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of those undignified diminutives which shocked an old-fashioned ear like slang. He is never prosaic, in the bad sense; he moves normally in the diction common to poetry and prose—like Coleridge, who refused to differentiate the two styles. And in chorus, Sophocles, and Sophocles alone, achieved the seemingly impossible compromise of making the odes rich with poetry and at the same time perfectly germane to the play. Euripides failed doubly in the attempt; his chorus degenerates in function into mere musical interlude, and sometimes in essence under the wrappings of sonorous Doric glósses the thought is a mere commonplace--for example, the washerwomen in the first ode of Hippolytus. Sophocles' equality of style was gained by taking in much from pure common speech; Euripides' cynicism led him into wanton bathos, the more trenchantly seen by contrast with his abuse of the ultra-poetic jargon.
My design was to draw some sort of sketch of the times, with their thought and character, their form of art, their attitude toward literature and drama; and then to turn round and show Sophocles as representative at each point. But it has been hard to outline the position of language and drama as he found it except by comparison with the position as he left them; and so we find ourselves already arrived at the second part of the business without sensible transition.
My purpose in what remains is twofold: to show Sophocles typifying the characteristics we have detected in the Periclean way of thinking;
; and, secondly, to follow out the close correspondence between thought and manner—that is, the real harmony in virtue of which we rank him as the supremely Attic craftsman in his own art.
First his religious opinions.
It is the essence of Greek religion that it is universal: not a cloud sitting over one department of the mind, but an atmosphere into which the summits of all the various activities rise. They are sensible of deity everywhere.
ουδέν τούτων ότι μη Ζεύς.' The simple, honest Teukros says,
εγώ μεν ούν και ταύτα και τα πάντ' αει
φάσκοιμ' άν ανθρώποισι μηχαναν θεούς. Sophoclean though not Sophocles; the 1 Trach., 1278.
2 Aj., 1037
Scholiast Didymus remarks, εισί γάρ τινες ετεροδοFoûvtes, to wit, Euripides.
Philoctetes in the bitterness of his spirit rails against Providence:Neoptolemus answers with a justification of the ways of God to man.” The root and base of all religion is humility, the 7 perception of human futility, of the inadequacy of human reasoning to solve or to satisfy everywhere. Athena herself dictates the moral to the hero whom Sophocles loved, as all Greece loved him, for his virtues and his vices, alike characteristically Greek-Odysseus. See also the Scholiast on Aj. 780,
δια πάντων δε διδάσκει ότι κρατεί των ανθρωπίνων ή ειμαρμένη και γνώναι μεν τα έσόμενα δια της μαντικής έστιν ου μην και φυλάξασθαι. So again in
έτι μέγας ουρανό και 4
Ζεύς, &c. And not only the existence of divine law, but its sublimity; compare the méylota vómina with the prophet-like strain of the Chorus
εί μοι συνείη φέρoντι.6 Herodotus had the same perception (see i. 5;
up and down his history). It takes various forms: now it is the orbis quidam rerum 1 Phil., 446. 2 Phil., 1315.
3 Aj., 119-133. 60. T., 863.
4 El., 174.
5 El., 1094.
which was Tacitus' reading of the world (i. 207); now the famous sentence which displeased Plutarch
φθονερόν και ταραχώδες το θείον. This shapes itself to Sophocles as an irony in
things ? -_
τους ευγενείς γαρ κάγαθούς, ώ παί, φιλεί
which again reminds us of Tacitus
Breves et infaustos populi Romani amores.
And yet such is his completeness of soul that along with this deep sense of human futility he delights to think of the power and .versatility of man: see the famous chorus in Antigone.
The latter part of the Scholiast above quoted has special importance. Sophocles' view of μάντις and μαντική 1s of particular interest.
. The supernatural is always favourable ground for rogues and impostors; and facility of imposture is curiously often taken as evidence against probability of truth. So in the fifth century. The vulgar were freely taken in by quackprophets and oracle-mongers : take the Knights for witness. And the cheap rationalist held
2 Phil., 436, and Fr., 652.
1 i. 32.
the existence or abundance of quacks to prove the falsity of all prediction; as if one should deny the science of medicine because of the blatant, ubiquitous, quack Pill.
We can see evidence up and down Herodotus and Thucydides that upon this question of Martinń was concentrated the chief debate concerning the supernatural. Prophets in Euripides share in the hatred with which he pursues the class of heralds and the female
What is Sophocles' view? He chooses two characters in his plays for mouthpieces of the unbelieving opinion.
(Edipus stands for the pride of human wit in Edipus Rex. He has guessed the → riddle of the Sphinx, he is confident he can detect the mysterious cause of the plague at Thebes: Teiresias is discredited, because the scientific ingenuity of the King reads political intrigue between the lines of his prophecy. Even the chorus “are infected with contempt for μαντική”.
είπερ εγώ μάντις ειμι
και κατά γνώμας ίδρις, , “If I may prophesy in virtue of intelligence, for that is the only μαντική.” And his own words are,
are, “Why should 10. T., 964.