Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Moisés R. Castillo


This dissertation uses the seventeenth-century Spanish plays which employ an array of mythological stories of Theseus to analyze the Early Modern ideology of the Prince. The consideration of the different rulers in these plays highlights different aspects of these sovereigns such as their honor, prudence, valor, and self-control. Many of these princes fall well short of the ideal explained in the comedia and in the writings of the arbitristas. By employing the hylomorphic theory in which everything can exist in either its matter or its form, it is shown that in order to have the form of a prince, rulers must act in certain ways to reach that ideal or perfect state. Many princes in the plays, however, at least at certain times, only have the matter of a prince and fall short of the form. By drawing from mythological theories which describe the need for a mediation or an alleviation of an irresolvable contradiction within a society, it is shown that despite the imperfections of the flawed princes that are put on stage, these plays still defend and glorify the monarchical system in which they were created as well as the specific imperfect princes.

The six plays examined here in which Theseus is a primary protagonist are El laberinto de Creta, Las mujeres sin hombres, and El vellocino de oro by Lope de Vega; Los tres mayores prodigios by Calderón de la Barca; El labyrinto de Creta by Juan Bautista Diamante; and Amor es más laberinto by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Juan de Guevara. These plays span a large portion of the seventeenth century and although the authors wrote some of them for the corrales, they created others to be performed before the court.