The Bad-Tempered Man, Or: The Misanthrope, a Play in Five Scenes

The Bad-Tempered Man, Or: The Misanthrope, a Play in Five Scenes

The Bad-Tempered Man, Or: The Misanthrope, a Play in Five Scenes

The Bad-Tempered Man, Or: The Misanthrope, a Play in Five Scenes

Excerpt

'Imagine that this place is Phyle in Attica.' So Dyskolos begins. It was produced in Athens in 317 B.C.; and there must have been in that first audience a few who responded to this innocent invitation, at least momentarily, with a memory which would have been bitter if it had been more recent. As it was eighty-seven years old it could be dismissed before Pan began to describe the sour-tempered old farmer who was to be the butt of the entertainment; but for a moment the name Phyle might well arouse sad reflections on the very character of that entertainment, so different from the bold, libertine tradition which it had replaced three generations earlier. Those who, like Callippides and his family in the play, sometimes went picnicking at Phyle would very likely sit to enjoy their lunch in the shade of fine stone walls which must still have shown traces of their military use. In 403 B.C., the year after the final defeat of Athens by Sparta and the destruction of the Long Walls, during the dismal period of the first Spartan puppet government, the oligarchical 'Thirty'--in that solstice of despair a group of stout-hearted democrats under Thrasybulos had held out for six months in a little fortress at Phyle in Attica, in the hilly country fifteen miles to the north of the city; they had repulsed two military expeditions, and left their stronghold only after gaining by negotiation a fair measure of that democratic principle for which they had fought.

They were men who had known Aristophanes and the breath of freedom. By their resolute courage they were able to preserve some of the civic and political values of undefeated Athens. But Athenian Comedy, as Aristophanes had created it, died with the peace; and now, in 317 B.C., the prize went to Dyskolos. Menander was twentyfive. By the time he was forty he had learnt how to fill out the limited scope allowed him with characters and situations much more living and colourful than those of this play; but the theatrical . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.