« AnteriorContinuar »
Minerva in the catastrophe of the piece: It is evident, says Aristotle 20, “that the unravelling of the fable ought to happen from the subject itself, and not by the use of machinery, as in the Medea : But the machinery, if used, should relate to things out of the drama itself, either to such past. events, which it is impossible for man to know, or to those in future, which require prediction and explanation ; for we admit, that the Gods can discern all things :" Hence we may collect, that Aristotle as disapproved in general of machinery in the drama; but, if there introduced, he limits it to particular objects and circumstances ; If the introduction of Mercury in the Prologus be measured by this standard of criti, cism, it must immediately be condemned, as defenceless; but this of Minerva in the catastrophe will be found to contain all those circumstances prescribed by Aristotle and Horace;
Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus
Inciderit. (De Art. Poet, v. 192.) For the Goddess reveals to Ion the connexion of Apollo with Creusa, palliates the response of the oracle, declares the rea solution of the God to disclose the truth hereafter at Athens,
20 Φανερον εν, ότι και τας λύσεις των μύθων εξ αυτά δει τα μύθο συμβαίνειν, και μη ώσπερ εν τη Μηδεία από μηχανής: αλλα μηχανη χρήσεων επί τα έξω το δράματος, και ' όσα προ το γέγονεν, α ουχ οίόν τε άνθρωπον ειδέναι, ή όσα ύσερον, α δείται προαγοgaúoews as ágyaníası arayla gåę etodidoper toãs deors opộr. (De Poet. c. 13.)
21 We inay also discover the opinion of Cicero on this subject; for he makes his Epicurean Philosopher Velleius sarcastically assert of the Professors of other Sects, " that when unable to unfold the end of the argument, they have recourse to a Deity, as the Tragick Poets :" Ut tragici poetæ, cum explicare argumenti exitum non potestis, confugitis ad Deum. (De Nat. Deor. l. 1. C. 20.) Hence it appears, that the Roman Orator condemned jhis mode of solving the catastrophe.
and foretells the future glory of Ion and his Descendents in Aga and Europe. “ There are bụt four pieces in Euripides, fays Dacier ??, where the presence of Gods is conducted with any regard to this rule of Ariftorle : Those are the Iphis genia in Tauris, the Helena, the Ion, and the Electra : And yet I am perfuaded that in those very pieces Euripides could have discovered in his art other means of dispensing with these machines.” These are the principal defects, which appear to me in the conduct of the plot ; but with all its imperfections it has many beauties to counterbalance them: The in tended murder of a Son by his own Mother, and the threatened revenge of that very Son againft his Parent, mutually unknown to each other, are, as the Pere Brumoy 23 observes, truly theatrical ; and he ventures to call it, ce double projet de parricide 24. This incident, according to the rules
22 Il n'y a proprement dans Euripide que quatre pieces, où la presence des Dieux soit un peu ménagée, comme Aristote le prescrit icy: c'est l'Iphigenie Taurique, l'Helene, l'Ion, & l'Electre. Encore suis-je persuade que dans çes memes pieces Euripide auroit pù trouver dans son Art des moyens de le paffer de ces machines. (Sur la Poet, d'Arift. c. 16. Rem. 19.) * 23 Toitt. 5. Ion, p. 130 & 131.
24 The word is thus uied without any regård to its derivation by the best French authors to express the murder of any near relation, and not that of a father only : In this sense it occurs in Rousseau, Un mari parricide qui faisoit enterrer sa femme en vie. (La Nouv. Heloise, tom. 3. part 6. lett. 11.) Thus too parricide occurs in the English language ; for Phædra, in the tragedy by Edmund Smith, mistaking her husband Theseus for Lycon, offers to ftab þim; but being informed of her error, she exclaims,
My Lord! O equal Heav'n!
And fallying life go off in parricide? (A. 5. p. 74. ed. 1719.) According to this idea, Dr. Johụson in his dictionary on this word observes, “ that it fignifies the murder of one to whom reverence is due ;" and he cites the authority of Dryden. It is also very remarkable, that the same abuse of the word is likewise to be found in the Latin Language, as appears of Aristotle, is of the finest quality, because it happens between relations of the nearest consanguinity: And he expressly asserts ?s, “ that if a Mother kill a Son, or a Son a Mother, or if either of them attempt such an action, this is à subject, which the Dramatick Poet ought to embrace :" This happy correspondence in the Ion with the precept of this great master of criticism did not escape the penetration of Dacier 26 in his excellent remarks on the Poeticks of Aristotle ; for he there observes, that both these interesting circumstances are found united in this play: “Il y a une piece d'Euripide, ou ces deux choses se rencontrent en meme temps; la mere veut tuer son fils, & le fils veut faire mourir fa mere: C'est l'on, ou Creuse fait ses efforts pour perdre son fils lon qu'elle prend pour le batard de son mari Xuthus, & ou Ion veut faire mourir Creuse, parce qu'elle lui avoit preparè du poison : ce double danger de deux personnes fi proches, qui ne se connoiffent pas, fait un effet admirable dans cette piece.” As this atrocious act of murder between these near relations, mutually ignorant of each other, is not completed by execution, but fortunately prevented, we may also pro
from a fragment of a Roman Tragedian, preserved in Cicero: Here Medea ig faid to have fcattered the limbs of her brother, that, while her father was engaged in collecting them, she herself might escape; and thus procured her'. own fafety by this parricide of her near relation,
Sibi falutein ut familiari pareret parricidio. (De Nat. Deor. l. 3. c. 26.) And the words of the Roman law, as cited by the same author, considered the facrilegious man as a parricide, Sacrum facrove commendarum qui clepferit rapseritque, parricida efto. (Dė. Leg. 1 2. c. 9.)
25 “Οταν δ' εν ταις φιλίαις εγγένη/αι τα πάθη" οίον ει άδελφος αδελφόν, η υιός πατέρα, η μητής υιόν, η υιός μητέρα αποκτέινη, ή μέλλη, ή τοιώτόν τι άλλο δρο, FOūTA Zninléor. (De Poet. C. 14.)
26 Rem. 6. sur le chap15. de la Poet. d'Arist.
nounce it by the same sovereign decision of Aristotle 27 the most perfect of all the different modes of dramatick actions ; for it has not any thing flagitious in it, and at the same time the remembrance is striking: It also corresponds with those admired instances, which he himself cites from Euripides ; “ such as the discovery of Merope in his Cresphontes, pre-, paring to kill her son, but before the completion of the act recognizing him ; or that in his Iphigenia, where the fifter recollects her brother; or that in his Helle, when the Mother on the point of delivering her Son to his enemies discovers her mistake :” But the circumstance, which I most admire in the plot, is the noble effect in the catastrophe, when Creusa, after sheltering herself at the altar from the vengeance of her unknown son, rushes with the impetuosity of maternal affection, as soon as she discovers Ion from the casket and its appendages to have been the infant, whom the formerly expofed : This dvayvcípiois 28, or remembrance, falls within the second division of the first species of those five different modes, which Aristotle has discussed in the sixteenth chapter of his Poeticks : I mean that by external and adventitious 29 tokens, 6 like the necklaces, or the little cradle in the piece called Tyro,” to which he alludes; and as it is accompanied with
21 Βέλτιον δε το αγνοώνα μέν πράξαι, πράξανία δεν αναγνωρίσαι τό τε γαρ μιαρόν ου πρόσεςι και η αναγνώρισις εκπληκτικόν κράτισον δε το τελευταίον λέγω δε οίον εν τω Kpeo córin ý Megóren méara tòn úiòr á Torleiverv, á Toxlivet do oủ, ára áveyvácice as εν τη Ιφιγενεια η αδελφή τον αδελφόν και εν τη “Ελλη ο υιός την μητέρα εκδιδόναι μέλλων, åveyvágoen. '(De Poet. I. 14.)
28 'This is defined by Aristotle, the transition from ignorance to knowledge, producing the friendship or enmity of those determined either for happinefs or mifery, Έξ αγνοίας εις γνώσιν μεταβολή, ή εις φιλιάν ή έχθραν των προς súruxíay i dusuzia wgronéwr. (De Poet. c. 11.)
29 Tă de exlòs, tá te nepodégatan oj oboy iv qñ Tupoñ dià tñs exápaso (De Poet, f. 16.
the MEPIT ÉTE.CZ , or revolution of Fortune (Creusa, one of the principal Persons, being thus rescued from danger) it is of the most beautiful sort of cyccyvepois, or remembrance, according to the judgment of this great Critick ""; because, says he, " it will produce either pity or terror, on the imitation of which the constitution of Tragedy is built :" This remembrance and revolution also arise from the fable and the preceding circumstances with probability; which is another criterion of their excellence according to the same respectable authority 32 : As Ion was preparing to depart for Athens, it was natural that the Priestess ihould return the casket, which leads to the unravelling of the plot. We come next to the consideration of the characters. Since the chief beauty of this drama consists in the several traits, which adorn its principal figure, I must develop the young Ion in order to prove my former assertion 33, that it is one of the most religious, virtuous 34, amiable, and tender characters, which poetry ever combined: This royal foundling equatup 35 endtwp without fagher or mother considers himself, as the
30 This is defined by Aristotle, the transition of things into the contrary extreme, ý zis to évaylíos Tūv apar?obywy pilaboano (De Poer. C.11.)
31 Καλλίση δε αναγνώρισις, όταν άμα περιπέτειαι γίνωνίαι: η γαρ τοιαύτη αναγνώρισις, και περιπέτεια, ή έλεον εξει, ή φόβον: όιων πράξεων η τραγωδία μίμησις υπόxellab. (De Poet. c. 11.)
32 Ταύτα δε δεί γένεσθαι εξ αυτής της συνάσεως τα μάθε, ωσε εκ των προγεννημέ. vov, 3 tỷ váyxas, % xl và xes virtơ ai cũa. (De Poet. c. 10.) larũy đã βελτίγη αναγνώρισις ή εξ αυτών των πραγμάτων, της εκπλήξεως γιγνομένης δι' εικότων, (Id. c. 16.)
33 See the Preliminary Effay. (p. 8.)
34 Among the four different species of tragedy, Aristotle reckons the mo. sal one, is die nooren, (De Poet. c. 18.) and Dacier, in his Remark on this passage, illustrates this assertion by the lon : L’lon d'Euripide me paroit une Tragedie implexe & morale, (Remp. 5. sur, ch. 10.) 35 V. 509.