Introite, pueri! The School-Room Performance of George Buchanan’s Latin Medea in Bordeaux

  • Lucy Christina Mary Mullarkey Jackson King's College London


Performances of Latin drama had become a widespread phenomenon in European schools by the middle of the sixteenth century. The potential for these dramas to have a significant impact on the students who performed or watched these plays was recognised at the time. Memories of participating in these performances would linger in the pupils’ minds, as Michel de Montaigne clearly shows in his own reminiscences of his leading roles undertaken at the Collège de Guyenne in Bordeaux. The lessons learnt in performance were thought to be thoroughly complementary to the program of classroom Latin education across Europe. But learning in performance, this article contends, also yielded crucially different lessons as well, not least concerning the manipulation of sentiment through rhetoric and the often violently differing results in action. In this article I examine the 1543 production of George Buchanan's translation of Euripides' Medea from four angles: its `Greekness', the Latinity of the translation, the pedagogical context for the performance, and the medium of performance itself. Using these four angles to create a matrix of meaning, I argue that Latin translations such as Buchanan's warrant greater appreciation than has been awarded them so far, and demonstrate the potential that lies within these understudied texts.