Lessing’s dramatic fragment, first published in 1786, is derived from the so-called Breslauer manuscript begun in 1748, 2 when he was 19 years old. Lessing’s brother Karl said this was probably the earliest of Lessing’s efforts at tragedy. 3 It is his only attempt to write in unrhymed Alexandrines, a form which in German had only been used by Johann Elias Schlegel (1719–1749). Jürgen Stenzel, the editor of the 1989 edition of Lessing’s earliest plays, notes that Lessing was influenced by Voltaire’s plays Zaïre (1732) and Mahomet (1736), 4 even though Lessing criticized the former of the two in the fifteenth section of his Hamburgische Dramaturgie (1767) after having seen it in performance.