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"And, whilft your grey beards wag, the gaping guest Sits wondering with a foolish face of praise." (PLATO, COM.)

CRATES, by birth an Athenian, was firft an actor, and afterwards a writer of the old comedy; he performed the principal characters in Cratinus's plays, and was the great rival of Ariftophanes's favourite actors Calliftratus and Philonides; we have the titles of more than twenty comedies, and but four small fragments of this author: I have fearched for his remains more diligently, from the circumftance of his having been fo celebrated an actor; a profeffion which centers in itself more gifts of nature, education, art and ftudy, than any other. His comedies are faid to have been of a very gay and facetious caft; and the author of the Prolegomena to Ariftophanes informs us, that he was the firft who introduced a drunken character on the Athenian ftage; to this anecdote I give credit, because no one could better know how entirely fuch an attempt depends upon the difcretion and addrefs of the actor, who has fuch a part in his keeping: It is plain the experiment fucceeded, because even the tragedians exhibited fuch characters in fucceeding times. Modern experience fhews us, how fubject fuch representations are to be outraged;


the performer generally forgetting, or not knowing, that his own fobriety fhould keep the drunkenness he counterfeits within its proper bounds. Ariftotle afcribes to Crates another innovation with respect to the iambic metre of the old comedy, which he made more free and appofite to familiar dialogue; this also correfponds with the natural and facetious character of his drama. I cannot fay the four fmall fragments which I have collected bear that ftamp; on the contrary, they are of a grave and fententious caft: One of them is an observation on the effects of poverty, which Horace has either literally tranflated, or ftruck upon the very fame thoughts in the following paffage:

Non habet infelix paupertas durius in fe
Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.

I find a fhort ftricture upon the gluttony of the Theffalians; a remark upon the indecorum of inviting women to wedding fuppers, and making riotous entertainments at a ceremony which modefty would recommend to pass in private, and within the respective family where it occurs.

The laft fragment is a fhort but touching picture of old age, and the vanity of human wishes :


wifhes: I think the turn of thought and expreffion extremely beautiful.


"Thefe fhrivell'd finews and this bending frame, "The workmanship of Time's ftrong hand proclaim; "Skill'd to reverse whate'er the gods create, "And make that crooked which they fashion straight. "Hard choice for man, to die-or elfe to be

That tottering, wretched, wrinkled thing you fee: "Age then we all prefer; for age we pray, "And travel on to life's laft ling'ring day; "Then finking flowly down from worse to worse, ❝ Find heay'n's extorted boon our greatest curfe." (CRATES.)

PHRYNICHUS Was a contemporary of Eupolis, and a writer of the old comedy; a dramatic poet of the first clafs in reputation as well as in time, He was an Athenian by birth, and must not be confounded with the tragic poet of that name. I find the titles of ten comedies of his writing; thefe are The Ephialtes; The Beard, (the fame title with that of Plato); Saturn; The Revellers; The Satyrs; The Tragedians; The Reclufe; The Mufes; The Priest, and The Weeding-Women. We have no other guides but these titles to guess at the comedies themselves; we see however by some of them what fubjects his fatire pointed out to the fpectators, in which the philofophers had their share as usual; and by certain fragments it appears,

appears, that Alcibiades was also treated with fome perfonal feverity.

PHERECRATES is the next author I fhall notice, a poet famous in his time, and whofe character as well as genius defcends to us with the warmeft teftimonies of high authority. His ftile was of that fort, which has been proverbially dignified as Most Attic: He acquired fuch reputation by his poems as well as plays, that the metre he used was called by pre-eminence the Pherecratian Metre. He was no less excellent in his private character than in his poetical one; he was attached to Alexander of Macedon, and accompanied that great conqueror in his expeditions; he lived in intimacy with Plato at Athens, and in fome of his comedies was engaged in warm competition with Crates, the actor and author, of whom I have already spoken. Suidas fays he wrote feventeen comedies, and the titles of these are still extant: One of them, viz. Tha Peasants, is mentioned by Plato in his Protagoras: Clemens quotes a paffage from his DeJerters of great elegance, in which the gods are introduced making heavy complaints of the frauds put upon them by mankind in their facrifices and oblations: This poet alfo has a perfonal ftroke at the immoral character of Alcibiades.



Having quoted a paffage from Crates on the vi fubject of old age, I fhall now felect one from this author on the fame; and if the reader is curious to observe how these celebrated rivals expreffed themselves on a fimilar fentiment, he has an opportunity of making the comparison.


"Age is the heaviest burthen man can bear, "Compound of difappointment, pain and care; "For when the mind's experience comes at length, "It comes to mourn the body's loss of strength: "Refign'd to ignorance all our better days, "Knowledge just ripens when the man decays; "One ray of light the clofing eye receives, "And wisdom only takes what folly leaves." (PHERECRATES.)

Pherecrates intitled one of his comedies The Tyranny; it does not appear what particular object he had in view under this title, but from the following fragment he feems to have levelled. fome share of his fatire against the fair fex

"Remark how wifely antient art provides "The broad-brimm'd cup with flat expanded fides; "A cup contriv`d for man's discreeter use, "And fober potions of the generous juice : "But woman's more ambitious thirsty foul "Soon long'd to revel in the plenteous bowl; "Deep and capacious as the fwelling hold "Of fome ftout bark she shap'd the hollow mould,


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