Sources, syncretism, and significance in Calderón's El divino Orfeo (c.1634)

Paul Joseph Lennon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Calderón de la Barca’s El divino Orfeo (c.1634), first published by Pablo Cabañas in 1948, makes use of a mytho-allegorical narrative to tell the story of the creation, fall, and redemption of humankind. This study offers fresh insights into Calderón’s handling of the mythological sources used in the creation of his Christian allegorical play beyond the eponymous Orpheus and Eurydice. Specifically, I focus upon Calderón’s interaction with four additional mythological episodes: creation from Book 1 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Orpheus in the Garden of the Hesperides, the abduction of Proserpina, and the entry of Aeneas and the Sibyl of Cumae into the Underworld in Book 6 of Virgil’s Aeneid. These myths are shown to form part of a syncretic a lo divino allegorical drama that recognises the importance of select pagan texts as valuable contributors to our comprehension of key issues in Christianity, such as the immortal soul, the culpability of humankind for Original Sin, and Christ’s dual nature as mortal and divine. Within this syncretic narrative, I explore Calderón’s use of symbols common to both traditions as a means to engineer challenging new perspectives from which an educated courtly audience could explore the mysteries at the heart of this religious drama.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-97
Number of pages27
JournalBulletin of the Comediantes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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