University Wits

University Wits      
Literature always owes fundamentally to the education system, which itself is the part of the entire social system. Elizabethan drama is no exception to this. The most important curriculum of the Elizabethan education system was Latin and students were asked to bi-lingual translation of the Latin authors. Naturally, English tragedy, at any rate, was not to develop from the miracle play, but from the classical model of Seneca, the most eminent Latin writer of tragedy of the first century AD, and his contemporary writer of comedy, Plautus. From translation, it is only one-step to unlock one’s own creativity.
Therefore, the decade of the 1590s, just before Shakespeare started his career, saw a radical transformation in popular drama. A group of some feisty, well- educated men, nearly all of whom were associated with Oxford or Cambridge, chose to write for the public stage, bringing a new form of wit. They are known collectively as the "University Wits," though they did not always work as a group, and indeed wrangled with each other at times. [Their plays have several traits in common:
i. They were fond of heroic themes, such as the lives of great figures like Mohammed, Tamburlaine et al.
ii. Heroic themes needed heroic treatment: grand speeches, gory elements, and supernatural aspects.
iii.The themes were usually tragic in nature, as they earnestly considered comedy a lower form of literature.
iv. The most prominent trait of this genre was   the general lack of humour.]
Lyly: In a series of witty comedies – Compaspe, Endimion --Lyly addressed Elizabeth in delicate adulation, praising by turns the charms of the woman, the chastity of the virgin, and the majesty of the queen.[ To his court comedies may be added the more disinterested mythological pastorals: Galathea, the subject of which is love;...