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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: SCHYLUS. CHAPTER I. THE FEAST OP BACCHUS. In order rightly to understand the drama of the Greeks, and especially their tragedy, we must rid ourselves, as far as possible, of those associations which now cling in England round the names of " play " and "theatre." For our modern plays are so unlike a Greek tragedy, and the position which they occupy is so entirely different from that of the Athenian theatre, that the few points which both have in common are more likely to impede than assist us. The Athenian theatre was a national inBf,jt,ntinn: no private speculation, but the pride and glory of a great people; somewhat like, in this respect, to the celebrated theatres of some of the small German states, such as those of Dresden or Mannheim. It was also a religious i-nstjf.ptinp ; not merely a scene of national amusement, but at the same time a solemn ceremony in honour of the god Bacchus. The performances took place only at rare intervals, when the festivals of that A. c. vol. vii. A divinity came round, and so were invested with a dignity which cannot attach to our modern theatres, open as these are every day in the year or in the season. And as a consequence of the rarity of the representations, each play was, as a rule, enacted only once. I All these facts—that the theatre was national, and religious, and rarely open—combined to make the audience on each occasion very numerous.Jit was a point of national pride, of religious duty, and of common prudence on the part of every citizen, not to miss the two great dramatic festivals of the year when their season came. Accordingly, we hear that thirty thousand people used to be present together; and we may infer from this, as well as from other indisputable evidence, the vast size of the theatre itself. The performan...
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