The Renaissance writers drew heavily from many of the elements and structures of Greek tragedies, yet took the study and practice further and created their own masterpieces.
The ideas of many of the Renaissance playwrights were heavily influenced through the works of the
classical Greek drama. At the time, tragedies were not very popular among Europe, and many of the
performances centered around mystery plays and other types.
The tragedies that were later written in Italy during the Renaissance were heavily influenced by the works of Seneca. His ideas were brought back into the light when Paduan Lovato de’ Lovati wrote the Latin verse tragedy Eccerinis. This was one of the first tragedies written since the earlier ones and many scholars believe it was the first Italian tragedy identifiable as a Renaissance work.
Later on, Gian Giorgio Trissino wrote Sophonisba, one of the first works to be
written in what would
later develop and become Italian. His play followed a Carthaginian princess who “drank poison to
avoid being taken by the Romans.” This play followed the classical models of the Greek very
carefully. Renaissance poets at the time began to follow the conventions set forth by the ancient
The plays that Sophocles, Seneca, and Euripides wrote thousands of years ago begin to appear again, as the printing press emerged and mass printed them for many to read. Other writers at the time began to adapt them and translate those tragedies. As the 17th century started, the playwrights Sophocles and Euripides became increasingly important as models.
Later in the Renaissance, an integral person appeared on the tragedy scene—William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare is considered by many as a fundamental force that shaped the way tragedy is written and how it is performed.
William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.
Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe, was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era.
John Webster was an English Jacobean dramatist best known for his tragedies The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi, which are often regarded as masterpieces of the early 17th-century English stage.