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meaning than we could attune ourselves to tell the rest; but this is sure, that prophecy the harmonies in which he clothes it. The will work its way, and those that will not chorus is altogether rapt out of the region learn, shall learn by suffering. But away of reflection. It is inspired.
with inquiries into the future. Enough It will be worth while to trace the clue that it will come, surely and speedily ! of their strains through the earlier part of After hearing what the queen has to tell the play, from their entrance, summoned by them of the conquest, and her rambling Clytæmnestra to hear the news of the strain of moralizing upon it, they again triumph which has been telegraphed from take up their parable, their theme being the Troy. This carries them back ten years, sin of Troy and the certainty of judgment. to the time when the Atridæ departed, But mark whither this leads them! shouting for vengearce
on Troy, like
Zeus has bent his bow against the guilty. vultures wheeling over their empty nest, Ay, though men are found to say that the •Right sorrowfully mourning their bereaved gods reck not of evil deeds, it was his do
ing: he shows himself in vengeance to the
sons of an overweening race. Ours be Well! things must be as they may; and the lowlier lot which knows no ill; for destiny and wrath will have their course; there is no redemption for the high and but our way of life is in the sere (puldúdos wealthy ones who spurn the altar of right. non katakappopéens), we linger on, unmeaning They are driven on to inevitable ill : the as a dream at mid-day.'
light within has ceased to be of heaven, but Yet old as they are, the spirit of song blazes lurid forth, hurrying them downsurvives ; and now the fated time suggests wards; and no one hears their prayer, but the strain,-how omens met the avengers mischief hunts the man who for a toy, a on their way. And this was the rede of bird of gay plumage, transgresses. And the prophet : time will come when Troy even such a bird was Helen!
Lightly she shall fall before the host; but a hostile glided from her home, leaving a legacy beinfluence darkens the future: the goddess hind her, the clash of arms and the battle of the wild-wood tribes is at the throne of stir,-bearing with her a dowry, ruin to Zeus to ask the fulfilment of the sign, Troy. ... And he, the dishonoured, the prosperous in the main, yet deeply dashed unreproaching ! Silent is he : he cannot with ill (δεξιά μίν, κατάμορφα δε). Heaven deem her gone : her form will haunt him forefend that she demand a horrid sacrifice yet in every hall where she has reigned as --horrid in itself, and source of future queen: all else in them is a blank; for horror, treachery, and domestic vengeance. the desire of his eyes is gone, and what is Sing woe, sing woe, and well away! loveliness to him ? In dreams he snatches (αϊλινον, αϊλινον ειπέ, το δ' εν νικάτω) ... A weight an empty joy, and lo the vision is gone is on their soul, and who shall relieve them ? with the slumber!... But private sorThe ancient powers of heaven are gone by; rows are not all. There is a cry of mournonly Zeus remains; and he has ordained ing through universal Greece. Men ask that by suffering shall mortals be taught to for their children, and what have they? bow beneath the rod. Thus was his hand Ashes and an urn! And when they tell of on Agamemnon, wbat time the host pined this man's courage and that man's death, away to watch day after day the refluent there comes the murmur, that it was all for waters of Euripus. But the remedy was one frail wife! Far off sleep the beautiful; worse than all; the monarch smote the but whispers deepen into curses here at earth and cried, 'A sorry choice! It is home,-curses which fall not to the ground; hard to disobey! and how hard to shed a for blood will have blood; and glory overvirgin daughter's blood ! and yet I owe a much is not for good, but calls heaven's duty to my comrades ; and must they not lightning down. Ours be no such fortune, demand it ? Then he bowed to the yoke but rather the unenvied lot, unharmed, unof fate, and steeled himself to dare the harming! worst; for in the first guilt madness lies, Up to this point, at which the chorus and hardens man to recklessness; and so seems to be interrupted by a shout of he set at naught his daughter's prayer and the citizens without, welcoming the arrival appeals to a father's name; muffling the of the herald, we can clearly trace the idea curses which might fall from that melodious of the drama in the lovely ode, which, for tongue, which had so often charmed the critical purposes, we have so rudely anaguests of his palace-hall; for there she tomized. The chorus endeavour to wake stood as if in act to speak, fair as some the song of triumph over Troy; but they pictured form, darting her glances round in are impressed with an undefinable though pitiful appeal. .... We saw not, dare not sure foreboding of evil, which always re
turns, however they may try to shake iting. Here is a problem for the sticklers off; and so offensa resultat imago, the echo for the unity of time. Afterwards, in the of their song comes back upon them. Eumenides, the scene shifts from Delphi Every topic of triumph, by alluding to to Athens, if not also from one part of Trojan misfortunes, suggests the dangers Athens to another. So that the unities of of the Greeks. Nenesis, who waits on time and place may equally be dispensed overmuch fortune, and overweening reck- with. The technical canons of which one lessness of right, bears heavily on those has heard so much from the French school who have sacked a heaven-built city, and of expositors of Hellenic art, are not binddestroyed a sacred kingdom. There is ing upon Æschylus. Indeed, these soblood crying to heaven. There is the mut- called Greek, or rather Gallo-Grecian, unitered curse of those that dare not cry aloud. ties are but a modern forgery, foisting upon And there is a sure avenger for them that Aristotle a doctrine of which he never have no helper! And so they see but little dreamt, and for oneness of conception, for difference between the misery of victor and the living whole of creative poetry, substi-vanquished, master and captive; and they tuting a dead, mechanical union of parts pray to be delivered from both alike. filling up an arbitrary outline :-one inThese are intimations of evil to come, clear deed, but one as a volume, not as a work is enough to him who hears or reads ; natu- one. Like other falsehoods, they are built rally more clear to him than to the chorus upon a truth ; and that is, that unity is exthemselves, who are possessed, rapt into cellence, and consistency indispensable. futurity while they utter them; and who, Hence, the more perfectly a tragedy comwhen their dark hour passes, are too much bined all in detail, the more in that point it mixed
with the events to rise to the would approach perfection. Of this excelpitch of their own inspiration, or judge of lence no one was a more consummate masthe fulness of their prophecy. But it must ter than Æschylus. The whole Trilogy is be borne in mind that, even to the hearer a proof of this : for it is one in a sense in or reader, the 'warning does not stand so which no other dramatic poem extant can startlingly as we have reprosented it. It be called so. But, in the detail, all minutiæ is all there, but invested in mystery by the must be duly subordinated to the grand art of the poet, which has been taxed to whole; and one essential point in the deficlothe the skeleton which is given above, nition was, that the subject-matter must in a wondrous form of beauty and glory. be of weight and importance (πράξις μέγεθος
At this conjuncture the herald enters xovoa), involving therefore various interests, with a thanksgiving for his safe return. events, and characters, and often spreading He tells of the army's sufferings and over a considerable time, in proportion to triumph; but this is not all. His most that greatness which gives it its fitness for important announcement is, that the end tragic handling. The niceties, therefore, has begun. The storm which has been which go by the name of the unities of hanging over the Greeks has burst; and time and place, will frequently interfere the shipwreck of the returning warriors is with the development of the plot, in exact the earnest of all that the chorus has fore- proportion to its tragic grandeur :-that is, told. In this tempest they lose sight of when the plot is a good plot,' artfully deMenelaus. Probably, indeed, thus much vised and complicated, there will be far is historical; but it is not introduced here more difficulty in accommodating everymerely as an historical fact. As he does thing to these niceties than where there is not appear again in the trilogy, some scho- little plot or none at all. When such diffilars conjecture that this allusion was meant culties occur, the minor consideration should to connect the trilogy with the fourth drama, give way. In scenes of a purely domestic the Proteus. But this is not necessary to character, it would be comparatively easy explain it. It is, as has been before bint to adhere strictly to place and punctually ed, a sufficient reason for his disappearance, to time; and hence in the later comedy we that he was one of the two sons of Atreus usually find this done; because here the (or Pleisthenes), on whom vengeance has intricacies of the plot extend no further been accumulating; and that by his being than the concerns of two neighbouring spirited away and lost sight of, the full families. But it is otherwise in such draweight of destiny is concentrated on the mas as we are treating of. one head of the devoted Agamemnon. And here let not the real questions be
The return of the herald follows the sig- mistaken: for mistaken it will be, if we are nal of the beacons, and is again followed to inquire whether Æschylus leaves time by the appearance of Agamemnon, with enough to let the spectator or reader think little more than two choral odes interven. that Agamemnon may have returned. This
is an absurdity. We know that we are ter :-a curtain drops, or a scene changes. (as the case may be) witnessing or reading This at once breaks the sequence of our a play, with full purpose to give ourselves ideas, and, with or without the aid of the up to the illusion, if it be not rudely dis- orchestra, we are wafted over minutes or pelled by some awkwardness in the artist : years, as the case may be. The chorus' -we dream until we are forcibly awaken- or 'grex' coming in to apologize, like a ed. The real question then is, whether the showman interpreting his puppets, as we want of unity is such as to dispel the illu- frequently find it in the Elizabethan dra. sion, and to bring us back to the work-day matists, betrays a rude state of the art. It world and the measurement of time. If we is true that the mystery of the sceneshifter measure the choral odes, as Sterne's critic was not so much studied by the ancients did the soliloquy, by the stop-watch, the as by the moderns ; but there was the enAgamemnon cannot stand such a test as tire change of performance to serve the this. But, under such circumstances, what same purpose. The chorus, with its solemn is there that can stand, which will be worth evolutions—the lyre- the song—the dance standing room? Let all the sticklers for -carried the spectators at once into a new the unities lay their heads together, and world ; and if they had any feeling for whence will they exhume, or when will what was going on, and could discharge they manufacture, a play in which the ma- from their minds the dialogue of the past nager's or poet's clock will keep time with scene, so far as to enter into that which the clocks at the outside of the theatre, or was before them, they had at once lost count with the watches of the audience? There of time, sufficiently to surrender themselves never was a play in which some scenes did to the poet, and to justify his experience not require an indefinite interval to elapse by its success. between them. Let this be of minutes, or It cannot be denied that this is a hazardhours, or days, the stop-watch critic is an- ous enterprise ; so hazardous, indeed, that swered ; and with reasonable beings the whole crowds of most respectable playmatter is sooner or later brought to this writers will best consult their reputation issue. If the poet does not carry the spec- by not trying it. But it is not the less true tator with him so completely as to make that one who dares not run this hazard will him lose count of time, he has failed ; and scarcely make good his title to the name of no observation of the unities can make up poet; and in cases like that one which has for his failure. In the matters of real life, led us to the present digression, where the while we stand on the earth and are acted irregularity in a point of detail is directly upon by its influence, what matters it to us, subservient to the grouping and unity of practically speaking, that we are spinning the whole, there is nothing to defend or along at the rate of millions of miles in a apologise for ; but rather everything to minute? Do we stand the less steadily? praise, as the direct means towards an all. Does our full belief in the physical truth important excellence. But this reminds interfere with the impressions which we us ihat our digression is, in its way, a serireceive from our senses? And so it is ous violation of the unities ; and also that that, if we are rapt into the sphere of the time and paper and the reader's patience poet, and whirled along with him whither will all fail us, if we go on as we have behis orbit leads us, we can no more measure gun, doing the choral songs into prose. or take account of such minute points as Nor is it necessary for our purpose; since these, than we can measure how far we enough has been said to show the idea of have travelled through space since we sat the chorus, which is carried on still further down to our intellectual treat. We are in the following strains : until at last, when entitled to demand that the poet shall do Agamemnon has returned, and all adverse thus much for us : and it is sufficiently done, destiny seems overruled, the chorus comif there is any such interruption occupying plain wonderingly, that some mysterious the theatre for a time, as will serve to dis- influence makes their highest notes of trisolve the continuity of the action. If, umph die away into a funereal strain ; and during such a pause, a new train of thought pray, yet dare not hope, that their souls' be successfully interpolated, then the laws prophecy may prove false. of mind make the interval for all practical All now is wound up to the pitch where purposes an indefinite one.
some catastrophe is expected ; and, ere it Hence it follows that the objection touch- comes, we have shadowed forth in dim ing the chorus, as having only so many lines oracular grandeur by the swan-song of Casto sing, while Agamemnon has so many sandra-- who is the very impersonation of leagues to sail
, is a mere quibble. Modern Destiny-which must give warning, or it playwrights find no difficulty in the mat- I would not be known as such; yet must
warn fruitlessly, or it would cease to be nothing to remind us of any want on our destiny. Yet still, with all this prepara- own parts, or to suggest that our criticisms tion, how startlingly does the apparition of night arise from ignorance of the poet's Clytæmnestra and her fearless avowal come real design. And yet, certainly, such upon us ! Agamemnon's death, and all would be the case; the critic of the Agaconnected with it, now stand out in due memnon, as an isolated play, would unproportion; so balanced, indeed, that the doubtedly lay his finger on those little chorus is almost at a loss to decide,-for a points which are introduced to give conmoment imposed upon by the sophistry of nection to the whole trilogy, with the assurevil passions (v. 1560, seq.) until Ægisthus ance that here was a deficiency, and the comes in, and his hateful presence decides satisfaction of thinking that it was on the them. But are matters to stay bere? Can poet's side and not on his own.* it be supposed that Clytæmnestra has really, Whatever our expectations of a catastroas she endeavours to flatter herself, laid the phe may have been, the nature of that spirit of domestic strife, and shed the last which takes place, and the proclamation of blood that is to flow? A modern plot Clytæmnestra by herself as the Até of the would go no further. But the mind is re- family in human shape (parragojevos di yurauki volted at this. Whatever plausibilities | νεκρού τουδ' ο παλαιός δριμύς αλαστωρ, κ. 7. d., there were against Agamemnon are anni- v. 1498,) is of such a nature that we are bilated by the monstrous character of her left full of horror and perplexity morally crime ; and the scale of Destiny is clearly revolting—if this were all. The emotions turning. At this conjuncture there are are indeed stirred up; but it is to all aptwo or three seemingly trifling incidents pearance only a witch's caldron, 'Double, artfully thrown in. Ægisthus speaks of double, toil and trouble.' No problem in his being expelled while in his infancy, to human nature is solved, nor anything done, be brought back by Justice in his manhood; so far, towards purifying the passions, and the prophecy of Cassandra and the modifying, disciplining, or in any way turnspeech of the chorus carrying us on to the ing them to use, So that the moral effects return of another child, similarly spirited of the single play, as above noticed, would away. In the more modern scheme, this have been bad. But there are the links would all have been lost; and more than which join it to the Choëphoræ, sufficient this, for the development of Clytæmnestra's to suggest the turn which the plot is about character would have been lost too, unless to take, and to satisfy us that the action is the moral of the play had been the triumph tending towards a real end. In the Choëof evil : but the Greeks had too fine a sense phoræ we find the adulterous pair in fullof harmony to end with such a discord as blown outward prosperity; but the avenger this; and the whole conclusion of the play is at the doorOrestes has been distinctly supplies the links which unite it to that called to the duty of vengeance by the gods ; which follows : all is subservient to the his commission is to slay the slayers, and grand design; and, wonderful as the Aga- this is confirmed by Clytæmnestra's dream memnon is in itself, it is only to be appre- of evil augury. Still the same care is takciated-indeed it is only to be rightly un- en, as in the former plays, to convey, derstood-in connection with what ensues
. though indistinctly, an assurance that the One can scarcely read the play without be- end is not near : there are marked indicaing taught, by this one lesson, to confess tions throughout that Orestes finds himself how imperfectly those remains of antiquity 111 at ease. His whole conduct discloses it can be appreciated, which have come down —vaguely, of course, but it does disclose-it to us in any degree imperfect; and how -and communicates to us his own inward much of their excellence may consist in apprehensions. He is, as it were, dragged portions which one would now scarcely into the arena, and worked up by the Chomiss if they were absent. Suppose that of rus, by Electra, and finally by the oracular the Orestean trilogy the Agamemnon only voice of the (probably) unseen Pylades, the had been extant, as the Prometheus, or the representative of the Delphic oracle,t until Seven against Thebes are of their trilogies : he does the deed; and when it is done, he we should still have had all the delineation still remembers that she was his mother; of character, all the mastery over feeling his disquiet shows itself in bis laboured atand passion, all the power of language, and tempts at self-justification ; until finally we the essential poetry, lyric and dramatic, of see that this way madness lies,' and the piece; in short, all the materials for the whole : and though we might have
* This may suggest to us that, if we seek, we
shall probably find a meaning in many things which complained of something apparently inarti
seem to us atposdióvvoa in the other plays. ficial, we should probably have discovered + See Mueller.
the dread goddesses of wrath, the Erinnyes, I the third play, been chased to Delphi ; but appear. We say deliberately appear : for he finds there a respite; the religió loci not even Hermann can persuade us that overpowers his pursuers, and they fall into they are invisible. It is to no purpose to a slumber.* Meanwhile, under the direcargue that the chorus does not see them :tion of his protector Apollo, Orestes esthe question is not whether they appear to capes to Athens, where Athena institutes Orestes alonc or not; but whether they the court of Mars' Hill, presiding herself, really and externally appear to him, or are while Apollo appears in the double capacithe phantoms of his crazed brain. If they ty of witness and advocate for Orestes; and really appear to him—that is, if they are avows that the deed was done at his bidthere in actual, though not bodily presence, ding, and consequently by the authority of then the spectators must have cognizance Zeus himself-for of them. We appeal to the closet-scene in Hamlot, where the spectators see the
οιπώποτ' είπον μαντικoίσιν έν θρόνοις apparition of the ghost, and hear his voice,
και μη κελεισε Ζεύς Ολυμπίων πατίρ. while the Queen remarks
Thus, finally, the difficulty is solved, • This is the very coinage of your brain :
which must otherwise have arisen afresh on This bodiless creation ecstasy
every new 'act of mutual vengeance. The Is very cunning in.'
divine law is at length expounded, the con:
fusion of right and wrong unravelled, and Æschylus is now preparing the way for the the perplexity removed, which had grown next play, in which no one doubts their ap- out of the conflicting elements of the plot, pearance; and, besides, Æschylus was a Orestes is at last acquitted and cleansed devout believer in the existence, a devout from the stains of blood; yet not without worshipper of the divinity of these Beings : such penance as atones for the violence
- which, by the bye, gives him an incalcu- done to natural feeling by his revenge. lable advantage in these plays over Shak. Without this penance, —without the diffispeare with his witches in Macbeth. To culty in appeasing the Furies,—the lesson
. the chorus, who, in the dialogue, are, as it would not be perfect. But, as the case were, the impersonation of very common stands, the process of purification and the sense,* and who thus see only with the na- restoration of peace among the actors in the tural eye, these goddesses are of course drama, is a type of the true kibapois raonyútwu, invisible. But the spectator's eye is sup- which, according to the definition of Arisposed to be purged, and his ear open totle, is wrought by the trilogy, taken as a ispirõpuasiv lapzpúverar) to admit things unseen whole. In the first play the feelings are and unheard except to the initiated. And moved in pity for Agamemnon and horror when such is supposed to be the character of Clytæmnestra ; and this gives our symof the chorus, as it is in the sub-choir of pathies to Orestes in the second ; but yet Areopagites in the Eumenides, they are not wholly so; for whatever were the. visible to these also. But if a ring of the deserts of the mother, she was the mother populace of Attica were represented as still. Thus the emotions are stirred up in grouped round Mars' Hill
, we would ven conflict, and are thrown into the highest ture to say that they saw nothing of the state of commotion and ferment, so that we Nameless Goddesses. Here ends the second regular tragedy, But the end is at band : this very conflict
are further than ever from seeing the end. technically so called ; and in both there has and fermentation is the moving of the been excited interest, perplexity, and un-chaos, from which a new state of order is satisfied emotion : this has been first on
to be evolved. And as a just analogy is a one side, and then on the other; and it has
sound and sober argument, let us take this accumulated in the second play; for we metaphor which has come in our way, and have now the gods taking their sides, and examine it. What is the result of fermentaembroiling the fray. And the link of the tion but to throw off impurities, and then, appearance of the Furies brings us to the but not until then, to restore tranquillity; third drama, which is, strictly speaking, not not the same, but a very different tranquillity a tragedy at all, according to our idea of from that turbid state of stagnation which one; but it is exactly by this peculiarity went before?
? It tranquillizes, but by that it becomes a perfect finish to those which are so.
* In vindicating the personality of the Furies, The victim has, at the commencement of we need not shut our eyes to the moral
under this allegory. • See the remarkable passage in Aristotle's + Ει γάρ δικαίως έπαθέν τι, δικαίως πίπονθεν, αλλ' Problems, xix. 43.
lows oix ono goû.- Aristot. Rhetor., ii. 23, 3. 25