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be represented, was the invention of Aeschylus : and doubtlefs much more becoming it was, than thofe ridiculous countenances, which the actors gave themselves, by besmearing their faces with wine-lees: these masks were of some use to those who were spectators at a distance, as well in helping to distinguish the several characters, as in assisting the voice. But however they must they were known before the actor fpoke. But in the new comedy, the masks were only formed to move laughter. “Ορώμεν γύν τας οφρύς εν τούς προσώπους της Μενάνδρα κωμωδίας οποίας έχει, και όπως εξεγραμμένον το ΣΩΜΑ και έδε καλα ανθρώmwv vóow. We see therefore what strange eyebrows there are to the masks used in Menander's comedies ; and how the BODY is distorted, and unlike any human creature. Mr. Theobald, in his preface to Shakespeare, has cited this paffage, and thus corrected it, shënows ites que papevov to öppuce, i.e. and how the eyes were goggled and distorted. But surely, instead of ESMA, with little or no variation, it should be ETOMA. And this is plain from the reprefentations we have of the comic maks, which may be seen in Madam Dacier's Terence; and are likewise in an old MS. Terence in the Bodley library at Oxford ; in which makes the mouth is hideoufly, and ridiculously distorted : and the chief reason of the mouth being thus formed was, to help the actor to throw his voice to a greater distance. This is plain from A. Gellius, lib. 5. c. 7. Persona, a perfonando diéta eft : nam caput et os cooperimento personae tectum undique, unaque tantum vocis emittendae via pervium, quod non vaga neque diffusa est, in unum tantummodo exitum collectam coactamque vocein, et magis claros canerofque fonitus facit.
hide all the various changes of the countenance, so necessary in a good actor, and more expressive of passion than any gesture whatever. Notwithstanding the improvements made in tragedy by Aeschylus, yet he lived to see himself excelled by Sophocles. With what rapidity did the tragic muse thus advance to perfection?
But what must appear moft strange to us moderns, is the inexhaustible invention of these Attic poets, who could write so correct, yet so quick and almost extemporal. The lowest account of the plays of Aeschylus amounts to above feventy ; Sophocles and Euripides wrote
7 Sophocles was the first that did not act his own plays, having but a weak and unharmonious voice. He added a third actor, which critics imagine fufficient to be brought together in conversation in one sçene, for more they suppose would occasion embarralment and confusion,
Nec quarta loqui perfona laboret; There is another part of art of Sophocles's worth notice, and that is, his consulting the genius and abilities of his chief actors, and fitting the parts to them. See Triclinius, or whoever else was the writer of this poet's life. Sophocles undoubtedly wrote better plays than Aeschylus : but who has excelled Shakespeare? 'Tis remarkable, that the Athenians
gave leave to the poets to revise the plays of their old bard, and then to bring them on the stage. So Quinctilian informs us, 1. 10. c. 1. We have had several poets too that have attempted the fame with Shakespeare.
a greater number. The genius of our Shake, speare seems to equal any of the ancients, and his invention was scarce to be exhausted. Dryden did not come far short, but he wanted steady and honest principles, and that love for his art, which is always requisite to make a compleat artist. For when the mind is filled with great and noble ideas, 'tis no such difficult matter to give them a tone and utterance. Or as our Platonic Spencer expresses it ;
The noble beart that harbours virtuous thoughts
THERE is a passage in. Plato's Minos, that at first sight contradicts this account of the original of tragedy, which is there said to be of a much ancienţer date, than the times of Thespis. 1° Dr. Bentley, in his very learned dissertation on the epistles of Phalaris, thinks that Plato was mistaken. But this can hardly be allowed in a piece of historical learning, redating to his own country ; if it be considered
8 In his Fairy Queen, B. 2. c. 12. f.
Plat. in Min. p. 320, 321. edit. Steph, vol. 2. 1o Benil, difert, &c. p. 235, 278.
too, that Plato was a critic, as well as a philosopher. There are others again who will literally interpret Plato's words, in contradiction to all other authorities. However, if he be here understood, as often he should, with some latia tude, perhaps the whole difficulty will disappear. Socrates is defending the character of Minos, which had been abused : " How comes it “ then (says some one) that Minos has been fo
aspersed for a barbarous and cruel prince? si Why, replies Socrates, if
in« clination to have a good name, keep fair with • the poets, which was not the case of Minos; “ for he waged war with this city, which & abounds with arts and sciences, and with all “ other sorts of poets, as well as tragic writers. « For here tragedy is of ancient date, not, as
men think, beginning from Thespis or Phry“ nichus ; but if you'll examine, you'll find it « an old invention of this state. For tragedy * is a kind of poetry most proper to please the “ people, and to work upon their affections." Η δε τραψωδία έξι παλαιον ενθάδε, έχ, ως οϊούlαι, από Θέσπιδο» αρξαμένη, εδ' από Φρυνίχα' αλλ' ει θέλεις εννοήσαι πάνυ παλαιον αυτό ευρήσεις αν τήσδε της σόλεως εύρημοι" έςι δε της ποιήσεως δημότερπέσαλόν τε και ψυχαλωτικώταθου η τραγωδία. It feems to me very plain, that TPAISAIA is here to be taken in it's
larger extent and fignification. Thus if I should say the book of Job is a tragedy with a happy catastrophe, I should not mean 'twas ever acted on a stage. There were no stage-plays, 'till the times of Thespis and Phrynichus, and in this sense no tragedies. But yet there were stories, of a dramatic kind, formed into dialogue, and characters drawn, as of Minos, a cruel king : and this manner of writing was of ancient date at Athens, not the invention of Thespis or Phrynichus, as people generally thought, con founding the stage with the characteristic and dialogue manner of writing : fo that the thing itself was older than the name.
And this explanation of Plato will lead us to another of Horace.
Ignotum tragicae genus invenise camaenae
11 Hor. art. poet. 275. In this passage of Horace poemata is not strictly his written plays ; but in a larger fignification his plays with their whole apparatus : fo Diogenes Laertius in the life of Solon uses spalwdías, tragedies with their apparatus, Θέσπιν εκώλυσε τραγωδίας αΓειν τε, και διδάσο toiv. 1. 1. f. 59. Solen forbid Thespis to carry his tragedies about in carts, and to act them ; which I mention, because Dr. Bentley will take the word poemata in a limited and