Signs and Meaning explains historical assumptions about eighteenth-century art and performance, and the signs employed. It assumes that how artists thought they made art and how audiences thought they received it was how it was made, received, and understood. Eighteenth-century epistemological and rhetorical assumptions bring together meaning and practices of rhetoric, philosophy, literature, painting, dramatic performance, and music. Musical drama shows the widest range of signs for an audience, presenting and representing the passions as the basis for the understanding of human nature and actions. This book starts with explanations of assumptions, and ends with analyses of G. F. Händel's dramatic oratorios.