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yellow hair and blue eyes of those gentry." "That, sir, is a Gaul from Massilia; he is on his road to Bithynia, where the satrap Pharnabazus, I think his name is, is offering good pay to western soldiers—and where there is gold there also is sure to be a Gaul. The fellow speaks Greek fairly well, for he was for some time in a Massilian counting-house, his mother being a Greek woman." We should tire our readers' patience long before we exhausted the portraits of sitters in the strangers' gallery in the Dionysiac theatre; and it is only due to the Athenian portion of the audience to turn for a few moments to them. ,
Samuel Johnson could not conceive there could be "livers out of" London; or that a people ignorant of printing could be other than barbarous. Had he been as well acquainted with Greek as he was with some portions of Latin literature, he might have found cause for altering his opinion. The Athenians were not in general book-learned, but such knowledge as can be obtained by the eye and the ear they possessed abundantly; and the thirty thousand registered citizens, to say nothing of resident aliens, were better informed than an equal number of average Londoners are at the present time. In the rows of the theatre, as on the benches of the Pnyx,* might be seen men who, if judged by their apparel, would have been set down for paupers, if not street-Arabs; and yet these shabby folk were able to correct orators who mis
* The Pnyx was the place where the people of Athens assembled to hear political debates—in fact, their House of Parliament.
pronounced a word, singers when out of tune, and actors who tripped in their delivery of dialogue. Their moral sense, indeed, was not on a level with their taste and shrewd understandings: yet we shall have to record more than one instance of their calling Euripides to account for opinions which they deemed unwholesome, or for innovations which they regarded as needless departures from established custom. It may be doubted whether they were a very patient audience. They seem to have had little scruple in expressing their approbation or disapprobation, as well of the poet as the actor; and their mode of doing so was sometimes very rough, inasmuch as, besides hissing and hooting at them strenuously, they pelted bad or unpopular actors with stones.
The varied appearance of the spectators on the higher benches did not extend to the lower ones, which the citizens proper occupied. Fops and dandies there were in the wealthy classes, and especially among the immediate followers of Alcibiades, or those who aped their extravagances. But generally no democrat brooked ^in a brother democrat display or singularity. A house better than ordinary, or fine raiment, were considered marks of an oligarchic disposition; and the owner of such gauds, if he aspired to public office, was pretty sure to have them cast in his teeth at the hustings. But sobriety in raiment, in dwelling, or equipage, did not abate the vivacious spirit of the Ionians of the west. When offended or wearied by a play, they employed all the artillery of displeasure against the spectators as well as the performers. Sometimes au unpopular citizen attracted notice; and then the wit at his expense flowed fast and furious, as it occasionally does now from a Dublin gallery. Were there a hole in his coat, it was likely to be mentioned with "additional particulars :" if he had ever gone through the bankruptcy court, it was not forgotten: swindling or perjury were joyfully commemorated: still more so any current rumours about poisoning a wife, a rich uncle, troublesome stepsons, wards, mothers-in-law, and other family inconveniences.
Such were the audiences who sat in judgment on the great drama of the ancient world. It may be probably conjectured that Euripides found more favour with the resident aliens and the visitors from foreign parts than with the born citizens. To these, his somewhat arbitrary treatment of old legends—his familiar dealing with, or perhaps humanising of, the Hellenic deities, his softening of the terrors of destiny, his modification of the songs and functions of the Chorus, and other deviations from the ancient severity of dramatic art—would give little, if any, offence. For such spectators the dooms hanging over Argive or Theban royal houses would have but little interest. Their forefathers had taken no part in the quarrel between Eteocles and Polynices, cared little for the authority of the Areopagus, had local deities and myths of their own, among whom were not reckoned Pallas Athene, Apollo, or the Virgin Huntress. To the foreigner, that triumphal song, the "Persians" of ^Eschylus, and his "Prometheus," were perhaps more welcome than his Orestean trilogy. The fables of these plays were common and catholic to the whole Hellenic world. The friend and protector of mankind, the long-suffering Titan, touched chords in the heart of a Greek spectator, whether he drank the water of the Meander or that of the fountain of Arethusa. The flight of Xerxes and the humiliation of the Mede were the story of his own deliverance from the dread or oppression of the great king. Even the tragi-comedy of Euripides might be more agreeable to him than the sombre grandeur of iEschylus, or the serene and perfect art of Sophocles.
But to the purely Athenian portion the innovations of Euripides were less acceptable. If we are to judge by the number of prizes he gained, at no period of his career was he so popular as Sophocles. He was rather a favourite with a party than with the Athenian public. In some respects the restless democracy was very conservative in its taste. The deeds of its forefathers it associated with Achaean legends: the gods of the commonwealth, although it laughed heartily at them when travestied by the comic poets, still were held to be the rightful tenants of Olympus; whereas the Euripidean deities were either ordinary men and women, or "airy nothings," without any "local habitation." Marriage-vows, again, were not very strictly kept by Athenian husbands, yet they did not approve of questionable connections, and thought that Euripides abused poetic licence when he made use of them in his dramas. Moreover, there may have been something in his habits unpalatable to them: he lived apart; conversed with few; cared not for news; held strange opinions, as will be seen presently, about women and slaves, wits and politicians; was no "masker or reveller;" and, in short, took no pains to make himself publicly or privately agreeable. Englishmen are devout worshippers of public opinion, as it is conveyed through the press. Athenians, without a press, were quite as subservient to their leaders in opinion. They liked not eccentricity, or even the show of pride. In a few cases, indeed, they condoned apparent neglect: Pericles, who rarely went among them unless weighty matters were in hand, they pardoned for his good services to democracy; the grave and tristful visage of Demosthenes, who was rarely seen to smile, they overlooked in consideration of his stirring appeals to their patriotic feelings; but they could not pardon a man who sought fame, if not money, by his plays, for being uncivil to playgoers. And little civility they got from him, beyond a few compliments to their sires or their city.
A very heterogeneous mass were these unofficial judges of dramatic poets. Between twenty and thirty thousand spectators could be assembled in the theatre of Bacchus. Beyond the seats occupied by privileged persons, and below those allotted to strangers, sat the sovereign people. The war party and the peace party were not separated by barriers. Aristophanes might be next to Lamachus, and the tanner Anytus next to barefooted Socrates. Government contractors, enriched by the war, were mixed up with farmers who