Page images

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 opxnoτuoi, 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. p. 83. Alberti in Hesych. v. ZíKivvis.

2. Aristot. de Poet. 32.

3. Athen. I. p. 22. Bentley. Dissert. P. 264.

[ocr errors]

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. Ηesych. Χορεῖον. διδασκαλεῖον.) About which the commentators are quite in the dark. Hesychius, Φωλεόν· διδασκαλεῖον-οὗ χορεύουσι καὶ διδάσκουσι. Idemn. Μελιτεών. οἶκος ἐν ᾧ ἐμελέτων οἱ τραγῳδοί.

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. ἡ ὀρχήστρα ἡ νῦν στίγμα (σίγμα) 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 Eschylus. The same author informs us, upon the authority of Aristoxenus, that Sophocles first introduced the Phrygian mood into his songs. See above, p. 209.


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

contrived as to answer the purpose of a speaking trumpet, and to make the actor's voice sonorous and loud; whence, according to Gabius Bassus,' came the Latin term Persona. The Greek name Tрóσwоv means literally any thing applied to the face. This was the ancient term, but later writers call it poweîov.' In the earlier age of tragedy, the actors smeared their faces either with the lees of wine, as we have before observed, or with a kind of paint called Barpaxcîov.3 Different actors invented different masks. Who first introduced them into comedy is unknown.5 But Eschylus first used them in tragedy; persona, pallæque repertor honesta Eschylus, says Horace.

The different kinds of vizards are described by Julius Pollux IV. 133. seqq. 6

We come next to the buskins worn by tragic actors, called


ἐμβάται, or κόθορνοι. The Scholiast on Lucian Jov. Frag. p. 19. ἐμβάτας μὲν, τὰ ξύλα, ἃ βάλλουσιν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας οἱ τραγῳδοὶ, ἵνα φανῶσι μακρότεροι. But Pollux IV. 115. says that the tragic buskins were called κόθορνοι οι έμβάδες, and the comic euẞára. The invention of the buskin is attributed to Æschylus; τοὺς ὑποκρίτας—τῷ σώματι ἐξογκώσας, μείζοσί TE TOîs Kolóρvois peтewpioas. So Horace, Eschylus-Et docuit magnumque loqui nitique cothurno. Others ascribe it to Sophocles, as Servius relates in his notes on Virgil Ecl. VIII. 10. Sola Sophocleo tua carmina digna cothurno. Hence cothurnus is often put metonymice for tragadia; as in Horace Od. II. 1. 12. grande munus Cecropio repetes cothurno. Juv. XV. 29. vulgi scelus, et cunctis graviora cothurnis. The object of their wearing these buskins with thick soles, was to elevate them above the ordinary level of human stature; for the personages of all the Greek dramas were men of the heroic ages, who were thought to have

1. In Aulus Gellius V. 7.

2. Ulp. (or rather Zosimus Ascalonita, as Mr. Dobree has lately shewn) in Demosth. de Fals. Leg. p. 116. A.

3. Schol. Aristoph. Equit. 520.

4. Athen. XIV. p. 659. B. Tyrwhitt. in Aristot. p. 139. Aristot. Poet. § 11.


6. A work de Personis et Larvis, was published at Rome in 1639, by Agesilaus Marescottus; but it is exceedingly rare; and I have never seen it.

7. Auctor vitæ Eschyli, in edit. Robortelli.

VOL. II. NO. 6.


been superior in size to their posterity. The reason commonly assigned is the great size of the Greek theatres, which seems to me a very inadequate one. Luciana says, ἢ καὶ, νὴ Δί', εἴτις ὑποδησάμενος κοθόρνους, μικρὸς αὐτὸς ὤν, ἐρίζοι περὶ μεγέθους τοῖς ἀπὸ ἰσοπέδου ὅλῳ πήχει ὑπερέχουσιν. I think it doubtful whether the tragic buskin was ever called koopvos by the more ancient writers, who used this word to denote a sort of sandal worn by women, not made right and left, as sandals usually were, but equally adapted to both feet; whence Theramenes was called o κółoрvos, as having attached himself with equal readiness to that party which happened to be uppermost.


We are informed by Diomedes in the extract above referred to, that the actors wore garments down to their feet, in order to conceal the device of the buskins. Ister the grammarian informs us that Sophocles invented the white sandals which were worn by the actors and the chorus.4


Of the Theatre.

The theatre at Athens was formerly a temporary building, constructed of wooden planks (pia), in the forum. These having given way during the representation of a play of Pratinas, or of Eschylus,6 a more substantial theatre was erected in the precincts of the temple of Bacchus, near the Acropolis.7

That portion of the theatre appropriated to the performances, was divided into 1. Eknvn, the whole stage; 2. Aoyeîov, in Latin pulpitum, that part where the actors stood; 3. 'Oрxýσтρа,


Diomedes. Comm. in Dionys. Thrac. ap. Valckenaer. Animadv. ad Ammon. p. 75. de tragicis ; ἐπιδεικνύμενοι δὲ τῶν ἡρώων ὡσανεὶ τὰ αὐτῶν πρόσωπα πρῶτον μὲν ἐπελέγοντο ἄνδρας τοὺς μείζονας καὶ εὐρυβόας· δεύτερον δὲ βουλόμενοι καὶ τὰ σώματα δεικνύειν ἡρωϊκὰ, ἐμβάδας ἐφόρουν καὶ ἱμάτια ποδήρη.

2. pro Imagin. II. p. 485.

3. Suidas v. Kólopvos.

4. Apud Auctorem Vita Sophoclis.

5. Photius v. "Ikpia.


6. Suidas vv. Aloxúλos. Пparivas. See the Preface to the Persæ of Eschylus, p. xvi.


7. Hesych. v. 'Eri Aŋvaių. Ruhnken. Auctar. Emend. in Hesych. v. Διονύσια.

8. Phrynich. Ecl. p. 64. ubi vid. Nunnes.

a semicircular space before the Aoyeiov, and a little lower than it; on which was the Ovuéλn or altar of Bacchus,' 4. Υποσκήνιον, or Κονίστρα, the floor of which was on a level with the area of the theatre, a space decorated with columns and statues.' The space before the Envn, where the actors stood, was also called Пpokývov. The following passage of Vitruvius will shew the nature of these divisions.


"Ampliorem habent Orchestram Græci, et scenam recessiorem, minoreque latitudine pulpitum, quod Xoyeîov appellant: ideoque apud eos Tragici et Comici Actores in Scena peragunt: reliqui autem artifices suas per orchestram præstant actiones, ideoque ex eo Scenici et Thymelici Græce separatim nominantur. See Section I. p. 74.


It appears from a story told by Athenæus XIV. p. 631. F. that the space beneath the stage, whither the actors retired to dress or repose, was called ὑποσκήνιον.

The wings of the scenes were called πаρаσкýνia; and there ;; were three doors on the stage, one in the centre, which represented the door of a palace, or the residence of the chief personage of the drama; one on the right, through which the second actor retreated; and a third on the left side, which was appropriated to the тρiTaywvioтns, or to represent some deserted house or temple. And in tragedy, according to Pollux, the right hand door is that by which strangers enter, and the left hand door is that of a prison. Before the principal doorway was an altar of Apollo ἀχνιεύς.6 The following passage of Vitruvius (V. 8.) describes the difference of the scenes.

"Genera sunt scenarum tria, unum quod dicitur Tragicum, alterum Comicum, tertium Satyricum. Horum autem ornatus sunt inter se dissimiles, disparique ratione: quod tragicæ deformantur columnis, fastigiis et signis, reliquisque regalibus rebus. Comicæ autem ædificiorum privatorum et mænianorum habent

[blocks in formation]

5. Pollux IV. 124. The author of the Life of Aristophanes tells us, that the chorus of Comedy, when entering, as it were, from the city, came in at the left side, and from the country, at the right.

6. Pollux IV. 123. Eurip. Phœniss. 640.

« PreviousContinue »