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trial. Being allowed to return in his own vessel, he escaped at Thurii in Italy, and was afterwards received at Sparta, where he betrayed the plans of Athens to her enemies, and advised them with success. When his escape was known he

was condemned to death.

Such was the state of things at Athens. The play of THE BIRDS was exhibited in the spring of 414, doubtless after the sending of the Salaminia, but probably before her return, and almost certainly before Alcibiades' treason could have been known. Indeed, the comedy must have been conceived and virtually finished before either of these last events, if not before the sending of the Salaminia, to which there is (in v. 148) a manifest allusion. The general temper at Athens must have been the reverse of cheerful. The affair of the Hermae, a yet unsolved enigma to the Athenians, had caused a general gloom. The high hopes with which they had entered on the Sicilian campaign were now somewhat dashed: Alcibiades, who was to be the life of the scheme, if not yet known to be altogether lost to it, was at all events accused and under a cloud, and not likely to escape the machinations of his enemies.

Having reviewed now the events and feelings in the midst of which Aristophanes wrote, let us see what he actually did write, by giving a sketch of his play.

Two Athenians, Peisthetaerus and Euelpides, weary of the troubles of their country, determine to emigrate. Guided by a raven and a jackdaw, they come to Epops the hoopoe. He recommends several snug homes, but all are in some way objectionable. Then it strikes Peisthetaerus that Birdland itself is the place, they will found a city there. Epops is delighted; the birds are called into council, and, though at first they distrust their natural enemy-man, finally consent to hear the plan, and are convinced of its advantages. A city is to be built; the birds are to recover divine honours. Peisthetaerus is to be the head and contriver; the birds are to work under him. This being settled, Peisthetaerus and Euelpides retire to be properly winged for their task.

In the Parabasis the Bird Chorus give a legendary account of the beginning of the world, proving the antiquity of the birds and their supreme usefulness.

The two friends return winged; a name is fixed on for the city, Cloud-cuckoo-land. Euelpides is then sent to superintend the builders, while Peisthetaerus, with the Chorus and a priest, performs inaugural sacrifices. The fame of the new settlement quickly spreads. A poet, a soothsayer, a geometer, a visiting inspector, a decree-seller, all apply for admission; and are all refused, as being just the kind of persons whom Peisthetaerus emigrated to be rid of. Peisthetaerus then retires to finish the sacrifices.

In a second Parabasis the Chorus again praise bird life, and exult in anticipation of their new honours.

On Peisthetaerus' return a messenger reports the building of a magnificent city, another Babylon, most humorously described. Upon his heels a second messenger reports the intrusion of a deity; it turns out to be Iris, who is scoffed at and sent back to Zeus. Then a herald from mortals brings word of the enthusiasm for the new city: crowds are coming; all would fain be birds; wings will be wanted. Peisthetaerus is equal to the occasion, and gets feathers of all kinds. The first candidate is a youth who has heard that maltreating a father is quite right in bird law. He is set right on this point; fitted out as a cock, and sent to air his pugnacity on his country's foes. Next comes Cinesias, a dithyrambic poet, who wants wings for yet higher flights of song. He is beaten off. Then an informer, who refuses to be converted to an honester trade, and is whipped off. Peisthetaerus and his feathers retire for awhile, and the Chorus, in a short interlude, satirize Cleonymus and Orestes.

On Peisthetaerus' return, Prometheus comes running in to report the alarm of the gods and their approaching embassy: he advises the birds not to bate their claims, but to stand out for recovery of their rightful sovereignty. This embassy (after a short choric interlude) appears. Poseidon, Hercules, and Triballus (a barbarian deity), are the ambassadors. Peisthetaerus demands the restoration of sovereignty to the birds, and

Basilea as wife for himself. Hercules, for whom Peisthetaerus angles through his gluttony, easily gives in. Triballus, who can hardly speak, is made out to do the same; and Poseidon is thus outvoted. They all depart for heaven to arrange particulars and to fetch the bride.

After a third interlude of the Chorus, a messenger reports the approach of bride and bridegroom in splendour, and calls upon the Chorus for a song of welcome. With this Peisthetaerus, birds, and all go out to celebrate the wedding-feast.

And now, after this sketch of the play, what are we to believe of its scope and plan? Has it any one leading aim— political, religious, or otherwise? We can certainly say of Aristophanes' previous plays that they have each a tolerably well defined character and scope. The ACHARNIANS opposes the war, THE KNIGHTS is against Cleon, THE CLOUDS against Socrates, THE WASPS against litigiousness, THE PEACE is a jubilant welcome to the peace just concluded. If THE BIRDS also has such scope, what is it?

About this there has been much controversy among the German critics. Süvern began it by his ingenious essay nearly half a century since. In his view THE BIRDS is a kind of allegory to dissuade the Athenians from the Sicilian expedition by exposing its folly. The birds are the Athenians; Cloudcuckoo-land their visionary empire; the planners of it are certain politicians and orators; Peisthetaerus is Alcibiades with a dash of Gorgias; Euelpides a credulous dupe; Epops, the crested hoopoe, is Lamachus, prominent at the beginning of the Sicilian expedition; the gods are the Lacedaemonians, to be surrounded in the Peloponnese and starved out.

This theory Süvern supported with so much learning and research that it won many adherents; and it is quite possible, and even probable, that some of the resemblances and allusions which Süvern finds are real. But it has now been abandoned by most scholars; for, when looked at as a whole, it will not stand. The Bird-city founded in the play with complete success, a city to which is given all that Aristophanes (as may be plainly proved) thought good, and from which is excluded all

that he thought bad, Meton, litigiousness, dithyrambists, sycophants to wit: this city cannot be held up by the poet as a warning, and as a folly to be avoided. The audience could never have guessed such a riddle, had the dramatist meant it so; and such riddles were not in his way, for in every other play of Aristophanes the scope and bearing, so far as there is one, is not recondite but perfectly plain.

Nor, indeed, is it likely that Aristophanes would choose this moment for assailing the Sicilian expedition. The enthusiasm for it had been and still was (in spite of the affair of the Hermae) so great that he would hardly run counter to it. He went more or less with the times, or with a considerable party. His views, no doubt, had numerous sympathizers in THE ACHARNIANS, KNIGHTS, CLOUDS, and WASPS. IN THE PEACE he but echoed the general feeling. And now the opponents of the Sicilian scheme were a small party represented by Nicias and the aristocratic party, enemies to this scheme chiefly because enemies to Alcibiades. With these last Aristophanes would not side: his hero, on being charged with a wish for aristocracy (v. 125), declares that he abominates the very name in an individual Aristocrates. Nor would he, though he may have shared in some measure the cautious fears of Nicias, raise his voice uselessly against the expedition which had already gone.

We may then dismiss Süvern's Sicilian allegory. We may omit the theories of some German critics about philosophic lessons, which they may have found possible to extract from Aristophanes, but which it is impossible Aristophanes can have meant to be there. K. O. Müller thinks the play a general satire on Athenian frivolity. Schlegel considered it merely a 'Lustspiel,' full of imagination and the marvellous, with amusing touches at every thing, but with no particular object.

Against this neutral theory, which denies any special object, Köchly contends that the analogy from other plays forces us to believe that Aristophanes sympathizes with those whom he makes victorious, i.e. with Peisthetaerus and the Birds; and thus Köchly is directly opposed to Süvern, who makes them a

warning example of folly. The poet means, in Köchly's view, to recommend a 'new Athens,' despairing of the old; and the type of this he places in the air. It is to be a democracy, but yet to have a head: a Periclean democracy. And the head recommended or hinted at (in spite of his being then under accusation, if not already condemned) is Alcibiades. In evidence of the favour shewn by Aristophanes to Alcibiades even later than this Köchly adduces the verses in The Frogs 1431 -2, "ye ought not to rear a lion's cub, but, if such be reared, submit to his ways."

Vögelin opposes this view, thinking the scope of THE BIRDS to be simply poetical, recurring, in fact, to Schlegel's opinion. Droysen and others agree in the main with Vögelin; and Kock, in the introduction to his edition of the play, sets forth this view fully. There is, however, this important point pressed by Kock, that the play was the outcome of the especial time and circumstances, being definitely meant by Aristophanes for a relief from the gloomy disagreeableness of reality. To the poet, full of sad forebodings about the future of his country and despairing of its regeneration, to emigrate and seek a new home presents itself as the only possible escape. Emigration is the key-note of the play, struck at the very outset. But whither? No city, Greek or barbarian, is better than Athens. No region of peace is there on the earth. Therefore, to the air, to the birds, the happy, peaceable, and free. The idea of a bird-city, being once conceived, is then freely and fantastically developed. It was a relief to the poet in conception, a relief by way of contrast to his audience, that they should be taken out of the sad realities just then around them. "Thus," says Kock, "the relation in which the comedy stands to reality and facts is neither one of contradiction nor agreement. Reality and facts by the feelings they produced called forth the poem, and so far had an influence on it; but the poem is independent of the passions which first started it." Aristophanes, that is to say, moved by the events of the time (the Sicilian expedition among the rest), and in a certain frame of mind, hit on the idea of migration to a Paradise of Birds as a relief to himself and his audience. But, being

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