The theory of development which I have adopted is substantially that elaborated by Rossi. To him belongs the honour of having been the first clearly to indicate the historical steps by which the eclogue passes into the drama. The idea, however, was not original; it underlies the accounts given by Egidio Menagio in the notes to his edition of the Aminta (Paris, 1655), by G. Fontanini (Aminta difeso, Roma, 1700, and Venezia, 1730), by P. L. Ginguene (Histoire litteraire d’Italie, vol. vi, Paris, 1813), and by Klein. It was also virtually accepted by Stiefel in his review of Rossi, since he confined his criticism to pointing out and attempting to fill occasional gaps in the sequence of development, and to insisting on the influence of the regular drama, and more particularly of the Intronati comedy. The incomplete state of Creizenach’s work, and the caution with which he expresses himself on the subject, preclude our reckoning him among the declared supporters of the theory; but there can be little doubt, I think, as to the tendency of his remarks. This may then be regarded as the orthodox view. It has not, however, received the exclusive adherence of scholars, and it may therefore be thought right that I should both give in detail the arguments by which it is supported and my reasons for accepting it, and likewise state the grounds on which I reject the rival theories that have been propounded.
Two of these latter may be quickly dismissed. These are the views put forward respectively by Gustav Weinberg, Das franzoesische Schaeferspiel in der ersten Haelfte des XVIIten Jahrhunderts (Frankfurt, 1884), and by J. G. Schoenherr in his Jorge de Montemayor (Halle, 1886). Weinberg finds the origin of the Italian pastoral drama in the ‘Eclogas’ of Juan del Encina. With regard to this theory it may be sufficient to observe that, at the time Encina wrote, the ecloga rappresentativa, or dramatic eclogue, was already familiar in the Italian courts, and that, so far from his writings being the source of any pastoral tradition even in his own country, what subsequent dramatic work of the kind is to be found in Spain merely represents a further borrowing from Italy. Schoenherr, on the other hand, regards the Jus Robins et Marion as the source of the Arcadian drama. Not only, however, did Adan de le Hale’s play fail to originale any dramatic tradition in its own country, but it is itself nothing but an amplified pastourelle, a form which, in spite of marked Provencal influence, never obtained to any extent in Italy. It need hardly be said that there is not a vestige of historical evidence to support either of these theories.