Book of illustrations : Ancient Tragedy

Book of illustrations : Ancient Tragedy
Author: Aeschylus
Title: Book of illustrations : Ancient Tragedy
Release Date: 2006-10-16
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Story of Orestes, by Richard G. Moulton

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: Story of Orestes A Condensation of the Trilogy

Author: Richard G. Moulton

Release Date: October 16, 2006 [EBook #19559]

Language: English

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STORY OF ORESTES ***

Produced by Al Haines

BOOK OF

ILLUSTRATIONS

ANCIENT TRAGEDY

RICHARD G. MOULTON

CHICAGO

The University of Chicago Press

1904

ILLUSTRATIONS

THE ANCIENT DRAMA

(TRAGEDY)

CONTENTS

STORY OF ORESTES [Oresteia], A TRILOGY BY Aeschylus
  AGAMEMNON
  THE SEPULCHRAL RITES [Choephori]
  THE GENTLE GODDESSES [Eumenides]

ELECTRA, by Sophocles

ELECTRA, by Euripides

ALCESTIS, by Euripides

THE CYCLOPS, by Euripides

THE BACCHANALS, by Euripides

MISCELLANEOUS PASSAGES

REFERENCES

In the case of Aeschylus and Sophocles the numbering of lines agreeswith that in the translations of Plumptre and in the original. In theplays from Euripides the numbering is that of the lines in the cheaptranslation (Routledge's Universal Library).

[Transcriber's note: In the original book, the line numbers mentionedabove were right-justified. In this e-book, they are enclosed in curlybraces, and placed immediately after their associated line of text,e.g. ". . . a line of text {123}".]

A CONDENSATION OF THE TRILOGY

STORY OF ORESTES

[ORESTEIA]

BEING THE ONLY GREEK TRILOGY, OR THREE-PLAY DRAMA, WHICH HAS COME DOWNTO US COMPLETE

CONSISTING OF

MORNING PLAY:

AGAMEMNON

MIDDAY PLAY:

THE SEPULCHRAL RITES
[CHOEPHORI]

AFTERNOON PLAY:

THE GENTLE GODDESSES
[EUMENIDES]

COMPOSED BY AESCHYLUS, AND BROUGHT ON THE STAGE AT ATHENS AT THEFESTIVAL OF THE 'GREATER DIONYSIA,' IN MARCH OF 458 B. C., DURING THEPOLITICAL EXCITEMENT OCCASIONED BY THE POPULAR ATTACK ON THEARISTOCRATIC COURT OF MARS' HILL, OR AREOPAGUS

The passages quoted are from Plumptre's Translation

MEMORANDUM

The Sacred Legends touched by this Trilogy would be familiar, inoutline, to the Auditors: e. g.:

The woes of the House of Atreus: the foundation of them laid by Atreuswhen, to take vengeance on his brother Thyestes, he served up to him ata banquet the flesh of his own sons;

His grandsons were Agamemnon and Menelaus: Menelaus' wife, Helen, wasstolen by a guest, Paris of Troy, which caused the great Trojan war.

Agamemnon, who commanded the Greek nations in that war, fretting at thecontrary winds which delayed the setting out of the fleet, waspersuaded by the Seers to slay his own daughter Iphigenia, to appeasethe Deities;

Her mother Clytaemnestra treasured up this wrong all through the tenyears' war, and slew Agamemnon on his return, in the moment of victory,slew him while in his bath by casting a net over him and smiting him todeath with her own arm;

Then she reigned in triumph with Aegisthus her paramour (himself one ofthe fatal house), till Orestes her son, who had escaped as an infantwhen his father was slaughtered, returned at last, and slew the guiltypair;

For this act of matricide, though done by the command of Apollo,Orestes was given up to the Furies, and driven over the earth, amadman, till in Athens, on Mars' Hill they say, he was cleansed andhealed.

Cassandra too was involved in the fall of Agamemnon: the Trojan maidenbeloved of Apollo, who bestowed upon her the gift of prophecy; when sheslighted the God's love, Apollo—for no gift of a god can berecalled—left her a prophetess, with the doom that her trueforebodings should ever be disbelieved. She, having thus vainly soughtto save Troy, with its fall fell into captivity, and to the lot ofAgamemnon, with whom she died.

The name of Orestes would suggest the proverbial friendship of Qrestes[Transcriber's note: Orestes?] and Pylades, formed in Orestes' troubleand never broken.

TRILOGY OF THE ORESTEIA

FIRST PLAY: IN THE MORNING:

AGAMEMNON

PROLOGUE

The Permanent Scene is decorated to represent the facade of the Palaceof Agamemnon, at Argos; the platform over the Central door appearing as aWatch-tower. At intervals along the front of the Palace, and especiallyby the three doors, are statues of Gods, amongst them Apollo, Zeus, andHermes. The time is supposed to be night, verging on morning. BothOrchestra and Stage are vacant: only a Watchman is discovered on theTower, leaning on his elbow, and gazing into the distance.

The Watchman soliloquizes on his toilsome task of watching all nightthrough for the first sight of the signal which is to tell of the captureof Troy: he has kept his post for years, till the constellations whichusher in winter and harvest-time are his familiar companions; he mustendure weather and sleeplessness, and when he would sing to keep hisspirits up he is checked by thoughts of his absent master's household, inwhich, he darkly hints, things are "not well." [He is settling himselfinto an easier posture, when suddenly he springs to his feet.] Thebeacon-fire at last! [He shouts the signal agreed upon, and beginsdancing for joy.] Now all will be well; a little while and his handshall touch the dear hand of his lord; and then—ah! "the weight of an oxrests on his tongue," but if the house had a voice it could tell a tale![Exit to bring tidings to the queen.] {39}

PARODE, OR CHORUS-ENTRY

As if roused by the Watchman's shout, enter the Chorus: Twelve Elders ofArgos: in the usual processional order, combining music, chanting andgesture-dance, to a rhythm conventionally associated with marching. Theyenter on the right (as if from the city), and the Processional Chanttakes them gradually round the Orchestra towards the Thymele, or Altar ofDionysus, in the centre.

The Chorus in their Processional Chant open the general state ofaffairs, especially bringing out the doublesidedness of the situation[which is the key-note of the whole Drama]: the expected triumph overTroy, which cannot be far distant now, combined with misgivings as tomisfortunes sure to come as nemesis for the dark deeds connected with thesetting out of the expedition. They open thus:

      Lo! the tenth year now is passing {40}
      Since, of Priam great avengers,
      Menelaos, Agamemnon,
      Double-throned and double-sceptred,
      Power from sovran Zeus deriving—
      Mighty pair of the Atreidae—
      Raised a fleet of thousand vessels
      Of the Argives from our country,
      Potent helpers in their warfare,
      Shouting cry of Ares fiercely;
      E'en as vultures shriek who hover,
      Wheeling, whirling o'er their eyrie, {50}
      In wild sorrow for their nestlings,
      With their oars of stout wings rowing,
      Having lost the toil that bound them
      To their callow fledglings' couches.
      But on high One—or Apollo,
      Zeus, or Pan,—the shrill cry hearing,
      Cry of birds that are his clients,
      Sendeth forth on men transgressing
      Erinnys, slow but sure avenger;
      So against young Alexandros
      Atreus' sons the Great King sendeth,
      Zeus, of host and guest protector: {60}
      He, for bride with many a lover,
      Will to Danai give and Troïans
      Many conflicts, men's limbs straining,
      When the knee in dust is crouching,
      And the spear-shaft in the onset
      Of the battle snaps asunder.
      But as things are now, so are they,
      So, as destined, shall the end be.
      Nor by tears nor yet libations
      Shall he soothe the wrath unbending {70}
      Caused by sacred rites left fireless.

They are going on to soliloquize how they themselves have been shut outof the glorious expedition, for, in matters of War, old age is but areturn to boyhood; when {82}

The Chorus-Procession having reached the Thymele, turn towards theStage. Meanwhile the great Central Door of the Stage has opened, and asolemn Procession filed out on the Stage, consisting of the Queen and herAttendants, bearing torches and incense, and offerings for the Gods; theyhave during the Choral Procession silently advanced to the differentStatues along the front of the Palace, made offerings and commenced thesacrificial riles. When the Chorus turn towards the Stage, the wholeScene is ablaze with fires and trembling with clouds of incense, richunguents perfume the whole Theatre, while a solemn Religious ritual isbeing celebrated in dumb show.

The Chorus break off their Processional Chant [keeping the samerhythm] to enquire what is the meaning of these solemn rites, andwhether the Queen can solve their doubt, which wavers between hope andforeboding:

The Queen signifying, by a gesture, that the Ritual must not beinterrupted by speech, the Chorus proceed to take their regular positionround the Thymele, and address themselves to their {104}

PRELUDE

the Music, Poetry, and Gesture-dance changing from a March to a highlyLyrical rhythm; the evolutions of the Dance taking Right and Left handdirections, but without the Chorus quitting their position round theAltar.[1]

Strophe: during which the evolutions take a Right Hand direction.

The Chorus resume: though shut out from War their old age has stillsuasive power of song, and they can tell of the famous omen seen by thetwo kings and the whole army as they waited to embark: two eagles on theleft devouring a pregnant hare:

          Sing a strain of woe
          But may the good prevail! {120}

Antistrophe: the same rhythm line for line as the Strophe, but theevolutions taking Left Hand direction.

and the Prophet Calchas interpreted; they shall lay Troy low, only bewarelest the Victors suffer from the wrath of some God, Artemis who hates theeagle:

          Sing a strain of woe,
          But may the good prevail! {137}

Epode: a different rhythm, and the evolutions without any specialdirection.

May some Healer, Calchas added, avert her wrath, lest she send delaysupon the impatient host and irritate them to some dread deed, somesacrifice of children to haunt the house for ever! So he prophesied inpiercing strains.

          Sing a strain of woe,
          But may the good prevail {154}

ENTRY-ODE

With a change of rhythm, the Chorus pass into their first regular ChoralOde; Strophes and Antistrophes as in the Prelude, but the Evolutions nowleading them from the central Altar to the extreme Right and Left of theOrchestra.

Strophe I: Evolutions leading Chorus from Thymele to extreme Right ofOrchestra.

It must be Zeus—no other God will suffice—Zeus alone who shall liftfrom my[2] mind this cloud of anxiety;

Antistrophe I: Evolutions the same, rhythm for rhythm, as the Strophe,but leading the Chorus back from the Right of Orchestra to the centralAltar.

For on Zeus, before whom all the elder Gods gave way, they must rely whoare bent on getting all the wisdom of the wise. {168}

Strophe II: a change of rhythm: evolutions leading Chorus from thecentral Altar to the extreme Left of Orchestra.

Yes: Zeus leads men to wisdom by his fixed law that pain is gain; byinstilling secret care in the heart, it may be in sleep, he forces theunwilling to yield to wiser thoughts: no doubt this anxiety is a gift ofthe Gods, whose might is irresistible. {176}

Antistrophe II: same rhythm, but evolutions leading back from Left ofOrchestra to central Altar.

When Agamemnon, not repining, but tempering himself to the fate whichsmote him, waited amidst adverse winds and failing stores: {184}

Strophe III: fresh change of rhythm, Chorus moving to Right ofOrchestra.

and the contrary winds kept sweeping down from the Strymon, and the hostwas being worn out with delays, and the prophet began to speak of 'onemore charm against the wrath of Artemis, though a bitter one to theChiefs,' {195}

Antistrophe III: same rhythm, movement back from Right of Orchestra toAltar.

at last the King spoke: great woe to disobey the prophet, great woe toslay my child! how shed a maiden's blood? yet how lose my expedition, myallies? May all be well in the end! {210}

Strophe IV: change of rhythm; movements to the left of Orchestra.

          So when he himself had harnessed
          To the yoke of Fate unbending,
          With a blast of strange new feeling
          Sweeping o'er his heart and spirit,
          Aweless, godless and unholy,
          He his thoughts and purpose altered
          To full measure of all daring,
          (Still base counsel's fatal frenzy,
          Wretched primal source of evils,
          Gives

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