صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

o learn'd Mecænas, hear Cratinus speak,
And take this maxim from the gay old Greek;
No verse Mall please, or lasting honours gain,
Which coldly flows from water drinker's brain.

As for the love of wine, it seems to have stood in the place of a merit with the Greeks; but Cratinus's excess was attended in his old age with fome marks of weakness and want of retention, incidental to an exhausted constitution, which gave a handle to Aristophanes, who was a younger man (and not much more abftemious) to bring his old competitor on the stage, and hold him up to ridicule for this infirmity. The charge was unmaniy, and roused the aged veteran to return the attack: Cratinus, then nearly approaching to an hundred, had left off writing, but he was not yet superannuated, and lived to compleat a comedy, which he appositely entitled The Flaggon. In the plot of this piece he feigns himself married to Comedy, whom he personifies, and represents the lady in disgust with her husband for his unconjugal neglect, on which account the states her charge, and roundly sues for an actual divorce: Upon this hearing, certain friends and advocates are introduced on the scene in behalf of the party accused, who make suit to the dame to stay her proceedings, and not be over

hafty

hasty in throwing off an old spouse ; but on the contrary recommend to her to enter calmly into an amicable discussion of her grievances : To this proposal the at length accedes, and this gives occasion to take up the charge of Aristophanes, accusing the old bard of drunkenness and the concomitant circumstances, which had been published with so much ill-nature to make him ridiculous at the end of life. Then follows a very pleasant refutation of all these libels, by which he contrives to turn the laugh against Aristophanes, and so concludes the comedy. One feels a satisfaction even at this distance of ages to know, that the old poet bore away the prize with this very comedy, and soon after expired in the arms of victory at the age of ninety-seven, in the first year of Olymp. LXXXIX,

The Athenians gave him a monument, and an epitaph, in which they omit all mention of his fine talents, and record nothing but his drunkenness. He spared no man when living, and even death itself could not : protect him from retaliation.

1

« Θανόντος ανδρός πας' απόλλoται χάρις.”

(STESICHORUS.))

Thr

The evil that he did liv'd' after bim,
The good was all interred with bis bones.

(SHAKESPEAR.)

There is scarce a fragment of this poet, once so great a favourite, that is now to be found; the very few scraps of sentences remaining are too imperfect to merit a translation: One little spark of his genius however will be seen in the following epigrammatic turn of thought upon the loss of a statue, which being the workmanship of Dædalus, he supposes to have made use of its privilege, and escaped from its pedestal.

“ My tatue's gone! By Dedalus 'twas made.
“ It is not stolen therefore, it has fray'd."

EUPOLIS. Eupolis became a very popular author fome years before the death of Cratinus: The bold strong spirit of his fatire recommended him to the public more than the beauties and graces of his ftile, which he was not studious to polish. He attacked the most obnoxious and profligate characters in Athens, without any regard to his personal safety ; to expose the cheat, and ridicule the impostor was the glory of his muse, and neither the terrors of the magistracy, nor the mysteries of fuperftition could divert him from it. He wrote two comedies professedly against Autolycus the Areopagite, whose misbehaviour in the Chæronenfian war had made him infamous, and he called. them after his name The first and second Autolycus. In his famous comedy called The Baptæ he inveighs against the effeminate turpitude of his countrymen, whom he exhibits dancing after the manner of the lascivious priests of Cotytto (viz. the Bapta) in the habits and fashion of female minstrels.

could

Talia secreta coluerunt orgia teda
Cecropiam foliti Bapta lasare Cotytto.

(Juven.)

The prevailing account of his death is, that the persons, whom he had satirized in this play of the Bapta, suborned certain affaffins to throw him into the sea, as he was passing the Hellespont with the Athenian forces then on an expedition against the Lacedæmonians; and several authorities impute this revengeful deed to Alcibiades, who had been severely handled in that piece; but Cicero in his first epistle of the fixth-book to Atticus speaks of this report as a vulgar error; and quotes Eratosthenes for the fact of Eupolis having written certain comedies after the time, when the event of his death is dated

-redarguit

redarguit Eratosthenes; affert enim quas ille post id tempus fabulas docuerit.

Pausanias tells us, that his tomb was erected upon the banks of the Æsopus in Sicyonia, and as it is not likely this honour should be paid to his memory by the Sicyonians, he being an Athenian born, unless he had died in their country;, the authority of Pausanias seems to confirm the account of Eratosthenes, and discredit the fable of his being thrown into the Hellespont.

In his comedy called The People, by the fiction of the scene he raises the shades of their departed orators and dæmagogues from the dead; and when Pericles, last of the troop, arifes, the poet demands, "Who it is that ap“pears ?” The question being answered, and the spirit of Pericles dismissed, he pronounces his encomium-" That he was pre-eminent as

an orator, for man never spoke as he spoke : « When he started like a courser in the race, “ he threw all competitors out of fight, fo rapid

was the torrent of his eloquence; but with « that rapidity there flowed such sweetness and * persuasion from his lips, that He alone of all « orators struck a fting into the very souls of This hearers, and left it there to remain for « ever.”

I think

« السابقةمتابعة »