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472 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

dialogue became more varied and natural. Individuality of character was achieved. The

always lofty and pathetic solemnity of the language of Aeschylus was in some measure

substituted with the language of common life. The men of Sophocles are more human than

those of his predecessor. In his themes, however, the sorrowful mysteries of being are

still preferred. The dark riddle of fate, the unsolved enigma of life, the hard destiny of

struggling man, beaten by adverse winds of duty and inclination, of necessity and

preference- such are the mournful topics of his dramas. In the Antigotti best of all are

these qualities of the genius of Sophocles depicted.

The next evolution is presented in EURIPIDES. He is less ideal than his predecessor, but

truer to nature. His drama is more of a reality. He takes his stand in the midst of human

life as it is. His language is the language of the people. The heroes of his plays are

more possible than those of Sophocles. They are redeemed with weak- nesses, touched with

folly, stained with

tears. He has more variety in his action, greater freedom, more surprises and

vicissitudes. Nor were the essentially tragic qualities of his genius less tragic for this

descent towards the actual plane of human life. As occasion required, all the sublime

force of tragedy is revealed by his muse. In the Medea the terrible passion of Phaedra in

revenging her slighted love has a terror hardly equaled in Sophocles and Aeschylus. But

with those who succeeded Euripides a decline in tragic qualities becomes immediately

apparent. The Greek play is henceforth rather the roar of the courthouse than a sublime

conflict in the arena of gods and heroes.

Then came Greek COMEDY. Hellas laughed. She amused herself. She took Bacchus into

goodfellowship. The wine- god was mirthful. In the autumn, when the lesser Dionysia were

celebrated, the season was made hilarious with mummeries and jokes. Any one present might

be the victim. The choral song was transferred into comic representation. Folly mixed a

cup and poured it on the heads of revelers. For a great while the scene was enacted in the

village, where rustics gathered for amusement. In the serious city, where the weighty

affairs of state engrossed tile attention of all, there was no time for reckless

enjoyment. Not until the beginning of the fifth century B. C. did comedy make a public

appearance in Athens, and not until near the close of that century was the new species of

drama received with general favor.

Perhaps the early structure of Athenian society did not favor the development of such

literature. Freedom-the freedom of such a democracy-was necessary to insure immunity,

without which comedy can not flourish. When it did come it came with license. Nothing was

too serious or sacred for the shaft of the reckless satirist. Man,