous le supposer, mais a rendre si scrupuleusement les signes extirieurs du
sentiment, que vous YOUS y trompiez-Oeuvres, ed. Andre Billy (Paris,
1951), pp. 1036, 1038,1040.
14. Boswell, Life ofJohnson (Oxford, 1946), 11,512.
15. . ..
A M.D’Alembert sur son article GenPve dam le viinle volume de I’encyclo-
pedie (Amsterdam, 1758), pp. 1434,146-7.
16. Discours sur l’origine et les fondemens de I’inigalite parmi les hommes
(1754), Oeuvres, ed. Petitain et Musset-Pathay, I (1852), 567-8.
17. “De l‘idtation theiitrale, essai tirk des dialogues de Platon,” Oeuvres,
111 (1846), 188-90.
18. Complete Works, ed. George Lyman Kittredge (Boston, 1936).
19. The Tragedy of Tiberius (1607), ed. W . W. Greg, Malone Society Reprints
(Oxford, 1914). Spelling has been modernized.
20. The Anatomy of Melancholy, ed. Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith (New
York, 1941). p. 53.
21. See, e.g., Stephen Batman, The Golden Book of the Leaden Gods (London,
1577), Sig. E2, and M a n u e l Bourne, The Rainbow, or a Sermon Preached
at Paul’s Cross (London, 1617), Sig. D2v.
22. See Arthur 0. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge, Mass.,
1942), pp. 82-4.
23. 0 summam Dei patris liberalitatem, summani et admirandam hominis
felicitatem ? cui datum id habere quod optat, id esse quod velit. Bruta simul
atque nascuntur id secum afferunt . . e bulga matris quod possessura sunt.
Supremi spiritus aut ab initio aut paulo mox id fuerunt, quod sunt futuri
in perpetuas aeternitates. Nascenti homini omnifaria semina et omnigenae
vitae germina indidit Pater . . . Quis hunc nostrum chamaeleonta non
admiretur? . . Quem non immerito Asclepius Atheniensis versipellis huius
et se ipsarn transformantis naturae argument0 per Proteum in mysteriis
significari dixit. Hinc illae apud Hebraeos et Pythagoricos metamorphoses
celebratae.-De hominis dignitate, Heptaplus, De ente et uno, ed. Eugenio
Garin (Florence, 1942), pp. 106, 108. Tr. Elizabeth Livermore Forbes,
in Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller, and John Herman Randall, Jr.,
eds. The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago, 1956), 225-6.
24. isurnme Jupiter, quantum illis spectaculum !primum, stupescere se in scenam
etiam introductos, expressosque ab hoc tam Ethic0 mimo, quem plerique
multiformem illum Protheum Oceanifilium esse afirmabant . ..
. . . tam varium, tam desultorium, tam versipellem, polyputn, et cameleonta
. . .-Joannis Ludovici Vivis Valentini, Opera omnia, IV (Valencia, 1783),
5-6. Tr. Nancy Lenkeith, in Renaissance Philosophy of Man, ed. Cassirer
et al., pp. 389-90.
25. Smith, ed. Elizabethan Critical Essays, I , 156-7.
26. Essays, I. xxv; tr. Florio, Everyman ed. (London, 1928), I, 189-90.
27. M. C. Bradbrook, “Shakespeare and the Use of Disguise in Elizabethan
Drama,” Essays in Criticism, I1 (1952), 161-2.
28. See Alan Nelson, “The Contest of Guile in the English Corpus Christi
Plays” (unpub. ms. diss., Berkeley, California, 1966).
29. Marlowe, Works, ed. G. F. Tucker Brooke (Oxford, 1929, p. 239.
30. A Short Discourse of the English Stage, in W . C. Hazlitt, ed. The English
Drama and Stage under the Tudor and Stuart Princes (London, 1869), p. 279.
31. The Actor: A Treatise on the Art ofplaying (London, 1750), pp. 15-16.
32. D’Alembert, Lettre d M. J.-J. Rousseau, sur I’article Gendve tire‘ du
septiPme volume de I‘encyclope‘die (Amsterdam, 1759), pp. 121-2.
33. Letters, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), 11, 386-7.
34. Le potte jouit de cet incomparableprivildge, qu’il peut ri sa guise itre lui-mhie
et autrui. Comme ces rimes errantes qui cherchent un corps, il entre, quand il
veut, dans le personnage de chacun . ..
II adopte comme siennes toutes les
professions, toutes les joies et toutes les misdres que la circonstance lui
Ce que les hommes nomment amour est bien petit, bien restreint et bien
faible, compark d cette inefable orgie, h cette sainte prostitution de “rime
4 u i se donne toute entiire, poisie et chariti, li I‘impre‘vic qui se montre, a
l'inconnu qui passe.-"les foules," from Petits jwPmes en prose, in Oeuvres,
ed. Thierry Maulnier (Paris, 1948), III, 367. Tr. Norman Cameron, in
Baudelaire, The Essence of Laughter and Other Essays, Journals, and
Letters, ed. Peter Quennell (New York, 1956), pp. 139-40.
35. Pe'ne'trer dans toutes ces vies, les hprouver dam leur diversitL, c'est proprement
lesjouer . . .
. . . il e'puise quelque chose et parcourt sans arret.
-Le mythe de Sisyphe (Paris, 1961 [first pub1 1942]), pp. 106, 108.
36. . . . quae quisque excoluerit illa adolescent, et fructus suos ferent in illo.
Si vegetalia, planta fiet. Si sensualia, obrutescet. Si rationalia, caeleste
evndet animal. Si intelkctualia, angelus erit et Dei filius, et si nulla crea-
turarum sorte contentus in unitatis centrum suae se receperit, unus cum Deo
spiritus factus, in solitaria Patris caligine qui est super omnia constitutus
omnibus antestabit.--(iarin, p. 106; Forbes, tr., in Renaissance Philosophy
of Man,p. 225.