Puslapio vaizdai

Our love deceived us; and the decrees of fate
Will this happiness to be a fruit of my death.
Think, my lord, think of these harvests of glory
Which victory offers to your valiant hands.
This glorious field, to which you all aspire,
If my blood does not water it, is barren for you.
Such is the law of the gods dictated to my father.
In vain, deaf to Calchas, he had rejected it;
By the mouth of the Greeks conspired against me,
Their eternal orders are too clearly manifested.
Go! to your honors I oppose too many obstacles.
Redeem the faith of your oracles;

Signalize this hero who has been promised to Greece;
Turn your grief against his enemies.
Already Priam grows pale; already Troy in alarms,
Dreads my sacrifice and groans at your tears.
Go! and within its empty walls

Cause the Trojan widows to bewail my death.
I die in this hope contented and tranquil!
If I have not lived the consort of Achilles,
I hope at least that a happy future

Will unite my memory with your immortal deeds;
And that one day my death, the source of your glory,
Will open the recital of a glorious history.

Adieu, prince, may you long live, a race worthy of the gods!

We see in this not only resignation, but devotion; and this devotion becomes dear to Iphigenia when she thinks that it is to the glory of Achilles that she is about to be sacrificed. Resignation is a virtue, devotion is often a passion, and it is that which constitutes its dramatic superiority. The courage of Iphigenia as a lover, affects us more than her courage as a maiden, because the human heart does not like to see virtue exhibited on the stage, relying upon its own excellence, and deriving all its strength from its own intrinsic power. But when virtue sustains itself against one passion by the aid of another, when it overcomes the fear of death by the ardor of devotion, then we are willing to support virtue and even to permit ourselves to be affected by it. The Christian martyrs, for instance, although they were but a little dramatic in general, are yet more so than the dying Stoics, such as Cato and Thraseas.

The love of life constitutes the basis of the character of the Iphigenia in Euripides. The sentiment of resignation and obedience that of the Iphigenia of Racine. But what we

remark in the two poets is, that the two sentiments are mingled although in unequal doses, if we may use the expression; and this mixture of opposite sentiments shows how the two poets understood dramatic effect. They knew that one sentiment alone, an exclusive sentiment, was not sufficient to produce emotion. It may produce a scene, but not a character.

Let us see how Victor Hugo has expressed this sentiment of the love of life in his drama of Angelo.

The modern Theatre, and it is one of its merits, has perceived how cold and monotonous was the disdain of life which was the usual burden of the complaint of dying heroes he has wished to approximate to the Greek; he has not feared to express this fear of death which Sophocles gave to his Antigone and Euripides to his Iphigenia. How has he done it? Has he attained his object; or has he gone beyond it? This question we will briefly examine by the aid of an example.

Angelo, a tyrant of Padua, knows that Catarina, his wife, loves the young Rodolfo; he knows that she has received him in her house. He enters her chamber and announces to her that she must die: she can choose between steel and poison. She seems at first to be resigned, and approaches the table, on which is lying a vial; then suddenly shrinking back, she exclaims: "No, it is horrible! I am not willing! I can never suffer it! But think a little while you have the time. You who are all-powerful, reflect! A woman, a woman who is alone, abandoned, who has no strength, who is without defence, who has no parents here, no family, no friends, nobody! To assassinate her! To poison her in a shamefnl manner in a corner of her own house!-My mother! My mother! My mother! Do not tell me to have courage, I pray you! I am forced to have courage! I am not ashamed of being a weak and pitiable woman! I weep because death terrifies me. It is not my fault.'

Certainly the sentiments which Catarina expresses are true and natural. We feel in these words a horror of death and the love of life; but we understand in this scene the cry of the body in agony, and not the cry of the soul. It is the flesh which revolts against death; but it is an entirely material and physical revolt, in which the soul takes no part. We witness the sensations of one condemned to death; we see the flesh quiver, the countenance grow pale, and the limbs tremble; we witness an agony. But why is material death

alone represented? Why are the most noble and elevated emotions of the dying man suppressed; those which are addressed to the real pity of men, the pity which is mingled with admiration and respect, and not that which borders on disgust? We love to hear Iphigenia regret the light so pleasant to see; we love her fear of the subterranean shades; we are touched with her regrets for life; but in her plaints there is something besides the physical and material fear of death; and when she resigns herself, what nobleness! what dignity! How profoundly affecting is this last look and kiss which she wishes to snatch from her father! How that resignation touches our hearts without being a source of uneasiness and pain! There is certainly truth in the shrieks of Catarina, but it is a truth which, if we may so speak, comes in the order of the truths of natural history. In the plaints of Iphigenia, there is a truth more human and more noble.

We will introduce a historical reminiscence, illustrative of the two kinds of dramatic emotion which we have endeavored to portray.

During the French Revolution, in 1794, a woman was conducted from prison to the guillotine. Placed in the same fatal cart with her companions in misfortune, Madame Roland had a brow as smooth and a countenance as calm as when she was in her drawing-room in the midst of the Girondists. Haughty, and braving with disdain the insults of the sanguinary mob, she exclaimed in ascending the scaffold, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" Always dignified and majestic, she died in this manner without complaining, without agitation, without uttering any cries or convulsions of agony. Were the populace affected? No. They did not comprehend the tranquil beauty of this death.

A few days afterwards, another woman was taken from prison to the scaffold; this was Madame DuBarry. This unfortunate woman, who had learned courage and dignity only at the supper parties of Louis XV., uttered frightful screams, being unable to resign herself to the idea of dying; and upon the scaffold she cried out, "Mr. Executioner, will you spare me a little moment?" This little miserable moment was not granted her, and her head fell upon the ground with her mouth wide open. The populace were affected at this. This convulsion and palpitating agony, this struggle for life, struck them and moved them to pity. They understood this kind of tragedy.



SINCE the introduction of Christianity, literature and the drama have become essentially spiritual. In the age in which we live, literature, without ceasing to take moral suf fering for its subject, has pushed this suffering even to physical pain. It has materialized moral grief, while the Greeks who represented physical pain, idealized it by the aid of the beautiful. They elevated themselves from the body to the mind we follow the opposite direction. They advanced by degrees towards Christian spiritualism; while we seem to have retrograded towards Pagan materialism.

We will endeavor to explain these observations by a few examples.

We love beauty, we do not adore it. The Greeks loved and idolized it. They had no gods but those which were beautiful. Pluto himself was beautiful, although he was the god of Hades. When the Greeks represented man, they had the same regard to his beauty: their painters and statuaries only represented men who were handsome. "Who wants to paint you," said an old epigram, "when nobody wants to see you?" They had a horror of taking portraits; that is, the likeness of every one who desired it. So far did they carry this aversion, that even the conquerors at the Olympic games, who had a right to a statue, did not obtain an iconic one, that is, a perfect likeness, until they had obtained three victories!

With this aversion for the ugly, they never represented the excess of passion: Extreme pain and extreme anger produce contortion, and contortion disfigures. Timanthes, in

his picture of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia, veiled the head of Agamemnon; not that he despaired, as they say, of being able to render a faithful expression of such grief, but because he could do so only by giving to the countenance of the hero an agitation which would have disfigured it. Sculpture has represented the children of Niobe, some already dead and others expiring; the former pierced by fatal darts in their flight, the latter in the act of supplication; Niobe herself protecting with her own body her last and youngest daughter, for whom she in vain implores the mercy of the gods, whom the arrow of Diana has stricken between her arms. But none of them have a disordered attitude or a violent gesture; their countenances, and we might almost say that their bodies* express supplication, suffering, terror, and even death, with remarkable truthfulness, and at the same time with an admirable dignity and consistency. Niobe herself, this mother who sees her children perish, is beautiful and majestic, because the statuary has seized the moment when, having still a daughter whom she entreats the gods to leave her, she has not yet reached the excess of grief; he has avoided the moment when Niobe, seated among the dead bodies of her fourteen children who have perished before her eyes, would have abandoned herself to despair. In fact, while there is still some hope in grief, the soul, and consequently the human countenance, preserve a kind of equilibrium and proportion; and it is this which constitutes the moral and material beauty which the Greek art wished to express.

And let us not believe that the antique poetry was more disposed than sculpture or painting to represent the passions in their moments of excess; she had the same scruples. Thus when Niobe had reached the last degree of anguish, poetry, instead of doing violence to art in representing the disorder of this distracted mother, changes her into a rock; she preferred to metamorphose man rather than to disfigure him. The antique imagination (for poetry was only the interpreter of the popular imagination) believed that when the passion was excessive, the man disappeared; a just and profound

* In Greek statuary, the expression, instead of being concentrated in the face, as in modern statuary, is spread over the whole body; and nudity is for Greek sculpture not a habit borrowed from the climate, (since the Greeks were clad), but a resource of art in order the better to express the ideas and sentiments of their subjects.

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