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the Semnæ,

pp. 191-206

the first invasion of the rights of consanguinity, which demanded an Erinnys: hence the Deities then called forth were, properly speaking, “the Erinnyes of Uranus.” 40. But, as mythic conceptions gradually acquire fixity of shape, so these Deities, in process of time, become independent spirits and active avengers (IIouvai). The idea under which they were worshipped at Athens, as Eeuvaì, was founded on a more extensive system of views and thoughts, and deserves a separate consideration.

41. The widely diffused worship of the Erinnyes or Eumenides, Cultus of called Semnæ at Athens, cannot be understood if we regard them generally, merely as divinities resulting from individual circumstances, or peculiar states of mind. Many traces show that they were a particular form of the Deities who rule the earth and the lower world, and send up the blessings of the year, viz. Demeter and Cora. The meaning of this is simply that these Goddesses—usually mild and benign-may be perverted by human sin into resentful, destructive Powers. 42. Traces of this Demeter-Erinnys exist particularly in the legends concerning the ancient kings of Thebes. The beginning of mischief was the slaying of the Dragon (son of Ares and Erinnys Tilphossa) by Cadmus : Laius is the first to feel the curse; Edipus is altogether its victim. But as the legend always represented Edipus as finally reconciled to his persecuting Erinnys, so the traditions of his burial-place were in close connexion with the cultus of the Erinnyes. Thus Sophocles makes him reach the goal of his sufferings in the grove of the Semnæ at Athens, and after his death assume the character of a mysteriously operating divinity, producing eternal weal to the country where he had obtained rest and reconciliation. 43. In all these Theban legends, Demeter, as a punient Power, is the predominating principle. Subsequently, the mention of Demeter in this character was shunned with a feeling of dread; and the Erinnyes, as independent Deities, took the place of the Tilphossian Demeter-Erinnys: and thus we understand how, after their wrath was appeased, they became Eumenides, or benevolent, bountiful Goddesses. The name Eịjevides was, strictly speaking, native at Sicyon : hence Æschylus, who emphatically calls them Eeuvai

Worship of the Semnæ at Athens, pp 206-209.

and εύφρονες, never mentions the word Ευμενίδες. (Comp. note on v. 982.) 44. Nevertheless, the transmutation of the Erinnyes into Eumenides was an essential part of the legend of Orestes ; as in the case of Edipus, the persecuting Deity becomes a bounteous being to him and his posterity. Æschylus, it is true, is silent about this reconciliation: he attributes the cessation of the Furies' wrath to the eloquence of Pallas; whereupon their benedictions are bestowed, not on Orestes, but on Athens. And since Pallas repeatedly ascribes to them an actual power over the gifts they promise, (such as the fruits of Earth, &c. vv. 884906), we here recognise the double influence before mentioned; they are Έρίνυες for destruction, Ευμενείς for blessings.

45. One side of the Temple of the Semnæ at Athens rested on the base of the hill of Ares, whose cultus was closely united with that of the Erinnyes: the other side lay towards the Acropolis, a locality which Æschylus designates by the expression προς δόμοις Ερεχθέως, ν. 857. There was a chasm in this temple, as at Colonus, through which the Deities were said to have returned to earth after their reconciliation with Orestes.

46. Their worship was always celebrated by a numerous train of female attendants, called “Hesychidæ" from the solemn silence always observed (eudnuía). The sacrifices, performed sometimes at night, (hence perhaps the torches mentioned in v. 977,) consisted of slaughtered victims, especially black sheep; and water unmixed with wine (undária), but with an infusion of honey (uenikpata), and possibly of oil. (Soph. Ed. C. 483.)

47. The contrast between the elder and younger race of Gods, as expressed by Æschylus, rests mainly on the distinction between an absolute natural necessity and a free and voluntary agency. As heaven and earth, sun and moon, which belong to the old race, manifest their agency in eternal and immutable duration, so the Erinnyes are to be regarded as a natural law of the moral world: without regard to circumstances, they naturally fasten on him who has outraged the sacred rights of consanguinity; and never suffer this outrage to vanish from their memory, but visit it on successive generations. (Eum. v. 894.) 48. The Olympian

Æschylus' idea of the Erinnyes, pp. 210—218.

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Gods, on the contrary, in their whole agency refer so much to specific circumstances, that they are incapable of representing these universal laws. Their interference with human affairs is direct and personal. But in the compromise which the Erinnyes make of their resentment, the newly established cultus is a pledge of the further exercise of their inherent rights upon earth. 49. This contrast Æschylus everywhere maintains in a very marked manner; nevertheless, he shows a conviction that the conflict between the ancient Gods and the ruling Powers is merely transient, and preparatory to a higher development of things. With him the world of Olympian Gods is in perfect unison with the original Powers, and, like Pindar, he strives to do away with the legends that imply their antagonism. 50. With regard to the external appearance of the Erinnyes, Æschylus gives them the snaky hair and pendent tongues of Gorgons—the hideous expression of Harpies—and the black dress which marks them for the daughters of Night. He does not give them wings as Euripides does (Orest. 317), because the image of hounds was ever before his eyes—and in Choeph. (911, 1150) he plainly calls them kúves, as does Sophocles also—to which image the long pendent tongue of the Gorgoneum was admirably suited.

51. In contrast with the Erinnyes, as Titanian Powers exer- Zeus Soter, cising a moral law with the strictness of a law of nature, we have in our drama Apollo and Pallas, who establish and protect the order of human society. Yet so intimately connected were these Deities with mankind and their concerns, that Æschylus does not conceive them adequate, great and wise though they be, to terminate the conflict with the primordial Powers. Throughout the Orestea he exhibits dimly and in the background, and therefore with more poetical effect, a third Power, Zeus Soter, pervading the universe, and conducting the course of events to the best possible issue. (Comp. Choeph.1,2; id. 242; Εum. 730.) The name Σωτήρ is therefore similar to τέλειος. 52. The cultus of Zeus Soter was widely diffused among the Greeks. With it were connected the three draughts taken by them after meals; the first to Olympian Zeus, the second to

pp. 218-223.


Earth and the Heroes, the third to Zeus Soter. In this ceremony the Olympian Gods are first opposed to the Chthonians, and then Zeus Soter is conceived as a third Power, and Lord equally over both worlds. (Comp. Æsch. Suppl. 24, and Plato, Polit. ix. p. 583.)

53. Thus we see that generally after the atonement of particular transgressions, Zeus Soter interposes as a consummating Deity, who tempers the opposition between the serene Gods of the world above and the gloomy powers of the realms below; and specially he is conceived by Æschylus as a paternal God, and therefore the peculiar guardian of paternal rights, holding the father of the household to be of higher account than the mother. (Eum. v. 731.)

54. Tragedy is defined by Aristotle as “an exhibition tending pp. 221–239. by the operation of pity and fear to purify the mind from

passions” (ráðapois manuárwv). In contrast to the Epic, which never suspends the peaceful flow of equable emotions, the essential aim of Tragedy is to draw the soul out of its quiet state, and hurl it into a tempest of conflicting elements, which are, in the course of their progress and development, so purified and exalted, as to leave the soul in calm and elevated composure. 55. These characteristics are found prominent in the Orestean Trilogy. The Agamemnon, beginning with songs of joy and exultation, gradually rouses the mind to horror and passion : these feelings are more fully developed in the Choephoroe, but sobered down and ennobled in the Eumenides. The main idea of the Trilogy is to show how a curse rooted in the human race, and generating one misdeed out of another, is averted by the control of the Saviour God. The secondary aim is to inculcate respect for established institutions, and particularly for the Areopagus. The delineation of character, as is usual with Æschylus, occupies the third place, subordinate to the development of the fable, as the fable itself was subordinate to the main idea.

56. The Orestea being the only extant specimen of a complete trilogy, must form the groundwork of our whole study of

Æschylus. Taking it for a model, we may easily ascertain the positions occupied by his other dramas in their respective trilogies. They are all, without exception, intermediate plays: the Eumenides is the only concluding one that we have. The reason why (with the exception of the Orestea) none but second pieces of Æschylus have been preserved, is, perhaps, that the quiet progress and minute details of the first pieces, and the tendency to mythic speculations in the third, had less attractions for the later ages of antiquity than the equably sustained pathos of the intermediate plays.


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