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Athenaeus of Naucratis / Volume I: Books I-VII

Book VI,   pp. 353-432


Page 353

TRAGEDY. 
BOOK VI. 
1. SINCE you ask me every time that you meet me, my 
friend Timocrates, what was said by the DeipnosoDhists, 
thinking that we are making some discoveries, we will remind 
you of what is said by Antiphanes, in his Poesy, in this 
manner- 
In every way, my friends, is Tragedy 
A happy poem. For the argument 
Is, in the first place, known to the spectators, 
Before one single actor says a word. 
So that the poet need do little more 
Than just remind his hearers what they know. 
For should I speak of iEdipus, at once 
They recollect his story-how his father 
Was Laius, and Jocasta too his mother; 
What were his sons', and what his daughters' names, 
And what he did and suffer'd. So again 
If a man names Alemaeon, the very children 
Can tell you how he in his madness slew 
His mother; and Adrastus furious, 
Will come in haste, and then depart again; 
And then at last, when they can say no more, 
And when the subject is almost exhausted, 
They lift an engine easily as a finger, 
And that is quite enough to please the theatre. 
But our case is harder. We are forced 
T' invent the whole of what we write; new names, 
Things done before, done now, new plots, new openings, 
And new catastrophes. And if we fail in aught, 
Some Chremes or some Phido hisses us. 
While Peleus is constrain'd by no such laws, 
Nor Teucer. 
And Diphilus says, in his Men conducting Helen- 
O thou who rulest, patroness and queen, 
Over this holy spot of sacred Brauron, 
Bow-bearing daughter of Latona and Jove, 
As the tragedians call you; who alone 
Have power to do and say whlate'er they please. 
2. But Timocles the comic writer, asserting that tragedy is 
VOL. .-ATH.                   A A 
353 


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