2 SEPTEMBER 1876, Page 24

subject is more than commonly alien to modern thought, though,


one part of it has been taken for more than one modern comedy, notably for Racine 's admirable Les Plaideurs. It is difficult to conceive a court

of five thousand judges, deciding questions of life and property accord- ing to the tumultuous impulses which agitate a popular assembly. Of justice corrupted by fear or favour we have had only too much experience in our own history, but this kind of abuse is strange to us.

As for the humour of the thing, that is chiefly associated with the attempts to escape from a juryman's duty. Then, delicate and subtle as the wit of The Wasps, it is not to be matched for force with that of The A charnians, or or The Frogs, nor is it equal in permanent interest to that of The Clouds, though, indeed, the Athenian audience seems to have preferred it. As for the manner in which Mr. Rogers has done his work in the volume before

us, it is difficult to use praise sufficiently high. His notes are full of excellent scholarship, and leave nothing to be desired in the way of explanation. As for his translation, it is simply a marvel of ease and

skill. If we were to indicate a preference for one part over another, it would be for the rhymed portions, the fluency of which it would be im-

possible to surpass. It would not be too much to say that no English

translation of a classical author surpasses them. In rendering the iambic dialogue into blank verse, Mr. Rogers feeling it possible, and therefore a duty, to be literal, is sometimes a little cramped. When be has what one may call the fetters of rhyme upon him he moves with a freedom that is quite extraordinary. Take, for instance, where Bdelycleon pro- pounds his famous plan for supporting Athenian citizens at the expense of the Attics:—

"They mean you all to be poor and gaunt, and I'll tell you, father, the reason why They want you to know your keeper's hand ; and then if he hiss you on to fly At some helpless foe, away you go, with eager vehemence ready and rough. Since it they wished to maintain you well, the way to do it were plain enough. A thousand cities our rule obey, a thousand cities their tribute pay, Allot them twenty Athenians each, to feed and nouri-h from day to day, And twice ten thousand citizens there, are living immersed in dishes of hare, With creams and beestings and sumptuous fare, and garlands and coronais everywhere, Enjoying a fate that is worthy the State, and worthy the trophy on Marathon plain.

Whilst now like gleaners ye all are fain to follow along in the paymaster's train."

The whole of this dialogue, indeed, is of the very first excellence, and we cannot do better than give our readers a specimen of it. Here is the beginning of Philocleon's argument on the advantages of being member of the judicial assembly :- "Pa. Away, away, like a racer gay. I start at once from the head of the lists,

To prove that no kinglier power than ours in any part of the world exists. Is there any creature on earth more blest, more feared and petted from day to day, Or that leads a happier, pleasanter life, than a Justice of Athens, though old and gray?

For first when rising from bed in the morn, to the criminal Court betimes I trudge, Great six-foot fellows are there at the rails, in anxious haste to salute their Judge.

And the delicate hand, which has s dipped so deep in the public purse, he claps into mine, And he bows before me, and makes his prayer, and softens his voice to a pitiful whine :

0 pity me, pity me, Sire, he cries, if you ever indulged your longing for pelf,

When you managed the mess on is far campaign, or served some office of State yourself. The man would never have heard my name, if he had not been tried and acquitted before.

Bn. (Writing.) I'll take a note of the point you make, that suppliant fellows your

grace implore.

PH. So when they have begged and implored me enough, and my angry temper

is wiped away,

I enter in and I take my seat, and then I do none of the things I say.

I hear them utter all sorts of cries design'd expressly to win my grace, What won't they utter, what don't they urge, to coax a Justice who tries their ease?

Some vow they are needy and friendless men, and over their poverty wail and whine, And reckon up hardships, false with true, till he makes them out to be equal to mine.

Some tell us a legend of days gone by, or a joke from .sop witty and sage,

Or jest and banter, to make me laugh, that so I may doff my terrible rage.

And if all this fails, and I stand unmoved, he leads by the hand his little ones near, He brings his girls, and he brings his boys ; and I, the Judge, am composed to hear.

They huddle together with piteous bleats: while trembling above them he

prays to me,

Prays as to a God his accounts to pass, to give him a quittance, and leave him


And here is a specimen of the answer :-

" Six thousand Justices, count them through, there dwell no more in the land as yet,

One hundred and fifty talents a year I think you will find is all they get. PH. Then not one tithe of our income goes to furnish forth the Justices' pay. BD. No, certainly not. PH. And what becomes of all the rest of the revenue, pray?

BD. Why, bless you, it goes to the pockets of those, 7b the rabble of Athens, fit ever be true, Fll always battle away for the mob. 0 father, my father, 'tie owing to you : By such small phrases as these cajoled, you lift them over yourselves to reign. And then, believe me, they soon contrive some fifty talents In bribes to gain, Extorting them out of the subject States, by hostile menace and angry frown : Band over, they say, the tribute pay, or else my thunders shall crush your town. Yod‘joy the while at the remnants vile, the trotters and tips of your power to

gnaw, So when our knowing, acute allies the rest, the scum of the Populace, saw

On a vote-box pine, and on nothingness dine, and marked how lanky and lean ye grow,

They count you all as a Connas's vote, and ever and ever on these bestow Wines, cheeses, necklaces, sesame fruit, and jars of pickle and pots of honey, Rugs, cushions, and mantles, and cups, and crowns, and health, and vigour, and lots of money;

Whilst YOU! from out of the broad domain for which on the land and the wave you toiled, None gives you so much as a garlic-head, to flavour the dish when your sprats are boiled.

Pit. That's true,no doubt, for I just sent out, and bought, myself, from Eucharides three;

But you wear me away by your long delay in proving my bondage and slavery. Be. Why IS it not slavery pure and neat, when these (themselves and their parasites too) Are all in receipt of their pay, God wote, as high officials of State : whilst you Must thankful be for your obols three, those obols which ye yourselves have won In the battle's roar, by sea and by shore, 'mid sieges and miseries many a one? But 0 what throttles me most of all, is this, that under constraint you go, When some young dissolute spark comes in, some son of a Chtereas, straddling —so With his legs apart, and his body poised, and a mincing, soft, effeminate air, And bids you Justices, one and all, betimes in the morn to the Court repair, For that any who after the signal come shall lose and forfeit their obole three I Yet come as late as he choose himself, he pockets his drachma, ' Counsel's tee: And then if a culprit give him a bribe, he gets his fellow the job to share, And into each other's hands they play, and manage together the snit to square. Just like two men at a saw they work, and one keeps pulling, and one gives way_ While you at the Treasurer stare and gape, and never observe the tricks they play."