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The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905.
One of the bad consequences arising from the company of wits, who deal with irony and sarcasm is that you never know whether they are in jest or ernest. This is the case with Lucian in regard to the following dialogue, which wears a double face, and is difficult to say whether he meant to ridicule the noble science of dancing, or truly and soberly to defend and extol it. When he tells us in the beginning that dancing is coeval with the universe and that the world is nothing but a grand dance of things, we can hardly think him to be serious. And yet in the latter part of the treatise, the gravity of his arguments and manner would incline us to think him serious. The whole, however, except, perhaps, the long string of fables, is entertaining and sensible.
- Based on Francklin
‘Pantomime’ has been chosen as the most natural translation of orchaesis, which in this dialogue has reference for the most part to the ballet-dancer (pantomimus) of imperial times. On the other hand, Lycinus, in order to establish the antiquity and the universality of an art that for all practical purposes dates only from the Augustan era, and (despite the Greek artists) is Roman in origin, avails himself of the wider meaning of orchaesis to give us the historic and prehistoric associations of dance in Greece and elsewhere; and in such passages it seemed advisable to sacrifice consistency, and to translate orchaesis dance.
Ly. Here are heavy charges, Crato; I suppose you have been getting up this subject for some time. You are not content with attacking the whole pantomimic art, practical and theoretic; we too, the pleased spectators thereof, come in for our share: we have been lavishing our admiration, it seems, on effeminate triflers. And now let me show you how completely you have been mistaken; you will find that the art you have been maligning is the greatest boon of our existence. There is some excuse for your strictures: how should you know any better, confirmed ascetic that you are, believing that virtue consists in being uncomfortable?
Cr. Now, my dear sir, can any one who calls himself a man, and an educated man, and in some sort a student of philosophy,— can such a one leave those higher pursuits, leave communing with the sages of old, to sit still and listen to the sound of a flute, and watch the antics of an effeminate creature got up in soft raiment to sing lascivious songs and mimic the passions of prehistoric strumpets, of Rhodopes and Phaedras and Parthenopes, to the accompaniment of twanging string and shrilling pipe and clattering heel? It is too absurd: these are not amusements for a gentleman; not amusements for Lycinus. When I first heard of your spending your time in this way, I was divided betwixt shame and indignation, to think that you could so far forget Plato and Chrysippus and Aristotle, as to sit thus having your ears tickled with a feather. If you want amusements, are there not a thousand things worth seeing and hearing? Can you not hear classical music performed at the great festivals?
Ly. Goodness gracious! All the Cynic in you is loose, and snarls at me. At the same time, I think your Lotus-and-Siren simile is rather off the point: you see, the people who ate the Lotus and listened to the Sirens paid for the gratification of ear and palate with their lives: whereas I not only have a great deal more enjoyment than they had, but am all the better for it. I have experienced no oblivion of my domestic affairs, nor blindness to my own interests; in fact — if I may venture to say so — you will find my penetration and practical wisdom considerably increased by my theatrical experiences. Homer has it exactly: the spectator
Returns a gladder and a wiser man.
Cr. Dear, dear! Yours is a sad case, Lycinus. You are not even ashamed; you seem quite pleased with yourself. That is the worst of it: there seems no hope of your recovery, while you can actually commend the mire in which you wallow.
Ly. Now, Crato,— you talk of pantomimes and theatres,— have you seen these performances yourself, that you are so hard on them? or do you decide that they are ‘foul mire’ without personal experience? If you have seen them, you are just as bad as I am; and if not, are you justified in censuring them? does it not savour of over-confidence, to condemn what you know nothing about?
Cr. Truly that would be the climax: that I should show my long beard and white hairs amid that throng of women and lunatics; and clap and yell in unseemly rapture over the vile contortions of an abandoned buffoon.
Ly. I can make allowance for you. But wait till I have prevailed on you to give it a fair trial, to accept the judgement of your own eyes: after that you will never be happy till you have secured the best seat in the theatre, where you may hear every syllable, mark every gesture.
Cr. While this beard is yet unplucked, these limbs unshaven, God forbid that I should ever find happiness in such things. As it is, my poor friend, I see that you are wholly possessed.
Ly. Now suppose you were to abstain from further abuse, and hear what I have to say of the merits of Pantomime; of the manner in which it combines profit with amusement; instructing, informing, perfecting the intelligence of the beholder; training his eyes to lovely sights, filling his ears with noble sounds, revealing a beauty in which body and soul alike have their share. For that music and dancing are employed to produce these results is no disparagement of the art; it is rather a recommendation.
Cr. I have not much time for listening to a madman’s discourse in praise of his own madness. However — if you must deluge me with nonsense — I am prepared to do you that friendly office. My ears are at your service: they need no wax to render them deaf to foolishness. Henceforth I will be silent: speak on;— no one is listening.
Ly. Thank you, Crato; just what I wanted. As to ‘foolishness,’ that remains to be seen. Now, to begin with, you seem to be quite ignorant of the antiquity of the pantomimic art. It is not a new thing; it does not date from today or yesterday; not, that is to say, from our grandfathers’ times, nor from their grandfathers’ times. The best antiquarians, let me tell you, trace dancing back to the creation of the universe; it is coeval with that Eros who was the beginning of all things. In the dance of the heavenly bodies, in the complex involutions whereby the planets are brought into harmonious intercourse with the fixed stars, you have an example of that art in its infancy, which, by gradual development, by continual improvements and additions, seems at length to have reached its climax in the subtle harmonious versatility of modern Pantomime.
The first step, we learn, was taken by Rhea, who was so pleased with the art that she introduced it among the Corybantes in Phrygia and the Curetes in Crete. She was richly rewarded: for by their dancing they saved her child Zeus, who owes it to them (nor can he with decency deny it) that he escaped the paternal teeth. The dancing was performed in full armour; sword clashed against shield, and inspired heels beat martial time upon the ground. The art was presently taken up by the leading men in Crete, who by dint of practice became admirable dancers; and this applies not only to private persons, but to men of the first eminence, and of royal blood. Thus Homer, when he calls Meriones a dancer, is not disparaging him, but paying him a compliment: his dancing fame, it seems, had spread not only throughout the Greek world, but even into the camp of his enemies, the Trojans, who would observe, no doubt, on the field of battle that agility and grace of movement which he had acquired as a dancer. The passage runs as follows:
Meriones, great dancer though thou be, My spear had stopped thy dancings,—
it did not, however, do so; his practice in that art enabling him, apparently, to evade without difficulty any spears that might be hurled at him.
I could mention a number of other heroes who went through a similar course of training, and made a serious study of dancing: but I will confine myself to the case of Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and a most eminent dancer. He it was who invented that beautiful dance called after him the Pyrrhic; a circumstance which may be supposed to have afforded more gratification to his father than his comeliness, or his prowess in other respects. Thus Troy, impregnable till then, falls a victim to the dancer’s skill, and is levelled with the dust.
The Lacedaemonians, who are reputed the bravest of the Greeks, ever since they learnt from Castor and Pollux the Caryatic (a form of dance which is taught in the Lacedaemonian town of Caryae), will do nothing without the accompaniment of the Muses: on the field of battle their feet keep time to the flute’s measured notes, and those notes are the signal for their onset. Music and rhythm ever led them on to victory. To this day you may see their young men dividing their attention between dance and drill; when wrestling and boxing are over, their exercise concludes with the dance. A flute-player sits in their midst, beating time with his foot, while they file past and perform their various movements in rhythmic sequence, the military evolutions being followed by dances, such as Dionysus and Aphrodite love.
You have read your Homer; so that I need say nothing of the Shield of Achilles, with its choral dance, modelled on that which Daedalus designed for Ariadne; nor of the two dancers (‘tumblers,’ he calls them) there represented as leading the dance; nor again of the ‘whirling dance of youth,’ so beautifully wrought thereon by Hephaestus. As to the Phaeacians, living as they did in the lap of luxury, nothing is more natural than that they should have rejoiced in the dance. Odysseus, we find, is particularly struck with this: he gazes with admiration on the ‘twinkling of their feet.’
I need hardly observe that among the ancient mysteries not one is to be found that does not include dancing. Orpheus and Musaeus, the best dancers of their time, were the founders of these rites; and their ordinances show the value they attached to rhythm and dance as elements in religion. To illustrate this point would be to make the ceremonial known to the uninitiated: but so much is matter of common knowledge, that persons who divulge the mysteries are popularly spoken of as ‘dancing them out.’
But I need not confine myself to the Greeks. The Indians, when they rise to offer their morning salutation to the Sun, do not consider it enough to kiss their hands after the Greek fashion; turning to the East, they silently greet the God with movements that are designed to represent his own course through the heavens; and with this substitute for our prayers and sacrifices and choral celebrations they seek his favour at the beginning of every day and at its close.
Having dealt with India and Ethiopia, let us now consider the neighbouring country of Egypt. If I am not mistaken, the Egyptian Proteus of ancient legend is no other than a dancer, whose mimetic skill enables him to adapt himself to every character: in the activity of his movements, he is liquid as water, rapid as fire; he is the raging lion, the savage panther, the trembling bough; he is what he will. The legend takes these data, and gives them a supernatural turn,— for mimicry substituting metamorphosis. Our modern pantomimes have the same gift, and Proteus himself sometimes appears as the subject of their rapid transformations.
Our attention is next claimed by the Roman dance of the Salii, a priesthood drawn from the noblest families; the dance is performed in honour of Mars, the most warlike of the Gods, and is of a particularly solemn and sacred character. According to a Bithynian legend, which agrees well with this Italian institution, Priapus, a war-like divinity (probably one of the Titans, or of the Idaean Dactyls, whose profession it was to teach the use of arms), was entrusted by Hera with the care of her son Ares, who even in childhood was remarkable for his courage and ferocity. Priapus would not put weapons into his hands till he had turned him out a perfect dancer; and he was rewarded by Hera with a tenth part of all Ares’s spoils.
Then beware, my enlightened friend, of the guilt of sacrilege. Will you attack the holy mystic art in which so many Gods delight; by which their worshippers do them honour; which affords so much pleasure, so much useful instruction? To return once more to the poets: when I think of your affection for Homer and Hesiod, I am amazed to find you disputing the preeminence they assign to the dance. Homer, in enumerating all that is sweetest and best, mentions sleep, love, song, and dance; but of these dance alone is ‘faultless.’ He testifies, moreover, to the ‘sweetness’ of song: now our art includes ‘sweet song’ as well as the ‘faultless dance’ which you take upon you to censure. Again, in another passage we read:
To one the God hath given warlike deeds: But to another dance and lovely song.
And lovely indeed is the song that accompanies the dance; it is the Gods’ best gift. Homer seems to divide all things under the two heads of war and peace; and among the things of peace he singles out these two as the best counterpart to the things of war.
Their dainty feet round the dark waters dance,
about the altar of Zeus.— My dear sir, your onslaught upon the dance is little short of blasphemy.
Socrates — that wisest of men, if we may accept the judgement of the Pythian oracle — not only approved of dancing, but made a careful study of it; and, in his zeal for grace and elegance, for harmonious movement and carriage of the body, thought it no shame, reverend sage that he was, to rank this among the most important branches of learning. And well might he have an enthusiasm for dancing, who scrupled not to study the humblest arts; who frequented the schools of the flute-girls, and could stoop to learn wisdom from the mouth of an Aspasia. Yet in his days the art was in its infancy, its beauties undeveloped. Had Socrates seen the artists who have made modern Pantomime what it is, he would assuredly have given it his exclusive attention, and assigned it the first place in the education of youth.
I think you forget, when you advocate the claims of tragedy and comedy, that each of them has its own peculiar form of dance; tragedy its emmelia, comedy its cordax, supplemented occasionally by the sicinnis. You began by asserting the superiority of tragedy, of comedy, and of the periodic performances on flute and lyre, which you pronounce to be respectable, because they are included in public competitions. Let us take each of these and compare its merits with those of dancing. The flute and the lyre, to be sure, we might leave out of the discussion, as these have their part to play in the dance.
In forming our estimate of tragedy, let us first consider its externals — the hideous, appalling spectacle that the actor presents. His high boots raise him up out of all proportion; his head is hidden under an enormous mask; his huge mouth gapes upon the audience as if he would swallow them; to say nothing of the chest-pads and stomach-pads with which he contrives to give himself an artificial corpulence, lest his deficiency in this respect should emphasize his disproportionate height. And in the middle of it all is the actor, shouting away, now high, now low,— chanting his iambics as often as not; could anything be more revolting than this sing-song recitation of tragic woes? The actor is a mouthpiece: that is his sole responsibility;— the poet has seen to the rest, ages since. From an Andromache or a Hecuba, one can endure recitative: but when Heracles himself comes upon the stage, and so far forgets himself, and the respect due to the lion-skin and club that he carries, as to deliver a solo, no reasonable person can deny that such a performance is in execrable taste.
By comedy, the absurdity of the masks — of a Davus, for instance, or a Tibius, or a cook — is actually claimed as one of its attractions. On the other hand, I need not tell you how decent, how seemly, is the dancer’s attire; any one who is not blind can see that for himself. His very mask is elegant, and well adapted to his part; there is no gaping here; the lips are closed, for the dancer has plenty of other voices at his service.
As to the subjects treated, they are the same for both, Pantomime differing from tragedy only in the infinite variety of its plots, and in the superior ingenuity and learning displayed in them.
And now, before I proceed further, I wish to offer an explanation of themany omissions I have made, which might otherwise be attributed to ignorance. I am well aware that the subject has already been dealt with by a number of writers, who have chiefly occupied themselves with a description of the various forms of dance, and a catalogue of their names, their characters, and their inventors; and this they regard as a proof of erudition. Such work I leave to the ambition of dullards and pedants, as foreign to my own purpose.
Of dancing then, in the strict sense of the word, I have said enough. To enlarge further upon its history would be pedantic. And now I come to the pantomime. What must be his qualifications? what his previous training? what his studies? what his subsidiary accomplishments? You will find that his is no easy profession, nor lightly to be undertaken; requiring as it does the highest standard of culture in all its branches, and involving a knowledge not of music only, but of rhythm and metre, and above all of your beloved philosophy, both natural and moral, the subtleties of dialectic alone being rejected as serving no useful purpose. Rhetoric, too, in so far as that art is concerned with the exposition of human character and human passions, claims a share of its attention. Nor can it dispense with the painter’s and the sculptor’s arts; in its close observance of the harmonious proportions that these teach, it is the equal of an Apelles or a Phidias.
For his materials, he must draw continually, as I have said, upon his unfailing memory of ancient story; and memory must be backed by taste and judgement. He must know the history of the world, from the time when it first emerged from Chaos down to the days of Egyptian Cleopatra. These limitations we will concede to the pantomime’s wide field of knowledge; but within them he must be familiar with every detail:— the mutilation of Uranus, the origin of Aphrodite, the battle of Titans, the birth of Zeus, Rhea’s deception, her substitution of a stone for her child, the binding of Cronus, the partition of the world between the three brothers.
Then in Megara we have Nisus, his daughter Scylla, and his purple lock; the invasion of Minos, and his ingratitude towards his benefactress. Then we come to Cithaeron, and the story of the Thebans, and of the race of Labdacus; the settlement of Cadmus on the spot where the cow rested, the dragon’s teeth from which the Thebans sprang up, the transformation of Cadmus into a serpent, the building of the walls of Thebes to the sound of Amphion’s lyre, the subsequent madness of the builder, the boast of Niobe his wife, her silent grief; Pentheus, Actaeon, Oedipus, Heracles; his labours and slaughter of his children.
Corinth, again, abounds in legends: of Glauce and of Creon; in earlier days, of Bellerophon and Stheneboea, and of the strife between Posidon and the Sun; and, later, of the frenzy of Athamas, of Nephele’s children and their flight through the air on the ram’s back, and of the deification of Ino and Melicertes.
Nor is any story more essential to the pantomime’s purpose than that of Hypsipyle and Archemorus in Nemea; and, in older days, the imprisonment of Danae, the begetting of Perseus, his enterprise against the Gorgons; and connected therewith is the Ethiopian narrative of Cassiopea, and Cepheus, and Andromeda, all of whom the belief of later generations has placed among the stars. To these must be added the ancient legend of Aegyptus and Danaus, and of that guilty wedding-night.
Lacedaemon, too, supplies him with many similar subjects: Hyacinth, and his rival lovers, Zephyr and Apollo, and the quoit that slew him, the flower that sprang up from his blood, and the inscription of woe thereon; the raising of Tyndareus from the dead, and the consequent wrath of Zeusagainst Asclepius; again, the reception of Paris by Menelaus, and the rape of Helen, the sequel to his award of the golden apple.
Elis, too, affords many subjects for the intending pantomime: Oenomaus, Myrtilus, Cronus, Zeus, and that first Olympian contest.
Extending our view, we find that Crete, too, may be laid under contribution: Europa’s bull, Pasiphae’s, the Labyrinth, Ariadne, Phaedra, Androgeos; Daedalus and Icarus; Glaucus, and the prophecy of Polyides; and Talos, the island’s brazen sentinel.
It is the same with Aetolia: there you will find Althaea, Meleager, Atalanta, and the fatal brand; the strife of Achelous with Heracles, the birth of the Sirens, the origin of the Echinades, those islands on which Alcmaeon dwelt after his frenzy was past; and, following these, the story of Nessus, and of Deianira’s jealousy, which brought Heracles to the pyre upon Oeta.
52 & 53
Thessalian story, richer still, tells of Pelias and Jason; of Alcestis; and of the Argo with her talking keel and her crew of fifty youths; of what befell them in Lemnos; of Aeetes, Medea’s dream, the rending of Absyrtus, the eventful flight from Colchis; and, in later days, of Protesilaus and Laodamia.
Cross once more to Asia, and Samos awaits you, with the fall of Polycrates, and his daughter’s flight into Persia; and the ancient story of Tantalus’s folly, and of the feast that he gave the Gods; of butchered Pelops, and his ivory shoulder.
In Italy, we have the Eridanus, Phaethon, and his poplar-sisters, who wept tears of amber for his loss.
The pantomime must be familiar, too, with the story of the Hesperides, and the dragon that guarded the golden fruit; with burdened Atlas, and Geryon, and the driving of the oxen from Erythea;
The Egyptian mythology is another matter: it cannot be omitted, but on account of its mysterious character it calls for a more symbolical exposition;— the legend of Epaphus, for instance, and that of Osiris, and the conversion of the Gods into animals; and, in particular, their love adventures, including those of Zeus himself, with his various transformations.
Hades still remains to be added, with all its tragic tale of guilt and the punishment of guilt, and the loyal friendship that brought Theseus thither with Pirithous.
Since it is his profession to imitate, and to show forth his subject by means of gesticulation, he, like the orators, must acquire lucidity; every scene must be intelligible without the aid of an interpreter; to borrow the expression of the Pythian oracle,
Dumb though he be, and speechless, he is heard
by the spectator.
And before we leave Nero’s times, I must tell you of the high tribute paid to the art by a foreigner of the royal family of Pontus, who was visiting the Emperor on business, and had been among the spectators of this same pantomime. So convincing were the artist’s gestures, as to render the subject intelligible even to one who (being half a Greek) could not follow the vocal accompaniment. When he was about to return to his country, Nero, in taking leave of him, bade him choose what present he would have, assuring him that his request should not be refused. ‘Give me,’ said the Pontian, ‘your great pantomime; no gift could delight me more.’ ‘And of what use can he be to you in Pontus?’ asked the Emperor. ‘I have foreign neighbours, who do not speak our language; and it is not easy to procure interpreters. Your pantomime could discharge that office perfectly, as often as required, by means of his gesticulations.’ So profoundly had he been impressed with the extraordinary clearness of pantomimic representation.
The pantomime is above all things an actor: that is his first aim, in the pursuit of which (as I have observed) he resembles the orator, and especially the composer of ‘declamations,’ whose success, as the pantomime knows, depends like his own upon verisimilitude, upon the adaptation of language to character: prince or tyrannicide, pauper or farmer, each must be shown with the peculiarities that belong to him.
The term ‘pantomime,’ which was introduced by the Italian Greeks, is an apt one, and scarcely exaggerates the artist’s versatility. ‘Oh boy,’ cries the poet, in a beautiful passage,
As that sea-beast, whose hue With each new rock doth suffer change, So let thy mind free range Through ev’ry land, shaping herself anew.
Most necessary advice, this, for the pantomime, whose task it is to identify himself with his subject, and make himself part and parcel of the scene that he enacts. It is his profession to show forth human character and passion in all their variety; to depict love and anger, frenzy and grief, each in its due measure. Wondrous art!— on the same day, he is mad Athamas and shrinking Ino; he is Atreus, and again he is Thyestes, and next Aegisthus or Aerope; all one man’s work.
Other entertainments of eye or ear are but manifestations of a single art: ’tis flute or lyre or song; ’tis moving tragedy or laughable comedy.
All professions hold out some object, either of utility or of pleasure: Pantomime is the only one that secures both these objects; now the utility that is combined with pleasure is doubled in value. Who would choose to look on at a couple of young fellows spilling their blood in a boxing-match, or wrestling in the dust, when he may see the same subject represented by the pantomime, with the additional advantages of safety and elegance, and with far greater pleasure to the spectator? The vigorous movements of the pantomime — turn and twist, bend and spring — afford at once a gratifying spectacle to the beholder and a wholesome training to the performer; I maintain that no gymnastic exercise is its equal for beauty and for the uniform development of the physical powers, — of agility, suppleness, and elasticity, as of solid strength.
Consider then the universality of this art: it sharpens the wits, it exercises the body, it delights the spectator, it instructs him in the history of bygone days, while eye and ear are held beneath the spell of flute and cymbal and of graceful dance. Would you revel in sweet song? Nowhere can you procure that enjoyment in greater variety and perfection. Would you listen to the clear melody of flute and pipe? Again the pantomime supplies you. I say nothing of the excellent moral influence of public opinion, as exercised in the theatre, where you will find the evil-doer greeted with execration, and his victim with sympathetic tears.
I now propose to sketch out the mental and physical qualifications necessary for a first-rate pantomime. Most of the former, indeed, I have already mentioned: he must have memory, sensibility, shrewdness, rapidity of conception, tact, and judgement; further, he must be a critic of poetry and song, capable of discerning good music and rejecting bad.
Another essential for the pantomime is ease of movement.
Such is the potency of his art, that the amorous spectator is cured of his infirmity by perceiving the evil effects of passion, and he who enters the theatre under a load of sorrow departs from it with a serene countenance, as though he had drunk of that draught of forgetfulness
That lulls all pain and wrath.
How natural is his treatment of his subjects, how intelligible to every one of his audience, may be judged from the emotion of the house whenever anything is represented that calls for sorrow or compassion. The Bacchic form of Pantomime, which is particularly popular in Ionia and Pontus, in spite of its being confined to satyric subjects has taken such possession of those peoples, that, when the Pantomime season comes round in each city, they leave all else and sit for whole days watching Titans and Corybantes, Satyrs and neat-herds. Men of the highest rank and position are not ashamed to take part in these performances: indeed, they pride themselves more on their pantomimic skill than on birth and ancestry and public services.
Now that we know what are the qualities that a good pantomime ought to possess, let us next consider the faults to which he is liable. Deficiencies of person I have already handled; and the following I think is a fair statement of their mental imperfections. Pantomimes cannot all be artists; there are plenty of ignorant performers, who bungle their work terribly. Some cannot adapt themselves to their music; they are literally ‘out of tune’; rhythm says one thing, their feet another. Others are free from this fault, but jumble up their chronology. I remember the case of a man who was giving the birth of Zeus, and Cronus eating his own children: seduced by the similarity of subject, he ran off into the tale of Atreus and Thyestes. In another case, Semele was just being struck by the lightning, when she was transformed into Creusa, who was not even born at that time. Still, it seems to me that we have no right to visit the sins of the artist upon the art: let us recognize him for the blunderer that he is, and do justice to the accuracy and skill of competent performers.
The fact is, the pantomime must be completely armed at every point. His work must be one harmonious whole, perfect in balance and proportion, self-consistent, proof against the most minute criticism; there must be no flaws, everything must be of the best; brilliant conception, profound learning, above all human sympathy. When every one of the spectators identifies himself with the scene enacted, when each sees in the pantomime as in a mirror the reflection of his own conduct and feelings, then, and not till then, is his success complete. But let him reach that point, and the enthusiasm of the spectators becomes uncontrollable, every man pouring out his whole soul in admiration of the portraiture that reveals him to himself. Such a spectacle is no less than a fulfilment of the oracular injunction KNOW THYSELF; men depart from it with increased knowledge; they have learnt something that is to be sought after, something that should be eschewed.
But in Pantomime, as in rhetoric, there can be (to use a popular phrase) too much of a good thing; a man may exceed the proper bounds of imitation; what should be great may become monstrous, softness may be exaggerated into effeminacy, and the courage of a man into the ferocity of a beast.
I hope, my dear Crato, that this cursory description of the Pantomime may mitigate your wrath against its devoted admirer. If you can bring yourself to bear me company to the theatre, you will be captivated; you will run Pantomime-mad. I shall have no occasion to exclaim, with Circe,
Strange, that my drugs have wrought no change in thee!
The change will come; but will not involve an ass’s head, nor a pig’s heart, but only an improved understanding. In your delight at the potion, you will drain it off, and leave not a drop for any one else. Homer says, of the golden wand of Hermes, that with it he
charms the eyes of men, When so he will, and rouses them that sleep.
So it is with Pantomime. It charms the eyes-to wakefulness; and quickens the mental faculties at every turn.
Cr. Enough, Lycinus: behold your convert! My eyes and ears are opened. When next you go to the theatre, remember to take a seat for me next your own. I too would issue from those doors a wiser man.