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ov, a contrivance to imitate the rumbling of thunder, * -the Keραυνοσκοπείον, whence artificial lightnings were darted along the scenic clouds.

Everything in the actual presentation of the pieces was in a style of extravagance and exaggeration wbich must have rendered the most consummate art necessary to produce an illusion. It is evident, however, from the effect, that that illusion was perfect. It was, of course, aided by the very circumstance which rendered it necessary, the vast dimensions of the theatre, which removed a portion of the spectators to a distance of three hundred feet from the stage. The person of the actor was raised to heroic stature by the cothurnus, and amplified to heroic dimensions by the Kólnoua or stuffing, which enveloped his limbs. The masks, which were an invariable appendage of the representation, were formed and painted with exquisite skill, and are said to have expressed, with astonishing accuracy, the peculiarities of age, sex and rank. The voice of the actor was not only brought to the highest pitch of strength and clearness by perpetual exercise and a rigid diet, but was further aided by a mouth-piece inserted in the mask and by brazen vessels fitted in the intervals (or, as Vitruvius affirms,) under the seats of the theatre. The chorus was sung, throughout, with instrumental accompaniment. The scenes appear to have been partly sung and partly declaimed. The singing was accompanied by the flute, the declamation by the lyre ; this accompaniment was doubtless of a very simple character, designed, principally, to direct and sustain the voice of the actor.

The histrionic profession was amply rewarded and held in high honor at Athens, and was not attended with degradation in any respect. On the contrary, distinguished actors were sometimes sent as ambassadors to foreign states. The professional actors appear, however, to have been regarded as a licentious and dissipated class by the philosophers and moralists of the age.

The moral tendency of the Greek drama opens to us a vast field of thought. That its moral influence was extensive and powerful beyond that of any other mental production of the age, cannot be doubted, when we reflect that Athens, its favorite seat, was the intellectual centre of the world—that the festivals, at which dramatic pieces were presented, were attended by a concourse of foreigners of the highest rank and character, from all

This was effected by dropping stones from a great height into a vast brazen vessel, rolling them along plates of copper, etc.

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the civilized nations—that the drama was osten attended by an auditory of thirty thousand, and was impressed on this vast mass of mind by a representation of unparalleled vividness and magnificence.

A single incident related by Plutarch may give us some idea of the extent to which the great dramatists of Greece were known and their influence felt, even during their own age. We quote his own words, which occur near the end of the life of Nicias, after his description of the disastrous defeat and capture of the Athenian army in Sicily :

“Some of the prisoners owed their preservation to Euripides. Of all the Grecians, his was the muse with whom the Sicilians were most in love. From every stranger that landed in their island, they gleaned every small specimen or portion of his works and communicated it with pleasure to each other. It is said that, on this occasion, a number of Athenians, upon their return home, went to Euripides, and thanked bim in the most respectful manner for their obligations to his pen; some having been enfranchised for teaching their masters what they remembered of his poems, and others having got refreshments when they were wandering about after the battle, for singing a few of his verses. Nor is this to be wondered at, since they tell us that when a ship from Caunus, which happened to be pursued by pirates, was going to take shelter in one of their ports, the Sicilians at first refused to admit ber; upon asking the crew whether they knew any verses of Euripides, and being answered in the allirmative, they received both them and their vessel."

Such was the power of a living Athenian dramatist over the rude mariners and common people of Sicily! Plutarch also relates in his life of Lysander, that when that general with the confederate Greeks, had taken and was about to sack the city of Athens, a few verses of a chorus of Euripides, sung by a minstrel, so affected himself and his associates, that they determined to spare it. Such facts as these suggest that we may easily underrate the influence of literary works before the discovery of the art of printing. Though they were not multiplied by the prodigious fecundity of the press, they were diffused by the living voice and preserved in the living memory, and their influence on this very account, was probably deeper and more pervading.

of the moral character and tendency of Greek comedy, enough was said in the course of our sketch of the history of that branch of the drama. Our present remarks will therefore have reference principally to tragedy.

How evident, from the most superficial view, that its whole power was concentrated upon those already too active and inflammatory elements of our being—the passions ! Here, in fact, lies the secret of its tremendous danger, its in variable perversion. Good men have thought that the stage might be made a school of virtue ; though no one has gone so far as to assert that it is, or ever has been so. But we venture to assert, that from the very nature of the case, and for the above mentioned reason, the acted drama never can become so. Accompanied by those associations which have ever clustered around it, it gives a dangerous preponderance to sense and passion ;-divest it of these, and you strip it of its attractions. The mask, the dance, the song, farces, and pantomimes have formed the cortege of the tragic muse—and what was the end of all this apparatus of exciting decoration, but to dazzle the senses and inflame the passions ?

If we examine all the tragedies which have been written from the age of Æschylus to the present time, we cannot avoid the conclusion that their object is not instruction, not reformation, but effect. For this purpose, the subjects of ancient tragedy were selected from those who had occupied an almost superbuman elevation, whose downfall therefore, would afford the most terrible catastrophe.

Των γάρ μεγάλων αξιοπενθείς
Φήμαι μάλλον κατέχουσιν.-Eurip. Hippol. 1455.

Τα δ' υπερβάλλονή
Μείζoυς δ' άτας όταν οργισθή

Δαίμων, οίκοις απέδωκεν.-Ιd. Med. 127-130. So established was this principle thiat Aristotle lays it down as an example, which has the force of a rule that “the subjects of the best tragedies are confined to a few families,-to Alcmaeon, Orestes, Edipus, Meleager, Thyestes, Telephus, and others of the like rank.” Jeremy Taylor has somewhere in his moral works, assigned as the reason of this, that the ordinary lot of mortals was not liable to those terrible vicissitudes which are necessary to form the catastrophes of tragedy. It was sometimes objected, even by ancient critics, that if tragedy would serve the

purpose of instruction, its scenes must be laid, occasionally at least, in the ordinary walks of life, and must exhibit

the sufferings, duties and temptations, which are incident to the condition of the majority of mankind. But to this it was replied that these were wanting in the interest and power, necessary to tragedy-that they did not appeal, with sufficient force, to those emotions of terror and pity, the excitation of which is its object. It is plain, therefore, that the aim of tragedy is to astonish, to agitate, not to instruct or reform the spectators.

Another proof of this is drawn from the characters in which tragedy delights. It is not the firm, consistent, well balanced man of virtue; but those whose passions are stung to madness by suffering or remorse. It is the aspiring, baffled, tortured and crushed Prometheus,—the maniac Orestes,—the ferocious and vindictive Medea, burning with a demon's passions and wielding a demon's powers of mischief and revenge.

Λέαιναν, ου γυναίκα, της Τυρσηνίδος

Σκύλλης έχουσαν άγριωτέραν φύσιν. Let it not be supposed that we would measure all the productions of the human mind by the standard of their direct utility. That wondrous faculty which sheds such a sunlike brightness and beauty over all the objects of intellection, making them not only visible but refulgent, and bathing them in hues as fancied and beautiful as those of a summer's evening—this wondrous faculty is the gift and inspiration of God, all whose creatures are good and all their spontaneous and unperverted developments lawful and beautiful. The works of the Creator himself are characterized by splendor and vastness, no less than utility. But all this splendor and vastness have an ultimate relation to utility; and to require as much of the inventions and works of the human mind is only to demand that its glorious endowments of intelligence and imagination be not given up to waste and prostitution.

The actual moral influence of the ancient drama may, however, be estimated with precision and certainty from the accounts we possess of its immediate effects on the population of Athens, where the art flourished in its highest perfection,-and from the statements and opinions of the wisest and best of the ancients themselves, on the subject. History has preserved both of these in a sufficient degree, to afford us ample satisfaction ;--and both tend to confirm us in the belief that its influence was, to the last degree, pernicious. We have seen that the theatre at Athens would contain thirty thousand spectators, and was often attended by that number. The citizens, in the most flourishing period, did not exceed twenty-one or twentytwo thousand.* As every citizen of Athens was entitled by a law introduced by Pericles, to free admission to the theatre and to an obolus besides, for the purchase of refreshments, we may fairly infer that the whole body of citizens was included in the theatrical assemblies. While the exhibitions continued, they are said to have diffused a delirious excitement throughout the city. The inhabitants neglected all business, denied themselves sleep, and spent whole days at the theatre, without ever being satiated by the variety of exhibitions. There were many circumstances, however, which tended to check the disorders arising from these powerful excitements. The first and principal check was the upfrequency of dramatic exhibitions. They were only permitted during the three annual festivals of Bacchus. The principal dramatic contests were, in fact, confined to the greater Dionysia, the principal anniversary of Bacchus. They were, also, under the direct inspection and control of the government. They formed, in fact, a part of the administration of state. The government not only bore the entire expense, as we have seen above, but, by officers appointed expressly for the purpose, superintended every part of the preparation and exhibition. Females were not permitted to appear on the stage ; they were, in all cases, personated by actors of the other sex. The wbole number of actors in each tragedy was limited to three ; and the few who were professional actors were not looked upon as a degraded class; they were admitted to the most honorable offices of the state. Nay, the great tragedians themselves, Æschylus, Sophocles and Euripides thought it no degradation to act a part in their own tragedies.

Yet, with all these restrictions, the stage was from the earliest times, an object of alarm and disapprobation to good men. Solon earnestly opposed the innovations of Thespis, as tending not only to improve and elevate the drama, but to increase its fascinations. "If,” said the sage, “we applaud falsehood in our public exhibitions, we shall soon find it in our contracts and agreements.”+ The disapprobation of Socrates was expressed

* These however bore a very small proportion to the entire popu. lation, including natives who were not citizens, foreigners, and above all slaves, who, through almost all Greece, bore an infinite dispropor. tion to the citizens,

+ Plutarch's Solon.

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