Page images
PDF
EPUB

and change his dress.-The poet was at liberty to employ as many mutes as he thought proper." An observation to the same effect is made by Mr. Tyrwhitt in his notes on Aristotle, p. 134. who quotes the following passage from Lucian, T. I. p. 479. Kai o αὐτὸς, εἰ τύχοι, μικρὸν ἔμπροσθεν μάλα σεμνῶς τὸ τοῦ Κέκροπος ἢ ̓Ερεχθεὼς σχῆμα μιμησάμενος, μετ ̓ ὀλίγον οἰκέτης προῆλθεν ὑπὸ τοῦ ποιητοῦ κεκελευσμένος.

The actors were called 'Αγωνισταί. (Hesych. in v.) He who performed the principal part was called Πρωταγωνιστής, the second δευτεραγωνιστής, and the third τριταγωνιστής. Hence πρωταγωνιστεῖν or πρῶτα λέγειν, signifies to be the principal personage in any affair, and τριταγωνιστεῖν or τρίτα λέγειν, to be a subordinate character; as in Latin primas vel tertius agere. Suidas, v. Τριταγωνιστής. Αἰσχίνης ἐν πολλοῖς σκώπτεται ὑπὸ Δημοσθένους ὡς ὑποκριτὴς τραγῳδιῶν. καὶ τριταγωνιστὴν αὐτόν φησιν, ὡς ἀδοκιμώτατον τῶν ὑποκριτῶν, ἐν τρίτῃ τάξει καταριθμῶν.—Τριταγω νιστὴς, ἀπὸ Σοφοκλέους, ὃς πρῶτος ἐχρήσατο τρισὶν ὑποκριταῖς Other passages illustrative of this point may be seen in the notes of Valesius on Harpocratio, p. 292. Our readers will remember the precept of Horace, neu quarta loqui persona laboret. Pollux (IV. 109.) says, that when a fourth actor did say any thing, it was called παραχορήγημα. They seem to have introduced not only living mutes upon the stage, but also figures drest up to represent men; a fact which seems to have escaped the notice of the critics. Hesychius, ̓́Εκσκευα. τὰ παρεπόμενα πρόσωπα ἐπὶ σκηνῆς. These words, which are passed over ἀπλύτοις ποσὶ by all the commentators, 1 interpret thus. *Εκσκευα. the supernumerary figures introduced upon the stage: which explanation is confirmed by the following passage of Hippocrates, Νόμος p. 19. ed. Basil. ὁμοιότατοι γάρ εἰσιν οἱ τοιοίδε τοῖσι παρεισαγομένοισι προσώποισιν ἐν τῇσι τραγῳ δίῃσιν. ὡς γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι σχῆμα μὲν, καὶ στολὴν͵ καὶ πρόσωπον ὑποκριτοῦ ἔχουσιν, ΟΥΚ ΕΙΣΙ ΔΕ ΥΠΟΚΡΙΤΑΙ, οὕτω καὶ οἱ ἰητροὶ, φήμῃ μὲν, πολλοὶ, ἔργῳ δὲ πάγχυ βαιοί. It is probable that most of the guards and attendants who came on with kings and great personages, were figures appropriately drest, of which a sufficient stock would be kept in the lumber-room of the Theatre.

IV.

Of the Chorus.

The chorus, which was originally performed by one person, an d which was considered as the main business of the representation, by degrees became subordinate to the acting. But in order to gratify the love of spectacle which distinguished the Athenians, succeeding poets increased the number of those who danced and sang, but the chorus was still considered as one actor,' and joined in the dialogue by means of its head, called Kopupaios. By degrees, however, to give spirit and variety to the chorus, it was divided, when necessary, into nuxópia, each division having its Coryphæus. They performed regular dances, accommodated, it should seem, to the measure of the verses which they sang; a subject which is involved in great difficulty and obscurity, chiefly arising from the imperfect knowledge which we possess of the principles of the Grecian music. They seem to have danced one way while singing the strophe, and another during the antistrophe, and to have stood still, or to have performed the evolution which dancing-masters call a pousser, during the epode. But all this is very uncertain. The way in which the grammarians attempt to explain these motions is too absurd to deserve a serious refutation, although it has been adopted by Vossius. We may briefly observe, that dancing seems not to have conveyed to an Athenian any ludicrous ideas. To us it would be very strange to see a party of venerable old men figuring up and down the stage, and all the while bewailing in passionate exclamations some public calamity.

With regard to the number of the chorus, we may be sure that it did not all at once jump from one to fifteen, or any other fixed number. I have endeavoured to shew, in the Preface to the Persæ of Eschylus, that the common notions on this subject rest on no sufficient authority. If the number of the chorus was ever fixed at fifteen, it was not till the tragic art had arrived at some degree of magnificence and importance. In the Supplices of

1. It should seem, however, from the following passage of Pollux IV. 123. that even before the time of Thespis, more than one person danced in the chorus. Ἐλεὸς ἦν τράπεζα αρχαία, ἐφ ̓ ἣν πρὸ Θεσπίδος εἷς τις αναβὼς τοῖς χορευταῖς ἀπεκρίνετο.

2. Aristot. de Poet. 32.

Eschylus, the chorus consists of the Daughters of Danaus. Now these were fifty in number; but I think it very uncertain whether they all made their appearance upon the stage; or if they did, whether the greater number of them were not stuffed figures. It is not unlikely that the story related by Pollux of the chorus's being first reduced to the number of fifteen by Eschylus, took its rise from the expression of Aristotle, before quoted, Αἰσχύλοςτὰ τοῦ χοροῦ ἠλάττωσε, which some critics understood to mean, lessened the number of the chorus.

When the tragic chorus consisted of fifteen, it stood either in three rows of five each, or in five rows of three each. In the former case it was said to be ranged κατὰ στοίχους, in the latter, κατὰ ζυγά. The dividing the chorus into two parts, was called διχορία; each division ἡμιχόριον, and their alternate songs, ἀντιχόρια. Its first entrance upon the stage was called πάροδος, its temporary retreat from the stage, μετανάστασις, and its return ἐπιπάροδος ; its final exit, ἄφοδος. These particulars are all taken from Julius Pollux IV. 108. whose account, I am inclined to think, refers to the later ages of the Greek drama. Hesych. Διχοριάζειν. δύο χοροῖς ᾄδειν. The person who assigned to each of the chorus their proper places was called χοροδέκτης, (Suidas in v.) or χοροποιός, Xenoph. Ages. II. 17. Hemsterh. ad Aristoph. Plut. p. 332. It appears that the Coryphæi stood in the centres of their respective divisions. Lexicon Seguier. p. 444. ed. Bekker. ̓Αριστεροστάτης ἐν τῷ κωμικῷ καλεῖται χορῷ, ἐν δὲ τῷ τραγικῷ μέσος ἀριστεροῦ. Κρατῖνος Σεριφίοις. Before the words ἐν τῷ κωμικῷ, we should probably insert ὁ πρωτοστάτης. Hesych. ̓Αριστεροστάτης. ὁ πρωτοστάτης τοῦ χοροῦ. Photius. Τρίτος ἀριστεροῦ. ἐν τοῖς τραγικοῖς χοροῖς τριῶν ὄντων στοίχων καὶ ζυγῶν, ὁ μὲν ἀριστερὸς στοῖχος πρὸς τῷ θεάτρῳ ἦν, ὁ δὲ δεξιὸς πρὸς τῷ προσκηνίῳ. συνέβαινεν οὖν τὸν μέσον τοῦ ἀριστεροῦ στοίχον τὴν ἐντιμοτάτην καὶ τὴν οἷον τοῦ πρωτοστάτου χώραν ἐπέχειν καὶ στάσιν. From which it appears, that the chorus entered the orchestra from the right side of the theatre, and danced across it to the left. The less conspicuous situations in the chorus were called ὑποκόλπια. Hesych. Ὑποκόλπιον τοῦ χοροῦ. τῆς στάσεως χώραι αἱ ἄτιμοι, which Xenophon calls χοροῦ ἐπονειδίστους χώρας. Lines were drawn on the floor of the orchestra along which the oroixo were to move. Hesych. Γραμμαὶ. ἐν τῇ ὀρχήστρᾳ ἦσαν, ὡς τὸν χορὸν ἐν στοίχῳ ἵστασθαι.

[ocr errors]

The species of dances performed by the tragic and comic choruses were called respectively éμμéλeia and kópdağ, the kind adapted to satyrs was termed σikivvis.1

With respect to the music of the chorus, Dr. Bentley says that the dialect which it used was Doric, being best adapted to the Doric mood in which it sang; which, with deference to so great an authority, is but a poor account of the matter. The dialect

of the chorus was the remains of its original rusticity, for it appears from Aristotle (de Poet. c. 4.) that the invention of tragedy belonged to the Dorians. And it is not by any means clear that the chorus always used the Doric mood. It is more probable that they varied the mood according to the subject. Athenæus, (XIV. p. 624.) speaking of the Æolic, Doric, and Ionic moods, says that the last, "by reason of its grave and harsh and pompous character is well suited to tragedy." Plutarch, or the author of the treatise de Musica, p. 1136. C. says that the Mixo-lydian mood is pathetic, and fit for tragedies; that the first inventress of it was Sappho, from whom the tragedians learned it, and combined it with the Doric; and further, that it was akin to the Ionic mood; which observation illustrates the passage of Athenæus. The reader will bear in mind that we are all along considering the chorus of tragedy. It is curious, as Mr. Twining has observed, to trace the gradual extinction of the chorus. Originally it was all: then relieved by short intervals of dialogue, but still principal-then subordinate, digressive, and ill connected with the play then borrowed from other pieces, (a custom first practised by Agatho)* and at last degenerating into music between the acts.

:

The early tragic poets taught their own choruses to dance. Athenæus tells us that "the ancient poets, Thespis, Pratinas, Carcinus, and Phrynichus, were called opxnorukoi, because they not only used much dancing in the choruses of their plays, but were themselves common dancing-masters, teaching any body that had a mind to learn3." Again, "Chamæleon says, that Eschylus was the first person who taught his chorus figure-dances; not having recourse to professed masters, but inventing himself the

1. See Casaubon de Sat. Poes. I. 4. Valckenaer in Ammon. Alberti in Hesych. v. Σίκιννις.

p. 83.

2. Aristot. de Poet. 32.

3. Athen. I. p. 22. Bentley. Dissert.

[blocks in formation]

figures to be danced by them." Afterwards there were regular διδάσκαλοι, who undertook for a certain sum, to teach the chorus, and, in some instances, furnished the chorus for hire; instances of which were given in our last paper on this subject.

The place where the chorus was taught its dances was called χορεῖον ; for so I understand the words of Pollux IX. 41. ἐκάλουν δὲ τὸ διδασκαλεῖον καὶ χορόν. (read χορεῖον. Hesych. Χορεῖον. διδασκαλεῖον.) About which the commentators are Hesychius, Φωλεόν διδασκαλεῖον-οὗ χορεύουσι καὶ διδάσκουσι. Idemn. Μελιτεών. οἶκος ἐν ᾧ ἐμελέτων οἱ τραγῳδοί.

quite in the dark.

The orchestra was semicircular, for which reason it was called, in later times, Σίγμα, from its resemblance to the form of that letter. Photius; ̓Ορχήστρα, πρῶτον ἐκλήθη ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ. εἶτα καὶ τοῦ θεάτρου τὸ κάτω ἡμίκυκλον, οὗ καὶ οἱ χοροὶ ᾖδον καὶ ὠρχοῦντο-Ορχήστρα, τὸ νῦν τοῦ θεάτρου λεγόμενον σίγμα. Lex. Seguier. p. 270. ed. Bekker. Κατατομή. ή ὀρχήστρα ἡ νῦν στίγμα (σιγμα) λεγομένη. ἢ μέρος τι τοῦ θεάτρου κατετμήθη, ἐπεὶ ἐν ὄρει κατεσκεύασται· ἢ κατὰ (τὸ) συμβεβηκὸς ὁ τόπος οὕτω καλεῖται. ἢ τὸ νῦν λεγόμενον διάζωμα. Compare Harpocratio v. Κατατομή. With respect to

the number of the chorus, I omitted to remark, that we are told by the author of the Life of Sophocles, that it was increased by that poet from twelve to fifteen, which is an additional testimony against the common story about the Eumenides of Æschylus. The same author informs us, upon the authority of Aristoxenus, that Sophocles first introduced the Phrygian mood into his songs. See above, p. 209.

V.

Of the Dress and Ornaments of the Actors.

Every one knows that the ancient performers wore masks adapted to their respective characters; a device which effectually precluded that expression of the countenance, in which we are accustomed, and with justice, to place a very considerable part of the histrionic art. The reason of it seems to have been, that as the actor was elevated by his Cothurni above the ordinary stature of a man, it was necessary, in order to preserve the due proportion of the human form, that his countenance should be enlarged in a corresponding degree. Besides which, the vizards were so

« PreviousContinue »