Richard Claverhouse Jebb.

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(^ ^oV^3H ^


BY ^oO-^





Cambridge :

at the University Press


CambrtUge :



THE essays and addresses contained in this
volume are selected from a large mass of
material left by Sir Richard Jebb. I publish them
in the desire to save from oblivion some portion
of his minor literary work, which occupied the
spare moments of a busy life. Of the papers thus
brought together, some were contributed to reviews
and magazines, while others were written in response
to the many requests that came to him from various
schools and societies ; requests it was a pleasure
to him to grant, if they could be fitted in with
his other duties. It was always his desire to
ofive what aid he could in the cause of letters or
education. Most of these writings were struck off
under pressure of many engagements. Systematic
they are not, yet neither are they mere fragments.
Each is, in a sense, complete in itself, and all seem
to bear the mark of his distinctive handling.

I am greatly indebted to Mr S. H. Butcher,
M.P., for his assistance in making this selection ;

vi Preface

to Dr Verrall for consenting to correct the proofs
and see the book through the Press ; and to
Mr R. T. Wright for much valuable counsel.

That I am allowed to republish Humanism in
Education is due to the kind offices of the Vice-
Chancellor of the University of Oxford, who obtained
this permission for me from the Trustees of the
Romanes Fund.

My sincere thanks are also due to Messrs
Macmillan & Co., to Messrs Longman & Co., to
the Editor of the Journal of Hellenic Studies, and
to the Editor of Hellenica, for permitting me to
include in this volume articles published in the
first instance by them.



April, 1907.


The Genius of Sophocles

Pindar .......

The Age of Pericles ....

Ancient Organs of Public Opinion

Lucian .......

-Delos .......

Caesar: a Sketch. By J. A. Froude, M.A.

Erasmus ......

The Speeches of Thucydides

Suidas on the Change ascribed to Sophocles in regard
to Trilogies .....

Samuel Johnson .....

Humanism in Education

On Present Tendencies in Classical Studies

The Influence of the Greek Mind on Modern Life

The Work of the Universities for the Nation, Past and
Present .......

An Address delivered at the Mason College

University Education and National Life













The most brilliantly joyous of all comedies were
brought out in a city vexed during the years that
gave them birth by every kind of misery in turn ;
by want and pestilence, by faction and the mutual
distrust of citizens, by defeat on land and sea, by the
sense of abasement and the presage of ruin. During
more than twenty years of war Aristophanes was
the best public teacher of Athens ; but there were
times when distraction was more needed than advice.
One of the best of his plays belongs to the number
of those which were meant simply to amuse the town
at a time when it would have been useless to lash it.
The comedy of the " Frogs " came out in a season
of gloomy suspense — just after Athens had made a
last effort in equipping a fleet, and was waiting for
decisive news from the seat of war ; in January of
405 B.C., eight months before -^gospotami and
about fifteen months before the taking of Athens
by Lysander. A succession of disasters and sedi-
tions had worn out the political life of the city ;

^ A Lecture delivered in Dublin before the Society for After-
noon Lectures on Literature and Art.

J. E. I


2 The Genius of Sophocles

patriotic satire could no longer find scope in public
affairs, for there were no longer any vital forces
which it could either stimulate or combat. Nor
could the jaded minds of men at such a time easily
rise into a region of pure fancy, as when nine years
before, on the eve of the last crisis in the war,
Aristophanes had helped them to forget scandals of
impiety and misgovernment on a voyage to his city
in the clouds. What remained was to seek comfort
or amusement in the past ; and since the political
past could give neither, then in the literary past-^in
the glories, fading now like other glories, of art and

It was now just fifty years since the death of
yEschylus. It was only a few months since news
had come from Macedonia of the death of Euripides.
More lately still, at the end of the year before,
Sophocles had closed a life blessed from its begin-
ning by the gods and now happy in its limit ; for, as
in his boyhood he had led the psean after Salamis,
so he died too soon to hear the dirge of Imperial
Athens — the cry, raised in the Peirseus and caught
up from point to point through the line of the Long
Walls, which carried up from the harbour to the
town the news of the overthrow on the Hellespont.

With the death of Euripides and the death of
Sophocles so recent, and no man living who seemed
able to replace them, it might well seem to an
Athenian that the series of the tragic masters was
closed. In the "Frogs" Aristophanes supposes
Dionysus, the god of dramatic inspiration, going

The Genius of Sophocles 3

down to the shades, to bring back to Athens,
beggared of poets and unable to hve without
them, the best poet that could be found below.
It is hard to imagine anything more pathetic than
an Athenian audience listening, at just that time, to
that comedy in the theatre of Dionysus ; in view of
the sea over which their empire was even then
on its last trial ; surrounded by the monuments
of an empire over art which had already declined —
in the building, at once theatre and temple, which
the imagination of the poets lately dead had long
peopled with the divine or heroic shapes known
to them and their fathers, but in which, they might
well forebode, the living inspiration of the god would
never be so shown forth again.

The interest of the comedy does not depend,
however, merely on its character of epilogue to
a school of tragic drama so masterly, of so short
an actual life, of so perpetual an influence ; it takes
another kind of interest from the justness of its
implicit criticism ; the criticism of a man whose wit
would not have borne the test of centuries and the
harder test of translation, if he had not joined to
a quick fancy the qualities which make a first-rate

When Dionysus reaches the lower world, an
uproar is being raised among the dead. It has
been the custom that the throne of Tragedy, next
to Pluto's own, shall be held by a laureate for the
time being, subject to removal on the coming of
a better. For some time y^schylus has held the

I — 2

4 The Genius of Sophocles

place of honour. Euripides, however, has just come
down ; the newer graces of his style, which he lost
no time in showing off, have taken the crowd ;
and their applause has moved him to claim the
tragic throne, ^schylus refuses to yield. As the
only way of settling the dispute, scales are brought ;
the weightiest things which the rivals can offer are
compared ; and at last the balance inclines for
yEschylus. But where, in the meantime, is
Sophocles } He, too, is in the world of the
dead, having come down just after Euripides.
" Did he " (asked Xanthias, the slave of Dionysus)
" lay no claim to the chair ? " " No, indeed, not
he," answers .^acus : " No — he kissed yEschylus
as soon as he came down, and shook hands with
him ; and ^schylus yielded the throne to him.
But just now he meant, Cleidemides said, to hold
himself in reserve, and, if yEschylus won, to stay
quiet ; if not, he said he would try a bout with
Euripides y

It is in this placing of Sophocles relatively to
the disputants, even more than in the account of
the contest, that Aristophanes has shown his
appreciativeness. While he seems to aim merely
at marking by a passing touch the good-humoured
courtesy of Sophocles, he has, with the happiness
of a real critic, pointed out his place as a poet.
The behaviour of Sophocles in the "Frogs" just
answers to his place in the literary history of his
age. This place is fixed chiefly by the fact that
Sophocles was a poet who did not seek to be a

The Genius of Sophocles 5

prophet ; who was before all things an artist ; and
who, living in the quiet essence of art, represented
the mind of his day less by bringing into relief
any set tendencies than by seizing in its highest
unity the total spirit of the world in which he
lived and of the legendary world in which his fancy
moved, and bringing the conflicts of this twofold
world into obedience, as far as possible, to the
first law of his own nature — harmony. The
workings of this instinct of harmony will be best
seen, first, by viewing Sophocles as a poet in two
broad aspects — in regard to his treatment of the
heroic legends and in his relation to the social ideas
of the age of Pericles ; next, by considering two of
his special qualities — the quality which has been
called his irony, and his art of drawing character.

The national religion of Greece was based upon
genealogy. It carried back the mind by an un-
broken ascent from living men to heroes or half-
gods who had been their forefathers in the flesh,
and thence to gods from whom these heroes had
sprung. The strength of a chain is the strength of
its weakest part ; enfeeblement of belief in the
heroes implied enfeeblement of belief in the gods.
The decreasing vividness of faith in the heroes
is the index of failing life in the Greek national

At the beginning of the fifth century before
Christ this belief in the heroes was real and living.
The Persian Wars were wars of race, the first
general conflict of Hellene with barbarian ; and

6 The Genms of Sophocles

it was natural that in such a conflict the Greek
mind should turn with longing and trust towards
those kindred heroes of immortal blood who long
ago had borne arms for Achaia against Asia. It
was told how, on the day of Marathon, the Athenian
ranks had been cheered by the sudden presence
among them of Theseus ; while through the press
of battle two other combatants had been seen to
pass in more than earthly strength, the hero
Echetlus and he who had given his name to the
field. Just before the fight at Salamis a Greek
ship was sent with offerings to the tombs of the
yEacidse in /Egina ; and when the paean sounded
and the fleets closed, the form of a colossal warrior
was seen to move over the battle, and the Greeks
knew that the greatest of the yEacid line, the
Telamonian Ajax, was with them that day, as he
had been with their fathers at Troy.

But from the moment when the united Greek
effort against Persia was over, the old belief which
it had made to start up in a last glow began to
die out. The causes of this decline were chiefly
three. First, the division of once-united Greece
into two camps — the Athenian and the Spartan, — a
division which tended to weaken all sentiments
based on the idea of a common blood ; and the
belief in the heroes as an order was one of these
sentiments. Secondly, the advance of democracy,
which tended to create a jealous feeling and a
sarcastic tone in res^ard to the claims of the old
families ; chief among which claims was that of

The Genius of Sophocles 7

kinship with the gods through the heroes. Thirdly,
the birth of an historical sense. Before the Persian
crisis history had been represented among the
Greeks only by local or family traditions. The Wars
of Liberation had given to Herodotus the first
genuinely historical inspiration felt by a Greek.
These wars showed him that there was a corporate
life, higher than that of the city, of which the story
might be told ; and they offered to him as a subject
the drama of the collision between East and West.
With him, the spirit of history was born into Greece ;
and his work, called after the nine Muses, was
indeed the first utterance of Clio. The historical
spirit was the form in which the general scepticism
of the age acted on the belief in the heroic legends.
For Herodotus himself, the heroes are still godlike.
But for Thucydides, towards the end of the century,
the genuine hero-ship of Agamemnon and Pelops is
no more ; he criticises their probable resources and
motives as he might have discussed the conduct or
the income of a contemporary. They are real to
him ; but they are real as men ; and, for that
very reason, unreal as claimants of a half-divine

The great cycles of heroic legends furnished the
principal subjects of Attic tragedy. Three distinct
methods of treating these legends appear in ^schy-
lus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

The spirit of ^schylus is in all things more
Hellenic than Athenian. The Pan-hellenic heroism
of which in the struggle with Persia he had himself

8 The Genius of Sophocles

been a witness and a part is the very inspiration of
his poetry. For him those heroes who were the
common pride of the Greek race are true demigods.
In his dramas they stand as close to the gods as in
the lUad ; and more than in the I Had do they tower
above men. With him their distinctive attribute is
majesty ; a majesty rather Titanic than in the
proper Greek sense heroic. What, it may be asked,
is the basis of this Titanic majesty ^ It would be
easy to say that the effect is wrought partly by pomp
and weight of language, partly by vagueness of out-
line. But the essential reason appears to be another.
; The central idea of Greek tragedy is the conflict
between free-will and fate. In ^schylus this conflict
takes its simplest and therefore grandest form. No
subtle contrivance, no complexity of purposes, breaks
the direct shock of the collision between man and
destiny. Agamemnon before the Fury of his house
is even as Prometheus facing Zeus.

In thus imagining the heroes as distinctly super-
human, and as claiming the sympathy of men rather
by a bare grandeur of agony than by any closely-
understood affinity of experience, y^schylus was
striving to sustain a belief which had not gone
out of his age, but which was dying. In his mid-
career, about ten years before his Oresteia, the
so-called relics of Theseus found at Scyros were
brought to Athens by Cimon and laid in a shrine
specially built for them. The distinctly religious
enthusiasm then shown implies the old faith. It
is hard to suppose that a like incident could have

The Genius of Sophocles g

brought out a like public feeling even thirty years

Euripides, towards the end of the century, stood
in nearly the same relation to his contemporaries as
that of ^schylus to his at the beginning : that is,
he was in general agreement with their beliefs, but
held to some things from which -they were going
further and further away. The national religion
was now all but dead. By the side of philosophic
scepticism had come up the spurious scepticism
which teachers of rhetoric had made popular. The
devotional need, so far as it was felt, was usually
satisfied by rituals or mysteries brought in from
abroad ; the old creed ^yas not often attacked, but
there was a tacit understanding among " able" men
that it was to be taken allegorically ; and a dim,
silently spreading sense of this had further weakened
its hold upon the people. What, then, was a tragic
poet to do ? The drama was an act of worship ; the
consecrated mythology must still supply the greatest
number of its subjects. Euripides solved the pro-
blem partly by realism, partly by antiquarianism. He
presented the hero as a man, reflecting the mind as
well as speaking the dialect of the day ; and he made
the legend, where he could, illustrate local Attic
tradition. The reason why this treatment failed, so
far as it failed, has not always been accurately stated.
Euripides has sometimes been judged as if his poeti-
cal fault had been in bringing down half-gods to the
level of men and surrounding them with mean and
ludicrous troubles. Probably this notion has been

lo The Genius of Sophocles

strengthened by the scene in the "Acharnians" (the
really pointed criticisms of Aristophanes upon Euri-
pides are to be found elsewhere), in which the needy
citizen calls on Euripides and begs for some of the
rags in which he has been wont to clothe his heroes ;
and the tragic poet tells his servant to look for the
rags of Telephus between those of Thyestes and
those of I no. But the very strength of Euripides
lay in a deep and tender compassion for human
suffering : if he had done nothing worse to his
heroes than to give them rags and crutches, his
power could have kept for them at least the sym-
pathy due to the sordid miseries of men ; he would
only have substituted a severely human for an ideal
pathos. His real fault lay in the admission of
sophistic debate. A drama cannot be an artistic
whole in which the powers supposed to control the
issues of the action represent a given theory of moral
government, while the agents are from time to time
employing the resources of rhetorical logic to prove
that this theory is either false or doubtful.

Between these two contrasted conceptions — the
austere transcendentalism of ^schylus and the
sophistic realism of Euripides — stands the concep-
tion of Sophocles. But Sophocles is far nearer to
i^schylus than to Euripides ; since Sophocles and
^schylus have this affinity, that the art of both is
ideal. The heroic form is in outline almost the
same for Sophocles as for yE^schylus ; but mean-
while there has passed over it such a change as
came over the statue on which the sculptor gazed

The Genius of Sophocles 1 1

until the stone began to kindle with the glow of a
responsive life, and what just now was a blank fault-
lessness of beauty became loveliness warmed by a
human soul. Sophocles lived in the ancestral legends
of Greece otherwise than ^^schylus lived in them,
^schylus felt the grandeur and the terror of their
broadest aspects, their interpretation of the strongest
human impulses, their commentary on problems of
destiny : Sophocles dwelt on their details with the
intent, calm joy of artistic meditation ; believing
their divineness ; finding in them a typical reconcili-
ation of forces which in real life are never absolutely
reconciled — a concord such as the musical instinct
of his nature assured him must be the ultimate law ;
recognizing in them, too, scope for the free exercise
of imagination in moral analysis, without breaking
the bounds of reverence ; for, while these legends
express the conflict between necessity and free-will,
they leave shadowy all that conflict within the man
himself which may precede the determination of the

The heroic persons of the Sophoclean drama are
at once human and ideal. They are made human
by the distinct and continuous portrayal of their
chief feelings, impulses, and motives. Their ideality
is preserved chiefly in two ways. First, the poet
avoids too minute a moral analysis ; and so each
character, while its main tendencies are exhibited,
still remains generic, a type rather than a portrait.
Secondly — and this is of higher moment — the persons
of the drama are ever under the directly manifested.

1 2 The Genius of Sophocles

immediately felt control of the gods and of fate.
There is, indeed, no collision of forces so abrupt as
in y^schylus ; since the ampler unfolding of character
serves to foreshow, and sometimes to delay, the
catastrophe. On the other hand, there is no trace
of that competition between free thought and the
principle of authority which is often so jarring in
the plots of Euripides. In the dramas of Sophocles
there is perfect unity of moral government ; and the
development of human motives, while it heightens
the interest of the action, serves to illustrate the
power of the gods.

The method by which Sophocles thus combines
humanity with idealism may be seen in the cases of
Ajax, of CEdipus, and of Heracles.

Ajax had been deprived of the arms of Achilles
by the award of the Atreidae. The goddess Athene,
whom he had angered by arrogance, had seized the
opportunity of his disappointment and rage to strike
him with madness. In this frenzy he had fallen
upon the flocks and herds of the Greek army on the
plain of Troy, and had butchered or tortured them,
thinking that he was wreaking vengeance on his
enemies. When he comes to his senses, he is over-
powered by a sense of his disgrace, and destroys

The central person of this drama becomes human
in the hands of Sophocles by the natural delineation
of his anguish on the return to sanity. Ajax feels
the new shame added to his repulse as any man of
honour would feel it. At the same time he stands

The Genius of Sophocles 13

above men. An ideal or heroic character is lent to
him, partly by the grandeur with which two feelings
— remorse, and the sense that his dishonour must be
effaced by death — -absolutely predominate over all
other emotions, as over pity for Tecmessa and his
son ; chiefly by his terrible nearness to Athene, as
one whom with her own voice she had once urged
to battle, promising her aid — when, face to face with
her, he vaunted his independence of her, and pro-
voked her anger ; — then, as the blinded victim whom
she, his pretended ally, had stung into the senseless
slaughter — lastly, as the conscious, broken-hearted
sufferer of her chastisement.

In the farewell of Ajax to Tecmessa and the
seamen who had come with him from Salamis to
Troy — a farewell really final, but disguised as
temporary under a sustained (though possibly un-
conscious) irony — the human and the heroic elements
are thus blended : —

"All things the long and countless years first
draw from darkness, then bury from light ; and
nothing is past hope, but there is confusion even for
the dreadful oath and for the stubborn will. For
even I, I once so wondrous firm, like iron in the
dipping felt my keen edge dulled by yon woman's
words ; and I have ruth to leave her a widow with
my foes, and the boy an orphan. But I will go to
the sea-waters and the meadows by the shore, that
in the purging of my stains I may flee the heavy

anger of the goddess Henceforth I shall know

how to yield to the gods and learn to revere the

14 The Genms of Sophocles

Atreidse : they are rulers, so we must submit. Of
course, dread things and things most potent bow to
office. Thus it is that the snow-strewn winters give
place to fruitful summer; and thus Night's weary-
round makes room for Day with her white horses to
kindle light ; and the breath of dreadful winds at last
gives slumber to the groaning sea ; and, like the
rest, almighty Sleep looses whom he has bound, nor
holds with an eternal grasp. And we, shall we not
learn discretion ? I chiefly, for I have newly learned
that our enemy is to be hated but so far as one who
will hereafter be a friend ; and towards a friend
I would wish so far to show aid and service as
knowing that he will not always abide. For to most
men the haven of friendship is false. But all this
will be well. — Woman, go thou within, and pray to
the gods that in all fulness the desires of my heart
may be fulfilled. And do ye, friends, honour my
wishes even as she does, and bid Teucer, when he
come, have care for me and good-will to you as well.
For I will go whither I must pass, — but do ye what
I bid ; and perchance, perchance, though now I
suffer, ye will hear that I have found rest."

The story of QEdipus is more complex ; alterna-
tions of alarm and relief, of confidence and despair,
attend the gradual unravelling of his history ; the
miseries which crowd upon him at the last discovery
seem to exhaust the possibilities of sorrow. A
character so variously tried is necessarily laid open ;
and CEdipus is perhaps the best known to us of
all the persons of Sophocles, Antigone, Electra,

The Genius of Sophocles 15

Philoctetes are not less human ; but no such glare
of lightning flashes in the depths of their natures.
At the opening of the play how perfect an embodiment

Online LibraryRichard Claverhouse JebbEssays and addresses → online text (page 1 of 43)