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Far more pleasant is it to know that Sophocles was deeply affected by his death, and in the next play he produced forbade the actors to wear crowns or their usual gorgeous dresses. The Athenians were prone to unavailing regret. Often they would say in their haste, "We are betrayed," and banish or put to death men who had served them well. Socrates had not been dead many years, before, with "woe that too late repented," they acknowledged having condemned a just man, and turned rabidly on his accusers for misleading them. And so, when Euripides was no more, they sent envoys to Pella to bring home his remains. But his host Archelaus would not part with them, and buried them with much pomp and circumstance; and his countrymen were fain to content themselves with a cenotaph on the road from Peirasus to the city, and with a bust or statue of the poet, which they placed in the Dionysiac theatre. They,
"Slowly wise and meanly just, To buried merit raised the tardy bust;"
and they were not the first, nor will they be the last, of nations, to imagine posthumous homage compensation for years of detraction. Books or furniture that had belonged to Euripides were much sought for and highly prized by their possessors; and Dionysius of Syracuse, himself a dramatic poet, and not an unsuccessful one, purchased at a high price his tablets and pen, and dedicated them in the Temple of the Muses in his own capital. "They kept his bones in Arqua;" and there was seemingly, for centuries after lie was quietly inurned, a deep interest, and even a tender sentiment, attached to his tomb. It was situated near the confluence of two rivers, where there appears to have been a house or caravansary, at which travellers refreshed themselves, attracted by the purity of the air. Of the rivers, one was noted for the unwholesome character of its water.* From another account it may be inferred that the tomb was much visited, even if pilgrimages were not made to it.t
On his cenotaph was graven the following inscription :—
"To Hellas' bard all Hellas gives a tomb:
Whom now all praise and all in common weep." X
These lines, attributed to Thucydides the historian, or to Timotheus the musician, are difficult to reconcile with the caricature-portraits of him by Aristophanes; yet are consistent with the opinion that it was the conservative party in Athens, and not Athenians generally, that were hostile to him in life, or to the memory of—
"Our Euripides, the human,
With his droppings of warm tears,
In one thing he was happier than Sophocles—" op
* Vitruvius, viii. c. 3, 'Mortifera.' + Ammianus, xxvii. c. 4. t Translated by Mr Paley. § Browning, 'Balaustion.' A. c. vol. xii. D portunitate mortis"—in the priority of his death; since he lived not, as his great rival did, long enough to hear of the sentence passed on the victorious generals at Arginusae, of the capture of the Athenian fleet at the Goat Eiver, and of the utter, hopeless, irretrievable ruin of the city he had celebrated so often in immortal verse, admonished so wisely, and loved so well.
THE SCENIC PHILOSOPHER.
"In all his pieces there is the sweet human voice, the fluttering human heart."—Kenelm Digby.
Whether it were devised by friend or foe, the title of "Scenic Philosopher " for Euripides was given by one who had read his writings attentively.* His early studies, his intercourse with Socrates and other philosophers of the time, encouraged in so contemplative a mind as his habits of speculation on human and divine nature, and on such physical science as then existed. And as regarded dramatic composition, he was the first to bring philosophy on the stage. The sublime and gloomy genius of ^schylus was far more active than contemplative. His sentences are masses of concrete thought, when he descends from mere passion or imagination. Such inquiries as occupied Euripides appeared to him, as they did to Aristophanes, profane, or at the best idle, curiosity.
* It appears as an accepted title in Vitruvius's work on Architecture, book viii.
To iEschylus, the new rulers of Olympus, and the Titans they supplanted, were persons as real as Miltiades or Themistocles. To him, Olympus was but a yet more august court of Areopagus, and Fates and Furies were dread realities, not metaphysical abstractions. Sophocles lived for art: in his devotion to it, and in the unruffled calmness of his temper, he was an Hellenic Goethe; one, the central fire of whose genius, while it glowed under all he wrote, rarely disturbed the equanimity of his spirit. Moral or theological problems vexed him not. He cared not for the physics of Anaxagoras. Protagoras's sceptical disquisitions touched him no nearer than Galileo's discoveries touched Shakespeare, or Hume's Essays Samuel Johnson. The Jupiter of Sophocles was the Jupiter of Phidias; his Pallas Athene, the living counterpart of her image on the Acropolis. In abstaining from such questions, he and iEschylus were perhaps wiser than Euripides—considered as an artist —was in his fondness for them. Had Shakespeare been deeply versed in Eoger Bacon's works, or in those of Aquinas, his plays would not have been better, and might have been worse, for such physical or metaphysical studies. Entertainments of the stage are meant for the many rather than for the few; and subjects that the many, if they listen to them at all, can scarcely fail to misinterpret, it is safer, as well as more artistic, to avoid.
There were, however, at the time when Euripides was writing for the theatre, especially after he had passed middle age, changes silently at work in Athens