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and vindictive, only uses his punishment of exile to devise further crimes, his repentance for his unfilial conduct to his father is not genuine, and his heart is still poisoned with ambition and revenge, so that when stricken by his father's awful curse, he rushes in despair upon his doom. The scene is not without harshness: the old man's curses are like those of Lear, violent from his feeling of long impotence; but this flaw, if flaw it be, is redeemed by the majesty of his solemn translation to the nether world.

The treatment of the chorus is marked by a curious inconsistency; or rather, by the clear assertion that while they act and think as common old men of Colonus, their choral odes are those of the poet speaking for himself. In their conduct, the chorus of this play show the vulgarities of common life: they treat Edipus, when they find him in the sacred grove, with cowardice, rudeness, want of faith, unmannerly disgust, and indecent curiosity. They are only courteous and kind to him in the presence of Theseus, or when they have learned that it is their interest to have him there. But when they sing their great interludes, the choral odes, they abandon all this poor personality, and philosophize upon the action with a depth and beauty hardly equaled by any other lyrics in the Greek language.



Beyond the common lot who lusts to live,
Nor sets a limit to desire,

Of me no doubtful word shall win

A fool in love with foolishness.

Since long life hath in store for him to know

Full many things drawn nearer unto grief,

And gone from sight all pleasant things that were:
Till fallen on overmuch

Fulfillment of desire,

One only friend he sees can help

A friend who shall come when dawns at last

The day that knows not bridal song
Nor lyre nor dance—that fatal day
Whose equal doom we all abide; -

Shall come kind Death, and make an end!


Not to be born is past disputing best:
And after this, his lot transcends,

Who, seen on earth for briefest while,
Thither returns from whence he came.
For with its fluttering follies all aswarm,

Who needs, while youth abides, go far afield
To heap vexation? What's the missing plague?
Slaughters are here, and strife,

Factions, and wars, and spite;

And still life's crowning ill's to bear,-
Last scene of all, of all condemned:
Unfriended, uncompanioned Age,

When strength is gone, but grief remains,
And every evil that is named,—

Evil of evil, grief of grief.

As now this man, not wretched I alone,—
Lo, like some promontory northward set,
Wave-buffeted by all fierce winds that rave,
So buffet him, nor cease,

Poured on his helpless head,

All shattering billows of outrageous fate;
Some from the setting sun,

And from the rising some,

Some with the mid-noon beam,

Some from the starry shimmerings of the night.

We now come to a play which shows many contrasts to either 'Edipus.' The 'Ajax' is perhaps the simplest in structure of all the extant dramas; but is not therefore to be assumed the earliest, as some critics have done. To me it shows so much of the influence of Euripides, or perhaps we should rather say of the dicastic (litigious) habit of the Athenians of post-Periclean days, that I should place its production late in the poet's life. If a modern dramatist were asked to compose a play on such a subject, - the madness of his hero from disappointed ambition, the carnage of flocks of sheep in mistake for his rivals and umpires, his return to sanity, his consequent despair and suicide, and a quarrel about his funeral,- he would probably feel no small perplexity. Yet Sophocles has composed a justly famous character play upon the story, which he found in the socalled 'Little Iliad' of Lesches. There is no finer psychological picture than the awakening of Ajax from his lunacy, his intense shame, his firm resolve to endure life no longer, his harsh treatment of the tender and loving Tecmessa,- the slave-mother of his boy,- and yet his deep love for her and for his child. Even his suicide is brought upon the stage,-contrary to the habit of the Greeks, who avoided such scenes, and put the recital of them in the mouth of a messenger; but then his dying speech is one of the most remarkable in all Greek tragedy. Not less splendid is that in which he gives his directions before going to meet his death.

Ajax-The long march of the innumerable hours

Brings from the darkness all things to the birth,
And all things born envelops in the night.
What is there that it cannot? Strongest oaths
Of men, and the untempered will, it bends:
As I, who lately seemed so wondrous firm,
See by this woman now my keen edge made -
As steel by dipping - womanish and weak;
So that it pities me among my foes
To leave her widowed, fatherless my child.
Now to the seaside meadows and the baths
I go to purge away my stains, if so
Athene's grievous wrath I may escape.
And I must go and find some spot untrodden,
And hide away this hated sword of mine,
Burying it in the earth where none may see;
Let night and Hades keep it underground.
For from the day I took it in my hand,
From Hector, from my enemy, a gift,

Of Greeks I gat no honor any more;

But soothly says the proverb that men use,

Foes' gifts are no gifts,-no, nor profitable.

Well I shall know henceforth to bow to Heaven,
And the Atreidæ study to revere:

Men must obey their rulers. Nay, how else?
Things most august and mightiest upon earth.
Bow to authority: the winter's storms,
Dense with their driven snow, give place at last
To fruitful summer; and night's weary round
Passes, and dawn's white steeds light up the day;
And blasts of angry winds let sleep again
The groaning sea; and tyrannous sleep withal
Holds not his prey, but looses whom he binds.
Then shall not we learn wisdom, and submit?
And I this lesson I have learnt to-day:
To hate my enemies so much and no more,
As who shall yet be friends; and of a friend
I'll bound my love and service with the thought,
He's not my friend forever. For most men find
A treacherous haven this of fellowship.
But for these things it shall suffice; and thou,
Woman, go in, and pray the gods that all
My heart's desire may be fulfilled in full.
And you, my comrades, honor me with her

Thus praying, and bid Teucer when he comes
Have care of me and all good-will to you.

For I go hence whither I needs must go.

Do ye my bidding; so shall ye hear perchance,
That after all my troubles I am safe.

Then follows a brilliant hyporcheme or dancing ode, to Pan, in delight that Ajax has recovered his senses:—


I tremble, I thrill with longing!

With joy transported, I soar aloft!

O Pan, Pan, Pan, appear!

Come hither, tossed by the sea, O Pan,

From Cyllene's rock-ridge, scourged with snow-
The master in heaven of those that dance!

And unpremeditated measures here,
Nysian or Gnosian, fling with me!
For now on dancing my heart is set,
And far across the Icarian waters,
Lord of Delos, Apollo, come;

Come, plain to see, and partake my mirth
Gracious and kind to the end as now!
Lo, Ares the cloud has lifted;

Despair and dread from our eyes are gone!
Now, now, O Zeus, again

May stainless light of a gracious day
To our swift sea-cleaving ships come nigh;
When Ajax his sorrow again forgets,
And serves the gods with perfect piety,
Pays them their rites and leaves out none.
For all things ever the strong hours quench;
And naught, I'll say, is too hard for saying;
Now when Ajax, so past all hope,
Against the Atreidæ unbends his pride-

Rage and defiance outbreathes no more.

He is for one day, we hear presently from his brother, under the anger of Athene; and if he can weather that day he will be safe. This gives a peculiar pathos to the play, when we reflect how nearly a noble life was saved. But the anger of Athene is hardly justified, beyond the consideration that the gods rule as they please; and here the goddess is shown with those hard and cruel features which we find in Homer's picture.* The Ajax of Sophocles, on the other hand,

*On this I have already commented in my Social Life in Greece.'

is far more refined than the Homeric prototype. He feels himself unjustly treated, and carries the spectator's sympathy wholly with him. The wrangle about his funeral honors between his brother Teucer, who arrives but a moment too late to save him, and the vulgar and heartless Agamemnon and Menelaus, is so disagreeable that we have constantly to remind ourselves of the Attic love of argument, of dispute, of casuistry, to tolerate this part of the drama. Odysseus (Ulysses) for once comes in as the peacemaker; the generous foe, who can respect and honor his fallen enemy. But then he has obtained all his desire,- the easiest moment to be generous. A word must be reserved for Tecmessa; one of the most attractive women in Sophocles, as we possess him. She is one of those slave wives whom the heroes of the Iliad kept in camp to solace their long absence from home. She had passed from the estate of a princess to be the slave mistress of her lord. But she fulfills all her enforced duties with loyalty and tenderness, and with great and womanly affection for both Ajax and his child. She is indeed in many respects as tragic a figure as Ajax; for her disasters have all come upon her without any fault of her own, and in spite of her innocence and loyalty.

Tecmessa - O my lord Ajax, of all things most hard,
Hardest is slavery for men to bear.

And I was daughter of a sire freeborn,

No Phrygian mightier, wealthier none than he;
But now I am a slave. For so the gods,
And so thine arm, had willed it. Therefore now
For I am thine, thy wife, and wish thee well-

I charge thee now by Zeus who guards thy hearth,
And by that couch of thine which I have shared,—
Condemn me not, given over to their hands,
To bear the cruel gibes thy foes shall fling.
Bethink thee, on that day when thou shalt die,
And by that death divorce me, violent hands
On me the Greeks will lay, and we shall live
Henceforth the life of slaves, thy child and I.
And then at me shall some one of my lords
Shoot out sharp words, "Lo ye, the concubine
Of Ajax, who was strongest of the Greeks-
Fallen from what pride, unto what service bound!»
So they will talk. And me such fate will plague;
But shame such talk imports to thee and thine.
Nay, but have pity, and leave not thou thy sire,
So old, so grieved; pity thy mother too,

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