Plays performed in England in the Middle Ages almost invariably had religious overtones. But by 1500 the impact of the Italian Renaissance was spreading throughout Europe and reaching Britannia’s shores. No longer were plays exclusively religious — now there was a growing interest in reviving the classical Greek plays of ancient times. Many old manuscripts of these plays had lain dormant in monasteries for hundreds of years. With the fall of Constantinople to the Turks on May 29, 1453, hordes of Greek scholars fled the city to seek refuge in Italy and points west.
    The documents they brought with them included the plays of ancient Greece, which were revived to the delight of Renaissance audiences throughout western Europe. Because native English words were often inadequate to express the ideas in these plays, the natural solution was to anglicize the Greek words. Drama entered the English language in 1515 and was joined by theatre, chorus, comedy, tragedy, orchestra, irony, prologue, dialogue, epilogue, episode, critic and climax, all of which come from Greek.

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