What is the relationship between religion, spirituality, and theater from the early Egyptian culture through the Greek and Roman cultures? What is the relationship between religion, spirituality, and theater from the trope through the variety of secular forms of theater in the Middle Ages?

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Historians recognize the ancient Egyptians as the first known society to develop drama according to our definition of drama: a performance that has "plot, characters, [and] stage directions" ("Theatre History—Beginning through Renaissance," Southeastern Louisiana University). In the city of Edfu, archeologists have found texts depicting a religious performance for the festival of Horus, god of war, law, and rulers. The drama includes the carrying of the statue of Hathor from the temple in the town of Dendera to the festival in Edfu. The drama also has roles for numerous performers, additional props, backdrops, and dances depicting holy ceremonies. One aspect of the play included the ceremonial conquering of the god Seth, god of violence, disorder, storms, and other troubles. The god Seth was symbolized by a hippopotamus killed by a priest or by the king enacting the role of Horus, who conquers Seth with law and order.

Archeologists are also aware Egyptians performed morality plays and reenactments of creation myths. One example of a morality play concerns the story of Isis and the seven scorpions a story in which seven scorpions charged with protecting Isis poisoned the child of a rich woman who refused to give Isis, disguised as a beggar woman, shelter, whereas a poor fisherwoman gladly did; feeling the revenge her scorpions took was unjust, however, Isis commanded the poison to leave the child, leaving the rich woman to feel remorseful and donate all of her possessions to the poor fisherwoman. Hence, as we can see, the Egyptians used drama to capture their religious and moral beliefs.

Similarly, ancient Greek dramas were performed during the festivals of Dionysus, god of spring time, rejuvenation, and wine. He symbolized mankind "being impelled onwards by a joy within him that he cannot explain" (Mills, D., Ch. XIV, The Book of the Ancient Greeks). Ancient Greek drama started as recounting stories of Dionysus to pay him honor, but performances of stories about other gods soon evolved. Greek drama also evolved from being performed as stories relayed in songs sung only by a chorus to being sung by a dominant speaker, with the chorus having a smaller role. Drama continued to evolve to being stories acted out by performers, with the chorus having an even smaller role. Though the chorus's role shrank, the chorus's words remained a reminder of the power of the gods. Ancient Greek drama also evolved to depict Greek legends, such as the Fall of Troy, and to include moral lessons ("Ancient Greek Theatre," Northern Virginia Community College). Moral lessons were captured in the portrayal of the gods, whom Greeks viewed as having human characteristics of bearing grudges, being jealous, and fighting with each other ("Ancient Greek Theatre"). Moral lessons were additionally portrayed in mankind's battles against humanity's flawed nature and destinies laid out by the gods. Yet, no matter how much ancient Greek drama evolved, it was still always performed during the festivals of Dionysus, in the theater of Dionysus, and in worship of Dionysus. All performances were also followed by a sacrifice to Dionysus (Mills). Hence, like the ancient Egyptians, the dramas performed by the ancient Greeks were also directly linked to their religious and moral beliefs.

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