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in an annual festival of Bacchus. Dur. him if he had no children; for if his ing the vintage it was customary to queen bore him a son, that son would sacrifice a he-goat on the altar of that be his murderer. Some time afterwards deity, and, at the same time, to chant a son was born, and to avoid the accomhymns in his honour. Suitably to the plishment of the prediction, he was exgenius of the Greek mythology, that posed, taken up and educated by the delighted in the innocent pleasures of wife of a shepherd as her own child, its votaries, this was a season of joy and and, when he grew to manhood, emfestivity; and, for the amusement of ployed in the simple occupations of the the vintagers, to the original ode a short pastoral life His name was Edipus. dialogue, historical or mythological, One of his fellow shepherds reproachwas added.

To this origin even the ed him with the circumstances of his name bears testimony, which means no- birth, of which he had not before been thing more than the song of the goat. informed, and this so roused his curi

As in my last paper ņ brought into osity to discover his real parents, that, one view the Chuephoræ of Æschylus with this view, he went to consult the and the Electra of Sophocles, because oracle at Delphi, and on his way met their subject is the same, for a simi- a stranger, whom he quarrelled with lar reason I shall now contrast “ The and slew. This was no other than his Seven Chiefs at Thebes” and “ The father Laius. Phenician Women.” Nothing seems to About this time the neighbourhood be so rare, as the invention of a story at of Thebes was infested by a monster once so probable as to impress us with called a Sphinx, who proposed enigan idea of its reality, and so full of mas to the inhabitants, and devoured extraordinary events and sudden re- them if unable to explain them. Joverses, as to swell the soul with that casta, alarmed by the ravages made delightful interest, without which the by this horrible creature, offered her works of fiction are a dead letter. The hand, and the crown of Thebes, to tragic writers, from Æschylus to Shake- any one who should solve the riddle, speare and Racine, aware of the diffi- as it was understood that the death culty, have contented themselves with of the Sphinx was to follow. In this selecting from history, or the legend- Edipus succeeded, and became the ary tales of a period anterior to it, such husband of his mother, and the king subjects as they thought most suitable of Thebes. From this connexion to tragedy. But though they have no sprung two sons, Eteocles and Polyother merit in the ground-work of their nices, and two daughters, Antigone dramas than judicious selection, enough and Ismene. The curse of Heaven is left to the genius of the poet in the was supposed to hang over å family magic touches, at which materials, in produced by this incestuous interthemselves coarse and uninteresting, course, and its final extinction is the rise in harmony and beauty, like the subject of these plays. When (Editemple from the shapeless masses of pus made the horrible discovery, he the quarry:

was so shocked, that in a paroxysm of The misfortunes of the heroes of madness he' tore out his eyes and cursancient tragedy often arose out of an ed his children. He retired from the idea of fatalism, which, as it extenuates government; and his sons, that they their guilt, so it heightens our sympa- might avoid the fatal consequences of thy. In the Choephoræ and Electra, his imprecations, agreed to reign alterOrestes is hurried on to the murder of nately, each an year. Eteocles, who his mother, not more by the instiga- was allowed precedence as the eldest, tion of his sister than the commands of when his year expired, refused to reApollo. In the disasters of the family linquish the honours of royalty to his of Edipus, on which so many of the brother, who, enraged at this violation Greek plays were founded, -and, a- of the solemn agreement, retired to mong the rest, those I am now to ana. Argos, and married the daughter of lyze, all is the work of fate.

Adrastus, king of that city, whom he Laius, king of Thebes, was married induced to aid him with a great army to Jocasta. From this union there in the recovery of his natural rights. was no issue, and Laius, anxious for a The Seven Chiefs, or the Siege of Theson to inherit his kingdom, went to bes, as it might have been named, is consult the oracle of Apollo. The res- founded on the expedition of the Arponse was, that it would be happy for give army against that city, in support

spear ?

of the claims of Polynices. The alarm The din of war is hastening on, of the inhabitants of Thebes, express- and the shields are flaming in the sun ; ed by the Chorus—the description of Who may with such a host contend ? the chiefs—the assault of the besieging Look on us prostrate in the dust,

may the walls we love defend ? army—the cessation of hostilities and

We in your altars place our trust a single combat between the brothers, To then our spirits fondly cling, in which both fall,

,-are the leading While your statues are o'ershadowingincidents.

What shall become of us ! Do you not hear In the Seven Chiefs, the first scene The clang of many a shield, and many a discovers Eteocles lamenting the cares and the difficulties of government, and Thy people, Mars, wilt thou betray, animating the people to the defence of And give them to the foeman's rage ?

Oh! shall this city pass away, the city. A messenger comes in, and

Thy chosen in a long past age ? gives a description of the leaders of the Thy well-beloved people perish, invading army, in language at once so Whom thou so long hast deign'd to cherish? sublime and so tender, that though God of the golden helm and mighty hand, it is rather an epic than a dramatic Oh! look upon thy favoured land. beauty, as indeed are many of the Ye gods ! the Theban maidens free finest of this play, I cannot deny my

From banishment and slavery ; self the pleasure of laying it before my

For round the city rolls a tide

Of warriors in plumed pride, readers.

In fury driven from afar, “ The impetuous leaders of the Argive host

By the tempestuous gales of war.
Are sacrificing buils upon the altars,

Oh, Jupiter ! our guardian be,
And in the hollow of their shields receive
The blood, in which they dip their hands, The Argives throng around the gates,

And save us from captivity.
and swear
By Fury, Mars, and murder-loving Terror,

And murder on their steps awaits ; Either to make of Thebes a heap of ashes,

And the trampling steed, and the piercing

spear, Or with life's purest currents dye her soil ;

And all the horrors of war are near ; And hang upon the chariot of Adrastus

For the Seven Chiefs are leading them on, Memorials of themselves, and send them

And the work of destruction is begun." home To their loved parents, and their wives and

“ The rolling chariots are nigh, children:

And the lances are maddening in the sky: The tears of nature glisten in their eyes,

My country! how I weep for thee, Fierce as they are ; yet does their voice re

In the hour of thy calamity !”. lent not ; Their steely souls are hot, and breathing fury, And in a succeeding ode the same Like lions, from whose eyes the battle subject is continued:

flames." A song of the Chorus succeeds,

“ Sleep flies from my eyelids, fear lives in strongly descriptive of the terror and My cares are consuming, and never depart; distraction that prevail in a besieged As the delicate dove that sits close in her nest, city. The army is seen approaching To guard, with her pinions and down of her in the distance.

breast, “ My sinking soul is stricken with fear, From the coil and the sting of the snake For the hour of sorrow and death is near.

that is near, The heavy clouds of dust that rise,

Her offspring, that to her than life are more Though dumb, bear tidings through the skies,

So I fear lest these armies our walls that That the dreaded foe has struck his tent,

surround, And is rushing onward, on ruin bent. May level our temples and towers with the Afar the steeds, seen dimly, fly

ground. Like creatures coming through the sky; See ! in wrath they are coming-oh! where And beyond is a dark and thickening host,

shall I fly, Like the troubled waves of ocean tost. From the stones and the arrows that boom The sounds of arms and hoofs I hear,

through the sky ? A mingled murmur in my ear ;

Ye gods! who from Jove the almighty deBut soon shall they in thunder break,

scend, And the dreamer from his visions wake, This city and people, these temples, defend. With the voice of many waters from the hills, To what lands can ye go that are blooming When the rains to torrents swell the rills.

so fair ? Ye gods! whose power is over all,

To what streams or what fountains that once By whom the cities rise and fall,

may compare Oh! hear a wretched people's cries,

With the waters of Dirce, so cool and so clear, And send protection from the skies.

So rich in their flow, and to fancy so dear;

my heart,

dear;

groom is led

God;

The river of all to which ocean gives birth, Is uttered in reproaches against Tydeus, The brightest, with plenty that blesses the The city's pestilence, the murderer earth ?

Who leads the Argives in the path of ruin ; Oh! god of my country, who, next to the The Fury's herald, the High Priest of death, sky,

The counsellor of mischief to Adrastus; Lov'st the temples of Thebes, in our troubles Thy hapless brother he addresses thus : be nigh;

Is this a warfare sanctioned by the Gods Put our foemen to shame, and the glory be Expect'st thou glory from a war like this ? thine,

A traitor to thy country and her Gods. That for ages thy people may kneel at thy Oh! canst thou cluse the

spring of nature's shrine.

fountains ? Oh! doom not a city to ashes and dust, Although this city fall beneath thy might, The pride of the nations, antiquity's trust ; Will she receive thee as a son again ? Shall our maidens, like cattle, be dragged I know that in the combat I must die, by the locks,

Yet will I dare the battle, and I hope And our matrons be driven to bondage like A fate not quite inglorious.' On his shield Alocks!

There was no blazonry, he chose to be, Oh ! loud is the wailing on that fatal day, Rather than seem, a virtuous man. From their homes when a people is hurried

Eteocles at last rushes out to battle, away, Bound and fettered like slaves, and with

meets his brother, and both are slain,

The bodies are brought on the stage, garments all torn, Wives severed from husbands, and lovers and are mourned by Ismene and Antiforlorn;

gone, the former of whom was attached When the bride in despair from the bride- to Eteocles, and the latter to Polynices.

Meanwhile they receive information From the joy of her soul to an enemy's bed. that the senate of Thebes had ordered Rape, murder, and fire, are in every abode, the remains of Eteocles to be interred In the palace of kings and the temples of with all the honours due to his rank; When the slumbering infant is startled from but that the body of Polynices should rest,

be cast out unburied, a prey to the And with pitiful wailings clings fast to the dogs, as a traitor to his country. Anbreast;

tigone thus replies to the message: For the loved one, the cares of the mother

“Go tell the Magistrates of Thebes from me, are vain,

Though all resist, that I will bury him ; She may hide,-through her body her dar

When nature bids, no dangers shall deter ling is slain.” A herald enters, and gives a charac- I will inter my brother, though the state ter of each of the chiefs, and describes Should brand me with the name of traitor the blazonry on their shields. In this part of the play there are some splen- Did not one miserable mother bear us?

Are we not bound by nature's strongest ties? did passages, but like that already The children of the same unhappy father ? quoted, more fit for narrative than dra

Faint not, my spirit,-in the path of duty, matic poetry. This is a fault which

The living with the dead shall hold comÆschylus frequently commits; but we munion ; are not to be surprised, that without He shall not be the prey of hungry wolves. any example of the drama to guide No! I will swathe him in fine linen garments, him, he should not have clearly seen And in my bosom bear him to the grave, the limits which separate acted from

And rear for him affection's monument;

Tho'a weak woman, and the state oppose me, spoken poetry. These descriptions, in

Yet shall I find the means for this good purwhich he seems to have taken the shield of Achilles as his model, occupy a most disproportionate length of the The “ Phænissæ,” the play next to play, nearly one half of the whole. come under review, is the work of Eu. The character of Amphiaraus may

ripides. It was the glory of Greek serve as a specimen. There was in tragedy, that in it genius was enlisted this man, who was a prophet, and who under the banners of morality, and was averse to the expedition, a gentle- Euripides was not only a great poet, ness of spirit well becoming a minister but an eminent teacher of moral wis

om. He had from nature a heart of of religion, and finely opposed to the ferocity of the other chiefs.

the keenest sensibility-and a rich ima“ The sixth is Amphiaraus ;-a man

gination. In the school of philosophy, Of sanctity of soul and gentle manners,

he had learned to turn the one into Yet in a righteous cause he knows not terror; its proper channels, and to prune the The virtuous indignation of his heart other of its unprofitable luxuriance,

me ;

for it;

pose.”

and, by a concentration of its energies, man points out to her the chiefs, and to give it a force and a vigour which among the rest Polynices, for whom it could not have obtained by any other she had eagerly inquired. training. He took the most exalted

Tutor. See! there he is ;-he stands view of the end of poetry, and from beyond the tomb the stores of philosophy he was en- Of Niobe's seven daughters, near Adrastus; abled to confer a solidity and a value Dost thou not see him. on her creations. It was not his aim

An. Yes ! but indistinctly ; merely to yield a momentary delight, Methinks I see him dimly shadow'd yonder. but, through the imagination and the Oh! could I journey on that passing cloud,

On the wings of the wind, to my dear brofeelings, to elevate, and refine, and in

ther, vigorate, the whole nature of man.

And pour my spirit in a fond embrace. But the quality the most prominent See ! how he shines in coat of golden mail, in this great man, is tenderness of Bright as the beaming of the morning sun." heart; nor did he, like Sophocles, put a check on his sympathies, that they terview is obtained betwixt her sons,

By the mediation of Jocasta, an inmight be displayed with the more ef- for the purpose of a reconciliation ; and fect in some striking situation; whereever an object presents itself for their Polynices, on his admission into the

city, meets her. exercise there is an overflow of them, and by the communications of genius

Jo. Oh! my son ! do I again behold

thee, he never fails to inspire his readers with his own sorrows.

His verses are

After so many weary days of absence ?

Embrace the breasts that gave thee suck, laboured to the most exquisite polish,

and lay and he bestowed so much care on their Thy cheek on mine, and let thy raven locks composition, that he is said to have Flow on my bosom; art thou come at length spent three days on the correction of Thus unexpected to a mother's arms ? so many lines. Whether this be liter. Do I again enjoy the dear delights ally true or not, it is certain that he I had with thee ere thou wert banish'd

hence ? was his own most severe critic, and might, in this respect, be imitated with Without thee the palace of thy father

Was as a desert to me; thou wert mourned profit in this scribbling generation, in By all thy friends, by all the citizens ; which many seem to mistake the faci- Then did I shear my hoary locks, and then lity of manufacturing feeble lines for Change the gay garments that betoken'd joy the inspiration of genius. A story, For the dark weeds more fitting for a which has been often told, shews the extent of his reputation among his

Po. There is no man that does not love contemporaries. In the unfortunate

his country; expedition of the Athenians against Sy- Lest I should fall into my brother's snares,

Yet come I in anxieties and fears, racuse, all the prisoners who could repeat his verses obtained their liberty. Of safety in thy promise pledged to me.

And perish in them ; yet there is one hope This is perhaps a more splendid eu- Thus have I dared to enter these lov'd walls, logy than ever was bestowed on poet. These palaces, these altars of the Gods, In dramatic management, he is less And that Gymnasium wherein I was train'd skilful than Sophocles, and his trage. To manly sports; and the fair streams of dies are often clumsy and disjointed

Dirce, in their structure, but even in this re

Which years have come and gone since I spect it will soon appear that he was

A miserable exile, fill my eyes superior to Æschylus.

With tears of melancholy. Oh! mother, In the Phænissæ, Jocasta, the mo

How art thou changed since last I saw thee ther of the warring princes, is intro

here! duced by Euripides, and acts a dis- Thy griefs for me have brought thee low tinguished part

in the play. She opens indeed. the piece by a prologue, in which she How is my father, feeble, blind, and old ? explains the causes of the calamities How are my sisters ? Do they weep for me? of her family, and the quarrels of her

Jo. The Gods have doom'd our family to

ruin, sons. Antigone, of whose attachment to her brother we had a proof in the Yet must we bear our sufferings with pa

. conclusion of the last play, then ap- Po. Ask what thou wilt, I will deny thee pears, accompanied by an aged tutor.

nothing; From the scene they had a full view 'I came in arms against my country, of the besieging army, and the old But, by the Gods I swear, unwillingly

mourner.

have seen,

sons.

1

tion;

sure,

I lift the spear and draw the sword against Hear me, ye kindred of the unhappy king * it.

His sons have perished in the deadly combat. 'Tis thine to reconcile thy children ;

C. Alas! this a heavy blow indeed ! Deliver me, the city, and thyself,

M. Yes, if thou knew'st the whole. From the calamities that threaten us.

C. More misfortunes ? Etcocles. (Addressing Jocasta.)

M. Thy sister sleeps in death beside her I come, but in submission to thy orders ; What wouldst thou have, there is no time -Just as they lay expiring side by side, to lose ?

In speed the mother with her daughter Jo. Truth and justice require delibera

came ;

And when she saw them dying of their Look not so sternly, 'tis no Gorgon's head

wounds, That thou beholdest, but thy only brother. She shrieked aloud, « Oh! I am then too Oh! Polynices, turn a friendly eye

late!' Upon Eteocles. --Be friends, my sons ! And falling on her children, now the one, Et. Mother, do not deceive thyself, but And now the other, wept in bitterness ; know

And cried, • Sons of my age! ye once were That I for sovereignty would seek the sky

dear Where the sun rises, aye, and would des- To one another as to me, but now cend

Your feuds have ruined me.' Eteocles, Into the central caverns of the earth. In the last throes of agonizing nature, Therefore to none will I resign the crown: Was wakened to attention by her cries, It is the sword that must decide our quarrels. And stretched his hand, wet by the dews of Shall he be sovereign, and must I be slave ? death, Let him for this bring fire and sword against Seized upon her's, and, with a feeble preş

me, Harness his steeds, and fill the plain with Held it a while, and watered it with tears, chariots,

In token of the love he could not speak, I will not yield to him the sovereignty." And thus expired. The brother, who stil! The dialogue is continued, and is so

lived, extremely beautiful, that I regret my

Looked on his sister and his aged mother: limits will not permit me to translate And thee, my sister-maye, and thee, my

• I perish, mother, yet I pity thee, even a part of it.

brother, A scene follows betwixt Eteocles Though by my hands thou diest, as I by and his uncle Creon, who recommends

thine. caution; but the impetuous young Thou wert once my friend, became mine man, impatient of restraint, and burn

enemy, ing for revenge, delegates to him the Yet still wert dear to me. My beloved care of the government, and hurries mother, out to battle. Creon sends for the And thou, my sister, hear my dying prayer. soothsayer Tiresias, to consult him Oh! sooth the citizens, and let them not respecting the issue of the war ; who But let me with my kindred have a grave

Take vengeance on my ashes after death ; informs him, that there is no other In this my dear and much-loved native means of delivering the city from des

land. truction but offering up his son a vic- Though I have lost at once my life and tim for the general safety. The fa- crown, ther refuses, but the generous youth Let them no longer treat me as an exile. retires, and puts an end to his life. And, mother, close mine eyes with thing This scene, taken in itself, is good;

own hands,' but, as it is little connected with the (Then did he lay her hands upon his eyes,)

• And fare ye well; for now the shades of principal story, it must be condemned

death as an excrescence.

Surround me. It was thus the princes After this transaction, Jocasta and perished. Antigone are informed that the battle Then was Jocasta conquered by her sorrows, had ceased, and that Polynices and. And in a fit of frenzy drew the sword Eteocles had agreed to decide their From her son's side, and thrust it through differences by single combat. Jo

her throat, casta, alarmed by these tidings, hastily And long as life remained, embraced her

sons, quits the stage, with the design of

And died between them.” throwing herself betwixt her sons, and preventing this unnatural combat, of The play concludes with the banishwhich the issue is narrated to Creon ment of old Edipus, by the orders of by a messenger:

Creon, and a pathetic scene betwixt Mess. ( Aside.) How shall I commit

him and Antigone, who accompanies nicate the tidings ? him into exile.

2. 2 Z

Vol. I.

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