LECTURE II
GREEK TRAGEDY: ÆSCHYLUS

I SAID in the last lecture that the Greek drama was, in my opinion, unrivalled in respect of form. Let us begin by trying to call before our imagination the spectacle which a Greek tragedy actually presented. It is something so utterly different from anything we have seen, or shall ever see, that a considerable effort is required. Imagine the brilliant sky of Greece. Imagine a vast concourse, thirty thousand,1 men and women,2 assembled beneath it, to watch, not a horse- race, not a football match, but a presentment of the mightiest forces that can rule the will of man, gathered in mortal struggle for the possession of his soul. Imagine this mental conflict set forth with all the charm that majestic language and music, the noblest spectacular effect, the deepest associations of

____________________
1
See Plato, Symposium, p. 175. The reference is to one of the tragedies of Agathon, a considerably younger contemporary of Euripides. All his works have unfortunately perished. The possible number of spectators is by some put at 15,000.
2
It may be remarked that there is some doubt as to the admission of women. On the whole, however, the evidence seems to be in fayour of the statement in the text.

-19-

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