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every quarter of the known world. Indeed this is a circumstance in which all nations surprisingly agree, how much soever they may differ in every other article of laws, customs, manners, and religion. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the festivals of their god Apis with hymns and dances. The superstition of the Greeks, partly derived from the Egyptians, abounded with poetical ceremonies, such as choruses and hymns, sung and danced at their apotheoses, sacrifices, games, and divinations. The Romans had their carmen seculare, and Salian priests, who on certain festivals sung and danced through the streets of Rome. The Israelites were famous for this kind of exultation: « And Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her, with timbrels and with dances, and Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, » etc.- -(( And David danced before the Lord with all his might.»-The psalms composed by this monarch, the songs of Deborah and Isaiah, are further confirmations of what we have advanced.
From the Phoenicians the Greeks borrowed the cursed Orthyan song, when they sacrificed their children to Diana. The poetry of the bards constituted great part of the religious ceremonies among the Gauls and Britons, and the carousals of the Goths were religious institutions, celebrated with songs of triumph. The Mahometan Dervise dances to the sound of the flute, and whirls himself round until he grows giddy, and falls into a trance. The Marabous compose hymns in praise of Allah. The Chinese celebrate their grand festivals with processions of idols, songs, and instrumental music. The Tartars, Samoiedes, Laplanders, Negroes, even the Caffres called Hottentots, solemnize their worship (such as it is) with songs and dancing; so that we may venture to say, poetry is the
universal vehicle in which all nations have expressed their most sublime conceptions.
Poetry was, in all appearance, previous to any concerted plan of worship, and to every established system of legislation. When certain individuals, by dint of superiour prowess or understanding, had acquired the veneration of their fellow-savages, and erected themselves into divinities on the ignorance and superstition of mankind; then mythology took place, and such a swarm of deities arose, as produced a religion replete with the most shocking absurdities. Those whom their superiour talents had deified, were found to be still actuated by the most brutal passions of human nature; and in all probability their votaries were glad to find such examples, to countenance their own vicious inclinations. Thus fornication, incest, rape, and even bestiality, were sanctified by the amours of Jupiter, Pan, Mars, Venus, and Apollo. Theft was patronized by Mercury; drunkenness by Bacchus; and cruelty by Diana. The same heroes and legislators, those who delivered their country, founded cities, established societies, invented useful arts, or contributed in any eminent degree to the security and happiness of their fellow-creatures, were inspired by the same lusts and appetites which domineered among the inferiour classes of mankind; therefore every vice incident to human nature was celebrated in the worship of one or other of these divinities, and every infirmity consecrated by public feast and solemn sacrifice. In these institutions the poet bore a principal share. It was his genius that contrived the plan, that executed the form of worship, and recorded in verse the origin and adventures of their gods and demi-gods. Hence the impurities and horrors of certain rites; the groves of Paphos and Baal Peor; the orgies of Bacchus; the human sacrifices to Moloch
and Diana. Hence the theogony of Hesiod; the theology of Homer; and those innumerable maxims scattered through the ancient poets, inviting mankind to gratify their sensual appetites, in imitation of the gods, who were certainly the best judges of happiness. It is well known, that Plato expelled Homer from his commonwealth, on account of the infamous characters by which he has distinguished his deities, as well as for some depraved sentiments which he found diffused through the course of the Iliad and Odyssey. Cicero enters into the spirit of Plato, and exclaims, in his first book, « De Natura Deorum:»-Nec multa absurdiora sunt ea, quæ, poetarum vocibus fusa, ipsa suavitate nocuerunt: qui, et ira inflammatos, et libidine furentes, induxerunt Deos, feceruntque ut eorum bella, pugnas, prælia, vulnera videremus: odia præterea, dissidia, discordias, ortus, interritus, querelas, lamentationes, effusas in omni intemperantiá libidines, adulteria, vincula, cum humano genere concubitus, mortalesque ex immortali procreatos. « Nor are those things much more absurd, which, flowing from the poet's tongue, have done mischief even by the sweetness of his expression. The poets have introduced gods inflamed with anger and enraged with lust; and even produced before our eyes their wars, their wrangling, their duels, and their wounds. They have exposed, besides, their antipathies, animosities, and dissensions; their origin and death; their complaints and lamentations; their appetites, indulged to all manner of excess, their adulteries, their fetters, their amorous commerce with the human species, and from immortal parents derived a mortal offspring."
As the festivals of the gods necessarily produced good cheer, which often carried to riot and debauchery, mirth of consequence prevailed; and this was always attended with buffoonery. Taunts and jokes, and raillery and repartee,
would necessarily ensue; and individuals would contend for the victory in wit and genius. These contests would in time be reduced to some regulations, for the entertainment of the people thus assembled, and some prize would be decreed to him who was judged to excel his rivals. The candidates for fame and profit, being thus stimulated, would task their talents, and naturally recommend these alternate recriminations to the audience, by clothing them with a kind of poetical measure, which should bear a near resemblance to prose. Thus, as the solemn service of the day was composed in the most sublime species of poetry, such as the ode or hymn, the subsequent altercation was carried on in iambics, and gave rise to satire. We are told by the Stagirite, that the highest species of poetry was employed in celebrating great actions, but the humbler sort used in this kind of contention;' and that in the ages of antiquity there were some bards that professed heroics, and some that pretended to iambics only.
Οἱ μὲν ἡροϊκῶν, οἱ δὲ ἰάμβων ποιῆται.
To these rude beginnings we not only owe the birth of satire, but likewise the origin of dramatic poetry. Tragedy herself, which afterwards attained to such dignity as to rival the epic muse, was at first no other than a trial of crambo, or iambics, between two peasants, and a goat was the prize, as Horace calls it, vile certamen ob hircum, « a mean contest for a he-goat.>> Hence the name paydia, signifying the goat-song, from payos hircus, and won carmen.
Οἱ μὲν γὰρ σεμνότεροι, τὰς καλὰς ἐμιμοῦντο πράξεις — οἱ δὲ εὐτελέστεροι, τὰς τῶν φαύλων, πρῶτον λόγοις τοιοῦντες
Carmine qui tragico vilem certavit ob hircum,
The tragic bard, a goat his humble prize,
Satire, then, was originally a clownish dialogue in loose iambics, so called because the actors were disguised like satyrs, who not only recited the praises of Bacchus, or some other deity, but interspersed their hymns with sarcastic jokes and altercation. Of this kind is the Cyclop of Euripides, in which Ulysses is the principal actor. The Romans also had their Atellana or interludes of the same nature, so called from the city of Atella, where they were first acted; but these were highly polished in comparison of the original entertainment, which was altogether rude and innocent. Indeed, the Cyclop itself, though composed by the accomplished Euripides, abounds with such impurity as ought not to appear on the stage of of any civilized
nation. It is very remarkable, that the Atellana, which were in effect tragi-comedies, grew into such esteem among the Romans, that the performers in these pieces enjoyed several privileges which were refused to the ordinary actors. They were not obliged to unmask, like the other players, when their action was disagreeable to the audience. They