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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

IV. Early English Tragedy

§ 2. Classical influence in the Italian Drammi Mescidati

The composition of an Italian tragedy in the vernacular after the classical model was preceded by a number of plays called by literary historians mescidati, in which a secular subject was developed in rimed measures, on a multiple stage, with a hesitating division into acts and scenes. The connection of these with the sacre rappresentazioni is obvious; but they show traces of classical influence. For instance, Antonio Cammelli’s Filostrato e Panfila (1499), founded upon the first novel of the fourth day of the Decameron, is opened by a prologue or argument spoken by Seneca, and divided into five acts by choruses. In these, Love (end of act I), the four Sirens (act II), the three Fats (act III), and Atropos individually (act IV) appear, besides the chorus proper—prototypes of later intermedii and English dumb-shows. The stricter classical form was established by Trissino’s Sofonisba (1515), which followed Greek, rather than Latin, models, and is divided into episodes, not into Seneca’s five acts. It is noteworthy for its adoption of blank verse, and, undoubtedly, had considerable influence, being twice printed in 1524 and often later in the century; but there is no proof that it was acted before the celebrated production by the Olympic academy at Vicenza in 1562, though a French version by Melin de St. Gelais was performed and published by 1559.