Page images

contain nothing but a political gergo; on the contrary, we find here and there bursts of lyric poetry, which would have done honour to the sublimest of his Tragical contemporaries. The fact is, that Aristophanes was not merely a wit and a satirist; he had within himself all the ingredients which are necessary to form a great poet; the nicest discrimination of harmony, a fervid and active imagination drawing upon the stores of an ever-creating fancy, and a true and enlarged perception of ideal beauty. This was so notorious even in his own time, that Plato, who had little reason to speak favourably of him, declared that the Graces, having sought a temple to dwell in, found it in the bosom of Aristophanes', and it is very likely in consequence of Plato's belief in the real poetical power of Aristophanes, that he makes Socrates convince him in the “ Banquet,” that the real artist of Tragedy and Comedy are one and the same'. Of the private character of Aristophanes we know little, save that he was, like all other Athenians, a free-liver and fond of pleasure'. That coarseness of language was in those times no proof of moral depravity, has already been sufficiently shown by a modern admirer of Aristophanes: the fault was not in the man, but in the manners of the age in which he lived, and to blame the comedian for it, is to give a very evident proof of that unwillingness to shake off modern associations which we have already deprecated'. The object of Aristophanes was one most worthy of a wise and good man; it was to cry down the pernicious quackery which was forcing its way into Athens, and polluting, or drying up, the springs of public and private virtue; which had turned religion into cagotisme, and sobriety of mind into the folly of word-wisdom; and which was the cause alike of the corruption of Tragedy, and of the downfal of the state. He is not to be blamed for his method of opposing these evils : it was the only course open to him ; the demagogues had introduced the comus into the city, and


| Apud Thom. Mag.

Αί χάριτες τέμενός τι λαβείν όπερ ουχί πεσείται

Ζητούσαι, ψυχήν εύρον 'Αριστοφάνους. ? Sympos. p. 223. D.

3 For instance, see Symp. 176, B. 4 Porson's Review of Brunck's Aristophanes, Mus. Criticum, ii. pp. 114, 115. 5 Above pp. 7, 8.

[ocr errors]

he turned it against them, till it repented them that they had ever used such an instrument. So far, then, from charging Aristophanes with immorality, we would repeat, in the words which a great and a good man of our own days used when speaking of his antitype Rabelais, that the morality of his works is of the most refined and exalted kind, however little worthy of praise their manners may be', and, on the whole, we would fearlessly recommend any student, who is not so imbued with the lisping and drivelling mawkishness of the present day as to shudder at the ingredients with which the necessities of the time have forced the great comedian to dress up his golden truths, to peruse and re-peruse Aristophanes, if he would know either the full force of the Attic dialect, or the state of men and manners at Athens, in the most glorious days of her history'.

6 Coleridge's Table Talk, i. p. 178.

7 The admiration which all true scholars have felt and expressed for Aristophanes, will survive the attacks of certain modern detractors. Among these, Hartung in his Euripides restitutus has endeavoured to exalt that tragedian at the expense of the great author of the “ Frogs,” whom he assails in the most abusive language (I. 380, 476). The disapprobation of the poetry and politics of Euripides, which Aristophanes so strongly avowed, is not incompatible with the imitation of his style, which he frankly admitted in his Exnvàç karalaußávovo ai (above p. 111). And with regard to another charge, it is quite impossible, with the fragmentary evidence before us, to strike the balance of mutual obligation between Eupolis and Aristophanes. See Bernhardy, Grundriss, II. p. 973.




I coltivatori della commedia seguirono l'esempio di questi primi, come essi areano pur

seguito quello degli antichi, senza che gli uni gli altri, impediti da una serrile imitazione, acessero soffocato il proprio genio o negletto i costumi del paese e del tempo loro.


THERE are a few names in the lists of writers of the Middle and New Comedy which deserve some notice'. It appears from the words of Suidas?, that EUBULUS the son of Euphranor, who was an Athenian, and flourished about the year 375 B.C., stood on the debateable ground between the first and second species of comedy, and to judge from the fragments in Athenæus, who quotes more than fifty of his Comedies by name, he must have written plays of both sorts. He composed in the whole 104 comedies.

ANTIPHANES was born in Rhodes in B. C. 404, began to exhibit about B.c. 383, and died at Chios in B. C. 330. He composed 260 or 280 comedies, and the titles of 130 of these have come down to us. It


from these names and from the numerous fragments, that the Comedies of Antiphanes were generally of the critical kind, but sometimes approximated to the Comedy of Manners'.

1 On these authors and their works, see Meineke, Quæstiones Scenicæ Spec. iii. and his Historia Critica, pp. 303, seqq. and 445, seqq., also Müller, Hist. Lit. Gr. II. p. 46, seqq.

2 Εύβουλος-ιδίδαξε δράματα ρο'. ήν δε κατά ρα' ολυμπιάδα, μεθόριος της μέσης κωμωδίας και της νέας. $ On Antiphanes and his fragments, see Clinton, Phil. Mus. i. p. 558, fol.


ANAXANDRIDES, of Camirus in Rhodes, flourished about the year 376 s.c.'.

376 B.c.'. He wrote sixty-five Comedies. To judge from the twenty-eight titles which have come down to us, we should infer that they were all of the second class; as, however, we are told that he introduced intrigues and loveaffairs on the stage, we must presume that, like his countryman Antiphanes, he made an advance towards the third class of Comedy. Chamæleon tells us', that he was a tall handsome man, and fond of fine dresses; he gives as a proof of his want of temper, that he used to destroy, or sell for waste paper, all his unsuccessful Comedies. He lived to a good old age.

Alexis, of Thurium, wrote two hundred and forty-five Comedies : the titles of one hundred and thirteen of them are known to us. The “Parasite,” one of his Comedies, seems from the name to belong to the New Comedy. He flourished from the year 356 to the year 306, and was more than one hundred years old when he diedo.

old when he died. We know nothing of him, except that he was an epicure', and the uncle and instructor of Menander.

It is doubtful to what class of Comedies we are to refer the plays of TIMOCLES, who was exhibiting in 324 B.c.'.

PHILIPPIDES, the son of Philocles of Athens, is one of the six poets generally selected as specimens of the New Comedy'. He flourished about the year 335 b.c. and wrote forty-five Comedies; of the twelve titles preserved, one at least, the “Amphiaraus," seems to belong to the Middle or Old Comedy. The intimacy which existed between him and Lysimachus was of great service to Athens'. As that prince did not assume the title of king till 306 B.C., and as it

4 Parian Marble, No. 71, and Suidas.

5 Athenæus, ix. p. 374, A. 6 Clinton, F. H. ii. p. 175.

7 Athenæus, viii. p. 334, c. 8 Prolegom. Aristoph. p. xxx. and Suidas, where we must read mátpws. 9 See the passages in Clinton, F. H. ii. p. 161. 1 Proi. Aristoph. p. ΧΧΧ. αξιολογώτατοι Φιλήμων, Μένανδρος, Δίφιλος, Φιλιππίδης, Ποσείδιππος, 'Απολλόδωρος. · Quoted by Athenæus, iii. p. 90.

3 Plutarch, Demetr. c. xii.

appears from the words of Plutarch', that Lysimachus was king at the time of his acquaintance with Philippides, the poet must have lived after that year; besides we know that he ridiculed the honours paid by the Athenians to Demetrius, in 301 B. c.' There is, therefore, every reason to believe the statement of Aulus Gellius, that he lived to a very advanced age', though perhaps the cause assigned for his death, excessive joy on account of an unexpected victory, is, like the similar story respecting Sophocles, a mere invention.

PAILEMON was, according to Strabo', a native of Soli, though Suidas makes him a Syracusan, probably because he resided some time in Sicily. He began to exhibit about the

. year 330 B.C., and died at the age of 97, some time in the reign of Antigonus the second'. According to Diodorus ', he lived ninety-nine years, and wrote ninety-seven comedies. Various accounts are given of the manner of his death". Lucian tells us, he died in a paroxysm of laughter at seeing an ass devouring some figs intended for his own eating. The names of fiftythree of his comedies have come down to us". Philemon was considered as superior to Menander", and Quintilian, while he denies the correctness of this judgment ", is nevertheless willing to allow Philemon the second place. We may see a favourable specimen of his construction of plots, in the Trinummus of Plautus, which is a translation from his Onoavpós". His


* Φιλοφρονουμένου δε ποτε του Λυσιμάχου προς αυτόν και ειπόντος, «"Ω Φιλιππίδη, τίνος σοι των εμών μεταδώ ;” Μόνον,έφη, «ώ βασιλεί, μή των απορρήτων.”

5 Clinton, F. H. ii. p. 177.

6 ii. 15. Philippides comædiarum poëta haud ignobilis, ætate jam editâ, cum in certamine poëtarum præter spem vicisset, inter illud gaudium repente mortuus est. 7 xiv. p. 671.

8 Clinton, F. H. ii. p. 157. • Eclog. lib. xxiii. p. 318.

10 Plutarch, An seni, &c. p. 785. Lucian. Macrob. c. xxv. (vol. viii. p. 123, Lehm.) Apuleius, Florid, xvi.' Suidas says he was ninety-four when he died, and gives nearly the same description of his death as Lucian.

11 Fabricius, ii. p. 476, Harles. 12 Aul. Gell. xvii. 4. Quintil. iii. 7. 18.

13 x. 1, 72. Philemon, qui ut pravis sui temporis judiciis Menandro sæpe prælatus est, ita consensu tamen omnium meruit credi secundus. 14 Prol, Trinummi, 18.

Huic nomen Græce est Thesauro fabulæ ;
Philemo scripsit ; Plautus vortit barbare,
Nomen Trinummo fecit.

« PreviousContinue »