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indeed, a feature which must be insisted on, as quite peculiar to Greek tragedy. Thus, in Sophocles, the Creon of the Edipus Rex, and that of the Edipus at Colonus, are not at all the same. Similarly in Euripides, if we compare the Menelaus and the Helen of the Helena with those of the Orestes, or with the Menelaus of the Andromache, the contrast is startling. So the Odysseus of the Cyclops and of the Hecuba, the Heracles of the Alcestis, and of the Hercules Furens, as well as many others, make good my statement.

With these examples before us, we need not be surprised that the comic poets used even greater license, and travestied known characters so as to make them hardly recognisable. The Euripides presented to us on the comic stage, as well as the Socrates of the Clouds, were so unlike the well-known and respected originals, that if the plays of Aristophanes had made the smallest pretensions to accuracy, they must have totally failed in their success.

We may, theresuch matters he

fore, confidently assert that in all is no historical authority whatever, and that to draw inferences from his statements, proved to be false in so patent a case as that of Socrates, is nothing better than establishing a fact upon the evidence of a convicted perjurer1.

1 This point is at last put in its proper light by Mr. Müller-Strübing, in his remarkable work, Aristophanes und die historische Kritik (Teubner 1873). I may add that Aristophanes himself confesses great obligations to Euripides, Σêŋv. Kaтaλaμß. fr. iv. (Meineke, ii. p. 1142). There is even a special compound word pointing to the fact-evpimidapioTopavícov. Cp. also Rana, 1334.

It is, however, only a lawyer who will argue that a perjurer is totally unworthy of credit. Ordinary men know that even he must speak the truth generally, and especially when off his guard; it may, therefore, be argued that, apart from special characters, the general tone and plot of Aristophanes' plays must be good social evidence. Admitting this, there are plays of Aristophanes, such as the Lysistrata and Thesmophoriazusa, of which the plot could not be here even explained, and which represent the body of Athenian women, even mothers of respectable families, in such hideous colours as to be thoroughly disgusting. They are, indeed, so exaggerated as to be simply incredible in a generation which produced and handed down untarnished the most refined and brilliant civilisation the world has yet seen. It may be also urged that when Aristophanes' portraits of known and celebrated men were so audaciously false, he is not to be trusted where his falsehoods could easily escape confutation, and where his sweeping charges fell in with those suspicions common to all men who are themselves prone to immorality. I suspect, however, that his three plays on women are to be explained from quite a different cause; not from a low opinion of women in the poet, not from any desire of scourging a great rampant evil, as we find it done in Juvenal's sixth satire, but rather from the remnant of some old religious customs, where women met apart, as we know they did, and also where mimic choruses, during the feasts of such goddesses as Demeter and Cora, devoted themselves to

licentious abuse of women, at times even exclusively. There is not evidence enough to prove the custom at Athens, and to show the filiation of Aristophanes' comedies from these choruses, though choruses were undoubtedly the origin of all developed drama in Greece. My hypothesis rests on the fact that Aristophanes perpetually rails at Euripides for this very feature, that his other comedies are nearly free from it, and that the custom, which I presuppose at Athens, certainly did exist at Epidaurus, connected with the worship of Damia and Auxesia, which are probably local names for Demeter and Cora. Herodotus tells us (v. 83) θυσίησί τέ σφεα καὶ χόροισι γυναικείοισι κερτόμοισι ἱλάσκοντο, χορηγῶν ἀποδεικνυμένων ἑκατέρῃ τῶν δαιμόνων δέκα ἀνδρῶν, κακῶς δὲ ἠγόρευον οἱ χοροὶ ἄνδρα μὲν οὐδένα, τὰς δὲ ἐπιχωρίας γυναῖκας. Possibly, therefore, these famous ribaldries about women are not meant to convey any bad impression of them by the poet. But quite apart from any such special reason, the general grounds above adduced, and the evidence we have found in Euripides, show that on this large question the evidence of Aristophanes is hardly of any value.

My general observations, however, which apply to the comic estimates of women, as well as those of men, are of peculiar importance when we come to consider the most prominent woman of the day-Aspasia. This lady, being a Milesian, with whom no Athenian citizen could contract any but a morganatic marriage, was readily and generally identified with a class of people somewhat outside the pale of society, and peculiarly open to gross charges-the hetairai, afterwards

so celebrated as the most witty and brilliant talkers at Athens. In the absence of cultivated society at home, Greek gentlemen often betook themselves, in later days, to the houses of such ladies, whose manners are sufficiently described in the thirteenth book of Athenæus. These were the days of Epicurus and Menander. There is no doubt that men like Socrates and Xenophon went, in like manner, for the purpose of serious mental improvement, to the house of Aspasia, who even received ladies, and appears to have discoursed much upon the duties of married life. But there is no evidence of a society of cultivated hetairai at Athens in Pericles' day. I say, I say, advisedly, at Athens, for there is evidence of a large and prominent class of this kind at Corinth as early as the Persian wars. We still possess a fragment of an ode specially composed for them by the poet Pindar, whose time and talents were in such demand among tyrants and free cities, that they must have paid him a large fee. These same ladies were celebrated through Greece for their public prayers and votive offerings in behalf of the Greeks during the invasion of Xerxes. This shows public spirit and patriotism among them. But I am not aware that in any poet of the Old Comedy, save Pherecrates (who is a notable exception, and rather belongs to the Middle Comedy), a character of this kind is mentioned upon the stage1, if we except Aspasia, who

1 Of course I do not include those open bad characters of the lowest type, who sometimes appear upon the stage of Aristophanes (Achar. and Thesmoph. sub. fin.). These people are in no sense Taipai, and are never called so by the Greeks.

certainly held a peculiar position. Not only is she said to have risen from a disreputable past, but she is openly accused of still pursuing the vilest of professions that of promoting vice in others—and an action in open court charged her with the impiety of making her house a place of assignation for Athenian ladies of position.

This charge, were it true, would give us such a picture of Athenian life in the house of Pericles, the greatest of Greeks, that we ought to shut our Greek books, and refuse further intercourse with people whose best society was worse than the lowest stratum of modern life. Of course the charge was false; of course the home of Pericles was not a house of this description; but the meetings of married ladies for discussion, such as that alluded to by Cicero, where Xenophon and his wife (according to the Socratic philosopher Eschines) were presentthese meetings naturally gave rise, at Athens, to grave suspicion, and Pericles was not the man to trouble himself with refuting them. Possibly Aspasia was a free-thinker, at least on those points where the every-day religion was base, and immoral, and hence another stone of stumbling. Even if her early life had not been free from blame, there is no absolute proof of her want of dignity and morality 1;


'I cite with reluctance a modern parallel. There are few men who have been forced into contact with the pariahs of modern society by professional duties, such as medical practice, who will not testify that among these outcasts they have found great generosity, self-denial, and even purity of motives. A celebrated French author, Dumas, has ventured to assert this in his great and affecting tragedy, La Dame aux

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