The Frogs  

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The Frogs is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed at the Lenaia, one of the Festivals of Dionysus in Athens, in 405 BC, and received first place.

Contents

Plot

The Frogs tells the story of the god Dionysus, who, despairing of the state of Athens' tragedians ("most [good poets] be dead, only the false live on"), travels to Hades to bring the playwright Euripides back from the dead. (Euripides had died the year before, in 406 BC). He brings along his slave Xanthias, who is smarter and braver than Dionysus. The play opens as Xanthias and Dionysus argue over what kind of jokes Xanthias can use to open the play. For the first half of the play, Dionysus routinely bungles, forcing Xanthias to enable him.

To find a reliable path to Hades, Dionysus seeks advice from his half-brother Heracles, who had been there before in order to retrieve the hell hound Cerberus. Dionysus shows up at his doorstep dressed in a lion-hide and carrying a club. Heracles, upon seeing the effeminate Dionysus dressed up like himself, can't help laughing. At the question of which road is quickest to get to Hades, Heracles replies with the options of hanging yourself, drinking poison, or jumping off a tower. Dionysus opts for the longer journey across a lake (possibly Lake Acheron); the one which Heracles took himself.

When Dionysus arrives at the lake, Charon ferries him across. Xanthias, being a slave, is not allowed in the boat, and has to walk around it, while Dionysus is made to help row the boat.

This is the point of the first choral interlude (parodos), sung by the eponymous chorus of frogs (the only scene in which frogs feature in the play). Their croaking refrain – Template:Lang (Greek: Template:Lang) – greatly annoys Dionysus, who engages in a mocking debate (agon) with the frogs. When he arrives at the shore, Dionysus meets up with Xanthias, who teases him by claiming to see the frightening monster Empusa. A second chorus composed of spirits of Dionysian Mystics soon appear.

The next encounter is with Aeacus, who mistakes Dionysus for Heracles due to his attire. Still angry over Heracles' theft of Cerberus, Aeacus threatens to unleash several monsters on him in revenge. Scared, Dionysus trades clothes with Xanthias. A maid then arrives and is happy to see Heracles. She invites him to a feast with virgin dancing girls, and Xanthias is more than happy to oblige. But Dionysus quickly wants to trade back the clothes. Dionysus, back in the Heracles lion-skin, encounters more people angry at Heracles, and so he makes Xanthias trade a third time.

When Aeacus returns to confront the alleged Heracles (i.e. Xanthias), Xanthias offers him his "slave" (Dionysus) for torturing, to obtain the truth as to whether or not he is really a thief. The terrified Dionysus tells the truth that he is a god. After each is whipped, Dionysus is brought before Aeacus' masters, and the truth is verified. The maid then catches Xanthius and chats him up, interrupted by preparations for the contest scene.

The maid describes the Euripides-Aeschylus conflict. Euripides, who had only just recently died, is challenging the great Aeschylus to the seat of "Best Tragic Poet" at the dinner table of Pluto, the ruler of the underworld. A contest is held with Dionysus as judge. The two playwrights take turns quoting verses from their plays and making fun of the other. Euripides argues the characters in his plays are better because they are more true to life and logical, whereas Aeschylus believes his idealized characters are better as they are heroic and models for virtue. Aeschylus mocks Euripides' verse as predictable and formulaic by having Euripides quote lines from many of his prologues, each time interrupting the declamation with the same phrase "Template:Lang" ("... lost his little flask of oil"). (The passage has given rise to the term lekythion, literally 'oil-flask', for this type of rhythmic group in poetry.) Euripides counters by demonstrating the alleged monotony of Aeschylus' choral songs, parodying excerpts from his works and having each citation end in the same refrain Template:Lang ("oh, what a stroke, won't you come to the rescue?", from Aeschylus' lost play Myrmidons). Aeschylus retorts to this by mocking Euripides' choral meters and lyric monodies with castanets.

During the contest, Dionysus redeems his earlier role as the butt of every joke. He now rules the stage, adjudicating the contestant's squabbles fairly, breaking up their prolonged rants, and applying a deep understanding of Greek tragedy.

To end the debate, a balance is brought in and each are told to tell a few lines into it. Whoever's lines have the most "weight" will cause the balance to tip in their favor. Euripides produces verses of his that mention, in turn, the ship Argo, Persuasion, and a mace. Aeschylus responds with the river Spercheios, Death, and two crashed chariots and two dead charioteers! Since the latter verses refer to "heavier" objects, Aeschylus wins, but Dionysus is still unable to decide whom he will revive. He finally decides to take the poet who gives the best advice about how to save the city. Euripides gives cleverly worded but essentially meaningless answers while Aeschylus provides more practical advice, and Dionysus decides to take Aeschylus back instead of Euripides. Pluto allows Aeschylus to return to life so that Athens may be succoured in her hour of need, and invites everyone to a round of farewell drinks. Before leaving, Aeschylus proclaims that Sophocles should have his chair while he is gone, not Euripides.

Critical Analysis

Politics

Kenneth Dover claims that the underlying political theme of The Frogs is essentially “old ways good, new ways bad”. He points to the parabasis for proof of this: “The antepirrhema of the parabasis (718-37) urges the citizen-body to reject the leadership of those whom it now follows, upstarts of foreign parentage (730-2), and turn back to men of known integrity who were brought up in the style of noble and wealthy families” (Dover 33). Kleophon is mentioned in the ode of the parabasis (674-85), and is both “vilified as a foreigner” (680-2) and maligned at the end of the play (1504, 1532).

The Frogs deviates from the pattern of political standpoint offered in Aristophanes’ earlier works, such as The Acharnians (425 BC), Peace (421 BC), and Lysistrata (411 BC), which have all been termed 'peace' plays. The Frogs is not often thus labeled, however – Dover points out that though Kleophon was adamantly opposed to any peace which did not come of victory, and the last lines of the play suggest Athens ought to look for a less stubborn end to the war, Aeschylus’ advice (1463-5) lays out a plan to win and not a proposition of capitulation. Also, The Frogs contains solid, serious messages which represent significant differences from general critiques of policy and idealistic thoughts of good peace terms. During the parabasis Aristophanes presents advice to give the rights of citizens back to people who had participated in the oligarchic revolution in 411 BC, arguing they were misled by Phrynichus' 'tricks' (literally 'wrestlings'). Phrynichos was a leader of the oligarchic revolution who was assassinated, to general satisfaction, in 411. This proposal was simple enough to be instated by a single act of the assembly, and was actually put into effect by Patrokleides’ decree after the loss of the fleet at Aegospotami. The anonymous Life states that this advice was the basis of Aristophanes’ receipt of the olive wreath, and the author of the ancient Hypothesis says admiration of the parabasis was the major factor that led to the play's second production.

J.T. Sheppard contends that the exiled general Alcibiades is a main focus of The Frogs. At the time the play was written and produced, Athens was in dire straits in the war with the Peloponnesian League, and the people, Sheppard claims, would logically have Alcibiades on their minds. Sheppard quotes a segment of text from near the beginning of the parabasis:

But remember these men also, your own kinsmen, sire and son,
Who have oftimes fought beside you, spilt their blood on many seas;
Grant for that one fault the pardon which they crave you on their knees.
You whom nature made for wisdom, let your vengeance fall to sleep;
Greet as kinsmen and Athenians, burghers true to win and keep,
Whosoe'er will brave the storms and fight for Athens at your side!|15px|15px|Murray translation, from l. 697

He states that though this text ostensibly refers to citizens dispossessed of their rights, it will actually evoke memories of Alcibiades, the Athenians' exiled hero. Further support includes the presentation of the chorus, who recites these lines, as initiates of the mysteries. This, Sheppard says, will also prompt recollection of Alcibiades, whose initial exile was largely based on impiety regarding these religious institutions. Continuing this thought, the audience is provoked into remembering Alcibiades' return in 408 BC, when he made his peace with the goddesses. The reason Aristophanes hints so subtly at these points, according to Sheppard, is because Alcibiades still had many rivals in Athens, such as Kleophon and Adeimantus, who are both blasted in the play. Sheppard also cites Aeschylus during the prologue debate, when the poet quotes from The Oresteia:

Subterranean Hermes, guardian of my father's realms,
Become my savior and my ally, in answer to my prayer.
For I am come and do return to this my land.|15px|15px|Dillon translation, from l. 1127

This choice of excerpt again relates to Alcibiades, still stirring his memory in the audience. Sheppard concludes by referencing the direct mention of Alcibiades' name, which occurs in the course of Dionysus' final test of the poets, seeking advice about Alcibiades himself and a strategy for victory. Though Euripides first blasts Alcibiades, Aeschylus responds with the advice to bring him back, bringing the subtle allusions to a clearly stated head and concluding Aristophanes' point.

Structure of The Frogs

According to Kenneth Dover the structure of The Frogs is as follows: In the first section Dionysus' has the goal of gaining admission to Pluto's palace, and he does so by line 673. The parabasis follows, (lines 674-737) and in the dialogue between the slaves a power struggle between Euripides and Aeschylus is revealed. Euripides is jealous of the other's place as the greatest tragic poet. Dionysus is asked by Pluto to mediate the contest or agon.

Charles Paul Segal argues that The Frogs is unique in its structure, because it combines two forms of comic motifs, a journey motif and a contest motif or agon motif, with each motif being given equal weight in the play.

Segal contends that Aristophanes transformed the Greek comedy structure when he downgraded the contest or agon which usually preceded the parabasis and expanded the parabasis into the agon. In Aristophanes' earlier plays, i.e., The Acharnians and The Birds, the protagonist is victorious prior to the parabasis and after the parabasis is usually shown implementing his reforms. Segal suggests this deviation gave a tone of seriousness to the play. For more detail see Old Comedy.

Sophocles

Sophocles, a tragic playwright similar to Aeschylus, and who had died recently is referenced several times as a worthy playwright. He is told to guard Aeschylus' chair while he is away.

References to the play

In the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera The Pirates of Penzance, Major-General Stanley, in his introductory song, includes the fact that he "knows the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes" in a list of all his scholarly achievements.

Stephen Sondheim adapted The Frogs to a musical of the same name, using characters of George Bernard Shaw and William Shakespeare instead of the Greek playwrights.

End the Fed author Ron Paul uses a passage from The Frogs that recounts the debasement of the Greek drachma as an epigraph to one of the book's chapters, reflecting it comment on modern day inflation.

In Finnegans Wake, page 4 paragraph 1, references this play with the words "Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!" read it here

The call of the Frog Chorus, "Brekekekéx-koáx-koáx" (Greek: Βρεκεκεκέξ κοάξ κοάξ) is the basis for an Axe Yell rendering the last two segments "croax croax" and used by the University of California and Stanford University in reference to the Stanford Axe, which was created at the turn of the 20th century.

Full text

Internet Archive Web Video Texts Audio Projects About Account TVNews OpenLibrary (navigation image) Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections Search: Find Advanced Search Anonymous User (login or join us) Upload See other formats Full text of "The frogs of Aristophanes" HAROLD B. LEE LISRARY

BRIQHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

PROVO, UTAH


Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2011 with funding from Brigham Young University


http://www.archive.org/details/frogsofaristophaOOaris


THE FROGS

OF

ARISTOPHANES


THE ATHENIAN DRAMA

FOR ENGLISH READERS

A Series of Verse Translations of the Greek

Dramatic Poets, with Commentaries and

Explanatory Notes.

Crown 8vo, cloth, gilt top, 7s. 6d. each net.

Each Volume Illustrated from ancient

Sculptures and Vase -Painting.

AESCHYLUS : The Orestean Trilogy. By Prof. G. C. Warr. With an Introduction on The Rise of Greek Tragedy ^ and 1 3 Illustrations.

SOPHOCLES: (Edipus Tyr annus and ColoneuSy and Antigone » By Prof. J. S. Phillimore. With an Introduction on Sophocles and his Treatment of Tragedy^ and 16 Illustrations.

EURIPIDES: Hippolytus ; Bacchae ; Aristo- phanes^ * Frogs,' By Prof. Gilbert Murray. With an Appendix on The Lost Tragedies of Euripides y and an Introduction on The Signi- ficance of the Bacchae in Athenian History^ and 1 2 Illustrations. [Fourth Edition.


ALSO UNIFORM WITH THE ABOVE

THE HOMERIC HYMNS. A New Prose Rendering by Andrew Lang, with Essays Critical and Explanatory, and 14 Illustrations.


THE PLAYS OF EURIPIDES

Translated into English Rhyming Verse, with Explanatory Notes, by Prof. Gilbert Murray.


Hippolytus, Fifth Edition.

Bacchae, Second Edition.

The IVoJan IV omen,

Electra. Third Edition.

Medea,

2 he Frogs of Aristophanes,


Paper Covers, Impl. i6mo, IS. each net.

Also crown 8vo, Cloth, gilt top, 28. each net.


P4

m-^ THE FROGS


OF


ARISTOPHANES


TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH RHYMING VERSE BY


GILBERT MURRAY, M.A., LL.D.

EMERITUS PKOFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY

OF Glasgow; fellow of new college, oxfokd


LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & SONS

156, CHARING CROSS ROAD

1908

[All rights reserved]


Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson &^ Co. At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh


THE FROGS

OF

ARISTOPHANES


CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY

The God Dionysus. '?<i.^xA«*^|

Xanthias, his slave.

Aeschylus.

Euripides.

Heracles.

Pluto.

Charon.

Abacus, house porter to Pluto »

A Corpse.

A Maidservant of Persephone.

A Landlady in Hades,

Plathane, her servant,

A Chorus of Frogs.

A Chorus of Initiated Persons.

Attendants at a Funeral ; Women worshipping lacchus ; Servants of Fluto, dr'c,

" The play was first produced in Athens at the Feast of the Lenaea in the year /\o$ B.C. // obtained the first prize. Phrynichus was second with ' The Muses ^' Plato third with * The Cleophon.' "


THE FROGS

At the hack of the scene is the house of Heracles. Enter Dionysus, disguised as Heracles, with /ion-skin and cluhy but with the high boots of tragedy and a tunic of saffron silk. He is followed by Xanthias, seated on a donkey and carrying an immense bale of luggage on a porter s pole. They advance for a while in silence.

Xanthias

[looking round at his burden with a groan).

Sir, shall I say one of the regular things That people in a theatre always laugh at ?

Dionysus.

Say what you like, except " I'm overloaded."

But mind, not that. That's simply wormwood to me.

Xanthias {disappointed). Not anything funny ?

Dionysus. Not " Oh, my poor blisters 1

Xanthias. Suppose I made the great joke ?

Dionysus.

Why, by all means


99


4 EURIPIDES

Don't be afraid. Only, for mercy's sake, Don't . . .

Xantf-iias.

Don't do what ?

Dionysus.

Don't shift your luggage pole Across, and say, " I want to blow my nose."

Xanthias {greatly disappointed).

Nor, that I've got such a weight upon my back That unless some one helps me quickly I shall sneeze ?

Dionysus. Oh, please, no. Keep it till I need emetics.

Xanthias.

Then what's the good of carrying all this lumber If I mayn't make one single good old wheeze Like Phrynichus, Ameipsias, and Lykis ?

Dionysus.

Ah no ; don't make them. — When I sit down there

[Pointing to the auditorium. And hear some of those choice products, I go home A twelvemonth older.

Xanthias [to himself).

Oh, my poor old neck : Blistered all round, and mustn't say it's blistered, Because that's funny !

Dionysus.

Airs and insolence ! When I, Dionysus, child of the Great Jug,


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 5

Must work and walk myself, and have him riding Lest he should tire himself or carry things 1

Xanthias. Am I not carrying things ?

Dionysus.

They're carrying you.

Xanthias {showing the baggage),

I'm carrying this.

Dionysus.

How ?

Xanthias.

With my back half-broken.

Dionysus. That bag is clearly carried by a donkey,

Xanthias. No donkey carries bags that / am carrying.

Dionysus. I suppose you know the donkey's carrying you.

Xanthias [turning cross), I don't. I only know my shoulder's sore !

Dionysus.

Well, if it does no good to ride the donkey. Go turns, and let the poor beast ride on you.


6 EURIPIDES

Xanthias {aside). Just like my luck. — Why wasn't I on board At Arginusae ? Then I'd let you have it.

Dionysus. Dismount, you rascal. — Here's the door close by Where I must turn in first — and I on foot ! {Knociing. Porter ! Hi, porter ! Hi !

Heracles {entering from the house). Who's knocking there ? More like a mad bull butting at the door, Whoever he is . . . {seeing Dionysus). God bless us, what's all this ?

[^He examines Dionysus minutely y then chokes with silent emotion.


Boy!


Dionysus {aside to Xanthias). Xanthias.


What, sir ?


Dionysus. Did you notice ?

Xanthias. Dionysus.


Notice what ?


The man's afraid,


Xanthias. Yes, sir ; {aside) afraid you're cracked 1

Heracles {struggling with laughter),

I wouldn't if I possibly could help it : I'm trying to bite my lips, but all the same . . . {roars with laughter).


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 7

Dionysus. Don't be absurd ! Come here. I want something.

Heracles.

I would, but I can't yet shake this laughter off: The lion-skin on a robe of saffron silk ! How comes my club to sort with high-heeled boots ? What's the idea ? Where have you come from now ?

Dionysus. I've been at sea, serving with Cleisthenes.

Heracles.


You fought a battle ?


Dionysus.


Yes : sank several ships, Some twelve or thirteen.

Heracles.

Just you two ?

Dionysus.

Of course, Xanthias {aside).

And then I woke, and it was all a dream !

Dionysus.

Well, one day I was sitting there on deck Reading the Andromeda, when all at once A great desire came knocking at my heart, You'd hardly think . . •

Heracles.

A great desire ? How big ?


8 EURIPIDES

Dionysus. Oh, not so big. Perhaps as large as Molon.

Heracles. Who was the lady ?

Dionysus. Lady ?

Heracles.

Well, the girl ? Dionysus.

Great Heaven, there wasn'^t one !

Heracles.

Well, I have always Considered Cleisthenes a perfect lady !

Dionysus.

Don't mock me, brother ! It's a serious thing, A passion that has worn me to a shadow.

Heracles. Well, tell us all about it.

Dionysus

{with the despair of an artist explaining himself to a

common athlete).

No ; I can't. You never . . . But I'll think of an analogy. You never felt a sudden inward craving For . . . pease-broth ?

Heracles. Pease-broth ? Bless me, crowds of times.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 9

Dionysus.

See'st then the sudden truth ? Or shall I put it Another way ?

Heracles.

Oh, not about pease-broth. I see It quite.

Dionysus.

Well, I am now consumed By just that sort of restless craving for Euripides.

Heracles.

Lord save us, the man's dead !

Dionysus.

He is ; and no one in this world shall stop me From going to see him !

Heracles.

Down to the place of shades ?

Dionysus. The place of shades or any shadier still.

Heracles. What do you want to get ?

Dionysus.

I want a poet, For most be dead ; only the false live on.

Heracles. lophon's still alive.

Dionysus.

Well, there you have it ;


lo EURIPIDES

The one good thing still left us, if it is one. For even as to that I have my doubts.

Heracles.

But say, why don't you bring up Sophocles

By preference, if you must have some one back ?

Dionysus. No, not till IVe had lophon quite alone And seen what note he gives without his father. Besides, Euripides, being full of tricks. Would give the slip to his master, if need were, And try to escape with me ; while Sophocles, Content with us, will be content in Hell.

Heracles. •^

And Agathon, where is he ?

Dionysus.

Gone far away, A poet true, whom many friends regret.

Heracles. Beshrew him ! Where ?

Dionysus. To feast with peaceful kings !

Heracles. And Xenocles ?

Dionysus.

Oh, plague take Xenocles !

Heracles. Pythangelus, then ?

[Dionysus shrugs his shoulders in expressive silence.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS ii

Xanthias [to himself).

And no one thinks of me, When all my shoulder'*s skinning, simply skinning.

Heracles. But aren't there other pretty fellows there All writing tragedies by tens of thousands, And miles verboser than Euripides ?

Dionysus. Leaves without fruit ; trills in the empty air, And starling chatter, mutilating art ! Give them one chance and that's the end of them, One weak assault on an unprotected Muse. Search as you will, you'll find no poet now With grit in him, to wake a word of power.

Heracles. How "grit"?

Dionysus.

The grit that gives them heart to risk Bold things — vast Ether, residence of God, Or Time's long foot, or souls that won't take oaths While tongues go swearing falsely by themselves.

Heracles. You like that stuff ?

Dionysus.

Like it ? I rave about it.

Heracles (reflecting). Why, yes ; it's devilish tricky, as you say. ^

Dionysus. "Ride not upon my soul ! " Use your own donkey.


12 EURIPIDES

Heracles {apologising). I only meant it was obviously humbug !

Dionysus. If ever I need advice about a dinner^ I'll come to you !

Xanthias (to himself).

And no one thinks of me*

Dionysus. But v/hy I came in these especial trappings — Disguised as you, in fact — w^as this. I vi^ant you To tell me all the hosts w^ith w^hom you stayed That time you went to fetch up Cerberus : Tell me your hosts, your harbours, bakers' shops, Inns, taverns — reputable and otherwise — Springs, roads, towns, posts, and landladies that keep The fewest fleas.

Xanthias {as before).

And no one thinks of me !

Heracles {impressively). Bold man, and will you dare . . .

Dionysus.

Now, don't begin That sort of thing ; but tell the two of us What road will take us quickest down to Hades. — And, please, no great extremes of heat or cold.

Heracles. Well, which one had I better tell you first ? —


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 13

Which now ? — Ah, yes ; suppose you got a boatman To tug you, with a hawser — round your neck . • .

Dionysus. A chokey sort of journey, that.

Heracles.

Well, then, There is a short road, quick and smooth, the surface Well pounded — in a mortar.

Dionysus.

The hemlock way ?

Heracles. Exactly.

Dionysus.

Cold and bitter ! Why, it freezes All your shins numb.

Heracles. Do you mind one short and steep ?

Dionysus. Not in the least . . . You know I'm no great walker.

Heracles. Then just stroll down to Cerameicus . . ♦

Dionysus.

Well ? Heracles.

Climb up the big tower . . .

Dionysus.

Good ; and then ?


14 EURIPIDES

Heracles.

Then watch

And see them start the torch-race down below 5

Lean over till you hear the men say " Go,"

And then, go.

Dionysus.

Where ?

Heracles.

Why, over.

Dionysus.

Not for me. It'd cost me two whole sausage bags of brains. I won't go that way.

Heracles. Well, how will you go ?

Dionysus. The V7ZJ you went that time.

Heracles {impressively).

The voyage is long. You first come to a great mere, fathomless And very wide.

Dionysus {unimpressed).

How do I get across ?

Heracles {with a gesture).

In a little boat, like that ; an aged man

Will row you across the ferry ... for two obols.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 15

Dionysus.

Those two old obols, everywhere at work !

I wonder how they found their way down there ?

Heracles.

Oh, Theseus took them ! — After that you'll see Snakes and queer monsters, crowds and crowds.

Dionysus.

Now don't : Don't play at bogies ! You can never move me !

Heraci.es.

Then deep, deep mire and everlasting filth, And, wallowing there, such as have wronged a guest, Or picked a wench's pocket while they kissed her, Beaten their mothers, smacked their fathers' jaws, Or sworn perjurious oaths before high heaven.

Dionysus.

And with them, I should hope, such as have learned

Kinesias's latest Battle Dance,

Or copied out a speech of Morsimus !

Heracles.

Then you will find a breath about your ears Of music, and a light before your eyes Most beautiful — like this — and myrtle groves, And joyous throngs of women and of men, And clapping of glad hands.

Dionysus.

And who will they be ?


i6 EURIPIDES

Heracles. The Initiated.

Xanthias {aside).

Yes ; and I'm the donkey HoHday-making at the Mysteries ! But I won't stand this weight one moment longer.

J[He begins to put down his bundle,

Heracles.

And they will forthwith tell you all you seek. They have their dwelling just beside the road, At Pluto's very door. — So now good-bye ; And a pleasant journey, brother.

Dionysus.

Thanks ; good-bye. Take care of yourself. {To Xanthias, while Heracles returns into the house) Take up the bags again.

Xanthias. Before I've put them down ?

Dionysus.

Yes, and be quick.

Xanthias.

No, really, sir ; we ought to hire a porter.

Dionysus. And what if I can't find one ?

Xanthias.

Then Til go.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 17

Dionysus.

All right. — Why, here's a funeral, just in time.

[Enter a Funeral on the right. Here, sir — it's you I'm addressing — the defunct j Do you care to carry a few traps to Hades ?

The Corpse [sitting up). How heavy ?

Dionysus.

What you see.

Corpse.

You'll pay two drachmas ?

Dionysus. Oh, come, that's rather much.

Corpse.

Bearers, move on ! Dionysus.

My good man, wait ! See if we can't arrange.

Corpse. Two drachmas down, or else don't talk to me.

Dionysus. Nine obols ?

Corpse [lying down again).

Strike me living if I will !

[Exit the Funeral,

Xanthias.

That dog's too proud ! He'll come to a bad end. — Well, I'll be porter.

B


i8 EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

That's a good brave fellow. [They walk on for some time. The scene changes^ a desolate lake taking the place of the house, Dionysus peers into the distance^

Dionysus. What ts that ?

Xanthias.

That ? A lake.


Dionysus.


By Zeus, it is !


The mere he spoke of.

Xanthias.

Yes ; I see a boat.

Dionysus, Yes ; by the powers !

Xanthias.

And yonder must be Charon.

Dionysus. Charon, ahoy !

Both.

Ahoy ! Charon, ahoy !

Charon (approaching in the boat. He is an old^ grim^ and squalid

Ferryman^ wearing a slave s felt cap and a sleeve^

less tunic). Who is for rest from sufferings and cares ? Who's for the Carrion Crows, and the Dead Donkeys ; Lethe and Sparta and the rest of Hell ?


ARISTOPHANES^ FROGS 19

Dionysus. I!

Charon. Get in.

Dionysus.

Where do you touch ? The Carrion Crows, You said ?

Charon [gruffly).

The Dogs will be the place for you. Get in,

Dionysus.

Come, Xanthias.

Charon.

I don't take slaves : Unless he has won his freedom ? Did he fight The battle of the Cold Meat Unpreserved ?

Xanthias. Well, no ; my eyes were very sore just then . , ,

Charon. Then trot round on your legs !

. Xanthias.

Where shall I meet you ?

Charon. At the Cold Seat beside the Blasting Stone.

Dionysus {to Xanthias, who hesitates). You understand ?


20 EURIPIDES

Xanthias.

Oh, quite. [Aside) Just like my luck. What can have crossed me when I started out ?

[Exit Xanthias. Charon.

Sit to your oar (Dionysus does his best to obey). Any

more passengers ? If so, make haste. {To Dionysus) What are you doing

there ?

Dionysus.

Why, what you told me ; sitting on my oar.

Charon.

Oh, are you ? Well, get up again and sit

[Pushing him down. Down there — fatty !

Dionysus {doing everything wrong). Like that ?


And stretch


Charon.

Put out your arms

Dionysus, Like that ?


Charon.

None of your nonsense here ! Put both your feet against the stretcher. — Now, In good time, row !

Dionysus {fluently^ putting down his oars). And how do you expect


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 21

A man like me, with no experience, No seamanship, no Salamis, — to row ?

Charon.

You'll row all right ; as soon as you fall to, You'll hear a first-rate tune that makes you row,

Dionysus. Who sings it ?

Charon.

Certain cycnoranidac. Tiiat's music !

Dionysus.

Give the word then, and we'll see. [Charon gives the word for rowing and marks the time. A Chorus of Frogs under the water is heard. The Feast of Pots to which they refer was the third day of the Anthesteria^ and included songs to Dionysus at his temple in the district called Uunnae (" Marshes ").

Frogs.

O brood of the mere and the spring, Gather together and sing

From the depths of your throat

By the side of the boat, Co-ax, as we move in a ring ;

As in Limnae we sang the divine Nyseian Giver of Wine,

When the people in lots

With their sanctified Pots Came reehng around my shrine.


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Co-ax, co-ax, co-ax, Brekekekex co-ax.

Dionysus. Don't sing any more j I begin to be sore !

Frogs. Brekekekex co-ax.

Co-ax, co-ax, co-ax, Brekekekex co-ax !

Dionysus. Is it nothing to you If I'm black and I'm blue ?

Frogs. Brekekekex co-iix I

Dionysus.

A plague on all of your swarming packs. There's nothing in you except co-ax !

Frogs.

Well, and what more do you need ? Though it's none of your business indeed,

When the Muse thereanent

Is entirely content. And horny-hoof Pan with his reed :

When Apollo is fain to admire My voice, on account of his lyre

Which he frames with the rushes

And watery bushes — Co-ax ! — which I grow in the mire.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 23

Co-ax, co-ax, co-ax, Brekekekex co-ax !

Dionysus. Peace, musical sisters ! I'm covered with blisters.

Frogs. Brekekekex co-ax.


Co-ax, co-ax, co-ax,

Brekekekex co-ax !

Our song we can double Without the least trouble

Brekekekex co-iix.


Sing we now, if ever hopping

Through the sedge and flowering rushes ; In and out the sunshine flopping. We have sported, rising, dropping.

With our song that nothing hushes.

Sing, if e'er in days of storm

Safe our native oozes bore us, Staved the rain off, kept us warm, Till we set our dance in form,

Raised our hubble-bubbling chorus :

Brekekekex co-ax, co-ax !

Dionysus. Brekekekex co-ax, co-ax !

I can sing it as loud as you.

Frogs. Sisters, that he never must do !


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Dionysus. Would you have me row till my shoulder cracks

Frogs. Brekekekex co-ax, co-fix !

Dionysus. Brekekekex co-ax, co-ax ! Groan away till you burst your backs. It's nothing to me.

Frogs. Just wait till you see.

Dionysus. I don't care how you scold.

Frogs. Then all day long We will croak you a song As loud as our throats can hold.

Brekekekex co-ax, co-Sx ! !

Dionysus. Brekekekex co-ax, co-ax ! ! ril see you don't outdo me in that.

Frogs. Well, you shall never beat us — that's flat !

Dionysus. I'll make you cease your song If I shout for it all day long ;

My lungs I'll tax

With co-ax, co-ax — I assure you they're thoroughly strong—


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 25

Until your efforts at last relax : Brekckekex co-ax, co-ilx ! !

l^No answer from the Frogs, Brekekekex co-ax, co-ax ! ! ! I knew in the end I should stop your quacks !

\The boat has now reached the further shore.

Charon.

Easy there ! Stop her ! Lay her alongside. — Now pay your fare and go.

Dionysus.

There are the obols. [Dionysus gets out. The boat and Charon disappear, Dionysus peers about hi?7i. Ho, Xanthias! . . . Where's Xanthias ? — Is that your

Xanthias {from the darhiess). Hullo !

Dionysus.

Come this way.

Xanthias [entering).

Oh, I'm glad to see you!

Dionysus [looking roujid). Well, and what have we here ?

Xanthias.

Darkness — and mud.

Dionysus.

Did you see any of the perjurers here, And father-beaters, as he said we should ?


26 EURIPIDES

Xanthias. Why, didn't you ?

Dionysus.

I ? Lots.

[Looking full at the audience, I see them now. Well, what are we to do ?

Xanthias.

Move further ovu This is the place he said was all aswarm With horrid beasts.

Dionysus.

A plague on what he said ! Exaggerating just to frighten me, Because he knew my courage and was jealous. Naught lives so flown with pride as Heracles! Why, my best wish would be to meet with something, Some real adventure, worthy of our travels I

Xanthias [listening). Stay ! — Yes, upon my word. I hear a noise.

Dionysus [nervously). God bless me, where ?

Xanthias. Behind.


Dionysus.

Xanthias. No ; It's in front somewhere.


Go to the rear.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 27

Dionysus.

Then get in front.

Xanthias. Why, there I see it. — Save us ! — A great beast. . . .

Dionysus {cowering behind Xanthias).

What like ?

Xanthias.

Horrid ! ... At least it keeps on changing ! It was a bull ; now it's a mule ; and now A fair young girl.

Dionysus.

Where is it ? Let me at it !

Xanthias. Stay, sir ; it's not a girl now, it's a dog.

Dionysus. It must be Empusa !

Xanthias. Yes. At least its head Is all on fire.

Dionysus.

Has it a leg of brass ?

Xanthias. Yes, that it has. And the other leg of cow-dung.

It's she !

Dionysus.

Where shall I go ?

Xanthias.

Well, where shall I ?


28 EURIPIDES

Dionysus {running forward and addressing the Priest of Dionysus in his seat of state in the centre of the front row of the audience).

My Priest, protect mc and we'll sup together !

Xanthias. We're done for, O Lord Heracles.

Dionysus {cowering again).

Oh, don't ! Don't shout like that, man, and don't breathe that name.

Xanthias. Dionysus, then !

Dionysus.

No, no. That's worse than the other. * . . Keep on the way you're going.

Xanthias {after searching about).

Come along, sir. Dionysus. What is it ?

Xanthias.

Don't be afraid, sir. All goes well. And we can say as said Hegelochus, "Beyond these storms I catch z. piece oi tail!^^

Empusa's gone.

Dionysus.

Swear it.

Xanthias.

By Zeus, she's gone ?


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 29

Dionysus. Again.

Xanthias.

By Zeus, she's gone !

Dionysus.

Your solemn oath.

Xanthias. By Zeus ! !

Dionysus {raising himself).

Dear me, that made me feel quite pale.

Xanthias [pointing to the Priest). And this kind gentleman turned red for sympathy.

Dionysus.

How can I have sinned to bring all this upon me ? What power above is bent on my destruction ?

Xanthias. The residence of God, or Time's long foot?

Dionysus [listening as jlute-playing is heard outside).

I say 1

Xanthias. What is it ?

Dionysus.

Don'^t you hear it ?

Xanthias.

What ? Dionysus. Flutes blowing.


30 EURIPIDES

Xanthias.

Yes. And such a smell of torches Floating towards us, all most Mystery-like !

Dionysus. Crouch quietly down and let us hear the music.

[They crouch down at the left. Music is heard far off. Xanthias puts down the bundle.

Chorus {unseen).

lacchus, O lacchus ! lacchus, O lacchus !

Xanthias.

That's it, sir. These are the Initiated Rejoicing somewhere here, just as he told us. Why, it^s the old lacchus hymn that used To warm the cockles of Diagoras !

Dionysus.

Yes, it must be. However, weM best sit Quite still and listen, till weVe sure of it.

\There enters gradually the Chorus, consisting of Men Initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries. They are led by a Hierophant or Initiat- ing Priest y and accompanied by a throng of Worshipping Women. They have white robesy wreaths upon their brows^ and torches in their hands. During their entrance the back scene again changes. The lake disappears and we find ourselves in front of the house of Pluto.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 31

Chorus.

Thou that dwellest in the shadow Of great glory here beside us, Spirit, Spirit, we have hied us To thy dancing in the meadow ! Come, lacchus ; let thy brow Toss its fruited myrtle bough ; We are thine, O happy dancer ; O our comrade, come and guide us !

Let the mystic measure beat : Come in riot fiery fleet ; Free and holy all before thee, While the Charites adore thee. And thy Mystae wait the music of thy feet !

Xanthias.

O Virgin of Demeter, highly blest. What an entrancing smell of roasted pig !

Dionysus.

Hush ! hold your tongue ! Perhaps they'll give you some.

Chorus.

Spirit, Spirit, lift the shaken

Splendour of thy tossing torches ! All the meadow flashes, scorches : Up, lacchus, and awaken ! Come, thou star that bringest light To the darkness of our rite. Till thine old men leap as young men, leap with every thought forsaken


32 EURIPIDES

Of the dulness and the fear Left by many a circling year : Let thy red light guide the dances Where thy banded youth advances To be merry by the blossoms of the mere !

\_All the Chorus has now entered.


HiEROPHANT.

Hush, oh hush ! for our song begins. Let every one

stand aside Who owns an intellect muddled with sins, or in arts

like these untried : If the mystic rites of the Muses true he has never

seen nor sung : If he never the magical music knew of Cratinus the

Bull-eatery's tongue : If he likes in a comedy nothing but riot and meaning- less harlequinade : Or in matters of politics cannot keep quiet and see

that cabals be allayed, But blows up spite and keeps it alight to serve his

personal ends : Or being in power at a critical hour, accepts little

gifts from his friends : Or goes selling a ship, or betraying a fort, or takes to

the trade of a smu2;gler. Attempting again, in Thorycion's sort, — that pestilent

revenue-juggler, — From Aegina before us to stock Epidaurus with tar

and canvas and hide. Or tries to persuade some friend in the trade for the

enemy's ships to provide :


\

ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 33

Or a teacher of choirs who forgets his position and

damages Hecate'^s shrines : Or the robber of poets, the mere politician, who spites

us with pitiful fines Because we have suitably made him absurd in the

God"*s traditional rhyme : Behold, I give word : and again give word : and give

word for the third, last time : Make room, all such, for our dance and song. — Up,

you, and give us a lay That is meet for our mirth-making all night long and

for this great festival day.

Chorus,

Forth fare all ;

This mead's bowers Bear fresh flowers ; Forth, I call. Leap, mock, dance, play ; Enough and to spare we have feasted to-day !

March : raise high Her whose hands Save these lands ; Raise due cry : Maid, Maid, save these, Tho^ it may not exactly Thorycion please !

HiEROPHANT.

One hymn to the Maiden ; now raise ye another

To the Queen of the Fruits of the Earth.

To Demeter the Corn-giver, Goddess and Mother,

Make worship in musical mirth.

C


34 EURIPIDES

Chorus. Approach, O Queen of orgies pure, And us, thy faithful band, ensure From morn to eve to ply secure

Our mocking and our clowning : To grace thy feast with many a hit Of merry jest or serious wit. And laugh, and earn the prize, and flit

Triumphant to the crowning.

HiEROPHANT.

Now call the God of blooming mien 5

Raise the mystic chorus : Our comrade he and guide unseen^

With us and before us.

Chorus. lacchus high in glory, thou whose day Of all is merriest, hither, help our play ;

Show, as we throne thee at thy Maiden's side, How light to thee are our long leagues of way.

lacchus, happy dancer, be our guide.

Thyself, that poorest men thy joy should share, Didst rend thy robe, thy royal sandal tear.

That feet unshod might dance, and robes rent wide Wave in thy revel with no after care.

lacchus, happy dancer, be our guide.

Lo there ! but now across the dance apace A maiden tripped, a maiden fair of face.

Whose tattered smock and kerchief scarce could hide The merry bosom peering from its place.

lacchus, happy dancer, be our guide.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 35

Xanthias.

I always liked to follow some one else : Suppose we join and dance ?

Dionysus.

Why, so say I.

[They join the Dance ^

HiEROPHANT.

\These verses satirise ArchedemuSy the politician^ who has never succeeded in making out a clear Athenian pedigree for himself ; CleistheneSy who went into mourning for imaginary re- latives lost at Arginusae ; and CalliaSy the lady-killer^ who professed a descent from HeracleSy and wore a lion-skin in token thereof.

Perhaps 'twill best beseem us To deal with Archedcmus, Who IS toothless still and rootless, at seven years from birth :

Chorus.

Yet he leads the public preachers Of those poor dead upper creatures, And is prince of all the shadiness on earth !

HiEROPHANT.

And Cleisthenes, says rumour, In a wild despairing humour Sits huddled up and tearing out his hair among the graves.


36 EURIPIDES

Chorus.

To believe he would incline us That a person named Sebinus Is tossing yet unburied on the waves I

HiEROPHANT.

While Callias, says tattle, Has attended a sea-battle, And lionesses'" scalps were the uniform he wore !

Dionysus {to The Hierophant).

You'd oblige us much by telling Me the way to Plutos dwelling. We are strangers newly lighted on your shore,

Hierophant.

No need of distant travel That problem to unravel ; For know that while you ask me, you are standing at the door.

Dionysus [to Xanthias). Then up, my lad, be packing !

Xanthias.

There's the Devil in the sacking : It can't stay still a second on the floor !

Hierophant.

Now onward through Demeter's ring Through the leaves and flowers,

All who love her junketing. All who know her powers !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 37

Fare forward you, while I go here With matron and with maiden,

To make their night-long roaming clear With tossing torches laden.

Chorus [of Worshipping Women^ as they file off).

Then on 'mid the meadows deep, Where thickest the rosebuds creep

And the dewdrops are pearliest : A jubilant step advance In our own, our eternal dance. Till Its joy the Glad Fates entrance

Who threaded it earliest.

For ours is the sunshine bright, Yea, ours is the joy of light

All pure, without danger : For we thine Elect have been, Thy secrets our eyes have seen, And our hearts we have guarded clean

Toward kinsman and stranger !

77/<? HiEROPHANT and the Worshipping Women go off^ The Men remain^ forming an ordinary Chorus. Dionysus approaches the central door.

Dionysus.

I ought by rights to knock ; but how, I wonder. I don't know how they do knock in this country.

Xanthias.

Oh, don't waste time. Go in and do your best, Like Heracles in heart as well as garb.


38 EURIPIDES

Dionysus [knocking). Ho there !

[The door opens and a Porter appear s^ whose dress shows him to he Aeacus, the Judge of the Dead,

Aeacus. Who summons ?


Dionysus.


Abacus.


Heracles the Brave^


Thou rash, impure, and most abandoned man, Foul, inly foul, yea foulest upon earth. Who harried our dog, Kerberus, choked him dumb. Fled, vanished, and left me to bear the blame. Who kept him ! — Now I have thee on the hip ! So close the black encaverned rocks of Styx And Acheronian crags a-drip with blood Surround thee, and Cocytus' circling hounds, And the hundred-headed serpent, that shall rend Thy bowels asunder ; to thy lungs shall cleave The lamprey of Tartessus, and thy reins And inmost entrails in one paste of gore Teithrasian Gorgons gorge for evermore ! — To whom, even now, I speed my indignant course !

\The Porter retires.

Dionysus {who has fallen prostrate^ Please I

Xanthias.

What's the matter ? Quick, get up again Before they come and see you.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 39

Dionysus.

But I feel

Faint. — Put a cold wet sponge against my heart.

Xanthias [producing a sponge).

There ; you apply it.

Dionysus,

Thanks. Where is it ?

Xanthias.

There. [Dionysus takes and applies it. Ye golden gods, is it there you keep your heart ?

Dionysus. The nervous shock made it go down and down !

Xanthias.

You are the greatest coward I ever saw, Of gods or humans !

Dionysus. I a coward ? — I had The presence of mind to ask you for a sponge. Few had done more !

Xanthias. Could anv one do less ?

Dionysus.

A coward would still be flat there, sniffing salts ; I rose, called for a sponge, and used the sponge.

Xanthias. That was brave, by Poseidon !


40 EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

I should think so. — And weren't you frightened at his awful threats And language ?

Xanthias.

I ? I never cared a rap.

Dionysus.

Oh, you're a hero, aren't you ? — and want glory. Well, you be me ! Put on this lion's hide And take the club — if you're so dauntless-hearted. I'll take my turn, and be your luggage-boy.

Xanthias.

Over with both of them ! Of course I will.

\_He proceeds to put on the Hon-skin. Now watch if Xanthias-Heracles turns faint, Or shows the same " presence of mind," as you.

Dionysus.

The true Melitean jail-bird, on my life ! . . . Well, I suppose I'd better take the luggage.

l^rhe exchange is just effected when the door again opens and there enters a Maid of Perse- phone.

Maid.

Dear Heracles, and is it you once more ? Come in ! No sooner did my mistress learn Your coming, than she set her bread to bake. Set pots of split-pea porridge, two or three, A-boiling, a whole ox upon the coals, Cakes in the oven, and big buns. — Oh, come in.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 4.1

Xanthias {as Heracles). She is very kind ; perhaps some other time.

Maid.

Oh, really ; but I mustn't let you go !

She's doing everything herself ! Braised game,

Spices and fruits and stoups of the sweetest wine —

Come in with me.

Xanthias.

Most kind, but . . .

Maid.

No excuses. I won't let go. — A flute-player, very pretty, Is waiting for you, and two or three such sweet Young dancing girls.

XANTHii^s (wavering).

Did you say dancing girls?

Maid. Yes. Do come m. — They just vsrere going to ser/e The fish, and have the table lifted in.

Xanthias. I will ! I'll chance it ! — Go straight in and tell Those dancing girls that Heracles is coming !

{^The Maid retires again. Here, boy, take up the bags and follow me.

Dionysus. Stop, please ! — You didn't take it seriously When I just dressed you as Heracles for fun ? You can't be so ridiculous, Xanthias. Take up the bags at once and bring them in.


42 EURIPIDES

Xanthias.

What ? Surely you don't mean to take away Your own gift ?

Dionysus.

Mean it ? No ; I'm doing it ! Ofl with that Hon-skin, quick.

\_Begins to strip off the lion-skin by force.

Xanthias.

Help ! I'm assaulted . . .

[Giving way. I leave it with the Gods !

Dionysus [proceeding to dress himself again).

The Gods, mdeed ! What senseless vanity to expect to be Alcmena's son, a mortal and a slave !

Xanthias.

Well, take it. I don't care. — The time may be, God willing, when you'll feel the need of me !

Chorus.

That's the way such points to settle, Like a chief of tested mettle.

Weather-worn on many seas, Not in one fixed pattern stopping, Like a painted thing, but dropping

Always towards the side of ease. 'Tis this instinct for soft places.

To keep warm while others freeze, Marks a man of gifts and graces,

Like our own Theramenes !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 43

Dionysus. Surely 'twould the matter worsen, If I saw this low-bred person

On his cushions sprawling, so, Served him drinking, watched him winking: — If he knew what I was thinking —

And he would, for certain, know, Being a mighty shrewd deviser Of such fancies — with a blow P'raps he'd loosen an incisor

From the forefront of my row ! [^During this song they'e has entered along the street a Landlady, who is soon followed by her servant^ Plathane.

Landlady. Ho, Plathane, here, I want you, Plathanc ! . . • Here is that scamp who came to the inn before^ Ate sixteen loaves of bread. . . « 

Plathane.

Why, so it is : The very man !

Xanthias {aside).

Here's fun for somebody.

Landlady.

And twenty plates of boiled meat, half-an-obol At every gulp !

Xanthias {as before). Some one'll catch it now !

Landlady. And all that garlic.


44 EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

Nonsense, my good woman, You don't know what you're saying.

Plathane.

Did you thmk I wouldn't know you in those high-heeled boots ?

Landlady. And all the salt-fish I've not mentioned yet. . . .

Plathane {to Landlady).

No, you poor thing ; and all the good fresh cheese The man kept swallowing, and the baskets with it !

Landlady {to Xanthias).

And when he saw me coming for the money Glared like a wild bull ! Yes, and roared at me !

Xanthias. Just what he does ! His manners everywhere.

Landlady. Tugged at his sword ! Pretended to be mad !

Plathan^. Yes, you poor thing ; I don't know how you bore it !

Landlady.

And we got all of a tremble, both of us. And ran up the ladder to the loft ! And he. He tore the matting up — and off he went !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 45

Xanthias. Like him, again.

Plathan^.

But something must be done !

Landlady {to Plathan^). Run, you, and fetch me my protector, Cleon.

PLATHANi

{to the Landlady, as they run excitedly to go off in different directions). And you fetch me Hyperbolus, if you meet him. . , • Then wc shall crush him !

Landlady {returning).

Oh, that ugly jaw ! If I could throw a stone, Fid like to break Those wicked teeth that ground my larder dry !

Plathan^ {returning on the other side). And I should like to fling you in the pit !

Landlady {turning again as she goes off). And I should like to get a scythe, and cut That throat that swallowed all my sausages.

Plathane {the same). Well, ril go straight to Cleon, and this same day We'll worm them out in a law-court, come what may ! \The Landlady and PLATHANi^<7 ^ffi^ different directions. A painful silence ensues. At length :

Dionysus. Plague take me ! No friend left me in the world. . , . Except old Xanthias !


46 EURIPIDES

Xanthias.

I know, I know ! We all see what you want. But that's enough I I won't be Heracles.

Dionysus.

Now don't say that, Xanthias — old boy !

• Xanthias.

And how am I to be Alcmena's son — a mortal and a slave?

Dionysus.

I know you're angry, and quite justly so. Hit me if you like ; I won't say one word back. But, mark, if ever again in this wide world I rob you of these clothes, destruction fall On me myself, my wife, my little ones,— And, if you like, on the old bat Archedc^mus !

Xanthias. That oath will do. I take it on those terms.

Chorus.

Now 'tis yours to make repayment For the honour of this raiment ;

Wear it well, as erst you wore ; If it needs some renovating. Think of whom you're personating,

Glare like Heracles and roar. Else, if any fear you show, sir.

Any weakness at the core. Any jesting, back you go, sir,

To the baggage as before !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 47

Xanthias. Thank you for your kind intention, But I had some comprehension

Of the task I undertook. Should the lion-skin make for profit. He'll attempt to make me doff it —

That I know — by hook or crook. Still I'll make my acting real,

Peppery gait and fiery look. Ha ! Here comes the great ordeal :

See the door. I'm sure it shook !

The central door opens and the Porter^ Aeacus, comes out with several ferocious-looking Thracian or Scythian constables.

Aeacus.

Here, seize this dog-stealer and lead him forth To justice, quick.

Dionysus [imitating Xanthias). Here's fun for somebody.

Xanthias {in a Heraclean attitude). Stop, zounds ! Not one step more !

Aeacus.

You want to fight ? Ho, Ditylas, Skeblyas, and Pardokas, Forward ! Oblige this person with some fighting !

Dionysus {while the constables gradually overpower Xanthias), How shocking to assault the constables — And stealing other people's things !


48 EURIPIDES

Aeacus.

Unnatural, That's what I call it.

Dionysus. Quite a pain to see,

Xanthias {now overpowered and disarmed)^

Now, by Lord Zeus, if ever Fve been here

Or stol'n from you the value of one hair,

You may take and hang me on the nearest tree ! • . ,

Now, listen : and I'll act quite fairly by you ;

[^Suddenly indicating Dionysus, Take this poor boy, and put him to the question ! And if you find me guilty, hang me straight.

Aeacus. What tortures do you allow ?

Xanthias.

Use all you like. Tie him in the ladder, hang him by the feet, Whip off his skin with bristle-whips and rack him ; You might well try some vinegar up his nose, And bricks upon his chest, and so on. Only No scourges made of . . . leek or young shalott.

Aeacus.

A most frank offer, most frank. — If my treatment Disables him, the value shall be paid.

Xanthias. Don't mention it. Remove him and begin.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 49

Aeacus. Thank you, we'll do it here, that you may witness Exactly what he says. {To Dionysus) Put down

your bundle, And mind you tell the truth.

Dionysus

{who has hitherto been speechless with horror^ now burst- ing out),

I warn all present, To torture me is an illegal act,

Being immortal ! And whoever does so Must take the consequences.

Aeacus.

Why, who are you ?

Dionysus. The immortal Dionysus, son of Zeus ; And this my slave.

Aeacus {to Xanthias).

You hear his protest ?

Xanthias.

Yes; All the more reason, that, for whipping him ; If he's a real immortal he won't feel it.

Dionysus. Well, but you claim to be immortal too ; They ought to give you just the same as me.

Xanthias. That's fair enough. All right ; whichever of us You first find crying, or the least bit minding Your whip, you're free to say he's no true god.

D


50 EURIPIDES

Aeacus. Sir, you behave like a true gentleman ; You come to justice of yourself ! — Now then, Strip, both.

Xanthias.

How will you test us ?

Aeacus.

Easily : You'll each take whack and whack about.

Xanthias.

All right. Aeacus [striking Xanthias). There.

Xanthias {controlling himself with an ejfort). Watch now, if you see me even wince.

Aeacus. But Tve already hit you !

Xanthias.

I think not.

Aeacus. Upon my word, it looks as if I hadn't. Well, now I'll go and whack the other.

[Strikes Dionysus.

DiONVsus [also controlling himself).

When I Aeacus. I've done ft.

Dionysus [with an air of indifference)^ Odd, it didn't make me sneeze !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 51

Aeacus. It is odd ! — Well, I'll try the first again.

[He crosses to Xanthias.

Xanthias. All right. Be quick. [The b low falls) Whe-ew !

Aeacus.

Ah, why " whe-ew " ? It didn't hurt you ?

Xanthias {recovering himself).

No ; I just was thinking When my Diomean Feast would next be due,

Aeacus, A holy thought ! — I'll step across again.

[Strikes Dionysus, who howls.

•Dionysus. Ow-ow !

Aeacus.

What's that ?

Dionysus {recovering himself).

I saw some cavalry.

Aeacus. What makes your eyes run ?

Dionysus,

There's a smell of onions !

Aeacus. You're sure it didn't hurt you ?


52 EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

Hurt ? Not it. Aeacus.

I'll step across again then to the first one.

[^Strikes Xanthias, who a/so howls,

Xanthias. HW !

Aeacus.

What is it now ?

Xanthias.

Take out that thorn. [Pointing to his foot ^ Aeacus.

What does it mean ? — Over we go again.

[Strikes Dionysus. Dionysus (hurriedly turning his wail into a line of poetry).

O Lord ! ... "of Delos or of Pytho's rock.'*

Xanthias {triumphant ly\ It hurts. You heard ?

Dionysus.

It doesn't ! T was saying A verse of old Hipponax to myself.

Xanthias. You're making nothing of it. Hit him hard Across the soft parts underneath the ribs.

Aeacus [to Xanthias).

A good idea ! Turn over on your back !

[Strikes him.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 53

Xanthias {as before). O Lord !

Dionysus.

It hurts !

Xanthias {as though continuing).

" Poseidon ruler free Of cliifs Aegean and the grey salt sea."

Aeacus. Now, by Demeter, it's beyond my powers To tell which one of you's a god ! — Come in 5 We'll ask my master. He and Persephassa Will easily know you, being gods themselves.

Dionysus. Most wisely said. Indeed I could have wished You'd thought of that before you had me swished.

[They all go into the house. The Chorus, left alone on the stage^ turns towards the audience.

Chorus. Semi-Chorus L

Draw near, O Muse, to the spell of my song,

Set foot in the sanctified place. And see thy faithful Athenians throng, To whom the myriad arts belong,

The myriad marks of grace.

Greater than Cleophon's own.

On whose lips, with bilingual moan,

A swallow from Thrace

Has taken his place And chirps in blood-curdling tone


54 EURIPIDES

On the Gibberish Tree's thick branches high As he utters a nightingale note, A tumultuous cry That he's certain to die Even with an equal vote !


One of the Leaders.

It behoves this sacred Chorus, in its wisdom and its

bliss, To assist the state with counsel. Now our first

advice is this : Let Athenians all stand equal ; penal laws be swept

away. Some of us have been misguided, following Phrynichus

astray ; Now for all of these, we urge you, let full freedom

be decreed To confess the cause that tripped them and blot out

that old misdeed. Next, no man should live in Athens outcast, robbed

of every right. Shame it is that low-born aliens, just for sharing one

sea-fight. Should forthwith become ^Plataeans' and instead of

slaves be masters — (Not that in the least I blame you for thus meeting

our disasters ; No ; I pay respectful homage to the one wise thing

you've done) : But remember these men also, your own kinsmen,

sire and son,


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 55

Who have ofttimes fought beside you, spilt their blood

on many seas : Grant for that one fault the pardon which they crave

you on their knees. You whom Nature made for wisdom, let your ven- geance fall to sleep ; Greet as kinsmen and Athenians, burghers true to

win and keep, Whosoe'er will brave the storms and fight for Athens

at your side ! But be sure, if still we spurn them, if we wrap us in

our pride, Stand alone, with Athens tossing in the long arm

of the waves. Men in days to come shall wonder, and not praise

you in your graves.

Semi-Chorus IL

An' I the make of a man may trow,

And the ways that lead to a fall. Not long will the ape that troubles us now. Not long little Cleigenes — champion, I vow. Of rascally washermen all,

Who hold over soap their sway And lye and Cimolian clay,

(Which they thriftily mix

With the scrapings of bricks) — Not long will our little one stay ! Oh, 'tis well he is warlike and ready to kick

For if once home from supper he trotted, Talking genially thick And without his big stick.

We should probably find him garotted.


56 EURIPIDES

The Other Leader. It has often struck our notice that the course our city

runs Is the same towards men and money. — She has true

and worthy sons : She has good and ancient silver, she has good and

recent gold. These are coins untouched with alloys ; everywhere

their fame is told ; Not all Hellas holds their equal, not all Barbary far

and near, Gold or silver, each well minted, tested each and

ringing clear. Yet, we never use them ! Others always pass from

hand to hand. Sorry brass just struck last week and branded with a

wretched brand. So with men we know for upright, blameless lives

and noble names. Trained in music and palaestra, freemen's choirs and

freemen's games, These we spurn for men of brass, for red-haired

things of unknown breed, Rascal cubs of mongrel fathers — them we use at every

need ! Creatures just arrived in Athens, whom our city,

years ago. Scarcely would have used as scapegoats to be slaugh- tered for a show ! Even now, O race demented, there is time to change

your ways ; Use once more what's worth the using. If we 'scape,

the more the praise


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 57

That we fought our fight with wisdom ; or, if all is

lost for good, Let the tree on which they hang us, be, at least, of

decent wood !


\The door openSy and the two slaves^ Aeacus and Xanthias, return,

Aeacus.

By Zeus, that's what I call a gentleman I That master of yours !

Xanthias.

Gentleman ? That he is ! There*'s nothing in his head but wine and wenches !

Aeacus.

But not to whip you when you were clean convicted, A slave caught masquerading as his master !

Xanthias {significantly). I'd like to see him try it !

Aeacus.

There you go ! The old slave trick, that I'm so fond of too*

Xanthias. You like it, eh ?

Aeacus.

Like it ? Why, when I get Behind my master's back and quietly curse him, I feel just like the BlessW in the Mysteries !


58 EURIPIDES

Xanthias.

What about muttering as you go outside After a whacking ?

Aeacus.

Yes ; I like that too.

Xanthias {with increasing excitement)^ And prying into people's secrets, ch ?

Aeacus [the same). By Zeus, there's nothing like it in the world !

Xanthias.

Oh, Zeus makes brethren meet ! — And what of listening To what the masters say ?

Aeacus.

It makes me mad J

Xanthias. And telling every word of it to strangers ?

Aeacus. Madder than mad, stark staring crimson madder !

Xanthias.

O Lord Apollo, clap your right hand there. Give me your cheek to kiss, and you kiss me !

\They embrace ; a loud noise is heard inside the house. But Zeus ! — our own Zeus of the Friendly Jailbirds— What is that noise . . . those shouts and quarrelling . . Inside ?


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 59

Aeacus. That ? Aeschylus and Euripides !

Xanthias. Eh?

Aeacus.

Yes ; there's a big business just astir, And hot dissension among all the dead.

Xanthias. About what ?

Aeacus.

There'^s a law established here Concerning all the large and liberal arts, Which grants the foremost master in each art Free entertainment at the Central Hearth, And also a special throne in Pluto's row . , •

Xanthias. Oh, now I understand !

Aeacus.

To hold until There comes one greater ; then he must make way,

Xanthias. But how has this affected Aeschylus ?

Aeacus.

Aeschylus held the throne of tragedy. As greatest . . •

Xanthias.

Held it ? Why, who holds it now ?


6o EURIPIDES

Aeacus. Well, when Euripides came down, he gave Free exhibitions to our choicest thieves, Footpads, cut-purses, burglars, father-beaters, — Of whom we have numbers here ; and when they

heard The neat retorts, the fencing, and the twists, They all went mad and thought him something

splendid. And he, growing proud, laid hands upon the throne Where Aeschylus sat.

Xanthias.

And wasn't pelted off?

Aeacus. Not he. The whole folk clamoured for a trial To see which most was master of his craft.

Xanthias. The whole jail- folk ?

Aeacus.

Exactly ; — loud as trumpets.

Xanthias. And were there none to fight for Aeschylus ?

Aeacus. Goodness is scarce, you know. [Indicating the audi- ence) The same as here !

Xanthias. And what does Pluto mean to do about ft ?

Aeacus. Why, hold a trial and contest on the spot To test their skill for certain.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 6i

Xanthias {reflecting).

But, I say, Sophocles surely must have claimed the throne ?

Aeacus.

Not he ; as soon as ever he came down, !

He kissed old Aeschylus, and wrung his hand, \ And Aeschylus made room on half his seat.

And now he means to wait — or so, at least, j

Clidemides informs us — in reserve. I

If Aeschylus wins the day, he'*ll rest content : \

If not, why then, he says, for poor Art's sake, ;

He must show fight against Euripides 1 \

Xanthias. It is to be, then ?

Aeacus.

Certainly, quite soon. Just where you stand we'll have the shock of war. They'll weigh the poetry line by line . . .

Xanthias.

Poor thing, A lamb set in the meat-scale and found wanting !

Aeacus. They'll bring straight-edges out, and cubit-rules, And folded cube-frames . . .

Xanthias.

Is it bricks they want ?

Aeacus. And mitre-squares and wedges ! Line by line Euripides will test all tragedies !


62 EURIPIDES

Xanthias. That must make Aeschylus angry, I should think ?

Aeacus. Well, he did stoop and glower like a mad bull,

Xanthias.

Who'll be the judge ?

Aeacus.

That was a difficulty. Both found an utter dearth of proper critics ; For Aeschylus objected to the Athenians. . . .

Xanthias. Perhaps he thought the jail-folk rather many ?

Aeacus. And all the world beside, he thought mere dirt At seeing what kind of thing a poet was. So, in the end, they fixed upon your master As having much experience in the business. But come in ; when the master'^s face looks grave There's mostly trouble coming for the slave.

[They go into the house.

Chorus {the song ts a parody of the metre and style <?/* Aeschylus).

Eftsoons shall dire anger interne be the Thunderer's portion When his foe's glib tusk fresh whetted for blood he descries ; Then fell shall his heart be, and mad 5 and a pallid distortion

Descend as a cloud on his eyes.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 63

Yea, words with plumes wild on the wind and with helmets a-glancing, With axles a-splinter and marble a-shiver, eftsoons Shall bleed, as a man meets the shock of a Thought- builder's prancing

Stanzas of dusky dragoons.

The deep crest of his mane shall uprise as he slowly unlimbers The long-drawn wrath of his brow, and lets loose with a roar Epithets welded and screwed, like new torrent-swept timbers

Blown loose by a giant at war.

Then rises the man of the Mouth ; then battleward flashes A tester of verses, a smooth and serpentine tongue, To dissect each phrase into mincemeat, and argue to ashes

That high-towered labour of lung !

The door opens again. Enter Euripides, Dionysus, and Aeschylus.

Euripides.

Pray, no advice to me ! I won't give way ; I claim that I'm more master of my art.

Dionysus. You hear him, Aeschylus. Why don't you speak ?

Euripides. He wants to open with an awful silence — The blood-curdling reserve of his first scenes.


64 EURIPIDES

Dionysus. My dear sir, I must beg ! Control your language.

Euripides.

I know him ; IVe seen through him years ago ; Bard of the " noble savage," wooden-mouthed, No door, no bolt, no bridle to his tongue, A torrent of pure bombast — tied in bundles !

Aeschylus [breaking out).

How say'st thou. Son o' the goddess of the Greens ? — You dare speak thus of me, you phrase-collector. Blind-beggar-bard and scum of rifled rag-bags ! Oh, you shall rue it !

Dionysus.

Stop ! Stop, Aeschylus ; Strike not thine heart to fire on rancour old.

Aeschylus.

No ; ril expose this crutch-and-cripple playwright. And what he's worth for all his insolence.

Dionysus [to attendants).

A lamb, a black lamb, quick, boys ! Bring it out To sacrifice ; a hurricane's let loose !

Aeschylus {to Euripides).

You and your Cretan dancing-solos ! You And the ugly amours that you set to verse !

Dionysus [interposing).

One moment, please, most noble Aeschylus ! And you, poor wretch, if you have any prudence,


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 65

Get out of the hailstones quick, or else, by Zeus, Some word as big as your head will catch you crash Behind the ear, and knock out all the . . . Telephus ! Nay, Aeschylus, pray, pray control your anger ; Examine and submit to be examined With a cool head. Two poets should not meet In fishwife style ; but here are you, straight ofF, Ablaze and roaring like an oak on fire.

Euripides. For my part I'm quite ready, with no shrinking, To bite first or be bitten, as he pleases. Here are my dialogue, music, and construction ; Here's Peleus at your service, Meleager, And Aeolus, and . . . yes, Telephus, by all means !

Dionysus. Do you consent to the trial, Aeschylus ? Speak,

Aeschylus. I well might take objection to the place ; It's no fair field for him and me.

Dionysus.

Why not ? Aeschylus.

Because my writings haven't died with me,

As his have ; so he'll have them all to hand. . , ,

However, I waive the point, if you think fit.

Dionysus. Go, some one, bring me frankincense and fire That I may pray for guidance, to decide This contest in the Muses' strictest ways ; To whom, meantime, uplift your hymn of praise ?

E *


66 EURIPIDES

Chorus {while preparations are made for the sacrifice).

All hail, ye nine heaven-born virginal Muses, Whichever of ye watch o'er the manners and uses

Of the Founts of Quotation, when, meeting in fray — All hearts drawn tense for who wins and who loses — With wrestling lithe each the other confuses, Look on the pair that do battle to-day 1 These be the men to take poems apart

By chopping, riving, sawing ; Here is the ultimate trial of Art

To due completion drawing !

Dionysus. Won't you two pray before you show your lines ?

Aeschylus {going up to the altar), Demeter, thou who feedest all my thought. Grant me but worthiness to worship thee !

Dionysus {to Euripides). Won't you put on some frankincense ?

Euripides {staying where he is).

Oh, thank you ; The gods I pray to are of other metal !

Dionysus. \ Your own stamp, eh ? New struck ?

Euripides.

Exactly so. Dionysus.

Well, pray away then to your own peculiar.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 67

Euripides.

Ether, whereon I batten ! Vocal chords ! Reason, and nostrils swift to scent and sneer, Grant that I duly probe each word I hear.

Chorus.

All of us to hear are yearning Further from these twins of learning, What dread road they walk, what burning

Heights they climb of speech and song. Tongues alert for battle savage. Tempers keen for war and ravage.

Angered hearts to both belong. He will fight with passes witty |

Smooth and smacking of the city, I

Gleaming blades unflecked with rust ; I He will seize — to end the matter — Tree-trunks torn and clubbed, to batter Brains to bits, and plunge and scatter

Whole arena-fulls of dust ! [Dionysus is now seated on a throne as judge. The poets stand on either side before him.

Dionysus.

Now, quick to work. Be sure you both do justice to your cases.

Clear sense, no loose analogies, and no long common- places.

Euripides.

A little later I will treat my own artistic mettle. This person's claims I should prefer immediately to settle.


68 EURIPIDES

I'll show you how he posed and prosed ; with what

audacious fooling He tricked an audience fresh and green from Phryni-

chus's schooling. Those sole veiled figures on the stage were first

among his graces, Achilles, say, or Niobe, who never showed their faces, But stood like so much scene-painting, and never a

grunt they uttered !

Dionysus. Why, no, by Zeus, no more they did !

Euripides.

And on the Chorus spluttered Through long song-systems, four on end, the actors mute as fishes !

Dionysus.

I somehow loved that silence, though ; and felt it met

my wishes As no one's talk does nowadays !

Euripides.

You hadn't yet seen through it ! That's all.

Dionysus.

I really think you're right ! But still, what made him do it ?

Euripides. The instinct of a charlatan, to keep the audience

guessing If Niobe ever meant to speak — the play meantime

progressing !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 69

Dionysus. Of course it was ! The sly old dog, to think of how

he tricked us ! — Don't {to Aeschylus) ramp and fume !

Euripides [excusing Aeschylus). We're apt to do so when the facts convict us ! — Then after this tomfoolery, the heroine, feeling

calmer. Would utter some twelve wild-bull words, on mid-way

in the drama. Long ones, with crests and beetling brows, and gor-

gons round the border. That no man ever heard on earth.

Aeschylus.

The red plague . . . !

Dionysus.

Order, order ! Euripides.

Intelligible — not one line !

Dionysus {to Aeschylus). Please ! Won't your teeth stop gnashing ?

Euripides. All fosses and Scamander-beds, and bloody

targes flashing. With gryphon-eagles bronze- embossed, and

crags, and riders reeling. Which somehow never quite joined on.

Dionysus. By Zeus, sir, quite my feeling !


70 EURIPIDES

A question comes in Night's long hours, that

haunts me like a spectre, What kind of fish or fowl youM call a "russet

hippalector."

Aeschylus [breaking in). It was a ship's sign, idiot, such as every joiner fixes !

Dionysus. Indeed ! I thought perhaps it meant that music-man Eryxis !

[Euripides.

You like then, in a tragic play, a cock ? You think it mixes ?]

Aeschylus [to Euripides). And what did you yourself produce, O fool with pride deluded ?

Euripides.

Not " hippalectors," thank the Lord, nor " tragelaphs,"

as you did — The sort of ornament they use to fill a Persian

curtain ! — I had the Drama straight from you, all bloated and

uncertain. Weighed down with rich and heavy words, puffed out

past comprehension. I took the case in hand ; applied treatment for such

distension — Beetroot, light phrases, little walks, hot book-juice, and

cold reasoning ; Then fed her up on solos. • . .

Dionysus [aside). With Ccphlsophon for seasoning !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 71

Euripides.

I didn't rave at random, or plunge in and make con- fusions.

My first appearing character explained, with due allusions,

The whole play's pedigree-

Dionysus {aside). Your own you left in wise obscurity !

Euripides.

Then no one from the start with me could idle with

security. They had to work. The men, the slaves, the women,

all made speeches, The kings, the little girls, the hags . . .

Aeschylus.

Just see the things he teaches ! And shouldn't you be hanged for that ?


It's democratic !


Euripides.

No, by the lord Apollo !


Dionysus {to Euripides).

That's no road for you, my friend, to follow ; You'll find the ^ little walk ' too steep ; I recommend you quit it.

Euripides.

Next, I taught all the town to talk with freedom.

Aeschylus.

I admit it.


72 EURIPIDES

'Twere better, ere you taught them, you had died amid their curses !

Euripides. I gave them canons to apply and squares for marking

verses ; Taught them to see, think, understand, to scheme for

what they wanted. To fall in love, think evil, question all things. . . .

Aeschylus.

Granted, granted ! Euripides.

I put things on the stage that came from daily life and

business. Where men could catch me if I tripped ; could listen

without dizziness To things they knew, and judge my art. 1 never

crashed and lightened And bullied people's senses out ; nor tried to keep

them frightened With Magic Swans and Aethiop knights, loud barb

and clanging vizor ! Then look at my disciples, too, and mark what

creatures his are ! Phormisius is his product and the looby lump

Megainetus, All trumpet, lance, moustache, and glare, who twist

their clubs of pine at us ;

While Cleitophon is mine, sirs, and Theramenes the

Matchless !

Dionysus.

Theramenes ! Ah, that's the man ! All danger leaves him scratchless.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 73

His friends may come to grief, and he be found in

awkward fixes, But always tumbles right end up, not aces — no : all

sixes !

Euripides.

This was the kind of lore I brought

To school my town in ways of thought ;

I mingled reasoning with my art

And shrewdness, till I fired their heart

To brood, to think things through and through ;

And rule their houses better, too.

Dionysus.

Yes, by the powers, that's very true !

No burgher now, who comes indoors,

But straight looks round the house and roars :

" Where is the saucepan gone ? And who

Has bitten that sprat's head away ? And, out, alas ! The earthen pot I bought last year, is not, is not !

Where are the leeks of yesterday ?

And who has gnawed this olive, pray ? *' Whereas, before they took his school, Each sat at home, a simple, cool. Religious, unsuspecting fool.

And happy in his sheep-like way!


Chorus.

Great Achilles, gaze around thee! 'Twill astound thee and confound thee. Answer now : but keep in bound the


74 EURIPIDES

Words that off the course would tear, Bit in teeth, in turmoil flockins:. Yes : it's monstrous — shameful — shocking- Brave old warrior. But beware !

Don't retort with haste or passion ; Meet the squalls in sailor fashion.

Mainsail reefed and mast nigh bare ; Then, when safe beyond disaster You may press him fiercer, faster, Close and show yourself his master,

Once the wind is smooth and fair I


C


Dionysus.

thou who first of the Greeks did build great words

to heaven-high towers, And the essence of tragedy-padding distilled, give vent to thy pent-up showers.

Aeschylus.

1 freely admit that I take it amiss, and I think my

anger is just, At having to answer a man like this. Still, lest I

should seem nonplussed. Pray, tell me on what particular ground a poet should .-claim admiration ?

Euripides.

If his art is true, and his counsel sound ; and if he

brings help to the nation. By making men better in some respect.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 75

Aeschylus.

And suppose you have done the reverse, And have had upon good strong men the eiFect of

making them weaker and worse, What, do you say, should your recompense be ?

Dionysus. The gallows ! You needn't ask him.

Aeschylus. Wellj think what they were when he had them from

me ! Good six-footers, solid of limb. Well-born, well-bred, not ready to fly from obeying

their country's call. Nor in latter-day fashion to loiter and lie, and keep

their consciences small ; Their life was in shafts of ash and of elm, in bright

plumes fluttering wide, In lance and greaves and corslet and helm, and hearts

of seven-fold hide !

Euripides {aside).

Oh, now he's begun and will probably run a whole

armourer's shop on my head ! {To Aeschylus) Stop ! How was it due in especial

to you, if they were so very — well-bred ?

Dionysus.

Come, answer him, Aeschylus ! Don't be so hot, or smoulder in silent disdain.

Aeschylus {crushingly\ By a tragedy * brimming with Ares ! *


76 EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

A what ? Aeschylus.

The ' Seven against Thebes.'

Dionysus.

Pray explain. Aeschylus.

There wasn't a man could see that play but he hungered for havoc and gore.

Dionysus. Pm afraid that tells in the opposite way. For the

Thebans profited more, It urged them to fight without flinching or fear, and

they did so ; and long may you rue it !

Aeschylus. The same thing was open to all of you here, but it

didn't amuse you to do it ! Then next I taught you for glory to long, and against

all odds stand fast ; That was " The Persians," which bodied in song the

noblest deed of the past.

Dionysus.

Yes, yes ! When Darius arose from the grave it

gave me genuine joy, And the Chorus stood with its arms a-wave, and

observed, " Yow — oy, Yow — oy !

Aeschylus.

Yes, that'^s the effect for a play to produce ! For observe, from the world's first start


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 77

Those poets have all been of practical use who have been supreme in their art.

First, Orpheus withheld us from bloodshed impure, and vouchsafed us the great revelation ;

Musaeus was next, with wisdom to cure diseases and teach divination.

Then Hesiod showed us the season to plough, to sow, and to reap. And the laurels

That shine upon Homer's celestial brow are equally- due to his morals !

He taught men to stand, to march, and to arm. ...

Dionysus.

So that was old Homer's profession ? Then I wish he could keep his successors from harm,

like Pantacles in the procession. Who first got his helmet well strapped on his head,

and then tried to put in the plume !

Aeschylus.

There be many brave men that he fashioned and bred,

like Lamachus, now in his tomb. And in his great spirit my plays had a part, with their

heroes many and brave — Teucers, Patrocluses, lions at heart ; who made my

citizens crave To dash like them at the face of the foe, and leap at

the call of a trumpet ! — But no Stheneboia I've given you, no ; no Phaedra,

no heroine-strumpet ! If I've once put a woman in love in one act of one

play, may my teaching be scouted !


1 3


78 EURIPIDES

Euripides. No, you hadn't exactly the style to attract Aphrodite !

Aeschylus.

Pm better without it. A deal too much of that style she found in some of

your friends and you, And once, at the least, left you flat on the ground !

Dionysus.

By Zeus, that'^s perfectly true. If he dealt his neighbours such rattling blows, we must think how he suffered in person.

Euripides. And what are the public defects you suppose my poor Stheneboia to worsen ?

Aeschylus {evading the question with a jest). She makes good women, and good men's wives, when

their hearts are weary and want ease, Drink jorums of hemlock and finish their lives, to

gratify Bellerophontes !

Euripides. But did I invent the story I told of — Phaedra, say ? Wasn\ it history ?

Aeschylus. It was true, right enough ; but the poet should hold

such a truth enveloped in mystery. And not represent it or make it a play. It's his duty

to teach, and you know it. As a child learns from all who may come in his way,

so the grown world learns from the poet. Oh, words of good counsel should flow from his voice —


ARISTOPHANES' t^ROGS 79

Euripides.

And words like Mount Lycabettus Or Parnes, such as you give us for choice, must needs

be good counsel ? — Oh, let us, Oh, let us at least use the language of men !

Aeschylus,

Flat cavil, sir ! cavil absurd ! When the subject is great and the sentiment, then, of

necessity, great grov/s the v^ord ; When heroes give range to their hearts, is it strange

if the speech of them over us towers ? Nay, the garb of them too must be gorgeous to view,

and majestical, nothing like ours. All this I saw, and established as law, till you came

and spoilt it.

Euripides.

How so ?

Aeschylus,

You wrapped them in rags from old beggarmen'^s bags,

to express their heroical woe, And reduce the spectator to tears of compassion !

Euripides. Well, what was the harm if I did ?

Aeschylus [evading the question as before).

Bah, your modern rich man has adopted the fashion, for remission of taxes to bid ;

  • ^ He couldn^t provide a trireme if he tried ; " he im-

plores us his state to behold.


8o EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

Though rags outside may very well hide good woollens

beneath, if it's cold ! And when once he's exempted, he gaily departs and

pops up at the Fishmongers' stalls.

Aeschylus {cGntinuing).

Then, next, you have trained in the speechmaking

arts nigh every infant that crawls. Oh, this is the thing that such havoc has wrought in

the wrestling-school, narrowed the hips Of the poor pale chattering children, and taught the

crews of the pick of the ships To answer back pat to their officer's nose ! How

unlike my old sailor of yore, With no thought in his head but to guzzle his brose

and sing as he bent at the oar 1

Dionysus.

And spit on the heads of the rowers below, and garott

stray lubbers on shore ! But our new man just sails where it happens to blow,

and argues, and rows no more !

Aeschylus.

What hasn't he done that is under the sun. And the love-dealing dames that with him have begun ?

One's her own brother's wife ;

One says Life is not Life ; And one goes into shrines to give birth to a son !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 8i

Our city through him is filled to the brim With monkeys who chatter to every one's whim ; Little scriveners' clerks With their winks and their larks, But for wrestle or race not a muscle in trim !

Dionysus. Not a doubt of it ! Why, I laughed fit to cry At the Panathenaea, a man to espy,

Pale, flabby, and fat.

And bent double at that, Puffing feebly behind, with a tear in his eye ;

Till there in their place, with cord and with brace. Were the Potters assembled to quicken his pace ;

And down they came, whack !

On sides, belly, and back. Till he blew out his torch and just fled from the race !


Chorus. Never were such warriors, never

Prize so rich and feud so keen : Dangerous, too, such knots to sever : He drives on with stern endeavour, He falls back, but rallies ever,

Marks his spot and stabs it clean !

Change your step, though ! Do not tarry t Other ways there be to harry

Old antagonists in art. Show whatever sparks you carry, Question, answer, thrust and parry — Be they new or ancient, marry.

Let them fly, well-winged and smart !

F


82 EURIPIDES

If you fear, from former cases,

That the audience p'raps may fail To appreciate your paces Your allusions and your graces, Look a moment in their faces ! They will tell another tale.

Oft from long campaigns returning Thro' the devious roads of learning

These have wandered, books in hand Nature gave them keen discerning Eyes ; and you have set them burning ! Sharpest thought or deepest yearning —

Speak, and these will understand.


Euripides,

Quite so ; I'll turn then to his Prologues straight, And make in that first part of tragedy My first review in detail of this Genius ! [His exposition always was obscure.]

Dionysus. Which one will you examine !

Euripides.

Which ? Oh, lots ! First quote me that from the Oresteia, please.

Dionysus. Ho, silence in the court ! Speak, Aeschylus.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 83

Aeschylus {quoting the first lines of the Choephoroi).

" Guide of the Dead, warding a father's way, Be thou my light and saviour, where I pray. In this my fatherland, returned, restored."

Dionysus {to Euripides). You find some false lines there ?

Euripides.

About a dozen ! Dionysus.

Why, altogether there are only three !

Euripides.

But every one has twenty faults in drawing !

[Aeschylus begins to interrupt.

Dionysus.

No, stop, stop, Aeschylus ; or perhaps you'll find Your debts run up to more than three iambics.

Aeschylus {raging). Stop to let him speak ?

Dionysus.

Well, that'^s my advice.

Euripides. He's gone straight off some thousand miles astray.

Aeschylus.

Of course it's foolery — but what do / care ? Point out the faults.


84 EURIPIDES

Euripides. Repeat the lines again,

Aeschylus. "Guide of the Dead, warding a father^s way, . . /'

Euripides. Orestes speaks those words, I take it, standing On his dead father's tomb ?

Aeschylus.

I don't deny it,

Euripides.

Then what's the father's way that Hermes wards ?

Is it the way Orestes' father went,

To darkness by a woman's dark intent?

Aeschylus.

No, no ! He calls on Eriounian Hermes, Guide of the Dead, and adds a word to say That office is derived from Hermes' father.

Euripides. That's worse than I supposed ! For if your Hermes Derives his care of dead men from his father, . . ,

Dionysus {Interrupting), Why, resurrection ing's the family trade !

Aeschylus, Dionysus, dull of fragrance is thy wine!

Dionysus. Well, say the next ; and {to Euripides) you look out for slips.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 85

Aeschylus.


a


Be thou my light and saviour where I pray In this my fatherland returned, restored."

Euripides. Our noble Aeschylus repeats himself.

Dionysus. How so ?

Euripides.

Observe his phrasing, and you'll see. First to this land " returned " and then " restored " ; ^ Returned ' is just the same thing as ' restored.'

Dionysus.

Why, yes ! It's just as if you asked your neighbour,

  • Lend me a pail, or, if not that, a bucket.'

Aeschylus.

Oh, too much talking has bemuzzed your brain ! The words are not the same ; the line is perfect.

Dionysus. Now, is it really ? Tell me how you mean.

Aeschylus.

Returning home is the act of any person :

Who has a home ; he comes back, nothing more ; An exile both returns and is restored !

Dionysus.

True, by Apollo ! {To Euripides) What do you say to that ?


86 EURIPIDES

Euripides.

I don't admit Orestes was restored.

He came in secret with no legal permit.

Dionysus. By Hermes, yes ! {aside) I wonder what they mean !

Euripides. Go on then to the next. [Aeschylus is silent.

Dionysus.

Come, Aeschylus, Do as he says : {to Euripides) and you look out for faults.

Aeschylus.

" Yea, on this bank of death, I call my lord To hear and list. ..."

Euripides.

Another repetition ! " To hear and list " — the same thing palpably !

Dionysus.

The man was talking to the dead, you dog,

Who are always called three times — and then don't

hear.

Aeschylus.

Come, how did you write prologues ?

Euripides.

Oh, I'll show you. And if you find there any repetitions Or any irrelevant padding, — spit upon me !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 87

Dionysus.

Oh, do begin. I mustn't miss those prologues In all their exquisite exactitude !

Euripides. "At first was Oedipus in happy state/*

Aeschylus.

He wasn't ! He was born and bred in misery. Did not Apollo doom him still unborn To slay his father ? . . .

Dionysus [astde)^

His poor unborn father ?

Aeschylus. " A happy state at first," you call it, do you ?

Euripides {contemptuously resuming)^

"At first was Oedipus in happy state.

Then changed he, and became most desolate."

Aeschylus.

He didn't. He was never anything else !

Why, he was scarcely born when they exposed him

In winter, in a pot, that he might never

Grow up and be his father's murderer.

Then off he crawled to Polybus with sore feet.

Then married an old woman, twice his age.

Who further chanced to be his mother, then

Tore out his eyes : the lucky dog he was !


88 EURIPIDES

Dionysus.

At least he fought no sea-fight with a colleague Called Erasinides !

Euripides.

That's no criticism. I write my prologues singularly well !

Aeschylus,

By Zeus, I won't go pecking word by word At every phrase ; I'll take one little oil-can, God helping me, and send your prologues pop !

Euripides. My prologues pop . . . with oil-cans ?

Aeschylus.

Just one oil-can ! You write them so that nothing comes amiss, The bed-quilt, or the oil-can, or the clothes-bag, All suit your tragic verse ! Wait and I'll prove it.

Euripides. You'll prove it ? Really ?

Aeschylus. Yes.

Dionysus.

Begin to quote. Euripides.

" Aegyptus, so the tale is spread afar, With fifty youths fled in a sea-borne car, But, reaching Argos . . .


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 89

Aeschylus.

Found his oil-can gone !

Dionysus. What's that about the oil-can ! Drat the thing ! Quote him another prologue, and let's see.

Euripides.

" Dionysus, who with wand and fawn-skin dight On great Parnassus races in the light Of lamps far-flashing, ..."

Aeschylus.

Found his oil-can gone !

Dionysus. Alas! again the oil-can finds our heart!

Euripides {beginning to reflect anxiously).

Oh, it won't come to much, though ! Here's another, With not a crack to stick the oil-can in ! " No man hath bliss in full and flawless health ; Lo, this one hath high race, but little wealth 5 That, base in blood, hath ..."

Aeschylus.

Found his oil- can gone !

Dionysus.


Euripides I

Well r


Euripides. Dionysus.


Better furl your sails ; This oil-can seems inclined to raise the wind !


go EURIPIDES

Euripides.

Bah, I disdain to give a thought to it ! ril dash it from his hands in half a minute.

l^He racks his memory.

Dionysus. Well, quote another ; — and beware of oil-cans.

Euripides.

" Great Cadmus long ago, Agenor's son, From Sidon racing, ..."

Aeschylus.

Found his oil-can gone !

Dionysus.

Oh, this is awful ! Buy the thing outright, Before it messes every blessed prologue 1

Euripides, I buy him off?

Dionysus. ^

I strongly recommend it.

Euripides.

No ; I have many prologues yet to cite Where he can't find a chink to pour his oil. " As rapid wheels to Pisa bore him on, Tantalian Pelops ..."

Aeschylus.

Found his oil-can gone !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 91

Dionysus.

What did I tell you ? There it sticks again ! You might let Pelops have a new one, though — You get quite good ones very cheap just now.

Euripides.

By Zeus, not yet ! I still have plenty left. "From earth King Oineus, ..."

Aeschylus.

Found his oil-can gone !

Euripides.

You must first let me quote one line entire ! "From earth King Oineus goodly harvest won, But, while he worshipped, ..."

Aeschylus.

Found his oil-can gone !

Dionysus. During the prayers ! Who can have been the thief!

Euripides {desperately).

Oh, let him be ! I defy him answer this — " Great Zeus in heaven, the word of truth has flown, . , ."

Dionysus.

O mercy ! His is certain to be gone ! They bristle with long oil-cans, hedgehog-wise, Your prologues ; they're as bunged up as your eyes ! For God's sake change the subject. — Take his songs !


92 EURIPIDES

Euripides. Songs ? Yes, I have materials to show How bad his are, and always all alike.

Chorus. What in the world shall we look for next ? Aeschylus'* music ! I feel perplexed

How he can want it mended. I have always held that never a man Had written or sung since the world began

Melodies half so splendid ! (Can he really find a mistake

In the master of inspiration ?

I feel some consternation For our Bacchic prince's sake !)


Euripides. Wonderful songs they are ! You'll see directly ; I'll run them all together into one.

Dionysus. ril take some pebbles, then, and count for you.

Euripides {singing),

  • ' O Phthian Achilles, canst hark to the battle's man-

slaying shock.

Yea, shock, and not to succour come ? Lo, we of the Mere give worship to Hermes, the fount of our stock.

Yea, shock, and not to succour come ! '*

Dionysus. Two shocks to you, Aeschylus, there !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 93

Euripides.

  • ^Thou choice of Achaia, wide-ruling Atrides, give

heed to my schooling !

Yea, shock, and not to succour come.'*

Dionysus. A third shock that, I declare !

Euripides. " Ah, peace, and give ear ! For the Bee- Maids be near to ope wide Artemis' portals. Yea, shock-a-nock a-succour come ! Behold it is mine to sing of the sign of the way fate- laden to mortals ;

Yah, shocker-knocker succucum ! '*

Dionysus.

Zeus Almighty, what a chain of shocks !

1 think I'll go away and take a bath ;

The shocks are too much for my nerves and kidneys !

Euripides. Not till you've heard another little set Compounded from his various cithara-songs.

Dionysus. Well then, proceed ; but don't put any shocks in !

Euripides.

" How the might twin-throned of Achaia for Hellene chivalry bringeth

Flattothrat toflattothrat ! The prince of the powers of storm, the Sphinx there- over he wingeth

Flattothrat toflattothrat !


94 EURIPIDES

With deedful hand and lance the furious fowl of the air

Flattothrat toflattothrat ! That the wild wind-walking hounds unhindered tear

Flattothrat toflattothrat ! And War toward Aias leaned his weight,

Flattothrat toflattothrait ! "

Dionysus. What's Flattothrat ? Was it from Marathon You gathered this wool-gatherer's stuff, or where ?

Aeschylus. Clean was the place I found them^ clean the place I brought them, loath to glean with Phrynichus The same enchanted meadow of the Muse. But any place will do for him to poach, Drink-ditties of Mel^tus, Carian pipings, And wakes, and dancing songs. — Here, let me show

you ! Ho, some one bring my lyre ! But no ; what need Of lyres for this stuff? Where's the wench that plays The bones ? — Approach, Euripidean Muse, These songs are meet for your accompaniment !

Dionysus. This Muse was once ... no Lesbian ; not at all !

Aeschylus {singing).

^' Ye halcyons by the dancing sea

Who babble everlastingly.

While on your bathing pinions fall

The dewy foam-sprays, fresh and free ; And, oh, ye spiders deft to crawl In many a chink of roof and wall,


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 95

While left and right, before, behind,

Your fingers wi-i-i-i-ind

The treasures of the labouring loom,

Fruit of the shuttle's minstrel mind.

Where many a songful dolphin trips

To lead the dark-blue-beaked ships, And tosses with aerial touch Temples and race-courses and such.

O bright grape tendril's essence pure,

Wine to sweep care from human lips ;

Grant me, O child, one arm-pressure ! "

[Breaking off.

That foot, you see ?

Dionysus. I do.


Aeschylus.


And he ?


Euripides, Of course I see the foot !

Aeschylus.

And this is the stuff to trial you bring And face my songs with the kind of thing That a man might sing When he dances a fling To mad Gyrene's flute !

There, that's your choral stuff! But I've not

finished, I want to show the spirit of his solos !


96 EURIPIDES

[Sings again ; mysteriously^

"What vision of dreaming. Thou fire-hearted Night, Death's minion dark-gleaming, Hast thou sent in thy might ? And his soul was no soul, and the Murk was his mother, a horror to sight !

Black dead was his robe, and his eyes

All blood, and the claws of him great ; Ye maidens, strike fire and arise ; Take pails to the well by the gate. Yea, bring me a cruse of hot water, to wash off this vision of fate.

Thou Sprite of the Sea, It is e'en as I feared ! Fellow-lodgers of me,

What dread thing hath appeared ? Lo, GlykS hath stolen my cock, and away from the neighbourhood cleared !

[midly.

(Ye Nymphs of the Mountain give aid ! And what's coine to the scullery-maid ? )

[Tearfully. And I — ah, would I were dead ! —

To my work had given my mind ; A spindle heavy with thread My hands did wi-i-i-ind, And I meant to go early to market, a suitable buyer to find !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 97

[^Almost weeping, — But he rose, rose, in the air On quivering blades of flight ; He left me care, care ; And tears, tears of despair. Fell, fell, and dimmed my sight !

\_Recovering himself; in florid^ tragic style.

Children of Ida's snows,

Cretans, take up your bows. And ring the house with many a leaping limb !

And thou, fair maid of bliss,

Dictynna, Artemis, Range with thy bandogs through each corner dim ;

Yea, Thou of twofold Fires,

Grant me my deep desires. Thou Zeus-born Hecat^ ; in all men's eyes

Let the detective sheen

Flashed from thy torches keen. Light me to Glyk^'s house, and that lost fowl surprise ! "

Dionysus. Come, stop the singing !

Aeschylus.

I've had quite enough ! What I want is to bring him to the balance ; The one sure test of what our art is worth !

Dionysus.

So that's my business next ? Come forward, please ; I'll weigh out poetry like so much cheese !

O


98 EURIPIDES

A large pair of Kales is brought forward^ while the Chorus sing.

Chorus. Oh, the workings of genius are keen and laborious Here's a new wonder, incredible, glorious !

Who but this twain Have the boldness of brain To so quaint an invention to run ? Such a marvellous thing, if another had said it had Happened to him, I should never have credited ; I should have just Thought that he must Simply be talking for fun !


Dionysus. Come, take your places by the balance.

Aeschylus and Euripides.

There ! Dionysus.

Now, each take hold of it, and speak your verse. And don't let go until I say " Cuckoo."

Aeschylus and Euripides {taking their stand at either side of the balance).

We have it.

Dionysus.

Now, each a verse into the scale !

Euripides [quoting the first verse of his ^' Aledea^^), " Would God no Argo e'er had winged the brine."

Aeschylus [quoting his " Philoctetes "). " Spercheios, and ye haunts of grazing kine !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 99

Dionysus.

Cuckoo ! Let go. — Ah, down comes Aeschylus Far lower.

Euripides.

Why, what can be the explanation ?

Dionysus.

That river he put in, to wet his wares

The way wool-dealers do, and make them heavier !

Besides, you know, the verse you gave had wings !

Aeschylus. Well, let him speak another and we'll see.

Dionysus. Take hold again then.

Aeschylus and Euripides. There you are.

Dionysus.

Now speak

Euripides [quoting his ^'Antigone "). Persuasion, save in speech, no temple hath."


a


a


Aeschylus [quoting his " Niobe "). Lo, one god craves no offering, even Death."

Dionysus. Let go, let go !

Euripides.

Why, his goes down again !


100 EURIPIDES

Dionysus. He put in Death, a monstrous heavy thing !

Euripides. But my Persuasion made a lovely line !

Dionysus. Persuasion has no bulk and not much weight. Do look about you for some ponderous line To force the scale down, something large and strong.

Euripides. Where have I such a thing, now ? Where ?

Dionysus {mischtevousfyy quoting some unknown play of Euripides),

ni tell you ; "Achilles has two aces and a four ! "~ [Aloud] Come, speak your lines ; this is the final bout.

Euripides [quoting his " Meleager "). " A mace of weighted iron his right hand sped,



Aeschylus [quoting his " Glaucus "). " Chariot on chariot lay, dead piled on dead.

Dionysus [as the scale turns). He beats you this time too !

Euripides,

How does he do it ?

Dionysus. Two chariots and two corpses in the scale — Why, ten Egyptians couldn't lift so much !


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS loi

Aeschylus [breaking out).

Come, no more Hne-for-Iines ! Let him jump in And sit in the scale himself, with all his books, His wife, his children, his Cephisophon ! I'll back two lines of mine against the lot !

The central door opens and Pluto with his suite comes

forth.

A Voice. Room for the King !

Pluto {to Dionysus).

Well, is the strife decided ?

Dionysus [to Pluto).

I won't decide ! The men are both my friends ; Why should I make an enemy of either ? The one's so good, and I so love the other !

Pluto.

In that case you must give up all you came for 1

Dionysus, And if I do decide ?

Pluto.

Why, not to make Your trouble fruitless, you may take away Whichever you decide for.

Dionysus.

Hearty thanks ! Now, both, approach, and I'll explain, — I came Down here to fetch a poet : " Why a poet ? " That his advice may guide the City true


102 EURIPIDES

And so keep up my worship ! Consequently, I'll take whichever seems the best adviser. Advise me first of Alcibiades, Whose birth gives travail still to mother Athens.

Pluto. What is her disposition towards him ?

Dionysus.

Well, She loves and hates, and longs still to possess, I want the views of both upon that question !

Euripides. Out on the burgher, who to serve his state Is slow, but swift to do her deadly hate, With much wit for himself, and none for her,

Dionysus. Good, by Poseidon, that ! — And what say you ?

[To Aeschylus. Aeschylus.

No lion's whelp within thy precincts raise ; But, if it be there, bend thee to its ways !

Dionysus. By Zeus the Saviour, still I can't decide ! The one so fine, and the other so convincing ! Well, I must ask you both for one more judgment ; What steps do you advise to save our country ?

Euripides. I know and am prepared to say !

Dionysus.

Say on.


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 103

Euripides. Where Mistrust now has sway, put Trust to dwell. And where Trust is, Mistrust ; and all is well.

Dionysus. I don't quite follow. Please say that again, Not quite so cleverly and rather plainer.

Euripides. If we count all the men whom now we trust, Suspect ; and call on those whom now we spurn To serve us, we may find deliverance yet.

Dionysus. And what say you ?

Aeschylus,

First tell me about the City ; What servants does she choose ? The good ?

Dionysus.

Great Heavens, She loathes them !

Aeschylus.

And takes pleasure in the vile ?

Dionysus. Not she, but has perforce to let them serve her !

Aeschylus. What hope of comfort is there for a City That quarrels with her silk and hates her hodden ?

Dionysus. That's just what you must answer, if you want To rise again I


104 EURIPIDES

Aeschylus. I'll answer there, not here.

Dionysus. No ; better send up blessing from below,

Aeschylus.

Her safety is to count her enemy's land Her own, yea, and her own her enemy's ; Her ships her treasures, and her treasure dross !

Dionysus. Good ; — though it all goes down the juror's throat !

Pluto {interrupting). Come, give your judgment !

Dionysus.

Well, I'll judge like this ; My choice shall fall on him my soul desires!

Euripides.

Remember all the gods by whom you swore

To take me home with you, and choose your friend !

Dionysus. My tongue hath sworn ;-^butrilchoose Aeschylus!

Euripides. What have you done, you traitor ?

Dionysus.

I ? I've judged That Aeschylus gets the prize. Why shouldn't I ?


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 105

Euripides. Canst meet mine eyes, fresh from thy deed of shame ?

Dionysus.

What is shame, that the . • . Theatre deems no shame ?

Euripides.

Hard heart ! You mean to leave your old friend dead ?

Dionysus. Who knoweth if to live is but to die? , « , If breath is bread and sleep a woolly lie i

Pluto. Come in, then, both.

Dionysus.

Again ?

Pluto.

To feast v/ith me Before you sail.

Dionysus.

With pleasure ! That's the way Duly to crown a well-contented day !


Chorus. O blessed are they who possess

An extra share of brains ! 'Tis a fact that more or less All fortunes of men express ; As now, by showing An intellect glowing,


io6 EURIPIDES

This man his home regains ; Brings benefit far and near To all who may hold him dear, And staunches his country's tear,-

AU because of his brains !

Then never with Socrates

Make one of the row of fools Who gabble away at ease, Letting art and music freeze. And freely neglect In every respect The drama's principal rules ! Oh, to sit in a gloomy herd A-scraping of word on word, All idle and all absurd, — That is the fate of fools !


Pluto.

Then farewell, Aeschylus ! Go your ways, And save your town for happier days By counsel wise ; and a school prepare For all the fools — there are plenty there ! And take me some parcels, I pray ; this sword Is for Cleophon ; these pretty ropes for the Board Of Providers. But ask them one halter to spare For Nicomachus ; one, too, is Myrmex's share.

And, along with this venomous

Draught for Archenomus,

Take them my confident prayer,


ARISTOPHANES' FROGS 107

That they all will come here for a visit, and stay. And bid them be quick ; for, should they delay, Or meet my request with ingratitude, say

I will fetch them myself, by Apollo ! And hurry the gang of them down with a run All branded and chained — with Leucolophus' son

The sublime Adimantus to follow !

Aeschylus. I will do as you wish. — And as for my throne, I beg you let Sophocles sit there alone. On guard, till perchance I return some day ; For he — all present may mark what I say —

Is my Second in art and in wit. And see, above all, that this Devil-may-care Child of deceit with his mountebank air Shall never on that imperial chair

By the wildest of accidents sit !

Pluto.

With holy torches in high display

Light ye the Marchers' triumphal advance ;

Let Aeschylus' music on Aeschylus' way Echo in song and in dance !

Chorus. Peace go with him and joy in his journeying ! Guide

ye our poet Forth to the light, ye Powers that reign in the Earth

and below it ; Send good thoughts with him, too, for the aid of a

travailing nation. So shall we rest at the last, and forget our long

desolation,


io8 EURIPIDES

War and the clashing of wrong. — And for Cleophon,

why, if he'd rather, Let him fight all alone with his friends, in the far-off

fields of his father.

[They all go off in a procession^ escorting Aeschylus.


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS

P. 3, 1. 1, Xanthias.] — A common slave's name from Xanthus, the chief town of Lycia, or possibly from fai^^09, "auburn," "red-headed." Northern slaves were common.

P. 4, 11. 14, 16, Phrynichus, Ameipsias, Lykis.] — Contemporary comic poets. Phrynichus was com- peting with his " Muses " against Aristophanes on the present occasion, and won the second prize. Ameipsias"* Connos won the first prize over the Clouds^ and his Revellers over the Birds.

P« 6, I. 33, Why wasn't I on board at Argin- usae ?] — All slaves who fought in that battle had been set free. It and its consequences loom so large in The Frogs that it is desirable to give some account of them. It was a great victory. Seventy Spartan ships were destroyed and the admiral, Callicratidas, slain. But it was not properly followed up, and it was dearly bought by the loss of twenty-five triremes, with nearly the whole of their crews, amounting to about five thousand men. It was believed that with more care many of these men might have been saved, and most of the dead bodies collected for burial. The generals were summoned home for trial for this negligence. They pleaded bad weather, and also that they had given orders to the trierarchs (or captains) to see to recover- ing the men overboard. The trierarchs were thus

109


no EURIPIDES

forced in self-defence to throw over the generals, and it happened that they had among them the famous orator and " Moderate '* politician, Theramenes. He, naturally, led the case for his fellow-trierarchs, and succeeded in showing that the order to see to the shipwrecked men was sent out much too late, after the storm had arisen. A coincidence intensified the general emotion. The Feast of the Apaturia, de- voted to family observances and the ties of kindred, chanced to occur at the time of the trial. Whole kindreds were seen in mourning. (It was rumoured afterwards that impostors were hired by the enemies of the generals to go about in black, wailing for imaginary relatives — like Sebinus below (p. 36) — " floating unburied on the weaves ! ") The generals were condemned, and six of them, including Erasinides (p. 88), executed. Theramenes "came off scratch- less (p. 72), except in reputation.

P. 7, 1. 48, Cleisthenes.] — Noted for his effemi- nate good looks. He may or may not have been in command of a ship.

P. 7, 1. 53, The Andromeda.l — Molon was a very tall actor who performed in it.

P. 9, 1. 64, Seest then the sudden truth.] — From Euripides' Hypsipyle. Acted 41 1-409.

P. 9, 1. 72, For most be dead, &c.] — From Euri- pides' Oineus,

P- 9) '• 73? lophon.] — Son of Sophocles. Fifty plays are attributed to him by Suidas, among others a Bacchae or PentheuSj from which we have the frag- ment : " This I understand, woman though I be ; that the more man seeketh to know the Gods' mysteries, the more shall he miss knowledge." He won the


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS iii

second prize in 428, when the Hippolytus obtained the first.

P. 10, 1. 83, Agathon.] — The much-praised tragic poet, for whose first victory in B.C. 4 1 6 the " Symposium " of Plato's dialogue professes to be held. He left Athens " to feast with peaceful KingSj^ i.e. with Archelaus of Macedon, in B.C. 407, at the age of forty, immediately after Aristophanes' attack on him in the Gerytades^ and before his influence had established itself on Athenian tragedy. He is a butt in the Thesmophoriazusae also.

P. 10, 1. 86, Xenocles.] — Son of Carcinus. No critic has a good word for him, though he won the first prize in 415 over Euripides' Troades, He is nicknamed "The Dwarf," " Datis the Mede," and " Pack-o'-tricks " (S(wSe/ta/>697;\;ai^o9). One line of his seems to be preserved, from the Licymnius —


(C


O hitter fat e^ O fortune edged with goldj*^


P. 10, I. 87, Pythangelus.] — Nothing whatever is known of this man except the shrug of Dionysus'* shoulders. And that has carried his name to 2500 years of " immortality " !

P. II, 1. 89, Other pretty fellows.] — Among them would be Plato. Other celebrated men of this time who in their youth tried writing tragedies were Antiphon, Meletus the accuser of Socrates, Critias the Oligarch, and Theognis his colleague, Dionysius the tyrant of Syracuse ; later, Crates the philosopher, and perhaps the great Diogenes.

P. II, 1. 100, O holy Ether.] — "I swear by the holy Ether, home of God," from Euripides' Melanippe the Wise.

P. II, 1. 100, Foot of Time.] — The phrase occurs


112 EURIPIDES

very boldly in Bacchae^ 888 (translated "stride"), but that play was not yet published. Euripides had said, "On stepped the foot of Time," in the Alexandros^ acted B.C. 415-

P. II, 1. lOi, Souls that won't take oaths, while tongues, &c.] — See Hippolytus^ 612 (p. 33). The fre- quent misrepresentations of this line are very glaring, even for Aristophanes. Cf. Frogs^ 147^) Thesm. 275 ; also Plato, Theaet, I54d, and Symp, 199a, who, however, refers to the phrase sympathetically.

P. II, 1. 105, Ride not upon my soul.] — The source of this quotation is not known.

P. 13, 1. 124, The hemlock way.] — The ordinary form of capital punishment at Athens was poisoning with hemlock. Socrates in the Phaedo describes the gradual chilling of his body after drinking it.

P. 13, 1. 129, Cerameicus.] — The Potter's Quarter of Athens. The " great tower " is probably that built by Timon the Misanthrope in this quarter. It would command a view, for instance, of the torch races at the feasts of Prometheus and Hephaestus, and at the Panathenaea, which ran " from the Academy to the City through the Kerameicus " (Pausanias, I. xxx. 2, with Frazer's note).

P. 14, 1. 139, For two obols.] — Two obols con- stituted the price of a day's work as legally recognised by the early Athenian democracy. It was the pay- ment made for attendance at the Jury Courts, and distributed to poor citizens to enable them to attend festivals. Hence it was also the price of entry to the theatre. It was probably also the original payment for attendance at the Ecclesia, or serving in garrison, or on ship-board, in cases where payment was not


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 113

made in rations. The payments were greatly altered and increased (owing to the rise in prices) during the war and the fourth century.

Charon traditionally took one obol, the copper coin which was put in the dead man's mouth. But Theseus, the fountain-head of the Athenian con- stitution, has introduced the Two-obol System in Hades !

P. 15, 1. 151, Morsimus.] — Son of Philocles and grand-nephew of Aeschylus, was a doctor as well as a tragic poet. No one has a good word for his poetry, and no fragments — except one conjectural half line — exist.

P. 15, 1. 153, Kinesias.] — A dithyrambic poet of the new and florid school of music, from whom Aris- tophanes can never long keep his hands. He had frail health and thin legs ; and you could not " tell right from left in his music. The parodies of his style in the Birds are rather charming. Plato de- nounces him and his music in the Gorgias (50 1 e). But it is interesting to observe that he was the author of a law reducing the extravagance and sumptuousness of choric performances — which does not look like " corrupt " art.

P. 16, 1. 158, The Initiated.] — Persons initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, as in those of Orpheus and others, had their sins washed away, saw a great light not vouchsafed to other eyes, and had eternal bliss after death.

P. 16, 1. 159, The donkey, holiday-making.] — Much as a costermonger's donkey with us celebrates its master's Bank Holiday by extra labour.

P. 18, 11. 186 f., Lethe and Sparta and the rest of

H


114 EURIPIDES

Hell.] — I suspect that in AtjOtj^ irehiov, ovov Trofcaf;^ Talvapov^ we have a reference to a proposal, by some member of the war party, to take the ofFensive against Sparta by sailing round the Laconian coast — as Tol- mides had done — and landing at AevKr}<; irehiov^ ovov <ypd6o^ (Strabo, 8, 363), and Taivapov,

P. 19, 1. 191, The battle of the Cold Meat Unpre- served.] — Arginusae, see above, p. 109. Ophthalmia seems to have been a common cause of disablement or malingering in Greek soldiers. See Hdt. vii. 229.

P. 26, 1. 282, What is so flown with pride] — "as man's weak heart ? " So says Odysseus of himself in the opening of Euripides' Philoctetes.

P. 27, 1. 293, Empusa.] — A vague phantom ap- pearing in dark places, whose chief characteristic was to be constantly changing, so that whenever you looked it seemed different. Like other phantoms, she was sent by Hecate. Aeschines' mother was so nick- named (Dem. xviii. 130) as being (i) changeable, always devoted to some new religion ; (2) associated with uncanny mysteries.

P. 28, 1. 303, Hegelochus.] — An actor who per- formed the hero's part in Euripides' Orestes^ B.C. 408. He ought to have said, " I catch a tale of peace." He seems to have pronounced r^aXrjv opS), in Orestes^ V. 279, so that it sounded like jaXrjv opco, "I see a weasel." We hear much of this slip. See Sannyrion, fr. 8, and Strattis, fr. i and 60.

P. 29, 1. 3 1 1 , Parlour of God.] — See on p. 1 1 , 1. 1 00.

P. 30, 1. 320, Diagoras.] — Diagoras of Melos, nick- named " the atheist," who was condemned to death for his attack on the Mysteries, but happily escaped to Pellene and the Peloponnese.


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 115

P. 31, 1. 338, Roasting pig.] — Pigs were sacrificed before the Mysteries. Cf. Peace^ 374 —

" Lend me three drachmas for a sucking pig ! I must be purified before I die."

P- 32> 1. 353) The Mere.] — Al/iivaCy the district between the three hills — Acropolis, Areopagus, and Pnyx — where the ' Lenaion,' or ^ Wine-Press,' and the shrine and precinct of Dionysus have been re- cently discovered.

P. 32, 11. 354 fF. — The Hierophant's address is ap- parently a parody of some similar warning off of the impure at the Mysteries before the addresses to Kore (the Maiden), Demeter, and lacchus. As to the allusions : Cratinus is the celebrated comic poet, pre- cursor and rival of Aristophanes. He was personally a burly and vigorous " Beef-eater," and the word is additionally suitable in this context because the cere- monial eating of an ox's flesh, being sacramentally the flesh of Dionysus, the Mystic Bull of Zeus, was an essential part of the Orphic Mysteries. There were contests with bulls at the Eleusinian also. — Lobeck. Agl. p. 206, note c.

P. 32, 1. 363. — Thorycion is unknown except for the allusions in this play.

P- 33) 1- 366, A teacher of Choirs.] — He alludes to a ribald anecdote about the poet Kenesias (p. 113).

P- 33> ^- 3^7) Pitiful fines.] — Many laws were passed restricting the licence and the expensiveness of comedy, e.g. by Archinos, Agyrrhius, and Arche- demus.

P. 38, 1. 464, Aeacus.] — This character and his speech seem to be parodied from the Peirithous^ a tragedy attributed either to Euripides or to Critias


ii6 EURIPIDES

(acted after 411), where the real Heracles is con- fronted and threatened by the real Aeacus. " Gorgons" and ^' lampreys " are suitable in the infernal regions ; but " lampreys of Tartessus " in Spain were a well- known delicacy, and the " Gorgons " of the Attic district Tithras were apparently something human and feminine — like the Hostess who appears presently.

P. 40. 1. 501, Melitean.] — The quarter of Athens called Melit^ possessed a temple of Heracles, and perhaps a rough population.

P. 40, 1. 505, Split-pea porridge, &c.] — Heracles, nearly always a comic figure on the Athenian stage (perhaps, as Professor Ridgeway suggests, because he was a " Pelasgian " hero), has gross and simple tastes in his food. Xanthias, I think, refuses out of caution, feeling that Persephone will detect his imposture, and then is overcome by temptation.

P. 42, 1. 531, Alcmena's son, &c.] — A tragic line, but of origin unknown.

P. 42, 1. 541, Theramenes.] — This interesting man owes his bad name in The Frogs to his conduct with regard to the impeachment of the generals after Ar- ginusae (see pp. 72, no). But he had made a similar impression, and earned his nickname of" The Buskin *" — which goes equally well on either foot — in 411, when he first was a leader in the Oligarchic Revolu- tion, and then turned against it, and even spoke in accusation of his late associates, Antiphon and Archeptolemus, when they were being condemned to death. It would have been the same story in the second Oligarchic Revolution in 404, had not the extreme Oligarchs saved themselves by murdering him. A " Moderate " at a time when faction was


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 117

furiously high, he is continually found supporting various movements until they " go too far." Aristotle {Const, of Athens^ cap. 28) counts him with Nicias and Thucydides, son of Melesias, as one of the "three best statesmen in Athenian history," and has an in- teresting defence of his character. He w^as certainly a man of great culture, eloquence, ability, and per- sonal influence. And his policy has a vv^ay of seeming exactly right. Yet he is unpleasantly stained with the blood of his comipanions, and one is not surprised to find the tone of Aristophanes towards him pecu- liarly soft and venomous, unlike his ordinary loud railing.

P. 45, 11. 569, 570, Cleon . . . Hyperbolus.] — It is interesting to observe the duties — even in cari- cature — of a irpoardTTj^; rod hrjfiov^ or Champion of the Demos. He fought the causes of the oppressed.

P. 46, 1. 588, Archedemus.] — See above, p. 35.

P. 47, 1. 608, Ditylas, Skebylas, Pardokas.] — The barbarous names seem to be Thracian or Scythian. Police work in Athens was done by Scythian slaves.

P. 48, L 616, Question this poor boy.] — A man's slaves would generally know about his movements. Hence it was a mark of conscious innocence for an ac- cused person to offer his slaves to be examined. They were examined under torture, or threats of torture, in order that they might fear the law as much as they feared their master, and were guaranteed protection against his anger if they told the truth. The master usually stipulated that no severe or permanently inju- rious torture should be used. Xanthias generously offers to let them maltreat Dionysus as much as ever they like !


ii8 EURIPIDES

P. 48, 1. 62 1 5 No scourges made of leeks or young shalott.] — Why should any one imagine scourges made of such things ? Because such things were used for certain ceremonial scourgings ; for instance, Pan's statues were whipped with squills (Theoc. vii. 106), the scapegoats (^pharmakoi) in Ionia with fig-twigs and squills (Hipponax, fr. 4-8), the disgraceful boor in Lucian {^A gainst the Boor^ 3 ; cf. Fugity 33, and Fera Hist.y ii. 26) with mallow.

P. 49, 1. 628, An illegal act, being immortal.] — A parody of the law. It was illegal to torture a citizen.

P. 49, 1, 634, He won't feel it.] — There appears to be some inconsistency about this very funny scene. Dionysus does seem to feel it as much as Xanthias.

P. 51, 1. 65 1 5 Diomean Feast.] — Held in honour of Heracles (whom Xanthias is personating) at the deme Diomeia every four years.

P. 52, 1. 661, Hipponax.] — An earlier writer of satire. The next quotation is said to be from the Laocoon of Sophocles.

P' 53? 1- 679, Cleophon.] — The well-known belli- cose and incorruptible demagogue, who opposed peace in 410 (after the victory of Cyzicus), in 406 (after the victory of Arginusae), and in 405 (after the disaster of Aegospotami). Cleophon is said to have come drunk into the Agora and vowed that " he would cut off the head of any one who mentioned the word ' peace.' " He was shortly afterwards either assassinated or judici- ally murdered by the Moderates and Oligarchs. The point of these intentionally obscure and nonsensical lines seems to be : (i) that Cleophon talked bad Attic,


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 119

like a barbarian, and was in fact of Thracian birth ; (2) that he went about whining — and well he might ! — that his political enemies meant to twist the law somehow so as to have him condemned to death. An equally divided vote counted by rights as an acquittal. See also the last two lines of this play.

P. 54, 1. 688, All Athenians shall be equal, &c.] — That is, an amnesty should be granted to those impli- cated in the Oligarchical Revolution led by Phry- nichus in 411.

P. 54, 1. 694, Become Plataeans.] — When Plataea was destroyed by Sparta in 431, the refugees were granted rights of Athenian citizenship and eventually given land (421) in the territory of Skione in Chal- cidice. The slaves who were enfranchised after Arginusae were apparently sent to join the Plataeans.

P. 56, 11. 718-720, Is the same towards men and money.] — Mr. George Macdonald has convinced me that such is the meaning of this passage. Gold coins were struck at this period (b.c. 407 ; Scholiast quoting Hellanicus and Philochorus), and were, to judge from those specimens now extant, of exceptional purity. Bronze coins also were struck (Schol. on v. 725) in the year 406-5, and apparently found unsatisfactory, as they were demonetised by the date of the Ecclesiazusae, B.C. 392 (Eccl. 816 fF.). See Kohler in Zeitsch. fur Numismatik^ xxi. pp. ii fF. Others take the general sense to be : —

" It has often struck our notice that this city draws the same Line between her sons true-hearted and the men who cause her shame,


lao EURIPIDES

As between our ancient silver and the stuff we now

call gold. Those old coins knew naught of alloys 5 everywhere

their fame was told. Not all Hellas held their equal, not all Barbary far

and near, Every tetradrachm well minted, tested each and

ringing clear."

This would be very satisfactory if there was any reason to suppose either that (i) there was an issue of base gold at this time, or (2) the new bronze coinage was jestingly called ^' the new gold."

P- S^j !• 730, Red-haired things.] — Northerners, especially from the Athenian colonies on the coast of Thrace. Asiatic aliens are comparatively seldom mentioned in Attic writers.

P. 56, 1. 733, Scapegoats.] — ^ap/jbaKol, like " Guy Fawkeses." Traditions and traditional ceremonies survived in various parts of Greece, pointing to the previous existence of an ancient and barbarous rite of using human "scapegoats," made to bear the sins of the people and then cast out or killed. See the frag- ments of Hipponax, 4-8. It is stated by late writers that in Athens two criminals, already condemned to death and ' full of sin,' were kept each year to be used in this way at the Feast of Thargelia. The sins of the city were ritually laid upon them ; they were, in ceremonial pretence, scourged before exe- cution ; their bodies were burnt by the sea-shore and their ashes scattered. The evidence is given in Rohde, Psyche^ p. 366, 4. It is preposterous, to my thinking, to regard this as a " human sacrifice " — a


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 121

thing uniformly referred to with horror in Greek literature.

P. 58, 1. 756, Zeus of the Friendly Jailbirds.] — A deity invented to meet the occasion of their swearing friendship.

P. 61, 1. 791, Clidemides informs us.] — The joke is now unintelligible. Even the Alexandrian scholars did not know \yho Clidemides was. He may, for instance, have been some fussy person who toadied Sophocles and liked to give news about him.

P. 61, 11. 799 fF., Straight-edges and cubit-rules, &c.] — The art of scientific criticism, as inaugurated by Gorgias, Prodicus, Thrasymachus, and afterwards developed by Isocrates and Aristotle, would seem absurd to Aristophanes ; the beginnings of physics and astronomy and grammar are similarly — and less excusably — satirised in the Clouds.

P. 62, 11. 814-829. — The parody of Aeschylus is not so brilliant as that upon Euripides, whom Aristo- phanes knew to the tips of his fingers (pp. 94 seqq,). The "Thunderer" and "Thoughtbuilder" is Aeschy- lus ; the " Man of the Mouth," Euripides.

P. 64, 1. 837, Bard of the noble savage.] — Aeschy- lus drew largely from the more primitive and wild strata of Greek legend, as in the Prometheus and Suppliants, The titles and fragments of the lost plays show the same tendency even more strongly.

P. 64, 1. 840, How sayst thou, Son of the Goddess of the Greens.] — A parody of a line of Euripides (possibly from the Telephus\ where " Sea " stood in place of "Greens." Euripides' mother, Cleito, was of noble family [roiv a^oSpa evyepcop) and owned land. For some unknown reason it was a well-established


122 EURIPIDES

joke to call her a " Greengroceress." (Cf. Ach. 457, 478; Knights, 18 fF.; Thesm. 387, 456, 910, and the "beetroot and book juice," below, p. 70.) Pos- sibly the poet was at some time of his life a vegetarian.

P. 64, 1. 842, Blind-beggar-bard; crutch-and-cripple playwright.] — Euripides seems to have used more or less realistic costumes. With him the shipwrecked Menelaus looked shipwrecked, the lame Telephus lame ; Electra, complaining of the squalor of her peasant life, was dressed like a peasant-woman. It is curious how much anger this breach in the tradition seems to have created. We are told that Aeschylus dressed all his characters in gorgeous sacerdotal robes. Yet I wonder if we moderns would have felt any very great difference between his Philoctetes or Telephus (in both of which cases the lameness is essential) and that of Euripides.

P. 64, 1. 844, Strike not thine heart, &c.] — A tragic line, the source not known.

P. 64, 1. 847, A black lamb.] — As sacrificed to appease Typhon, the infernal storm-god.

P. 64, 1. 849, Cretan dancing-solos.] — Possibly a reference to his Cretan tragedies [The Cretans^ The Cretan Women) ; perhaps merely a style of dancing accompanied by song.

P. 65, 1. 855, Knock out all the Telephus.]— (Cf. " That'll knock the Sordello out of him "), ue. his brains, which consist of Telephus in masses. No play of Euripides is so often mocked at.

P. 66, 1. 877, Founts of Quotation.] — Literally " makers of Gnomae " or quotable apophthegms.

P. 68, 1. 910, Phrynichus.] — The tragic poet, pre- decessor of Aeschylus, not the oligarchical conspirator.


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 123

P. 68, 1. 911, Sole veiled figures.] — In the extant plays the silent Prometheus and the silent Cassandra are wonderfully impressive. Achilles (in the Phrygians) and Niobe (in the Niobe) seem to have been ' dis- covered ' sitting silent at the opening of the play. The Adrastus of Euripides' Suppliants (v. 104 fF.) is exactly similar ; the silences of Heracles [Her. v. 1214) and Hecuba [Hec, v, 485), in the plays that bear their names, are different.

P. 70, 1. 931, A question comes in night's long hours.] — From Hippo lytus^ v. 375. A hippalector (horse-cock, a kind of flying horse with a bird's tail) was mentioned in the Myrmidons of Aeschylus ; both the adjective (translated " russet," but perhaps meaning "shrill") and the noun were obscure, and the phrase is often joked upon ; e.g. Birds^ 805, of the basket-seller Dieitrephes, who, from being nobody

" Rose on wicker wings to captain, colonel, cavalry inspector. Till he holds the world in tow and ranks as russet hippalector,"

—where " scarlet " or " screaming " would suit better.

P. 70, 1. 934, Eryxis.] — Unknown. The next line is considered spurious by some critics, as being inconsistent with Euripides' general argument.

P. 70, 1. 937.— A "tragelaph," "goat-stag," was a name for the figures of antelopes, with large saw-like horns, found on Oriental tapestry.

P. 70, 1. 941, Treatment for such distension . . . fed it up on solos.] — This account is generally true. Euripides, as an artist, first rationalised and clarified


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his medium, and then re-enriched it. He first reduced the choric element and made the individual line much lighter and less rich. Then he developed the play of incident, the lyrical ^solo singing,' and the back- ground of philosophic meditation.

P. 70, 1. 944, Cephisophon.] — A friend of Euri- pides (not a slave, as his name shov/s), known chiefly from a fragment of Aristophanes —

" Most excellent and black Cephisophon, You lived in general w^ith Euripides, And helped him in his poetry^ they say."

A late story, improbable for chronological reasons, makes him a lover of the poet's wife.

P. 71, 1. 952, That's no road, &c.] — Euripides in later life severely attacked the Democratic party. E.g. Orestes^ 902-930. See introduction to The Bacchae,

P. 72, 1. 963, Magic Swans.] — It is not known in what play Aeschylus introduced the swan-hero Cycnus. Memnon, the ^Aethiop knight,' occurred in two plays, the Memnon and the Soul-weighing,

P. 72, 1. 964. — The difference between the pupils of Aeschylus and Euripides is interesting. Aeschylus turned out stout, warlike, old-fashioned Democrats ; Euripides, " /«/^//^^/w^A " of Moderate or slightly oli- garchical politics.

P. 72, 1. 965, Phormisius.] — One of the Demo- cratic stalwarts who returned with Thrasybulus. He proposed the amnesty of 403, recalling the exiles. He was afterwards ambassador to Persia. He is described as bearded, shaggy, and of truculent aspect, and died (according to gossip) in a drinking bout. A sort of MapaOaypofLuxv^ person, loyal and unsubtle.


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 125

Po 72, 1. 965. — Megainetus is not elsewhere merk- tioned, and the meaning of the word iiavi)^, " looby lump," is obscure. It seems to be a slave's name, and also the name of a bad throw at dice.

P. 72, 1. 967, Cleitophon.] — One of the coadjutors of Theramenes in the Oligarchical Revolution of 41 1 [Ar. Rep. Ath, 29, 3). He also gives his name to a fragmentary Platonic dialogue, where he argues that Socrates is of inestimable value in rousing the conscience of the quite unconverted man, but worse than useless to the converted man who seeks positive guidance. Cleitophon is there connected with Lysias and Thrasymachus, both of them Democrats. His political attitude would therefore seem to be like that of Theramenes. This party may be taken to repre- sent the general views of Euripides, Thucydides, Isocrates, and Aristotle, and indeed, apart from certain personal prejudices and a dislike to intellectualism, of Aristophanes himself. In general, as Mr. Neil says in his introduction to the Knights^ " Attic literature is on the side of the Moderates, in favour somewhat vaguely of a restricted franchise and clearly of a Panhellenic peace" (involving a more liberal treatment of the Allies). The closer Platonic circle was in a different position. Many of its members were compromised by the bitterer Oligarchic Revolution of 404, and sepa- rated from Moderates as well as Democrats by a river of blood.

P. 72, 1. 967. — For Theramenes, see above, p. 116.

P. 73, 1. 970, Not aces — no; all sixes.] — E,g. it looked as if Theramenes was fatally compromised by the non-recovery of the bodies at Arginusae ; instead of which he contrived to make himself leader of the


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agitation on that very subject. (The reading, however, is doubtful.)

P. 73, 1. 992, Great Achilles, gaze around thee] — " on the spear-tortured labours of the Achaeans, while thou within thy tent . . ." — From the Myrmidons of Aeschylus.

P. 76, I. 1026. — The Persae was, as a matter of

fact, performed in 472, before the Seven against Thebes

(467); nor does the exact exclamation "Yow-oy,"

lavoly occur in it. But various odd quasi-Persian forms

o : 06, oa, Lwa.

P. 77, 1. 1031, Those poets have all been of practi- cal use, &c.] — This passage, dull and unintelligent as it seems (unless some jest in it escapes me), is not meant to be absurd. It implies an argument of this sort : " All poetry, to be good, must do something good ; " a true statement as it stands. " Homer and the ancients do good to people." No one would dare to deny this, and no doubt it is true ; he does them good by helping them to see the greatness and interestingness of things, by filling their minds with beauty, and so on; but the ordinary man, having a narrower idea of good, imagines that Homer must do him " good " in one of the recognised edifying or dogmatic ways, and is driven to concluding that Homer does him good by his military descriptions and exhortations !

Aeschylus proceeds, "I am like Homer because I describe battles and brave deeds, and similar things that are good for people. Euripides is unlike Homer, because he describes all sorts of other things, which are not in Homer, and are therefore probably trash ; at any rate some of them are improper ! "


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 127

This is ordinary philistinism. Aeschylus struck Aristophanes as being like Homer, not because they were both warlike, but chiefly because they were both great well-recognised poets of the past, whom he had accepted in his childhood without criticism. He attacks Euripides for making him think and feel in some new or disturbing way, or perhaps at a time of life when he does not expect really to think and feel at all. Probably the contemporaries of Aeschylus attacked him in just the same way. He made people think of the horrors of victory and of vengeance ; he made a most profound and un-Homeric study of the guilty Clytaemnestra. But Aristophanes, when in his present mood, resembles that modern critic who is said to have praised Shakespeare for writ- ing " bright, healthy plays with no psychology in them."

P. 77, 1. 1036, Pantacles.] — A lyric poet, one of whose victories is recorded on an extant inscribed pillar (Dittenberger, 410). The "procession" was doubtless at the Panathenaea six months before.

P. 77, 1. 1039, Lamachus.] — The general who died so heroically in the Sicilian expedition. He is attacked in the Acharnians as representative of the war party, partly perhaps because of his name (" Love-battle " or " Host-fighter "). He is treated respectfully in Thesm. 841.

P. 77, 1. 1043, Stheneboia.] — Phaedra, heroine of the Hippolytus.

P. 77, 1. 1044, A woman in love in one act of one play.] — An exaggeration. Clytaemnestra is in love with Aegisthus, as any subtle reading of the Agamem- non shows ; but other passions are more prominent,


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and love in Aeschylus is on the whole treated with reserve and stiffness. There was, however, a famous speech of Aphrodite in the Danatdes^ explaining her- self as a world-force. And Euripides would probably have shrunk from writing such lines as MyrmtdonSy fr. 135, 136, and from representing Semele's pregnancy as Aeschylus seems to have done in the play called by her name (see Nauck)^ a great deal more than Aeschylus would have shrunk from the delicate psy- chology of Euripides' Phaedra, In the dramatic treatment of female character Aeschylus was really the pioneer who opened the road for Euripides, The Clytaemnestra of the Agamemnon probably differs from the women of earlier poets in just the same way as Phaedra differs from her, and to a far greater degree,

P. 78, 1. 1046, Once , . . left you flat on the ground.] — The allusion is entirely obscure.

P. 78, 1. 105 1, To gratify Bellerophontes.] — That hero, in a fury, had wished that all women might poison themselves.

P. 79, 1. 1058, The language of men.] — Euripides, as represented, agrees with Wordsworth. The general voice of poetry is clearly against both.

P. 80, 1. 1074, And spit on the heads, &c.] — One of the passages which show that Aristophanes could see the other side when he chose. Your stout, igno- rant pre-sophistic farmer or sailor was a bit of a brute after all !

P. 80, 1. 1080, Goes into shrines.] — Aug^.

P. 80, 1. 108 1, Her own brother's wife.] — Canac^ in the Aeolus.


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 129

P. 80, 1. 1082, Life is not Life.] — See the Polyidus. The same sentiment occurs in the Phrixus,

P. 82, 1. 1 109, If you fear from former cases, &c.] — The meaning may also be that they have a book in their hands at the time, viz. a copy of the play. So Van Leeuw^en : " These verses were added in the second performance of The Frogs. At the first per- formance . . . this part of the play had been over the heads of some, perhaps many, of the audience. But now, says the Chorus, this objection is removed ; copies of the play are in every citizen's hand."

P. 82, 1. 1 124, Oresteia.] — The prologue quoted is that of the Choephori ; Oresteia (" The Orestes- poetry "), seems to have been another name for that play. We apply the word to the whole trilogy — Agamemnon^ Choephori^ Eumenides, The growth of formal titles for books was a very slow thing. Pro- bably Aeschylus scarcely " named " his plays much more definitely than Herodotus and Thucydides " named " their histories. Even Euripides' plays sometimes bear in the MSS. varying names : Bacchae or PentheuSj Hippolytus or Phaedra, By the time of Plato regular names for plays must have been estab- lished, as he named his dialogues in evident analogy from plays.

P. 83, 1. 1 126, Warding a father's way.] — A phrase really obscure. Commentators differ about the interpretation.

P. 84, 1. 1 1 50, Dionysus, dull of fragrance, &c.] — Apparently a tragic line.

P. 87, 1. 1 1 82, At first was Oedipus, &c.] — Pro- logue to Euripides' Antigone,

I


[30 EURIPIDES

P. 88, 1. 1 196, Erasinides.] — One of the com- manders at Arginusae. There was one piece of bad luck that Oedipus missed.

P. 88, 1. 1200, One umbrella.] — Literally "one oil cruse." An ancient Athenian carried a cruse of olive oil about with him, both to anoint himself with after washing and to eat like butter with his food. Naturally he was apt to lose it, especially when travelling. I can find no object which both ancient Greeks and modern Englishmen would habitually use and lose except an umbrella.

The point of this famous bit of fooling is, I think, first, that Euripides' tragic style is so little elevated that umbrellas and clothes-bags are quite at home in it ; secondly, that there is a certain monotony of grammatical structure in Euripides'* prologues, so that you can constantly finish a sentence by a half-line with a verb in it.

The first point, though burlesquely exaggerated, is true and important. Euripides' style, indeed, is not prosaic. It is strange that competent students of Greek tragic diction should ever have thought it so. But it is very wide in its range, and uses very collo- quial words by the side of very romantic or archaic ones — a dangerous and difficult process, which only a great master of language can successfully carry through. Cf. the criticism on the ^ light weight ' of his lines, below, pp. 97 fF.

As to the second point, it is amusing to make out the statistics. Of the extant Greek tragedies, the following can have XtjkvOlov aircokeae stuck on to one of the first ten lines of the prologue : Aesch. Prom. 8, Sept. 6, Eum, 3 (a good one, r) 8r) to fir)Tpb<;


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 131

krjKvOcov aTT(i)\e(Tev)y and several other lines ; Soph. 0. T, 4, EL 5, Track. 3 and 6, Antig. 2 and 7 {ap olaO^ on Zev^ X. a.) ; Euripides, Tro, 10, Hec. 2, Phoen. 7, Hcltd^ 2 and 4, //^r. 9, //^/. 4, £/. 10, /. A, 54 ( = 6), and /. T. 2, quoted here. Thus all three tragedians have such passages in the opening of about half their extant plays, and the " monotony," if such it be, belongs rather to the style of the tragic prologue than to Euripides.

A third allusion seems to have been felt by the ancient vv^riters on rhetoric. Arj/cvOo^ and XrjKvdcov (Synesius, p. 55), in the sense of " paint-flask" (Latin ampulla)^ were cant terms for " ornament in diction." Euripides' tragic heroes, v^ith their plain style of speech, seem to have lost their paints. I do not think Aristophanes meant this.

P. 88, 1. 1206, Aegyptus, &c.] — The first v^ords, it is said, of the Archelaus^ though Aristarchus, the famous Alexandrian scholar, says that the Archelaus as published in his time had a diifterent prologue M^ithout these w^ords. Apparently there were two alternative prologues ; cf. the Iph'igenia in Aulis.

P. 89, 1. 121 1, Dionysus, &c.] — Opening of the Hypsipyle. It went on : "amid the Delphian maids."

P. 89, 1. 12 1 7, No man hath bliss, &c.] — Opening of the Stheneboea, It went on : " Rich acres holds to plough."

P. 90, 1. 1225, Cadmus long since] — "his way to Theb^ won." Opening of the Phrixus.

P. 90, 1. 1232, Pelops the Great] — "a royal bride had won." Opening of the Iphigenia in Tauris^ still extant.

P. 91, 1. 1238, Oineus from earth.] — From the


132 EURIPIDES

Meleager^ but not (according to the Scholiast) the first words. It went on : " Left one due deed undone, Praising not Artemis."

P. 91, I. 1244, Great Zeus in heaven, &c. — Open- ing of Melanippe the Wise. It went on : " Was sire to Hellen," and therefore did not really admit the \rjKV0iov tag.

P. 91, 1. 1247, ^^ bunged up as your eyes.] — There are various allusions to Euripides' bodily infirmities in his extreme old age.

Pp. 92 fF., 11. 1264 ff. — Aristophanes parodying Aeschylus is not nearly as brilliant and funny as when parodying Euripides. The lines here are all actual lines of Aeschylus : a refrain is made of a line which is good sense when first used, but easily relapses into gibberish. The plays quoted are, in order, the MyrmldonSj Raisers of the Dead^ Telephus (J)^ Priestesses^ Agamemnon (v. 104) ; then, for the cithara songs, Agameynnon (v. 109), SphinXy Agamemnon (v. ill). Sphinx (?), Thracian Women.

P. 94, 1. 1294, War towards Aias.] — Obscure and perhaps corrupt.

P. 94, 1. 1296, Was it from Marathon, &c.] — " Did you find that sort of stuff growing in the marsh of Marathon when you fought there ? " Aeschylus answers : " Never you mind where I got it. It was from a decent place ! " The metre of the song, and presumably the music, is Stesichorean.

P. 94, 1. 1308, No Lesbian.] — l,e. she is very unlike the simple old Lesbian music of Sappho and Alcaeus ; but there is a further allusion to the supposed impro- prieties of Lesbian women.

P. 94, I. 1309, Ye halcyons, &c.] — This brilliant


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 133

parody contains a few actual Euripidean phrases ; cf. /. T. 1089 —

" O bird, that wheeling o'er the main By crested rock and crested sea Cryest for ever piteously, O Halcyon, I can read thy pain," &c.

and EL 435 seqq,^ "Where the tuneful dolphin winds his way before the dark-blue-beaked ships." "The shuttle's minstrel mind " is said by the Scholiast to be from the Meleager,

P. 95, 1. 1 31 4, Wi-i-i-ind.] — A musical "shake." This particular word elXlo-aco is scanned el-ecXLaaco (and actually so written in one MS.) in EL 437, the passage cited above ; and a papyrus fragment of the Orestes has 0)9 written (hco<; with two musical notes above it. Of course the thing is common in lyric poetry, both Greek and English, but decidedly rarer in Aeschylus than in Euripides.

P* 95> 1- I323> That foot.] — The metrical foot, 7repi/3aW% an anapaest rather irregularly used : I imitate the effect in "arm-pressure."

P. 95, 1. 1328, Cyrene.] — Not much is known of her, and that not creditable.

P. 96, 1. 1 33 1, Thou fire-hearted Night, &c.] — Cf. the solo of Hecuba {Hec, 68 seqq,). The oxymoron ("his soul no soul") and the repetitions are very characteristic of Euripides, though common enough in Aeschylus (e.g. Aesch. Suppliants^ 836 fF., where there are seven such repetitions). It is not Euripides, but Greek tragedy in general, that is hit by this criticism.

P. 97, 1. 1356, Cretans take up your bows, &c.] —


134 EURIPIDES

From Euripides' Cretans^ according to the Scholiast, but he does not specify the lines.

P. 97, 1. 1365, Bring him to the balance : the one sure test.] — This is indeed the one test — and a fairly important one — in which Euripides must be utterly beaten by Aeschylus. Every test hitherto has been inconclusive.

P. 1 01, after 1. 1410, Room for the King, &c.] — I have inserted this line. There seems to be a gap of several lines in our MSS.

P. 1 01, 1. 1 41 3, The one's so good,] = viz. Euripides, and " I so love " Aeschylus. — Euripides was cro^o?, being master of the learning, including conscious poeti- cal theory, which had not fully entered into the ideals of the educated Athenian in Aeschylus' time.

P. 102, 1. 1422, Alcibiades.] — He was now in his second exile. Appointed one of the three generals of the Sicilian expedition in 415, he was called back from his command to be tried for " impiety " (in con- nection with the mutilation of the Hermae). He fled and was banished ; then he acted with Sparta against Athens in order to procure his recall. Upon the out- break of the Oligarchic Revolution of 411, the fleet, which remained democratic, recalled Alcibiades. He commanded with success for three years, returned to Athens in triumph in 408, and was formally appointed Commander-in-Chief. The defeat at Notium in 406, for which his carelessness was considered responsible, caused him to be superseded, and he retired to the castles which were his private possessions in the Chersonese, maintaining an ambiguous political atti- tude, but on the whole friendly to Athens. He was mysteriously assassinated in 404. The divergent


COMMENTARY ON THE FROGS 135

advice of the two poets is clear and probably charac- teristic. Euripides says, " Have no dealings with such a shifty and traitorous person ; " Aeschylus says, "Make all the use you can, even with some risk, of every good fighter/** And this would, no doubt, be Aristophanes' view, to judge from the Parabasis of this play (pp. 54-56).

P. 102, 1. 1425, She loves and hates, &c.] — Said to be parodied from a line in The Sentinels {<ppovpoi) by Ion of Chios.

P. 102, 1. 1434, The one so wise, &c.] — I do not think that any real distinction is drawn between ao(f>co^y "wisely," and crac^w?, "truly" or "convincingly."

P. 103, 1. 1443, Where Mistrust is, &c.] — The re- spective lines of advice are the same as before. Euri- pides says, " Purge your governing bodies and keep the morale of the state sound " ; Aeschylus says, "Fight your hardest and think of nothing but fighting."

P. 104, 1. 1468, My choice shall fall, &c.] — Seems to be a tragic line.

P. 104, 1. 1 47 1, My tongue hath sworn.] — Hippolytus^ V. 612 (see above, p. 112).

P. 105, 1. 1474, Canst meet mine eyes, &c.] — From Euripides' Aeolus.

P. 105, 1. 1477, Who knoweth if to live, &c.] — From the Polyidus (cf. above, p. 80).

P. 106, 1. 1482, Then never with Socrates, &c.] — A most interesting attack on the Socratic circle for lack of brains — of all charges ! Plato, Critias, and " other pretty fellows" (see p. iii) wrote tragedies, and no doubt seemed to old stagers like Aristophanes to break " the drama's principal rules."


136 EURIPIDES

P. 1 06, 11. 1504 fF., This sword is for Cleophon.] — Viz. to kill himself with (see on Cleophon above, p. 118). The " Board of Providers " was specially appointed to raise revenue by extraordinary means after the Sicilian disasters; Myrmex and Archenomus are otherwise unknown. Nicomachus was a legal official against whom Lysias wrote his speech, No. XXX. Adei- mantus is a better known figure. A disciple of Prota- goras, he was a general in 407 and in actual command at the defeat of Notium. He was appointed general again after the condemnation of those concerned in the battle of Arginusae ; continued in his command next year, and was responsible, through incompetence or deliberate treachery, for the annihilation of the Athenian fleet by Lysander at Aegospotami (404).

P. 107, 1. 1528, Peace go with him, &c.] — The dactylic hexameter metre is rather characteristic of Aeschylus, and so is the solemnity of these last lines — so charmingly broken by the jest at the very end.

P. 108, 1. 1533, Fields of his father.] — The leader of the extreme ' patriotic ' party was supposed to be a foreigner — of Thracian descent.


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