Laurence Sterne. (17131768). A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
23. A Fragment
THE TOWN of Abdera, notwithstanding Democritus lived there, trying all the powers of irony and laughter to reclaim it, was the vilest and most profligate town in all Thrace. What for poisons, conspiracies, and assassinationslibels, pasquinades, and tumults, there was no going there by dayt was worse by night.
Now, when things were at the worst, it came to pass, that the Andromeda of Euripides being represented at Abdera, the whole orchestra was delighted with it: but of all the passages which delighted them, nothing operated more upon their imaginations, than the tender strokes of nature, which the poet had wrought up in that pathetic speech of Perseus, O Cupid, prince of Gods and men, &c. Every man almost spoke pure iambics the next day, and talkd of nothing but Perseus his pathetic addressO Cupid, prince of Gods and menin every street of Abdera, in every houseO Cupid! Cupid!in every mouth, like the natural notes of some sweet melody which drops from it whether it will or nonothing but Cupid! Cupid! prince of Gods and men.The fire caughtand the whole city, like the heart of one man, opend itself to Love.
No pharmacopolist could sell one grain of helleborenot a single armorer had a heart to forge one instrument of death.Friendship and Virtue met together, and kissd each other in the streetthe golden age returnd, and hung over the town of Abderaevery Abderite took his oaten pipe, and every Abderitish woman left her purple web, and chastely sat her down and listend to the song