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classes smiths, and madmen, and vagabonds, and low artificers of every kind, and the rowers of galleys, and rogues, and cowards, below which his imagination could discover nothing in human nature.

But it was these very characters, with their low wit, buffoonery, and appropriate actions, that constituted the most effective materials of the comic poet, whose creed was, that

Les fous sont ici-bas pour nos menus plaisirs.

They accordingly hesitated at no degree of grotesque buffoonery and extravagance, introducing not only low sausage-sellers with their trays of black-puddings and chitterlings suspended on their paunches, and drunkards lisping, hiccuping, and reeling about the stage, but even libertines and profligates carrying on their intrigues in the view of the spectators. An example of this kind of scene occurs on an Etruscan bronze seal dug up near Cortona, which represents an adulterer in conference with his mistress, together with the Leno who brought them together.

1 Sch. Aristoph. Eq. 150. • Athen. x. 33.

3 Mus. Cortonens. tabb. 18, 19. Cf. p. 26, seq. 1750. Rom.

248

CHAPTER VIII.

THEATRE (continued ).

Into the various questions which have been raised respecting the origin and constitution of the chorus it is not my intention to enter. It undoubtedly appears, however, to have arisen amid the festivities of the vintage, when, after the grapes were brought home and pressed and the principal labours of the season concluded, the rustics delivered themselves up to wild joy and merriment, chanting hymns and performing dances in honour of Dionysos, the protecting god of the vine. At first the number of the persons engaged in these dances could not have been fixed, since it is probable that all the vintagers, both male and female, joined in the sports, as they had previously joined in the labour. And this free and unformal character the Dithyrambic or Dionysiac chorus must have preserved, as long as it remained a mere village pastime. But when afterwards, advancing from one step to another, it assumed something of an artificial form and several chorusses arose which contended with each other for a prize, the performers must have undergone some kind of training, both in singing and dancing, and then the number of the individuals constituting the chorus was possibly fixed. There appears to be some reason for thinking, that these exhibitions were more ancient than the congregation of the Athenians in one city, and that originally every tribe had its own

1 Cf. Ficorini, Degli Masch. Scen. p. 15.

2 On the importance afterwards

attached to the training of the chorus, see the substance of an inscription in Chandler, ii. 72.

chorus, since we find that afterwards, when all the inhabitants of Attica came to regard themselves as one people, the Choreutæ were chosen from every tribe five.

By what gradations, however, the village chorus was transformed into the Dithyrambic, the Dithyrambic into the Satyric, and the Satyric again into the Tragic, it now appears impossible to ascertain; but it seems to be quite clear, that in many ancient tragedies the number of the chorus was fifty, as, for example, in the “ Judgment of the Arms,” by Æschylus, in which silver-footed Thetis appeared upon the stage accompanied by a train of fifty Nereids. Again, according to certain ancient authors, in the Eumenides of Æschylus, the chorus of Furies at first amounted to fifty, which, rushing tumultuously, with frightful gestures and horrid masks, into the orchestra, struck so great a terror into the people, particularly the women and children, that their number was afterwards reduced by

Sch. Aristoph. Av. 1404. • Sch. Aristoph. Acharn. 348. Schneid. de Orig. Trag. Græc. c.i. 5 Vit. Æschyl. p. vi. p. 2. The Dithyrambic ode was said to have been invented by

6 Bættiger, Furies, p. 2. Poll. Arion at Corinth. Schol. Pind.

iv. 110. Schol. Aristoph. Av. Olymp. xii. 25, seq. The first 298. Eq. 586. choral songs were improvisations. 7 According to Mr. Bættiger, Max. Tyr. Dissert. xxi. p. 249. however, chez les anciens Athe

Poll. iv. 108. Sch. Aris “niens les femmes n'ont jamais toph. Acharn. 210.

“assisté aux représentations théa3 Cf. Schol. ad Æschin. Tim. trales." - Furies, p. 3, note. Orator. Att. t. xii. p. 376. Tzetz. But, in addition to the proofs of ad Lycoph. p. 251, sqq. See also the contrary, accumulated in the Müller, Dissert. on the Eumenides preceding book, the reader may of Æschylus, p. 54. Schol. A- consult the testimony of Arisristoph. Eq.587.-"Nous savons tides, who severely blames his “que sur les Théâtres Grecs les countrymen for allowing their “femmes dansaient dans les wives and children to frequent “cheurs." - Winkel. Mon. Ined. the theatres, t. i. p. 518, cf. p. iii. p. 86. I have found no 507.-Jebb. He speaks, indeed, proof in any ancient author that more particularly of the Smyrnithis was the practice ainong the otes ; but Snyrna was an loGreeks.

nian colony.-Herod. i. 149.

law. I am aware that several distinguished scholars think very differently on this subject; some maintaining, that the chorus of Furies always consisted of fifteen, while others reduce their number to three. But, though both these opinions have been supported with much learning and ingenuity, it seems difficult to admit either the one or the other. In the first place, since every thing connected with the stage was in a state of perpetual fluctuation, since the masks and costume were repeatedly altered, since the number of the actors was augmented, since almost every arrangement of the theatre, and every characteristic of the poetry, underwent numerous modifications; the chorus, also, it is probable, submitted to the same alterations or reforms till it settled in that tetragonal figure and determinate number which it afterwards preserved, as long as the legitimate drama existed in Greece.

In one point of view the history of the chorus is extremely remarkable. At first, and for some time, it constituted in itself the whole of the spectacle exhibited at the Dionysiac festivals, where its songs and dances, accompanied by such rude music as the times afforded, satisfied the demands of the popular taste, and were consequently supposed to be everything that the god required. By degrees, as experience suggested improvements either in the music, in the manner of dancing, or in the materials and composition of the odes, the movements, singing, and appearance of the Chorus, assumed a more artificial form, which was necessarily carried forward many steps in the career of amelioration by the institution of rival bodies of Choreuta, who, from the natural principle of emulation, endeavoured to excel each other. Next, a detached member of its own body, mounted on a table, enacted the part of a stranger or messenger come to amounce something which it imported the servants of Dio

! (1. schul. Illatoph Acharn. 209.

nysos to know. This table was doubtless placed directly in front of the altar of Bacchos, on the steps of which the leader of the chorus was probably mounted in after ages, to hold communication with the stranger; and, as this altar ripened through many gradations into the Thymele, so the aforesaid table rose through innumerable changes into the Logeion. It may be remarked, moreover, that the slope of a hill, when any such existed near the village, would naturally be chosen on such occasions to afford the peasants an opportunity of standing behind each other on ascending levels, and thus, without inconvenience, beholding the show; and where such natural aid did not present itself, they probably threw up embankments of turf in the semicircular form, which experience proved to be most convenient, and, out of this rude contrivance, grew those vast and magnificent structures, which afterwards constituted one of the noblest ornaments of Greece.

The single actor, detached in the manner we have said from the Chorus, speedily acquired greater importance, and the aid of poetry was called in to frame and adorn his recitals; and as, during the songs and dances of the Chorus, he necessarily remained idle, the idea soon suggested itself that a second actor” would be an improvement, upon which dialogue and the regular drama sprang into existence.

Among the principal duties of the Chorus was the performance of certain dances, simple enough at the outset, but, in process of time, refined and rendered so intricate by art, that it required no little learning and ability to execute all their varied movements with dignity and grace. Somewhat to assist the eye and memory, the whole pattern, as it were, of the dance seems to have been chalked out on the floor

1 Cf. Scalig. Poet, i. 2. Leroy, Ruines des plus beaux Monumens de la Grèce, p. 14.

Cf. Hesych. v. véunoig inoKpitūv.

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