With all the crafts, the good and noble crafts,
That the chief master of art in each
Shall have his dinner in the assembly hall,
And sit by Pluto's side.
Until another comes, more wise than he
In the same art: then must the first give way.
And how has this disturbed our Aeschylus?
'Twas he that occupied the tragic chair,
As, in his craft, the noblest.
Who does now?
But when Euripides came down, he kept
Flourishing off before the highwaymen,
Thieves, burglars, parricides-these form our mob
In Hades-till with listening to his twists
And turns, and pleas and counterpleas, they went
Mad on the man, and hailed him first and wisest:
Elate with this, he claimed the tragic chair
Where Aeschylus was seated.
Wasn't he pelted?
Not he: the populace clamoured out to try
Which of the twain was wiser in his art.
You mean the rascals?
Aye, as high as heaven!
But were there none to side with Aeschylus?
Scanty and sparse the good, (regards the
audience) the same as here.
And what does Pluto now propose to do?
He means to hold a tournament, and bring
Their tragedies to the proof.
How came not he to claim the tragic chair?
Claim it? Not he! When he came down, he kissed
With reverence Aeschylus, and clasped his hand,
And yielded willingly the chair to him.
But now he's going, says Cleidemides,
To sit third-man: and then if Aeschylus win,
He'll stay content: if not, for his art's sake,
He'll fight to the death against Euripides.
Will it come off?
O yes, by Zeus, directly.
And then, I hear, will wonderful things be done,
The art poetic will be weighed in scales.
What I weigh out tragedy, like butcher's meat?