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the victor. Having taken the usual oaths to judge impartially, and performed the customary libations on the Altar of Bacchus, Cimon awarded the first place to Sophocles. In Olymp. 85, 2, we find him employed in the Samian war; on which occasion he was associated with Pericles, as one of the ten Generals who were elected every year.

The last and next recorded event of our poet's life was his victory with the Philoctetes, Olymp. 82, 4, and four years previous to his death, according to the Parian Marbles, in the Archonship of Callias, Olymp. 83, 4, after a glorious career, during which, according to Suidas, he gained twenty-four, to Diodorus Siculus, eighteen Tragic victories. The story of his being accused of madness, in his old age, by an ungrateful son, and of his refuting the charge by reading before his judges certain passages of his Edipus Coloneus, which he had just finished, is so well known as to require but a brief mention. Cicero de Sen.'cap. 7, and Valerius Maximus, lib. 8, will afford the best detail. This celebrated Tragedy, the last production of our Poet, written expressly to gratify the Athenians, and to commemorate the place of his own birth, was first represented by the grandson of Sophocles, Olymp. 84, 4.

The number of pieces which Sophocles composed is still a contested point among the learned. The account of Suidas states them to have been 123. But Suidas also gives us the computation of Aristophanes the Grammarian, who states them to have been 130, seventeen of which he deems spurious. Boeckius rejects both these accounts, referring a part of this number to his son Jophon, and part to the younger Sophocles. The following are all that are now extant, and undoubtedly assignable to the elder Sophocles: Edipus Rex, Edipus Coloneus, Electra, Antigone, Trachinic, Ajax, Philoctetes.


This poet was born at Salamis, Olymp. 75, (B. C. 480,) under the Archonship of Callias, and upon the same day on which the Athenians gained their victory over the Persian fleet. According to one authority, he was the son of Mnestarchus a vintner; his mother, Cleito, being an herb woman. In early life, he embarked in the profession of an Athletes, the profits of which were received by his father. His inclination soon led him to cultivate Tragedy, and he became a discio' ple of Anaxagoras, Prodicus, and Protagoras.


Suidas, however, says, it is not true that his mother sold herbs, but that he was descended of a noble family. In early life, according to the same author, he was a painter—that he first applied himself to Tragedy when he saw his master, Anaxagoras, brought to trial on account of his Philosophic opinions. Although accounted a womanhater, he nevertheless was twice married; his first wife being Cherina, daughter of Mnesilochus, who brought him three sons, Mnesilochus, Mnesarchides, and Euripides. Having divorced his first wife, on account of adultery, he appears to have been no less unfortunate in the choice of his second; whose name, however, Suidas has not mentioned. He also omits to notice his temporary settlement in Magnesia; where he was received as a public guest. After alluding to the well-known story of his being torn to pieces by dogs, at the instance of two poets, who were envious of his fame, Suidas says others relate that he was torn to pieces by women.

Euripides was the intimate friend of Socrates, who, according to Ælian, was seldom a spectator at the theatre, except when a play of our poet was represented. His first piece was produced at Olymp. 81, being at that time in his twenty-fifth year. Olymp. 84, 4, he gained the prize in Tragedy, on which occasion he was the first placed.

The MS. Life, given by Elmsley, so far agrees with Suidas in saying that he was twice married; the name of his first 'wife being Melito, (Suid. Chærina,) that of his second Chærila. When, or for what reason, he left Athens, does not appear. The MS. Life states he moved into Magnesia, and thence into Macedonia, where he gained the favor of Archelaus, in whose dominions he died, Olymp. 93, 3, in the Archonship of Callias, at the age of seventy-five. He was buried, in Macedonia, but a Cenotaph was erected to him at Athens, inscribed with a highly eulogistic epigram.

“When we consider Euripides by himself," says Schlegel, "without any comparison with his predecessors; when we take a separate view of some of his better pieces, and detached scenes throughout the others, we cannot refuse to him an extraordinary degree of praise. But, on the other hand, when we place him in connexion with the history of art, when we consider his pieces as a whole, and reflect on the object, which he appears in general to have had in view, in all the works which have come down to us, we are compelled to bestow severe censure on him on various accounts. Of few writers may both good and evil be said with so much truth. He was a man of infinite ingenuity, and practised in the greatest variety of mental arts; but neither the sublime seriousness of mind, nor the severe wisdom which we revere in Æschylus and Sophocles, regulated in him a luxuriant


fulness of the most splendid and amiable qualities. His constant aim is to please, by whatever means, and hence he is so very unequal to himself. We possess some cutting sayings of Sophocles respecting Euripides; though he was so far from being actuated by any think like the jealousy of authorship, that he mourned his death, and, in a piece which was shortly after exhibited, refused to his actors the ornament of the floral crown. The derisory attacks of Aristophanes are well known, though not sufficiently understood and appreciated.*

In Euripides we no longer find the essence of the ancient Tragedy in its pure and unmixed state. We have already placed this essence in the prevailing idea of Destiny, in the ideality of the composition, and in the signification of the Chorus. Euripides inherited, it is true, the idea of Destiny from his predecessors, and his belief of it was sharpened by the Tragic practice; but yet in him Fate is seldom the invisible spirit of the whole composition, the radical Thought of the Tragic world. We have seen that this idea may be exhibited under severer or milder aspects; that the obscure terror of Destiny may, in the connexion of a whole trilogy, be cleared up to the signification of a wise and beneficent Providence. Euripides, however, has drawn it down from the region of the infinite ; and inevitable necessity not unfrequently degenerates in him into the caprice of accident. He can no longer, therefore, give it its proper and peculiar direction, namely, by contrast and opposition to elevate the moral liberty of

His characters generally suffer because they must, and not because they will.

The mutual subordination of character and passion to ideal elevation, which we find observed in the same order in Sophocles, Euripides has completely reversed. Passion is the principal object with him; his next care is for character; and when these endeavors leave him still any remaining room, he occasionally seeks to connect grandeur and dignity with the more frequent display of amiable attractions.

It has been already admitted that the persons in Tragedy ought not to be all equally exempt from error, as there would then be no opposition

among them, and consequently no room for a plot. But Euripides has, as Aristotle observes; frequently painted his characters in black colors without any necessity, as, for example, his Menelaus in Orestes. He was warranted by the traditions in attributing great


* In the Nubes, he is ridiculed for debasing the dignity of Tragedy, by clothing his chief characters in rags, and reducing them to beggary.

crimes to many of the old heroes, but he invented besides many base and paltry traits for them, of his own free invention.

The Chorus is, for the most part, in him, an unessential ornament; its songs are frequently wholly episodical, without any reference to the action, and more distinguished for brilliancy than for sublimity and true inspiration. We must consider the Chorus, says Aristotle, as one of the actors, and as a part of the whole ; it must enter into the action; not as in Euripides, but as Sophocles has done.

In the accompanying music, he adopted all the innovations invented by Timotheus, and selected those melodies which were most in unison with the effeminacy of his poetry." He proceeded in the same manner with his syllabic measures; his versification is luxuriant and breaks through every rule. The same diluted and effeminate character would, on a more profound investigation, be unquestionably found to belong also to the rhythmi of his choral songs.f

Euripides was a frequenter of the schools of the philosophers; and he displays a particular vanity in introducing philosophical doctrines on all occasions; in my opinion, in a very imperfect manner, as we should not be able to understand these doctrines from him if we were not beforehand acquainted with them. He conceives it too vulgar a thing to believe in the gods in the simple manner of the people; and he, therefore, seizes every opportunity of interspersing something of their Allegorical signification, and of giving his spectators to understand that the nature of his own belief was problematical.

We may distinguish in him a two-fold character; the poet whose productions were consecrated to a religious solemnity, which existed under the protection of religion, and which was therefore under a reciprocal obligation of returning that protection with honor and reverence; and the sophist, with his philosophical dicta, who endeavors to introduce his sceptical opinions and doubts into the fabulous prodigies connected with the religion from which he derived the subjects of his pieces. He throws out a multitude of moral maxims, many of which

* Sophocles chiefly employed the Phrygian Melody, which is best adapted, ac. cording to Plato, to inspire moderation and to express our worship of the Deity.-De Rep. lib. 3.

+ See the passage in the Ranæ, v. 1332, wherein he is recommended to adopt tho use of a pair of shells, instead of the lyre, as the most fitting accompaniment for his songs.

$ We find, as Valckenær observes, the system of Anaxagoras on the origin of Beinga, as well as the precepts of that morality which Socrates inculcated. Hence it was that he had so many partisans among the philosophers, who were glad to bave their doctrines brought upon the stage, and applauded by the spectators.

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he often repeats, and for the most part they are either trite or fundamentally false. With all this moral ostentation, the aim of his pieces, the general impression which they are calculated to produce, is some. times extremely immoral. An anecdote is told of him, that he introduced Bellerophon with a silly eulogium on wealth, in which he preferred it to all domestic happiness, and ended with observing, if Aphrodite (who bore the appellation of golden) shone like gold, she was deserving of the love of mortals; and that the spectators took umbrage at this, and wished to stone both actor and poet. Euripides, then sprang forward, and called out, “Wait till the end, he will be requited accordingly!" In like manner he defended himself agaiust the objection that his Ixion expressed himself in too disgusting and abominable language, by observing that the piece concluded with his being broken on the wheel. But the assistance of poetical justice, in punishing the baseness of his characters, is not always called in. In some of his pieces, the wicked escape altogether untouched. Lies and other infamous practices are openly protected, especially when he can assign for them a supposed noble motive. The following verse in justification of perjury is well known:

The tongue swore, but the sense swore not.-Hippolyt. 608.

In the connexion in which this verse is uttered, and on account of which he has been so often ridiculed by Aristophanes, there is indeed a justification ; but the formula is nevertheless bad, on account of the possible abuse of its application. He was the first poet that ever thought of making the unbridled passion of a Medea, and the unnatural love of a Phædra, the principal subject of his dramas; yet with all this importance which he has communicated to his female parts, he is notoriously famed for his hatred of women.

The style of Euripides is upon the whole too loose, although he has many happy images and ingenious turns: it has neither the dignity nor the energy of the style of Æschylus, nor the chaste sweetness of that of Sophocles. In his expressions he frequently affects the singular and uncommon, though at other times he becomes too familiar, and the tone of discourse assumes a confidential appearance, and descends from the elevation of the cothurnus to the level ground. .In this respect, he was a precursor of the New Comedy-hence Menander expressed a most marked admiration for him, and proclaimed himself his scholar. The opinion of Aristophanes, his contemporary, forms a striking contrast with this adoration. Aristophanes persecutes him unceasingly, with the utmost bitterness: he seems as if he were appointed to be his constant scourge yet he never attacks Sophocles; and even when he takes the part of Æschylus,, at which we can hard.

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