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M S C H Y L U S.




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iE S C H Y L U S.





asO * 331 PEARL 8TRKKT,


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•*The translator has aappuy preserved that algmty ot style
that bold and descriptive imagery, for which the author is Decs
liarly distinguished.*' — Cbiticat, Rrtikw.

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Pkomethius Chained
The Supplicants
The Seven Chiefs against Thbbs*


The Chobphor^ ....

The Fubibs

The Persian ,


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tThe Bditor has ^adly avautsa lumself of the kind pern jssioa
•f Mr. Hasfobd to reprint, and adapt for the English reader, by
the omission of various Greek extracts and references, a portion
•f the learned Essay prefixed to his admirable translation of the
tiganunuum,* which has been recently published by Mr. Murray
ii one volume octavo, with beautiful classical embellishments
For an interesting disq^tion on the state of the Grecian dranu
and the fine arts in the age of Pericles, we must refer the scholai
to the ^ork itself; which will amply repay his perusaL]

* The Agamemnon of JEMch^lus^ traiLslsted from the Greek, illii»
trated by a Dissertation on Grecian Tragedy &o . by John S. HAaroRD,
Esq., D.O.L. F.Il.ft.

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Thb series of compositions included within the
range of Grecian tragedy, form one of the most
delightful walks in the enchanted gardens of clas-
sical literature ; and^at the #une time that they
present models of genuine paUios and of fine writ-
ing, they reflect important light on the supersti-
tions, the prejudices, and the moral feelings of the
Greeks. ^

Tragedy, at its first and original outset, corre-
sponded in no degree with the idea which the word
suggests to a modem ear, for it included nothing
truly dramatic. Its earliest form of celebration
was confined to the simple .object of singing choral
odes, accompanied by music and dancing, at festi'

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vals in honour of Bacchus, at the conclusion of the
vintage. This custom was not confined to the rites
of Bacchus, but was an expression of festal glad-
ness attendant on many of ^e religious ceremonies
of the Greeks. As poetic contests on such occa-
sions were not unusual, it is probable they might
frequently, if not periodically, occur at the Diony-
sian festival ; and that the custom of competing for
a prize might thus, together with the chorus, have
engrailed itself on tragedy.

There is reason to suppose that at these festivals
recitations took place of odes very opposite in their
character : the one, grave and lofty, whence tragedy
originated ; the other, of a licentious and buffo
description, which formed the germ of comedy.
In all countries where the worship of Bacchus pre-
vailed, it was strongly tmctured by that spirit of
licentiousness and sensuality which more or less
disgraced the rites of paganism ; and in this re-
spect the refined Greeks difiered little from neigh-
bouring and less polished nations. The sacrifice
of a goat to Baccl^, whicll formed a part of the
ceremonial, is said to have given birth to the term
" tragedy," rpecyoti^U, signifjdng the goat-song.

Thespis, of whom we know little more than the
name, and who flourished in the age of Solon, added
to the interest created by the choral songs and
dances by introducing an actor, whose office it was
to recite, during the pauses of the chorus, verses ic
honour of any favourite hero, or in celebration of
some popular or ludicrous incident. The face of
the actor was bedaubed with wine-lees, and ihi

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•imple paraph«ma]ia necessary to the exhibition
were conveyed in a wagon : mudi, we presume,
after the fashion of the vagrant showmen who are
in the habit of frequenting our public fairs.

Ignotum TragicaB genus invenisse Camcenae
IMcitur, et plaustris vexisse po^'mata Thespis
Que canerent, agerentque penincti fsecibus ora.

HoR. Art. Poet. 279.

Thespis, inventor of the tra^c art,

Carried his vagrant players in a cart :

High o'er the crowd the mimic tribe appeared,

AikI play'd and sung, with lees of wine besmear'd.


Clemens Alexandrinus and Plutarch have in-
troduced quotations in their works from trtigedies
ascribed to Thespis ; but Bentley, the most learned
as well as most acute of modern critics, has proved,
almost to demonstration^ that these were forgeries
by Heraclides, and that no written drama of Thes-
pis ever existed. The same eminent critic cites the
authority of the Arundel marble, to prove that the
61st Olympiad, B. C. 536, was the date of the first
exhibitions of Thespis; so that there could only
have been about two generations between him and
the battle of Marathon.

Phrynichus is mentioned as a scholar and suc-
cessor of Thespis ; and from the effects ascribed
by Herodotus to one of his tragedies, the subject of
fdiich was the capture of Miletus by the Persians,
it would appear that he was a poet of no ordinary
powers. So deeply affected, says the historian,
was the auditoty by the representation, that they
burst into tears : but the poet, he adds, was fined

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a thousand drachsiffi, for thus vividly reminding
them of a domestic calamity, and the repetition of
the piece was forbidden. To forbid the repetition
of the piece might be sound policy ; but to punish
the poet for thus drawing from the eyes and hearts
of the spectators the noblest homage to its power
which genius can command or desire, appears a
severe enactment, especiaUy on the very soil of
taste and poetry. He was, in fact, achieving the
triumph which Horace has described as the climax
of the poetic art. There is no reason to suppose
that Phrynichus materially advanced the art, or
structure of tragedy, beyond the point at which it
was left by Thespis.

On this simple basis, and with these imperfect
materials, ^schylus conceived and framed the
regular drama, — such, in the main, as it is found in
the works of the greatest poets, who have acquired
in this career the highest reputation. He has Uiere-
fore been justly hailed, by succeeding ages, the father
of tragic, as Homer of epic song.

Time has spared but very scanty particulars of
his life ; yet, such as they are, the record of them
will afford the best opportunity of detailing the
special nature of the improvements which he intro-
duced into the tragic art, as weU as the peculiarities
of his own genius.

Eleusis in Attica gave birth to iBschylus ; ac-
cording to Stanley, in the 63d Olympiad, or about
625 years B. C. His family was noble, and highly
distinguished in many of its branches by the lustre

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of superior talents, and by eminent services rendered
to their country. A traditionary tale, recorded by
P&usanias, asserts, that when a boy he dreamt that
Bacchus appeared to him while he kept guard in a
vineyard, and exhorted him to devote his talents to
tragic composition. Youthftd enthusiasm is pro-
lific of such forms

as wove in fancy's loom,
Float in light vision round the poet's head.

There is therefore nothing improbable in the story.
According to Suidas, he contended for, and won the
tragic prize in his twenty-fiilh year, in competition
with Pratinas and Chserilus; but it is doubtful
whether, at this early period, he had shaken off the
trammels of the Thespian school.^ Pratinas was
the inventor of the satiric drama; a species of
burlesque tragedy, to which the Athenians were ex-
tremely partial, and of which a specimen is preserved
in the Cyclops of Euripides.

The next mention of the poet is in the career of
arms. He fought at Marathon under Miltiades in
his thirty-fiflh year, and so highly distinguished him-
self, as to be one of those to whom the prize of
peculiar valour was assigned* after the termination
of that conflict so glorious to liberty and to Athens.
Two of his brothers, Cynaegirus and Ameinias, whose
bravery had been equally conspicuous, received the

♦ That the grand improvements introduced by ^schylus are
to be referred to a later period, is rendered the more probable
from the assertion of Anstotle, that it was Umg before tra^y
rejected the trochaic tetrameter, and assumed the more dignified
yet colloquial iambic, in the structure of its dklogua

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same honouraUe distbction. He no less signal*
ized himself in the naval action of Salamis, and
in the decisive battle of PlatSBa. In the former
of these conflicts, his brother Ameinias is said to
have acquired peculiar glory, by sinking the vessel
of the Persian admiral.

The era which followed the defeat of Xerxes has
already been designated as the brightest in the
annals of Athens. Placed at the head of the
Grecian confederacy by her valour and her policy,
(he neighbouring maritime states became in general
either her tributaries or dependants ; an enlarged
commerce followed, with wealth and leisure in its
train ; the useful and elegant arts, and the severer
sciences were assiduously cultivated ; and Athens
rose again out of the Persian ashes, at once the
eye and the ornament of Greece. It was at this
period that -Eschylus attained the summit of poet-
ical reputation ; and the tragic contest became, under
his auspices, the favourite popular amusement of the
Athenians. What he achieved has deservedly en-
rolled his name among the illustrious few to whom
the highest honours of genius are assigned. He
invented all those prominent attributes in the struc-
ture, the spirit, and accompaniments of tragedy,
which have raised it, by the suffrages of the greatest
critics, to a rank among the various productions of
poetry, second only in dignity to the epopee. He
not only succeeded in acting on the feelings, and
touching the passions of his auditory by means and
for ends consistent with virtue and propriety, but he
represented the very objects that he described ; he

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ATested them with suitable forms, and placed taem
m such a manner before the spectators as should
realize to their imaginations die images idiich tradi-
tion suggested of the heroes, the sages, and the
deities of Grecian tradition or mythology.

Out of upwards of seventy tragedies which he
composed, seven only have survived the ravages of
time ; so that our actual means of judging of the
extent of his poetical powers are extremely limited,
imong these, however, are some, — the Agamem-
ion,the Seven Chiefs, and the Prometheus, — ^that as
ong as they exist, will never cease to class among
Jie finest productions of human genius. The
strength and energy of fancy with which he con-
ceived his subjects are obvious throughout these
dramas. Homer himself has not more strongly in-
dividualized his Hector, his Ajax, his Achilles, than
iCschylu»his Agamemnon, his Clytemnestra, his
Prometheus. The lyrical inspiration of his cho-
ruses often approaches the sublime of Pindar ; and
Jhe Greek language, nervous, comprehensive, and
iSubtle as it is, can scarcely give full expression to the
compass and eneigy of his thoughts and images.
In pouring forth the ardent emotions of his mind,
recital and narrative are oflen suddenly converted
into picturesque delineation or bold personification.
Perhaps there is no poet, ancient or modem, Shak-
Bpeare and Milton alone excepted, from whose,
writings more striking instances might be cited of
what Horace acutely styles « disjecti membrse poetsB ;"
that is to say, the shreds of sentences, so finely ex-
pressed as to be themselves poetry. The ** vermeil

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tinctured lip,** the " tresses like the mom," of Milton
— " the spirit-stirring drum," " the eye-trained bird,'*
«* the tender leaves of hope," of Shakspeare, are in-
stances of this description ; and may be contrasted
with the ftitX0ecx«f ofi/^Arm j3ff A0(, the ^fj^iSvfi^i tV«T«f
mvhii the $'opvTifaic7oi eti6^p iyrtfiuttHTeci of JEschylus :

Thoughts that breathe, and words that bum.

Though Quintilian has dismissed JEschylus with
too slight a notice, the general suffrage of antiquity
ascribed to him the highest powers of creative ge-
nius. What Aristophanes says of him shall here-
after be cited. Longinus praises in strong terms
the magnificence of his imagery ; and quotes, as an
instance, the well-known description of the sacri-
fice at the commencement of the " Seven Chiefs."
The testimony of Dionysius Halicarnassensis is as
follows : "JEschylus peculiarly excelled in lofliness
of thought, and in a just conception of what con-
stitutes dignity in the delineation of the passions
and manners. His style is wonderfully adorned
by figurative and impressive language ; and he is
very skilful in the invention of words and circum-
stances adapted to his particular purposes."

The judgment of the modems respecting him is

precisely similar. To use the language of a great

poet and able critic,''^ " At his summons, the mys-

' terious and tremendous volume of destiny, in which

are inscribed the doom of gods and men, seemed to

* Sir Walter Scott's Essay on the Pranui.

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display its leaves o£ iron before the appalled spec-
tators ; the more than mortal voices of deities,
Titans, and departed heroes, were heard in awful
conference; Olympus bowed, and its deities de-
scended; earth ya^'ied, and gave up the pale
spectres of the dead, and the yet more undefined
and grisly forms of those infernal deities who struck
horror into the gods themselves. All this could
only be dared and done by a poet of the highest
order ; confident, during that early age of enthu-
siasm, that he addressed an audience prompt to
kindle at the heroic scene which he placed before
them. It followed inmost naturally, from his char-
acter, that the dramas of JEschylus, though full of
terrible interest, should be deficient in grace and
softness ; that his sublime conciseness should de-
viate sometimes into harshness and obscurity ; and
that his plots should appear rude and inartificial
contrasted with those of his successors in the dra
matic art. Still, however, JEiSchylus led not onl;
the way in the noble career of the Grecian drama,
but outstripped, in point of sublimity at least, those
by whom he was followed."

The term ** theatre" suggests to a modem ear the
idea of a building devoted to nocturnal amusement,
blazing with the splendour of innumerable lights,
and replete with objects of the highest excitement.
These ideas must either be dismissed or modified^
in order to form a just notion of the theatres of the
Greeks. They were open to the skies ; the repre-
sentations took place in broad daylight ; and, from
considerations of ptuprioty, no femcde actors were

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allowed. Occasional annoyance must have been
experienced from sudden changes of the weather,
or from radiant sunshine ; but these were possibly
guarded against by contrivances which are not men-
tioned, or an occasional interruption was deemed
by the spectators of little moment, in comparison
of the general delight of inhaling the pure air, and
being fanned by the soft breezes of tiieir delicious
climate. Again, the modem theatre is a scene
solely devoted to pleasure ; nobody goes there wi^
the idea of receiving positive instruction : but tragic
representation among the Greeks was a species of
religious ceremonial, and, as compared with that
of later times, might almost be termed a school of
divinity. It commenced with sacrifice, and the
professed aim of its poets was to render amusement
subordinate to moral instruction. Aristotle ex-
pressly contends for this principle ; and ^schylus
is made, by Aristophanes, to rebuke Euripides se-
verely for its occasional violation.

We will say nothing in this pkce about the
errors of heathen morality, or the grossness of hea-
flien superstition, even in tiieir best forms. We
only assert the fact, that the aim was thus noble,
however imperfect the execution. Hence MittoD,
who, with the exception of the finer tragedies of
Shakspeare,^ justly regarded the modem, hi its
moral character, as a degenerated scion of the an*

* After alluding, in II Penseroso, to the penave grandeur nfl
ancient tragedy, he adds.

And what, though rare^ of later age,
Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.

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cient drama, thus expresses himself with regard to
aSae Greek school : —

^ Tragedy, as it was anciently composed, hath
been ever held die gravest, moralest, and most pro-
fitable of all other poems ; therefore said by Aris-
totle to be of power, by raising pity and fear, or
terror, to purge the mind of these and such like
passions; that is, to temper and reduce them to
just measure, with a kind of delight, stirred up by
readmg or seeing those passions well imitated.
Hence philosof^ers, and other gravest writers, as
Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of
tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their dis-
course. This is mentioned to vindicate tragedy
firom the small esteem, or rather in&my, which, in
flie account of many, it undergoes at this day, with
odier common interludes."

Milton, in composing tragedy, strictly adhered to
the ancient models; and the Samson Agonistes,
though defective in dramatic action, is a noble
monument of his successful rivalry of their style
and spirit

Tragedy^ under Thespis, it has already been said,
was nothkig more than the recitation, by a single
actor, of the exploits or adventures of some real or
fabulous hero or heroes, which relieved, at intervals,
the monotony of the chorus. By the introduction
of two, and, occasionally, of more persons of the
drama,^ and by assigning to each a distinct part,

♦ It has been a favourite hypothesis with writers on the an-
cient drama, that Sophocles was the first person who introduced
a third actor. But a little reflection on the incidents of tha

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m, £88AT ON

JEschylus gave the representation of a varied and
continuous action, accompanied by all die animatioA
of dialogue, and excitive of those peculiar emotions
which the semblance of reality produces on the
imagination. The illusion of appropriate, though
not moveable scenery was added, in giving efiect to
which the poet availed himself of the assistance of
dbtinguished artists. In diis particular Sophocles,
according to Aristotle, greatly improved on the in-
ventions of his predecessor, yet it is obvious that
the machinery necessary to give effect to some of
the scenes in the existing dramas of ^schylus re-
quired no ordinary degree of ingenuity and invention.
The Prometheus, for example, demanded consider-
able exertion, both of pictorial and mechanical skilL
The eye of the spectator was to rest on the scenery
of a savage and rocky eminence on the bosom of
the trackless deep, to which the giant rebel was
chained : the chorus oi sea-nymphs, who visit and
condole with him, were introduced as if wafled in
a winged chariot ; and old Oceanus, who followed
them, made his entrie on what seemed a flying steed,
or, as the scholiast will have it, a griffin. These
particulars are not merely to be inferred from the

Agamemnon renders it next to certain that three, at least, were
occasionally resorted to by ^schylus. How could it be other
wise, for instance, where Agamemnon presents Cassandra to
Clytemnestra, and commends her to her kindness ? On this
pomt the authority of Bentley may be regarded as conclusive,
"-^schylus," he says, "is generally reported as the inventor of
the second actor ; and yet several believed &at afterward he
invented, too, the third actor ; for, in the making of sovei^-five
tragedies, he had time enough to in^rove forther on hia fint
model."— BmtUy's PhalarUy p. 240.

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incidents of the piece, but are confirmed by the
authority of Aristophanes ; who alludes in the
Frogs, with much humour, to the introduction, by
^schyhis, of these and similar mysterious beings
in his dramas. Agatharcus, a painter, is mentioned
by Yitruvius as having rendered the poet important
aid in these contrivances.

The ancient tragedies were not thus usually
fraught with the marvellous, and the requisite
scenery was extremely simple. The outside of a
temple, a mansion, or a palace, or the interior
court of either, sufficed for the greater part of the
incidents introduced into these compositions. The
privacy in which the Greek women lived, forbade
the representation of the interior apartments of
houses, and thus excluded from the ancient drama
those scenes of amatory intrigue which supply the
modem stage with so much dangerous, and often
pernicious excitement.

Much taste was displayed by JEschylus in the
drapery of his performers; which, according to
AthensBus, was arranged with such elegance, and at
the same time with such attention to propriety,
as to have furnished models for improving the
habits of the ministers of religion. Vulgarity and
grossness had probably marked their gait and attire
under Thespis. Horace alludes to this reform,
and to the general dignity now impressed on tra-

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