The classification of Western dramatic works into genres owes less to playwrights than to critics and theorists. Every age has tried to redefine preexisting genres in terms of its own preoccupations or has tried to invent new genres in order to categorize novel phenomena that do not fit the terminology available. Occasionally playwrights themselves concur in using these labels and even, as in the Renaissance and neoclassical periods, meekly follow the guidelines set down for them by academicians. For the most part, however, whenever drama has thrived, the dramatist’s creation has preceded or preempted the critical definition. Consequently, the study of dramatic genres is not so much that of taxonomy as an inquiry into theatrical and literary fashion, as reflections of a society’s values and concerns.