Sforza Pallavicino, Martyr Hermenegild

Ed. & trans. Stefano Muneroni - TT13

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Sforza Pallavicino’s play Martyr Hermenegild (1644) is a masterpiece of seventeenth-century Jesuit hagiographical drama. It brings to the stage the last day in the life of Saint Hermenegild (d. 585), a Visigoth prince who rejected Arianism and converted to Catholicism, much to the displeasure of his father King Levigild who condemned him to death for such apostasy. Resolute in his new faith to the very end, Hermenegild dies a martyr’s death and ascends in glory to heaven. The play, complete with a cross-dressed character used to circumvent the Jesuit order’s ban on women actors on stage, is a brilliant example of the so-called Aristotelian unities and Jesuit pedagogical goals. While Stefano Muneroni’s learned introduction offers readers an insightful overview of Sforza Pallavicino’s life, Pallavicino’s own postscript to the play elucidates the author’s views on theatre, its rules, and its functions as a pedagogical tool.

This first ever English translation of Pallavicino’s play and postscript fills a gap in existing scholarship on Jesuit theatre by providing readers with an important primary source that will help to contextualize research and illustrate the profound pedagogical and artistic contributions of the Society of Jesus to theatre in early modern Europe.

Stefano Muneroni teaches in the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta. He is the author of Hermenegildo and the Jesuits: Staging Sainthood in the Early Modern Period (Palgrave, 2017) and Play Analysis: The Dramaturgical Turn (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2014).

105 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-2197-6 softcover, ISBN 978-0-7727-2199-0 hardcover
Published: 2019
"This is a worthy text, an accomplished translation, and desirable material to have available to modern scholars." - Donald BeecherCarleton University

"This translation takes Pallavicino’s patterned rhyming poetry with all its ornamentation and deep engagement with theological discourses, and turns it into highly engaging, tightly argued, suspenseful English prose to suit the modern-day reader." - Rosalind Kerr, University of Alberta

"This first-ever English translation of Hermenegildo martire is a welcome contribution
to the field. It will be of interest to those studying the history of Jesuit school drama and
its relation to other types of dramas that developed in the early modern world; to those
interested in literary criticism, as Palavicino not only composed literary pieces but also
reflected on his own way of writing poetry and drama; and, finally, to those engaged in
studying the history of seventeenth-century papal Rome, as Sforza Pallavicino was very
much involved in shaping its culture as a member of aristocratic and literary circles
(including the Accademia dei Lincei), a Jesuit, and a cardinal." - Robert Aleksander Maryks, Renaissance Quarterly, Volume 74, Issue 2
Sforza Pallavicino: Rome, Theatre, and Religion
Martyr Hermenegild: Plot and Themes
The Rules of College Theatre
Theatre Aesthetics and Aristotelianism
A Note on the Translation
Martyr Hermenegild
The Story
Cast of Characters
Act 1
First Chorus
Act 2
Second Chorus
Act 3
Third Chorus
Act 4
Fourth Chorus
Act 5

To the Reader