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Page 75

CHAPTER IV
FIFTEENTH CENTURY - THE PEOPLE'S CENTURY

then into those of the guilds, or companies of tradesmen, for long before the fifteenth century the men of each craft had formed themselves into a guild. Slowly
the plays became cycles, each cycle following the Bible story from Genesis to the end of the Gospels, sometimes to the Revelation. Each guild had in charge the presentation of one story or more. The acting was no longer in the churchyards, but at different convenient stations in the town. The stage was a great two-story or three-story wagon called a pageant. An important part of the scenery was " hell mouth," represented by a pair of widely gaping jaws full of smoke and flames, into which unrepentant sinners were summarily hurled and from which Satan issued to take his part in the drama. The plays were always acted in biblical order. When one play was ended, the pageant moved on, leaving the place free for the next play, so that a person remaining at any one station could see the whole cycle.
To modern ideas there are some things in these plays that seem irreverent ; for instance, the representation of God the Father on the stage. In one of the plays of the creation He is made to say familiarly :

Adam and Eve, this is the place
That I have graunte you of my grace
To have your wonnyng 1 in ;
Erbes, spyce, frute on tree,
Beastes, fewles,2 all that ye see,
Shall bowe to you, more and myn.3
This place hight paradyce,
Here shall your joys begynne,
And yf that ye be wyse,
From thys tharr4 ye never twynne.5

1 dwelling.
2 fowls.
3 great and small.
4 need.
5 depart.

travel books:
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