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34, I. 27, read, "Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind."

82, line 24, read Oct. 10th,-P. 84, line 35, read Count Pahlen.
371, for "To Ship" read " To a Ship."

480, lines 27 and 30, for Feild read Field.

490, 1. 30, for " Of Landor" read " He knew Landor."

517, 1. 3, for "To this young Writer" read "To M. Mérimée.

1. 4. dele "however already," and after the words " Clara Gazul' add" both are but 22 years of age, and wrote these works at 20." 581, 1. 31, for " respected as beloved" read "beloved as respected."



JANUARY 1, 1826.



General Observations on the Greek Drama.


THE only plays that have come down to us are Athenian; and Athens was the only Greek state where the Drama had at once a native growth and a fruitful diversity of branches.* Rousseau imagined, because the Spartans had a very ancient theatre, that they must also have had regular tragedies and comedies. But the Greek word theatron was often applied to places where merely vocal and musical contests were celebrated; and there is not a shadow of evidence that a single play was ever invented by the gloomy genius of Sparta.

The word drama, however, is not of Attic, but of Doric derivation. And if the generic term for acted plays came from a dialect foreign to the Athenians, it may naturally be asked, how we can assign to them the first invention of acting. Our answer is, that the Doric Greeks must have primitively applied the word drama to a species of poetry which was not, in our sense of the term, dramatic; and that the consenting voice of antiquity ascribes the first introduction of a player, distinct from a chorus of singers, to Thespis of Attica. There are no proofs, it is true, that Thespis's plays were tragic in our acceptation of the term; but whatever they were, they formed the first departure from mere choral performances, and, consequently, the most decisive step that was necessary to change Lyric poetry into what we call a drama.

It comes, then, to be a second question, whether there was any such thing as poetry called Tragedy in Greece, anterior to the Thespian or Attic drama. Bentley insisted, that neither the word nor the thing existed in Greece before Thespis; and he was supposed to have set the question for ever at rest, in his Dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris. With immense acumen and erudition, he faced the opposite assertions of Themistius and Suidas, and appeared even successfully to explain away the passages in Herodotus and Plato which allude to tragedies of remote antiquity. The father of History says, that the Sicyonians honoured the memory of Adrastus by commemorating his misfortunes in tragic choruses; and a speaker in one of the Platonic dia

*The Sicilians (as we shall have occasion to notice by and by) had very ancient and valuable comedy: but of their claims to the invention of acted tragedy, there are no traces; and their eagerness to get hold of even passages of the Attic tragic drama from their prisoners, looks as if they had not been wealthy themselves in that kind of poetry. It is true that their tyrant Dionysius composed what were called tragedies, and sent his friend Philoxenus to the quarries for not liking them. But I agree with Genelli, who, in his work on the Theatre of Athens, suspects Dionysius to have been, like his over-candid friend Philoxenus, only a Dithyrambic poet.

Jan. 1826.-VOL. XVI. NO. LXI.


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logues alludes to Epigines as a tragedian long anterior to Thespis. But Bentley contended that Herodotus had applied the term tragedy to the Sicyonian choruses by a mere prolepsis of speech (a gentler term for anachronism); and that Plato had conjured up the phantom predecessors of Thespis only in the spirit of paradox. That there was no tragedy in Greece earlier than the Athenian, which united a stage actor and a chorus, is now admitted on all hands; and in the main points of his controversy respecting Phalaris, there is no question that the prince of critics was victorious. In fact, the dispute about the age of tragedy, which has been since revived, regards a name rather than a thing but that the Greeks gave that name to a simple choral poem of older origin than the Attic drama, has been since insisted upon by men of abler research than Boyle, and from a document which Bentley himself could not have foreseen.

By the Orchomenian inscriptions, so ably commented upon by Professor Böck of Berlin, it is made clearly apparent that the Dorians had an older and simpler tragedy, in which no (VπокρITηs, оr) player distinct from the chorus performed, and that they had also a newer drama, evidently borrowed from Athens, which is mentioned in those inscriptions, conjointly with an actor. Thus Doric and Æolic tragedy was nothing more than the song of a dancing chorus. It was merely a lyrical poem; yet still it was expressive of passion, and probably imitative of commemorated actions. Hence the Dorians might have called it an acted poem, and thus the Doric etymology of the word drama is reconcileable with the fact, that an Athenian, by adding the stage to the chorus ground, first laid the foundation of what we call acting.

The car of Thespis was the first stage that separated the solitary player from the chorus. Thespis of Icaria, a parish of Athens, was the contemporary of Solon and Pisistratus, and the favourite of the latter. Horace's mention of his ambulant car, and of the faces of his troop being smeared with wine-lees, has led to a contemptuous modern idea of him, that he was a mere strolling mountebank. It is extremely improbable, however, that he plied his histrionic art, rude as it might be, under humiliating circumstances. Whatever his plays were, he was the leader of a great religious festivity; and the equipment of festive choruses was at a very ancient period, and certainly not much later than Thespis's time, an office, in Athens, appointed by the magistracy, and honourable, but expensive to the ambitious undertaker. The use of chariots by those who conducted festivals, was as old among the Greeks as the Homeric manners, and was a mark of dignity, as well as a means of superintendence. The meanness of Thespis's prize, though it was only a goat and a basket of figs, argues only that his vocation was more honorary than lucrative. In vague terms we are told, that his car was itinerant; but, as the high altar of Bacchus was at Athens, Thespis's journeys must have been made principally thither from Icaria; and they are rather to be compared to an old Catholic pilgrimage, than to the strollings of a showman in quest of bread, and dependent on chance and charity. How merry people could be in Catholic pilgrimages has been shown by our own Chaucer; and Thespis's merriment, at the head of his troop, was in no way at variance with Pagan notions of religion. Still it is wonderful, that tragedy, the noblest branch of poetry, should have eventually sprung from a source in which there was evidently intermingled much of the ludicrous.

The Dithyrambus,* a name applied to the earliest festive poetry in honour of Bacchus, and, by extension of meaning, to the whole festival, was confessedly the origin of tragic poetry. But there were three kinds of choruses, that sang, and accompanied with dancing, the poem called Dithyrambus. There was a chorus of men, and another of boys; for contending in which, each of the ten tribes of Attica maintained and educated fifty performers. An ox, an animal of no mean value in Attica, was the prize of the manly chorus; and it was to this that Pindar must have alluded, when he mentions the Dithyrambus by an epithet significant of its reward. The youthful chorus had the prize of a tripod. The third, or Satyr choir, had the humble prize already mentioned; and its name indicates, that its performers personated the fauns, or satyrs, in immediate attendance on Bacchus. Yet this was the chorus which Thespis led, and on which he founded dramatic art, by the introduction of an episodical speaker. It is nothing wonderful that the main testimony of tradition (for he left no works, and, in all probability, never wrote any) represents him as a gay performer: but the striking phenomenon is, to find the song of the goat (such is the Greek meaning of the word tragedy) become a touching and sublime composition in the hands of his near successors. Of those successors, the first was Phrynicus, who, besides departing from Bacchic mythology, inventing masks, introducing female characters, and making a changing relief in the metre of tragedy, wrought the higher improvement of raising it to pathos, and of rendering it tragic in our sense of the word. He was, according to Aristophanes, a sweet and affecting poet; and when the Athenians fined him, it was only for awakening their sensibility too strongly on a subject of public calamity; namely, the capture of Miletus.

Chœrilus is the first tragic poet whose works are quoted as having been written, and for whom the Athenians constructed a theatre. It was of wood, and fell in pieces during the acting of one of the works of his contemporaries. Pratinas founded the Satyric drama. That third branch of the Greek drama took its name, not from satirical contents, but from the Satyrs who performed in it, and, though comic, was distinguished from proper comedy by its subjects being mythological. Its era, as a separate drama, occurs exactly at the time at which we should expect it, namely, when tragedy began to assume a serious interest, with which the intermixture of a choir of Satyrs would have been incongruous. There can be little doubt, that those gentry and Silenus had figured from time immemorial in the Bacchic orgies, which, with. their bacchanals, fauns, priests, and forms of infuriated as well as joyous superstition, must have presented a character like that of the tiger which bore the god, capriciously blending the terrible and the frolicsome. But, when those orgies became allied with maturer art, and when the graver elements of the drama refined and separated from

* All the alleged derivations of the term Dithyrambus are strained and unsatisfactory, not even excepting that one which may nevertheless, for lack of a better, be reckoned the most probable, namely, from the words Aís dúpas àμeiswv, in allusion to the double birth of the God, or of his having twice entered the gates of life.

+ Ταὶ Διωνύσω πόθεν ἐξέφαναν
Σὺν βοηλάτα χάριτες

Alupáμ6.-Pindar, Olymp. 13.

† Πρῶτος ἔγραψε Σατύρους, says Suidas, voce Pratinas.

the ludicrous, the Satyr attendants of the god would be found no way conducive to the dignity of the Tragic Muse, and probably increased her inclination to historical subjects, unconnected with Bacchic mythology. Yet still the Satyrs were old favourites of the people, and, though the tragic poets could dispense with their services, they were bound to remember them by respect for Bacchus and the popular opinion. They therefore allotted them a separate drama, where they might sport by themselves: nor did the greatest poets disdain to write those merry mythological afterpieces, one of which was enacted after each of their Trilogies, or suites of tragedies, and formed a total that was called a Tetralogy.

All that was done by the other patriarchs of the Greek stage was, however, little in comparison with what was effected by Eschylus. The fact of his having first brought a second actor on the stage, is contradicted on no authority that can be put in competition with the general assertion of antiquity.* It is true that Phrynicus was certainly his predecessor, and so also in all probability was Chorilus. Yet, even the scholar of Thespis lived, and got the prize in poetry, after Eschylus had commenced his career and it is difficult to suppose, that he did not adopt the improvement invented by his junior, and depart from the old monology of the stage. But the great improvement which Eschylus brought, was to stamp the drama with the strength and solemnity of his own mind. Ancient criticism alludes even contemptuously to the excessive mixture of dancing in Phryncius's plays; but to harmonize with the grandeur of Eschylus's conceptions, the orchestra movements must have been grave and graceful. In fine, when we look to his influence on the stage, both as to its spirit and exterior magnificence, we cannot but call him its proper founder: nor does it detract from our idea of his originality to conceive, that his genius was happy in the period at which it burst upon the world. His contemporary Pindar brought Lyric poetry to perfection. Like him, Eschylus was a poet of concentrated fire, and bold in his grasp of imagery. But to have been merely a lyric poet like Pindar, would have been at best to have divided the palm with him. There was a new path opened to inventive excellence, namely, in the junction of old Dithyrambic tragedy and stageacting, and Eschylus boldly made it his own. It was his fortune to write under the star of his country's prosperity,—and when the sister arts, though not risen to all their perfection, were yet mature enough to apparel and adorn the Muse of Poetry. There is not a doubt that perspective painting was understood at that period; for Vitruvius expressly mentions Agatharchus as the contemporary of Eschylus, as the contriver of scenery, and as a writer on the subject of perspective.

Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, completed Attic tragedy, which was thus, in the fair meaning of terms, an invention of the Athenians; and to deny them this honour, on the score of there being an older Doric tragedy, would be to exact from their drama a degree of originality, to which no national literature on earth can make any pretensions. It is true that the Athenians could not have been uninfluenced by the past and contemporaneous poetry of Greece; and Sophocles and Euripides may be sometimes found looking up to the soarings of the

* The only contradiction of this general assertion that I know of, is found in Philostratus's Life of Apollonius of Thyæna; but this opinion is comparatively modern.

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