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stranger within her gates. In the days of Euripides, a resident in Athens might in one week assist at a solemn religious festival; at the performance of plays that for more than two thousand years were unsurpassed; might listen in the Odeum to music worthy of the verse to which it was wedded; might watch in the Great Harbour the war-galleys making ready for the next foray on the Lacedaemonian coast, or the heavy-armed infantry training for their next encounter with Spartan or Theban phalanx. In the intervals of these mimic or serious spectacles, he could study the works of the most consummate artists the earth has ever produced; gaze in the gymnasium on living beauty, grace, and strength; or, if meditatively given, could hear Prodicus and Protagoras in their lecture-rooms, or Socrates in the market-place, discoursing upon "divine philosophy." If he were in any way remarkable for worth or ability, the saloons of Pericles, Mcias, or Glaucon were not closed against him by any idle ceremonies of good introductions, fine clothes, or long pedigrees. Athens, it is well said by Milton, was "native or hospitable to famous wits." And though he had not "three white luces on his coat," nor any coat of arms at all, he was " a gentleman born." His heraldry was the belief that before a Dorian set foot in Peloponnesus, or a tribe of Persian mountaineers had vanquished the Assyrian or the Mede, his forefathers had established themselves in Attica, and taken part in the Trojan war. All other Greek communities, with the single exception of the Arcadians and Achaeans—poor bucolical folks then, but destined a century later to hold a prominent place in Greece— were in comparison with the Athenian the creatures of yesterday. One Attic king had been the friend of Hercules, and so was coeval with the Argonauts: and even Theseus had his royal predecessors. And if the Athenian studied the national chronicles, or listened by the winter fireside to the stories of old times, he did not blush for his progenitors. They had ever been redressers of wrongs, harbourers of the exile, hospitable to the stranger; and their virtues supplied Euripides with themes for several of his plays.
The poet, who had watched the growth of his native city, witnessed also the rapid extension of its empire. When Euripides was in his boyhood, Athens was but a secondary power in Hellas ;—inferior to Corinth in wealth and commercial enterprise; to Sparta in war and the number of its allies. In his twenty-sixth year—the year in which he exhibited his first play— Athens had become the head of a league far more powerful than the confederacy which the " king of men" led to the siege of Troy. She stepped into the place which the proud, selfish, and custom-bound Spartan had abandoned. An active democracy eclipsed a sullen and ceremonious oligarchy; and although the Dorian in the end prevailed, it was partly owing to Persian gold that he did so, and partly because the Ionian city had squandered her strength, as France so often has done, in unjustifiable and prodigal wars. At all times, and especially while the " breed of noble blood " flowed in her veins—while to be just as Aristides, chivalrous as Cimon, temperate in the execution of high office as Pericles, continued to be accounted virtues—Athens held, and deserved to hold, her supremacy. Proud, and justly so, were her sons of their beautiful city. The tribute paid to her by the allies for protecting them from the Persian was fairly expended upon the maintenance of the fleet and the encouragement of art. Her citizens were, and felt themselves to be, in the van of Greek cultivation. They hailed with applause the praises addressed to them by the dramatic poets—and the praises were no idle flattery. Was it not a truth that, had it not been for the Athenians, northern Greece would have given earth and water to the Persian envoys, and Peloponnesus have selfishly abandoned the sea to the Phoenician galleys 1 True also, that but for the Athenians, "dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed" might have been seen in the citadels of Corinth and Thebes? Of a city that had so well deserved of every state, insular or on the mainland, where Greek was spoken, the most appropriate ornaments were the triumphs of the artist. Eightfully proud were the Athenians of their beautiful city; as rightfully employed were the pens of poets in giving these monuments perpetual fame.
With history, direct or indirect, before us, it may be possible to describe, or at least divine, the spectacle presented at the Dionysiac theatre when Sophocles or Euripides brought out a new play. The audience consisted of nearly as many elements as, centuries later, were to crowd and elbow one another in the vast space of the Eoman Colosseum. The lowest and best seats, those nearest the orchestra, were reserved for men of mark and dignity, for the judges who would award the prizes, for sage, grave members of the Areopagus, for archons in office, or for those who had already held office, for soldiers "famoused in fight," for ambassadors from Greek or foreign lands, for all who had some claim to precedence from their rank or their services to the commonwealth. Women were admitted to the tragedies at least, boys as well as men to all performances; even slaves were permitted to be present. The women, by Greek usage secluded at home, were probably assigned a particular apartment in the playhouse; the boys were perhaps of use, as often as an unpopular competitor for the crown tried his fortune once more; and possibly Euripides may have occasionally regretted the presence of these youthful censors. No registered citizen could plead poverty as a reason for not witnessing these theatrical contests; if he had not money in his purse, the state paid for his ticket of admission. To foreigners were commonly allotted the back seats; but so many mechanical devices were employed for the conveyance of sound, that unless a sitter in the gallery were hard of hearing, he could probably catch every line of the choral chant or the recitative of the dialogue. Nor might shortsighted people be quite forlorn; he was pitiable indeed who could not discern, vast as was the space between himself and the stage, the colossal actors mounted on their high boots, and raised by their tall head-dress above ordinary mortal stature. A purblind stranger might perchance regret that he could not distinguish in the stalls bald-headed Nicias from the long-haired Alcibiades; and that although Socrates was certainly in the house he could not identify him among a batch of ugly fellows, with whom, he was told, the celebrated street-preacher was sitting.
The gallery in which foreigners sat is perhaps the most interesting feature of the audience to English readers—interesting, because it represented the various members of the Athenian empire, as well as of the Hellenic race. A merchant whose warehouse was near the Pillars of Hercules, would find himself seated beside one who had brought a cargo of wheat from Sinope, on the Euxine Sea. A hybrid—half-Greek, half-Egyptian—of Canopus, would have on his right hand a tent-maker from Tarsus, on his left a Thessalian bullock-drover. The "broad Scotch " of the Greeks— the Dorian patois—would be spoken by a group of spectators in front of him; while a softer dialect than even the Attic, pure Ionic, was used by a party of islanders behind him. "What gorgeously - attired personage is that on your left?" "A Tyrian merchant, rich enough to buy up any street in Athens—a prince in his own city, a suitor here. He has come on law business; and although at home he struts like any peacock, here he is obliged to salute any ragged rascal in the streets who may be a juror when his cause is heard. To my certain knowledge, the great emerald column in the temple of Melcarth, at Tyre, is mortgaged to him." "And who is that queerly-dressed man a little beyond the Tyrian? By his garb and short petticoat I should take him for a Scythian policeman,* but he has not the * Scythian bowmen were the gendarmes of Athens.
A. C. vol. xiL B