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But your fine elegant rafcal, that can rife,
Lucian's Parafite, which is a masterpiece of character and comic writing, and Horace's dialogue between Tirefias and Ulyffes (which is the fifth fatire of the fecond book) might perhaps be traced in paffages of this comedy of Eupolis, if we had it entire.
Eupolis in his Lacedæmonians attacks both the public and private character of Cimon, charging him with improper partiality for the Lacedæmonians, with drunkenness, and even with an incestuous commerce with his own fifter Pnyce: Plutarch takes notice of this attack, and fays it had a great effect in ftirring up the populace against this celebrated commander.
He wrote his comedy, intitled Marica, against the orator Hyperbolus, whom Thucydides mentions to have been banished by Oftraeifm.
We have the titles of upwards of twenty plays of this author's compofition.
Ut templum charités, quod non labatur, haberent, invenêre tuum pectus, Ariftophanes.
(Jos. SCALIGER EX PLATONE.)
HIS is an eulogy the more honourable to Ariftophanes, as it fell from Plato, the difciple of Socrates. If I were to collect all the teftimonies, that are fcattered through the works of the learned in behalf of the author we are now about to review, I fhould fill my pages with panegyric, but this I am the lefs concerned to do, as the reader has a part of him in poffeffion, which as it is near a fourth of the whole man, he has more than the foot by which to measure this Hercules.
Both the parentage and birth-place of Ariftophanes are doubtful: He was an adopted,. not a natural, citizen of Athens, and I incline. to think he was the fon of Philippus, a native K 4 of
of Ægina, where our poet had fome patrimony. He was in perfon very tall, bony and robust, and we have his own authority for his baldness; but whether this was as difgraceful at Athens, as it was amongst the Romans, I have not been anxious to enquire. He was in private life of a free, open and companiable temper, and his company was fought after by the greatest characters of the age with all poffible avidity: Plato, and even Socrates, shared many focial hours with him; he was much the most popular character in Athens, as the great dæmagogue Cleon experienced to his cost, not to mention Socrates himself: Every honour that could be paid to a poet was publicly bestowed upon Ariftophanes by the Athenian people; nor did they confine their rewards to honorary prizes only, but decreed him fines and pecuniary confifcations from thofe, who ventured to attack him with fuits and profecutions: Dionyfius of Syracuse in vain made overtures to him of the most flattering fort, at the time when Æfchines and Ariftippus, Socratic philofophers, were retained in his court with fo much infamy to their private characters, and when even Plato himfelf had folicited his notice by three several vifits to Syracuse, where he had not the good fortune to render himself
very agreeable. The fame of Ariftophanes had reached to the court of Perfia, and his praises were there founded by the great king himself, who confidered him not only as the first poet, but as the moft confpicuous perfonage at Athens. I do not find him marked with any other immorality, than that of intemperance with regard to wine, the fashionable excefs of the time, and in fome degree a kind of prerogative of his profeffion, a licentia poetica: Athenæus the Deipnosophist says he was drunk when he compofed, but this is a charge that will not pass upon any man who is fober; and if we rejected it from Sophocles in the case of Æfchylus, we shall not receive it but with contempt from fuch an accufer as Athenæus. He was not happy in his domestic connections, for he naturally declares that he was afhamed of his wife---Τὴν γυναικα δ ̓ ἀισχύνομαι -- and as for his two fons, Philippus and Ararotes, they did him as little credit, and he confidered them accordingly. He was bleft with a good conftitution, and lived to turn above feventy years, though the date of his death is not precifely laid down,
Though he was refolute in oppofing himself to the torrent of vice and corruption, which overspread the manners of his country, yet he
was far more temperate in his perfonal invective than his contemporaries. He was too fenfitive in his nature to undertake the performance of his own parts in perfon, which was general with all the comic poets of his time; and he stood their raillery for not venturing to tread the ftage as they did. Amipfias and Ariftonymus, both rival authors, charged him with availing himfelf of the talents of other people from consciousness of his own infufficiency: Their raillery could not draw him out, till his favourite actor Calliftratus declined undertaking the part of Cleon in his perfonal comedy of The Knights, dreading the refentment of that powerful dæmagogue, who was as unforgiving as he was imperious In this dilemma Ariftophanes conquered his repugnance, and determined upon presenting himfelf on the ftage for the first time in his life: He dreffed himself in the character of this formidable tribune; and having coloured his face with vermilion up to the hue of the brutal perfon he was to refemble, he entered on the part in such a ftile of energy, and with fuch natural expreffion, that the effect was irresistible; and the proud factious Cleon was ftript of his popularity, and fentenced in a fine of five talents by the knight's decree, as damages for the