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Tragedies in the truest sense, and must be referred to the class of Histories, which exist in all countries where the Drama is much cultivated, as a subordinate species of Tragedy: the other Tragedies we may call myths or fables', as distinguished from the true stories, to which they bore the same relation in the subdivision of Ionian literature, that the Epos bore to the history of Herodotus.
In the course of time, another rib was taken from the side of the primary Tragedy, and Tragi-comedy sprang up under the fostering care of Euripides, which was probably the forerunner of the idapotpayodíai of Rhinthon, Sopatrus, Sciras, and Blæsus'. One old specimen of this kind of play, remains to us in the "Alknotiç of Euripides, which was performed as the Satyrical Drama of a Tragic Trilogy, 438, B.C., and we are inclined to consider the Orestes as another of the same sort?. It resembled the regular Tragedy in its outward form, but contained some comic characters, and always had a happy termination.
Of the Satyrical Drama we have already spoken: we cannot, however, quit the subject of Tragedy and its subordinate forms, without noticing a play called Είλωτες οι επί Ταινάρω, which was, according to Herodian, a satyrical drama. This statement has occasioned some difficulties. It has been asked, were the Helots, who doubtless composed the chorus, dressed like satyrs, or mixed up with satyrs? But if it was a
8 Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. i. note 1150 : “ The Destruction of Miletus by Phrynichus, and the Persians of Æschylus, were plays that drew forth all the manly feelings of bleeding or exulting hearts, and not tragedies : for these the Greeks, before the Alexandrian age, took their plots solely out of mythical story. It was essential that their contents should be known beforehand ; whereas the stories of Hamlet and Macbeth were unknown to the spectators : at present, parts of them might be moulded into Tragedies like the Greek ; that is, if a Sophocles were to rise up.”
9 The words of Suidas quoted above, appear to allude to this distinction, katà μικρόν εις μύθους και ιστορίας ετράπησαν.
1 Müller’s Dor. iv. ch. 7, § 6.
? In an argument to the Alcestis, published from a Vatican MS. (No. 909) by Dindorf, in 1834, we find the following words : Tò dpāua étoinon iş. édiðáxon επί Γλαυκίνου άρχοντος το λ. πρώτος ήν Σοφοκλής, δεύτερος Ευριπίδης Kρήσσαις, 'Αλκμαιώνι τω διά Ψωφίδος, Τηλέφω, 'Αλκηστιδι. το δε δράμα κωμικωτέραν έχει την κατασκευήν. The last sentence is a repetition in effect of the statement in the Copenhagen argument. (Matthiä, vii. p. 214.) On the date see Welcker, Rheinisch. Mus. for 1835, p. 508. Clinton, F. H. vol. i. p. 424.
3 See Eustathius on Iliad ii. p. 297. * By Müller in Was für eine Art Drama varen" die IIeloten ?” Niebuhr's Rhein. Mus, iii. p. 488.
Satyrical Drama, what mythological subject is reconcileable with a chorus of Helots? and on the same supposition, how could the comedian Eupolis, to whom Athenæusó ascribes the play, have been its author? for a trespass by a comedian on the domains of the Tragic muse, to whom the Satyrical Drama belonged, was, especially in those times, something quite unheard of. There is, it must be admitted, some difficulty in this, and principally in regard to the last question. The Helots, with their dresses of goatskin or sheepskin, and their indecent dances in honour of Bacchus, were very fit substitutes for the satyrs, and it is quite possible to conceive that a Dionysian myth might be represented in a play, the chorus of which consisted of Helots. From the statement, however, that Eupolis was the author, and from the purely comic and criticizing tone of one of the fragments', we are disposed to conclude that Herodian is mistaken in calling it a satyrical drama, and that he has been misled by the resemblance between the guise of the Helots, and that of the Satyrs, whereas the play was a regular comedy with a political reference, perhaps not unlike the Aakedaluoves of the same author.
The Comedy of the Greeks admits of subdivision into three species, or rather three successive variations in form, which are generally distinguished as the Old, the Middle, and the New Comedy. The old Comedy was, as we have already seen, the result of a successful attempt to give to the waggon-jests of the country comus a particular and a political bias. Its essence, or to use the words of Vico', its eterna propietà was personal vilification. Not merely the satire of description, the abuse of words; but the satire of representation. The object of popular dislike was not merely called a coward, a villain, a rogue, or a fool, but he was exhibited on the stage doing every thing contemptible and suffering every thing ludicrous. Upon this stock the mighty genius of Aristophanes grafted his own Pantagruelism, which has in every age, since the days of its reproducer Rabelais, found in some European country, and in some form or other, a more or less adequate representative,- Cervantes, Quevedo, Butler, Swift, Sterne, Voltaire, Jean Paul, Carlyle, and siv. p. 138. 6 In Athen. xiv. p. 638.
? Scienza Nuora, iii. p. 39 : “ La satira serbò quest'eterna propietà, con la qual ella nacque,
di dir villanie ed ingiurie.”
Southey'. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to draw a clearly defined line of demarcation between the writers of the Old and the Middle Comedy. We cannot say that this author was an old comedian ; that a middle comedian: they may have been both, as Aristophanes certainly was, if the criterion was the absence or presence of a Parabasis', or speech of the chorus in which the audience are addressed in the name of the poet, and without, in many cases, any reference to the subject of the play. Nor will the proper interpretation of the law repì TOū μη ονομαστί κωμωδείν' enable us to distinguish between the comedians as belonging to one class or the other. As to the comedies themselves, however, we may safely conclude on the authority of Platonius, that the Middle Comedy was a form of the old, but differed from it in three particulars; it had no chorus, and therefore no parabasis,—this deviation was occasioned by the inability of the impoverished state to furnish the comic poets with choragi: living characters were not introduced on the stage,—this was owing to the want of energy produced by the temporary subversion of the democracy : as a consequence of both these circumstances, the objects of its ridicule were literary rather than political. If, therefore, we were called upon to give to the Old and Middle Comedy their distinctive appellations, we should call one Caricature, and the other Criticism ; and if we wished to illustrate the difference by modern instances, we should compare the former to the Lampoon, the latter to the Review. The New Comedy commenced, as is well known, in the time of Alexander; and we can see in Plautus and Terence, who translated or imitated the Greek writers of this class, satisfactory specimens of the nature of this branch of Comedy. It corresponded as nearly as possible to our own Comic Drama, especially to that of Farquhar and Congreve, which Charles Lamb calls the Comedy of Manners, and Hurd the Comedy of Character. It arose in all probability from an union of the style and tone of the Euripidean dialogue, with the subjects and characters of the later form of the Middle Comedy.
8 See the Quarterly Review, No. clxi. p. 137 sqq.
9 Τα τάς παραβάσεις ούκ έχοντα εδιδάχθη εξουσίας από του δήμου μεθισταμένης και ολιγαρχίας κρατούσης. Platonius. With regard to the attempt of Meineke (Quæstion. Scenice, Sp. iii. p. 50) to prove that Antiphanes was a new comic poet, Lecause he mentioned the partún (Athen. xiv. p. 662, f), we may remark, that the word cannot be used as a criterion to enable us to distinguish between two schools of comedians, for it is mentioned by Nicostratus, the son of Aristophanes, (see Clinton in Phil. Mus. i. p. 560,) and the dainty was not unknown to Aristophanes himself, who uses the word wattvolouxós. (Nub. 451.)
| Mr. Clinton, in the Introduction to the second volume of his Fasti Hellenici, (p. xxxvi. &c.) has shown that the generally received idea, which would distinguish the Middle from the Old Comedy by its abstinence from personal satire, is completely at variance with the fragments still extant; and that the celebrated lawτου μη ονομαστί κωμωδείν τινά -simply forbade tlie introduction of any individual on the stage by name as one of the dramatis persone. This prohibition, too, might be evaded by suppressing the name and identifying the individual by means of the mask, the dress, and external appearance alone. “ This law, then, when iimited to its proper sense, is by no means inconsistent with a great degree of comic liberty, or with those animadversions upon eminent names with which we find the comic poets actually to abound.” (Fast. Hell. p. xlii.) The date of the law is uncertain ; probably about B.C. 404, during the government of the Thirty.
It is not our intention to speak of the dramas and quasidramas of a later age; it may, however, be of some assistance to the student, if we subjoin a general tabular view of the rise and progress of the proper Greek Drama.