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a cheating, lying, and sensual varlet. He may have imbibed from his friend Socrates some of his humane notions on women or slaves, or he may have forestalled them; or, which is quite as possible, have reflected in his dramas a liberal feature of the time fostered alike by the poet and the philosopher.
The feelings of slaves towards a kind and gracious mistress are thus described in the "Alcestis." She, immediately after bidding the last farewell to her children, takes leave of her servants :—
"All of the household servants wept as well,
And again, in the same play, the slave appointed to wait on Hercules thus expresses himself:—
"Neither was it mine
The messenger, a slave, in the "Orestes," thus recounts to Electra his loyalty to her family:—
"Hither I from the country came, and entered
Connected perhaps with his sympathy with women and an oppressed class of men is his practice of bringing on the scene young children. He puts them in situations that cannot fail to have touched the hearts of a susceptible people. In the "Iphigenia in Aulis," the infant Orestes is employed to work on Agamemnon's parental love. The little sons of Alcestis add to the pathos of her parting words. In the "Trojan "Women," a drama of weeping and lamentation nearly "all compact," the fate of Astyanax is the most touching incident. In the "Andromache," the little Molossus is held up by his great-grandsire Peleus in order that he may loosen the cords by which his mother's hands are bound. Maternal love adds a human element to the wild and whirling passion of Medea. Racine, who profoundly studied Euripides, did not neglect this device for producing emotion. In his "Andromaque," Astyanax is made to contribute to the pity of the scene, although the etiquette of the French stage did not permit of his appearing on it. Did this innovation—if it were one— take its rise from a practice not uncommon in the law courts, for defendants to appeal to the mercy of the jurors by exhibiting their wives and children 1 Whether the courts borrowed it from the theatre, or the theatre from the courts, such a display, however foreign to our notions of the sobriety of justice, indicates a kind, if not an equitable, feeling in the audience, and one which the advocate of the slave would share with them.
We must now dismiss the scenic philosopher, trusting that some of the facts, if not the arguments, adduced on his behalf, may prevail with English readers so far as to lead them to take a more favourable view of his character than has been given in some ancient or modern accounts of it. Had he been less philosophic, he would probably have been more successful at the time, and less obvious to critical shafts then and afterwards. Yet that so many of his works should have been preserved, can scarcely have been a mere accident. Some attraction or charm there was in them that touched the heart of Hellas from its eastern to its western border, and so held above water a fourth at least of his writings, when the deluge of barbarism or bigotry swept away so many thousands of Greek dramas, and among them some that had borne off the crown from ^Eschylus or Sophocles. "Sunt lacrimae rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt." The very tenderness of Euripides, though taxed with effeminacy or degradation of art by critics of the Aristophanic school, may have had its influence in the salvage of seventeen plays and fragments of others, exceeding in number the sum of those of both his extant compeers.
Having passed in review the times, the life, and other circumstances relating to Euripides, we may now pass on to a survey of his dramas.
ALCESTIS. — MEDEA.
"She came forth in her bridal robes arrayed,
Partly on account of its being the fourth play in the order of representation, as Veil as from a supposed comic vein in the character of Hercules, the "Alcestis" has been considered as a satiric after-piece, or at least a substitute for that appendage to the tragic trilogy. But no reader of this domestic play, whether in the original or translation, will find mirth or satirical banter in it. The happy ending may entitle it to be regarded as a comedy in the modern sense of the term, although until the very last scene it draws so deeply on one main element of tragedy, pity. At most, the "Alcestis" is what the French term comedie larmoyante. No one of the extant dramas of Euripides, as a whole, is so pathetic. The reader feels now, as the spectators doubtless felt at its representation, that it is not because of the rank of the sufferers we sympathise with them. It is not Admetus the king, but Admetus the husband, whom we commiserate: that she is a queen adds nothing to our admiration of the tender and self-devoting Alcestis. Among the faults found with this drama is one that sounds strangely to modern ears. It wrought, say the objectors, upon the feelings of spectators by an exhibition of woe beneath the dignity of the sufferers, who are therefore degraded by the pity excited on their behalf. This seems "hedging kings" with a most preposterous "divinity,"—setting them apart from common humanity by making them void of human affections. If to touch an audience through the medium of household sorrows were a blot in Greek tragedy, it will scarcely be accounted a blemish by modern readers.
The story of the "Alcestis" is founded upon some legend or tradition of northern Greece, probably brought thither from the East. The Fates have marked Admetus, king of Pherae, in Thessaly, for death. Apollo has prevailed upon the grim sisters to grant him a reprieve on one condition—that he finds a substitute. In the first instance he applies to his father and mother, aged people, but they decline being vicariously sacrificed. His wife Alcestis alone will give her life for his ransom. Apollo does Admetus this good turn because he has himself, when condemned by Jupiter to serve in a mortal's house, been kindly treated by the Pheraean king. When the play opens,