V. Tragedies were at first brought in and instituted, to put men in mind

MeditationsMarcus Aurelius

Tragedies were at first brought in and instituted, to put men in mind of worldly chances and casualties: that these things in the ordinary course of nature did so happen: that men that were much pleased and delighted by such accidents upon this stage, would not by the same things in a greater stage be grieved and afflicted: for here you see what is the end of all such things; and that even they that cry out so mournfully to Cithaeron, must bear them for all their cries and exclamations, as well as others. And in very truth many good things are spoken by these poets; as that (for example) is an excellent passage: ‘But if so be that I and my two children be neglected by the Gods, they have some reason even for that,’ &c. And again, ‘It will but little avail thee to storm and rage against the things themselves,’ &c. Again, ‘To reap one’s life, as a ripe ear of corn;’ and whatsoever else is to be found in them, that is of the same kind. After the tragedy, the ancient comedy was brought in, which had the liberty to inveigh against personal vices; being therefore through this her freedom and liberty of speech of very good use and effect, to restrain men from pride and arrogancy. To which end it was, that Diogenes took also the same liberty. After these, what were either the Middle, or New Comedy admitted for, but merely, (Or for the most part at least) for the delight and pleasure of curious and excellent imitation? ‘It will steal away; look to it,’ &c. Why, no man denies, but that these also have some good things whereof that may be one: but the whole drift and foundation of that kind of dramatical poetry, what is it else, but as we have said?

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