Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

He had his name from his broad or splay feet; for, as we are informed by Sextus Pompeius, he was at first called Marcus Plotus. Hence a fort of buskin, were called femiplotia. But of this we have given an account in its proper place.

The time of his death + is said to have been a few years after that of Quintus Ennius, in the 145th Olypiad; and the loss the publick sustained by that event is recorded in the following ‡ verses, written by our poet upon himself.

Poftquam eft morte captus PLAUTUS,
Comedia luget, fcena eft deferta,
Deinde rifus, ludus jocufque et numeri
Innumeri fimul omnes collacrymarunt.

• Broad or splay-feet,] From Tλars, which fignifies broad. + The time of his death.] According to Pareus, he died at Rome in the year of the world 3788, before Chrift 182, in the third year of the 149th Olympiad. Pareus adds, that he died in the prime of his life, having scarce attained the 40th year of his age.

Verfes.] It may feem ftrange, that Plautus fhould have compofed an Epitaph on Himfelf: we have it, however, on the authority of A. Gellius, who exprefsly cites Varro for it.

Dr. Cruftus has tranflated, or rather imitated this, as follows:
Wit, Laughter, Jefts, and all the train that use
T' adorn the scene, and grace the Comic Muse,
Forfook the Stage, at Plautus' death to mourn,
And harmony undone fat weeping o'er his Urn.

As

AMPHITRYON.

VOL. I.

B

[blocks in formation]

PROLOGUE,

A

MERCURY, difguifed like SOSIA.

S ye would have me in your merchandisings,

Buyings and fellings, profper you with gain, And forward you in all your undertakings; As ye would have me turn to your advantage All your concerns in business, and accounts, At home here, and abroad; as ye would wish, That I should crown your ventures now on foot, Or which shall be hereafter, with encrease

5

Prologue.] This prologue is so very different from that which led Hamlet to ask, "Is this a prologue, or the poly of a ring ?" that I fear it will appear to the reader as dull and tedious as a “tale told by an idiot." In the very first introductory lines there is a repetion of the fame fentiment over and over again (a fault indeed too common in our author) befides a moft glaring inconfiftency in Mercury's declaring (v. 13.) that the audience knew his attributes as a god, though he is disguised as a flave, and thinks himself under the neceffity afterwards (v. 20.) to tell bis name. There follows a ftrange jumble concerning the chara&ers of Mercury and Jupiter as deities, and as actors in their own proper perfons. Such a confufion of reality and fiction is, however, not uncommon in our author, who frequently makes h's charac. ters, in the very middle of the play, addrefs the audience, as he does repeatedly in this very play.

Moliere, in his Amphitryon borrowed from this play, has made a pretty use of a dialogue in Lucian, which gave him the hint of a very suitable prologue. He introduces Mercury in a cloud, calling to Night as she is paffing in her carriage; and a dialogue enfues betwixt them, in which the god acquaints her with the

[blocks in formation]

Of fair, and ample, and continual gain;

As ye would have me be the messenger

Of good to you and yours, and tidings bring
Such as fhall moft advance your common intereft;
(For well ye know, that by the other gods

'Tis giv'n me to prefide o'er news and trade)
As ye would have my favour in these points,
Still to fupply you with perpetual gain,
So fhall ye filently attend this play,

10

15

order of Jupiter, that fhe fhould ftop her career, while he is enjoying Alem na. Dryden has in fome meafure followed Moliere, but with less elegance; for he has made this the business of moft part of his first act, instead of entering at once upon the subject by introducing Sofia as in the Latin and French, which in the English is poftponed to the opening of the second act. Befides, he brings in not only Mercury and Night, but Phæbus also, and Jupiter, for no other purpofe, as it fhould feem, but that of eking out.

I cannot forbear mentioning a forry witticifm, as it appears to me, at the end of Moliere's prologue, where Mercury at parting fays, Ton-jour, la Nuit, which Dryden nearly copies, "Good night, Night."

Echard, who has tranflated this play, gives an odd reason why the prologue is fpoken by Mercury. It is because (fays he) "it would not have been so probable for another person to have "been abroad at that time of night ;”—as if probability was at all confulted.

V.9.] Epignomus, (as is obferved by the commentators) in the Stichus of our author, A&t III. Scene I. returns thanks to Mercury on this very account.

Mercurio, qui me in mertimoniis
Juvit, lucrifque qradruplificavit rem meam.
To Mercury

Who aided me in traffick, and encreas'd
My ftock four-fold.

So

« ElőzőTovább »