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Euripides and His Age
written by "Murray, Gilbert, 1866-1957"
...cient command or prophecy, to give it a meaning that we had[Pg 227] never realized; and thus we are awakened to the concrete theatre and the audience and the life about us not with a shock but gradually, like one lying with his eyes half shut and thinking about a dream that has just gone. I do not for a moment say that the divine epiphany is the right, or even the best, way of ending any tragedy; I only plead that if we use our imaginations we can find in it a very rare beauty and can understand why one of the greatest of the world's dramatists held to it so firmly. [Pg 228] CHAPTER IX THE ART OF EURIPIDES CONTINUED: THE CHORUS: CONCLUSION And lastly there is the Chorus, at once the strangest and the most beautiful of all these ancient and remote conventions. If we can understand the Chorus we have got to the very heart of Greek tragedy. The objections to the Chorus are plain to any infant. These dozen homogeneous persons, old men or young women, eternally present and almost never doing anything, intruded on action that often demands the utmost privacy: their absurdity, on any plane of realism, is manifest. We need waste no more words upon it. Verisimilitude is simply thrown to the winds. That is, no doubt, a great sacrifice, and fine artists do not as a rule incur a sacrifice without making sure of some compensating gain. Let us try to find out what that gain was, or at least what the great Greek artists were aiming at. And let us[Pg 229] begin by forgetting the modern stage altogether and thinking ourselves back to the very origins of drama. The word "chorus" means "dance" or "dancing-ground." There were such dancing floors on Greek soil before ever the Greeks came there. They have been found in prehistoric Crete and in the islands. We hear in Homer of the "houses and dancing-grounds" of the Morning Star. The dance was as old as mankind; only it was a kind of dance that we have almost forgotten. The ancient ...

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