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Vol. II. 









Two Conditions for tlie Development of a National Drama. — The Attic Audi- 
ence. — The Persian War. — Nemesis the Cardinal Idea of Greek Tragedy. 
— Traces of the Doctrine of Nemesis in Early Greek Poetry. — The Fixed 
Material of Greek Tragedy. — Athens in the Age of Euripides. — Changes 
introduced by him in Dramatic Art. — The Law of Progress in all Art. — 
jEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides. — The Treatment of tv\pvxta by Eurip- 
ides. — Menoikeus. — The Death of Eteocles and Polynices. — Polyxena. — 
Medea. — Hippolytus. — Electra and Orestes. — Injustice done to Euripides 
by Recent Critics Page 9 


Alexandrian and Byzantine Anthologies. — Titles of the Lost Plays of ^schy- 
lus. — The Lycurgcia. — The Trilogy on the Story of Achilles. — The Geog- 
raphy of the Prometheus Unboimd. — Gnomic Character of the Sophoclean 
Fragments. — Providence, Wealth, Love, Marriage, Mourning. — What is 
True of the Sophoclean is still more True of the Euripidean Fragments. 
— Mutilated Plays. — Phaethon, Erecktlieus, Andope, Dana'e. — Goethe's 
Restitution of the Phaethon. — Passage on Greek Athletes in the Autoly- 
cus. — Love, Women, Marriage, Domestic Aifection, Children. — Death. — 
Stoical Endurance. — Justice and the Punishment of Sin. — AVealth. — 


Noble Birth. — lleroism. — Miscellaneous Gnomic Fragments. — The Pop- 
ularity of Euripides Page 74 


Apparent Accident in the Preservation of Greek Poetr}'. — Criticism among 
the Ancients. — Formation of Canons. — Libraries. — The Political Vicissi- 
tudes of Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople. — Byzantine Scholarship in 
the Ninth Century. — The Lost MS. of Menander. — Tragic Fragments pre- 
served by the Comic Poets and their Scholiasts ; by Athenteus, by Stobse- 
us. — Aristotle. — Tragedy before ^Eschylus. — Fragments of Aristarchus. 
— The Medea of Neophron. — Ion. — The Games of Achseus. — Agathon ; 
his Character for Luxurious Living. — The Flower. — Aristotle's Partiality 
for Agathon. — The Family of J^schylus. — Meletus and Plato among the 
Tragic Playwrights. — The School of Sophocles. — Influence of Euripides. 
— Family of Carkinus. — Tragedians Ridiculed by Aristophanes. — The 
Sisyphus of Critias. — Cleophon. — Cynical Tragedies ascribed to Dioge- 
nes. — Extraordinary Fertility of the Attic Drama. — The Repetition of Old 
Plots. — Mamercus and Dionysius. — Professional Rhetoricians appear as 
Playwrights. — Tlic School of Isocrates. — The Centaur of Chasremon. — 
His Style. — The Themistocles of Moschion. — The Alexandrian Pleiad. — 
The Adonis of Ptolemy Philopator 113 


Greek Tragedy and the Rites of Dionysus. — A Sketch of its Origin and His- 
tory. — The Attic Theatre. — The Actors and their Masks. — Relation of 
Sculpture to the Drama in Greece. — The Legends used by the Attic 
Tragedians. — Modern Liberty in the Choice of Subjects. — Mystery Plays. 
— Nemesis. — Modern Tragedy has no Religious Idea. — Tragic Irony. — 
Aristotle's Definition of Tragedy. — Modern Tragedy offers no Ka.0ap<nQ 
of the Passions. — Destinies and Characters. — Female Characters. — 
The Supernatural. — French Tragedy. — Five Acts. — Bloodshed. — The 
Unities. — Radical DiiTerences in the Sjjirit of Ancient and Modern 
Art 145 




Heine's Critique ou Aristophanes. — Aristophanes as a Poet of the Fancy. — 
The Nature of his Comic Crossness. — Greelc Comedy in its Relation to 
the Worship of Dionysus. — Greek Acceptance of the Animal Conditions 
of Humanity. — His Burlesque, Parody, Southern Sense of Fun. — Aris- 
tophanes and Menander. — His Greatness as a Poet. — Glimpses of Pa- 
thos. — His Conservatism and Serious Aim. — Socrates, Agathon, Eurip- 
ides. — German Critics of Aristophanes. — Ancient and Modern Comedy. 
— The Birds. — The Clouds. — Greek Youth and Education. — The Allego- 
ries of Aristophanes. — The Thcsinophoriaziisce. — Aristophanes and 
Plato Page 171 


Three Periods in Attic History. — The Three Kinds of Comedy : Old, Middle, 
New. — Approximation of Comedy to the Type of Tragedy. — Athenagus 
as the Source of Comic Fragments. — Fragments of the Old Comedy. — 
Satire on Women. — Parasites. — Fragments of the Middle Comedy. — 
Critique of Plato and the Academic Philosophers. — Literary Criticism. 
— Passages on Sleep and Death. — Attic Slang. — The Demi-monde. — 
Theophrastus and the Later Rhetoricians. — Cooks and Cookery-books. 
— Difficulty of Defining the Middle from the New Comedy. — Menander. 
— Sophocles and Menander. — Epicureanism. — Menander's Sober Philos- 
ophy of Life. — Goethe on Menander. — Philemon. — The Comedy of Man- 
ners culminated in Menander. — What we mean by Modernism. — Points 
of Similarity and Difference between Ancient and Modern Comedy. — The 
Freedom of Modern Art 216 


Theocritus : his Life.— The Canon of his Poems.— The Meaning of the Word 
Idyl. — Bucolic Poetry in Greece, Rome, Modern Europe.— The Scenery 
of Theocritus. — Relation of Southern Nature to Greek Mythology and 
Greek Art.— Rustic Life and Superstitions.— Feeling for Pure Nature in 


Theocritus.— How Distinguished from the same Feeling in Modern Poets. 
—Galatea.— Pharmaceutria.—IIy las.— Greek Chivalry.— The Dioscuri. 
— Thalysia.— Bion.— The Lament for Adonis.— Moschus. — Europa.— 
Heaara —Lament for Bion.— The Debts of Modern Poets to the Idyl- 
lisl^ P^S« 240 


The History of its Compilation.— Collections of Meleager, Philippus, Agathias, 
Cephalas, Planudes.— The Palatine MS. — The Sections of the Anthology. 

Dedicatory Epigrams.— Simonides.— Epitaphs : Real and Literary.- 

Callimachus. — Epigrams on Poets.— Antipater of Sidon. — Hortatory Ep- 
igrams.— Palladas. — Satiric Epigrams. — Lucillius. — Amatory Epigrams. 
—Meleager, Straton, Philodemus, Antipater, Rufinus, Paulus Silentiarius, 
Agathias, Plato. — Descriptive Epigrams 281 


Virgil's Mention of this Tale. — Ovid and Statins.— Autumnal Poetry.— Con- 
fusion between the Mythical Musa?us and the Grammarian. — The Intro- 
duction of the Poem.— Analysis of the Story.— Hallam's Judgment on 
Marlowe's Hero and Leander. — Comparison of Marlowe and Musseus. — 
Classic and Romantic Art 345 


Separation between the Greeks and us.— Criticism. — Greek Sense of Beauty. 
— Greek Morality. — Greece, Rome, Renaissance, the Modern Spirit. . 363 


Sculpture, the Greek Art par excellence. — Plastic Character of the Greek Gen- 
ius. — Sterner Aspects of Greek Art. — Subordination of Pain and Discord 
to Harmony. — Stoic-Epicurean Acceptance of Life. — Sadness of Achilles 


in the Odyssey. — Endurance of Odysseus. — Myth of Prometheus. — Sir H. 
S. Maine on Progress. — The Essential Relation of all Spiritual Movement 
to Greek Culture. — Value of the Moral Attitude of the Greeks for us. — 
Three Points of Greek Ethical Inferiority. — The Conception of Nature. 
— The System of Marcus Aurelius. — Contrast with the Lnitatio Christi. 
— The Modern Scientific Spirit. — Indestructible Elements in the Philoso- 
phy of Nature Page 391 




Two Conditions for the Development of a National Drama. — The Attic Audi- 
ence. — The Persian War. — Nemesis the Cardinal Idea of Greek Trage- 
dy. — Traces of the Doctrine of Nemesis in Early Oreek Poetry. — The 
Fixed Material of Greek Tragedy. — Athens in the Age of Euripides. — 
Changes introduced by him in Dramatic Art. — Law of Progress in all 
Art. — xEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides. — The Treatment of ivypvxia by 
Euripides. — Menoikeus. — Death of Polyncices and Eteocles. — Polyxena. 
— Iphigeuia. — Medea. — Hippolytus. — Electra and Orestes. — Lustspiele. 
— The Andromache. — The Dramas of Orestes. — Friendship and Pylades. 
— Injustice done to Euripides by Kecent Critics. 

The chapters on ^Eschylus and Sophocles have ah-eady intro- 
duced the reader to some of the principal questions regardino- 
Attic tragedy in general. Yet the opening of a new volume jus- 
tifies the resumption of this subject from the beginning, while 
the peculiar position of Euripides, in relation to his two great 
predecessors, suggests the systematic discussion of the religious 
ideas which underlay this supreme form of national art, as well 
as of the fjesthetical rules which it obeyed in Greece. 

Critics who are contented with referring the origin of the 
Greek drama to the mimetic instinct inherent in all humanity 
are apt to neglect those circumstances which render it an almost 


unique phenomenon in literature. If tlie mimetic instinct were 
all that is requisite for the origination of a national drama, then 
we might expect to find that every race at a certain period of its 
development produced both tragedy and comedy. This, howev- 
er, is far from being the case. A certain rude mimesis, such as 
the acting of descriptive dances or the jesting of buffoons and 
mummers, is indeed common in all ages and nations. But there 
are only two races which can be said to have produced the drama 
as a fine art originally and independently of foreign influences. 
These are the Greeks and the Hindoos. With reference to the 
latter, it is even questionable whether they would have composed 
plays so perfect as their famous Sakountala without contact with 
Hellenic civilization. All the products of the modern drama, 
whether tragic or comic, must be regarded as the direct progeny 
of the Greek stage. The habit of play-acting, continued from 
Athens to Alexandria, and from Rome to Byzantium, never whol- 
ly expired. The " Christus Patiens," attributed to Gregory of 
Nazianzus, was an adaptation of the art of Euripides to Christian 
story; and the representation of "Mysteries" during the Middle 
Ages kept alive the dramatic tradition, until the discovery of clas- 
sic literature and the revival of taste in modern Europe led to the 
great Avorks of the English, Spanish, French, and subsequently of 
the German theatre. 

Something more than the mere instinct of imitation, therefore, 
caused the Greeks to develop their drama. Like sculpture, like 
the epic, the drama was one of the artistic forms through which 
the genius of the Greek race expressed itself — by Avhich, to use 
the language of philosophical mysticism, it fulfilled its destiny as 
a prime agent in the manifestation of the World-Spirit. In their 
realization of that perfect work of art for which they seem to 
have been specially ordained, the drama was no less requisite than 
sculpture and architecture, than the epic, the ode, and the idyl. 


Two conditions, both of whicli the Greeks enjoyed in full per- 
fection at the moment of their first dramatic energy, seem to be 
requisite for the production of a great and thoroughly national 
drama. These are, first, an era of intense activity or a period 
succeeding immediately to one of excitement, by which the na- 
tion has been nobly agitated; secondly, a public worthy of the 
damatist spurring him on by its enthusiasm and intelligence to 
the creation of high works of art. A glance at the history of 
the drama in modern times will prove how necessary these con- 
ditions are.- It was the gigantic effort which we English people 
made in our struggle with Rome and Spain, it was the rousing of 
our keenest thought and profoundest emotion by the Reforma- 
tion, which prepared us for the Elizabethan drama, by far the 
greatest, next to the Greek, in literature. The nation lived in ac- 
tion, and delighted to see great actions imitated. Races in repose 
or servitude, like the Hebrews under the Roman empire, may, in 
their state of spiritual exaltation and by effort of pondering on 
the mysteries of God and man, give birth to new theosophies; but 
it requires a free and active race, in which young and turbulent 
blood is flowing, to produce a drama. In England, again, at that 
time, there was a great public. All classes crowded to the thea- 
tres. London, in whose streets and squares martyrs had been 
burned, on whose quays the pioneers of tlie Atlantic and Pacific, 
after disputing the Indies with Spain, lounged and enjoyed their 
leisure, supplied an eager audience, deligliting in the dreams of 
poets which recalled to mind the realities of their own lives, ap- 
preciating the passion of tragedy, enjoying the mirth of comic in- 
cident. The men who listened to Othello had both done and suf- 
fered largely ; their own experience was mirrored in the scenes of 
blood and struggle set before them. These two things, therefore 
— the awakening of the whole English nation to activity, and the 
presence of a free and haughty audience — made our drama great. 


In the Spanish drama only one of the requisite conditions was 
fulfilled — activity. Before they began to write plays the Span- 
iards had expelled the Moors, discovered the New World, and 
raised themselves to the first place among European nations. 
But there was not the same free audience in Spain as in Eng- 
land. Papal despotism and the tyranny of the court checked 
and coerced the drama, so that, with all its richness and imagina- 
tive splendor, the Spanish theatre is inferior to the English. The 
French drama suifered still more from the same kind of restric- 
tion. Subject to the canons of scholastic pedants, tied down to 
an imitation of the antique, made to reflect the manners and sen- 
timents of a highly artificial court, animated by the sympathies 
of no large national audience, the French playwrights became 
courtiers, artists obedient to the pleasures of a king — not, like 
the dramatists of Greece and England, the prophets of the peo- 
ple, the leaders of a chorus triumphant and rejoicing in its mighty 

Italy has no real theatre. In Italy there has been no stirring 
of a national, united spirit ; no supreme and central audience ; no 
sudden consciousness of innate force and freedom in the sover- 
eign people. The requisite conditions have always failed. The 
German drama, both by its successes and shortcomings, illustrates 
the same position. Such greatness as it achieved in Goethe and 
Schiller it owed to the fermentation of German nationality, to 
the so-called period of " storm and stress " which electrified the 
intellects of Germany and made the Germans eager to assert their 
manhood among nations. But listen to Goethe complaining that 
there was no public to receive his works ; study the petty cabals 
of Weimar; estimate the imitative and -laborious spirit of Ger- 
man art, and it is clear why Germany produced but scattered 
and imperfect results in the drama. 

The examples of England, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, all 


tend to prove that for the creation of a drama it is necessary 
that the condition of national activity should be combined with 
the condition of a national audience — not an audience of court- 
iers or critics or learned persons. In Greece, both of these 
conditions were united in unrivalled and absolute perfection. 
While in England, during the Elizabethan period, the public 
which crowded our theatres Avere uncultivated, and formed but 
a small portion of the free nation they represented, in Athens 
the people, collectively and in a body, witnessed the dramatic 
shows provided for them in the theatre of Bacchus. The same 
set of men, when assembled in the Pnyx, constituted the national 
assembly ; and in that capacity made laws, voted supplies, de- 
clared wars, ratified alliances, ruled the affairs of dependent cities. 
In a word, they were Athens. Every man among them — by in- 
tercourse with the greatest spirits of the Greek world in the ago- 
ra and porches of the wrestling-grounds, by contemplation of the 
sculptures of Pheidias, by familiarity with Eleusinian processions, 
by participation in solemn sacrifices and choric dances, by listen- 
ing to the recitations of Homer, by attendance on the lectures of 
the sophists, by debates in the ecclesia, by pleadings in the law- 
courts — had been multifariously educated and rendered capable 
of appreciating the subtleties of rhetoric and argument, as well as 
of comprehending the sesthetical beauty with which a Greek play 
was enriched. It is easy to imagine the influence which this po- 
tent, multitudinous, and highly cultivated audience must have ex- 
ercised over the dramatists, and what an impulse it must have 
communicated to their genius. In England the playwright and 
the actor were both looked down upon with pity or contempt; 
they wrote and acted for money in private speculations, and in 
rivalry with several petty theatres. In Athens the tragedian was 
honored. Sophocles was elected a general with Pericles, and a 
member of the provisional government after the dissolution of 


the old democracy. The actor, too, was respected. The State 
itself defrayed the expenses of the drama, and no ignoble compe- 
tition was possible between tragedian and tragedian, since all ex- 
hibited their plays to the same audience, in the same sacred thea- 
tre, and all were judged by the same judges. 

The critical condition of the Greek people itself at the epoch 
of the drama is worth minute consideration. During the two 
previous centuries, the whole of Hellas had received a long and 
careful education : at the conclusion came the terrible convulsion 
of the Persian war. After the decay of the old monarchies, the 
Greek states seethed for years in the process of dissolution and re- 
construction. The colonies had been founded. The aristocratic 
families had striven with the mob in every city ; and from one 
or the other poAver at times tyrants had risen to control both 
parties and oppress the commonwealth. Out of these political 
disturbances there gradually arose a sense of law, a desire for es- 
tablished constitutions. There emerged at last the prospect of 
political and social stability. Meanwhile, in all departments of 
art and literature, the Greeks had been developing their genius. 
Lyrical, satirical, and elegiac poetry had been carried to perfec- 
tion. The Gnomic poets and the Seven Sages had crystallized 
morality in apothegms. Philosophy had taken root in the col- 
onies. Sculpture had almost reached its highest point. Tlie 
Greek games, practised through nearly three hundred years, had 
created a sense of national unity. It seemed as if all the acquire- 
ments and achievements of the race had been spread abroad to 
form a solid and substantial base for some most comprehensive 
superstructure. Then, while Hellas was at this point of magnifi- 
cent but still incomplete development, there followed, first, the ex- 
pulsion of the Peisistratids from Athens, which aroused the spirit 
of that mighty nation, and then the invasion of Xerxes, which 
electrified the whole Greek world. It was this that inflamed the 


genius of Greece ; this transformed the race of thinkers, poets, art- 
ists, statesmen, into a race of heroes, actors in the noblest sense of 
tlic word. The struggle with Persia, too, gave to Athens her right 
place. Assuming the hegemony of Hellas, to which she was fore- 
destined by her spiritual superiority, she flashed in the supreme 
moment which followed the battle of Salamis into the full con- 
sciousness of her own greatness. It was now, when the Persian 
war had made the Greeks a nation of soldiers, and had placed the 
crown on Athens, that the drama — that form of art which com- 
bines all kinds of poetry in one, Avhich subordinates sculpture, 
painting, architecture, music, dancing, to its own use, and renders  
all arts subservient to the one end of action — appeared in its co- 
lossal majesty upon the Attic stage. 

At this point of history the drama was a necessary product. 
The forces which had given birth to all the other forms of art 
were still exuberant and unexhausted, needing their completion. 
At the same time, nothing but the impassioned presentation of 
humanity in action could possibly have satisfied the men who 
had themselves enacted on the plains and straits of Attica the 
greatest and most artistic drama of real history. It was one of 
the chief actors of Marathon and Salamis who composed the Pro- 
77ietheus, and personated his own hero on the stage. 

If we proceed to analyze the cardinal idea of Greek tragedy, 
we shall again observe the close connection which exists between 
the drama and the circumstances of the people at the time of its 
production. Schlegel, in his Leotures on the Drama, defines the 
prevailing idea of Greek tragedy to be the sense of an oppressive 
destiny — a fate against Avhich the will of man blindly and vainly 
dashes. This conception of hereditary destiny seems to be strong- 
ly illustrated by many plays. Orestes, Qildipus, Antigone, are un- 
able to escape their doom. Beautiful human heroism and ex- 
quisite innocence are alike sacrificed to the fatality attending an 


accursed house. Yet Schlegel has not gone far enougli in his 
analysis. He has not seen that this inflexible fate is set in mo- 
tion by a superior and anterior power, that it operates in the ser- 
vice of offended justice. When (Edipus slays his father, he does 
so in contempt of oracular warnings. Orestes, haunted by the 
Furies, has a mother's blood upon his hands, and unexpiated 
crimes of father and of grandsire to atone for. Antigone, the 
best of daughters and most loving of sisters, dies miserably, not 
dogged by Fate, but having of her own free will exposed her life 
in obedience to the pure laws of the heart. It is impossible to 
suppose that a Greek would have been satisfied with the bald 
fate-theory of Schlegel. Not fate, but Nemesis, was the ruling 
notion in Greek tragedy. A profound sense of the divine gov- 
ernment of the world, of a righteous poAver punishing pride and 
vice, pursuing the children of the guilty to the tenth generation, 
but showing mercy to the contrite — in short, a mysterious and al- 
most Jewish ideal of offended holiness pervades the whole work 
of the tragedians. This religious conception had gradually defined 
itself in the consciousness of the Greek race. Homer in both 
his epics presents us with the spectacle of crime punished. It is 
the sin of Paris and the obstinacy of the Trojan princes which 
lead to the fall of Troy. It is the insolence of the suitors in the 
Odyssetj which brings them to their death. The Cyclical poets 
seem to have dwelt on the same theme. The storm which fell 
on the Achaian fleet, dispersing or drowning the heroes, was 
a punishment for their impiety and pride during the sack of 
Troy. The madness of Ajax followed his violence upon Cassan- 
dra. When conscious moralitv beijins in Greece the idea is at 
once made prominent. Ilesiod continually insists on justice, 
whose law no man may violate unpunished. The Gnomic poets 
show how guilt, if unavenged at the moment, brings calamity 
upon the offspring of the evil-doer. This notion of an inherit- 


ance of crime is particularly noticeable, since it tinged the Avholc 
tragedy of the Greeks. Solon, again, in his dialogue w'lih. Croe- 
sus, develops another aspect of the same idea. With him the 
Deity is jealous of all towering greatness, of all insolent prosper- 
ity ;. his Nemesis punishes the pride of wealth and the lust of life. 
Some of the most prominent personages of Greek tragedy — Cre- 
on, (Edipus, Theseus, Agamemnon — illustrate this phase of the 
idea. In the sayings of the Seven Sages we trace another shade 
of the conception. All of them insist on moderation, modesty, 
the right proportion, the due mean. The lyrists take up a some- 
what different position. The vicissitudes of life, both indepen- 
dent of and connected Avith personal guilt, fascinate their imag- 
ination. They have a deep and awful sense of sudden catastro- 
phes. Pindar rises to a loftier level : his odes are pervaded by 
reverence for a holy power, before whom the insolent are forced 
to bow, by whom the humble are protected and the good re- 

Such are the traces of a doctrine of Nemesis to be found in all 
the literature of the pre-dramatic period. That very event which 
determined the sudden splendor of the drama gave a sublime and 
terrific sanction to the already existing morality. The Persian 
war exhibited the downfall of a haughty and insolent race, cut 
off in all its pomp and power. Before the eyes of the men who 
witnessed the calamities of Oedipus and Agamemnon on the stage, 
the glory of godless Asia had vanished like a dream. Thus the 
idea of Nemesis quelling the insolent and smiting the unholy was 
realized in actual history ; and to add to the impression produced 
on Greek imagination by the destruction of the Persian hosts, 
Pheidias carved his statue of Nemesis to be a monument in en- 
during marble of the national morality. ^^Eschylus erected an even 
more majestic monument to the same principle in his tragedies.* 

 The terrific lessons of the Peisian war seem to have quickened in the 

II.— 2 


Nemesis is the fundamental idea of the Greek drama. It ap 
pears strongest in ^Escliyhis, as a prophetic and awful law, mys- 
teriously felt and terribly revealed. Sophocles uses it to point 
the deep moralities which govern human life. In Euripides it 
deo-enerates into something more akin to a sense of vicissitudes: 
it becomes more sentimental — less a religious or moral principle 
than a phenomenon inspiring fear and pity. This sequence ap- 
pears to be necessary in the growth and expansion of a primitive 
idea. Rugged and superstitious at first, it is next harmonized 
and humanized, and ends at last in being merely artistic. 

In ^Eschylus the fundamental moral law of Nemesis, as a i)art 
of the divine government of the world, is set forth in three dis- 
tinct manifestations. We find it expressed mythologically, as ab- 
stract and ideal, in the Prometheus. The offence of Prometheus 
against Zeus, though unselfish and generous, must bo expiated by 
suffering; the rebellious dcmi-god must be brought at last to 
merge his will in that of Zeus, to bind his brows with the willow 
of submission, and to place upon his finger tlie iron ring of ne- 
cessity. We find it expressed typically, as still ideal and almost 
superhuman, in the Oresteia. Here a whole family is vitiated by 
the offence of their first ancestor. The hereditary curse is re- 
newed and fortified from generation to generation, by the sins of 
the children, until at last a reconciliation is effected between the 
purifying deities and the infernal powers of vengeance. In the 
Persce the same law is exhibited as a fact of contemporary his- 
tory. It is no longer a matter of mythology, as in the Prome- 
theus, or a matter of heroic legend, as in the Oresteia, but a mat- 
ter of actual experience, that the godless man should suffer and 
involve the innocent in his disaster. Thus the law of Nemesis is 
displayed as an eternal verity in the Prometheus ; and in tlie 

Greeks a spiritual sense beyond what was natural to their genius, and from 
the influence of which they speedily recovered. 



Oresteia it is actualized and humanized witliin the region of he- 
roic legend ; in the Persce it is used for the explanation of every- 
day events. The pedigree of inherited crime and vengeance, as 
explained in the choruses of the Oresteia, and as illustrated by the 
Avhole history of the Tantalida?, is this.* The pride of wealth in 
the first instance swells the heart, and inclines its possessor to un- 
godly thoughts. This leads to impiety (ro ^vcrtrsfit^), and in the 
energetic language of the jiffamemnon\ the arrogant man kicks 
Avith his heel against the altar of Justice. A state of presumptu- 
ous insolence {'vj3piQ) is the result of the original unholiness. And 
now the man, who has been corrupted in his soul, is ready for the 
commission of some signal crime. Ate, or a blindness of the rea- 

* This pedigree of the House of Tantalus — a family Uijas-tree — illustrates 
the descent of crime from generation to generation : 

Tantalus [Insolence of immense riches. 
Steals the nectar and am- 
brosia of the gods and gives 
to them Pelops to eat.] 


a bastard son, 
whom Atreus 
and Tliyestcs 

Slays Myrsilus, 
the son of 


Atrkus = J*]rope. 
In revenge upon 
Thyestes for his 
adultery, serves 
up the children 
of Thyestes to 
him at a ban- 


Incestuous with .^Erope 
and with his own daugh- 
ter Pelopia, by whom he 
has a son. 


Agamemnon = Clytemnestra. 






Orestes. Ipiiigenia. Electra. 

f Line 375 ; compare Choeph. 631, Eum. 510-514. 


son, which prevents him from foreseeing the consequences of his 
acts, is the child of this presumption. Inspired by Ate, he sheds 
the blood of his brother, or defiles his sister's bed ; and from 
this moment the seed is sown which will spring up and breed 
fresh mischief for each successive generation. After the spilling 
of blood the affair passes into the hands of the Erinnyes, whoso 
business it is to beset the house of the guilty doer. They form 
the bloody revel, which, though glutted with gore, refuse to quit 
the palace of Atreus. They leap upon it from above, and rack 
it like a tempest. Yet from their power there is escape. The 
curse of the house works ; but it works only through the impure. 
Should a man arise capable of seeing rightly and living purely, he 
may work off the curse and become free. Such a man was Ores- 
tes. The leading thought in this system of morality is that pride 
begets impiety, impiety produces an insolent habit of mind, which 
culminates in bhndness; the fruit of this blindness is crime, 
breeding crime from sire to son. It is only when t!ic righteous 
man appears, who performs an act of retributive justice, in obe- 
dience to divine mandates, and without the indulgence of any 
selfish passion, that the curse is stayed. 

y Such is a crude sketch of the ^Eschylean theory of Nemesis, 
as set forth in the great trilogy. To ^Eschylus, the presenta- 
tion of the moral law conceived by him is of even more impor- 
tance than the exhibition of the characters of men controlled by 
it. This is not the case with Sophocles. He fixes our attention 
upon the afiap-ia, or error of the guilty man, interests us m the 
qualities by which he Avas betrayed into sin, and makes us feel 
that suffering is the inevitable consequence of arrogant or wilful 
acts. The weakness of the offender is more prominent in Soph- 
ocles than the vengeance of the outraged deity. Thus, although 
there is the sternest religious background to all the tragedies 
of Sophocles, our attention is always fixed upon the humanitv 


of his heroes. The house of Labdacus is involved in hereditary 
guilt. Laius, despising an oracle, begets a son by Jocasta, and 
is slain by that son. CEdipus, in his youthful recklessness, care- 
less of oracular warnings, kills his father and weds his mother. 
Jocasta, through her levity and impiety, is hurried into marriage 
with the murderer of her husband, who is also her own son. All 
this a'udacia, or headstrong wilfulness, is punished by the descent 
of a fearful plague on Thebes ; and Qj^dipus, whose heat of tem- 
per and self-reliance are his only serious crime, is overpowered by 
the abyss of misery into which these faults have plunged his peo- 
ple and his family. The utter prostration of Qildlpus— when his 
eyes have been opened to the tissue of horrors he has woven 
round himself, his mother, his nation, and his children — is the 
first step in his moral discipline. He abdicates in favor of the in- 
solent Creon, and goes forth to Avander, an abhorred and helpless 
blind man, on the face of the earth. When, at the conclusion of 
his pariah life, the citizens of Colonus refuse him harborage, he 
only cries : " My deeds were rather sufferings than crimes." His 
old heroic haughtiness and headstrong will are tempered to a no- 
ble abhorrence of all baseness, to a fiery indignation. He has 
been purged and lessoned to humility before the throne of Zeus. 
Therefore, in return for his self-annihilation, the gods at last re- 
ceive him to their company, and constitute him a blessed daemon 
in the place of his disgrace. It was the highest triumph of tragic 
art to exhibit that new phase in the character of O^ldipus which 
marks the conclusion of the T^jramms and is sustained in the 
Coloneus. In both of these plays, G^^dipus is the same man ; but 
circumstances have so wrought upon his temper as to produce a 
great cliange. Still, the change is only commensurate with the 
force of the circumstances. AYe comprehend it, while at the same 
time we are forced to marvel at the profound skill of the poet, 
who, in the first tragedy, has presented to our eyes the hot-tem- 


percd king reduced to abject hnniiliation, and in the second has 
shown us the same man dignified, and purified by tlie dealings of 
the heavy hand of God. Set aside by his cahiniity, and severed 
from the common lot of men, Qj^dipus has submitted to the divine 
will and has communed with unseen powers. He is therefore 
now environed with a treble mystery — with the mystery of his 
awful past, the mystery of his god-conducted present, the mys- 
tery of his august future. It was by such masterly delineation 
of character that Sophocles threw the old -^schylean dogma of 
Nemesis into the background, and moralized his tragedy without 
sacrificing an iota of its religious force. Aristotle, speaking of 
the highest tragic art, says that its object is to represent an 7]Qoc, 
a permanent habit of moral temper. Careless or bad art allows 
impossible incongruities in the delineation of character, whereas 
the true poet maintains identity throughout. If this be so, Soph- 
ocles deserves the title of I'ldn^wraroQ in the very highest sense. 
As a further illustration of the divergence of Sophocles from the 
^-Eschylean dogma of Nemesis, it is worth while to mention the 
Antigone. This play takes us beyond the region of hereditary^ 
guilt into the sphere of moral casuistry ; its tragic interest de- 
pends not upon the evolution of an ancestral curse, although An- 
tigone is incidentally involved in the crime of her brothers, but 
upon the conflict of duties in a single heart. Antigone, while 
obeying the law of her conscience, is disobeying the command of 
her sovereign. She acted rightly ; yet her offence was sufficient 
to cause her legal death, and this death she chose with open eyes. 
It is in the person of Creon that the old moral of Nemesis is 
drawn. Like Oedipus, he treats the warnings of Teiresias with 
scorn, and persists in his criminal persecution of the dead Poly- 
ncices. Shaken at last by the seer's vaticinations, he rescinds his 
orders, but too late. Antigone has hanged herself in prison ; Ha3- 
mon curses his father, and stabs himself upon her corpse; Euryd- 


ice, maddened with gi'ief, puts an end to her own life ; and thus 
the house of the tyrant is left unto him desolate. It is quite im- 
possible by any phrases of mere criticism to express the admira- 
tion which every student of Sophocles must feel for the profun- 
dity of his design, for the unity of his art, and for the firmness 
with which he has combined the essential religious doctrines of 
€rreelc tragedy with his own ethical philosophy. 

In passing to Euripides we feel how much we have lost. The 
religious foundation has been broken up ; the clear intuitive mo- 
rality of Sop-hoclcs has been exchanged for sophistry, debate, hy- 
pothesis, and paradox. In the delineation of character he wavers ; 
not because he could not create well-sustained types, since Medea, 
Ilippolytus, and many other Euripidean personages display sub- 
lime and massive unity; but because, apparently owing to the 
rapid development of the dramatic art and the speculative fer- 
ment of the age in which he lived, he was more interested in the 
creation of plots and situations, in the discussion of vexed ques- 
tions, and in the critical rehandling of apparently exhausted mo- 
tives, than in the exhibition of the truly tragic ifioc. The praise 
bestowed on him by Aristotle as being rpayiKwraroc, proves that 
his contemporaries had recognized this source of both his weak- 
ness and his streno-th. 

While considering the work done by the three great tragic au- 
thors, we must not forget that the Greek dramatists adhered to a 
fixed body of legends ; the tales of the House of Atreus, of Troy, 
of the family of Laius at Thebes, of Ilerakles, of Jason, and of 
Theseus, formed the staple of the plays of ^-Eschylus, Sophocles, 
and Euripides. This fact helps to account for the early decline 
of the Greek drama. It was impossible for the successors of 
^schylus and Sophocles to surpass them in the heroic treatment 
of the same mythical motives. Yet custom and tradition, the re- 
ligious antecedents of tragedy, the cumbrous apparatus of mask 




and buskiti and Bacchic robe, tlie conventional chorus, the vast 
size of the theatre, the whole form, in fact, of Greek dramatic art, 
rendered a transition from the heroic to the romantic tragedy im- 
possible. Those fixed legends Avhich ^schylus had used as the 
framework for his religious philosophy of Nemesis and Ate, from 
■which Sophocles had drawn deep lessons of morality, had to be 
employed by Euripides as best he might. On their firmly traced, 
inflexible outlines he embroidered his own work of pathos and 
imagination, losing sight of the divine element, blurring morality, 
but producing a world of fanciful yet living shapes of sentiment 
and thought and passion. 

If we seek to comprehend the position of Euripides in relation 
to his predecessors, we must consider the changes which had taken 
place in Athens between the period of the Persian war and that 
in which he flourished. All the mutations of Greek history were 
accomplished with celerity ; but in this space of less than half a 
century the rate of progress was nothing less than marvellous, 
and the evolution of the Attic drama through its three great tra- 
gedians was accomplished with a rapidity which is quite miracu- 
lous. ^'Eschylus gained his first prize in 484 B.C., Sophocles his 
first in 468 B.C., Euripides his first in 441 B.C. The Medea of 
Euripides, a play which exhibits all the innovations of its author, 
appeared in 431 B.C. Therefore a period of fifty -three years suf- 
ficed for the complete development of the greatest work of art 
the world has ever witnessed. The history of our own stage 
offers a parallel to this extraordinary rapidity of growth. Mar- 
lowe produced his Tamburlaine in 1590, Ford his Lover's Melan- 
choly in 1628: between these two dates — that is to say, within 
the compass of thirty-eight years — were composed all the plays 
of Marlowe, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Mas- 
singer, Webster, Hey wood. Decker, Marston, Chapman, Middle- 
ton, and others whom it would be tedious to mention. Halliwell's 


Dictionari/ of Old English Plays contains two hundred and ciglity 
closely printed pag'es ; yet very few of the pieces he enumerates 
are subsequent to what we call Elizabethan. But, though our 
drama, in respect of fertility, offers a parallel to that of Athens, 
we can show no three poets of paramount genius corresponding 
to ^Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, each of whom would have 
been sufficient by himself to mark a century in the growth of the 
genius of his nation. Between ^Eschylus and Sophocles there is 
a wide chasm in religion, politics, and art ; between Sophocles 
and Euripides, again, there is a chasm in religion, politics, art, and 
philosophy. Yet Sophocles, after superseding ^Eschylus, lived to 
put on mourning for the death of Euripides. Some of the men 
of Marathon yet remained when Aristophanes was writing, both 
to point his moral against Euripides, and also to prove by con- 
trast with the generation that had grown up since how impossi- 
ble it was for the poet of the present to vie with the ^schylus 
of the past. In the first place, Athens had become the centre of 
progressive thought. Teachers of rhetoric and reasoning made 
her wrestling-grounds and gardens the scene of their disputes and 
lectures. The arts of eloquence were studied by the youth who 
in a previous age had been contented with Homer, At Athens, 
Anaxagoras had questioned the divinity of Helios, and had as- 
serted reason to be the moving force of the universe. Sophists 
who taught the arts of life for money, and philosophers who sub- 
jected morals to ingenious analysis, and explained away on scien- 
tific princi{)les the ancient myths of Greek nature-worship, com- 
bined to disturb ethical and religious traditions. A more solid, 
because more reasoned, morality was springing up perhaps. A 
purer monotheism was being inculcated. But meanwhile the old 
Hellenic customs and the fabric of mythic theology were under- 
mined. It could not be but that the poet of the day should par- 
ticipate in these changes. In the second place, the Athenian pop- 


ulace liad grown to be supreme in two departments — the liis^li 
parliament of State and the law-courts. Every Athenian was now 
far more than formerly an orator or judge of orators, an advocate 
or judge of advocates. Two passions possessed the popular mind : 
the passion for the assembly Avith its stormy debate and pom- 
pous declamation ; the passion for the dikastery with its personal 
interests, its problems of casuistical law, its momentous tragedies 
of private life, its studied eloquence. Talking and listening were 
the double function of an Athenian citizen. To speak -well on 
every subject, so as to gain causes in the courts, and to persuade 
the people in the Pnyx ; to criticise speeches with acumen, so as 
not to be deluded by specious arguments : these Avere the prime 
accomplishments of an Athenian youth of pi'omise. It is obvious 
\ that a very peculiar audience was thus formed for the tragedian 
I —an audience greedy of intellectual subtleties, of pathetic situa- 
\ tions, of splendid oratoiy, of clever reasoning — an audience more 
appreciative of the striking than the true, of the novel than the 
natural. In the third place, the Athenians had waxed delicate 
and wanton since the Persian war. When ^^schylns began to 
write, the peril of utter ruin hung like a stone of Tantalus over 
Hellas. That removed, the Greeks breathed freely. The Athe- 
nians, growing in wealth and power, neglected the old modera- 
tion of their ancestors. Youths Avho in earlier days would have 
fared hardly now drove their chariots, backed their fighting-cocks, 
and followed their own sweet will. Aristotle quaintly enough ob- 
serves that the flute had become fashionable after the expulsion 
of the Persians. The poet of the day could no longer be austere 
like ^schylus or sedate like Sophocles. 

In all these changes Euripides partook. The pupil in rhetoric 

of Prodicus, in philosophy of Anaxagoras and Heraclitus, a book- 

1 collector, a student of painting, the friend of Socrates, cultivated 

1 in all innovations of morality and creed, Euripides belonged es- 


sentially to his own day. As far as a tragic dramatist can be 
the mouthpiece of his age, Euripides was the mouthpiece of 
Athenian decline. For this reason, because he so exactly ex- 
pressed the feelings and opinions of his time, which feelings and 
opinions produced a permanent national habit of mind, Euripides 
became the darling of posterity. ^Eschylus was the Titanic prod- 
uct of a bygone period ; Sophocles displayed the pure and per- 
fect ideal ; but Euripides was the artist who, without improving 
on the spirit of his age, gave it a true and adequate expression. 
The only wonder is that during his lifetime Euripides was not 
more popular at Athens. His comparative neglect proves him to 
have been somewhat in advance of his century, and justifies Aris- 
tophanes in the reproach that he anticipated the Athenians in 
the break-up of their forms of thought. 

At this point we may consider the condition of the tragic art 
when Euripides took it up as the business of his life. Though 
tragedy, as formed by ^schylus, represented one true and im- 
portant aspect of Greek thought — the religious — yet it could 
never have been adequate to the life of the whole nation in the 
same degree as the many-sided drama of Shakespeare, for ex- 
ample, was to that of our Elizabethan ancestors. Its regularity 
and solemnity tended to make it an ideal work of art. It might 
arouse the religious feeling, the national pride, the enthusiasm for 
a legendary past, which were so powerful among the Athenians 
of the Marathonian epoch. But it could not have had much at- 
traction for the Athenians of the Syracusan expedition. As men 
subject to the divine rule, indeed, it had a message fraught with 
meaning for them ; but as Athenians of to-day it did not touch 
them. We can well believe that this lofty, ceremonious art fa- 
tigued a large portion of the Attic audience. After having lis- 
tened to some seventy plays of ^schylus and fifty of Sophocles, 
not to mention Phrvnichus and Choerilus, and scores of minor 



dramatists, all teaching the same religious morality, and all obey- 
ing the same testhetic principles, we can conceive that a merry 
Greek began to long for novelty. It must have required the su- 
preme genius of a Sophocles to sustain the attention of the au- 
dience at its ancient altitude. In the hands of inferior poets, the 
tragic commonplaces must have appeared insipid. Some change 
seemed absolutely necessary. Euripides, a poet of very distin- 
guished originality, saw that he must adapt his dramatic style to 
the new requirements of his audience, and give them what they 
liked, even though it were not good for them. The sophistic 
arguments, the strained situations, the law-court pleadings, the 
pathetic touches, the meretricious lyrics, the philosophical expla- 
nations, the sententious epigrams, the theatrical effects, which 
mar his tragedies, were deliberate innovations on the old pure 
style. Euripides had determined to bring tragedy home to the 
hearts and understandings of the spectators. All the peculiarities 
of his art flow from this one aim. This is the secret of what 
may be described as his romantic realism, his twofold appeal to 
sympathy by the invention of startling incident and by the faith- 
ful delineation of vulgar life and common character. "Whether 
he did not pursue this aim on a false method, whether he might 
not have aroused the sympathies of his audience without debas- 
ing tragedy, remains a fit matter for debate. 

Entirely to eliminate the idea of Nemesis, which gave its char- 
acter to Greek tragedy, was what Euripides, had he been so in- 
clined, could hardly have succeeded in effecting. Though he 
never impresses on our minds the dogma of an avenging deity, 
like ^Eschylus, or of an inevitable law, like Sophocles, he makes 
us feel the chance and change of human life, the helplessness of 
man, the stormy sea of passions, sorrows, and vicissitudes on 
which the soul is tossed. Conventional phrases about modera- 
tion in all things, retributive justice, and the like, are used to 


keep up the old tragic form. In this way he brought tragedy 
down to the level of real life, wherein we do not trace the visible 
finger of Providence, but where all seems at least confusion to 
the natural eye. Euripides no more than Shakespeare sought 
to be a prophet or interpreter of the divine operations. In the 
same spirit he treated his materials with freedom. Adhering 
conventionally, and as a form of art, to the mythical legends of 
Hellas — that charmed circle beyond Avhich the tragic muse had 
never strayed — he adapted them to his own purposes. He gave 
new characters to the principal heroes,* mixed up legendary in- 
cidents with trivial domestic scenes, lowered the language of 
demi-gods to current Greek talk, hazarded occasional scepticism, 
and introduced familiar phrases into ceremonious debates. The 
sacred character of the myths disappeared ; Euripides used them 
as so many masses of entertaining folklore and fiction, fit for 
tragic handling. In some instances, as, for example, in the Ion 
and the ending of the Hippohjtus, he may even have intended 
an attack upon the ethics they had sanctioned. When we hear 
Achilles and Orestes talking like Athenian citizens, wrangling, 
perorating, subtilizing, seeking victory in strife of words, trifling 
with questions of profoundest import, and settling moral prob- 
lems by verbal quibbles, we understand the remark of Sophocles 
that he had painted men as they ought to be, Euripides as they \/ 
arc. Medea and Alcestis are not the mythical Medea or the le- 
gendary queen of Phera?, but an injured wife, and a devoted wife, 
just such as Shakespeare or Balzac might have depicted. Mene- 
laus is invariably a faint-hearted, smooth-spoken, treasonable, 
uxorious, vain man. Only in the Helena, when fairly driven to 
bay, does he show the pluck of a soldier. Nothing can be more 
contemptible than the Agamemnon of TpMgenia in Aulide. He 
is a feeble, double-minded dastard, who has aspired to the com- 
* Very notable in this respect is his consistent degradation of Ulysses. 



niandersliip in chief from motives of vulgar ambition, and who 
finds himself unable to hold his own against cabal and mutiny. 
This is perhaps a development of the Homeric conception, but 
with all the Homeric radiance, the dignity that shields a monarch 
from disgrace, omitted. But unfortunately for this attempt to 
make Greek tragedy more real and living, more representative 
of the actual world, the cothurnus, the mask, the chorus, the 
thymelo, the gigantic stage, remained. All the cumbrous para- 
phernalia of tlae JEsehylean theatre environed the men and wom- 
en of Euripides, who cut but a poor figure in the garb of demi- 
gods. In trying to adapt the mould of Greek tragedy to real 
life, Euripides overpassed the limits of possibility. The mould 
broke in his hands. 

The same inevitable divergence from the ^^schylean system 
is observable in every department of the tragedy of Euripides. 
AVhile Sophocles had diminished the direct interposition of mys- 
terious airencies, so frequently invoked by ^Eschvlus, and had 
interested his audience in human character controlled and tem- 
pered by an unseen will of God, Euripides went further. With 
him the affairs of life are no longer based upon a firm foundation 
of divine law, but gods intervene mechanically and freakishly, 
like the magicians in Ariosto or Tasso.* Their agency is valu- 
able, not as determining the moral conduct of the personages, 
but as an exhibition of supernatural power which brings about 
a sudden revolution of events. Independently of their mirac- 
ulous activity, the human agents display all varieties of charac- 
ter : every shade of virtue and vice is delicately portrayed ; pa- 
thetic scenes are multiplied ; the tendernesses of domestic life 

* Exception must be made in favor of the Hippohjins and the Bacchte, 
where the whole action of the play and the conduct of the persons are de- 
termined by the influences of Aphrodite and Dionysus. Tlie same excep- 
tion, but for other reasons, may be made in favor of the Ion. 



are brought prominently forward ; mixed motives and conflicting 
passions are skilfully analyzed. Consequently the plays of Eu- 
ripides arc more rich in stirring incidents than those of his pred- 
ecessors. What we lose in gravity and unity is made up for 
by versatility. Euripides, to use a modern phrase, is more Sen- 
sational than either .^Eschylus or Sophocles, Aristotle called him 
TpayiKwTaroc, by which he probably meant that he w^as most pro- 
fuse of touching and exciting scenes. 

The same tendencies strike us in the more formal department 
of the tragic art. Here, as elsewhere, Euripides moves a step be- 
yond Sophocles, breaking the perfection of poetic harmony for 
the sake of novelty and effect. Euripides condescended to stage 
tricks. It is well known how Aristophanes laughed at him for 
the presentation of shabby-genteel princes and monarchs out-at- 
elbow.* Having no deep tragic destiny for the groundwork of y 

his drama, he sought to touch the spectators by royalty in ruins 
and wealth reduced to beggary. Tiie gorgeous scenic shows in 
which ^schylus had delighted, but which he had invariably sub- 
ordinated to his subject, and which Sophocles, with the tact of a 
supreme master in beauty, had managed to dispense with, were 
lavished by Euripides. One play of his, the Troades, has abso- 
lutely no plot. Such attraction as it possesses it owes to the 
rapid succession of pathetic situations and splendid scenes, the 
whole closing with the burning of the towers of Troy. 

By curtailing the function of the Chorus, Euripides separated 
from the action of the drama that element which in ^schylus 
had been chiefly useful for the inculcation of the moral of the 
play. On the other hand, by expanding the function of the 
Messenger he was able to indulge his faculty for brilliant de- 
scription. It has been well said, that the ear and not the eye 

* Hecuba, f 01- example, in hor play; Eleetra in liers ; Menelaus in the 


was the chosen vehicle of pathos to the Greeks. This remark is 
fully justified by the narrative passao'es in the plays of Euripides 
— passau'cs of poetry unsurpassed for radiance, swiftness, strength, 
pictorial effect. The account of the Bacchic revels among the 
mountains of Cithaeron, and of the death of Pentheus in the 
Bacchcc, that of the death of Glauke in Medea, and of Hippol- 
ytus in the play that bears his name, that of the sacrifice of 
Polyxena in the Hccuha, that of Orestes and Pyladcs laying 
hands on Helen in the Orestes, and many others, prove with 
what consummate skill the tliird of the great tragic poets seized 
i;pon a field within the legitimate province of his art as yet but 
imperfectly occupied by his predecessors. 

Another novelty was the use of the prologue. Here, again, 
Euripides expanded the already existing elements in Greek trag- 
edy beyond their power of enduring the strain he put upon them. 
In their drama the Greek poets did not aim at surprise ; the 
spectators were expected to be familiar beforehand with the sub- 
ject of the play. But Avhen the plot became more complicated 
and the incidents more varied under the hands of Euripides, a 
prologue was the natural expedient, in perfect harmony with the 
stationary character of Greek tragedy, for placing the audience 
;it the point of view intended by the poets. 

The solution of the tragic situation by the intervention of a 
god at the conclusion of the play, familiarly known as the dcus 
ex machina, was too frequently adopted by Euripides. The 
speeches of these divine beings are always foi-mal and uninter- 
esting. Their interference is felt to be mechanical, and the set- 
tlement of human difficulties effected by them leaves an inefface- 
able impression of littleness. It reminds us of that pinch of 
dust upon the warring hive which Virgil described Avith exqui- 
site irony. The dcus ex machina existed potentially in previous 
Greek tragedy, and Euripides is less to be blamed fur the cm- 


ployment of this device than for tlie abuse of it. He did not 
take enough pains to prepare for the appearance of the deity by 
dramatic motives, and lie had recourse to it too often. It is 
probable that the theatrical effect gratified his audience, and pre- 
vented them from calling in question the artistic justilication of 
so novel and exciting a stage spectacle. 

In all these changes it will be evident that Euripides, wisely 
or unwisely, obtained originality by carrying his art beyond the 
point which it had reached under his predecessors. Using a 
simile, we might compare the drama of ^Eschylus to the sub- 
lime but rugged architecture which is called Norman, that of 
Sophocles to the most refined and perfect pointed style, that of 
Euripides to a highly decorated — florid and flamboyant — man- 
ner, ^schylus aimed at durability of structure, at singleness 
and grandeur of effect. Sophocles added the utmost elegance 
and finish. Euripides neglected force of construction and unity 
of design for ornament and brilliancy of effect. But he added 
something of his own, something infinitely precious and endur- 
ingly attractive. The fault of his style consisted in a too ex- 
clusive attention to the parts. We are also often made to feel 
that he fails by not concentrating his whole strength upon the 
artistic motives of his plays. He has too many side-thrusts at 
political and ethical questions, too many speculative and critical 
digressions, too much logomachy and metaphysical debate. 

The object of the foregoing remarks has been to show how 
and to what extent Euripides departed from the form and essence 
of Greek tragedy. It may sound paradoxical now to assert that 
it was a merit in him rather than a defect to have sacrificed the 
unity of art to the development of subordinate beauties. Yet it 
seems to me that in no other Avay could the successor of ^^schy- 
lus and Sophocles have made himself the true exponent of his 
age, have expanded to the full the faculties still latent in Greek 

IT.— 3 



traged}', or have failed to " aflfect the fame of an imitator." The 
law of inevitable progression in art, from the severe and animated 
embodiment of an idea to the conscious elaboration of merely 
aesthetic motives and brilliant episodes, has hitherto been neglect- 
ed by the critics and historians of poetry. They do not observe 
that the first impulse in a people towards creativeness is some 
/ deep and serious emotion, some fixed point of religious enthusi- 
asm or national pride. To give adequate form to this taxes the 
energies of the first generation of artists, and raises their poetic 
faculty, by the admixture of prophetic inspiration, to the highest 
pitch. After the original passion for the ideas to be embodied in 
art has somewhat subsided, but before the glow and fire of enthu- 
siasm have faded out, there comes a second period, when art is 
studied more for art's sake, but when the generative potency of 
1^ the earlier poets is by no means exhausted. For a moment the 
artist at this juncture is priest, prophet, hierophant, and charmer, 
all in one. More conscious of the laws of beauty than his prede- 
cessors, he, makes some sacrifice of the idea to meet the require- 
. mcnts of pure art ; but he never forgets that beauty by itself is 
insufficient to a great and perfect work, nor has he lost his inter- 
est in the cardinal conceptions which vitalize the most majestic 
poetry. During the first and second phases which I have indi- 
cated, the genius of a nation throws out a number of masterpieces 
— some of them rough-hewn and Cyclopean, others perfect in 
their combination of the streno-th of thouijht with o^race and ele- 
vated beauty. But the mine of ideas is exhausted. The national 
taste has been educated. Conceptions which were novel to the 
grandparents have become the intellectual atmosphere of the 
grandchildren. It is now impossible to return upon the past — to 
gild the refined gold, or to paint the lily of the supreme poets. 
Their vigor may survive in their successors ; but their inspiration 
has taken form forever in their poems. What, then, remains for 



the third generation of artists? They have cither to reproduce 
their models — and this is stifling to true genius ; or they have to 
seek novelty at the risk of impairing the strength or the beauty 
which has become stereotyped. Less deeply interested in the 
great ideas by which they have been educated, and of which they 
are in no sense the creators, incapable of competing on the old 
ground with their elders, they are obliged to go afield for striking 
situations, to force sentiment and pathos, to subordinate the har- 
mony of the whole to the melody of the parts, to sink the proph- 
et in the poet, the hierophant in the charmer. 

This law of sequence is widely applicable. It will be seen to 
control the history of all uninterrupted artistic dynasties. Greek 
sculpture, for example, passes from the austere, through the per- 
fect, to the simply elegant. The artist of the ^ginetan pediment 
was wholly intent upon the faithful representation of heroic inci- 
dents. The event filled his mind: he sought to express it as en- 
ergetically as he could. Pheidias stands on the ground of accom- 
plished art. The mythus selected for treatment is developed 
with perfect fidelity, but also with regard to ajsthetical effect. 
Praxiteles neglects the event, the substance of the mythus. His 
interest in that has languished, and has been supplanted by enthu- 
siasm for mere forms of beauty. He lavishes a Pheidian Avealth 
cf genius on separate figures and situations of no great import ex- 
cept for their consummate loveliness. In architecture, the gene- 
alogy of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders points to the 
same law. Take another instance from modern painting. Giotto, 
Raphael, Correggio, differ less perhaps in actual calibre than in 
relative historical position. Giotto, intent upon the fundamental 
ideas of Christian mythology, determines to express them forcibly, 
faithfully, earnestly, without regarding aught but the best method 
of investing them with harmony, lucidity, and dignity. Raphael 
ascends a step, and combines the strength and purity of Giotto 


witli elaborate beauty and classic finish of style. Correggio at his 
appearance finds all the great work done. The Christian niythus 
has been adequately set forth by his predecessors. lie is driven 
to become the thauniaturgist of chiaroscuro, the audacious vio- 
lator of unity in composition, the supreme painter of erotic para- 
dise. Further development of the religious idea beyond that 
achieved by Raphael was impossible. Already in Raphael's work 
a compromise between religious austerity and pagan grace had 
been observable. The simplicity of Giotto was gone beyond re- 
capture. Correggio could only be original by carrying onward to 
its ultimate perfection the element of beauty for its own sake in- 
troduced by Raphael. Like Euripides, Correggio was condemned 
to the misfortune of separating beauty from the idea, the body 
from the spirit. AVith them the forces inherent in the germs of 
their respective arts were exhausted. But those who rightly un- 
derstand them must, we imagine, be prepared to accept with grat- 
itude the existence of Correggio and Euripides, both as comple- 
menting Giotto and ^Eschylus, and also as accounting for the me- 
ridian splendor of Sophocles and Raphael. Without the cadence 
of Euripivlcs the majestic aria of Sophocles would hardly be play- 
ed out. By studying the Correggiosity of Correggio we compre- 
hend how much of mere aesthetic beauty is held in solution in the 
work of Raphael. It is thus, as it were, that, like projectiles, arts 
describe their parabolas and end. 

To return in detail to the Greek tragedians, ^schylus deter- 
mines at all hazards to exhibit the chosen mythus in its entirety, 
and to give full prominence to his religious idea. Hence we have 
to put up with much that is tedious — a whole Choephoroe, for ex- 
ample. But hence the unrivalled majesty of the Agamemnon. 
Sophocles manipulates his subject more artistically, so as to make 
it harmonious without losing sight of its internal source of unity. 
But he already begins to disintegrate the colossal work of JEs 


chylus — notably in his separation of the trilogy and in liis mor- 
alizing of the idea of Nemesis. With Euripides the disintegra- 
tion is complete. He neglects the mythus altogether. The the- 
osophy of ^schylus, always implicit in Sophocles, survives as a 
mere conventionality in the Avork of Euripides. Finally, like Prax- 
iteles, he carves single statues of eminent beauty ; like Correggio, 
he conceals his poverty of design beneath a mass of redundant 
elegance. AVhat we have really to regret in the art of Euripides 
is that he should have endeavored to compete at all with yEschy- 
lus and Sophocles upon the old ground of the talcs of Thebes and 
Troy. Where he breaks new ground, as in the Medea, the Hip- 
polytus, and the Bacchce, he proves himself a consummate master. 
Hei'e the novelty of his method shocks no sense of traditional 
propriety. He is not driven to flippant paradox or sarcastic scep- 
ticism in dealing with time-honored myths, or to travesties of 
wellmarked characters, in order to assert his individuality. These 
plays exhibit a complete unity of outward form, and a profound 
internal unity of passion and character. They are not surpassed 
in their own kind by anything that any other poet had produced ; 
and if " the chef-d' oeuvre be adequate to the chef-cV oeuvre,^'' Eurip- 
ides may here be pronounced the rival of Sophocles and Shake- 

To enter into an elaborate analysis of Euripides as a poet would 
be beyond the scope of this essay, which has for its subject the 
relation of the third great dramatist to his predecessors and to 
Greek tragedy in general. Yet something must be added to jus- 
tify the opinion just expressed, that, though Euripides suffered by 
the constraint under which he labored in competition with rivals 
who had nearly exhausted the resources of the tragic art, yet he 
displays beauties of his own of such transcendent merit as to place 
him in the first rank of the poets of the world. It would be a 
delightful task to attempt to do him justice in the teeth of a ma- 



levolent generation of critics, led by Schlegel and Miiller, who do 
not understand him — to summon from the sliadows of the Attic 
stage the "magnificent Avitch" Medea, pure-souled Polyxena, wife- 
ly Alcestis, fiery-hearted Phaidra, chaste and cold Hippolytus, An- 
dromache upon her chariot a royal slave, Orestes in his agony 
soothed by a sister's ministrations, the sunny piety of Ion, the 
self-devotion of Menoikeus — intermingling perchance these pict- 
ured forms, pure, statuesque and clear as frescos from Pompeii, 
with choric odes and exquisite descriptions. The lyrics of Eurip- 
ides are among the choicest treasures of Greek poetry : they flow 
like mountain rivulets flashing with sunbeams, eddying in cool, 
sliady places, rustling through leaves of mint, forget -me -not, 
marsh-marigold, and dock. His landscapes are most vivid : in 
ancient poetry there is nothing to compete with the pictures of 
Citha3ron, where the Bacchantes lie limb-length beneath the sil- 
ver-firs, their snakes asleep, and the mountain air ruffling their 
loose curls ; or with the cave of Polyphemus, where the satyrs 
lead their flocks from pasture up the valley between stone-pine 
and chestnut-tree to the lawns that overhang dark purple sea- 
waves. In the department of the picturesque Euripides is unri- 
valled. His paintings have the truth to nature, the delicately 
modulated outline, and the facile grace of the most perfect bass- 
reliefs or frescos. 

But to attempt this labor of criticism would be to write a book 
upon Euripides. It must be enough in this place to illustrate one 
quality which occupies a large space in the dramatic ethics of Eu- 
ripides, and forms the motive of the action of his leading charac- 
ters. The old religious basis of Nemesis having been virtually 
abandoned by him, Euripides fell back upon the morality of pas- 
sions and emotions. For his cardinal virtue he chose Avhat the 
Greeks call tvil^vyia, stoutheartedness, pluck in the noblest sense 
of the word — that temper of the soul which prepared the individ- 


ual to sacrifice himself for the State, and to triumph in pain or 
death or dogged endurance rather than give way to feebler in- 
stincts. That this quality should be prominent in Euripides is 
not without significance. Not only did it enable him to construct 
most thrilling scenes : it also harmonized with the advancing ten- 
dencies of Greek philosophy, which already held within itself the 
germs of Stoicism — or the theory of Kaprepla.* But in his dra- 
matic handling of the motive he softened its harder outlines by 
touches of exquisite unselfishness, converting adamantine firmness 
into almost tremulous devotion. One of the most pathetic exhi- 
bitions of this virtue occurs in the PhoenisscB. The Seven Cap- 
tains are beleaguering Thebes, and affairs are going ill with the 
garrison. Teircsias, however, prophesies that if Creon's son, Me- 
noikeus, will kill himself, Thebes must triumph. Creon accepts 
the prophecy, but seeks to save his son ; he sends for Menoikeus 
and instructs him how he may escape to Dodona. Menoikeus 
pretends to agree with what his father counsels, and, after true 
Euripidean fashion, sends Creon to get his journey-money. Then 
the boy, left alone upon the stage, turns to the Chorus and begins 
his speech : 

How well have I my father's fears allayed 
With fraudulent words to compass my own will ! 
Lo, he would filch me hence, with shame to me, 
Loss to my fatherland. An old man's heart 

* It may be questioned whether a Dorian type of character was not in the 
mind of Euripides when he constructed his ideal of feminine heroism. What 
Plutarch in the life of Cleomenes says of Cratesiclea and the wife of Panteus 
reads like a commentary on the tragedies of Macaria, Polyxma^ and Iphigenia. 
Xenophon's partiality for the Spartans indicates the same current of sympa- 
thy. Philosophical analysis was leading up to an eclectic Hellenism, yet the 
Euripidean study of Hermione seems intended as a satire on the Lacedsemo- 
nian women. 



Deserves some pity. — What pity can I claim 

If I betray the laud that gave me birth ? 

Know then that I shall go and save the state, 

Giving my life and dying for this land. 

For this is shameful ; if beneath no ban 

Of oracles, bound by no force of fate, 

But standing to their shields, men dare to die 

Under the ramparts of the town they love ; 

While I, untrue to brother and to sire, 

And to my country, like a felon slink 

Far hence in exile ! Lo, where'er I roam, 

All men would call me coward ! By great Zeus, 

Wlio dwells among the stars, by bloody Ares, 

Who made the dragon-seed in days of old 

Lords of the land, I swear this shall not be ! 

But I will go, and on the topmost towers 

Standing, will dash into the murky den 

Where couched the dragon, as the prophet bade. 

Thus will I free my country. I have spoken. 

See, then, I leave you : it is no mean gift 

In death I give the city ; but my land 

I purge of sickness. If all men were bold 

Of their good things to work the public weal, 

I ween our towns had less of ills to bear, 

And more of blessings for all days to be. 

With the PhoenisscB in our hands, one other passage may be 
translated wliich displays the power possessed by Euripides of 
composing a dramatic picture, and presenting pathos to the eye. 
Eteocles and Polyneices have been wounded to the death. Jocas- 
ta, their mother, and Antigone, their sister, go forth to the battle- 
field to find them : 

Then rushed their wretched mother on the twain ; 
And seeing them thus wounded unto death, 
Wailed : " my sons ! too late, too late I come 
To succor you !" Then, clasping them by turns, 


She wept aud mourned the long toil of her breasts, 
Groaning ; and by her side their sister groaned : 
" ye who should have been my mother's stay 
In age, 0, thoughtless of my maiden years 
Unwedded, dearest brothers !" From his chest 
Heaving a heavy breath, King Eteocles heard 
His, mother, and stretched forth a cold damp hand 
On hers, and nothing said, but with his eyes 
Spake to her by his tears, showing kind thoughts 
In symbols. Then the other, who still breathed, 
Looked at his sister, and the queen, and said, 
" We have perished, mother ! yea, I pity thee. 
And this my sister, and my brother dead ; 
For dear he was — my foe — and yet was dear. 
Bury me, my mother, and thou, too, 
Sweet sister, in my father's land, I pray ; 
And close my dying eyelids with thy hand. 
Mother !" — Upon his eyes he placed her hand — 
" And fare you well ! Now darkness clips me round." 
Then both breathed out their weary life together. 
But the queen, when she saw this direful end, 
Maddened with anguish drew the dead man's sword. 
And wrought things horrible ; for through her throat 
She thrust the blade ; and on her dearest falling 
Dies, and lies stretched, clasping both in her arms. 

But to return to the virtue of evxpvxla- The play of Hecuba 
contains a still more touching picture of lieroism in death than 
that displayed by Menoikeus. Troy has been taken. Ulysses is 
sent by the Greeks to inform Hecuba that her daughter Polyxena 
must be sacrificed. Hecuba reminds him how in former days he 
had come disguised as a spy to Troy, and how she had recognized 
him, and, at his strong entreaty, spared him from discovery. In 
return for this, let him now spare her daughter. Frigidly and 
politely Ulysses replies, " True, lady, a life for a life. You saved 
mine, I would do something to save yours ; but your daughter is 


quite another person. I have not the pleasure of having received 
benefits from her. 1 must trouble her to follow me." Then 
Polvxena breaks silence : 

I see tliec, how beneath thy robe, king, 
Thy hand is hidden, thy face turned from mine, 
Lest I should touch tliee by the beard and pray. 
Fear not : thou hast escaped the god of prayers 
For my part. I will rise and follow thee, 
Driven by strong need ; yea, and not loath to die. 
Lo ! if I should not seek death, I were found 
A cowardly, life-loving, selfish soul ! 
For why should I live ? Was my sire not king 
Of all broad Phrygia ? Thus my life began ; 
Then was I nurtured on fair bloom of hope 
To be the bride of kings ; no small the suit, 
I ween, of lovers seeking me : thus I 
Was once — ah, woe is me ! of Idan dames 
Mistress and queen, 'mid maidens like a star 
Conspicuous, peer of gods, except for death ; 
And now I am a slave : this name alone 
Makes me in love with death — so strange it is. 

Sheer contempt of life, when life has to be accepted on dishonor- 
able terms, is the virtue of Polyxena. But, so far, though we 
may admire her fortitude, we have not been touched by her mis- 
fortune. Euripides reserves the pathos, after his own fashion, for 
a picture. TaUhybius, the herald, is telling Hecuba how her 

daughter died 

The whole vast concourse of the Achaian host 
Stood round the tomb to see your daughter die. 
Achilleus' sou taking her by the hand, 
Placed her upon the mound, and I stayed near ; 
And youths, the flower of Greece, a chosen few. 
With hands to check tliy heifer, should she bound, 
Attended. From a cup of carven gold, 


Raised full of wine, Achilleus' sou poured forth 

Libation to his sire, and bade me sound 

Silence throughout the whole Achaian host. 

I, standing there, cried in the midst these words : 

" Silence, Achaians ! let the host be still ! 

Hush, hold your voices !" Breathless stayed the crowd ; 

But he : " son of Peleus, father mine, 

Take these libations pleasant to thy soul. 

Draughts that allure the dead : come, drink the black 

Pure maiden's blood wherewith the host and I 

Sue thee : be kindly to us ; loose our prows, 

And let o>ir barks go free ; give safe return 

Homeward from Troy to all, and happy voyage." 

Such words he spake, and the crowd prayed assent. 

Then from the scabbard, by its golden hilt. 

He drew the sword, and to the chosen youths 

Signalled that they should bring the maid ; but she. 

Knowing her hour was come, spake thus, and said : 

"0 men of Argus who have sacked my town, 

Lo, of free will 1 die ! let no man touch 

My body : boldly will I stretch my throat. 

Nay, but I pray you set me free, then slay ; 

That free I thus may perish : 'mong the dead. 

Being a queen, I blush to be called slave." 

The people shouted, and King Agamemnon 

Bade the youths loose the maid, and set her free : 

She, when she heard the order of the chiefs, 

Seizing her mantle, from the shoulder down 

To the soft centre of her snowy waist 

Tore it, and showed her lireasts and bosom fair 

As in a statue. Bending then with knee 

On earth, she spake a speech most piteous : 

" See you this breast, oh ! youth, if breast you will, 

Strike it ; take heart : or if beneath my neck, 

Lo ! here my throat is ready for your sword !" 

He willing not, yet willing, pity-stirred 

In sorrow for the maiden, with his blade 


Severed the channels of lier breath : blood flowed ; 

And she, though dying, still had thought to fall 

In seemly wise hiding what eyes should see not. 

But when she breathed her life out from the blow, 

Then was the Argive host in divers way 

Of service parted ; for some bringing leaves, 

Strewed them upon the corpse ; some piled a pyre, 

Dragging pine trunks and boughs ; and he who bore none, 

Heard from the bearers many a bitter word : 

" Standest thou, villain ? Hast thou then no robe. 

No funeral honors for the maid to bring ? 

Wilt thou not go and get for her who died 

Most nobly, bravest-souled, some gift ?" Thus they 

Spake of thy child in death : " thou most blessed 

Of women in thy daughter, most undone !" 

The quality of eh^pvxta which we have seen in Menoikeus and 
Polyxena is displayed by Macarla in the HeracleidcB and by Iphi- 
genia in the last scene of her tragedy at Anils. Iphigenla in this 
play ranks justly as the most beautiful of Euripldean characters, 
and as the most truly feminine among the heroines of the Greek 
drama. Her first appearance on the stage enlists our sympathy, 
when she seems to welcome her father — the father whom we know 
to be ignobly and deceitfully planning her death — with the ten- 
derest words of girlish greeting. Landor, in his celebrated dia- 
logue between Agamemnon and his daughter, on the shores of 
Lethe, was mindful of this passage. But in that masterly study 
of Greek style he added a new element of pathos. Iphigenia has 
already drunk the waters of oblivion, and all the anguish of tlie 
past, her father's treachery, and the bending of his will in base 
compliance with a barbarous superstition, has been forgotten. 
Meanwhile Agamemnon has not only his daughter's wrongs upon 
his conscience, but Clytemnestra's adultery and vengeance, the 
price he paid for his old crime, are still hot in his memory. 


Therefore the situation is more complex in the modern poem. At 
Aulis, Iphigenia is but the loved child of a weak man, who has to 
return her pretty speeches and caresses with constrained phrases 
hiding a hideous meaning-. When the truth is at last made known 
to her, she pleads passionately for life. " Had I the tongue of 
Orpheus," she cries in her agony, " I would melt your heart to 
pity, father, with my words. But now my only eloquence is 
tears. I was the first who called you father, the first you called 
your child ; the first who sat upon your knees and took and gave 
a daughter's kisses." She reminds him of his promises, the hap- 
py life she was to lead, the comfort she meant to bring to his old 
age. She asks what Helen and Paris have to do with her, or she 
with them, that she should perish in their quarrel. She makes 
the little Orestes kneel and clasp his hands in speechless prayer. 
At last the whole energy of her grief finds vent in words more 
thrillino- even than Claudio's when he thinks of death : " Of all 
the joys that men can have, the sweetest is to live and see the 
light. The dead are nothing; only madmen pray for death ; it 
is better to live miserably than to die gloriously." The effect of 
these passionate entreaties and of the lyrical outburst of anguish 
which follows is to make us feel the price of Iphigenia's sacrifice. 
She is no foi'lorn captive like Polyxena, but a princess in the very 
bloom and promise of her prime, aflSanced to Achilles, just enter- 
ing upon the sweetness of new life divined " in rich foreshadow- 
ings of the world." How can she leave it all and go forth to dust 
and endless darkness ? Yet her father has dropped one word 
which in her first passion of grief seems to be unheeded. " Hel- 
las requires this of us both, my daughter — of you as far as in you 
lies, and of me also, in order that she should be free." When we 
next behold Iphigenia, his words had borne noble fruit. Clytem- 
nestra and Achilles are devising how to save her. She enters, firm 
and resolute, but with the rapid utterance of exalted enthusiasm. 


Her determination has been taken. The duty laid upon her, the 
greatness of the glory, the grandeur of the part she has to play, 
had reconciled her to death. " Mother, listen to my words ! The 
whole of mighty Hellas looks to me for her salvation and her free- 
dom. How, then, should I he so life-loving as to shrink? And 
you, you did not bear me for yourself alone, but for all Greece. 
I give this my body for our land. Slay me ; destroy the towers 
of Ilion. This shall be my everlasting monument, and this my 
children and my marriage and my fame." What follows in her 
dialogue with Clytemnestra and Achilles, Clytemnestra vainly seek- 
ing to overthrow her resolution, and Achilles blendincr his admi- 
ration of her heroism with regret that he should lose this flower 
of royalty, raises the unselfish passion of the girl to still sublimer 
height. She is not only firm, but exquisitely gentle. She thinks 
of her brother, whom she leaves behind. She entreats her moth- 
er to forgive Agamemnon. And even when she breaks into lam- 
entation, her one sustaining thought remains, that she, she only, 
will overwhelm Troy, and bring the light of safety and of free- 
dom upon Hellas. Here, then, in the t'vi^vyja of Iphigenia, the 
antique thirst for glory is the determining motive ; and her final 
resolution contradicts that first outcry of simple nature uttered to 
her father. The spiritual element, aflame with hope of everlast- 
ing honor, discards the cruder instincts that make men cling to 
life for life's sake only. 

Another shade of the same virtue gives a peculiar attraction to 
the self-devotion of Alcestis in her death, and of Electra in her at- 
tendance on the brain-sick Orestes. Blending with the despair of 
the captive princess and the frenzy of the inspired Pythia, this 
sublime unselfishness renders Cassandra's attitude in the Troades 
heroically tragic. She goes, a bondwoman, an unwilling concu- 
bine, with Agamemnon to Mycenae. Insult and slavery and a 
horrible death, clearly discerned by lier prophetic vision, are be- 



fore her. And yet she triumphs gloriously ; her voice rings like 
a clarion when she proclaims that the guerdon of her suffering is 
the ruin of the house of Atreus. It is noticeable that Euripides, 
the so-called woman-hater, has alone of the Greek poets subse- 
quent to Homer, with the single exception of Sophocles, devoted 
his genius to the delineation of female characters. It is impossi- 
ble to weigh occasional sententious sarcasms against such careful 
studies of heroic virtue in woman as the Iphigenia, the Electra, 
the Polyxena, the Alcestis of our poet. Aristophanes, who was 
himself the worst enemy Athenian ladies ever met with, describes 
Euripides as a foe to women, apparently because he thought fit to 
treat them, not as automata, but as active, passionate, and power- 
ful agents in the play of human life.* 

But to return to our illusti'ations of fvxpvxia- In the Medea 
and the Hijyi^olytuH Euripides again displays this virtue of stern 
stoicism in two women. But here the heroines are guilty : their 
Spartan endurance of anguish to the death is tempered with crime. 
These tragedies are the masterpieces of the poet; in each of them -• 
the single passion of an individual forms the subject of the drama. 
Separated from all antecedents of ancestral doom, Medea and 
Phaedra work out the dreadful consequences of their own tem- 
pestuous will. Not Othello., and not Faust, have a more complete 
internal unity of motive. No modern play has an equal external 
harmony of form. Medea was one of the most romantic figures 
of Greek stor}'. Daughter of the sun-god in the Colchian land of 
mystery and magic, she unfolded like some poisonous flower, gor- 
geous to look upon, with flaunting petals and intoxicating scent, 
but deadly. Terrible indeed in wiles, she learned to love Jason. 
By a series of crimes, in which the hero participated as her ac- 

* The real cause of offence was the prominence given by Euripides to the 
passion of unholy love in some of his heroines ; to the interest and sympathy 
he created for Phiedra, Slhenoboea, and others. 


complice, and of wliich he reaped tbe benefits — by tbe betrayal 
of her father's trnst, by the murder of her brother, by the butch- 
ery of Pelias — she placed her lover on the throne of Thessaly, 
Then Jason, at the height of his prosperity, forgetting the love, 
as of some tigress, that the sorceress bore him, forgetting, too, her 
fatal power of life and death, cast his eyes on Glauke, the king's 
daughter of Corinth, and bade Medea go forth with her sons, 
a pariah — a dishonored wife. AVhither should she turn? To 
Colchis, and the father whose son she slew ? To Thessaly, where 
the friends of Pelias still live? Jason does not care. Ills pas- 
sion for Medea has vanished like a mist. Their common trials 
common crimes — trials which should have endeared them to each 
other ; crimes which were as strong as hell to bind them — have 
melted from his mind like dew. He only wishes to be rid of the 
fell woman, and to live a peaceful life with innocent home-keep- 
ino- folk. But on one thing Jason has not reckoned — on the aw- 
ful fury of his old love ; he forgets how she wrought by magic 
and by poison in his need, and how in her own need she may do 
things terrible and strange. In the same way we often think 
that we will lightly leave some ancient, strong, habitual sin, of old 
time passionately cherished, of late grown burdensome ; but not 
so easily may the new pure life be won. Between our souls and 
it there stands the fury of the past. 

Medea in her house, like a lioness in her den, has crouched 
sleepless, without food, not to be touched or spoken to, since the 
first news of Glauke's projected bridal was told. No one knows 
Avhat she is meditating. Only the nurse of her children mistrusts 
her fiery eyes and thunderous silence, her viperish loose hair and 
throbbing skin. The moment is finely prepared. Some Corin- 
thian ladies visit her, and she, though loath to rise, does so at their 
prayer, excusing her reluctance by illness, and by a foreigner's 
want of familiarity with their customs. Pale, calm, and terriblo, 


she stands before them. From this first appearance of Medea to 
the end of the play, her one figure occupies the Avhole space of 
the theatre. Her spirit is in the air, and the progress of the ac- 
tion only dilates the impression which she has produced. The 
altercations with Creon and with Jason are artfully conducted so 
as to arouse our sympathy and make us feel that such a nature is 
being driven by the intemperance and selfishness of others into 
a cul-de-sac of crime. The facility with which she disposes in 
thought of her chief foes, as if they were so many flies that have 
to be caught and killed, is eminently impressive. " Many are the 
ways of death : I will stretch three corpses in the palace^Creon's, 
the bride's, my husband's. My only thought is now of means — 
whether to burn them or to cut their throats — perchance the old 
tried way of poison were' the best. They are dead." Kal o») re- 
Qvaai. Medea knows they cannot escape her. For the rest, she 
will consider her own plans. In the scene with Jason she rises 
to an appalling altitude. Her words are winged snakes and the 
breath of furnaces. There is no querulous recrimination, no im- 
potence of anger; but her spirit glows and flickers dragon-like 
against him, as she stands above him on the pedestal of his in- 
gratitude. But when he has gone, and she sits doAvn to recon- 
sider her last act of vengeance — the murder of his sons and hers 
— then begins the tragic agony of her own soul. These lines re- 
veal the contest between a mother's love and the pride of an in- 
jured woman, the ev^vxio. of one who must steel her heart in 
order to preserve her fame for fortitude and power : 

Zeus, and justice of higli Jove, and light 
Of Sun, all seeing ! Now victorious 

Over my foes shall I pace forth, sweet friends. 
To triumph ! 

1 shudder at the deed that will be done 
Hereafter : for my children I shall slay — 

Mine; there is none shall snatch them from me now. 
H,— 4 


Let no one deem me timid, weak of hand, 
Placidly tame ; but of the other temper. 
Harsh to my foes and kindly to my friends. 

Then when Glaiike, arrayed in the robe Medea sent her, is 
smouldering to ashes Avith her father in slow phosphorescent 
flame, Medea sends for her children and makes that last speech 
which is the very triumph of Euripidean rhetoric : 

children, children ! you have still a city, 
A home, where, lost to me and all my woe. 
You will live out your lives without a mother ! 
But I — lo ! I am for another land. 
Leaving the joy of you :— to see you happy. 
To deck your marriage-bed, to greet your bride, 
To light your wedding-torch shall not be mine ! 

me, thrice wretched in my own self-will ! 

In vain, then, dear my children ! did I rear you ; 

In vain I travailed, and with wearing sorrow 

Bore bitter ang\iish in the hour of childbirth ! 

Yea, of a sooth, I had great hope of you, 

That you should cherish my old age, and deck 

My corpse with loving hands, and make me blessed 

'Mid women in my death. But now, ah me ! 

Hath perished that sweet dream. For long without you 

1 shall drag out a dreary doleful age. 
And you shall never see your mother more 
With your dear eyes : for all your life is changed. 
Woe, woe ! 

Why gaze you at me with your eyes, my children ? 

Why smile your last sweet smile ? Ah ! me ; ah ! me ! 

What shall I do ? My heart dissolves within me, 

Friends, when I see the glad eyes of my sons ! 

I cannot. No : my will that was so steady. 

Farewell to it. They too shall go with me: 

Why should I wound their sire with what wounds them, 

Heaping tenfold his woes on my own head ? 

No, no, I shall not. Perish my proud will. 


Yet whence this weakness ? Do I wish to reap 

The scorn that springs from enemies unpunished ? 

Dare it I must. What craven fool am T, 

To let soft thoughts flow trickling from my soul ! 

Go, boys, into the house : and he who may not 

Be present at my solemn sacrifice — 

Let him see to it. My hand shall not falter. 

Ah! ah! 

Nay, do not, my heart ! do not this thing ! 

Suffer them, poor fool ; yea, spare thy children ! 

There in thy exile they will gladden thee. 

Not so : by all the plagues of nethermost hell 

It shall not be that I, that I should suffer 

My foes to triumph and insult my sons ! 

Die must they : this must be, and since it must, 

I, I myself will slay them, I who bore them. 

So it is fixed, and there is no escape. 

Even as I speak, the crown is on her head, 

The bride is dying in her robes, I know it. 

But since this path most piteous I tread, 

Sending them forth on paths more piteous far, 

I will embrace my children. Oh, my sons. 

Give, give your mother your dear hands to kiss ! 

Oh, dearest hands, and mouths most dear to me. 

And forms and noble faces of my sons ! 

Be happy even there : what here was yours. 

Your father robs you of. Oh, loved embrace ! 

Oh, tender touch and sweet breath of my boys ! 

Go, go, go, leave mo ! Lo, I cannot bear 

To look on you : my woes have overwhelmed me ! 

Now know I all the ill I have to do : 

But rage is stronger than my better mind, 

Rage, cause of greatest crimes and griefs to mortals.* 

* The whole of this splendid speech should be compared with the fragment 
of Neophron's Medea, on which it is obviously modelled. See, below, the 
chapter on the Tragic Fragments. 


Phaidra, the heroine of the Hip2yolytus, supplies us with a new 
conception of the same thirst for tvKXiia — the same ev-ipvxia, ytv- 
vaioTTig, indifference to life when honor is at stake. The pride of 
her good name drives Phaidra to a crime more detestable than 
Medea's, because her victim, Hippolytus, is eminently innocent. I 
do not want to dwell upon the pining sickness of Pha?dra, which 
Euripides has wrought with exquisitely painful details, but rather 
to call attention to Hippolytus. Side by side with the fever of 
Phaedra is the pure fresh health of the hunter-hero. The scent 
of forest-glades, where he pursues the deer with Artemis, sur- 
rounds him ; the sea-breeze from the sands, where he trains his 
horses, moves his curls. His piety is as untainted as his purity ; 
it is the maiden-service of a maiden-saint. In his observance of 
the oath extorted from him by Phaedra's nurse, in his obedience 
to liis father's will, in his kindness to his servants, in his gentle 
endurance of a painful death, and in the joy Avith which he greets 
the virgin huntress when she comes to visit him, Euripides has 
firmly traced the ideal of a guileless, tranquil manhood. Hippol- 
ytus among the ancients was the Paladin of chastity, the Perci- 
val of their romance. Nor is any knight of mediaeval legend 
more true and pure than he. Hippolytus first comes upon the 
stage with a garland of wild flowers for Artemis : 

Lady, for thee this garland have I woven 

Of wilding flowers plucked from an unshorn meadow, 

Where neither shepherd dares to feed his flock, 

Nor ever scythe hath swept, but through the mead 

Unshorn in spring the bee pursues her labors, 

And maiden modesty with running rills 

Waters the garden. Sweet queen, take my crow^n 

To deck thy golden hair : my hand is holy. 

To me alone of men belongs this honor. 

To be with thee and answer when thou speakest ; 

Yea, for I hear thy voice but do not see thee. 

So may I end my life as I began. 


Even in this bald translation some of tlie fre^li moviiino- fecliiifr, 
as of cool fields and living waters, and pure companionship and a 
heart at peace, transpires. Throughout the play, in spite of the 
usual Euripidean blemishes of smart logic-chopping and pragmati- 
cal sententiousness, this impression is maintained. Hippolytus 
moves through it with the athletic charm that belongs to such 
statues as that of Meleager and his dog in the Vatican. At the 
end the young hero is carried from the sea-beach, mangled, and 
panting out his life amid intolerable pain and fever-thirst. His 
lamentations are loud and deep as he calls on Death the healer. 
Then suddenly is he aware of the presence of Artemis : 

Oh, breath and perfume of the goddess ! Lo, 
I feel thee even in torment, and am eased ! 
Here in this place is Artemis the queen. 

The scent of the forest coolness has been blown upon him. 
His death will now be calm. 

A. Poor man ! she is ; the goddess thou most loved. 
H. Seest thou me, lady, in what plight I lie ? 
A. I see thee ; but I may not drop a tear. 
H. Thou hast no huntsman and no servant now. 
A. Nay, truly, since thou diest, dear my friend. 
H. No groom, no guardian of thy sculptured shrine. 
A. 'Tvvas Kupris, the arch-fiend, who wrought this woe. 
H. Ah, me ! Now know I what god made me die. 
A. Shorn of her honor, vexed with thy chaste life. 
H. Three of us her one spite — behold ! hath slain. 
A. Thy father, and his wife, and thirdly thee. 
H. Yea, and I therefore mourn my sire's ill hap. 
- A. Snared was ho by a goddess's deceit. 
H. Oh ! for your sorrow in tliis woe, my father ! 

T. Son ! I have perished : life has now no joy. 
H. I mourn this error more for you than me. 

T. Would, son, I were a corpse instead of you. 
A. Stay ! for though earth and gloom encircle thee. 


Not even thus the anger nnavcngeJ 

Of Kupiis shall devour ut will thy body : 

For I, with my own hand, to pay for thee, 

Will pieree of men him whom she mostly dotes on, 

With these inevitable shafts. But thou, 

As guerdon for thine anguish, shalt henceforth 

Gain highest honors in Troezenian land. 

My gift. Unwedded maids before their bridals 

Shall shear their locks for thee, and thou forever 

Shalt reap the harvest of unnumbered tears. 

Yea, and for aye, with lyre and song the virgins 

Shall keep thy memory ; nor shall Phfedra's love 

For thee unnamed fall in oblivious silence. 

But thou, son of aged ^Egeus, take 

Thy child within thy arms and cherish him ; 

For without guile thou slowest him, and men, 

W^hen the gods lead, may well lapse into error. 

Thee too I counsel ; hate not thy own father, 

Ilippolytus : 'twas fate that ruined thee. 

Thus Artemis reconciles father and son. Hippolytus dies slow- 
ly in the arms of Theseus, and the play ends. The appearance of 
the goddess, as a lady of transcendent power more than as a di- 
vine being — her vindictive hatred of Aphrodite, and the moral 
that she draws about the fate by which Hippolytus died and The- 
seus sinned, are all thoroughly Euripidean. Not so would ^schy- 
lus the theologian, or Sophocles the moralist, have dealt with the 
conclusion of the play. But neither would have drawn a more 
touching picture. 

The following scene from the opening of the Orestes may be 
taken as a complete specimen of the manner of Euripides when 
Avorking pathos to its highest pitch, and when desirous of intro- 
ducing into mythic history the realities of common life. Electra 
appears as the devoted sister; Orestes as the invalid brother; the 
Chorus arc somewhat importunate, but, at the same time, sym- 


pathetic visitors. This extract also serves to illustrate the Eurip- 
idean habit of mingling lyrical dialogue with the more regular 
Iambic in passages which do not exactly correspond to the Com- 
mos of the elder tragedians, but which require highly wrought ex- 
pression. Helen has just left Electra, As the wife of Menelaus 
walks away, the daughter of Agamemnon follows her with her 
eyes, and speaks thus : 

El. nature ! what a curse art thou 'mid men — 

Yea, and a safeguard to the nobly-tempered ! 

[^Points her finger at Helcrt. 

Sec how she snipped tlic tips of her long hair, 

Saving its beauty ! She's the same woman still. — 

May the gods hate thee for the ruin wrought 

On me, on him, on Hellas ! Woe is me ! 

[Sees the Chortis advancing. 

Here come my friends again with lamentations, 

To join their wails with mine : they'll drive him far 

From placid slumber, and will waste mine eyes 

With weeping when I sec my brother mad. 

[Speaking to the Chorus. . 

dearest maidens, tread with feet of wool ; 

Come softly, make no i-ustling, raise no cry : 

For though your kindness be right dear to me, 

Yet to wake him will work me double mischief. 

[ The Chorus enters. 
Ch. Softly, softly ! let your tread 

Fall upon the ground like snow ! 

Every sound be dumb and dead : 

Breathe and speak in murmurs low ! 
El. Further from the couch, I pray you ; further yet, and yet away ! 
Ch. Even so, dear maid, you see that I obey. 
El. Ah, my friend, speak softly, slowly. 

Like the sighing of a rush. 
Ch. See I speak and answer lowly 

With a stealthy smothered hush. 


. EI. That is right : come hither now ; come boldly forward to my side ; 

Come, and say what need hath brought you : for at length with watch- 
ing tried, 

Lo, he sleeps, and on the pillow spreads his limbs and tresses wide. 
Ch. How is he ? Dear lady, say : 

Let us hear your tale, and know 

AVhether you have joy to-day, 

Whether sorrow brings you low. 
El. He is breathing still, but slightly groaning in his sleep alway. 
Ch. poor man ! but tell us plainer what you say. 
El. Hush ! or you will scare the pleasant 

Sleep that to his eyelid brings 

Brief oblivion of the present. 
Ch. Ah, thrice wretched race that springs 

Burdened with the god-sent curses of abhorred deeds ! 
El. Ah, me : 

Guilty was the voice of Phoebus, when enthroned for prophecy, 

He decreed my mother's murder — mother murdered guiltily ! 
Ch. Look you, lady, on his bed. 

How he gently stirs and sighs ! 
El. Woe is me ! His sleep hath fled, 

Frightened by your noisy cries ! 
Ch. Xay ; I thought he sleeping lay. 
El. Hence, I bid you, hence away 

From the bedside, from the house ! 

Cease your noise ; 

Subdue your voice ; 

Stay not here to trouble us ! 
Cli. He is sleeping, and you rightly caution us. 
El. Holy mother, mother Xight ! 

Thou who sheddest sleep on every wearied wight ! 

Arise from Erebus, arise 

With plumy pinions light : 

Hover o'er the house of Atreus ; and upon our aching eyes, 

Wearied with woe. 

With grief brought low. 

Solace bring 'mid miseries. 


Silence ! Hush ! what noise was this ? 
Can you ne'er your tongue restrain, 
And allow soft slumber's kiss 
To refresh his fevered brain ? 
Ch. Tell me, lady, what the close 

Of his grief is like to be ? 
El. Death. Nought else will end his woes, 

Lo, he fasts continually. 
Ch. Alas ! Alas ! his fate is sure. 
El. By the promise to make pure 

Hands a mother's life-blood stained, 
Phoebus brought 
Woe, and wrought 
All the grief that we have gained. 
Ch. Just it was to slay the slayer; yet the deed with crime was 

El. Thou art dead : oh, thou art dead, 

Mother, who didst bear me ! mother, who didst shed 
A father's blood, and slay 
The children of thy bed ! 

We are dying, we are dying, like the dead, and weak as they : 
For thou art gone, 
And I am wan, 

Weeping, sighing night and day ! 
Look upon me, friends, behold 
How my withered life must run, 
Childless, homeless, sad and cold, 
Comfortless beneath the sun. 
Ch. Come hither, maid Electra, to the couch : 
Lest haply he should breathe his life away 
Unheeded : I like not this deep dead languor. 

[Orestes wakes up. 
Or. soothing sleep ! dear friend ! best nurse of sickness ! 
How sweetly came you in my hour of need. 
Blest Lethe of all woes, how wise you are, 
How worthy of the prayers of wretched men ! 
Whence came I to this place ? How journeyed I ? 
I cannot think : my former mind is vanished. 


El. dearest, how hath your sleep gladdened me ! 

Say, can I help to soothe or raise your body ? 
Or. Yes, take me, take me : with your kind hands wipe 

The foam of fever from my lips and eyes. 
El. Sweet is this service to me ; I am glad 

To soothe my brother with a sister's hand. 
Or. Support me with your breast, and fan my forehead ; 

Brush the loose hair : I scarce can see for sickness. 
El. Poor head ! How rough and tangled are the curls, 

How haggard is your face with long neglect ! 
Or. Now lay me back upon the bed again : 

When the fit leaves me, I am weak and helpless. 
El. Yea ; and the couch is some relief in sickness, 

A sorry friend, but one that must be borne with. 
Or. Raise me once more upright, and turn my body : 

Sick men are hard to please, through wayward weakness. 
El. How would you like to put your feet to earth ? 

'Tis long since you stood up ; and change is pleasant. 
Or. True : for it gives a show of seeming health ; 

And shows are good, although there be no substance. 

[ Orestes changes his posture and sits at ease. 
El. Now listen to me, dearest brother mine, 

While the dread Furies leave you space to think. 
Or. What have you new to say ? Good news will cheer me ; 

But of what's bad I have enough already. 
El. Menelaus is here, your father's brother : 

His ships are safely moored in Nauplia. 
Or. What ! Has he come to end your woes and mine ? 

He is our kinsmiin and our father's debtor. 
El. He has : and this is surety for my words — 

Helen hath come with him from Troy, is here. 
Or. If heaven had saved but him, he'd now be happier : 

But with his wife, he brings a huge curse home. 
El. Yea : Tyndareus begat a brood of daughters 

Marked out for obloquy, a shame through Hellas. 
Or. Be you, then, other than the bad ; you can : 

Make not fine speeches, but be rightly minded ! 

[As he speaJ:.", he becomes excited. 


El. Ah me, ray brother ! your e)'es roll and tremble — 

One moment sane, and now swift frenzy fires you ! 

[ Orestes speaks to phantoms in the air. 
Or. Mother, I sue to thee : nay, mother, liound not 

Those blood-faced, snalie-encircled women on me ! 

There ! There ! See there — close by they bound upon me ! 
El. Stay, wretched brother ; start not from the bed ! 

For nought you see of what seems clear and certain. 
Or. Phoebus ! They will slay me, thos^ dog-faced, 

Fierce-eyed, infernal ministers, dread goddesses ! 
El. I will not leave you ! but with woven arms 

Will stay you from the direful spasm-throes. 

[ Orestes hurls Electra from him. 
Or. Let go ! Of my damned Furies thou art one, 

That with thy grip wouldst hale me down to hell ! 
El. Ah, woe is me ! what succor shall I find. 

Seeing the very gods conspire against us ? 
Or. Give me my bow and arrows, Phoebus' gift, 

Wherewith Apollo bade me fight the fiends, 

If they should scare me with wild-eyed delirium. 

Some god shall feel the fury of man's hand. 

Unless ye vanish forth from out my sight ! 

[He threatens the phantoms. 

Hear ye not ! See ye not the feathery wings 

Of swift, sure-striking shafts, ready to flutter ? 

Ha ! Ha ! 

Why linger here ? Go, sweep with outspread pinions 

The windy sky ! Hence, and complain of Phoebus ! 

Woe's me ! 

[Recovering his reason again. 

Why waste I breath, wearying my lungs in vain ? 

Wliere am I ? From my bed how leaped I — when ? 

'Midmost the waves once more I see fair weather. 

Sister, why weep you ? Wherefore veil your head ? 

I blush to see you partner of my woe. 

Blush that a girl should suffer in my sickness. 

Nay, do not pine thus, bowed beneath my burden — 


All mine ; — you said but yea, 'twas I who shed 
Our iDotlicr's blood : but Loxias I blame, 
Who urging me to most unholy deeds 
Helped me with words, in act availed me nothing. 
Yea, and I think my sire, if, face to face, 
I asked him — is it right to slay my mother ? 
Would lengthen many prayers, beseeching me 
Never to draw my sword on her who bare me, 
Seeing he might not see the sun again, 
And I am doomed to bear this weight of horrors. — 
But now unveil your face again, dear sister, 
And cease from weeping — oven though we be 
Ringed round with sorrows. When you see me downcast, 
Soothe }ou my terror and my frenzied soul — 
Soothe and caress me ; yea, and when you moan, 
'Tis mine to stay and comfort as I can : 
For these kind services of friends are fair, 
But, dear, sad sister, go into the house. 
And give your watchful eyes to sleep, and rest ; 
Take food, and with fair water bathe yourself. 
For think, if you should fail me, if by watching 
You take some sickness, then we're lost : 'tis you, 
You only, are my help ; all else is vanished. 
EI. Not so. With you to die I choose, with you 
To live : it is all one ; for if you perish. 
What shall I do — a woman V How shall I, 
Brotherless, friendless, fatherless, alone. 
Live on ? Nay, if you ask it, I will do 
Your will : but, brother, rest you on your bed ; 
Nor take the terror and the startling fear 
For more than phantoms : stay upon the couch. 
For though one is not sick, and only seems, 
Yet is this pain and weariness to mortals." 

This scene, for variety of motive and effect, is not excelled by 
any passage in ancient tragedy. The scope ^vlli(.•h it afforded 
for impressive acting must have been immense, though it is diffi- 


cult to understand how the fixed masks and conventional dresses 
of the Greek stage could have been adapted to the violent and 
frequent changes of mood exhibited by Orestes. Adequately to 
render the effect of the lyrical dialogue between Electra and the 
Chorus is very difficult. I have attempted to maintain in some 
degree the antistrophic pauses, and by the use of rhyme to hint 
how very near the tragedy of the Greeks approached, in scenes 
like this, to the Italian opera. The entrance of the Chorus sing- 
ing " Silence" can only be paralleled by passages in which the 
spies or conspirators of Rossini or Mozart appear upon the stage, 
Avhispering " Zitto ! Zitto !" to the sound of subdued music. In 
the same way Electra's impassioned apostrophe to Night must 
have been the subject of an elaborate aria. 

The scene which I have translated from the Orestes suggests 
the remark that many Euripidean plays were in fact melodramas. 
This is true, in a special sense, of the Troades, which must have 
owed its interest as an acted drama to the music and the mise en 
scene. It is also worthy of notice that a fair proportion of our 
extant tragedies are what the Germans call Lustspiele. That is to 
say, they have no proper tragic ending, and the element of trag- 
edy contained in them consists of perils escaped by the chief act- 
ors. Thus the Helena and the fyhigenia in Tauris have a joy- 
ful climax. The Orestes closes with a reconciliation of all parties, 
hurriedly effected, tliat reminds us of a modern comedy. The 
Ion is brought to a satisfactory conclusion. The apotheosis of 
Iphigenia in her play at Aulis eliminates the tragic element, 
though, regarded as the first part of an eminently tragic series 
and read by the light of the Electra, this play may be regarded as / 
the prologue to a mighty drama of crime and retribution. The 
Alcestis is now universally and rightly classed among the plays of 
a semi-satyric character ; and the Andromache is not a genuine 
tragedy, since the death of Neoptolemus is episodical and has 


little to do with the previous action. In all these plays the key- 
note is struck by the Greek phrase /jfra/3oXjj, which signified a 
revolution hrouirht about within the limits of a certain situation. 
This probably attracted Euripides to the class of drama in ques- 
tion, since it enabled him to deal freely with character and to 
concentrate his attention upon the working out of striking inci- 
dents. From this point of view the Andromache is so important 
tliat it deserves more than a passing notice. The peculiar faculty 
and the prevailing faults of the poet are alike illustrated in its 
scenes — his fine and sharp character-making in the chief person- 
ages, his powerful rhetoric and subtle special-pleading, his acute 
remarks on politics and domestic relations, no less than his wilful 
neglect of dramatic unity and wanton carelessness of construc- 
tion. Viewed in one light, the Andromache is a bitter satire 
upon the Spartan type of character, exemplified in the cruel Iler- 
mione and the treacherous Menelaus. From yet another stand- 
point of criticism it may be regarded as a dramatic essay on the 
choice of wives and the economy of the household. Thus the 
political and social theorist overlays the artist proper in this play; 
and yet the language is so brilliant, the pathos is so telling, and 
the lyrical episodes are so musical that we understand its popular- 
ity among the ancients. At the opening of the drama, Androm- 
ache, who has taken sanctuary at Phthia in the shrine of Thetis, 
describes the misery of her situation as bondwoman and concu- 
bine to Neoptolemus. Though warmly attached to herself and 
the father of her son Molossus, he has recently married Hermio- 
ne, the Spartan princess. Thus the true subject of the play is set 
before us ; for if the Andromache has any unity of conception, 
we must find it in the " nuptial choice " of Neoptolemus, who, af- 
ter bringing discord into his household by the jealousy of two 
women, eventually meets his death as an indirect consequence of 
this domestic folly. The elegiac lamentations of the Trojan prin- 


cess and the tender remonstrances of the Chonis, which follow 
the prologue, are among the most melodious passages of poetry 
in Euripides. Then the action begins. Neoptolemus is away at 
Delphi. Ilermione and her father, Menelaus, remain at home, and 
use the opportunity for persecuting Andromache. In a long 
and agitating scene with Hermione, the heroine shows that she 
remains a noble lady, of untamed and royal soul, in spite of slav- 
ery. She disregards all threats, and maintains her station at the 
altar, whither she has fled for safety. One menace only makes 
her flinch. It is that violence may be done to her child Molos- 
sus, if she will not move. Now Menelaus enters, and the alterca- 
tions are repeated, all tending to the same point of proving the 
odiousness of the Spartan character and the dignity of Androm- 
ache. Meanwhile our interest in her misfortunes is gradually 
heightened ; and we tremble for her when at last Menelaus per- 
suades her to leave the sanctuary by assuring her that the only 
way of saving Molossus is to sacrifice her own life. At this point 
the pathos of the situation becomes truly Euripidean. We have 
the spectacle of a tender and helpless mother in the power of 
a merciless tyrant, obliged to give her own life for her son, not 
shrinking from the sacrifice, but dreading to leave him unprotect- 
ed to his future fate amid unkindly aliens. She rises from the 
altar; and no sooner is she in the hands of Menelaus, than he 
tells her that his promises were fraudulent. Molossus will be 
butchered after all. Then follows a great scene of high-wrought 
feelinof. Andromache and Molossus are kneeling before Mene- 
laus praying for their lives, when Peleus, the aged grandfather of 
Neoptolemus, appears and stays the execution. Euripides has 
drawn the character of Peleus with something of the heat and 
fury of the Sophoclean Teiresias. The old king does not spare 
Menelaus, but makes his tongue a scourge to flay him with invec- 
tive. The end of the struggle is that Peleus conveys Andromache 


and the boy safely away ; and during the rest of the drama we 
hear nothing of them. Meantime Hermione, who, in contrast to 
Andromache's noble firmness and womanhood, is the type of im- 
potentia. as quick to self-abandonment as she was blind in selfish 
cruelty, begins to reflect upon her husband's anger. What will 
he say and do if he returns and hears of her intention with re- 
gard to Andromache ? She is only just prevented from commit- 
ting suicide, and lies sunk in contemptible remorse, when a new 
actor appears upon the scene. It is Orestes, to Avliom Hermio- 
ne had been affianced at Argos. The treacherous Menelaus pre- 
ferred to give her to a more fortunate and respectable husband ; 
but Orestes has a mind to wed her still, and has resolved to mur- 
der Neoptolemus at Delphi because of the insult put upon him- 
self, lie therefore removes Hermione from the palace, and do- 
parts for Delplii. Peleus is now left alone upon the stage, to 
hear of the murder of his grandson from a messenger, and to re- 
ceive instructions from Thetis as to the future of the realm of 
Phthia. It will be seen that the construction of this drama is 
defective, and that it has two separate plots, the one relating to 
Andromache, the other to Hermione and Orestes, which are only 
brought into artificial connection by the death of Neoptolemus. 
The speedy disappearance of Andromache from the scene, fol- 
lowed by the flight of Hermione and the escape of Menelaus to 
Sparta, leaves Peleus, who is only an accessory character, to bear 
the whole burden of the climax. Thus the Andromache lacks both 
internal and external unity, the unity of subject and form. Of ma- 
terial it has plenty, whether we regard the resolutions of fortune 
effected for the chief actors, or the variety of incidents, or the rich- 
ness of reflective sentences, or the introduction of new " business" 
to sustain the flagging interest of the spectators. As a drama, it 
is second-rate. As a machine for the exhibition of specifically Eu- 
ripidean qualities, it must rank high among the extant tragedies. 


The Iphigenia in Aulide, the Plectra, the Orestes, and the Iph- 
igenia in Tauris might be called the Euripidean Oresteia, since 
each of these plays treats that portion of the Atridan story which 
-^schylus had handled in his three dramas. We miss the final y 
purification of the hero, and have to infer the climax from the 
allusions of the Andromache, where, it may be said in passing, 
the noble type of his character, maintained without interruption 
in the Electra, tlic Orestes, and the Tauric Iphigenia, is deformed 
by a savagery and guile that must have been repellent even to a 
Greek audience. In the Electra Euripides comes immediately 
and without doubt consciously into competition with both ^s- 
chylus and Sophocles. Like Sophocles, he has painted Electra as 
of harder nature than her brother. When Orestes, before enirair- 
ing in his mother's murder, shows signs of yielding to his filial 
feeling and expresses a doubt about the oracle, she, like Lady 
Macbeth, reanimates his wavering courage with argument and 
taunt. But Euripides seems to have felt that it was unnatural in 
the Sophoclean drama to represent both brother and sister as un- 
terrified by conscience after the successful issue of their plot. 
The lyrical dialogue between Orestes and Electra, when he re- 
turns with their mother's blood upon his hands and sword, is 
both terribly true to nature and dramatically striking. It needs 
the appearance of the Dioscuri to confirm them in the faith that '^ 
they had done a righteous, heaven-appointed deed of justice. By 
this touch Euripides proved his determination to bring even the 
most mysterious of legends within the pale of ordinary human 
experience. The situation in which he places Electra at the 
opening of the play, outcast from her father's palace and wedded 
to a farmer, ragged in attire and obliged to do the hard work of 
her household, is another and perhaps a less justifiable instance 
of his realism. The stirring of compassion by the exhibition of 
material misery was one of the points urged against him by Ar- 



istophanes ; nor is it possible to feel that Electra's squalor adds 
anything essential to her tragedy. We may, however, be thank- 
ful to the poet for the democratic ideal of good manners and true 
chivalry, irrespective of blood and accidental breeding, which he 
has painted in his portrait of Electra's husband.* Not contented 
with thus varying the earlier outlines of the legend, Euripides in 
more than one passage directs a covert criticism against his pred- 
ecessors. He shows that the tests of his identity offered by Ores- 
tes to Electra in the plays of ^schylus and Sophocles were in- 
sufficient, and that the murder of Clytemnestra in her palace, 
surrounded by the guard of a royal household, was improbable. 
The new motives invented by him for the recognition of Orestes 
and for the withdrawing of the queen to a place where she could 
be conveniently despatched are highly ingenious. Yet in the 
latter circumstance, what he gained in realism he lost in dramatic 
effect ; for it was an incident of appalling terror that Clytemnes- 
tra and her paramour should be smitten in those very recesses of 
the palace where they had slaughtered Agamemnon, beneath the 
influence of those domestic Furies who, like an infernal revel, oc- 
cupied the house of Atreus until all the guilty blood was shed. 
Throughout the Electra we feel that we are in the presence of a 
critical, realistic, and at the same time romantic, poet, who has 
embroidered the old material of heroic story with modern casu- 
istry, and has been working less with a view to producing a mas- 
terpiece of art than with the object of asserting his ingenuity 
within the narrow field of an exhausted legend. Had we not the 
Choephoro; and the Sophoclean Electra for standards of compari- 
son, it is possible that we might do simpler justice to the creative 
power of " sad Electra's poet " in this drama. As it is, we can 
hardly refrain from treating it as a triumph of skill and reflec- 
tive ability, rather than as a potent work of original genius. 
* Notice especially the speech of Orestes, line 367. 


The Orestes lies open to even more stringent criticism. The 
whole conclusion, consisting of the burning of the palace at Ar- 
gos, the apotheosis of Helen, the lamentations of the Phrygian 
slave, and the betrothal of direst enemies above the ruins of their 
ancestral home, is more comic than tragic, and almost justifies the 
theory that Euripides intended it to be a parody of some contem- 
porary drama. This portion of the play, moreover, is a melo- 
drama, and joins on to the first part by a merely formal link. 
Such interest as the. Orestes possesses, after the beautiful opening 
scene, centres in the heroic friendship of Pylades, who sustains 
the hero in his suffering and defends him from the angry folk 
of Argos. It is far otherwise with the Tauric Iphigenia. Here 
Euripides comes into no competition with ^schylus or Sopho- 
cles ; for he has handled a legend outside the sphere of their 
known plays. It is one eminently suited to his powers, involv- 
ing the description of romantic scenery, the recognition of broth- 
er by sister in circumstances of deep pathos and extreme improb- 
ability, the contest of the most powerful natural feelings, and in 
the last place, the exhibition of dangers impending upon all the 
chief personages and only avoided by a thoroughly Euripidean 
fraud. None of the plots invented by Euripides are so nicely 
finished or so rich in incident as this ; and yet there is nothing 
mechanical in its construction. Few of his plays have choral 
passages to match the yearnings of the captive maidens for their 
home in Hellas or the praise of young Apollo throned by Zeus 
for prophecy beneath Parnassus. Few again are richer or more 
truthful in their presentation of emotions — the exquisite delicacy 
of a sister's affection, the loyalty of friends, and the passionate 
outpouring of a brother's love. Something in the savage circum- 
stances of the play, the sombre Tauric scenery, the dreadful rites 
of Artemis, to whom Iphigenia has been bound, and the watch- 
ful jealousy of her barbarian king, enhances the beautiful human- 


ity of those three Greeks, burdened witli such weight of sorrows 
on a foreign shore, haunted by memories of a father's cruelty, 
n mother's infidelity, pursued by the Furies of a righteous but 
abominable deed, yet none the less enjoying for one moment in 
the midst of pain and peril the pure pleasures of companionship. 
The chorus of Hellenic captives maintains an undercurrent of sad 
music that still further helps to heighten and interpret the situ- 
ation. It is only at the last, when the knot of the situation has 
to be cut, that our sympathy begins to fail us. Thoas, though a 
barbarian, had been generous and kind. Yet Iphigenia employs 
a heartless device for escaping from his hands with the sacred im- 
age of the Tauri in her possession ; nor does she feel a moment's 
pang of remoi'se for the pain she is inflicting or for tlie Ues she 
has employed to serve her purpose. It may indeed be said gen- 
erally that Euripides justified the Aristophanic reproach of mean- 
ness by his too frequent employment of tricks and subterfuges. 
These are so distasteful to modern feeling that we are glad to 
know that even a Greek critic regarded them as faulty. With 
Iphigenia's treason against Thoas we might compare Helen's plot 
for deceiving Theoclymenus, the insidious attack of Orestes upon 
Neoptolemus at Delphi, the capture of Helen and Hermione by 
Orestes and Pylades at Argos, and Agamemnon's incredibly base 
lure to Clytemnestra and Iphigenia before Aulis. It is scarcely 
a defence of Euripides to urge that the gods themselves, as in the 
case of the Tauric Iphigenia, sanction these deceptions. This 
only makes the matter w^orse, and forces us to choose between 
two hypotheses — either that Euripides sought to bring the old 
religion into contempt, or that he used its morality for merely 
theatrical purposes to justify the romantic crimes of his heroes. 
The latter seems the more probable theory ; for it is clear in some 
most eminent examples that he has treated a deeply immoral le- 
gend for the sake of its admirable artistic capabilities. This is 


undoubtedly the case witli the Ion, which presents a marvellous 

tale of human suffering, adventure, crime, and final felicity, de- 
pendent in all its details upon the fraud of a deity. Without do- 
ing justice to the masterly construction of the plot, the beautiful 
poetry, and the sustained interest of the Ion, it may be allowed 
me here to dwell for one moment on its morality. Phoebus be- 
gets the boy Ion by a rape upon Creusa, and steals the boy away 
from Athens to Delphi. The mother is left to bewail not her 
shame only, but the loss of her son. In course of time she mar- 
ries Xuthus and is childless. They go together to Delphi to in- 
quire of the oracle ; and here Xuthus is lyingly informed that 
lori is tlie son bf his youthful years. Rage and jealousy impel 
Creusa, on hearing this news, to poison Ion. She fails, and Ion 
in revenge attempts to murder her. The danger of Creusa at last 
forces Phoebus to reveal the truth through the mouth of Athene, 
who tells the queen that Ion is really her lost son, the offspring 
of Apollo's crime. Xuthus happens to be absent during this dis- 
closure, and the goddess advises Creusa to keep the real truth to 
herself, since the good man already supposes Ion to be his own 
child, and will consequently treat him like a son. Stripped of its 
dramatic ornaments, its wonderful scene-painting, pathetic situa- 
tions, unexpected recognitions, sudden catastrophes, accidents and 
dangers and adventures, this is the plain legend of the Ion ; and 
a less ethical story of the gods could scarcely be found among 
those which Plato criticised in the Repuhlic. 

It is time to return from this digression once more to the plays 
which deal with Orestes. In them Euripides painted a virtue dear 
in its heroic aspect to the Greeks and celebrated in many of their 
legends, but which had not frequently been made the subject of 
dramatic presentation. The character of Pylades as the perfect 
comrade, fierce as a tiger and cunning as a fox against his foes, 
but tender as a woman to his suffering friend, willing to face all 


dangers in common with Orestes, enduring for lus sake the oblo- 
quy of the Avorld and the mysterious taint of rehgious impuri- 
ty, refusing to live in his death and contending with him for the 
right to die, must be accepted as a masterpiece of creative power. 
There is nothing in common between Pylades and the confidant 
of modern tragedy — that alter ego or shadow of the hero's self, 
who dogs his path and reflects his sentiments. Pylades has a 
distinctly separate personality ; in the Orestes, when Electra and 
her brother have abandoned hope, he takes the initiative and sug- 
gests the scheme that saves them. Yet none the less is sympathy 
the main point in his character. Euripides wrote nothing more 
touching than the description of his help afforded to Orestes in 
the council of the Argives, nothing more sublime than the con- 
test between the two comrades in the Tauric Iphigenia, when it 
is a question which of them should stay and by his own death 
save his friend for Hellas. Had the Athenians thus always thought 
of friendship, or had they learned the enthusiasm of its ideal from 
Euripides, they might indeed have bequeathed a new chivalry to 
the world. The three tragedies in which Pylades plays a prom- 
inent part, the Electra, Orestes, and Tauric Iphigenia, are store- 
houses of the noblest sentiments and deepest truths about heroic 

It is hard, while still beneath the overshadowing presence of so 
great a master as Euripides, to have patience with the critics and 
the scholars who scorn him — critics who cannot comprehend him, 
scholars y\\\o have not read him since they Avere at school. De- 
cadence ! is their cry. Yet what would they have ? ^Yould they 
ask for a second Sophocles, or a revived ^schylus ? That being 
clearly impossible, beyond all scope of wish, why will they not be 
satisfied with beauty as luminous as that of a Greek statue or a 
Greek landscape, with feeling as profound as humanity itself, and 
with wisdom " musical as is Apollo's lute ?" These are the qual- 


ities of a great poet, and we contend that Euripides possesses 
them in an eminent degree. It is false criticism, surely, to do as 
Schlegel, Miiller, and Bunsen have successively done* — to measure 
Euripides by the standard of the success of his predecessors, or to 
ransack his plays for illustrations of pet dramatic theories, and 
then, because he ■will not bear these tests, to refuse to see his own 
distinguished merits. It would sometimes seem as if our nature 
were exhausted by its admiration of a Sophocles or a Shakespeare. 
There is no enthusiasm left for Euripides and Fletcher. 

Euripides, after all is said, incontestably displays the quality of 
radiancy. On this I should be willing to base a portion of his 
claim to rank as a great poet. An admirer of ^schylus or Soph- 
ocles might affirm that neither -^schylus nor Sophocles chose to 
use their art for the display of thrilling splendor. However that 
may be, Euripides, alone of Greeks, with the exception of Aris- 
tophanes, entered the fairyland of dazzling fancy which Caldcron 
and Shakespeare and Fletcher trod. The Bacchce, like the Birds, 
proves what otherwise we might have hardly known, that there 
lacked not Greeks for whom the Tempest and A Midsummer- 

* Goethe was very severe on the critics who could not appreciate Euripides : 
" To feel and respect a great personality, one must be something one's self. 
All those who denied the sublime to Euripides were either poor wretches in- 
capable of comprehending such sublimity, or shameless charlatans, who, by 
their presumption, wished to make more of themselves, and really did make 
more of themselves, than they were" (Eckcrmann's Conversations of Goethe, 
English ed., vol. ii. p. 377). In another place he indicates the spirit in which 
any adverse criticism of Euripides should be attempted : " A poet whom Soc- 
rates called his friend, whom Aristotle lauded, whom Menander admired, and 
for whom Sophocles and the city of Athens put on mourning on hearing of 
his death, must certainly have been something. If a modern man like Schle- 
gel must pick out faults in so great an ancient, he ought only to do it upon 
his knees " {ib., vol. i. p. 378). Again {ib., vol. i. p. 260), he energetically com- 
bats the opinion that Euripides had caused the decline of Greek tragedy. 


Night's Bream would have been intelligible. Meanwhile, in mak- 
ing any estimate of the merits of Euripides, it would be unfair to 
omit mention of the enthusiasm felt for him by contemporaries 
and posterity. Mr. Browning, in the beautiful monument which 
he has erected to the fame of Euripides, has chosen for poetical 
treatment the well-known story of Athenians rescued from cap- 
tivity by recitation of the verses of their poet.^- There is no rea- 
son to doubt a story which attests so strongly to the acceptation 
in which Euripides was held at large among the Greeks. Socra- 
tes, again, visited the theatre on the occasion of any representa- 
tion of his favorite's plays. By the nev,^ comedians, Menander and 
Philemon, Euripides was regarded as a divine miracle. Tragedy 
and comedy, so dissimilar in their origins, had approximated to a 
coalition ; tragedy losing its religious dignity, comedy quitting its 
obscene though splendid personalities ; both meeting on the com- 
mon ground of daily life. In the decadence of Greece it was not 
^schylus and Aristophanes, but Euripides and Menander, who 
were learned and read and quoted. The colossal tlieosophemes 
of ^schylus called for profound reflection ; the Titanic jokes of 
Aristophanes taxed the imagination to its utmost stretch. But 
Euripides " the human, Avith liis droppings of warm tears," gen- 
tly touched and soothed the heart. Menander with his facile wis- 
dom flattered the intellect of worldly men. The sentences of 
both were quotable at large and fit for all occasions. They were 
not toe great, too lofty, too profound for the paths of common 

* See Balaustion's Adventure. Since this chapter M^as first published, Mr. 
Browning has still further enforced his advocacy of Euripides by Aristopha- 
nes' Apology, and a version of the Hercules Furens, while the great tragic poet 
has found a stanch defender from the carping criticasters of the Schlegel 
school in Mr. Mahaffy. That excellent scholar and accomplished student of 
antiquity has recently published a little book on Euripides ( Classical Writers, 
edited by J. R.Green, "Euripides." Macmillan. 1879). 


life. We have lost Menander, alas ! but we still possess Euripi- 
des. It seems n, strange neglect of good gifts to shut our ears to 
his pathetic melodies and ringing eloquence — because, forsooth, 
J^:schylus and Sophocles had the advantage of preceding him, 
and were superior artists in the bloom and heyday of the young 
world's prime. 




Alexandrian and Byzantine Anthologies. — Titles of the Lost Plays of jEschy- 
lus. — The Lycurgeia. — The Trilogy on the Story of Achilles. — The Geog- 
raphy of the Prometheus Unbound. — Gnomic Character of the Sophoclean 
Fragments. ^ — ^Providence, Wealth, Love, Marriage, Mourning. — What is 
True of the Sophoclean is still more True of the Euripidean Fragments. 
— Mutilated Plays. — Phaethon, Ereehfheus, Aniiope, Dana'e. — Goethe's 
Restitution of the Phaethon. — Passage on Greek Athletes in the Aittoly- 
cus. — Love, Women, Marriage, Domestic Affection, Children. — Death. — 
Stoical Endurance. — Justice and the Punishment of Sin. — Wealth. — 
Noble Birth. — Heroism. — Miscellaneous Gnomic Fragments. — The Pop- 
ularity of Euripides. 

It is difficult to treat the fragments of vEscliylus, Sophocles, 
and Euripides otherwise than as a golden treasury of saws and 
maxims compiled by Alexandrian and Byzantine Greeks, for 
whom poetic beauty Avas of less value than sententious wisdom. 
The tragic scope and the aesthetic handling of the fables of their 
lost plays can scarcely be conjectured from such slight hints as 
we possess. Yet some light may be cast upon the ^schylean 
method by observing the titles of his dramas. "We have, for ex- 
ample, the names of a complete tetralogy upon the legend of Ly- 
curgus. The Edonians, the Bassarids, and the Young Men con- 
stituted a connected series of plays — a Lijcurgeia, with L]icurgus 
for the satyric supplement. Remembering that ^schylus called 
his own tragedies morsels picked up from the great Homeric ban- 


quet-table, we may conclude that this tetralogy set forth the Dio- 
nysian fable told by Dioniede to Glaucus in the Iliad (vi. 131) : 

No, for not Drvas' sou, Lycurgus strong, 

Who the divine ones fought, on earth lived long. 

He the nurse-nymphs of Dionysus seared 

Down the Nyseian steep, and the wild throng 

Their ritual things cast off, and maddening fared, 

Torn with lijs goad, like kine ; so vast a crime he dared. 

Yea, Dionysus, such a sight was there. 

Himself in fear sank down beneath the seas. 

And Thetis in her breast him quailing bare, 

At the man's cry such trembling shook his knees. 

Then angered were the gods who live at case, 

And Zeus smote blind Lycurgus, and he fell 

Loathed ere his day.* 

It appears that the titles of the three dramas composing the 
trilogy were taken from the Chorus. In the first play the Edo- 
nian Thracians, subjects of Lycurgus, formed the Chorus ; in the 
second, the Bassarids, or nurse-nymphs of Dionysus; in the third, 
the youths whom the wine-god had persuaded to adopt his wor- 
ship. The subject of the first play was, therefore, the advent of 
Dionysus and his following in Thrace, and the victory of Lycur- 
gus over the new cult. The second set forth the captivity of the 
Bacchantes or Bassarids, together with the madness sent upon 
Lycurgus as a punishment for his resistance, whereby he was 
driven, according to post-Homeric versions of his legend, to the 
murder of his own son Dryas in a fit of fury. The third play 
carried on the subject by exhibiting the submission of Lycurgus 
to the god whom he had disowned and dishonored, and his death, 
at the hands of his own subjects, upon Mount Pungaeus. Thus 
the first Chorus was hostile to Dionysus ; the second was sym- 
* Worsley's translation, Ilmd, vol. i. p. 154. 


pathetic, though captive and impotent ; the third was triumphant 
in his cause. The artistic sequence of thesis, antithesis, and syn- 
thesis which the trilogy required, was developed through three 
moments in the life-drama of Lycurgus, and was typified in the 
changes of the choric sympathy, according to the law wherehy 
^schylus varied the form of his triple dramas and, at the same 
ume, immediately connected the Chorus with the passion of each 
piece. The tragic interest centred in the conflict of Lj^curgus 
and the god, and the final solution was afforded by the submis- 
sion, though too late, of the protagonist's will to destiny. It is 
probable that the satyric play of Lycurffus represented the divine 
honors paid, after his death, to the old enemy, now become the 
satellite and subject of Dionysus, by pastoral folk and dwellers in 
the woodlands. The unification of obstinate antagonistic wills in 
the higher will of Zeus or Fate seems in all cases to have sup- 
plied ^schylus with the Versbknung tragedy required, and to 
have suggested the religious KadapaiQ without Avhich the Greek 
drama would have failed to point its lesson. Seen in this light, 
the Lycurgeia must have been a masterpiece only less sublime, 
and even more full, perhaps, of picturesque incidents, than the 
Promethean trilogy. The emotional complexion, if that phrase 
may be permitted, of each member of the trilogy was determined 
by the Chorus ; wherein we trace a signal instance of the ^schy- 
lean method.   . 

More even to be regretted than the Lycurgeia is a colossal lost 
trilogy to which the name of Tragic Iliad has been given. That 
yEschylus should have frequently handled the subject-matter of 
the Iliad was natural ; and many titles of tragedies, quoted sin- 
gly, point to his preoccupation with the mythus of Achilles. It 
has, therefore, been conjectured, with fair show of reason, that 
the Myrmidons, the Nereids, and the Phrygians formed a triple 
drama. The first described the withdrawal of Achilles from the 


war, the arniing of Patroclus, and tlie grief which the son of 
Peleus felt for his friend's death. No Greek tragedy, had it been 
preserved, would have been more precious than this. The second 
showed how Thetis comforted her child, and procured fresh ar- 
mor for him from Hephaestus, and how Achilles slew Hector. In 
the third, Priam recovered the dead body of his son and buried 
it. Supposing the trilogy to have been constructed upon these 
outlines, it must have resembled a gigantic history -play, in which, 
as in the Iliad itself, the character of Achilles was sufficient to 
form the groundwork of a complicated poem. The theme, in 
other words, would have resembled those of the modern and ro- 
mantic drama, rather than such as the elder Greek poets were in 
the habit of choosing. The Achilleis did not in any direct way 
illustrate the doctrine of Nemesis, or afford a tragic conflict be- 
tween the human will and fate. It owed its lustre to the radiant 
beauty of the hero, to the pathos of his love for Patroclus, to the 
sudden blazing forth of irresistible energy when sorrow for the 
dead had driven him to revenge, and to the tranquillity succeeding 
tempest that dignified his generous compliance with the prayers 
of Priam. The trilogy composed upon it must, therefore, like 
a Shakespearian play, have been a drama of character. The frag- 
ments of the Myrmidones have already been pieced together in 
the essay on the Homeric Achilles.* From the Nereides nothing 
has survived except what may be gathered from the meagre rem- 
nants of the Latin version made of it by Attius. The Phrygians, 
also called "^KTopog Xvrpa, contained a speech of pleading address- 
ed by Priam to the hero in his tent, of which the following is a 
relic : 

Kal Toi'C 9av6vTac £t 6i\eig ivcpyeTuv, 
Tu yovy KaKovpydv ctftcpiSi^iwQ t\ti 
Kai fiijTE xaipeiv fii'iTt XvTTtlaOai Trdpa. 

♦See vol. i. pp. 91-123. 


t'lfjiwv ye ^ivroi 'SefieatQ taff vinprtpa 
Kn'i Tov 9av6i>TOQ 7) £(Kr] irpuaati kutov. * 

The trilogy of wliicli the Prometheus Bound formed probably the 
middle play has been sufficiently discussed in the chapter on 
^schylus.f It remains in this place only to notice that the gi- 
gantic geography of the poet received further illustration in the 
lost play of the Prometheus Unbound. " Cette geographic ver- 
tigineuse," says Victor Hugo, " est melee a une tragedie extraor- 
dinaire ou Ton entend des dialogues plus qu humains ;" and, in- 
verting this observation, we may add that the superhuman tragedy 
of the Promctheis owed much of its grandeur to the soul-dilating 
prospect of the earth's map, outstretched before the far-seeing 
sufferer on the crags of Caucasus. 

Two other trilogies — a Danais, composed of the Ugi/jitians, 
the Suppliants, and the Danaides ; and an (Edipodeia, composed 
of Laius, the Sphinx, and CEdipus — may be mentioned, though 
to recover their outlines with any certainty is now hopeless. For 
the rest, it must be enough to transcribe and to translate a few 
fragments of singular beauty. Here is an invocation uttered in 
his hour of anguish by Philoctetes to Death, the deliverer : 

(J Qavars. iraiav fit) /t' arifiaayQ fiokfXv ' 
fiovog yap tl av twv ai'rjKeerTwv kcikwv 
iarpvQ • aXyof 0' ovciv unTtrai vtKpov. % 

* Lo, if thou fain wouldst benefit the dead, 
Or if thou seelc to harm them, 'tis all one ; 
For they can feel no joy nor suffer pain, 
Nathless high Nemesis is throned above us. 
And Justice doth exact the dead man's due. 

f See vol. i. pp. 372-435. 

:j: Death, the savior, spurn me not, but come ! 
For thou alone of ills incurable 
Art healer : no pain preyeth on the dead. 


Another passage on Death, remarkable for the stately grandeur 
of its style, may be quoted from the Niobe : 

fxuvoQ Qi^v yap Odvarog ov Sdjpuiu tpcT, 

ovr' iiv 71 QvMV ovT i—icFwivdwv dvoig, 

ov jSwuoQ iGTiv oidt Traiojvi^eTai. / 

fiuvov Ss TTuQijj dat^6vu)v cLTTOcrraTH.* 

The sublime speech of Aphrodite in the Danaides, imitated more 
than once by subsequent poets, must not be omitted : 

f'pa n'iv ayvvQ orpavuQ rpioaai ^(Qiva, 
ipu>g St jaiav Xa/i/3ai'£t y('i[iov rvxtiv ' 
unfipoQ S' ott' tltvaii'Tog ovpavov ntaujv 
tKvat yaiav • r) vi TiKTt-ai jipordiQ 
lLn)\wv TE jiodKag Kai jiioi> ^rjuljTpiov ' 
civdpuing Upa S' ik pori^ovrog yap.ov 
TiXtiog tan ' ToJv S' tyu» TrctpaiTiog.f 

Nor, lastly, the mystic couplet ascribed to both /Eschylus and 
his son Euphorion : 

Ztvg ioTiv alGi'jp, Ztvg Si yrj, Ztvg S' ovpavor, 
ZlVg TOl TO. TTllVTa, ^w Tl TuirS' vTTtpTtpov. \ 

* Alone of gods Death loves not gifts ; with him 
Nor sacrifice nor incense aught avails ; 
He hath no altar and no hynnis of gladness ; 
Prayer stands aloof from him, Persuasion fails. 

t Love throbs in holy heaven to wound the earth ; 
And love still prompts the land to yearn for bridals ; 
The rain that falls in rivers from the sky, 
Impregnates earth, and she brings forth for men 
The flocks and herds and life of teeming Ceres ; 
The bloom of forests by dews hymeneal 
Is perfected : in all which things I rule. 

X Zeus is the air, Zeus earth, and Zeus wide heaven : 
Yea, Zeus is all things, and the power above them. 


The fragments of Sophocles are, perhaps, in even a stricter sense 
than those of yEschylus, a bare anthology, and the best way of 
dealing with them is to select those which illustrate the beauty 
of his style or the ripeness of his wisdom. Few, indeed, are full 
enough to afford materials for reconstructing the plot of a lost 
play. What, for instance, can be more tantalizing to the student 
of Greek manners and sentiments than to know that Sophocles 
wrote a drama with the title Lovers of Achilles, and yet to have 
no means of judging of its fable better than is given in this pret- 
ty simile? 

voarifM tpuiTog tovt i(l>i/iepov kukov " 
iXOifi' uv avTo fifj KUKuig diveiKccffat, 
orav nayov (pavkvTog alOpiov x^po'*' 
KpiKTraWof apTrdffiiitn naiStg daray!]. 
Tu TrpCuT ixovaiv rjdoi'dc ttotcuviovq, 
TtXoc v o \ ov9' oTTojg d<py 6'tKti 
ovT Iv yfpuiv TO KTiJua ai'iKpopov fi'trtiv. 
o'(tT(i) ye roi'C ipHjfTaQ avrbg 'ifiipog 
dpdv Kctl TO Hi] Spdv noXXuKig irpoiiTai.*' 

A whole series of plaj'^s were written by Sophocles on the tale cf 
Helen, and all of them have passed, "like shapes of clouds avo 
form, to nothing." There was, again, a drama of the Epirjon'i, 
which might, perhaps, have carried the tale of Thebes still further 
than the climax reached in the Antigone. Yet Stobaeus has only 

* This love-disease is a delightful trouble; 
Well might I shadow forth its power as thus : 
When the clear, eager frost has fallen, boys 
Seize with their fingers the firm frozen ice, 
And first they feel an unaccustomed pleasure, 
But in the end it melts, and they to leave it 
Or in their hands to hold it know not how ; 
Even so the same desire drives wilful lovers 
To do and not to do by frequent changes. 


thought fit to treat us to two excerpts from it, whereof the fol« 
lowing, spoken by Alcmfeon to Eriphyle, is the fullest : 

oj irav (TV To\fir]<ja<Ta Kai iripa yvvai' 
KCIKIOV dW OVK IdTlV ov5' iffTai iroTE 
yvvaiKoQ 61 Ti irri^a yiyvivai (ipoToTg.* 

The sententious philosophy of life that endeared Euripides to the 
compilers of commonplace-boohs was expressed by Sophocles also, 
with sufficient independence of the context to make his speeches 
valuable as quarries for quotation. To this accident of his art is 
probably due the large number of fragments we possess upon 
general topics of morality and conduct. In the following fine 
passage the poet discusses the apparent injustice in the apportion- 
ment of good and evil fortune to virtuous and vicious men : 

Seivov y€ Toi'g fi'tv cwcrefiiic kuki^v t arro 

fSKaarovraQ, dra romSt fxtv Trpaaauv koKuiq, 

Toi'Q S' wTag taOXovg ik re yevvaiwv ujia 

yiywrag tlra Sv(JTV\tiQ Trt(pvKEvai. 

ov XPU^ '■"^' o'vruj caiixovag 9v7]rwv Trept 

TrpdffdHv ' ixpiiv yap rovg fiiv iv<Tej3tig j3poTwv 

t^fiv Ti KtpSog ifKpavig 9swv Trdpa, 

Tovg S' ovrag adiKovg rolaSe Trjv ivavrlav 

liKt]V KUKUIV Tip.(jJp6v tflfavF] TU'HV. 

KOvSeig dv ovrug (.vtvxh kukoc y£ywg.-|- 

Woman, that bast dared all, and more than all ! 
There is not anything, nor will be ever, 
Than woman worse, let what will fall on men. 

It is right to observe that Weleker and Ahrens have conjecturally pieced to- 
gether this and many other scattered fragments, and connected them in auch 
a way as to reconstitute a tragedy with Ai-gos for its scene, not Thebes. 

f 'Tis terrible that impious men, the sons 
Of sinners, even such should thrive and prosper, 
While men by virtue moulded, sprung from sires 
II.— 6 


The same play furnished Stobseus with an excellent observation 
on garrulity : 

avrip yiip ooTif T/^erai Xeyoij' dii 
\k\t]9tv avTuv ToXg ^vvov(7iv wv jiapvQ.* 

Also with a good remark upon the value of sound common- 
sense : 

4'vx'n yap evvovg Kai (ppovovaa TovvdiKov 
Kptiaff(ov iTo^iaTov ttuvtoc itrriv ivpkng.j- 

The Aleadw supplied this pungent diatribe upon the contrast be- 
tween poverty and wealth : 

TO. xptinaT avQpdjiroKTiv tvplaKd ^i\ovg, 
avOiQ Ci TijiuQ tlra Ttjg v7rfpTaTt]C 
Tvpavi'iCoQ QaKovaiv al(j-)(taTi]v 'iSpav. 
iirura h' ovSdg tx^pog oiire tpver^;, 
Trpot; \pi]fiaff o'i re ^vvreg opvovvTai arvyiiv. 
Stivog yap 'ipnuv ttKovtoq ig re Ta^ara 
Kai irpbg fiajStjXa, xuTroOev Trivrjg avt)p 
ixf]5' tvTi'x<^v Si'i'air av wv tp^ Tvxitv- 
Kai yap Svaadeg aiofia Kai Cvcrwi'vuov, 
y\w(T(Tp <TO(puv Ti9t}(nv EVfiop<l>6v r ISeip. 

Complete in goodness, should be born to suffer. 
Nay, but the gods do ill in dealing thus 
With mortals ! It were well that pious men 
Should take some signal guerdon at their hands ; 
But evil-doers, on their heads should fall 
Conspicuous punishment for deeds ill-done. 
Then should no wicked man fare well and flourish. 

From the Aletes. 

* The man who takes delight in always talking 
Is irksome to his friends and does not know it. 

f A reasonable soul, by just perception. 
Better than sophists may discover truth. 


li6v(i> St ;^ai'p£tv (fat voativ t^ovcrta 
■Trapeariv avTi^i KcnriKpvil/aaQai KaKa.* 

In the Locrian Ajax we find two single Hues Avortli preserva- 
tion : 

aotpol Tvpavvoi twv cro^diy ^vvovu'k} "f 


diSpiiiirvQ i(TTi TTi'ti'na ical ffKtd /iovoi'.:}: 

Tliis charming description conies from the ^geus, recalling Ath- 
ens, where the poplars grow so large and leafy : 

ioa-Kip yiip Iv (piWoiffiv alyelpov jitaffpac, 
Kav i'iWo juj^ti', aWd roi'i/cen'ryc icdpa 
avpa KpaSaii'ei Kdi'aKov(pi'Cii TZTspov.% 

Some scattered utterances upon w^omen and love may be collected 
from the Phcedra, in which play Sophocles broke the ground 
trodden by Euripides : 

tp<>}Q yap dvSpac ov fioi'ovQ tntpx^Tai 
oiS' ail yvpatKag dXXd Kai Qiwv dvoj 

* Money makes fi-iends for men, and heaps up honors, 
And sets tlicni on the tyrant's hated throne: 
Wealth finds no foes, or none but covert foes. 
Climbs pathless ways, and treads where tracks are beaten ; 
While poor men, what luck gives them, may not use : 
A misshaped body, an ill-sounding name. 
Wealth turns by words to beauty, gifts with wisdom ; 
For wealth alone hath privilege of freedom 
In joy and sickness, and can hide its sorrow. 

f Tyrants are wise by wise society. 

^ Man is but wind and shadow, naught besides. 

§ As in the boughs of a tall poplar-tree, 
If nothing else, at least her shivering top 
Moves 'neatli the breeze and waves her leafy pinions. 


■^vxaq xapancti kuttI itoi'tov ipxirai. 

Kai TOPS' airupyuv ovS' 6 ■KayKpaTi)t; aQkvEi 

Zti's; dW iiTTtiKH Kal OkXwv tyKXii'srai. 

ovrw yvvatKoc ov^ev av fiiiCov Kai:uv 
KaKiJQ ai'ijp ktt]<tcut' av ovSe aw^povoc 
Kptiaaov ' nad^v 5' EKaaroQ wv Tvxy Xtyei.* 

The next fragment, extracted possibly from the Colchian Woinen, 
deserves to be compared with similar Euripidean passages, though 
in point of workmanship it is finer, and in profound suggestion 
more intense, than is the usual manner of Euripides : 

w TToiStg i] Toi Kvrrpig ov KvirpiQ }x6vov 
dXK' i(JTi ttoWCjv dvo/jLaToiv trrwvvfiog. 
tffTtv piv'AiSrig iari S' d<p9iToc j3ia 
iffTiv Si Xvffffci fiairaQ tffn S' "ifitpog 
aKparoQ ioT oifiwyi-WQ. iv Kuvy to irdv 
(TTTOvdaiov i^avxcuov tf ftiav dyov. 
iVTi'iKiTai yap Tri'fi'ftoj'wi' oaoig in 
4'^X''l- ^'^ *"^X* '"'/'^Cf Tijg dtov fSopd ; 
tlcrepxtTai fiiv IxOvi^v TrXoir^ yivu 
ivtffTi S' iv xi^paov TiTpaaKtXii yovy ' 
vwfx^ c' iv oi'aivoifft TOVKtlvTjg iTTepbv 
iv Qrjpoiv iv fipOToiffiv iv Oiolg dvw. 
Tiv OV TTaXaiovff ig Tplg iKJidXXu 0£tDj' ; 
It ^01 O'tpig, Bifiig it TaXijOij Xkyeiv, 
Aiug Tvpavvil Trvtvfiovwv ' dvtv Sopog 

* Love falls not only on the hearts of men 
Or women, but the souls of gods above 
He furrows, and makes onslaught on the sea : 
Against his force Zeus the all-powerful 
Is impotent — he yields and bends with pleasure. 

Than a bad wife a man can have no greater 
Curse, and no greater blessing than a good one. 
Each after trial speaks by his experience. 


aviu mSrfpov ndv-a toi avvrffivtrai 
Kinrpic Ta Ovrjrwv Kai QitHtv (iovXevfiara.* 

While upon this topic of love and women, I may quote a consid- 
erable fragment of the Tereus, marked by more sympathy for 
women in the troubles of their married lives than the Greek poets 
commonly express : 

vvv S' ovSsf ti'fii xtopiQ, c'tWa TroWaKiQ 

t(3\itpa ravTy rijv yvvaiKt'iav (pvaiv, 

ti)£ ovSsv iafiiv ' a'l vkai jitv iv TrarpoQ 

r)diarov olfiai ^wfitv arOpojTrwv fiiov ' 

TspTTfwc yap ad TravraQ avota rpt(pti. 

OTav S' tg 7;/3»jv i^ocw/teS' iixppoveg, 

wQovfitG' i'£,(i) Kai StifiiroXwiitOa 

9ta)V TTarpt^wv tuiv re (pvffdvTwv utto, 

a\ fitv Ktvovg irpog dvdpag, al St [Sapjidpovc, 

ai J' tig di]Qr] dwnaO', at S' iwlppoOa, 

* Girls, look you, Kupris is not Kupris only : 
In her one name names manifold are blended ; 
For she is Death, imperishable power. 
Frenetic fury, irresistible longing. 
Wailing and groaning. Her one force includes 
All energy, all languor, and all violence. 
Into the vitals of whatever thing 
Hath breath of life, she sinks. Who feeds her not ? 
She creeps into the fishes of the sea 
And the four-footed creatures of dry land, 
Shakes mid the birds her own aerial plumes, 
Sways beasts and mortal men and gods above. 
Which of the gods hath she not thrown in wrestling ? 
If right allow, and to speak truth is right, 
She rules the heart of Zeus. Without or spear 
Or sword, I therefore bid you know, Dame Kupria 
Fells at a blow of gods and men the counsels. 


Kat ravT tirtiSav (V<pp6it] Z,(.v%y fiia 
Xpiwi' tTrati'HV Kal doKilv kciKuic t\m'.* 

The same play contains a fine clioric passage upon the equality of 
liuman souls at birth, their after inequality through fortune : 

iV ^vXov dvOpwTTwv fii iStiS,e Trnrpof Krai ^larpoQ ijfiaQ 
af^i'ipa Toi'Q TrdvTag ' ovceig t^oxoQ dWog ifiXaiTTev dWov. 
(iuffKH Si rovg fiiv fidipa Svaafiipiag rovg S' o\[3oq ijfiwv 
Toi'C St SovXvag ^vyov tffxiv dvdyKag.j- 

Among the fragments that deal with the commonplaces of Greek 
tragedy, the following, from the Tyndareus, may be cited as a 
brilliant expression of the Solonian proverb : 

01" xph ''^0'^' ^^ TrpdffffoVTOQ 6X/S('(Tai ri'xag 
dvSpoQ TTplv avT({i TravriXbig i)drj (iiog 
SuKTreparOy icai TiXevrtjatj fiiov. 
iv -yap [Spaxil KaOtlXt KojX/yy XP^*"l' 

* Now am I naught — abandoned : oftentimes 
I've noticed how to this we women fall, 
How we are naught. In girlhood and at home 
Our life's the sweetest life men ever knov/, 
For careless joy is a glad nurse to all : 
But when we come to youth, gleeful and gay, 
Forth are we thrust, and bought and sold and bartered, 
Far from our household gods, from parents far. 
Some to strange husbands, to barbarians some, 
To homes uncouth, to houses foul with shame. 
Yea, let but one night yoke us, all these things 
Must needs forthwith be praised and held for fair. 

f Of one race and common lineage all men at the hour of birth 
From the womb are issued equal, sons alike of mother earth ; 
But our lots how diverse ! Some are nursed by fortune harsh and rude, 
Some by gentle ease, while others bare their necks to servitude. 


•ffainfKovTOv ciX/Soi' Caijiovoq kukov doaig, 
oTav /.UiCKxrij icai Otoig 6ok^ rdSeJ-' 

A play called the Scyrkm Women furnishes two excellent apo- 
thcgmatic passages upon the misery of old age and the inutility 
of mourning : 

ovSiv yap aXyog oloi' // ttoXXj) ^oij. 
■KavT iiiiTirbvKE r(,(> fiaKpi^ Y'lPf koko., 
vovQ (ppovSog tpy a\pEia ^povriSeg KEvai. 

dW £(' /ft)' J/i' K\ai'oiii7(j' laadai kuko. 

Kai rbv OavoiTci ^aKpvoig dviardvai, 

6 \pv(Tug ifaaov Krijiia rov KXaieiv dp ifV. 

vvv o' d) yepcctt ravT nvi]vvrttiQ i^n 

Tov [I'tv Td<p(i) KpvfpOivTU iTpig TO <pit>g dyeiV 

KOfioi yap dv irarlip ye ^aKpvuii' x^'piv 

dviJKT dp ilg ^wg. f 

* To call that man who prospers truly happy 
Were vain before his life be wholly done ; 
For in short time and swift great power and riches 
Have fallen by the dower of fate malign, 
When fortune veers and thus the gods decree. 

•)■ There is no trouble worse than length of life. 
Old age hath all the ills that flesh is heir to — 
Vain thoughts and powerless deeds and vanished mind. 

If mourners by their cries could cure our misery, 

If tears could raise the dead to life again, 

Gold would be valueless compared with crying. 

But now, old man, these sorrows nought avail 

To bring to light him whom the grave hath covered ; 

Else had my father, too, by grace of tears, 

The day revisited. 

The second of these extracts finds a close echo in some beautiful lines on 
the inutility of tears by Philemon [Sm-dius fr. i.]. 


Two lines from a lost play on the tale of Odysseus illustrate the 
celebrated pun of Ajax on his own name : 

apBioQ S' 'OSvffffiVQ it ft tTTUJVVHOC KUKolc; • 

iroWol yap tjdvaavTO Svaatjitiq tjioi* 

In conclusion, a few single lines or couplets may be strung to- 
gether for their proverbial pithiness and verbal delicacy : 

tveffn yap riq Kal Xoyoimv ydovt) 
Xrj9i]v orav Troiaifft twv ovtojv icaKwv, 

Tu /u) yap ElVai KpU(T(TOV 7) TO Z>)V KUKuic. 

TTovov ^tTaWax9ti'T0£ oi ttovoi yXvKtig. 

ii ffwfia SovXov dXX' 6 vovg tXavOipog. 

bpKovg tyix) yvvaiKog iig vS<i)p ypd^ii). 

Hi 9i>r]rov av^puiv Kal TaXairroapov yivog • 
wg ovStv tafiev, TrX>]v ffKialg loiKoreg, 
(3dpog ntpiaabv y!jg dvacTpw(p<t>fitvoi. 

ddpaii, yvvai • tu ttoXXu tHjv Seivwv ovap 
■wvimavTa vvKTog I'lfiepag jiaXdafferai. 

rd fiiv StSaKrd fiai'Qdi'io, ru t)' (vpeTa 
^jjrw, rd c' liiKTu irapd OtCjf yTt](Tdfi7]v.\ 

* Rightly do bad men call my name Odysseus, 
For ill folk odious insults heap upon me. 

f Even in words there is a pleasure, when 
They bring forgetfulness of present woes. 

'Tis better not to be than to live badly. 

When toil has been well finished, toils are sweet. 

Enslave the body — still the soul is free. 

The oaths of women I on water write. 


Whenever we compare Euripides with his predecessors, we are 
k'd to remark that he disintegrated the drama by destroying its 
artistic unity and revealing the modus operandi of the scientific 
analyst. All the elements of a great poem were given as it were 
in their totality by vEschylus. Sophocles, while conscious of the 
effect to be gained by resolving the drama into its component 
parts, was careful to recombine them by his art. It is difficult 
with either ^schylus or Sophocles to separate a passage from its 
context without injuring the whole, or to understand the drift of 
a sentence without considering both circumstance and person. 
With Euripides the case is somewhat different. Thougli he com- 
posed dramas supremely good in the aggregate impression left 
upon our mind, we feel that he employed his genius with delight 
in perfecting each separate part regarded by itself alone. So 
much of time and talent might be spent on the elaboration of the 
plot, so much on the accentuation of the characters, so much on 
lyric poetry, so much on moral maxims, so much on description, 
and so much on artificial argument. There is something over- 
strained in this crude statement; yet it serves to indicate the 
analytic method noticeable in Euripides. It consequently hap- 
pened that his plays lent themselves admirably to the scissors and 
pastebox method of the compilers. He was a master of gnomes 
and sentences, and his tragedies were ready-made repertories of 
quotations. The good cause and the better were pleaded in his 
dialogues with impartial skill, because it was the poet's aim to set 

mortals, wretched creatures of a day, 
How truly are we naught but like to shadows 
Rolling superfluous weight of earth around ! 

Take courage, lady : many fearful things 

That breathed dark dreams in night, by day are solaced. 

What may be taught, I learn ; what may be found, 

1 seek ; from heaven I ask what may be prayed for. 


fortli what miglit be said rhetorically — because he took a lively 
interest in casuistry for its own sake. These qualities, combined 
with so much that is attractive in his fables, radiant in his fancy, 
tender in his human sympathy, and romantic in his conduct of a 
play, endeared him to the Greeks of all succeeding ages. AVhat 
they wanted in dramatic poetry he supplied better than any other 
playwright, except perhaps Menander, who, for similar reasons, 
shared a similar exceptionally lucky fate. The result is that, 
besides possessing at least eighteen of the plays of Euripides, as 
against seven of Sophocles and seven of ^schylus, our anthology 
of Eui-ipidean excerpts is voluminous in the same ratio. The ma- 
jority of these we owe to the industry of Stobseus, who always 
found something to his purpose in a drama of Euripides, wliile 
collecting wise precepts and descriptive passages to illustrate the 
nature of a vice or virtue. We must be careful, amid the medley 
of sentiments expressed with equal force and equal ease, to re- 
member that they are not the poet's own, but put into the mouth 
of his dramatic personages. "What is peculiar is the impartiality 
of rhetorical treatment they display — a quality which, though it 
may not justify, accounts for, the Aristophanic hostility to the 
Euripidean school of talkers on all subjects. 

In addition to fragments, there remain detached portions of 
the Fhaethon, the Erechtheus, and the Antiope, sufficient, if noth- 
ing else had been preserved of the Euripidean drama, to suggest 
a better notion of this poet and his style than of Ion or Achaeus, 
his lost compeers in the Alexandrian Canon. From the catastro- 
phe of the Fhaethon, for example, it appears that Euripides con- 
trived a truly striking contrast between the reception of the dead 
youth's corpse into the palace by his mother, and the advent, im- 
mediately following, of his father with a Chorus chanting bridal 
hymns. Lycurgus the orator, quoting the JErechtheus, has trans- 
mitted a characteristic speech by Praxithea, who deserves to be 


added to tlie list of courageous women painted with the virtues 
of evxpvxia by Euripides. She maintains that, just as she would 
gladly send forth sons in the face of death to fight for their coun- 
try, so, when the State requires of her the sacrifice of a daughter, 
she would be ashamed to refuse this much and far more. The 
outlines of the Antiope are more blurred ; yet enough survives of 
a dialectical contention between Zethus and Amphion, the one 
arguing for a life of study and culture, the other for a life of 
arms and action, to illustrate this phase of the master's manner. 
With reo-ard to i\\& Pha'cthon, it should be mentioned that Goethe 
attempted its restitution. Ills essay may be studied with inter- 
est by those who seek to understand the German poet's method 
of approaching the antique. The reverence Avith which he handles 
the precious relics may possibly astonish scholars, who, through 
fastidiousness of taste, have depreciated a dramatist they imper- 
fectly comprehend.* English literature, since the beginning of 
this year, can boast its own Erechtheus^ restored by Swinburne on 
the model of ^schylus rather than Euripides. While referring 
to the mutilated dramas of Euripides, the opening to the Dana'e 
requires a passing word of comment. It consists of a prologue 
in the mouth of Hermes, a chorus, and a couple of lines spoken 
by Acrisius. The whole, however, is pretty clearly the work of 
some mediaival forger, and has, so far as it goes, the same kind 
of interest as the XpirrTog ttcktxwj', because it illustrates the ascend- 
ency of Euripides during the later ages of Greek culture. 

Irksome as it may be to both writer and reader, I know no bet- 
ter method of dealing with the fragments of Euripides than that 
a'ready adopted with regard to those of Sophocles. The frag- 
ments themselves are precious, and deserve to be presented to the 
modern student with loving and reverential care. Yet there is no 
way of centralizing the interest of their miscellaneous topics ; and 
* See Goethe, Scimmtlkhe Wcrkc, 1840, vol. xxxiii. pp. 22-43. 


to treat them as an anthology of quotations, selecting the most 
characteristic and translating these as far as possible into equiva- 
lent lines, is all that I can do. 

A peculiarly interesting fragment in its bearing on Greek life 
shall be chosen for the first quotation. It comes from the satyric 
drama of Autoli/cus, and expresses the contempt felt by cultivated 
Athenians for young men who devoted all their energies to gym- 
nastics. It is not easy to connect the idea of vulgarity with that 
of the Greek athletes whose portraits in marble, no less resplen- 
dent than the immortal Apoxyomenos of the Vatican, adorned 
the peristyles of Altis. Yet there can be little doubt from the 
following fragment, taken in connection with certain hints in 
Plato, that these muscular heroes of an hour, for whom wreaths 
were woven and breaches broken in the city walls, struck some 
green-eyed philosophers as the incarnation of rowdyism, Euripi- 
des, if we may trust his biographers, had been educated by his 
father as an athlete ; and it is not improbable that his early dis- 
taste for an eminently uncongenial occupation, no less than his 
familiarity with the manners of its professors, embittered his style 
in this sarcastic passage. Such splendid beings as the Autolycus, 
before whom the distinguished guests in Xenophon's Symposium 
were silenced, seemed to our poet at best but sculptor's models, 
walking statues, ttoXewc ayaX/ta-a, and at worst mere slaves of 
jaws and belly, irepKracu aapicec. Early in Greek literature the 
same relentless light of moral science, like the gaze of ApoUonius 
undoing Lamia's charm, had been cast upon the athletes by Xe- 
nophanes of Colophon. While listening to Euripides, we can 
fancy that the Adikos Logos from the Clouds of Aristophanes is 
speaking through his lips to an Athenian audience, composed of 
would-be orators and assiduous dikasts : 

KaKwv yap orrwv pvplujv Kaff EXXa^rt, 
ovdiv KOKiov iffrtv ciOXtjtwv y'tvovg. 


01 vpthra n'tv 'C<]v ovre. iiavQavovaiv iv, 
ovT av SvvaivTO ' Trdig yap (iorte tffr' avi]p 
yvd9ov TS SovXoQ vrjdvog 0' t](T(Tr)ixivog, 
KTi'iffaiT av oX/3ov tig viripfioKi^v varpog ; 
ovS' av TTEViaGai Kai KvvrjptrixHV rvxai^Q 
oloi T • 'iQri yap ovk WiaQkvTtq koKcl 
(TK\t]puig SiaWdaaovaiv tig rdfiijxava. 
Xanirpoi S' iv 7][ig Kai noXtojg ayaX;/ara 
(poiTCJff • OTuv St Trpoaii'coy ynpag TriKpbv 
rp'^wvig tKJiaKovTig olxovTai KpoKog. 
f ufuif/«/(>)V St Kai Tuv 'EWi']vtt)V vofiov 


Ti/iuKj' dxptiovg riSovdg SaiTog X"pi-^- 
rig yap naXaiaag iv, rig wKvirovg avflp 
rf SiaKov dpag r) yvdOov vaiaag KaXojg 
TToXfi Trarpt.J^ arKpavov i'lpKtatv XajSuiv; 
TTOTtpa fiaxovvrai noXtfiioiaii' iv X*potJ/ 
SioKovg ixovTtg fi Si damSojv xtpi 
Otivovrtg iK^aXovai TroXtixiovg ndrpag ; 
ovStig (JiSt]pov ravTa nwpaivti TrtXag 
ordg. dvSpag ovv ixpnv (ro(povg rt KayaOovg 
<pvXXoig (TTtcptaOai, x<3(Trie ijytirai TvdXti 
koXXkttu, (TW(pptDV Kai CtKaiog wv dvr]p, 
offTig Tt p.vQoig ipy' aTaWaffcrti KaKa 
^dxag T d<paipixiv Kai ardatig ' roiavra yap 
iroXti Tt ttdaij ixdai 9' "EXXr]aiv KaXd.* 

* Of all the thousand ills that prey on Hellas 
Not one is greater than the tribe of athletes ; 
For, first, they never learn how to live well, 
Nor, indeed, could they ; seeing that a man, 
Slave to his jaws and belly, cannot hope 
To heap up wealth superior to his sire's. 
How to be poor and row in fortune's boat 
They know no better ; for they have not learned 
Manners that make men proof against ill luck. 
Lustrous in youth, they lounge like living statues 


Passing from the athletes to a cognate subject, the following 
fragment from the Dictys nobly expresses the ideal of friendship. 
The first two lines seem to need correction ; I have let them 
stand, though inclined to propose ku for koX, and to conjecture 
the loss of a line after the second : 

ip'iKoQ yap rjv f^ioi' Kai f^i tpioQ i\oi TTori 
ouK eig TO fiuipov ovSe fi eiq Kvvpiv rpinutv. 
aW ten Si] tiq oKKoq iv fSpoTolQ fpwc, 
Tpvx>i£ SiKaiag auxppovoQ re KuyadriQ, 
Kai XPUV Si TOiQ (3poroiai t6v£' Eivai vojiov, 

TWV ElXTSJiovVTUlV o'lTlVEQ yi <Tdj<pp0VtS 

ipav, KvTTpiv Si rfjv Aioq xaipm' tav.* 

Deckinj:f the streets ; but when sad old age comes, 

They fall and perish like a threadbare coat. 

I've often blamed the customs of us Hellenes, 

Who for the sake of such men meet together 

To honor idle sport and feed our fill ; 

For who, I pray you, by his skill in wrestling, 

Swiftness of foot, good boxing, strength at quoits, 

Has served his city by the crown he gains ? 

Will they meet men in fight with quoits in hand, 

Or in the press of shields drive forth the foeman 

By force of fisticuffs from hearth and home ? 

Such follies are forgotten face to face 

With steel. We therefore ought to crown with wreaths 

Men wise and good, and him who guides the State, 

A man well-tempered, just, and sound in counsel. 

Or one who by his words averts ill deeds. 

Warding off strife and warfare ; for such things 

Bring honor on the city and all Hellenes. 

* He was ray friend ; and may love lead me never 
Aside to folly or to sensual joy ! 
Surely there is another sort of love 
For a soul, just, well-tempered, strong, and good. 
And there should be this law for mortal men, 


About Eros and Aphrodite the poet has supplied us with a 
good store of contradictory sentiments. In one long and very 
remarkable fragment (No. 839, ed. Dindorf) from an unknown 
play, Euripides, if he be indeed the author of the verses, has imi- 
tated JEschylus, taking almost word for word the famous vaunt 
of Kupris, quoted above from the Danaides. The three next 
pieces may be also cited among the praises of Love : 

i'pojra S' oariQ /(») Otov Kptrti jxiyav 
Kcti Twv aTravTi-ov Saifiovtov vTriprarov, 
i] (TKaiog turn' j) KaXHJf aTrupoQ wv 
ovK olSe rov fikyiuTov avQpwTtoiQ Qiov. 

o(TOi yap tiQ tpwTa ■KiTCTOvtriv jSporCJv 
iaOXwv urav T(;xtti(ii rwi" ipio/JiViov 
ovic iaB' oTToiaQ XtiwtTca rijg r)^oi';}(;. 

t;^w Si ToXfiijg Kai Opaaovg SiSaaKaXov, 
IV Tolg dni]xdvoi(nv ivnopwraTov, 
tpojTU lidvTwv Svff^axioTarov Oeuiv.* 

To love the pure and temperate, and to leave 
Kupris, the daughter of high Zeus, alone. 

We find a witty contradiction to the sentiment of these lines in a fragment 
of Amphis [^Dithyramhus, f r. 2] : 

Ti (f>yQ ; ab ravri irpoacoK^c -miaHv f /i' ujq 

ipMQ rt£ larlv oariQ wpdiov (jiiXiov 

TpoTTlOV tpa(TT>]Q icSTl Tl)v OtplV ITCipiig ] 

d<ppti)v y' dXriQCoQ. 

* Whoso pretends that Love is no great god, 
The lord and master of all deities, 
Is either dull of soul, or, dead to beauty. 
Knows not the greatest god that governs men. 

Auge, 269. 
When it befalls poor mortal men to love, 

Should they find worthy objects for their loving, 
Then is there nothing left of joy to long for. 

Andromeda^ 147. 


Here, again, remembering how much the Greeks included in 
the term music, is a pretty compliment : 

liovaiKriv S' dpa 
ipoJC SiSdaKEi Kav dfiovaog y to vpiv.* 

The next is a graceful expostulation on the lover's part with 
the god who can make or mar his happiness in life : 

(TV ^ Co Tvpavvi Gewv re KavBpw'jriiJv f'pojg 
T) fi)) Si£a(TKt TO. KaXc't tpa'n'iadai KoXd, 
Tj to7q tpwaiv liii' ai' Stjfiiovpyog u 

flOxOoiKXl flOxQovq (VTVX<t>Q OVVEKTrOI'et. 

Kcti Tavra fiiv Spiov TtfitoQ Oeolg tffei, 

firj Sp^v S' vtt' ctvTov Tov SiSdaKtaOai <piK{iv 

dpaipiOfjtrei xapirag alg Tifxuxri ae.f 

Nor is this without its tincture of respect: 

dvSpbg d' vpwvroQ elg Kvirpiv vtaviov 
d(f>{j\aKrog i) Ti)pr](ng • rjv yap faiiXog g 
rdXk tig ipwra irdg drtjp aoipWTtpog. 
rjv S' at) TrpoaiJTai Kvvrpig tjSkttov XajSelv-t 

Mine is a master of resolve and darinsr. 

Filled with all craft to do impossible things, 

Love, among gods the most unconquerable. 

Hippoli/tus, 431, 
* Music, at least. 

Love teaches men, unmusical before. 

Stheneboea, 664. 
f Love, our lord, of gods and men the king. 

Either teach not how beauteous beauty is, 

Or help poor lovers, whom like clay thou mouldest, 

Through toil and labor to a happy cud. 

Thus shalt thou gain high honor : otherwise 

The loving lessons that men learn of thee, 

Will rob thee of their worship and good-will. 

Andromeda, 135, 
X A young man with eyes turned to follow beauty 

May not be governed : yea, though he be weak, 


But Euripides can turn round and rate Love for liis encourage- 
ment of idleness. There is a stern perception of the facts of life 
in the following excerpt from the Danae : 

ipu)Q yap apybv kclttI rdig apyoiig t^v ' 
(piKii KaroTTTpa koI KOjifjg ^avQlcfjiara 
<pivyu 6e fiox^ovg. 'iv Ss fioi TEKfii]piov. 
ovSeis TrpoaaiTwv jiioTov ijpaaQi} fipoTujv, 
iv ToiQ S' i^ovaiv ii(3T]TriQ ■77B<pvx' oSe.* 

Concerning women he is no less impartial. However he may- 
have chosen to paint their possibilities of heroism, and the force 
of their character in hours of passion or of need, no poet has 
certainly abused them in stronger terms. The following is an 
almost laughable example : 

Stivrj fiev aXici] KVfidrdJV QaXaaaiiav 
Clival Sk noTafiov Kai 'jrvpog Otpfiov irvoai 
Seivov St TTEvia Seivd £' dWa fivpia' 

dW OVC'tV OVTO) SuVOV U)Q yvi'i) kukuv 

ovS' dv ykvoiTO ypdfifxa roiovr' iv ypacpy 
ovS' dv \6yog dii^utv ' ti ds rov 9twv 
ToS' t(TTi TrXdcr/ia STjfiiovpybg wv kukuiv 
/isyicrroc icrrw Kai (SpoToTm Svffntvr]C.\ 

Yet is he wise and masterful for loving ; 

And when Love smiles, what boon surpasseth love ? 

Antigone, 161. 
* Love is a sluggard, and of sloth the twin : 
Mirrors and hair-dyes are his favorite toys ; 
Labor he shuns. I take this truth to witness : 
No beggar for his bread was known to love, 
But with rich men his beauty-bloom abounds. 

f Dire is the violence of ocean waves, 
And dire the blast of rivers and hot fire, 
And dire is want, and dire are countless things ; 
But nothing is so dire and dread as woman. 
II.— 7 


Nor can the group which I have classed together in the follow- 
ing extracts be considered as complimentary : 

■jrXfiv TriQ TiKov<Tr]Q OtjXv tt^v [iktCj ykpog. 

ivSov fiBvovcrav rriv yvvcuK iivai xptiuv 
ladXifv Oupaai d' a^iav rov firjSepog. 

tffriv Si nr]TT]p ^iKoTEKVOQ fiaXKov irarpoQ ' 
T) fiiv yap avrijs olSev bvd' 6 S' olerai. 

ovK iariv ovrt rii\oQ ovre ■^pij^iaTa. 
ovT aXko SvffipvXaKrov ovStv wq yvvfi. 

c'ivtI yap irvpbg 
irvp aXXo fxtiZov rjSk dva^ta^xwrepov 
i^XacTOV a'l yvvaiKiQ. 

yajitiTE vvv yajuttrt K^r« QvriaKiTt 
ri fpapfiaKoiaiv tK yvvaiKog rj SoXoig.* 

No painting could express her dreadfulness, 
No words describe it. If a god made woman, 
And fashioned her, he was for men the artist 
Of woes unnumbered, and their deadly foe. 

Incert. Fab., 880. 
* Saving my mother, I hate womankind. 

Melanippide, 507. 
Good women must abide within the house : 
Those whom we meet abroad are nothing worth. 

Meleager, 527. 
Mothers are fonder of their sons than fathers : 
For mothers know they're theirs, while fathers think it. 

Incert. Fab., 883. 

There is no fort, there is no money-box, 

Nor aught besides, so hard to guard as woman. 

Danae, 323. 
Instead of fire, 

Another fire mightier and more invincible 

Is woman. 

Hippolytm, 430. 


On marriage many pithy sayings might be cited. The one I 
take first is eminent for practical brutality combined with sound 
sense : 

0(701 yanovm S' »; yh'ct KpiijaovQ ydfiovg 
7) TToWd ;;^p^juar' oi»k tTciaravTai yajiiiv. 
TO. TiJQ ■YvvatKOQ yap Kparovvr tv Swjiaaiv 
SovXoX Tov auSpa KOVKer tar' tXtvOepog. 
TrXoCrof S' tTraKTOQ ik yvvaiKiluv ya/noiv 
avoi'TjTog  ai yap diaXvasig ov pqiSiai.* 

To the same category belongs the following, though its worldly 
wisdom conceals no bitterness : 

KUKov yvvaiKa vpog vkav Zev^ai vkov 
fMKpa yap laxi'Q naWov apaivuiv fievei, 
6)l\Ha S' i'jj3)] Qaaaov itcXuTru Ujxag.\ 

It answers to our own proverb : " A young man married is a 
young man marred." 

For the sanctities of domestic life, and for the pathetic beauty 
of maternal love, no poet had a deeper sense than Euripides. The 
following lines, spoken apparently by Danae, makes us keenly re- 

Marry, go to, yea, marry — and then die 
By poison at a woman's hand or wiles. 

Cretan Women^ 46*7. 

* Those men who mate with women better born 

Or wed great riclies, know not how to wed ; 

For wlien the woman's part dotli nile the house. 

The man's a slave ; large dowers are worse than none, 

Seeing they make divorce more difficult. 

Melanippide, 513. 

f To mate a youth with a young wife is ill ; 

Seeing a man's strength lasteth, while the bloom 

Of beauty quicklv leaves a woman's form. 

.M)lus, 22. 


gret the loss of the tragedy that bore her name ; all the tender- 
ness of the Simonidean elegy upon her fable seems to inspire the 
maiden's longing for a child to fill her arms and sport upon her 

70)1 ^^ vpog ayKaXuKTi kciI arkpvotg Ijuoig 

■tpvxuv efirjv KTrjcairo ' ravTci yap (ipoTo'iQ 
fiXrpov (ikyiaTov at '^vvovcriai Tzartp.* 

And where was the charm of children ever painted with more 
feeling than in these verses from the same play ? 

yvvaiy <pi\ov fiiv ipeyyog i)\iov toSi, 

KoXbv di TTOVTOV Xii'n' tSdv tVt]V(flOV, 

yi] T r/pivov GaXXovffa irkovaiov 6' vdiop, 

■jToWwv T tTiaivov tari /ioi X't^ai koXwi'. 

aW ovSiv o'vToj Xo/urrpov ovS' Ichv koKov ' 

wc, roif airaiai Kal TTodtii CiCijyuevoig 

■TraiSwv vtoyvuiv tv Sofioig ISiTv (pdog.'f 

In the next quotation, beautiful by reason of its plainness, a 
young man is reminded of the sweetness of a mother's love : 

* He, leaping to my arms and in my bosom, 
Might haply sport, and with a crowd of kisses 
Might win my soul forth ; for there is no greater 
Love-charm than close companionship, my father. 

Bana'e, 325. 

t Lady, the sun's light to our eyes is dear, 

And fair the tranquil reaches of the sea. 

And flowery earth in May, and bounding waters ; 

And so right many fair things I might praise ; 

Yet nothing is so radiant and so fair 

As for souls childless, with desire sore-smitten, 

To see the light of babes about the house. 

lb., 327. 



ipuTB fir]TpoQ Trainee " wq ovk i<st ip<x)Q 
TOiovTOQ aXKoQ oioQ j'lSioJv tpav.* 

The sentiment here expressed seems to be contradicted by a 
fragment from an unknown play (No, 887), where a son tells his 
mother that he cannot be expected to cling to her as much as to 
his father. The Greeks, as we gather from the Oresteia of JEschy- 
lus, believed that the male offspring was specially related by sym- 
pathy, duty, and hereditary qualities to his father. The contrast 
between women and men in respect to the paternal home is well 
conveyed in the following four lines : 

yvvij yap i^eXGovffa 7raTp<^wv Sofiwv 
ov Twv TtKovTwv tffTiv ciXXd row Xi'x^ovQ ' 
TO S' apaev tffrrjK tv lofioiQ atl yivoQ 
6(.wv Trarpi^wv Kai Ta(pu)V Tifidopou.'f 

Some of the most remarkable excerpts from Euripides turn 
upon the thought of death — a doom accepted by him with mag- 
nanimous Greek stoicism. Those which appear to me the most 
important I have thrown together for convenience of compari- 

TIC S' olStv ii Zijv Tovff 6 KtKXj]Tai Gavtiv, 
TO Ztjv Sk Qvl]aKuv iuTi ; 7rXj}v o/ioic fipOTwv 
vocrovaiv o'l (SXeirovrtg ol S' oXwXortg 
ovSkv voaovaiv ovSi KtKTrivTat Kaica. 

* Naught is more dear to children than their mother. 
Sons, love your mother ; for there is no love 
Sweeter than this that can be loved by men. 

Erechtheus, 370. 

t A woman, when she leaves her father's home, 

Belongs not to her parents, but her bed ; 

Men stay within the house, and stand for aye 

Avengeful guardians of its shrines and graves. 

Danae, 330. 


iXpiiv y^P VlJ'Oie (rvXKoyov ■Koiovn'ivovQ 
Tov (pvvTa Qpr]vuv eiQ off ipx^Tai kuko., 
Tov d' av Oavovra Kai tt6j'ii)1' TrtTrav^kvov 
yaipovTUQ tv(pi]HOi>VTaQ iKTrkfiTTeiv co/iujv. 

Tovg Zi^vTOQ IV Spav' KarOavijjv Se ttclq avtjp 
yij Kai OKid ' to ftijSev tig ovSev p'nru. 

QdvaroQ yap dvQp(x)iroLffi veiKiuv tsXoq 
ix^i- ' ^' y^P TovS' iarl /ijT^oi/ kv fiporoig ; 
Tig yap iTiTpalov ffKoviXov ovri^wv Sopi 
bcvvaiai dioaei ; Tig S' drifiaZ.<>iv viKVQ, 
£1 firjSiv alaQdvoivTO rwv TraOiJudTOJv ;* 

To these should be added the magnificent words of consola- 
tion addressed by Dictys, in the tragedy that bears his name, to 
Danae : 

* Who knows if that be life which we call death, 
And life be dying ? — save alone that men 
Living bear grief, but when they yield their breath 
They grieve no more and have no sorrow then. 

Incert. Fab., 821. 

'Twere well for men, when first a babe draws breath, 
To meet and wail the woes that he must bear ; 
But to salute the soul that rests from care 
With songs and paeans on the path of death. 

Cresphontes, 454. 

Let those who live do right ere death descendeth ; 
The dead are dust ; mere naught to nothing tendeth. 

Mdeager, 63Y. 

In death there dwells the end of human strife ; 

For what mid men than death is mightier? 

Who can inflict pain on the stony scaur 

By wounding it with speai'-point ? Who can hurt 

The dead, when dead men have no sense of suffering ? 

Antigone, 160. 


^OKHQ Tov "AiSriv ffwv r« (ppovri^eiv y6(i)v 
Kai iraXd' avliaeiv tov aov ei OkXoiQ arkvuv ; 
travaai' ^Xiirovoa c' ei'c ra tuiv iriXag (ca/ca 
pawv y'ivoi iiv, £t \oy'it,f.adai OsXoig 
offoi r£ Stanolg iKfienoxdijvrai fSpordv, 
oaoi re yijpdaKovaiv 6p(pavoi t'ekvwv, 
TOVQ T tic jueyiffrjjc oXfiiag rvpavinSoc 
TO i-UjSiv ovrag ' TavTO. as ffKOTrtij/ ■x^ptwv.* 

Close to the tliought of deatli lies that of endurance ; and here 
is a fragment from the Hypsipyle^ which might be placed for a 
motto on the title-page of Epictetus : 

i(pv [itv ovSiiQ oanc ov Trovei [Sporwi', 

GciTTTll Te TEKl'a X«''SP' ^^ KTClTai vta, 

avToQ Te 6v!]<TKu, Kai Tad' a^fiovrai /3porot 
tig yrjv ^kpovTtg yrjv dvayKaioig S' 'ixit 
l3iov Qepi^tiv Hare Kap-mfiov a-axvv, 
Kai TOV [itv tivai tov hi fir] ' tI Tavra del 
OTtveiv, uTTip dti KaTu (pvffiv duKTZipav ; 
dtivov yap ovSev twv dvayKaiuiv j3poToXg.f 

* Think'st thou that Death will heed thy tears at all, 
Or send thy son back if thou wilt but groan ? 
Xay, cease ; and, gazing at thy neighbor's grief, 
Grow calm : if thou wilt take the pains to reckon . 
How many have toiled out their lives in bonds, 
How many wear to old age, robbed of children, 
And all who from the tyrant's height of glory 
Have sunk to nothing. These things shouldst thou heed. 

Diciys, 334. 

t No man was ever born who did not suffer. 
He buries children, then begets new sons, 
Then dies himself : and men forsooth are grieved, 
Consigning dust to dust. Yet needs must be 
Lives should be garnered like ripe harvest-sheaves, 
And one man live, another perish. Why 


On Justice and the punishment of sins we may take the fol- 
lowing passages, expressing, with dramatic energy, the intense 
moral conscience of the Greek race : 

SoKEire TDjddi' rdSiKijfiar dg Otovg 
TTTEpoicn, KaTTiir' iv Aiog SsXtov 'tttvxo.^C 
ypn(ptiv Tiv' aiird, Zljva S' ilaopuiVTa viv 

6vT]T01q SlKClLiHV ; Olio' 6 TTCIQ dv ovpavoQ 

Aiog ypd<povTog rag fiporoiv dfiapTiag 
i^apKeaeiev, ovd' tKtXvog dv aKoirCjv 
irkfjiTrtiv eKdaT((i Zr]fitap ' dW i) AiKrf 
ivrav9d ttov 'ariv iyyiig ii (iovXtaQ' opdv. 

TT]V roL AiKriv Xsyovm vaXS' ilvai Aiog 
iyyvg rf. va'iuv rijg ftporCjv dfiapriag.* 

They stand, however, in somewhat curious opposition to a frag- 
ment from Bellerophon about Divine Justice : 

(prjmv Tig tlvai Srjr', tv ovpav<^ Btovg ; 
ovK tiaiv, ovK £((t'. fi Tig dvdpwirwv \kyfi, 
fiT] Tip TraXai(^ fiilipog ojv xpr]aQo) Xoyif). 
aKeipaffOs S' avrd fiij Vi Toig ifiolg \6yoig 

Mourn over that which nature puts upon us ? 
Naught that must be is terrible to mortals. 

Hypsipyle, 752. 

* Think you that sins leap up to heaven aloft 
On wings, and then that on Jove's red-leaved tablets 
Some one doth write them, and Jove looks at them 
In judging mortals ? Not the whole broad heaven, 
If Jove should write our sins, would be t-:ough, 
Nor he suffice to punish them. But Justice 
Is here, is somewhere near us ; do but look. 

Melanippide, 488. 
Justice, they say, is daughter of high Jove, 
And dwells hard by to human sinfulness. 

Alope, 149. 


yvibfii]v txovreg ' ^rjfi iyd) TvpavviSa 
KTtiviiv TE irXdarovg KTtijjiaTwv t aTTOtrrsptiv, 
opKovg TE Trapafiaivovrac iKTropQiiv, TroXtig, 
Kal Tavra SpojvreQ fiaWov £iV tvSaifioves 
Twv tvaifSovvTwv j)<Ti'X') I'd^' y'lfiepav 
■TToXeiQ Ts fiiKpciQ oJda TifiwaaQ Qiovg 
ai }iuZ,6v<tiv kKvovoi SvaatjiiaTkpwv 
XoyXijC apt9n'{i TrXtiovog Kparoviitvai.* 

In which of the fragments just quoted was the poet speaking 
in his own person ? In neither, perhaps, fully ; partly, perhaps, 
in both. About wealth he utters in like manner seemingly con- 
tradictory oracles: 

ifiig. vvv fXK£r' oi KaKoi n^iag (ipoToi 
Kai KraaGe irXovrov iravToQii' Qtjpwfitvoi 
avfi/iiKTa fit) SiKain Kai StKai of-iov • 
iTTUT dixaade ruJvSe SvaTtjvov Qipog. 

it) XP^'^^f Si^iufia KoXXiffTov (ipoToiig, 
ujg ovn fiijTTip ijSopdg Toidad' ixfi 
oil TralSeg dvOpwTToiatv oi) (piXog 7raTt)p, 
o'iag av xoi ak Swfiaaiv KtKri]nivoi. 

* Doth some one say that there be gods above ? 
There are not ; no, there are not. Let no fool. 
Led by the old false fable, thus deceive you. 
Look at the facts themselves, yielding my words 
No undue credence : for I say that kings 
Kill, rob, break oaths, lay cities waste by fraud, 
And doing thus are happier than those 
Who live calm pious lives day after day. 
How many little states that serve the gods 
Are subject to the godless but more strong. 
Made slaves by might of a superior army ! 

Bellerophontes, 293. 


ft d' 7) KvTrpii; toiovtov 6^0aX/ioTc 6p^ 
ov Oaiifi ipwrag fxvpiovg avTi)v rpt^eiv.* 

In what he says of noble birth Euripides never wavers. The 
true democrat speaks through his verse, and yet no poet has 
spoken more emphatically of bravery and hoaor. We may take 
the following examples in their order : 

iiQ S' ivy'iViiav oKiy txto (ppdffai KoXd ' 
6 jxiv yap iaOXbg tvyev7]Q ifioiy avt)p 
6 6' ov SiKaios Kav dfidvovoc iraTpoQ 
Zr}vog TTKpvKy cvffytv>)s dvai doKii. 

lyw ^liv ovv ovK old' ottujq (jkottuv ')^pii)v 
Tf}V tvykvtiav ' roi'C yap dvSptiovg (pvmv 
Kal Tovg SiKaiovg twv k£vwv So^aafidrwv 
Kav d»<7i SovXitiv (vyevKTTtpovc Xsyw, 

fiv Toiai yivva'ioiaiv £jg diravTaxov 
Trpi-KU xapaKTijp xPW'''Q ^'S ivxpvxlctv, 

iiTrag fiiv dffp aleri^ irepdfft^og 
uiratra Sk ;^0wv dvSpi yivvai'it Trarpig.f 

* Go to now, ye bad men, heap up honors 
By force, get wealth, hunting it whence ye can, 
By indiscriminate armfuls, right and wrong ; 
Then reap of all these things the wretched harvest. 

Ino, 420. 
Gold ! of all welcome blessings thou'rt the best ! 
For never had a mother's smile for men. 
Nor son, nor father dear, such perfect charm. 
As thou and they who hold thee for their guest. 
If Kupris darts such glamour from her gaze, 
No wonder that she breeds a myriad loves ! 

Bellerophontes, 288. 

t For mere high birth I have small meed of praise ; 
The good man in my sight is nobly born ; 


Further to illustrate liis conception of true nobility, using for 
this purpose in particular the fragments of the Antiope, would be 
easy. It appears throughout that Euripides was bent on con- 
trasting the honor that is won by labor with the pleasures of a 
lazy life. Against the hedonism which lay so near at hand to 
pagans in the license of the flesh, the Greeks set up an ideal of 
glory attainable alone by toil. This morality found expression in 
the famous lines of Hesiod on upe-ij, in the action of Achilles, in 
the proverb Trar-a ra KaXa -^^aXena, and in the fable of the choice 
of Hercules. Euripides varies the theme in his iambics by a 
hundred modulations : 

vtaviav yap di'Spa xpij ToKpiiv ati " 
ovdeig yap o)V p^QvfioQ ivk\e))q dvfip. 
aW 01 TTovoi TiKTovai Ttjv tvSoKiav. 

ovK tariv oariQ rfSiojg ZlToJv jiiovv 
trnXtiav ilfftKrtjaaT aXXd xpu ttovhv. 

6 S' I'lSvg alojv rj KOKr] t avavSpia 
ovT oIkov ovre yalav opGoJOEiev dv. 

avv fivpioifft rd KaXd y'lyvirai ttovoiq. 

While he who is not righteous, though his sire 
Than Zeus be loftier, seems to me but base. 

D'ldys, 341. 

I know not how to think of noble blood : 
For men of courage and of virtuous soul, 
Though born of slaves, are far above vain titles. 

Melanippide, 496. 
Lo, in all places how the nobly born 
Show their good breed and spirit by brave bearing ! 

Banae, 328. 
The whole wide ether is the eagle's way : 
The whole earth is a brave man's fatherland. 

Inccrf. Frori. WC, 


i/ii S' dp' ov 
Hox9ut> SiKaiov ; rig 5' afto\9oQ ivKXti]Q ; 
Tig Toiv fityiaruiv SuXbg £jv wpt^aro ;* 

The political morality deduced from this view of life is stern 

and noble : 

yvbifiy yap avSpbg tv fikv oiKovvrai TroKng, 
tv S' oiKog, elg r av ttoXejuov lox^^^ h^7^ ' 
aoiphv yap 'iv jiovKtvfia Tag ■noWag x^pag 
viKq. • avv o-)(\.<j} S' d[ia9ia TrXtlaTov kukov. 

Tpiig tlfflv ctpeTal Tag xptihv (j aoKtiv, tekvov, 
Oiovg T£ Tifiav Tovg Tt (pvaavTag yoviig, 
vofiovg Tt Koivovg 'EXXddog ' koI Tavra dpaiv 
KaWiffTov i^ug aTi<pavov tvKXtiag ati.t 

* A young man should be always doing, daring ; 
For no slack heart or hand was ever famous. 
'Tis toil and danger that beget fair fame. 

Archelatis, 233. 

Who seeks to lead a life of unstirred pleasure 
Cannot win fame : fame is the meed of travail. 

Ibid. 234. 

A life of pleasure and unmanly sloth 
Could never raise a house or State to honor. 

Ibid. 235, 

Fair honor is the child of countless toils. 

Ibid. 236. 

Is it not right that I 
Should toil ? Without toil who was ever famous ? 
What slothful soul ever desired the highest ? 

Ibid. 238. 

t 'Tis judgment that administers the State, 
The household, and in war of force is found ; 


Nor is the condemnation of mere pleasure-seeking less severe : 

avi)p yap oariQ iv (iiov KiKTt]fiivog 
Ta fiif kut' o'lKovQ diiiXicf Trapdg i^, 
fioKTraXm S' riffOtiQ tovt ad OtjpevtTai, 
apyoQ fitv o"iKoig Kai noXu yEVt]aeTai 
(piXoiai S' oy^ei'e • »/ (pvffic yap o'lx^Tai 
orav y\vKtia£ riSovrji; ijtjawv rig y* 

The indiflference induced by satiety is well characterized in the 
following lines : 

KopoQ St TravTojv ' Kai yap te KaWiovwv 
XtKrpoig iir aia\polQ tISov lKirf.7rXr]y{itvovQ. 
SaiTog St TrXjjpojOeig Tig dafitvog ■n-dXiv 
^avXy Siairy 7rpoa(iaXwv r'jffOr} CTu/xa. f 

In the foregoing specimens no selection has been made of lines 
remarkable for their aesthetic beauty. This omission is due to 
Stobaeus, who was more bent on extracting moral maxims than 

For one wise word in season hath more strength 
Than many hands. Crowds and no brains breed ruin. 

Antiope, 205. 
There are three virtues to observe, my son : 
Honor the gods, the parents that begot you. 
The laws that govern Hellas. Follow these. 
And you will win the fairest crown of honor. 

Ibid. 221. 

* The man who, when the goods of life abound, 
Casts to the winds economy, and spends 
His days in seeking after feast and song, 
At home and in the State will be a drone, 
And to his friends be nothing. Character 
Is, for the slaves of honeyed pleasure, gone. 

f There is satiety of all things. Men 
Desert fair wives to dote on ugly women ; 

Ibid. 196. 


strains of poetry comparable with the invocation of Hippolytus 
to Artemis. Two, however, I have marked for translation on 
account of their artistic charm ; the first for its pretty touch of 
picturesqueness, the second for its sympathy with sculpture : 

TToXt'c 5' avtip-KE Kiaaog lixjivfiQ KXddoQ 

XiXl^OV(t)l> fiOVffUOV. 

ta ' Tiv oxOov TovS' Opio TTtplppVTOV 
a<ppij) OaXaaffrig, TrapQkvov t tiKw riva 
i% avrofi6p^ti>v Xatvwv r£j;^t(T/iara»j/ 
<ro0j}(; dyaXfia ■x^eipog.* 

Some passages, worthy of preservation, yet not easily classified, 
may wind up the series. Here is " Envy, eldest born of hell :" 

ric apa fiijrijp fj TraTrjp kukov fiiya 
fipoToig E(pv(ri tuv Svau)vvp.ov tpQovov ; 
•Trov Kai ttot' oiKti truifiarojv Xa^^div fttpog ; 
iv xipalv 7] anXayxvoitriv i) Trap' lififiara 
tad' t'lfiiv ; WQ 7)v fioxOoQ iarpdiQ fityctQ 
TOfidiQ dfaipiiv »; TTordiQ j) (papfxaKoig 
■jraauii' fiEyiarrjv rCJv tv dvOp^noiQ voerwi/.f 

With rich meat surfeited, they gladly turn 
To humble fare, and find fresh appetite. 

* Much ivy crept around, a comely growth. 
The tuneful haunt of swallows. 

Antiope, 187. 

Alctnene, 91. 

What ! Do I see a rock with salt sea-foam 
Surrounded, and the image of a maiden 
Carved from the stony bastions nature-wrought 
By some wise workman's craft ? 

Andromeda, 127. 

f What mother or what father got for men 
That curse unutterable, odious envy ? 
Where dwells it ? In what member lies its lair ? 


The next couplet is pregnant with a home-truth which most 
men have had occasion to feel : 

uTravTfQ iafitv iiQ to vovOethv (jopol 
avToi S' brav afaXwfiEV ov yiyvioaKo/itv.* 

The value attached by Greek political philosophers to the 7]doc, or 
temperament, of states, and their dislike of demagogy, are ac- 
counted for in these four lines : 

TpOTTOg tOTI XptlOTOQ aa(paXi(!TipOQ VOflOV. 

Tov fiiv yap ovSiig av Siaarpixl/at irork 
prjTwp SvvaiTO, tov S' duw te /cat kcitm 
Xoyoig Tapdacujv TroWaKig Xvfiaiv£raL.\ 

One single line, noticeable for its weighty meaning, and Euripi- 
dean by reason of its pathos, shall end the list : 

vtog voyoig Sk y ovk ayufivacTTog (ppivag-jj. 

The lasting title to fame of Euripides consists in his having 
dealt with the deeper problems of life in a spirit which became 
permanent among the Greeks, so that his poems, like those of 

Is it our hands, our entrails, or our eyes 
That harbor it ? Full ill would fare the leech 
Who with the knife, or potions, or strong drugs. 

Should seek to clear away this worst disease. 

Ino, 418. 
* We all are wise for giving good advice, 

But when we fail we have no wisdom left. 

Inceri. Fab. 862. 

f Good ways of feeling are more safe than law : 
No rhetorician can upset the one ; 
The other he may tumble upside down 
With words, and do it often grievous wrong. 

Peirithous, 598. 

X Young, but in spirit not untrained by trouble. 

Didijs, 332. 


Menander, never lost their value as expressions of current philos- 
ophy. Nothing strikes the student of later Greek literature more 
strongly than this prolongation of the Euripidean tone of thought 
and feeling. In the decline of tragic poetry the literary sceptre 
was transferred to comedy, and the comic playwrights may be 
described as the true successors of Euripides. The dialectic 
method, degenerating into sophistic quibbling, which he affected, 
was indeed di'opped, and a more harmonious form of art than 
the Euripidean was created for comedy by Menander, when the 
Athenians, after passing through their disputatious period, had 
settled down into a tranquil acceptation of the facts of life. Yet 
this return to harmony of form and purity of perception did not 
abate the influence of Euripides. Here and there throughout his 
tragedies he had said once and for all, and well said, what the 
Greeks were bound to think and feel upon important matters, 
and his sensitive, susceptible temperament repeated itself over and 
over again among his literary successors. The exclamation of 
Philemon that, if he could believe in immortality, he would hang 
himself to see Euripides, is characteristic not only of Philemon, 
but also of the whole Macedonian period of Greek literature. 




Apparent Accident in the Preservation of Greek Poetry. — Criticism among 
tlie Ancients. — Formation of Canons. — Libraries. — The Political Vicissi- 
tudes of Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople. — Byzantine Scholarship in 
the Ninth Century. — The Lost MS. of Menander. — Tragic Fragments pre- 
served by the Comic Poets and their Scholiasts ; by Athenagus, by Stobse- 
us. — Aristotle. — Tragedy before JEschylus. — Fragments of Aristarchus. 
— The Medea of Neophron. — Ion. — The Games of Achseus. — Agathon ; 
his Character for Luxurious Living. — The Flower. — Aristotle's Partiality 
for Agathon. — The Family of ^Eschylus. — Meletus and Plato among the 
Tragic Playwrights. — The School of Sophocles. — Influence of Euripides. 
— Family of Karkinos. — Tragedians ridiculed by Aristophanes. — The 
Sisuphn.t of Critias. — Cleophon. — Cynical Tragedies ascribed to Dioge- 
nes. — Extraordinary Fertility of the Attic Drama. — The Repetition of Old 
Plots. — Mamercus and Dionysius. — Professional Rhetoricians appear as 
Playwrights. — The School of Isocrates. — The Centaur of Chaeremon. — 
His Style. — The T/umistocIcs of Moschion. — The Alexandrian Pleiad. — 
The Adonis of Ptolemy Philopator. 

Among the losses in Greek literature few are so tantalizing as 
the almost absolute extinction of the tragic poets who preceded 
and followed the supreme Athenian triumvirate. It would have 
been exceedingly interesting to trace the history of the drama 
from its rude origins up to the point at which the creative genius 
of ^schylus gave it an inalienable character, and again to note 
the deviation of the tragic muse from heroic themes to fables of 
pure fiction under the influence of Agathon. This pleasant task 
of analytical criticism, concordant with the spirit of our age, 

II.— 8 


whicla is not satisfied with admiring masterpieces unless it can 
also understand the law of their growth and mark the several 
stages in the process of historical development, will fall to the lot 
of no student now, unless, indeed, Pompeii render up a treasure- 
house of MSS. as yet undreamed of, and Signor Fiorelli save the 
priceless leaflets of charred tinder from destruction. 

"Why is it that out of the seventy plays of JEschylus only seven 
are extant ; of the Sophoclean one hundred and thirteen (allow- 
ing seventeen others which bore his name to have been spurious) 
only seven ; while eighteen — or, if we admit the Rhesus, nineteen 
— are the meagre salvage from the wreck of at least seventy-five 
dramas by Euripides ? Why is it that of their lost tragedies we 
possess but inconsiderable fragments — just enough to pi'ove that 
the compilers of commonplace books like Stoba?us might, if they 
had pleased, have gratified our curiosity beyond the dreams of a 
Renaissance scholar's covetousness ? Why, again, is it that of 
Agathon, Avhose dramatic romance, the Flower, was thought worthy 
of citation by Aristotle, whom Aristophanes named as 'Ayadwv o 
KXtivoQ, uyaduQ TrotrjTtjc kcu wodeiruQ Toiq (plXoic,* whose thanksgiv- 
ing banquet supplied a frame for Plato's dialogue on Love, and 
whose style, if faithfully depicted by the philosopher, was a very 
" rivulet of olive-oil noiselessly running" — why is it that of this 
Agathon we know nothing but what may be inferred from the 
caricature of the Thesmophoriazusoe, the portrait of the Symposi- 
um, and a few critical strictures in the Poetics ? Why is it that 
Ion, who enjoyed a great renown {TrtpijoorfTog kyivtro) and ranked 
as fifth in the muster-roll of Athenian tragic poets, is now but a 
mere empty name ? To these questions, which might be rhetori- 
cally multiplied ad infiyiitum on a hundred tones of querulous 
and sad expostulation with the past, there is no satisfactory an- 
swer. Not, as Bacon asserted, has time borne down upon his 
* Agathon the famous, a good poet, and lovable to bis friends. 


flood the froth and trash of things ; far rather may we thank fate 
that the flotsam and the jetsam that have reached our shore in- 
chide the best works of antiquity. Yet, notwithstanding this, 
" the iniquity of oblivion," in the words of Sir Thomas Browne, 
" bUndly scattereth lier poppy, and deals with the memory of 
men without distinction to merit of perpetuity." 

The students of antiquity attached less value than we do to 
literature of secondary importance. It was the object of their 
criticism, especially in the schools of Alexandria, to establish 
canons of perfection in style. The few great authors who were 
deemed worthy to rank as standards received unlimited honor, 
nor was it thought too much by Aristarchus or Aristophanes to 
devote a lifetime to their service. For inferior poets, whom we 
should prize as necessary to a full comprehension of the history 
of art, they felt less respect, not having grasped the notion that 
aesthetics are a branch of science, that the topmost peaks of Par- 
nassus tower above the plain by gradual ascent from subordinate 
mountain-ranges, and that those who seek to scale the final alti- 
tudes must tread the intermediate heights. They were contented 
with representative men. Marlowe, according to their laws of 
taste, would have been obscured by Shakespeare ; while the mul- 
titude of lesser playwrights, whom we honor as explaining and 
relieving by their comradeship the grandeur of the dramatist (o 
-payw^oTTotoc they might have styled Shakespeare, as their Pindar 
was 6 XupiLot), would have sunk into oblivion, leaving him alone 
in splendid isolation. Much might be said for this way of deal- 
ing with literature. By concentrating attention on undeniable 
excellence, a taste for the noblest things in art was fostered, while 
the danger that we run of substituting the historical for the 
aesthetic method was avoided.* In our own century Auguste 

* Aristophanes, the grammarian, and Aristarchus included five tragic poets 
— -Esohylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Ion, and Achaeus — iu the first rank. In a 


Comte lias striven to revive tlie cultus of unique standards and 
to re-establish the empire of selective canons. 

The scholiasts of Alexandria, working in vast libraries which 
contained the whole treasures of Greek literature, decided that 
only a few poets were worthy of minute study. The works of 
these few poets, again, they classified into masterpieces and infe- 
rior productions. A further selection sifted those that seemed 
best suited for the education of youth. Thus it happened that 
copies were repeated of certain well-established favorites ; and so 
the treasures of dramatic poetry inherited by us represent the 
taste of scholiasts and teachers rather than the likings of the At- 
tic audience. To judge by references in the plays of Aristopha- 
nes, the lost Myrmidones of -^schylus, the lost Andromeda of 
Euripides, enjoyed more popularity at Athens than even the Aga- 
memnon or the Medea. Alexandrian and Byzantine pedagogues 
thought otherwise, and posterity Avas bound to be their pensioner. 
The difficulty of multiplying codices must be added as a most 
important cause of literary waste. It is doubtful whether we 
should now possess more than a few plays of Shakespeare and 
Jonson out of the whole voluminous Elizabethan literature, but 
for the accident of printing. When Ave consider the circum- 
stances under Avhich the Attic dramatists survived, taking into 
account the famous fraud whereby Ptolemy Euergetes possessed 
himself of the MS, of ^schylus,* and remembering the vicissi- 
tudes successively of Alexandria, of Rome, and of Byzantium, per- 
haps we ought to be surprised that the sura total of our inheri- 

second series they placed the works of the so-called Pleiad, seven tragic poets 
•who at Alexandria revived the style of the Attic drama. Their names were 
Homerus, Sositheus, Lycophron, Alexander, Philiscus, Sosiphanes, and Diony- 

* The story is told with wonderful vividness by Victor Hugo, William Shake- 
speare, pp. 1 7 6- 1 94 . 


tance is so great. What the public voice of the Athenians had 
approved, the scholiasts of Alexandria winnowed. What the 
Alexandrians selected found its way to Rome. AVhat the Ro- 
man grammarians sanctioned was carried in the dotage of culture 
to B3'zantium. At each transition the peril by land and sea to 
rare codices,sometimes probably to unique autographs, was incal- 
culable. Then followed the fury of iconoclasts and fanatics, the 
firebrands of Omar, the remorseless crusade of Churchmen against 
paganism, and the three great conflagrations of Byzantium. It 
is humiliating to the nations of Western Europe to compare the 
wealth of Greek books enjoyed by Photius in the ninth century, 
even after the second burning, with the meagre fragments which 
seem to have survived the pillage of Constantinople by the Cru- 
saders in 1204. To tliis final disaster we ought probably to as- 
sign the destruction of the larger portion of Greek literature. In 
addition to all the ruin wrought by fire and pillage must be reck- 
oned the slow decay of learning during the centuries of intellect- 
ual apathy that preceded the fall of the Eastern Empire. What 
the fire and the Frank had spared was still exposed to the tooth 
of the worm and to the slow corrosion of dust, damp, and mildew. 
When the passion for antiquity was rekindled in the fourteenth 
century by the Italians, they eagerly demanded from Constanti- 
nople the treasures that the capital of Greece contained ; nor is 
there any good reason to suppose that the Turkish troops of Ma- 
homet II., in 1453, destroyed many books that had not previous- 
ly been transferred in copies to Florence and Venice. During at 
least a quarter of a century before the downfall of the Byzantine 
Empire the princes of Italy were eagerly competing with each 
other for the purchase of Greek manuscripts ; and throughout 
this period it was the immediate interest of the palseologi to lay 
them under such obligations as might enlist their sympathy and 
call forth a return of friendly service. For the emperor to have 


closed the doors of the B3zantine libraries against the agents of 
the Medici and the Venetian nobles, at the same time that he was 
sending Manuel Chrysoloras as an ambassador for aid against the 
Turks to Western Europe, Avould have been ridiculous. We must 
also bear in mind how many eager Italian scholars, supported by 
exhibitions from the lords of Florence, and supplied with almost 
unlimited credit for the purchase of literary treasures, pursued 
their studies at Constantinople, and returned, like bees, book-la- 
den with the honey of old learning, home ; how many Levant 
merchants, passing to and fro between Italian and Greek ports, 
discovered that parchments were a more profitable freight than 
gems or spices. Taking all this into consideration, and duly 
weighing Curzon's competent opinion — "so thoroughly were 
these ancient libraries " (of Athos) " explored in the fifteenth 
century that no unknown classic author has been discovered, nor 
has any MS. been found of greater antiquity than some already 
known in the British Museum and other libraries " — we have the 
right to infer that what the printing-press of Aldus made imper- 
ishable, was all, or nearly all, that the degenerate scholars of the 
later age of Hellas cared to treasure. The comparative preserva- 
tion of Neoplatonic philosophy, for example, when contrasted with 
the loss of dramatic literature may be referred to the theological 
and mystical interests of Byzantine students. Only one codex of 
first-rate importance is supposed to have perished in Italy after 
importation from Byzantium and before the age of printing. 
That was a MS. of Menander, which Vespasiano, the Florentine 
bookseller, mentioned among the gems of the library of Urbino.* 
Little, however, was known about the Greek dramatic poets at the 
time when Yespasiano wrote his Lives, and it is not impossible 
that what he took for a collection of Menander's plays, was really 

* Vite di Uomini Illustri^ p. 97. He catalogues " tutte I'opere di Sofocle; 
tutte Topere di Pindaro; tutte I'opere di Menandro." 


a commonplace book of such fragments as we still possess. Yet 
the mere mention of this volume raises curious speculation. We 
know that when Cesare Borgia possessed himself of Urbino in 
1502 he carried off from the ducal palace a booty in jewels, plate, 
furniture, and books to the value of 150,000 ducats. Some of 
the MSS, found their way into the Vatican collection ; others 
were restored to Urbino, whence they were again transferred to 
Rome after the extinction of the ducal family in the seventeenth 
century. It is conceivable thnt the Menander, if it existed, may 
liave been lost in the hurry of forced marches and the confusion 
that involved the Borgia's career. Had it been stolen, the thief 
could hardly have offered it fur sale in its splendid dress of crim- 
son velvet and silver clasps stamped with the arms of Montefeltro. 
It may even now be lurking somewhere in obscurity — a treasure 
of more value than the Koh-i-noor. 

Putting aside the fragments of ^schylus, Sophocles, and Eu- 
ripides, it may be broadly stated that what survives of the other 
tragic poets of the Attic stage, and what we know about their 
lives, have been derived in the main from four sources. The 
plays of Aristophanes and the fragments of the later comic po- 
ets, who were the merciless critics of contempoi*ary tragedians, 
have, in the first place, supplied us with some meagre quotations 
and with numerous insignificant caricatures. From these ques- 
tionable authorities we learn, for instance, that Agathon was a 
man of effeminate manners, that Philocles was horribly ugly, that 
Morsimus was an indifferent eye-doctor as well as a writer of tame 
tragedies, that Meletus had no inspiration, that the whole family 
of Carkinus were barbarians, that Pythangelus and Akestor were 
no better than slaves, that Gnesippus mismanaged his Choruses, 
that Ilieronymus delighted in horrors, that Nothippus and Mory- 
chus were gluttons, that Moschion was a parasite, and so forth. 
To attach very much weight to comic squibs which dwell exclu- 


sively upon personal defects and foibles, and repeat ad nauseam 
the stock Athenian cahimnies of drunkenness and debauchery, 
would be uncritical ; though it must be borne in mind that satire 
in a Greek city, where all the eminent burghers were well known 
to the play-goers, was pointless unless it contained a grain of 
truth. Our second great authority is Athena?us, a man of wide 
reading and extensive curiosity, whose heart unhappily was set on 
trifles. Sauces, unguents, wreaths, the various ways of dressing 
fish, the changes of fashion in wine -drinking, formed the sub- 
jects of his profoundest investigations. Therefore the grave and 
heightened tragedies of our unfortunate poets Avere ransacked by 
him for rare citations, capable of throwing light upon a flower, a 
dish, or a wine-cup. These matters were undoubtedly the veriest 
parerga to poets bent on moving the passions of terror and pity ; 
nor can we imagine a more distressing torment for their souls in 
Hades than to know that what remains of a much-pondered and 
beloved Thyestes is a couple of lines about a carving-knife or 
meat-dish. To be known to posterity through a calumny of 
Aristophanes and a citation in the Deipnosophistce, after having 
passed a long life in composing tragedies, teaching choruses, and 
inventing chants, is a caricature of immortality which might well 
deter a man of common-sense from literature, and induce the vain- 
est to go down speechless to the grave in peace. Those poets who 
fell under the hands of Stobseus, our third chief source of informa- 
tion, have fared better. It is more consistent with the aims and 
wishes of a tragic artist to survive, however mangled, in the com- 
monplace book of a moralist, than in the miscellanies of a literary 
bon vivant. The authors, therefore, of the Euripidean school, 

Teachers best 
Of moral prudence, with delight received, 
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat 
Of fate and chance and change in human life, 


ni:iy be said to have fared better tlian their predecessors, whose 
style rendered them less conveniently subject to the eclectic proc- 
ess of the Macedonian collector. Much of the difficulty, however, 
which obscures the text of these sententious fragments arises from 
their collector having in all probability quoted from memory, so 
that bad grammar, trivial terminations to otherwise well-worded 
lines, and passages ruthlessly compressed by omissions are fre- 
quent. In the fourth place we have to thank Aristotle for a few 
most precious, though, alas, laconic, criticisms pronounced in the 
Rhetoric and the Poetics upon his contemporaries, and for occa- 
sional quotations in the Ethics to Nicomachus and Eudemus. 
These criticisms help us to understand the history of the Greek 
drama by throwing a dim light upon the serious art of many de- 
funct poets, who in their day shook the Attic scene. To Plu- 
tarch, to Pausanias, and to the scholiasts we owe similar obliga- 
tions, tliough the value of their critical remarks is slight com- 
pared with that of every word which fell from Aristotle's pen. 

This rapid enumeration of the resources at our command will 
prepare any one familiar with such matters for spare and disap- 
pointing entertainment. The chief interest of such a survey as 
that which I propose to make consists in the variety and extent 
of the lost dramatic literature that it reveals. Nothing but a de- 
tailed examination of existing fragments suffices to impress the 
mind with the quantity of plays from which malignant fortune 
has preserved samples, fantastically inadequate, and, in many 
cases, tantalizingly uncharacteristic. The quotations from ^s- 
chylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, meanwhile, have already sup- 
plied matter of more sterling and intrinsic value. 

When we take up the collection of Perditorum Tragicorum, 
Omnium Fragmenta, published at Paris by the care of M. Am- 
broise Firmin Didot, our first sensation, on seeking what may 
possibly be left of poets before -^schylus, is one of liveliest dis- 


appointment. Thespis, to begin with, is a name : we know that 
he made tragedy dramatic instead of dithyranibic, by introducing 
monologue in order to support and rest the Chorus ; but that is 
all. Choerilus is a name : we know that he exhibited above fifty 
plays, that he was recTconed worthy by the comic poet Alexis to 
be cited together with Hesiod, Homer, and Epicharmp'i, and that 
Aristotle devoted three lost books of critical discussions to the 
elucidation of ditficult passages in his poems as well- as in those 
of Archilochus and Euripides. All the rest is obscure, except 
that we have reason to believe that Choerilus excelled in the sa- 
tyric drama. Pratinas, again, is a name. Dim tradition reports 
that he invented the satyric drama; and it has thence been in- 
ferred with probability that the 150 plays ascribed to Jiim were 
chiefly composed in tetralogies of one comic and three serious 
pieces. He was also celebrated for the excellence of his lyrics ; 
while a story, preserved by Suidas, relates how an accident that 
happened to the wooden stage at Athens during the exhibition of 
one of his tragedies led to the building of the recently discovered 
theatre of Dionysus. A few unimportant fragments have sur- 
vived, in two of which Pratinas avows his preference for the 
^olian mood in music. Phrynichus, though his poems have 
fared no better than those of his contemporaries, stands before 
us Avith a more distinguished personality. Herodotus tells the 
famous tale of his tragedy upon the Taking of Miletus, which 
moved the Athenian audience to tears, and so angered them by 
the vivid presentation of a recent disaster that they fined the au- 
thor in a sum of 1000 drachmas, and forbade the acting of his 
drama. The sweetness of the songs of Phrynichus has reached 
us like the echo of a bird's voice in a traveller's narrative. Aris- 
tophanes, who loved the good old music of liis youth, delighted in 
it, and invented one of his rare verbal conglomerates to express 
its quality: Koi fiivvpi^ovTiQ f^eXr] i\p-)(ftiofie\rj(Ticu)i'0(f>pvrixf]para is 


a phrase he puts into the mouth of Bdelycleon in the Wasps, 
while in the Frogs he describes Phrynichus as making harvest in 
the meadows of the Muses. Agathon, again, in the Thesmopho- 
riazusce is represented saying : 

And Phrynichus — this surely you have heard — 
Was beautiful, and beautifully dressed ; 
And this, we cannot doubt, was why his plays 
Were beautiful ; for 'tis a natural law 
That like ourselves our work must ever be. 

From the passage just referred to in the Frogs (1298-1307) 
it is clear that much of a tragic poet's reputation for originality 
at Athens depended upon the invention of melodies; and that 
the merit of Phrynichus consisted to some extent in the excel- 
lence and sweetness of his tunes. No real light can now be 
thrown upon the dark subject of Greek music in general, and of 
its relation to lyrical and tragic poetry in particular. All we 
know serves to excite our inquisitiveness without satisfying it. 
Thus Plutarch informs us that Phrynichus and ^Eschylus pre- 
ferred the harp {dQapa) and adhered to the enharmonic scale 
{apfxorla) instead of employing chromatic modulations (xpwpa). 
The general drift of this remark is that the early tragic poets 
maintained a simple and severe style of music, and avoided the 
allurements of what Aristotle termed the most artificial of the 
Greek scales. Collateral value is given to Plutarch's observation 
by the Aristophanic criticism of the melodies in Agathon and 
Euripides. For speculations on its deeper significance, it is im- 
possible to do more than refer the curious to Professor Donkin, 
General Perronct Thompson, and Mr. Chappell, with the reiter- 
ated warning that the obscurity of the subject is impenetrable. 
Phrynichus, in conclusion, was celebrated as a ballet-master for 
his Pyrrhic dances, and, as a practical dramatist, for the introduc- 


tion of female characters. One line, among the few ascribed to 
him, calls for quotation by reason of its beauty : 

XafiTTH C tTTi TTOp^vp'iaic TTUpyai ^w^ tpwTOQ. 
The light of love burns upon crimson cheeks. 

Aristias, the next in order of these lost poets, was a son of Pra- 
tinas, who lived long enough to compete with Sophocles. The 
names of his plays, Antceus, Atalanta, Cyclops, Orpheus, and The 
Fates, show, like similar lists which might be quoted from the mea- 
gre notices of his predecessors, that the whole material of Greek 
mythology was handled and rehandled by the Attic playwrights. 

The tragedians who follow can certainly not be considered old- 
er than ^Eschylus, and are, all of them, most probably his jun- 
iors. Aristarchus, a native of Tegea, calls for notice because he 
is reported by Suidas to have determined the length of tragedies, 
whatever that may mean. Ennius translated his drama of Achil- 
les into Latin, which proves that he retained the fame of a first- 
rate poet till the beginning of the Grseco-Roman period. His 
fragments recall the Euripidean style; and the two best of them 
have been preserved by Stobseus, the notorious admirer of Eurip- 
ides. To omit these, in the dearth of similar heirlooms from an- 
tiquity, would be wasteful, especially as they serve to determine 
the date at which he wrote, and to confirm the report of Suidas 
that he was a contemporary of Euripides. Here is one that sa- 
vors strongly of agnosticism : 

Kal TavT 'laov i-dv iv Xtyetv iffov Sk fif) • 
iffov C tptvvav, IS, 'iaov £k nrj tlSfvac " 
■TrXiiov yap oiiS'tv ol ao(t>ol tSjv p-i) ao<j>wv 
tic Tctvra yiyvaitTKOVcriv ' ti £' dWov Xiyti 
dfiuvov dWog, rt^ X'eyiiv inrtpffpu.* 

* Fair speech in such things and no speech are one : 
Study and ignorance have equal value ; 

The second treats of love : 

tpiDTOQ oaTiQ fii) TniTHparai jSporwi^, 
ovK 615' dvciyKrjg 9t(T[i6v ' ([i TTiiaQiig tyijj 
o'vTu) K(Oar>j0£ic ruaS' dTrecrdXrjv odovg " 
ovTog yap 6 Oebg (cat tov daOevif (sQ'iviiv 
TiOrjtTi, Kai tov dnopov ivpiffKeiv Tropov.* 

Next to Aristarclnis of Tegea we find Neophron of Sikyon, who 
claims particular attention as the author of a tragedy acknowl- 
edged by antiquity to have been the original of the Medea of Eu- 
ripides. There are few students of literature who do not recog- 
nize in the Medea the masterpiece of that poet, and who have not 
wondered why it only won the third prize at Athens, in the year 
431 B.C. Is it possible that because Euripides borrowed his play 
from Neophron — -o Ipdfxa Zoku vTroJMXiadai trapa ^e/xppofoc ^««- 
iTKEvaaae are the words of the Greek argument to Medea, while 
Suidas says of Neophron ou (f)umi' Eiiat ri]v mv EvptniSov Mij^eiar 
—therefore the public and the judges thought some deduction 
should be made from the merit of the drama ? 

Stoba3us has handed down a long and precious fragment from 
the speech in which Neophron's Medea decides to kill her chil- 
dren. A comparison of this fragment with the splendid rhesis 
composed for Medea by Euripides proves the obligation owed by 
the younger poet to the elder, both in style and matter. 

Here, then, is the monologue of Neophron's Medea : 

For wise men know no more than simple fools 
In these dark matters ; and if one by speaking 
Conquer another, mere words win the day. 

* That man who hath not tried of love the might, 
Knows not the strong rule of necessity, 
Bound and constrained whereby, this road I travel. 
Yea, our lord, Love, strengthens the strengthless, teaches 
The craftless how to find both craft and cunning. 


litv ' Ti SpaauQ Ovfie ; ftovXivaai koXwq 
Tzpiv ff '^afiapTiiv Kai tu TrpofffiXiarara 
ixQiara OeaOai. nol ttot t?y5«C roXaf ; 
KaTKTx^ XiJI^a Kai (tOevoq Otoarvysg. 
Kai irpoQ ri Tavr' oSvpofiai, ^pvx')v tjifjv 
opwa tprjfiov Kai TraprjixsXrj^svijv 
TTpoc ^v txprjv i'jKKTTa ; /xaXOaKol St Sr^ 
TOiavra yiyfoiitaOa ■Kaaxovreg KUKa ; 
ov fJi) Trpod<i)cniQ Ovfit aavTov iv KaKoig. 
oi/ioi SidoKTUi ' TralSec Iktoq ofifidrwv 
aTriXQtr " i'/Si] yap /le (poivia fikyav 
SiCtKt Xmffa Ovjiov • w X^P^S^ X^P^€, 
TTpos olov ipyov i^07rXi^6^t(j9a * (f>tu ' 
Tc'iXaii'a ToXfitjQ, i) ttoXvv ttoi'ov fipaxti 
Sia(p9epov(Ta rbv tfiov tpxofiai xpov(^.* 

It is hardly possible not to recognize in these lines the first 
sketch of the picture afterwards worked out so elaborately in de- 
tail by Euripides. 

Ion was a native of Chios, who came while still a boy (Traird- 
Trafft fiEipciKiov) to Athens, and enjoyed the honor of supping- with 

 Well, well ; what wilt thou do, my soul ? Think much 
Before this sin be sinned, before thy dearest 
Thou turn to deadliest foes. Whither art bounding ? 
Restrain thy force, thy god-detested fury. 
And yet why grieve I thus, seeing my life 
Laid desolate, despitefully abandoned 
By those who least should leave me ? Soft, forsooth, 
Shall I be in the midst of wrongs like these ? 
Nay, heart of mine, be not thy own betrayer ! 
Ah me ! 'Tis settled. Children, from my sight 
Get you away ! for now bloodthirsty madness 
Sinks in my soul and swells it. Oh, hands, hands, 
Unto what deed are we accoutred ? Woe ! 
Undone by my own daring ! In one minute 
I go to blast the frul:, of my long toil. 


Cimon in the house of a ceitain Laomedon. Of his life and work 
very little is known, although his reputation among the ancients 
was so great that the Alexandrians placed him among the first 
five tragic poets. The titles of eleven of his plays have been pre- 
served ; but these were only a few out of many that he wrote. 
He was, besides, a voluminous prose-author, and practised every 
kind of lyrical poetry. From the criticism of Longiiuis we gath- 
er that his dramas were distinguished for fluency and finish rather 
than for boldness of conception or sublimity of style. After 
praising thoir regularity, Longinus adds that he would not ex- 
change the (Edipiis of Sophocles for all the tragedies of Ion put 
together. Personally, Ion had the reputation of a voluptuary : 
(pi\o7r6-r]i> Kai fporncbj-aroi' are the words of Athenaius which de- 
scribe hiin. There is also a story that he passed some portion of 
his life at Corinth in love-bondage to the beautiful Chrysilla. In 
short, both as a man and an artist. Ion was true to his name and 
race. It is unfortunate that the few fragments we possess of Ion's 
tragedies have been transmitted for the most part by Ilesychius 
and Athcna3us in illustration of grammatical usages and convivial 
customs. The following gnomic couplet, preserved by Plutarch, 
is both interesting in itself and characteristic of the poet's style : 

TO yi'w0i (jfivruv, tovt' tiroQ fih' oh fJiya, 
tpyoi' S', biTov Zivg fivvog tTziaraTai Giwv* 

Another passage, quoted by Sextus Empiricus, contains an ele- 
gant description of the power of Sparta : 

ov yiip Xoyoig AaKaira Trvpyoiirai iroXig, 
aW ivT "Ap7]C veo\fiuQ tfi'TTtcy arpuTi^, 
ftovki] fitv (ipxH, xdp S' iTTt^epyiiiCerai.f 

* Know thou thyself — the saw is no great thing ; 
To do it, Zeus alone of gods is able. 

f The town of Sparta is not walled with words ; 


Almost less can be said about Achocus of Erctria, the fifth, with 
^schylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Ion, in the Alexandrian ;rpw-ij 
r«:U«€, or first class of tragic worthies. Diogenes Laertius records 
his skill in the satyric drama ; Athena?ns remarks that his style 
was obscure, and that he filled his plays with riddles. The names 
of some of his dramas — Lhuis, The Fates, Philoctetes at Troy, Om- 
phale, Peirithous — excite our curiosity ; but the fragments are, as 
usual, cited for some merely fi'ivolous or pedantic purpose. 

The following corrupt passage from a play called 'A0\oi or 
'A^Xa, The Games — the loss of which is greatly to be regretted, 
since it might have thrown a new light upon the feeling of the 
Greeks for their public contests — presents a lively picture of the 
physical splendor of trained athletes : 

yvfU'ol yap wQovv (pai£iftov(; (Spa^lovag 
'//^{/ <T<ppiywvT(.Q ifiiroptvovTai, v't^) 
(TriXftovTfc; dvQa Kaprtpc'tQ i7rwfil£ag ' 
dSrjv S' tXaiov arspva Kal TroSiov KvroQ 
Xpiovati; wq i^^ojTff oiKodev Tpv(pi]v.* 

Another glimpse of athletes may be got from three lines torn 
out of the same play : 

TTuTipa 6iu>polg tlr' ayoii'KTTaif XfynQ ; 

But when young Ares falls upon her men, 
Then reason rules and the hand docs the deed. 

* It is clear that yap wdovv is wrong. The best suggestion seems to be 
y' dv(o9ei', adopting which we may render the lines thus ; 

Xaked above, their radiant arms displaying, 

In lustihood of ruffling youth, and bloom 

Of beauty bright on stalwart breasts, they fare ; 

Their shoulders and their feet in floods of oil 

Are bathed, like men whose homes abound in plenty. 


TToW iaQiovaiv, itg kiracrKovvTU)v rpoTTOQ. 
TToSairoi yap ttaiv o'l ^kvoi ; ^oiwtioi* 

111 this portrait we recognize the young men satirically de- 
scribed by Euripides in a fragment, translated above, of the lost 
Autolt/cus, as roaming about the city in the radiant insolence of 
youth, like animated "statues. 

Mourn as we may the loss of Ion and Achseus, our grief for 
that of Agathon must needs be greater. Though he was not 
placed in the first class by the Alexandrian critics, it is clear from 
the notices of Plato, Aristophanes, and Aristotle that he enjoyed 
the widest popularity at Athens, and was, besides, a poet of 
marked originality. Personally, he was amiable, delicate, pleas- 
ure-loving, and extremely beautiful. He is always called — even 
by Plutarch and Athenteus — 'Ayadwy 6 KaXoc. Agathon the beau- 
tiful; while the passionate friendship with which he had inspired 
Pausanias is celebrated by Plato in Protagoras, by Xenophon in 
the Symjioshim. Later authors, like Maximus Tyrius, gave him 
the title of afSporaToc, while Lucian compared him to Cinyras or 
Sardanapalus. Apparently he was rich enough to indulge the 
most luxurious tastes. One of the best comic scenes in the Thes- 
mophoriazusce is that in which Aristophanes described Agathon 
surrounded by all the appliances of a voluptuary, while engaged 
in the composition of an efifeminate play. Euripides, entering 
this study of a Sybarite, implores him to put on female attire, 
using these arguments : 

ai) S' iVTzpoaioTZOQ, Xh'Kuc, i^vpmdvog, 
yvvaiKutpwrog, cnraXoc, cinrpnri)^ Iduv. f 

* Ambassadors or athletes do you mean ? 
Great feeders are tliey, like most men in training. 
Of what race are the strangers, then ? Boeotians. 

f While you are smooth-faced, white-skinned, closely shaven, 
Voiced like a woman, tender, fair to sec. 
II.— 9 


In poetry Agathon adopted innovations consistent with his own 
vohiptuous temperament. His style was distingaiished by melo- 
dious sweetness and rhetorical refinements ; in particular, we are 
told that he affected the flowery tropes and the antitheses of Gor- 
gias. Sophistry was fashionable in his youth, and Aristopha- 
nes recognized in Agathon the true companion of Euripides. 
Leaving the severer music of the elder tragedians, he invented 
chromatic melodies, which seem to have tickled the sensuality of 
his Athenian audience.* 

We are therefore justified in regarding Agathon as the creator 
of a new tragic style combining the verbal elegances and ethical 
niceties of the sophists with artistic charms of a luxurious kind. 
Aristotle observes that he separated the Chorus from the action 
of the drama to such an extent that his lyrics became mere mu- 
sical interludes {tn(ou\ijj.a), equally adapted to any tragic fable, f 
He also remarks that Agathon composed plays upon romantic 
subjects, inventing the story for himself, instead of adhering to 
the old usage of rehandling mythological material. J The title of 
one of these dramatic romances, The Flower., has been preserved; 
but unhappily we are told nothing about its subject, and have no 
extracts to judge from. That the form of tragedy suffered other 
changes at the hands of Agathon may be inferred from another 
passage in the Poetics, where Aristotle censures him for having 
included a whole epic, The Taking of Troy, in one play. § This 
play, it may be said in passing, was hissed off the stage. The 
popularity of Agathon may be gathered from the fact that the 

* This is strongly expressed in an untranslatable speech of Mncsilochus 
(Ar. Thesmoph. 130 d seq.), which reminds one of the first satire of Persius : 

Cum carniina lumbum 
Intrant et tremulo scalpuntur ut intima versu. 

f Poet. cap. 18. X ^*'^- cap. 9- § ^bid- cap. 18. 


first tetralogy he exhibited was crowned in 416 B.C. Pkto has 
chosen the supper-party which he gave in celebration of this vic- 
tory for the scene of the Symposmm ; and it is there that we 
must learn to know this brilliant man of letters and of fashion in 
the wittiest period of Attic social life. It is not a little curious 
that the most interestnig fragments of Agathon are embedded in 
the Ethics and the Rhetoric of Aristotle, who must have made at- 
tentive study of his works. While discussing the subject of free- 
will, the sage of Stageira quotes this couplet : 

 fiuvov yap avTov Kal Qtbc crrfpiff/cernt, 

ayevtjra iroitlu liatj' av y Tmrpay^iii'ci* 

Again, on the topic of art and chance, he cites : 

''^X'''/ '■''x'?'^ larfp^e Kcii Ti'xi} rtx^'ilf-i 

Speaking in the JiJudemian Ethics about tlie true and spurious 
kinds of courage, he adds : 

KciQuTvip Kai 'Ayc'iQwv cpijai'. 
(pavXoi l3poToJv yap tov ttovhi' I'laaw^tvoi 
Qai'fXp ipSiai. X 

Another quotation, for the sake of both the poet and the philoso- 
pher, may be adduced from the Rhetoric 

Kal firjv Tu jikv yt ry Tsxvy Trpaaauv, tu Si 
I'lf.ui' avdyKy Kai tvx'J vpoffyiyi'srai. § 

* For from this one thing God himself is barred — 

To make wliat's done as though it ne'er had been. 

f Art is true friend of chance, and chance of art. 

:(: Even as saith also Agathon : 

Worsted by suifering cowards dote on death. 
§ I. have followed Grotius in transposing Tvxy and nx^y, and translate: 

Thus some things we can do by art, while some 

Are thrust on us as fate and fortune will. 



One of the peculiarities to be noticed in the practice of the poetic 
art among the Greeks was the formation of schools by families of 
artists, in whom talent continued to be hereditar}^ for several gen- 
erations. We observe this among the lyrists ; but the tragedians 
offer even more remarkable instances, proving how thoroughly the 
most complicated of all the arts, the tragic drama — including, as 
it did, the teaching of music and of dancing to Choruses, the ar- 
rangement of stage effects, and the training of actors — was fol- 
lowed as a profession at Athens. That Phrynichus founded a 
school of playwrights distinguished for their musical rather than 
their dramatic ability appears from the nineteenth section of the 
Prohleniata of Aristotle ; but we do not know whether the o\ Trtpl 
(^pvi'ixor there mentioned belonged to the poet's family. It is 
possible, on the other hand, to draw the pedigree of ^Eschylus, in 
which every name will represent a tragic poet. Here it is: 


1. ^scbylus. 

2. Bion. 3. Euphorion. 

V. Pliilocles the younger. 

A daughter, married to Philopeithes. 

4. Philocles the elder. 

5. Morsimus. 

6. Astvdamas the elder. 

8. Astydamas the younger. 

The 01 Trepl AtorxuXo)', therefore, of whom the scholiasts often 
speak, numbered, together with ^Eschylus himself, eight drama- 
tists. Their common characteristic consisted in the adherence to 
the ^schylean style, in the presentation of tetralogies, and in the 
privilege successively enjoyed by them of bringing out old plays 
of ^Eschylus in competition with the works of younger poets. 


The dramas of ^scliylus were in fact " a property" to his de- 
scendants. The Athenians had publicly decreed that they might 
be from year to year produced upon the scene, and Euphorion, his 
son, spent his time in preparing them for exhibition. In this way 
he gained four prizes, .taking the first crown upon the notable oc- 
casion, in 431 B.C., when Sophocles was second, and Euripides, 
with the 3Iedea, third. It appears that, as time went on, the 
original compositions of ^schylus suffered mutilations and alter- 
ations at the hands of his posterity, who pretended to improve 
them — after the manner of Davenant, presumably — and adapt 
them to the modern taste. At last Lycurgus, about 340 B.C., 
decreed that after accurate copies had been taken of the author- 
ized text and deposited in the public archives, the clerk of the 
city should collate them with the acted plays, and see that no de- 
viations from the original became established. We gather from 
the comic poets that the family of J^schylus also produced their 
own tragedies, none of which, however, appear to have been very 
excellent. Philocles the elder was laughed at by Aristophanes 
partly because he was an ugly, snub-nosed, little man, with a head 
like a hoopoe ; partly because he introduced a comic incident into 
his tragedy of Pandionis by exhibiting Tereus dressed out with 
the feathers of a bird. The scholiasts to Aristophanc'*, in like 
manner, inform us that Morsimus owed a certain celebrity to his 
ugliness, to the tameness of his tragic style, and to bis want of 
skill as a professional oculist. Astydamas the elder achieved the 
same sad sort of immortality through the accident of having re- 
ceived the honor of a public statue before ^schylus. It is lost 
labor trying to form a clear conception of poets who are only 
known to us in anecdotes like these. 

Frederick Wagner, the collector of the tragic fragments, reck- 
ons Meletus, the accuser of Socrates, and Plato, the divine philos- 
opher, among the school of ^Eschylus, because it appears that 


both of them composed tetralogies. From a passage in the sclio- 
liast to Ai'istophanes {Frogs, 1302) it may be inferred that Mele- 
tus the triigedian and Meletus the informer were one and the 
same person : Kw^w^fTrai Ce kcu w£ -^vxpog £)' rij ■n-ou'jcrei Kin uiq tto- 
I'Tfpog Toy TTpuTrnv — " he is satirized both for Avant of genius as a 
poet and also for the badness of his moral character." This sen- 
tence constitutes his title to fame. He is known to have com- 
posed a series of plays with the title CEdipodeia, the plot, as 
sketched by Hyginus,* offering some notable divergences from 
the Sophoclean treatment of the tale of Thebes. Plato may be 
numbered among the tragedians on the strength of an anecdote 
in u:Elian,f according to which he had composed a tetralogy, and 
had already distributed the parts to the actors, when he deter- 
mined to abandon poetry and gave his verses to the flames. 

The school of Sophocles includes two sons of the poet, lophon 
and Ariston, and his grandson Sophocles. In fact, it combines 
the actors in that family drama played out before the jury of the 
tribe, when the singer of Colonus silenced his accuser by the reci- 
tation of the Chorus from his second (Edipus. lophon exhibited 
tragedies with distinguished success during the life of Sophocles, 
and even entered into competition with his father. After the 
old man's death he produced the posthumous Avorks that formed 
his heirloom, completing such as were unfinished or executing 
those of which the plan was sketched in outline. He is said to 
have exhibited fifty plays, and that he Avas no mean poet appears 
from the following passage of the Fi-ogs : 

H. Is not lophon a good one ? — He's alive, sure ? 
B. If he's a good one, he's our only good one ; 
Cut it's a question ; I'm in doubt about him. 

* Fab. 1V2, f Vatia Historic, ii. 30. Compare Diog. Laert. iii. 80. 


H. There's Sophocles ; he's older than Euripides — 
If you go so far for 'em, you'd best bring him. 

B. No ; first I'll try what lophoii cau do 

Without his father, Sophocles, to assist him.* 

The drift of these. lines would be obscure without some ex- 
planation to readers who have not studied Aristophanes. All the 
good tragic poets are dead, and Dionysus is journeying to Hades 
to fetch one back again to rule the Attic stage. Herakles falls 
into conversation with him on the subject, and reminds him that 
lophon is living. The doubt expressed by Dionysus seems to re- 
fer to a suspicion prevalent at Athens that Sophocles helped his 
son in the composition of his plays. Meanwhile, the qualified 
praise awarded him by Dionysus implies considerable admiration 
on the part of so severe a castigator of the tragic dramatists as 
Aristophanes. Only four and a half lines, and these by no means 
noticeable, remain of lophon. His half-brother Ariston has fared 
better, since we possess a long and curious dialogue upon Provi- 
dence, quoted by Theophilus of Antioch from an unknown play 
of his. This fragment supports the Christian belief that, though 
the careless seem to prosper, Avhile the virtuous get no benefit 
from their asceticism, justice will eventually be dealt with even 
hand to all : 

X<^pi€ TTjOovoiac yiviTai yap ovSi 'iv. 

It is right to add that the authorship of these lines must be at 
least considered doubtful, and that their versification, as it now 
stands, is unworthy of the Attic drama. 

By the middle of the fourth century before Christ the whole 

dramatic literature of the Athenians, both tragic and comic, was 

being penetrated with the Euripidean spirit. It is impossible not 

to notice in the style of these later playwrights either the direct 

* Frere's TransHtjon, p. 229. 


influence of Euripides or else the operation of the laws of intel- 
lectual development lie illustrated. We cannot, therefore, treat 
the Euripidean school with the definiteness applicable to that of 
JEschylus or Sophocles. At the same time it is certain that a 
son or a nephew bearing his name continued to exhibit his post- 
humous dramas. 

A strono;er instance of histrionic and dramatic talent trans- 
mitted through four generations is presented by the family of 
Carkinus, some of Avhom were famous for mimetic dancing, while 
others contended in the theatre as playwrights. What we know 
about Carkinus and his children is chiefly derived from the satires 
of Aristophanes, who was never tired of abusing them. Their 
very name serves as a scarecrow, and the muse is invoked to keep 
them off the stage. To stir the rubbish-heap of obscure allusions 
and pedantic annotations, in order to discover which of the six 
Carkinida) we know by name were poets, and which of them were 
dancers, is a weary task not worth the labor it involves. Suffice 
it to say that the grandson of Aristophanes's old butt, himself 
called Carkinus, produced the incredible number of 160 dramas, 
was three times mentioned with respect by Aristotle,* and has 
survived in comparatively copious quotations. One passage, 
though not very remarkable for poetical beauty, is interesting 
because it describes the wanderings of Demeter through Sicily 
in search of Persephone. Diodorus, who cites it from an un- 
known play, mentions that Carkinus frequently visited Syracuse 
and saw the processions in honor of Demeter. 

About the Attic traG;edians who lived durino; the old aije of 
Aristophanes, the first thing to notice is that they may fairly be 
called the Epigoni of Euripides. -tEschylus was old-fashioned. 
The style of Sophocles did not lend itself to easy imitation. The 
psychological analyses, casuistical questions, rhetorical digressions, 
* Poet. cap. 17 ; Rhct. ii. 23, iii. 16. 


and pathetic situations wlierein the great poet of tlie Hippolytus 
delighted were exactly suited to the intellectual tastes and tern per 
of incipient decadence. A nation of philosophers and rhetori- 
cians had arisen ; and it is noteworthy that many of the play- 
wrights of this period- were either professed orators or statesmen. 
In his own lifetime Aristophanes witnessed the triumph of the 
principles against which he fought incessantly Avith all the weap- 
ons of the comic armory. Listen to the complaint of Dionysus 
in the Frogs : 

H. But liiive not you other ingenious youths 

That are fit to out-talk Euripides ten times over — 

To the amoinit of a thousand, at least, all writing tragedy? 

D. They're good for nothing — " Warblers of the Grove" — 
" Little, foolish, fluttering things" — poor puny wretches, 
That dawdle and dangle about with the tragic muse, 
Incapable of any serious meaning.* 

To translate the Greek for modern readers is not possible. 
The pith of the passage is found in this emphatic phrase, yovi^ov 
It Troir]T)iv av ovk tvpotg tri, " there's not a sound male poet ca- 
pable of procreation left." Accordingly he vents his venom on 
Pythangelus, Gnesippus, Akestor, Hieronymus, Nothippus, Mory- 
chus, Sthenelus, Dorillus, Spintharus, and Theognis, without mer- 
cy. Not a single fragment remains to judge these wretched 
poets by. It is better to leave them in their obscurity than to 
drao- them forth into the dubious light of comic ribaldry. 

Critias, the son of Callseschrus, the pupil of Socrates, who fig- 
ures in so many scenes of Xenophon and Plato, and who played 
a memorable part in the political crisis of 404 B.C., was a tragic 
poet of some talent, if we are to accept a fragment from the 
Sisyj^hus as his. Sextus Empiricus transcribed forty lines of this 
drama, setting forth the primitive conditions of humanity. First, 

* Frere, p. 220. 


says Critias, men began by living like the brutes, without rewards 
for virtue or punislinient for vice. Mere might of hand prevail- 
ed. Then laws were framed and penalties affixed to crime. Open 
violence was thus repressed ; but evil-doers flourished in secret. 
Fraud and hypocrisy took the place of force. To invent the 
dread of gods and to create a conscience was the next step taken 
by humanity. Then followed the whole scheme of religion, and 
with religion entered superstition, and men began to fear the 
thunder and to look with strange awe on the stars. The quo- 
tation is obviously imperfect : yet it may advantageously be com- 
pared with the speeches of Prometheus in vEschylus, and also 
with the speculations of Lucretius. The hypothesis of deliberate 
invention implied in the following phrases, 

Tip'lKaVTU flOl 

SuKtl TTVKVug Ti^ Kal ao(puQ yv(i>i.(Tji' avfjo 
yvMvai Qiov Qvtirolair,* 

and TO Qtiov i'Krrjyt'jtraro, f sufficed not only for antiquity, but also 
for those modern theorists who, like Locke, imagined that lan- 
guage was produced artificially by wise men in counsel, or who, 
like Rousseau and the encyclopedists, maintained that religions 
were framed bv knaves to intimidate fools. 

Cleophon demands a passing notice, because we learn from 
Aristotle J that he tried to reduce tragedy to the plain level of 
common life by using every-day language and not attempting to 
idealize his characters. The total destruction of his plays may be 
regretted, since it is probable that we should have observed in 
them the approximation of tragedy to comedy which ended final- 

* Then, I think, 

A man of subtle counsel and keen wit 
Discovered God for mortals. 

t Introduced the notion of deity. 
X Poet. capp. ii., xxii. ; JRhet. in. V. 


ly in the new comic style of the Athenians. About Cleophon's 
contemporary, Nicomachus, of whom nothing is known except 
that he produced a great many tragedies on the stock subjects of 
mythology, nothing need be said. The case is somewhat differ- 
ent with a certain Diogenes who, while writing seven tragedies 
under the decorous titles of Thyestes, Helen, Medea, and. so forth, 
nevertheless contrived to offend against all the decencies of civil- 
ized, life. Later grammarians can hardly find, language strong- 
enough to describe their improprieties. Here is a specimen : 
appt]TU)v uppr]TU-epa t:al kukoju Trfpo, mi ovre on (pai Trepl avrwp a^/wc 
t)(w . . . u'uTcj Trdaa jitv ukt-^uti^c, ■n-dera C£ aTrtn'oia ir tKiiraiq rto 
drlpl ire(l)L\o-i\rriTai. To ascribe these impure productions to 
Diogenes the Cynic, in spite of his well-known contempt for lit- 
erature, was a temptation which even the ancients, though better 
informed than we are, could not wholly resist. Yet, after much 
sifting of evidence, it may be fairly believed that there were two 
Diogeneses — the one an Athenian, who wrote an innocuous play 
called Semele, the other a native perhaps of Gadara, who also bore 
the name of Qinomaus, and who peipctrated the seven indecent 
parodies. Diogenes of Sinope, meanwhile, was never among the 
poets, and the plays that defended cannibalism and blasphemed 
against the gods, though conceived in his spirit, belonged proba- 
bly to a later period.* 

Time would fail to tell of Antiphon and Polyeides, of Crates 
and Python, of Nearehus and Clesenetus, of the Syracusan Achseus 
and of Dikaiogenes, of Apollodorus and Timesitheus and Patro- 
cles and Alkiraenes and Apollonius and Hippotheon and Timocles 
and Ecdorus and Serapion— of all of whom it may be briefly said 
wo know a few laborious nothings. Their names in a list serve 

* The whole matter is too obscure for discussion in this place. Suffice it 
to add that a certain Philiscus, the friend and follower of Diogenes, enjoyed 
a portion of the notoriety attaching to the seven obnoxious dramas. 

140 1'tlE GREEK POETS. 

to show how the sacred serpent of Greek traged}', when sick to 
death, continued still for many generations drawing its slow 
length along. Down to the very end they kept on handling 
the old themes. Timesitheus, for instance, exhibited Danaides, 
Ixio)i, Memnon, Orestes, and the like. Meanwhile a few pale 
shades emerge from the nebulous darkness demanding more con-/ 
sideration than the mere recording of their names implies. We 
find two tyrants, to begin Avith, on the catalogue — Mamercus of 
Catana, who helped Timoleon, and Dionysius of Syracuse. Like 
Nero and Napoleon III., Dionysius was very eager to be ranked 
among the authors. lie spared no expense in engaging the best 
rhapsodes of the day, and sent them to recite his verses at Olym- 
pia. To deceive a Greek audience in matters of pure aesthetics 
was, however, no easy matter. The men who came together at- 
tracted by the sweet tones of the rhapsodes soon discovered the 
badness of the poems and laughed them down. Some fragments 
from the dramas of Dionysius have been preserved, among which 
is one that proves his preaching sounder than his practice : 

■ij yap Tvpavfig dciKiag Hi'jTT)p t(j>v.* 

The intrusion of professional orators into the sphere of the 
theatre might have been expected in an age when public speaking 
was cultivated like a fine art, and when opportunities for the dis- 
play of verbal cleverness Avere eagerly sought. We are not, there- 
fore, surprised to find Aphareus and Theodectes, distinguished 
rhetoricians of the school of Isocrates, among the tragedians. Of 
Theodectes a sufficient number of frao-ments survive to establish 
the general character of his style ; but it is enough in this place 
to notice the fusion of forensic eloquence with dramatic poetry, 
against which Aristophanes had inveighed, and which was now 

* The rule of one man is of wrong the parent. 


Chseremon and Moschion are more important in the history of 
the Attic drama, since both of tliem attempted innovations in ac- 
cordance with the literary spirit of their age, and did not, like the 
rhetoricians, follow merely in the footsteps of Euripides. Chae- 
remon, the author of- Achilles Thersitoctonos and several other 
pieces, was mentioned by Aristotle for having attempted to com- 
bine a great variety of metres in a poem called The Centaur* 
which was, perhaps, a tragi-comedy or iXapo-payuhia. He pos- 
sessed remarkable descriptive powers, and was reckoned by the 
critics of antiquity as worthy of attentive study, though his dra- 
mas failed in action on the stage. We may regard him, in fact, 
as the first writer of plays to be read, f The metamorphoses 
through which the arts have to pass in their development repeat 
themselves at the most distant ages and under the most diverse 
circumstances. It is, therefore, interesting to find that Chfere- 
inon combined with this descriptive faculty a kind of euphuism 
which might place him in the same rank as Marini and Calderon, 
or among the most refined of modern idyllists. He shrank, ap- 
parently, from calling things by their plain names. Water, for 
example, became in his fantastic phraseology Trorajiov awfia. The 
flowers were " children of the spring," eupog -eKia — the roses, 
" nurslings of the spring," tapog TidrjvljiJUTa — the stars, " sights 
of the firmament," aWepog dea^aTa — ivy, " lover of dancers, off- 
spring of the year," ■^opwr tpa(Tr))g iruwTov ttcuq — blossoms, '' chil- 
dren of the meadows," Xujju^rwv -tKra, and so forth. In fact, 
Cha^remon rivals Gongora, Lyly, and Herrick on their own ground, 
and by his numerous surviving fragments proves how impossible 
it is to conclude that the Greeks of even a good age were free 
from affectations. Students who may be interested in tracing 
the declensions of classic style from severity and purity will do 
well to read the seventeen lines preserved by Athenajus from the 
* Poet, i., xxiv. f See Ar. RhcL iii. 12. 


tra^'edy of (Enetis* They present a picture of girls playing in a 
field, too artful for successful rendering into any but insufferably 
ornate English. 

The claim of Moschion on our attention is different from that 
of his contemporary Chaeremon. He wrote a tragedy with the 
title of Themistocles, Avherein he appears to have handled the 
same subject-matter as ^Eschylus in the Persce. The hero of 
Salamis was, however, conspicuous by his absence from the his- 
tory-play of the elder poet. Lapse of time, by removing the 
political dlfhculties under which the Persoi was composed, ena- 
bled Moschion to make the great Themistocles his protagonist. 
Two fragments transmitted by Stobaeus from this drama, the one 
celebrating Athenian liberty of speech, while the other argues 
that a small band may get the better of a myriad lances, seem to 
be taken from the concio ad milites of the hero : 

Kcu yap iv vc'iTzaic ftpny^it 
■KoKvQ ai^iipitj Kfiperai ttevkijq KKndoc, 
Kci't fiawc ux^OQ i-ivpiaQ \6yx>]Q Kparil. t 

Another tragedy of Moschion, the Phercei, is interesting when 
compared with the Antigone of Sophocles and the Sisyphus as- 
cribed to Critias. Its plot seems in some way to have turned 
upon the duty which the living owe the dead : 

Kevov QavovTOQ av^poQ aiKiZiiv OKtCtP ' 
i^ioVTag KoKd'CHv ov QavovraQ ivatjiic.X 

* Athen. xiii. p. 608«. 

t 111 far mountain vales 

See how one small axe fells innumerous firs ; 
So a few men can curb a myriad lances. 

\ 'Tis vain to offer outrage to thin shades ; 
God-fearers strike the living, not the dead. 

And, again, in all probability from the same drama : 

Ti Kip^oQ ovK(T uvTag aiKt'Cfii' vtKpov(; ; 
ri T))v civavSoi' yaiav {'jSpiCetv TrXeov ; 
itd'jv yap »'/ Kpivovaa Kal O^Siova 
Kai TCLViapu (ppovSog airrdiifftg <pQapy, 
TO aw^ia Kt.o(pov tu^iv uXij^ev TTtrpov.* 

A long quotation of thirty-four iambics, taken apparently in 
like manner from the Phercei, sets forth the primitive condition 
of humanity. Men lived at first in caverns, like wild beasts. 
They had not learned the use of iron; nor could they fashion 
houses, or wall cities, or plough the fields, or garner fruits of 
earth. They were cannibals, and preyed on one another. In 
course of time, whether by the teaching of Prometheus or by 
the evolution of implanted instincts, they discovered the use of 
corn, and learned how to press wine from the grape. Cities arose 
and dwellings were roofed in, and social customs changed from 
savage to humane. From that moment it became impiety to 
leave the dead unburied ; but tombs were dug, and dust was 
heaped upon the clay-cold limbs, in order that the old abomina- 
tion of human food might be removed from memory of men. 
The whole of this passage, very brilliantly ^^■ritten, condenses the 
speculations of Athenian philosophers upon the origin of civiliza- 
tion, and brings them to the point which the poet had in view — 
the inculcation of the sanctity of sepulture. 

Nothing more remains to be said about the Attic tragedians. 
At the risk of being tedious, I have striven to include the names 
at least of all the poets who filled the tragic stage from its begin- 

* What gain we by insulting mere dead men ? 
What profit win taunts cast at voiceless clay ? 
For when the sense that can discern things sweet 
And things offensive is corrupt and fled, 
The body takes the rank of mere deaf stone. 


ning to its ending, in order that the great number of playwrights 
and their variety miglit be appreciated. The probable date at 
which Thespis began to exhibit dramas may be fixed soon after 
550 B.C. Moschion may possibly have lived as late as 300 B.C. 
These, roughly calculated, are the extreme points of time between 
which the trao;ic art of the Athenians arose and flourished and 
declined. When the Alexandrian critics attempted a general re- 
view of dramatic literature, they formed, as we have seen already, 
two classes of tragedians. In the first they numbered five Athe- 
nian worthies. The second, called the Pleiad, included seven 
poets of the Court of Alexandria; nor is there adequate reason to 
suppose that this inferior canon, htvripa tIxUq, was formed on any 
but just principles of taste. How magnificent was the revival of 
art and letters, in all that pertained, at any rate, to scenic show 
and pompous ritual, during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, 
how superbly the transplanted flowers of Greek ceremonial flour- 
ished on the shores of ancient Nile, and how Hellenic customs 
borrowed both gorgeous colors and a mystic meaning from the 
contact with Egyptian rites, may be gathered from the chapters 
devoted by Athenseus in the fifth book of the Deipnosophistcc to 
these matters. The Pleiad and the host of minor Alexandrian 
stars have fared, however, worse than their Athenian models. 
They had not even comic satirists to keep their names alive " im- 
mortally immcrded." With the exception of Lycophron, they 
ofEer no firm ground for modern criticism. We only know that, 
in this Alexandrian Renaissance, literature, as usual, repeated it- 
self. Alexandria, like Athens, had its royal poets, and, what is 
not a little curious, Ptolemy Philopator imitated his predecessor 
Dionysius to the extent of composing a tragedy, Adonis, with the 
same title and presumably upon the same theme. 




Greek Tragedy and the Rites of Dionysus. — A Sketch of its Origin and His- 
tory. — The Attic Theatre. — The Actors and their Masks. — Relation of 
Sculpture to the Drama in Greece. — The Legends used by the Attic 
Tragedians. — Modern Liberty in the Choice of Subjects. — Mystery Plays. 
— Nemesis. — Modern Tragedy has no Religious Idea. — Tragic Irony. — 
Aristotle's Definition of Tragedy. — Modern Tragedy offers no KuQapmc 
of the Passions. — Destinies and Characters. — Female Characters. — 
The Supernatural. — French Tragedy. — Five Acts. — Bloodshed. — The 
Unities. — Radical Differences in the Spirit of Ancient and Modern 

In order to comprehend the differences between the ancient 
and the modern drama — between the tragedy of Sophocles and 
the tragedy of Shakespeare — it is necessary to enter into the de- 
tails of the history of the Attic stage. In no other department 
of art is the character of the work produced so closely dependent 
upon the external form which the artist had to adopt. 

Both the tragedy and comedy of the Greeks were intimately 
connected with the religious rites of Dionysus. Up to the very 
last, they formed a portion of the cultus of the vintage-god, to 
whom the theatre was consecrated, and at whose yearly festivals 
the plays were acted. The Chorus, Avhich originally formed the 
chief portion of the dramatic body, took its station at the altar 
of Bacchus in the centre of the theatre. Now the worship of 
Bacchus in Greece had from the first a double aspect — joyous 
and sorrowful. The joyous festivals were held in celebration of 

IT.— 10 


the vigor and the force of nature, in the spring and summer of 
the year ; the sorrowful commemorated the sadness of the au- 
tumn and the winter. There were, therefore, t\Y0 distinct branches 
of musical and choral art connected with the Dionysiac rites — 
the one jovial, the other marked by the enthusiasm of a wild grief. 
From the former of these, or the revel -song, sprang Comedy; 
from the latter, or the dithyramb, sprang Tragedy. Arion is 
named as the first great poet who cultivated the dithyramb and 
wrote elaborate odes for recitation by the Chorus in their evolu- 
tions round the Bacchic altar. His Chorus were attired like 
satyrs in goat-skins, to represent the woodland comrades of the 
god ; hence came the name of tragedy or goat-song. At first 
the dithyrambic odes celebrated only the mystical Avoes of Dio- 
nysus : then they were extended so as to embrace the mythical 
incidents connected with his worship ; and at last the god him- 
self was forgotten, and the tragic sufferings of any hero were 
chanted by the Chorus. This change is marked by an old tradi- 
tion concerning Sicyon, where it is said that the woes of the hero 
Adrastus were sung by the Bacchic choir, and that Cleisthenes, 
wishing to suppress the national mythology, restored the antique 
Dionysiac function. It also may explain the Greek proverb : 
" What has this to do with Dionysus ?" — a question which might 
reasonably have been asked when the sacred representation di- 
verged too widely from the line of Bacchic legend. 

Thus the original clement of Greek tragedy was the dithy- 
ramb, as cultivated by Arion ; and the first stop in the progress of 
the dithyrambic Chorus towards the Drama was the iittroduction 
of heroic legends into the odes. The next step was the addition 
of the actor. It has been ingeniously conjectured that the actor 
was borrowed from the guild of rhapsodes. The iambics of Ar- 
ch ilochus and other poets were recited, as we know, at the feasts 
of Demeter, whose cult had points of similarity with that of Bac- 


clius. It is not improbable that when the heroic element was 
added to the ditliyramb, and the subjects handled by the profes- 
sional reciters of the Homeric and cyclic epics began to form a 
part of the Dionysiac celebration, a rhapsode was then introduced 
to help the Chorus in their office. That he declaimed iambics 
and not hexameters may be accounted for by the prevalence of 
the iambic in the sister-cult of Demeter. This, then, was the third 
step in the development of tragedy. To the dithyrambic chorus 
of Arion was added an interlocutor, who not only recited pas- 
sages of narrative, but also exchanged speech Avith the Chorus, 
and who, in course of time, came to personate the hero whose his- 
tory was being celebrated. Thus far had the art advanced in the 
age of Thespis. The Chorus stood and danced round the altar of 
Bacchus. The rhapsode, whom we now begin to call the actor, 
stood on a raised stage (Xoyetoi') above them. The whole history 
of Greek tragedy exhibits a regular expansion of these simple ele- 
ments. The function of the Chorus, the peculiar nature of the 
masks and dresses, and the very structure of the theatres, can only 
be explained by reference to this primitive constitution of the 
dramatic art. 

To Thespis the Athenian, whose first regular exhibition of the 
tragic show preceded the birth of ^Eschylus by about ten years, 
belongs the credit of having brought the various elements of 
tragedy into harmony, and of having fixed the outlines of the 
tragic art. The destruction of Athens by the Persian army, like 
the burning of London, which inflicted so severe an injury upon 
our early dramatic literature, obliterated the monuments of the 
genuine Thespian tragedy. Some of the names of these dramas 
— Pentheus, Phorbas, the Funeral Games of Pelias, the Priests — 
liave been preserved ; from which we may conjecture that Thespis 
composed interludes with regular plots, combining choric pas- 
sages and monologues uttered by the actor with elucidatory dia- 


logues. His Cliorus was the traditional band of mummers clad 
in goat-skins — the Tfjuyoi of the ancient Dionysiac festival. The 
poet himself was the actor, and his portion of the interlude was 
Avritten either in iambic or, as we may gather from a passage in 
the Poetics of Aristotle, in trochaic metre. The next great name 
after Thespis is Phrynichus, who composed a tragic interlude on 
the taking of Miletus by the Persians. This fact is important, 
since it proves that even at this early period a dramatist felt jus- 
tified not merely in departing from the myths of Dionysus, but 
also in treating the events of contemporarj^ history in his choric 
tragedy. The Athenians, however, Avere indignant at so abrupt a 
departure from usage, and at the unfesthetical exhibition of dis- 
asters which had recently befallen their race. They fined the 
poet, and confirmed their tragedians in the custom of handling 
only ancient and religious legends. It is well known that the 
single exception to this custom which has been preserved to us is 
the splendid triumph of ^Eschylus composed upon the ruin of the 
godless Xerxes. Phrynichus introduced one important change 
into the Thespian drama: he established female characters. Af- 
ter him came Pratinas, who altered the old form of the Chorus. 
Hitherto, whatever may have been the subject of the play, the 
Bacchic -payoi stood in their quaint goat-skins round the thymele, 
or altar of the god. Pratinas contrived that in future the Chorus 
should be attired to suit the action of the piece. If the play 
were written on the fall of Troy, for instance, they appeared as 
ancient Trojans ; or if it had reference to the house of Lai us, 
they came forth as senators of Thebes. At the same time special 
pieces for the traditional tragic chorus were retained, and these 
received the name of satyric dramas. Henceforth it was custom- 
ary for a tragic author to produce at the same time three suc- 
cessive dramas on the subject he selected, together with a satyric 
play. The only essential changes which were afterwards made in 


Greek tragedy were the introduction of a second actor by M?.- 
cliylus and of a third actor by Sophocles, the abandonment of the 
stricter rule of the tetralogy, and the gradual diminution of the 
importance of the Cho'rus. The choric clement, which had been 
everything at the commencement, gave way to the dialogue, as the 
art of developing dramatic situations and characters advanced ; 
until in the days of Euripides the Chorus formed a comparatively 
insignificant part of the tragic machinery. This curtailment of 
the function of the Chorus was a necessary consequence of prog- 
ress in the art of exhibiting an imitation of human action and 
passion. Yet the Chorus never lost its place in Greek tragedy. 
It remained to mark the origin of the drama, and as a symbol of 
the essentially religious purpose of the tragic spectacle. 

An event is said to have happened during the age of Pratinas 
which greatly influenced the future of the Attic drama. The 
Thespian interludes had been acted on a wooden scaffolding. 
This fell down on one occasion, and caused so much alarm that 
the Athenians erected a permanent stone theatre, which they con- 
structed on the southeast side of the Acropolis. Whetlier this 
old story is a fiction, and whether the time had not naturally ar- 
rived for a more substantial building, may admit of question. At 
any rate the new theatre was designed as though it were destined 
to exist for all time, as though its architects were prescient that 
the Attic drama would become the wonder of the world. The 
spectators were seated on semicircular tiers scooped out of the 
rock of the Acropolis. Their faces turned towards Hymettus 
and the sea. The stage fronted the Acropolis ; the actors had in 
view the cliffs upon which stood the Parthenon and the gleaming 
statue of Protective Pallas. The whole was open to the air. Re- 
membering these facts, we are enabled to understand the peculiar 
grandeur and propriety of those addresses to the powers of the 
earth and sky, to the temples of the gods, to the all-seeing sun 


and glittering ocean-waves, which are so common in Greek trage- 
dy. The Athenian theatre was brought into close connection 
with all that was most brilliant in the architecture and the sculpt- 
ure of Athens, with all that is most impressive in the natural en- 
vironments of the city, with the very deities of the Hellenic wor- 
ship in their visible manifestations to the senses of men. This 
circumstance alone determined many peculiarities of the Greek 
drama, which make it wholly unlike our own. If the hero of a 
modern play, for instance, calls the sun to witness, he must point 
to a tissue-paper transparency in the centre of a painted scene; 
if he apostrophizes ocean, he must turn towards a heaving mass 
of agitated canvas. But Ajax or Electra could raise their hands 
to the actual sun, gilding the statue of Athene with living rays; 
Prometheus, when he described the myriad laughter of the dim- 
pling waves, knew that the sea was within sight of the audience ; 
and sun and sea were regarded by the nation at large, not merely 
as phenomena of our universe, but as beings capable of sympa- 
thizing with humanity in its distress. For the same reason near- 
ly all the scenes of the Greek tragedies are laid in daytime and in 
the open air. The work of art exhibited in an unparalleled com- 
bination of ajsthetical definitcness Avith the actual facts of nature. 
The imagination is scarcely more wrought upon than the senses ; 
whereas the tragedy of Shakespeare makes a direct appeal to the 
inner eye and to the highly stimulated fancy of the audience. 
It is generally before a temple or a palace that the action of a 
Greek play proceeds. Nor was there anything artificial in tins 
custom ; for the Greeks lived in the air of heaven, nor could 
events of such magnitude as those which their tragedy represent- 
ed have been appropriately enacted beneath the shadow of a pri- 
vate roof. Far diiferent Avere the conditions Avhich the modern 
dramatist undertook to illustrate. The hesitations of Hamlet, the 
spiritual conflict of Faustus, the domestic sufferings of the Duch- 


ess of Malfi, are evolved with peculiar propriety witliin the nar- 
row walls of palace-chambers, college-cells, and prisons or mad- 
houses. Scenery, in our sense of the word, was scarcely required 
by the Greeks. The name of a tragedy suflBced to determine 
Avhat palace-gate was represented by the stage : the statue of a 
god was enough to show whose temple was intended. This sim- 
plicity of theatrical arrangement led to a corresponding simplicity 
of dramatic construction, to i-arity of changes in the scene, and 
to the stationary character of Greek tragedy in general. 

Hollowed out of the hillside, the seats of the Athenian specta- 
tors embraced rather more than a full semicircle, and this large 
arc was subtended by a long straight line — the (TKtji'i], or back- 
ground of the stage. In front of this wall ran a shallow plat- 
form, not co-extonsive with the aKypn], but corresponding to the 
middle portion of it. This platform was the stage proper. It 
was, in fact, a development of the Thespian Xoyiior. The stage 
Avas narrow and raised a little above the ground, to which a flight 
of steps led from it. On the stage, very long in proportion to its 
depth, all the action of the play took place : the actors entered it 
through three openings in the ukt^v}], of which the central was 
larger and the two side ones smaller. When they stood upon the 
stage, they had not much room for grouping or for complicated 
action : they moved and stood like the figures in a bass-relief, 
turning their profiles to the audience, and so arranging their gest- 
ures that a continually harmonious series of figures Avas relieved 
upon the background of the aKi^vii. The central opening had 
doors capable of being thrown back and exhibiting a chamber, 
in Avhich, at critical moments of the action, such spectacles as the 
murdered body of Agamemnon, or the suicide of Jocasta, Avere 
revealed to the spectators. The Chorus had their OAvn allotted 
station in the centre of the Avhole theatre — the semicircular pit 
left between the lowest tier of spectators and the staircase lead- 


iug to the stage. In the middle of this pit or orchestra was 
placed the thymele, or altar of Bacchus, round which the Chorus 
moved on its first entrance, and where it stood while witnessing 
the action on the stage. The Chorus entered by side passages lead- 
ing from the hack of the ffcjjvj;, on a lower level than that of the 
stage ; nor did they ever leave their orchestra to mount the stage 
and mingle with the actors. The dressing-rooms and offices of 
the theatre were concealed behind the m:r]r{]. Above the stage 
was suspended an aerial platform for the gods, while subterrane- 
an stairs were constructed for the appearance of ghosts ascending 
from the nether regions. 

These details about the vast size of the theatre, its system of 
construction, and its exposure to the air, make it clear that no 
acting similar to that of the modern drama could have been pos- 
sible on the Attic stage. Any one who has visited the Roman 
theatre of Orange, where the (TKrjry] is still in tolerable preserva- 
tion, must have felt that a classical audience could not have en- 
joyed the subtle intonations of the voice and the delicate changes 
in the features, expressive of varying passions, which constitute 
the charm of modern acting. Our intricate and minute effects 
were out of the question. Everything in the Greek theatre had 
to be colossal, statuesque, almost stationary. The Greeks had so 
delicate a sense of proportion and of fitness that they adjusted 
their art to these necessities. The actors were raised on thick- 
soled and high-heeled boots : they Avore masks, and used peculiar 
mouth-pieces, by means of which their voices were made more 
resonant. The dresses which they swept along the stage were 
the traditional costumes of the Bacchic festivals — brilliant and 
trailing mantles, which added volume to their persons. All their 
movements partook of the dignity befitting demigods and heroes. 
To suppose that these pompous figures were of necessity ridicu- 
lous would be a great mistake. Everything we know about Greek 


art mates it certain that in the theatre, no less than in scnlpture 
and architecture, this nation of artists achieved a perfectly har- 
monious effect. How dignified, for example, were their masks, 
may be imagined from the sculptured heads of Tragedy and Com- 
edy preserved in the Vatican — marble faces of sublime serenity, 
surmounted by the huge mass of curling hair, which was built up 
above the mask to add height to the figure. But in order to 
maintain the grandeur of these personages on the stage, it was 
necessary that they should never move abruptly or struggle vio- 
lently. This is perhaps the chief reason why Greek tragedy was 
so calm and so processional in character, why all its vehement ac- 
tion took place off the stage, why some of its most impassioned 
expressions of emotion were cadenced in elaborate lyrics with a 
musical accompaniment. An actor, mounted on his buskins, and 
carrying the weight of the tragic mask, could never have encoun- 
tered a similar gigantic being in personal combat without betray- 
ing some awkwardness of movement or exhibiting some unseemly 
gesture. It was, therefore, necessary to create the part of the Mes- 
senger as an artistic correlative to the peculiarly artificial condi- 
tions of the stage. We find in the same circumstance a reason 
Avhy the tragic situation was sustained with such intensity, why 
the action was luiiited to a short space of time and to a single lo- 
cality, and why few changes were permitted in the characters dur- 
ing the conduct of the same piece. For the mask depicted one 
fixed cast of features ; and though, as in the case of Qjldipus, who 
tears out his eyes in a play of Sophocles, the actor might appear 
twice upon the stage with different masks, yet lie could not be 
constantly changing them. Therefore the strong point of the 
Greek dramatist lay in the construction of such plots and charac- 
ters as admitted of sustained and steady passion, whereas a mod- 
ern playwright aims at providing parts which shall enable a great 
actor to exhibit lights and shades of varying expression. It still 


remains a problem how sucli parts as tlie Cassandra of JEscbylus 
and the Orestes of Euripides could have been adequately acted 
with a mask to hide the features ; but such effects as those for 
which Garrick, Rachel, and Talma were celebrated would have 
been utterly impossible at Athens. 

In attempting to form any conception of a Greek drama, we 
must imbue our minds with the spirit of Greek sculpture, and an- 
imate some frieze or bass-relief, supplying the accompaniment of 
simple and magnificent music, like that of Gluck, or like the reci- 
tatives of Porpora. Flaxman's designs for -Ji^schylus are probably 
the best possible reconstruction of the scenes of a Greek tragedy, 
as they appeared to the eyes of the spectators, relieved upon the 
background of the (TKrjri]. Schlegel is justly indignant witli those 
critics who affirm that the modern opera affords an exact parallel 
to the Greek drama. Yet the combination of music, acting, sce- 
nery, and dancing in such an opera as Gluck's Orfeo or Cherubini's 
Medea may come nearer than anything else towards giving us a 
notion of one of the tragedies of Euripides. This remark must 
be qualified by the acknowledgment of a radical and fundamental 
difference between the two species of dramatic art. Music, danc- 
ing, acting, and scenery, with the Greeks, were sculptural, stud- 
ied, stately ; with the moderns they are picturesque, passionate, 
mobile. If the opera at all resembles the Greek drama, it is be- 
cause of the highly artificial development of the histrionic art 
which it exhibits. The expression of passion in a stationary and 
prolonged aria, with which we are familiar in the opera,^and which 
is far removed from nature, was of common occurrence in Greek 

* The scene in which Antigone takes leave of the Chorus within sight of 
he;- tomb is a good instance of this artificial treatment of passionate situations 
in the Attic drama. It has been censured by some critics as being unreason- 
ably protracted. In reality it is in perfect accordance with the whole spirit 


So far we have been occupied with tliose cbaracteristics of the 
ancient drama which were immediately determined by the exter- 
nal circumstances of the Attic stage. I have tried to show that 
some of the most marked qualities of the work of art were neces- 
sitated by the conditions of its form. But other and not less im- 
portant points of difference between the ancient and the modern 
di'ama were due to the subject-matter of the former. The Greek 
playwrights confined themselves to a comparatively narrow circle 
of mythical stories ;* each in succession had recourse to Homer 
and to the poets of the epic cycle, ^schylus, Sophocles, and 
Euripides, not to mention their numerous forgotten rivals, han- 
dled and rehandled the same themes. We have, for example, ex- 
tant three tragedies, the Choephoroe of ^schylus, the Electra of 
Sophocles, and the Electra of Euripides, composed upon precisely 
the same incident in the tale of Agamemnon's children. Modern 
dramatists, on the contrary, start with the whole stuff of human 
history ; they seek out their subjects where they choose, or invent 
motives with a view to the exhibition of varied character, force 
of passion, tragic effect ; nor have they any fixed basis of solid 
thought like the doctrine of Nemesis f whereon to rear their trag- 
ic superstructure. In this respect the mystery-plays of the Cath- 
olic Church offer a close parallel to the Greek drama. In these 
dramatic shows the whole body of Christian tradition — the Bible, 

of Greek tragedy. The emotions are brought into artistic relief: the figures 
arc grouped lilce mourners on a sculptured monument : the antiphonal dirges 
of the princess and her attendants set the pulses of our sympathy in rhyth- 
mic movement, so that grief itself becomes idealized and glorified. The 
depth of feeling expressed, and the higlily wrought form of its expression, 
together tend to rouse and chasten all that is profound and dignified in our 
emotions. Strophe after strophe, heart-beat by heart-beat, this wonderfully 
cadenced funeral song of her who is the bride of Acheron pi'oceeds until the 
marble gates are shut upon Antigone. 

* See vol. i. p. 34 ; vol. ii. p. 23. f See vol. ii. p. 15-24. 


the acts of the saints, and the doctrines of the Church abont the 
Judgment and the final state of the soul — was used as the mate- 
rial from which to fashion sacred plays. But between the mys- 
teries and the early Attic tragedies there was one great point of 
difference. The sanctity of the Christian tradition, by giving an 
immovable form to the legends, precluded all freedom of the fan- 
cy. There could be no inventive action of the poet's mind when 
he was eno-ao-ed in settino; forth the mysteries of the Incarnation, 
the Atonement, or the final Judgment. His object was to instruct 
the people in certain doctrines, and all he could do was to repeat 
over and over again the same series of events in which God had 
dealt with man. Therefore, when the true dramatic instinct 
awoke in modern Europe, the playwrights had to quit this nar- 
row sphere of consecrated thoughts. Miracle-plays were succeed- 
ed by moralities, by histories, and by those unfettered creations 
of which Marlowe in Eno-land offered the fii-st illustrious exam- 
pies. Had the Thespian interludes been as purely didactic in 
their object as the early mystery -plays of the Church, we should 
either have possessed no Attic drama at all or else have received 
from the Greek poets a very different type of tragedy. As it 
was, the very essence of Greek religion reached its culminating 
point in art. Epical mythology attained to final development in 
the free artistic creations of Sophocles. Meanwhile the dramatists 
were hampered in their choice of subjects by the artificial restraints 
imposed upon them. They were never at liberty to invent. They 
Avere always bound to keep in view the traditional interpretation 
of legends to which a semi-religious importance attached. 

Many distinctions between the ancient and the modern drama 
may be deduced from this original difference in the sources of 
their materials. The conception of retributive justice pervades 
the whole tragedy of the Greeks ; and the maintenance of this 
one animating idea is due no doubt in a great measure to the con- 


tinned treatment of a class of subjects which not only remarkably 
exhibited its working, but Avhich also were traditionally interpret- 
ed in its lio^ht. The modern drama has no such central idea. Our 
tragedy imports no dominant religious or moral conception into 
the sphere of art. Even Shakespeare and Goethe, the most high- 
ly moralized of modern dramatists, have been contented with 
bringing close before our eyes the manifold spectacle of human 
existence, wonderful and brilliant, from which we draw such les- 
sons only as can be learned from life itself. They do not under- 
take, like the Greek tragedians, to supply the solution as well as 
the problem. It is enough for them to exhibit humanity in con- 
flict, to enlist our sympathies on the side of what is noble, or to 
arouse our pity by the sight of innocence in miser}'. The strug- 
gle of Lear with his unnatural daughters, the death of Cordelia 
when the very doors of hope have just been opened ; Desdemona 
dying by her husband's hand, without one opportunity of expla- 
nation ; Imogen flouted as a faithless wife ; Hamlet wrestling 
with Laertes in the grave of Ophelia ; Juliet and Romeo brought 
by a mistake to death in the May-time of their love ; Faust in- 
flicting by his bitter gift of selfish passion woe after woe on 
Margaret and her family — these are the subjects of our tragedy. 
We have to content ourselves as we can with this " mask and 
antimask of impassioned life, breathing, moving, acting, suffering, 
laughing," and to moralize it as we may. The case is different 
with Greek tragedy. There we always learn one lesson — rw cpa- 
aavTi Tradeh', the guilty must suffer. It is only in a, few such 
characters as Antigone or Polyxena that pure pathos seems to 
weigh down the balance of the law. 

A minor consequence of the fixed nature of Attic tragedy was 
that the dramatists calculated on no surprise in order to enlist the 
interest of their audience. The name, Q^ldipus or Agamemnon, 
informed the spectators what course the action of the play would 


take. The art of the poet, therefore, consisted in so displaying his 
characters, so preparing his incidents, and so developing the trag- 
ic import of the tale, as to excite attention. From this arose a 
peculiar style of treatment, and in particular that irony of which 
so much is spoken. The point, for example, about the (Edipus 
Tyrannus was that the spectators knew his horrible story, but 
that he did not. Therefore, every word he uttered in his pride 
of prosperity was charged with sinister irony, was pregnant with 
doom. Every minute incident brought him nearer to the final 
crash, which all the while was ready waiting for him. In read- 
ing this tragedy of Sophocles we seem to be watching a boatful 
of careless persons gliding down a river, and gradually approach- 
ing its fall over a vast cliff. If we take interest in them, how ter- 
rible is our anxiety when they come within the irresistible current 
of the sliding water, how frightful is their cry of anguish when at 
last they see the precipice ahead, how horror-stricken is the silence 
with which they shoot the fall, and are submerged ! Of this nat- 
ure is the interest of a good Greek traged}'. But in the case of 
the modern drama all is different. When our Elizabethan ances- 
tors went to the theatre to hear Othello for the first time, very 
few of them knew the story : as the play proceeded, they could 
not be sure whether lago would finally prevail. At every mo- 
ment the outcome was doubtful. Tragic irony is, therefore, not a 
common element in the modern drama. The forcible exhibition 
of a new and striking subject, the gradual development of pas- 
sions in fierce conflict, the utmost amount of pathos accumulated 
round the victims of malice or ill-luck, exhaust the 'resources of 
the tragedian. The ancient dramatist plays with his cai'ds upon 
the table : the modern dramatist conceals his liand. Euripides 
prefixed a prologue descriptive of the action to his pieces. Our 
tragedies open only with such scenes as render the immediate 
conduct of the play intelligible. 


Aristotle's definition of tragedy, founded upon a vast experi- 
ence, we need not doubt, of the best Greek dramas, offers anoth- 
er point of contrast between the ancient and the modern art. 
"Tragedy," he says, "is an imitation of an action that is weighty, 
complete, and of a proper magnitude ; it proceeds by action and 
not by narration ; and it effects through pity and terror a purga- 
tion of the like passions in the minds of the spectators." This 
definition, which has caused great difficulty for commentators, 
turns upon the meaning of the KaOapnic,'^ or purgation, which 
tragedy is supposed to effect. It is quite clear that all poetry 
Avhich stirs the feelings of pity and teri'or need not at the same 
time purge them in or from the souls of the listeners, except only 
in so far as true art is elevating and purifying. Therefore Aris- 
totle must have had some special quality of the tragic art to which 
he was accustomed in his mind. His words seem to express that 
it is the function of the tragic drama to appeal to our deepest 
sympathies and strongest passions, to arouse them, but at the 
same time to pacify them, and, as it were, to draw off the dan- 
gerous stuff that lies upon our soul — to resolve the perturbation 
of the mind in some transcendental contemplation.f This is 

* The word KaQapaiq may possibly liave been borrowed from medicine by 
Aristotle, and iiis meaning may, therefore, be that the surplus of the passions 
of which he speaks is literally purged out of the mental systehi by the action 
of tragedy. This suggestion was, I think, made by Bernays. It has been 
pointed out to me by my friend, Mr. E. Abbot, of Balliol College, that Aris- 
totle, in another passage of the Poetics (xvii. 8), uses the word in a lustral 
meaning. The reference to it in a weighty passage of the Politics (viii. 7, 4) 
seems to prove that the purification was for the individual, not, as Goethe 
thought, for the passions as exhibited in the work of art itself. 

f Milton's description of the poet's function in the Reason of Church Gov- 
ernment urged against Prelacy contains a fine expansion of the phrase Ka.9ap- 
aiQ in these words : " To allay the perturbation of the mind and set the affec- 
tions in right tunc." Milton in his own Samson Agonistcs followed the Greek 


what the greatest Greek tragedies achieve. They are almost in- 
variably closed by some sentence of the Chorus in which the un- 
searchableness of God's dealings is set forth, and by -which we 
are made to feel that, after the fitful strife and fever of human 
wills, the eternal counsels of Zeus remain unchanged, while the 
moral order of the world, shaken and distorted by the passions of 
heroic sufferers, abides in the serenity of the ideal. Furthermore, 
there is in the very substance of almost all Greek tragedies a more 
obvious healing of wounds and restoration of harmony than this. 
The trilogy of Prometheus was concluded by the absorption of 
the Titan's vehement will in that of Zeus. The trilogy of Ores- 
tes ends with the benediction of Pallas and Phoebus upon the 
righteous man who had redeemed the errors of his house. Soph- 
ocles allows us a glimpse of Antigone bringing peace and joy to 
her father and brothers in Hades. The old QSdipus, after his 
life-wanderings and crimes and woes, is made a blessed daemon 
through the mercy of propitiated deities. Hippolytus is recon- 
ciled to his father, and is cheered and cooled in his death-fever by 
the presence of the maiden Artemis. Thus the terror and pity 
which have been roused in each of these cases are allayed by the 
actual climax of the plot Avhich has excited them : grief itself be- 
comes a chariot for surmounting the sources of grief. But the 

usage closel}', and concluded the whole drama with a choric reflection upon 
the wisdom of God's dealings with the race of men. There, again, he ex- 
presses in the very last words of his play the same doctrine of KaQapcng : 

His servants lie, with new acquist , . 

Of true experience from this great event, 
With peace and consolation hath dismissed. 
And calm of mind, all passion spent. 

Hegel, in his doctrine of the Versohnung, or reconciliation of opposite pas- 
sions in a contemplation which is above them and includes them, seems to 
have aimed at the same law as Aristotle. 


modern drama does not offer this KuQdpcnc : its passions too often 
remain unreconciled in their original antagonism : the note on 
which the symphony terminates is not nnfreqnently discordant 
or exciting. Where is the mOapcrig in Ivinff Lear? Are our 
passions purged in any definite sense by the close of the first 
part of Faust ? We are rather left with the sense of inexpiable 
guilt and nnalleviated suffering, with yearnings excited Avhich 
shall never be quelled. The greatest works of modern fiction — 
the novels of Balzac, with their philosophy of wickedness trium- 
phant ; the novels of George Eliot, with their dismal lesson of 
the feebleness of human effort ; the tragedies of Shakespeare, 
with the silence of the grave for their conclusion — intensify and 
embitter that " struggle to be what we are not, and to do what 
we cannot " which Hazlitt gives as an equivalent for life.* The 
greatest creative poet of this generation writes a mycr; upon his 
title-page. The chief poet of the century makes his hero exclaim : 

Entbehren sollst du, sollst cntbehren. 

Such purification of the passions as modern art achieves is to be 
found most eminently in the choric movements of Handel, in the 
symphonies of Beethoven, in all the great achievements of music. 
Ancient art aimed at the perfect within definite limits, because 
human life in the ancient world was circumscribed by mundane 
limitations, and its conditions were unhesitatingly accepted. Our 

* In the Greek drama the notion of fate was primarily theological : the 
hero was conducted to his end by gods. In Shakespeare Fate is psycholog- 
ical ; Hamlet's own character is his destiny. In Goethe, Victor Hugo, and 
George Eliot the conception of Fate has passed into the region of positiv- 
ism : the laws of blood, society, and race rule individuals in the Elective Af- 
finities, Les 3fiserables, the Spanish G-yj)sij. The modern analogue for Greek 
hereditary destiny, traceable to some original transgression and tainting all 
the action of a doomed family, is to be found in madness,'which has as yet 
been tragically treated by no dramatist of the first rank. 

II.— 1 1 


art aims at the infinite, because Ave are forever striving after a 
completion which cannot be attained. It was not for nothing 
that Christianity, with its widening of spiritual horizons, closed 
the ancient and inaugurated the modern age : 

Unc immense esperance a traverse la terre ; 
Malgre nous vers le eiel il faut lever les yeux. 

In that fixed mood of restless expectation, in that persistent atti- 
tude of the soul upraised to sweep the heavens, there lies the se- 
cret of modern art. Life to the Greek belonged to the category 
of TO TTEpac, or the definite : it was like a crystal in its well-defined 
consistency. Our life, whether we regard it from the point of 
view of science or of religion, belongs to the uTreipnr, or the unde- 
termined : it is only one term of an infinite series, the .significance 
whereof is relative to the unknown quantities beyond it. Con- 
sequently modern art is nowhere satisfied with merely aesthetic 
forms. The soul with its maladies imperiously demands expres- 
sion. Michael Angelo was not contented, like Pheidias or Praxi- 
teles, Avith carving the serenity of godlike men and women. In 
the figures upon the tombs of the Medici he fashioned four moods 
of the tortured, aching, anguished soul, to Avhom the burden of 
this life is all but intolerable. His frescos in the Sistine Chapel 
are subordinated to the expression of one thought — the doom of 
God which will descend upon the soul of man. Christianity de- 
stroyed beyond all possibility of reconstruction the free, frank 
sensuality of paganism. It convicted humanity of sin, and taught 
men to occupy themselves with the internal warfare of their flesh 
and spirit as that which is alone eternally important. Life itself, 
according to the modern formula, is a conflict which will be con- 
cluded one w'ay or the other beyond the grave. Meanwhile upon 
this earth the conflict is undetei'mined. Therefore art, v.hich re- 
flects life, represents the battle, and dares not to anticipate its out- 


come. In this relation the very pathology of the soul becomes 
poetic. 'Epav cc^urarwr, said the Greek proverb, vuaoc tTic "^I'X'ls 
— to desire impossible things is a disease of the soul. But 
Vamour dc f imjiossible — the straining of the soul after the in- 
finite, the desire to approximate in this world to a dream of the 
ecstatic fancy — all the rapture of saints, the self-denial of soli- 
taries, the death in life of penitents — is not defined by us as a 
disease. On the contrary, this passion for the impossible has 
been held through many centuries of modern history to be the 
truest sign of the soul's health ; and even where such superstition 
has not penetrated, poets like Byron have prided themselves upon 
the same temper displayed in their extravagant yearnings. Don 
Juan, enormous in his appetite for pleasure, and rebellious on the 
grave's brink beneath the hand of God ; Faust, insatiable of curi- 
osity, and careless of eternity in his lust for power ; Tannhauser, 
pursuing to the end his double life of love too sweet to be aban- 
doned and of conscience too acutely sensitive to be stilled ; these 
are our modern legends. These, with so little of mere action in 
them, so much of inner meaning and mental experience, yield the 
truest materials to our artists. Over and over again have Faust, 
Tannhauser, and Don Juan supplied the poet with subjects where- 
in no merely local or temporary tragedy is set forth, but the des- 
tiny of the modern man is shown as in a magic mirror. Nor has 
the advent of science as yet restored our mind to that "passion- 
less bride, divine tranquillity," which the Greeks enjoyed, and 
which alone could be the mother of such art as the antique. Al- 
though the sublime cheerfulness of Goethe shows by way of fore- 
cast how the scientific mood may lead to this resiilt hereafter, for 
the present science has deepened and complicated our most dis- 
tressing problems, has rendered the anxiety of man about his des- 
tiny still more cruel, has made him still more helpless in the ef- 
fort to comprehend his relations to the universe, by seeming to 


prove that his most cherished hypotheses are mere illusions. 
Like a spoiled child, who has been taught to expect too much, to 
think about himself too much, and to rely too much on flattery, 
humanity, shrinking from the cold, calm atmosphere of science, 
still cries in feverish accents Avith St. Paul : " If Christ be not 
risen, then are we of men most wretched !" How strano-e would 
that sentence have sounded to Sophocles ! How well it suits 
the tragedy of Shakespeare, which has for its ultimate Versoh- 
nung the hope, felt, though unexpressed, of St. Paul's exclama- 
tion ! 

As a corollary to what has hitherto been said about the differ- 
ences between the drama of Sophocles and that of Shakespeare, it 
follows that the former aims at depicting the destinies, and the 
latter the characters of men.* Shakespeare exhibits individual 
wills and passions clashing together and producing varied patterns 
in the web of life. Sophocles unfolds schemes and sequences of 
doomed events, where individual wills and passions play indeed 
their part, but where they are subordinated to the idea which the 
tragedian undertakes to illustrate. A play of ^schylus or Sopho- 
cles strikes us by the grandeur of the whole : a play of Shake- 
speare or Goethe overwhelms us by the force and frequence of 

* Character in a Greek play is never so minutely anatomized as in a mod- 
ern work of fiction. We do not actually see the secret workings of the main- 
springs of personality. We judge a hero of Sophocles by his actions and 
by his relations to other men and women more than by his soliloquies or by 
scenes specially constructed to expose his qualities. In this respect Greek 
tragedy again resembles Greek sculpture. As in their sculpture the Greek 
artists felt the muscular structure of the human frame with exquisite sensi- 
bility, while they did not obtrude it upon the specta'tor, so in their tragedy 
the poets preferred to exhibit the results rather than to lay bare the process 
of mental and emotional activity. The modern tragedian shifts his ground 
somewhat, but he chooses an equally legitimate province of poetry when ho 
discloses the inmost labyrinths in the character of a Hamlet or a Faust. 


combined and interacting motives. No analysis can be too 
searching or acute for the profound conception which pervades 
the Oresteia of J^schylus; but there is no single character in 
^scliylus or in Sophocles so worthy of minute investigation as 
that of Hamlet or of Faust. If a critic looks to the general effect 
of a tragedy, to the power of imagination displayed in its con- 
ception as a single Avork of art, he will prefer the Agamemnon to 
Macbeth .; but if he seek for the creation of a complete and sub- 
tle human soul, he will abandon Clytemnestra for the Thane of 
Cawdor's wife. The antique drama aims at the presentation of 
tragic situations, determined and controlled by some mysterious 
force superior to the agents. The modern aims at the presenta- 
tion of tragic situations, immediately produced and brought about 
by the free action of the dramatis personce. 

One advantage which the modern dramatist has over the an- 
cient is that he may introduce very numerous persons in concerted 
action without the danger of confusion, and that of these many 
may be female. It has been ably argued by De Quincey that the 
Attic tragedians had small opportunity of studying the female 
character, and that it would have been indecorous for them to 
have painted women with the perfect freedom of a Cleopatra or 
a Vittoria Corombona.* Consequently their women are either 
superficially and slightly sketched like Ismene and Chrysothemis ; 
or else they are marked by something masculine, as in the case 
of Clytemnestra and Medea ; or again they move our sympathy 
not by the perfection of their womanliness but by the exhibition 
of some simple and sublime self-sacrifice — notable examples being 
the filial devotion of Antigone, the sisterly affection of Electra, 
the uncomplaining submission of Iphigeneia and Polyxena, the 

* Tliis seems to have been the gist of one of the grudges of Aristophanes 
against Euripides, as I have indicated above, p. 4Y, note. He made the love 
of Sthenoboea, the vengeance of Medea, too interesting. 


wifely self-abandonment of Alcestis, the almost frifyid acquies- 
cence in death of Makaiia. The later Greek drama, and especially 
the drama of Euripides, abounded in these characters. They are 
incarnations of certain moral qualities. Like the masks which 
concealed the actor's face, they show one fixed and sustained 
mood of emotion : we find in them no hesitancy and difficult re- 
solve, no ebb and flow of wavering inclination, but one immuta- 
ble, magnificent, heroic fixity of purpose. In a word,, they are 
conformed to the sculptural type of the Greek tragic art. 

Owing to the very structure of the Attic stage, Greek tragedy 
could never have recourse to those formless, vague, and unsub- 
stantial sources of terror and of charm which the modern drama- 
tist has at his command. How could such airy nothings as the 
elves of the Tempest, the fairies of A Midsummer Mghfs-Dream, 
or the witches of Macbeth have been brought upon that colossal 
theatre in the full blaze of an Athenian noon ? Figures of Thana- 
tos and of Lyssa did indeed appear: the ghost of Clytemnestra 
roused the sleeping Furies in the courts of Delphi : the phantom 
of Darius hovered over his grave. But these spectres were sculpt- 
uresque — such as Pheidias might have carved in marble, and such 
as we see painted on so-called Etruscan vases. They were not 
Ban quo-apparitions gliding into visible substance from the vacant 
gloom and retiring thitherward again. When such creatures of 
the diseased imagination had to be suggested, the seer, like Cas- 
sandra, before whose eyes the phantoms of the children of Thy- 
estes passed, or Orestes, who drew his arrows upon an unseen co- 
hort of threatening fiends, stared on vacancy. Shakespeare dares 
at times to realize such incorporeal beings^to give to them a voice 
and a visible form. Yet it may be doubted whether even in his 
tremendous supernatural apparatus the voice which shrieked to 
Macbeth " Sleep no more !'' the mutterings of Lady Macbeth in 
her somnambulism, the spectre which Hamlet saw and his motlier 


could not see, the dream of Clarence with its cry of injured ghosts, 
are not really the most appalling. 

The Greek drama owed its power to the qualities of regularity 
and simplicity : the strength of the modern lies in subtlety and 
multiplicity. The external conditions of the Attic theatre, no less 
than the prevailing spirit of Greek tragic art, forced this simplic- 
ity and regularity upon the ancient dramatists. These conditions 
do not occur in the modern world. We have our little theatres, 
our limited audience, our unmasked actors, our scenical illusions, 
our freedom in the choice of subjects. Therefoi'e to push the 
subtlety and multiplicity of tragic composition to the utmost — to 
arrange for the most swift and sudden changes of expression in 
the actor, for the most delicate development of a many-sided char- 
acter, for the most complicated grouping of contrasted forms, and 
for the utmost realization of imaginative incidents — is the glory 
of a Shakespeare or a Goethe. The French dramatists made the 
mistake of clinging to the beggarly elements of the Attic stage, 
when they had no means of restoring its colossal grandeur. When 
it was open to them to rival the work of the ancients in a new 
and truly modern style, thej' hampered their genius by arbitrary 
I'ules, and thought that they were following the principles of the 
highest art, while they submitted to the mere necessities of a by- 
gone form of presentation. If Racine had believed in Nemesis, if 
Versailles had afforded him a theatre and an audience like that of 
Athens, if his actors had worn masks, if sculpture had been the 
dominant art of modern Europe, he would have been following 
the right track. As it was, he became needlessly formal. The 
same blind enthusiasm for antiquity led to the doctrine of the 
unities, to the abstinence from bloodshed on the stage, and to 
the restriction of a play to five acts. Horace had advised a dram- 
atist not to extend his tragedy beyond the fifth act, nor to allow 
Medea to murder her children within sight of the audience. All 


modern playwrights observe tlie rule of five acts : nor is there 
much to be said against it, except that the thii-d act is apt to be 
languid for want of matter. But the Greeks disregarded this di- 
vision : judging by the choric songs, we find that some of their 
tragedies have as many as seven, and some as few as two acts. 
Again, as to bloodshed on the stage, it is probable that if the 
Greek actors had not been so clumsily arrayed, we should have 
had many instances of their violation of this rule, ^^schylus dis- 
closes the shambles where Agamemnon and Cassandra lie welter- 
ing in their blood, and hammers a stake throuo-h the bodv of Pro- 
metheus. Sophocles exhibits Q^ldipus with eyes torn out and 
bleeding on his cheeks. Euripides allows the mangled corpse of 
Astyanax to be brought upon the stage on his father's shield. 
There is nothing more ghastly in an actual murder than in these 
spectacles of slaughter and mutilation. V\"\\\\ reference to the 
unities, the French critics demand that a drama shall proceed in 
the same place, and the playwrights are at infinite pains to man- 
age that no change of scene shall occur. But Aristotle, whose au- 
thority they claim, is silent on the point ; while the usage of the 
Greek drama shows more than one change of place — especially in 
the Ajax of Sophocles and in the JSumenides of ^^schylus, where 
the scene is shifted from the temple of Phoibus at Delphi to the 
Areopagus at Athens. Still the exigencies of the Greek theatre 
made it advisable to alter the centre of action as little as possible ; 
and as a matter of convenience this requirement was complied 
with. The circumstances of our own stage have removed this 
difficulty, and it is only on the childish principle of maintaining 
an impossible illusion that the unity of place can be observed with 


any propriety. The unity of time has more to say for itself. 
Aristotle remarks that it is better to have a drama completed 
within the space of a day : this rule flows from his just sense of 
the proportion of parts; a work of art ought to be such that the 


mind can easily comprehend it at a glance. Yet many Greek 
plays, siicli as the Arjamemnon of ^Eschylus, where Agamemnon 
has time to return from Troy, or the Eumenides, where Orestes 
performs the journey from Delphi to Athens, disregard this rule 
in cases where it required no strain of tlie mind to bridge over 
the space of a few unimportant days or hours. Wlien in the 
modern drama we are introduced to the hero of a play first as a 
child and then as a full-grown man, and are forced meanwhile to 
keep our attention on his acts in the interval as important to the 
dramatic evolution, there is a gross violation of festhetical unity. 
About the unify of action all critics are agreed. It is the same 
as unity of interest, or unity of subject, the interest and tlie sub- 
ject of a play being its action. A good tragedy must have but 
one action, just as a good epic or a good poem of any sort must 
have but one subject ; for the simple reason that, as the eye can- 
not look at two things at once, so the mind cannot attend to two 
things at once. Modern poets have been apt to disregard this 
canon of common-sense : the underplots of many plays and the 
episodes of such epics as the Orlando of Ariosto are not sufficient- 
ly subordinated to the main design or interwoven with it. Aris- 
totle is also right in saying that the unity of the hei'o is not the 
same as the unity of action : a play, for example, on the labors of 
Hercules could only be made a good drama if each labor were 
shown to be one step in the fulfilment of one divinely appointed 
task. Shakespeare has complied with the canon of the unity of 
action in all his tragedies. Whether Goethe lias done so in Faust 
may admit of doubt. The identity of his hero seems to him suf- 
ficient for the tragic unity of his piece ; yet he has given us an- 
other centre of interest in Margaret, whose story is but a mere 
episode in the experience of Faust. Unity of action in a tragedy, 
the very soul of which is action, is the same as organic coherence 
in a body ; and therefore, as every work of art ought, according 


to the energetic metaphor of Plato, to be a livino; creature, v.ith 
head, trunk, and limbs all vitalized by one thought, this unity is 
essential. Admitting this point, we may fairly say that the other 
rules of French dramatic criticism are not only arbitrary, but also 
founded on a mistake with regard to the Greek theatre and a mis- 
apprehension of the proper functions of the modern stage. Com- 
posing in obedience to them is like walking upon stilts in a coun- 
try where there are no marshes to make the inconvenience neces- 

In this review of the differences between our own tragedy and 
that of the Greeks I have scarcely touched upon those primary 
qualities which differentiate all modern from ancient art. The 
" sentiment of the infinite," which Renan regards as the chief leg- 
acy of mediaevalism to modern civilization, and the preoccupation 
with the internal spirit rather than the external form which makes 
music the essentially modern, as sculpture was the essentially an- 
cient art, are causes of innumerable peculiarities in our conception 
of tragedy. I have hardly alluded to these, but have endeavored 
to show that the immersion of Greek tragedy in religious ideas, 
the fixed body of mythical matter handled by the Greek dramatists 
in succession, and the actual conditions of the Attic theatre, will 
account for the greater number of those characteristics which dis- 
tinguish Sophocles from Shakespeare, the prince of Greek from 
the prince of modern tragic poets. 




Heine's Critique on Aristophanes. — Aristophanes as a Poet of the Fancy. — 
The Nature of his Comic Crossness. — Greelv Comedy in its Relation to 
the Worship of Dionysus. — Greek Acceptance of the Animal Conditions 
of Humanity. — His Burlesque, Parody, Southern Sense of Fun. — Aris- 
tophanes and Menander. — His Greatness as a Poet. — Glimpses of Pa- 
thos. — His Conservatism and Serious Aim. — Socrates, Agathon, Eurip- 
ides. — German Critics of Aristophanes. — Ancient and Modern Comedy.- 
—The ^;*-(Zs.— The CVo«f7.s.— Greek Youth and Education.— Tlie Allego- 
ries of Aristophanes. — The Thcsmophoriazmce. — Aristophanes and Plato. 

"A DEEP idea of world -destruction {Weltvemkhtungsidee*) 
lies at the root of every Aristophanic comedy, and, like a fantas- 
tically ironical magic tree, springs up in it with blooming orna- 
ment of thoughts, with singing nightingales, and climbino- chat- 
tering apes." This is a sentence translated from the German of 
Heinrich Heine, who, of all poets, was the one best fitted to ap- 
preciate the depth of Aristophanes, to pierce beneath his smiling 
comic mask, and to read the underlying Weltvernichtungsidee 
with what he calls its "jubilee of death and fireworks of annihi- 
lation," Perhaps, as is common with German writers of imagina- 
tion, Heine pushes his point too far, and insists with too much 
force upon the " jubilee of death," " the fireworks of annihila- 

* It is almost impossible to translate this word, which will frequently recur 
in the essay, and which seems to depend for its force upon the conception 
of the satiric spirit, as that which "stets vernichtet," the Mephistophilistic 
" verneinender Geist." 


tion." The strong wine of his own paradox intoxicates his judg- 
ment, and his taste is somewhat perverted by the Northern ten- 
dency to brood upon the more fantastic aspects of his subject. It 
is not so much Aristophanes himself whom Heine sees, as Aris- 
tophanes reflected in the magic mirror of his own melancholy and 
ironical fancy. Yet, after making these deductions, the criticism 
I liave quoted seems to me to be the proper preface to all serious 
study of the greatest comic poet of the world. It strikes the true 
key-note, aud tunes our apprehension to the right pitch ; for, in 
approaching Aristophanes, we must divest our minds of all the or- 
dinary canons and definitions of comedy : we must forget what 
we have learned from Plautus and Terence, from Moliere and Jon- 
son. No modern poet, except perhaps Shakespeare and Calderon 
'in parts, will help us to understand him. We must not expect to 
find the gist of Aristophanes in vivid portraits of character, in sit- 
uations borrowed from every-day life, in witty dialogues, in care- 
fully constructed plots arriving at felicitous conclusions. All 
these elements, indeed, he has ; but these are not the main points 
of his art. His plays are not comedies in the sense in which we 
use the word, but scenic allegories. Titanic farces in which the 
whole creation is turned upside down ; transcendental travesties, 
enormous orgies of wild fancy and unbridled imagination ; Dionys- 
iac dances in which tears are mingled with laughter, and fire with 
wine ; Choruses that, underneath their oceanic merriment of leap- 
ing waves, hide silent deeps of unstirred thought. If Coleridge 
was justified in claiming the German word Lustspkl for the so- 
called comedies of Shakespeare, we have a far greater right to ap- 
propriate this wide and pregnant title_ to the plays of Aristopha- 
nes. The brazen mask which crowns his theatre smiles indeed 
broadly, serenely, as if its mirth embraced the universe ; but its 
iioUow eye-sockets suggest infinite possibilities of profoundest 
irony. Buffoonery carried to the point of paradox, wisdom dis- 


gnised as insanity, and gayety concealing the whole sum of human 
disappointment, sorrow, and disgust, seem ready to escape from 
its open but rigid lips, which are moulded to a proud, perpetual 
laughter. It is a laughter which spares neither God nor man — 
which climbs Olympus only to drag down the immortals to its 
scorn, and trails the pall of august humanity in the mire ; but 
which, amid its mockery and blasphemy, seems everlastingly as- 
serting, as by paradox, that reverence of the soul which bends our 
knees to Heaven and makes us respect our brothers. There is 
nothing sinister or even serious in Aristophanes. He did not 
write in the sarcastic, cynical old age of his nation or his era. He 
is rather the voice of its superabundant youthfulncss : his genius 
is like a young man sporting in his scorn of danger witli the 
thought of death ; like Achilles, in the sublimity of his beauty, 
.mimicking the gestures of Thersites. Nor, again, are his thoughts 
shaded down, concealed, wrapped up in symbols. On the con- 
trary, the very " Weltvernichtungsidee," of which Heine speaks, 
leaps forth and spreads its wings beneath the full blaze of Athe- 
nian noonday, showing a glorious face, as of sculptured marble, 
and a comely person unashamed. It is not the morbid manifes- 
tation of sour secretions and unnatural juices, but the healthy 
prod;ict of keen vitality and perfectly harmonious functions. Into 
the clear light his paradoxes, and his irony, and his unblushing 
satire spring like song-birds rejoicing in their flight. 

Then, again, how miraculously beautiful are " the blooming or- 
nament of thoughts," " the nightingales and climbing apes," of 
which we spoke ! No poet — not even Shelley — has exceeded the 
Choruses of the Birds and Clouds in swiftness, radiance, and con- 
densed imagination. Shakespeare alone, in his Midsummcr-Nig]it''s 
Dream and the Tempest ; or Calderon, in some of his allegorical 
dramas, carries us away into the same enchanted land, where the 
air is purer and the skies seem larger than in our world ; where 


the stars burn with treble lustre, and where the flowers harbor 
visible spirits — elfs and Ariels clinging to the branches, and daz- 
zling fireflies tangled in the meadow-grass beneath our feet. Nor 
is it only by this unearthly splendor of visionary loveliness that 
Aristophanes attracts us. Beauty of a more mundane and sensual 
sort is his. Multitudes of brilliant ever-changing figures fill the 
scene ; and here and there we find a landscape or a piece of mu- 
sic and moonlight glowing with the presence of the vintage god. 
Bacchic processions of young men and maidens move before us, 
tossing inspired heads wreathed with jasmine flowers and wet with 
wine. The Mysta3 in the meadows of Elysium dance their rounds 
with the clash of cymbals and with madly twinkling snow-white 
feet. We catch glimpses at intervals of Athenian banquets, of 
midnight serenades, of the palaestra with its crowd of athletes, of 
the Panathenaic festival as Pheidias carved it, of all the busy 
rhythmic colored life of Greece. 

Tlie difficulty of treating Aristophanes in an essay is twofold. 
There are first of all those obstacles which every writer on so old 
a subject has to meet. Aristophanes, like all Greek poets, lias 
been subjected to prolonged and most minute criticism. He has 
formed a part of classical education for centuries, and certain 
views about his poetry, substantially correct, have become a fixed 
element in our literary consciousness. Thus every fresh writer on 
the old comedy of Athens must take a good deal of knowledge 
for granted in his readers — but what, and how much, he hardly 
knows. He may expect them to be acquainted Avith the details 
furnished by scholars like Donaldson about the times at which 
comedies were exhibited, the manner of their presentation on the 
stage, and the change from the old to" the middle and new periods. 
He may suppose that they will know that Aristophanes stood in 
the same relation to Cratinus as Sophocles to ^schylus ; that the 
Clouds had not so much to do Avitli the condemnation of Socrates 


us some of the lat?r Greek gossips attempted to make out ; that 
Aristophanes was conservative in poUtics, philosophy, and litera- 
ture, vehemently opposing the demagogues, the sophists, and Eu- 
ripides. Again, he may, or rather he must, avoid the ground 
which has been so well trodden by Schlegel, Miiller, and Mitchell, 
in their familiar criticisms of Aristophanes ; and he may content 
himself with a passing allusion to Grote's discussion of the Clouds. 
But though, from this point of view, Aristophanes is almost stale 
from having been so much written about and talked about and al- 
luded to — though in fact there is a 'prima facie obligation im- 
posed on every one Avho makes his plays the subject of fresh crit- 
icism to pretend at least to some originality of view or statement 
— still Aristophanes has never yet been fairly dealt with or sub- 
mitted to really dispassionate consideration. Thus he shares, in 
common with all poets of antiquity, the disabilities of being hack- 
neyed, while he has the peculiar and private disability of never 
having been really appreciated at his worth except by a few schol- 
ars and enthusiastic poets. The reason for this want of intelli- 
gence in the case of Aristophanes is not hard to see. First of all, 
his plays are very difficult. Their allusions require much learned 
illustration. Their vocabulary is copious and rare. So that none 
but accomplished Grecians or devoted students of literature can 
hope to read him with much pleasure to themselves. In a trans- 
lation his special excellence is almost unrecognizable. Next — and 
this is the real reason why Aristophanes has been unfairly dealt 
with, as well as the source of the second class of difficulties which 
meet his interpreters — it is hard for the modern Christian world 
to tolerate his freedom of speech and coarseness. Of all the 
Greeks, essentially a nude nation, he is the most naked — the most 
audacious in his revelation of all that human nature is supposed 
to seek to hide. The repugnance felt for his ironical insouciance 
and for his profound indelicacy has prevented us fron) properly 


valuing his poetry. Critics begin their panegyrics of him with 
apologies ; they lift their skirts and tread delicately, passing over 
his broadest humor sicco pede., picking their way among his hete- 
rogeneous images, winking and blinking, hesitating and condoning, 
omitting a passage here, attempting to soften an allusion there, 
until the real Aristophanes has almost disappeared. Yet there is 
no doubt that this way of dealing with our poet will not do. 
The time has come at which any writer on Greek literature, if not 
content to pass by Aristophanes in silence, must view him as he 
is, and casting aside for a moment at least the veil of modern pro- 
j)riety, must be prepared to admit that this great comic genius 
was " far too naked to be shamed." 

So important is this point in the whole of its bearing upon 
Aristophanes that I may perhaps be allowed to explain the pecul- 
iar position which he occupies, and, without seeking to offer any 
exculpation for what oifends us in the moral sensibilities of the 
Greeks, to show how such a product as the comedy of Aristoph- 
anes took root and grew in Athens. His plays, I have already 
said, are not comedies in the modern sense, but Lustspiele — fan- 
tastic entertainments, debauches of the reason and imagination. 
The poet, when he composed them, knew that he was writing for 
an audience of Greeks, inebriated with the worship of the vintage 
god, ivy-crowned, and thrilling to the sound of orgiastic flutes. 
Therefore, we who read him in the cool shades of modern Pi'ot- 
estantism, excited by no Dionysiac rites, forced to mine and quar- 
ry at his jests with grammar, lexicon, and commentary, unable, 
except by the exercise of the historical imagination, to conceive 
of a whole nation agreeing to honor its god by frantic license, 
must endeavor to check our natural indignation, and by no means 
to expect from Aristophanes such views of life as are consistent 
with our sober mood. We cannot, indeed, exactly apply to the 
case of Aristophanes those clever sophistries by which Charles 


Lamb defended the comic poets of our Restoration, when he said 
that they had created an unreal Avorld, and that, allowing for their 
fictitious circumstances, the perverse morality of their plays was 
not only pardonable, but even necessary. Yet it is true that his 
audacious immodesty forms a part of that Weltvernichtungsidee, 
of that total upturn and Titanic revolution in the universe which 
he aflEects ; and so far we may plead in his defence, and in the 
defence of the Athenian spectators, that his comedies were con- 
sciously exaggerated in their coarseness, and that beyond the lim- 
its of the Dionysiac festival their jokes would not have been tol- 
erated. To use a metaphor, his plays were offered as a sacrifice 
upon the thymele or orchestral altar of that Bacchus who was sire 
by Aphrodite of Priapus : this potent deity protected them ; and 
the poet, as his true and loyal priest, was bound, in return for 
such protection, to represent the universe at large as conquered by 
the madness of intoxication, beauty, and desire. Thus the Aristo- 
phanic comedies are in one sense a radiant and pompous show, by 
which the genius of the Greek race chose, as it were in bravado, 
to celebrate an apotheosis of the animal functions of humanity ; 
and from this point of view w'e may fairly accept them as visions, 
Dionysiac day-dreams, from which the nation woke and rose and 
went about its business soberly, until the Bacchic flutes were heard 
again another year. 

On the religious origin of Greek comedy some words may per- 
haps be reckoned not out of place in this connection. It has fre- 
quently been pointed out to what a great extent the character of 
the Aristophanic comedy was determined by its sacred nature, 
and by the peculiar condition of semi-religious license which pre- 
vailed at Athens during the celebration of the festival of Bacchus. 
We know that much is tolerated in a Roman or Venetian carni- 
val which would not be condoned at other seasons of the year. 
Yet the Italian carnival, in its palmiest days, must have offered 

II.— 12 


but a very poor and frioid picture of what took place in Athens 
at the Dionysia, nor was the expression of the crudest sensuality 
ever thought agreeable to any modern saint. That the Greeks 
most innocently and simply wished to prove their piety by these 
excesses is quite clear. Aristophanes himself, in the Achcu-nians, 
gives us an example of the primitive phallic hymn, which formed 
the nucleus of comedy in its rudest stage. The refrain of (paXijc, 
sralpe BuKxiov, ^vyKwus, I'v^-BpoTrXuvriTe, fJOi\e sufficiently indicates 
its nature. Again, the Choruses of the Mystse in the Frogs fur- 
nish a still more brilliant example of the interminglement of de- 
bauchery with a spirit of true pietv, of sensual pleasure with pure- 
soiilcd participation in divine bliss. Their hymns to lacchus and 
Demeter alternate between the holiest strains of praise and the 
most scurrilous satire. At one time they chant the delights of 
the meadows blooming with the rose ; at another they raise cries 
of jubilant intoxication and fierce frenzy. In the same breath 
with the utterance of sensual passion they warn all profane per- 
sons and impure livers to avoid their rites, and boast that for 
them alone the light of heaven is ffladsome who have forsworn 
impiety and preserved the justice due to friends and strangers. 
We must imagine that this phallic ecstasy, if we may so name it, 
had become, as it were, organized and reduced to system in the 
Aristophanic Lustspiel. It permeates and gives a flavor to the 
comic style long after it has been absorbed and superseded by the 
weightier interests of developed art. This ecstasy implied a pro- 
found sympathy with nature in her large and perpetual reproduc- 
tiveness, a mysterious sense of the sexuality which pulses in all 
members of the universe and reaches consciousness in man. It 
encouraged a momentary subordination of the will and intellect 
and nobler feelings to the animal propensities, prompting the 
same race which had produced the sculptures of the Parthenon, 
the tragedies of ^schylus, the deeds of Pericles and Leonidas, the 


self-control of Socrates, the thought of Plato, to throw aside its 
royal mantle of supreme humanity, and to proclaim in a gigantic 
work of art the irreconcilable incongruity which exists between 
the physical nature and the spirit of the man, when either side of 
the antithesis is isolated for exclusive contemplation. We need 
not here point out how far removed was the phallic ecstasy from 
any prurient delight in licentious details, or from the scientific 
analysis of passions. Nor, on the other hand, need we indicate 
the vein of a similar extravagant enthusiasm in Oriental poetry. 
It is enouoh to remember that it existed latent in all the comic 
dramas of the earlier period, throbbing through them as the seve 
de la jeunesse palpitates in youthful limbs and adds a glow and 
glory to the inconsiderate or unseemly acts of an Alcibiades or 
Antony. Christianity, by introducing a new conception of the 
physical relations of humanity, by regarding the body as the tem- 
ple of the spirit, utterly rejected and repudiated this delirium of 
the senses, this voluntary acceptance of merely animal conditions. 
Christianity taught mankind, what the Greeks had never learned, 
that it is our highest duty to be at discord with the universe upon 
this point. Man, whose subtle nature might be compared to a 
many-stringed instrument, is bidden to restrain the resonance of 
those chords which do not thrill in unison with purely spiritual 
and celestial harmonics. Hence the theories of celibacy and as- 
ceticism, and of the sinfulness of carnal pleasure, which are wholly 
alien to Greek moral and religious notions. Never since the age 
of Athenian splendor has a rational and highly civilized nation 
dared to express by any solemn act its sense of union with merely 
physical nature. Aristophanes is therefore the poet of a past age, 
the " hierophant of a now unapprehended mystery," the unique 
remaining example of an almost unlimited genius set apart and 
consecrated to a cultus which subsequent civilization has deter- 
mined to annihilate. The only age whicli offers anything like a 


parallel to the Athenian era of Aristophanes is that of the Italian 
Renaissance. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, at Venice, 
Florence, and Rome, it seemed as if the phallic ecstasy might 
possibly revive, as if the animal nature of man might again be dei- 
fied, in sentiment at least, and as if the highest arts might stoop 
once more to interpret and to consecrate the poetry of the senses. 
But the conscience of the world was changed ; and this could no 
longer be. The image of Christ crowned with thorns had passed 
across the centuries; hopes undreamed of by the Greets had 
aroused a new spirit in the soul of man, and had forced him in 
spite of inclination to lift his eyes from earth to heaven. Over 
the joys of the flesh, which were connected with a future doom 
of pain unending and disgrace, was shed a hue of gloom and hor- 
ror. Conception was looked upon as sin, birth as disaster. It 
was even doubted whether for any but for virgins, except by some 
special privilege of election, salvation could be hoped. Therefore, 
while the Greeks had been innocent in their serene unconscious- 
ness of sin or shame, the extravagances of the Renaissance were 
guilty, turbid, and morbid, because they were committed defiantly, 
in open reprobacy, in scorn of the acknowledged law. What was 
at worst bestial in the Greeks has become devilish in the Renais- 
sance. How different from a true Greek is Benvcnuto Cellini : 
how unlike the monsters even of Greek mythic story is Francesco 
Cenci : how far more awful in his criminality is the Borgia than 
any despot of Greek colony or island ! I have been somewhat 
led astray from the point in view, which was to prove that the 
comedies of Aristophanes embody a peculiar and temporary, 
though recurring and recognized, phase of Greek feeling — that 
they owe their license in a great measure to their religious origin 
and to the enthusiasm of the Bacchic ecstasy. 

But what has just been said about the difference between Athe- 
nian Greece and the Italian Renaissance will show that Aiistoph- 


anes has a still more solid ground of defence in the fact that 
he was thoroughly jn harmony with the moral sense of his age 
and nation, and that the Bacchic license was only an exaggeration 
of more ordinary habits, both of thought and action. It must be 
acknowledged that the Greeks were devoid of what we call shame 
and delicacy in respect of their bodies. It was only in the ex- 
treme old age of the Greek race, and under the dominion of Ori- 
ental mysticism, that the Alexandrian Plotinus was heard to ex- 
claim that he blushed because he had a body. The true Greeks, 
on the contrary, were proud of the body, loved to display their 
physical perfections, felt no shame of any physical needs, Averc 
not degraded by the exercise of any animal function, nay poetized 
the pleasures of the flesh. Simonides, in his lines on happiness, 
prays first for health and next for beauty ; and a thousand pas- 
sages might be quoted to prove how naturally and sincerely the 
Greeks reckoned physical beauty among the chief goods of life, and 
how freely they exhibited it in all its splendor. As a slight indi- 
cation of the popular feeling, avc might quote the reproof for ef- 
feminacy which Aristophanes utters against the young men who 
thought it necessary to appear clothed at the Panathenaic festi- 
val ; from which it is clear that the Greek conscience connected 
nudity with purity. The immense value attached to physical 
beauty is evident even from their military history — from the rec- 
ord, for instance, of Callicrates among the heroes of Platasa, sim- 
ply because he was the fairest of the Greeks who fought that day. 
Again, Herodotus tells of one Philippus, who joined in the expe- 
dition of Dorieus against Eryx, and who, being slain and stripped 
by the people of Segeste, was taken up by his foes and nobly 
buried, and thereafter worshipped as a hero on account of his ex- 
ceeding beauty. The influence Avhich the sight of beauty exer- 
cised over the gravest of the Greeks is proved by the story of 
Phryne before the Areopagus, and by what Plato tells of Socrates 


at tlie beginning of the Charmides. How it could electrify a na- 
tion assembled in the theatre is shown by Plutarch's story of the 
slave whom Nicias set free for winning the applause of all Athens 
when acting Dionysus, and by Xenophon's tale about another 
Dorieus whom the Athenians, though he was their deadly foe, re- 
leased ransomless and scathless, after he had been captured and 
sent to Attica, because he was a very goodly man. Nor was it 
the sense of beauty only, or the open exhibition of the person, 
which marked the Greeks. Besides this, and perhaps flowing 
from it, we find in them an extraordinary callousness with regard 
to many things which we think shocking and degrading in the 
last degree. The mere fact that Alcibiades, while a minister of 
the _Athenian people, could have told the tales of his youth, re- 
corded in Plato's Banquet, or that grave men could have con- 
tended without reserve for the favor of distinguished courtesans, 
proves that the Athenian public was ready to accept whatever 
Aristophanes might set before them — not to take his jokes scorn- 
fully, as a Roman patron trifled with the facetioi of his Grcej^ulus 
esitriens, but, while enjoying them, to respect their author. 

Nor is Aristophanes without another solid ground of defence 
on the score of sincerity and healthiness. In his immodesty there 
is nothing morbid, though it is expressed more crudely than suits 
the moral dignity of man. Aristophanes is never prurient, never 
in bad taste or vulgar. He has none of the obscenity which re- 
volts us in Swift, who uses filth in order to degrade and violate 
our feelings ; none of the nastiness of Moliere or Pope, whoso 
courtly and polished treatment of disgusting subjects is a disgrace 
to literature ; none of the coarseness of Ben Jonson ; none of the 
far more indecent innuendo which contaminates the w'ritino:s of 
humorists like Sterne and satirists like Voltaire, who seem always 
trying, childishly or apishly, to tamper with forbidden things. 
Aristophanes accepts licentiousness as a fact which needs no apol- 


ogy : he does not, as the moderns do, mingle it with sentiment, 
or indulge in it on the sly. He has no polissonnerie : the vice 
egrillard of the French (from whom we are obliged to borrow 
these phrases) is unknown to him. His license is large, serene, 
sane, statuesque, self-approved. His sensuality is nonchalant and 
natural — so utterly devoid of shame, so thoroughly at home and 
well contented with itself, that it has no perturbation, no defiance, 
no mysterious attractiveness. Besides, he is ironical ; his aTrt^^w- 
\r]}iiioL and ivpvnpioicToi promenade in noonday, and get laughed 
at, instead of beino- stoned and hooted down. About the auda- 
cious scene between Kinesias and Murrhine, in the Lysistrata, 
there is no Aretine hircosity. It is merely comic — a farcical in- 
cident, selected, not for the rankness of its details, but for its dra- 
matic capabilities. The same may be said about the termination 
of the Thesmojihoriazusce and the scene in the JScdesiazusce, which 
so vividly illustrates the working of one law in the new common- 
wealth. So innocent in his unconsciousness is Aristophanes that 
he rarely condescends even to satirize the sensual vices. The 
lines about Ariphrades in the Knights, however, are an instance 
of his having done this with more than the pungency of Martial, 
and it must be admitted that his pictures of the drunkenness and 
incontinence of the Athenian women have something Swiftish in 
their brutal sarcasm. If we are to seek for an approximation to 
Aristophanic humor, we shall find it perhaps in Rabelais. Rabe- 
lais exhibits a similar disregard for decency, combining the same 
depth of purpose and largeness of insight with the same coarse 
fun. But in Aristophanes there is nothing quite grotesque and 
homely, Avhereas Rabelais is full of these qualities. Even the 
opening of the Peace, fantastic as it is in absurdity, does not touch 
the note of grossness peculiar to French Pantagruelism. Aristoph- 
anes is always Greek, while Rabelais inherits the mediaeval spirit. 
In reading Aristophanes we seem to have the serene skies of At- 


tica above our licads; the columns of the Propyla?a and the Par- 
thenon look down on us ; noble shapes of youths and maidens are 
crowdnig-' sacred marble steps ; below, upon the mirror of the sea, 
shine Salamis and ^Egina; and far off, in hazy distance, rise Pelo- 
ponnesian hills. With these pictures of the fancy liis comedj^ 
harmonizes. But Rabelais carries us away to Gothic courts and 
monkish libraries ; we fill his margin with etchings in the style of 
Gustave Dore. What has been said of Rabelais applies Avitli even 
greater force to Hogarth, whose absolute sincerity is as great as 
that of Aristophanes, but who is never light and careless. His 
coarseness is the product of a coarse nature, of coarse manners, of 
a period of national coarseness. We tolerate it because of the 
moral earnestness beneath : the artist is striving diligently to teach 
us by warning us of vice. This is hardly ever the case with 
Aristophanes. When he is coarse, we pardon liim for very differ- 
ent reasons. In his wilful degradation of humanity to the level 
of animals we recognize a portion of the Weltvernichtungsidee. 
In the intellectual arrogance of the Athenian prime a poet could 
afford thus to turn the world upside down. But those who can- 
not subscribe to the following dictum of Taine, which is very ap- 
plicable to Aristophanes — "Elevees a cette enormite et savourees 
avec cette insouciance, Ics fonctions corporelles deviennent poe- 
tiques" — those who 

Wink and shut their apprehension up 

From common-sense of what men were and are, 

Who would not know what men must be — 

will need to " hurry amain '•' from the mask of moral anarchy 
which the great comedian displays. AVith these remarks I may 
finally dismiss what has to be said about the chief disability un • 
der which Aristophanes labors as a poet.* 

* Since this chapter was written, Mr. Browning's interesting piece of criti- 
cism in verse, Ar'tdophane^'' Apology^ containing a most clever caricature of 


For the enjoyment of Anstophanic fun a sort of Southern child- 
ishness and swiftness of gleeful apprehension is required. It does 
not shine so much in its pure wit as in its overflowing humor and 
in the inexhaustible fertility of ludicrous devices by which laugh- 
ter is excited. The ascent of Trugaios to heaven upon the dung- 
beetle's back, and the hauling of Peace from her well in the Eirc- 
ne, or the wine-skin dressed up like a baby in the Thesmojihoria- 
zusce, may be mentioned as instances of this broad but somewhat 
peculiar drollery. Burlesquing the gods was always a capital re- 
source of the comic poets. If we in the nineteenth century can 
find any amusement whatever in Byron's or Burnand's travesties 
of Olympus, how exquisitely absurd to an Athenian mob must 
have been the figures of Prometheus under an umbrella, Herakles 
the glutton, Hermes and ^acus the household slaves, Bacchus the 
young fop, and Iris the soubrette. The puns of Aristophanes, for 
the most part, are very bad, but the parodies are excellent. Then 
the surprises {iraim Trpoffhodar), both of language and of incident, 
with which his comedies abound, the broad and genial caricatures 
which are so largely traced and carried out in detail with such 
force, the brilliant descriptions of familiar things seen from odd 
or unexpected points of view, and, lastly, the enormous quantity 
of mirth-producing matter which the poet squanders with the 
prodigality of conscious omnipotence, all contribute to heighten 
the comic effect of Aristophanes. Perhaps the most intelligible 
piece of fun, in the modern sense of the word, is the last scene 
in the Thesmophoriazusce, which owes its effect to parody and 
caricature more than to allusions which are hard to seize. A 
great deal of the fun of Aristophanes must have depended upon 
local and personal peculiarities which we cannot understand : the 

Aristophanes, and a no less clever defence of Euripides, has appeared. I do 
not see any reason to alter the view expressed above concerning Greek Com- 


constant references to the eSeminate Cleistlienes, the skinflint 
Pauson, miserly Patrocles, cowardly Cleonymus, Execestides the 
alien, Agyrrhius the upstart, make us yawn because we .cannot 
catch the exact point of the jests against them. Indeed, as 
Schlegel has said, " we may boldly atHrm that, notwithstanding 
all the explanations which have come down to us — notwithstand- 
ing the accumulation of learning which has been spent upon it, 
one half of the wit of Aristophanes is altogether lost to the 

Having dismissed these preliminary considerations, Ave may 
now ask what has caused the comedy of Aristophanes to triumph 
over the obstacles to its acceptance. Why have his plays been 
transmitted to posterity when those of Eupolis and Cratinus have 
perished, and when only scattered lines from the eight hundred 
comedies of the middle period read by Athenaeus have survived 
destruction ? No one has asked of Aristophanes the question 
which the Alexandrian critic put to Menander : " Oh, Nature and 
Menander, which of you copied the other ?" Yet Menander is 
scarcely more to us than the memory of departed greatness,* or 
at best an echo sounding somewhat faintly from the Roman thea- 
tre, while Aristophanes survives among the most highly cherished 
monuments of antiquity. The answer to this question is, no 
doubt, that Aristophanes was more worth preservation than his 
predecessors or successors. It is wiser to have confidence in the 
ultimate good taste and conservative instinct of humanity than to 
accept Bacon's half-ironical, half-irritable saying, that the stream 
of time lets every solid substance sink, and carries down the froth 
and scum upon its surface. As far, at least, as it is possible to 
form a judgment, we may be pretty certain that in the province 
of the highest art and of the deepest thought we possess the 
greater portion of those works which the ancients themselves 

* See below, chap. xix. 


prized higlily ; " indeed, we may conjecture that had the great 
hbraries of Alexandria and Byzantium been transmitted to us 
entire, the pure metal Avould not very greatly have exceeded in 
bulk what we now possess, but would have been buried beneath 
masses of inferior matter from which centuries would have scarce- 
ly sufficed to disengage it. Aristophanes was preserved in his 
integrity, we need not doubt, because he shone forth as a poet 
transcendent for his splendor even among the most brilliant of 
Attic playwrights. Cratinus may have equalled or surpassed him 
in keen satire : Eupolis may have rivalled him in exquisite artistic 
structure ; but Aristophanes must have eclipsed them, not merely 
T»y uniting their qualities successfully, but also by the exhibition 
of some diviner quality, some higher spiritual afflatus. If we 
analyze his art, we find that he combines the breadth of humor, 
which I have already sought to characterize, with the utmost ver- 
satility and force of intellect, with the power of grasping his sub- 
jects under all their bearings, with extraordinary depth of mascu- 
line good sense, with inexhaustible argumentative resources, and 
with a marvellous hold on personalities. Yet all these qualities, 
essential to a comic poet who pretended also to be the public 
censor of politics and morals, would not have sufficed to immor- 
talize him had he not been essentially a poet — a poet in what we 
are apt to call the modern sense of the word — a poet, that is to 
say, endowed with original intuitions into nature, and with the 
faculty of presenting to our minds the most varied thoughts and 
feelings in language uniformly beautiful, as the creatures of an 
exuberant and self-swayed fancy. Aristophanes is a poet as Shel- 
ley or Ariosto or Shakespeare is a poet, far more than as Soph- 
ocles or Pindar or Lucretius is a poet. In spite of his profound 
art, we seem to hear him uttering " his native wood-notes wild." 
The subordination of the fancy to the fixed aims of the reason, 
which characterizes classical poetry, is not at first sight striking 


in Aristoplianes ; but he splendidly exhibits the wealth, luxuriance, 
variety, and subtlety of the fancy working with the reason, and 
sometimes superseding it, which we recogtiize in the greatest 
modern poets. If we seek to define the peculiar qualities of his 
poetic power, we are led to results not easily expressed, because 
all general critical conclusions are barren and devoid of force 
when worded, but which may perhaps be stated and accepted as 
the text for future illustration. 

The poetry of Aristophanes is always swift and splendid. We 
watch its brilliant course as we might watch the flight of a strong, 
rapid bird, whose plumage glitters by moments in the light of 
the sun ; for, to insist upon the metaphor, the dazzling radiance 
of his fancy only shines at intervals, capriciously, with fitful flash- 
es, coruscating suddenly and dying out again. It is as if the 
neck alone and a portion of the feathers of the soaring bird were 
flecked with gold and crimson grain, so that a turn of the body 
or a fluttering of the pinions is enough to bring the partial splen- 
dor into light or cast it into shadow. Aristophanes passes by 
abrupt transitions from the coarsest or most simply witty dia- 
logue to passages of pure and plaintive song ; he quits his fiercest 
satire for refreshing strains of lark-like heaven-aspiring melody. 
These, again, he interrupts with sudden ruthlessness, breaking the 
melody in the middle of a bar, and dropping the unfinished stan- 
za. He seems shy of giving his poetic impulse free rein, and pre- 
fers to tantalize* us with imperfect specimens of what he might 
achieve ; so that his splendor is like that of northern streamers 
in its lambency, though swift' and piercing as forked lightnings 

* As a minor instance of these sudden transitions from the touching to the 
absurd, take Charon's speech {Frogs, 185) ; 

rig €i'c ava—avkaQ Ik kukHiv icai Trpayfiarojv ; 

Ttf; tig Tu AijQijc TTtSiov, 1] 'c uvov iruKag, 

fj 'f Kipj3epiovg, r) 'q KopaKag, r) Vi Talvapov. 



in its intensity. Even his most impassioned and sustained flio-lits 
of imagination are broken liy digressions into satire, fantastic mer- 
riment, or parody, by which the more dull-witted Athenians must 
have been sorely puzzled in their inability to decide on the seri- 
ous or playful purpose of the poet. Perhaps the most splendid 
passages of true poetry in Aristophanes are the choruses of the 
initiated in the Frogs, the Chorus of the Clouds before they ap- 
pear upon the stage, the invitation to the nightingale, and the 
parabasis of the Birds, the speech of Dikaios Logos in the Clouds, 
some of the praises of rustic life in the Peace, the serenade (not- 
withstanding its coarse satire) in the Ecclesiazusce, and the songs 
of Spartan and Athenian maidens in the Lysistratn. The charm 
of these marvellous lyrical episodes consists in their perfect sim- 
plicity and freedom. They seem to be poured forth as " profuse 
strains of unpremeditated art" from the fulness of the poet's soul. 
Their language is elastic, changeful, finely tempered, fitting the 
delicate thought like a veil of woven air. It lias no Pindaric 
involution, no ^Eschylean pompousness, no studied Sophoclean 
subtlety, no Euripidean concetti. It is always bright and Attic, 
sparkling like the many-twinkling laughter of the breezy sea, or 
like the light of morning upon rain-washed olive-branches. But 
this poetry is never very deep or passionate. It cannot stir us 
with the intensity of Sappho, with the fire and madness of the 
highest inspiration. Indeed, the conditions of comedy precluded 
Aristophanes, even had he desired it, which we have no reason to 
suspect, from attempting the more august movements of lyric po- 
etry. The peculiar glories of his style are its untutored beauties, 
the improvised perfection and unerring exactitude of natural ex- 
pression, for which it is unparalleled by that of any other Greek 
poet. In her most delightful moments the muse of Aristopha- 
nes suggests an almost plaintive pathos, as if behind the comic 
mask there were a thinking, feeling human soul, as if the very 


uproar of the Bacchic merriment implied some after-thought of 

A detailed examination of the structure of the comedies would 
be the best illustration of these remarks. At present it Avill be 
enough to bring forward two examples of the tender melodies 
which may at times be overheard in pauses of the wild Aris- 
tophanic symphony. The first of these is the well-known Wel- 
come to the Nightingale, sung by the Chorus before their para- 
basis : 

w (pi-\r}, w ^ov9t), H) 
(piXraTov opviojv, 
■JTcivTiov S,vj'Vo^i£ rwv tfiwv 
vfivuiv ^vvrpo(j)' m]Soi ; 
v\dtg, vXOeg, o)(pGi]Q, 
r/Siv (j)96yyov t/ioi (bkpova ; 
a\X' Co KaWtjioav KpiKova' 
avKbv (pOeyftarrtv jypii'otf, 
ap\ov Tuiv avawaidTwv. 

With what a fluent caressing fulness one word succeeds another 
here ! How each expresses love and joy ! Remember, too, that 
all the birds are singing together, and that the wild throat of 
their playfellow, the nightingale, is ready to return the welcome 
with its throbbing song of May-time and young summer. Take 
another poetic touch, brief and unobtrusive, yet painting a perfect 
picture with few strokes, and transfusing it with the spirit of the 
scene imagined : 

ciSX avaiivrjffdivTeg, wv^pfQ, 
Tijg Ciairr]g Ttjg TraXaiac, 
^jv Tvapilx avD] ttoO' yfiiv, 
tCjv Tt TraXaalojv Ikeivwi', 
Toiv TE avKiov, Tuiv Tt fivprwv, 
Trie TpvyoQ Te r»)c yXvKiiac, 
r/^t" ifPiag te Trjg Trpug t(^ (ppiaTi, 
TUIV Te iXauiv, Ctv iroQovfiEv — 


" The violet-bed beside the well, and the olives which we long 
to see ao-ain." Truo-aios is remindino- his fellow-villao-ers of tlie 
pleasures of peace and of their country life. Those who from 
their recollection of Southern scenery can summon up the picture, 
who know how cool and shady are those wells, mirroring maiden- 
hair in their black depth ; how fragrant and dewy are the beds 
of tangled violets ; how dreamy are the olive-trees, aerial, mist- 
like, robed with light, will understand the peculiar woOoq of these 

But we must not dwell too much upon the glimpses of pathetic 
poetry in Aristophanes, which, after all, are but few and far be- 
tween, mere swallow-flights of song, when compared with the se- 
rious business of his art. It is well known that the old comedy 
of the Athenians performed the function of a public censorship. 
Starting from the primitive comic song, in which a rude Fescen- 
nine license of what we now call "chaffing" was allowed, and 
tempering its rustic jocularity with the caustic bitterness of Ar- 
chilochian satire, comedy became an instrument for holding up to 
public ridicule all things of general interest. Persons and insti- 
tutions, nay, the gods themselves, are freely laughed at. Bacchus 
seems to have enjoyed the jokes even when directed against him- 
self : Kcd deoQ 'i(r(t)Q xaipei (piXoyeXwQ tiq &v are the words of 
Lucian. So no one else had a right to resent the poet's merri- 
ment when the presiding god of the festival approved of sarcasms 
against his deity, and trod his own stage as a cowardly, cfEeminate 
young profligate. This being the more serious aim of comedy, it 
followed that Aristophanes always had some satiric, and in so far 
didactic, purpose underlying his extravagant caricatures. What 
that purpose was is too well known to need more than passing 
mention. From his earliest appearance under the name of Cal- 
listratus, to the last of his victories, Aristophanes maintained his 
character as an Athenian Conservative. He came forward uni- 


formly as a panegyrist of tbe old policy of Athens, and a vehc' 
incnt antagonist of the new direction taken by his nation subse- 
quently to the Persian war. This one theme he varied according 
to circumstances and convenience. In the first of his plays — tbe 
Daitaleis — he attacked the profligacy and immodesty of tbe rising 
generation, who neglected their Homer for the lessons of the soph- 
ists, and engaged in legal quarrels. The Achai-nians, tbe Peace, 
and tbe Lysistrata are devoted to impressing on tbe Athenians 
the advantages of peace, and inducing them to lay aside their 
enmity against Sparta. In tbe Knights, tbe demagogues are at- 
tacked through tbe person of Cleon, with a violence of concen- 
trated passion that surpasses tbe most savage onslaughts of Ar- 
cbilocbus. Tbe Clouds and Wasps exhibit different pictures of 
the insane passion for litigation and tbe dishonest arts of rhet- 
oric which prevailed at Athens, fostered partly by the influence 
of sophists who professed to teach a profitable method of public 
speaking, and partly by tbe flattery of the demagogues. Tbe 
Birds is a fantastic satire upon tbe Athenian habit of building 
castles in the air, and indulging in extravagant dreams of con- 
quest. In tbe Ecclesiazusoi Aristophanes seems bent on ridiculing 
tiic visionary Utopias of political theorists like Plato, and also on 
caricaturing tbe social license which prevailed in Athens, where 
everything, as be complains, bad been tried, except for Avomen to 
appear in public like tbe men. In tbe Thesmoj^horiazusa: and tbe 
Frogs we exchange politics for literature ; but in bis treatment 
of tbe latter subject, Aristophanes exhibits the same conservative 
spirit. His hostility against Euripides, which is almost as bitter 
as his hatred of Cleon, is founded upon the sophistical nature of 
bis art. Indeed, tbe demagogues, tbe sophists, and Euripides 
were looked upon by him as three foi'ms of tbe same poison 
which was corrupting the old i]doQ of his nation. We have now 
indicated tbe serious intention of all tbe plays of Aristophanes 


except the Plutus, whicli is an etliical allegory conceived under 
a different inspiration from that which gave the impulse to his 
other creative acts. Yet it must not be forgotten that the sub- 
ject-matter of these plays is often varied : in the Acharnians, for 
example, we have a specimen of literary criticism, while the Ly- 
sistrata is aimed as much at the follies of women as intended to 
set forth the advantages of peace. We must also remember that 
it was the poet's purpose to keep his serious ground-plan con- 
cealed. His comedy had to be the direct antithesis to Greek 
tragedy. If it taught, it was to teach by paradox. In this re- 
spect, Aristophanes realized a very high ideal. Preach as he 
may be doing in reality, and underneath his merriment there is 
hardly a passage in all his plays, if we except the pleadings of 
Dikaios Logos in the Clouds, and the personal portions of the 
Parabases, in which we catch him revealing his own earnestness. 
Every ordinary point of view is so consistently ignored, and all 
the common relations of things are so thoroughly reversed, that 
the topsy-turvy chaos which a play of Aristophanes presents is 
quite harmonious. It is, in fact, madness methodized and with a 
sober meaning. Perhaps we ought to seek in this consideration 
the key to those problems which have occupied historians when 
dealing with the Aristophanic criticism of Socrates. How, it is 
always asked, could Aristophanes have been so consciously unjust 
to the great moralist of Athens ? If we keep in sight the inten- 
tional absurdity of everything in one of the Aristophanic come- 
dies, we may perhaps understand how it was possible for the poet 
to travesty the friend with whom he conversed familiarly at sup- 
per-parties. That Plato understood the ridicule of his great mas- 
ter from some such point of view as this is clear from his express 
recommendation of the Clouds to Dionysius, from the portrait 
which he draws of Aristophanes in the Si/mposium, and from the 
eulogistic epigram (if that is genuine) which he composed upon 

IT.— 13 


him. It is curious as a parallel that Agathon should have been 
even more ignobly caricatured than Socrates at the beginning of 
the Thesmophoriazusa: ; yet we know from his own lips, as well 
as from the dialogue of Plato, that Aristophanes was a friend of 
the tragic poet, for he elsewhere calls him 

ajaOog TroajrijC Kai TfoOtivbc Toig (piXoig. 

The lash applied to Socrates and Agathon is scarcely less sting- 
ing than that applied to Cleon and Euripides. Yet the fact re- 
mains that Aristophanes was the friend of Agathon and a mem- 
ber of the Socratic circle. Much of the obscurity attending the 
interpretation of the Clouds arises from our having lost the finer 
nuances of Athenian feeling respecting the persons satirized in 
the old comedy. We do not, for example, understand Cratinus 
when he joins the name of Euripides with that of his great satir- 
ist in one epithet descriptive of the quibbling style of the day — 
evpnnhaf)i<7T0(j)ai'i^ta'.'^ But to return from this digression, we 
may observe that it was only in a democracy that an institution 
unsparing of friend and foe, like the old comedy, in which per- 
sons were openly exposed to censure and the solemn acts of the 
government were called in question, could be tolerated. Accord- 
ingly we find that the early development of comedy, after the 
date of Susarion, was checked by the accession of Pisistratus to 
power, and that the old comedy itself perished with the extinc- 
tion of Athenian liberty. It is only a democracy that likes to 
criticise itself, that takes pride in its indifference to ridicule, and 
in its readiness to acknowledge its own errors. In this respect, 

* This epithet contains the gist of the objection often brought against 
Aristophanes, that he assisted the demoralization which he denounced. If 
he did so, it was not by his grossness and indelicacy, but by his subtilty and 
refinement and audacity of universal criticism. The sceptical aqua-fortis of 
bis age is as strong in Aristophanes as in Euripides. 


we English are very democratic : we abuse ourselves and expose 
our own follies more than any other nation ; the press and the 
platform do for us, in a barren, unajsthetic fashion, what Aris- 
tophanes did for the Athenian public. 

Perhaps we may now be able to sec that a middle course must 
be followed between the extremes of regarding Aristophanes as 
an indecent parasite pandering to the worst inclinations of the 
Athenian rabble, and of looking upon him as a profound philos- 
opher and sober patriot. The former view is maintained by 
Grotc, who, though he is somewhat hampered by his pronounced 
championship of all the democratic institutions of Athens, among 
which the comedy of Aristophanes must needs be reckoned, yet 
clearly thinks tliat the poet was a meddling monkey, full indeed 
of genius, but injurious to the order of the State and to the peace 
of private persons. The latter has been advocated by the Ger- 
man scholars Ranke, Bergk, and Meineke, against whom Grotc 
has directed an able and conclusive argument in the notes to his 
eighth volume. Truly, it is absurd to pretend that Aristophanes 
was the prudent and far-seeing moralist described by his German 
admirers. To imagine him thus Avould be to falsify the whole 
purpose of the Athenian comic drama, and to test its large ex- 
travagance by the narrow standard of modern morality. We 
might as well fancy that Alexander was an unselfish worker in 
the service of humanity as bring ourselves to see in Aristophanes 
the sage of uniformly staid sobriety. Not to mention that such 
a notion is at total variance with the only authentic portrait we 
possess of him, in the Symjiosnun of Plato, every line of his com- 
edies cries out against so pedantic and priggish a calumny. For 
it is a calumny thus to misrepresent the high-spirited muse of 
Aristophanes, with her dishevelled hair and Coan robe of flimsiest 
gauze, and wild eyes swimming in the mists of wine. She never 
[)rctcnds to be better than a priestess of the midnight Bacchus 


and Corintliiaii Aphrodite, tliougli she believes sincerely in the 
inspiration of these deities. To see in her a Vestal or a Diotima, 
to set the owl of Palhis on her shoulder, and to strap the £Egis 
round her panting breasts is a piece of elaborate stupidity and 
painful impertinence which it remained for German pedagogues 
to perpetrate. Yet it is equally wrong to think of Aristophanes 
merely as a pernicious calumniator, who killed Socrates, and put 
an ineffectual spoke in the wheel of progress. Granted that he 
was more of a Merry-Andrew than a moralist, more of a ytXw-o- 
TTowg than a {.le-EWfjoXerTxric, we must surely be blind if we fail to 
recognize the deep undernote of good sense and wisdom which 
gives eternal value to his jests — worse than blind if we do not 
honor him for valiant and unflinching service in the cause which 
he had recognized as right. Nor are the enemies of Aristophanes 
less insensible to his real merits as an artist than his ponderous 
German friends. What are we to think of the imacrinative facul- 
ties of a man who, after gazing upon the divine splendors of the 
genius of Aristophanes, after tracking the erratic flight of this 
most radiant poet, " with his singing robes about him," can de- 
scend to earth and wish that he had never existed, or shake his 
head and measure him by the moral standards of Quarterly Re- 
views and British respectability ? Alas, that from the modern 
world should have evanesced all appreciation of art that is not 
obviously useful, palpably didactic ! If we would rightly estimate 
Aristophanic comedy, we must be prepared to accept it in the 
classical spirit, and separating ourselves from either sect of the 
Pharisees, refuse to picture its great poets to ourselves, on the 
one hand as patriots eximia morum gravitate^ or on the other as 
foul slanderers and irreverent buifoous. Far beyond and outside 
the plane of either standing-ground ai'c they. The old comedy 
of Athens is a work of art so tempered and so balanced that he 
who would appreciate it must submit, for a moment at least, to 


forego his modern advantages of improved morality and public 
decency and purer taste and parliamentary courtesy, and to be- 
come — if he can bend his moral back to that obliquity — a " mer- 
ry Greek." 

It is now clear that Aristophanie comedy is in the history of 
ai't unique — the product of peculiar and unrepeated circum- 
stances. The essential differences between it and modern come- 
dy are manifold. Modern comedy partakes of the tragic spirit ; 
it has a serious purpose, acknowledged by the poet ; a lesson is 
generally taught in its catastrophe ; it is fond of poetical justice. 
Aristophanie comedy, as we have seen, whatever may bo its pur- 
pose, is always ludicrous to the spectators and to itself. Tartuffe, 
A New Way to Pay Old Debts, and Voljoone are tragedies with- 
out bloodshed : you only laugh at them incidentally. The Clouds, 
the Knights, and the Frogs excite "inevitable laughter. Nor is 
this difference manifest only in the matter and spirit of the two 
comedies: it expresses itself externally in their several forms. 
The plays of Aristophanes, upon the stage, must have been like 
our pantomimes, or rather, like our operas. If we wish to form 
a tolerable notion of the appearance of an Aristophanie comedy, 
we cannot do better than keep in mind the Flauto Magica of 
Mozart. Had Mozart received a good translation of the Birds 
instead of the wretched libretto of the Zauberjibte, what a really 
magic drama he might have produced ! Even as it is, with the 
miserable materials he had to work upon, the master musician 
has given us an Aristophanie specimen of the ludicrous passing 
by abrupt but delicate transitions to the serious, of parody and 
irony playing in and out at hide-and-seek, of pathos lurking be- 
neath merriment, and of madness leaping by a bound into the 
regions of pure reason. And this he has achieved by the all- 
subduing witchery of music — by melodies which solve the stiffest 
contradictions, by the ebb and flow of measured sound rocking 


upon its surface the most varied tliouglits and feelings of the soul 
of man. In the Zauherjlbte we are never surprised by any change, 
however sudden — by any incident, however whimsical. After first 
lamenting over the stupidity of the libretto, and then resigning 
ourselves to the caprices of the fairy story, we arc delighted to 
follow the wanderings of music through her labyrinth of quaint 
and contradictory absurdities. Just so, we fancy, must have been 
the case with. Aristophanes. Peisthetferus and Euelpides were 
not more discordant than Papageno ; the Birds had their language 
as Astrifiammante has hers ; nor were the deeper tones of Aris- 
tophanic meaning more out of place than the bass notes of Saras- 
tro, and the choruses of his attendant priests. Music, which has 
harmonized the small and trivial contradictions of the Zauherflote, 
harmonized the vast and profound contradictions of Aristophanic 
comedy. It was the melodramatic setting of such plays as the 
Birds and the Clouds which caused their Weltvernichtungsidee 
to blossom forth melodiously into the magic tree, with all its 
blossoms and nightingales and merry apes, to which I have so of- 
ten referred. 

With this parallel between the Birds and an opera like, the 
Zauberjlote in our minds, we may place ourselves among the .thir- 
ty thousand Athenian spectators assembled in the theatre about 
the end of March, 414 B.C. We must remember that the great 
expedition had recently gone forth to Sicily. It Avas only in the 
preceding year that the Salaminian galley had been sent for Alci- 
biades, who had escaped to Sparta, Avhere he was noAv engaged in 
stiiring up evil for his courftrymen. But as yet no disaster had 
befallen the army of invasion. Gylippus had not arrived. Lam- 
achus was still alive. Every vessel brought news to the Athenians 
of the speed with which their forces were carrying on the work 
of circumvallation, and of the despondency of the Syracusans. 
The spectators of the plays of Aristophanes and Ameipsias went 


nearly the same persons who had listened to the honeyed elo- 
quence of Alcibiades persuading them to undertake the expedi- 
tion, and promising them not merely the supremacy of Hellas, 
but the empire of the Mediterranean and the subjugation of Car- 
thage. Alcibiades, indeed, had turned a traitor to his country ; 
but the charm of his oratory and the spirit he had roused re- 
mained. Each father in the audience might fairly hope that his 
son would share in raising Athens to her height of splendor : not 
a man but felt puffed up with insolent prosperity. The only 
warning voice which spoke while Athens trembled on the very 
razor-edge of fortune was that of Aristophanes — but with how 
sweet and delicate a satire, with sarcasms that had the sound of 
flattery, with prognostications of failure that wore the shape of 
realized ambitions, with musical banter and multitudinous jests 
that seemed to apologize for folly rather than to censure it ! 
There is no doubt but that Aristophanes intended in the Birds to 
ridicule the ambition of the Athenians and their inveterate gulli- 
bility. Peisthetserus and Euelpides repi'esent in comic caricature ' 
the projectors, agitators, schemers, flatterers, who, led by Alcibia- 
des, had imposed upon the excitable vanity of the nation. Cloud- 
cuckootown is any castle in the air or South Sea bubble which 
might take the fancy of the Athenian mob. But it is also more 
especially the project of Western dominion connected with their 
scheme of Sicilian conquest. Aristophanes has treated his theme 
so poetically and largely that the interests of the Birds is not, 
like that of the Wasps or the Knights, almost wholly confined to 
the Athens of his day. It transcends those limitations of place 
and time, and is the everlasting allegory of foolish schemes and 
flimsy ambition. A modern dramatist — Ben Jonson or Moliere, 
for instance, perhaps even Shakespeare — could hardly have re- 
fi-ained from ending the allegory with some piece of poetical jus- 
tice. We should have seen Peistheta^rus disgraced and Cloud' 


cuclvootown resolved into " sucli stuff as dreams are made of." 
But this is not the art of Aristophanes. He brings Peistheta?rus 
to a successful catastrophe, and ends his comedy with marriage 
songs of triumph. Yet none the less pointed is the satire. The 
unreality of the vision is carefully maintained, and Peistheticrus 
walking home with Basileia for his bride, like some new sun- 
eclipsing star, seems to wink and strut and shrug his shoulders, 
conscious of the Titanic sham. 

To analyze in detail a work of art so well known to all stu- 
dents as the Birds would be needless. It is enough to notice in 
passing that it is quite unique of its kind, combining, as it does, 
such airy fancies as we find in the Midsummer -Night's Dream 
with the peculiar pungency of Aristophanic satire, untainted by 
the obscenity which forms an integral part of the Ecdesiazusce or 
Lysistrata. Most exquisite is the art with which x\ristophanes 
has collected all the facts of ornithology, all the legends and folk- 
lore connected with birds, so as to create a fanciful birdland and 
atmosphere of true bird life for his imaginary beings. Not less 
wonderful is the imagination with which he has conceived the 
whole universe from the bird's point of view, his sympathy with 
the nightingale, the drollery of his running footman Trochilus, 
the pompous gravity of his King Epops, and so on through the 
whole of his winged dramatis personce. The triumph of his art 
is the Parabasis, in which the birds pour forth melodious com- 
passion for the transitory earth-born creatures of an hour. Poor 
men, with their little groping lives ! The epithets of pity which 
the happier birds invent to describe man are woven, as it were, of 
gossamer and dew, symbols of fragility. Then the music changes 
as the vision of winged Eros, upsoaring from the primeval wind- 
egg, bursts upon the fancy of the Chorus. Again it subsides into 
still more delicate irony, when the just reign of the birds on earth 
and over heaven is prophesied ; and the whole concludes with 


semicliorus answering to seraicliorus in antiphonal strains of 
woodland poetry and satire — the sweet notes of tlie flute respond- 
ed to by sliouts of Bacchic laughter. 

'. We have seen in dealing with the Birds how Aristophanes con- 
verted the whole world into a transcendental birdland, and filled 
his play with airy shapes and frail imaginings. This power of 
alchemizina: and transmuting everything he touches into the sub- 
stance of his thought of the moment is no less remarkable in the 
comedy of the Clouds. And here we are able to mark the pe- 
culiar nature of his allegory more clearly than in the choruses of 
the Birds, with greater accuracy to distinguish the play of pure 
poetry alternating with satire, to trace the glittering thread of 
fancy drawn athwart the more fantastic arabesque of comic cari- 
cature. In the Clouds Aristophanes ridicules the rising school 
of teachers who professed to train the youth of Athens in the 
arts of public speaking and successful litigation. He aims at the 
tribe of sophists, who substituted logical discussion for the old 
a3sthetic education of the Greeks, and who sought to replace 
mythological religion by meteorological explanations of natural 
phenomena. The pedantry of this dialectic in its boyhood of- 
fended the artistic sense of a conservativ^e like Aristophanes : the 
priggishness of upstart science had the air to him of insolent ir- 
religion. Besides he saw that this new philosophy, while it un- 
dermined the ifioQ of his nation, Avas capable of lending itself to 
ignoble ends — that its possessors sought to make money, that 
their disciples were eager to acquire mere technical proficiency, in 
order to cut a fine figure in public and to gain their selfish pur- 
poses. The sophists professed two chief subjects: to. pereojpa, or 
the science of natural phenomena ; and rhetoric, or the art of 
conquering by argument. Aristophanes, in the Clouds, satirizes 
both under the form of allegory by bringing upon the stage his 
Chorus of Clouds, who, in their changeful shapes — heaven-obscur- 

202 ^'^^' GHEEK POETS. 

ing, appearing variously to various eyes, coming into being from 
the nothing of the. air, and passing away again by imperceptible 
dissolution, usurping upon the functions of Zeus in the thunder' 
and the rain, hurrying hither and thither at the will of no divine 
force, but impelled by the newly discovered abstraction Vortex — 
are the very forms and symbols of the airy, misty Proteus of ver- 
bal falseness and intangible irreligion which had begun to possess 
the Athenians. In order to understand the force of this allegory, 
we must remember the part which the clouds played in the still 
vital mythology of the Greelcs. It was by a cloud that Hera in 
her divine scorn had deluded the impious desires of Ixion, who, 
embracing hollow shapes of vapor, begat Centaurs. The rebell- 
ious giants who sought to climb Olympus were forms of mist 
and tempest invading the serenity of highest heaven : this Strep- 
siades indicates when he quotes the words TrXoKc'ifiovQ 6' eKaroyKe- 
(paXa Tfi/jw as referring to the clouds. It was in cloudy vision 
that gods appeared to mortals or escaped their sight ; in cloud 
that the Homeric heroes were snatched from death by their Olym- 
pian patrons ; in clouds that ^Eolus dwelt and Danae was pris- 
oned. The Harpies were wind-tossed films of frothy cloud ; the 
Sirens daughters of foam and mist. Everything that deceived 
and concealed, that shifted and eluded, that stole away " the en- 
chanted gazer's mind," all Maya or delusion, all fascination and 
unrealizable desire, w;as symbolized by clouds. Nor was it with- 
out meaning that the clouds ascended from Ocean, from the wily 
parent of wave and storm, the inscrutable hoarder of secrets 
locked within the cavern^ of the murmuring deep, who might 
never be taken in any one clear form, who loved to cozen and be- 
tray, whose anger was swift and fretful against such as caught 
him in their toils. The clouds were his daughters, and so was 
Aphrodite — beautiful, deceitful, soul-subduing — these his offspring 
of the air, this his child of the foam — these pouring glamour on 


the eyes of men, this folding their hearts in snares. Without be- 
ing fanciful, we might follow this analysis through a hundred 
labyrinths, all tending to show how exquisite to the apprehension 
of a Greek steeped in mythological associations must have been 
the allegory of the clouds. We might, moreover, have pointed 
out the care of Aristophanes to maintain this mythological pro- 
priety. Even in the Parabasis, for instance, where the Chorus 
comes forward in its human character as the representative of the 
poet, there occurs a semichoric strain of great beauty, hymning 
the elemental deities of Sun, Air, Ocean, and all-covering Heaven, 
who are the parents and especial patrons of the clouds ; for the 
Sun begets them from the fountains of the Sea, the Air receives 
and gives them shape as they drift through her yielding realm, 
and the great Zeus of the sky compels them to his service, stores 
them with his thunder, and makes a palace for them in his ada- 
mantine home, and wreathes their dances round his footstool of 
the firmament. But it is enough to have pointed out the main 
features of the allegory. The scope which it afforded for the dis- 
play of splendid poetry was of course immense. From the first mo- 
ment of the appearance of the Chorus to the end we never lose sight 
of their cloudy splendor, and, as in the case of the Birds, every 
thought, playful or imaginative, which can be conceived relating 
to the world of clouds, is pressed by Aristophanes into his service. 
Early in the play the fount of poetry which they suggest springs 
pure and clear from the flinty rock of previous satire. Socrates, 
who has just been displayed to us as the insignificant anatomizer 
of fleas and gnats, rises suddenly to this height in his invocation : 

" Sovereign King, immeasurable Air, who keepest the earth balanced, and 
blazing Ether, and sublime goddesses, ye Clouds of lightning and of thunder, 
arise, appear, dread queens, in mid-air to your Thinker !" 

It is only in the last word, notice, that the comic smile breaks out. 


"Come, then, yc reverend Clouds, honor this neophyte with your dread 
beauty ! whether upon Olympus's holy snow-swept peaks ye sit, or in the gar- 
dens of father Ocean weave the dance with nymphs, or in golden pitchers 
draw the waters of Nile, or in Maeotis bide, or on the white eyries of Mimas : 
listen, receive our sacrifice, be gracious to our rites." 

With what radiance of imagination the liaunts of the clouds are 
here enumerated ! Sometimes we sec them floating in virofinal 
processions above unfooted snows, sometimes enthroned like 
queens in solemn silence on aerial watch-towers, sometimes dis- 
solved in dew far down among the Oceanides, or brooding, filmy- 
vapors, on the face of broad untroubled lakes. 

Aristophanes, it may be said in passing, never dwells upon the 
more tempestuous functions of the clouds as stormy and angr}'' 
powers : that would be to violate his allegory, which must always 
show them deceitfully beautiful, spreading illusion over earth and 

In answer to the invitation of Socrates, the Clouds are heard 
behind the stage chanting a choric hymn ; * and here it must be 
remarked that the poet has revealed subtle instinct, for before ex- 

* atvaoi 'Si<pt\ai, 
apOiZfisv (pai'fpal ^poaipav ^vcriv Evuyr]TOv, 
TrarpoQ cnr' 'Qkiovov fSapva^io^ 
v^i]Ku)V op'ntiv Kopv(pu£ trri 
StfSpOKofiovc, 'iva 
T7]\e(pavt~ig okottiuq (KpopwjjtQa, 
KctpizovQ T apSofitpav Upuv \Q6ra, 
Kai TTorafimv ^ad'twv KtKa^ijfiaTci, 
Kai TToi'Tov KiKa^ovra f^apvjSpofioV 
liftfia yap alOkpog aKajxarov <jt\ay(~irai 
fiappaptaig tv aiiyalQ. 
c'lW c'lTToatiauiiivoi ricpog ofijipiov 
aBavaroQ Iceag tTriSwfitQa 
TrjXecrKuTTii) o/ifian yalav. 

Clouds, 216. 


hibiting Lis Chorus, arrayed in veils of filmy gauze, to the people, 
by which he might have risked the possibility of exciting ludi- 
crous instead of solenm ideas, ho enlists the imagination of the 
audience by a sublime strain of preparatory music, vocally realiz- 
ing the splendor of the coming Clouds before they strike the eyes 
of the spectators. 

It is to the repeated roll of distant thunder that they sing their 
untranslatable entrance hymn. Behold them rising, silent domes 
and pinnacles and towers, from the burnished miiTor of the noon- 
day sea : how the sunlight flashes on their pearly slopes and fills 
their deeply cloven valleys : how dewy bright and glistening they 
are ! Then watch them scale the vault of heaven, quitting the 
horizon with its mists, marching in tranquil state across the spaces 
of blue ether, gliding to their thrones among the mountain pines ! 
There they repose, and at their feet is heard the clamor of the 
streams, the deep rebounding boom of sea waves ; but they are 
seated in serenity, and below them lies the champaign 'nith its 
fruits of holy earth, and on their broad immortal marble fronts 
the unwearied light of the sun-god plays. From their girdles to 
their sandals falls the robe of mist that wrapped them round, and 
on the watch-towers of the world they sit, bare in their beauty, 
godlike forms. 

Such is the vision which this inimitable Chorus evokes. Its 
truth has been felt by all who have seen the rising of summer 
clouds from the waters of the Mediterranean. Indeed, this Chorus 
belongs to the highest order of poetry. Not only does it furnish 
an example of the freshness which is peculiar to Aristophanes, but 
it is in the deepest sense an intuition into the inmost life of nat- 
ure. We hear in it the voice of a true seer or interpreter, who 
knows by choice of words and rhythms how to convey his own 
impressions to our mind. Even Shelley, when he wrote his Cloud, 
had grasped perhaps the secret of the pomp and splendor of cloud- 


land less firmly than Aristophanes has done, though his images 
are piled so multitudinously, and every thought or fancy that a 
cloud suggests is -whirled, as it were, in the drift of brilliant and 
radiant shapes. Aristophanes has this advantage — that something 
of the mythopoeic poAver still survived in Greece, and that he 
shared the sculptural genius of his race. Moreover, his audience 
were prepared by their religious associations to conceive of his 
Clouds as living creatures, and he was writing for the stage, where 
the poetry of personification is made easy by direct appeal to the 

In the Clouds as it has been transmitted to us, Aristophanes 
employs another and more direct form of allegory. He brings 
upon the stage the hkaioc \6-yog in controversy with the i'l^iKoc 
XoyoQ — the former representing the old conservative education of 
Athens; the other the new theories and modes of life which were 
beginning to spring Tip. It has been conjectured that ^iratoc 
Xoyoe wore the mask of Aristophanes himself, and uhiKOQ XcyoQ 
that of Thrasymachus the sophist. If this conjecture hits the 
truth, it is curious that the vulgar logician whom Socrates handles 
so severely in Plato's Republic should have been chosen as the 
ideal of his doctrine and influence — the special pleader of the 
Phrontisterion. The contest between these two impersonations 
of modesty and impudence, of manliness and effeminacy, offers 
a unique example in Greek comic literature of what was com- 
mon on our own stage about three centuries ago. The Just and 
Unjust Logoi dispute and wrangle for the favor of Pheidippides 
precisely like the abstractions in Hycke Scorner or Lusty Juventus. 
Of course this kind of allegory is much coarser and affords less 
scope for poetical treatment than the exquisite mytlius of the 
Clouds. The Logoi are but masks or hollow automata, from be- 
hind which the poet utters his arguments : there is no illusion of 
the senses, no enchantment of the fancy in their presentation. 


Yet the speech of Dikaios Logos forms one of the purest and 
most beautiful passages that Aristophanes has written, in its sim- 
ple and affectionate picture of old Athenian life. The poet, we 
fear, was very far behind his age: he looked back to the good 
times when the sailor only knew enough to sing out "Ahoy!" 
and call for biscuit : he wanted the Athenian lads to have broad 
backs and sluiwish toni^ues : he was dead to the advantages of 
dialectic and Socratic definition : he kept trying to bring back the 
days of Marathon, when nothing could avert the coming days of 
Syracuse and ^Egospotami and Chaeronea. We who read the his- 
tory of Athens by the light of our Grote, we who are rolling our 
waves towards the rising instead of the setting sun, know now 
how very perverse and unadvanced the poet was. Yet, for all 
that, can we fail to be charmed with the picture that he draws of 
Greek boyhood in the good old times, and to contrast it favor- 
ably with the acknowledged impudence and profligacy of Critias 
and Agathon and Alcibiades — the friends and pupils of Socrates ? 
" In that blissful time," says Dikaios Logos, " when I flourished, 
and modesty and temperance were practised, a boy's voice 
was never heard ; but he would set off at daybreak, in snow or 
sunshine, with his comrades to the school of the harper, where he 
learned the ballads of our forefathers in praise of Pallas; and 
from the harper he would run to the training-ground and exercise 
himself with the decorum befitting virtuous youth." The rules 
for the behavior of boys which Aristophanes here enunciates pro- 
voke a modern smile ; for the morality of Athens obliged lads to 
observe the same sort of propriety which we expect from girls. 
But for all his modesty, the youth of those days was not a milk- 
sop. He did indeed shun the public baths and the agora, repel 
the advances of profligate persons, respect his parents, avoid He- 
tairai, and form in his breast an image of Aidos ; yet he fre- 
quented the wrestling-ground, and grew fair in form and color 

208 ?'^^^ GREEK POETS. 

■with generous exercises, not " sicklied o'er with the pale cast of 
tl: night," nor bent and jaded by the restless wrangling of the law 
courts ; but among the sacred olive-trees of the Academy he ran 
races with his comrade, " crowned with white reeds, smelling of 
bind-weed and careless hours and leaf-shedding poplar, rejoicing 
in the prime of spring, when the plane-tree whispers to the elm." 
In these last lines we touch the very core of Greek aristocratic 
conservatism — that imperious demand for leisure, for GypXij -Cby 
urayK(iiu)v, of wjiich Aristotle speaks as an essential in the life of 
free men ; that contempt of all serious time-consuming business 
which we fiud in Plato ; that respect for the beauty of the body, 
and that dislike of every occupation that tended to degrade its 
form or spoil the freshness of its color ; that sympathy Avith nat- 
ure in her graceful moods; that well-bred nonchalance; that love 
of the gymnasium with its poplar sacred to Herakles, the god of 
endurance, and its plane-tree of swift Hermes — in a word, those 
accumulated a^sthetical prejudices which marked the race pre-emi- 
nent for its artistic faculty, the caste of rich and idle citizens sup- 
ported by a nation of slaves, the unique and never-again-to-be- 
iinitated people, who once and for all upon this earth of ours 
attained perfection, realized the ideal towards which we vainly 

With the last lines of this speech in our memory, we may turn 
to the dialogues of Plato, whose Phsedrus and Charraides and 
Lysis are true children and disciples of Dikaios Logos ; or to the 
Autolycus of Xenophon's Sijmjmsium, whose breast is as smooth, 
and skin as bright, and shoulders as broad, and tongue as short, 
as even Aristophanes could wish ; or we may set before us some 
statue like the Apoxyomcnos of Lysippus, or the Discobolos of 
Myron, and feel that we have gathered, in fancy at least, the 
flower of the perfection of the pride of Hellas. 

Much of the allegory of Aristophanes consists of metaphors 


taken literally and expressed by appropriate symbolism to the 
audience. Thus, Trugaios actually drags the goddess Peace, with 
her attendants Opora and Theoria, from the well, the Chorus, 
while they help him, singing "Yoho!" like sailors at a capstan. 
In the same comedy, War and Havoc are exhibited with a gigan- 
tic mortar, in which they bray the States of Greece. Socrates 
suspended in his basket is a metaphorical allegory of this sort, his 
posture being peculiarly expressive of star-gazing and abstract 
speculation at a time when the objects of such contemplations 
were called ro iieriupa. Of the same kind is the balance in Avhich 
the lines of -^Eschylus and Euripides are weighed. Any poet 
might use the metaphor (weighed in the balance and found want- 
ing) ; but it is a stretch of metaphorical license to exhibit an act- 
ual pair of scales upon the stage. Many of the figurative actions 
of the Hebrew prophets were practical appeals to the imagina- 
tion, similar to these allegories of Aristophanes. Indeed, such 
dramatic metaphors may be reckoned among the most powerful 
instruments in the hands of a great master. Had Dante con- 
ceived a mask upon the politics of Italy, we doubt not but that 
he would have employed some energetic symbols of this sort ; and, 
in passing, it may be said that no artist has appeared in modern 
times so capable of constructing an allegorical drama in the style 
of Aristophanes as Dante. The symbolism of the Wasps is some- 
what different from that with which we have been dealing. In 
this play the Chorus were armed, no doubt, with lance-like stings; 
but there was no attempt on the poet's part, as in the case of the 
Clouds and Birds, to maintain the illusion of their being wasps. 
They talk and act like old men; their waspishness is merely met- 
aphorical, and the allegory ends in an appeal to the eyesight. 
The Plutus, on the other hand, presents an example of allegory 
in the strictly modern sense. It is a Greek anticipation of our 
moralities, of such a play as might be founded on a portion of the 

II.— 14 


Pilgrinis Progress. Wealth and Poverty appear upon tlie stage, 
and speak appropriately. Avarice and Prodigality are satirized. 
The use and abuse of riches are contrasted in a series of incidents 
framed with expressly moral purpose. The whole play is singu- 
larly un-Aristophanic. We have here no " Weltvernichtungsidee" 
— no nightingales or climbing apes to speak of. For this very 
reason it has been copied in modern times (its inner nature ren- 
dering it capable of adaptation to our tastes) by Ben Jonson in 
the Staple of jVeivs, and by Goethe in the second part of Faust. 
One word must be devoted to the Thesmophoriazusce. In the 
history of dramatic literature, the chief interest of the play is that 
it differs from the other works of Aristophanes in its structure. 
It has a regular plot — an intrigue and a solution — and its persons 
are not allegorical, but real. Tiius it approaches the standard of 
modern comedy. But the plot, though gigantic in its scale, and 
prodigious in its wealth of wit and Scatire, is farcical. Tlie arti- 
fices by which Euripides endeavors to win Agathon to undertake 
his cause, the disguise of Mnesilochus in female attire, the oratory 
of the old man against the women in the midst of their assembly, 
liis detection, the momentary suspension of the dramatic action 
by his seizure of the supposed baby, his slaughter of the swaddled 
wine-jar, his apprehension by Cleisthenes, the devices and dis- 
guises by which Euripides (in parody of his own tragic scenes) 
endeavors to extricate his father-in-law from the scrape, and the 
final ruse by which he eludes the Scythian bowmen, and carries 
off Mnesilochus in triumph — all these form a series of highly di- 
verting comic scenes. There is no passage in Aristophanes more 
amusing than the haranojue of Mnesilochus. The other women 
have abused Euripides for slandering their sex in his tragedies. 
Mnesilochus, the humorous and coarse old rustic, gets up in his 
flimsy female gear, and eloquently reminds them of the truths 
which Euripides might have divulged. One crime after anotlier 


is glibly and facetiously recorded, until the little heap of calum- 
nies uttered by Euripides disappears beneath the mountain of con- 
fessions piled up by the supposed matron. The portrait, too, of 
Agathon in the act of composition is exquisitely comic. By com- 
paring it with that drawn by Plato in the Banquet, we may to 
some extent estimate the amount of truth in Aristophanic carica- 
ture. The meaningless melodious style — the stream of honeyed 
words,* summa delumbe saliva — with which Agathon and his 
Chorus greet our ears is scarcely more a parody of his poetry 
than the speech on love is of his prose. Agathon is discovered 
lying on a sofa, arrayed in female garments and smelling of cos- 
metics ; when asked Avhy tlius attired, he lisps a languid answ^er 
that he is composing a tragedy about women, and wants to be in 
character : 

The poet ought to keep in harmony 

With any subject that he has to treat : 

If women be his theme, then must his person 

Be toned and fashioned to a female mood ; 

But when he writes of men he has no need 

To study change ; 'tis only what we have not 

We seelc to supplement by dressing up. 

Besides, how unaesthetic 'tis to see 

A poet coarse and hairy ! Just remember 

Famed Ibycus, Anacreon, Alcasus, 

Who made our music and our metres flow, 

Wore caps, and followed soft Ionian fashions : 

And Phrynichus — this surely you have heard — 

* Mnesilochus's criticism reminds us of Persius : 

wq TjSv TO fii\og at irorviat revtrvWiSeg, 

Kal OtjXv^pMStg Kai KaTtyXtoTia^evov 

Kat fiai'SaXwTuv, (Ikst tfiov y' aKpotofih'Ov 

virb Trjv iSpav avrffv inriiXOe yapyaXoQ. 

Thesm. 130. 


Was beautiful and beautifully dressed ; 
Aud this, we cannot doubt, is why his plays 
Were beautiful ; for 'tis a natural law 
That like ourselves our work must ever be. 

Modern writers upon whose lips in udo est Mccnas et Aftis 
might take some of this satire not inaptly to themselves. But 
the crowning sport of the Thesmophoriazusce is in the last scene, 
when Mnesilochns adapts the Palamedes and the Helen of Eurip- 
ides to his own forlorn condition, jumbling up the well-known 
verses of these tragedies with coarse -flavored rustical remarks; 
and Avhen at last Euripides himself acts Echo and Perseus to the 
Andromeda of his father-in-law, and both together m3'stify the po- 
liceman by their ludicrous utterance of antiphonal lamentations. 

I have but scanty space for touching on one of the topics which 
the Thesmophoriazusce suggests — the satire of Aristophanes upon 
Athenian women, whom he invariably represents as profligate, li- 
centious, stupid, drunken, thieves, and liars. Whether they were 
in any sense as bad as he has painted them — and he has given 
them a worse character than any other Greek poet, not even ex- 
cepting Simonides of Amorgos — or whether their absence from 
the comic spectacles encouraged a paradoxical misrepresentation 
of their worst and most exceptional qualities, is not easy to de- 
cide. This at least is clear that, while comic exaggeration is ob- 
vious in every detail, the picture, overdrawn and coarse as it may 
be, accords. with that of other and less copious Greek satirists; 
nor could it have been tolerated in a society where women held a 
station of respect and honor.* 

* One of the most interesting chapters in Greek history still remains to be 
written. It should deal in detail with the legal and domestic position of free 
women at Athens, with the relation of their sons and husbands to Hetairai, 
and with the whole associated subject of paidcrastia. Since this essay on 
Aristophanes was first published, Mr. Mahaffy has done much in his excel- 


The point of the Thesmojyhoriazrisce, so far as the women are 
concerned, is that while Aristophanes pretends to show up Eurip- 
ides for his abuse of tliem, his own satire is far more searching, 
and penetrates more deeply into the secrets of domestic life. 
What are the crimes of Phaidra in comparison with the habits 
he imputes to Athenian wives and daughters ? The Lysistrata 
Avill not bear discussion ; but in passing I may notice the humor 
of the oath by wine Avhich the inexorable heroine and her Spartan 
friend administer. Other oaths might be broken, but no Atheni- 
an wife or maid would incur the penalty of this dread impreca- 
tion : " If I fail, may the bowl be filled with water." Of the three 
comedies which treat of women, the JScclesiazusce has the most 
permanent interest. Indeed, mutatis mutandis, its satire might 
almost be adapted to the present day, or to the future which our 
theorists upon the rights of women are preparing. The Athenian 
ladies disguise themselves as men, and crowd the assembly, where 
they outvote their husbands, sons, and brothers, and proclaim the 

lent book on Social Life in Greece towards clearing up our views upon these 
matters. But the topic still requires a fuller and more scientific handling. 
Mr. Mahaffy is particularly felicitous in marking the distinctions of the He- 
rodotean, Thucydidean, and Eurlpidean estimates of women, in bringing into 
prominence the CEconomicus of Xenophon, and in laying stress upon the war- 
fare of opinion which raged at Athens between conservatives of the Periclean 
tradition, represented by Aristophanes, and innovators, represented in poetry 
by Euripides, in philosophy by Plato. I cordially agree with him in his re- 
mark that " in estimating women at this time, the Alcestis and Macaria of 
Euripides are too high, and the women of Aristophanes are too low " {Social 
Greece, 2d ed. p. 228). The great difficulty which must have been felt by all 
thoughtful students of Greek literature is how to reconcile the high ideals 
of female character presented by the Attic tragedians with the contemptu- 
ous silence of Thucydidcs, with the verdict of Plato upon women-lovers as 
compared with boy-lovers, with the ribaldry allowed to comic poets, and with 
the comparative absence of female portraits in the biographies of great 
Athenians comnosed bv Plutarch. 

214 i'^^ GREEK POETS. 

supremacy of wonun in the State. Praxagova, the agitator of the 
scheme, is chosen strategis. She decides that a community of 
property and free -trade between the sexes are the two things 
wanted to insure general feUcity. The point of the satire con- 
sists in this : that the arguments by which the women get the 
upperhand all turn on their avowed conservatism; men change 
and shift, women preserve their old customs, and will maintain 
the 7iQoQ of the State ; but no sooner have they got authority 
than they show themselves more democratic than the dema- 
gogues, more new-fangled in their political notions than the phi- 
losophers. They upset time-honored institutions and make new 
ones to suit their own caprices, squaring the laws according to 
the logic of feminine instincts. Of course speculations like those 
of Plato's Eejmblic are satirized in the farcical scenes which illus- 
trate the consequences of this female revolution. But perhaps 
the finest point about the comedy is its humorous insight into 
the workings of women's minds — its clear sense of what a topsy- 
turvy world we should have to live in if women were the lawgiv- 
ers and governors. 

In quitting Aristophanes I am forced to reflect upon the inad- 
equacy of my attempts to interpret the secret of his strength and 
charm. The epithets which continually rise to our lips in speak- 
ing of him— radiant, resplendent, swift, keen, changeful, flashing, 
magical — carry no real notion of the marvellous and subtle spirit 
that animates his comedy with life peculiar to itself. In dealing 
with no other poet is the ,critic or historian so powerless. No 
other work of art leaves so incommunicable an impression on 
the mind of the student. As for my words about Aristophanes, 
they are " sound and fury signifying nothing :" to be known, he 
must be read with admiration and delight. But those who have 
submitted themselves to the influence of his genius will under- 
stand what I mean when, in conclusion, I say that, with Plato and 


Aristophanes for guides, we can to some extent reconstruct tlic 
life of the Athenians, animate the statues of Myron and Lysip- 
pus, and see the aisles of the Parthenon or the benches of the 
Pnyx crowded with real human beings. Plato introduces us to 
the graver and more elegant side of Attic life, to the KoKoKayaQoi 
and yapUvrac, to men of sober tastes and good birth and exquisite 
breeding. Aristophanes acquaints us with men of pleasure, vul- 
gar and uneducated characters, haunters of the law courts and the 
market-place and the assembly. From Plato we learn what occu- 
pied philosophers and people of distinction. Aristophanes tells 
us the popular jokes at Athens, how the political and military 
edicts recorded by Thucydides were familiarly discussed, how 
people slept and walked and dressed and dined. In Plato's Dia- 
logues the fine Greek intellect is shown to us trained and tutored 
into exquisite forms of elevated culture. In Aristophanes, though 
art even more consummate has been used, we see the same refined 
intellect running riot and disporting itself with the flexibility of 
untamable youth. By Plato we are taught how dignified and 
humane the Greeks could be, by Aristophanes how versatile and 
human they were. 




Three Periods in Attic History. —The Three Kinds of Comedy: Old, Middle, 
New. — Approximation of Comedy to the Type of Tragedy. — AthenKiis 
as the Source of Comic Fragments. — Fragments of the Old Comedy. — 
Satire on Women. — Parasites. — Fragments of the Middle Comedy. — 
Critique of Plato and the Academic Philosophers. — Literary Criticism. 
— Passages on Sleep and Death. — Attic Slang. — The Demi-Mondc. — 
Theophrastus and the Later Rhetoricians. — Cooks and Cookery-books. 
— Difficulty of Defining the Middle from the New Comedy. — Menander. 
— Sophocles and Menander. — Epicureanism. — Menander's Sober Philos- 
ophy of Life. — Goethe on Menander. — Philemon. — The Comedy of Man- 
ners culminated in Menander. — What we mean by Modernism. — Points 
of Similarity and Difference between Ancient and Modern Comedy. — The 
Freedom of Modern Art. 

TtxE two centuries during which comedy flourished at Athens 
may be divided into three marked periods of national and polit- 
ical existence. Between 448 and 404 B.C., imder the Pericleiin 
administration and until the end of the Peloponnesian war, the 
Demos continued through all vicissitudes conscious of sovereignty 
and capable of indefinite expansion. Then came the dismantle- 
ment of Athens by Lysander and the dismemberment of the old 
democracy. From 404 \o 338 B.C., Athens, though humbled 
to the rank of a second-class State, and confused in foreign and 
domestic policy, retained her freedom, and exercised an important 
influence over the affairs of Hellas. She no longer, however, felt 
within herself the force of youth, the ambition of conquest, or 
the pride of popular autocracy. Her intellectual activity was 


turned from political and constitutional questions inwards to phi- 
losophy and literature. From 338 to about 260 B.C. this metamor- 
phosis of the nation was carried further and accomplished. Ath- 
ens ceased to be a city of statesmen and orators, and became the 
capital of learning. She was no longer in any true sense free or 
powerful, though populous and wealthy and frequented by culti- 
vated men of all nations. Not only had public interest declined, 
but the first fervor for philosophy was past. A modus v'lvendi 
suited to a tranquil, easy, pleasure-loving people, who rejoiced in 
leisure and combined refined amusements with luxury, had been 
systematized in the Epicurean view of life. To accept the con- 
ditions of existence and to make the best of them, to look on like 
spectators at the game of the world, and to raise no troublesome 
insoluble questions, was the ideal of this period. Fifty years af- 
ter the last date mentioned, the Romans set their foot on Hellas, 
and Greek culture began to propagate itself with altered forms in 

To these three periods in the national existence of Athens the 
three phases through which comedy passed correspond with al- 
most absolute accuracy. Emerging from the coarse Megarian 
farces and the phallic pageants of the Dionysian Komos, the old 
comedy, as illustrated by Aristophanes, allowed itself the utmost 
license. It incarnated the freedom of democracy, caricaturing in- 
dividuals, criticising constitutional changes, and, through all its 
extravagances of burlesque and fancy, maintaining a direct rela- 
tion to politics. Only a nation in the plenitude of self-content- 
ment, conscious of vigor and satisfied with its own energy, could 
have tolerated the kind of censorship these comic poets dared to 
exercise. The glaring light cast by Aristophanes upon abuses in 
the State reminded his audience of the greatness and the good- 
ness that subsisted with so much of mean and bad. From their 
high standpoint of security they could afford, as they imagined, 


to laugh, and to enjoy a spectacle that travestied their imperfec- 
tions. At the same time an undercurrent of antao-onism to the 
Aristophanic comedy made itself felt from time to time. Laws 
were passed prohibiting this species of the drama in general (/^i) 
<iwyuwoe7»'), or restricting its personality (juj) Kw^iShCiv oj-ojuacr-/), or 
prohibiting the graver functionaries of the State from exhibiting 
comic plays. These laws, passed, abrogated, and repassed be- 
tween 440 and 404 B.C., mark the ebb and flow of democratic 
liberty. After the humiliation of Athens at the close of the Pel- 
oponnesian war, the political subject-matter of the old comedy 
was withdrawn, and the attitude of the audience was so altered 
as to render its peculiar censorship intolerable. Meanwhile, the 
speculative pursuits to which the Athenians since the days of the 
sophists had addicted themselves began to tell upon the character 
of the nation, now ripe for the second or literary stage of come- 
d}'. The poets of this period had not yet arrived at the comedy 
of manners which presents a close and faithful picture of domes- 
tic life. They directed their Tvit and humor against classes rath- 
er than characters. Philosophers and poets, parasites and hetse- 
rse, took the place of the politicians. Nor did they abandon the 
old art-form of Attic comedy, for it is clear that the Chorus still 
played an important part in their plays. At the same time, in 
comedy as in tragedy, the Chorus came to be less and less an in- 
tegral part of the drama ; and while more attention was paid to 
plot and story, the grotesque allegories of the first period were 
dropped. The transition from the old to the middle comedy is 
signalized by the Frogs of Aristophanes, which, maintaining the 
peculiar character of the elder form of art, relinquished politics 
for literature. The new comedy, known to us through the frag- 
ments of Menander and the Latin imitations, abandoned the Cho- 
rus altogether, and produced a form of art corresponding to what 
we know as the comedy of character and manners in the modern 


world. Interest was concentrated on the fable, and the skill of 
the poet was displayed in accurate delineations of domestic scenes. 
The plot seems to have almost in^■ariably turned on love-advent- 
ures. Certain fixed types of character — the parasite, the pimp, 
the roguish servant, the severe father, the professional captain, the 
spendthrift son, the unfortunate heroine, and the wily prostitute 
— appeared over and over again. To vary the presentation of 
these familiar persons taxed the ingenuity of the playwright, as 
afterwards in Italy and France, during the tyranny of pantaloon 
and matamore, Leandre and prima amorosa. 

Tragedy and comedy, though they began so differently, had 
been gradually approximating to one type, so that between Me- 
nander and the latest followers of Euripides there was scarcely 
any distinction of form and but little difference of subject-mat- 
ter. The same sententious reflection upon life seasoned both 
species of the drama. The religious content of the elder tragedy 
and the broad burlesque of the elder comedy alike gave place to 
equable philosophy. The tragic climax was sad; the comic cli- 
max gay : more license was allowed in the comic than in the tragic 
iambic : comedy remained nearer to real life and therefore more 
interesting than tragedy. Such, broadly speaking, were the lim- 
its of their differences now. In this approximation toward artis- 
tic similarity comedy rather than tragedy was a gainer. It is 
clear that the Aristophanic comedy could not have become per- 
manent. To dissociate it from the peculiar conditions of the 
Athenian democracy was impossible. Therefore the process by 
which the old comedy passed into the middle, and the middle 
into the new, must be regarded as a progression from the local 
and the accidental to the necessary and the universal. The splen- 
dor that may seem to have been sacrificed belono-ed less to the 
old comedy itself than to the genius of Aristophanes, who suc- 
ceeded in engrafting the most brilliant poetry upon the rough 


stock of the Attic farce. Traged}^ on the contrary, lost all when 
she descended from the vantage-ground of ^Eschylus. It must 
not, however, be imagined that the change in either case depend- 
ed upon chance. It was necessitated by the internal transmuta- 
tion of the Athenians into a nation of students, and hj the corre- 
sponding loss of spontaneity in art. For the full development of 
the comedy of manners a critical temper in the poet and the audi- 
ence, complexity of social customs, and inclination to reflect upon 
them, together with maturity of judgment, were required. These 
conditions, favorable to art which seeks its motives in a spirit of 
tolerant, if somewhat cynical, philosophy, but prejudicial to the 
highest serious poetry, account for the decline of tragedy and the 
contemporaneous ascent of comedy in the fourth century B.C. 
The comedy of Menander must therefore be considered as an ad- 
vance upon that of Cratinus, though it is true that this comedy is 
the art of refined and senescent, rather than of vigorous and ado- 
lescent, civilization, and though it flourished in the age of tragic 
dissolution. In the Vatican may be seen two busts, of equal size 
and beauty, wrought apparently by the same hand, and finished 
to the point of absolute perfection. One of these is Tragedy, the 
other Comedy. The two faces differ chiefly in the subtle smile 
that i)lays about the lips of Comedy, and in the slight contraction 
of the brows of Tragedy. They are twin sisters, born alike to 
royalty, distinguished by such traits of character as tend to dis- 
appear beneath the polish of the world. There is no suggestion 
of the Cordax in the one or of the Furies in the other. Both are 
self-restrained and dignified in idealitv. It was thus that the two 
species of the drama appeared to the artists of the later ages of 
Hellenic culture. 

The student of Greek fragments may not inaptly be compared 
to a man who is formiuQ- a collection of sea-weeds. Walkino; 
along the border of the unsearchable ocean, he keeps his eyes 


fixed upon the pools uncovered at low tide, and with his foot 
turns up the heaps of rubbish cast upon the shore. Here and 
there a rare specimen of colored coralline or delicately fibred alga 
attracts his attention. He stoops, and places the precious frag- 
ment in his wallet, regretting that all his wealth is but the alms 
of chance, tossed negligently to him by the fretful waves and wil- 
ful storms. To tread the submarine gardens where these weeds 
and blossoms flourish is denied him. Even so the scholar can do 
no more than skirt the abysses of the past, the unsearchable sea of 
oblivion, garnering the waifs and strays offered him by accident. 

As Stobauis provides the most extensive repertory of extracts 
from the later Greek tragedians, so it is to Athenfcus we must 
turn for comic fragments. This helluo librorum boasted that he 
had read eight hundred plays of the middle comedy, and it is ob- 
vious that he was familiar with the whole dramatic literature of 
Athens. Yet the use he made of this vast knowledge Avas com- 
paratively childish. Interested for the most part in dcipnosophy, 
or the wisdom of the dinner-table, he displayed his erudition by 
accumulating passages about cooks, wines, dishes, and the Attic 
market. From an exclusive study, therefore, of the extracts he 
transmitted, we might be led to imagine that the Greek come- 
dians exaggerated the' importance of eating and drinking to a 
ridiculous extent. This, however, would be a false inference. 
The ingenuity of the deipnosophist was shown in bringing his 
reading to bear upon a single point, and in adorning the philoso- 
phy of the kitchen with purple patches torn from poetry. We 
ought, in truth, rather to conclude that Attic comedy Avas an al- 
most inexhaustible mine of information on Attic life in general, 
and that illustrations, infinitely various, of the manners, feelings, 
prejudices, literature, and wa}'3 of thinking of the ancient Greeks 
might have been as liberally granted to us as the culinary details 
which amused the mind of Athenasus. 


\Vlien so mucli remains intact of Aristophanes, it is not worth 
while to do more than mention a few of tlie fragments pre- 
served from the other playwrights of the old comedy. The first 
of these in Meineke's collection may be translated, since it stands, 
like a motto, on the title-page of all Greek comedy :* " Hear, O 
ye people ! Susarion says this, the son of Philinus, the Megarian, 
of Tripodiscus : Women are an evil ; and yet, my countrymen, 
one cannot set up house without evil ; for to be married or not 
to be married is alike bad." In turning over the pages of Mei- 
neke,f we feel inclined to call attention to the beauty of some 
lines on flowers written by Pherecrates (Metalles, fr. 2, and Per- 
sai, fr. 2), and to a curious passage on the changes wrought by 
Melanippides, Kinesias, and Timotheus in Attic mus'c {Cheiron, 
fr. 1). The comic description of the Age of Gold by Telecleides 
{Am])hictyones, fr. 1) might be paralleled by Heine's picture of 
heaven, where the geese flew about ready roasted with ladles of 
sweet sauce in their bills. What Ilermippus says about the Attic 
market {Phormophoroi, fr. 1) is interesting for a different reason, 
since it throws real light upon the imports into Attica. The sec- ' 
ond fragment from the same comedy yields curious information 
about Greek wines. After mentioning the peculiar excellences of Jj 

several sorts, the poet gives the palm to Saprias, so called because ^ 
of its old, mellow, richly scented ripeness. " When the jar is 
opened, a perfume goes abroad of violets and roses and hyacinths, 
a wonderful scent that fills the house. This nectar is ambrosia 
and nectar in one. Keep it for my friends, but to my enemies 
give Peparethian." Eupolis supplies a description of parasites 
{Kolakes, fr. 1), the first detailed picture of a class that played a 

* Compare Anaxandrides {Incert Fab. fr. 1), Eubulus {Chrynilla, fr. 2 ; Nan- 
nion, fr. 1), Alexis (Ifanfeis, fr. 1 ; Incert. Fab. fr. 34, 39), and the anonymous 
fragments on p. 756 of Didot's Comici Grred. 

f I shall use the edition of Didot, one vol., 1855, for reference. 


prominent pai't in Attic social life.* We may also mention, in 
passing, the fragment of a parabasis {Incert. Fab. fr. 1) Avhich 
censures the Atlienian audience for preferring foreign to native 
poets, and contains a reference to Aristophanes. Phrynichus 
yields the beautiful epitaph on Sophocles {3fousai, fr. 1) already 
quoted ;f nor must his amusing caricature of a bad musician be 
passed over {Incert. Fab. fr. 1), for the sake of this line : 

MoD(T<Z)»' (TcsXErof, ar]S6ro)V riizioKoQ, v^ivoq" Aioov, 

" Mummy of Muses, ague of nightingales, hymn of Hades." 
Those who are curious about Greek games will do well to study 
the description of the cottabos in Plato {Zens Iiakoumenos, fr. 1) 
and to compare with it a fuller passage from AntiphanesJ {Aph- 
rodites Gonai). Plato, again, presents us with a lively picture of 
a Greek symposium {Lacones, fr. 1), as well as a very absurd ex- 
tract from a cookery-book, whereof the title was (^iXot,ii'ov nau't) 
r«e 'O^ap-vma, "A new Sauce -science by Philoxenus" {Phaon, 
fr, 1), From Ameipsias might be selected for passing notice an 
allusion to Socrates {Konnos, fr. 1) and a scolion in two lines upon 
life and pleasure, sung to the flute at a drinking-party {Incert. 
Fab. fr. 1). Finally, Lysippus has spoken the praises of Athens 

* Compare Antiphanes (DiJumoi, fr. 2; Pvogonoi, fr. 1), Alexis {Kubcrnetex, 
fr. 1), Diodorus (Epikleros, fr. 1), Timocles {Di-afconiion, fr. 1), the long pas- 
sage from an uncertain play of Nicolaus. The invention of the part of the 
Parasite is usually ascribed to Alexis, but this is clearly a mistake. That he 
developed it and made it a fixed character of comedy is probable enough. 
The Symposium of Xenophon furnishes curious matter on the professional 
joker and diner-out as he existed at Athens. 

f See above, vol. i. p. 442. 

X The following anonymous line (Didot's Comici Greed, p. '732), (rvviTrlvo- 
fiEv re Kai (TvvsKorraf3i(:iofitv, " together we drank, and played at cottabos to- 
gether," seems to point to the good fellowship of t'.i? game. 


in three burlesque iambics* {Incert. Fab. fr. 1): "If you have 
never seen Athens, you are a stock ; if you have seen her, and not 
been taken captive, a donkey ; if you are charmed and leave her, 
a pack-ass." 

On quitting the old for the middle comedy we find ourselves 
in a different intellectual atmosphere. The wit is more fine-spun, 
the humor more allusive ; language, metre, and sententious reflec- 
tions begin alike to be Euripidean. The fertility of the play- 
wrights of this period was astounding. Antiphanes, one of the 
e.-n-liest, produced, according to some authorities, 2C0, and Alexis, 
one of the latest, 245 comedies on a great variety of subjects. It 
is doubtful, however, whether the authorship of these plays was 
accurately known by the Byzantin-o Greeks, from whom our in- 
formation is derived. The fragments show that a strong simi- 
larity of style marked the whole school of poets, and that the 
younger did not scruple to pilfer freely from the elder. On the 
whole, the question of authorship is of less interest than the mat- 
ters brought to light by such extracts as we possess. It has been 
remarked above that ridicule of the philosophers and parodies of 
the tragic poets were standing dishes in the middle comedy. An- 
tiphanes has a fling at the elegant attire of the academic sages 
{Antaios), while Ephippus describes a philosophical dandy of the 
same school {Nauagos, fr. 1, p. 493). Their doctrines are assailed 
with mild sarcasm. A man, when asked if he has a soul, replies : 
"Plato would tell me I don't know, but I rather think I have" 
(Cratinus, Pseiidupobolimaios, p. 516). In another play some one 
is ofentlv reminded that he is talking of things about whicli he 
knows nothing — like Plato (Alexis, AnkijUon, p. 518). Again, 
Plato is informed that his philosophy ends in knowing how to 

* Compare the praises of Athens quoted from anonymous comic poets by 
Athenteus, i. 20, B., and by Dio Chrysost., 64, p. 334, Reisk (Didot's Comici 
Greedy pp. '723, 729). 


frown* (Amphis, Dexidemides, p. 482). In another place it is 
discovered that Lis summiim boniim consists in refraining from 
marriage and enjoying life (Pliilippides, Ananeosis, fr. 2, p. 670). 
Other philosophers, the Pythagoreans (Alexis, Tarantini, frs. 1, 2, 
3, pp. 565, 566), and Aristippus {Galatea, fr, 1, p. 526), for exam- 
ple, come in for their share of ridicule. The playwrights not un- 
frequcntly express their own philosophy, sad enough beneath the 
mask of mirth. Very gloomy, for example, is the view af im- 
mortality recorded by Antiphanes {Aphrodisios, fr. 2, p. 358) ; 
while the comparison by Alexis of human life to a mad pastini3 
enjoyed between two darknesses (p. 566) has something in it that 
reminds one of a dance of death. Very seldom has the inse- 
curity of all things, leading to devil-may-care self-indulgence, been 
more elegantly expressed than by Antiphanes {Stratiotes, fr. 1, 
p. 397). Anaxandrides, for his part, formulates theological ag- 
nosticism in words memorable for their pithy brevity {Canepk^ 

orus, p. 422) : airavriQ tafiEv Trpoq to. Oh ajSiXrepoi 
KovK "iffniv ovSev • 

We're all mere dullards in divinity 
And know just nothing. 

One thing is clear in all such utterances, that the deeper specu- 
lations of Plato and Aristotle had taken no hold on the minds of 
the people at large, and that such philosophy as had penetrated 
Athenian society was a kind of hedonistic scepticism. Epicurus, 
in the next age, had nothing to do but to give expression to popu- 
lar convictions. Take, for one instance more, these lines from 
Amphis {G/jncecocratia, p. 481) : 

ttIue, TrnO " 9vi]Tog 6 j3ioc ' oXiyoQ ovm ytj ■)(p6voQ. 
ciQavaroQ S' 6 Oai'arus taTiv, dv uTrat, tiq airoBavy. 

 * Compare Alexis {Hippeus, p. 536 ; Meropis, p. 550 ; Oli/mpiodorus, p. 552 ; 
Paranitus, fr. 3, p. 558). 

II.— 15 


Drink and play, for life is fleeting ; short our time beneath the sky : 
But for death, he's everlasting, when we once have come to die. 

Occasionally, the same keen Attic Avit is exercised upon old- 
fashioned Greek proverbs, Simonides had said that health, 
beauty, and moderate wealth were the three best blessings. An- 
axandrides demurs {Thesaurus, fr. 1, p. 421) : the poet was most 
certainly mad ; for a handsome man, if he be poor, is but an ugly 

A few of the fragments throw some light upon dramatic litera- 
ture. Antiphanes {Poesis, fr. 1, p. 392) compares tragedy and 
comedy with covert irony : Blest indeed is the lot of a tragic 
play, for, to begin with, the spectators know the whole legend by 
the name it bears, and then, when the poet gets tired, he has only 
to lift the machine like his finger, and, hocus-pocus, all is ended ; 
but in a comedy everything must be made from the beginning 
and explicitly set forth — persons, previous circumstances, plot, 
catastrophe, and episode — and if a jot or tittle is overlooked, Tom 
or Jerry in the pit will hiss us off the stage. The cathartic power 
of tragedy is described by Timocles [Dioni/siazusce, p. 614) in 
lines that sound like a common-sense version of Aristotle : Man 
is boi'n to suffer, and there are many painful things in life ; ac- 
cordingly he has discovered consolation for his sad thoughts in 
tragedies, which lure the mind away to think of greater woes, and 
send the hearer soothed, and at the same time lessoned, home — 
the poor man, for example, finds that Telephus was still more 
poor, the sick man sees Alcmseon mad, the lame man pities Phil- 
octetes and forgets himself ; if one has lost a son, Niobe is enough 
to teach him resignation ; and so on through all the calamities of 
life : gazing at sufferings worse than our own, we are forced to be 

Some of the most charming of the comic fragments are de- 
scriptions of sleep. A comedy variously ascribed to Antiphanes 


and Alexis bears the name of Sleep, and contains a dialogue 
(p. 570), of wliicli the following is a version : 

A. Not mortal, nor immortal, but of both 
Blent in his being, so that gods nor men 
Can claim him for their own ; but ever fresh 
He grows, and then dies off again to nothing, 
Unseen by any, but well known to all. 
B. Jjady, 3-ou always charm me thus with riddles. 

A. Yet what I say is clear and plain enough. 

B. What boy is this that has so strange a nature ? 
A. Sleep, my daughter, he that cures our ills. 

Scarcely less delicate are the two following lines (pp. 749, 607) : 
o Ti TTpoiKa [lui'ov tSutjKav >'//(7)' 01 6eoi, 

tIv 'i'TTVOV, 


VTTVOQ Tu fiiKpd Tov Qat'ciTov jxvarljpia.* 

In this connection I may quote a beautiful fragment from 
Diphilus {Tncert. Fab. fr. 5, p. 647) on Death and Sleep : 

There is no life without its share of evil. 
Griefs, persecutions, torments, cares, diseases : 
Of these death comes to cure us, a physician 
Who gives heart's ease by filling us with slumber. 

Before engaging in a group of fragments more illustrative of 
common Greek life, I will call attention to the examples of Attic 
slang furnished by Anaxandrides {Odijsseus, fr. 2, p. 424). To 
translate them into equivalent English would tax the ingenuity 
of Frere ; but it is worth noticing that this argot, like that of our 
imiversities or public schools, is made up of the most miscellane- 
ous material. Religious ritual, the theatre, personal peculiarities, 

* The only free gift which the gods gave men. 
To sleep. 

Sleep, that prepares our souli for endless night. 


tlie dust that is the plague of Athens, articles of dress, and cur- 
rent fables all supply their quota. It is, in fact, the slang of cul- 
tivated social life. 

Next to cooks, parasites, and fishwives, the demi-monde of Ath- 
ens plays the most prominent part in comedy of the middle pe- 
riod.* The following couplet from a play of Philetserus {Kiine- 
ffis, fr. 3, p. 47V) might be chosen as a motto for an essay on this 
subject : 

oi'K kru^ troipag lepuv tan 7rovTa](ov, 
«;\X' ovxi yafiiTiji; ovcafiov t>iq 'EWdSoQ. 

Tills pithily expresses the pernicious relation in which the mis- 
tress, dignified by the name of companion, stood in Attic Hellas 
towards the married wife. The superiority of the former over the 
latter in popular appreciation is set forth with cynical directness 
by Amphis {Athainas, fr. 1, p. 480). 

Tlie Greeks had no sort of shame about intersexual relations ; 
and of this perfect freedom of speech the comic poets furnish 
ample illustration in their dealing with the subject of adultery. 
There is not here the faintest trace of French romance. Senti- 
ment of some kind is required to season the modern breaches of 
the seventh commandment. To the Greeks, who felt the mini- 
mum of romance in intersexual love, adultery appeared both dan- 
gerous and silly, when the laws of Solon had so well provided 
safety-valves for vice.f At the same time, the pages of the comic 
poets abound in violent invectives against licentious and avari- 
cious women who were the ruin of young men. Anaxilas {JVeot- 
tis, fr. 1, p. 501), in a voluble invective against " companions" of 
this sort, can find no language strong enough. They are serpents, 

* The great subject of cooks I leave for discussion in relation to the New 
Comedy. See below, pp. 229-231. 

f The passages alluded to above are Eubulus {Xa?i)uot}, fr. 1, p. 449), Xen- 
archus {Pentathlos, fr. 1, p. 624), and Philemon {Adelphoi, fr. I). 


fire-breathing chimeras^ Ciiarybdis and Scylla, sea-dogs, sphinxes, 
hydras, winged harpies, and so forth. Alexis describes the arts 
whereby they make the most of mean attractions, and suit their 
style to the current fashion {Isostasion, h\ l,p. 537). Epicrates 
paints the sordid old age of once-worshipped Lais in language 
that might serve as a classic pendant to Villon's Regrets cle la hellc 
HeauUmiere {Antila'is, fr. 2, p. 510). In no point does the civil- 
ized society of great cities remain so constant as in the character- 
istics of Bohemian life. In this respect Athens seems to have 
been much the same as Venice in the sixteenth, and Paris in the 
nineteenth century. 

What tnese playwrights say of love in general scarcely diffei'S 
from the opinions already quoted from the tragic poets. Amphis 
{Dithi/rambus, fr. 2, p. 482) and Alexis {Ilclene, p. 532 ; Trau- 
niatias, fr. 2, p. 569 ; Phaidrus, fr. 1, p. 571 ; Incert. Fab. fr. 38, 
p. 582) may be referred to by the curious. It is worth while at 
this point to mention that some valuable illustrations of the later 
Attic comedy are to be drawn from the collectors of characteris- 
tics, like Theophrastus, and from rhetoricians who condensed the 
matter of the comic drama in their prose. The dialogues of La- 
cian, the letters of Alciphron, the moral treatises of Plutarch and 
Maximus Tyrius, and the dissertations of Athenaeus are especially 
valuable in this respect. Much that we have lost in its integrity 
is filtered for us through the medium of scholastic literature, per- 
forming for the middle comedy imperfectly that which Latin lit- 
erature has done more completely for the new. 

In dealing with the old comedy, one reference has been already 
made to cooks and cookery-books. In the middle comedy they 
assume still more importance, and in the secondary authors of the 
new comedy they occupy the foreground of the picture, thanks to 
xVthenaeus. Cooks at Athens formed a class apart. They had 
their stations in the market, their schools, their libraries of culi- 


nary lore, their pedantries and pride and special forms of knavery. 
The Roman custom of keeping slaves to cook at home had not 
yet penetrated into Greece. If a man wanted to entertain liis 
guests at a dinner-party, or to prepare a wedding-feast, he had to 
seek the assistance of a professional cordon bleu, and the great 
c^e/" ensconced himself for the day, with his subordinates, in the 
house of his employer. It is clear that these customs offered sit- 
uations of rare comic humor to the playwright. Evei-ybody had 
at some time felt the need of the professional cook, and every- 
body had suffered under him. In an age, moreover, wliich Avas 
nothing if it was not literary, the cooks caught the prevailing 
tone, and professed their art according to the rules of rhetoric. 

£iV Toi'c ao<pi<TTaQ Tov fiayeipov tyypu(piii * 

exclaims one of the characters of Alexis {Milesia, fr. l,p. 551), 
after a scientific demonstration of the sin of letting sauces cool. 
A paterfamilias in a play of Strato {Phoenikides, p. 703) com- 
plains that he has brought a "male sphinx" in the shape of a cook 
into his house. The fellow will not condescend to use any but 
Homeric language, and the master is quite puzzled. It is in vain 
that he takes down the Homeric glossary of Philetas. Even this 
does not mend matters. The cook is a more recondite scholar 
than the grammarian. A professor of the culinary art in a play 
of Nicomachus {Eileithuia, p. 717) explains to his employer the 
broad scientific basis upon which the art of cooking rests. As- 
trology, geometry, medicine, and natural history are all necessary. 
Another, in Damoxenus {Sf/nfrophi, p. 697), discusses various 
schools of philosophy from the culinary point of view. He be- 
gins by saying that lie has spent four talents and nearly three 
years in the school of Epicurus, and has learned that a cook who 
has not mastered metaphysics is worthless. He must have De- 
* Mid the philosopliers I count tlie cook. 


mocritus and Epicurus at his fingers' ends, understand the ele^ 
ments of fire and water, comprehend the laws of harmony, and 
arrive at a profound contempt for Stoical self-discipline.* The 
study of cookery-books employs as much time and demands as 
much enthusiasm as the study of the sages. A cook in Baton 
{Euergetce^ p. 685) shakes off sleep and trims the midnight oil 
that he may meditate the weighty precepts of his masters in the 
art.f Another, in Euphron {Adelphi, p. 679), expounds the vari- 
ous virtues of his predecessors, and remarks that his own peculiar 
merit consists in clever larceny. The same author makes a cook 
explain to his pupil the distinctions he ought to observe in cater- 
ing for a club and for a wedding-party {Synephebi, p. 682). One 
of the fragments of Mcnander turns, finally, upon the art of treat- 
ing guests of different nationalities to different dishes {Troplio- 
nius, p. 46). In this passage Menander seems to have had in 
mind some lines of Diphilus {AjioVqiousa, fr. 1, p. 633). Anoth- 
er curious extract from the latter poet {Zographus, fr. 2, p. 638) 
consists of a long harangue delivered by a master-cook to his pro- 
tege, a waiter, concerning the advantages and disadvantages of va- 
rious houses into which he gains admittance by his art. A mei-- 
chant just returned from sea, a spendthrift heir, and a leader of 
the demi-monde are good customers because of their prodigality. 
On the whole, the impression left upon our minds is that, what 
with democracy, all-pervading pedantry, and professional pride, 
high life below stairs in Athens was even more difficult to toler- 
ate than it is in England. 

To draw a firm line of demarcation between the middle and the 

* Compare Sosipater (fCatapsmdorncnos, p. 677) for a similar display of sci- 
ence ; Euphron {Inccrt. Fab. fr. 1, p. G82), for a comparison of coolcs with 
poets ; Hegesippus {Adelphi, p. 676), for an egregious display of culinary 

f Pollux mentions a list of celebrated authors on cookery. 


new comedy would be impossible, I have already expressed my 
opinion that the comic drama culminated, within the limits deter- 
mined for it by antique society, in the art of Menander. The 
modulations through which it passed before attaining- to this final 
stage were numerous, and there are indications that the types in- 
vented for the middle comedy persisted in the new. What really 
created the third manner, and carried the comic art to its perfec- 
tion, was the appearance of a truly original genius in the person 
of Menander, The playwrights who succeeded could not fail to 
feci his influence, and plied their craft within the sphere he had 

Menander was the nephew of Alexis, the pupil of Theophrastus, 
the exact contemporary and intimate friend of Epicurus, From 
his uncle he received the traditions of dramatic art ; from his mas- 
ter he learned the peripatetic method of analysis ; together with 
his friend he put in practice the philosophy of a-apat,ia which 
passes by the name of Epicureanism, His adequacy to the spirit 
of his own age can only be paralleled by that which we observe in 
Sophocles, As Sophocles exactly represents the period of Attic 
perfection, so the sadder and more sober years of disillusionment 
and premature decay find full expression in Menander, His per- 
sonal beauty, the love of refined pleasure that distinguished him 
in life, the serene and genial temper of his wisdom, the polish of 
liis verse, and the harmony of parts he observed in composition, 
justify us in calling Menander the Sophocles of comedy. Like 
Sophocles, he showed the originality of his genius by defining the 
limits of his art. He perfected the comic drama by restricting it 
more closely to real life. The love-tales — 'ipoj-EQ kuI irapOfruyv cpOo- 
pai — which Anaxandrides is said to have introduced, became the 
fixed material of the new comedy. Menander, however, used this 
subject-matter less for sensational effect or sentimental pathos 
than for the expression of a deep and trnnqnil wisdom. If -we 


were to judge by tlie fragments transmitted to us, we sliould have 
to say that Menander's comedy was ethical philosopliy in verse ; 
so mature is their wisdom, so weighty their Language, and so grave 
their tone. The brightness of the beautiful Greek spirit is sober- 
ed down in him ahnost to sadness. Middle age, with its maturi- 
ty, has been substituted for youth with its passionate intensity. 
Takino; Menander for our o:uide, we cannot cry : " You Greeks are 
always childrcn." Yet the fact that Stobajus found him a fruit- 
ful source of sententious quotations, and that alphabetical anthol- 
ogies were made of his proverbial sayings, ought not to obscure 
his fame for drollery and humor. The highest praise awarded by 
the Romans to Terence is contained in the apostrophe dimidiate 
Menander ; and it appears that what the Latin critics thought their 
poet wanted was the salt of Attic wit, the playful ease and lively 
sparkle of his master. It is certain that well-constructed plots, 
profound analysis of character, refined humor, and ripe philoso- 
phy were blent and subordinated to the harmony of beauty by 
Menander. If old men appreciated his genial or pungent worldly 
wisdom, boys and girls read him, we are told, for his love-stories. 
One thing at least he never could have been — loud or vulgar. And 
for this reason, perhaps, We learn less from Menander about para- 
sites and cooks than from his fellow dramatists. 

Speaking broadly, the philosophy in vogue at Athens during 
the period of the new comedy was what in modern days is known 
as Epicureanism. This is proved by the frequent references made 
by playwrights to pleasure as the sumum bonuni* as well as by 
their view of life in general. Yet it would be unjust to confound 
the grave and genial wisdom of Menander with so ti'ivial a phi- 
losophy as that which may be summed up in the sentence " Eat 

* See in paiticular Hegesippiis (Plulcfccri, p. 676); Baton {Androphonus, 
fr. 1, p. 684, and Si/nexapalon, fr. 1, p. 686), and Damoxenus {Syntrophi, pp. 
697, 698). 



and drink, for to-morrow we die." * A fragment from an un- 
known play of his expresses the pathos of human existence with 
a depth of feeling that is inconsistent with mere pleasure-seeking, 

(p. 56) : 

When thou wouldst know thyself, what man thou art, 

Look at the tombstones as thou passest by : 

Within those monuments lie bones and dust 

Of raonarchs, tyrants, sages, men whose pride 

Rose high because of wealth, or noble blood. 

Or haughty soul, or loveliness of limb ; 

Yet none of these things strove for them 'gainst time : 

One common death hath ta'en all mortal men. 

See thou to this, and know thee who tliou art. 

Such moralizing soimds commonplace to us Avho have been les- 
soned by the memento mori of the Middle Ages. Yet it should 
be remembered that, coming from a Greek of Menander's age, it 
claims originality of insight, and even now a ring of freshness as 
well as of truth marks its absolute sincerity. The following frag- 
ment (p. 58) again expresses Stoical, rather than Epicurean, phi- 
losophy of life : 

Being a man, ask not release from pain. 
But strength to bear pain, from the gods above ; 
If thou wouldst fain escape all woe for aye, 
Thou must become god, or, if not, a corpse. 

The exquisite lines in whicb the life of man is compared to a 
fair, wherefrom, when he has once seen the shows, he should be 
glad to pass away again in quiet, might be adduced to prove, if it 
were necessary, that Menander was no mere hedonist. To the 
same end might be quoted the passage upon destiny, which ex- 
plains that chance and providence are only two names for one 

* The fragment from the 'AAuTc, p. 3 of Didot's Menandei; is clearly dra- 
matic, and cannot be taken as an expression of the poet's mind. 


controllino- power, face to face with which human forethought is 
but smoke and nonsense.* There is something even almost aw- 
ful in the placid acquiescence of Menander. He has come to the 
end of passions and pleasures ; he expects pain and is prepared to 
endure it; his happiness consists in tranquil contemplation of 
life, from which he no longer hopos for more than what Balzac 
calls the a pen pres of felicity. f This tranquillity does not di- 
minish, but rather increases, his power of enjoyment and the clear- 
ness of his vision, lie combines the exact knowledge of the sci- 
entific analyst with judicial impartiality ; and yet his worldly wis- 
dom is not cold or dry. To make selections from fragments, ev- 
ery word whereof is golden, would be weary work ; nor is it pos- 
sible to preserve in translation the peculiar savor of this Attic salt. 
Menander should be spared this [)rofanation. Before we leave 
him, let us remember what Goethe, a man as like Menander as a 
modern man can be, has said of him : " He is thoroughly pure, 
noble, great, and cheerful, and his grace is unattainable. It is to 
be lamented that we possess so little of him, but that little is in- 

The name of Philemon will always be coupled with that of 
Menander. In their lifetime they were competitors, and the 
Athenian audience preferred Philemon to his rival. Posterity in 
ancient days reversed this judgment — with justice, if our scanty 
fragments may be taken as sufficient basis for comparison. The 
lines in which Philemon praises peace as the good vainly sought 
by sages, and declares that no painter or statuary can compete 
with truth, are fair examples of his fluent and at the same time 
polished style.J So are the comparison of men with animals to 

* These fragments are from the 'Tiro/3oXi'/iaioc, pp. 48, 49. 
f Compare Boiwn'a, fr. 2, p. 9 ; Mi(Toyvi'r]g, fr. 1, p. 32 ; nXoKioi^, fr. 8, p. 

tPp. 114, 115. 



the disadvantage of the former, and the invective against Prome- 
theus for dividing human nature into complex varieties of charac- 
ter.* Yet tliere is an element of sophistry in these examples, 
placing them below the pithy sayings of Menander. If I were to 
choose one fragment as illustrative of Philemon, and at the same 
time favorable to his reputation, it should be the following : f 

Have faith in God and fear ; seek not to know him ; 
For thou wilt gain naught else beyond thy search: 
Whether he is or is not, shun to ask : 
As one who is, and sees thee, always fear him. 

The comedy of Menander determined the form of the drama in 
Rome, and, through the influence of Plautus and Terence upon 
the renascent culture of the sixteenth century, fixed the type of 
comedy in modern Europe. We are often struck, in reading his 
fragments, with their modern tone of thought and feeling. We 
recognize that here, as in the case of Moliere, is a man who " chas- 
tised men by drawing them as they are," and that the men whom 
he chastised, the social follies he ridiculed, are among us at the 
present day. This observation leads us to consider what we mean 
by modernism, when we say we find it in ancient literature. 
Sometimes the phrase is loosely used to indicate the permanent 
and invariable qualities of human nature emergent from local and 
temporary conditions. The chorus in the Agamemnon upon the 
beautiful dead warriors in the Trojan war is called modern be- 
cause it comes home directly to our own experience. Not their 
special mode of sepulture, or the lamentation of captive women 
over their heaped-up mounds, or the slaughter of human victims, 
or the trophies raised upon their graves, are touched upon. Such 
circumstances would dissociate them, if only accidentally, from 
our sympathies. It is the grief of those who stay at home and 

* Pp. 118, 119. f Incert. Fab. fr. 26, p. 122. Cf. ib. fr.^6. 


-mourn, tlie pathos of youth and beauty wasted, that :iEschylus has 
chosen for his thrcnos. This grief and this pathos are imperish- 
able, and are therefore modern, inasmuch as they are not specifi- 
cally ancient. Yet such use of the phrase is inaccurate. We 
come closer to the true meaning through the etymology of the 
Avord modern, derived perhaps from modo^ or just now ; so that 
what is modern is, strictly speaking, that which belongs to the 
present moment. From this point of view modernism must con- 
tinually be changing, for the moment now is in perpetual flux. 
Still, there is one characteristic of the now which comprehends 
the modern world, that docs not and cannot alter: we are never 
free from the consciousness of a long past. Nous vieillards nes 
d'hier is essentially true of us ; and to this characteristic may be 
referred what wo mean to express by modernism. When nations 
have reached n certain growth and pitch of culture, certain senti- 
ments, alfectations, ways of thinking, modes of self-expression, 
habits of life, fashions, and the like, appear as the outcome of 
complex and long-established social conditions. Whatever may be 
the political groundwork of the nationiil existence, the phase in 
question is sure to manifest itself, if only the nation lasts for a 
sufficient length of time. We, who have assuredly arrived at the 
climacteric in question, when we recognize the signs of it else- 
where, call them modern ; and nowhere can we find them more 
emphatically marked than in the age of Attic ripeness that pro- 
duced Menander. " O Menander and life," said the grammarian 
of xVlexandria, " which of you is the imitator of the other?" This 
apostrophe might also have been addressed to Homer; but what 
made it more specially applicable to Menander was that, while 
Homer invested the profound truths of passion and action with 
heroic dignity, Menander drew a no less faithful picture of human 
life together with the accidents of civilized and social circum- 
stance. His delicate delineation of Attic society seemed nearer 


to the Alexandrian scholar, because it reproduced, not the remote 
conditions of the prehistoric age, but those which are common to 
periods of advanced culture. For a like reason he seems to us 
more obviously modern than Homer. He contemplates the drama 
of human life with eyes and mind not very differently trained 
from ours, and from a point of view close to ours. As a single 
instance, take this fragment. He is quietly laughing at the pom- 
pous and pretentious sages who said in Athens, as they say now, 
that a man must go into the wilderness to discover truth : 

ivpiTiKov ilfai (fiaai Ttjv iptj/itau 
61 Ta£ ofpvg alpovTEC. 

We must not, however, be blinded by the modernism of Menan- 
der to the fact that ancient comedy differed in many most impor- 
tant respects from the comedy of modern Europe. If we only 
regard dramas of intrigue and manners, such as the Mandragola 
of Machiavelli, the Volpone of Ben Jonson, or the Fourberies de 
Scapin of Moliere, we are indeed dealing with a type of comedy 
derived directly through the Latin from the Greek. But modern 
comedy does not remain within these narrow limits. Its highest 
products are either works of pure creative fancy, like Shake- 
speare's Midsummer-NighC s Dream and Fletcher's Pilgrim, or arc 
so closely allied to tragedy, as in the case of Massinger's A New 
Way to Pay Old Debts and Moliere's Avare, that only a nominal 
difference divides the two species. Nothing remains, either in 
fragments or in critical notices, to justify us in believing that the 
ancients developed cither tne serious comedy, essentially tragic in 
its ruthless revelation of a hell of evil passion, or the comedy of 
pure imagination. Their strict sense of the requirements of ex- 
ternal form excluded the former kind of drama, while for the cre- 
ation of the latter the free play of the romantic fancy was abso- 
lutely necessary. The total loss of Agathon, Chseremon, and other 


tragic poets of the post-Euripidean period, forces us to speak with 
reservation on this topic. There are many indications of a con- 
fusion of types at Athens during the fourth century B.C. analo- 
gous to that which characterizes modern dramatic poetry. Yet it 
may be asserted with tolerable confidence that, while the Greeks 
understood by comedy a form of art that aimed at exciting mirth 
and was confined within the limits of domestic life, modern com- 
edy has not unfrequently in her higher flights excited the passions 
of terror and pity, and has quitted the region of diurnal prose for 
the dream-world of fairyland. An ancient critic would have prob- 
ably observed that Moliere's Avare Avas too seriously sinister to be 
rightly called comic, and that the absence of parody or burlesque in 
Shakespeare's Tempest excluded that play from comparison with 
the Birds of Aristophanes. Here, then, as elsewhere, we have to 
notice the greater freedom demanded by the modern fancy in 
dealing with the forms of art, together with the absence of those 
firmly traced critical canons to which the antique genius willingly 
submitted. Modern art in general, when it is not directly and 
consciously imitative of antique models, demands a more complete 
liberation of the spiritual element. We cannot avoid les defauts 
de nos qualitcs. This superior freedom involves a bewildering 
complexity and intermixture of the serious and the ludicrous, the 
lyrical and the dramatic, the positive and the fanciful, defying 
classification, and in its very caprice approximating to the realities 
of existence. 





Theocritus ; his Life. — The Canon of his Poems. — The Meaning of the Word 
Idvh — Bucolic Poetry in Greece, Rome, Modern Europe. — The Scenery 
of Theocritus. — Relation of Southern Nature to Greek Mythology and 
Greek Art. — Rustic Life and Superstitions. — Feeling for Pure Nature in 
Theocritus. — IIow Distinguished from the same Feeling in Modern Poets. 
— Galatea. — Pharmaceutria. — Hylas. — Greek Chivalry. — The Dioscuri. 
— Thalvsia. — Bion. — The Lament for Adonis. — Moschus. — Europa. — 
Megara.— Lament for Bion. — The Debts of Modern Poets to the Idyl- 

Of the lives of Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus there is very lit- 
tle known, and that little has been often repeated. Theocritus 
was a Syracusan, the son of Praxagoras and Philinna. Some con- 
fusion as to his parentage arose from the fact that in the seventh 
idyl Theocritus introduced himself under the artificial name of 
Simichidas, which led early critics to suppose he had a father 
called Simichus. It is, however, quite clear that the concurrent 
testimony of Suidas and of an epigram in the anthology, Avhich 
distinctly asserts his descent from Praxagoras and Philinna, is to 
be accepted in preference to all conjectures founded on a no)n de 
plume. Theocritus flourished between 283 and 263 B.C., but the 
dates and circumstances of his birth and death are alike unknown. 
We may gather, inferentially or directly from his poems, that he 
sought the patronage of Ptolemy Philadelphus at Alexandria, and 
lived for some time among; the men of letters at his court. In- 
deed, Theocritus was the most brilliant ornament of that some- 


what artificial period of literature ; lie above all the Alexandrian 
poets carried the old genius of Greece int-o new channels instead 
of imitating, annotating, and rehandling ancient masterpieces. 
The sixth and seventh idyls prove that Aratus, the astronomer, 
was a familiar friend of the Syracusan bard ; probably the fre- 
quent allusions to meteorology and the science of the stars Avhich 
^Ye trace in the poems of Theocritus may be referred to this inti- 
macy. From the idyls, again, we learn that the poet left Alex- 
andria wearied with court life, and, like Spenser, unwilling 

To lose good nights that might be better spent, 
To waste long days in pensive discontent, 
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow, 
To feed on hope, and pine with fear and sorrow. 

He seems, however, to have once more made trial of princely fa- 
vor at the Syracusan court of Hiero, and to have been as much 
offended with the want of appreciation and good taste as with the 
illiberalitv that he found there. Amono- his friends were num- 
bered Nicias, the physician of Miletus, and his wife Thcugcnis, to 
whom he addressed the beautiful little poem called 7/Xa»;ar>/, or 
The Distaff — a cliarraing specimen of what the Greek muse could 
produce by way of vers de societe. The end of his life is buried 
in obscurity. We can easily believe that he spent it quietly among 
the hills and fields of Sicily, in close communion with the nature 
that he loved so well. His ill success as a court poet does not as- 
tonish us; the panegyrics of Ilicro and Ptolemy are among his 
Avorst poems — mere pinchbeck when compared with the pure gold 
of the idyls proper. It was in scenes of natural beauty that he 
felt at home, and when he died he left a volume of immortal verse, 
each line of which proclaims of him — " Et ego in Arcadia." We 
cannot give him a more fitting epitaph than that of his own 

II.— Ifl 


tjia poov • iKKvat Sira 
TOP MojaaiQ (piXov drSpa, rhv ov 'Sv^ifaiffiv aTTtx^fJ-* 

If wc know little of Theocritus, less is known of Bion. Suidas 
says that he was born at Smyrna, and the elegy written on his 
death leads us to suppose that he lived in Sicily, and died of poi- 
son wilfully administered by enemies. Theocritus, thougli liis 
senior in age and his predecessor in bucolic poetry, seems to have 
survived him. Bion's elegist, from which the few facts which we 
have related with regard to the poet of Smyrna's life and untimely 
death are gathered, has generally been identified with Moschus. 
Ahrens, however, with characteristic German scepticism, places the 
'ETTtro^toc B('wi'oe upon a list of Inccrtorum Idyll'm. Nor can it 
be denied that the author of this poem leads us to believe that he 
was a native of Magna Gra?cia, whereas Moschus is known to have 
been a Syracusan. The third and last of the Sicilian idyllists, he 
stands at a great distance from Theocritus in all essential qualities 
of pastoral composition. He has more of the grammarian or man 
of erudition about him ; and we can readily conceive him to have 
been, according to the account of Suidas, a friend of Aristarchus. 
Of the dates of his life nothing can be recorded with any cer- 
tainty. He seems to have lived about the end of the third cen- 
tury B.C. 

During the short period in which bucolic poetry flourished un- 
der Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus, Syracuse remained beneath the 
sceptre of Hiero. While the bloody strife was being waged be- 
tween Rome and Carthage for the empire of the iNlediterranean, 
Syracuse, intermediate between the two great combatants, was 
able not only to maintain a splendid independence under the sway 
of her powerful tyrant, but also to afford the Romans signal aid 
upon the battle-fields of Sicily. In Sicily the sun of Greece still 

* Down the dark stream he went ; the eddies drowned 
The muses' friend, tlie youth the nymphs held dear. 


shone with some of its old radiance on the spots where, before 
Athens had assumed the intellectual supremacy of Hellas, poetry, 
philosophy, and all the arts of life had first displayed their splen- 
did spring-time. The island in which the April of the Greek 
spirit had disclosed its earliest flowers now bore the last but not 
least lovely wreath of autumn. The winter was soon coming. 
Rome and her Verres were already looking upon Trinacria as 
their prey ; and the idyllic garland was destined to crown with 
exotic blossoms the brows of Virgil. 

About the authenticity of many of the idyls grave questions 
have been raised. It is hard to believe that all the thirty which 
bear the name of Theocritus were really written by him. The 
twenty-third and twenty-fifth, for instance, are not in his style ; 
while the nineteenth reminds us more of the Anacreontic elegance 
of Bion or Moschus than of his peculiarly vigorous workmanship. 
The twenty-ninth, again, though admitted as genuine by Ahrens, 
might Avell pass for the work of an earlier ^-Eolic writer. But, with- 
out some shock to my feelings, I cannot entertain the spuriousness 
of the twenty-first idyl, which Ahrens places among the produc- 
tions of some doubtful author. The whole series after the eigh- 
teenth have been questioned. These, however, include the epical 
compositions of Theocritus, who might well have assumed a dif- 
ferent manner when treating of Hercules or the Dioscuri from 
that in which he sang the loves of Lycidas and Daphnis. That 
they arc inferior to his pastorals is not to be wondered at ; for he 
who blows his own flute with skill may not be, therefore, strong 
enough to sound the trumpet of Homer. Ahrens, as observed 
above, extends his criticism to the lament for Bion, which, I con- 
fess, appears to me more full of fire and inventive genius than 
any other of the poems attributed to Moschus. 

Yet in these matters of minute evidence too much depends 
upon mere conjecture, and comparison of styles for us to remove 


old landmarks with certainty. Suppose all records of Raphael's 
works had been lost, and a few fragments of the Cartoons, to- 
gether with the Transfiguration and the little picture of the Sleep- 
ing Knight alone remained of all his paintings, would not some 
Ahrens be inclined to attribute the Sleeping Knight to a weaker 
if not less graceful artist of the Umbrian school ? The Allegro 
and Penseroso might, by a similar process of disjunctive criticism, 
be severed from the Paradise Lost. On the other hand, nothing 
can be more doubtful than assertions in favor of authenticity. It 
is almost impossible for a foreigner to perceive minute differences 
of style in the works of two contemporary poets, and infinitely 
more difficult for a modern to exercise the same exact discrimina- 
tion in deciding on the monuments of classic art. Schlegel, in 
his History of Dramatic Literature, asserts that he discovers no 
internal difference between Massinger and Fletcher. Yet an Eng- 
lish student is struck by the most marked divergences of feeling, 
language, natural gifts, and acquired habits of thought in these 
two dramatists. Thus the difficulty of such criticism is twofold. 
If a Syracusan of 200 B.C. could discuss our lucubrations on the 
text of the bucolic poets, he would probably in one case express 
astonishment at our having ascribed two dissimilar idyls to The- 
ocritus, and in another case explain away our scepticism by enu- 
merating the three or four successive manners of the poet. The- 
ocritus, Bion, and Moschus are the eponyms of idyllic poetry. 
To each belongs a peculiar style. It is quite possible that some 
idyls of successful imitators whose names have been lost may 
have been fathered upon the three most eminent founders of the 

The name of the idyl sufficiently explains its nature. It is a 
llittle picture. Rustic or town life, legends of the gods, and pas- 
sages of personal experience supply the idyllist with subjects. He 
does not treat them lyrically, following rather the rules of epic 


rind dramatic composition. Generally there is a narrator, and in 
so far the idyl is epic ; its verse, too, is the hexameter. But oc- 
casionally the form of dramatic monologue, as in the Pharmaceu- 
tria, or that of dramatic dialogue, as in the Adoniazusce, takes the 
place of narrative. Bion's lament for Adonis, again, is a kind of 
sacred hymn ; while the dirge on Bion's death is elegiac. Two 
idyls of Theocritus are encomiastic ; several celebrate the deeds 
of ancestral Doric heroes — Herakles and the Dioscuri. One is an 
epistle. Many of Bion's so-called idyls differ little, except in 
metre, from the Anacreontics, while one at least of the most high, 
ly finished pieces of Theocritus must be ranked with erotic poetry 
of the purely lyrical order. It will be seen from these instances 
that the idyllic genus admitted many species, and that the idyl- 
lists were far from being simply pastoral poets. This form of 
composition was, in fact, the growth of a late age of Greek art, 
when the great provinces had been explored and occupied, and 
when the inventor of a new style could legitimately adopt the 
tone and manner of his various predecessors. Perhaps the plastic 
arts determined the direction of idyllic poetry, suggesting the 
name and supplying the poet with models of compact and pictu- 
resque treatment. In reading the idyls it should never be forgot- 
ten that they are pictures, so studied and designed by their au- 
thors. They ought to affect us in the same way as the bass-reliefs 
and vases of Greek art, in which dramatic action is presented at 
one moment of its evolution, and beautiful forms are grouped to- 
gether with such simplicity as to need but little story to enhance 
their value. If we approach the idyls from this point of view, 
and regard them as very highly finished works of decorative art, 
we shall probably be able to enjoy their loveliness without com- 
plaining that the shepherds and shepherdesses are too relined, or 
that the landscapes have not been drawn from nature. 

Without discussing the whole hackneyed question of bucolic 


poetr}', a word must be said about its origin, and about the essen- 
tial difference between Theocritus and modern pastorals. It is 
natural to suppose that country folk, from the remotest period of 
Greek history, refreshed themselves with dance and song-, and that 
music formed a part of their religious ceremonials. The trials of 
strength which supply the mo tive of so many Theocritean idyls 
were quite consistent with the manners of the Greeks, who brought 
all rival claims of superiority to the touchstone of such contests. 
Their antiquity in the matter of music may be gathered from the 
legends of Pan and Apollo, and of Apollo and Marsyas. Phoebus, 
in the character of shepherd to Admetus, gave divine sanction to 
bucolic minstrelsy. In respect of bodily strength, the gymnastic 
rivalry of Olynipia and other great Hellenic centres was so im- 
portant as to determine the chronology of Greece, while even 
claims to personal beauty were decided by the same trial : the 
three goddesses submitted to the arbitration of Paris ; and there 
were in many states tipiarela of physical charms, not to mention 
the boys' prize for kisses at Nisa3an Megara. Bucolic poetry may 
therefore be referred to the pastoral custom of shepherds singing 
together and against each other at festivals or on the green. 

It was the genius of Theocritus in all probability which deter- 
mined the Doric and Sicilian character of the idyls we possess. 
He, a Syracusan and a Dorian, perfected the genre., and was fol- 
lowed by his imitators. Nothing can be more simple and lifelike 
than th(f^onversations of his rustics, or more nicely discriminated 
than the pedestrian style of their dialogue and the more polished 
manner of their studied songs. The poet has, no doubt, invested 
these rural encounters with the imaginative beauty which belongs 
to art. He has attributed to Corydon and Thyrsis much of his 
own imagination and delicate taste and exquisite sense of natural 
loveliness. Had he refrained from doing so, his idyls would not 
have challenged the attention and won the admiration of poster- 



ity. As it is, we find enoug-li of rustic grossness on his pages, and 
may even complain tliat his cowherds and goatherds savor too 
strono-ly of their stables. Of his appreciation of scenery it is dif- 
ficult to speak in terms of exaggerated praise. As I purpose to 
discuss this subject more minutely farther on, it may here be 
enough to remark that he alone of pastoral poets drew straight » 
fromjnature, and fully felt the charm which underlies the facls of / 
rustic life. 

In comparison with Theocritus, Bion and Moschus are affected 
and insipid. Their pastorals smack of the study more than of 
V the fields. Virgil not only lacks his vjgor and enthusiasiu for 
j/" the open-air life of the country, but, with Roman bad taste, he 
commits the capital crime of allegorizing. Virgil's pernicious ex- 
ample infected Spenser, Milton, and a host of inferior imitators, -—, 
flooding literature with dreary pastorals in whicli shepherds dis- 
cussed politics, religion, and court-gossip, so that at last bucolic . 
poetry became a synonym for everything affected and insipid. 
Poetry flourishes in cities, where rustic song must always be an 
exotic plant. To analyze Poliziano, Sanazaro, Guarini, Tasso, 
Spenser, Fletcher, Jonson, Barnfield, Browne, Pope, etc., and to 
show what strains of natural elegance adorn their imitations of 
the ancients, would be a very interesting but lengthy task. As 
society became more artificial, especially at Florence, Paris, and 
Versailles, the taste for pseudo-pastorals increased. Court-ladies 
tucked up their petticoats and carried crooks with ribbons at 
their tops, while court-poets furnished aristocratic Corydons with 
smooth verses about pipes and pine-trees, and lambs and wattled 
cotes. The whole was a dream and a delusion ; but this mirage 
of rusticity appropriated the name of pastoral, and reflected dis- 
credit even on the great and natural Theocritus. At length this 
genre of composition, in which neither invention nor observation 
nor truth nor excellence of any kind except inglorious modulation 



of old themes was needed, died a natural death ; and the true 
bucolic ffenius found fresh channels. Crabbc revived an interest 
in village life ; Burns sang immortal lyrics at the plough ; Goethe / J 
achieved a masterpiece of idyllic delineation ; AVordsworth reas- / ' 
serted the claims of natural simplicity ; Keats expressed the sen- 
suous charms of rustic loveliness ; Tennyson and Barnes have 
written rural idyls in the dialects of Lincolnshire and Dorset- 
shire ; while other writer's are pursuing similar lines of composi- 
tion. Theocritus, it is true, differs widely from these poets both 
in his style and matter. But he deserves to rank among the 
most realistic artists of the nineteenth century on account of his _ 
simplicity and perfect truth to nature. In reading him we must 
divest ourselves of any^rejudices which we have acquired from 
the perusal of his tasteless imitators. We must take his volume 
with us to the scenes in which he lived, and give him a fair trial 
on his own merits. 

It is on the shores of the Mediterranean — at Sorrento, at 
Amalfi, or near Palermo, or amono- the valleys of Mentone — 
that we ought to study Theocritus, and learn the secret of his 
charm.* Few of us pass middle life without visiting one or oth- 
er of these sacred spots, which seem to be the garden of perpet- 
ual spring. Like the lines of the Sicilian idyllist, they inspire an 
inevitable and indescribable ttuQoc, touching our sense of beauty 
with a subtle power, and soothing our spirits with the majesty of 
classical repose. Straight from the sea-beach rise mountains of 
distinguished form, not capped with snow or clothed with pines, 
but carved of naked rock. We must accept their beauty as it is, 
nude, well defined, and unadorned, nor look in vain for the mys- 
tery or sublimity or picturesqueness of the Alps. Light and col- 
or are the glory of these mountains. Valleys divide their flanks, 

* I may refer my readei-s to the chapter on the Cornice in my Sketches in 
Italy and Greece for a fuller treatment of this landscape. 


seaming witli shadow-belts and bands of green the broad hillside, 
while lower down the olives spread a hoary gra)aiess and soft 
robe of silver mist, the skirts of which are kissed by tideless 
waves. The harmony between the beauty of the olive -boughs 
and the blue sea can be better felt than described. Guido, whose 
subtlety of sentiment was very rare, has expressed it in one or 
two of his earliest and best pictures by graduated tones of silver, 
azure, and cool gray. The definite form and sunny brightness of 
the olive-tree suits our conception of the Greek character. It 
may well have been the favorite plant of the wise and calm Athe- 
ne. Oaks with their umbrageous foliage, pine-trees dark and 
mournful upon Alpine slopes, branching limes, and elms in which 
the wind sways shadowy masses of thick leaves, belong, with their 
huge girth and gnarled boles and sombre roofage, to the forests 
of the North, where nature is rather an awful mother than a kind 
foster-nurse and friend of man. In northern landscapes the eye 
travels through vistas of leafy boughs to still, secluded crofts and 
pastures, where slow-moving oxen graze. The mystery of dreams 
and the repose of meditation haunt our massive bowers. But in 
the South, the lattice-work of olive boughs and foliage scarcely 
veils the laughing sea and bright blue sky, while the hues of the 
landscape find their climax in the dazzling radiance of the sun 
upon the waves, and the pure light of the horizon. There is no 
concealment and no melancholy here. Nature seems to hold a 
never-endino- festival and dance, in which the waves and sunbeams 
and shadows join. Again, in Northern scenery, the rounded forms 
of full-foliaged trees suit the undulating country, with its gentle 
hills and brooding clouds ; but in the South the spiky leaves and 
sharp branches of the olive carry out the defined outlines which 
are everywhere observable through the broader beauties of moun- 
tain and valley and sea-shore. Serenity and intelligence charac- 
terize this Southern landscape, in which a race of splendid men 


and women lived beneath the pure liglit of Plia-bus, their ances- 
tral god. Pallas protected them, and golden Aphrodite favored 
them with beauty. Nations as great and noble have arisen among 
the oak and beech woods of the North ; strong-sinewed warriors, 
lieroic women, counsellors Avith mighty brains, and poets on whose 
tongue the melody of music lingers like a charm. But the Greeks 
alone owned the gift of innate beauty and unerring taste. The 
human form, upon those bare and sunny hills, beneath those 
twinkling olive-boughs, beside that sea of everlastino- lauo-hter, 
reached its freedom ; and the spirit of human loveliness was there 
breathed fully into all the forms of art. Poetry, sculpture, archi- 
tecture, music, dancing, all became the language of that moderate 
and lucid harmony wliich we discover in the landscape of the 

Olives are not, however, by any means the only trees which play 
a part in idyllic scenery. The tall stone-pine is even more im- 
portant ; for, underneath its shade the shepherds loved to sing, 
hearing the murmur in its spreading roof, and waiting for the 
cones with their sweet fruit to fall. Near Massa, by Sorrento, 
there are two gigantic pines so placed that, lying on the grass 
beneath them, one looks on Capri rising from the sea, Baia?, 
and all the bay of Naples sweeping round to the base of Vesu- 
vius. Tangled growths of olives, oranges, and rose-trees fill the 
garden-ground along the shore, while far away in the distance 
pale Inarime sleeps, with her exquisite Greek name, a virgin isl- 
and on the deep. In such a place we realize Theocritean melo- 
dies, and find a new and indestructible loveliness in the opening 
line of his first idyl : 

aCv Ti TO xpiBiipiaixa Kai a Trirvg, aiTTuXi, rqi'a. 

These pines are few and far between. Growing alone or in 
pairs, they stand like monuments upon the hills, their black forms 


sculptured on the cloudlike olive-groves, from which at intervals 
spring spires and columns of slender cypress-trees. 

Here and there in this bright garden of the age of gold white 
villages are seen, and solitary cottage roofs high up among the 
hills — dwellings, perhaps, of Amaryllis, whom the shepherds used 
to serenade. Huge fig-trees lean their weight of leaves and pur- 
ple fruit upon the cottage walls, while cherry-trees and apricots 
snow the grass in spring with a white wealth of April blossoms. 
The stone walls and little wells in the cottage gardens are green 
with immemorial moss and ferns, and fragrant with gadding vio- 
lets that ripple down their sides and checker them with blue. On 
the wilder hills you find patches of ilex and arbutus glowing with 
crimson berries and white waxen bells, sweet myrtle rods and 
shafts of bay, frail tamarisk and tall tree-heaths that wave their 
frosted boughs above your head. Nearer the shore the lentisk 
grows, a savory shrub, with cytisus and aromatic rosemary. Clem- 
atis and polished garlands of tough sarsaparilla wed the shrubs 
with clinffinof, climbing; arms : and here and there in sheltered 
nooks the vine shoots forth luxuriant tendrils bowed with grapes 
stretching from branch to branch of mulberry or elm, flinging 
festoons on which young loves might sit and swing, or Aveaving a 
lattice-work of leaves across the open shed. Nor must the sounds 
of this landscape be forgotten — sounds of bleating flocks, and 
murmuring bees, and nightingales, and doves that moan, and run- 
ning streams, and shrill cicadas, and hoarse frogs, and whispering 
pines. There is not a single detail which a patient student may 
not verify from Theocritus. 

Then, too, it is a landscape in which sea and country are never 
sundered. This must not be forgotten of idyllic scenery ; for it 
was the warm seaboard of Sicily, beneath protecting heights of 
-^tna, that gave birth to the bucolic muse. The intermingling 
of pastoral and sea life is exquisitely allegorized in the legend of 


Galatea ; and on tbe cup which Theocritus describes in his first 
idyl the fisherman plays an equal part with the shepherd youths 
and the boy who watches by the vineyard wall. The higher we 
climb upon the mountain-side the more marvellous is the beauty 
of the sea, which seems to rise as we ascend and stretch into the 
sky. Sometimes a little flake of blue is framed by olive-boughs, 
sometimes a turning in the road reveals the whole broad azure 
calm below. Or after toiling up a steep ascent we fall upon the 
undergrowth of juniper, and lo ! a double sea, this way and that, 
divided by the sharp spine of the jutting hill, jewelled with vil- 
lages along its shore, and smiling with fair islands and silver sails. 
Upon the beach the waves come tumbling in, swaying the coral- 
lines and green and purple sea-weeds in the pools. Ceaseless 
beating of the spray has worn the rocks into jagged honeycombs, 
on which lazy fishermen sit perched, dangling their rods like fig- 
ures in Pompeian frescos. 

In landscapes such as these we are readily able to understand 
the legends of rustic gods ; the metamorphoses of Syrinx, Nar- 
cissus, Echo, Ilyacinthus, and Adonis ; the tales of slumbering 
Pan and horned satyrs and peeping fauns with which the idyl- 
lists have adorned their simple shepherd songs. Here, too, the 
Oread dwellers of the hills and dryads and sylvans and water- 
nymphs seem possible. They lose their unreality and mythic 
haziness ; for men themselves are more a part of Nature here than 
in the North, more fit for companionship with deities of stream 
and hill. Their labors are lighter and their food more plentiful. 
Summer leaves them not, and the soil yields fair and graceful 
crops. There is surely some difference between hoeing turnips 
and trimming olive-boughs, between tending turkevs on a Norfolk 
common and leading goats to browse on cytisus beside the shore, 
between the fat pasturage and bleak winters of our midland coun- 
ties and the spare herbage of the South dried by perpetual sun- 


light. It cannot be denied that men assimilate something from 
their daily labor, and that the poetry of rustic life is more evident 
upon Mediterranean shores than in England. 

Nor must the men and women of classical landscape be forgot- 
ten. When we read the idyls of Theocritus, and wish to see be- 
fore us Thestylis and Daphnis and Lycidas, we have but to re- 
call the perfect forms of Greek sculpture. We may, for instance, 
summon to our mind the Endymion of the Capitol, nodding in 
eternal slumber, with his sheep-dog slumbering by : or Artemis 
stepping from her car ; her dragons coil themselves between the 
shafts and fold their plumeless wings: or else Hippolytus and 
Melcager booted for the boar-chase : or Bacchus finding Ariadne 
by the sea-shore; maenads and satyrs are arrested in their dance; 
flower-garlands fall upon the path ; or a goat-legged satyr teaches 
a young faun to play ; the pipe and flute are there, and from the 
boy's head fall long curls upon his neck. Or Europa drops anem- 
one and crocus from her hand, trembling upon the bull as he 
swims onward through the sea: or tritons blow wreathed shells, 
and dolphins splash the water : or the eagle's claws clasp Gany- 
mede, and bear him up to Zeus : or Adonis lies wounded, and wild 
Aphrodite spreads hungry arras, and wails with rent robes tossed 
above her head. From the cabinet of gems we draw a Love, blind, 
bound, and stung by bees ; or a girl holding an apple in her hand ; 
or a young man tying on his sandal. Then there is the Praxite- 
lean genius of the Vatican who might be Hylas, or TJranian Eros, 
or Hymenseus, or curled Hyacinthus — the faun who lies at Mu- 
nich overcome with wine, his throat bare, and his deep chest heav- 
ing with the bi'eath of sleep — Hercules strangling the twin snakes 
in his cradle, or ponderous with knotty sinews and huge girth of 
neck — Demeter, holding fruits of all sorts in one hand and corn- 
stalks in the other, sweeping her full raiment on the granary floor. 
Or else we bring again the pugilist from Caracalla's bath — bruised 


faces and ears livid with unheeded blows — their strained arms 
bound with thongs, and clamps of iron on their fists. Processions 
move in endless line, of godlike youths on prancing steeds, of 
women bearing baskets full of cakes and flowers, of oxen lowing 
to the sacrifice. The Trojan heroes fall with smiles upon their 
lips ; the athlete draws the strigil down his arm ; the sons of 
Niobe lie stricken, beautiful in death. Cups, too, and vases help 
us, chased with figures of all kinds — dance, festival, love-making, 
rustic sacrifice, the legendary tales of hate and woe, the daily idyls 
of domestic life. 

Such are some of the works of Greek art which we may use in 
our attempt to realize Theocritus. Nor need we neglect the mon- 
uments of modern painting — Giorgione's pastoral pictures of pip- 
ing men and maidens crowned with jasmine -flowers, Raphael's 
Triumph of Galatea, and Tintoretto's Marriage of Ariadne, or the 
Arcadians of Poussin reading the tale of death upon the gTave- 
stone, and. its epitaph — " Et ego." 

To reconstruct the mode of life of the Theocrltean dramatis 
personcc is not a matter of much difficulty. Pastoral habits are 
singularly unchangeable, and nothing strikes us more than the re- 
currence of familiar rustic proverbs, superstitions, and ways of 
thinking which we find in the idyllic poets. The mixture of sim- 
plicity and shrewdness, of prosaic interest in worldly affairs and 
of an unconscious admiration for the poetry of nature, which 
George Sand has recently assigned with delicate analysis to the 
bucolic character in her Jdyls of Nohant, meets us in every line 
of the Sicilian pastorals. On the Mediterranean shores, too, the 
same occupations have been carried on for centuries with little 
interruption. The same fields are being ploughed, the same vine- 
yards tilled, the same olive-gardens planted, as those in which 
Theocritus played as a child. The rocks on which he saw old 
Olpis watching for the tunnies, with fishing-reed and rush basket. 


arc still haunted througli sunny hours by patient fishermen. Per- 
haps they cut their reeds and rushes in the same river-beds ; cer- 
tainly they use the same sort of caXa^oe. The goats have not 
forgotten to crop cytisus and myrtle, nor have the goatherds 
changed their shaggy trousers and long crooks. You may still 
pick out a shepherd lad among a hundred by his skin and cloak. 
It is even said that the country ditties of the Neapolitans are 
Greek ; and how ancient is the origin of local superstitions who 
shall say ? The country folk still prefer, like Comatas in the fifth 
idyl, garden-grown roses to the wild eglantine and anemones of 
the hedgerow, scorning what has not required some cost or trou- 
ble for its cultivation. Gretchcn's test of love by blowing on 
thistle-down does not differ much from that of the shepherd in 
the third idyl. Live blood in the eye is still a sign of mysterious 
importance (Idyl iii. 36). To spit is still a remedy against the 
evil eye (vii. 39). Eunica, the town girl, still turns up her nose 
at the awkward cowherd ; city and country are not yet wholly 
harmonized by improved means of locomotion. Then the people 
of the South are perfectly unchanged — the fisher boys of Castel- 
lamare ; the tall, straight girls of Capri singing as they walk with 
pitchers on their heads and distaffs in their hands ; the wild Apu- 
lian shepherds ; the men and maidens laughing in the olive-fields 
or vineyards ; the black-browed beauties of the Cornice trooping 
to church on Sundays with gold earrings, and with pink tulip- 
buds in their dark hair. One thing, however, is greatly altered. 
Go where we will, we find no statues of Priapus and the Nymphs. 
No lambs are sacrificed to Pan. No honey or milk is poured 
upon the altars of the rustic muse. The temples are in ruins. 
Aloes and cactuses have invaded the colonnades of Girgenti, and 
throuo-h the halls of Pa3stum winds wliistle and sunbeams stream 
unheeded. But though the gods are gone, men remain unaltered. 
A little less careless, a little more superstitious they may be ; but 


their joys and sorrows, their vices and virtues, their loves and 
hates, are still the same. 

Such reflections are trite and commonplace. Yet who can re- 
sist the force of their truth and pathos ? 

ovx afiiv roi' "Kpaira jiovoiQ t~^x\ wC iSoKEVfieCi 
NtKi'a, t;J7-(i't Tovro 6iwv ttoku riKi'OV tyeiTO" 
OL'X aiiiv TO. KoKa Trpdroig KaXd faii'ETcii ijfttg, 
o"i Ovarol TTtXoiitffda, to 5' a'vpioi> ovk tuopoijueg * — 

said Theocritus, looking- back into the far past, and remembering 
that the gifts of love and beauty have belonged to men and gods 
from everlasting. AVith what redoubled force may we, after the 
Iripse of twenty centuries, echo these words, when we tread the 
ground he knew and read the songs he sang! His hills stir our 
vague and yearning admiration, his sea laughs its old laugh of 
waywardness and glee, his flowers bloom yearly, and fade in the 
spring, his pine and olive branches overshadow us ; Ave listen to 
the bleating of his goats, and taste the sweetness of the springs 
from which he drank ; the milk and honey are as fresh upon our 
lips, the wine in winter by the wood fire, when the winds are loud, 
is just as fragrant ; youth is still youtli, nor have the dark-eyed 
maidens lost their charm. Truly oh-^ u^Civ -a kuXo. Trpa-oic Ku\a 
ipuirtrai iifxeQ. In this consists the power of Theocritean poetry. 
It strikes a note which echoes through our hearts by reason of its 
genuine simplicity and pathos. The thoughts which natural beau- 
ty stirs in our minds find their embodiment in his sweet, strong 
verse ; and though since liis time the world has grown old, though 
the gods of Greece have rent their veils and fled with shrieks from 
their sanctuaries, though in spite of ourselves we turn our faces 

* Not for us alone, as we once thought, friend Nicias, did Love's parent, 
whosoever among gods that was, beget Lord Eros. Not for us did fair tilings 
first reveal their fairness ; we who are mortal men, and have no vision of tlie 


skyward from the earth, though emaciated saints and martyrs 
have supplanted Adonis and the Graces, though the cold, damp 
shades of Calvinism have chilled our marrow and our blood, yet 
there remain deep down within our souls some primal sympathies 
with nature, some instincts of the faun or satyr or sylvan, which 
education has not quite eradicated. " The hand which hath long 
time held a violet doth not soon forego her perfume, nor the cup 
from which sweet wine had flowed his fragrance." 

I have dwelt long upon the peculiar properties of classical land- 
scape as described by the Greek idyllists, and as they still exist 
for travellers upon the more sheltered shores of the Mediterranean, 
because it is necessary to understand them before we can appre- 
ciate the truth of Theocritus. Of late years much has been writ- 
ten about the difference between classical and modern ways of re- 
garding landscape. Mr. Ruskin has tried to persuade us that the 
ancients only cared for the more cultivated parts of nature, for 
gardens or orchards, from which food or profit or luxurious pleas- 
ure might be derived. And in this view there is no doubt some 
truth. The Greeks and Romans paid far less attention to inani- 
mate nature than we do, and were beyond all question repelled by 
the savage grandeur of marine and mountain scenery, preferring 
landscapes of smiling and cultivated beauty to rugged sublimity 
or the picturesquencss of decay. In this they resembled all South- 
ern nations. An Italian of the present day avoids ruinous places 
and solitudes however splendid. Among the mountains he com- 
plains of the hrutto pacse in which he has to live, and is always 
longing for town gayeties and the amenities of civilized socie- 
ty.* The ancients, again, despised all interests that pretended to 

* One bright morning in the first week of June I went out into the fields at 
Borca below Maciignaga, which were then full of Ijrilliant and sweet flowers. 
There I met an old woman, with whom I talked about her life in what seemed 
to me a terrestrial Paradise. She threw her arms and eyes to heaven, and 

IT.— 17 


rival the paramount interest of civic or military life. Seneca's fig- 
urative expression circum Jlosculos occiqmtur might be translated 
literally as applied to a trifler to denote the scorn which thinkers, 
statesmen, patriots, and generals of Greece and Rome felt for mere 
rural prettiness ; while Quintilian's verdict on Theocritus (whom, 
however, he allows to be admirahilis in suo genere), musa ilia 
rustica et pastoralis non forum modo verum ipsam etiam urhem 
reformidat, characterizes the insensibility of urban intellects to a 
branch of art which we consider of high importance. But it is 
very easy to overstrain this view, and Mr. Ruskin, perhaps, has 
laid an undue stress on Homer in his criticism of the classics, 
whereas it is among the later Greek and Roman poets that the 
analogy of modern literature would lead us to expect indications 
of a genuine taste for unadorned nature. These signs the idyllic 
poets amply supply ; but in seeking for them we must be pre- 
pared to recognize a very different mode of expression from that 
which we are used to in the florid poets of the modern age. 
Conciseness, simplicity, and an almost prosaic accuracy are the 
never-failing attributes of classical descriptive art. Moreover, hu- 
manity was always more present to their minds than to ours. 
Nothing evoked sympathy from a Greek unless it appeared before 
him in a human shape, or in connection with some human sen- 
timent. The ancient poets do not describe inanimate nature as 
such, or attribute a vague spirituality to fields and clouds. That 
feeling for the beauty of the Avorld which is embodied in such 
poems as Shelley's Ode to the West Wind gave birth in their im- 
agination to definite legends, involving some dramatic interest and 
conflict of passions. AVe Avho are apt to look for rhapsodies and 
brilliant outpourings of eloquent fancy can scarcely bring our- 
selves to recollect what a delicate sense of nature and what pro- 
looking round her, cried, " Che brutto pacse !" — "Ah, what an ugly country to 
live in !" Compare Browning's Up at a Villa, Down in the City. 


found emotions are implied in tlie conceptions of Pan and Hya- 
cinthus and Galatea. The misuse wliich has been made of my- 
thology by modern writers has effaced half its vigor and charm. It 
is only by returning to the nature which inspired these myths 
that we can reconstruct their exquisite vitality. Different ages 
and nations express themselves by different forms of art. Music 
appears to be dominant in the present period ; sculpture ruled 
among the Greeks, and struck the key-note for all other arts. 
Even those sentiments which in our mind are most vague, the ad- 
miration of sunset skies, or flowers or copsewoods in spring, were 
expressed by them in the language of definite human form. They 
sought to externalize and realize as far as possible, not to commu- 
nicate the inmost feelings and spiritual suggestions arising out of 
natural objects. Never advancing beyond corporeal conditions, 
they confined themselves to form, and sacrificed the charm of 
mystery, which is incompatible with very definite conception. It 
was on this account that sculpture, the most exactly imitative of 
the arts, became literally architectonic among the Greeks. And 
for a precisely similar reason music, which is the most abstract 
and subjective of the arts, the most evanescent in its material, and 
the vaguest, assumes the chief rank among modern arts. Sculp- 
ture is the poetry of the body, music the language of the soul. 

Having once admitted their peculiar mode of feeling Nature, no 
one can deny that landscape occupies an important place in Greek 
literature. Every line of Theocritus is vital with a strong passion 
for natural beauty, incarnated in myths. But even in descriptive 
poetry he is not deficient. His list of trees and flowers is long, 
and the epithets with which they are characterized are very ex- 
quisite — not, indeed, brilliant with the inbreathed fancy of the 
North, but so perfectly appropriate as to define the special beauty 
of the flower or tree selected. In the same way, a whole scene is 
conveyed in a few words by mere conciseness of delineation, or by 


the artful introduction of some incident suofffestinff human emo- 
tion. Take for example this picture of the stilhiess of the night : 

r)vih my^ fxh' ttovtoc, cnyuivri S' a/Jrai • 

a 5' ifid oil aiyq. (yripvwv tvToadtv di'ta, 

dXX' tTTi rrivij} ■Ko.aa KaraiOo/iai, of /i€ rdXaivav 

avTi yvvaiKog 'tOrjKs kukccv Kai dirdpOivov f]fi£v.* 

Idyl ii. 38-41. 

Or 'this : 

dWd TV fiiv 'xaipoiaa ttot uiKiavhv TpsTTs TTioXovg 
iroTvi, tyd) S' o'iatu tov tfiov ttovov, txxnrtp vTrkarav. 
Xaipfj StXai'a/a Xnrapoxpoe ' xaiptre S', oXXot 
doTtpic, f.vKi]\oio Kar uvrvya T^vktoq oTradoi.f 

Idyl ii. 163 et seqq. 
Or this of a falling star : 

KaTJjpiTTE d' tc /.dXav vSwp 
dOpooc, (!jS OKa TTvpffog ott' ovpavw i'jpnrtv dffn'jp 
dBpooQ iv 7r6vT(i>, vairaig da Tig eittei' iraipoig ' 
KovfoTep', w 'TToidig, TToiuaQ' onXa • TrXtvaTiKog ovpoc.% 

Idyl xiii. 49-52. 

Or the sea-weeds on a rocky shore (vii. 58), or the summer bee 

* Now rests the deep, now rest the wandering winds, 
But in my heart the anguish will not rest, 
While for his love I pine who stole my sweetness, 
And made me less than virgin amonjr maids. 


f Adieu, dread queen, thou to the ocean turn 
Thy harnessed steeds ; but I abide and suffer : 
Adieu, resplendent moon, and all you stars 
That follow on the wheels of night, adieu ! 

% Into the black wave 

Fell headlong as a fiery star from heaven 
Falls headlong to the deep, and sailors cry 
One to another. Lighten sail ; behold, 
The breeze behind us freshens ! 


(iii. 15), or the country party at harvest time (vii. 129 to the 
end). In all of these a peculiar simplicity will be noticed, a self- 
restraint and scrupulosity of definite delineation. To Theocritus 
the shadowy and iridescent fancies of modern poetry would have 
been unintelligible. The creations of a Keats or Shelley would 
have appeared to be monstrous births, like the Centaurs of Ixion, 
begotten by lawless imaginations upon cloud and mist. When 
the Greek poet wished to express the charm of summer waves he 
spoke of Galatea, more fickle and light than thistle-down, a maid- 
en careless of her lover and as cruel as the sea. The same waves 
suggested to Shakespeare these lines, from Midsummer-Night'' s 
Bream : 

Thou rememberest 
Since once I sat upon a promontory, 
And lieard a mermaid on a dolphin's back 
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath 
That the rude sea grew civil at her song ; 
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres 
To hear the sea-maid's music ; 

and to Weber tlie ethereal "mermaid's song" in Oberon. No one 
acquainted with Shakespeare and Weber can deny that both have 
expressed with marvellous subtlety the magic of the sea in its en- 
chanting calm, whereas the Greek poet works only by indirect 
suggestion, and presents us Nvith a human portrait more than a 
phantom of the glamour of the deep. What we have lost in defi- 
nite projection we have gained in truth, variety, and; freedom. 
The language of our art appeals immediately to the emotions, dis- 
closing the spiritual reality of things, and caring less for their 
form than for the feelings they excite in us. Greek art remains 
upon the surface, and translates into marble the humanized as- 
pects of the external world. The one is forever seeking to set 
free, the other to imprison, thought. The Greek tells with ex- 


quisite precision what he has observed, investing it perhaps with 
his own emotion. He says, for instance : 

aiQs yEVoifiav 
a (3ofij3Evcra fitXicraa, kui tf nov dvrpov 'tKoifiav, 
Tov Kiaffuv SiaCvg Kai tuv TTTipiv, (i ri) TriKc'tady.* 

The modern poet, to use Shelley's words, 

Will watch from dawn to g'ooin 
The lake-reflected sun illume 
The yellow bees in the ivy bloom ; 
Nor heed nor see what shapes they be, 
But from these create he can 
Forms more real than living man, 
Nurslings of immortality, 

endeavoring to look through and beyond the objects of the outer 
world, to use them as the starting-points for his creative fancy, 
and to embroider their materials with the dazzling fioriture of his 
invention. Metamorphosis existed for the Greek poet as a simple 
fact. If the blood of Adonis turned to anemones, yet the actual 
drops of blood and the flowers remained distinct in the poet's 
mind ; and even though he may have been sceptical about the 
miracle, he restrained his fancy to the reproduction of the one old 
fable. The modern poet believes in no metamorphosis but that 
which is produced by the alchemy of his own brain. He loves to 
confound the most dissimilar existences, and to form startling 
combinations of thougjits which have never before been brought 
into connection with each other. Uncontrolled by tradition or 
canons of propriety, he roams through the world, touching its va- 

* Would I were 

The murmuring bee, that through the ivy screen 
And through the fern that hides thee, I might come 
Into thy cavern ! 


rious objects with the wand of his imagination. To the west 

wind he cries : 

Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion, 
Loose clouds lilve earth's decaying leaves are shed, 
Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean, 
Angels of rain and lightning ; there are spread 
On the blue surface of thine airy surge. 
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head 
Of some fierce Maenad, e'en from the dim verge 
Of the horizon to the zenith's height, 
The locks of the approaching storm . . . 

Imagine how astonished even ^Eschylus would have been at 
these violent transitions and audacious transformations. The 
Greeks had few conceits :* they did not call the waves " nodding 
hearse-plumes" like Calderon, or the birds "winged lyres" like 
Marini, or daisies "pearled Arcturi of the earth" like Shelley, or 
laburnums "dropping wells of fire" like Tennyson. If they ven- 
tured on such licenses in their more impassioned lyrics, they 
maintained the metaphor with strict propriety. One good in- 
stance of the difference in this respect between the two ages is 
afforded by Ben Jonson, who translates Sappho's 

Jipog ifiEpucpwvoQ dyyeXoc c'trjCiov, 

by "the dear glad angel of the spring, the nightingale." Be- 
tween ayyeXoQ and angel there is the distance of nearly twenty 
centuries ; for though Ben Jonson may have meant merely to 

* Perhaps this is over-stated. In the later Greek literature of the Sophists 
we find many very exquisite concetti Philostratus, for example, from whom 
Jonson translated " Drink to me only with thine eyes," calls the feet of the 
beloved one tpr/pficr/itVa (piXrifiara, or " kisses pressed upon the ground." 
Even Empedocles (see vol. i. p. 220) and Pindar (see vol. i. p. 369) are not 
free from the vice of artificial metaphor. Compare, too, the labored meta- 
phors and compound epithets quoted from Chasremon above, chap, xvi., and 
the specimens quoted below from Meleager, chap. xxi. 


Anglicize the Greek word, lie could not but have been glad of the 
more modern meaning. 

So much of this essay has already been devoted to the consid- 
eration of Theocritean poetry in general that I cannot here afford 
to enter into the details of his several idyls. A few, however, 
may be noticed of peculiar beauty and significance. None arc 
more true to local scenery than those which relate to the story of 
Galatea. In this brief tale, the life of the mountains and the 
rivers and the sea is symbolized — the uncouth and gigantic hills, 
rude in their rusticity ; the clear and lovable stream ; the meny 
sea, inconstant and treacherous, with shifting waves. The moun- 
tain stands forever unremoved; love as he will, he can but gaze 
upon the dancing sea, and woo it with gifts of hanging trees, and 
cool shadowy caverns, and still sleeping-places in sheltered bays. 
But the stream leaps down from crag to crag, and gathers strength 
and falls into the arms of the expectant nymph — a fresh lover, 
fair and free, and full of smiles. Supposing this marriage of the 
sea and river to have been the earliest idea of the mythus, in 
course of time the persons of Acis and Galatea, and the rejected 
lover Polyphemus, became more and more humanized, until the 
old symbolism was lost in a pastoral romance. Polyphemus 
loves, but never wins : he may offer his tall bay-trees and slender 
cypresses and black ivy and sweet-fruited vines and cold water 
flowing straight — a drink divine — from the white snows of wooded 
JEtna ; he may sit whole days above the sea, and gaze upon its 
smiling waves, and tell the nymph of all his flocks and herds, or 
lure her with promises of flowers and fawns and bear's whelps to 
leave the sea to beat upon its shore and come and live with him 
and feed his sheep. It is of no use. Galatea heeds him not, and 
Polyphemus has to shepherd his love as best he can. Poetry 
iu this idyl is blended with the simplest country humor. The 
pathos of Polyphem,us is really touching, and his allusions to the 


sweetness of a shepherd's life among the hills abound in uncon- 
scious poetry, side by side with which are placed the most ludi- 
crous expressions of uncouth disappointment, together with shrewd 
observations on the value of property and other prosaic details. 
If I mistake not, this is true of the rustic character, in which, 
though stirred by sorrow into sympathy with nature, habitual 
caution and shrewdness survive. The meditations of the shep- 
herd in the third idyl exhibit the same mixture of sentiments. 

As a specimen of the idyls which illustrate town life I select 
the second, the humor of its rival, the fifteenth, being of that per- 
fect sort which must be read and laughed over, but which cannot 
well be analyzed. The subject of the Pharmaceutria is an incan- 
tation performed in the stillness of the night by a proud Syra- 
cusan lady who has been deserted by her lover. In delineating 
the fierceness of her passion and the indomitable resolution of lier 
will Theocritus has produced a truly tragic picture. Simaetha, 
maddened by vehement despair, resorts to magic arts. Love, sho 
says, has sucked her life-blood like a leech, and parched her with 
the fever of desire. She cannot live without the lover for whoso 
possession she has sacrificed her happiness and honor. If she 
cannot charm him back again, she will kill him. There are 
poisons ready to work her will in the last resort. Meanwhile we 
see her standing at the magic wheel, turning it round before the 
fire, and charging it to draw false Delphis to her home. A hearth 
with coals upon it is at hand, on Avhich her maid keeps sprinkling 
the meal that typifies the bones of Delphis, the wax by which his 
heart is to be consumed, and the laurel-bough that stands for liis 
body. At the least sign of laziness Simsetha scolds her with hard 
and haughty words. She stands like a Medea, seeking no sym- 
pathy, sparing no reproaches, tiger-like in her ferocity of thwarted 
passion. When the magic rites have been performed, and Thes- 
tylis has gone to smear an ointment on the doors of Delphis, 


Simyetha leaves the wheel and addresses her soliloquy to the Moon, 
■who has just risen, and who is journeying in calm and silver glory 
through the night. There is something sublime in the contrast 
between the moonlight on the sea of Syracuse and the fierce 
agony of the deserted lioness. To the Moon she confides the 
story of her love : " Take notice of my love, whence it arose, 
dread Queen." It is a vivid and tragic tale of Southern passion : 
sudden and consuming, recklessly gratified, and followed by de- 
sertion on the one side and by vengeance on the other.* Sima^tha 
has no doubt many living parahels among Sicilian women. The 
classical reader will find in her narration a description of the 
working of love hardly to be surpassed by Sappho's Ode or 
Plato's Phoedrus. The wildness of the scene, the magic rites, the 
august presence of the Moon, and the murderous determination of 
Simfetha heighten the dramatic effect, and render the tale exces- 
sively interesting. 

As a picture of classical sorcery this idyl is very curious. 
Nothing can be more erroneous than to imagine that w'itchcraft 
is a Northern invention of the Middle Ages, or that the Brockcn is 
its headquarters. With the exception of a few inconsiderable 
circumstances, all the terrible or loathsome rites of magic were 
known to the ancients, and merely copied by the moderns. Circe 
in Homer, Simaetha in Theocritus, Canidia in Horace, the Libyan 
sorceress of Virgil, the Saga of Tibullus, Medea in Ovid, Erichtho 
in Lucan, and Megaera in Claudian (to mention no more), make 
up a list of formidable witches to whom none of the hideous de- 
tails of the black art were unknown. They sought for poisonous 
herbs at night ; lived in ruinous places ; ransacked charnel-houses 

* How wonderfull}' beautiful is her description of Delphis and his comrade 
Eudamnippus : " Their cheeks and chin were yellower than hclichrysus ; their 
breasts more radiant far than thou, Moon, as having lately left the fair toil 
of the wrestling-ground." 


for dead bodies ; killed little children to obtain their fat for un- 
guents ; compelled the spirits of the dead to rise, and, after enter- 
in «• a fresh corpse, to reveal the mysteries of fate ; devoured snakes ; 
drank blood ; raised storms at sea ; diverted the moon from her 
course ; muttered spells of fearful import ; and loved above all 
things to " raise jars, jealousies, strifes, like a thick scurf o'er life." 
Even in the minutest details of sorcery they anticipated the witch- 
es of the Middle Ages. Ilypsipyle in Ovid mentions a waxen por- 
trait stuck full of needles, and so fashioned as to waste the life of 
its original. The witch in the Golden Ass of Apuleius anoints 
herself, and flies about like a bird at night. Nor were were-wolves, 
those most ghastly creations of diseased imagination, unfamiliar 
to the Greeks and Romans, as may be proved from Herodotus, 
Virgil, Ovid, Petronius, and Apuleius. Those who care to pursue 
this subject will find a vast amount of learning collected on the 
point by Ben Jonson in his annotations to The Masque of Queens. 
One fact, however, must be always borne in mind : the ancients 
regarded witchcraft either as a hideous or a solemn exercise of su- 
pernatural power, not recognizing any Satanic agency or compact 
with Hell. Hecate triviis xdulata -per urhes^ the " Queen of the 
Night and of the Tombs," assisted sorcerers; but this meant 
merely that they trafficked in the dark with the foul mysteries of 
death and corruption. The classical witches were either grave 
and awful women, like the Libyan priestess in the ^neid, or else 
loathsome pariahs, terrible for their malignity, like Lucan's Erich- 
tho. Mediajvalism added a deeper horror to this superstitious 
and ghoulish conception by the thoughts of spiritual responsibil- 
ity and of league with God's enemies. Damnation was the price 
of magic power ; witchcraft being not merely abominable in the 
eyes of men, but also unpardonable at the bar of divine justice. 

Several poems of Theocritus are written on the theme of Doric 
chivalry, and illustrate the heroic age of Greece. They may be 


compared to the Idyls of the King, for their excellence consists 
in the consummate art with which episodes from the legendary 
cycles of a bygone age are wrought into polished pictures by a 
cultivated poet. The thirteenth idyl is especially remarkable for 
the exquisite finish of its style and also for the light it throws 
on the mutual relations of knight and squire in early Greek war- 
fare. Theocritus chooses for the subject of this poem an episode 
in the life of Herakles, the Dorian hero, when he and other fore- 
most men of Hellas, Qtiog aojToq >/jowwj', followed Jason in the Argo 
to the Colchian shores, and he took young Hylas with him ; " for 
even," says Theocritus, " the brazen-hearted son of Amphitryon, 
who withstood the fierceness of the lion, loved a j'outh, the charm- 
ing Hylas, and taught him like a father everything by which he 
might become a good and famous man ; nor would he leave the 
youth at dawn or noon or evening, but sought continually to 
fashion him after his own heart, and to make him a right yoke- 
fellow with him in mighty deeds." How he lost Hylas on the 
Cianian shore, and in the wildness of his sorrow let Argo sail 
without him, and endured the reproach of desertion, is well known. 
Theocritus has wrought the story with more than his accustomed 
elegance. But I wish to confine attention to the ideal of knight- 
hood and knightly education presented in the passage quoted. 
Herakles was not merely the lover, but the guardian also and tutor, 
of Hylas. He regarded him not only as an object of tenderness, 
but also as a future friend and helper in the business of life. His 
constant aim was to forrn of him a brave and manly warrior, a 
Herculean hero. And in this respect Herakles was the eponym 
and patron of an order which existed throughout Doric Hellas. 
This order, protected by religious tradition and public favor, reg- 
ulated by strict rules, and kept within the limits of honor, pro- 
duced the Cretan lovers, the Lacedsemonian "hearers" and " in- 
spirers," the Theban immortals who lay with faces turned so 



stanchly to their foes that vice seemed incompatible witli so mucli 
valor. Achilles was another eponym of this order. In the twen- 
ty-ninth idyl, the phrase 'Ax<A/\//Vot <l>i\oi is used to describe the 
most perfect pair of manly friends. The twelfth idyl is written 
in a similar if a weaker and more wanton vein. The same lono;- 
ing retrospect is cast upon the old days " Avhen men indeed were 
golden, when the love of comrades was mutual," and constancy is 
rewarded with the same promise of glorious immortality as that 
which Plato holds out in the Phcedrus. Bion, avc may remark in 
passing, celebrates with equal praise the friendships of Theseus, 
Orestes, and Achilles. Without taking some notice of this pe- 
culiar institution, in its origin military and austere, it is impossi- 
ble to understand the chivalrous age of Greece among the Dorian 
tribes. In the midst of brute force and cunning, and an almost 
absolute disregard of what we are accustomed to understand by 
chivalry— gentleness, chastity, truth, regard for women and Aveak 
persons — this one anomalous sentiment emerges. 

Passing to another point in which Greek differed from mediae- 
val chivalry, we notice the semi-divine nature of the heroes : Qeioq 
uwToq is the name by which they are designated, and supernatural 
favor is always showered upon them. This indicates a primitive 
society, a national consciousness ignorant of any remote past. 
The heroes whom Theocritus celebrates are purely Dorian — Her- 
akles, a Jack the Giant-Killer in his cradle, brawny, fearless, of 
huge appetite, a mighty trainer, with a scowl to frighten athletes 
from the field ; Polydeuces, a notable bruiser ; Castor, a skilled 
horseman and a man of blood. In one point the twin sons of 
Leda resembled mediaeval knights. They combined the arts of 
song with martial prowess. Theocritus styles them 'imri)EQ Kida- 
pi(T-ai, c'ltdXrjTfipec aoiSoi — harp-playing riders of- horses, athlete 
poets. Their achievements, narrated in the twenty-second idyl, 
may be compared with those of Tristram and Lancelot. The gi- 


gantic warrior whom tliey find by the well in the land of the 
Bebrycians, gorgeously armed, insolent, and as knotty as a brazen 
statue, who refuses access to the water and challenges them to 
combat, exactly resembles one of the lawless giants of the Mort 
(T Arthur. The courtesy of the Greek hero contrasts well with the 
barbarian's violence ; and when they come to blows, it is good to 
observe how address, agility, training, nerve, enable Polydeuces to 
overcome with ease the vast fury and brute strength of the Be- 
brycian bully. As the fight proceeds, the son of Leda improves in 
flesh and color, while Amycus gets out of breath, and sweats his 
thews away. Polydeuces pounds the giant's neck and face, re- 
ducing him to a hideous mass of bruises, and receiving the blows 
of Amycus upon his chest and loins. At the end of the fight 
he spares his prostrate foe, on the condition of his respecting 
the rites of hospitality and dealing courteously with strangers. 
Throughout it will be noticed how carefully Theocritus main- 
tains the conception of the Hellenic as distinguished from the 
barbarian combatant. Christian and pagan are not more distinct 
in a legend of the San Graal. But Greek chivalry has no magic, 
no monstrous exaggeration. All is simple, natural, and human. 
Bellerophou, it is true, was sent after the Chimsera, and Perseus 
freed Andromeda like St. George from a dragon's mouth. But 
these fancies of Greek infancy formed no integral part of artistic 
mythology ; instead of being multiplied, they were gradually win- 
nowed out, and the poets laid but little stress upon them. 

The achievement of. Castor is not so favorable to the character 
of Hellenic chivalry. Having in concert with Polydeuces borne 
off by guile the daughters of Leucippus from their affianced hus- 
bands. Castor kills one of the injured lovers who pursues him and 
demands restitution. He slays him, though he is his own first 
cousin, ruthlessly ; and while the other son of Aphareus is rush- 
ing forward to avenge his brother's death, Zeus hurls lightning 


and destroys him. Theocritus remarks that it is no light matter 
to engage in battle with the Tyndarids ; but he makes no reflec- 
tion on what we should call " the honor" of the whole transaction. 
Of all the purely pastoral idyls by which Theocritus is most 
widely famous, perhaps the finest is the seventh, or Thalysia. It 
glows with the fresh and radiant splendor of Southern beauty. 
In this poem the idyllist describes the journey of three young 
men in summer from the city to the farm of their friend Phra- 
sidamus, who has asked them to take part in the feast with which 
he proposes to honor Demeter at harvest -time. On their way 
they meet with a goatherd, Lycidas, wdio invites them, " with a 
smiling eye," to recline beneath the trees and while away the 
hours of noontide heat with song. " The very lizard," he says, 
" is sleeping by the wall ; but on the hard stones of the footpath 
your heavy boots keep up a ceaseless ringing." Thus chidcd by 
the goatherd they resolve upon a singing-match between Simichi- 
das, the teller of the tale, and Lycidas, who offers his crook as the 
prize of victory. Lycidas begins the contest with that exquisite 
song to Ageanax, which has proved the despair of all succeeding 
idyllists, and which furnished Virgil with one of the most sono- 
rous lines in his Oeorgics. No translation can do justice to the 
smooth and liquid charm of its melodious verse, in which the ten- 
derest feeling mingles gracefully with delicate humor and with 
homely descriptions of a shepherd's life. The following lines, 
forming a panegyric on Comatas, some famed singer of the rustic 
muse, may be quoted for their pure Greek feeling. Was ever an 
unlucky mortal envied more melodiously, and yet more quaintly, 
for his sino-ular fortune ? 


alaii , Hq ttok tStKro rov aiiruKov evpta Xapfii^ 
^ojuv iijvra KuKyaiv aTaadaXiyaiv (ivaizTog ' 
iuQ Tk viv a'l atfiai \ttjA.wv69e tp'tpjiov idlaai 
KeSpov f'c adiiav (laXaKoig avQicjai fikXiacjai ' 


ovviKo. 01 y\vKv MoXaa Kara, arofiarog ^it I'sKrap. 
(b fiaKapicTE Kofiara, tv 6)]v ract Tip-Ki'ci TrfTr6vQi]g, 
Kal TV KaTEK\cwdr]Q ig XapvaKo, kcu tv, nEKiaauv 
K7]pia (pepjSufiEvog, irog ioptov t^f.TiXic(Tag.* 

The sons' with which Simichidas contends ao;ainst his rival is not 
of equal hcauty : but the goatherd hands him the crook " as a 
gift of friendship from the Muses." Then he leaves the three 
friends, who resume their journey till they reach the house of 
Phrasidamus. There elms and poplar-trees and vines embower 
them with the pleasant verdure of rustling leaves and the per- 
fumes of summer flowers and autumn fruits. The jar of wine as 
sweet as that which made the Cyclops dance among his sheepfold 
spreads its fragrance through the air; while the statue of Deme- 
ter, Avith her handfuls of corn and poppy-heads, stands smiling by. 
This seventh idyl, of which no adequate idea can be conveyed 
by mere description, may serve as the type of those purely rustic 
poems Avhich since the days of Theocritus have from age to age 
been imitated by versifiers emulous of his gracefulness. If space 
allowed, it would not be uninteresting to analyze the idyl of the 
two old fishermen, Avho gossip together so wisely and contentedly 
in their hut by the sea-shore, mending their nets the while, and 
discoursing gravely of their dreams. In this idyl, Avhich is, how- 
ever, possibly the work of one of Theocritus's imitators, and in 

* How of old 

The goatherd by his cruel lord was bound, 
And left to die in a great chest ; and how 
The bus}' bees, up coming from the meadows, 
To the sweet cedar, fed him with soft flowers, 
Because the Muse had filled his mouth with nectar. 
Yes, all these sweets were thine, blessed Comatas ; 
And thou wast put into the chest, and fed 
By the blithe bees, and passed a pleasant time. 

Leigh Hunt's Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla. 


the second, which consists of a singing-match between two har- 
vest-men, the native homeliness of the idyllic muse appears to best 

With this brief and insufficient notice I must leave Theocritus 
in order to say a few words about his successors. Bion's poetry, 
when compared Avith that of Theocritus, declines considerably 
from the bucolic type. His idyls are for the most part frag- 
ments of delicately finished love-songs, remarkable for elegance 
and sweetness more than for masculine vigor or terse expression. 
In Bion the artificial style of pastoral begins. Theocritus had 
made cows and pipes and shepherds fashionable. His imitators 
followed him, without the humor and natural taste which render- 
ed his pictures so attractive. We already trace the frigid affecta- 
tion of bucolic interest in the elegy on Bion : " He sang no song 
of wars or tears, but piped of Pan and cowherds, and fed flocks, 
singing as he went ; pipes he fashioned, and milked the sweet- 
breathed heifer, and taught kisses, and cherished in liis bosom 
love, and stole the heart of Aphrodite." As it happens, the most 
original and powerful of Bion's remaining poems is a " Song of 
Tears," of passionate lamentation, of pathetic grief, composed, not 
as a pastoral ditty, but on the occasion of one of those splendid 
festivals in which the Syrian rites of slain Adonis were celebrated 
by Greek women. The iirira^ioQ 'A^wrt^oc is written with a fiery 
passion and a warmth of coloring peculiar to Bion. The verse 
bounds with tiger leaps, its full-breathed dactyls panting with the 
energy of rapid flight. The tender and reflective beauty of The- 
ocritus, the concentrated passion of his Simsetha, and the flowing 
numbers of his song to Adonis are quite lost and swallowed up 
in the Asiatic fury of Bion's lament. The poem begins with the 
cry Atcii^w TUP "AliovLv, which is variously repeated in idyllic fash- 
ion as a refrain throughout the lamentation.* After the prelude, 

* This ought probably to be printed, after Abrens, alaZ,' it rov "Adujvtv. 

II.— 18 


having, as it were, struck the key-note to the music, tlie singer 
cries : 

firjKiii ■Kop^vp'eoiQ sri (pdpiffi KvTrpi KaOtv^e ' 
lypto ceiXala KvavoffToXi ku'i nXardytjaov 
araOia, Kcti Xtye Traffiv, c'nruiXtro koXoc 'ASwviq.* 

Notice how the long words follow one another with quick pulses 
and flashes of sound. The same peculiar rhythm recurs when, af- 
ter describing the beautiful dead body of Adonis, the poet returns 
to Aphrodite : 

a 5' 'A<ppoclTa 
XvcTctfiira TrXofca/ii^ag iiva Spvfiwg dXdXj]Tai 
Trti'OaXia, i't)-n\iKTOC, dadvSaXog • ai ?'e /Snroi viv 
ip-)(o^kvav Kiipoi'Ti Ka'i hpov aifia Spfnov-ai 
6^1) £k KioKvoina li dyKia fxaKpd (poptlrcii, 
'Aaavpioi' j3o6uj<ra Truaiv, Kctl TrcnSa KaXiiffa.f 

There are few passages of poetical imagery more striking than 
this picture of the queen of beauty tearing through the forest, 
heedless of her tender limbs and useless charms, and calling on 
her Syrian lover. What follows is even more passionate ; after 
some lines of mere description, the ecstasy again descends upon 
the poet, and he bursts into the wildest of most beautiful laments : 

The exclamation occurs in a fragment of Sappho (Bcrgk, No. 63), whose lyric 
on the legend of Adonis may have suggested Bion's idyl. 

=■ Sleep, Cypris, no more, on thy purple-strewed bed ; 

Arise, wretch stoled in black — beat thy breast unrelenting, 
And shriek to the worlds, "Fair Adonis is dead." 

Translation hi/ Mrs. Bakrett Browning. 


f And the poor Aphrodite, with tresses unbound," 

All dishevelled, unsandalled, shrieks mournful and shrill 

Through the dusk of the groves. The thorns, tearing her feet. 
Gather up the red flower of her blood, which is holy, 

Each footstep she takes ; and the valleys repeat 
The sharp cry which she utters, and draw it out slowly. 

She calls on her spouse, her Assyrian. — Jbid. 


Cjq 'iSev, uiQ tvotjcrev 'ASdJviSog aaxtTov sXicof, 
wg ISt (poiviov alfia napaivoiilviji Trepl fir]p<p, 
■7Ta-)((.aQ afiTTETdfJaaa Kivvpsro ' fitivov "Adwvi, 
SlXTTTOTfJie fitXvov "ASwvi, k. t, \.* 

The last few lines of lier soliloquy are exquisitely touching, espe- 
cially those in which Aphrodite deplores her immortality, and ac- 
knowledges the supremacy of the queen of the grave over Love 
and Beauty. What follows is pitched at a lower key. There is 
too much of merely Anacreontic prettlness about the description 
of the bridal bed and the lamenting Loves. Aphrodite's passion 
reminds us of a Neapolitan Stabat Mater, in which the frenzy of 
love and love-like piety are strangely blended. But the conclud- 
ing picture suggests nothing nobler than a painting of Albano, in 
which amoretti are plentiful, and there is much elegance of com- 
position. This remark applies to the rest of Bion's poetry. If 
Theocritus deserves to be illustrated by the finest of Greek bass- 
reliefs, Bion cannot claim more than an exquisitel}' chiselled gem. 
Certainly the second and third fragments are very charming ; and 
the lines to Hesper (fragment 16) have so much beauty that I at- 
tempt a version of them : 

Hesper, thou golden light of happy love, 

Hesper, thou holy pride of purple eve, 

Moon among stars, but star beside the moon. 

Hail, friend ! and since the young moon sets to-night 

Too soon below the mountains, lend thy lamp 

And guide me to the shepherd whom I love. 

No theft I purpose ; no wayfaring man' 

* When, ah ! ah ! — she saw how the blood ran away 

And empurpled the thigh ; and, with wild hands flung out, 
Said with sobs, " Stay, Adonis ! unhappy one, stay !" 

Translation by Mrs. Barrett Browning. 


Belated would I watch and make my prey ; 
Love is my goal, and Love how fair it is, 
When friend meets friend sole in the silent night, 
Thou knowest, Hesper ! 

In Moschus we find less originality and power than belong to 
Bion. His Europa is an imitation of the style in which Theoc- 
ritus wrote Hylas ; but the copy is frigid and affected by the 
side of its model. Five-and-twenty lines for instance are devoted 
to an elaborate description of a basket, which leaves no very def- 
inite impression on the mind ; * whereas every leaf and tendril on 
the cup which Theocritus introduces into the first idyl stands out 
Tividly before us. Nothing, moreover, could be more unnatural 
and tedious than the long speech which Europa makes when she 
is being carried out to sea upon the bull's back. Yet we must 
allow that there is spirit and beauty in the triumph of sea mon- 
sters who attend Poseidon and do honor to the chosen bride of 
Zeus; Nereids riding on dolphins, and Tritons, "the deep-voiced 
minstrels of the sea, sounding a marriage-song on their long-wind- 
ing conchs." f The whole of this piece is worthy of Ovid's 3fet- 
amorphoses. Moschus is remarkable for occasional felicities of 
language. In this line, for example, 

euTE Koi arpix'nov TTOifiaiveTai t9vog ovtipMv, 

an old thought receives new and subtle beauty by its expression. 
If Megara (Idyl iv.) be really the work of Moschus, which is 

* This basket for holding flowers, the work of Hephaestus, had the tale of 
Id carved upon it. So Catullus, in the counterpane of Thetis, has M'rought 
in needlework the story of Ariadne ; and Statins, in the mantle given by Adras- 
tus to Admetus, has woven that of Hero and Leander. Both of these Roman 
poets excel Moschus in picturesque effect. 

t Italian art of the Renaissance in the designs of Mantegna and Raphael 
and Giulio Romano did full justice to these marine triumphs. 


doubtful, it reflects more honor on hira. The dialogue between 
the wife and mother of the maddened Herakles, after he has mur- 
dered his children and gone forth to execute fresh labors, is wor- 
thy of their tragic situation. "Epwe cpaTrirrig (Runaway Love), 
again, is an exquisite little poem in the Anacreontic style of Bion, 
fully equal to any of its models. The fame of Moschus will, how- 
ever, depend upon the elegy on Bion. I have already hinted that 
its authorship is questioned. In my opinion it far surpasses any 
of his compositions in respect of definite thought and original 
imagination. Though the bucolic commonplaces are used with 
obvious artificiality, and much is borrowed from Theocritus's La- 
ment for Daphnis, yet so true and delicate a spirit is inbreathed 
into the old forms as to render them quite fresh. The passage 
which begins at al ral yuaXax"' every dabbler in Greek literature 
knows by heart. And what can be more ingeniously pathetic 
than the nuances of feeling expressed in these lines ? 

(pdpnaKov ijXQe, Biwi/, Trort abu arofia ' (papnuKov eldec. 
?r<I»f nv roic x^''^^"'"'' T^orkSpajif. kovk tyXvKdvQt] ; 
ri'f de (SpoToc roaaovTOV dvdjxipoQ f; Kipdffai rot 
fi Sovvai. \a\eovTi to (pdpfxaKov ;* 


Tig TTOTS a^ avpiyyi ntXi^erai, <L Tpin6Qr]Te. ; 

TiQ S' liri aoiQ Ka\dp.oiQ 9i]ati aTup.a ; ri'c 6pa(jvQ ovrug ; 

tlasTi yap ttvhu rd ffd xf'^>£« ^oi to aov dadfia ' 

a^w S' iv SovdKeaffi Ttdg s7ri/3dcr(C£r' doiSdg.f 

There came, Bion, poison to thy mouth. 
Thou didst feel poison ! how could it approach 
Those lips of thine, and not be turned to sweet ? 

Leigh Hunt. 

Who now shall play thy pipe, oh ! most desired one ; 
Who lay his lips against thy reeds ? who dare it ? 
For still they breathe of thee, and of thy mouth, 
And Echo comes to seek her voices there. — Ibid. 


Or again : 

a^(i S' Iv TTiTpriaiv oSuptrai otti ai<inry, 

KovKETi fiifieirai rd crd ;;^ft/\£a.* ^ 

There is also something very touching in the third line of this 
strophe : 

KilvoQ 6 Toic uytXaiaiv IpaanioQ ovKtTi hsXttei, 
ovKtT tprijiaiyciv inrb dpvalv i'lfisvoQ ^Sei, 
dXKd irapd IlXour/jt /itXof AtjOaiov diiSti,^ 

and in the allusion made to the Sicilian girlhood of grim Per- 
sephone (126-129). This vein of tender and melodious senti- 
ment, which verges on the concetti of modern art, seems different 
from the style of Europa. 

To English readers, the three elegies, on Daphnis, on Adonis, 
and on Bion, severally attributed to Theocritus, Bion, and Mos- 
chus, will always be associated with the names of Milton and 
Shelley. There is no comparison whatever between Lycidas and 
Daphnis. In spite of the misplaced apparition of St. Peter, and 
of the frigidity which belongs to pastoral allegory, Lycidas is a 
richer and more splendid monument of elegiac verse. The sim- 
plicity of the Theocritean dirge contrasts strangely with the va- 
ried wealth of Milton's imagery, the few ornaments of Greek art 
with the intricate embroideries of modern fancy. To quote pas- 
sages from these well-known poems would be superfluous ; but let 
a student of literature compare the passages tt^ ttoic' ixp ijaff and 
S) Hav liav with Milton's paraphrase "Where were ye, nymphs — ," 
or the concise paragraphs about the flowers and valleys that mourn- 

* Echo too mourned among the rocks that she 

Must hush, and imitate thy hps no longer. — Leigh Hunt. 

f No longer pipes he to the charmed herds, 
No longer sits under the lonely oaks. 
And sings ; but to the ears of Plato now ' '- 
Tunes his Lethean verse. — Ibid. 

THE WYLL1ST8. 279 

ed for Daphnis with the luxuriance of Milton's invocation " Re- 
turn, Alpheus."- 

When Shelley wrote Adonais his mind was full of the elegies 
on Bion and Adonis. Of direct translation in his Lament there 
is very little ; but he has absorbed both of the Greek poems, and 
transmuted them into the substance of his own mind. Urania 
takes the place of Aphrodite — the heavenly queen, " most musi- 
cal of mourners," bewails tbe loss of her poetical consort. In- 
stead of loves, the couch of Adonais is surrounded by the thoughts 
and fancies of which he was the parent ; and, instead of gods and 
goddesses, the power of nature is invoked to weep for him and 
take him to herself. Whatever Bion and Moschus recorded as 
a fact becomes, consistently with the spiritualizing tendency of 
modern genius, symbolical in Shelley's poem. His art has alche- 
mized the whole structure, idealizing what was material and dis- 
embodying the sentiments which were incarnated in simple im- 
ages. Adonais is a sublime rhapsody ; its multitudinous ideas 
are whirled like drops of golden rain, on which the sun of the 
poet's fancy gleams with ever-changing rainbow hues. In drifts 
and eddies they rush past, delighting us with their rapidity and 
brilliancy ; but the impression left upon our mind is vague and 
incomplete, when compared with the few and distinct ideas pre- 
sented by the Doric elegies. At the end of Alastor there occurs 
a touching reminiscence of Moschus, but the outline is less faint 
than in Adonais, the transmutation even more complete. 

Tennyson, among the poets of the nineteenth century, owes 
much to the Greek idyllists. His genius appears to be in many 
respects akin to theirs, and the age in which he lives is not unlike 
the Ptolemaic period. Unfitted, perhaps, by temperament for the 
most impassioned lyrics, he delights in minutely finished pictures, 
in felicities of expression, and in subtle harmonies of verse. Like 
Theocritus, he finds in nature and in the legends of past ages sub- 


jects congenial to his muse. CEnone and Tithonus are steeped in 
the golden beauty of Syracusan art. " Come down, O maid," 
transfers, with perfect taste, the Greek idyllic feeling to Swiss sce- 
nery ; it is a fine instance of new wine being poured successfully 
into old bottles, for nothing can be fresher, and not even the 
Thalysia is sweeter. It would be easy enough to collect minor 
instances which prove that the laureate's mind is impregnated 
with the thoughts and feelings of the poems I have been discuss- 
ing. For instance, both the figure " softer than sleep," and the 
comparison of a strong man's muscles to the smooth rush of run- 
ning water over sunken stones, which we find in Enid, occur in 

At the end of this chapter I cannot refrain from once more 
recommending all lovers of pure verse and perfect scenery to 
study the Greek idyllists upon the shores of the Mediterranean. 
Nor would it be possible to carry a better guide-book to the 
statue-galleries of Rome and Naples. For in the verses of Theoc- 
ritus, Bion, and Moschus, the aesthetic principles of the Greeks, in 
the age to which our relics of their statuary for the most part be- 
long, are feelingly and pithily expressed ; while the cold marble, 
that seems to require so many commentaries, receives from their 
idyllic coloring new life. 




The History of its Compilation. — Collections of Meleager, Philippus, Agathias, 
Cephalas, Planudes.— The Palatine MS.— The Sections of the Anthology. 
— Dedicatory Epigrams. — Simonides. — Epitaphs : Real and Literary. — 
Callimachus. — Epigrams on Poets. — Antipater of Sidou. — Hortatory Ep- 
igrams. — Palladas. — Satiric Epigrams. — Lucillius. — Amatory Epigrams. 
— Meleager, Straton, Philodemus, Antipater, Rufinus, Paulus Silentiarius, 
Agathias, Plato. — Descriptive Epigrams. 

The Anthology may from some points of view be regarded as 
the most valuable relic of antique literature -wbicli we possess. 
Composed of several thousand short poems, written for the most 
part in the elegiac metre, at different times and by a multitude of 
authors, it is coextensive with the whole current of Greek histo- 
ry, from the splendid period of the Persian war to the decadence 
of Christianized Byzantium. Many subjects of interest in Greek 
life, which would otherwise have had to be laboriously illustrated 
from the historians or the comic poets, are here fully and melodi- 
ously set forth. If we might compare the study of Greek liter- 
ature to a journey in some splendid mountain region, then we 
might say with propriety that from the sparkling summits where 
JEschylus and Sophocles and Pindar sit enthroned we turn in our 
less strenuous moods to gather the meadow flowers of Meleager, 
Palladas, Callimachus. Placing them between the leaves of the 
book of our memory, we possess an everlasting treasure of sweet 
thoughts, which will serve in after-days to remind us of those 
scenes of Olympian majesty through which we travelled. The 


slight effusions of these minor poets are even nearer to our hearts 
than the masterpieces of the noblest Greek literature. They treat 
with a touching limpidity and sweetness of the joys and fears and 
hopes and sorrows that are common to all humanity. They in- 
troduce us to the actual life of a bygone civilization, stripped of 
its political or religious accidents, and tell us that the Greeks of 
Athens or of Sidon thought and felt exactly as we feel. Even 
the Grajjiti of Pompeii have scarcely more power to reconstruct 
the past and summon as in dreams the voices and the forms of 
long-sincc-buried men. There is yet another way in which the 
Anthology brings us closer to the Greeks than any other portion 
of their literature. The lyrists express an intense and exalted 
mood of the race in its divine adolescence. The tragedians ex- 
hibit the genius of Athens in its maturity. The idyliists utter a 
rich nightingale note from the woods and fields of Sicily. But 
the Anthology carries us through all the phases of Hellenic civil- 
ization upon its uninterrupted undercurrent of elegiac melody. 
The clear fresh light of the morning, the splendor of noonday, 
the mellow tints of sunset, and the sad gray hues of evening are 
ail there. It is a tree which bears the leaves and buds and blos- 
soms and fruitage of the Greek spirit on its boughs at once. Many 
intervals in the life of the nation which are represented by no oth- 
er portion of its literature — the ending, for example, of the first 
century before Christ — here receive a brilliant illustration. Again, 
there is no more signal proof of the cosmopolitan nature of the 
later Greek culture' than is afforded by the Anthology. From 
liome, Alexandria, Palestine, Byzantium, no less than from the 
isles and continent of Greece, are recruited the poets, whose works 
are enshrined in this precious golden treasury of fugitive pieces. 

The history of the Anthology is not without interest. By a 
gradual process of compilation and accretion it grew into its pres- 
ent form from very slight beginnings. The first impulse to col- 


lect epigrams seems to have originated in connection with archae- 
ology. From the very earliest the Greeks Avere in the habit of 
engraving sentences, for the most part in verse, npon their tem- 
ples, statues, trophies, tombs, and public monuments of all kinds. 
Many of these inscriptions were used by Herodotus and Thucydi- 
des as authorities for facts and dates. But about 200 B.C. one 
Polemon made a general collection of the authentic epigrams to 
be found upon the public buildings of the Greek cities. After 
him Alcetas copied the dedicatory verses at Delphi. Similar col- 
lections are ascribed to Mnestor and Apellas Ponticus. Aristo- 
demus is mentioned as the compiler of the epigrams of Thebes. 
Philochorus performed the same service for Athens. Neoptole- 
raus of Paros and the philosopher Euhemerus are also credited 
with similar antiquarian labors. So far, the collectors of epi- 
grams had devoted themselves to historical monuments ; and of 
their work, in any separate form at least, no trace exists. But 
Meleager of Gadara (B.C. 60) conceived the notion of arranging 
in alphabetical order a selection of lyric and erotic poetry, which 
he dedicated to his friend Diodes. He called this compilation 
by the name of (T-i(j>arog, or wreath, each of the forty-six poets 
whom he admitted into his book being represented by a flower. 
Philip of Thessalonica, in the time of Trajan, following his exam- 
ple, incorporated into the garland of Meleager those epigrams 
which had acquired celebrity in the interval. About the same 
time or a little later, Straton of Sardis made a special anthology 
of poems on one class of subjects, which is known as the ixovaa 
iraicia'], and into which, besides ninety-eight of his own epigrams, 
he admitted many of the compositions of Meleager, Philip, and 
other predecessors. These collections belong to the classical pe- 
riod of Greek literature. But the Anthology, as we possess it, 
had not yet come into existence. It remained for Agathias, a 
Byzantine Greek of the age of Justinian, to undertake a compre- 


hensive compilation from all tlie previous collections. After add- 
ing numerous poems of a date posterior to Straton, especially 
those of Paulus Silentiarius, Macedonius, Eufinus, and himself, 
he edited his kukXcq iniypaufxaTwr, divided into seven books. 
The first book contained dedicatory epigrams, the second de- 
scriptive poems, the third epitaphs, the fourth reflections on the 
various events of life, the fifth satires, the sixth erotic verses, the 
seventh exhortations to enjoyment. Upon the general outline of 
the Anthology as arranged by Agathias two subsequent collections 
were founded. Constantinus Cephalas, in the tenth century, at 
Byzantium, and in the reign of Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, 
undertook a complete revision and recombination of all pre-exist- 
ing anthologies. With the patience of a literary bookworm, to 
whom the splendid libraries of the metropolis were accessible, he 
set about his work, and gave to the Greek anthology that form 
which it now bears. But the vicissitudes of the Anthology did 
not tenninate with the labors of Cephalas. Early in the four- 
teenth century a monk, Planudes, set to work upon a new edi- 
tion. It appears that he contented himself with compiling and 
abridging from the collection of Cephalas. His principal object 
was to expurgate it from impurities and to supersede it by what 
he considered a more edifying text. Accordingly he emended, 
castrated, omitted, interpolated, altered, and remodelled at his own 
sweet will : " non magis disposuit quam mutilavit et ut ita dicam 
castravit hunc librum, detractis lascivioribus epigrammatis, ut ipse 
gloriatur," says Lascaris in the preface to his edition of the Pla- 
nudean Anthology.* He succeeded, however, to the height of his 
desire ; for copies ceased to be made of the Anthology of Ceph- 
alas; and when Europe in the fifteenth century awoke to the 

* He mutilated and, so to speak, castrated this book quite as mueli as he 
arranged its contents, by withdrawing the more lascivious epigrams according 
to his own boast. 


study of Greek literature, no other collection but that of Planu- 
des was known. Fortunately for this most precious relic of an- 
tiquity, there did exist one exemplar of the Anthology of Ceph- 
alas. Having escaped the search of Poggio, Aurispa, Filelfo, 
Poliziano, and of all the emissaries whom the Medici employed 
in ransacking the treasure-houses of Europe, this unique manu- 
script was at last discovered in 1606 by Claude de Saumaise, 
better known as Milton's antagonist Salmasius, in the Palatine 
Library at Heidelberg. A glance at this treasure assured the 
young scholar — for Saumaise was then aged only twenty-two — 
that he had made one of the most important discoveries Avhich 
remained within the reach of modern students. He spent years 
in preparing a critical edition of its text; but all his work was 
thrown away, for the Leyden publishers to whom he applied 
refused to publish the Greek without a Latin version, and death 
overtook him before he had completed the requisite labor. Mean- 
while the famous Palatine MS. had been transferred, after the sack 
of Heidelberg in 1623, to the Vatican, as a present to Pope Greg- 
ory XV. Isaac Voss, the rival of Saumaise, induced one Lucas 
Langermann to undertake a journey to Rome, in order that he 
might make a faithful transcript of the MS. and publish it, to the 
annoyance of the great French scholar. But Saumaise dying in 
1653, the work, undertaken from motives of jealousy, was sus- 
pended. The MS. reposed still upon the shelves of the Vatican 
Library; and in IT 7 6 the Abbe Giuseppe Spall etti completed a 
trustworthy copy of its pages, which was bought by Ernest, Duke 
of Gotha and Altenburg, for his library. In the year 1797 the 
MS. itself was transferred to Paris after the treaty of Tolentino ; 
and in 1815 it was restored to Heidelberg, where it now reposes. 
Meanwhile Brunck had published, from copies of this MS., the 
greater portion of the Anthology in his Analecta Veterum Poeta- 
rum Groecorum ; and Jacobs, between 1794 and 1814, had edit- 


ed the whole collection with minutest accuracy upon the faith of 
the Abbe Spalletti's exemplar. The edition of Didot, to which I 
shall refer in my examination of the Anthology,* is based not only 
on the labors of Brunck and Jacobs, but also upon the MSS. of the 
unfortunate Chardon de la Rochette, Avho, after spending many 
years of his life in the illustration of the Anthology of Cephalas, 
was forced in old age to sell his collections for a small sum. They 
passed in 1836 into the possession of the (then) Imperial Library. 

The Palatine MS., which is our sole authority for the Anthology 
as arranged by Cephalas, is a 4to parchment of 710 pages. It 
has been written by different hands, at different times, and on dif- 
ferent plans of arrangement. The index does not always agree 
with the contents, but seems to be that of an older collection, of 
which the one we possess is an imperfect copy. Yet Cephalas is 
often mentioned, and always with affectionate reverence, by the 
transcribers of the MS. In one place he is called 6 fiaxapiog mi 
afijxvna-oQ Koi Tpnr6di]-0Q ardpu)Troc, " the blessed man, who is ever 
to be held in thrice affectionate and longing recollection," the sen- 
timent of which words we in the middle of this nineteenth cen- 
tury may most cordially echo. 

The first section of the Anthology is devoted to Christian epi- 
grams upon the chief religious monuments and statues of Byzan- 
tium. However these may interest the ecclesiastical student, they 
have no value for a critic of Greek poetry. The second section 
consists of a poem in hexameters upon the statues which adorned 
the gymnasium of Zeuxippus. Some conception may be formed, 
after the perusal of this very pedestrian composition, of the art- 
treasures which Byzantium contained in the fifth century. Au- 

* Paris, 1864-1872. The translations quoted by me are taken principally 
from the collections of Wellesley {Anthologia Pohjglotta) and Burgess (Bohn'.i 
Series), and from the Miscellanies of the late J. A. Symonds, M.D. The ver- 
sions contributed by myself have no signature. 


tlientic portraits of the great poets and philosophers of Greece, as 
well as works of imagination illustrative of the Iliad and the At- 
tic tragedies, might then be studied in one place of public resort. 
Byzantium had become a vast museum for the ancient world. 
The third section is devoted to mural inscriptions from the tem- 
ple of Apollonis in Cyzicus. The fourth contains the prefaces of 
Meleager, Philip, and Agathias, to their several collections. The 
fifth, which includes 309 epigrams, is consecrated to erotic poetry. 
The sixth, which numbers 358, consists of a collection of inscrip- 
tions from temples and public monuments recording the illustrious 
actions of the Greeks or votive offerings of private persons. In 
the seventh we read 748 epitaphs of various sorts. The eighth 
carries us again into the dismal region of post-pagan literature : it 
contains nothing but 254 poems from the pen of Saint Gregory 
the Theologian. The 827 epigrams of the ninth section are 
called by their collector iTnCtiKTii^a ; that is to say, they are com- 
posed in illustration of a variety of subjects, anecdotical, rhetor- 
ical, and of general interest. Perhaps this part of the whole An- 
thology has been the favorite of modern imitators and translators. 
Passing to the tenth section, we find 126 semi-philosophical poems, 
most of which record the vanity of human life and advise mortals 
to make the best of their brief existence by enjoyment. The 
' eleventh is devoted to satire. It is here that the reflex influence 
of Latin on Greek literature is most perceptible. The twelfth 
section bears the name of Straton, and exhibits in its 258 epi- 
grams the morality of ancient Hellas under the aspect which has 
least attraction for modern readers. The thirteenth embraces a 
few epigrams in irregular metres. The fourteenth is made up of 
riddles and oracles. The fifteenth, again, has half a century of 
poems which could not well be catalogued elsewhere. The six- 
teenth contains that part of the Planudean collection which does 
not occur iu our copy of the Anthology of Cephalas. It may be 


mentioned in conclusion that, with one or two very inconsiderable 
exceptions, none of the poems of the early Greek lyrists and 
Gnomic writers are received into the so-called Anthology. 

To the student of Greek history and Greek customs no section 
of the Anthology is more interesting than that which includes the 
iTnypai^ifia-a ayadtj/jaTiKu, the record of the public and the private 
votive ofierings in Hellas. Here, as in a scroll spread out before 
us, in the silver language of the great Simonides,* may be read 
the history of the achievements of the Greeks against Xerxes and 
his hosts. The heroes of Marathon, the heroes of Thermopylae, 
Megistias the soothsayer, Leonidas the king, Pausanias the gen- 
oral, the seamen of Salamis, the Athenian cavalry, the Spartans of 
Plataja — all receive their special tribute of august celebration at 
the hands of the poet who best knew how to suit simple words 
to splendid actions. Again, the otZ/Xt/ which commemorated in 
Athens the patriotic tyrannicide of Aristogeiton, the statue of Pan 
which Miltiades after Marathon consecrated in honor of his vic- 
tory, the trophies erected by Pausanias at Delphi to Phoebus, the 
altar to Zeus Eleutherios dedicated in common by all the Greeks, 
the tripod sent to Delphi by Gelon and the other tyrants of Sicily 
after their victory over the Carthaginians, for each and all of these 
Simonides was called on to compose imperishable verse. Our 
heart trembles even now when we read such lines as these : 

w ^tiv oyysXXeii' AaKiSainovloiQ ort rySe 
Kelf-uda Toic; Kiivwv pl]/ia(Ji ■Ktid6iJivoi.\ 

* I have spoken of these compositions of Simonides as though they all 
belonged to the dedicatory epigrams. A large number of them are, how- 
ever, incorporated among the epitaphs proper. 

•f To those of Lacediemon, stranger, tell, 

That, as their laws commanded, hei*e we fell. 

John Stkuling. 

There is no very good translation of this couplet. The difficulty lies in the 


And who does not feel that the grandeur of the occasion exalts 
above all suspicion of prosiness the frigid simplicity of the fol- 
lowing ? 

Tui'^i TToff "EWTjveg pwjuy xspog, tpy(i> "Aptjog, 

thruXjiKit \pv)(t}g \i]j.iaTi TrtiOoj-iivot, 
TIepaag t^tXc'taavrtQ, tXtvBepop 'EWa^i Koajxov 

iSpvcravTO Aiug fiojfiov 'EXtvOtpiov.* 

But it is not merely within the sphere of world-famous history 
that the dedicatory epigrams are interesting. Multitudes of them 
introduce us to the minutest facts of private life in Greece. We 
see the statues of gods hung round with flowers and scrolls, the 
shrines filled with waxen tablets, wayside chapels erected to Pria- 
pus or to Pan, the gods of the shore honored with dripping clothes 
of mariners, the Paphian home of Aphrodite rich with jewels and 
with mirrors and with silks suspended by devout adorers of both 
sexes. A fashionable church in modern Italy — the Annunziata 
at Florence, for example, or St. Anthony at Padua — is not more 
crowded with pictures of people saved from accidents, with silver 
hearts and waxen limbs, with ribbons and artificial flowers, with 
rosaries and precious stones, and with innumerable objects that 
only tell their tale of bygone vows to the votary who hung them 
there, than were the temples of our Lady of Love in Cneidos or 
in Corinth. In the epigrams before us we read how hunters hung 
their nets to Pan, and fishermen their gear to Poseidon ; garden- 
ers their figs and pomegranates to Priapus ; blacksmiths their 
hammers and tongs to Hephaestus. Stags are dedicated to Arte- 

word fn'ifiaai. Is this equivalent to pfjTpaic, as Cicero, who renders it by Icffi- 
bits, seems to think ? Or is it the same as orders ? 

* AVhat lime the Greelts with might and warUke deed, 
Sustained by courage in their hour of need, 
Drove forth the Persians, they to Zeus that frees 
This altar built, the free fair pride of Greece. 
II.— 19 


mis and Phoebus, and corn-slieaves to Demeter, who also receives 
the plough, the sickle, and the oxen of farmers. A poor man 
offers the produce of his field to Pan ; the first-fruits of the vine 
are set aside for Bacchus and his crew of satyrs ; Pallas obtains 
the shuttle of a widow who resolves to quit her life of care and 
turn to Aphrodite ; the eunuch Alexis offers his cymbals, drums, 
flutes, knife, and golden curls to Cybele. Phoebus is presented 
with a golden cicada, Zeus with an old ash spear that has seen 
service. Ares w-ith a shield and cuirass. A poet dedicates roses to 
the maids of Helicon and laurel-wreaths to Apollo. Scribes offer 
their pens and ink and pumice-stone to Hermes ; cooks hang up 
their pots and pans and spits to the Mercury of the kitchen. 
Withered crowns and revel-cups arc laid upon the shrine of Lais ; 
Anchises suspends his white hair to Aphrodite, Endymion his bed 
and coverlet to Artemis, Daphnis his club to Pan. Agathias in- 
scribes his Bapliniaca to the Paphian queen. Prexidike has an 
embroidered dress to dedicate. Alkibie offers her hair to Here, 
Lais her mirror to Aphrodite, Krobylus his boy's curls to Apollo, 
Charixeinos his long tresses to the nymphs. Meleager yields the 
lamp of his love-hours to Venus ; Lucillius vows his hair after 
shipwreck to the sea-gods; Evanthe gives her thyrsus and stag's 
hide to Bacchus. Women erect altars to Eleithuia and Asclepius 
after childbirth. Sophocles dedicates a thanksgiving shrine for 
poetic victories. Simonides and Bacchylides record their triumphs 
upon votive tablets. Gallus, saved from a lion, consecrates his 
hair and vestments to the queen of Dindymus. Prostitutes aban- 
don their ornaments to Kupris on their marriage. The effeminate 
Statullion bequeaths his false curls and flutes and silken wardrobe 
to Priapus. Sailors offer a huge cuttlefish to the sea-deities. An 
Isthmian victor suspends his bit, bridle, spurs, and whip to Posei- 
don. A boy emerging into manhood leaves his petasos and strigil 
and chlauiys to Hermes, the god of games. Phryne dedicates 3 


winged Eros as the first-fruits of her earnings. Hadrian cele- 
brates the trophies erected by Trajan to Zeus, Theocritus writes 
inscriptions for TJranian Aphrodite in the house of his friend Am- 
phicles, for the Bacchic tripod of Damomenes, and for the marble 
muse of Xenocles. Erinna dedicates the picture of Agatharkis. 
Melinna, Saba3this, and Mikythus are distinguished by poems placed 
beneath their portraits. There is even a poem on the picture of 
a hernia dedicated apparently in some Asclepian shrine ; and a 
traveller erects the brazen image of a frog in thanksgiving for a 
draught of wayside water. Cleonymus consecrates the statues of 
the nymphs : « .?. ,- „ 

ai Tact pei'Bi] 
cifijSpocnai pcSiotc ffrtilStre Tzoaalv dti. 

Ambrosial nymphs, who always tread these watery deeps with roseate feet. 

It will be seen by this rapid enumeration that a good many of the 
dedicatory epigrams are really epideiktic or rhetorical ; that is to 
say, they are written on imaginary subjects. But the large ma- 
jority undoubtedly record such votive offerings as were common 
enough in Greece with or without epigrams to grace them. 

What I have just said about the distinction between real and 
literary epigrams composed for dedications applies still more to 
the epitaphs. These divide themselves into two well-marked 
classes: 1. Actual sepulchral inscriptions or poems written im- 
mediately upon the death of persons contemporary with the au- 
thor ; and, 2. Literary exercises in the composition of verses ap- 
propriate to the tombs of celebrated historical or mythical char- 
acters. To the first class belong the beautiful epitaphs of Melea- 
ger upon Clearista (i. 307), upon Heliodora (i. 365), upon Charixei- 
nos, a boy twelve years old (i. 363), upon Antipater of Sidon(i. 355), 
and the three which he designed for his own grave (i. 352). Cal- 
limachus has left some perfect models in this species of composi- 
tion. The epitaph on Heracleitus, a poet of Halicarnassus, which 


has been exquisitely translated by the author of lonica, has a grace 
of movement and a tenderness of pathos that are unsurpassed : 

ttTTE TiQ, 'HpaKXtire, teov fiopou, tf ^s /i£ SaKpv 

Tfyayiv, tfivi'jaOrjv S' boauKiq afi<p6rspoi 
i'jXiov iv \t(yx9 KaTEhvaajitv ' aWa av fiiv ttoji, 

^tlv' 'AXiKapvr](T(.v, TiTpairoKai aTTodiij " 
ai St Tsai {^Movaiv dr]S6vEQ, yaiv 6 Travrujv 

apTTOKTIJQ 'AtSt]Q OVK iTTl X*'P« /3a\£t.* 

His epitaph on the sea-wrecked Sopolis (i. 325), though less touch- 
ing, opens with a splendid note of sorrow : 

w^eXe /iTiS' lyevovro Goal vieg " ov yap av ij^eTc 

iraiSa Ato/cXeicioi/ ^ojttoXiv tfrrivofiev ' 
vvv £' 6 fitv ei'v aXi ttov (p'tpirai v'ikvq ' avTi c tKiivov 

ovvofia Kal Kivihv fffjfxa xapipxiJHt9a.\ 

The following couplet upon Saon (i, 360) is marked by its perfec- 
tion of brevity : 

T^Se Sawv 6 Aikwvoq 'AKavOiog itpbv vttvov 
KOifiarai  OvuffKUP lit) XijE Tovg dyaOovg-X 

They told me, Heracleitus, they told me you were dead ; 
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed. 
I wept, as I remembered how often you and I 
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky. 

And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest, 
A handful of gray ashes, long, long ago at rest. 
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake. 
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take. 

Would that swift ships had never been ; for so 
We ne'er had wept for Sopolis : but he 
Dead on the waves now drifts ; while we must go 
Past a void tomb, a mere name's mockery. 

Here lapped in hallowed slumber Saon lies, 
Asleep, not dead ; a good man never dies. 

J. A. Symonds, M.D. 


Among the genuine epitaphs by the greatest of Greek authors, 
none is more splendid than Plato's upon Aster (i. 402) : 

'Aarrjp Trpiv jxiv (XajjnrEQ tvi Zioolaiv 'Efpog" 
vvi> ck Oavuii' X(iiJ,7nig"Ea7Tepog iv <pQi^'ivoiQ.* 

To Plato is also ascribed a fine monumental epigram upon the 
Eretrian soldiers who died at Ecbatana (i. 322) : 

di^E nor Alyaloto (SapvjSpofiov o75/xa XnrovTig 

'EKJiaTdvojv TrtSi<i) Ktlfied' ivi luaurt^. 
Xaipe kXvti) ttote Trarpig 'Epsrpia ' x«'',o£r' 'A0/jvat 

ytirovtg Eu/ioiriQ • xoipf OdXaffaa 0(\»j.t 

Erinna's epitaph on Baucis (i. 409) deserves quotation, because it 
is one of the few pieces accepted by the later Greeks, but prob- 
ably without due cause, as belonging to a girl whose elegiacs were 
rated by the ancients above Sappho's : 

oraXrti Kal ^HprjvEC ifiai Kai TrivQijie. Kpwffcrk 

uoTic tx^ig 'Atda rdv oXiyav (nroSidv, 
Toig ifxov ipxa/iiuoim Trap' ypiov tiirare xoipnv, 

a"ir' ddToi TtXtGijovT a'iO' iripag noXiog ' 
^wri i^e vvjKpav tvaav txti rdfog liwdre. Kai to ' 

%wri 7raTt]p /i' tKdXti BavKiSa xuirt ysvog 
Trivia, wg tlSwvri ' Kai orri [loi d avvtraipig 

"Hpivv' tp Tvix^({t ypdnn' tx"P«?£ roSe.'!^ 

* Thou wert the morninpr star among the livins. 

Ere thy fair light had fled ; 

Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus giving 

New splendor to the dead. „ 


t We who once left the ^gean's deep-voiced shore, 
Lie 'neath Ecbatana's champaign, where we fell. 
Farewell Eretria, thou famed land of yore, 
And neighbor Athens, and loved sea, farewell. 

X Pillars of death, carved sirens, tearful urns, 
In whose sad keeping my poor dust is laid, 


Sapplio herself has left the following lament for the maiden 
Timas (i. 367) : 

TifidSoQ liSe KoviQ, rav ^j) irpu ■yuj.ioio davovcav 

Se^aTO 'Pep(7t(p6vag Kvaveog OaXafioc;, 
ag Kai ano^Qijiivag vaaai vtodayi aicap<^ 

tiXiKig ifiepTav Kparbg tOivTO Kofiav.* 

In each of these epitaphs the untimely fading of a flower-like 
maiden in her prime has roused the deepest feeling of the poetess. 
This, indeed, is the chord which rings most truly in the sepulchral 
lyre of the Greeks. Their most genuine sorrow is for youth cut 
off before the joys of life were tasted. This sentiment receives, 
perhaps, its most pathetic though least artistic expression in the 
following anonymous epitaph on a young man. The mother's 
love and anguish are set forth with a vividness which we should 
scarcely have expected from a Greek (i. 336) : 

vi]Kug ai Saifiov, Ti Ss fxoi Kal <piyyog iSii^ag 

tig dXiyiov trkwv fxirpa fiivvvOddia ; 
' T) 'iva \vTC))(Tyg Si ifii]V jSioTOio T(XEvrt)v 

fii]Tipa StiXairiv daKpvffi Kal crroi'axaic, 
ij fi' tTtx '/ /*' «nr?}\£ Kai i) voXi) lAiiZova Trarpug 

<ppovri£a Trai^fi'ijc yvvaev i)fitripi]g ; 

To him, who near my tomb his footsteps turns, 
Stranger or Greelc, bid hail ; and say a maid 

Rests in her bloom below ; her sire the name 
Of Baucis gave ; her birth and lineage high ; 

And say her bosom friend Erinna came 
And on this tomb engraved her elegy. 


This is the dust of Timas, whom unwed 
Persephone locked in her darksome bed : 
For her the maids who were her fellows shore 
Their curls and to her tomb this tribute bore. 


Of fiiv yop Tvr96v re Kai op^aviv iv f.ityapoi(n 

KaWiTTiv • )'/ c iii-' f//0( Trai'TUQ trXi] KC([.idTOvg. 
'/) iitf tjioi (jiiXou (/f)' t(p' u-yvCJv ijjifioviiwv 

inTrpnr'ijiiv fivQoiQ c'n^i<pi ^iKaffiroXiag ' 
dXXd jxoi ov yevviov tmSi^aTO Kovpif.iov dvQoQ 

ijXiKirjQ iparijC, oi) ya^ov, oil SatSac ' 
ol'x vfiivaiov deiffE irepiKXvrov, ov TiKog dSe, 

SvcTTTOTfiog, tK yEverjg Xdtpavov r'ifisrtprjc, 
Ttjc TToXvBpTjvrjTov ' X^TTfi Ss fiE Kui TiOvEiora 

fiijTpog HwXIttijc irivQog dt^of^tsvov, 
^puvTUJvog yoepalg IttI (ppovTiaiv, i] rtici Tral^a 

wKvuopoi', KEi'iov xdpiia (piXi]g irarpiSoQ.* 

The common topic of consolation in these cases of untimely death 
is the one which Shakespeare has expressed in the dirge for Fi- 
dele, and D' Urf ey in his dirge for Chrysostom by these four lines : 

Sleep, poor youth, sleep in peace. 
Relieved from love and mortal care ; 

* Merciless heaven ! why didst thou show me light 
For so few years and speedy in their flight ? 
Was it to vex by my untimely death 
With tears and wailings her who gave ine breath ? 
Who bore me, and who reared me, and who wrought 
More for my youth with many a careful thought 
Than my dead sire : he left me in his hall 
An orphan babe : 'twas she alone did all. 
My joy it was beneath grave men of laws, 
Just pleas to urge and win approved applause ; 
But from my cheek she never plucked the flower 
Of charming youth, nor dressed my bridal bower, 
Nor sang my marriage hymn, nor saw, ah me ! 
My offspring shoot upon our ancient tree. 
That now is withered. Even in the tomb 
I wail Politta's woe, the gloom on gloom 
That swells her grief for Phronton ; since a boy 
In vain she bore, his country's empty joy. 


Whilst we that pine in life's disease, 
Uncertain-blessed, less happy are. 

Lucian, speaking of a little boy who died at five years of age (i. 
332), makes him cry : 

(iWa ju£ iiri KKaioiQ ' Kal yap (3iuTOio fKTtnxov 
iravpov Kai navpajv rwv jStoroto KUKiLv. 

A little girl in another epitaph (i. 366) says to her father: 

iffxto Xvirag, 
&HudoTS  QvciToi woWaKi Sv<Trv\Uc. 

A young man, dying in the prime of life, is even envied by Aga- 
thias (i. 384) : 

(fiTrrjc; oX^ioc ovtoq, oq iv veortjTi jxapavOiig 
tKipvyt TTiv /3iorov Qauaov aXirpoffvvijv. 

But it is not often that we hear in the Greek Anthology a strain 
of such pure and Christian music as this apocryphal epitaph on 
Prote : 

ovK lOavec, TlpioTt}, jutrf/Sjjg d' ig dneirova xujpor, 
Kal vaitiQ fiaKcipiov vrjaovg Qakiy ivi ttoX\/j, 
ivQa Kar 'HXixr/wv tn.S'iwv OKiprwaa ytyqOag 
avQiaiv Iv f.ia\aKoiai, KaKwv iKToaQiv cnrdvrwv ' 
oil xiifiiijv XvTTil a', ov Kavfi', ov vovaog ivoyXtX, 
oil TTHvyg, ov Si\j/og t;^f J <r' ' oW ovOt TzoQuvug 
avOpixJTTiiJv in ooi jiiorog ' ^uing yap dfiffnrrwg 
aiiyalg tv KaQapaiaiv 'OXvfnrov -KXijaiov ovrog.* 

* Thou art not dead, my Prote ! thou art flown 
To a far country better than our own ; 
Thy home is now an island of the blest ; 
There 'mid Elysian meadows take thy rest : 
Or lightly trip along the flowery glade, 
Rich with the asphodels that never fade ! 
Nor pain, nor cold, nor toil shall vex thee more, 
Nor thirst, nor hunger on that happy shore ; 


Death at sea touched the Greek imagination with peculiar vivid- 
ness. That a human body should toss, unburied, unhonored, on 
the waves, seemed to them the last indignity. Therefore the epi- 
taphs on Satyrus (i. 348), who exclaims, 

Kuvtji Sivr](VTi Kai aTpvy'tTii) in KHfiai 
vdari fiaivofi'tvf^ HBfKpofitvoQ Bopiy, 

and on Lysidike (i. 328), of whom Zenocritus writes, 

Xnirai <tov aTaL,ov<JLV iff aXiivpa Svaiiope Kovptj 
vavTfyi (p9ifiivj](; tlv aXi AvatciKt], 

and on the three athletes who perished by shipwreck (i. 342), 
have a mournful wail of their own. Not very different, too, is 
the pathos of Thenmachus struck by lightning (i, 306) : 

avrofia-ai StiXy ttoti ravXiov a'l jSoig yXQou 

atal, Qrfpifiaxog S'e vapa Spvt tuv fiaKpov ivSti 
VTrvov • tKoifjijQi] S' tie nvpog oipaviov. * 

It is pleasant to turn from these to epitaphs which dwell more 
upon the qualities of the dead than the circumstances of their 
death. Here is the epitaph of a slave (i. 379) : 

Tiuaifir) >'/ irplv tovaa fiuvift rip aoifiari dovXri 
Kal Tip (jdj/xaTi vvv ivptv iXevdsptt]v. f 

Nor longings vain (now that blest life is won) 
For such poor days as mortals here drag on ; 
To thee for aye a blameless life is given 
In the pure light of ever-present Heaven. 

J. A. Symonds, M.D. 

Home to their stalls at eve the oxen came 

Down from the mountain through the snow-wreaths deep ; 

But ah ! Therimachus sleeps the long sleep 

'Xeath yonder oak, lulled by the levin-flame. 

She who was once but in her flesh a slave 
Hath for her flesh found freedom in the grave. 


Here is a buffoon (i. 380) : 

NjjXftJjc 'Atctjg  tTci (xoi S' tyiXaaat OcivovTi, 
Tirvpe, Kai viKViav OrjKS as /xifioXoyoi'. * 

Perhaps the most beautiful of all tlie sepulcbral epigrams is one 
by an unknown writer, of whicli I here give a free paraphrase 
(Anth. Pal. vii. 346) : 

Of our great love, Parthenophil, 
This little stone abideth still 

Sole sign and token : 
I seek thee yet, and yet shall seek, 
Though faint mine eyes, my spirit weak 

With prayers unspoken. 

Meanwhile, best friend of friends, do thou, 
If this the cruel fates allow 

By death's dark river. 
Among those shadowy people, drink 
No drop for me on Lethe's brink : 

Forget me never ! 

Of all the literary epitaphs, by far the most interesting are those 
written for the poets, historians, and philosophers of Gi'cece. Re- 
serving these for separate consideration, I pass now to mention a 
few which belong as much to the pure epigram as to the epitaph. 
When, for example, we read two very clever poems on the daugh- 
ters of Lycambes (i. 339), two again on a comically drunken old 
woman (i. 340, 360), and five on a man who has been first mur- 
dered and then buried by his murderer (i. 340), we see that, though 
the form of the epitaph has been adopted, clever rhetoricians, 
anxious only to display their skill, have been at work in rivalry. 
Sardanapalus, the eponym of Oriental luxury, furnishes a good 

* Hades is stern ; but when you died, he said, 
Smiling, " Be jester still among the dead." 


subject for tins style of composition. His epitapli runs thus in 
the Appendix Planudea (ii. 532) : 

tv e'lSojg on Qvr]TOQ i<pvq, top Qvjxov cie^b 
TspTTufiivog QciK'n^af QavuvTi aoi ovrig oi'T]mQ' 
Kai yap tyw OTToSug tif-u, Ni'i'oii ixtyaXjjg jSaaiXevaag. 
Toaa txw oaa t<payov icai i(pvjipi(ra, Kai iitT tpiOTog 
TipTTv iSai]v • TO. St TToXXa Kai oXfiia KEiva XsXenrrai. 
ijSe ao(pi] l3i6roio izapaivinig avOptoTTOiaiv.* 

We find only the fourth and fifth lines among the sepulchral epi- 
grams of the Anthology of Cephalas (i. 334), followed by a clever 
parody composed by the Theban Crates. Demetrius, the Spartan 
coward, is another instance of this rhetorical exercise. Among the 
two or three which treat of him I quote the following (i. 317) : 

uviK cnrl) nroXifiov rpiaaavrd at Si'^aro fidrrjp, 

irdvra tov onXiaTuv Kuofiov oXiJXiKora, 
ahrd TOi (j)Oviav, Aa^idrpie, avrtKa Xuy^av 

tlTTi Old rrXnTHov waafi'tva Xayovojv 
Kc'trQave, nt]S' t'^irw ^Trdpra ■^oyov ' oh yap iKtiva 

ilHirXaKev, el StiXovg roiifiov lOpt^e yaXa.f 

Know well that thou art mortal : therefore raise 
Thy spirit high with long luxurious days. 
When thou art dead, thou hast no pleasure then. 
I too am earth, who was a king of men 
O'er Xineveh. My banquets and my lust 
And love-delights are mine e'en in the dust ; 
But all those great and glorious things are flown. 
True doctrine for man's life is this alone. 

When homeward cowering from the fight 30u.ran 
Without or sword or shield, a naked man, 
Your mother then, Demetrius, through your side 
Plunged her blood-drinking spear, nor w'ept, but cried : 
Die ; let not Sparta bear the blame ; but she 
Sinned not, if cowards drew their life from me } 


Agathias writes a very characteristic elegy on Lais (i. 315) : 

fpTTiov iig 'E^vprfv riKpov tSpaKov dfiipl KsXevOov 

Aai^OQ opj^an/c, OJC to j(C(payfia \tyu ' 
SuKpv d' iTTKrvrtiaac, ■)(nipoiQ yvvai, tK yap aKovrJQ 

oiKTiipti) at y', t<p)p>, 7)v Trctpog ovk iSufiTjv " 
d TTooov ifiQuov vuov iiKa^iq ' a\X' 'iCt AriOtjv 

vaieig, dyXniJjv ev jfiovi KarOsfikvi].* 

An epitaph on the inutility of epitaphs is an excellent novelty, 
especially when the witty poet (Paulus Silentiarius) has the hu- 
mor to mate the ghost eager to speak while the wayfarer is inat- 
tentive (i. 332) : 

ovfo^d fioi. Ti Si TovTo ; irarpiq Sk fioi. tg ri Si rovro ; 

kXuvov c' tipl ytvovg. ti yap dfavporc'iTGv ; 
Zi)(f(tg S' ivoo^ijog iXnrov [3iov. it yap dSu^wg ; 

KtXpai c' ivGdSs vi'v. rtg rivi ravra Xtyug ; f 

The value of the epitaphs on poets and great men of Greece is 
this — that, besides being in many cases of almost perfect beauty, 
they contain the quintessence of ancient criticism. Every epithet 
is carefully so chosen as to express what the Greeks thought pe- 
culiar and appropriate to the spirit and the works of their heroes. 

* Travelling to Ephyre, by the road-side 
The tomb and name of Lais I espied : 
I wept and said : " Hail, queen, the fame of thee, 
Though ne'er I saw thee, draws these tears from me; 
How many hearts for thee were broken, how 
By Lethe lustreless thou liest now !" 

•j- My name, my country — ^what are they to thee? 
What, whether base or proud my pedigree ? 
Perhaps I far surpassed all other men ; 
Perhaps I fell below them all ; what then ? 
Suffice it, stranger ! that thou seest a tomb ; 
Thou know'st its use ; it hides — no matter whom. 



Orpheus is the subject of the following exquisite elegy by An- 
tipater of Sidon (i. 274) : 

ovKiTi Oekyofiivag, 'Optpev, Spvag, ovk'iti irtrpag 
dXiiS, ov Orjpwv avTovofiovQ dytKag ' 

OVKiTL KOljlClCSHQ dvkfliOV (3p6flOV, OVxi X^^"?'"'> 

ov VKpsrwv (TvpfioiCj ov iraraytvaav tiXa. 
wXto yap • ae Se ttuXXci KarojSvptn'ro Ovyarptg 

Mvafioavvag, finrtjp 6' I'^oxn KaXXioTra • 
tL (pOifikvoic (TToraxti'Htv t<p' vidfftv, dv'iK dXaXKCiv 

tCjv iraiSiov 'AiSrjv ovSe OeoXg Svfafxig ;* 

Sophocles receives a gift of flowers and ivy, and quiet sleep from 
Simmias the Theban (i. 277) : 

Tipsji' vntp n'/tjSoio So^oxtXeoc, rjpifia, ki(T(Ts, 
ipTTv^oig, xXoEpovg tKirpoxtiov ttKokci^ovc, 

Kcil TTiraXov Trdrrt] ddXXoi poSov, i'j rs (piXoppw^ 
dfiTrtXog, vypd Tikpi^ KX))fiaTa xtvcu'ivi], 

iiviKiv ivnrii]g 7rivvT6(ppovog, r)v 6 fiiXixpog 
■fl<TK7](rtv Movcrtwv dfifxiya kuk XapiT(s)u.\ 

* Orpheus ! No more the rocks, the woods no more, 
Thy strains shall lure ; no more the savage herds, 
Nor hail, nor driving clouds, nor tempest's roar, 
Nor chafing billows list thy lulling words ; 
For thou art dead : and all the Muses mourn. 
But most Calliope, thy mother dear. 
Shall we then, reft of sons, lament forlorn, 
When e'en the gods must for their offspring fear ? 

J. A. Stmonds, M.D. 

f Wind, gentle evergreen, to form a shade, 
Around the tomb where Sophocles is laid ; 
Sweet ivy, wind thy boughs, and intertwine 
With blushing roses and the clustering vine : 
Thus will thy lasting leaves, with beauties hung, 
Prove grateful emblems of the lays he sung ; 


Among the nine epitaphs on Euripides none is more delicate 
than the following by Ion (i. 282): 

Xf'^^P^ litKaiiTTETaKoig, EvpiviSr], iv yvaXoiai ' 

TVitpiaQ Tov ad vvktoq tj^ujv BaKa^iov ' 
1a9i S' vTTo x^oi'oc u)V, on croi /cXtof u(p6iT0i' tffrai 

laov '0/(ijp£(aic aivaoiQ ^apKyiv* 

Where could a poet be better lulled to rest than among the 
black-leaved hollows of Pieria? But the most touching tribute 
to Euripides is from the pen of a brother dramatist, the comic 
poet Philemon (ii. 94) : 

H Toiq aXfiOtiaKTiv ol TtQvrjKoreg 
a.'iad)](!iv Cixov, dvSpfQ Hg (parriv riveg, 
dTTtjy^dfirjv dv wot' lluv Evpim£r]v.\ 

Aristophanes is praised by Antipater of Thessalonica (ii. 37) as 
the poet who laughed and hated rightly : 

KwiiiKt Kai arv^ag d^ia Kai yeKdffag. 

His plays arc characterized as full of fearful graces, ^ofoepCjv 
TrXriQojxerui yapiTU)}'. Over the grave of Anacreon, who receives 
more tributes of this kind than any other poet, roses are to 
bloom, and wine is to be poured, and the thoughts of Smerdies, 
Bathyllus, and Megistias are to linger, Antipater of Sidon in 
particular paid honor to his grave (i. 278) : 

Whose soul, exalted like a god of wit, 
Among the muses and the graces writ. — Anon. 

'■'■'■ Hail, dear Euripides, for whom a bed 
In black-leaved vales Pierian is spread : 
Dead though thou art, yet know thy fame shall be, 
Like Homer's, green through all eternity. 

I If it be true that in the grave the dead 

Have sense and knowledge, as some men assert, 
I'd hang myself to see Euripides. 


QaKKoi TeTpaKopvfifioc, 'Avdicpiov, aft^l o'e Kicraug 

Uj3pd T£ XtlfliOt'iiJV 7T0p(pvp'i.U)V TTtTuXa ' 

TTTiyal d' dpyivutVTOQ dva9\if3oivro ydXaKrof, 

tvaiSeg 5' cnrd yijc y'lSii \soito fikOv, 
o(ppa Ki Toi aTToSu) re kui carta repipiv uprirai, 

£1 SI] TiQ (pOijxevotg xpifiTrTtrai tvcppocrvva, 
w TO ^iXov ffrsp^ag, (piXe, jSdpjiirov, w (jvv doiS^ 

ircivra SiairXtotyag Kai <ji'v ipujTi f3ioi>.* 

The same poet begins another epitaph thus : 

Tiifi^oQ 'AvaKpeiovrog ' 6 Tlj'iog ivOdSe Kvici-og 
tvSa x^ iraiSojv ^wpordri] fxavlr]. 

Less cheerful are the sepulchres of the satirists. We are bidden 
not to wake the sleeping wasp upon the grave of Ilipponax (i. 

Tov <ppiKTov 'licntiivaKTog, ovte x^ rkippa 

* Around the tomb, bard divine ! 

Wiiere soft thy liallowed brow reposes, 
Long may the deathless ivy twine, 
And summer pour his waste of roses ! 

And many a fount shall there distil. 
And many a rill refresh the flowers ; 

But wine shall gush in every rill, 

And every fount yield milky showers. 

Thus, shade of him whom nature taught 
To tune his lyre and soul to pleasure. 

Who gave to love his warmest thought. 
Who gave to love his fondest measure ; 

Thus, after death, if spirits feel, 

Thou mayest, from odors round thee streaming, 
A pulse of past enjoyment steal. 

And live again in blissful dreaming. 

T. Moore. 


lafi(3id^H BovTTaXeiov tg arvyoc, 
fit] TTuig tyfipyc (J<pi]Ka rhv Koijjiwfiivov, 
og ovS' tv ^Cij vvv KiKol/jiKtp ^(^oXov, 
GKaZovcTi nerpoig 6p9d ro^tmag tin}.* 

The same thought is repeated with even more of descriptive en- 
ergy in an epitaph on Archilochus (i. 287) : 

(Trina ToS' 'Ap\i\6xov TrapmrovTiov, og irort TViKp-qv 

fiovaav txi£i'aiiit Tzpwrog ifSaxpe X^^V> 
a'lfid'^ag 'EXiKiiit'a tvv i]p.ipov " oi^e. AvKct^jiijg 

fivpofiEvog rpiaauiv up.]iaTa Ovyaripwv " 
■qp'i^a ^i) TrapafitiipOi', oSoiTTopt, jit] tzoti rovSe 

Kivr]ayg Ti>n(i(i) a(j)T)Kag i^e^o^fvoDf.f 

Diogenes offers similar opportunities for clever writing. The 

best of his epitaphs is this well-known but anonymous dialogue 

(i. 285): 

tiTTt, Kvov, Tii'og dvdpbg i(pi(jTuig aij/ia ^vXdfffTnc ; 

Tov Kvvog. a\\d Tig i/v ovTog dvfip 6 Kiiwi/ ; 

Aioyh'tjg. y'lvog tlirt. 'Eii'MTrtvg. og iridov (pKii ; 

Kal fJidXa • viif ct Bavujv daripag oIkov tx*^4 

* Stranger, beware ! This grave hurls Avords like hail : 
Here dwells the dread Hipponax, dealing bale. 
E'en 'mid his ashes, fretful, poisonous, 
He shoots iambics at slain Bupalus. 
Wake not the sleeping wasp: for though he's dead, 
Still straight and sure his crooked lines are sped. 

•f- Here sleops Archilochus by the salt sea ; 

Who first with viper's gall the muse did stain, 
And bathed mild Helicon with butchery. 
Lycambes weeping for her daughters three 
Learned this. Pass then in silence : be not fain 
To stir the wasps that round his grave remain." 

X Tell me, good dog, whose tomb you guard so well ? 
The Cynic's. True : but who that Cynic, tell. 


The epitaphs on Erinna, who died when she was only nineteen, 
are charged with the thought which so often recurs when we re- 
flect on poets, like Chatterton, untimely slain — what would not 
they have done, if they had lived? (i. 275) : 

6 yXvKvg 'Hpivvr/g ovtoq ttovoq, ovxi noXiig jiiv 

d»c av TrapQEViKuQ ivvtciKaiSiKenvg, 
dXX iTipojp TToXXwv SvvaTWTipog • tl S' 'AtSag ot 

fiij raxi'e yXOe, rig av raXiKov tax ovojxa ; * 

Sappho rouses a louder strain of celebration (i. 276) : 

^aTTtpio Toi KEvQtig x'^'^^ AloXi rav nera Moiffaig 

aQavdraig Ovarav Mov(j«v auSofiivav, 
ilv KvTrpig Kal 'Epwg avv ilfi iTpa(j>ov, ag fitra JleiOuj 

tTrXcK ati'CoJOv JliipiSwv OTE^avov, 
"EXXa^i ftiv TEpipiv, ffoi Sk icXiog ' w rpiiXiKTOV 

Mo7pai Sivevaai vrjfia Kar TjXaKaTag, 
irSjg oi'K tKXwffaffGs vavcK^Qirov i/fiap uoiS(p 

d(l>9iTa firjaaixsva Swp' 'EXiKMindSMv;f 

Diogenes, of fair Sinope's race. 

What ! He that in a tub was wont to dwell ? 

Yes : but the stars are now his dwelling-place. 

J. A. Symonds, M.D. 

These are Ei'inna's songs : how sweet, though slight ! — 
For she was but a girl of nineteen years : — 
Yet stronger far than what most men can write : 
Had Death delayed, whose fame had equalled hers ? 

Does Sappho then beneath thy bosom rest, 
-(Eolian earth ? that mortal Muse confessed 
Inferior only to the choir above, 
Tliat foster-child of Venus and of Love ; 
Warm from whose lips divine Persuasion came, 
Greece to delight, and raise the Lesbian name ? 
O ye, who ever twine the threefold thread. 
Ye Fates, why number with the silent dead 
II.— 20 


This is the composition of Antipater of Sidon, who excels in 
this special style. Without losing either the movement or the 
passion of poetry, he is always delicate and subtle in his judg- 
ments. His epigrams on Pindar are full of fire (i. 280) : 

YlupiKav aaXinyya, rov tvayeaiv ^apvv v}iv(>)v 

XoKKfvrdv, Karexti TLivSapov uie Koric, 
ov fiiXoQ tlffaiwv (pOiy^aio kcv, iig Trore Movtrdv 

Iv Kudfiov QakafioiQ <rfii}vog avtrrXcKTaTO.* 

The very quintessence of criticism is contained in the phrases 
(TaXniy^. j^oXkfurtte. The Appendix Planudea (ii. 590) contains 
another epitaph on Pindar by Antipater, which for its beautiful 
presentation of two legends connected with his life deserves to be 

vtfipiiijjv oTToaoi' (ToXTTtyS vmpia\(.v avXuJv, 

roaaov vrrip TrcKxag tKpaye auo x^Xwc ' 
ovSe fidrrjv airaXoTc vepi X£i\£(T(i' tafiog tKtivog 

tTrXaffe KTjpoSeTov, IlivSape, (tuo fxiXi. 
fidprvQ o MaivdXioQ Kspueig Gtbg vfivov atiffag 

Tov aio Kai vofiiit>v Xijadntfog SovaKojv.'f 

That mighty songstress, whose unrivalled powers 

Weave for the Muse a crown of deathless flowers ? 

Francis Hodgson. 
Piera's clarion, he whose weighty brain 

Forged many a hallowed hymn and holy strain, 

Pindar, here sleeps beneath the sacred earth : 

Hearing his songs a man might swear the brood 

Of Muses made them in their hour of mirth, 

What time round Cadmus' marriage-bed they stood. 

As the war-trumpet drowns the rustic flute. 
So when your lyre is heard all strings are mute : 
Not vain the labor of those clustering bees 
Who on your infant lips spread honey-dew ; 
Witness great Pan who hymned your melodies, 
Pindar, forgetful of his pipes for you. 


It is impossible to do justice to all these utterances on the early 
poets, ^schylus (i. 281) : 

o TpayiKov ^(Sjvrifia Kal 6(ppv6e<Tirav aoiSrjv 
TTvpywaag anjSapij trpwroQ iv euETriy. 

Alcman (i. 277) : 

Tov ■)(apUvT' 'AXKfiava, tov vnvr]Tfjp' vjxiva'nav 
KvKfov, TOV Mouffwv d^ia fiiXtpanEvov. 

Stesichorus (ii. 36) : 

'OfnjpiKbv 6g t cnro pei'fxa 
iairaaaq oiKtloig, ^Tijaixop', iv Kafiaroig. 

Ibycus (ii. 36) : 

I'lSv re HeiOovc, 
'IjSvKs, Kal iraiSwv dvOog c'tfiijtrdnEve. 

Enough has been quoted to show the delicate and appreciative 
criticism of the later and lighter Greek poets for the earlier and 
grander. It is also consolatory to find that almost no unknown 
great ones are praised in these epigrams ; whence we may con- 
clude that the masterpieces of Greek literature are almost as nu- 
merous now as they were in the age of Nero. The philosophers 
receive their due meed of celebration, Plato can boast of two 
splendid anonymous epitaphs (i. 285) : 

yaTa fitv Iv koKttoic Kpinrrei ToSi aw/ia HXdnovog, 
^vx>) S' dOdvarov rd^iv t^ii jiaKopwv. 


alerf, t'ittte (SsfiijKag virep rdipov ; rj rivoc, eiire, 
darcpoevra Oewv oIkov aTroffKOTretig ; 

^'I'X'/C fi'l^l UXaTojvog dTroTTTafiivijg ig "OXvfnrov 
t'lKwv • awf-ia St yrj ytjyevtg 'ArOig t'xtt.* 


Earth in her breast hides Plato's dust : his soul 
The gods forever 'mid their ranks enroll. 

Eagle ! why soarest thou above the tomb ? 
To what sublime and starry-paven home 
Floatest thou ? 


It is curious to find both Thucydides (ii. 119) and Lycophron 
(ii. 38) characterized by their difficulty. 

Closely allied in point of subject to many of the epitaphs are 
the so-called hortatory epigrams, £7rtypa//^ara TTpoTptiriKu. These 
consist partly of advice to young men and girls to take while they 
may the pleasures of the moment, partly of wise saws and maxims 
borrowed from the Stoics and the Cynics, from Euripides and the 
comic poets. Lucian and Palladas are the two most successful 
poets in this style. Palladas, whose life falls in the first half of 
the fifth century, a pagan, who regarded with disgust the estab- 
lishment of Christianity, attained by a style of " elegant medioc- 
rity" to the perfection of proverbial philosophy in verse. AYhen 
Ave remember that the works of Euripides, Menander, Philemon, 
Theophrastus, and the Stoics were mines from which to quarry 
sentiments about the conduct of life, we understand the general 
average of excellence below which he rarely falls and above which 
he never rises. Yet in this section, as in the others of the An- 
thology, some of the anonymous epigrams are the best. Here is 
one (ii. 251) : ^ 

I'lQ atSr]v i9ita KarrjXvmg, ur uir' 'A9i]vwv 
aTtixoiQ, ilri veKvc, viatai tK Mepuijg ' 
fit (T£ y' avidru) iraTpijQ a7roTi]\t Qavovra ' 
TTciPToOev ilg 6 ^kpwv eIq dtSrjv dvenog.* 

I am the image of swift Plato's spirit, 

Ascending heaven : Athens does inherit 

His corpse below. 


Straight is the way to Acheron, 

Whether the spirit's race is nui 

From Athens or from Meroe : 

Weep not, far off from home to die ; 

The wind doth blow in every sky, 

That wafts us to that doleful sea. 

J. A. Symoxds, M.B. 


Here is another, which repeats the old proverb of the cup and the 
lip (ii. 257) : 

And another, on the difference between the leaders and the fol- 
lowers in the pomp of life (ii. 270) : 

TToWot rot vap9TiKO(p6poi navpoi Se n (5dK\oi. 

Equally without author's name is the following .excellent prayer 
(ii. 271): 

Ziv (iaaiXiv ra fiiv ia9\a Kai iv\ofiivoiq Koi dvevKroiq 
dfif.u SiSov  TO. St Xvypd Kai iv-x^oj.ttvwv dTTipvKoiQ.* 

Lucian gives the following good advice on the use of vvealth (ii. 
256) : 

wf," rt6vi]^6fi(voc rCJv aCjv uyaQCjv cnroKavB, 

WQ St jStwtTofievog (piiSto aCjv KTidvuiv ' 
idTi S' avffp ao^oQ ovtoq oq ajKpiti ravra voijaag 

(ptiSoi Kai oairdvy {.I'tTpov t<pripfiuaaTO.'f 

Agathias asks why we need fear death (ii. 264) : 

rov Qdvarov ti (pofSnaQe, tov r](jvj(ir]Q yn'tTijpa, 

rvv iravovra vuaovQ Kai "Trtvhjg bSvvaQ • 
{xovvov uTTa^ Qvi]Toi<; irapayivtrai, ovSi ttot airlv 

tiS'tv TiQ GvriTwv StuTtpov ip^^v/itvov " 

* God, grant us good, whether or not we pray ; 
But e'en from praying souls keep bad away. 

f Your goods enjoy, as if about to die ; 
As if about to live, use sparingly. 
That man is wise, who, bearing both in mind, 
A mean, befitting waste and thrift, can find. 



ai Se voaoi ttoXXoi Kai irolKiXai, aWor i:r' dWov 
(pX<')l^ivai Ovjiriuv Kal /ura/SaXXo/ifvai.* 

The remainder of my quotations from this section will all be 
taken from Palladas. Here is his version of the proverb attrib- 
uted to Democritus that life's a stage (ii. 265) : 

aKi]vri TTOLQ o jSi'ot" Kai Traiyviov " »; fidOi nai^tiv 
T^v aTTOvSrji' ^iraOdg i] ^ipe rag oSvvag.f 

Here, again, is the old complaint that man is Fortune's plaything 
(ii. 266) : 

TTaiyvwv lari rvxriQ [JupoTrojv fSiog, oiKTpug, a\r]rr]g, 

ifKovTOv Kai irtpirjc fitcrcruGi pip.^6fi(.vog. 
Kai Tovg fi'tv Karayovaa TTciXiv (r<paipr]5bv diipti, 

Tovg 5' uTTn Th)v vi(j)tXuiv ilg atSijv Kardyn.* 

Here again, but cadenced in iambics, is the Flight of Time (ii. 

u) Ttjg fipa-)(iiag i^lovrfg Trig rov fiiov' 
ri)v o^vrrjTa rov xP'Ji'ov TrtvdtjaaTt' 

Why shrink from Death, the parent of repose, 
The cure of sickness and all human woes ? 
As through the tribes of men he speeds his way, 
Once, and but once, his visit he will pay ; 
Whilst pale diseases, harbingers of pain. 
Close on each other crowd — an endless train. 

W. Shepherd. 

All life's a scene, a jest : then learn to play, 
Dismissing cares, or bear your pains alway. 

X This wretched life of ours is Fortune's ball; 
'Twixt wealth and poverty she bandies all : 
These, cast to earth, up to the skies rebound ; 
These, tossed to heaven, come trembling to the ground. 

GoLDwiN Smith. 


if}iuQ KaQi^6fi(.(fQa Koi KoinwfiiOa, 

H0-)(90VVTiQ Tf TpV(pWVT(S' 6 S( ■)(p6vOQ Tpi')((.l, 

rpixu Kaff y/iixtv rwv raXainwpwv fSpoTuv, 
tptpwv iKaOTOv T<ij ftuji KaTaaTpo(pr]V.'* 

The next epigram is literally bathed in tears (ii. 267) : 

^aKpv\i(i)v yev6f(r]v Kai daKpvffac aTroQvl)(JK<ii ' 

SctKpvai 5' sj' TToWo'i'f Tov ^iov (vpov oXov. 
o) yivoQ c'lvQpiinrwv TroXvSaKpvrov, aaOevt^, o'lKrpov, 

(paivofitvov Kara yiJQ Kcti SiaXvojitvov.f 

When he chooses to be cynical, Palladas can present the physical 
conditions of human life with a crude brutality which is worthy 
of a monk composing a chapter De contemptu hwnance miserice. 
It is enough to allude to the epigrams upon the birth (ii. 259) 
and the breath (ii. 265) of man. To this had philosophy fallen 
in the death of Greece. One more quotation from Palladas has 
a touch of pathos. The old order has yielded to the new : Theo- 
dosius has closed the temples : the Greeks are in ashes : their 
very hopes remain among the dead (ii. 268) : 

"EXXjjvsc ifffitv avSpiQ IffnoSwfievoi, 
viKpwv (xovTtQ tXirlSag TiOafifiivag' 
avtarpaipr] yap iravra vuv to, vpayf.iara. 

* Oh for the joy of Hfe that disappears ! — 
Weep then the swiftness of the flying years : 
We sit upon the ground and sleep away, 
Toiling or feasting ; but time runs for aye, 
Runs a fell race against poor wretched man, 
Bringing for each the day that ends his span. 

t Tears were my birthright ; born in tears. 
In tears too must I die ; 
And mine has been, through life's long years, 
A tearful destiny. 


With this wail the thin, lamentable voice of the desiccated rheto- 
rician ceases. 

Akin to these hortatory epigrams, in their tone of settled mel- 
ancholy, are some of the satiric and convivial. It is necessary, 
when we think of the Greeks as the brightest and sunniest of all 
races, to remember what songs they sang at their banquets, and 
to comfort ourselves with the reflection that between their rose- 
wreaths and the bright Hellenic sky above them hung for them, 
no less than for ourselves, the cloud of death. 

What more dismal drinking-song can be conceived than this? 
(i. 33V) : 

ovciv a/Aaprt]oac yevo/zi/v ■rrapa TuJv fii TiKuvTwV 

yfi'i't]9ii(; S' 6 raXa^ tp^ofiai tt^ 'AtStiv 
a» fuS,ig yoviojv 6ai'aTi]<pupog • wfioi di'dyKrjg 

i] fit TrpoarrtXaaei t(^ arvyfpi^ 9avdT({j • 
ovStv tojv yivofirjv irdXiv taao/iai wf Trdpog ovSiv' 

ovCiv Kal /iTjSfv Tuiv fitpoTTwv TO ysvog ' 
XiiTTov fioi TO kvtteWov dTTOOTikjiioaov, iralpe, 

Kal XvTTtjs dKovi]v top Bpofiiov ndptxi-* 

The good sense of Ccphalas placed it among the epitaphs ; for, in 

Such is the state of man ; from birth 

To death all comfortless : 
Then swept away beneath the earth 

In utter nothingness. 

Edward Stokes. 


Mj sire begat me ; 'twas no fault of mine : 
But being born, in Hades I must pine : 
O birth-act that brought death ! bitter fate 
That drives me to the grave disconsolate ! 
To naught I turn, who nothing was ere birth ; 
For men are naught and less than nothing worth. 
Then let the goblet gleam for me, my friend ; 
Pour forth care-soothing wine, ere pleasures end. 


truth, it is the quintessence of the despair of the grave. Yet its 
last couplet forces us to drag it from the place of tombs, and put 
it into the mouth of some late reveller of the decadence of Hellas. 
It has to my car the ring of a drinking-song sung in a room with 
closed shutters, after the guests have departed, by some sad com- 
panion who does not know that the dawn has gone forth and 
the birds are aloft in the air. The shadow of night is upon him. 
Though Christ be risen and the sun of hope is in the sky, he is 
still as cheerless as Mimnermus. If space sufficed, it would be 
both interesting and profitable to compare this mood of the epi- 
grammatists with that expressed by Omar Kbayyam, the Persian 
poet of Khorassan, in whose quatrains philosophy, melancholy, 
and the sense of beauty are so wonderfully mingled that to sur- 
pass their pathos is impossible in verse.* Here is another of the 
same tone (ii. 287) : 

■qwQ t'l -qovq TrapairsfnreTai, tlr afit\ovi'T(DV 

j'jfiwi' i^ai(pvr]g i'j^ei 6 Trofxpvpeoc, 
Kai Tovg fitv rii^ag, Tovg S' oirTi'jaag, tviovg dk 

(pV(7))(Tag d^ti Trdvrag tg 'iv jiapadpov.f 

And another with a more delicate ring of melancholy in the last 
couplet (ii. 289) : 

vTTVOJttg ib 'rnlpf to St ffKiKpog avTO /3o^t <t£* 

lypto, fi)) Tipirov fioipiSiy ixtXfry 
fii] (fxiay AiuCojpe • Xdlipog S' tig BciKxov 6\i<t9ujv 

dxpig tTTi a(paXtpov ZojpojroTU yovarog' 

* See Fitzgerald's faultless translation of the Rubdiydt of Omar Khayyam, 
published by Quaritch. 

t Morn follows morn ; till while we careless play 
Comes suddenly the darksome king, whose breath 
Or wastes or burns or blows our life away, 
But drives us. all down to one pit of death. 


taaiff or ov TTiofieaOa, ttoXuc ttoXvq' dX\' ay' tTrtiyov. 
ri avvtrfi Kpord^wv uTrrtrai rjjjiiTipwv.* 

And yet another (ii. 294), Avhicli sounds like the Florentine Carni- 
val Song composed by Lorenzo de' Medici — 

Chi vuol esser lieto sia ; 
Di doman non e certezza — 

ir7v£ Kai tv^palvov ri yap avpiov j) ri to fiiWov 

ovSeig yivuiffKii' fiij rp£;^£, /x^ KOiria' 
h)Q Svvaaat, ■)(aptffai, fttrdSoQ, <pdy(, Qvtjtu Xoyi^ou' 

TO ^ijv Tov fit) Zi]V ovciv oXwg dnix^i' 
TTUQ 6 fiiog ToiocSt poTTri fiovov dv irpoXd^yQ aov 

dv £k Odvyg irtpov Travra ' av S' ovSiv ixfi£-\ 

But the majority of the emypafifiaTa o-kWTrrtico, or jesting epigrams, 
are not of this kind. They are written for the most part, in Ro- 
man style, on ugly old women, misers, stupid actors, doctors to 
dream of whom is death, bad painters, poets who kill you witb 
their elegies, men so light that the wind carries them about like 
stubble, or so thin that a gossamer is strong enough to strangle 
them ; vices, meannesses, deformities of all kinds. Lucillius, a 

* Thou sleepest, friend : but see, the beakers call ! 
Awake, nor dote on death that waits for all. 
Spare not, my Diodorus, but drink free 
Till Bacchus loose each weak and faltering knee. 
Long will the years be when we can't carouse — 
Long, long : up then ere age hath touched our brows. 

\ Drink and be merry. What the morrow brings 
No mortal knoweth : wherefore toil or run ? 
Spend while thou mayst, eat, fix on present things 
Thy hopes and wishes : life and death are one. 
One moment : grasp life's goods ; to thee they fall : 
Dead, thou hast nothing, and another all. 

GoLDwiN Smith. 


Greek Martial of the age of Nero, is botli best and most prolific 
in this kind of composition. But of all the sections of the An- 
thology this is certainly the least valuable. The true superiority 
of Greek to Latin literature in all its species is that it is far more 
a work of pure beauty, of unmixed poetry. In Lucillius the Hel- 
lenic muse has deigned for once to assume the Roman toga, and 
to show that if she chose she could rival the hoarse-throated sat- 
irists of the empire on their own ground. But she has abandoned 
her lofty eminence, and descended to a lower level. The same 
may be said in brief about the versified problems and riddles (ii. 
pp. 467-490), Avhich are not much better than elegant acrostics 
of this or the last century. It must, however, be remarked that 
the last-mentioned section contains a valuable collection of Greek 

Of all the amatory poets of the Anthology, by far the noblest 
is Meleaner. He was a native of Gadara in Palestine, as he tells 
us in an epitaph composed in his old age : 

Trdrpa Si fte reKvol 
'AtOiq IV 'AffavpioiQ vaiofisva, rddapa.* 

It is curious to think of this town, which from our childhood 
we have connected with the miracle of the demoniac and the 
swine, as a Syrian Athens, the birthplace of the most mellifluous 
of all erotic songsters. Meleager's date is half a century or there- 
abouts before the Christian era. He therefore was ignorant of 
the work and the words of One who made the insignificant place 
of his origin world-famous. Of his history we know really noth- 
ing more than his own epigrams convey ; the two following coup- 
lets from one of his epitaphs record his sojourn during different 
periods of his life at Tyre and at Ceos : 

* The country that gave birth to me is Gadara, an Attic city on Assyrian 


ov BtoTraiQ rjvdpioffe Tvpoq FaSdpojv 9' lepa yBuv' 
Kuic ^' ipari) MtpoTTWv irpiajivv iyriporp6(pH. 

'AXX' il fitv ^vpog itrai, !EdXan' ^' ^' *'*'''■' '^vye ^o'lvi^, 
'SaiSioQ • £1 o' "EWrjv, x^^pi ' ''o c' avro (ppmov.* 

This triple salutation, coming from the son of Gadara and Tyre 
and Ceos, brings us close to the pure humanity which distin- 
guished Meleager. Modern men, judging him by the standard of 
Christian morality, may feel justified in flinging a stone at the 
poet who celebrated his Muiscos and his Diodes, his lleliodora 
and his Zenophila, in too voluptuous verse. But those who are 
content to criticise a pagan by his own rule of right and wrong 
will admit that Meleager had a spirit of the subtlest and the 
sweetest, a heart of the tenderest, and a genius of the purest that 
has been ever granted to an elegist of earthly love. AVhile read- 
ing his verse, it is impossible to avoid laying down the book and 
pausing to exclaim : How modern is the phrase, how true the pas- 
sion, how unique the style ! Though Melcager's voice has been 
mute a score of centuries, it yet rings clear and vivid in our ears ; 
because the man was a real poet, feeling intensely, expressing for- 
cibly and beautifully, steeping his style in the fountain of tender 
sentiment which is eternal. We find in him none of the cynicism 
which defiles Straton, or of the voluptuary's despair which gives to 
Agathias the morbid splendor of decay, the colors of corruption. 
All is simple, lively, fresh with joyous experience in his verse. 

The first great merit of Meleager as a poet is limpidity. A 
crystal is not more transparent than his style ; but the crystal to 
which we compare it must be colored with the softest flush of 
beryl or of amethyst. Here is a little poem in praise of Helio- 
dora (i. 85) : 

* Who grew to man's estate in Tyre and Gadara, and found a fair old age 
in Cos. If then thou art a Syrian, Salaam ! if a Phoenician, Naidios ! if a 
Hellene, Hail ! 


7r\i4'w \tvKoiov, TrXe^oi V (fKa\r\v li\ia ^wproic 

vdpKKSaov, 7r\t|(t( kui ru ytXtLvTCi Kplva, 
TrXi^w Kai KpoKov T}dvv' iTrnrXtKo S' vokivQov 

■Kop>l>vph]V, TrXt^tx) Kai fiXtpaara poSa, 
wg av iwi KpoTd(poig fivpoj3o(7Tpiixov 'HXioSwpag 

evTcXoKaiiov ■)(cuti]v dvdofioXy artcpavog,* 

Nothing can be more simple than the expression, more exquisite 
than the cadence of these lines. The same may be said about 
the elegy on Cleariste (i. 307) : 

oil ydiiov dXX' 'AtSav iirivvi^KpiSiov KXeaptaTa 

oi^aro, wapOeviag u^fiara Xvo/tsra* 
dpTi yap lairtpioi vvf^Kpag i~l SiKXiaiv axtvv 

XwToi Kai OaXdjiMV iirXarayeiiyTO Bvpai ' 
■^tpoi d' oXoXvyfiw dv'iKpayov, tK S' 'Yixivaiog 

myaOtig yoipov (pOty^ta fiidapfioaaro' 
a'l S' avrai Kai (ptyyog i^adovxovv Trapu 7rrt<Tr<>J 

■Kii'Kai, Kai <t)di^iva vipdiv i(paivnv oSuv.f 

The thought of this next epigram recalls the song to Ageanax in 
Theocritus's seventh idyl (ii. 402) : 

I'll twine white violets, and the myrtle green ; 

Narcissus will I twine, and lilies sheen ; 

I'll twine sweet crocus, and the hyacinth blue ; 

And last I twine the rose, love's token true : 

That all may form a wreath of beauty meet 

To deck my Ileliodora's tresses sweet. 

GoLDWiN Smith. 
Poor Cleariste loosed her virgin zone 

Not for her wedding, but for Acheron ; 

'Twas but last eve the merry pipes were swelling, 

And dancing footsteps thrilled the festive dwelling; 

Morn changed those notes for waitings loud and long, 

And dirges drowned the hymeneal song ; 

Alas ! the very torches meant to wave 

Around her bridal couch, now light her to the grave ! 

J. A. Stmonds, M.D. 


ovpioQ ifiTTvevcras vavraig 'Sorog, & Svaspwreg, 

ijfiiav /uv \l/vxaQ upTraaev 'AvSpdyaOov ' 
rpig jxaKapig vatg, rpig d' oX/3(a Kvi.taTa ttovtov, 

TirpaKi S' EvSaifiwv '7rmdo(popwv avifiog * 
liQ' tirjv Si\(pig "iv i\io\g fiaffruKTog ejr' wfioig 

7rop9fitv9tig iaiStj rdv yXvKVTraiSa 'PoSov* 

These quotations are sufficient to set fortli the purity of Melea- 
ger's style, though many more examples might have been borrow- 
ed from his epigrams on the cicada, on the mosquitoes who tor- 
mented Zenophila, on Antiochus, who would have been Eros if 
Eros had worn the boy's petasos and chlamys. The next point 
to notice about him is the suggestiveness of his language, his fac- 
ulty of creating the right epithets and turning the perfect phrase 
that suits his meaning. The fragrance of the second line in this 
couplet is undefinable but potent : 

w Sv(Tspu)g \(/vxt) Travffai izon Kal Ci ovEtpaiv 
tlSwXoig KciWtvg Kuxpa xXiaivonh'Tj.'f 

It is what all day-dreamers and castle-builders, not to speak of 
the dreamers of the night, must fain cry out in their despair. 
The common motive of a lover pledging his absent mistress is 
elevated to a region of novel beauty by the passionate repetition 
of words in this first line : 

* Fair blows the breeze : the seamen loose the sail : — 
men that know not love, your favoring gale 
Steals half my soul, Andragathos, from me ! 
Thrice lucky ships, and billows of the sea 
Thrice blessed, and happiest breeze that bears the boy ! 
Oh would I were a dolphin, that my joy. 
Here on my shoulders ferried, might behold 
Rhodes, the fair island thronged with boys of gold ! 

t " soul too loving, cease at length from even in dreams thus idly bask- 
uig in the warmth of Beauty's empty shapes." 


tyXU Kal irdXiv etirk irdkiv wdXiv 'HXiuSoipag.* 

In tlie same way a very old thought receives new exquisiteness 
in the last couplet of the epitaph on Heliodora : 

aWd ae yovrovfiai Fa. 7ravTp6(pe rdv Trai'oSvpTov 
rjpifia aoii; koKttoiq fidrip ii'ayKoKiaai.^ 

The invocation to Night, which I will next quote, has its own 
beauty derived from the variety of images which are subtly and 
capriciously accumulated : 

iv toSe na/if^ifiTiipa Qeujv XiVo/iai ae 0«'X»/ "Sv^ 
val XiTOfiai Kw/xwj/ ffviinrXafe TroTtaa Nir|.:]: 

But Meleager's epithets for Love are, perhaps, the triumphs of 
his verbal coinage : 

tffTi S' 6 naig jXvKvSaKpvQ ddXaXoc wfci'C drap^fiq 
(jtfiu ytXdii' nrtpoeif; vwra <papf.Tpo(p6poQ.^ 

Again he calls him aj3poTri^i\oQ tpiog (delicate-sandalled Love) and 
fashions words like xpvxawarrir, vTn'aTrarrjg (soul-cheating and 
sleep-cheating), to express the qualities of the treacherous god. 
In some of his metaphorical descriptions of passion he displays a 
really fervid imagination. To this class of creation belong the 
poem on the Soul's thirst (ii. 414), on the memory of beauty that 
lives like a fiery image in the heart (ii. 413), and the following 
splendid picture of the tyranny of Love. He is addressing his 
Soul, who has once again incautiously been trapped by Eros : 

* " Pour forth ; and again cry, again, and yet again, ' to Heliodora ! ' " 

t " I pray thee, Earth, all-nourishing, in thy deep breast, mother, to en- 
fold her tenderly, for whom my tears must flow for aye." 

If. " This one boon I ask of thee, great mother of all gods, beloved Night ! 
Nay, I beseech thee, thou fellow wanderer with Revelry, holy Night !" 

§ " The boy is honey-teared, tireless of speech, swift, without sense of fear, 
with laughter on his roguish lips, winged, bearing arrows in a quiver on his 


Ti fiuTr]v ivl SetT/xoic 
(TTralpeic ; avTOQ ipiog tcl impa aov ^iceKir, 
Kai a iir'i irvp tanjcTE, fivpoig c' ippavi \i7r6irvovv, 
SwKe dt Slipway Sc'iKpva Gepfid iriilf.* 

Surely a more successful marriage of romantic fancy to classic 
form was never effected even by a modern poet. This line ao-ain 
contains a bold and splendid metaphor : 

KojftaZio S' ovK olvov vTTo (ppiva irvp St yefiiaQilg.f 

Meloager had a soul that inclined to all beautiful and tender 
things. Having described the return of spring in a prolonged 
chant of joy, he winds up with words worthy of a troubadour on 
Minnesinger in the April of a new age : 

TToiQ ov xpt) Kai doiSov ip tiapi kuXuv c'ulffai ;| 

The cicada, dpoirepalc (T-ay6r£(7<n fieOvaddg (drunken with honey- 
drops of dew), the av-ofvtg fiinr^na XiipuQ (nature's OAvn mimic of 
the lyre) — a conceit, by the way, in the style of Marini or of Cal- 
deron — the bee whom he addresses as ardoBiaiTe fieXiaaa (flower- 
pasturing bee), and all the flowers for which he has found exqui- 
site epithets, the 0/Xo/i/3poe vci^kktctoq (narcissus that loves the rain 
of heaven), the (piXepacr-a poca (roses to lovers dear), the olpEcri- 
(poira Kpiva (lilies that roam the mountain-sides), and again ra 
yeXu)i'Ta kpiva (laughing lilies), testify to the passionate love and 
to the purity of heart with which he greeted and studied the sim- 
plest beauties of the world.§ In dealing with flowers he is par- 

* " Why vainly in thy bonds thus pant and fret ? Love himself bound thy 
wings and set thee on a fire, and rubbed thee, when thy breath grew faint, 
with myrrh, and when thou thirstedst gave thee burning tears to drink." 

f " A reveller I go freighted with fire not wine beneath the region of my 

X " How could it be that poet also should not sing fair songs in spring ?" 

§ Those who on the shores of the Mediterranean have traced out beds of 


ticularly felicitous. Most exquisite are the lines in which he de- 
scribes his garland of the Greek poets and assigns to each some 
favorite of the garden or the field, and again those other couplets 
which compare the boys of Tyre to a bouquet culled by love for 
Aphrodite. Baia jxiv uWh pula (slight things perhaps, but roses) : 
these are the words in which Meleager describes the too few but 
precious verses of Sappho, and for his own poetry they have a 
peculiar propriety. Teat ^^ovviv aijdopeg (thy nightingales still 
live) we may say, quoting Callimachus, Avhen we take leave of 
him. . His poetry has the sweetness and the splendor of the rose, 
the rapture and full-throated melody of the nightingale. 

Next in artistic excellence to Meleager among the amatory 
poets is Straton, a Greek of Sardis, who lived in the second cen- 
tury. But there are few readers who, even for the sake of his 
pure and perfect language, will be prepared to put up with the 
•immodesty of his subject-matter. Straton is not so delicate and 
subtle in style as Meleager; but he has a masculine vigor and 
nettete of phrase peculiar to himself. It is not possible to quote 
many of his epigrams. lie suffers the neglect which necessarily 
obscures those men of genius who misuse their powers. Yet the 
story of the garland-weaver (ii. 396), and the address to school- 
masters (ii. 219), are too clever to be passed by without notice. 
The following epigram on a picture of Ganymede gives a very 
fair notion of Straton's style (ii. 425) : 

OTHX'^ """pos aiOipa Sloi', oiTrtpxeo TratSa KOj-tiZiov 
ciUre, rag Si<pvit(; tKirtTdcraQ irripvyac, 

red tulips or anemones or narcissus from terrace to terrace, over rocks and 
under olive-branches, know bow delicately true to nature is the thought con- 
tained in the one epithet ovpsffi^otra — roaming like nymphs along the hills, 
now single and now gathered into companies, as though their own sweet will 
had led them wandering. 

II.— 21 


Tov Aibg r)Si(TTiiJv olvo\6oi' KvXiicujv ' 

^iiSto S' a'ljxa^ai Kovpov yanipo'jri>xi Tapai^) 

fii) Zev£ c'tXyffffy TovTO fSapvyvfxei'OQ.* 

To this may be added an exliortation to pleasure in despite of 
death (ii. 288).f 

Callimachus deserves mention as a third with Meleager and 
Straton. His style, drier than that of Meleager, more elevated 
than Straton's, is marked by a frigidity of good scholarship which 
only at intervals warms into the fire of passionate poetry. In 
writing epigrams Callimachus was careful to preserve the pointed 
character of the composition. He did not merely, as is the fre- 
quent wont of Meleager, indite a short poem in elegiacs. This 
being the case, his love poems, though they are many, are not 
equal to his epitaphs. 

To mention all the poets of the amatory chapters would be im- 
possible. Their name is legion. Even Plato the divine, by right 
of this epigram to Aster : 

Soar upward to the air divine : 
Spread broad thy pinions aquiline : 
Carry amid thy plumage him 
Who fills Jove's beaker to the brim : 
Take care that neither crooked claw 
Make the boy's thigh or bosom raw ; 
For Jove will wish thee sorry speed 
If thou molest his Ganymede. 

Drink now, and love, Dcmocrates ; for we 

Shall not have wine and boys eternally : 

Wreathe we our heads, anoint ourselves with myrrt, 

Others will do this to our sepulchre : 

Let now my living bones with wine be drenched ; 

Water may deluge them when I am quenched. 


aartpac elffaOptlg aarrip tfiog ' e.i9e ytvoifirjv -7.-^-- 

ovpavbg ojg ttoXKoIq ofifiaaiv tig <re j3\tTr<o — * 

and of this to Agathon : . 

Tj)v \l/vxt)v 'AydQwva ^iXwi' iiri x£'X«c'»' tcx"" * 
^\9t yap 7) rXrjutiJV ioQ Oia^i]<yop.krr\ — t 

takes rank in the erotic cycle. Yet we may touch in passing on 
the names of Philodemus and Antipater, the former a native of 
Gadara, the latter a Sidonian, whose epitaph was composed by 
Meleager, Their poems help to complete the picture of Syrian 
luxury and culture in the cities of North Palestine, which we gain 
when reading Meleager. Of Philodemus the liveliest epigram is 
a dialogue, which seems to have come straight from the pages of 
some comedy (i. 68) ; but the majority of his verses belong to 
that class of literature which finds its illustration in the Gabinetto 
Segreto of the Neapolitan Museum. Occasionally he strikes a true 
note of poetry, as in this invocation to the moon : 

vvKTipivri ctKfpu)^ (piXoTrdvpvxe (paivi fffX^vjj, 

(paivf. Si tvrpTjTwv jSaXKofikri] QvpiSiov • • 

avya^s xpuffl/jv KaWiffnov ' Ig rd ^iXivvTwv 
ipya KaroTTTtviiv ov ^96vog dQavdry. 

b\fiiZi'ig Kai riivde Kal t'lfitag oJSa atki]vt]' 
Koi yap afiv \pvxfjv {(pXtytv 'EvSvuiitiv.'jj. 

Gazing at stars, my star ? I would that I were the welkin, 

Starry with infinite eyes, gazing forever at thee ! 

Fkederick Farrar. 
Kissing Helena, together 

With my kiss, my soul beside it 
Came to my lips, and there I kept it — 
For the poor thing had wandered thither, 

To follow where the kiss should guide it, 

Oh cruel I to intercept it ! 


Shine forth, night-wandering, horned, and vigilant queen, 
Through the shy lattice shoot thy silver sheen ; 


Antipater shines less in his erotic poems than in the numerous ep- 
igrams which he composed on the earlier Greek poets, especially on 
Anacreon, Eriuna, Sappho, Pindar, Ibycus. lie lived at a period when 
the study of the lyrists was still flourishing, and each of his couplets 
contains a fine and thoughtful piece of descriptive criticism. 

Another group of amatory poets must be mentioned. Aga- 
thias, Macedonius, and Paulus Silentiarius, Greeks of Byzantium 
about the age of Justinian, together with Rufinas, whose date is 
not quite certain, yield the very last fruits of the Greek genius, 
after it had been corrupted by the lusts of Rome and the effemi- 
nacy of the East. Very pale and hectic are the hues which give 
a sort of sickly beauty to their style. Their epigrams vary be- 
tween querulous lamentations over old age and death and highly 
colored pictures of self-satisfied sensuality. Rufinus is a kind of 
second Straton in the firmness of his touch, the cynicism of his 
impudicity. The complaint of Agathias to the swallows that 
twittered at his window in early dawn (i. 102), his description of 
Rhodanthe and the vintage feast (ii. 297),* and those lines in 

Illume Callistion : for a goddess may 
Gaze on a pair of lovers while they play. 
Thou enviest her and me, I know, fair moon, 
For thou didst once burn for Endymion. 

We trod the brimming wine-press ankle-high, 
Singing wild songs of Bacchic revelry: 
Forth flowed the must in rills ; our cups of wood 
Like cockboats swam upon the honeyed flood : 
With these we drew, and as we filled them, quaffed, 
With no warm Naiad to allay the draught : 
But fair Rhodanthe bent above the press, 
And the fount sparkled with her loveliness : 
We in our souls were shaken ; yea, each man 
Quaked beneath Bacchus and the Paphian. 
Ah me ! the one flowed at our feet in streams — 
The other fooled us with mere empty dreams ! 


which he has anticipated Jonson's lyric on the kiss which made 

the wine within the cup inebriating (i. 107), may be quoted as 

fair specimens of his style. Of Paulus Silentiarius I do not care 

to allude to more than the poem in which he describes the joy of 

two lovers (i, 106). What Ariosto and Boiardo have dwelt on in 

some of their most brilliant episodes, what Giorgione has painted 

in the eyes of the shepherd who envies the kiss given by Rachel 

to Jacob, is here compressed into eighteen lines of great literary 

beauty. But a man need be neither a prude nor a Puritan to 

turn with sadness and with loathing from these last autumnal 

blossoms on the tree of Greek beauty. The brothel and the grave 

are all that is left for Rufinus and his contemporaries. Over the 

one hangs the black shadow of death ; the other is tenanted by 

ghosts of carnal joy : 

When lust, 

By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk. 

But most by lewd and lavish acts of sin. 

Lets in defilement to the inward parts. 

The soul grows clotted by contagion, 

Inibodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose 

The divine property of her first being. 

Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp 

Oft seen in charnel-vaults and sepulchres. 

Lingering, and sitting by a new-made grave,- 

As loath to leave the body that it loved. 

And linked itself by carnal sensuality 

To a degenerate and degraded state.* 

Before taking leave of the erotic poets of the Anthology, I shall 
here insert a few translations made by me from Meleager, Straton, 
and some anonymous poets. The first epigram illustrates the 
Greek custom of going at night, after drinking, with lighted 
torches to the house of the beloved person, and there suspending 
garlands on the door. It is not easy to find an equivalent for 
... * Comm, 463, etc. 


the characteristic Greek word Ktofxapfiv. I have tried to deal with 
it by preserving the original allusion to the revel : 

The die is cast ! Na;y, light the torch ! 

I'll take the road ! Up, courage, ho ! 
Why linger pondering in the porch ? 

Upon Love's revel we will go ! 

Shake off those fumes of wine ! Hang care 

And caution I AVhat has Love to do 
With prudence ? Let the torches flare ! 

Quick, drown the doubts that hampered you ! 

Cast weary wisdom to the wind ! 

One thing, but one alone, I know : 
Love bent e'en Jove and made him blind ! 

Upon Love's revel we will go ! 

The second, by Meleager, turns upon the same custom ; but it is 

here treated with the originality of imagination distinctive of his 


I've drunk sheer madness ! Not with wine 

But old fantastic tales I'll arm 

My heart in heedlessness divine, 

And dare the road nor dream of harm ! 

I'll join Love's rout ! Let thunder break, 
Let lightning blast me by the way ! _ 

Invulnerable Love shall shake 
His a^gis o'er my head to-day. 

In a third, Meleager recommends hard drinking as a remedy for 
the pains of love : 

Drink, luckless lover ! Thy heart's fiery rage 
Bacchus who gives oblivion shall assuage : 
Drink deep, and while thoa drain'st the brimming bowl, 
Drive love's dark anguish from thy fevered soul. 

Two of these little compositions deal with the old comparison 
between love and the sea. In the first, the lover's journey is lik- 


encd to a comfortless voyage, where the house of the beloved will 
be for him safe anchorage after the storm : 

Cold blows the winter wind : 'tis Love, 

Whose sweet eyes swim with honeyed tears, 

That bears me to thy doors, my love, 
Tossed by the storm of hopes and fears. 

Cold blows the blast of aching Love ; 

But be thou for my wandering s.ail, 
Adrift upon these waves of love. 

Safe harbor from the whistling gale ! 

In the second, love itself is likened to the ocean, always shifting, 
never to be trusted: . - 

My love is like an April storm J 

L'pon a false and fickle sea : 
One day you shine, and sunny warm 

Are those clear smiles you shower on me ; 
Next day from cloudy brows you rain 
Your anger on the ruffled main. 

Around me all the deeps are dark ; 

I whirl and wander to and fro. 
Like one who vainly steers his bark 

Mid winds that battle as they blow : — 
Then raise the flag of love or hate. 
That I at last may know my fate! 

The peculiar distinction of Mcleager's genius gives its special 
quality to the following dedication, in which the poet either is, 
or feigns himself to be, made captive by Love upon first landing 
in a strange counti'v : 


The Lady of desires, a goddess, gave 

My soul to thee ; 
To thee soft-sandalled Love hath sent, a slave, 

Poor naked me : 


A stranger on a stranger's soil, tight-bound 

With bands of steel : — 
I do but pray that we may once be found 

rirm friends and leal ! 

Yet thou dost spurn my prayers, refuse my love, 

Still stern and mute ; 
Time will not melt thee, nor the deeds that prove 

How pure my suit. 

Have pity, king, have pity ! Fate hath willed 

Thee god and lord : 
Life in thy hands and death, to break or build. 

For me is stored ! 

The next specimen is an attempt to render into English stanzas 
one of Meleager's most passionate poems : 

Did I not tell you so, and cry : 

" Rash soul, by Venus, you'll be caught ! 

Ah, luckless soul, why will you fly 

So near the toils that Love had wrought ?" 

Did I not warn you ? Now the net 

Has tangled you, and in the string 
You vainly strive, for Love hath set 

And bound your pinions, wing to wing ; 

And placed you on the flames to pine. 
And rubbed with myrrh your panting lip, 

And when you thirsted given you wine 
Of hot and bitter tears to sip. 

Ah, weary soul, fordone with pain ! 

Now in the fire you burn, and now 
Take respite for a while again. 

Draw better breath and cool your brow ! 

Why 'weep and wail? What time you first 
Sheltered wild Love within your breast. 


Did 3'ou not know the boy you nursed 
Would prove a false and cruel guest ? 

Did you not know ? See, now he pays 

The guerdon of your fostering care 
With fire that on the spirit preys, 

Mixed with cold snow-flakes of despair! 

You chose )-our lot. Then cease to weep : 

Endure this torment : tame your will : 
Remember, what you sowed, you reap : 

And, though it burns, 'tis honey still! 

Here, lastly, is an Envoy, sliglitly altered in the English transla- 
tion from Straton's original : 

It may be in tlie years to come 
That men who love shall think of me. 
And reading o'er these verses see 
How love was my life's martyrdom. 

Love-songs I write for him and her. 
Now this, now that, as Love dictates ; 
One birthday gift alone the Fates 
Gave m6, to be Love's scrivener. 

One large section of the Anthology remains to be considered. 
It contains what are called the (.niypa^fxara IxliELK-iica, or poems 
upon vai'ious subjects chosen for their propriety for rhetorical 
exposition. These epigrams, the favorites of modern imitators, 
display the Greek taste in this style of composition to the best 
advantage. The Greeks did not regard the epigram merely as a 
short poem with a sting in its tail — to quote the famous couplet: 

Omne epigramma sit instar apis : sit aculeus illi : 
Sint sua mella : sit ct corporis exigui.* 

* Three things must epigrams, like bees, have all; 

A sting and honey and a body small. 



True to the derivation of the word, which means an inscription 
or superscription, they were satisfied if an epigram were short 
and gifted with the honey-dews of Helicon.* Meleager would 
have called his collection a beehive, and not a flower-garland, if 
he had acknowledged the justice of the Latin definition which 
has just been cited. The epigrams of which I am about to speak 
are simply little occasional poems, fugitive pieces, Oelegenheits- 
ffedichte, varying in length from two to twenty lines, composed 
in elegiac metre, and determined, as to form and treatment, by 
the exigencies of the subject. Some of them, it is true, are no- 
ticeable for their point ; but point is not the same as sting. The 
following panegyric of Athens, for example, approximates to the 
epigram as it is commonly conceived (ii. 13) : 

yj/ [I'tv tap KoafioQ TToKvSevSpiog, aiGepi S' darpa, 

* A certain Cyril gives this as his definition of a good epigram (ii. 75 ; com- 
pare No. 342 on p. 69) : 

irdyKoXdv iar tviypafina to Siartxov ' rjv Si TrapeXOyg 
Toi% Tptlc, paip<[iSH(^ KOVK iTriypajJiiia Xkyiig. 

Two lines complete the epigram — or three : 
Write more ; you aim at epic poetry. 

Here the essence of this kind of poetry is said to be brevity. But nothing is 
said about a sting. And on the point of brevity, the Cyril to whom this 
couplet is attributed is far too stringent when judged by the best Greek 
standards. The modern notion' of the epigram is derived from a study of 
Martial, whose best verses are satirical and therefore of necessity stinging. 

f Spring with her waving trees 

Adorns the earth : to heaven 
The pride of stars is given : 
Athens illustrates Greece : 
She on her brows doth set 
Of men this coronet. 


The same may be said about tbe lines upon the vine and the goat 
(ii. 15 ; compare 20) : 

Ktiv fie (pdyys « tti pti^av o/ia»c m Kapirotpopl^ao) 
oaaov iTTiaTTiiaai aoi rpayi dvoixivii):* 

and tbe following satire, so well known by the parody of Porson 
(ii. 325) : 

TtClVTlQ /.UV KlXlKft" KOKOl av«|Off  tl> Sk Ki\i^iv 

tic ayaOoQ Kivvpt]g,Kal Kivvpr^g dt Ki'Xt^.f 

Again the play of words in the last line of this next epigram 
(ii. 24) gives a sort of pungency to its conclusion : 

drOl Kopa jifXidpiTTTi, \d\oq \d\ov dpird^aaa 

TiTTiya TTTai'olg Salra (pLpeig TiKEdir, 
rbv \dXov a AaXoecrffa, rov ivTTTepov a Trrepoeacra, 

Tuv t,ivov a ^t'lva, rbv Qtpii'bv Oepwd ; 
Kovx^ r«xoc piipiiQ ; ov yap BejXLg ovci CiKaiov 

6\\v(t9' vfivonoXovQ vnvoTToXotg crro/ia(7ij'.:|: 

Though thou shouldst gnaw me to the root, 
Destructive goat, enough of fruit 
I bear, betwixt my horns to shed. 
When to the altar tliou art led. 


The Germans at Greek 
Are sadly to seek. 
Not five in five-score. 
But ninety-five more ; 
All — save only Hermann ; 
And Hermann's a German. 


Attic maid ! with honey fed, 

Bear'st thou to thy callow brood 

Yonder locust from the mead. 
Destined their delicious food ? 


The Greek epigram has this, in fact, in common with all good 
poems, that the conclusion should be the strongest and most em- 
phatic portion. But in liberty of subject and of treatment it cor- 
responds to the Italian sonnet. Unquestionably of this kind is 
the famous poem of Ptolemy upon the stars (ii. 118), which re- 
calls to mind the saying of Kant, that the two things which 
moved his awe were the stars of heaven above him and the moral 
law within the soul of man : 

ol^' on OvaTug tyw cot 'Kpafxepoc' dW orav darpwv 

HacTTiino nvKivac c'l^cpi^punovg iKiKag, 
oviciT iTTi^l/avio ya(j;c -rroaii', c'tWa irap avT<^ 

Zj;i'i QeoTpEipkog Tri^TrXafiai dfilipoairjQ.* 

The poem on human life, which has been attributed severally 
to Poseidippus and to Plato Comicus, and which Bacon thouglit 
worthy of imitation, may take rank with the most elevated son- 
nets of modern literature (ii. Tl) : 

Ye have kindred voices clear, 

Ye alike unfold the wing, 
Migrate hither, sojourn here. 

Both attendant on the spring. 

Ah ! for pity drop the prize ; 

Let it not with truth be said. 
That a songster gasps and dies. 

That a songster may be fed. 


* Though but the being of a day, 
"When I yon planet's course survey. 

This earth I then despise ; 
Near Jove's eternal throne I stand, 
And quaff from an immortal hand 
The nectar of the skies. 

Philip Smyth. 


TTohjv Tit" jiioToia Tiifi^ 7-|Oi'/3ov ; siV ayopy fiiv 

viiKEU (cat x<^(\(:Trai 7rp»y$t£C' >-v Si Sofioig 
(ppovTidiQ' i>> 0' aypoig KafiaTwv aXiQ' iv 61 OaXdacry 

rdp^oQ' iiri ^tivr}q S\ r}V fiiv tXV^ '"'' ^^OQ' 
i]V anopyQ, avirfpov " J'xEte ydfiov ; ovk d/itpifivos ' 

taaeai' ou yapieic; Zyg ir ipJijxortpoQ' 
TiKva TTovoi, TrripioffiQ aTraiQ fiiog ' a'l vtoTtjTes 

dtppovEQ, a'l iroXial S' tfnraXii' dSpavitq ' 
ijv dpa TOiv CKTcroiv ivog diptaiQ, ij to yivkaOai 

p.T}Si7ror' 1] TO Oavtif aurtKa rtKTofitvoi'.* 

The reverse of this picture is disphiyed with much felicity and 
geniality, but with less force, by Metrodorus (ii. 72) : 

TrarToii]v (iioroio rdfioig rpijiov iv dyopy fitv 

KvSta Kai TTivvTai Trplj^ug ' iv dt Sofioig 
djiTTovfi' iv S' dypdii; (pvaioQ ^dpig' iv Si QdXdaay 

KfpSoQ  iirl ^tivi]c, ))v fiiv ixyc Ti, KXioc ' 
^r S' dnopyq jiovoQ dlSag ' t^fif yofiov ; oIkoq dpitrrog 

iafftrat ' ov yafiktig ; ^ijQ ir iXcKpponpog ' 

* Bacon's version, "The world's a bubble, and the life of man — ," is both 
well known and too long to quote. The following is from the pea of Sir 
John Beaumont: 

What course of life should wretched mortals take ? 
In courts hard questions large contention make : 
Care dwells in houses, labor in the field. 
Tumultuous seas affrighting dangers yield. 
In foreign lands thou never canst be blessed ; 
If rich, thou art in fear ; if poor, distressed. 
In wedlock frequent discontentments swell ; 
Unmarried persons as in deserts dwell. 
How many troubles are with children born ; 
Yet be that wants them counts himself forlorn. 
Young men are wanton, and of wisdom void ; 
Gray hairs are cold, unfit to be employed. 
Who would not one of these two offers choose, 
Not to be born, or breath with speed to lose ? 


TiKva iroOog, oKppovTiQ aTTaig jSioQ ' at veoTtinQ 

pwfiaXtat, TToXial S' tfnraXiv tvca^iiQ ' 
ovK dpa Twv Siaauiv ivog aiptaig, f) to ytviaOai 

fiijStiror t] TO Oaveiv ' iravTa yap itrOXd (Hcj}.* 

Some of the epigrams of this section are written in the true 
style of elegies. The following splendid threnody by Antipater 
of Sidon upon the ruins of Corinth, which was imitated by Aga- 
thias in his lines on Troy, may be cited as perfect in this style of 
composition (ii. 29) : 

■irov TO TTtpijiXtirTov koXKoq aio, A<opi KopivOe ; 

TTov ffTi<pavoi TTupywv, TTOv TCI iTctXai Kreava, 
-TTOv vi]oi fiaKapwv, irov SwfiaTa, irov Si SdfxapTfc 

'S.iaixpua, XaCjv ff a\ noTt fivpidSiC ', 
ovSk yap ovS' <x»'oc, iroXvKd^i/iopf, aiio XtXtnrTai, 

■jrdvra St ffvfifidpxl/ag i^kfaytv iroXeftog ' 
fiovvat uTv6p9r]Toi l^i]pr]tS(Q, 'QKtavolo 

Kovpai, aCJv o^Ewv fi'invojiiv dXKv6viQ.\ 

* In every way of life true pleasure flows : 
Immortal fame from public action grows : 
Within the doors is found appeasing rest ; 
In fields the gifts of nature are expressed. 
The sea brings gain, the rich abroad provide 
To blaze their names, the poor their wants to hide : 
All household's best are governed by a wife ; 
His cares are light, who leads a single life : 
Sweet children are delights which marriage bless ; 
He that hath none disturbs his thoughts the less. 
Strong youth can triumph in victorious deeds ; 
Old age the soul with pious motions feeds. 
All states are good, and they are falsely led 
Who wish to be unborn or quickly dead. 

Sir John Beaumont. 

f Where, Corinth, are thy glories now. 

Thy ancient wealth, thy castled brow, 


It is a grand picture of the queen of pleasure In her widow- 
hood and desolation mourned over by the deathless daughters of 
the plunging sea. Occasionally the theme of the epigram is his- 
torical. The finest, perhaps, of this sort is a poem by Phllippus 
on Leonldas (il, 59) : 

vov\v AewviSeoj KUTiCijjv ^i/fat; avToSaiKTOV 

Sep^J/C t\\(((i'oi» (piipii Trop(pvpEq) ' 
K^K I'lKvwv c i'ix'1'^^'^ " ''"f STrnprae TToXvg i)pu)g ' 

oil Ss\nfiai TrpoOoraig fiiadov ctpliXofilvov ' 
a(T;rif f/Joi rvj-ijioii Ko(T^og f-ttyac " «(p£ rd Ilipautv 

X>%'^ *f£'V ('V'^'JJ' wf AaKiSaifiovioc* 

Few, however, of the epigrams rise to the altitude of those I 
have been lately quoting. Their subjects are for the most part 
simple incidents, or such as would admit of treatment within the 
space of an engraved gem. The story of the girls Avho played at 


Thy solemn fanes, thy halls of state, 

Thy high-born dames, thy crowded gate ? 

There's not a ruin left to tell 

Where Corinth stood, how Corinth fell. 

The Nereids of thy double sea 

Alone remain to wail for thee. 

GoLDwiN Smith. 

Seeing the martyred corpse of Sparta's king 

Cast 'mid the dead, 
Xerxes around the mighty limbs did fling 

His mantle red. 
Then from the shades the glorious hero cried : 
"Not mine a traitor's guerdon. 'Tis my pride 
This shield upon ray grave to wear. 

Your Persian gifts ; a Spartan I will go 

To Death below." 


dice upon tlie house-roof is told very prettily in the following 
lines (ii. 31) : 

ai rptffffai iroTi ircdSig f v aX\ri\ai(jiv trrai^ov 

K\r}pii), rig TrpoTepi] fUjaerai tig dt£r]v ' 
Kal Tpig fiiv xnpiui' t/3aXov Kvfiov, i/XOe Ct naawv 

tg fiiaf • 7) S' tyeXa KXiipov o^tiXofitvov ' 
Ik reyiog yap deXirrov itcht utXiade ntfftjfia 

Svff/iopog, Ig £' didi]v -ijXvOtv, wf iXax^v ' 
dipivSrjg 6 KXrjpog 6r<iJ KaKou ' tg Si to X(foi' 

ovr fi'xai 9in]To7g tvaro)(oi ovte x^P^S* 

Not the least beautiful are those which describe natural ob- 
jects. The following six lines are devoted to an oak-tree (ii. 14) : 

KXwi'sg cnri^opioi Tararjg Spvug. ivaKiov v^pog 

dvcpdaiv oKpijTov Kavfia (pvXaaaofiivoig, 
evTriraXoi, Kipdfiwv (TTeyaviorepoi, oiKia <j>arTwv, 

olicia Tsrriytov, tvSioi aKpffiovig, 
Krifil Tov vfifTfpaiaiv vTTOKXivQkvra K6f.iai(jiv 

pvaaaff, dKripotp ytXiov ^vydca.\ 

One day three girls were casting lots in play, 

Which first to Acherotj should take her way ; 

Thrice with their sportive hands they threw, and thrice 

To the same hand returned the fateful dice ; 

The maiden laughed when thus her doom was told : 

Alas ! that moment from the roof she rolled ! 

So sure is Fate whene'er it bringeth bale, 

While prayers and vows for bliss must ever fail. 

J. A. Symonds, M.D. 
Aerial branches of tall oak, retreat 
Of loftiest shade for those who shun the heat, 
With foliage full, more close than tiling, where 
Dove and cicada dwell aloft in air, 
Me, too, that thus my head beneath you lay. 
Protect, a fugitive from noon's fierce ray. 

GoLDwix Smith. 


Here again is a rustic retreat for lovers, beneath the spreading 
branches of a pUmc (ii. 43) : 

a x^OEpa TrXardpiaroQ 'iS' wf tKpvipe (piXivvrwi' 

opyia, rdv upav (bvXXdca rtivoncva ' 
ctfKpi S' dp' aKptfioveaffiv ioiQ Kixapifffievos iipaiQ 

t)fi(piSoe XapFjC fioTpvg ciiroKpifiaTai • 
o\}Ti))Q, dt irXaTdvKJTi, (pvoig ' xXotpd 6' dvo ado 

ipvKKaQ dti KivOoi tovq Ilacpirjg odpovg.* 

Of the same sort is this invitation (ii. 529) : 

vipiKOfiov napd ravde KaOiZio ^(ovrjecraap 
(ppiaaovaav wvKivdiQ kCjvov virb Ze^vpoig, 

Kai aoi KaxXdkOvaiv t/ioTf irapd rdpaai avpiy^ 
QfXyojxkviov d^u Kwjjia kutu j3\i^dpu)v.\ 

And this plea from the oak-tree to the woodman to be spared (ii, 

' ' Hivtp rdv (iaXdvwv rdv ^aripa (peiSio kotttuv, 

(ptiSto  yrjpaXeav S' tKKtpdii^e Tvirvv, 
Tj iTsvKav, 7] rdvde TroXvariXixov iraXiovpov, 

j) TTph'ov, fi rdv avaXiav Kojiapov " 
TrjXoBi S' (ff^E SpvuQ ntXiKvv ' KOKvai yap tXs^av 

dfiiv ioQ TTpoTEpai fiaTtptQ tvTi Spveg.j^ 

Wide-spreading plane-tree, whose thicli branches meet 

To form for lovers an obscure retreat, 

Wliilst with thy foliage closely intertwine 

The curling tendrils of the clustered vine. 

Still mayst thou flourish, in perennial green, 

To shade the votaries of the Paphian queen. 

W. Shepherd. 
Come sit you down beneath this towering tree. 

Whose rustling leaves sing to the zephyr's call ; 
My pipe shall join the streamlet's melody, 

And slumber on your charmed eyelids fall. 

J. A. Symonds, M.D. 
Spare the parent of acorns, good wood-cutter, spare ! 

Let the time-honored fir feel the weight of your stroke, 
II.— 22 


Among the epigrams which seem to have been composed in 
the same spirit as those exquisite Uttle caprkci engraved by Greek 
artists upon gems, few are more felicitous than the three follow- 
ing. The affection of the Greeks for the grasshopper is one of 
their most charming naivetes. Everybody knows the pretty story 
Socrates tells about these MovaCjv 7rpo(pi}Tai, or Prophets of the 
Muses, in the Phcedrus — how they once were mortals who took 
such delight in the songs of the Muses that, "Singing always, 
they never thought of eating and drinking, until at last they for- 
got and died : and now they live again in the grasshoppers, and 
this is the return the Muses make to them — they hunger no more, 
neither thirst any more, but are always singing from the moment 
that they are born, and never eating or drinking." Thus the 
grasshoppers were held sacred in Greece, like storks in Germany 
and robins in England. Most of the epigrams about them turn 
on this sanctity. The following is a plea for pity from an im- 
prisoned grasshopper to the rustics who have caught him (ii. 76) : 

riTrn fii top (piXiprifiov avaiSti iroifiki'eQ aypy 

TtTTiya cpoaipuiv iXKtr air aKptpoi'wv, 
T>)v 'NvfKpujv irapodTTiv dijSova, Ki'ifiaTi piaaift 

ovpiffi Kai OKupalg ^ov9d \a\tvvTa vaTraig ; 
■^viSe Ka't Ki)(\riv Ka'i Koffffv^ov, yvidt rvdffovg 

yl/dpaq, dpovpaitjg iipirayag tvTropiijg • 
Kap-Kwv Sr]Kr]Ti]pag iXuv Otpig ' oWvr' tKeivovg ' 

<j>u\\wv Kal xXocpijg Tig <j)96vog Iffri tpoaov ;* 

The many-stalked thorn, or acanthus worn bare, 

Pine, arbutus, ilex — but touch not the oak ! 
Far hence be your axe, for our grandams have sung 
How the oaks are the mothers from whom we all sprung. 

Merit ALE. 

* Why, ruthless shepherds, from my dewy spray 
In my lone haunt, why tear me thus away ? 


Another epigram on the same page tells how the poet found a 
grasshopper struggling in a spider's web and released it with 
these words : " Go safe and free with your sweet voice of song !" 
But the prettiest of all is this long story (ii. 119) : 

'Evvofiov, wTToWoi', av fi'ev olffOd fie, TrioQ vot IriKuv 

27rd|0rtv 6 Aoicpc/t; tyw • TTEvQoiievuiQ S' ivimt). 
aluKov iv Kidapa vofiov tKpeKov, tv Se fietrcua^ 

<tjS^ fiot xopSdv TrXaKrpov cnriKpeixairtv " 
Kai fioi <p9uyyuv trolfiov oiraviKa KaipoQ ajrj/Vtt, 

tiQ c'tKoac pvdjiiov TojrptKiC ovk ivifiiV 
Kai Tig utt' avTOfiaTM KidapaQ ini irriyvv iirnrTag 

TiTTtK tTrXi'ipov TOiiWiTTig apfiov'iaQ • 
vtvpa ydp i^ tTlvaaaov ' o9' ijiSofiaTaQ Of /itKoifiav 

XopSdc, rav tovtu) yTjpvv iKixpajieQa ' 
irpoQ y(ip tfidp fitXerai' 6 iii(Tafi(3pivdg ovpemv ({tSus 

r/ji'o TO TTOtfitviKov (pOiyf-ia fitGtjpfiixraTO, 
Kai ji'tv oTt (p9tyyoiTo, avv aipvxoig toku vtvpa7c 

T({i fieTaf3a\\ofikv<[t avfiinrkiriTrTe 9p6<{) • 
TOVi'SKa <svn<pu)v<ji fxiv txLo xdpiv ' oq Si TVTrwOetQ 

XO-Xkeoq cifitTfpag 'ii,iQ' virip KiOdpag.* 

Me, the Nymphs' wayside minstrel, whose sweet note 

O'er sultry hill is heard and shady grove to float ? 

Lo! where the blackbird, thrush, and greedy host 

Of starlings fatten at the farmer's cost ! 

With just revenge those ravages pursue ; 

But grudge not my poor leaf and sip of grassy dew. 


Phoebus, thou know'st me — Eunomus, wlio beat 
Spartis : the tale for others I repeat ; 
Deftly upon my lyre I played and sang. 
When 'mid the song a broken harp-string rang, 
And seeking for its sound, I could not hear 
The note responsive to my descant clear. 
Then on my lyre, unasked, unsought, there flew 
A grasshopper, who filled the cadence due ; 


So friendly were the relations of tbe Greeks with the grasshop- 
pers. "We do not wonder when we read that the Athenians wore 
golden grasshoppers in their hair. 

Baths, groves, gardens, houses, temples, city-gates, and works of 
art furnish the later epigrammatists with congenial subjects. The 
Greeks of the Empire exercised much ingenuity in describing — 
whether in prose, like Philostratus, or in verse, like Agathias — 
the famous monuments of the maturity of Hellas. In this style 
the epigrams on statues are at once the most noticeable and the 
most abundant. The cow of Myron has at least two score of 
little sonnets to herself. The horses of Lysippqs, the Zeus of 
Pheidias, the Rhamnusian statue of Nemesis, the Praxitelean Ve- 
nus, various images of Eros, the Niobids, Marsyas, Ariadne, Hera- 
kles, Alexander, poets, physicians, orators, historians, and all the 
charioteers and athletes preserved in the museums of Byzantium 
or the groves of Altis, are described with a minuteness and a 
point that enable us to identify many of them with the surviving 
monuments of Greek sculpture. Pictures also come in for their 
due share of notice. A Polyxena of Polycletus, a Philoctetes of 
Parrhasius, and a Medea, which may have been the original of the 
famous Pompeian fresco, are specially remarkable. Then again 
cups engraved with figures in relief of Tantalus. or Love, seals 
inscribed with Phoebus or Medusa, gems and intaglios of all 
kinds, furnish matter for other epigrams. The following couplet 

For while six chords beneath my fingers cried, 
He with his tuneful voice the seventh supplied : 
The midday songster of the mountains set 
His pastoral ditty to my canzonet ; 
And when he sang, his modulated throat 
Accorded with the lifeless strings I smote. 
Therefore I thank my fellow-minstrel : he 
Sits on a lyi'e in brass, as you may see. 


on the amethyst turns upon an untranslatable play of words (ii. 

149): ,.,.., 

»/ Xi9oi; KJT afii6v(7To<;, cyw o o 7turr}Q Aiovvaog ' 

Amid this multitude of poems it is difficult to make a fair or rep- 
resentative selection. There are, however, four which I cannot 
well omit. The first is written by Poseidippus on a lost statue of 
Lysippus (ii. 584) : 

n't' TTuQfv 6 TrXacrrj/c ; SiKiiwj'tof' oin'Ofia d^ r/f ; 

Avai7nro£. av dt rig; Kaiptig 6 TravSafidTwp' 
TiTZTt S' tTr' ciKpa fitfiijKatj ; cui rpoxaM. t'i Se rapaotg 

iroffalv ixiig ci<pvtlc, ; 'iirTafi ij/Tjjj'Sjuioc ' 
^ftpi Si Se'£iTepy ri (pipiig ^vpoi' ; drSpaai Cuyfia 

i'oQ (iKfiiig TTuorjQ c^vrepog rtXsOu). 
7) St Kofit] ri Kar uipii> ; vwavTu'iaavTi XajikaQai. 

vq Aia rci^oTn9tv 5' tig ri ^aXaKpu TreXti ; 
Tov yap uTva^ wTr\vuiai TrapaOpi^avra fit Troacriu 

ovTig tO' ifitipuiv Spd^trai i^oTiiQtv. 
Toi<v(\' o Tf^\^fiTi]g at SttTrXaatv ; iivtKtv vfiwv, 

^tn'i  Koi iv TzpoQi'poiQ OrjKf. Si.SaaKaXir]V.* 

The second describes the statue of Nemesis erected near Marathon 
by Pheidias — that memorable work by which the greatest of 

* The sculptor's countrj'? Sic3'on. His name? 
Lysippus. You? Time, that all things can tame. 
Whj' thus a-tiptoe ? I liave halted never. 
Why ankle-winged ? I fly like wind forever. 
But in your hand that razor ? 'Tis a pledge 
That I am keener than the keenest edge. 
Why falls your hair in front ? For him to bind 
Who meets me. , True : but then you're bald behind ? 
Yes, because when with winged feet I have passed 
'Tis vain upon my back your hands to cast. 
Why did the sculptor carve you ? For your sake 
Here in the porch I stand ; my lesson take. 


sculptors recorded the most important crisis in the world's history 
(ii. 5Y3) : , , ,^ . ,- , 

Xaori'TTOf Tiir}^aQ TrtTpoTi)fioi(; aKtffi 
MfjSot; tTTovTOTTOpevaev, onujg ardpttKiXa revKy, 

TiJQ Knr' 'AQr]va'nx)V avfijioka KafifioviijQ ' 
wg Of ^di^ofitvoig Mapa9<ljv c'tvriKTvne Tlfpaaig 

Kai vitg vypoTTopovv ■^tvf.iaaiv a'lf^iaXioig, 
t^taciv ' Ahpljariiav dpiffTwSivig 'AOfjvai, 

Sainov vTrtp(j)id\oig avTiTroKov fitpovMV ' 
dvTiTokavTivfx) Tag iKniSag ' fi'/xi Ci Kal vvv 

Nc'ic/; 'Epixdt'^aig, 'AfTTi'pioig 'Sffiiaig.* 

The third celebrates the Aphrodite of Praxiteles in Cnidos, whose 
garden has been so elegantly described by Lncian (ii. 560) : 

i) Ylaipir] KvOiptia Si ol^narog tg KviSov »}X06 

fiovXo^ui'}] KanCeli^ vKora r^v IShp' • 
iravrrj C dOpiioaaa 7r£piffK6 7rr(f» ti'i x^P'l^i 

^OtyKaro ' ttov yvnvr)v fiSk fXE II|Oo|ir£\jje ;f 

* My snowy marble from the mountain rude 
A Median sculptor with sharp chisel hewed, 
And brought mc o'er the sea, that he might place 
A trophied statue of the Greeks' disgrace. 
But when the routed Persians heard the roar 
Of Marathon, and ships swam deep in gore, 
Then Athens, nurse of heroes, sculptured me 
The queen that treads on arrogance to be : 
I hold the scales of hope : my name is this — 
Nike for Greece, for Asia Nemesis. 

f Bright Cytherea thought one day 

To Cnidos she'd repair. 
Gliding across the watery way 

To view her image there. 
But when, arrived, she cast around 

Her eyes divinely bright, 


The fourth is composed witli much artifice of style upon a statue 
of Love bound by his arras to a pillar (ii. 567) : 

(cXaTg SvaiKtpvKTOiQ <T(piYx9dc X^pnc, uKpire Salfiov, 

KKait fidXa, tTTaZwv ;^i<)(ora(c»J Sdicpva, 
aiiiippoavvaq vjipiard, (ppwoKXoTrt, Xyara Xoyirrfiov, 

TTTai'bv T^vp. \pvxaQ Tpavp, auparoi; "Epwt; " 
Ovaroig fiti> Xvoit; tori yi'nov 6 aog, dicpire, Offfjuot; * 

V <T0tyx^*'f Kwfoii; VifiTre Xitoq dt'tfiotg ' 
ov St jSpoTolg CKpvXaKTOt; ti'iipXtytC tv (ppieri irvpaiv 

adpu rvv vttu ffwt' a^tvvi'fiti'ov SaKpvwv.* 

In bringing this review of the Anthology to a close, I feel that 
I have been guilty of two errors, I have wearied the reader with 
quotations; yet I have omitted countless epigrams of the purest 
beauty. The very riches of this flower-garden of little poems are 
an obstacle to its due appreciation. Each epigram in itself is per- 
fect, and ought to be carefully and lovingly studied. But it is 
diflacult for the critic to deal in a single essay with upwards of 


And saw upon that holy ground 

The gazing world's delight, 
Amazed, she cried — while blushes told 

The thoughts that swelled her breast — 
Where did Praxiteles behold 

My form ? or has he guessed ? 

J. H. Merivale. 

Weep, reckless god ; for now your hands are tied : 
Weep, wear your soul out with the flood of tears, 
Heart-robber, thief of reason, foe to pride, 
Winged lire, thou wound unseen the soul that sears ! 
Freedom from grief to us these bonds of thine. 
Wherein thou wailest to the deaf winds, bring: 
Behold ! the torch wherewith thou mad'st us pine, 
Beneath thy frequent teajs is languishing ! 


four thousand of these precious gems. There are many points of 
view which with adequate space and opportunity might have been 
taken for the better illustration of the epigrams. Their connec- 
tion with the later literature of Greece, especially with the rhetori- 
cians, Philostratus, Alciphron, and Libanius, many of whose best 
compositions are epigrams in prose — as Jonson knew when he 
turned them into lyrics; their still more intimate festhetic har- 
mony with the engraved stones and minor bass-reliefs, which bear 
exactly the same relation to Greek sculpture as the epigrams to 
the more august forms of Greek poetry ; the lives of their authors ; 
the historical events to which they not unfrequently allude — all 
these are topics for elaborate dissertation. 

Perhaps, however, the true secret of their charm is this: that 
in their couplets, after listening to the ohoric raptures of trium- 
phant public art, we turn aside to hear the private utterances, the 
harmoniously modulated whispers of a multitude of Greek poets 
telling us their inmost thoughts and feelings. The unique melo- 
dies of Meleager, the chaste and exquisite delicacy of Callimachus, 
the clear dry style of Straton, Plato's unearthly subtlety of phrase, 
Antipater's perfect polish, the good sense of Palladas, the fretful 
sweetness of Agathias, the purity of Simonides, the gravity of 
Poseidippus, the pointed grace of Philip, the few but mellow 
tones of Sappho and Erinna, the tenderness of Simmias, the 
biting wit of Lucillius, the sunny radiance of Theocritus — all 
these good things are ours in the Anthology. But beyond these 
perfumes of the poets known to fame is yet another. Over very 
many of the sweetest and the strongest of the epigrams is written 
the pathetic word aliaTToroi — without a master. Hail to you, 
dead poets, unnamed, but dear to the Muses ! Surely with Pin- 
dar and with Anacreon and Avith Sappho and with Sophocles the 
bed of flowers is spread for you in those " black-pctalled hollows 
of Pieria" where Ion bade farewell to Euripides. 




Virgil's Mention of this Tale. — Ovid and Statius. — Autumnal Poetry. — Con- 
fusion between the Mythical Musaeus and the Gramnjarian. — The Intro- 
duction of the Poem. — Analysis of live Story.^Hallam's Judgment on 
Marlowe's Hero and Leander. — Comparison of Marlowe and Musieus. — : 
Classic and Romantic Art. 

Quid juvenis, magnum cui versat in ossibus ignem 
Durus amor ? Nempe abruptis turbata procellis 
Nocte natat caeca scrus freta ; quem super ingens 
Porta touat cseli, et scopulis inlisa reclamant 
.iEquora; nee miseri possunt revocare parentes, 
Nee moritura super crudeli funere virgo.* 

This is the first allusion to a story, rather Roman than Greek, 
which was destined to play an important part in literature. The 
introduction of the fable without names into a poem like the third 
Georofic shows, however, that the pathetic tale of Hero and Lean- 
der's love had already found familiar representation in song of 
sculpture or wall-painting before Virgil touched it with the gen- 
ius that turned all it touched to gold. Ovid went further, and 
placed the maiden of Sestos among the heroines for whom lie 

* " What of the youth, whose marrow the fierceness of Love has turned 
to flame ? Late in the dark night he swims o'er seas boiling with bursting 
storms ; and over his head the huge gates of the sky thunder ; and the seas, 
dashing on the rocks, call to him to return : nor can the thought of his par- 
ents' agony entice him back, nor of the maiden doomed to a cruel death upon 
his corpse." — Virg. Georg. iii. 258. Translated by an Oxford graduate. 


wrote rhetorical epistles in elegiac verse. In Statins, again, we 
get a glimpse of the story translated from the sphere of romance 
into the region of antique mythology. To the hero Admetus, 
Adrastus gives a mantle dyed with Tyrian purple, and embroi- 
dered with Leander's death. There flows the Hellespont ; the 
youth is vainly struggling with the swollen waves ; and there 
stands Hero on her tower ; and the lamp already flickers in the 
blast that will destroy both light and lives at once. It still re- 
mained for a grammarian of the fifth century, Musa?us, of whom 
nothing but the name is known, to give the final form to this 
poem of love and death. The spring-tide of the epic and the 
idyl was over. When Musseus entered the Heliconian meadows 
to pluck this last pure rose of Greek summer, autumn had already 
set its silent finger on " bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet 
birds sang." His little poem of three hundred and forty hex- 
ameters is both an epic and an idyl. While maintaining the old 
heroic style of narrative by means of repeated lines, it recalls the 
sweetness of Theocritus in studied descriptions, dactylic cadences, 
and brief reflective sayings that reveal the poet's mind. Like some 
engraved gems, the latest products of the glyphic art, this poem 
adjusts the breadth of the grand manner to the small scale required 
by jewelry, treating a full subject in a narrow space, and in return 
endowing slight motives with dignity by nobleness of handling. 

Calm mornings of sunshine visit us at times in early Novem- 
ber, appearing like glimpses of departed spring amid the wilder- 
ness of wet and windy days that lead to winter. It is pleasant, 
when these interludes of silvery light occur, to ride into the woods 
and see how wonderful are all the colors of decay. Overhead, the 
elms and chestnuts hang their wealth of golden leaves, while the 
beeches darken into russet tones, and the wild-cherry glows like 
blood-red wine. In the hedges crimson haws and scarlet hips are 
wreathed with hoary clematis or necklaces of coral briony berries ; 


the brambles burn with many-colored flames; the dog-wood is 
bronzed to purple; and here and there the spindle-wood puts 
forth its fruit, like knots of rosy buds, on delicate frail twigs. 
Underneath lie fallen leaves, and the brown brake rises to our 
knees as wc thread the forest paths. Everything is beautiful 
with beauty born of over-ripeness and decline. Green summer 
comes no more this year, at any rate. In front are death and 
bareness and the winter's frost. 

Such a day of sunlight in the November of Greek poetry is 
granted to us by Ha-o and Lcander. The grace of the poem is 
soul-compelling — indescribable for sweetness. Yet every epithet, 
each exquisite conceit, and all the studied phrases that yield charm, 
remind us that the end has come. There is peculiar pathos in 
this autumnal loveliness of literature upon the wane. In order to 
appreciate it fully we must compare the mellow tints of Musa3us 
with the morning glory of Homer or of Pindar. We then find 
that, in spite of so much loss, in spite of warmth and full light 
taken from us, and promise of the future exchanged for musings 
on the past, a type of beauty unattainable by happier poets of the 
spring has been revealed. Not to accept this grace with thanks- 
giving, because, forsooth, December, that takes all away, is close 
at hand, would be ungrateful.* 

Yet, though clearly perceptible by the aesthetic sense, it is far 

* It is not only in Musaeus that we trace a fascination comparable to that 
of autumn tints in trees. The description by Ausonius of Love caught and 
crucified in the garden of Proserpine, which contains the two following lines, 

Inter arundineasque comas gravidumque papaver 
Et tacitos sine labe lacus sine murmure rivos, 

might be quoted as an instance of the charm. Indeed, it pervades the best 
Latin poetry of the silver age, the epistles of Philostratus, many of the later 
Greek epigrams, and all the Greek romances, with Daplmh and CIdoe at their 


less easy to define its quality than to miss it altogether. We do 
not gain much, for example, by pointing to the reminiscences of 
bygone phraseology curiously blended with new forms of lan- 
guage, to the artificial subtleties of rhythm wrung from well-worn 
metres, to the richness of effect produced by conscious use of 
telling images, to the iridescent shimmer of mixed metaphors, 
compound epithets, and daring tropes, contrasted with the under- 
tone of sadness which betrays the " idle singer of an empty day," 
although these elements are all coinbined in the autumnal style. 
Nor will it profit us to distinguish this kind of beauty from the 
heaute maladive of morbid art. So difficult, indeed, is it to seize 
its character with any certainty, that in the case of Hero and Le- 
ander the uncritical scholars of the Greek Renaissance mistook 
the evening for the morning star of Greek poetry, confounding 
Musaius the grammarian with the semi-mythic bard of the Orphe- 
an age. When Aldus Manutins conceived his great idea of issu- 
ing Greek literature entire from the Venetian press, he put forth 
Hero and Leander first of all in 1498, with a preface that ran as 
follows : " I was desirous that Musseus, the most ancient poet, 
should form a prelude to Aristotle and the other sages who will 
shortly be imprinted at my hands." Marlowe spoke of " divine 
Musaeus," and even the elder Scaliger saw no reason to suspect 
that the grammarian's studied verse was not' the first clear wood- 
note of the Eleusinian singer. What renders this mistake par- 
donable is the fact that, however autumnal may be the poem's 
charm, no point of the genuine Greek youthfulness of fancy has 
been lost. Tlirouirh conceits, confusions of diction, and over- 
sweetness of style emerges the clear outline which characterized 
Greek art in all its periods. Both persons and situations are 
plastically treated — subjected, that is to say, to the conditions, best 
fulfilled by sculpture. The emotional element is adequate to the 
imaginative presentation ; the feeling penetrates the form and 


G;ivcs it life, without exceeding tlie just limits which the form im- 
poses. The importance of this observation will appear when we 
examine the same poem romantically handled by our own Mar- 
lowe. If nothina: but the Hero and Leander of Musaeus had sur- 
vived the ruin of Greek literature, we should still be able to dis- 
tinguish how Greek poets dealt with their material, and to point 
the difference between the classic and the modern styles. 

What is truly admirable in this poem, marking it as genuinely 
Greek, is the simplicity of structure, clearness of motives, and un- 
affected purity of natural feeling. The first fifteen lines set forth, 
by way of proem, the whole subject : 

tiTTk, Oea, Kpv(j)lii)v irrifiaprvpa Xvxt'oi' tpwTwv, 
Kai vvxiov nXujrfipa QaXaaffOTropioi' vfiEva'tiov, 
Kal ya^ov ayXvoiVTa, top oiik 'idtv d<p9iT0C Hoif, 
Kai l^i](XTuv Kai "Aj3vSoi' ott/j yapog tvtn'xof^ 'HpovQ.* 

Here, perhaps, a modern poet might have stayed his hand: not 
so Musieus ; he has still to say that he will tell of Leander's death, 
and, in propounding this part of his theme, to speak once more 
about the lamp : 

Xi'»;;^i'Oi', ipoJTog «yaX/(n, rev tii<l)t\iv aiOepiog Ztvc 
ivvvxiov fitr didXov dyav tQ ofxtfyvpiv dryrpojv 
Kai [iiv iTTiKXiiffai vvfi^oaroXop darpov tpwraiv.f 

Seven lines were enough for Homer while explaining the sub- 
ject of the Iliad. Musaeus, though his poem is so short, wants 
more than twice as many. He cannot resist the temptation to 

* Tell, goddess, of the lamp, the confidant of secret love,, and of the )'outh 
who swam by night to find his bridal-bed beyond the sea, and of the darkened 
marriage on which immortal morning never shone, and of Sestos and Abydos, 
where was the midnight wedding of Hero. 

t Love's ornament, which Zeus in heaven, after ±he midnight.contest, should 
have brought into the company of stars and called it the bride-adorning star 
of love. 


introduce decorative passages like the tliree lines just quoted, 
which are, moreover, appropriate in a poem that aims at combin- 
ing the idyllic and epic styles. 

After the proem we enter on the story. Sestos and Abydos are 
divided by the sea, but Love has joined them with an arrow from 
his bow : 

rfWiov tfKk^aQ Koi TtapQivov ' ovfOfia S' avTwi' 
ifiipotiQ re AsavSpog tijv Kal rrapOivo^ Hpii).* 

Hero dwelt at Sestos ; Leander lived at Abydos ; and both were 
" exceeding fair stars of the two cities." By the sea, outside the 
town of Sestos, Hero had a tower, where she abode in solitude 
with one old servant, paying her daily orisons to Dame Kupris, 
whose maiden votary she was, and sprinkling the altars of Love 
with incense to propitiate his powerful deity. " Still even thus 
she did not shun his fire-breathing shafts ;" for so it happened 
that when the festival of Adonis came round, and the women 
flocked into the town to worship, and the youths to gaze upon 
the maidens, Hero passed forth that day to Venus's temple, and 
all the men beheld her beauty, and praised her for a goddess, and 
desired her for a bride. Leander, too, was there ; and Leander 
could not content himself, like the rest, with distant admiration : 

tiXf Ci litv ruTE 9i'ijJ.^0Q, dvaiceit], rpojioc, alSwQ  
irpifis n'tv KpaCu]v, aici^Q Cii fiiv dxfv aXwrai " 
0a/i/3ff 6' EiSog dpiUTOV, tpwc S' airivuaipiiJiv alSut " 
GapaaXkwQ S' vir ipojTog dvaideiijv dyairdi^djv 
ripijiia TTOffciv tfiaive Kal dvriov 'iararo Kovp7]c.j- 

* By setting on fire a youth and a maiden, of whom the names were love- 
inspiring Leander and virgin Hero. 

f Then came upon him astonishment, audacity, trembling, shame ; in his 
heart he trembled, and shame seized him at having been made captive : yet 
he marvelled at the faultless form, and love kept shame away ; then manfully 
by love's guidance he embraced audacity, and gently stepped and stood before 
the girl. 


IIu met the maiden face to face, and his eyes betrayed his pas- 
sion; and she too felt the power of love in secret, and repelled 
lilia not, but by her silence and tranquillity encouraged him to 
hope : 

o I' tvSo9i Qvfi'ov iai'9)], 
oTTi TToOov aW(T]Kt Kcd OVK aTTtattaaTO Kovpt]* 

So far one hundred and nine lines of the poem have carried us. 
'i'lie following one hundred and eleven lines, nearly a third of the 
whole, are devoted to the scene in the temple between Hero and 
her lover. This forms by far the most beautiful section of the 
tale ; for the attention is concentrated on the boy and girl be- 
tween whom love at first sight has just been born. In the twi- 
light of early evening, in the recesses of the shrine, they stand 
together, like fair forms carved upon a bass-relief. Leander pleads 
and Hero listens. The man's wooino;, the maiden's shrinldnor ; 
his passionate insistance, her gradual yielding, are described in a 
series of exquisite and artful scenes, wherein the truth of a natu- 
ral situation is enhanced by rare and curious touches. With gen- 
uine Greek instinct the poet has throughout been mindful to pre- 
sent both lovers clearly to the eye, so that a succession of pictures 
support and illustrate the dialogue, which rises at the climax to a 
love-duet. The descriptive lines are very simple, like these : 

Or again : 

i]pkfia i^uv Q\i^ix)v poSoBtSia CciKrvXa icoiiprfg 
fivaaoQEV tarova^i^iv aQia(paTov. 7) Ss aiwizy, 
old Te xajof-ii)')], poSiijv t^iffrraae %£Tpa.f 

7rap9ei>iK?jC S' ivoS/iov ivxpoov avxkva KvaaQ.\ 

* Ajid lie within himself was glad at heart, because the maiden understood 
his love, and cast it not from her. 

t Gently pressing the rosy fingers of the maiden, from the depths of his 
breast he sighed ; but she, in silence, as though angered, drew her rosy hand 

\ Kissing the fair perfumed maiden's neck. 


Or yet again : 

b<j>pa fiiv ovvTroTi yaiav ixiv vivovaav oTrojTTtjv, 
Toippa Se Kai AsiavSpof^ ipityj-iavitaai -irpocrujTroic 
oh KUfitv ilaopuwv aTzaXoxpoov ai'Xiva KoipijQ.* 

We do not want more than this : it is enougli to animate the 
plastic figures presented to our fancy. Meanwhile Hero cannot 
resist the pleadings of Leander, and her yielding is described with 
beautiful avoidance of superfluous sentiment : 

ydr] Kai yXvKVTriKpov l^i^aro Ktvrpov ipuJTOJV, 
OfpjxtTO Se Kpadltjv y\vKep(iJ irvpl -napdivoq 'HpiJj 
• KaWi'i S' iiiepuivTog dvtTrroirjTo AedvSpov.'f 

A modern poet would have sought to spiritualize the situation : 
in the hands of the Greek artist it remains quite natural; it is the 
beauty of Leander that persuades and subdues Hero to love, and 
the agitations of her soul are expressed in language Avhich sug- 
gests a power that comes upon her from without. At the same 
time there is no suspicion of levity or sensuality. Hero cannot 
be mistaken for a light of love. When the time comes, she will 
break her heart upon the dead body of the youth who wins her 
by his passion and his beauty. Leander has hitherto been only 
anxious to possess her for his own. Hero, as soon as she per- 
ceives that he has won the fight, bethinks her with a woman's 
wisdom of ways and means. Who is the strange man to whom 
she must abandon herself in wedlock ; and what does he know 
about her ; and how can they meet ? Therefore she tells him her 
name and describes her dwelling: 

* The while she bent her glance upon the ground, Leander tired not with 
impassioned eyes of gazing at the maiden's necii. 

t Now she, too, received into her soul the bitter-sweet sting of love, and the 
heart of maiden Hero was warmed with delicious fire, and before the beauty 
of love-iuspiriug Leander she quailed. 


TTiipyoQ S' a[i(pi^ur]TOQ tf-iog Sufiog ovpavojxriKtjQ 
tij ii'i I'aitTaovca avv afK^nroXtfj twI iiovvy 
'ErjandSoc irpb TroXrjog vmp l3a9vKiif.ioi'ac oxOaQ 
yairoi'a tzovtov ixu) (jTvyepai^ jSovXijm toki'iiov. 
oiiCi /toi tyyi't; taatt' uf(i)\ticec, ovct xoptiai 
TjiQeiov Trap'iciaiv " uiX 6' ava vvKTa Kal rjut 
tK, oKLq riVEfiokiTOQ t7r(/3|Of^£t ovaaiv ijX')* 

Having said so much, shame overtakes her ; she hides her face, 
and blames her over-hasty tongue. But Leander, pondering how 
he shall win the stakes of love proposed to him — irwg Key tpwroq 
aedXevaeiei' tiyuna — is helped at last by Love himself, the wounder 
and the healer of the heart in one. He bursts into a passionate 
protestation : " Maiden, for the love of thee I will cross the stormy 
waves ; yen, though the waters blaze with fire, and the sea be un- 
sailed by ships. Only do thou light a lamp upon thy tower to 
guide me through the gloom : 

o0,oa ror]aaQ 
lacTOfiai oXKctg 'Epwrog ix^v atQtu aaripa Xvxvov.^ 

Seeing its spark, I shall not need the north star or Orion. And 
now, if thou wouldst have my name, know that I am Leander, 
husband of the fair-crowned Hero." 

Nothing now remains for the lovers but to arrange the 
signs and seasons of their future meeting. Then Hero retires 
to her tower, and Leander returns to Abydos by the Helles- 
pont : 

* A tower, beset with noises of the sea, and liigli as heaven, is my home : 
there I dwell, together with one only servant, before the city walls of Sestos, 
above the deep-waved shore, with ocean for my neighbor : such is the stern 
will of my parents. Nor are there maidens of my age to keep me company, 
nor dances of young men close by ; but everlastingly at night and morn a 
roaring from the windy sea assails my ears. 

t Minding it, I shall be a ship of love, having thy lamp for star. 

H.— 23 


iravvvxioj" S' oc'ipatv Kpv(piovs iroQtQVTtq a'lQXovq 
TToWaKLi; I'jpi'jtTai'To [xoXt'ii' OaXa/jijiroXop op(pi't]i'.* 

It may be said in passing- that this parting scene, though briefly 
narrated, is no less well conducted, wohl motivirt, as Goethe would 
have phrased it, than are all the other incidents of the poem (lines 
221-231). The interpretation of the passage turns upon the 
word Travrv^huQ, in line 225, which must here be taken to mean 
the vigil before marriage. 

At this point the action turns. Musaeus, haviu >• to work within 
a narrow space, has made the meeting and the dialogue between 
the lovers disproportionate to the length of the whole piece. In 
this way he secures our sympathy for the youth and maid, whom 
we learn to know as living persons. He can now afford to drop 
superfluous links, and to compress the tale within strict limits. 
The cunning of his art is shown by the boldness of the transition 
to the next important incident. The night and the day are sup- 
posed to have passed. We hear nothing of the impatience of 
Leander or of Hero's flux and reflux of contending: feelino-s. The 
narrative is resumed just as though the old thread had been broken 
and another had been spun ; and yet there is no sense of inter- 
ruption : 

■)lSr] KvavuTTE-rrXoQ av'iSpafii vvKToq ojiixKri 
avSpaaiv virvov dyovaa Kai ov iroOeovTi Atdvdp(i). f 

The lover's attitude of suspense, waiting at nightfall on the 
beach for Hero's lamp to burn, is so strongly emphasized in the 
following lines that we are made to feel how anxiously and yearn- 
ingly the hours of daylight had been spent by him. No sooner 

* In their desire for the liidden lists of midnight converse they oftentimes 
prayed that darkness sliould descend and lead them to the bridal-bed. 

t Now the dark-mantled gloom of night rose over earth, bringing to mor- 
tals sleep, but not to longing Leander. 


does the spark shine forth than Leander darts forward to the 
waves, and, hav ing prayed to Love, leaps lively in : 

wf iiTTuJV /lEXiiov Iparuiv aTreSuaaro ttsttXov 
ajx^dTtpaiQ iraXafiijcriv, f(;j S' tTcpiy^e Kapi}v<i), 
fjiovo^ S' i^uipro, dsfiag S' tppvilie QaXacxcy, 
Xa^iTTOfikvov S' iaTTtvStv ad KarivavTia Xv-^vov 
avTOQ iiov iptrijs avToaroXoQ avrofiaTog vqvg.* 

Hero meanwhile is on the watch, and wlien her bridegroom gains 

the shore, breathless and panting, he finds himself within her 

arras : , ^. „ . 

IK ct Ovpaiov 

vvfKpiov affOfiaivovTa TrepmTii^aaa oiiott^ 

c'l^poKoiiovg paOcqiiyYaij 'in (STaZ,ovTa 6aXd<7ffT]g 

ijyaye vviiipoKonoio /.ivxovc tm TrapOiveixivoi^.f 

There she washes the stain and saltness of the sea from his body, 
and anoints him with perfumed oil, and leads him with tender 
words of welcome to the marriage-bed. The classic poet feels no 
need of apologizing for the situation, nor does he care to empha- 
size it. The whole is narrated with Homeric directness, contrast- 
ing curiously with the romantic handling of the same incident by 
Marlowe. Yet the point and pathos of clandestine marriage had 
to be expressed ; and to a Greek the characteristic circumstance 
was the absence of customary ritual. This defect, while it iso- 
lated the lovers from domestic sympathies and troops of friends, 
attracted attention to themselves, and gave occasion to some of 
the best verses in the poem : 

* So having said, he witluliew from liis lovely limbs the mantle with both 
hands, and bound it on his head, and leaped from the shore, and east his body 
0:1 the sea, and ever fared faee-foi-ward to the burning lamp, himself the oars- 
man, self-impelled, a self-directed ship. 

f From the door she passed, and silently embraced her panting bride- 
groom, dripping with the foamy sprinklings of the sea, and led him to the 
bride-adorning chamber of her maiden hours. 


yv yafioe «X\' axopevrog  irjv \fxoQ aW drep vfiruv ' 

ov Zvyli]i'"Hp)]v Tig timxpi^firfuw doidog • 

ov daiCoJi' ijiTTpaTrTi cTiXag 9a\a^t]7ru\ov tufijV 

audi 7roXvaicdp9fi('j Tig tTnaKipTrjaE xopdy, 

oiix vpkvcaov deitra TraTrjp Kai iroTVia pr/TTip • 

dWd \(xog oTop'taaoa -(Xeacnydfioicnv iv lopaig 

myi) TTacTiv t7n]S,tv, ti'u/j^oico/ijyo-e c' v/iixXt], 

Kai ydfiog ijv dTTcii'tvQtv dtiSofiiviov vTrefiatojv. 

vv^ fiiv ii]v KeivoiTi yafio(T-vXog, ovCa ttot' I'jujg 

vvjiipiov tlCi Aadvcpov dpiyvwToig tvl XiKTpoig' 

V))xtTO S' dl'TlTTOpOlO TToKlV TTOTl STj/JOV 'AfivSoV 

ivvvxit^v UKopijTog tTi irrtiojv vjXEi'aiiov. 
'Hpii) d' iXKetjiTrenrXoc, tovc Xi'iOovaa TOKfjag, 
vapQkvog iffiaTlr} ii'xi'] yvi}- 'AfKpoTSpoi Sk 
TfoXXdKig i}p{](jcivTO tcareXd.'fiEv tg Scaiv tjui.* 

So the night passed, and through many summer nights they 
tasted the sweets of love, xXoEpolfny latj-oyitfj'ot fieXieairn'. But 
soon came winter, and with winter the sea grew stormy, and ships 
were drawn up on the beacli, and tlie winds battled with each 
other in the Hellespontine Straits ; and now Hero should have 
refrained from lighting her lamp, niwwpiov aaripa XetcTpwy. but 
love and fate compelled her, and the night of tempest and of des- 
tiny arrived. Manfully Lcandcr wrestled with the waves ; yet 
the storm grew stronger; his strength ebbed away; an envious 

* There was wedding, but without the ball ; there was bedding but without 
the hymn : no singer invoked bridal Here; no blaze of torches lit the nup- 
tial couch, nor did the youths and maidens move in myriad mazes of tlie 
dance: fatlicr and niotlier sang no marriage chant. But silence spread the 
bed and strewed the couch, and darlincss declced the bride ; without hymns 
of Hymen was the wedding. Night was their bridesmaid, nor did dawning 
see Leander in the husband's room. He swam again across the straits to 
Abydos, still breathing of bridal in his soul unsatisfied of joy. Hero, mean- 
while, by day a maid, at night a wife, escaped her parents' eyes : both bride 
and bridegroom oftentimes desired that dav should set. 


gust blew out the guiding lamp ; and so he perished in the wa- 
ters. The picture of his death-struggle is painted with brief in- 
cisive touches. The last two lines have a strange unconscious 
pathos in them, as though the life and love of a man were no bet- 
ter than a candle : 

KoX Sri \vxfot> dTTitTTOv aTTsafisae iriKpoc dt]TriQ 
Kai i/'i'X')*' "^n' tp^~a ttoXvtXijtoio AtdfSpov.* 

What remains to be told is but little. The cold gray dawn 
went forth upon the sea ; how gray and comfortless they know 
who, after lonely watching through night hours, have seen discol- 
ored breakers beat upon a rainy shore. Hero from her turret 
gazed through the twilight; and there at her feet lay dead Lean- 
der, bruised by the rocks and buffeted by slapping waves. She 
uttered no cry; but tore the embroidered raiment on her breast, 
and flung herself, face downward, from the lofty tower. In their 
death, says the poet after his own fashion, they were not divided : 

d\\ij\(x)v tV aTroray-o lent tv xvjuari^j Trsp oXsOpqj.f 

This line ends the poem. 

This is but a simple story. Yet for that very reason it is one 
of those stories which can never grow old. As Leigh Hunt, after 
some unnecessary girding at scholars and sculptors, has sung : 

I never think of poor Leander's fate, 

And how he swam, and how his bride sat late, 

And watched the dreadful dawning of the light. 

But as I would of two that died last night. 

So might they now have lived, and so have died ; 

The story's heart, to me, still beats against its side. 

What makes it doubly touching is, that this poem of young love 

* And so the bitter blast extinguished the faithless lamp and the life and 
love of suffering Leander. 

t They enjoyed each other even thus in the last straits of doom. 


and untimely fate was born, like a soul " beneath the ribs of 
death," in the dotage and decay of Greek art. I do not know 
whether it has often been noticed that the qualities of romantic 
grace and pathos were chiefly appreciated by the Greeks in their 
decline. It is this circumstance, perhaps, which caused the talcs 
of Hero and Leander and Daphnis and Chloe to attract so much 
attention at the time of the Renaissance. Modern students found 
something akin to their own modes of feeling in the later classics. 
Are not the colors of the autumn in harmony with the tints of 
spring ? 

The judicious Hallam, in a famous passage of the History of 
Literature, records his opinion that " it is impossible not to wish 
that Shakespeare had never written" the sonnets dedicated to Mr. 
W. H. With the same astounding airtipoKoXia, or insensibility to 
beauty, he ventures to dismiss the Hero and Leander of jMarlowe 
as " a paraphrase, in every sense of the epithet, of the most licen- 
tious kind." Yet this severe high-priest of decorum has devoted 
three pages and a half to the analysis of Romeo and Juliet, in 
which play we have, as he remarks with justice, "more than in 
any other tragedy, the mere passion of love ; love, in all its vernal 
promise, full of hope and innocence, ardent beyond all restraint 
of reason, but tender as it is warm." AVhat can be said of the 
critical perceptions of one who finds so strongly marked a moral 
separation between the motives of Marlowe's poem and Shake- 
speare's play ? 

The truth is that the words used by Ilallam to characterize the 
subject of Romeo and Juliet are almost exactly applicable to Hero 
and Leander, after due allowance made for the distinction be- 
tween the styles of presentation proper to a tragedy in the one 
case, and in the other to a narrative poem. Reflecting upon this, 
it is probable that the impartial student will side with Swinburne 
when he writes : " I must avow that I want, and am well content 


to want, tlie sense, whatevei* it be, which would enable nie to dis- 
cern more offence in that lovely picture of the union of two lov- 
ers in body as in soul than I can discern in the parting of Roineo 
and Juliet." 

To discuss the morality of Marlowe's muse is, however, alien to 
the present purpose. What has to be brought plainly forward is 
the artistic difference between the methods of Marlowe and Mu- 
sa^us. Hallam, in calling the English Hero and Leander a " para- 
phrase," was hardly less wrong than Warton, who called it a "trans- 
lation." It is, in fact, a free and independent reproduction of the 
story first told by Musseus. Without the poem of Musajus the 
poem of Marlowe would not have existed ; but though the inci- 
dents remain unchanged, the whole manner of presenting them, of 
selecting characteristic details, and of guiding the sympathy and 
imagination of the reader is altered. In other words, the artistic 
consciousness had shifted its point of gravity between the ages of 
Musaeus and Marlowe, and a new poem was produced to satisfy 
the new requirements of the aesthetic ideal. Musiseus, as we have 
already seen, thought it essential to set forth the whole of his 
subject at the opening in its minutest details : Sestos and Abydos, 
the marriage-bed on which the morning never shone, the swim- 
ming feat of Leander, and the lamp, which was the star of love, 
till envious fate blew out both love and light and life itself to- 
gether, all find their proper place in the proemium. In conduct- 
ing the narrative he is careful to present each motive, as it were, 
from the outside, to cast the light of his imagination upon forms 
rendered as distinct as possible in their plasticity, just as the sun's 
light falls upon and renders visible a statue. There is no attempt 
to spiritualize the subject, to flood it with emotion, thought, and 
passion, to pierce into its inmost substance, to find the analogue 
to its implicit feeling in the depth of his own soul, and, by ex- 
pressing that, to place his readers at the point of view from which 


he contemplates the beauty of the fable. The poet withdraws 
his personality, leaving the animated figures he has put upon the 
stage of fancy, the carefully prepared situations that display their 
activity, and the words invented for them, to tell the tale. He 
can therefore afford to be both simple and direct, brief in desci'ip- 
tive passages, and free from psychological digressions. A few 
gnomic sentences, here and there introduced, suffice to maintain 
the reflective character of a meditated work of art. All this is in 
perfect concord with the Greek conception of art, the sculptur- 
esque ideal. 

Marlowe takes another course. The three hundred and forty 
lines which were enough for Musajus are expanded into six ses- 
tiads or cantos, each longer than the whole Greek poem.* Yet to 
this lengthy narrative no prelude is prefixed. Unlike Musa?us, 
Marlowe rushes at once into the story. He does not wait to pro- 
pound it, or to talk about the fatal lamp, or to describe Hero's 
tower. That Hero lived in a tower at all we only discover by ac- 
cident on tlie occasion of her visit to the shrine of Venus, and 
Leander makes his first appearance there, guided by no lamp, but 
by his own audacity. On the other hand, all descriptions that set 
free the poet's feeling are enormously extended. The one epithet 
Ijjtpostc, or love-inspiring, for instance, which satisfied Musseus, is 
amplified by Marlowe through forty lines throbbing with his own 
deep sense of adolescent beauty. The temple of Venus, briefly 
alluded to by Musseus, is painted in detail by Marlowe, with a lu- 
minous account of its frescos, bass-reliefs, and pavements. The 
first impassioned speech of Leander runs at one breath over nine- 
ty-six verses, while mythological episodes and moral reflections 
are freely interpolated. All the situations, however delicate, so 
long as they have raised the poet's sense of beauty to enthusiasm, 
arc treated with elaborate and loving sympathy. In presenting 
* Marlowe lived to write only the first two sestiads. 


them with their fiihiess of emotion to the reader, Marlowe taxes 
his inexhaustible invention to the utmost, and permits the luxuri- 
ance of his fancy to run riot. The passion which carries this soul 
of tire and air up to the empyrean, where it moves at ease, some- 
times betrays him into what we know as faults of taste. Tt is as 
though the love-ache, grown intense, had passed over for a mo- 
ment into pain, as though the music, seeking for subtler and still 
more subtle harmonies, had touched at times on discord. 

Compared with the Greek poem, this Hero and Leander of 
^larlowe is like some radiant double-rose placed side by side with 
the wild-brier whence it sprang by cultivation. The petals have 
been multiplied, the perfume deepened and intensified, the colors 
varied in their modulations of a single tint. At the same time 
something in point of simple form has been sacrificed. The first 
thing, then, that strikes us in turning from Musaeus to Marlowe is 
that what the Greek poet considered all-important in the presenta- 
tion of his subject has been dropped or negligently handled by 
the English, while the English poet has been prodigal in places 
where the Greek displayed his parsimony. On looking further, 
we discover that the modern poet, in all these differences, aims at 
effects not realized by ancient art. The life and play and actual 
pulsations of emotion have to be revealed, both as they exist in 
the subject of the poem and as the poet finds them in his own 
soul. Everything that will contribute to this main achievement 
is welcomed by the poet, and the rest rejected. All the motives 
which had an external statuesque significance for the Greek must 
palpitate with passion for the English. Those that cannot clothe 
themselves with spirit as with a garment are abandoned. He 
wants to make his readers feel, not see : if they see at all, they 
must see through their emotion ; whereas the emotion of the 
Greek was stirred in him through sight. We do not get very far 
into the matter, but we gain something, perhaps, by adding that 


as sculpture is to painting and music, so is the poetry of Musseus 
to that of Marlowe. In the former, feeling is suboi'dinate, or, at 
most, but adequate, to form ; in the latter, Gef'uhl ist alles. 

"What has just been advanced is stated broadly, and is therefore 
only accurate in a general sense. For Avhile tlie Greek Leander 
contains exquisite touches of pure sentiment, so the English Lean- 
der offers fully perfected pictures of Titianesque beauty. Still, 
this does not impair the strength of the position : Avhat is really 
instructive in the comparative study of the two tales of Hero and 
Leander will always be that the elder poem, in spite of its autum- 
nal quality, is classical ; tlie younger, in spite of its most utter pa- 
ganism, is romantic. To enter into minute criticism of Marlowe's 
poem would be out of place here ; and, were it included in my 
programme, I should shrink from this task as a kind of profana- 
tion. Those who have the true sense of ideal beauty, and who 
can rise by sympathy above tlie commonplaces of everyday life 
into the free atmosphere of art, which is nature permeated with 
emotion, will never forget the prolonged, recurring, complex ca- 
dences of that divinest dithyramb poured forth from a young 
man's soul. Every form and kind of beauty is included in his 
adoration, and the whole is spiritualized with imagination, ardent 
and passionate beyond all words. 




Separation between tlie Greeks and us. — Criticism. — Greek Sense of Beauty. 
— GieeU Morality. — Greece, Rome, Renaissance, the Modern Spirit. 

The Greeks liad no past, " no hungry generations trod them 
down;" whereas the multitudinous associations of immense antiq- 
uity envelop all our thoughts and feelings.* " O Solon, Solon," 
said the priest of Egypt, "you Greeks are always children!" The 
world has now grown old; we are gray from the cradle onwards, 
swathed with the husks of outworn creeds, and rocked upon the 
lap of immemorial mysteries. The travail of the whole earth, the 
unsatisfied desires of many races, the anguish of the death and 
birth of successive civilizations, have passed into our souls. Life 
itself has become a thousandfold more complicated and more 
difficult for us than it was in the spring-time of the world. With 
the increase of the size of nations, poverty and disease and the 
struggle for bare existence have been aggravated. How can we, 
then, bridge over the gulf which separates us from the Greeks ? 
How shall we, whose souls are aged and wrinkled with the long 

* This chapter was written Avith the purpose of simply illustrating the ces- 
iJietic spirit of the Greeks. I had no intention of writing a complete essay on 
the spirit of the Greeks as displayed in their history and philosophy. Nor 
did I, in what I said about the illustrative uses of Greek sculpture, seek to 
sketch the outlines of a systematic study of that art. Therefore I chose ex- 
amples freely from all periods without regard to chronology or antiquarian 



years of humanity, shake hands across the centuries with those 
yonng-eyed, young-limbed, iminortal children? Can we make 
criticism our Medea — bid the magnificent witch pluck leaves and 
flowers of Greek poetry and art and life, distilling them for us to 
bathe therein and regenerate our youth like ^Eson ? 

Like a young man newly come from the wrestling -ground, 
anointed, chapleted, and very calm, the Genius of the Greeks ap- 
pears before us. Upon his soul there is as yet no burden of the 
Avorld's pain ; the creation that groaneth and travaileth together 
has touched him with no sense of anguish, nor has he yet felt sin. 
The pride and the strength of adolescence are his — audacity and 
endurance, swift passions and exquisite sensibilities, the alterna- 
tions of sublime repose and boyish noise, grace, pliancy, and stub- 
bornness and power, love of all fair things and radiant in the 
world, the frank enjoyment of the open air, free merriment, and 
melancholy well beloved. Of these adolescent qualities, of this 
clear and stainless personality, this conscience whole and pure and 
reconciled to nature, what survives among us now ? The imagina- 
tion must be strained to the nttermost before we can begin to 
sympathize with such a being. The blear-eyed mechanic, stifled 
in a hovel of our sombre Northern towns, canopied through all the 
year with smoke, deafened with wheels that never cease to creak, 
stiffened by toil in one cramped posture, oblivious of the sunlight 
and green fields, could scarcely be taught even to envy the pure, 
clear life of art made perfect in humanity, which Avas the pride 
of Hellas. His soul is gladdened, if at all, by a glimpse of celes- 
tial happiness far off. The hope that Avent abroad across the 
earth so many centuries ago has raised his eyes to heaven. How 
can he comprehend a mode of existence in which the world itself 
was adequate to all the wants of the soul, and Avhen to yearn for 
more than life affords Avas recikoned a disease? 

We mav tell of blue ^Egean waves, islanded Avith cliffs that 


seem less real than clouds, whereon the temples stan-d, burning 
like gold in sunset or turning snowy fronts against the dawn. 
We may paint high porches of the gods, resonant with music and 
gladdened with choric dances; or describe perpetual sunshine and 
perpetual case — no work from year to year that might degrade the 
body or impair tlie mind, no dread of hell, no yearning after heav- 
en, but summer-time of youth and autumn of old age and loveless 
death bewept and bravely borne.* The life of the schools, the 
theatre, the wrestling-ground, the law-courts; generous contests on 
the Pythian or Olympian plains; victorious crowns of athletes or 
of patriots ; Simonidean epitaphs and funeral orations of Pericles 
for fallen heroes; the prize of martial prowess or poetic skill; the 
honor paid to the pre-eminence of beauty — all these things admit 
of scholar-like enumeration. Or we ma}' recall by fancy the olive- 
groves of the Academy ; discern Ilymettus pale against the bur- 
nished sky, and Athens guarded by her glistening goddess of 
the mighty brow — Pallas, who spreads her shield and shakes 
her spear above the labyrinth of peristyles and pediments in 
which her children dwell. Imagination can lead us to the 
plane-trees on Cephisus's shore, the labors of the husbandmen 
who garner dues of corn and oil, the galleys in Peira^an harbor- 
jigc. Or, with the Lysis and the Charmides beneath our eyes, we 
may revisit the haunts of the wrestlers and the runners, true-born 
xYthenians, fresh from the bath and crowned with violets — chaste, 

* But, while we tell of these good things, we must not conceal the truth 
that they were planted, like exquisite exotic flowers, upon the blade, rank soil 
of slavery. That is the dark background of Greek life. Greek slaves may 
not have been worse off than other slaves — may indeed most probably have 
been better treated than the serfs of feudal Germany and Spanish Mexico. 
Yet who can forget the stories of Spartan helotry, or the torments of Syracus- 
au stone - quarries, or the pale figure of Phsedon rescued, true-born Elean as 
he was, by Socrates from an Athenian house of shame ? 


viicorous, inured to rhythmic movements of the passions and the 


Yet, after all, when the process of an elaborate cultm-e has thus 
been toilsomely accomplislied, when Ave have trained our soul to 
sympathize with that which is so novel and so strange and yet so 
natural, few of us can fairly say that we liave touched the Greeks 
at more than one or two points. Novies Styx interfusa coercet : 
between us and them crawls the nine times twisted stream of 
death. The history of the human race is one ; and without the 
Greeks we should be nothing. But just as an old man of ninety 
is not the same being as the boy of nineteen — nay, cannot even 
recall to memory how and what he felt when the pulse of man- 
liood was yet gathering strength within his veins — even so now 
civilized humanity looks back upon the youth of Hellas and won- 
ders what she was in that blest time. 

A few fragments yet remain from which we strive to recon- 
struct the past. Criticism is the product of the weakness as well 
as of the strength of our age. In the midst of our activity we 
liave so little that is artistically salient or characteristic in our life 
that we are not led astray by our own individuality or tempted to 
interpret the past wrongly by nraking it square with the present. 
Impartial clearness of judgment in scientific research, laborious 
antiquarian zeal, methodic scrupulousness in preserving the mi- 
nutest details of local coloring, and an earnest craving to escape 
from the dreary present of commonplace routine and drudgery 
into the spirit-l^tirring freedom of the past — these are qualities of 
the highest value which our century has brought to bear upon 
liistory. They make up in some measure for our want of the 
creative faculties wliich more productive but less scientific ages 
have possessed, and enable those who have but little original im- 
agination to enjoy imaginative pleasures at second hand by living 
as far as may be in the clear light of antique beauty. 


The sea, the hills, the plains, the sunlight of the South, together 
with some ruins which have peopled Europe with phantoms of 
dead art, and the relics of Greek literature, are our guides in the 
endeavor to restore the past of Hellas. Among rocks golden with 
broom-flowers, murmurous with bees, burning with anemones in 
spring and oleanders in summer, and odorous through all the year 
with thyme, we first assimilate the spirit of the Greeks. It is here 
that we divine the meaning of the myths, and feel those poems 
that expressed themselves in marble mid the temples of the gods 
to have been the one right outgrowth from the sympathy of man, 
as he was then, with nature. In the silence of mountain vallevs 
thinly grown with arbutus and pine and oak, open at all seasons 
to pure air, and breaking downwards to the sea, we understand the 
apparition of Pan to Pheidippides, Ave read the secret of a nation's 
art that aimed at definition before all things. The bay of Naples, 
the coast of Sicily, are instinct with the sense of those first set- 
tlers, who, coasting round the silent promontories, ran their keels 
upon the shelving shore, and drew them up along the strand, and 
named the spot Neapolis or Gela. The boys of Rome were yet in 
the wolfs cavern. Vesuvius was a peaceful hill on which the 
olive and the vine might slumber. The slopes of Pozzuoli were 
green with herbs, over which no lava had been poured. Wander- 
ing about Sorrento, the spirit of the Odyssey is ours. Those fish- 
ing-boats with lateen sail are such as bore the heroes from their 
ten years' toil at Troy. Tliose shadowy islands caught the gaze 
of ^ncas straining for the promised land. Into such clefts and 
rents of rock strode Heraklcs and Jason Avhen they sought the 
golden apples and the golden fleece. Look down. There gleam 
the green and yellow dragon-scales, coiled on the basement of the 
hills, and writhing to each curve and cleavage of the chasm. Is 
it a dream? Do we in fact behold the mystic snake, or in the twi- 
light do those lustrous orange-trees deceive our eves? Nav, there 


are no dragons in the ravine — only thick boughs and burnished 
leaves and snowy bloom and globes of glittering gold. Above 
them on the cliff sprout myrtle -rods, sacred to Love, myrtle- 
branches, with which the Athenians wreathed their swords in 
honor of Harmodius. Lilies and jonquils and hyacinths stand, 
each straight upon his stem — a youth, as Greeks imagined, slain 
bv his lover's hand, or dead for love of his own loveliness, 
or cropped in love's despite by death that is the foe of love. 
Scarlet and white anemones are there, some born of Adonis's 
blood, and some of Aphrodite's tears. All beauty fades ; 
the flowers of earth, the bloom of youth, man's strength, and 
:voman's grace, all wither and relapse into the loveless and inex- 
orable grave. This the Greeks knew, mingling mirth with mel- 
ancholy, and love with sadness, their sweetest songs with elegiac 

Beneath the olive-trees, among the flowers and ferns, move 
stately maidens and bare-chested youths. Their eyes are starry- 
softened or flash fire, and their lips are parted to drink in the 
breath of life. Some are singing in the fields an antique, world- 
old monotone of song. "Was not the lay of Linus, the burden of 
fiaKpal rai cpveg w MtroX^a (High are the oak-trees, O Menalcas), 
some such canzonet as this? These late descendants of Greek 
colonists are still beautiful — like moving statues in the sunlight 
and the shadow of the boughs. Yonder tall, straight girl, whoso 
pitcher, poised upon her head, might have been filled by Electra 
or Chrysothemis with lustral waters for a father's tomb, carries 
her neck as nobly as a Fate of Pheidias. Her body sways upon 
the hips, where rests her modelled arm ; the ankle and the foot 
are sights to sit and gaze at through a summer's day. And 
■where, if not here, shall we meet with Ilylas and Hyacinth, with 
Ganymede and Hymena^us, in the flesh ? As we pass the laugh- 
ter and the singing die away. Bright dresses and pliant forms 


are lost. We stray onward through the sheen and sliade of olive- 

The olive was Athene's gift to Hellas, and Athens carved its 
leaves and berries on her drachma with the head of Pallas and her 
owl. The light which never leaves its foliage, silvery beneath and 
sparkling from the upper surface of burnished green, the delicacy 
of its stem, which in youth and middle and old age retains the dis- 
tinction of finely accentuated form, the absence of sombre shadow 
on the ground beneath its branches, might well fit the olive to be 
the symbol of the purity of classic art. Each leaf is cut into a 
lance-head of brilliancy, not jagged or fanciful or woolly like the 
foliage of Northern trees. There is here no mystery of darkness, 
no labyrinth of tortuous shade, no conflict of contrasted forms. 
Excess of light sometimes fatigues the eye amid those airy 
branches, and we long for the repose of gloom to which we are 
accustomed in our climate. But gracefulness, fertility, power, ra- 
diance, pliability, are seen in every line. The spirit of the Greeks 
itself is not more luminous and strong and subtle. The color of 
the olive-tree, again, is delicate. Its pearly grays and softened 
greens in nowise interfere with the lustre which is the true dis- 
tinction of the tree. Clear and faint like Guido's colors in the 
Ariadne of St. Luke's at Rome, distinct as the thought in a Greek 
epigram, the olive-branches are relieved against the bright blue of 
the sea. The mountain slopes above are clothed by them with 
liiiht as with a raiment : clinoino; to knoll and vale and winding 
creek, rippling in hoary undulations to the wind, they wrap the 
hills from feet to flank in lucid haze. Above the olives shine bare 
rocks in steady noon or blush with dawn and evening.* Nature 
is naked and beautiful beneath the sun — like Aphrodite, whose 

* See the introduction to my cliapter on Athens in Sketches in Italy and 
Greece for the characteristic quality given to Attic h\ndscapes by gray lime- 

stone mountain ranges. 

II.- 24 


raiment falls waist-downward to her sandals on the sea, but whose 
pure breasts and forehead are unveiled. 

Nature is thus the first, chief element by which we are enabled 
to conceive the spirit of the Greeks. The key to their mythology 
is here. Here is the secret of their sympathies, the well-spring of 
their deepest thoughts, the primitive potentiality of all they have 
achieved in art. What is Apollo but the magic of the sun whose 
soul is light ? What is Aphrodite but the love-charm of the sea ? 
W^hat is Pan but the mystery of nature, the felt and hidden want 
pervading all ? What, again, are those elder, dimly discovered 
deities, the Titans and the brood of Time, but forces of the world 
as yet beyond the touch and ken of human sensibilities? But 
nature alone cannot inform us what that spirit was. For though 
the Greeks grew up in scenes which we may visit, they gazed on 
them with Greek eyes, eyes different from ours, and dwelt upon 
them with Greek minds, minds how unlike our own ! Uncon- 
sciously, in their long and unsophisticated infancy, the Greeks ab- 
sorbed and assimilated to their own substance that loveliness 
which it is left for us only to admire. Between them and our- 
selves — even face to face Avith mountain, sky, and sea, unaltered by 
the lapse of years — flow the rivers of Death and Lethe and New 
Birth, and the mists of thirty centuries of human life are woven 
like a veil. To pierce that veil, to learn even after the most par- 
tial fashion how they transmuted the splendors of the world into 
aesthetic forms, is a work which involves the further interrogation 
of their sculptui'c and their literature. 

The motives of that portion of Greek sculpture which bring us 
close to the incidents of Greek life are very simple. A young 
man binding a fillet round his head ; a boy drawing a thorn from 
his foot ; a girl who has been wounded in the breast raising her 
arm to show where the sword smote her; an athlete bending every 
sinew to discharge the quoit; a line of level -gazing youths on 


prancing horses, some faring forward witli straight eyes, one turn- 
ing, with bridle-hand held tightly, to encourage his companion, an- 
other with loose mantle in the act to mount, others thrown back 
to rein upon their haunches chafing steeds ; a procession of 
draped maidens bearing urns ; a maiden, draped from neck to an- 
kle, holding in both hands a lustral vase — such are the sculptured 
sio"ns by which we read the placid physical fulfilment of Greek 
life. That the serenity of satisfied existence is an end in itself, 
and that death in the plenitude of vigor is desirable, the reliefs 
of Pheidias and the ^-Eginetan marbles teach us. In these simple 
but consummate Avorks of art the beauty of pure health, physical 
enjoyment, temperance, mental vigor, and heroic daring mingle and 
create one splendor of a human being sensitive to all influences 
and vital in every faculty. Excess can nowhere be discovered. 
Compare with these forms for a moment the Genii painted by 
Michael Angelo upon the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Over them 
has passed the spirit with its throes : la maladie de la pensec is 
there. Of no Phoebus and no Pallas are they the servants ; but 
ministers of prophets and sibyls, angels of God fulfilling his word, 
they incarnate the wrestlings and the judgments and the resurrec- 
tions of the soul. Now take a banquet-scene from some Greek 
vase. Along the cushioned couch lie young men, naked, crowned 
with myrtles ; in their laps are women, and at their sides broad 
jars of honeyed wine. A winged Eros liovers over them, and their 
lips are opened to sing a song of ancient love. Yet this is no 
forecast of Borgia revels in Rome, or of the French Regent's Pare 
aux Cerfs. When Autoiycus entered the symposium of Xenophon, 
all tongues were stricken dumb ; man gazed at man in wonder at 
his goodliness. When Charmides, heading the troop of wrestlers, 
joined Socrates in the palaestra, the soul of the philosopher was 
troubled ; such beauty was for him a sacred, spirit-shaking thing. 
Sima!tha, in the Pharmaceutria of Theocritus, beheld the curls of 


youths on horseback like laburnum -flowers, and their bosoms 
whiter than the moon. 

We need not embark on antiquarian or metaphysical or histor- 
ical discussions in order to understand the sense of beauty which 
was inherent in the Greeks. Little hints scattered by the Avay- 
side are far more helpful. Take, for example, the Clouds of Aris- 
tophanes ; and after reading the speech of the Dikaios Logos, stand 
beneath the Athlete of Lysippus,* in the Braccio Nuovo of the 
Vatican. " Fresh and fair in beauty-bloom you shall pass your 
days in the wrestling -ground, or run races beneath the sacred 
olive-trees, crowned with white reed, in company with a pure- 
hearted friend, smelling of bindweed and leisure hours and the 
white poplar that sheds her leaves, rejoicing in the prime of spring, 
when the plane-tree whispers to the lime." This life the Dikaios 
Logos offers to the young Athenian if he will forego the law-courts 
and the lectures of the sophists and the house of the hetaira. This 
life rises above us imaged in the sculptor's marble. The athlete, 
tall and stately, tired with healthy exercise, lifts one arm, and with 
his strigil scrapes away the oil Avith which he has anointed it. His 
i fingers hold the die that tells his number in the contest. Upon 

J his features there rests no shade of care or thought, but the deli- 

cious languor of momentary fatigue, and the serenity of a nature 
, in harmony with itself. A younger brother of the same lineage is 
the Adorante of the Berlin Museum. His eyes and arms are 
raised to heaven. Perfect in humanity, beneath the lightsome 
vault of heaven he stands and prays — a prayer of joy and calm 
thanksgiving, a Greek prayer — no Koman adoration with veiled 

* This statue, usually called the Apoxyomenos, may possibly be a copy 
in marble of the Athlete of Lysippus which Tiberius wished to remove 
from the Baths of Agrippa. The Eomans were so angry at the thought 
of being deprived of their favorite that Tiberius had to leave it where it 



eyes and muttering lips, no Jewish prostration with the pntting- 
off of sandals on the holy ground, no Christian genuflection like 
the bending of wind-snuttcn reeds beneath the spirit-breath of 
sacraments. The whirlwind of the mightiest religions, born in the 
mystic East, has not passed over him ; he has not searched their 
depths of awe, their heights of ecstasy, nor felt their purifying 
fires. lamos in the mid-waves of Alpheus might have prayed thus 
when he heard the voice of Phoebus calling to him and promising 
the twofold gift of prophecy. All the statues of the athletes 
bear the seal and blossom of aio^pocrvrr] — that truly Greek virtue, 
the correlative in morals to the passion for beauty. " When I 
with justice on my lips flourished," says the Dikaios Logos, "and 
modesty was held in honor, then a boy's voice was not heard ; but 
thev went orderly throuo;h the streets in bands together from their 
quarters to the harp-player's school, uncloaked and barefoot, even 
thouo;h it snowed like meal." Of this sort are the two wrestling 
boys at Florence, whose strained muscles exhibit the chord of mas- 
culine vigor vibrating with tense vitality. If we in England seek 
some living echo of this melody of curving lines we must visit the V 
water meadows where boys bathe in early morning, or the play- ^ 
grounds of our public schools in summer, or the banks of the Isis 
when the eights are on the water, or the riding-schools of soldiers. 
We cannot reconstitute the elements of Greek life ; but here and 
there we may gain hints for adding breath and pulse and move- 
ment to Greek sculpture. What for the Greeks was a permanent 
and normal condition is for us an accident. Therefore our concep- 
tion of existence — more intense in emotion, more profound, per- 
haps, in thought — contains an element of strife and pain, an inter- 
ruption of the purely physical harmony, Avhicli the Greek ideal 

The charm which the simplest things acquired under the hand 
of a Greek artificer may be seen in the adornment of a circulat 

374 ^'^'^ GREEK POETS. 

hand-mirror.* Ivy-branches, dividing both ways from tlie han- 
dle, surround its rim witli a delicate tracery of sharp-cut leaf and 
corymb. The central space is occupied by four figures — on the 
right, the boy Dionysus, who welcomes his mother in heaven ; on 
the left, Phcebus and a young Paniscus playing on the double 
pipes. Grace can go no further than in the attitude and the ex- 
pression of this group. Dionysus is thrown backward; both his 
arms are raised to encircle the neck of Semele, who bends to kiss 
his upturned lips. A necklace with pendent balls defines the 
throat of the stripling where it meets his breast, suggesting by 
some touch beyond analysis the life that pulses in his veins. He 
has armlets too below the elbow, and his hair ripples in ringlets 
between cheek and shoulder. The little Paniscus is seated, at- 
tending only to his music, with such childish earnestness as shows 
that his whole soul goes forth in piping. Phoebus, half-draped 
and lustrous, stands erect beside a slender shaft of laurel planted 
on the ground. Such are the delights of Paradise to which, as 
Greeks imagined, a deity might welcome his earthly mother, lead- 
ing her by the hand from Hades. It would be easy enough to 
fill a volume with such descriptions — to unlock the cabinets of 
gems and coins, or to linger over vases painted with the single 
figure of a winged boy in tender red upon their blackness, and 
showing the word KAAOS negligently written at the side. 

But it is more to the purpose to note in passing that delicate 
perception of associated qualities which led the Greeks to main- 
tain a sympathy between cognate deities, Avhile distinguishing to 
the utmost their specific attributes. Aphrodite, Eros, Dionysus, 
Hermes, Hermaphrodite, the Graces, the Nymphs, the Genius of 
Death — these, for example, though carefully individualized, are 
still of one kindred. They blend and mingle in a concord of sep- 
arate yet interpenetrating beauties. Between the radiant Aphro- 
* Engraved iu Miilkn's Daiknialcr der alien Kiinst, plate xli. 


dite of Melos, who in her triumpliant attitude seems to be an 
elder sister of tlie brazen-winged Victory of Brescia, and the vo- 
luptuous Aphrodite Callipygos,* a whole rhythm of finely mod- 
ulated forms may be drawn out, each one of which corresponds 
to some mood or moment of the enamoured soul. Her immortal 
son in the Eros of Pheidiasf is imagined as the " first of gods," 
0£w)' irpujTKTTos, upstarting in his slenderness of youth from Chaos 
— the keen, fine light of dawn dividing night from day. In the 
Praxitelean Cupid — 

That most perfect of antiques, 
They call the Genius of the Vatican, 
AVhich seems too beauteous to endure itself 
In this rough world — 

he becomes the deity described by Plato in the Phcedrus, an in- 
carnation of passion, tinged, in spite of his own radiance, with 
sadness. What thought has made him sorrowful and bowed his 
head ? Perhaps Theognis can tell us : 

d(ppovec di'OpoJTToi Kai i'Ijttioi, o'ite Qavovrag 
Kkaiova ouS' i)j3r]g avdog dizoWvfitvov.X 

The winged boy, again, bending his bow against the hearts of lov- 
ers, with his lion's skin beside him,§ is the Eros of Agathon — he 
who delights to walk delicately upon the tender places of the 
soul. Next we find him asleep upon his folded pinions, the mis- 
chievous child who rewarded Anacreon's hospitality by wounding 
him, and who gave to the thirsty heart of Meleager scalding tears 

* Xeapolitan Museum. t British Museum. 

\ Ah, vain and thoughtless men, who wail the dead, 
But not one tear for youth's frail blossom shed ! 

§ Of this statue there are many slightly -different copies. The best is in 
the Vatican. 


to drink. How, in the last place, arc we to distinguish Love from 
Harpocrates, the silent, with one finger on his lip ? 

Turn next to Hermes. When the herald of Olympus met Pri- 
am midway between Troy - town and Achilles' tent, he was, says 

VErjrly avSpi ioiKwc, 
lipwTOV vTTip'ijT^, rovTrep \apuara-i] i'jf^i], 

"like a young man, with budding beard, whose bloom is in the 
prime of grace." This adolescent loveliness belongs throughout 
to Hermes. As the genius of the gymnasium,* he is a deified 
athlete, scarcely to be distinguished from the quoit-throwers and 
the runners he protects. The Hermes, who woos a nymph with 
his arm around her waist,f has Persuasion for his parent. Again, 
the seated Hermes, with wings upon his ankles, is the swiftness of 
auroral light incarnate.^ Nor lastly, when, with chlamys thrown 
upon his shoulder and petasos slung from his neck, he leads souls 
to Hades, caduceus in hand, has he lost this quality of youth and 
lustre.§ He upon Aphrodite begat Hermaphrodite. Their union 
— the union of athletic goodliness and consummate womanhood 
— produced a blending of two beauties forgotten by an over- 
sight of nature. 

How various again is Bacchus, passing from the stately mild- 
ness of the bearded Indian god to the wantonness of Phales, the 
"night-wandering reveller!" At one. time you can scarcely dis- 
tinguish him from young Apollo or young Herakles ; at another 
his brows and tresses have the chastity of Love ; again he as- 
sumes the voluptuous form which befits the sire by Aphrodite of 
Priapus. The fascination of the grape-juice lends itself to all 

* See the Mercury of the Belvedere. 

t Engraved in Clarac, Musee de Sculpture, Planches, vol. iv. pi. 666 c. 

\ Bronze, at Naples. 

§ Drum of column from Ephesus, British Museum. 



qualities that charm the soul of man. Yet another of these cog- 
nate deities may be mentioned. That is the Genius of Eternal 
Slumber/" reclining with arms folded above his head, upright 
against a tree. To judge by his attitude, he might be Bacchus, 
wine-drowsy, as in a statue of the gallery at Florence. Looking 
:it hi? long tresses, we call him Love : and what deities jirc of 
closer kin than Love and Death? His stately form, not unlike 
that of Pha'bus, makes us exclaim in yEschylean language, w 
Qavare Troa'o' (O Death, the healer!). But he is stronger and 
more enduring, less swift to move, less light of limb, than any of 
these. It was a deep and touching intuition of the Greeks wliich 
prompted thcni to ascribe these kinships to Death. "Who knows 
even now whether the winged and sworded genius of the Ephe- 
sus column be Love or Death ? To trace such analogies further 
would be fanciful : it is enough to pluck at random a few blos- 
soms, and to scatter them for lovers. To Winckelmann and the 
antiquaries may be left the accurate distinctions of the Greek de- 
ities. Without seeking to confound these, but rather studying 
them most carefully,^ we may yet discern by passing hints that 
purity of tact which enabled the Greeks to interpret in their stat- 
uary every nuance of feeling and of fancy, and to mark by sub- 
tlest suggestions their points of agreement as well as of divergence. 
When Hippolytus in Euripides first appears upon the scene, he 
greets Artemis with these words : 

Lady, for thee this gailand have I woven 

Of wilding flowers, plucked from an unshorn meadow. 

Where neither shepherd dares to feed his flock. 

Nor ever scythe hath swept, but through the grasses 

Unshorn in spring the bee pursues her labors, 

And maiden modesty with running rills 

Waters the garden. 

* Louvre. 


Before the Meleager of the Vatican, so cahn and strong and 
redolent of forest odors, this orison rings in our memory, and the 
Diana of the Louvre seems ready to spring forth and loose her 
hind and call on the hero to hunt with her. The life of woods 
and mountains was divined and interpreted with fine sensibility 
by the Attic sculptors. Children of the earth, and conscious of 
their own recent birth from the bosom of the divine in nature, 
they loved all fair and fresh things of the open world fraternally. 
Therefore they could carve the mystery of the Praxitelean Faun,* 
whose subtle smile is a lure for souls, and the profound sleep of 
the Barberini Faun,f who seems to have but half escaped from 
elemental existence, and still to own some kindred with uncon- 
scious things. The joy of the shepherd who carries on his back 
a laughing child at Naples ; the linked arms of Bacchus and Am- 
pelus; the young Triton J who blows his horn over the crests of 
tl'.e waves, and calls upon his brethren the billows to rejoice with 
him, as he bears his nymph away ; the subtle charm of double 
life in Hermaphrodite, in whom two sexes are hidden, like a bit- 
ter and a sweet almond in one beautiful but barren husk ; the 
frank sensuality of Silenus and Priapus ; the dishevelled hair 
and quivering flanks of Maenads ; the laughter of Eros wreathed 
around with coils of the enamoured dolpliin's tail ;§ the pride of 
the eagle soaring heavenward with Ganymede among his plumes : 
from tokens like these, together w"ith the scenes of the Bacchse 
and the Cyclops of Euripides, the idyls of Theocritus, and the 
dedicatory epigrams of the Anthology, we learn of what sort was 
the sympathy of the Greeks for nature. Their beautiful human- 
ity is so close to the mother ever youthful of all life, to the full- 
breasted earth, that they seem calling through their art to the 
woods and waves and rivers, crying to their brethren that still 

* The Capitol. f Glyptothek, Munich. 

X The Vatican. § Naples. 



tarrv : "Come forth, and be like us; bedn to feci and know 
your happiness; put on the form of flesh in which the world's 
soul reaches consciousness !" Humanity defined upon the bor- 
derland of nature is the life of all Greek sculpture. Even the 
gods are films of fleshly form emergent on the surface of the ele- 
ments. The circle of the sun dilates, and Phoebus grows into dis- 
tinctness with the glory round him ; out of the liquid ether gaze 
the divine eyes of Zeus ; Poseidon rises breast-high from the mir- 
rors of the sea. Man, for the first time conscious of his freedom, 
yet clinging still to the breasts that gave him suck, like a flower 
rooted to the kindly earth, expresses all his thought and feeling 
in the language of his own shape. " The Greek spirit," says He- 
gel, " is the plastic artist forming the stone into a work of art." 
And this ^v•ork of art is invariably the image of a man or woman. 
The most sublime aspirations, the subtlest intuitions, the darkest 
forebodings, the audacities of passion, the freedom of the senses, 
put on personality in Hellas and assume a robe of carnal beauty. 
In Egypt and the Orient humanity lay still upon " the knees of 
a mild mystery." The Egyptians had not discovered the magic 
word by means of which the world might be translated into the 
lanjiuasre of mankind : their art still remained within the sphere 
of symbolism which excludes true sympathy. The Jews had con- 
centrated their thought upon moral phenomena : in their jeal- 
ousy of the abstract purity of the soul they banned the arts as 

Theognis tells us that when the Muses and the Graces came 
down from Olympus to the marriage-feast of Cadmus and Har- 
monia, they sang a song with this immortal burden : 

oTTi Ka\6v, (piXov iari " to S' ov koXov ov iplXov tariv.* 

This strikes the key-note to the music of the Greek genius. Beau- 
* See vol. i. p. 268, note, for an English version of t!;i.^ line. 


ly is the true province of tlie Greeks, their indefeasible domain. 
But their conception of beauty was both more comprehensive and 
more concrete than any which a modern race, perturbed by the 
division of the flesh and spirit, conscious of Jewish no less than 
Greek tradition, can attain to. When Goethe expressed his the- 
ory of life in the following couplet, 

Im Ganzen, Guten, Schonen 
Rcsolut zu leben,* 

he supplied us with a correct definition of the spirit which gov- 
erned Hellas. Beauty to the Greeks was one aspect of the uni- 
versal synthesis, commensurate with all that is fair in manners 
I and comely in morals. It was the harmony of man with nature 
in a well-balanced and complete humanity, the bloom of health 
upon a conscious being, satisfied, as flowers and stars arc satisfied, 
\ with the conditions of temporal existence. It Avas the joy-note 
of the whole world, heard and echoed by the sole being who could 
comprehend it — man. That alone Avas beautiful which uttered a 
sound in unison with the whole, and all was good which had this 
quality of concord. To be really beautiful Avas to be an integral 
part of the Avorld's symphony, to be developed fully in all parts, 
without an undue preference for the soul before the body or 
for the passions before the reason — to maintain the rhythm and 
the measure and the balance of those faculties which character- 
ize man, nature's masterpiece. The profounder reaches of this 
thought were explored by philosophers, who figured the soul as 
a harmony, who conceived of God as the Idea of Beauty, or who, 
like Marcus Aurelius, defined virtue to be a living and enthusias- 
tic sympathy with nature. In the region of social life it led the 

lie U ' 

To live with steady purpose in the whole, the Good, the Beautiful." 
These two lines are sometimes misquoted — Schonen being exchanged for 
Walnrn^ Beauty for Truth. 


Greeks to treat the State as an organic whole, which might be * 
kept in preservation by the balance of its several forces. In the 
sphere of religion it produced a race of gods, each perfect in his 
individuality, distinct and self-contained, but blending, like the 
colors of the prism, in the white light of Zeus, who was the 
whole.* In actual life it facilitated the development of charac- 
ters which, by the free expansion of personality and by a con- 
scious culture, were themselves consummate works of art. Just 
as the unity of the Greek religion was not the unity of the one, 
but of the many, blent and harmonized in the variety that wc ob- 
serve in nature, so the ideal of Greek life imposed no common- 
place conformity to one fixed standard on individuals, but each 
man was encouraged to complete and realize the type of himself / 

to the utmost. Pericles devoted his energy to the perfecting of 
statesmanship, and became the incarnation of the Athenian spii'It ; \ 
Pindar was a poet through and through ; for the Olympian vic- 
tor it was enough to be physically complete; Pheidias lived in 
concord with the universe by his exclusive devotion to his art. j 
Thus formed and modelled to the utmost perfection each of his i 
own kind, these characters, when contemplated together from a \ 
distance, like the deities of Olympus, present, in the harmony that 
springs from difference, an ideal of humanity. The Greek no less 
than the Christian might need to cut off his right hand — to de- 
bar himself like Pericles from the pleasures of society, or to cast 
aside the sin that doth so easily beset us, like Socrates, who tram- 
pled under foot his sensual instincts — for the attainment of that 
self-evolution which gave him the right to be one note in the 
concord of the whole, one color in the prism of humanity. The 

* The Greek Pantheon, regarded from one point of view, represents an 
exhaustive psychological analysis. Nothing in human nature is omitted; 
but each function and each quality of man is deified. To Zeus as the su- 
preme reason all is subordinated. 



one thing needful to him was, not belief in tlie unseen, nor of ne- 
cessity holiness, but a fii-ni resolve to comprehend and cultivate 
las own capacity, and thus to add his quota to the sum of beauty 
in the Avorld. 

Tiie Greeks were essentially a nation of artists. Of the infinite 
attributes of God, of the infinite qualities of the whole, they clear- 
ly apprehended beauty. That they conceived largely and liber- 
ally, not narrowly and partially, as we are wont to do. And, like 
consummate craftsmen, they did thoroughly whatsoever in the 
region of things plastic their hands found to do — so thoroughly 
that men have only done the work again in so far as they have 
followed the Greek rule. When we speak of the Greeks as an 
aesthetic nation, this is what we mean. Guided by no supernat- 
ural revelation, with no Mosaic law for conduct, they trusted their 
ai(Tdt}(ng, delicately trained and preserved in a condition of the ut- 
most purity. This tact is the ultimate criterion in all matters of 
art — a truth which we recognize in our use of the word aesthetic, 
though we too often attempt to import the alien elements of met- 
aphysical dogmatism and moral prejudice into the sphere of beau- 
ty. This tact was also for the Greeks the ultimate criterion of 
ethics. 'Yyiahfii' jjty iipinroy uydfji di'ttriS, says Simonides.* A 
man in perfect health of mind and body, enjoying the balance of 
mental, moral, and physical qualities which health implies, car- 
ried within himself the norm and measure of propriety. Those 
were the days when " love was an unerring light, and joy its own 
security." What we call the conscience, our continual reference 
to the standard of the divine will, scarcely existed for the Greek. 
To that further stage in the education of the world, where moral 
instincts are deepened and enforced by spiritual religion, he had 

* See vol. i. p. 302 for a translation of this scolion attributed to Simoni- 
des, and vol. i. p. 337 for a translation of a Hymn to Healtli, which develops 
the same theme. 


not advanced. But instead of it lie had for a guide this true ar- 
tistic sensibility, developed by centuries of training, fortified by 
traditional canons of good taste and prudence, and subject to 
continual correction by reciprocal comparison and dialectical de- 
bate. The lawgiver, the sculptor, the athlete, the statesman, the 
philosopher, the poet, the warrior, the musician, each added 
somethino; of his own to the formation of a koivi) aiadqcrig, 
or common taste, by which the individual might regulate his in- 

To suppose that the Greeks were not a highly moralized race \ / 
is perhaps the strangest misconception to which religious preju- ' '^ 
dice has ever given rise. If their morality was aesthetic and not 
theocratic, it was none the less on that account humane and real. 
The difficulty for the critic is to seize exactly that which is Hel- 
lenic — enduring and common to the race, not transient and due 
to individuals — in their religion and their ethics. In order to 
appreciate the first fine flavor of the Greek intellect, it is necessary 
to o-o back to Ilomer, who represents a period when the instincts 
of the Hellenes had not been sophisticated by philosophical reflec- 
tion or vitiated by contact with Asiatic luxury. Homer joins 
hands with Pheidias and Aristophanes and Sophocles in a chain 
of truly Greek tradition. But side by side with them there runs 
a deeper and more mystic strain. The blood-justice of the Eu- 
menides, the asceticism of Pythagoras, the purificatory rites of 
Empcdocles and Epimenides, the dreadful belief in a jealous God, 
and the doctrine of hereditary guilt in Theognis, Herodotus, and 
Solon, are fragments of primitive or Asiatic superstition unhar- 
monized with the serene element of the Hellenic spirit. At the 
same time the orgiastic cult of Dionysus and the voluptuous wor- 
ship of the Corinthian Aphrodite are intrusions from Avithout. 
To eliminate such cruder moral and religious notions was the im- 
pulse of the vigorous Greek mind. Yet at one critical moment 


of history mysticism attained undue development and bid fair to 
force the Hellenic genius into uncongenial regions. The Persian 
war, by its lesson of a mortal peril escaped miraculously, quickened 
the spiritual convictions of the race.* It was then that ^'Eschy- 
liis conceived his tragic doctrine of Retribution, whereof the mot- 
to is rw Zplinai'TL irndt'ii', and Pindar sounded with an awful sense 
of mystery the possible abysses of a future life. Greece, after the 
struggle with Xerxes, passed through a period of feverish exalta- 
tion, in which her placid contemplation of the beauty of the world 
Avas interrupted. She, whose vocation it was to see only by the 
light of the serene and radiant sun, seemed on the verge of be- 
coming a clairvoyant. But the balance was soon righted. Even 
in Pindar, moral mysticism is, as it were, encysted, like an alien 
deposit, in the more vital substance of sesthetic conceptions. 
Sophocles corrects the gloomy extravagance of yEschylus. The 
law of tragedy in Sophocles is no longer that the doer of a deed 
must suffer, but that he who offends unwittingly will be account- 
ed innocent. Euripides shifts the ground of moral interest from 
religious beliefs to sophistical analysis. Meanwhile Aristophanes, 
the true Athenian conservative, is equally opposed to metaphysi- 
cal subtleties and to superstitious fancies ; while Socrates directs 

* I have already touched on this point in the chapters on the Attic drama. 
It is, indeed, very interesting to trace the growth of the nioraHty of Nemesis 
and the divine (pQiwog in the earlier Greek authors — its purification by ^Eschy- 
lus, and still further subsequent refinement by Sophocles ; finally its rejection 
by Plato, who says emphatically : " Envy has no place in the heavenly choir." 
A childish fear of the divine government pervaded the Greeks of the age of 
Herodotus. This by the dramatists was exalted to a conception of the holy 
and the jealous God. But the good sense of the Greeks led the philosophers 
to eliminate from their theory of the world even the sublime theosophy of 
uEschylus. The soul of man, as analyzed by Plato in the Republic, has only 
to suffer from the inevitable consequences of its own passions. Plato theo- 
rizes the humanity implicit in Homer. 


his polemic against sciolism in philosophy and childishness in 
mythology, without thinking it worth while to attack the super- 
stition of the mystics. In Plato's etliics the highest altitude of 
sane Greek speculation is attained ; and here we see how much 
akin, in all essential matters of morality, the intuition of the 
Greeks was to the revealed doctrine of the Christians. Aristoph- 
anes reflects the clearest image of Greek versatility and cheerful- 
ness. Pericles, freed by Anaxagoras from foolish fears, realizes the 
genuine Greek life of steadfast, self-reliant activity. The drama of 
Sophocles sets forth a complete view of human destiny as con- 
ceived by the most perfect of Greek intellects. Antigone dares 
to trust her own (t'trrdrjfnc, her moral tact, in opposition to unnat- 
m-al law. Oedipus suffers no further than his own quality of 
rashness justifies. When we arrive at Aristotle, who yields the 
abstract of all that previously existed in the Greek mind, we see 
that the scientific spirit has achieved a perfect triumph. His sci- 
ence is the correlative in the region of pure thought to the art 
which in sculpture had pursued an uninterrupted course of nat- 
ural evolution. 

In the adolescent age of the Greek genius, mankind, not Jiav- 
ing yet fully arrived at spiritual self-consciousness, Avas still as sin- 
less and simple as any other race that lives and dies upon the, 
globe, forming a part of the natural order of the world. The 
sensual impulses, within reasonable limits, like the intellectual and 
the moral, were then held void of crime and harmless. Health 
and good taste controlled the physical appetites of man, just as 
the appetites of animals are regulated by unerring instinct. In 
the same way a standard of moderation determined moral virtue 
and intellectual excellence. But in addition to this protective 
check upon the passions, a noble sense of the beautiful, as that 
which is balanced and restrained within limits, prevented the 
Greeks of the- best period from diverging into Asiatic cxtrava- 

II.— 25 


gance of pleasure. License was reckoned barbarous, and the bar- 
barians were slaves by nature, ^vctei lovXoi : Hellenes, born to be 
free men, took pride in temperance. Their (rwtppoavrr), or self-re- 
I straint, coextensive as a protective virtue Avitli the whole of their 
; TO K-ctXoj', or ideal of form, was essentially Greek — the quality be- 
I loved by Phoebus, in whom was no dark place nor any flaw. With 
the Romans, humanity, not having yet transcended the merely 
natural order, remaining unconscious of a higher religious ideal, 
and at the same time uncontrolled by exquisite Greek sense of fit- 
ness, began to wax wanton. To the state of paradisal innocence 
succeeded the fall. The bestial side of our mixed nature en- 
croached upon the spiritual, and the sense of beauty was perturbed 
by lust. That true health, without which the unassisted tact is a 
:false guide, failed ; no fine law of taste corrected appetite. It was 
lat this moment that Christianity convicted mankind of sin. The 
voice of God was heard crying in the garden. The unity of man 
with nature w^as abruptly broken. Flesh and spirit were defined 
and counterpoised. Man, abiding far from God in his flesh, 
sought after God in his spirit. His union with God was no longer 
an actual state of mundane innocence, but a distant, future, dim, 
celestial possibility, to be achieved by the sacrifice of this fair life 
of earth. " Your lives are hid with Christ in God." Together 
with this separation of the flesh and spirit wrought by Christian- 
ity, came the abhorrence of beauty as a snare, the sense that car- 
nal affections w'ere tainted with sin, the unwilling toleration of 
sexual love as a necessity, the idealization of celibacy and solitude. 
At the same time humanity acquired new faculties and wider sen- 
sibilities, those varied powers which make the modern man more 
complex and more mighty both for good and evil than the an- 
cient. A prof ounder and more vital feeling of the mysteries of the 
universe arose. Our life on earth was seen to be a thing by no 
means rounded in itself and perfect, but only one term of an in- 


finite and unknown series. It was henceforward impossible to 
translate the world into the language of purely aesthetic form. 
This stirring of the spirit marks the transition of the ancient to 
the modern world. 

At the time of the Renaissance the travail was well-nigh over; 
the lesson had been learned and exaggerated ; mankind began to 
resent the one-sidedncss of monastic Christianity, and to yearn 
once more for the fruit and flowers of the garden which Avas 
Greece. Yet the spirit and the flesh still remained in unrecon- 
ciled antagonism. 0\'er the gate of Eden the arm of the seraph 
waved his terrible sword. But humanity in rebellion, while out- 
cast from God and convicted of sin, would not refrain from pluck- 
ing the pleasure of the sense. This was the time of the inso- 
lence of the flesh, when antichrist sat in St. Peter's chair, and 
when man, knowing his nakedness, submitted to the fascinations 
of the siren, Shame. The old liealth of the Greeks, their simple 
and unerring tact, was gone : to recover that Avas impossible. 
Christ crowned with thorns, the Sabbaths and ablutions of the 
Jews, the " thunderous vision" of St. Paul, had intervened and fix- 
ed a gulf between Hellas and modern Europe. In that age the 
love of beauty became a tragic disease liketlie plague which Aph- 
rodite sent in wrath on Pluedra. Even Michael Angelo, at the 
end of a long life spent in the service of the noblest art, felt con- 
strained to write : 

Now hath in)' Hfe across a stormy sea, 

Like a frail bark, reached tliat wide port wheie all 

Are bidden ere the final judgment fall, 

Of good and evil deeds to pay the fee. 
Now know I well how that fond fantasy, 

Which made my soul the worsliipper and thrall 

Of earthly art, is vain ; how criminal 

Is that which all men seek unwillinglv. 


Tliose amorous tlioughts which were so hghtly dressed, 
What are they when the double death is nigh ? 
The one I know for sure, the other dread. 

Painting nor sculpture now can lull to rest 
My soul, that turns to his great love on high. 
Whose arms to clasp us on the cross were spread. 

In bis work sculpture is forced to express what lies beyond its 
province — the throes and labor of tlie spirit. Michael Angelo was 
not a plastic character in the sense in which Hegel used this 
phrase, llis art reflects the combat of his nature and his age ; 
whence comes what people call its extravagance and emphasis. 
Raphael from the opposite side introduced pagan form and feel- 
ing into his purely religious work of art ; whence came what peo- 
ple call his decadence. Puritan England, inquisition-ridden Spain, 
and critical Germany offer still more permanent signs of this deep- 
seated division in the modern world between the natural instincts 
and the spiritual aspirations of humanity. Even to the present 
day this division distorts our sense of beauty and prevents our 
realizing an ideal of art. 

After all, the separation between the Greeks and us is due to 
something outside us rather than within — principally to the He- 
braistic culture we receive in childhood. A\'e are taught to think 
that one form of religion contains the whole truth, and that one 
way of feeling is right, to the exclusion of the humanities and 
sympathies of races no less beloved of God and no less kindred to 
ourselves than were the Jews. At the same time the literature 
of the Greeks has for the last three centuries formed the basis of 
our education ; their thoughts and sentiments, enclosed like pre- 
cious perfumes in sealed vases, spread themselves abroad and steep 
the soul in honey-sweet aromas. Some will always be found, un- 
der the conditions of this double culture, to whom Greece is a lost 
fatherland, and who, passing through youth with the mal du pat/s 


of that irrecoverable land upon them, may be compared to vision- 
aries, spending the nights in golden dreams and the days in com- 
mon duties. 

Has, then, the modern man no method for making the Hellenic 
tradition vital instead of dream-like — invigorating instead of en- 
ervating ? There is, indeed, this one way only — to be natural. 
We must imitate tlie Greeks, not by trying to reproduce their by- 
gone modes of life and feeling, but by approximating to their free 
and fearless attitude of mind. While frankly recognizing that 
ranch of their liberty would for us be license, and that the moral 
progress of the race depends on holding with a firm grasp what 
the Greeks had hardly apprehended, we ought still to emulate 
their spirit by cheerfully accepting the world as we find it, ac- 
knowledging the value of each human impulse, and aiming after! 
virtues that depend on self-regulation rather than on total absti- Ij ^ .^ 
nence and mortification. To do this in the midst of our conven- 
tionalities and prejudices, our interminglement of unproved ex- 
pectations and unrefuted terrors, is no doubt hard. Yet if we fail 
of this, we miss the best the Greeks can teach us. Nor need we 
fear lest, in the attempt, we should lose what Christianity has 
given us. Those who believe sincerely in the divine life of the 
world, who recognize the truth that there can be nothing vitally 
irreconcilable between the revelations made to the gi-eat races 
that have formed our past, will dismiss such fears with a smile. 
It was not against the spirit of the Greeks that St. Paul preached, 
but against the vices of a decadent society in Hellas. It is not 
against the spirit of Christianity that modern reformers lift their 
voices, but against the corruption and exaggeration of its precepts 
in monasticism and Puritanism. The problem of the present and 
the future is to bring both spirits into due accord, to profit by 
both revelations while avoiding their distortion and abuse. 

In the struggle of the adverse forces, felt so strongly ever since 


the reactionary age of the Renaissance, tliere is, however, now at 
least a liope of future reconciliation. The motto 

Im Gaiizeii, Guten, Schiiiieii 
Resoliit zu leben, 

is not a strictly Christian sentence. St. Paul had said : " To me 
to live is Christ, and to die is gain." But it is essentially human. 
The man who lives by it is restored to that place in the world 
which he has a right to occupy, instead of regarding himself as 
an alien and an outcast from imagined heaven. Science must be 
our redeemer. Science which teaches man to know himself, and 
explains to him his real relation to nature. The healthy accept- 
ance of the physical laws to which we arc subordinated need not 
prevent our full consciousness of moral law. It is true that the 
beautiful Greek life, as of leopards and tiger-lilies and eagles, can- 
not be restored. Yet neither need we cling to the con\cnt or the 
prison life of early Catholicity. The new freedom of man must 
consist of submission to the order of the universe as it exists. 
The final discovery that there is no antagonism between our phys- 
ical and spiritual constitution, but rather a most intimate connec- 
tion, must place the men of the future upon a higher level and 
a firmer standing-ground than the Greeks. They by experience 
and demonstration will know what the Greeks felt instinctively. 
Their ai(rdr)cnc, permeated and strengthened by the ever-duriug 
influence of Christianity, Avill be further fortified by the recogni- 
tion of immutable law. The tact of healthy youth will be suc- 
ceeded by the calm reason of maturity. 




Sculpture, the Greek Art par excellence. — Plastic Character of the Greek Gen- 
ius. — Sterner Aspects of Greek Art. — Subordination of Pain and Dis- 
cord to Harmon}'. — Stoic-Epicureau Acceptance of Life. — Sadness of 
Achilles in the OdiiHuey. — Endurance of Odysseus. — Myth of Prometheus. 
— Sir II. S. Maine on Progress. — The Essential Relation of all Spiritual 
Movement to Greek Culture. — Value of the Moral Attitude of the Greckt* 
for us. — Three Points of Greek Ethical Inferiority. — The Conception of 
Nature. — The System of Marcus Aurelius. — Contrast with the Imitatio 
Chrhti. — The Modern Scientiiic Spirit. — Indestructible Elements in the 
Philosophy of Nature. 

I MAV, perhaps, be allowed in this last chapter to quit the 
iiupersonal style of the essayist and to refer to some strictures 
passed upon earlier chapters of these studies. Critics for whose 
opinion I feel respect have observed that, in what I wrote about 
the genius of Greek art, I neglected to notice the sterner and 
more serious qualities of the Greek spirit, tliat I exaggerated the 
importance of sculpture as the characteristic Hellenic art, and 
that I did not make my meaning clear about the value of the 
study of Greek modes of thought and feeling for men living in 
our scientific age. To take up these topics in detail, and to 
answer some of these indictments, is my purpose in the present 
chapter. They are so varied that I may fairly be excused for 
adopting a less methodical and connected development of ideas 
than ought to be demanded from a man who is not answering 
objections, but preferring opinions. 


To take tlic least important of these questions first: why is 
sculpture selected as the most eminent and characteristic art of 
tlie Hellenic race, Avhen so much remains of their poetry and of 
prose work in the highest sense artistic? To my mind the an- 
swer is simple enough. One modern nation has produced a drama 
which can compete with that of Athens. Another has carried 
painting to a perfection we have little reason to believe it ever 
reached in Greece. A third has satisfied the deepest and the 
widest needs of our emotional nature by such music as no Greek, 
in all probability, had any opportunity of hearing. In the last 
place, Gothic architecture, the common heritage of all the Euro- 
pean nations of the modern world, is at least as noble as the archi- 
tecture of the ancients. The Greeks alone have been unique in 
sculpture : what survives of Pheidias and Praxiteles, of Polycletus 
and Scopas, and of their schools, transcends in beauty and in pow- 
er, in freedom of handling and in purity of form, the very highest 
work of Donatello, Delia Querela, and Michael Angelo. We have, 
therefore, a prima facie right to lay great stress on sculpture as a 
Greek art, just as we have the prima facie right to select painting 
as an Italian art. The first step taken from this position leads to 
the reflection that, within the sphere of art at any rate, the one 
art which a nation has developed as its own, to which it has suc- 
ceeded in giving unique perfection, and upon which it has im- 
pressed the mark of its peculiar character, will lend the key for 
the interpretation of its whole aesthetic temperament. The Ital- 
ians cannot have been singularly and pre-eminently successful in 
painting without displaying some of the painter's qualities in all 
their artistic products. The Greeks cannot have made sculpture 
unapproachably complete without possessing a genius wherein the 
sculptor's bent of mind Avas specially predominant, and thus in- 
fusing somewhat of the sculpturesque into the sister arts. Paint- 
ing for Italy and sculpture for Greece may be fairly taken as the 


fully formed and flawless crystals in a matrix of congenial, but not 
equally developed, matter. The ideal to which either race aspired 
instinctively in all its art was realized to the fullest, by the one in 
sculpture, by the other in painting. So. we are justified in testing 
the whole of their aesthetic products by the laws of painting and 
of sculpture respectively. This, broadly stated, without economy 
of phrase or cautious reservation, is the reason why a student who 
has tried, however imperfectly, to assimilate to himself the spirit 
displayed in the surviving monuments of Greek art, is brought back 
at every turn to sculpture as the norm and canon of them all. 

Whatever knowledge he may gain about the circumstances of 
Greek life and the peculiar temper of Greek thought will only 
strengthen his conviction. The national games, the religious pag- 
eants, the theatrical shows, and the gymnastic exercises of the 
Greeks were sculpturesque. The conditions of their speculative 
thought in the first dawn of civilized self -consciousness, when 
spiritual energy was still conceived as incarnate only in a form of 
flesh, and the soul was inseparable from the body except by an 
unfamiliar process of analysis, harmonized with the art which in- 
terprets the mind in all its movements by the features and the 
limbs. Their careful choice of distinct motives- in poetry, their 
appeal in all imaginative work to the inner eye that sees, no less 
than to the sympathies that thrill, their abstinence from descrip- 
tions of landscape and analyses of emotion, their clear and mas- 
sive character-delineation, point to the same conclusion. Every- 
thing tends to confirm the original perception that the simplicity 
of form, the purity of design, the self-restraint, and the parsimony 
both of expression and material, imposed by sculpture on the art- 
ist, were observed as laws by the Greeks in their mental activity, 
and more especially in their arts. It is this which differentiates 
them from the romantic nations. When, therefore, we undertake 
to speak of the genius of Greek art, we are justified in giving the 


first place to sculpture autl in assuming that sculpture strikes tlic 
key-note of the whole music. 

To take a far more serious objection next. It is true that, 
while gazing intently upon the luminous qualities of the Greek 
spirit, we are tempted to neglect its sterner and more sombre 
aspect. Not, indeed, that the shadows are not there, patent to 
superficial observers, and necessary even to the sublimity of the 
ideal we admire in its serene beauty ; but they are so consistently 
subordinated to light and lustre that he who merely seeks to seize 
predominant characteristics may find it difficult to appreciate them 
duly without missing what is even more essential. A writer on 
the arts of the Greeks is not bound to take into consideration the 
defects of their civil and don:iestic life, the discords and disturb- 
ance of their politics, the pains they felt and suffered in conmion 
with humanity at large, the incomplete morality of a race defined 
by no sharp line but that of culture fi'om barbarians. It is rather 
his duty to note how carefully these things, which even we dis- 
cern as discords, were excluded by them from the sphere of beauty ; 
since it is precisely this that distinguishes the Greeks most de- 
cidedly from the modern nations, who have used pain, perplexity, 
and apj^arent failure as subjects for the noblest a?sthetic handling. 
The world-pain of our latter years was felt, as a young man may 
feel it, by the Greeks of the best age; but their artists did not, 
like Shakespeare and Michael Angelo, Goethe and Beethoven, 
make this the substance of their mightiest works. Ancient Hel- 
las contained nothing analogous to Hamlet, or the tombs of the 
Medici to Faust or the C minor symphony. The desolation of 
humanity adrift upon a sea of chance and change finds expression 
here and there in a threnos of Simonides or an epigram of Cal- 
limachus. The tragic poets are never tired of dwelling upon des- 
tiny, inherent partly in the transmitted doom of ancestors, and 
partly in the moral character of individuals. The depth of 


Pindar's soul is stirred by the question that has tried all ages : 
"Creatures of a day! What are we and what are we not?" 
Such strains, however, are, as it were, occasional and accidental 
in Greek poetry. The Greek artist, not having a background of 
Christian hope and expectation against which he could relieve 
the trials and afflictions of this life, aimed at keeping them in a 
strictly subordinate place. lie sought to produce a harmony in 
his work which should correspond to health in the body and to 
temperance in the soul, to present a picture of human destiny, 
not darkened by the shadows of the tomb, but luminous beneath 
the light of day. It was his purpose, as indeed it is of all good 
craftsmen, not to weaken, but to fortify, not to dispirit and de- 
press, but to exalt and animate. The very imperfect conceptions 
he had formed of immortality determined the course he pursued. 
He had no hell to fear, no heaven to hope for. It was in no sense 
his duty to cast a gloom over the only w^orld he knew by paint- 
ing it in sombre colors, but rather to assist the freedom of the 
spirit, and to confirm the energies of men by bringing what is 
glad and beautiful into prominence. In this way, the Greeks, 
after their own fashion, asserted that unconquerable faith in the 
goodness of the universe, and in the dignity of the human race, 
without which progress would be impossible. Though the life 
of man may be hard and troublous, though diseases and turbulent 
passions assail his peace, though the history of nations be but a 
tale that is told, and the days of heroes but a dream between two 
sleeps, yet the soul is strong to rise above these vapors of the 
earth into a clearer atmosphere. The real way of achieving a tri- 
umph over chance and of defying fate is to turn to good account 
all fair and wholesome things beneath the sun, and to maintain 
for an ideal the beauty, strength, and splendor of the body, mind, 
and will of man. The mighty may win fame, immortal on the 
lips of poets and in the marble of the sculptor. The meanest 

I J 


may possess themselves in patience and enjo}'. Tims the Greeks 
adopted for their philosophy of life Avhat Clouorh described as a 
"Stoic-Epicurean acceptance" of the world. They practised a 
genial accommodation of their natures to the facts which must 
perforce regulate the existence of humanity. To ascertain the 
conditions of nature, and to adapt themselves thereto by training, 
was the object of their most serious schemes of education. Later 
on, when the bloom began to pass from poetry and art, and the 
vigor of national life declined, this attitude of simple manliness 
diverged into hedonism and asceticism. Let us eat and drink, for 
to-morrow we die, said one section of the thinkers. Let us bear 
all hardness, lest we become the slaves of chance and self, said the 
other. But neither proposition expressed the full mind of the 
Greeks of the best age. They clearly saw that, in spite of disas- 
ter and disease, life was a good thing for those who maintained 
the balance of moral and physical health. Without asceticism 
they strove after well-ordered conduct. Without hedonism they 
took their frugal share of the delightful things furnished by the 
boon earth in prodigal abundance. The mental condition of such 
men, expectant, grateful, and serenely acquiescent, has been well 
expressed by Goethe in lines like these : 

That naught belongs to me I know- 
Save thoughts that never cease to flow 

From founts that cannot pcrisli, 
And every fleeting shape of bliss 
That kindly fortune lets me kiss 

And in ray bosom cherish. 

It is this mental attitude which I think must be regained by us 
who seek firm foothold in the far more complicated difficulties of 
the present age. While it is easy, therefore, to omit the darker 
shadows from our picture of Greek life, because, although they 
are there, they arc almost swallowed np in brightness, it is not 


easy to exaggerate the tranquil and manly spirit with which the 
Greeks faced the evils of the world and rose above them. Owing 
to this faculty for absorbing all sad things and presenting, through 
ait, only the splendor of accomplished strength and beauty, the 
Greeks have left for the world a unique treasure of radiant forms 
in sculpture, of lustrous thoughts in poetry, of calm wisdom in 
philosophy and history. Their power upon all arts and sciences is 
the power of a harmonizing and health-giving spirit. This it is 
which, in spite of their perception of the sterner problems of the 
Avorld, obliges us to describe their genius as adolescent; for ado- 
lescence has of strength and sorrow and reflection so much only 
as is compatible with beauty. This, again, it is which makes their 
influence so valuable to us now, who need for our refreshening the 
contact with unused and youthful forces. 

At the same time, while insisting upon the truth of all this, 
many of the chapters in my two volumes have forced upon our 
minds what is severe and awful in the genius of the Greeks. The 
Chthonian deities form a counterpart to the dwellers on Olympus, 
The voice of the people in the Hesiodic poems rises like the cry 
of Israel from Pharaoh's brickfields rather than the song -like 
shout of Salaminian oarsmen. Who, again, in reading the Iliad, 
has not felt that the glory of Achilles, coruscating like a star new- 
washed in ocean waves, detaches itself from a background of im- 
penetrable gloom ? He blazes in his godlike youth for one mo- 
ment only above the mists of Styx, the waters of Lethe ; and it is 
due to the triumphant imagination of his poet that the conscious- 
ness of impending fate adds lustre to his heroism instead of doom- 
ing him to the pathetic pallor of the Scandinavian Balder. When 
we meet Achilles in Hades, and hear him sigh, 

Ratlicr would I iu the sun's wiiniUh divine 
Serve a poor churl who drags his days in grief, 
Than the whole lordship of the dead were mine, 

398 ^'^-^^ GREEK POETS. 

wc toucli the deepest sorrow of the Greek heart, a sorrow lulled 
tc) rest in vain b}' anodynes of Eleusinian mysteries and Samo- 
thracian rites, a sorrow kept manfully in check by resolute wills 
and burning enthusiasms, but which recurred continually, convert- 
ing their dream of a future life into a nightmare of unsubstantial 
ennui. If the storv of Achilles involves a dreary insight into the 
end of merely human activity, that of Odysseus turns immediately 
upon the troubles of our pilgrimage through life. Exquisitely 
beautiful as are all the outlines, surface touches, and colors in the 
Odifsseij, as of some Mediterranean landscape crowded with deli- 
cate) human forms, yet beneath the whole there lies an undertone 
of sombreness. The energy of the hero is inseparable from en- 

TirXaQi ci) izpaoir] ' Kai Kofrtiov aXXo ttot tT\i]Q. 

That is the exclamation of no light-hearted youngling, but of one 
who has sounded all the deeps and shallows of the river of expe- 
rience. And if we have to speak thus of the heroes, what sliall 
we say about the countless common people following their lords 
to Troy in the cause of a strange woman, those beautiful dead 
warriors over whom the ^schylean chorus poured forth the most 
pathetic of lamentations ? To pretend that the Greeks felt not 
the passion and the pain of human agony and strife would be a 
paradox implying idiocy in him who put it forth. Still, it were 
scarcely less feeble to forget that their strength lay in restraining 
the expression of this feeling and in subduing its vehemence. 
The v/ounded heroes on the yEginetan pediment are dying with 
smiles upon their lips ; and this may serve as a symbol for the 
mode of treatment reserved by the Greek artists for what is dark 
and terrible. 

Enough has been already said while dealing with the drama- 
tists about tlie profound morality and the stern philosophy of the 
Greek tragic poets. It is not necessary again to traverse that 


ground. Yet for a moment we may once more remember bore 
Avbat deptbs of pity and of patbos He bidden in tbe legend of 
Prometiieus, wbetber \ve tbink of bim as tbe divine cbampion of 
erring men at war with envious deities, or as personified bumanity 
struggUng against tbe forces of niggardly nature. Prometheus 
and Epimetbeus and Pandora di'amatize a legend of life supremely 
sad — so sad, indeed, that tbe calm genius of tbe Greeks regarded 
it with half-averted eyes, and chose rather to blur its outlines than 
to define what it contained — enough of sorrow to unman tbe stout- 
est. Poets of a Northern race would have brooded over this my- 
thus until it became for them the form of all tbe anguish and re- 
volt and aspiration of tbe soul of man. Not so tbe Greeks. He- 
siod leaves tbe Saga in obscurity. ^Escbylus employs it to ex- 
hibit tbe spirit unperturbed by menaces of mere brute force, and 
wisely, pliant in tbe end to unavoidable fate. Subsequent poets 
and philosophers remember Prometheus together with Orpheus 
only as tbe founders of tbe arts and sciences that make men hap- 
py. To eliminate tbe mysterious and tbe terrible, to accentuate 
the joyous and tbe profitable for humane uses, was tbe truest in- 
stinct of the Greeks. Even tbe tale of Herakles, who chose the 
hard paths of life, and ascended at last only through flames to 
clasp Hebe, eternal youth, upon Olympus, " with joy and bliss in 
over-measure forever," in spite of its severe lesson of morality, is 
a poem of beautiful human heroism from which tbe discordant 
elements are purged away. 

To recover, if that be possible, this " Stoic-Epicurean accept- 
ance," and to face tbe problems of tbe world in wliicb we live 
with Greek serenity, concerns us at the present time. Having 
said thus much, I am brought to touch upon tbe third topic men- 
tioned at the outset of this chapter. Owing to insufficient exposi- 
tion, I did not in my first series of Studies of Greek Poets, as origi- 
nally published, make it clear in what way I thought tbe Greeks 


could teach those of us for whom the growth of rationalism and 
the discoveries of science have tended to remove old landmarks. 
What we have to win for ourselves is a theory of conduct which 
shall be human, and which shall be based upon our knowledge of 
nature. Greek morality was distinguished by precisely these two 
qualities. In its best forms, moreover, it was not antagonistic to 
the essence of Christianity, but thoroughly in accord with that 
which is indestructible in Christian teaching. It therefore con- 
tained that vital element we now require. 

A remarkable passage in Sir H. S. Maine's Rede Lecture for 
1875 will force itself upon the attention of all who believe that 
there are still lessons to be learned from the Greeks by men of 
the nineteenth century. " Whatever may be the nature and value 
of that bundle of influences which we call progress," he writes, 
" nothing can be more certain than that, when a society is once 
touched by it, it spreads like a contagion. Yet, so far as our 
knowledge extends, there was only one society in which it was 
endemic ; and putting that aside, no race or nationality, left en- 
tirely to itself, appears to have developed any very great intel- 
lectual result, except, perhaps, poetry. Not one of those intel- 
lectual excellences which we regard as characteristic of the great 
progressive races of the world — not the law of the Romans, not 
the philosophy and sagacity of the Germans, not the luminous 
order of the French, not the political aptitude of the English, 
not that insight into physical nature to which all races have con- 
tributed — would apparently have come into existence if those 
races had been left to themselves. To one small people, covering 
in its original seat no more than a hand's-breadth of territor)% it 
was given to create the principle of progress, of movement on- 
ward and not backward or downward, of destruction tending 
to construction. That people was the Greek. Except the blind 
forces of nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek 

C0NCLU8I0X. 401 

in its origin. A ferment spreading from tliiit source has vitalized 
all the great progressive races of manldnd, penetrating from one 
to another, and producing results accordant with its hidden and 
latent genius, and results of course often far greater than any ex- 
hibited in Greece itself." 

It may be difficult to form an accurate notion of what the elo- 
quent lecturer meant by progress : it may be easy to object that 
the secret of progressive growth in politics, at least, was not pos- 
sessed by the Greeks themselves, and that Christianity, which has 
certainly moved in this world far more efficiently than any other 
spiritual force whatever, was as certainly neither one of the blind 
forces of nature, nor yet Hellenic in its origin. Still, there is a 
truth in this passage which remains unimpaired. It expresses 
largely, and without due reservation, perhaps, wliat the students 
of the Greeks in relation to the universal history of civilization 
must feel to be a sweeping truth. The advance of the human in- 
tellect is measured by successive points of contact with the Greek 
spirit — in Rome before the birth of Christ, in Islam during the 
exhaustion of the Roman Empire, in the schools of Paris and Se- 
ville during the Middle Ages, when Averroes and Aristotle kept 
alive the lamp of science, in Italy at the period of the Renaissance, 
when Greek philosophy and poetry and art restored life to the 
senses, confidence to the reason, and freedom to the soul of man. 
All civilized nations, in all that concerns the activity of the intel- 
lect, are colonies of Hellas. The flame that lives within our Prv- 
taneia was first kindled on Athene's hearth in Attica ; and should 
it burn dim or be extinguished, we must needs travel back to the 
sacred home of the virgin goddess for fresh fire. This we are 
continually doing. It is this which has made Greek indispensa- 
ble in modern education. And at the present moment we may 
return with profit to the moralists of Greece. 

At this point I feel that my former critics will exclaim against 



me : " This is the very same offence repeated — ignoring the mor- 
al inferiority of the Greeks, he holds them up as an example to 
nations improved by Christianity," I reply that I am far from 
forgetting the substantial advance made by the world in morality 
during the last eighteen centuries. The divine life and the pre- 
cepts of Christ are as luminous as ever; and I, for one, have no 
desire to replant pseudo-paganism on the modern soil. I know 
full well that, in addition to its being undesirable, this is utterly 
impossible. I know, moreover, that new virtues, unrecognized by 
the Greeks, have been revealed to the world by Christianity, and 
that a new cogency and new sanctions have been given by it to 
that portion of ethics whicb it bad in common with Greek phi- 
losophy. It is not the morality, but the moral attitude, of the 
Greeks that seems to my mind worthy of our imitation. In order 
to make this distinction clear, and to save myself, if that may be, 
from seeming to advocate a retrograde movement, through senti- 
mental sympathy with impossible anachronisms, or through blind 
hostility to all that makes our modern life most beautiful, I must 
be permitted to embark upon a somewhat lengthy exposition of 
my meaning. With no desire to be aggressive or polemical, I 
want to show what, in my judgment, even Christians have still to 
learn from Greeks. 

The three points in which the morality of the Greeks was de- 
cidedly inferior to that of the modern races were slavery, the so- 
cial degradation of women, and paiderastia. No panegyrist of 
the Greeks can attempt to justify any one of these customs, which, 
it may be said in passing, were closely connected and interde- 
pendent in Hellenic civilization. An apologist might, indeed, 
argue that slavery, as recognized by the Athenians, was superior 
to many forms of the same evil till lately tolerated by the Chris- 
tian nations. Mediaeval villeinage and Russian serfdom, the Span- 
ish enslavement of Peruvians and Mexicans, and the American 


slave-trade flourislied in spite of the theoretical opposition of 
Christianit}^ and have only succumbed to the advance of rational 
humanity. The same advocate could show, as Mr. Mahaffy has 
already done, that in Greece there existed a high ideal of woman- 
hood. All students of history will, however, admit that in rela- 
tion to the three important points above mentioned the Greeks 
were comparatively barbarous. At the same time it cannot be 
contended that these defects were the necessary and immediate 
outcome of the Hellenic philosophy of life. It is rather proper 
to regard them as crudities and immaturities belonging to an ear- 
ly period of civilization. Daring the last two thousand years the 
world has advanced in growth, and its moral improvement has 
been due to Christian influences. Still the higher standing- 
ground we have attained, our matured and purified humanity, all 
that elevates us ethically above the Jews and Greeks, can be as- 
cribed to Christianity without the implication that it is inextrica- 
bly bound up with Christian theology, or that it could not survive 
the dissolution of the orthodox fabric. The question before us 
at the present moment is whether, admitting the comparatively 
rude ethics of the ancient Greeks and fully recognizing the moral 
amelioration effected for the human race by Christianity, we, 
v/ithout ceasing to be Christians in all essential points of con- 
duct, may not profitably borrow from the Greeks the spirit which 
enabled them to live and do their duty in a world whose laws as 
yet are but imperfectly ascertained. Was there not something 
permanently valuable in their view of the ethical problem which 
historical Christianity, especially in its more ascetic phases, tends 
to overlook, but which approves itself to the reason of men who 
have been influenced by the rapidly advancing mutations of re- 
ligious thought during the last three centuries? The real point 
to ascertain, with regard to ourselves and to them, is the basis 
upon which the conceptions of morality in either period have 


rested. Modern morality has hitherto been theological : it has 
implied the will of a divine governor. Greek morality was radi- 
cally scientific : the faith on which it eventually leaned was a be- 
lief in fvaic, in the order of the universe, wherein gods, human 
societies, and individual human beings had their proper places. 
The conception of morality as the law for man, regarded as a so- 
cial being forming part and parcel of the Cosmos, was implicit in 
the whole Greek view of life. It received poetical expression 
from the tragedians ; it transpired in the conversations of Socra- 
tes, in the speculations of Plato, and in the more organized sys- 
tem of Aristotle. ^T/y ^-ara (pvcriv could be written for a motto on 
the title-page of a collected corpus of Greek moralists. It may 
I be objected that " to live according to nature " is a vague com- 
mand, and also that it is easier said than done, or, again, that the 
conception of nature does not essentially differ from that of God 
who made nature. All that is true ; but the ethics Avhereof that 
maxim is the sum have this advantage, that they do not place be- 
tween us and the world in which we have to live and die the will 
of a hypothetical ruler, to whom we may ascribe our passions and 
our fancies, enslaving ourselves to the delusions of our own soul. 
Nor, again, do they involve that monstrous paradox of all ascetic 
systems, that human nature is radically evil and that only that is 
good in us which contradicts our natural appetites and instincts. 
Evil and sin are recognized, just as fevers and serpents are recog- 
nized ; but while the latter are not referred to a vindictive Cre- 
ator, so the former are not ascribed to the wilful wickedness of 
his creatures. In so far as we gain any knowledge of nature, that 
knowledge is something solid : the whole bearing of a man who 
feels that his highest duty consists in conforming himself to laws 
he may gradually but surely ascertain, is certainly different from 
that of one who obeys the formulas invented by dead or living 
priests and prophets to describe the nature of a God whom no 


man has either seen or lieard. It makes no difference that the 
liighest reUgious systems are concordant with the best-established 
principles of natural science, that the Mosaic ordinances, for ex- 
ample, are based on excellent hygienic rules. That the aiadrjcriQ 
of the great Nomothetic should be verified is both intelligible 
and, a priori, highly probable. The superiority of scientific over 
theological morality consists meanwhile in its indestructibility. 

The ethics of man regarded as a member of the universe, and 
answerable only to its order for his conduct, though they under- 
lay the whole thought of the Greeks on moral subjects, did not 
receive their final exposition till the age of the Roman Stoics. 
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius have, therefore, a peculiar 
retrospective value, owing to the light they cast upon the ethical 
perception of the Greek race, while at the same time they illus- 
trate that which is unalterable and indestructible in the spirit of 
Greek morality. What Marcus Aurelius enunciated as an intui- 
tion is what must daily become more binding upon us in propor- 
tion as we advance in scientific knowledge. It will not, therefore, 
be out of place to sketch the main points of his system in a sep- 
arate paragraph, keeping always in mind that this system was the 
final outgrowth of Greek speculation after prolonged contact with 
the Romans. Marcus Aurelius forces to the very utmost a view 
of human life and duty which could have been but unconsciously 
implicit in the minds of men of the Periclean age. Yet this view 
was but the theory logically abstracted from the conduct and the 
perceptions of a race which started with refined nature-worship^ 
which recognized the duty to the State as paramount, and which 
put to philosophy the question, What is the end of man ? 

The central notion of Marcus Aurelius is nature. He regards 
the universe as a ^u)ov, or living creature, animated by a principle 
of life to which he sometimes gives the title of ee6c^ or the deity. 
It is a body with a \uyoc, or reason, attaining to consciousness iq 

40 G ^'^^ GREEK POETS. 

liunian beings. Every man participates in the koivoq Xoyoc, or 
common reason of the Cosmos, a portion of whose wisdom forms 
liis intellect. In other words, our consciousness reflects the order 
of the universe, and enables us to become more than automatical- 
ly partakers in its movement. To obey this reason is the end of 
all philosophy, the fulfilment of the jjurposc for which man exists. 
By doing so we are in harmony with the world, and take our 
proper place in the scale of beings. Nothing can happen to us 
independent of this order ; and therefore nothing, rightly under- 
stood, can happen to our hurt. If disease and afliiction fall upon 
us, we must remember that we are the limbs and organs of the 
whole, and that our suifering is necessary for its well-being. We 
are thus the citizens of a vast state, members of the universal 
economy. What afiects the whole for good is good for us, and 
even when it seems to be evil, we must hold fast to the faith that 
it is good beyond our ken. Our selfishness is swallowed up in 
the complete and total interest. Our virtues are social and not 
personal. Our happiness is relative to the general welfare, not 
contained in any private pleasure or indulgence of an individual 

The motto of this large philosophy is Goethe's often-quoted 

distich : 

Im Ganzen, Guten, Sclioncii 
Resolut zu leben. 

If we seek a motto for the Imitatio Christie which may be ac- 
cepted hei'e as the Christian encheiridion, we find it in the text, 
" For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The author of 
that manual of conduct regarded the universe not as a coherent 
whole, good and sound in all its parts, to live in harmony with the 
laws whereof is tlie duty of man, but as a machine created out of 
nothing by the will of God, made fair at first, but changed to foul 
by sin, wherein men live an evil life, to escape from which brings 


happiness, to confound the existing laws of which is virtue, and a 
remedy against the anarchy and tyranny of which can only be 
found in the cross and death of Christ. To the Stoicism of Mar- 
cus Aurelius, man was not merely a citizen of the dear city of 
God, but a member, not merely a fj-ipoc, but a /xiXoc, of the divine 
life of the universe. To the Christianity of the Imitatio^ man 
was an exile from his home, a wanderer and out of place. It is 
not my present purpose to push to their ultimate and logical con- 
clusions the divergences between the Stoicism of the Meditations 
and the Christianity of the Imitatio, but rather to recall attention 
to the philosophy developed by Marcus Aurelius from his concep- 
tion of man's place in nature, and to show that the ethics result- 
ing from it are specially adapted to an age in which the scientific 
habit of mind is the strongest. When tlie whole mass of new 
knowledge we are continually accumulating forces upon our con- 
sciousness the conviction that humanity is a part of the universal 
whole, it is impossible to cling to dogmas that start from the as- 
sumption of original sin and creation vitiated at the very moment 
of its commencement. So much of the Christian programme, 
whatever else is left as indestructible, must be abandoned. Nat- 
ure, with all its imperfections in the physical and moral orders, 
both of them to be as far as can be conquered and eradicated, 
must be accepted as it is, as that which was intended so to be. 
Nor need we adopt the obsolete tactics of the French deists, or 
depreciate the essence of Christianity, because a great part of its 
mythology and metaphysics seems untenable. On the contrary, 
we may reasonably hold that the most perfect man would live the 
life of Christ in obedience to the maxims of the Roman emperor, 
and that Christianity provides us with precisely what was wanting 
in the Aurelian system. Faith, love, purity,- obedience, humility, 
subordination of self, benevolence — all these are Christian virtues, 
raised to the height of passionate enthusiasm by their exemplifi- 


eatiun in the life of Christ. Stoicism stood in need of a crite- 
rion. What is reason ? what is the true character of truth and 
goodness ? Christianity appears -with a criterion which approves 
itself to our intuitive apprehension. The life of Christ is the per- 
fect life. Learn that, and follow that, and you will reach the 
heioht of human natui'e. To live in harmony with the universe 
is to live as Christ lived. It is the wrong done in the name of 
Christ, the figments falsely stamped with Christ's superscription, 
the follies of Bibliolatry and dogmatic orthodoxy, that must be 
abjured ; and I maintain that in our present mood the best hope 
of not casting away the wheat together with the chaff, of retain- 
ing what is fit for human use in Christianity, consists in first as- 
suming the scientific standpoint of Aurelius. 

From this digression on the Aurelian system, regarded as the 
final word of Grseco-Roman morality, I pass to a consideration of 
those urgent needs of modern thought which have to be met in 
the spirit and with the courage of Mark Antonine. Not his the- 
ism, nor his metaphysic, nor his detailed maxims for conduct, but 
his attitude and temper have to be adopted. And here it must 
be said once more, by way of preface, that however human prog- 
ress is ruled by thesis and antithesis, by antagonism and repulsion 
in its several moments, still nothing can be lost that lias been 
clearly gained. Each synthesis, though itself destined to appar- 
ent contradiction, combines the indestructible, the natural and 
truly human, elements of the momenta which preceded it, ex- 
cluding only that in them which was the accident of time and 
place and circumstance. Thus the Greek conception of life was 
posed; the Christian conception was connterposed ; the synthesis^ 
crudely attempted in the age of the Renaissance, awaits mature 
accomplishment in the immediate future. The very ground- 
thought of science is to treat man as part of the natural order — 
not, assuredly, on that account excluding from its calculatiov. the 


most eminent portion of man, liis reason and his moral being — . 
and to return from the study of nature with profit to tlie study 
of man. It does not annihilate or neutrahze what man has gained 
from Christianity ; on the contrary, the new points of morality 
developed by the Christian discipline are of necessity accepted as 
data by the scientific mind. Our object is to combine both the 
Hellenic and the Christian conceptions in a third, which shall be 
more solid and more rational than ^any previous manifestation of 
either, superior to the Hellenic as it is no longer a mere intuition, 
superior to the ecclesiastical inasmuch as it relies on no mytholo- 
gy, but seeks to ascertain the law. 

Tiie positiv'e knowledge about the world possessed at any pe- 
riod by the luunan race cannot fail to modify both theology and 
metaphysic. Theology, while philosophizing the immediate data 
of faith, professes to embrace and account for all known facts in 
a comprehensive system, wliich includes the hypotheses of revela- 
tion ; while popular religion rests upon opinions and figurative 
conceptions formed concerning the first cause of the phenomena 
observed around us and within us. The systems of theology and 
the opinions of popular religion must, therefore, from time to 
time in the world's history, vary according as more or less is act- 
ually known, and according as the mind has greater or lesser pow- 
er of analyzing and co-ordinating its stores of knowledge. Meta- 
physic is the critical examination and construction into a con- 
nected scheme of the results obtained by experience — mental, 
moral, and physical — subjected to reflection, and regarded in their 
most abstract form as thoughts. It follows of necessity that any 
revolution in the method of observation and analysis, like that 
Avhich has been going on during the last three centuries, Avhereby 
our conception of the world as a whole is altered, must supplv 
metaphysic with new subject-matter and new methods, and force 
it to the reconsideration of important problems. Meanwhile, the 


faculty of thought itself undergoes no essential transformation ; 
our mental and moral nature remains substantially the same. 
What has always happened, and what alone can happen, is that 
fresh pabulum is offered to the thinking being, which has to be 
assimilated to its organism and digested for its nourishment. 
Consequently we cannot expect to have a sudden and illumina- 
ting revolution in psychology and ethics. But, while we learn 
fresh facts about the universe, our notions 'concerning the nature 
of the first cause and the relation of man to his environments, 
whether expressed in systems by theology and philosophy, or in 
opinions by popular religion, must of necessity be exposed to al- 
teration. To adjust ourselves to this change without sacrificing 
what is vitally important in religion as the basis of morality is 
our difliculty. 

Physical science, to begin with, has destroyed that old concep- 
tion of the universe which made this globe central and of para- 
mount importance. The discoveries of Galileo and Xewton first 
led to a right theory of the planetary movements. The chemists 
of the last hundred years have substituted an accurate analysis of 
primitive substances for rough guesses at the four elements. The 
establishment of the law of the conservation of force has dem- 
onstrated the unity of all cosmical operations from the most gigan- 
tic to the most minute. Geology, together with the speculations 
of comparative anatomists and naturalists, has altered all our no- 
tions with regard to the age of the world, and to the antecedents 
and early history of the human race. The results gathered during 
the last three centuries in these and other fields of investigation 
render it certain that mankind lias occupied but a brief moment 
in the long life of our globe, and tend to prove that our duration 
here will, at an enormously but not incalculably distant period, 
be rendered impossible by the action of those very forces which 
called us into being. The years of humanity are therefore " a 


scape in oblivion." Man, for whom, according to the author of 
Genesis, the sun and moon and stars were made, is shown to be 
among the less important products of the cosmical system. We 
are no permanent owners, but the brief tenants of our tiny globe. 
Nor need this terrify or startle us. Each man expects the cer- 
tainty of his own dissolution. The race must learn that it also is 
ephemeral. For this our religions have already prepared us. But 
what is new in the prospect revealed by science is that, not by a 
sudden tempest of vindictive fire from heaven, but in the tranquil 
course of the long life of nature, such euthanasia is prepared for 
men. As the universe subsisted countless a^ons before our birth, 
so will it survive our loss, and scarcely keep a trace of our exist- 

At the same time the spiritual conditions of humanity remain 
unaltered. Men Ave are; men we must be: to find out what is 
truly human, essential to the highest type and utmost happiness 
of man, is still our most absorbing interest. Nor need we aban- 
don that noblest of all formulas : " To fear God and to keep his 
commands is the whole duty of man ;" provided we are careful to 
accept the word God as the name of a hitherto iinapprehended 
energy, the symbol of that which is the life and thought and mo- 
tion of the universe whereof we are a part, the ideal towards, 
which we are forever struggling on the toilsome path of spiritual 
evolution, the unknown Avithin us and without us which is the 
one vital, irremovable reality. Science, which consists in the de- 
termination of laws,* compels us to believe that, as in the physical 
world invariable sequences are observed, so also in the moral nat- 
ure of man must comprehensive rules and explanations of phe- 
nomena be observable. It is but the refusal to apply to moral 
problems the scientific method with unflinching logic which leads 

* " General conceptions in which a series of similarh' recurring natural 
processes may be embraced." — Helmholtz. 


certain otherwise positive thinkers to recognize " the freedom of 
Imman volition" as an incalculable and arbitrary element, and thus 
to withdraw human conduct from the sphere of exact investiga- 
tion. To know God in the physical order is to know what has 
been, and what is, and what will be in the economy of primeval 
forces. To know God in the moral order is to know what has 
been, and what is, and what will be within the region of the hu- 
man consciousness. To obey God in the physical order is to con- 
trol those forces for our own use as far as our constitution will 
permit ; for thus we energize in harmony with the universe. To 
obey God in the moral order is to act in accordance with those 
liitherto discovered laws which have carried the race onward from 
barbarism to self-knowledge and self-control, and with all our 
might and main to strive for further precision in their determi- 
nation. But even here is the debatable ground ; here is the point 
at issue; here confessedly is the region that has never yet been 
subjected to science. 

The analogy of scientific discovery forces us to look no longer 
for the actual fiats of a divine voice on Sinai, but to expect that 
by interrogating humanity itself we shall ultimately demonstrate 
those unchangeable decrees by conforming to which our race may 
pass from strength to strength. "We must cease to be clairvoyants 
and become analysts, verifying our intuitions by positive investi- 
gation. For the old terra Commandment, which implies the will 
of a sovereign, our present condition of knowledge leads us to 
substitute the new term Law as defined above.* This, although 
the subject-matter and even the practical result remain unchanged, 
is no slight alteration. It implies a new motion, both popular 
and scientific, of the divine in nature, a new criterion of what is 
right and wrong, and in the last resort a new metaphysic. 

But with a view to this end we have to introduce a more strin- 

* Page 411, note. 


gent and painstaking method into etliics. We must be content 
to abandon dogmatism upon insoUiblc questions, however fascina- 
tino- and imperious ; we must above all things quit delusions, how- 
ever sanctioned by ancient reverence. And here both faith and : V 
courao-e are needed. To believe that the moral laws are within 
us, requiring to be disentangled, without the aid of an authentic 
revelation, from the mass of phenomena, in the same way as phys- 
ical laws have been abstracted from facts by scientific reasoning, 
demands a virile and firm confidence in the order of the universe 
and in the intellectual faculty of man. 

Hitherto in ethics we have proceeded on the a jiriori road ; we 
have assumed certain hypotheses, or supposed fixed starting-points, 
concerning the origin and the destiny of mankind, about both of 
which things we know absolutely nothing for sure. Starting with 
a theological system, which accounted for the creation of man and 
the nature of evil in close connection with a definite but delusive 
cosmogony, taking a future state of happiness or misery for grant- 
ed, we have brought our dreams to bear upon the springs of con- 
duct. It is precisely at this point that science, partly by the rev- 
olution effected in cosmical theory, partly by the exhibition of the 
true method of analysis, helps to free us from what is fanciful, 
and to indicate the right way for the future. It has proved in 
one realm of knowledge that an advance towards truth must not 
be expected from systems professing to set forth the causes of 
phenomena, but from a gradual and patient exploration of the 
phenomena themselves. Not matter, but the qualities of what we 
call matter as subject to our senses are the object of physical sci- 
ence. Not God, but human conduct, must be the object of moral 
science, albeit the ideal that guides human conduct will continue 
to be worshipped as our God, Nor will it here avail to demur 
that the human will is essentially free, and therefore not subject 
to law in the strictly scientific sense. Each step we make in the 


investigation of heredity, and all the otlier conditions to Avhich 
man is subject, forces us more and more plainly to the conclusion 
that the very seat of our supposed liberty, our desires and per- 
sonal peculiarities, distinctive tastes and special predilections, arc 
determined for us in great measure by circumstances beyond our 
own control. The force of these circumstances, separately and in 
combination, could be estimated if we possessed but the complete 
data for forming such a calculation ; nor does this certainty de- 
stroy the fact that each new personality introduces a new element 
into the sequence. It narrows the field wherein volition can move 
freely, but leaves the soul still self-determining and capable of 
being shaped. What is really inealculable is not the sphere of 
action for the individual, but the source of energy in the universe, 
in vital connection with which we live both physically and men- 
tally. We are what we are, each of us, by no freak of chance, by 
no act of arbitrary spontaneity ; and our prayers must take the 
form dictated by Cleanthes : 

Lead thou me, God, Law, Keason, Motion, Life ! 
All names alike for thee are vain and hollow. 
Lead lue ; for I will follow without strife ; 
Or if I strive, still must I blindly follow. 

For many centuries physical science itself suffered from the dead 
Aveight of abstract notions accepted as data, and was inert for 
want of a true method. Its recent successes are an index to the 
advance which moral science might make if it could adopt the 
right way of investigation, comparison, and reflective reasoning. 
At the same time it must be confessed that for moral science this 
method has not as yet been made either easy of application or 
fruitful of results. Our subject-matter is so complex and so ap- 
parently distinct from sensible existence as to seem intangible. 
Both thought and language are the heritage of countless genera- 
tions, wherein a medley of guesses and confused conceptions are 


stored. Of general laws in ethics we have as yet but instinctive, 
and as it were aesthetic, perceptions, fortified and enforced by tlie- 
ological beliefs, or converted into intellectual notions by philos- 
ophy. Still, this need not disturb us, when we reflect how long- 
it was before the true method of scientific discovery in the analy- 
sis of matter was brought to light, and what a continuous progress 
from one determination to another followed upon the single law 
established in explanation of terrestrial gravity. The scientific 
solution of one ethical problem, whether that be ultimately effect- 
ed through physiology by the establishment of correspondences 
between the physical and moral functions of humanity, or through 
comparative history and the study of evolution, may prove as 
fruitful for ethics as the discovery of Galileo was for physics. It 
is impossible to utter dogmatic predictions at this point of our 
knowledge. Yet we may indulge in hopes that are of the nature 
of dreams. Can we not in this way venture to anticipate that the 
men of the future may obtain demonstrated certainty with regard 
to man considered as an integral portion of the universe ; that 
they may understand the conditions of his conduct as clearly as 
we now apprehend the behavior of certain gases ; and that their 
problem will be, not how to check healthy normal appetites, but 
how to multiply and fortify faculties ? Can we not dream that 
morality will be one branch of the study of the world as a whole, 
a department of ra fvaik-xi, when (pvaic, regarded as a total unity, 
that suffers no crude radical distinction of mind and body, has ab- 
sorbed our scientific attention ? 

We need not fear that either the new notion of Deity forced 
upon us by the extension of our knowledge, even should this de- 
stroy the last vestige of anthropomorphism, or the involved ap- 
plication of a positive method to ethics, will lead to what is dread- 
ed as materialism. If materialism be not a mere name, it is feared 
because it is thought to imply egotism, immersion in sensuality. 


and indifference to ideas. But wliat is the prospect unrolled be- 
fore us by science ? * What is, in ctEect, tbe new intellectual at- 
mosplicre to AvMch we must acclimatize our moral and religious 
sensibilities? Surely the most sublime, the most ideally imagina- 
tive, which it has ever been given to man to contemplate. The 
spectacle of the infinitely great and the infinitely small, alike of 
the mental and the physical, the natural and the supersensible, 
subordinated to unchangeable laws, and permeated by one single 
energy, revealed to us by science, contains nothing that need drive 
us to a stolid atheism, but rather such considerations as give the 
value of positive certainty to Christ's words about the sparrow. 
We know now that the whole past history of the universe is in- 
volved in the blood-bcats of the smallest animalcule discernible by 
the microscope, that the farthest fixed star to which our telescopes 
have any access obeys the laws that determine the action of our 
muscles, that our thought holds in solution the experience of all 
preceding ages. If the religion of the future is to be founded on 
scientific bases of this nature, there is surely less room for the ex- 
travagances of egoism and sensuality than there was in the Cath- 
olic system from which emerged a Sixtus IV, and an Alexander 
VI. What St. Paul conceived but dimly, the physicist declares to 
us : we are all parts and members of the divine whole. It is the 
business of science not to make God nowhere in the universe, but 
everywhere, and to prove, what previous moralists have guessed, 
that the happiness and the freedom of man consist in his self- 
subordination to the laws of the world, whereof he is an essential, 
though an insignificant, part. Against the decrees of God, con- 

* By science here and elsewhere, when used without a qualifying epithet, 
I mean to include what is also known as philosophy. In science, thus un- 
derstood, thought embraces the whole field of knowledge in a survey that has 
less in common with the metaphysics of the schoolmen than with the analytic 
method of the natural sciences. 


ceived as a sovereign subject to like fluctuations of emotion with 
ourselves, it was possible to offend again and again without losing 
the hope that at some facile moment, some mollia tempora fandi, 
he might be propitiated. The laws of the world arc inexorable ; 
they alone enforce with absolute equity the maxim rw Ipafravn 

Instead of materialism, it might be more reasonable, perhaps, to 
dread fatalism; but fatalism is a rock on which all systems, philo- 
sophical and religious, Avhen carried to abstract conclusions, have 
tended to drift. Science cannot be more fatalistic than Calvinism ; 
yet the instinctive belief in the liberty of the individual has sur- 
vived all logic, and is likely still to do so till such time as the 
prevailing intuition shall be positively proved. And even were 
the conviction that we are not free agents in the old sense of the 
phrase to be forced upon us, the sting of fatalism would be ex- 
tracted together with the belief in an omnipotent personality, 
framing men of set purpose for honor and dishonor. It was the 
clash of the human and the divine wills, both equally finite, though 
the latter was isolated by abstraction and ticketed with the epithet 
of infinity — in other words, the fiction of a despot ruling over 
slaves — that gave its terror to necessity. 

Before the latest discoveries of physical science, as before the 
highest philosophical analysis, the cruder distinctions of soul and 
body, spirit and matter, tend to disappear. The nature of the 
universe is proved too subtle for this dichotomy. Only a coarse 
intelligence will, therefore, run to the conclusion that so-called 
matter, with its supposed finality, is absolute ; or that so-called 
thought, with its supposed infinity, is universal. The finer intel- 
ligence, convinced of the correlation between these apparently an- 
tagonistic moments, must pause to contemplate the everlasting se- 
quences of time past extended into time to come, and in the end 
must feel persuaded of its own indissoluble connection with that, 

II.— 27 


whatever it may be, wliicli is permanent in tbe universe. The 
moment Now is a potential eternity. That we are is a suflBcient 
proof that we have been and that we shall be. Each act, as it 
has had immeasurable and necessary antecedents, will be fruitful 
of immeasurable and necessary consequents ; for the web of the 
w^orld is ever weaving, and to drop a thread in it is utterly im- 
possible. That we are such or such is, again, the proof that our 
qualities have in them something significant, both for that which 
has been, and for that which Avill be for everlasting. "VVe have 
been, we are, we shall be, a part of the eternal complex. Not, 
therefore, are we at liberty to assume definite propositions con- 
cerning what is called the immortality of the soul. To do so in 
the present state of knowledge would be as much a begging of 
the question as to dogmatize upon the so-called personality of 
God. Suspension of judgment is as imperatively required of us 
by science as faith in the unintelligible was demanded by the 
Catholic Church. As then trial of the faith wrought patience, so 
now wise abstinence from dogmatism is the attitude of faith. 

Following this course of thought into particulars, we have no 
reason to apprehend that personal license should result from a sys- 
tem of purely positive ethics based upon that concejjtion of our 
relation to the universe which science is revealing. On the con- 
trary, we may expect from the establishment of such a system a 
code of conduct more stringent in all that can concern the well- 
being of the individual than any that has yet been conceived. In 
the future, sensual excess will surely be reckoned a form of mad- 
ness, and what we now dignify by the name of vice Avill be rele- 
gated, shorn of Satanic lustre, to the lazar-house. Nor need we 
fear that purely mental problems should lose their value or be- 
come less interesting. No amount of demonstration that the 
mind is dependent on the brain can so confuse the reason of a 
lucid thinker as to make him conclude that, therefore, there is no 


mind. Reduce all our emotions, our habits, our thoughts, to 
modes of cell-existence — prove that thinking and feeling are func- 
tions of nerve-centres — the mystery has only shifted its centre of 
gravity ; we are still ourselves for better or for worse ; thought 
and feeling are still the essential part of us ; man remains, in spite 
of all, the only known being to whom the command yviJQt. aeav- 
Tov has been given, together with the faculty of obeying this com- 
mand. Physical Science does not exclude her elder sisters Phi- 
losophy and Religion, though she may compel religion to abandon 
mythology, and supply philosophy with new worlds for analysis. 
What she does is to substitute solid, if slowly discovered, knowl- 
edge for guesses, and a patient but progressive method for the 
systems which ontologist after ontologist has built and pulled to 
pieces. Will not the men of the future look back with wonder 
on the ages in which religion, philosophy, and the science of nat- 
ure were supposed to be at war, instead of being, as they will be 
then, one system ? 





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Symonds, John Adding ton 

Studies of the Greek poets. 
^American ed.j