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that rendered contact between poets and philosophers almost unavoidable. The rapid growth of speculative and rhetorical studies in the age, and perhaps with the sanction, of Pericles, has already been noticed. The understanding, hardly affected by the simple training of the young in the iEschylean period, had become, fifty years later, the primary aim of liberal education. He who could recite the whole Iliad or Odyssey was now looked upon, when compared with an acute rhetorician, as little better than a busy idler—all very well, perhaps, for enlivening the guests at a formal supper, or entertaining a loitering group in the streets. Even fools have sometimes portentous memories, but no fool could handle adroitly the weapons of a sound logician. Man was born to be something better than a parrot; he was meant to cultivate and to use "discourse of reason." To argue logically upon almost any premises,— to have words at command, to be ready in reply, fertile in objection, averse from granting propositions, to possess much general knowledge, were accomplishments which no well-educated young Athenian, aspiring to make a figure in public, could do without. The imaginative epoch of iEschylus was departing, the scientific epoch of Aristotle was approaching, and the analytical stamp of Euripides's mind, great as its poetical force was, complied with those tendencies of the time.
In thus reflecting the spirit of the age, Euripides only did what others before him had done, and what great poets will ever continue to do:—
"In ancient days the name
the genuine poet being always in advance of his fellow-men, and therefore frequently misunderstood or undervalued by them. The era of Dante is as deeply stamped, both on his prose and verse, as if he had designed to portray it. He belonged partly to a period that was passing away, and partly to one that was near at hand. Trained in the lore of the schoolmen, he has something in common with Duns Scotus and the Master of Sentences; while by his homage to Virgil and Statius, he anticipated in his tastes the revival of classical literature. Milton, affected by the influence of Jonson and Fletcher, composed in his youth a masque and songs of Arcady; in his mature manhood, the serious and severe Independent is manifest in all he wrote. Schiller is the herald of a revolutionary period, impatient of and discontented with the present. Pope, in his moral essays and satires, represents a time when sense and decorum ranked among the cardinal virtues, and when loftier and more robust forms of imagination or faith were accounted extravagances. To this general law Euripides was no exception. He went before them, and so was misinterpreted by many among whom he lived. Within half a century after his death, his name stood foremost on the roll of Greek dramatic poets. If not a deeper, a more genial spirit—a spirit we constantly meet with in Euripidean plays—had superseded the grim theology of the Marathonian period; stage-poetry was indeed shorn of some of its grandeur, but it gained, in recompense for what it lost, profounder human feelings.
That the Athenian theatre was not only a national but a religious institution, and to what extent and in what particulars it was so, has already been told in the volume of this series assigned to iEschylus. There had been, however, after the Persian had been humbled and Hellas secured and exalted, a silent change in the faith of the Athenian people, as well as in their mental training. As years rolled on over their renovated city, though the forms of their myths and legends were retained, living belief in them was on the wane. They were accepted as respectable traditions, and when they recorded the brave deeds of their forefathers, were jealously cherished, but no longer regarded with awe, or exempted from innovation. In the time of Euripides, there had appeared an historian, or perhaps more properly a chronicler—a man of much faith and honest piety, and yet one who scrupled not to canvass the credibility of tale and tradition, and sometimes even to find a secular explanation for spiritual doctrines. Herodotus, as well as Euripides, was under the influence of the age, though he usually apologises for his doubts. Yet doubt he did. The Father of History, no less than the pupil of Anaxagoras, disbelieved in the baneful effects of an eclipse, and had, for his time, very fair notions of geography; and if he thought that the gods envy human greatness, and sooner or later punish the pride of man, his faith, as contrasted with that of Phrynicus and iEschylus, was feeble, and his view of Destiny and the Benign Deities savoured more of habit than earnest conviction. In such matters the beginning of distrust is the dawn of a rationalistic epoch. The ancient faith of the Athenians in the names and acts of their founders is on a par with that in the once accredited tale of Brutus and other Trojans settling in Britain; or of Joseph of Arimathea planting the first shoot of the holy thorn at Glastonbury. Joseph and Brutus, like Cecrops and Erectheus, have vanished from history, and nothing except the genius of a poet could recall from the shades and clothe with living interest King Arthur and the Knights of the Bound Table. Eeaders will perhaps pardon a short digression, if it tend to throw light on the dramatic art of Euripides, when contrasted with that of iEschylus; or rather, on a change that took place in the taste of their respective audiences.
The story of Orestes, in the handling of which .iEschylus and Sophocles stand farthest apart from Euripides, is chosen as perhaps the most striking instance of the struggle between old faith and new rationalism, as exhibited in the Athenian drama. To the elder of these poets the symbolisms of the legend were perfectly clear. Apollo, a purifying and avenging god, prescribes the duty and the mode of retribution, and protects the avengers of blood. After the command has been issued to visit the death of Agamemnon on his murderers, Pylades, in the legend, though almost a mute person in the drama, is Apollo's principal agent in nerving Orestes to the execution of his dreadful task. Pylades was a Crisean by descent. Now, from the Homeric hymn to Apollo, it appears that the original Pythian temple was in the domain of the town of Crisa. At Crisa Orestes dwelt as an exile; and it is from that town that, accompanied by his monitor, the destined avenger set forth on his errand to Mycenae. The near connection between Pylades and Apollo is implied also in the belief that he was the founder of the Amphictyonic Council which was held at Delphi In the "Eumenides" he does not appear- his function ceased when, in the "Libation Bearers," Clytemnestra and her paramour had paid the penalty of their crime: but in the latter play, it is the reproach of Pylades which screws to the stickingpoint the failing courage of Orestes.
Sophocles had studied the same old legend. In his "Electra," the bearer of the false intelligence that Orestes has been killed in the chariot-race at the Pythian games reports himself as sent by Phanoteus, the Phocian, a friend of Clytemnestra, and so a likely person to apprise her that she need no longer live in dread of her son. Now this Phanoteus is no other than a foe, though a brother, of Crisus, the father of Strophius, and grandfather of Pylades. Like Orosmanes and Ahriman, the brothers—Strophius and Phanoteus—dwelt in hostile regions: the former in the bright and cheerful city of Crisa, where the sungod had his first temple; the latter in another Crisa, a dark and dreary spot, where Apollo's enemies, giants or gigantic warriors — Tityus, Autolycus, Phorbas, and the Phlegyans—had their abode. Agamemnon's children accordingly look to Strophius for the coming avenger; JJgisthus and Clytemnestra to Phanoteus for timely warning of his approach.*
* These remarks on the symbolism in the Orestean legend are