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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Kalderon

(more accurately CALDERON), the most celebrated poet of Spain, born of a noble family at Madrid Jan. 1,1601, was educated at the University of Salamanca, but at length went into the army, and fought in Milan and Flanders, until in 1651 he entered the priesthood. Already, as a soldier, he had devoted much time to the cultivation of his poetical talents; now, as a priest, he devoted most of his time to it, and it is for his influence on the religious poetry of Spain, for his relation to the history of Roman Catholic poetry, that we make room for a short sketch of this religious (Roman Catholic) Shakespeare. Shortly after his admission to the priesthood he took a chaplaincy at Toledo, but the king, with whom Kalderon was in special favor, soon gained the poet for his court by assigning Kalderon a lucrative position in the royal chapel. He died about 1681, perhaps somewhat later. He wrote no less than five hundred dramas, many of which have a religious tendency. and display most accurately the religious and moral character of his time and people. Those of his productions which have been preserved are divided into three different groups. The first contains his comedies of familiar life; the second, the heroic; and the third embraces his religious pieces, or "Sacramental Acts" (Autos Sacramentales), and these only concern us here. They are compositions which bear a strong resemblance to the miracle-plays of the Middle Ages, and are, like them, deformed by fantastic extravagances of religious opinion and feeling. Some of them, however, are beautifully poetical. One of the most characteristic, held also by some critics to be the best, is "The Devotion of the Cross," a strange farrago of the wildest supernatural inventions, and the most impractically-motived exhibitions of human conduct, but breathing a poetic spirit which is wonderfully impressive. One of its main incidents is the legend of one dead man shriving another, which had been used by another poet. Another successful effort of his is " The steadfast Prince." Both of these have frequently been translated into English and other languages. See, however, Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature (new edition, 1871, with Index). One of the ablest Roman Catholic critics, professor Frederick Schlegel, thus speaks of Kalderon' s position as a' Christian poet: "The Christianity of this poet, however, does not consist so much in the external circumstances which he has selected, as in his peculiar feeling, and the method of treating his subject, which is most common with him. Even where his materials furnish him with no opportunity of drawing the perfect development of a new life out of death and suffering, yet everything is conceived in the spirit of this Christian love and purification, everything seen iii its light, and clothed in the splendor of its heavenly coloring. In every situation and circumstance, Kalderon is, of all dramatic poets, the most Christian, and for that very reason the most romantic" (History of Literature, p. 280, 281). See also Eichendorff, Geistliche Schauspiele von Don Pedro Kalderon de la Barca; Schmidt, Schauspiele Calderons (Eberfeld, 1857); Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 7:218sq. (J.H.W.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Kalderon'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/k/kalderon.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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