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MOLFETTA


434


MOLIERE


ecnrK. Onainum ciflcrcicnuium, I (Vienna, 1876); ManriqDE, Annates cislrrc, I (Lyona, 1642); MARTi:NE. Themuruf anccdo- tartim. III (Paris, 1717); Lauhent, Cartulairc dc Molcsme (Paris, 1907).

Edmi'ni) M. Obrecht.

Molfetta, Terlizzi, and Giovinazzo, Diocese OF (MELriiirTENsis, Terlitiknsis et Juvknacen- sis). — Molfetta is a city of the province of Biiri, in Apulia, southern Italy, on the Ailrialic Sea; its oripin is unknown, but iii;iiiy objects of the neolithic, bronze, and the Mycenu an <>|ioch have been found at a place called Pulo, wliic-li shows that the site of Molfetta was inhabited in prehistoric times. The town has a beau- tiful cathedral, and beyond its limits is the sanctuary of the Virpin of the Martyrs containinR an image brought to it by some Crusaders in 1188. The first bishop of this city of whom there is any record was John, whose incumbency is referred to the year 1136. The see was at first suftrapan of Ban, but in 1484 it became immediately dependent upon Rome. In 1818, it was enlarged with the territory of the sup- pressed sees of Giovinazzo and Terlizzi, which were re-established in 1835, remaining unilcd, irqitr princi- jKiliUr. In the opinion of some people, (liovinazzo is the ancient Egnatia; it has been an episcopal see since 1071. Terlizzi was a city in the Diocese of Giovi- nazzo, and in 1731, to put an end to certain questions of its independence, it was declared an episcopal see, but united with Giovinazzo. The city was a for- tress of the Ilohenstaufens and of the Aragonese.

The Diocese of Molfetta contains 4 parishes; 80 secular ;ind 6 regular priests; 42,000 Catholics. Ter- lizzi contains 3 parishes; 40 secular and 6 regular priests; 24,100 Catholics. Giovinazzo contains 2 par- ishes; 37 secular and 3 regular priests; 12,150 Catho- lics. In the united dioceses there are 6 convents for women, 4 for men, 2 schools for boys, and 4 for girls.

Cappelletti, Le Chiese d'ltalia, XXI.

U. Benigni.

Moliere fproperly, Jean-B.\ptiste Poquelin, the nanic by which he became known to fame having been assumed when he went on the stage, to avoid embar- nussing his family), French comie poet; b. at Paris, 15 Jan., 1622; d. there 17 Feb., 1673. He was the son of a Paris furniture dealer who was also a valet-de- chambre to the king, and succeeded his father in the latter of these two capacities. After making his studies with the Jesuits at the College de Clermont, he seems to have studied law in some provincial town — - perhaps Orl(5ans. It is not known, however, if he ever took his licentiate. The stage very soon attracted him and absorbed him. At twenty-one he entered the theatrical company, organized under the name of "L'lllustrc Theatre", in which were Madeleine B6jart and her brothers. The troupe engaged a band of four musicians at the cost of one litre per day, and a dancer, who was to receive thirty-five sols per day and five sols extra for every day when there was a performance. The business started with a deficit, and Moliere, who appears to have then been chosen president by his asso- ciates, was arrested for debt. He was imprisoned in the Chatelet, but released on his own recognizances.

In the course of the subsequent wanderings through different parts of France, Molifere composed some small comic pieces of no importance, of which two have been preserved — "La Jalousie de BarbouilliS" and "Le M(;decin Volant". Afterwards, about 1653 or 1655, he staged, at Lyons, "L'Etourdi". In this he began to use the language of fine comedy which Comeille had created ten or twelve years before. ' ' Le D6pit Amoureux", produced at Bf-ziers in 1656, should also be mentioned here. Before long the "Illustre ThiSdtrc" regained confidence to face the Parisian public; we find it in Paris in 16.58. Next year the troupe, now authorized to call itself "Troupe de Monsieur, Frfere du Roi" performed "Lea Pr6- cieuses Ridicules". In this comedy Molifere declared


war against the spirit of refined humbuggery (Vcsprit pricicux), and he never ceased to be its enemy, as witness "Les Fenimes Savaiites" (1(572), one of his last pieces. The last twelve years of his life saw the production of his most famous works. "L'Ecole des Maris" (1661) shows the beauty of a confiding and gentle character in a man; "Les I'^&cheux" (also 1661) was written in fifteen days; "L'Ecole des Femmes" (1662) gives another lesson to hu.sbiinds — which was very cr<-ditable to the i)Iaywrigh(, for he him.self, at the age of forty, had jusi married a girl of twenty, Madeleine Hc'jarl-'s sister, the volatile Ar- niande who was to give him so much trouble. The "Critique de L'Ecole des Fem- mes" and the "Im- promptu de Ver- sailles" (1663) arc two little prose pieces in which the writer defends his comedy of the pre- ceding year and attacks his critics. "Tartufe"(1664), the famous com- edy, at first in three acts, after- wards in five, deals trenchant blows „ . . f^""^"^ , ..

at hypocrisy, un- ' "'"""'^ ^^ ^'"'•' ^'^"""^

fortunately, however, often striking true virtue at the same time. After its first production the public per- formance of this piece was forbidden, and the ban was not removed for five years.

In the interval Moliere wrote; "Don Juan" (or "Le Festin de Pierre") (1665), apparently intended as a revenge for the suppression of "Tartufe"; "Le Misan- thrope" (1669) a great comedy of character; "Amphi- tryon" (1(568), three acts in verse of various measures, where Jupiter assumes the form of the Theban general, Amphitryon, in order to betray his wife, Alemena; lastly, "L'Avare" (1668). Excepting "Les Femmes Savantes ", already mentioned, the comedies of his last four years exhibit a great deal of gaiety, but not so much breadth — "Monsieur de Pourceaugnac" and "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme", in 1669, "Les Four- beries de Scapin", in 1671 and "Le Malade Imagi- naire" (1673). While on the stage playing in "Le Malade Imaginaire", the author was seized with a violent haemorrhage; he was carried home, and died.

In him France lost the greatest of the comic writers whom her history has produced. Judging Moliere exclusively from a literary point of view, it must be admitted that he does not owe his reputation to the quantity of dramatic entanglement in his plays; he owes it above all to the truth of his portraiture. His friend Boileau called him "the looker-on" (le con- templaleur) . He knew how to look at the world, to note its vices and its failings, and his genius had the power of combining what he saw, melting all his observations together, adding to them, and thus creating beings who are no longer particular individuals, but are recognizable as men of their whole period — often of all periods of humanity. Moreover, the characters are his chief concern: with him, as with Racine, the characters carry the whole piece, they are its soul. His art may at times fail in other points — as in his denouements, which are often ill contrived — but in that one respect he is always admirable. His plays, then, present a por- trait of the heart of man, but a profile portrait drawn by a satirist, whose business is to see only the defec- tive side of it, and a dramatic writer, who is obliged by the laws of stage optics to emphasize certain lines. This