Don Sebastian

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John Dryden (1631—1700) poet, playwright, and critic


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A tragicomedy by Dryden, produced 1689, published 1691.

The play is based on the legend that King Sebastian of Portugal survived the battle of Alcazar. He and the princess Almeyda, with whom he is in love, are captured by Muley Moloch, who spares their lives until he discovers that they have secretly married. In love with Almeyda himself, he orders Dorax, a renegade Portuguese nobleman, to execute Sebastian, but Dorax, once Sebastian's favourite, refuses to do so. Muley Moloch is killed in a revolt, but Sebastian and Almeyda then discover that their marriage is incestuous, and they renounce each other and their thrones. The play is Dryden's most complex dramatic treatment of a number of important political, sexual, and religious themes.

Subjects: Literature.

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