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THE RACONTEUR. (YARNS)
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
WIT AND HUMOIR.
THE FROGS OF ARISTOPHANES.
[Anistophants, the greatest of Greek comic writers, was born about the year 448 b.c., and was a citizen of Athens, where he died about 380 B. c. His copious dramatic compositions, numbering fifty-four comedies, out of which eleven only have come down to us, are marked by great freedom of touch, keen wit, and occasional wild and riotous burlesque. Aristophanes was a censor as vrell as a satirist, and his genius found scope in political, as well as in literary, criticism. The known comedies sover nearly forty years in the most splendid period of threek culture, and are full of instructive illustrations of the domestic, social and political life of that marvellxus people. In his comedy of The Knights, Aristophanes assailed the demagogue; in The Clouds, he satirized the Sol'hists; in The Wasps, he hit off the Athenian love of litigation. The Birds has been taken as a protest against eligious fanaticism. The comedy of The Frogs, here given in full, with the orception of a few grosser passages, was written shortly after the death of Æschylus and Euripides, the great writers of Greek tragedy. Its object was to call off men's minds from the distractions of politics to pure literature. The plot represents Athens as destitute of poets; so Dionysus (Bacchus) goes down to Hades to bring back a poet. The play represents an emulous contest between Aoschylus and Euripides in the under-world, for the possession of the throne of tragedy, in which the victory falls at last to Æschylus. Our translation is by John Hookham FRERE.]
THE FROGS. BACCHUS. XANTHIAS, Asanthias. Master, shall I begin with the usual jokes, That the audience always laugh at? B. If you please; Any joke you please, except “being overburthen’d.” —Don’t use it yet—We've time enough before us. A. Well, something else that's comical and clever? WOL. III.-W. H.
B. I forbid being “overpress'd and over-
gripes. A. What then do you mean to say, that I must not say That I'm ready to befoul myself? B. (fo By no means, Except when I take an emetic. X. (in a sullen muttering tone, as if resentful of hard usage) What's the use, then, Of my being burthen’d here with all these bundles, If I’m to be deprived of the common jokes That Phrynichus, and Lysis, and Ameipslas A. the servants always in their comeles, Without exception, when they carry bundles? B. Pray, leave them off—for those ingenious sallies Have such an effect upon my health and spirits That I feel grown old and dull when I get home. A. (as %. or with a sort of half-mutinous whine) It's hard for me to suffer in my limbs To be overburthen’d and debarr'd joking. B. Well, this is monstrous, quite, and insupportable! Such insolence in a servant! When your master Is going afoot and has provided you With a beast to carry ye. X. What's do I carry nothing? 1.
B. You're carried yourself. A. But I carry bundles, don't I? B. But the beast bears all the bundles that you carry. A. Not those that I carry myself—'tis I that carry 'em. B. You're carried yourself, I tell ye. A'. I can't explain it, But I feel it in my shoulders plainly enough. B. Well, if the beast don't help you, take and try; Change places with the ass and carry him. A. (in a tone of mere disgust) Oh, dear! I wish I had gone for a volunteer, And left you to yourself. I wish I had. B. Dismount, you rascall Here, we're at the house Where Hercules lives.—Hollo, there ! who is within there? [Bacchus kicks outrageously at the door.
HertCULES. BACCHUS. XANTHIAs.
H. Who's there? (He has bang'd the door, whoever he is, With the kick of a centaur.) What's the matter, there? B. (aside) Ha! Xanthias' A. What? B. (aside) Did ye mind how he was frighten'd? X. I suppose he was afraid you were going mad. H. (aside). By Jovel I shall laugh outright; I'm ready to burst. I shall laugh in spite of myself, upon my life. [Hercules shifts about, and turns aside to disguise his laughter; this apparent shyness confirms Bacchus in the opinion of his own ascendancy, which he manifests accordingly. B. (with a tone of protection) Come hither, friend.—What ails ye? Step this way; I want to speak to ye.
H. (with a good-humored, but unsuccessful, endeavor to suppress laughter, or to conceal it. Suppose him, for instance, speaking with his hand before his ...so But I can't help laughing, To see the lion's skin with a saffron robe, And the club with the women's sandals— altogether— What's the meaning of it all? Have you been abroad 7 B. I've been aboard—in the fleet—with Cleisthenes. II. (sharply and ironically) You fought—?
B. (briskly and sillily) Yes, that we did— we gain’d a victory; And we sunk the enemies' ships—thirteen of 'em. H. “So you woke at last and found it was a dream?” B. But aboard the fleet, as I pursued my studies, I read the tragedy of Andromeda; And then such a vehement passion struck my heart, You can't imagine. H. A small one, I suppose, My littlefellow—a moderate little passion? B. (ironically; the irony of imbecility.) It's just as small as Molon is—that's all– Mo the wrestler, I mean—as small as e is– H. Well, what was it like? what kind of a thing? what was it? B., (meaning to be very serious and interest1ng. No, friend, you must not laugh; it's past a joke; It's quite a serious feeling—quite distress1ng ; I suffer from it— H. onto). Well, explain. What was it.
B. I can't declare it at once; but I’ll explain it Theatrically and enigmatically: (With a buffoonish assumption of tragic gesture and emphasis). Were you ever seized with a sudden passionate longing For a mess *'''. 7 H. Often enough, if that's all. B. Shall I state the matter to you plainly at once; Or put it circumlocutorily? H. Not about the porridge. I understand your instance. R. Such is the passion that possesses me For poor Euripides, that's dead and gone; And it's all in vain people trying to persuade me From going after him. H. What, to the shades below? B. Yes, to the shades below, or the shades beneath 'em. To the undermost shades of all. quite determined. H. But what's your object? B. (with a ridiculous imitation of tragical action and emphasis.) Why my object is That I want a clever poet—“for the good,
"The gracious and the good, are dead and
ne; to #. worthless and the weak are left alive.” H. Is not Iophon a good one?—He's alive sure?— B. If he's a good one, he's our only good one; But it's a question; I'm in doubt about him. H. There's Sophocles; he's older than Euripides— If you go so far for 'em you'd best bring him. B. No; first I'll try what Iophon can do Without his father, Sophocles, to assist him. —Besides, Euripides is a clever rascal; A sharp, contriving rogue that will make a shift To desert and steal away with me; the other Is an easy-minded soul, and always was. H. Where's Agathon? B. He's gone and left me too, £off by his friends; a worthy poet— H. Gone! Where, poor soul? B. To the banquets of the blest! H. But then you’ve Xenocles— B. Yes! a plague upon him H. Pythangelus too— X. But nobody thinks of me; Standing all this while with bundles on my shoulder. H. But have you not other young, ingenious youths That are fit to out-talk Euripides ten times over; To the amount of a thousand, at least, all writing tragedy—? B. They're good for nothing—“Warblers of the Grove”— —“Little foolish fluttering things”—poor puny wretches, That dawdle and dangle about with the tragic muse; Incapable of any serious meaning— To not one hearty poet amongst them a That's fit to risk an adventurous valiant phrase. H. How—“hearty?” What do you mean by “valiant phrases?”
B. (the puzzle of a person who is called upon for a definition.)
I mean . . . kind . . . bold expression
of a . . . doubtful
To talk about . . . “The viewless foot of Time” (Tragic emphasis in the quotations.) And ... “Jupiter's Secret Chamber in the Skies"— And about . . . being perjured When ... the tongue . . . forswears itself . . . in spite of the soul. H. Do you like that kind of stuff? B. I'm crazy after it. H. Why, sure, it's trash and rubbish– Don't you think so? B. “Men's fancies are their own—Let mine alone”— H. But, in fact, it seems to me quite bad —rank nonsense. B. You'll tell me next what I ought to like for supper. A. But nobody thinks of me here, with the bundles. B. (with a careless, easy, voluble, degagé style.) But now to the business that I came upon. [Upon a footing of equality—The tone of a person who is dispatching business off-hand with readiness and unconcern.] (With the apparel that you see—the same as yours) To obtain a direction from you to your friends. (To apply to them—in case of anything— If anything should occur) the acquaintances That received you there—the time you went before (—For the business about Cerberus)—if you'd give me Their names and their directions, and communicate Any information relative to the country, The roads—the streets—the bridges and the brothels, The wharfs—the public walks,—the public houses, The fountains—aqueducts, and inns, and taverns And lodgings, free from bugs and fleas, if possible, If you know any such— A. But nobody thinks of me. H. What a notion! You! will you risk it? Are ye mad? B. (meaning to be very serious and manly.) I beseech you say no more—no more of that, But inform me briefly and plainly about my journey;
A person's soul . . . not