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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Prologues of Euripides
By Aristophanes (c. 448–c. 388 B.C.)
 
        
From ‘The Frogs
  
  [The point of the following selection lies in the monotony of both narrative style and metre in Euripides’s prologues, and especially his regular cæsura after the fifth syllable of a line. The burlesque tag used by Aristophanes to demonstrate this effect could not be applied in the same way to any of the fourteen extant plays of Sophocles and Æschylus.]

Æschylus—And by Jove, I’ll not stop to cut up your verses word by word, but if the gods are propitious I’ll spoil all your prologues with a little flask of smelling-salts.
  Euripides—With a flask of smelling-salts?
  Æsch.—With a single one. For you build your verses so that anything will fit into the metre,—a leathern sack, or eider-down, or smelling-salts. I’ll show you.
  Eur.—So, you’ll show me, will you?
  Æsch.—I will that.        5
  Dionysus—Pronounce.
  Eur. [declaiming]—
          Ægyptus, as broad-bruited fame reports,
          With fifty children voyaging the main
          To Argos came, and
  Æsch.—                        —lost his smelling-salts.
  Dion.—What the mischief have the smelling-salts got to do with it? Recite another prologue to him and let me see.        10
  Eur.
          Dionysus, thyrsus-armed and faun-skin-clad,
          Amid the torchlights on Parnassus’s slope
          Dancing and prancing
  Æsch.—                        —lost his smelling-salts.
  Dion.—Caught out again by the smelling-salts.
  Eur.—No matter. Here’s a prologue that he can’t fit ’em to.        15
          No lot of mortal man is wholly blest:
          The high-born youth hath lacked the means of life,
          The lowly lout hath
  Æsch.—                        —lost his smelling-salts.
  Dion.—Euripides—
  Eur.—            Well, what?
  Dion.—                        Best take in sail.
      These smelling-salts, methinks, will blow a gale.        20
  Eur.—What do I care? I’ll fix him next time.
  Dion.—Well, recite another, and steer clear of the smelling-salts.
  Eur.
          Cadmus departing from the town of Tyre,
          Son of Agenor
  Æsch.—                    —lost his smelling-salts.
  Dion.—My dear fellow, buy those smelling-salts, or there won’t be a rag left of all your prologues.        25
  Eur.—What? I buy ’em of him?
  Dion.—If you’ll be advised by me.
  Eur.—Not a bit of it. I’ve lots of prologues where he can’t work ’em in.
            Pelops the Tantalid to Pisa coming
            With speedy coursers
  Æsch.—                        —lost his smelling-salts.
        30
  Dion.—There they are again, you see. Do let him have ’em, my good Æschylus. You can replace ’em for a nickel.
  Eur.—Never. I’ve not run out yet.
                Œneus from broad fields
  Æsch.—                            —lost his smelling-salts.
  Eur.—Let me say the whole verse, won’t you?
          Œneus from broad fields reaped a mighty crop
          And offering first-fruits
  Æsch.—                    —lost his smelling-salts.
        35
  Dion.—While sacrificing? Who filched them?
  Eur.—Oh, never mind him. Let him try it on this verse:—
            Zeus, as the word of sooth declared of old—
  Dion.—It’s no use, he’ll say Zeus lost his smelling-salts. For those smelling-salts fit your prologues like a kid glove. But go on and turn your attention to his lyrics.
 
 
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