This burlesquing of things universally held sacred, though condemned by serious-minded theologians, conveyed to the child-like popular mind of the middle ages no suggestion of contempt, though when belief in the doctrines and rites of the medieval Church was shaken it became a ready instrument in the hands of those who sought to destroy them.
Between the lessons the ass was solemnly fed, and at the conclusion of the service was led by the precentor out into the square before the church (conductus ad ludos); water was poured on the precentor's head, and the ass became the centre of burlesque ceremonies, dancing and buffoonery being carried on far into the night, while the clergy and the serious-minded retired to matins and bed.
After Theophylact the power passed to his daughter Marozia, a woman of the most debased character; then to her son Alberic, a serious-minded prince; and then to Alberic's son Octavius, who from " prince of the Romans " became pope (John XII.) when yet a mere boy.
The revival of Greek from the time of Chrysoloras onward, instead of begetting a Hellenistic spirit, transported the more serious-minded to the nebulous shores of NeoPlatonism, while the less devout became absorbed in scholarly or literary ambitions, translations, elegantly phrased letters, clever epigrams or indiscriminate invective.
There is no evidence that their religious or ethical ideals differed in any marked degree from those of the more serious-minded among their countrymen, for the emphasis which they laid upon the need of righteousness was not at all uncommon.