la langue francaise que je sais...
Je m' eveille des les premieres
lueurs du soleil perforant la vitre de ma chambre. Je dois ecrire quelques choses pour contempler le gouvernement et le peuple
francais. Le peuple a la Generosite de supporter mon pays, le Vietnam. Le montant est superieur que
l' aide des autres pays en Europe.... au environ plus de 300 millions dollars. Le Vietnam etait colonie de la France. L' aide
n' est pas grande a ce moment du Vietnam, mais l' action est respectable. Je dois ecrire quelques choses J' ai deja
pense pour certain temps dans le passe, mais, j' ai oublie...
Le Francais est fier pour sa langue! C' est vrai, je veux montrer cette
fierte pour la noblesse de ce peuple...
anonyme, Noel 2009
Malgre la petite etendue du pays de France, la langue francaise
est devenu la langue universelle par excellence. Tout le monde sait que c' est la langue des diplomates, des savants et de
la bonne societe du monde entier; par consequent, il est interessant d' examiner un peu les raisons de sa popularite.
L' explication n' est pas difficile a trouver; son rang eleve parmi les autres
languages est du a sa facilite, a sa clarte, et a la simplicite de sa construction. Mais d' ou viennent ses qualites? Il faudrait
d' abord remonter a ses origines pour en trouver les raisons.
Quand Jules Cesar conquit la Gaule, les Gaulois parlaient
une language celtique. Les soldats et les marchants romains parlaient une langue latine. Le latin avait ete perfectionne par
une longue serie d' auteurs celebres, eux - memes fortement influences par le grec, la grande language litteraire de l' antiquite.
On s' etonne de voir avec quelle rapidite les Gaulois abandonnaient completement
leur language maternelle pour accepter le latin, parle par les consequents romains.
Nous voyons donc qu' au commencement la langue francaise etait le latin populaire
transforme et modifie par la bouche des Gaulois dont la tendance generale etait de garder les syllabes qui
frappaient leurs oreilles, c' est-a-dire les syllabes toniques, et les laisser tomber celles qu' ils entendaient
le moins, c' est-a-dire les syllabes atones. Naturellement, chaque region de la Gaule transforma
le latin a sa maniere; de la, une serie de dialectes tout a fait differentes les uns des autres.
Pourtant, on peut distinguer nettement deux groupes de dialectes: d' un cote, les dialectes de la langue d' oil ( de hoc
ille ) ainsi nommes parce que les dialectes de ce groupe se servaient du mot " oil " pour dire
" oui ", c' est dans le Nord de la France que se parlaient ces dialectes. De l' autre cote, il y avait
les dialectes de la langue d' oc, ainsi nommes parce que ceux-ci se servaient du mot " oc" ( de hoc ) pour dire
" oui "; ces dialectes se parlaient dans le Midi de la France. Il resulta de cette situation que les Francais du
Nord eurent bientot une peine infinie a se faire comprendre des Francais de Midi ou d'
une autre region eloignee.
Comme nous le verrons en lisant le precis de l' histoire de la France ( nous verrons
dans " Oiseaui Amnesique " dans quelques prochains jours ); Paris, grace a sa superiorite politique,
sociale, intellectuelle et commerciale, devint la partie de la France la plus importante. En consequence, les Francais
des autres regions prirent l' habitude de se servir du dialecte de la capital dans leurs regions mutuelles, ce qui fit
que le dialecte parisien devint la langue du pays entier. C' est ainsi que les Francais des differentes regions parlaient
le dialecte de paris, le Francais,.. a cote de leurs dialecte particulier local; cet etat de choses curieux existe
encore de nos jours, surtout en Bretagne, ou beaucoup de petits Bretons sont obliges d' apprendre
le francais a l' ecole comme s' ils apprenaient une langue etrangere.
Au Moyen Age, la langue se simplifia au point qu' elle ne garda
que deux cas, le nominatif et l' accusatif. A l' epoque de la Renaissance, le Francais s' etait reduit
a un seul cas.
Jusqu' a ce moment - la, le latin etait la langue litteraire
et celle des savants; le francais etait considere comme une langue vulgaire, incapable d' exprimer des idees scientifiques
ou litteraires. Mais un grand nombre d' ecrivains se poserent en chevaliers de cette langue francaise et travaillerent se
bien a son developpement qu' a la fin du siezieme siecle, elle fut acceptee a l' egale du latin, dont ces auteurs
se servirent comme modele pour le perfectionnement du francais.
A paritr de cette epoque, on trouve une longue suite d' ecoles litteraires, composees
des plus grands genies, qui, avec l' aide de l' Academie Francaise, fondee par Richelieu en 1634,
s' attacherent a polir, perfectionner et simplifier la langue francaise se bien qu' elle est aujourd' hui l' instrument
le plus parfait, le plus simple et le plus elegant qui soit au monde, pour l' expression de la Pensee.
the masterpieces ..( of )..
victor hugo...(1802-1885 )
Victor Hugo, a multi talented Man, besides his skill in poetry with well known
masters: Les Feuilles d'Autome, 1831; Les Chatiments, 1853; Les Cotemplations,1856; la Legende des Sciecles, 1859-1883; L'art
d'etre Grand-pere,1877; Notre Dame de Paris,novel, 1831; Les Miserable, novel,1862; Quatre-vingt-treize,novel, 1874; Hernani,
drame,1830; Ruy-Blas, drame,1838.
He was the spiritual sovereign of the XIX century with hsi others skills as historian,
philosopher, patriot, poet, dramatist...His spiritual service has been in its inmost essence, in its highest development,
the service of a healer and a conforterthe work of the redeemer and a prophet. Above all other apostles who have brought
us each the glad tidings of his peculiar gaspel, the free gifts of his special inspiration, has this one deserved to be called
by most beautiful and tender of all human tittles- the son of consolation. His burning wrath and scorn unquenchable were fed
with light and heat from the inexhaustible dayspring of his love- a fountain of everlasting and unconsuming fire. We know
of no such great poet, of no such good man so great in genius: not though Milton and Shelley,
our greatest lyric singer and our single epic poet,remain with us for signs and examples of devotion as heroic and self sacrifice
as pure. And therefore it is but simply reasonable that not those alone should mourn for him who have been reared and nurtured
on the fruits of his creative spirit: that those also whom he wrought and fought for, but who know him only as their champion
and then friend- they that cannot read him, but remember how he labored in their cause, that their children might fare otherwise
than they- should bear no unequal part in the burden of this infinite and worldwide sorrow...
( Et j'entends une grande voix. Apocalyse ).
J' etais seul pres de flots, par une nuit d'etoiles.
Pas un nuage aux cieux, sur les mers pas de voiles,
Mes yeux plongeaient plus loin que le monde reel.
Et les bois, et les monts, et toute la nature,
Semblaient interroger, dans un confus mormure
Les flots des mers, les feux du ciel.
Et les etoiles d'or, legions infinies,
A voix haute, a voix basse, avec mille harmonies,
Disaient, en inclinant leurs couronnes de feu;
Et les flots bleus, que rien ne gouverne et n'arrete,
Disaient, en recourbant l'ecume de leur crete:
est le Seigneur, le Seigneur Dieu!
bataille de waterloo
C' etait un grand poeme..meme l' auteur n' avait pas de meme opinion
politique avec Napoleon Bonaparte. Victor Hugo presentait merveilleusement la scene de la Bataille de Waterloo... avec la
peine supreme de Napoleon.
Waterloo etait la ville au Sud de Bruxelle, Belgique, qui etait en
temoignage d' une bataille sanglante que le regime de Napoleon a efface... Dans les trois jours avec grande bataille, 15-18
Juin 1815. L'armee de Napoleon est detruite par la combinaison de force d'Angleterre, d'Allemagne et de la force
Dutch-Belgique, sous le controle du Duke de Wellington.
La bataille a pour but de Napoleon de saisir le gouvernement francais pour la
deuxieme fois, et enfin de conquerir l'Europe. Le 1 Mars, 1815, il revenait d l'Ile Elba, ou il etait en exile par la force
d' Alliance, qui l'a battu pour la premiere fois de lson Empire. Dans les 100 jours consecutifs, il tachait de revitaliser
sa force, mais il devait rendre la force d' Alliance par absence de support a son pays.
Au environ du milieu de Juin, sa force a prepare pour la bataille a Belgique,
Il semblait que sa force pouvait conquerir la force d' Alliance..par la pire guidance de la force d' Alliance. Quand la bataille
etait a peu pres finie du 18 Juin 1815, une grande armee de Prusse assimilait avec la force d' Alliance de Willington
(deja fatiguee !...). Napoleon a battu, il quittait l'armee pour revenir a Paris, et abandonnait le trone. Le 15, Juin,
il rendait la force d'Angleterre, qui l'a transporte vers l' Ile Saint Helene. Il est mort en 1821 a cette place.
soir tombait; la lutte etait ardente et noire,
avait l'offensive et presque la victoire;
tenait Willington accule sur un bois.
Sa lunette a la main, il observait parfois
centre du combat, point obscur ou tressaille
La melee, effroyable et vivante broussaille,
parfois l'horizon, sombre comme la mer.
joyeux, il dit : Grouchy! - C' etait Blucher,
espoir changea de camp, le combat changea d'ame,
La mele en hurlant grandit comme une flamme.
batterie anglaise ecrasa nos carres.
plaine, ou frissonnaient les drapeaux dechires,
fut plus, dans les cris des mourants qu' on egorge,
Qu' un gouffre flamboyant, rouge comme des pans de murs
ou se couchaient comme des epis murs
Les hauts tambours - majors aux panaches enormes,
l' on entrevoyait des blessures difformes!
affreux! moment fatal! L' homme inquiet
que la bataille entre ses mains pliait.
un mamelon la garde etait massee,
garde, espoir supreme et supreme pensee!
Allons! faites donner la garde!" cria - t - il.
Et, lanciers, grenadiers aux guetres de coutil,
Dragons que Rome eut pris pour des legionaires,
canonniers qui trainaient des tonnerres,
Portant le noir colback ou le casque poli,
ceux de Friedland et ceux de Rivoli,
Comprenant qu' ils allaient mourir dans cette fete,
leur dieu, debout dans la tempete.
Leur bouche, d' un seul cri, dit: vive l' empereur!
Puis, a pas lents, musique en tete, sans fureur,
souriant a la mitraille anglaise,
La garde imperiale entra dans la fournaise.
Napoleon sur sa garde penche,
et, sitot qu 'ils avaient debouche
les sombres sanons crachant des jets de soufre,
l' un apres de l' autre, en cet horrible gouffre,
ces regiments de granit et d' acier
Comme fond une cire au souffle d' un brasier.
Ils allaient, l' arme au bras, front haut, graves, stoiques.
Pas un ne recula. Dormez, morts heroiques!
reste de l' armee hesitait sur leurs corps
Et regardait mourir la garde.- C 'est alors
Qu' elevant tout a coup sa voix desesperee,
Deroute, geante a la face effaree,
Qui, pale, epouvantant les plus fiers bataillons,
Changeant subitement les drapeaux en haillons,
A de certains moments, spectre fait de fumees,
leve grandissante au milieu des armees,
La Deroute apparut au soldat qui s' emeut,
se tordant les bras, cria: Sauve qui peut!
qui peut! - affront! horreur! - toutes les bouches
Criaient; a travers champs, fous, eperdus, farouches,
si quelque souffle avait passe sur eux,
les lourds caissons et les fourgons poudreux,
Roulant dans les fosses, se cachant dans les seigles,
shakos, manteaux, fusils, jetantles aigles,
Sous les sabres prussiens, ces veterans, o deuil!
hurlaient, pleuraient, couraient! - En un clin d'oeil,
Comme s' envole au vent une paille enflammee,
evanouit ce bruit qui fut la grande armee,
cette plaine, helas, ou l' on reve aujourd' hui,
fuir ceux devant qui l' univers avait fui!
ans sont passes, et ce coin de la terre,
Waterloo, ce plateau funebre et solitaire,
Ce champ sinistre ou Dieu mela tant de neants,
encor d' avoir vu la fuite des geants!
battle of Waterloo
Night was falling; the fight was hot and black,
had the initiative, and almost the victory;
had Willington backed up against a wood.
field-glass in his hand, he observed sometimes
center of the battle, obscure spot where shudders
The melee, appalling and living underbrush,
at times the horizon, dark like the sea.
in joy, he said:" Grouchy!" - It was Blucher.
changed sides, the battle changed character,
The melee, screaming, rose up like a flame.
English artillery flattered our squares.
plain, where fluttered the tattered banners,
Was no longer, in the cries of the dying who were being butchered,
( Anything other ) than a flaming abyss, red like a forge;
abyss where regiments, like sections of wall,
Were falling; where were lying like ripe ears of corn
tall drum - majors with their enormous plumes,
Where one glimpsed misshapen wounds !
carnage! fatal moment! The anxious man
Felt that the battle was unfolding in his hands,
Behind a hillock the guard was massed.
guard, hope supreme and supreme ideal!
go! Send in the guard!" he cried.
And, lancers, grenadiers with gaiters of twill,
whom Rome would have taken for legionnaires,
Cuirassiers, cannoneers, who dragged their thunders,
black busby or polished helmet,
(veterans) of Friedland, (veterans) of Rivoli
that they were going to die at this feast,
(All) saluted their God, erect in the storm.
mouth, in one single shout, said: ( Long) live the Emperor!
with slow steps,music at head, without excitement.
Tranquil. smiling at the English fire,
The Imperial Guard entered the furnace.
Napoleon, leaning on his Guard,
Watched, and, as soon as they had come out
Under the somber cannon spitting bursts of brimstone,
Saw, one after the other, in this gruesome abyss,
Melt these regiments of granite and steel
melts a (piece of) wax in the breath of the brazier.
They went, weapon in hand, head high, grave, impassive.
one flinched, Sleep, brave dead!
The rest of the army wavered at (thesight of) their corpses
And watched the guard die - It was then
raising all at once her despairing voice,
Rout, a giantess with frightened face,
pale, terrifying the proudest bataillons,
all at once the banners to rags,
certain moments, a specter made of smoke
large in the midst of the armies,
Rout appeared to the soldier, who took fright
wringing his hands, cried: Save (himself) who can!
Escape who can! - Shame! Horror! - All mouths
Cried out; Cross - country,mad, distracted, savage,
As if some breath had passed over them,
the heavy powder - chests and the dusty wagon,
in the ditches, hiding among the rye,
shakos, overcoasts, muskets, dropping the eagle (standards),
the Prussian sabers, these veterans, O sorrow!
trembled, they shouted, they wept, they ran! In the twinkling of an eye,
As takes flight in the wind a straw afire,
Vanished this din that had been the Grand Army,
And this plain, alas, where one dreams today,
flee those before whom the world had fled!
years have passed, and this corner of the earth,
Waterloo, this plateau dismal and lonely,
sinister field where God mingled so many nothings,
trembles at having witnessed the flight of the giants!
translated by.. anonymous..
Victor Hugo ecrivait plusieurs oeuvres caracteristiques...
Les Feuilles d' Automne,1831
Les Contemplations, 1856
La Legende des Siecles, 1859 - 1883
Art d' etre grand-pere,1877
Notre - Dames de Paris, 1831
alfred de musset ( 1810- 1857) ...
Musset was beyond question one of the first poets of our days. If the
poetic force is mesured by the quality of the inspiration- by its purity, intensity and closely personal
savour- Alfred de Musset's place is surely very high. He was, so to speak, a thoroughly personal poet. He
was not the poet of nature, of the universe, of reflection, of morality, of history; he was the poet simply of certain order
of personal emotions, and his charm is in the frankness and freedom, the grace and harmony, with which he expresses these
emotions. The affairs of the heart- these were his province; in no other verses has the heart spoken more characteristically...
He had passion. There is in most poetry a great deal of reflection,
of wisdom, of grace, of art, of genius; but there is little of this peculiar property of Musset's When it occurs we feel ot
to be extremely valuable; it touches us beyond anything else...
He verse is not chiselled and pondered, and in spite of an ineffable natural
grace it lacks the positive qualities of cunning workmanship... To our own sense Museet's exquisite feeling makes up for one-half
the absence of finish, and ineffable grace we spoke of just now makes up for the other half. His sweetness of passion, of
which the poets who have succeeded him have so little, is a more precious property than their superior science. His grace
is often something divine; it is in his grace that we must look for his style...
Alfred Musset ecrivait des belles oeuvres..
Premieres poesies, 1829 - 1835
Nuits, 1835 - 1837
Poesies Nouvelles, 1836 - 1852
Roman fictif :
Confession d' un enfant du siecle, 1836
et Nouvelles, 1838 - 1853
ne badine pas avec l' amour, 1834
ne faut juger de rien, 1836
sur une morte
Elle etait belle si la Nuit
Qui dort dans la sombre chapelle
Ou Michel-Ange a fait son lit
peut etre belle.
Elle etait bonne, s'il suffit
Qu'en passant la main s'ouvre et donne,
Sans que Dieu n'ait rien vu, rien dit:
Si l'or sans pitie fait l'aumone,
Elle pensait, si le vain bruit
D'une voix douce et cadencee,
Comme le ruisseau qui gemit,
Peut faire croire a la pensee,
Elle priait, si deux beaux yeux,
Tantot s'attachant a la terre,
Tantot se levant vers les cieux,
Peuvent s'appeler la priere.
Elle aurait souri, si la fleur
Qui ne s'est point epanouie
Pouvait s'ouvrir a la fraicheur
Du vent qui passe et qui l'oublie.
Elle aurait pleure, si sa main,
Sur son coeur froidement posee,
Eut jamais dans l'agile humain
Senti la celeste rosee.
Elle aurait aime, si l'orgueil,
Pareil a la lampe inutile
Qu'on allume pres d'un cercueil,
N'eut veille sur son coeur sterile.
Elle est morte et n'a point
Elle faisait semblant de vivre.
De ses mains et tombe le livre
Dans lequel elle n'a rien lu.
alfred de musset
jean - jacques rousseau (1712-1778)...
Jean Jacque Rousseau was a multitalented author. He wrote many fiends during his lifetime.
For example: Philosophical: Discours sur l'origine et les fondaments de l'integrite parmi les hommes, 1754; Le Contrat
social,1762; Emile,1762; Novel: Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise, 1761; Autobiography : Les Confessions, written between 1764
Rousseau was the first... to believe - half unconsciously, perhaps, and yet with
a profound conviction - that the individual thing in the world.
This belief, no doubt, would have arisen in Europe, in some way or other, if Rousseau had
never lived; but it was he who clothed it with the splendour of genius; and by the passion of his utterance, sowed it far
and wide in the hearts of men. In two directions his influence was enormous. His glowing conception of individual dignity
and individual rights as adhering, not to a privileged few, but to the whole mass of humanity, seized upon the imagination
of France, supplied a new and potent stimulus to the movement toward political change, and produced a deep effect upon the
develo-ment of the Revolution. But it is in literature, and those emotions of real life which find their natural outlet in
literature, that the influence of Rousseau's spirit may be most clearly seen.. A man's feelings are his very self, and it
is around them that all that is noblest and profoundest in our literature seems naturally to centre. A great novelist is one
who can penetrate and describe the feelings of others; a great poet is one who can invest his own with beauty and proclaim
them to the world. We have come to set a value upon introspection which was quite unknown in the eighteenth century - unknown,
that is, until Rousseau, in the most valuable and characteristic of his works, his Confessions, started the vast
current in literature and in sentiment which is still flowing to-day..
souvenirs de jeunesse
avant de penser: c'est le sort commun de l'humanite. Je l'eprouvai plus qu'un autre. J'ignore ce que je fis jauqu'a cinq ou
six ans; je ne sais comment j'appris a lire; je ne me souviens que mes premieres lectures et de leur effet sur moi: c'est
le temps d'ou je date sans interruption la conscience de moi-meme. Ma mere avait laisse des romans. Nous nous mimes a les
lire apres souper, mon pere et moi. Il n'etait question d'abord que de m'exercer a la lecture par les livres amusants; mais
bientot l'interet devint si vif, que nous lisions tout a tout sans relache, et passions les nuits a cette occupation. Nous
ne pouvions jamais quitter qu'a la fin du volume. Quelquefois mon pere, entendant le matin les hirondelles, disait tout honteux:
Allons nous coucher; je suis plus enfant que toi.
peu de temps j'acquis, par cette dangereuse methode, non seulement une extreme facilite a lire et a m'entendre, mais une intelligence
unique a mon age sur les passions. Je n'avais aucune idee des choses, que tous les sentiments m'etaient deja connus. Je n'avais
rien concu, j'avais tout senti. Ces emotions confuses, que j'eprouvais coup sur coup.'alteraient point la raison que je n'avais
pas encore; mais elles m'en formerent une d'une autre trempe, et me donnerent de la vie humaine des notions bizarres et romantiques,
dont l'experience et la reflexion n'ont jamais bien pu me guerir.
finirent avec l'ete 1719. L'hiver suivant, ce fut autre chose. La bibliotheque de ma mere epuisee, on eut recours a la portion
de celle de son pere qui nous etait echue. Heureusement, il s'y trouva de bons livres, et cela ne prouvait guere etre autrement;cette
bibliotheque ayant ete formee par un ministre, a la verite, etsavant meme, car c'etait la mode alors, mais homme de gout et
d'esprit. L'Histoire de l'Eglise et de l'Empire, par Le Sueur, Le Discours de Bossuet, sur l'Histoire
universelle, les Hommes illustres, de Plutarque; L'Historie de Venise,par Nani, les Metamorphses d'Ovide,
La Bruyere, Les Mondes de Fontenelle, ses Dialogue des morts, et quelques tomes de Moliere, furent transportes
dans le cabinet de mon pere, et je les lui lisais tous les jours, durant son travail. J'y pris un gout rare et peut-etre unique
a cet age. Plutarque surtout devint ma lecture favorite. Le plaisir que je prenais a le relire sans cesse me guerit un peu
des romans. De ces interessantes lectures, des entretiens qu'elles occasionnaient entre mon pere et moi, se forma cet esprit
libre et republicain, ce caractere indomptable et fier, impatient et joug et de servitude, qui m'a tourmente qout le temps
de ma vie dans les situations les moins propres a lui donner l
essor. Sans cesse occupe de Rome et d'Athenes, vivant pour ainsi dire avec leurs grands hommes, ne moi-meme citoyen d'une
republique, et fils d'un pere dont l'amour de la patrie etait la pluys forte passion, je m'en enflammais a son exemple, je
me croyais Grec ou Romain; je devenais le personnage dont je lisais la vie: le recit des traits de constance et d'intrepidite
qui m'avaient frappe me rendait les yeux etincelants et la voix forte. Un jour que je racontais a table l'aventure de Scaevola,
on fut effraye de me voir avancer et tenir la main sur un rechaud pour representer son action.
J'avais les defauts
de mon age; j'etais babillard, gourmand, quelquefois menteur. J'aurais vole des fruits, des bonbons, de la mangeaille; mais
jamais je n'ai pris plaisir a faire du mal, du degat, a charger les autres, a tourmenter de pauvres animaux.
serais-je devenu mechant, quand je n'avais sous les yeux que des exemples de douceur, et autour de moi que les meilleures
gens du monde? Mon pere, ma tante, ma mie, mes parents, nos amis, nos voisins, tout ce quim'environnait ne m'obeissait pas
de la verite, mais m'aimait, et moi je les aimais de meme. Mes volontes etaient si peu excitees et si peu contrariees, qu'il
ne me venait pas dans l'esprit d'en avoir. Je puis juger que jusqu'a mon asservissement sous un maitre, je n'ai pas su ce
que c'etait qu'une is fantaisie. Hors le temps que je passais a lire ou ecrire aupres de mon pere, et celui ou ma vie me menait
promener, j'etais toujours avec ma tante, a la voir border, a l'entendre chanter, assis ou debout a cote d'elle, et j'etais
content. Son enjouement, sa douceur, sa figure agreable, m'ont laisse de si fortes impressions, que je voisencore son air,
son regard, son attitude: je me souviens de ses petits propos caressants; je dirais comment elle etait vetue et coiffee, sans
oublier les deux crochets que ses cheveux noirs faisaient sur ses tempes, selon la mode de ce temps-la.
Je suis persuade
que je lui dois le gout ou plutot la passion pour la musique, qui ne s'est bien developpee en moi que longtemps apres. Elle
savait une quantite prodigieuse d'airs et de chansons qu'ell chantait avec un filet de voix fort douce. La senerite d'ame
de cette excellente fille eloignait d'elle et de tout ce qui l'environnait, la reverie de tristesse. L'attrait que son chant
avait pour moi fut tel que non seulement plusieurs de ses chansons me sonttoujours restees dans la memoire, mais qu'il m'en
revient meme, aujourd'hui que je l'ai perdue, qui, totalement oubliees depuis mon enfance, se retracent a mesure que je vieillis,
avec un charme que je ne puis exprimer. Dirait-on que moi, vieux radoteur, ronge de soucis et de peines, je me surprends quelquefois
a pleurer comme un enfant en marmottant ces petits airs d'une voix deja cassee et tremblante? Il y en un surtout qui m'est
bien revenu tout entier quant a l'air; mais la seconde moiti des paroles s'est constamment refusee a tous mes efforts pour
me rappeler, quoiqu'il m'en revienne confusement the rimes. Voice le commencement et ce que j'ai pu me rappeler du rest:
Tircis, je n'ose
Ecouter ton chalumeau
Car on en cause
Deja dans notre hameau.
....................... un berger
Et toujours l'epine est sous la rose.
ou est le charme attendrissant que mon coeur trouve a cette chanson: c'est un caprice auquel je ne comprends rien; mais il
m'est de toute impossibilite de la chanter jusqu'a la fin sans etre arrete par mes larmes. J'ai cent fois projete d'ecrire
a Paris pour faire chercher le reste des paroles, si tant est que quelqu'un le connaisse encore. Mais je suis presque sur
que le plaisir que je prends a me rappeler cet air s'evanouirait en partie, si j'avais la preuve que d'autres que ma pauvre
tant Suson l'ont chante.
les premieres affections de mon a la vie; ainsi commencait a se former ou a se montrer en moi ce coeur a la fois si fier et
si tendre, ce caractere effemine, mais pourtantindomptable, qui, flottant toujours entre la faiblesse et le courage, entre
la mollesse et la virtu, m'a jusqu'a bout mis en contradiction avec moi-meme, et a fait que l'abstinence et la jouissance,
le plaisir et la sagesse, m'ont egalement echappe.
Ce train d'education
fut interrompu par un accident dont les suites ont influe sur le reste de ma vie. Mon pere eut un demeleavec un M.Gautier,
capitaine de France et apparente dans le Conseil. Ce Gautier, homme insolent et lache, saigna du nez, et pour se venger, accusa
mon pere d'avoir mis l'epee a la main dans la ville. Mon pere, qu'on voulut envoyer en prison, s'obstinait a vouloir que,
selon la loi, l'accusateur y entrat aussi bien que lui: n'ayant pu l'obtenir, il aima mieux sortir de Geneve, et s'expatrier
pour le rest de sa vie, que de ceder sur un point ou l'honneur et la liberte lui paraissaient compromis.
Je restai sous
la tutelle de mon oncle Bernard, alors employe aux fortifications de Geneve. Sa fille ainee etait morte, mais il avaitun fils
de meme age que moi. Nous fumes mis ensemble a Bossey, en pension chez le ministre Lambercier, pour y apprendre avec le latin
tout le menu fatras dont on l'accompagne sous le nom d'education.
Deux ans passes
au village adoucirent un peu mon aprete romaine et me ramenerent a l'etat d'enfant. A geneve, ou l'on ne m'imposait amusement;
a Bossey, le travail me fit aimet les jeux qui lui servaient de relache. La campagne etait pour moi si nouvelle, que
je ne pouvais me lasser d'em jouir. Je pris pour elle un gout si vif, qu'il n'a jamais pu s'eteindre.
un homme fort raisonnable, qui, sans negliger notre instruction, ne nous chargeait point de devoirs extremes. La preuve qu'il
s'y prenait bien est que, malgre mon averion pour la gene, je ne me suis jamais rappele avec degout mes heures d'etude. et
que, si je n'appris pas de lui beaucoup de choses, ce que j'appris je l'appris sans peine et n'en ai rien oublie.
de cette vie champetre me fitun bien d'un prix inestimable en ouvrant mon coeur a l'amitie. Jusqu' alors je n'avais connu
que des sentiments eleves, mais imaginaires. L' habitude de vivre ensemble dans un etat apisible m'unit tendrement a mon cousin
Bernard. En peu de temps j'eus pour lui des sentiments plus affectueux que ceux que j'avais eus pour mon frere, et qui ne
se sont jamais effaces. C'etait un grand garcon frot efflanque, fort fluet, aussi doux d'esprit que faible de corps, et qui
n'abusait pas trop de la predilection qu'on avait pour lui dans la maison comme fils de mon tuteur. Nos travaux, nos amusements,
nos gouts, etaient les memes; nous etions seuls, nous etions de meme age, chacun des deux avait besoin d'un camarade; nous
separer etait, en quelque sorte, nous aneantir. Quoique nous eussions peu d'occasions de faire preuve de notre attachement
l'un pour l'autre, il etait extreme, et non seulement nous ne pouvions vivre un instant separes, mais nous n'imaginions que
nous puissions jamais l'etre. Dans nos etudes, je lui souffrais sa lecon quand il hesitait; quand mon theme etait fait, je
l'aidais a faire le sien, et dans nos amusements, mon gout plus actif lui servait toujours de guide. Enfin nos deux caracteres
s'accordaient si bien, et l'amitie qui nous unissait etait si vraie, que, dans plus de cinq ans que nous fumes presque inseparables,
tant a Bossey qu'a geneve, nous nous battimes souvent, je l'avoue, mais jamais on n'eut besoin de nous separer, jamais une
seule fois nous ne portames l'un contre l'autre aucune accusation. Ces remarques sont, si l'on veut, pueriles, mais il en
resulte pourtant un exemple peut etre unique depuis qu'il existe des enfants.
dont je vivais a Bossey me convenait si bien, qu'il ne lui a manque que de durer plus longtemps pour fixer absolument mon
caractere. Les sentiments tendres, affectuex, paisible, en faisant le fond. Je crois que jamais individu de notre espece n'eut
naturellement moins de vanite que moi. J'etais doux;mon cousin l'etait; ceux qui nous gouvernaient l'etaient eux-memes. Pendantdeux
ans entiers je ne fus ni temoin ni victime d'un sentiment violent. Tout nourissait dans mon coeur les dispositions qu'il recut
de la nature. Je ne connaissais rien d'aussi charmant que de voir tout le monde content de moi et de toute chose. Je me souviendrai
toujours qu'au temple, repondant au catechisme, rien ne me troublait plus, quand il m'arrivait d'hesiter, que de voir sur
le visage de Mlle Lambercier des masques d'inquietude et de la peine. Cela seul m'affligeait plus que la honte de manquer
en public, qui m'affectait pourtant extremement; car quoique peu sensible aux louanges, je le fus toujours beaucoup a la honte,
et je puis dire ici que l'atente des reprimandes de Mlle Lambercier me donnait moins d'alarmes que la crainte de la chagriner.
un jour seul ma lecondans la chambre contigue a la cuisine. La servante avait mis secher a la plaque les peignes de Mlle Lambercier.
Quand ell revint les prendre, il s'en trouva un dont tout un cote de dents etait brise. A qui s'en prendre de ce degat? personne
autre que moi n'etait entre dans la chambre. On m'interroge: je nie d'avoir touche le peigne. m.et Mlle Lambercier se reunissent,
m'exhortent, me pressent, me menacent; je persiste avec opiniatrete; mais la conviction etait trop forte, elle l'emporta
sur toutes mes protestations, quoique ce fut pour la premiere fois qu'on m'eut trouve tant d'audace a mentir. La chose fut
prise au serieux; elle meritait de l'etre. La mechancete, le mensonge, l'obstination, parurent egalement
dignes de punition. on ecrivit a mon oncle Bernard; il vint. Mon pauvre cousin etait charge d'un autre delit, non moins grave;
nous fumes enveloppes dans la meme execution. Elle fut terrible.
On ne put
m'arracher l'aveu qu'on exigeait. Repris a plusieurs fois et mis dans l'etat le plus affreux, je fus inebranlable. J'aurais
souffert la mort, et j'y etais resolu. Il fallut que la force meme cedat au diabolique entetement d'un enfant, car on n'appela
pas autrement ma constance. Enfin je sortis de cette cruelle epreuve en pieces, mais triomphant.
Il y a maintenant pres de cinquante ans de cette aventure, et je n'ai pas peur d'etre, aujourd'hui puniderechet
pour le meme fait; eh bien, je declare a la face du ciel que j'en etais innoncent, que je n'avais ni casse, ni touche le peigne,
que je n'avais pas approche de la plaque, et que je n'y avais pas meme songe. Qu'on ne me demande pas comment ce degat se
fit: je l'ignore et ne puis le comprendre; ce que je sais tres certainement, c'est que j'en etais innoncent.
figure un caractere timide et docile dans la vie ordinaire, mais ardent, fier,indomptable dans les passions, un enfant toujours
gouverne par la voix de la raision, toujours traite avec douceur, equite, complaisance, qui n'avait pas meme l'idee de l'injustice,
et qui, pour la premiere fois,en eprouve une si terrible de la part precisement des gens qu'il cheritet qu'il respecte le
plus: quel renversement dans son coeur, dans sa cervelle, dans tout son petit etre intelligent et moral! Je dis qu'ons'imagine
tout cela, s'il est possible, car pour moi, je ne me sens pas capable de demeler, de suivre la moindre trace de ce qui se
passait alors en moi.
n'avais pas encore assez de raison pour sentir combien les apparences me condamnaient, et pour me mettre a la place des autres.
Je me tenais a la mienne, et tout ce que je sentais, c'etait la rigueur d'un chatiment effroyable pour un crime que je n'avais
pas commis. la douleur du corps, quoique vive, m'etait peu sensible;je ne sentais que lidignation, la rage, le desespoir.
Mon cousin, dans un cas a peu pres semblable. et qu'onavait puni d'une faute involontaire comme d'un acte premedite, se mettait
en fureur a mon exemple, et se montait, pour ainsi dire, a mon unisson.Tous deux dans un meme lit nous nous embrassions avec
des transports convulsifs, npous etouffions, et quand nos jeunes coeurs un peu soulages pouvaient exhaler leur colere, nous
nous levions sur notre seant, et nous nous mettions tous deux a crier cent fois de toute notre force: Carniflex! carniflex!
en ecrivant ceci que mon pouls s'eleve encore; ces moments me seront toujours presents quand je vivrais cent mille ans. Ce
premier sentiment de la violence et de l'injustice est reste si profondement grave dans mon ame, que toutes les idees qui
s'y rapportent me rendent ma premiere emotion, et ce moment, relatif a moi dans son origine, a pris une telle consistance
en lui-meme, et s'est tellement detache de tout interet personnel, que mon coeur s'enflamme au spectacle ou au recit de toute
actioninjuste, quel qu'en soit l'objet et en quelque lieu qu'elle se commettre, comme si l'effet en retombait sur moi. Quand
je lis les cruautes d'untyran feroce, je partirais volontiers pour aller poignader ce miserable, dusse-je cent fois y perir.
Je me suis souvent mis en nage a poursuivre a la course ou a coups de pierre un coq, une vache, un chien, un animal que je
voyais en tourmenter un autre, uniquement parce qu'il se sentait le plus fort. Ce mouvement peut m'etre naturel, et je crois
qu'il l'est; mais le souvenir profond de la premiere injustice que j'ai soufferte y fut trop longtemps et trop fortement lie
pour ne l'avoir pas beaucoup renforce.
La fut le
terme de la serenite de ma vie enfantine. Des ce moment je cessai de jouir d'un bonheur pur, et je sens aujourd'hui meme que
le souvenir des charmes de mon enfance s'arrete la!..
Il ecrivait des brillantes
Discours sur l' origine et les fandements de l' inegalite parmi les hommes, 1754
Contrat Social, 1762
ou la Nouvelle Heloise , 1761
Les Confessions, ecrivait entre 1764 - 1770, publiee 1781 - 1788
charles baudelaire (1821-1867)...
Baudelaire has had great passion in his poetry.
Music, Spleen, perfumes -" color, sound, perfumes call to each other
as deep to deep; perfumes like the flesh of children, soft as hautboys, green like the meadows" - criminals, outcasts, the
charm of childhood, the horrors of love, pride, and rebellion.
Eastern landscapes, cats, soothing and false; cats, the true companions
of lonely poets; haunted clocks, silvering dusks, and gloomier themes this strange-souled poet this " Dante, pacer of the
shore", of Paris has celebrated in finely wrought verse and profound phrases. In a single line he contrives atmosphere; the
very shape of his sentence, the ring of syllabes, arouses the deepest emotion.
The master of harmonic undertones is Baudelaire. His successors have excelled him
in making their music more fluid, more singing, more vaporous - all young French poets pass through their Baudelairian greensickness
- but he alone knows the secrets of moulding those metalic, free sonnets, which have the resistance of bronze; and of
the despairing music that flames from the mouths of lost souls, trembling on the wharves of hell. "He is the supreme
master of irony and troubled voluptuousness..." stated James Huneker.
Baudelaire wrote many forms of poetry: Les Fleurs du mal,1857; Poemes
, Petis poemes en prose, 1861-1862; Translations from Edgar Poe: Histoires extraordinaires, 1856 etc...He wrote also
many Essays: Salons; Delacroix;Theophile Gautier; Richard Wagner, etc...
harmonie du soir
Voici venir les temps ou vibrant sur la tige
Chaque fleur s'evapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir;
Valse melancolique et langoureux vertige!
Chaque fleur s'evapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Le violon fremit comme un coeur qu'on afflige;
Valse melancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.
Le violon fremit comme un coeur qu'on afflige,
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le neant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s'est noye dans son sang qui se fige...
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le neant vaste et noir,
Du passe lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s'est noye dans son sang qui se fige...
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!
La Nature est un temple ou de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L' homme y passe a travers des forets de symboles
Qui l' observent avec des regards familiers.
Comme de longs echos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une tenebreuse et profonde unite,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarte,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se repondent.
Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d' enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
- Et d' autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,
Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l' ambre, le muse, le benjoin et l' encens,
chantent les transports de l' esprit et des sens.
Nature is a temple where living pillars
Sometimes allow confused words to be uttered;
Man passes there through forest of symbols
That follow him with their familiar glances.
Like long echoes that are mingled from afar
In the dark and deep unison,
Vast as the night or as the light ( of day ),
So are commingled perfumes, colors, and sounds.
There are perfumes cool as children' s flesh,
Sweet as oboes, green as prairies,
- And others, corrupt, rich, and triumphant.
Having the range of things infinite,
Like amber, musk, benzoin, and incense.
That sing the transports of the spirit and the senses.
translated by anonymous
plusieurs oeuvres, mais on reconnait bien...
Les Fleurs du mal, 1857
et Petits poemes en prose, 1861 - 1862
Traductionles oeuvres de Edgar Allan Poe:
Histoires extraordinaires, 1856
paul verlaine ..
Paul Verlaine ( 1844-1896) is well known with the poems..
Poemes saturniens (1866) Fetes galantes ( 1869), La Bonne Chanson ( 1870) Romances
sans paroles ( 1874) Sagesse 1881)
We can read the critics of Harold Nicolson on Verlaine:..."A sudden
sense of intimacy is attained by the skilful use of association, by the vivid insertion of inanimate objects, trivial in themselves,
but at the same time significant with derived emotions. The device of association is not, however, the only method by which
Verlaine attains to the peculiarintimacy of his manner. He secures a similar effect by the garrulous confidences of his poems,
by the way in which he renders the casual moods and habits of his life interesting and emotional. The troubles and pleasure
of his daily experience, the rain and the sunshine, some trees shivering in a January wind, the warm feel of the south wall,
the rattle of the train at night-time, the flare of gas-jets at street corners, the music of merry-go-round, the silence of
the white wall, the drip of rain-drops upon the tiles;- all these are set to plaintive music, are made to become an emotional
" He knew full well that his peculiar poetic quality was not attuned to the grandiose,
he knew the the deeper emotions would always elude him, and he preferred, therefore, to deal with the more incidental sensations,
and to reflect in them the passions and tragedies in which his life was involved. In this he was abundantly right: the miror
key can convey its message only by the indirect method; in order to be wistful one must above all be elusive.
.. " At its best, his gift for treating emotionally the casual sensations of the moment is unequalled,
and its influence on French poetry was to be immense..."
la lune blanche
La lune blanche
Luit dans le bois;
De chaque branche
Part une voix
Sous la ramee..
Du saule noir
Ou le vent pleure...
Revons, c'est l'heure.
Un vaste et tendre
Que l'astre irise...
C'est l'heure exquise.
Il ecrivait des oeuvres, que nous savons
Poemes saturmiens, 1866
La bonne chanson, 1870
Romances sans paroles, 1874
pierre de ronsard ( 1524-1585)
Ronsard is one of a few masters of the sonnet.
It is probably safe to say that he used it with more variety of effect
than any other poet, and yet without seeming to force its character. He makes it descriptive, epigrammatic, epic, philosophic,
elegiac, edyllic, dramatic; he even makes its purely lyrical. Then there are the lyrics - lyrics that have almost the cutting
pathos of the Greek anthology in its regrets for fleeting youth and life, or the light sincerely of Herrick, or even
snatches of that preculiar grace and hauting naturalness of exquisite melody which give to our early Elizabethans the
sweetest note in all the gamut of song. Ronsard 's mastery of form, in an almost unformed language, is marvellous.
He was the first creator of more than a hundred different lyric stanzas - the most prolific enventor of rhythms, perhaps,
in the history of Poetry.
Ronsard is well known with his characteristic works : Odes; Sonnets, Hymnes;
Amour; Melanges; 1547-1560. La Franciade, 1572, an epic poem.
Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Qui ce matin avait declose
robe de pourpre au soleil,
A point perdu, cette vepree,
Les plis de sa robe pourpree
Et son teint au votre pareil.
Las! voyez comme en peu d'espace,
elle a dessus la place,
Las, las! ses beautes laisse choir;
O vraiment maratre Nature,
Puisqu'une telle fleur ne dure
Que du matin jusque s au soir!
Donc, si vous me croyez, mignonne,
Tandis que votre age fleuronne
En sa plus vette nouveaute,
Cueillez, cueillez votre jeunesse:
Comme a cette fleur, la veillesse
Fera tenir votre beaute.
pierre de ronsard
anatole france (1844-1924)...
Jacques-Anatole Thibault est le vrai nom du celebre auteur francais, Anatole
France. Il naquit a Paris en 1844, et y mourut en 1924. Pendant la derniere moitie de son existence,
il fut considere comme le plus grand ecrivain francais, representant le style et l' esprit francais portes a leur plus
haut point. On trouve dans ses oeuvres une philosophie un peu ironique, adoucie par une grande tolerance. Ses
ouvrages les plus connus sont: Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, Le Livre de mon Ami, L' Ile des Pingouins,
Thais, qui a fourni le sujet d' un opera celebre. Les idees qui se trouvent dans le conte suivant ne
sont pas tout a fait caracteristique d' Anatole France; mais ...au style on reconnait vite la main du Grand Maitre...
le jongleur de notre - dame
Au temps du roi Louis IX, il y avait en France un pauvre jongleur,
natif de Compiegne, nomme Barnabe , qui allait par les villes, faisant des tours de force et d'adresse.
Les jours de foire, il etendait sur la place publique un vieux tapis
tout use, et, apres avoir attire les passants par des propos amusants qu' il tenait d' un vieux jongleur et auxquels
il ne changeait jamais rien, il prenait des attitudes qui n' etaient pas naturelles, et il mettait une assiette
en equilibre sur son nez. La foule le regardait d' abord avec indifference. Mais quand, se tenant sur les
mains, la tete en bas, il jetait en l' air et rattrapait avec ses pieds six boules de cuivre qui brillaient au
soleil, ou quand, se renversant jusqu' a ce que sa nuque touchat ses talons, il donnait a son corps la forme
d' une roue parfaite et jonglait, dans cette posture, avec douze couteaux, un murmure d'admiration s'elevait
dans la foule et les pieces de monnaie pleuvaient sur le tapis.
Pourtant, comme la plupart de ceux qui vivent de leurs talents, Barnabe de Compiegne
avait grand' peine de vivre.
Gagnant son pain a la sueur de son front, il portait plus que sa part des miseres attachees
a la faute d' Adam, notre pere.
Encore ne pouvait - il travailler autant qu' il aurait voulu. Pour montrert son beau savoir,
comme aux arbres pour donner des fleurs et des fruits, il lui fallait la chaleur du soleil et la lumiere du jour. En
hiver, il n' etait plus qu' un arbre depouille de ses feuilles et a moitie mort. La terre glacee etait dure au
jongleur. Et il souffrait du froid et de la faim dans la mauvaise saison. Mais, comme il avait du coeur
simple, il supportait ses maux avec patience.
Il n'avait jamais reflechi a l' origine des richesses, ni a l' inegalite des conditions humaines.
Il comptait fermement que, si ce monde est mauvais, l' autre ne pourrait manquer d' etre bon, et cette
esperance le soutenait. Il n' imitait pas les mauvais gens, qui ont vendu leur ame au diable. Il ne blasphemait
jamais le nom de Dieu: il vivait honnetement.
A la verite, il n' avait pas l' esprit tourne au mal, mais il luien coutait plus de renoncer
aux boissons. Car, sans manquer a la moderation. il aimait a boire quand il faisait chaud. C' etait un homme
de bien, craignant Dieu et tres devot a la sainte Vierge.
Il ne manquait jamais, quand il entrait dans une eglise, de s'agrenouiller devant l' image de la Mere
de Dieu et de lui adresser cette priere:
" Madame, prenez soin de ma vie jusqu' a ce qu' il plaise a Dieu que je meure. et quand je serai mort,
faites -moi avoir les joies du paradis."
Or, un certain soir, apres une journee de pluie, tandis qu' il s' en allait, triste et fatigue, portant
sous son bras ses boules et ses couteaux caches dans son vieux tapis, et cherchant quelque grange pour s' y coucher sans souper,
il vit sur la route un moine qui suivait du meme chemin, et le saluat poliment. Comme ils marchaient du meme pas, ils se morent
a echanger des propos.
- Compagnon, dit le moine, d' ou vient que vous etes habille tout de vert? Ne serait -ce point pour
faire le personnage d' un fou dans quelque mystere ?
- Pas du tout, mon Pere, repondit Barnabe. Tel que vous me voyez, je me nomme Barnabe,
et je suis jongleur de mon etat. Ce serait le plus bel etat du monde si l' ony mangeait tous les jours.
- Ami Barnabe, repit du moine, prenez garde a ce que vous dites. Il n' y a pas plus bel
etat que d' etre moine. On y celebre les louanges de Dieu, de la Vierge et des saints, et la vie du religieux est un perpetuel
cantique au Seigneur.
- Mon Pere, je confesse que j' ai parle comme un ignorant. Votre etat ne peut se comparer au mien et, quoiqu'
il y ait du merite a dancer en tenant au bout du nez un sou en equilibre sur un baton, ce merite n' approche pas du votre.
Je voudrais bien comme vous, mon Pere, chanter tous les jours l' office et surtout l' office de la tres sainte Vierge,
a qui j' ai voue une devotion particuliere. Je renoncerais bien volontiers a l' art dans lequel je suis connu de Soisson a
Beauvais, dans plus de six cents villes et villages, pour embrasser la vie des moines.
Le moine fut touche de la simplicite du jongleur, et, comme il ne manquait
pas de finesse, il reconnut en Barnabe un de ces hommes de bonne volonte de qui Notre -Seigneur a dit.."
Que la Paix soit avec eux sur la terre! ". C'est pourquoi il lui repondit:
-Ami Barnabe, venez avec moi, et je vousferai entrer dans le couvent dont je suis prieur. Le bon
Dieu m'a mis sur votre chemin pour vous mener dans la voie du salut.
C'est ainsi que Barbabe devint moine. Dans le couvent ou il fut recu, les religieux celebraient
le culte de la sainte Vierge et chacun employait a la servir tout le savoir et toute l' habilete que Dieu lui avait donnes
Le prieur, pour sa part, composait des livres qui traitaient des vertus de la Mere de Dieu.
Le Frere Maurice copiait ces traites d' une main savante.
Le Frere Alexandre y peignait de fines miniatures. On y voyait la Reine du ciel, assise
sur le trone de Salomon , au pied duquel veillent quatre lions; autour de sa tete nimbee voltigeaient sept colombes,
qui sont les ept dons du Saint -Esprit: dons de crainte, de piete, de science, de force, de conseil, d' intelligence
et de sagesse. Elle avait pour compagnes six vierges aux cheveux d' or: l' Humilite, la Prudence, la Retraite, le Respect,
la Virginite et l' Obeissance. C' etait des ames qui imploraient, pour leur salut et non, certes, en vain, sa toute-puissante
Le Frere Alexandre representait sur une autre page Eve en face de Marie. afin
qu' on vit en meme temps la faute et le pardon, la femme humiliee et la Vierge exaltee.
Le Frere Marbode etait egalement un des plus temdres enfants de Marie. Il taillait
sans cesse des images de pierre, en sorte qu' il avait la barbe, et les cheveux blancs de poussiere; mais
il etait plein de force et de joie dans un age avance, et visiblement, la Reine du paradis protegeait la vieillesse
de son enfant. Marbode la presentait assise sur une chaise, le front entoure d' un nimbe. Parfois
aussi il la figurait sous les traits d' un enfant plein de grace, et elle semblait dire " Seigneur, vous etes
mon Seigneur! ".
Il y avait aussi, dans le couvent, des poetes qui composaient, en latin, des hymnes en l' honneur
de la vierge Marie, et meme il s' y trouvait un Picard qui mettait les miracles de Notre-Dame en langue vulgaire et en vers
Voyant un tel concours de louanges et d' oeuvres, Barnabe se lamentait de son ignorance et
de sa simplicite.
- Helas, pensait-il en se promenant seul dans le petit jardin sans ombre du couvent, je suis bien malheureux
de ne pouvoir, comme mes freres, louer dignement la sainte Mere de Dieu, a laquelle 'j' ai promi la tendresse de mon coeur.
Helas! helas! je suis unhomme rude et sans art, et je n' ai pour votre service, Madame la Vierge, ni sermons, ni traites bien
divises selon les regles, ni fines peintures, ni statues exactement tailles, ni vers comptes par pieds. Je n' ai rien, helas!.
Il se plaignait de la sorte et s' abandonnait a la tristesse. Unsoir que les moines se reposaient en conversant,
il entendit l' und' eux conter l' histoire d' un religieux qui ne savait reciter autre chose qu' Ave Maria. Ce religieux
etait meprise pour son egnorance; mais, etant mort, il lui sortitde la bouche cinq roses en l' honneur des cinq lettresdu
nom de Marie, et sa saintete fut ainsi manifestee.
En ecoutant ce recit, Barnabe admira une fois de plus la bomnte de la Vierge; mais il
ne fut pas console par le bel exemple de cette mort, car son coeur etait plein de zele, et il voulait servir la gloire de
sa dame qui est aux cieux. Il en cherchait le moyen sans pouvoir le trouver et il se desolait chaque jour davantage,
quand un matin, s'etant reveille tout joyeux, il courut a la chapelle et y demeura seul pendant plus d'une heure Il y retourna
apres diner. Et, a compter de ce moment, il allait chaque jourdans cette chapelle, a l' heure ou elle etait deserte, et il
y passait une grande partie du temps que les autres moines consacraient aux arts liberaux et aux arts mecaniques. Il n' etait
pas triste et il ne se plaignait plus.
Une conduite si singuliere eveilla la curiosite des moines.
On se damandait, dans le couvent, pourquoi le Frere Barnabe faisait des retraites se
Le prieur, dont le devoir est de ne rien ignorer de la conduite de ses religieux, resolut d'
observer Barnabe pendant ses solitudes. Un jour donc que celui-ci etait renferme. comme a son ordinaire, dans la
chapelle, le prieur vint, accompagne de deux anciens du couvent, observer, a travers les ouvertures de la porte, ce quise
passait a l' interieur.
Ils virent Barnabe qui, devant l' autel de la sainte Vierge, la
tete en bas, les pieds en l' air, jonglait avec six boules de cuivre et douze couteaux. Il faisait, en l' honneur de la sainte
Mere du Dieu, les tours qui lui avaient valu le plus de louanges. Ne comprenant pas que cet homme simple mettait ainsi
son talent et son savoir au service de la sainte Vierge, les deux anciens criaient au sacrilege.
Le prieur savait que Barnabe avait l'ame inconcente; mais il le croyait tombe en demence.
Ils s'appretaient tous trois a le tirer vivement de la chapelle, quand il virent la salute Vierge descendre les marches
de l'autel pour venir essuyer d'un apn de son manteau bleu la sueur qui tombait du front de son jongleur.
Nous savons bien quelques de ses oeuvres:
Le crime de Sylvester Bonard, 1881
Le livre de mon ami, 1885
La Rotisserie de la reine Pedauque, 1893
Histoire contemporaine, 1896 - 1901
L' Ile des pingouins, 1908
Les Dieux ont soif, 1912
L' Elui de nacre, 1892
et plusieurs recits profitables, 1904
Le jardin d' Epicure, 1895
La vie litteraire, 1889 - 1892
Alphonse Daudet, quoique ne a Nimes en Languedoc, est considere comme un auteur provincal.
En effet, son oeuvre principale, Les lettres de mon Moulin, qui sont une serie de contes ecrits dans son moulin situe
pres d' Arles, en Provence, reuinit les legendes et les caracteristiques de ce pays pictoresque.
La Mule de Pape, tiree des Lettres de mon Moulin, est une histoire
inventee pour faire revivre un vieux proverbe ou dicton provencal. Ce conte est tout a fait caracteristique de l' auteur et
en meme temps un exemple excellent de son style.
En general, avec som melange de sensibilite et d' ironie, avec une sorte de tendresse pour ses
creations originales, on peut comparer Alphonse Daudet a CharlesDickens. Ses oeuvres les plus
importantes sont: Contes du Lundi, Tartarin de Tarascon, Tartarin sur les Alpes, Le Petit Chose. Ses contes
principaux sont: La Chevre de M. Seguin, La Derniere Classe, La Mule du Pape; sa piece pricipale: l' Arlesienne.
le bon pape
Il y en a un surtout, un bon vieux, qu' on appelait Boniface.
Oh! celui-la, que de larmes on a versees en Avignon quand il est mort! C' etait un prince si aimable, si gentil!
Il vous riait si bien du haut de sa mule! Et quand vous passiez pres de lui, il vous donnait sa benediction si poliment! Le
seul amour qu' on lui ait jamais connu, a ce bon pere, c'etait sa vigne, une petite vigne qu' il avait plantee lui-meme a
trois lieues d' Avignon.
Tous les dimanches, en sortant de vepres, le digne homme allait lui faire sa cour;
et quand il etait la-haut, assis au bon soleil, samule pres de lui, ses cadeaux tout autour, alors il faisait ouvrir une bouteille
de ce beau vin, couleur de rubis et il le buvait par petits coups, en regardant sa vigne d' un air attendre. Puis, la
bouteille videe, le jour tombant, il rentrait joyeusement a la ville, suivi de tout son chapitre, et lorsqu' il passait sur
le pont d' Avignon au milieu des tambourins et des farandoles, sa mule, mise en train par la musique, prenait un
petit trot, tandis que lui-meme il marquait le pas de la danse avec sa barrette ce qui scandalisait fort ses cadeaux, mais
faisait dire a tout le peuple: " Ah! le bon prince! Ah! le brave pape! ".
the masterpieces.. (excerpts ) about...
how the piece becomes the masterpiece ?
The Masterpiece contain the best
materials on which the human mind can work in order to gain insight, understanding, and wisdom. The Masterpieces in its own
way raises the recurrent basic questions which men must face. Because these questions are never completely solved, these Masterpieces
are the sources and monuments of a continuing intellectual tradition.
Carl Van Doren one referred ( The Masterpieces) in the great Books
as"..never have to written again...". They are the rare, perfect achievements of sustained excellence. Their beauty
and clarity show that they are masterpieces of the fine as well as of the liberal arts. These Masterpieces are justifiably
called great whether they are Masterpiece of Science, Poetry, Theology, Mathematics, or Politics.
The richesse of these Masterpeices shows itself in the many levels of
meaning they contain. They lend themselves to a variety of interpretations. This doesn't mean that they are ambiguous or that
their integrity is compromised. The different interpretations complement one another and allow the readers to discover the
unity of the work from a variety of perspectives. We need not read other Masterpieces more than once to get all that they
have to say. But we can always go deeper into great Materpieces. As sources of enlightenment, they are enexhautible.
The interest in many Masterpieces is limited to a definite period of
history. They do not possess the universal appeal that results from dealing with the fundamental questions which confront
men in all times and places and in a waythat men in all times and places can understand. Masterpieces, on the contrary, transcend
the provincial limits of their origin. They remain as world literature. The ones we are sure are great are the ones men everywhere
turn to again and again through the centuries.
In view of this, it is often said that the Masperpieces must pass
the test of time. This is quite true. But it is not the passage of time that makes the piece, Masterpiece. They were great
when they were written. An enduring interest in the Mastepiece merely confirms its greatness. We may consider some contemporary
pieces, Master, but we can not be sure. Their excellence still remains to be proved before the tribunal of the ages.
Mark Twain once remarked that.."the greatbooks ( with the
Masterpieces ) are the books that everyone wished he had read, but no one wants to read..." People eish they had read
them because they are the indispensable material of the liberal education. They shy away from reading them because these Masterpieces
require thought. And thinking is hard. It is probably one of the most painful things that humain beings are called upon to
The Materpeices are not easy to read. No one should expect to understand
them very well on the first reading, or even to master them fully after many readings. I have often said that they are the
Pieces which are over everyone's head all of the time. That is why they must be read and reread. That is also why they are
good for us. Only the things which are over our head can lift us up.
Like all the other good things in life, what the Masterpieces have
to offer is hard to get. But it is precisely bacause Masterpieces are difficult that they are more readableand more worth
reading that other pieces. It is precisely because they raise the problems which they do not finally answer that they can
provoke us to think, inquire, and discuss. It is precisely because their difficulty challanges our skill in reading that they
can help us to improve that skill. It is precisely because they often challange our accepted prejudices and our established
opinions that they can help to develop our critical faculties.
The difficulty of these Masterpieces comes not from the fact that they
are poorly written or badly conceived, but rather from the fact that they are che clearest and simplest writting about the
most difficult themes that confront the human mind. They deal with these themes in the easiest possible way. These lie
It is sometimes forgotten that William Shakespeare, whose
work inpires millions of scolarly words each year, was the most popular dramatist of his time, not
least with the undereducated classes. His vision is immense.. His heroes are men of action like Henry V, introspective
philosophers like Hamlet, romantic and passionate lower like Romeo, over ambitious noblemen like Macbeth.
This fact is important for explaining much of nature in his art and also about his continuing writing position of the most
famous writers in the world. His plots ... magical, romantic, realistic, or tragic, are the combinaison
of these elements:... His characters exist in the whole real world, at once, then in the shadowy world
with the imagination of the creator! Shakespeare's people, though indisputably of their time and place,
wether Venetian clown or Danish prince, are recognizably in the literature of the XVI th and XVII th centuaries.
But most importantly they embody a spirit of humanity which has remained essentially unchanged to the present day. Nowaday,
no one can write as Shakespeare wrote, but everyone may recognize the quality of his world without difficulty.
The most advantages as a writer did have Shakespeare.
He is the most sensitive playwright who ever lived, but his sensitivity was tempered by the comparative poverty of his
childhood, and his struggle to find the place in the theatre. Althought we know very little for his early life, but
we know sur, he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, that his father, once a man of substance and position
in town, lost his money and went into debt. And that as result, Shakespeare was taken away from school and
put to work. He married Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years older than himself, in 1582, when
he was 18. They had a child in 1583, and twins in 1585, ...in the same year, it is probable that they moved
to London, where Shakespeare first started working in the theatre with the job- so tradition has it- of
holding horses for twopence a day.
There are no records about this period of his life, but
an established playwright, George Peele, by 1592, sounded a note of alarm about a young-actor-playwright who could
beat the recognized playwrights at their own game. He called him a "Johannes Fac Totum", or ..a jack-of-all-trades,
which suggested that Shakespeare's main task in his company was to rewrite old plays for more up-to-date presentation.
But truly, he did not rework old dramas; it
is from this early period that his first plays probably date.. Love's Labour's Lost, The Comedy of Errors,
Two Gentlemen of Verona, the three parts of Henry VI, Andronicus and Richard
III. The plays above are simply those which most agree were written first. Not surprisingly,
none of these plays constitutes his best work, or even approaches it, with the exception of Richard
III Even when he died leaving only these plays, he would have been a major Elizabethan dramatist.
The most impressive about the early plays is that they are full of ideas , thematic and stylistic., which were
to be developed later. Love's Labour'sLost and The Comedy of Errors are pure comedies, but
they are full of wit, surprise and delightful invention...
Richard II , which tells of the Duke of Gloucester's
usurpation of power by murder, marks a transitionary period in Shakespeare's works : here we see the first emergence
of the Heros of Shakespeare. In this case, a villain, sly, clever and unscrupulous,
yet not entirely unsympathetic. He points the way to more complex characters like... Macbeth, ...Iago of Othello,
and... Edmund of King Lear. These later villains reveal their vices and their virtues naturally
as the play unfolds. Gloucester, more crudely, is made to reveal himself in an introductory speech:
'... Why I, in this weak, piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun,
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair, well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous.....'
It is generally thought
that Shakespeare wrote his two long poems " Venus and Adonis " and " The Rape of Lucrece
". round about 1592, as well as the sonnets and other smaller poems. We must understand
that , different with others artists with expression love for the lower by painting or writing letter,
Shakespeare exprimed by Sonnet in this case. This break from being a popular and reasonably
sucessful young playwright to becomng a private poet is surprising when the circumstances of his life are
taken into account. The plague hit London in this year. To escape it, Shakespeare probably joined
a band of travelling players, presenting old tragedies and farces to audiences in the provinces. From being rewriter
of plays for a cultured audience ,
Shakespeare became merely another actor ( and not, it is thought, a
very good one ), playing in stock favorite pieces which the country audiences wanted to see in their unchanged
state. So, he found a patron - a young Earl of Southhampton - and wrote the two long poems, and probably
the sonnets for him.. His sonnets, "the master of all trades" are among the most beautiful poems in English.
Some are advised to the young man, some other to the famous " Dark Lady". Their identity remains
a mystery. Some are reproachful, some full of gratitude, some melancholy, some gay.
Like the other good sonnets, they are delicate but not flimsy, and are never simply fanciful.
Shakespeare was too much of a realist for that. At time, he is deliberately anti-romantic.
satirizing the high flown sonnets of his contemporaries :
My mistress'eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than the lip'red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; *
If hairs be wires, blackwires grow on her head.
I have seen rosesdamsk'd, red and white,
But no much roses see I in her cheeks...**
( Sonnet 130)
( Note: * Oh!... genial playwright!...
It is assumed that Shakespeare returned to London and to the theatre
about 1594. The period from that year to 1602, when Hamlet was completed, is knowns
as his " middle period" and refers both to his life and to his work. It is to this period, that the bulk of his
plays have been ascribed.
These are in tentative chronological order: Romeo and Juliet,
Richard II, A Midsummer Night's dream, King John, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of
the Shrew, Henry IV, part I and II , Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado about Nothing,
Julius Cesar, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Alls' Well That Ends Well, Trilus and Cessida, Mesure
for Mesure and Hamlet..
Though bracketed between Romeo and Juliet ,
his first tragedy, and Hamlet , his first great tragedy, the period is best
remembered and best loved for its comedies. Most popular of all the Shakespeare's time, though less so now,
were the two parts of Henry IV and Henry V. The reason was the character
of Prince Hal ( King Henry V of the last play ) and his dronking companion, Sir John Falstaff. The combination of the passionate,
wilful, libertine prince and the gross, good-humoured, drunken old knight captured the imagination of Elizabethan audiences.
Here is Falstaff, looking forward to the time when his" Hal" shall be King....
Mary, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us that are squires of the night' body be called
thieves of the day's beauty; let us be Diana' foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon;
and let men say, we be men of good goverment , being governed as the sea is, by our noble mistress
th moon, under whose countenance we steal..."
But this riotous companionship was doomed to end
when the prince became king, and Falstaff does not appear in Henry V ( though Shakespeare was later
force to resurrect him, by popular and royal acclaim, in The Merry Wives of Windsor ) except in the speeches
of his friends, who report him dying of a broken heart. For Henry could no longer afford to waste his nights in
drinking - he became the proud king ( Henry V) who led his country to victory in France.
Most popular now are the romantic comedies, plays like
A midsummer Night's Dream, As you like It, and Twelfth Night. The first
of these displays Shakespeare in his most magical mood; the wood in which the action takes place is as full of
surprises and as magical as a poet's mind itself - it is the kind of light hearted prototype of Prospero's enchanted
island in The Tempest, Twelfth Night, ...On the other hand, thought romantic in form,
approaches nearer to harsh reality. Sir Toby and his companions are roistering tavern-knights; Feste, the
clown, is cynical, detached and even melancholy....We are not to see a more " bitter fool" until the fool of
King Lear...Though the play'stone is in general light-hearted, and ends happily, it touches on issues, like the faithlessness
of woman, which were to become important themes for Shakespeare in his " tragic" period....
Two of the late plays of this period were Troilus and Cressida and
Measure for Measure. These have come to be known as ' problem plays", for though the first has a " sad"
ending and the second a " happy ending", they are not tragedy or comedy. Rather than " problem", it may be better
to say they are " realist" plays : in them, good or evil, happiness and melancholy, true and false
are mixed, as they are in life. In both, too, there is the feeling that the society is fundamentally corrupt,
and all men's actions are equivocal. In Troilus, Prince Troilus is faced with this unpalatable fact when
he sees himself betrayed by Cressida :
"This she? no, this is Diomed's Cressid.
If beauty have a soul, this is not she;
If souls guide vows, if vows be sanctimony,
If sanctimony be the god's delight,
If there be rule in unity itself,
This is not she. O madness of discourse,
That cause sets up with and against itself!"
Hamlet marks at once the end of
this period and the begining of the last, in which four great tragedies Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King
Lear were written....Also to this period belong the bitter-sweet last Antony and
Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tales
and the culminating glory, The Tempest.
Prince Hamlet is the finest and last example of
the Shakespearean man, a charater whom, we may assume, was modelled on his creator 's conception of
himself; he was the only Shakespearean character as one crtic has said, who could have written Shakespeare's plays. He acts
decisively only twice, both times in rage when he killed first Polonius ( in mistake for king) and then the king himself.
The rest of the time he is brooding, introspective, unsure. The famous soliloquy :
" To be, or not to be, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or by opposing, end them "
is indicative of his nature
He is philosopher, a man of peace who find himself in a tragedic situation
and is forced to act against his nature. Above all, he is entirely aware of his situation...
The other tragic figures- Macbeth, Othello and Lear - are not in this kind.
Their tragedy is brought upon them partly by the tragic flaw in their own natures and partly by cruel chance.
To a greater or lesser degree they are unaware of their true character until too late. Macbeth and Othello commit murder
before they realize quite what they are doing, and Lear undergoes terrible humiliation before he can recognize true
love from false. Here is Othello 's "moment of truth ", after he realizes he has killed his
beloved Desdemona through mistaken suspicion :
".... then, must you speak,
Of one that lov'd not wisely, but too well ;
Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought,
Perplex ' d in the extreme ; of one whose hand
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe. "
These tragedies were written when
Shakespeare was at the height of his powers, a full mature and tremendously popular artist.
He had become wealthy through; his art and redeemed the family fortunes ; he had purchased
one of the best house in Stratford and had received a coat of arms of which he was very proud. Shakespeare's last play
nevertheless reflect the sadness of a man who is declining into old age. They are never sentimental,
but rather seem to contain a half-wistful delight in the beauty of an art he knew he would soon be
unable to practise. This finds a fitting summation in the speech of Prospero:
" Our reveals now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air ;
And, like the baseless fabric of the vision,
The cloud- capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall disolve
And , like this insubstantial pageant faded
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."
Shakespeare's death was in 1616.
He propably wrote nothing later than
1613. It is tempting to adduce from this that he himself knew that his creative life was
over, and considered The Tempest to be its culmination, before his own
life was " rounded with sleep". It was a little life - his writtings all took place within
the space of 20 yeras - but it proved to be the richest life of any writer who has ever lived.....
... according to " the Arts "
les impressionistes francais ...
In the expression of the Art
in XIX century, the painters were formed a group, otherwise, a phenomenon ,
which changed the world of expressing Art ... for good.!... It wasn ' t a work
of ...a person , but ...a group. I would like to present ...this fantastic group
of artists, who have had influence for-ever in the Art.
In 1894, the painter Gustave Cailebotte
besqueathed 67 impressionist paintings to the Louvre in Paris. Official embarrassment
and public reaction was characterized by the words of an Academician ...:" Only great moral depravity
could bring the State to accept such rubbish. These artists are all anarchists and
mad men." Such hostile opposition had faced the Impressionist painters
since their first collective exhibition in 1874.
They were not the first French painters to challenge
bourgeois public taste and the traditional values of Academic art. Gustave Courbet,
with his agressive opposition to long-standing artistic conventions in the 1850 and Edouard Manet
in the 1860's had set the precedent. Manet had been the key figure in the famous Salon des Refuges
of 1863, where works rejected by the offical. Salon were hung. His intention was
to create an art free of conventional artifice. He wanted to paint directly from
the subject, guided only by his visual sensations and his aesthetic sensibility.
In this lay his great originality and in these respects he anticipated the Impressionists ...
Without the decorum of Classical Idealism, Manet
' s nude appeared vulgar and indecent; without any strong narrative or allegorical basis, his
figure compositions seemed pointless. Technically, his paintings lacked most of
the solid attributes of draughtsmanship, perspective and refined tonal modelling of contemporary
When the Impressionists came to the critic ' s attention,
they were immediately linked with Manet, as much for their break with convention as for any
specific common ground. He was widely thought to be their leader. At the first group exhibition
in 1874, all the important Impressionist Painters - Monet , Renoir, Pissarro and
Sisley - were among the 31 artists who took part. Manet refused to exhibit with them.
He retained an extraordinary sense of obligation to the Salon as " the real field of Battle ", but he supported
them morally and financially when he could. His notoriety naturelly endowed him with an elevated status
in the eyes of young radicals. He was an art of sensation; he painted what he saw ,
true to his responses. This was central to their own concept of painting.
The Impressionists painted on the spot, in the open air. Their
concern was with the light, color and atmosphere in nature. With this principal interest, Manet
has little in common. The real ancestors of the Impressionists were the XiX century landscape painters :
Constable and Turner in England, Corot, Courbet , and the Barbizon painters
in France ( the name of Barbizon comes from the village of Barbizon near the Forest de Fontainebleay , where Theodore
Rousseau, Millet, Corot, Daubigny, Diaz and others worked in the mid XIX century.)
The young impressionists met in Pris in the 1860s. Claude
Monet (1840-1926), Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), fellow students at the
Ecole des Beaux Arts, made several painting excursions to Fontainebleau during these years and came
into personal contact with the Barbizon painters. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), older and at this
stage a more isolated figure, was more influenced by Courbet and Corot. The sort of advice these young men received
from the older generation of painters predisposed them to break completely with the concepts of their Academic
tutors in Paris. Courbet advised them to " sit down anywhere and paint what you like...";
Corot insisted that the first impression of the subject was all-important and that this alone should determine
the painting's values. Monet received similar advice from Boudin, painter of seascapes from his
home-town Le Havre.
The young impressionists have had more agressive manner
from technique thru colors in the painting. . We know also, Impressionism began by the paint of still- life
and Nature. I must present right away, if not, I will forget. All of them are the
masters of Impressionism. In the book Della Pittura ( About Picture), published in 1436 ,
Leon Alberti mentioned about... the first scientific treatise on perspective. Widely
used by Italian Painters such as Piero della Francesca and Paolo Uccelo , the theories
were of limited value to the problem of landscape.
More helpful was his " magic box" device, the camera obscura
, which was much used by the XVII th century and XVIII th century Venetian and Duch landscape
masters. The analysis of landscape structures, specially geological and botanical, was among the many scientific
interests of Leonardo de Vinci ( 1452-1519) He made many intricate drawings of rock
formation and panoramic landscapes. Most of these remained in his personal sketch books, and
as a result, his influence on landscape painting was not specially strong, except perhaps through
the backgrownds to his Mona Lisa and The Virgin if the Rocks. In
general, however, the field of landscape painting is one in which the High Renaissance
had comparative little to contribute.
It was in northern Europe, relatively
unaffected by Italian humanist culture, that landscape painting really began to develop as a mode
of painting in its own right. Conrad Witz's Miraculous Draught of Fishes , painted in 1444,
shows the view of Geneva and the distant Alps. It is one of the first pictures in which the landscape predominates
and represents a specific place.
Flemish landscape realism and the landscape construction
of Italian artists like Piero della Franscesca fuse in the work of Giuvanni Bellini ( 1431-1516) . It's time to
mention Italian artists TO CONTRIBUTE MY RESPECT TO THE POPE, JOHN PAUL II , EVEN HE IS OF POLAND,
when HE PASSED AWAY ON APRIL 2, 2005 AT AGE OF 84. The emotional response of Bellini to
light effects creates strong poetic overtoness to his keen observation of places. Many of his landscape backgrounds
can be identified among the towns of Veneto. More than any other early painter, Bellini foreshadowed in
his work the achievements of seventeen-and-eighteen-century landscapemasters.
In the North, the wild, hell-fire backgrounds
of Hiemymus Bosch ( 1450-1516) and Mattthias Gunewald (1475-1528) exemplify a quite
different approach to landscape; his little St George in Munich is one of the first romantic
The Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel ' s ( c.1525-1569) contribution
to landscape is specially important. While most of his work is similar to the fantasy world of Bosch, it is clear
that he felt compelled to record details of the countryside, the saisons and all the human activities
associated with them. The result was a series of landscapes showing the cycle of the months of the year
and included in these are sections of marine painting to which Brueghel made a significant contribution ( e.g
Storm at Sea , now in Vienna).
Peter Paul Rubens ( 1577-1640) brought to
landscape the same splendid energy that invests all his paintings. He handled the forms of landscape
with high sensitivity, characteristically using spirals and arcs as the basic geometry. The
theatrical effects of nature - rainbows in stormy skies, meteors, bursts of sunshine and cataracts of water
- delighted him.
By the early seventeenth century, Rome had become the principal
center of art. Distinguished painters from the North formed colonies there. Two of France's
greatest painters, Claude Lorrain ( 1600-1682) and Nicolas Poussin ( 1593-1665) spent
almost the whole of their working lives in Rome.
For Poussin, landscape was frequently just
a setting for the drama enacted by the figures in the foreground , but towards the end of his life the landscape
itself began to play the dominant role, contributing to the mood and sentiment of the subject matter. His aim
was to impose classical order on the direct experience of nature.
Claude Lorrain by comparison, was a dreamer,
musing on themes from antiquity yet depending on a strong emotional response to the ever-changing aspects of nature.
This is especially well demonstrated in his water-color drawings, which are some of the most beautiful of all landscapes.
The magical qualities of light to be seen in his work later affected the development of English artist J.M.W.
Seventeenth-century academics thought that painting should
be judged by its moral, historical and philosophical content Such theories were not helpful
to the development of landscape. Not surprisingly, during this century the main centre for this art was the Low
Countries, where there was little or no classical tradition. Protestantism here discouraged religious painting,
and respectable, midde - class patrons were far more interested in straightforward pictorial records than idealized
These painters from the Low Countries seem to have been magnetically
drawn to the image of their countrysides : it was a flat landscape of vast skies and waterways, calculated to arouse
an interest in atmospheric effet. The generalizations typical of so much earlier painting were useless
in solving the problems of place, time and weather which had to be faced by the Dutch painters of sea and
sky and flat, receding plains. Van Goyen ( 1596-1656), Jacob Ruidael (1629-1682),
Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709) and Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691) are the great figures, with
Jan van der Cappelle ( 1624-1679), Adriaen and Willem van de Velde
(1633-1707) representing the best of the marine painters.
Rembrandt van Ryn (1606-1669) also painted
a dozen or so impressive landscapes, but they are so charged with "inwardness" that they are landscapes
of the spirit rather than r epresentative examples of the Dutch style.
England in the late eighteenth century was much affected
by the example of Dutch landscape and marine art. East Anglia, with its long- standing commercial ties with
the Low Countries and a countryside similar in parts to that of Holland, became the source
of much English landscape painting. Thomas Gainsborough ( 1727-1788), John Crome
( 1768-1821) , and John Constable ( 1776-1837) were all influenced by the Dutch
Constable and Turner were themselves amongst the great formative
influences in the development of landscape and marine painting. The whole field of nineteenth century landscape
painting is fore shadowed in their work. Constable speaks of the art painting as being " scientific" as well as " poetic",
and in his vaste output of sketches ha made many scrupulous notes about cloud formations and condition of
frost and dew. Scientific observation led to a freshness and naturalization in his work. Nature
moved him deeply and, in his later years his landscape paintings came to express his own inner life.
These pictures were incidentally to have a deep influence, some
30 or 40 years later, upon the French Romantics. The methods adopted by Constable and Turner greatly extended
the technical range of painting. Such techniques as glazing( applying a transparent layer of oil paint over
a solid one, so modifying the color of the first ), and impasto ( when the paint is so thiskly applied,
by brush or palette knife, that is stands up from the canvas in lumps) were used with a new freedom.
French artists throughout the nineteenth century responded with enthousiasm
to the work of Constable and Turner. Their example and genius inspired a new flowering of romantic painting in France,
influencing Eugine Delacroix ( 1798-1863), Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875) and
later, the Impressionists .
Heralding the astonishing landscape achievements of mid-ninettenth
century France was the work of Jean-Baptiste Corot (1796-1875), Gustave Courbet
(1819-1877) and Eugine Boudin ( 1824-1898). The Impressionist painters who followed them learnt
much from their direct way of responding to landscape. Corot was able to approach landscape without the prejudgements
of earlier landscape conventions. Boudin exerted a similar influence through his pupil Monet Courbet
used paint richly ans sensuously, and spread his impasto so as to give his landscapes and seascapes a superb massive
effet. Monumental cliffs, curling waves, dense foliage--- all become vividly real.
From the systematic study of color and visual perception evolved Impresionism,
a new theory and practice of painting, increasingly removed from the simple description of a scene. One
group of artists, among them George Seurat ( 1859-1891) and Paul Signac (
1863-1935) constructed pictures from pointilles, myriads of tiny points of pure color. To the eye of the viewer,
the points seem to fuse to create subtler colors.
Paul Gaugin (1848-1903) used landscape symbols as ways of
expresssing thoughts, dreams, and recollections rather than as a report of direct experience. Similarly,
the art of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) became increasingly a reflection of inner turbulence and final
chaotic despair, rather than of the external world. These three different viewpoints - the technical innovations
of Seurat, the decorative symbolism of Gaugin, and the passionate immediacy of Van Gogh, were all
influential in the work of a group known as the Nabis ( prophets) which included Bonnard and Vuilard
, andof the Fauves (wild beasts) such as Matisse , Derain,
Marquet and others...
Paul Cezanne ( 1839-1906), though he too had an early
Impressionist phase, turned his attention to controlling color so that it came to indicate spatial relationships.
He also constructed forms on the canvas in an organized manner recalling the disciplined classism of Poussin .
His landscapes were massive and solid. He sais of them " Our art should enable us to feel Nature as eternal " .
The first half of twentieth century unleashed violence that shook Man' s confidence
in the image of Nature as eternal. Perhaps it is as a result of this uncertainty that landscape painting has declined.
No national schools have emerged since 1900, but a number of individual artists continued to repond to landscape.
Among the first exploratory works of Cubism are several based
on the landscapes around the hill towns of Spain, the French Pyrenees and Provence. The landscapes of Kokosschka
fuse the color qualities of late Impresionism and the resltless of Northern Impressionism.- Soutine ' s landscapes
carry these intensities to their furthest extreme- and many of the Surrealist painters used landscapes as a setting for their
In France, Jacques Villon, Dunoyer de Segonzac Jacques Villon,
and Nicolas de Stael continued the landscape tradition in their various ways, while in America an artist
like Milton Avery has made highly personal extensions of the shapes and emblems of Gaugin' s landscape.
In England, Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland
have developed a lanscape of symbols ( introduced over a century earlier in the visionary works of Samuel Palmer), and
Ivon Hitchens has caught the mood of the Sussex countryside in subtletics of color. They are swept on to the canvas
withh all the freshness of his deep knowledge and love of the area where he has lived nearly all his life. All these
artists use landscape as a sounding-board for their own emotinal or intellectual concerns. rarher than as a means of
expressing a faith in the stability of the natural order.
The graduation from these precedents and theoretical standpoints to
the first Impressionist painting of the early 1870. was the conbined achievement of Monet and Renoir
. Both were gifted with a rare facility of touch. Renoir, trained as porcelain painter, painted from the start
with a almost abandoned enjoyment of his medium and with a very original and delicate sense of color. Monet, the dominant
figure of Impressionism throughout the movement' s history, also possesseded a prodigious ability to achieve a likeness.
Through his inspired judgement of tone values in the simplified main areas and the judicious placing of a few points of emphatic
light and color, he effortlessly reapized Cora' s concept of nature contained in an "atmospheric envelope" .
For a while in 1865-1866, he attempted to reconcile this sort of spontaneous
perception with large scale figure compositions, emulating the pastorale idea of Manet' s Dejeuner
sur l' Herbe and conforming more to the Salon tradition of paintings with some sort of agreable narrative theme.
This whole idea conflicted with his basic principle of an immediate visual rapport between the artist
and his subject, and after several attemps, he abandonned the idea. By 1869, he and Renoir were revolved
to paint only in front of the subject, to paint small, portable pictures and above all, to concentrate
all their resources on one single objective: to capture the unique moment of experience.
As Impressionism matured, the actual identity of the subject became
less important. Monet wrote that you should " try to forget what objects you have before you "
and record only the colored shaped your eye could see. In effect, the elusive nature of perception itself
became their subject.
In this extreme sense, Impressionist landscape painting of the
1870' stood for the most limited objective of all European art. Their painting had no intellectual or conceptual framework,
no symbolic or narrative subject-matter. What is more, they abandonned all traditional concepts of
technique that they evolved, part conscious, part intuitive, was revolutionary in two respects :
in its colors and in the freedom of its brush-marks.
To take color first: because of the unprejuduced honesty of their vision,
they actually saw color in the new way. It is genrally true to say that before the Impressionists, color
in painting was tied to the concept " known " local colors. If an object
was seen and known to be red, then it was painted red in all circumstances. Apart from variations of color in
the interest of expression this tonal system had not been seriously questioned since its perfection in the fifteenth century.
In the course of their intensive investigations of natural appearances,
it became increasingly apparent to Monet and Renoir that color was in reality not constant : that a shadow
cast on any object did not just darken, but actually changed its visible color. They recogn ized that all colors
in nature were conditioned by light and atmospheric conditions, and were constant subject to change. When
they introduced these ideas into their painting, a perspetive crtic ealized that their color was "so true
and so natural that one might well find it false".
What applies to the impermanence of color under atmospheric conditions
also applies to the impermanence form. The realization of three dimentional solidity and stability is another " know" rationalization
of perception. The destruction of this second constant of traditional art. - form was the essence of the
other technical revolution, achieved by the Impressionists. This was the loose, separate and " unfinished" quality
of their brushwork, with no contours, no stable boundaries....
By comparison with any painting exhibited previously, the 1870 paintings of
Monet and Renoir were " extraordinarily incomplete and indefinite. " disant of an conservative spectator...." They did
not present the viewer with comprehensive reconstruction of a visual experience, but with the simutaneous impact of many fragmentary
sensations. The pleasurable shock of recongnition that we experience when our eyes and minds collate these sensations to some
extent reproduces our purelyvisual experience when suddenly confronted with an unfamiliar view." critizied the author...,
then ..."In the same way a familiar Impressionist painting can never quite recapture that first stimulation moment of confrontation.
In this sense, Impressionism is an extreme form of Illusion.
For this view, I'm not agreed with the critics. Under the vision
of great painters, we must eliminate the uncessary details.... For them, we must close our eyes and imagine
which remaining in the dark....
Cezanne later criticized Monet as "only one eye...", and
"certainly his paintings were not the synthetic products of eye and mind..." We are not led into the picture from
one object to another; there is no sequence, no focal climax. The whole surface is equally articulate, or
rather equally inarticulate, alive with incomplete raw material....
The separate brush-strokes contribute to the sense of immediate spontaneity;
they carry s sense of breathless gesture.. To some extent they were a matter of expediency; the short
life of a particular atmospheric condition demanded rapid execution.... But...they also allowed the painter to separate component
colors and to preserve the shimmering vibration of the complementaries by inviting the colors to blend in the viewer's eye
rather than on the painter's palette. Monet's seascape are full of iridescent greys made from small interwoven
marks of yellow, pink, violet and blue. But their use of complementatires was never scientific or systematic.
Their whole way of working called for rapid selection and instant decisions.
Knowing this, it is obvious that we can talk od " an Impressionist technique"
only in a very loose sens, Although their ambitionwas objectively, the very nature of a first visual impression is intimately
personal. The subdued sensitivity of Sisley and the more considered formality of Pissarro set themslightly
apart from the extreme attitudes of Monet and Renoir Their technique is less audacious, their
color less spectacular. The choice of subject too,varied with temperament. Pissarro's domestic peasants, Renoir's gay Parisian
life and Monet's railways and boulevards are personal and original aspects of the late nineteenth-century painters' repertoire.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917), who shared in their exhibitions
and is always linked with the movement, " was scarcely an Impressionist at all ".... He despised spontaneous
open-air painting and was " a draughtsman with the true Academic's instinct for experimentresearch and completeness"... "
His affinity with the Impressionists lay in his brilliant perception of light and arrested movement. " This
is a idea objectively for Degas . With me, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro
and Monet are the very talented painters, who created a great impression for
the painting modern. For me also, the great inspiration is more important than the reseach,
or academic background .. For example . .. the painting " la danseuse" one of the excellent inspiration
of painting of Degas , ...Affinity de Degas with Impressionists lay in his brilliant perception
of light and arrested movement. Exclusively a figure painter, his paintings, pastels and drawing
of contemporary life married his accuracy of vision to the Classical sense of design, closer to Manet
than Monet .
Pissarro alone contributed to all eight Impressionists exhibitions;
to him it was almost a matter of moral and political principle. By 1886, the year of the last exhibition,
the homogeneity of the original group had dissolved and the mood of progressive painting in Paris had been transformed.
The 1880 were the heroic decade what is called Post-Impressionism. The
art of its great figures, Cesanne, Seurat, Van Gogh, and Gaugin, all bears some
relationship to Impressionism....For all of them, the latter was inadequate..." only a way of seeing " to Cezanne,
too scientific for the " Neo-Impressionist" Seurat , too scientific for Gaugin, too"
sloppily painted" and objective for Van Gogh . All reacted to some extent against the " Impressionists"
concern with appearances. Within the Impressionist group itself, Renoir 's later Classicism
and Pissarro 's flirtation with Neo-Impressionism were symptomatic of the dissatisfied 1880s,
leaning towards a more monumental form of sonstructive painting. But it is also true that the technical
revolutions of Impressionism already anticipated this new concern in surface organization.
The heightened color and gestural brushmarks drew unprecedented attention
to the picture surface. The Impressionist surface was an intricate tapestry of colored stitches. As outraged critics complained,
you were aware of the colored marks before you recognized the subject.
The more systematic organization of paintings by Seurat, Cezanne
and Van Gogh derives directly from the fabrics of marks that Monet and Renoir
created. The idealistic vision behind these works was also an expression and an enrichment of the Impressionist
act of looking. Only Gaugin , who exhibited at four of their exhibitions, completely abandonned both
the objective vision and their small-unit technique.
While others were withdrawing from the exclusive Impressionist disciplines,
Monet in the 1880s concentrated more and more tightly on exclusive momentary appearances. To overcome the problems
of atmospheric change, he evolved the technique of painting a series of pictures of each subject, changing canvases
in time with nature. In the 1890s, during the Poplars series, he worked for only seven
minutes at the time on each canvasbefore changing, and became terrified of reworking the Rouen Cathedral pictures
for fear of damging the accuracy of the original impression. For a serie of Thames pictures around 1900, he had
at one point over 90 canvases stacked against the wall by his side.
The discipline of his ambition created intolerable strain and anguished frustration
(' The sunset so fast I can't follow it'..). Right up to his death in 1926, he considered himself an Impressionist,
but in his late paintings of his water garden at Giverny, he heightenned perception achieved the intensity of the nature
mystic. Painted on mural scale, his images drift informally across the surface. vast expressive decorations. The rarefied
atmosphere of these last canvases is comparable to the ecstatic vision of nature in VanGogh's Arles landscapes
and Cezanne's paintings of Mont-Saint Victoire .
The heritage of Impressionism is many sided. Man's way of looking at things
was irrevocably conditioned by the acute Impressionist vision. In the artist's social context, the group's collective
gesture of independence created a lasting precedent. Historically their art was a conclusion and a beginning: both a consummation
of the European tradition of illusory naturalism and a daring advance in the fields of coolor and sensation....
Homer has had a special situation in the literature of the
world, even in the past.!...The poems , as mentioned by many great authors, were wrtten by imagination!...But
laterly, the events of Troy or others were found. For this reason, the idea of real story that Homer 's wrtting were eventually
true! But the problem is still in searched for more evidence!...However, Homer had a great talent for wrtting theses masterpieces!...
Before of calling "epic "poet, the literary people used to call
" heroic" poet in the ancient time...for the poets of having a lot of talent ...like Homer!...Listen
to Aristotle for his definition for epic poet..." They differ ( the historian and the poet ) in this, that ...the
one speaks of things which have happened, and the other,... of things that might have happened!..For poetry speaks more
of universals, but historian of particulars!..."."
No doubt, Homer had a special talent for telling about history
in the past through his two well known pieces of all times! ...Iliad and ...Odyssey, which inspired a lot of talent artists
to perform many masterpieces of Arts later!
We invite you to sêe Homer !...and how ...created he
the influence in the World of Art!....
When Vergil wrote in the
Aeneid about the fall of the great city of Troy ( which, it seems certain, was an actual event ) it
was not meant to be a document of the procêdings of the war but rather a glorification of heroic dêeds,both those of men and
of the gods.
The authors of the early poems are usually unknown; it is possible,
for instance, that Homer is a convenient and reverential name for a collection of poets. It is only in comparatively
later centuries, in a literate culture, that poetry is ascribed to a particular author. The early
heroic epics were composed by bard-poets and sung or recited for the enjoyment of everyone- they were an early form of popular
The works of anonymous poets inspired authors of the later centuries
to follow their example and copy the form they gave their works. The last epics, like Milton's Paradise
Lost, were conceived as piece of literature, more often than not aimed at litarate, educated readers
who would buy a copy and read it privately, or in the company of friends. These " literay" epics were
written in an ornamental style, whereas the earlier heroic poems tended to be more direct...
Heroic poetry has bêen composed pratically everywhere; hundreds
of examples still exist, although many more hundreds has bêen lost for ever. They were either transcribed because
of their popularity, as with Homer's works, or are still remembered and repeated to this day. Heroic poems
were handed down the generations from father to son, from master to pupil. The bard's function was to entertain;
often his audience was composed of aristocrats and in primitive society ...these aristocrats would wish to hear of the
dêeds of heroes, of skill in war and of honour betwêen... friend and enemy. Homer's Ìliad is
full of detailed descriptions of skill in the use of weapons, and so are the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf and
the medieval Spanish Poema de mio Cid...Men accustomed to war would take great pleasure in this description
from the Iliad : " Deiphobus... came up close to Idomeneus and let fly a shining lance. But Idomeneus
was lơoking out and avoided the bronze spear by sheltering behind the rounded shield he alway carried. It
was built of concentric rings of oxhide and of glittering bronze, and was fitted with a couple of crossbars. He
crouched under cover of this, and the bronze spear flew over him, drawing a dêep note from the shield as
it grazed the edge...."
Heroic poems are of course concerned with the dêeds of heroes
: Achilles, Hector, Patroclus in the Iliad,... Odysseus in the
Odyssey,... Beowulf in Beowulf, ...Roland in The Song of Roland..and so on....These heroes
are all primarily fighting men, though there are more ways of winning glory than in battle!...Odysseus, for
example, shows his heroism by his endurance, his patience and his intelligence as well as by his courage.
One of the hero's main concerns is to preserve and extend his honour; much of the heroic poem is concerned with descriptions
of how the hero proved his honour in different dangerous situations.
The dêeds of the hero in pursuit of honour often appear to us to be
exceptionally brutal; but this brutality is often the reaction of the grievous personal loss which the hero
can only exorcize by violence towards his ennemies. When the Norse hero, Volund, escapes
from his tormentor Nithuth , he savagely kills the latter's children and sends their mutilated bodies back to their
Their skull, once hid by their hair, he lơok,
Set them in silver, and sent them to Nithuth;
Gems full fair from their eyes he fashioned
To Nithuth's wife so wise he gave them.
Volund finds his way from Germanic legend into
Anglo-Saxon mythology as Wayland the Smith. Again, Achilles, stricken with grief by the
death of his friend Patroclus, slaughters scores of Trojan chielftains with no thought of mercy!...
The other side of the epic hero's honour is one more readily calculated
to win sympathy from modern readers; it was contained in the unwritten code of battle which forbad extremes of
brutality, even to deadliest ennemies; Achilles the Grêek treats Priam, king of Troy, with
great honour, when the latter comes to him to beg for the return of the body of his son Hector. Roland,
the Christian knight, while hating his heathen foe, doesn't deprive them of their rights as human beings once
he has captured them.
One of the most warlike of all peoples were the Norsemen, whose
raids into Britain in the early Miđdle Ages caused the priests to create a special prayer : " From the fury of the
Norsemen, gơod Lord deliver us!..." Many of their legends are recorded in the Sagas,
which belong to the twelfth and thirtênth centuries. The Eđdas of Iceland deal with the same
material - these legends find an echo in the first British heroic poetry which is based on tales brought in by
Saxon invaders in the fifth and sixth centuries....
Epic heroes, whether Grêek, Norse or Anglo-Saxon,
pagan or Christian, share many qualities : one of the most notable traditions in epic poetry is that... the hero
has a close companion, a hero second in courage only to himself. Achilles has Patroclus in
the Iliad; Roland, Oliver in The song of Roland; Gilgamesh, Enkidu in
the Sumerian poem Gilgamesh, and so on... The friend is often killed in the course of the story, causing
grief to the hero and often stirring him to his finest action!...
The virtue that epic poetry must maintain above all others is that of
a strong narrative. With a few exceptions, such as Beowulf , which contains many elements of lament,
the heroic epics contain no moralizing. This is achieved in large part by giving spêches to the main characters of the
poem, allowing the audiences to draw their own conclusions. In some poetry, notably in the Norse poems of the
Elder Eđda , these spêeches constitute poems in their own right; in other examples, the
form of the poetry is almost entirely dramatic, rather like a primitive verse play with a few narrative interpolations
to help the story along...
Heroic, epic poetry is still practised in some part of the world.
Examples can be found... in Russia, where the Ryabinin family kêeps the tradition alive,... in Yugoslavia, Grêce, and
in many part of Asia ănd some part of Africa. It continues in the form it has always taken,
depending for its existence on the passing down of the bardic skills from father to son. It functions best in societies
which have remained for the most part illiterate and tribal. It can hardly be written in the modern society, since
it assumes a code of honour in action which has ceased for many centuries. The only heroic poems composed in Britain
were Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon, and Brunanburh in the Anglo-Saxon period .
The literary of artificial epic lasted longer in the
West. Though based upon the form of the heroic epic, it is not so much concerned with the dêeds of heroes as with
endowing its events with the grandeur of epic status. The gơd example is also one of the earliest - the Aeneid,
written by Vergil in the first century before Christ. The Aeneid is
highly conscious imitation of Homer's work : its hero, Aeneas, was a Trojan prince who plays a minor part in the
Iliad . Vergil, an intensely patriotic Roman, wanted to give his countrymen a mythology as respectable as
that of anciet Grêece. And so Aeneas makes a voyage from Troy to Italy lasting seven years, a voyage very similar to
Odysseus' journey home in the Odyssey. Finally he lands on the banks of the Tiber and defeats the
Italians. Aeneas was the son of Anchise, a mortal, but his mother was Aphrodite, a gođdess. Consequently the father of
Rome could claim devine parentage, and was a fitting progenitor of a race of heroes!...
Though containing much heroic material, the Aeneid
is written in a cultivated, literary style; its appeal was primarily to an educated class and it lacks
the simplicity as well as the strength of Homer's narration... Yet for the very raison that he was literary poet,
Vergil set a style of literary epic; it is significant that the Italian poet Dante, in his greatest work,
the Divine Comedy, chose Vergil as his guide through the Underworld...
The Divine Comedy is epic in length. Its intention, too, is epic.
It comprises three books, one each on Heaven, Hell and Purgatory . In allegorical terms it affirms Dante's
ethical and political conception of the world and the duties of Man. It is also an exciting adventure story, for
the poet, in his descent into. Hell, meets terrible monsters and ghosts of men punished eternally for their earthly
There are some grounds for comparing the Divine Comedy
with Milton's Paradise Lost . Both poets set out to write a poem of epic dimensions- Milton's poem was to achieve
" Things unattempted yet in prose or rime!", and both poems have a sense of adventure about them. The
battle betwên the forces of God and the force of Satan. ending in Satan's fall to Hell is forcefully described in the following
And now thir mightiest quell'd, the battel swerved,
With many an inrode gor'd; deformed rout
Enter'd and foul disorder: all th ground
With shivered armour strew'n, and on a heap
Chariot and Chariotêr lay overturned
And fierce foaming Steeds.
Milton replaced the old warrior heroes by
heroes whose functions were more carefully defined. Despite he makes a show of maintening a well-balanced struggle
betwên God and Satan, the issue is predeterminated. Again, Satan is not entirely unsympathetic portrait, there is none of
the old objectivity in Milton's treatment of his protagonists. This in not the human conflict, undertaken for the glory of
it, but a deeply serious struggle over the soulof the mortal Man.
Dante and Milton did not aim primarily
to tell the history, as the ancient bards did. Dante felt that only through poetry could he express his vision
of a spiritual renewal of the whole humanity. Milton , more sternly, wished to " justifie the wayes of God to
the Men!" ; both were preoccupied with a vision of Man's spiritual nêds and their poems are calculated, by use
of character and style, to achieve an allegory of the human condition.
Of course, allegory had no place in the heroic epic and spiritual example
set by the bards was confined to advice on the wisdom of propitiating the capricious gods. Again, the litarary epic differs
from the heroic model by chơsing idealized heroes : though Homer's heroes perform almost supernatural
feats of courage and strength, they are very human: they boast, sulk, cheat and run away when
occasion demands it. Spencer , the only other English poet whose work The Faerie Queene, can be called
epic, set out to create an idealized representation of Queen Elizabeth and " to fashion a gentleman
or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline...". To achieve his end, he used tales of medieval chivalry for complex
the mock - heroic poem...
Spencer had a vision of the good society, and his poem is a
model to all who would learn how to live in such a society. Its narrative, far from being taut and fast-moving, flows along
at the very leisurely pace. The language is modelled on the gentle cadences of Italian poetry of the time,
and is pleasant to read even now.
Later examples of epic are hard to find. The " Augustan Age ", the eighteenth
century, produced no more than mock-heroic poems like Pope's The Rape of the Lock , which applied the
elevated language of Greek heroic poetry to the trivial subject. The poem depends for its considerable
wit on the description of the capture of a lock of a beauty's hair by an amorous beau in grandiose language. Pope, the most
brilliant poet of his generation, knew that the epic form could exist only in this way for his time.
While Byron and Browning both wrote long
poems in teh nineteenth century, none of their work was " epic " in the original sense of the word. Longfelơw
's Hiawatha has more of the epic mood than any other.; it deales with a warrior-hero and with the original race of
the American contiment , and it was, at least in part, epic in intention . But its treatment
is more lyrical tha heroic.
Despite epic, whether heroic or literary, is no longer written outside
a few societies, the epics of the past have never been so popular. New translations of Homer appear every few years
in Britain alone, and much reseach is being done on the legends of tribes and races now almost forgotten. This popularity
is more than a cult: a society in which great deeds are becoming increasingly rare is likely to gain more and more pleasure
from reading of the prowess of the heroes of antiquity...
taoism and buddhism in china...
The occidental culture is based on the logic. The logic
began many centuries before Chirst.
The most well known logical system was of Pythagore!... He
would like to apply the mathematics in the demonstration of the presence of universe. His logic also well known by his great
knownledge of mathematics.!... Even out of date by the development of sciences in our times, this famous logic
had great influence on Plato, an another great thinker, and his disciple Aristotle.! The difference between Plato
and Aristotle was... Plato believed faitfully the rational mathematics!,... instead of experimental sciences as Aristotle
did!... We can not ingnore the questions and responses of Socrate for his disciples. , it was the key of logic system
of Plato. It was also great logic of great thinker. After discussion "sur la table ronde" avec... Truong Ngoc Diep ,
...Truong thi Sen,... Truong thi Hue,... Truong thi Hong Nhung, ..Truong thi Tuyet Mai, ... Truong thi Quynh
Huong,.. Truong Ngoc Minh, ...Truong thi Thien Huong, ..Truong Quang Minh,..and... Truong Ngoc Tung, ... We all agreed
that .., the good philosophic system demands a great knownledge of mathematics!... For example... one well known
logic system: " All man must die, Socrate is man, he must die.!.".. This logic is not in our generation,
but from Plato, of many centuries before our era.. The occidental logic system is the foundation of the occidental culture!...or
we can say, ...for the culture of the world!
Otherwise, the oriental cuture is different.! For most literary
people of the West, the oriental culture, considered the oriental culture, specially... the culture of china ...is
mystery!... As we say in the begining of this site, " the oriental culture is magnificent, if we have the
common sense! " Their fact was presented in the " raw material", the readers have to have good knownledge for appreciating
this beauty! For example, the famous story of the oriental culture...A mother would like her son well educated,
by selling her house and moved to the place close to the school! Finally, her son was ..a great philosophe in the past
of china culture!.... Applying this story with the logical system of occidental culture, we might say: " Influence of the
ambiance in the development of the culture!".. For this reason, the oriental culture is difficult to catch up, if we are not
in the mood to accept the facts!...
Buddhism is coming from India for many centuries , but the
religion had been changed, and becoming of the China itself. Taoism is come from China. I would like to present in this
topic because of the similarity of both religions., also their different aspects!.. The comprehension of this topic, demands
us a great knownledge also!. I would like to present the "raw material" for your thinking! They are
great doctrines of religions in China in many centuries, even in our times! ..but also well known for long, by the " depth
of the spirit of the creators!..".
The age of confusion which follwed the fall of the Han Empire eriod of great
importance in the history of religion in China. The 3rd and the 4th centuries AD,an era of turmoil and war, saw the rise and
development of the two religions systems which henceforward offered the only alternatives to Confucian orthodoxy. The introduction
and spread of Buddhism is described in the last section of this topic; here a brief survey of the progress made by its
chief rival, Taoism, will be made.
The transformation of Taoism into a religion was one result of the triumph
of the Confucian school, now established as the state protected orthodox philosophy. The nesw Confusianism, as it emerged
at the hands of the Han scholars, was entirely divorced from the ancient magical rite of the wu magicians. The sholars
who exalted the moral virtues and placed them under the patronage of the supreme deity, T'ien,(Heaven), grudgedany
favours shown to the hetereodox deities worshipped by the wu priests... Taoism, with its doctrine of non-action,
its mysticism, and its disregard of the rites and ceremonies esteemed by the Confucians, was equally frowned upon by the orthodox
scholars. Both Taoism and the cults of the wu priesthood were deeply rooted in the cultural life of the Chinese.
The rather arid doctrines of the Confucian scholars had little appeal for the mass of the people. It was not unatural,
therefore , that the principal heterodox philosophy. Taoism should join force with the popular religion which Confucianism
This alliance, from which later Taoism, a religion more than a philosophic
school, was born, was stimulated by the appearance of the new rival, Buddhism. Both Buddhism and Taoist philosophy
denied the value of the world of appearances, and directed their appeal to the mystical side of human nature. Since this religious
instinct was neglected by Confucian orthodoxy, it was inevitable that the new creeds should awaken a widespread response.
Buddhism offered the hope of Nirvana, or eternal happiness in the Western Paradise. Taoism
, which had hitherto known no doctrine after life. promised the achievement of immortality by alcheministic practices.
Thus the cults which the magicians had populirised at the Court of the Emperor Wu where now systematised by Taoist interpretations
and systhesised into a comprehensive pantheon rivalling, and often borrowing from, Buddhist legend and lore.
Traditionally the new movement is ascribed to Chang Tao-ling, a
native of Chekiang province- the stronghold of the wu cults- who lived in the reign of Kuang Wu Ti , first
Emperor of the Later Han dynasty. Chang Tao-ling is said to have been born in A.D. 34 and to have lived till A.D.156,
a space of one hundred and twenty two years, which, to say the least, appeares improbable. Most of his life was spent in retirement
upona mountain, where he studied alchemy and sought the drug of immortality. Taoist tradition regards him as the first
Tien's Shih or Heavenly Teacher (a title sometimes translated as "pope" ) and he is said
to have achieved immortality and ascended to Heaven on the dragon. There are indeed, few historical facts about Chang Tao-ling
was a descendant of Chang Liang ,a general of Liu P' ang, founder of the Han dynasty, and this
Chang Liu-P'ang, was himself a scion of an ancient family in the Han state. ( Han state is not the same as the han dynasty.
The former was one of the Three Tsin , the state among which the old Tsin kingdom had been divided. The supposed
pedogree of the Chang Taoist popes is a fiction designed to rival the real antiquity of the K'ung family, descended
Although the stories about Chang Tao-ling are
manifestly legend, it is robable that about this time the Taoist philosophy began to assimilate the practices of the
wu cults. and the wu themselves became known as Tao Shih, or Taoist
Teachers. Side by side with the growing infusion of magical practices, there persisted a pure school of Taoist teaching
which continued to attract scholars and poets who found Confucian doctrine unsatisfying. Early in the Tsin dynasty
( A.D 265-316 ) , there was a famous coterie of Taoist scholars who called themselves the Seven Sages
of the Bamboo Grave. Their lives and outlook area chacateristic of the Taoism of this period, expressing the revolt against
the formalism of Confucianism and the turmoil of contemporary politics. The historians, who are, of course, Confucians, thus
describe the activities of the Seven Sages :
" They all revered
and esalted the Void and Non-Action and disregarded the rites and law. They drunk wine to excess and disdained the affairs
of this world...".
The leader of the club, Hsi K'ang ( A.D. 223-262
), was put to death by Ssu-ma Chao, father of the first Court of Wei, the northern state of the Three Kingdoms period.
Hsi K'ang was in the habit of expounding his doctrines to his disciples and had achieved a very great reputation. Ssu-ma Chao,
came to listen to him, but Hsi K'ang made no attempt to treat a minister with ceremony; indeed, he did not appear to notice
his presence. Ssu-ma Chao was offended, and later hearing that Hsi K'ang in the letter to his friend Shan T'ao had
spoken slighingly of T'ang and Wu, the hero founders of the ancient Shang and Chou dynasties, the minister made this a pretext
to execute Hsi K'ang as one of who..."disturbed the times and confused right doctrine.". The real cause of his enmity
was thatas he himself was contemplating usurping the throne of his nominal sovereign, the Emperor of the Wei dynasty, he considered
that Hsi K'ang slighting reference to T'ang and Wu was a covet criticism of himself, these ancient heroes being, in the opinion
of the Taoist, usurpers, not legitimate heirs to the throne.
Shan T'ao, Hsi K'ang friend, was alsoone of the Seven Sages,
and a native of the southern kingdom of Wu. Under the Tsindynasty he held high office as president of the Board of Civil Service.
He seems to have been less excentric than his friends. Liu Ling, another of the Seven, was a great drinker. He used
to declare that to a drunken man the " affairs of the world appear as much duckweed in the river..". He rode about
the capital in a small cart drawn by deer, with a servant following with a large pot of wine. Another servant carried a spade,
and had orders to dig a grave and bury his master forthwith without ceremony, wherever he chanced to die. Yuan Chi and Yuan
Hsien wereuncle and nephew, and like Liu Ling were heavy drinkers. They were both famous musicians although soldiers
by profession. Yuan Hsien had a shameless passion for a lady's serving maid. On one occasion, when he was entertaining guests,
he saw the lady send the maid away. Rising without apology, he hastily borrowed one of the guest's horse and pursued the young
woman, bringing her back on his crupper.
Yuan Chi, his uncle, though sincerely attached to his mother,
and sick with grief at her death, scandalised the scholars by drinking heavily throughout the period of mourning.
Wang Jung and Hsiang Hsiu , the other members of the Bamboo Grove, were
both scholars of distinction. Wang Yung's brother as magistrate of the town in the northern provinces, put into practice the
Taoist theory of government by Non-Action, with results which were a conspicuous success. Hsiang Hsiu
wrote the best known commentary of the work of Chuang Tzu, although, as he died before it was complete, it
has generally been wrongly attributed to Kuo Hsiang, who only completed the unfinished portion.
All the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove cultivated these eccentricities as
a deliberate protest against Confucian formality and the elaborate rites with the scolars wished to surround every human activity.
Behind the facade of drunken eccentricity they pursued the true Taoist ideals of simplicity and harmony with the rhythm of
life. In their writings which took the form of commentaries on the Taoist classic, they developed the philosophic side of
the doctrines which Chuang Tzu had propounded. Wang Pi ( A.D.2was26-249 ), a writer who lived in the
periof of the Three Kingdoms, after the fall of the Han Empire, devoted himself to the branch of Taoism. His commentary on
the Tao Te Ching shows that the higher interpretation of the old Taoist writers was still understood in the
III rd century. Indeed the philosophic charactere of Taoism never entirely disappeared even when the new religious and magic
type of Taoism had gained the ascendant. In the tenets of more than one of the Buddhist Schools, and particularly in the Ch'an
School, Taoist influence is very evident.
Only a few years after the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove there flourished
a Taoist writer who emphasised the new magical element which was transforming the old philosophy. Ko Hung, who wrote
under the pseudo name of Pao P'u Tzu, was a native of Kiangsu, a contemporary of Tsin Yuan
Ti , the first Emperor to re-establish the capital at Nanking after the fall of Lo-Yang to the invading Hsiung Nu.
Ko Hung wrote a book in two sections, an " inner " treatise which deals at length with the alchemistic
processes by which the drug of immortality may be made, and the transmutation of cinnabar and mercury into gold. His "outer
" treatise deals with matters of philosophy and government on Taoist lines.
The inner treatise is of considerable interest as early evidence of
the extent to which the theory of alchemy had been developed asnd associated with Taoism. After arguing at some length that
the long-lived animals demonstrated the possibility of man attaining immortality, since if animals could live so long, man
with the aid of knowledge and power could certainly surpass mere brutes, Ko Hung gives several instances of men and women
wha had attained immortality in the past. One chapter of his book is devoted to methods of attaining immortality, for whichhe
gives recipes. These drugs were not only believed to be capable of postponing death of centuries, but also rejuvenated the
body. The results to be expected were that:
" White hair will become black, lost teeth will grow again, the strength of the body will
be renewed. He who takes it will never grow old, an old man will become a youth once more, he will live for ever and not die."
( Pao P'u Tzu, Nei Pien 4. )
These drugs, and others of a similar nature, enabled to immortal
to walk through fire without being burned, to walk on the surface of water without sinking, to rise into the air, to command
the spirits and demons, and to revive the dead.
In conjunction with the study to procure immortality Ko Hung devotes
much space to the method of making gold, which it was hoped could be produced by chemical action. He gives most definite and
precise instructions about this process, though he does not actually say whether he had succeeded in making gold himself.
As an example of the chemical knowledge and methodes of his time his process is instructive: " Process for make Gold
Ko Hung also wrote about spell magic, and gives specimens
to charms which were of use to those who dwelt in out-of-the-way places, mountains or forests. These he recommended should
be pasted upon the door, beams and pillars of the house.
The new school of alchemistic Taoism also prospered in the northern empire
under the Wei dynasty ( AD 386-557), where it received imperial patronage. In AD 415 a certain
K'ou Ch'ien-chih, a man of good family and younger brother of a provincial governor, who had dwelt for some
years as a hermit on Mt.Sung in Honan, had a vision in which Lao Tzu appeared to him.
From the divine founder of Taoism K'ou received a new book of doctrine in twenty rolls, and also was appointed T'ien Shih,
or Celestial Teacher , chief of the Taoists among mortal men. This incedent sifficiently refutes the claim of the Chang
family to have held the rank of T'ien Shih from father to son since the time of their supposed ancestor Chang Tao-ling. In
A.D. 423 K'ou had a further vision in which the great grand son of Lao Tzu, himself an immortal, appeared to give further
instructions and confirm K'ou's position as T'ien Shih.
In A.D. 428, K'ou Ch'ien-chih left his retreat on Mt.Sung and
came to the Court of the Wei Emperor T'ai Wu ( A.D. 424-452), which was then established near Ta T'ung
Fu T in north Shansi. The Emperor welcomed K'ou and accepted him as the chief of the Taoists. He and his disciples were
lodged at the public expense, and a temple built for them ouside of the capital. The new cult was highly honored, the Emperor
himself paid a visit to the temple in the year A.D.442, and received a book of charms. After this every Emperor of the Wei
Dynasty used to proceed to the Taoist temple at his accession and obtain a charm book.
A few years later, in A.D. 448, K'ou Ch'ien-chih died, but the
death of their leader did not destroy the faith of the disciples. Indeed, it was the cause of renewed honors.
" After his death his corpse stretched and when the disciples measured
it, it was found to be 8 ft 3 in. in length, but after three days it began to shrink and when coffined was no more than 6
in long. Then the disciples believed him to be one who had attained immortality on death, and had become transformed and disappeared
as an immortal."
Taoism prospered under the Wei dynasty, and
when the capital was moved to Lo Yang in Honan, the Taoist temple was established there. Numerous other
adepts appeared, though none attained the fame of Kou Choien-shih. It was to be expected that the Taoists should
resent the competition of Buddhism, which, being an alien creed, offended the conservative sense of the nationally minded
Chinese,nevertheless the Taoists found it wise to compromise with the intruder to some extent. K'ou Ch'ien-chih,
it would appear, described Buddha as one who had found the Tao among the " western barbarians " ( Indians ) and become
an immortal. As such he might be honored, though not of course in a manner equal to Lao Tzu or other Taoist
immortals of superior rank.
The rivalry of Buddhism and Taoism was the cause of
persecutions which fell equally upon both relogions. Taoism had escaped the persecution directed against Buddhism by the Emperor
of the Wei dynasty in A.D. 444. In fact, the Taoists inspired this movement on the grounds that Buddhism was an
alien creed, which had no tradition connection with the golden age so beloved by all Chinese scholars. In A.D. 555 the ruler
of the northern Ch'i State, which occupied the north-eastern provinces, called a congress of Buddhists
and Taoists with the idea of the unifying the two rival religions. The priests of Buddha having proved victorious
in the argument, the Emperor ordered all Taoist proests to shave their heads and become Buddhist monks. There was at first
some opposition, but when four recalcitrant Taoists had been put to death, the others " obeyed the decree" and therefor there
" were no Taoists in the Ch'i domain".
The persecution, hoever, was not of long duration, for not many
years, when the north had passed under the rule of another dynasty, the Northern Chou , the two religions seem
to have been as flourishing as ever. In A.D. 574 the Emperor of that dynasty issued a decree procribing both Taoism
and Buddhism. The priests and monks were made to return to secular life, their scriptures were burnt and the images
of Buddha and the Taoist divinities smashed. A fey years later in A.D. 579 his successor reversed this policy and restored
the temples of both cults, and it is improbable that these short lived persecutions had much effet except in the vicinity
of the capital. Throughout the period of division the new Taoist cult gained steadily in influence both with the mass of the
people, and also in Court circles. Taoism does not seem to have suffered any persecution in the southern empire, while the
influences of Taoist priests and magicians at the Court of Nanking was a factor of importance.
By the end of the VIth century, Taoism was firmly
established in its new form as a popular cult, the rival of Buddhism . It had also adopted the pseudo-sciences
of alchemy and astrology as an integral part of the system. The object of the Taoist devotee was to achieve immortality by
means of magical practices and carefully compounded drugs. If this high aim was beyond his powers, he might at least hope
to gain weath by making goldor failing that, to prolonghis life by the study of drugs less potent than that of immortality.
The consequences of this new turn to Taoist speculations were far more important than has usually been admitted.
Alchemy and medicine became identified with Taoism. and Taoism was an
unorthodox cult, opposed by the scholars of the Confucian school. When Taoism was favored by the Court , the Confucian hostility
could be ignored, but when Taoism lost this support, the weight of the Confucian influence was against it. Taoism therefore
gradually became a despised popular religion, regarded as gross superstition by the schoolars and educated classes. As alchemy
and medicine were the stock-in-trade of the Taoist rpiest, there sciences shared the contempt lavished upon Taoist teaching.
Alchemy, though its hopes were too high and its methods unsound, was none the less the parent of true scientific chemistry.
In China all such sciences incurred the derision which was meted out to Taoism as the superstitious cult of the " stupid
people ". Medicine, which was inspired by Taoist ideas about the elixir vitae, shared this neglect. Educated
persons left such practices to Taoists, who were more and more frequently men of low origin and little learning.
This was the cause of the divorce between learning ans science which prevented the
Chinese from discovering the principles of the exact sciences.
Dicoveries were made, but they were left to the Taoism Priests.
The magnetic compass was used to determine the favorable location of graves. Gunpowder had been discovered by Taoist investigators
in their search for the philosopher's stone, yet until the Mongol invaders put it to the uses of war, the Chinese
had only employed explosives in fire crackers, used to scare away evil influences. Science, anything which smacked of alchemy
or the drug of immortality, was treated as a charlatanism only fit for the ignorant and lowly. The Scholar should concern
himself with book learning, litarature, history, poetry- but not with science.
Prior to the contact with European civilisation in
the XIX century, Buddhism was by far the most important cultural influence of foreign origin introduced into China in
the historical period.
The effect of Buddhism upon Chinese thought, art,
and the customs of daily life is comparable to the influence of christianity upon the nations of the west. Buddhism
is the only foreign element in the Chinese culture which has penetrated every class of society, maintained its hold
over long centuries, and become accepted as an essential part of the national civilisation. Politically the history
of China can be broadly divided the feudal and i perial periods, and in religious history there is a Buddhist and pre-Buddhist
The new creed not only altered the religious system of China;
it familiarised the Chinese with the pre-Buddhist Indian philosophies and religions, and in the realm of art it served
as the conduit by which Hellenistic influence flowed eastward across Central Asia. So many sided and powerful a force
as Indian Buddhism could not fail to modify the Chinese civilisation profoundly, but in the end it was Buddhism,
rather than Chinese culture, which underwent the greatest transformation. The merits of Indian philosophy
have been much discussed in the west where the have found vigourous defenders, but to the Chinese, a people with
an intensely practical side to their character, the illimitable vagueness of Indian speculation proved unpalatable.
As time passed they began to interpret Buddhism doctrine in terms of moral virtues already familiar from the Chou School
of philosophy. Chinese Buddhism reshaped under these strong native influences took a form which bears only a faint
and superficial resemblance to the Indian system from which it sprang.
The Chinese artists who were called upon to illustrate episodes in the life of Buddha naturally portrayed the Indian
sage in surroundings with which they familiar, just as the Italian primitives painted the Christian saints in the costumes
of renaissance Italy. One famous picture shows Buddha attending the dead-bed of his father, King Sudhodana, in the
typical Chinese Palace hall.
The exact nature of the original Indian doctrine is itself very uncertain. Buddhism, when it reached China in the Irst
century A>D>, was already an old religion, with some four or five centuries of history behind it. The dates of
Gautama Buddha's life are not precisely known. It has indeed been argued that no such person ever existed, or if he did,
he was not the founder of Buddhism, but a reformer who reshaped an ancient creed. This controversy must be left to Indian
historians ans Sanskrit scholars. Conservative opinion regards Gautama as a historical personage, who probably lived
and preached in Northern India in the first half of the Vth century B.C., the date of his death being either 479 or 477
B.C. No contemporary evidence eother of his life or teaching exists in any language. The monuments of King Asoka, circa
272 - 231 B.C , attest the existence and flourishing state of Buddhism in India at that time, but the evidence of these
inscriptions does not always confirm the theology of the most conservative Buddhist School, the Hinayana.
At an unknown date, usually believed to be in the early part
of the Irst century A.D.. Buddhism split into two opposing camps, Hinayana and Mahayana, the Lesser and Greater
Vehicle, respectively. The Hinayana do not themselves accept this opprobrious epithet, applied
to them by their advesaries. The Hinayan, who today are the Buddhists of Ceylon, Burma et Thailand, hold to what they
believe to be the true and simple doctrine of Gautama, and regard the Mahayana common with the primitive
doctrine. Modern scholars have been inclined to dispute the traditionally accepted view. It is now contended that
Mahayana Buddhism, though perhaps not holding closely to the teaching of Gautama, is none the less founded upon
a religious system as ancient as the Buddha, if not earlier, incorporating beliefs long current in India, but which were ignored,
or perhaps opposed, by the primitive Buddhists.
In the Hinayana system, Gautama is the Buddha,
the sole Buddha, who now reposes for ever Nirvana - the absence of desire and striving - having left to mankind a
simple rule by which they may attain a like bliss, either at the end of their present incarnation, or at most at the end of
seven incarnations. The creed knows no prayers,invacations or offerings, for Buddha is not God, but man who has attained perfection
and thrown off the Karma of sin, which dooms mankind to successive reincarnations in the world of pain and sorrow.
Whether Mahayana Buddhism was reshaped under Hellenistic influences
which took a less melancholy view of human existence, or whether it represented the Indian taste fir cosmic speculation (
which Gautama condemned as profitless ) the Great Vehicule framed what is in effect an entirely new religion. Gautama
now becomes merely one reincarnation in the vast series of Buddhas stretchingfrom an illimitable past into an equally infinite
future. Not only on ths worldbut inother worlds numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Buddhas have live and preached
at intervals separated by myriads of years, from the time past human calculation. This world is but a speck in space and an
instant in time; it will past away and Maitreya will be the Buddha of the next period.
In the later developments of Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddhas
past and to come gradually become gods of transcendent power, hearkening to the prayers of mankind, responding to invocations,
delighting in offerings and incense. Ultimately Amida or Amidabha Buddha, a personage unknown to the early
Buddhist scrptures and conjectured to be a revival of the Indian Brahma or the Zoroastrian Ahura- Mazda, beame the
object of almost exclusive devotion, and his pure paradise, the Western Heaven, the goal to which the pious may aspire.
Nirvana and Gautama Buddha are almost forgotten.
It was Mahayana Buddhism which was introduced into China
in the year A.D. 65 in the reign of Han Ming Ti, of the later Han Dynasty. The Hinayana system, though known
to the Chinese, never gained any wide currency in the Far East, and died out there altogether in the Xth century. Both forms
of Buddhism are extinct in their native India, where they succumbed under the brutal impact of Islamic invasion and the subtle
opposition of the ancient Hindu religion. According to the Chinese history, the Emperor Han Ming Ti dreamed that
there was a powerful divinity in the west, and sent an embassy to bring his cult to China. The ambassador travelled to India
and returned with Buddhist images and Sankrit books, which were translated into Chinese at Lo Yang by two Indian
monks who had accompanied the envoy. These two Indians were Kasyapa - Matanga and Dharma - aranya,
listed in the index of the authors of the Chinese Tripitaka, orcollection of Buddhist Scriptures, as the first to
translate Buddhist works into Chinese. They worked at the White Horse Manastery ouside Lo Yang, so called
from the white horse which carried the sacred books from India to China. This monastery, Pai Ma Ssu, or rather one
upon the same site, still exists.
It is probable that some knowledge of Buddhism had arlreadybeen
acquired by the Chinese envoys to Central Asia and Bactria. for that region, now purely Mohammedan, was an early
and active centre of Buddhism. It is even probable that the first Buddhist mission came from ane of these countries, and not
from India proper. The Han Emperors, as has been mentioned in an earlier chapter, were keen religious innovators, and
were always prepared to welcome a new deity. But the welcome given by the Court to Buddhism remained without
any influence on the nation as a whole in the Han period. Buddhism was a curiosity of the capial, its teaching was in the
hands of foreigners, and it doesn't appear to have exercised any notable influence either on the masses or upon the educated
class, which was strongly Confucian. This early imperial patronage of foreign monks is exactly comparable to the welcome accorded
to the first Catholic missionaries by the Ming Emperors and theirfirsr successors of the Manchu dynasty.
In both cases the first contact led to no visible results.
The translation of Buddhist works and the propagation of the faith
in the Han period were almost entirely the work of foreigners. Only one China author or translator appears in the list.
The others were drawn from a variety of nations in Central Asia, Indians, Turanians, Parthians, Kushans ,
like the equally international recruitment of the ranks of the Christian Missionaries in modern China. The vogue of Buddhism
was in fact confined to the Court, and its teaching firmly opposed by the Confucian scholar class, who formed the dominant
party among the educated and had the administration of the empire in their hands. Had the centralised empire endured, relying
as it did on this scholar class, it is probable that Buddhism would never have taken form root in China, and would have withered
away as Nestorian Christianity, introduced and flourishing in the T'ang dynasty ( VII th to X th centuries)
disappeared, leaving as its only record the famous Ch'ang An tablet.
The fall of the Han Empire, and the partitions and barlarian invasions
which followed, opened the roed to Buddhism, and effected a religious revolution which was the most significant development
in what the historians of Confucian tradition described as an "Age of Confusion". While Indian translators, assisted
byan increasing number of Chinese colleguescontinued to wrokd upon the vast task of rendering the Sankirit originals into
Chinesethe northern Tartar dynasts extended their favor to Buddhist monks in the conquered provinces. The Confucian
scholars had for the most part fled south when Lo Yang fell. Those who remained in the north were not favored by
the invaders, who rightly suspected this class of secret loyalty to the Chinese Emperor and hostility to the conquerors. The
new sovereigns, needing the assistance of the literate class, found in the Buddhists and Taoists, who had been the opponents
of the orthodox Confucians, a body of scholarly men who were trustworthy and loyal.
In the IVth and Vth centuries A.D., there was an immense
expansion of Buddhism in northern China. This area being in contact with the Central Asdiatic trade route, bu which
communication with India was made, it was naturally the region to which the Indian missionaries of Buddhism paid the greatest
attention. The petty kingdoms of northern China under their short lived Tungus and Hun dynasties were distinguished
in the richness and productivity of their Buddhist schools, by which alone they are remembered. At Ch'ang An in A.D.
401-412, then the capital of the small state of later Chin,the celebrated Kumarajiva, a monk of Indian descent
born in Central Asia, worked and taught, spreading the doctrines of new schools of Buddhism, hitherto unknown in China.
Nevertheless the Buddhists did not enjoy uninterrupted favour. Inspired
usually by Taoist opposition, persecutions were directed against them in all the states of China, but, fortunately for Buddhism,
the persecutions were not simutaneous, and did not endure for long. In A.D. 446 the ruler Wei ,the northern empire,
issued an edict against the Buddhists, but as his rival in the Chinese Empire was prepared to receive them, the monks were
able to escape its effects. A few years later, Buddhism was at the height of its favour in Wei, andwas enjoying the
fruitful patronage of the great Buddhist Emperor Liang Wu Ti of the southern Chinese Empire. These persecutions
never resembled those so familiar from western religious history. There were no burnings, no torture or massacre of the faithful.
At most the authorities ordered the destruction of some or all of the monasties, and forced monks and nuns to return to family
life, sometimes by the expedient, repugnant to all good Buddhists, of mating the monks and nuns themselves.
These ineffective amd intermittent persecutions failed to arrest the
progress of the new religion. In A.D.405 the historians cofess that nine out of every ten families in the northern empire
had embraced the Buddhist faith. The proportion is significant, for the non-Buddhist tenth fairly represents the educated
class of Confucian scholars and Taoist sectaries who alone remained detached from the new religion. The mass of the people,
finding in Buddhist a religion which offered them in the next world all that they lacked in their present existence, had adopted
the practice of the foreign faith, even if the dogma and theory were but little understood.
A hundred years later, in A.D.500, it is admitted that the whole of China,
north and south alike, was Buddhist. That is to say, Buddhist rites and ceremonies were everywhere pactised; temples and monasteries
had arisen en every district; priests and nuns were numerous and hightly respected. A few Confucian scholars refused for themselves
the salvation which their own families and particularly the women, eagerly embraced. The Taoists, borrowing shamelessly
from the rival religion, maintained a more effective opposition.
It wpuld be a mistake to represent this national conversion as a complete
break with the religious past, such as marked the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. Strange as it may seem to
westerners, the Chinese have a capacity for believing, or at least honouring, several apparently imcompatible doctrines at
the same time. It is the most remarkable manifestation of the national gift for compromise. At the present time the vast majority
of Chinese honour Confucius, worhip Amida Buddha, and use Paoist rites without any sense of incompatibility. " Three ways
to one goal " they say. It would, however, be correct to treat this attitude as a mere materialist desire to be on the
safe side, a kind of triple insurance against calamity.
In the Far East religion has never assumed the categorical absolutism
of the western religions deriving from Judaism. Neither Bus=ddha, nor Confucius, nor the Taoist sages even said: Thou
shalt have none other gods but me" Buddhism, in itMahayana form, accepts, and at the same tome ignores, the complicated
pantheon of Hinduism. The gods exist, but the worship of them is not the best way to escape from the cycle of reincarnation
and attain everlasting repose in the Western Para
Confucius , who undoubtedly revered the deities of his own time,
refrained from proclaimingtham as the only true gods, perhaps because alien systems were unknown to him. For the men of his
time worship of the gods consisted in a strict fulfilment of certain ritual acts, and was not associated with ideas of personal
Taoism, in becoming a religion rather than a philosophy accepted any and every
deity and made them its own, with an appropriate place and function in the celestial hierarchy. Buddha himself did not escape
It is significant that this tolerant attitude was never adopted
by the Chinese converts to Islam. The Mohamedan Chinese regard all their Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist compatriots as unbelievers
with whom the Moslem will not intermarry. True to the exclusive attitude which Islam borrowed from Judaism, they remain
a class apart.
Buddhism, therefore, although accepted by the Chinese people did
not displace the older gods and the worship of the ancestral, spirits. The Buddhist emperors continued to worship Heaven,
and the gods of the soil and grain. Taoism en riched its pantheon with Buddhist and Hindu deities of Indian origin. Nevertheless,
early Chinese Buddhism retained its corporate character and regarded the native systems as opponents.
The prieshood were perhaps exclusively Buddhist, venerating only theThree Precious
Ones, Buddha, The Law, and The Priesthood. The present tolerance which has wholly submerged Buddhism in a tripartite
system in which Confucianism and Taoism hold equal rank, had not then quenched the faith and vigour of the missionary priests.
The translation of Sanskrit books was continued by a succession
of monks and laymen, both Indian and Chinese, and with the wider knowledge of Sanskrit, the literay quality of the translations,
which had at first been poor, began to improve.
Earnest pilgrims, not content with the partial versionbs known in China,
understook hazardous voyages across the breadth of Asia in search of purer sources. In A.D. 399 Fa Hsiena Chinese
Monk of Ch'ang An,travelled aroxx the Central Asia to India, and had left a region known to-day as Chinese Turkestan, where
he found Buddhism in the flourishing state, the pilgrim crossed the Hindu Kush and made his way into India through Afghanistan.
At that time, before the rise of Islam, the region now famous for its fantical Mohammedanism was the center
of Buddhism, the cities adorned with pagodas and monasteries from which some of the most famous doctors of the faith had come.
In India itself, Buddhism, though still aa active force, was already showing signs of the decay which ultimately destroyed
it. Many of the famous sites and centres of Buddhist learning were already desolate or dying.
After several years in India, Fa Hsien sailed from Bengal to Ceylon, then as now, a country ofHinayana
Buddhism. From Ceylon ( new name Sri Lanka) the adventurous pilgrim took ship for Java which he reached after narrowly
This country was not Buddhist at that time. At last Fa Hsien returned to China by sea, landing on the Shantung
coast after a perilous voyage, in which, the captain having lost his reckoning, the travellers passed seventy days at sea
without sighting land, and finally reached the Chinese coast hundreds of miles north of their proper destination, which was
Canton. Fa Hsien has been fifteen years away from his native land. After his return he settled at Nanking, the capital
of the southern empire, and devoted his remaining years to translating the numerous books which he had brought home
through so many dangers.
A hundred years later, Liang Wu Ti, the most famous
Emperor of the Southern Chinese realm, took Buddhism under his protection.
By his orders and under his patronage the first Tripitaka or
collection of all Buddhist scriptures was prepared and published in the year A.D.517. Ten years later,the Emperor himself,
in spite of the protests of the Court, enrolled himself as a monk and entered a monastery at the capital. He was only
persuaded with difficulty to return to the throne, and insisted on paying the monks a large sum as a ransom for leaving their
order. Two years later, in A.D. 529,he once more renounced the world, and was again persuaded to leave the monastery after
paying a further large ransom. Confucian historians console themselves by pointing out that this great ruler by neglecting
his empire exposed it to the perils of rebellion and himself died at the age of 86 when the capital had fallen into the hands
of the soldier of fortune. In the northern empire Buddhism was honored in equal measure. In A.D.533, Hsiao Wu, ruler
of the Wei state, then dominant the north, isued a second edition of the Tripitaka, shortly after the Empress
Hu in this dynasty. a fervent Buddhist, had spent vast sums in building temples and monasteries.
As the knowledge of Sanskrit works translated into Chinese
spread, the Chinese monks obtained a better understanding of the diverse schools of doctrine into which Indian Buddhism
had long been divided. Manuy of these schools were introduced into Chinaand some developed new branches on purely Chinese
iniative. Of these the most distinctive was the Ch'an, the Chinese name for the Indian Dhyana. The Ch'an school
claimthat their systemwas founded by the Indian monk Boddhidarma., who was living at Lo Yang between
A.D. 516 and 534. It is, however, more than doubtful where Boddhidarma, who is described in the contemrary account as a
Persian, was in reality as important a person as the Ch'an believe. His life story, as preserved in Ch'an tradition,is
almost wholly legendary, although some of the details, such as his miraculous passage of the Yangtze on the reed,
have become famous folk tales, and have inspired a long succession of artists.
The Ch'an school laid the greatest stress upon contemplation
as the only and essential road to enlightenment. The duty of man was to discover, by contemplation, the germ of Buddhahood,
which lies laten in every humain-being. As soon as this discovery is made,the enlightened one attains the status of a Buddha
in this life, without needing a reincarnation. The school cared little for theology, and avoided written tracts, relying on
the personal oral teaching of master and disciple. It was vigorously opposed by all the other schools, who regarded its tenets
as heretical. Nevertheless, the Ch'an school flourushed both in China,and later, in Japan.
There can be little doubt, although certain
Ch'an tenets were of Buddhist origin, much of the theory and practice of the sect came from Chinese Taoism,
Indeed, stripped of its Buddhist terminology, Ch'an seemes to bear a very close resemblance to the Taoist teaching
of Chuang Tzu and the Tao Te Ching. Already, by the VIth century,the pervasive force of Chinese thought
was coloring Indian Busshism with hue, but Indian schools ans sects continued to win converts and enjoy high favour
at the Cort of the Buddhist Emperors of that period...
In A.D. 563, the Indian monk Paramartha introduced the only
Hinayana School which flourished in China. This school, known in India as Sarvastivida, and in China
as Chiu She Tsung, was conservative, clinging to the Hinayana doctrines, which were regarded as the most
authentic tradition of Gautama's teaching. Although this school made some appeal to scholars and intellectuals, it
naver captureed the popular approval and died out in the X th century, when the rise of what was in fact a new religion, Amidism
Buddha, changed the whole character of Chinese Buddhism.
Toward the end of the period of partition Chih K'ai,
a Chinese monk of the great monastery at T'ien T'ai, near Ning Po in Chekiang province, founded
the purely Chinese school which is usually known as T'ien T'ai,and in Japanese Tendai.
The tenets of this school clearly reflect its Chinese
origin. Chih K'ai tried to reconcile the diverse accounts of Buddha's teaching by a compromise which treated the
texts as a series, each proper only to its context. Apparent contradictions could thus be explained by interpreting the text
in accordance with the supposed occasion of its delivery and the nmatter with which it dealt. The teaching could be divided
into an early and developed doctrine, which had gradually been expounded to the disciples as their enlightenment processed.
It further reconciled the Mahayana theory of ultimate Buddhahood for true believers by teaching that every man had
in him the capacity to attain Buddhahood if he nourished this side of his nature.
The influence of Confucian Ideas
on the interpretation of difficult and inconvenient texts by some theory of the occasion on which they were uttered, is plain
in the teacching of the T'ien T'ai school.
Perhaps on account of its attitude of compromise, it made a wide
appeal to the Chinese and became one of the most flourishing schools of Buddhism in the Far East. It was not until
the 14th century, when Amidism had almost entirely replaced early Buddhism, that the T'ien T'ai school began
to decline.Chih K'ai, its founder, an able and fluent writer, dies in 597 before Christ shortly after the reunion
of the empire under the Sui dynasty.
Amidism, the ultimately dominant school of Buddhism,
or rather the new religion which displaced the tradional Buddhism of the early period, was introduced into China during these
centuries, bur did not at first meet with much favor. It was not until the monk Kumarajiva translated the work
known to the Chinese as theAmida Classic ( A Mi To Ching, in Sankrit Sukhavati-vyuha ) that the new cult
began to spred. Further works translated a few years later helped to popularise the Amida, or Amitabha ,a
personage unknown to early Buddhist dogma. He is not a man, but a deity of the lotus, in the marvelous paradise Sukhavati,
the Chinese call Hsi T'ien, The Western Heaven.
The road to salvation is no longer the arduous life of Abstention and
contemplation which Gautama had preached. To escape the torments of hell and be reborn in the Western Paradise it
is only necessary to invoke the name of Amida. A higher edeal was indeed offered to those who found this semple rule
of life too easy. The new ideal was no longer Nirvana, hte extinction of desire and the relief of all suffering,
it was to become a Buddha by devoting the whole activity of terrestrial life to benevolence towards all men. Thus, Kuan
Shih Yin or Kuan Yin , originally the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, became the goddess of
mercy," who hears the cry of the world", as the Chinese name indicates. She is the compassionate Bodhisattva who,
when about to enter into Buddhahood, turned back to listen to the cry of suffering which rose up from the earth,
and vowed to postpone her own eternal deification until every living creature had been raised in the scale of existence to
her own subblime elevation.
Three other major Bodhisattvas share the veneration paid to
Kuan Yin, although their functions and characters are not very clearly differentiated from hers. Ti Tsang ( Kshitigarbha)
is the divinity who, renouncing Buddhahood as Kuan Yin had done, devotes his existence to alleviating the suffering
of souls condemned to pass acon in hell. The Buddhist doctrine does not admit of eternal punishment, but erring souls are
condemned to suffer torments in hell for very long ages to expiate the crimes they commit on earth.Ti Tsang had power
over Yen Wang, the King of Hell, and can deliver or mitigate the tortures of the damned.Wen Shu ( Manjusri) and
P'u Hsien are associated in China with the sacred mountains Omei in Szechuan and Wu T'ai Shan in
They two are Bodhisattvas who renounced Buddhahood in
order to assist imperfect mankind in the long ascent to divinity. Maitreya,in Chinese Mi Lo Fo ,often called
the "laughing Buddha" is not strictly speaking either a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. He is the Buddha to come, who will
be reborn on earth for the last time as Bodhisattva, who like Gautama will achieve the supreme height in
Amidism, in which the cult of these Bodhisattvas
play a conspicuous part, did not gain the ascendency it now enjoys until several centuries after the period of partition,
when it was first introduced into China. Constantly advancing in popular favor, it was the first disregarded in scholarly
circles, and it was not until the 10th century, at the end of the T'ang dynasty, that the cult of Amida Buddha
outstripped all others.
The reunion of the north and south under the Sui dynasty in A.D.589
and the consolidation of the second unified empire by the T'ang in A.D.618 gave Buddhism a new impetus Although Confucian
scholars attempted to enforce mesures limiting the numbers of priests and monasteries, their efforts met with only fleeting
success, and Buddhism flourishing under the patronage of the Court, became established as a national religion which
continued ti throw outvigorous new branches. The Sui sovereigns ordered the publicationof three new editions of the
Tripitaka in the short space of two decades. Early in the T'ang dynasty the celebrated pilgrim Yuan
Chuang ( known also under the name Hsuan Tsang ,or Hiuen Tsang) set out on a voyage to India as famous as that
of his predecessor Fa Hsien
Starting from Ch'ang An, Yuan Chuang made his way across
Turkestan to Samarkand. Most of these countries were still strongly Buddhist, as they had been two
hundred years before in Fa Hsien's day. Yuan Chuang trvalled into India by way of Afghanistan, where he
found Buddhism flourishing. He visited Kashmir, and was hospitably entertained at the Court of the great Hindu King, Harshavardhana
or Siladitya, at Kanauj, not far from the modern Lucknow in the United Provinces.
Siladitya had heard of the fame and glory of the great T'ang T'ai Tsung, the real founder of the T'ang
dynasty, who was then on the throne. He treated Yuan Chuang with great consideration, and made many inquiries
about China and its famous ruler. The pilgrim, who was a man of good family and personally acquainted with the Emperor, was
able to answer these questions with many details.
After an absence of sixteen years, Yuan Chuang returned to
China by the land route, bringing with him no less than 657 Indian Texts, a number of images of the saints and Buddhas made
of precious material and curious workmanship, and 150 genuine relics of the Buddha. It is not often that one finds
so well documented an account of the introduction of new artistic influences as this importation of Indian and Central Asiatic
works of art.Yuan Chuang also brought back to China the teaching of a new school, the Madhyamayana.which
preached a subjective idealism. The ego alone is real, the universe, being the product of thought, is imaginary. This school
had a certain success in the T'ang period, but died out under the constant pressure of the allconquering Amidism.
Yuan Chuang, who was received with great honnours on his return,
enjoyed the favour and friendship of the Emperor T'ai Tsung, and spent the rest of his days at the labour of translating
the books he had brought from India, and in composing, at the Emperor's wish. a record of his travels. He died, nineteen years
after his return to China, in A.D.664.
The Hua Yen Tsung, another school which appealed to many Chinese
by reason of its agreement with certain edeas already well known from Taoist writers,was propagated by the Chinese
Monk, Tu Shun, a contemporary of Yuan Chuang, though a much older man. He died at the age of 84, in A>D>640.
His school claimed to preach the higher and complete doctrine of Buddhism. It accepted the Mahayanist belief in the
multitude of Buddhas, past and future, and the doctrine, taken up by Amidism, that all may become Buddha in
the course of time. Its principal tenet, which agreed with Taoist philosophy, was the belief in anabsolute unity
transcending all divergencies, in which even contraries were seen to bebut forms of the Primal One.
The speculative philosophy of these schools before long provoked a positive
reaction among the practical minded Chinese.Tao Hsuan, who died A>D> 667, was also a contemporary of Yuan
Chuang. He founded the Lu Tsung, a purely Chinese school which returned to the primitive Buddhist standpoint.
Philosophic speculation was decried as contrary to the true teaching of Buddha. Leaving theory aside, Tao Hsuan and
his disciples concentrated on the practice of benevolence. The duty of the true Buddhist they declared, was to arrive at the
profession of universal benevolence. These ideas bear a strong Confucian impress. On that account, perhaps, the Lu Tsung
has always appealed to Chinese Buddhists and succeeded in resisting the influence of Amidism and maintaining
itself to the present time. Its influence on morality andpublic conduct has been considerable and beneficent. With the decay
of other schools under the influence of Amidism this doctrine gradually gathered to itself all the more intellectual
elements de Chinese Buddhism.
In the next century, the last important addition to the schools of early
Buddhism was made by two Indian monks,Vajrabodhi, a Brahman by caste, who worked between A>D> 719-732 and his
disciple Amogha , also a Brahman, who died in China in A>D>774. These Indians were responsible for introducing
Tantrism, the form of Buddhisme which has conserved the greatest part of pre-Buddhistic Hinduism. Strongly influenced
byYogi doctrine and the cult of Siva,the sect makes unse of formulae of magic power called in Hindi,
mantra; in Chinese,chen yen " true words", and of the Yogi respiratory exercises which produce self hypnotism.
It recongnises a kind of trinity composed ofGautama Buddha, Amida, and Vairocana,who form a single Buddha.
This sect also venerates Siva and his bride Vajrapati and numerous other INdians deities and demons. It
has had a considerable influence, and an unfortunate kind, on Chinese superstition, and still flourishes. In reality, Tantrism
is the only Buddhism by name, being a compound of Sivaism and other Hindu cults, with a flavour of Buddhism
and a foundation of still more ancient animism.Amogna , who was mainly responsible for its success in China, made
a voyage to Ceylon ( Sril anka) and India to obtain the books of his sect. On his return he enjoyed high flavour,
was given titles and the rank of minister and spent his life in translating the books which ha had brought from the west.
By the end of the T'ang dynasty Buddhism, considerably
modified by Chinese ideas and beliefs, had won a lasting place in Chinese culture, from which it has never been displaced.
Although constanly opposed by Confucian scholars such as Han Yu ( A.D. 768-824) in the T'ang period, and a long succession
of men in later ages, the mass of the people accepted Buddhism after their fashion, and gave Buddha an equal place with the
national sages and deities. Although the Court favoured Buddhism, and largely endowed monasteries and temples, the Buddhist
Church, perhaps on account of its own divisions and loose organisation never acquired political power and domination comparable
to the Christian Churches in Europe. Even at the height of Buddhist favour, the political power remained in the hand of laymen
who were Confucian in training, even if Buddhist in sympathy and the practice of daily life...
Gaous Valerius was born about 84 BC( before Christ)
at Verona, Cisalpine Gaul, and dead in54 BC He was a Roman poet whose expressions of Love and hated are generally considered
the finest lyric poetry of ancient Rome. In 25 of his poems he speaks of his love for a woman he called Lesbia, whose identity
is uncertain. Other poems by Catullus are scurrilous outburst of contempt or hated for Julius Caesar and lesser personages.
Catullus was a great poet.The translation of his poems demanded the
collaboration of many great authors in many centuries. Most of them are the great authors in England, included Byron, Grant,
Burton, Amhurst, Flecker,...I have plan of writing this topic for long, but I had to have time to collect all documents! A
little late, but more details for this great poet... I would like to invite you to see how great this poet was!...
Gaius Valerius Catullus came up to Rome in his early twenties,
shortly before Pompey and Julis Caesar consolidated their power and interests within the bonds of the first
triumvirate. His father owned property in Versula and a substantial country willa on Sirmio, a peninsula
which juts boldly out into Lake Garda. For that reason,his framily could surely claim a considerable degree of local
Born and reared exclusively in the neighborhood of Verona,
Catullus breathed throughout his early years the fresh and invigorating air of mountains whose slopes glitted under snow
in Winter and reflected, during other seasons, the green and golden hues of cultivated field and quarry. Natural beauty as
luxuriant as anything Italy has to offer confronted him on all sides where silver olive groves point up the darker shadows
of vineyard, mulberry, laurel and cypress against a white and cobalt background of lake and snow-capped Alps. Small wonder,
under such circumstances, that throughout his later life he ever yearned to rest from care once more in his beloved villa
on the strand of Sirmio, from whence, as a boy, he had first journeyed down into Versona to attend school.
Here he acquired most of the fashionable vices common to schoolboys
in every age, as he pored over the intellectual riches of the dying Greek world. Who were his companions during these
salad days? After the lapse of two thousand years we can no longer tell, but the names of Cato, Caelius, Quintius breed
tantalizing speculation. Valerius Cato held aloft the light of Hellenistic literry tradition as father of
thart school of new poets,known patronizingly in Roman society as The Youngsters. Wheter Catullus actually
studied under him at Venora...we do not know. But be that as it may, the young man most assuredly moved south to
Rome with excellent credentials.... a highly educated, sensitive ans sophistocated fellow--- in the year 62 B.C. Here
he soon established himself as a member in good standing of Cato's circle of young poets, orators, lawyers and amateur
politicians. Eldest among these was Furius Bibaculus, who once celebrated his mentor's poverty in playful lines characterictic
of the entire group to which he belonged:
If you should see my Cato's shed,
the peeling timbers painted red,
the vegetable garden there,
you'd wonder how the man could rise
to such a kinship with the wise.
colewort daily, half a pound
of meal, some grapes, have been the fare
that brings him to life's furthest bound.
Furius was Cisalpine, a fellow countryman and
contemporary of Catullus. He had a faculty for making enemies, among them Julius Caesar. His sharp tongue
and irregular moral practices may well have disturbed even Catullus, who was himself far grom squeamish in such matters.
More appealing than Furius was Gaius Licinius Calvus,
orator and poet- a mite of a man and the best of all the good companions whom Catullus loved. Although he died when
only thirty-five years of age, yet his precise and lucid oratorical style won him fame, while he lived, to rival that of Cicero.
A fiery and nervous temperament left its mark upon Roman Literature in a few scraps of verse and in the occasional reference
of a contemporary or later author to his influence and ability. Above all, however, he comes to life in the verses of
Catullus, who shared with him such an intimate mutual devotion as only two passionately sensitive spirits could comprehend
Succeeding centuries, which treated Calvus none too kindly,
have obscured altogether the identity of Veranius and Fabullus, who might alone compete with him for the
poet's affection. Although we know not who they were, we can recognize other friends without much difficulty:Helvius Cinna
of Brescia,the poet; Quintilius Varus of Cremona, the critic; Cornelius Nepos of
Verona, and the stripling poet and soldier, Cornificius. All of these men reflected the spirit and ideals
of their master,Valerius Cato.
At the same time, this group, included an occasinal representative
of the finest patrician stock to be found in all Rome. Such as Manlius Torquatus of ancient leneage, son of a man
who had been consul in the year 65 B.C. As a wealthy young dilettante, he had much to offer. He dabbled in poetry, law and
epicurean philosophy. he was sympathetic and hospitable. Indeed, his fine house may perhaps have harbored Catullus at
a most critical moment in the poet's life. Each bolstered and encouraged the other, alike in ectasy and bereavement, as only
thrue friends can do.
In his lifetime, Catullus was a poet'spoet,
addressing himself to fellow craftman(docti, or scholarly poet), especially to his friend Licinius Calvus,who
is often posthumously commemorated along with him.
But Manlius had another associate less
estomable than Catullus, Marcus Caelius Rufus was a shrewed and determined adventure. A small fortune gave him the
start in life he needed. Tall frame and fair complexion, charm and a handsome face concealed his lack of scruple. In a letter
to Cicero, Caelius plainly dosclosed the frivolous and dissilute nature of the society in which he circulated:
Nothing new whatever has happened, unless
want me to send you such gossip as
follows, and I'm sure you do. Young
Cornificius is bettrothed to Orestilla's
daughter. Paula Valeria... has divorced
her husband without explanation on the
very day he returned from his province...
Servius Ocella would never have persuaded
anyone that he had seduced anything, if
he hadn't been caught twice in three days.
You'll ask " Where"? The very last place,
on my word, that I could have wished ! "
These, then, were the men whose company
Catullus relished. If stormy quarrels arose among them. emotions shared in common could always reunite them again
in the future. Scorn and hatred of Caesar, contempt for Pompey provided a bond. Cicero befriended
many of them. Hence they moved freely in the highest of social and political circles. Taste and distate, when phrased in fulsome
eulogy or salvage lampoon, provided them with many an esteemed ally or dangerous foe. Self-interest was the mainspring of
these political relationships, which shifted with the wind. A woman's heart could hardly have been more fickle.
Catullus found the comparison an easy one to make. As a young
man, either at Verona or at Rome, he met the beautiful and depraved but intellectually brilliant Clodia,
who both by descent and by marriage was connected with two of the most venerable and distinguished senatorial families. When
Catullus first saw her mature beauty and at the zenith of her political power. Catullus was several years
her junior. In spite of this fact, he fell passionately in love- apparently from the very moment when they frist met.
This love engrossed his entire physical body as well as his entire intellect and soul.
As he speaks to us of it today across the centuries, the
tragic story of his relationship with Cloria remains one of the most celebrated love affairs in all western litterature.
We may well wonder how any man, and especially a Roman, could record his emotions with such a startling and naked intensity.
Some see in this a Celtic, rather than a Latin quality.
It is hardly necessary, on the other hand, to assume Celtic influence
in order to account for the impression made upon Catullus by a beautiful, heartless and licentious woman of the world.
Youth in Verona had already left him as skilled in the mere mechanics of physical passion as he was unaware
of the heights of which a genuine and deeply felt love can aspire. Confronted with such as experience for the first time,
he was caught off balance. Before he could recover his equilibrium, he bacame hopelessly involved in a chain of psychological
crises, during which he confided to his closest friends ( and hence to all furure ages since his day ) a record of some of
the profoundest emotions which the human heart can feel.
Throughout this period, he never once addressed Clodia by
her actual name, but referred to her only as Lesbia - and it is by that name that she ever since been known. The
first poem he addressed to her reveales the profoundly i=universal aspects of his arts. Some men doubtless will never experience
the exaltation of a genuine love which consumes all the energies alike of heart, body, soul and mind. But among those who
have been so transported few will fail to respond - from personal experience, even today, two thousand years after Catullus
died - to the straggering sensations which swept over this young Roamn when he faced, for the first time in his life, emotional
maturity; he is changed to a god he who lookes on her, godlike he shines when he 's seated beside her, immortal joy to graze
and hear the fall of her sweet laughter...
Limbs are pierced with fire and the heavy tongue fails,
ears resound with noise of distant storms shakin
this earth, eyes gaze on stars that fall forever into deep midnight.
The passion thus proclaimed was gradually reciprocated. Soon
the young poet was noit only gazing upon his mistress, but was touching her and could beg her - not for one kiss, but for
Life was kind in these early days. Catullus could
afford to enjoy it; nor was he the sort of young man limit his enjoyment to love alon. In addition, there were the pleasures
of a good party washed down with the bottle of the best Falernian wine...
Boy, thou minister of pleasure,
the old Falerman draught,
Fill me up a stronger measure
Stronger than was ever qualified.
Postuma, our mistress fair,
Who' s as drunk as any seed
Which the purple grape doth bear
So commands, and we must heed.
translated by anonymous
the renaissance in italy...
I would like to put this text in wandering... " avec truong ngoc hanh/artsliberaux
", but finally I must put in this place,...This was the very important event in the world not only in italy,
but also for all countries in Europe, then.. in the world. for many centuries That is the renaissance, a kind of overhaul
all domains of arts during that period.
The RENAISSANCE signifies for us the marvellous achievements of men like Michel-angelo,
Leonaredo de Vinci, Raphael- men who beautified their cities under the patronage of an enthusiastic aristocracy
and a wealthy merchant class. But what does the term mean and where did it come from?
Renaissance means literally rebirth, and defines the extraordinary revival of art
and letters in Italy from XIV th to XVI th century undere the influence of classical models. The
term gained currency after it was used in works like Jacob Burckhardt' s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, first
published in 1860.
It has gradually accumulated many connotations which are not strcitly correcxt. In popular
opinion, the Renaissance is thought to incorporate ideas of Classicisme which are
totally at odds with the tradition of the Middle Ages. This is an exaggeration. As far as Italy was
concerned, it has always, although with varying emphasis, seen itself as the inheritor of ancient Rome
and its culture. Nicola Pisano ( 1220- 1284 ),a medieval Italian sculptor, must have used as a model for his
Baptistry at Pisa an antique sarcophagus now in the Camp Santo ( cemetery ) in the same city. This
is deduced from the fact that the panels round the top of the pulpit contain figures which parkedly resemble those on
legacy of the middle ages...
It was not only in Italy
that the art of antiquity was a continuing force in the Middle Ages. inThe sculp[ted figures representing the
Annunciation and the Visitation, which decorate the central portal of the west facade of Rheims Cathedral in
France, were made about 30 years before Nicola' s pulpit. They have long been admired for their noble Classicism
for their draperies which hang like those of sculpted Ancient Romans, for their realism and movement, again
reminiscent of the achievements of antique art.
When Charlemagne was made Holy Roman Emperor
in 800 he set about reforming not only his administration but the whole culture of his kingdom, taking imperial Rome
of antiquity as a model. But it must be admitted that the art which was one of the results of his policy was only superficially
classical compared with the deeper understanding of classical art shown in all other medieval Classicism. That there was so
much Classicism in the Middle Ages is not surprising when one remembers how much closer in time they were
Another popular view, which claims for the Renaissance an abruptly
new concern with first-hand observation from Nature, is equally misleading. Such a concern can beshown time and time again
in medieval art. The margins of illuminated manuscripts and the carving in Gothic cathedrals show plenty of direct
observation and understanding of natural froms. The leaves, carved out of rtone in the late XIII th century, around the capitals
of the chapter-house inSoutwell Cathedral in England, are famous for their truth to nature as well as for
their perfect integration with the architecture of the building.
A further misconception is that between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
there is an absolute difference between mysticism and logic. One has only to remember medieval theologians
like Thomas Aquina, who tempered mystical Christianity with classical philosophy, or the virtual fetish made
of logic in medieval disputations.
This is not to belittle the stupendous achievements of the Renaissance, but
an arttempt to see the period in the context of history. One of its most distinguishing points is the emphasis placed on the
individual and his personal achievement. To Medieval Man, history was a continous evolution from the creation of
the world up tohis own time. With the Renaissance,the new era began.
The mind was stimulated bythe discovery of classical texts, which were studied with enthousiasm
by humanists all over the country. Men turned from the contemplation of God to the apprehension of their dignity
as human beings. The imagination was stirred by tales of adventure overseas, new lands charted and conquered. Everywhere new
ideas were springing to life, fertilizing the minds of the cultured, the aristocracy and the merchant class alike. Curiosaity
was rife; a new spirit, was abroad. Inevitably this eagerness for new experience found its expression in art.
The idea of a breakdown in the continuum of the Middle Ages and the cultural
rebirth had been introduced as early as the fourteenth century by the Italian poet Petrarch ( 1304-1374 ). He4 called
his own times deplorable and traced their determination from the rot that set in with the conversion of the Emperor
Constantine to Christianity in 313 and the subsequent loss of the culture and values of antiquity.
the high renaissance
wanted was a political regeneration of Italy and a purification of Latin diction, patriotic ans scholarly
goals respectively. Renaissance art, however, was not just an academic and archaecological imitation of antiquity,
but rather a discovery of its very soul, for nothing less could give the Renaissance full scope for its originality.
Petrarch made no mention of fine art in the context but hios idea of a rebirth was taken up by other Italians who
applied it to this field.
Giotto, the Florentine painter who died in 1337, was
hailed by the poet Boccaccio as having " brought to light that art which had been buried for many centuries through
the error of those who painted more to delight the eye of the ignorant than to please the intellect of the wise..". Others
praised Giotto for his life - like qualities, for his convincingly rounded figures set in an illusion of space.
This combination of truth to nature and provision of intellectual pleasure,
which has aptly been called scientific naturalism, is an aspect of the pursuit of truth which characterized
all the giants of the Renaissance, scientists, artists, men of letters alike.
These men were concerned with the responsibility of the human individual
for his own life. They put a new onus on man instead of leaving everything to God. certainly the Middle Ages
were interested in nature, and had their rationalists, too, but the men of the Renaissance redefined these ideas
philosophically. To the Renaissance, the Middle Ages were cowed by their attitude to God. The Reanissance
had more faith in its own physical apprehension of the world and in its intellectual understanding: hence such pictures
as the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyrick' s Arnolfini Marriage Group, a virtual hymn of praise to first-hand observation.
Pre- Renaissance art was not interested in such tangible reality for its own sake. The carved leaves whci decorate Southwell
chapter-house are not simply objective facts, they are there in order to symbolize the variety of God' s kingdom.
This new philosophical stance, hinted at by Petrarch, and expanded by
the hunamists of early XVth century Florence, is the key to the understamnding of the Renaissance. The humanists
wanted not only to equal the culture of antiquity but to better it. This was to be achieved by the synthesis of antique and
modern knowledge and the shedding of what they claimed to bne the handicap of medieval attitudes, the barbarism of the
Goths and the Greeks ( as they called the Byzantines ).
By the end of the XV th century, Petrarch' s idea of a regeneration
for his country and its Latin language had broadened out into a rebirth not only for painting and the rest of the fine arts,
but for the culture gerenally, including the natural sciences.
It was probably the architect Brunelleschi ( 1377 - 1446 ) who first
formulated tha laws of perspirative, with which the Renaissance artists could rationalize pictorial space. Although
he retains the long save of Gothic churches in his church of San Lorenzo in Florence, a glance
as the ground plan of the church will reveal a highly ordered geometrical system in which all subdivisions are neat fractions
of larges areas. Eveything seems under tight control and to human scale.
A Gothic church would have proportions suggesting upward movement rather than
enclosed space. Although his columns and capitals, for example, have a classical air. Brunelleschi was not committed
to the out - of - out antiquarian attitude of his immediate successors, the architects Alberti, and Michelozzo.
He was more interested in practical problems of construction; so his dome for Florence Cathedral may use a technique
of brickwork taken fron antiquity, but its form pointed and therefor Gothic in style.
Bramante' s ( 1444 - 1514 ) dome for his circular Tempietto ( little
church ) of San Pietro in Montorio, built in Rome in 1502, is hemispherical, a form much more closed
in feeling than the still slightly upward-reaching Florentine dome. This compact quakuty of the later work is further emphasized
by the repetition in the upper floor of the ratio of height to width found in the ground floor. The building is like a piece
of sculpture, and makes Brunelleschi' s San Lorenzo look rambling in comparison.
It is Bramante' s building, therefore, which recalls the massive
volume of classical temples, and in this he marks a high point in the emulation of antiquity. This zenith of Renaissance
aspiration has become known as the High Renaissance and corresponding manifestations to its architectural embodiment
can be found in painting.
But before dealing with them, the work of an earlier Renaissance painter
should be mentioned at least by way of contrast: Masaccio, a Florentine who lived from 1401 until only about 1428,
painted towards the end of his short life, on the wall in the Brancacci chapel of the church of Santa Maria
Novella in Florence, a Trinity which clearly shows his debt to Brunelleschi' s perspectival
system. It is not only in this respect that he goes beyond Giotto, but also in the way the figures are modelled in
light and dark, giving them a monumentality over and above that achieved by the earlier painter.
But in spite of this development in the convincing illusion of space and volume, his
painting in turn looks old - fashioned when compared with the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael,
all High Renaissance painters. The dates usually given for the High Renaissance are 1500 until 1527 ( the sack of Rome
a dictionary of poses..
Michelangelo' s preliminary drawings for
a picture of the battle of Cascina scheduled for the Florentine Town Hall, which we know only from
a copy, replaced Masaccio's frescoes in the Brancacci chapel as a kind of
texbook for young painters. This was because the rules of proportion, perspective and anatomy were exhibited with
amazing skill and variety in the Michelangelo' s work. The picture is almost a dictionary of poses and makes
Masaccio seem statistic and wooden in comparison.
To modern eyes the later picture may seem too much of a good thing, but to the
Renaissance it seemed as if antique art, which it regarded as a previous incarnation of scientific rules of proportion
and anatomy, had been gloriously surpassed.
The objective study of Nature and the overtaking of antiquity are inseparable at
this stage in Renaissance art. While Giotto' s pictures, to the earliest humanists, were merely more life-like
than earlier art, by Michelangelo' s day life-likeness and the look of antiquity were thought to be the same thing.
For this life-likeness is not the realism of, for example, seventeenth century Duch genre painters, but rather a distillation
of reality apprehended as much through averages of proportion as with the naked eye. Renaissance Man' s reality was to
a high degree idealized.
If Michelangelo seems to be showing off in his battle of
Cascina drawing, Leonardo in his Virgin and Child with St Anne of about 1508-1510, has
reached a point of perfect balance. His figure composition has all the complexity of the Michelangelo drawing
in the innumerable directions of the limbs and trunks of bodies, but they are all contained within an almost single image,
which gives a greater feeling of balance than the Michelangelo drawing. There is also the balance between
convincing depth and two-dimensinal designs.
This same perfect balance is shown in Raphael 's School of Athens fresco in Pope Julius II
's library in the Vatican, painted between 1508 - 1511. Gathered round Plato and Aristotle in
the picture are representatives of the accumulated wisdom of philosophy. The scene is an allegorical one, and is not intended
to represent any particular time or place, but is an expression of Raphael' s own philosophy of painting. The whole
great construction, figures and architecture, clicks into place when the spectator stands in front of the centrally placed
vanishing - point of the perspective system. It appealed to his intellect to confirm the artist' s apprehension of the rational
In Venice in the early 1520s, Titian painted a Bacchanalian
show for Duke Alfonso d' Este of Farrara, The Bacchus and Ariadne now in the National
Gallery in London. The remove from Raphael' s exalted realm of Plato and Aristotle
and their philosophical collegues in the School of Athens is accompanied by the Venetian' s
correspondingly joyful brush-work, in oil, not fresco, and his lavish effects of color. Not only is the High Renaissance
achievement of the truly classical figure style still very evident but now tye figures are galvanized into robust movement,
not the artificial, stylized movement in the paintings of some of his contemporaries, such as Bronzino, but
a naturalistic dance whose vigor gives a foretaste of Baroque...
the famous operas...
( Gloria...al Egit to...ad
I side....) by Giuseppe Verdi, was first performed in Cairo,
in Italian, in 1871. It was written to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.
The scene is Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. During one of the wars between
Egypt and Ethiopia, The Ethiopian princess Aida has been taken prisoner.
Her rank unknown, she has been given to the Egyptian pricess Amneris a a slave. Aida
and Radames, a young egyptian captain, fall in love. The jealous Amneris also
The Ethiopian army is advancing upon the Nile valley again.
The goddess Isis announces, through the high priest Ramfis, that
Radames will command the Egyptian army. Radames returns victorious. The prisoners
are freed at his request, and the grateful King of Egypt declares Radames his successor and the
husband - to - be of Amneris.
Amonasro, Aida' s father, is kept as hostage ( The Egyptians
are unaware that he is the king of Ethiopia ). Amonasro et Aida meet secretly,
Amonasro confides that the Ethiopians are about to strike again. He forces Aida
to get from Radames the name of the pass the Egyptians are about to march through. Aida
tricks Radames into revealing the secret, but Amneris overhears and denounces
Radames as a traitor. She begs him to confess and promises to help himif he will give up Aida.
He refuses and is condemned to be buried alive. As he is sealed in his tomb, Aida emerges from the shadows.
She has stolen into the tomb to die with him.
Amahl and the Night Visotors...
by Gian Carlo Menotti, had
its word premiere over NBC television in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1951. It
was sung in English. The story takes place in Judea at the time of Christ' s birth .
The Three Wise Men ( les rois...Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar )
and their page are on their way to worship at the manger in Bethlehem... They stop for the night at the hunble
hut of Amahl, a crippled shepherd boy, and his mother.
Amahl and his mother gaza with wonder at the beautiful gifts the kings
are taking to the Christ child. In the morning, as the kings prepare to leave, Amahl
begs to send his crutch, his most precious possession. As he lifts it, he walks without help. A miracle has happened.
With the crutch tied to the back, Amahl gaily joins the three kings in their pilgrimage.
by Umberto Giordano, was
first performed in Milan in Italian in 1896. It takes place in Paris
before and during the French Revolution. At a ball given by the Countess of Coigny
and her daughter, Madeleine, le poete Andrea Chenier recites a poem.
The poem is attually an attack on the rich and horrifies the guests. A mob of beggars bursts in, deamnding charity.
Gerard, a servant with revolutionary sympathies, joins them.
Chenier remains a Paris during the Reign of Terror.
An unknown woman has written to him. The writer arrives. It is Madeleine
avow their love and plan to escape.
Gerard, now a revolutionary leader, is forced to sign an accusation against
Chenier, formerly his friend. He. too, is in love with Madeleine and promises
to help her, but the revolutionary tribunal sentences Chenier to death. Madeleine wishes
to die with her beloved. She beribes a jailer to put her name on the death list. She joins Chenier
in prison, and together they go to the guillotine.
The Barbe of Seville ...
by Gioacchino Rossini, was
forst performed in Rome in Italian in 1816. It is based on a play by Pierre
Beaumarchais. The opera takes place in Seville in the XVII th century.
Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina,
the beautiful ward of Dr. Bartolo. The Count does not want Rosina to
be influence by his high rank, so he pretends to be a poor student. He serenades her, and with the help of
Figaro, a barber and jack - of - all trades, he gains admission to the house in various disguises.
He enters as the student Lindoro, a drunken soldier, and as a substitute for the music teacher,
Dr. Batolo want to marry his rich ward. With
Don Basilio' s help he has a marriage contract made out. But Figaro and the Count
bride Don Basilio to change the name on the contract, and Almaviva and
Rosina are married. Dr. Bartolo accepts it philosophically when he learns
that the groom is really Count Almaviva and does not want Rosina ' s dowry.
The Bartered Bride......
by Bedrich Smetana, was first
performed in Prague in Czech in 1866. The scene is laid in a Bohemian
village in the XIXth century. Marie loves Hans, a stranger
in the village, but is to marry Wenzel, son of the rich landowner Micha.
The marriage was arranged by the marriage broker, Kezal, and Marie' s father,
Kruschina. The timid, stuttering Wenzel meets Marie without knowing
who she is. She warns him against his intended. He forgets his cares when a circus troupe appears and he
falls in love with Esmeralda, a tightrope dancer.
Hans meanwhile has received 300 crowns from
Kezal as an inducement to give up Marie. He has accepted only on condition
that Marie marry Micha' s son. Marie is heartbroken
when she learns of this agreement. But Micha at length recognizes Hans
as his long - absent eldest son. Hans explains that since the contract specifies that
Marie must marry Micha' s son, his Micha' s eldest son - will be
Marie' s husband.
by Giacomo Puccini , was first performed
in Turin in Italian in 1896. Il takes place in the Latin
Quarter of Paris in 1830. Four poor young bohemians share a cold attic room. The poet Rodolfo,
the painter Marcello, and the philosopher Colline build a
fire with precious possessions in order to keep warm. The musician Schaunard enters,
laden with food and fuel. They celebrate , and three of them leave with the landlord, Benoit,
while Rodolfo remains. Mimi, a neighbor, comes to and
ask for the light for her candle. She and Rodolfo decide they are in love and leave to join their
friends at the Cafe Momus.
Musetta, once Marcello' s sweethart,
appears with her new admirer, Alcindoro. When she sees Marcello again, she
sends Alcindoro on an errand so she can join Marcello.
Mimi and Rodolfo find life
difficult. They separate but are reconciled, while Musetta and Marcello
Both couples are separated when Muretta brings
the desperately ill Mimi into the attic room. The others leave to find a doctor, and Mimi
and Rodolfo recall their past happiness. The others return. While Musetta
prays, Mimi dies.
by Modest Mussorgsky, was first performed in
St. Petersburg in Russian in 1874. It is based on the actual episodes in Russian history
from 1598 to 1605. Dimitri, heir to the Russian throne, has been murdered by order
of Boris, regent of the later czar, the feeble - minded Feodor .
As the opera opens, crowds kneeling in the square pray that Boris
will accept the Russian Crown. When he agrees, he is crowned with great pomp ans splendor.
Boris, however, has secret pangs of conscience.
Meanwhile, the monk Grigory, inspired by the account of
Dimitri' s murder told to him by the historian Pimen, decides to appear as
Dimitri. He escapes from the monastery and reaches the Lithuanian border.
In the Kremlin, Czar Boris sends his children
out of the room. Alone, he muses bitterly on the problems he faces and his visions of the murdered Dimitri.
Prince Shuisky arrives with a report on the false Dimitri and the
rebellion he is organizing. Boris demands assurance that Dimitri is
dead. Shuisky recounts the gory details. Alone again, Boris
is in great agony and prays to be purged of his guilt.
In Poland, the false Dimitri has fallen
in love with Marina. She urges him to lead the attack against Moscow,
so he can seize the throne and make her queen.
At a session in the Kremlin, the boyars ( Russian nobleman
) discuss what judgement shall be meted out to the traitor, the false Dimitri . Boris
appears and hears old Pimen tell of a miraculous healing that took place at Dimitri'
s tomb. Boris recovers from his frenzy and calls for his son
Feodor. He counsels Feodor agains traitor, designates him as his successor,
In the forest of Kromy, peasants curse Boris.
The false Dimitri appears with his soldiers. The people acclaim him and follow
him as he starts for Moscow. Only a simpleton remains, singing dolefully of the coming
doom of Russia.
( This is the version in current use at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the Bolshoi
Opera in Moscow. In other versions, the scene in the forest of Kromy follows the Polish scene, and the opera ends
with the death of Boris ).
by George Bizet,
was first performed in Paris in French ...( L' amour est un oiseau rebelle... Que
nulne peut apprivoiser...) in 1875. It takes place about 1820 in and near Seville, Spain.
Carmen, a fiercy gypsy, is attracted by Don Jose, corporal of the guard outside
the factory where she works. She throws him a rose. When she has a fight with a co - worker and is arrested, she
induces Don Jose to unitie her bonds and let her go. Don Jose is sent to prison
for allowing Carmen to escape. When he is released, he meets Carmen at tavern.
Now passionately in love with the beautiful gypsy, he deserts the army to join her band of smugglers.
Micaela, his chilhood sweethart, find him and calls him to the bedside of his dying mother.
The fickle Carmen tires of Don
Jose and takes up with the toreador Escamillo . Whe Don Jose returns
and pleads for her loves, she refuses him and he kills her with a dagger.
.by Pietro Mascagni, was
first performed in Rome in Italian in 1890. It takes place on an Easter
morning late in XIX th century, in a Sicilian village. Off stage, Turiddu
is heard singing the praises of Lola, his onetime sweetheard, who is now married tp Alfio.
Santuzza, who is engaged to Turiddu, complains to Lucia, his mother, that
Turiddu is again seeing Lola. Turiddu becomes angry when Santuzza
accused him of infidelity and throws her to the ground. The jealous Santuzza tells Alfio
that his wife has been unfaithful. Alfio vows vengeance.
Turiddu invites everyone to have a drink at
Mamma Lucia' s tavern. Alfio refuses, and Turiddu challenges
him to a duel. Bidding his mother farewell and asking her to look after Santuzza. Turiddu goes
off to meet Alfio. Moments later a horrified villager exclaims that Turiddu has
been murdered, and Santuzza falls fainting to the ground.
La Cenerentola ...( Cinderella )..
by Gioacchino Rossini, was first performed
in Rome in Italian in 1817. Clorinda and
Thisbe, daughters of Don Magnifico, mistreat their stepsister, whom they
call Cinderella. The philosopher Alidoro, friend of Prince
Ramino, disguises himself as a beggar and goes to the door of Don Magnifico' s ramshackle
mansion. The sisters chase him away, but Cinderella gives him food. Alidoro,
much taken with Cinderella' s beauty and charm, outfits her properly for the ball at which the Prince
is to choose his bride.
The Prince changes clothes with his valet, Dandini.
Cinderella' s stepsisters, certain that Ramino will choose one of them, swarm all over the disguished
Dandini. Cinderella falls in love with his supposed underling and gives him one of her bracelets.
Later, when the Prince takes shelter at Magnifico' s during a storm, he recognizes the bracelet on
Cinderella' s arm. The lovers are happily united. The Princess, on her wedding day, forgives her
stepsisters and stepfather, who have treated her so badly.
Cosi Fan Tutte......
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
was first performed in Vienna in Italian in 1790. It takes place in
Naples in the XVIII th century. Don Alfonso lays a wager with Ferrando
and Guglielmo that their fiancees. Fiordiligi and Dorabella ,
are no more to be trusted than any other women. He then announces to the girls, who are sisters, that their sweetharts
have benn ordered off to the wars. There is a touching scene of farewell, though Despina
their maid, pooh - poohs their lamentations.
Enlisting Despina' s aid, Don Alfonso
introduces two wealthy young " Albanians " ( Ferrando and Guglielmo in
disguise ) , who pretend to become enamored of the sisters. Time and again the sisters repulse their foreign suitors.
At last Dorabella succumbs to the entreaties of one, and finally Fiordiligi yields
to the other. As the double weeding is about to be performed, with Despina disguised as a notary,
officiating, military music is heard. The " Albanians" disappear. Ferrando and Guglielmo
return without their disguises, revealing that they were the Albanians. The siters blame Don
Alfonso and Despina for leading them astray. The old philosopher convinces
them that what has happened has been for the best, and all ends happily.
by Giuseppe Verdi, was first
performed in Paris in Italian in 1867. A second version was first performed in
Milan in 1884. The story takes place in Spain in the 16th century. Don
Carlos, son and heir of Philipp II, has been betrothed to Elizabeth
of Valois. When they meet for the first time, they fall deeply in love, only to learn shortly that
for reasons of state Elizabeth must marry Philip. The royal marriage is solemnized, but
Don Carlos cannot overcome his love for Elizabeth. His friend
Rodrigo advises him to go to Flanders.
Later, Carlos appears at the head of a delegation
of Flemings to ask the King for mercy. Wen the King refuses,
Carlos draws his sword and vows to be their savior, but Rodrigo disarms him on the
King' s order. The Princess Eboli, who loves Carlos but whom he has rejected,
denounces him to the King, and the Grand Inquisitor insists that Carlos be
Freed from prison, Don Carlos goes to the tomb of Emperor
Charles V to meet Elizabeth, but the King discovers
them and turns his son over to the Inquisition. A monk dressed in the Emperor' s clothes
steps out of the tomb and leads Don Carlos to safety.
.by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was
first performed in Prague in Italian in 1787. It takes place in
Seville, Spain in 17 th century . Don Giovanni' s life is a series of amorous conquests. He
tries to seduce Donna Ana and kills her father, the Commandant, in the scuffle that follows. He
encounters Elvira, a former love, while Leporello, his servant, lists his master' s conquests.
He makes passes at Zerlina, bride of the peasant Masetto, and even goes so far as to exchange
clothes with Leporello. But Donna Ana, her fiance, Don Ottavio, and
Elvira, bent on ven geance, harry him into a graveyard near a tatue of the late Cammandant, which he
mockingly invites to dinner. At the dinner, the Cammandant' s statue appears. Since Don Giovanni
refuses to mend his ways, the Commandant consigns him to the fiery regions below. Anna, Elvira, Ottavio
and Zerlina rejoice over Don Giovanni' s fate.
.by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,
was first performed in Moscow in Russian in 1879.. It is based on a poem
by the famous Russian poet Aleksander Pushkin. It takes place in St. Peterburg
about 1815. Tatiana and Olga are singing to their mother, Madame
Larina, when Lenski and Eugene Onegin arrive. Lenski
is in love with Olga, and Tatiana with Onegin. Later,
Tatiana sleepless, writes to Ornegin, telling him how much she loves him.
But Onegin, in responding to the letter, tells Tatiana that he is not
the man for her and she must forget him.
At Tatiana' s birthday ball Onegin pays
attention to Olga. This arouses Lenski' s jalousy. The men quarrel, and
Lenski chalenges Onegin to aduel. The duel takes place, and Lenski
Six years later, Onegin attends a reception at Prince Gremin'
s palace and is astonished to learn that the beautiful Princess Gremina is Tatiana.
He knows now that he loves her. He sends her a message, and they meet. Onegin pleads for her
love, Tatiana wavers, for she is still in love with him, but gains control of herself and sends
him away forever.
by Giuseppe Verdi, was
first performed in Milan in Italian, in 1893. It is based on Shakespeare' s
Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV. The action takes place in Windsor, England, in
the XV th century. Sir John Falstaff, now old and fat, still fancies himself a lady - killer. He sends
love letters to two respectable matrons of Windsor, attempting to set up rendezvous with them.-
separately, of course, Mistress Page and Mistress Ford compare Falstaff'
s letters and find them identical. They decide to punish Falstaff with the help
of Dame Quickly. Through plots and counterplots, disguises and complicated tricks, they discredit
Falstaff . Everyone has agreat laught at the fat knight' s expense.
.by Charles Gounod, was first
performed in Paris in French in 1859. It is based on a poem by the famous German
writer Johann von Goethe. The opera takes place in Germany
in the XVI th century. The elderly Faust makes a deal with Mephistopheles.
In exchange for Faust' s soul, his youth will be restored and he will meet the beautiful
At the fair, Valentin, Marguerite' s brother
worried about leaving her unprotected while he is in the Army. Siebel, who is in love with her,
promises to watch over her. Mephistopheles joins the crowd, performs magic, fights, and withdroaws when
the soldiers raise their swords in the form of a cross. Faust meets Marguerite, and she
loses her heart to him.
When the war is over, Valentin returns and Faust
kill him in a duel. Marguerite, conscience - stricken, kill her newborn child and is put into prison
to await execution. Faust and Marguerite urge her to escape. On the threshold of death,
Marguerite prays for forgiveness. She dies, angel voices sing of her redemption, and Mephistopheles
drags Faust to his doom.
by Ludwig van Beethoven,
was first performed in Vienna in Germany in 1805. It takes place in a prison
near Seville in the 18th century. Florestan, a Spanish nobleman, has been thrown into prison
by Pizzaro, a political annemy and the prison governor, Florestan is chained to a wall in the deep dungeon
and is slowly starving to death. Hoping to save him, his devoted wife, Leonora disguises herself as a young man.
She takes the name Fidelio and becomes the assistant of Rocco, the chief jailer.
Rocco' s daughter, Marcellina, fails in love with the handsome Fidelio, to the dismay of
her suitor, Jacquino, and of Leonora herself.
Learning that the prime minister is about to inspect the prison, Pizarro
determines to silence Forestan forever. He sent Rocco and Fidelio
to dig a grave for him in the dungeon. Fidelio throws herself between him and Florestan, and
threatens Pizarro with a pistol. At this moment trumpets sound, heralding the arrival of
the prime minister. He orders all prisoners released and brought before him. He is shocked to find Florestan
there in such a state, but he is full of admiration for Leonora' s courage. Pizarro is
arrested and led away in chains while Leonora removes the fetters that bind her husband.
Der fliegende Hollander..
.by Richard Wagner,
was first performed in Dresden in German in 1843. It takes
place in the 18th century on the Norvegian coast, where the Dutchman' s ghost ship comes to shore after 7 years
at sea. He is condemned to sail the seas forever, unless he can find a woman who will love him. He is permitted
to go ashore once every 7 years.
The Dutchman meets Daland , captain of the Norwegean
ship, and begs for the night' s lodging in his home. Dland' s daughter, Senta, has
long been obsessed by the legend of the Dutchman. When she sees him, they realize they are destined for each other.
Erik, Senta' s fiance, pleads with her to return to him. The
Dutchman, feeling that if Senta can be untrue to Erik she would be false to him too, decides
to set sail again. When his ship leaves to harbor, Senta throws herself into the sea. The Dutchman'
s ship disappears beneath the waves, and he and Senta, clasped in each other' s arms, rise slowly out of the
La Forza del destino..
.by Giuseppe Verdi, was first
performed in St. Petersburg in Italian in 1862. It takes place in
Spain and Italy at the end of 18 th century. Leonora and Alvaro
are in love. They are about to elope when her disapproving father, the Marquis discovers them.
Alvaro, submitting to him, throws down his pistol. It explodes, fatally wounding the Marquis, who dies cursing
Leonora, disguised as a man, seeks Alvaro
in the mountain village. In the crowd she discivers her brother, Carlo, who has sworn to kill her
and Alvaro . She flees to the monastery and is given haven in the mountain cave.
Alvaro, under the assumed name, is with the Spanish Army in
Italy. He save Carlo' s life, without knowing who he is, and the two men become devoted
friends. When Alvaro is wounded in battle, Carlo discovers his identity. As
soon as Alvaro has recovered, Carlo insists on the duel, but they are separated by fellow
Fie years later Carlo has located Alvaro in a monastery.
He comes seeking vengence, demanding that Alvaro fight. Eventually, aroused by Carlo'
s bitter insults, Alvaro seizes a sword, and they rush out of the monastery, Alvaro
wounds Carlo mortally and summons a hermit from a cave. It is Leonora . She
rushes to her dying brother, who stabs her in the heart. With her last breath she begs Alvaro
to find salvation in religion.
Hansel and Gretel,
by Engelbert Humperdinck, was first performed in Weimar in
German in 1893. It takes placein a forest in Germany, in the distant past. Hansel
and Gretel , children of a poor broom - maker, are hungry. Their mother scolds
them for playing instead of working aqnd sends tehm into the woods to gather strawberries. The children pick strawberries
and eat them, but they become lost in the woods as darkness falls. The sandman puts them to sleep while angels
watch over them.
In the morning, Hansel and Gretel come
upon a little gingerbread house and begin to nible at it. A witch comes out, locks Hansel in case, and sets
Gretel to doing housework. When the witch tries to shove Gretel in the oven, the children trick
herand push her in instead. The oven explodes, and the witch witch in burned to a crisp. All her victims change from gingerbread
back into children. The parents arrive, and all ends happily.
l' Heure espagnole..
by Maurice Ravel, was first performed in
Paris in French in 1911. It takes place in 18th century Spain. While
Torquemada, a clockmaker, attends to clocks in the town, his wife, Concepcion, entertains a
succession of lovers in his shop. When each new lover arrives, Concepcion hides the old one in one of his grandfather
When Torquemada returns from his work, he finds two lovers
in clocks and another one with Concepcion. He accepts their explanation that they are only customers.
The opera ends with everybody in gay spirits, asking the audience to remember that " this
is Spain ".
.by Richard Wagner, was
first performed in Weimar in German in 1850. It is based on medieval legends.
It taples place in Antwerp in the early 10th century. King Henry of Germany
find Brabant in turmoil. The regent, Telramund, has accused Elsa
of murdering the heir, her brother, Gottfried. Telramund now claims the throne. Elsa
denied the accusation. Her champion will be a knight who has appeared in her dreams.
A boat drawn by a swan appears, bearing the knight Lohengrin. He
promises to champion Elisa and marry her, on condition that she never ask who he is or where he came from.
Lohengrin defeats Telramund and his wife, Ortrud, scheme to discredit
Lohengrin. Elsa assures Lohengrin of her trust, but later, when they are alone,
she insists that he reveal his identity. Telramund bursts in. Lohengrin kills him.
Sadly, Lohengrin leads Elisa to King Henry
and confesses that he is a knight of the Holy Grail, son of Parsifal. Having revealed
his secret, he must now return to Montsalvat, home of the Grail. His swan is
Gottfried, transformed by her own black magic. Lohengrin restores the boy to human form and
departs in his boat, now drawn by the dove of the Holy Grail.
Lucia di Lammermoor..
( Alfin son tua, alfin seimio,..) by
Gaetano Donizetti, was first performed in Naples in Italian in 1835. It
is based on Sir Walter Scott' s novel The Bride of Lammermoor. The scene is laid
in Scotland in the later 17 th or early 18th century. Edgardo of Ravenwood
and Lucia Ashton of Lamermoor love each other, through their families are deadly enemies.
Before leaving for France, Edgardo wishes to visit Lord Henry, Lucia' s brother,
and confess their love. Lucia insists this would be useless, and the two pledge eternal fidelity.
Henry Ashton has learned of the affair and is determined to crush
it. He forges a letter to convince Lucia that Edgardo is unfaithful and informs
her that only if she marries Lord Arthur Bucklaw can their house be saved from ruin. Lucia
yields, but when Edgardo returns and curses the whole Lammermoor family, she goes insane.
She kills her husband in the bridal chamber and dies in anguish. When Edgardo learns Lucia'
s death and of her innocence, he kills himself upon her grave...
by Giacomo Pucini, was first performed in
Milan in Italian in 1904. It takes place in Nagasaki, Japan, in the late
19th century. Lieutenant Pinkerton of the United States Navy enters into a Japanese marriage
with Cio - Cio - San, Madame Butterfly, despite objections from the American Consult, Sharpless.
Pinkerton does not take the marriage seriously, but the girl believes it to be binding and has even renounced her
religion. They enter their new life happily. Son, however, Pinkerton has to go back to America.
For 3 years, Butterfly is faithful, certain he will return
" one fine day ". She refuses a rich suitor. When Sharpless tries to tell her that
Pinkerton has married an American wife, a cannon announces the arrival of the Abraham Lincoln,
Pinkerton ' s ship. Butterfly, her child, and her maid, Suzuki, await Pinkerton.
He and Sharpless arrive and tell Suzuki the truth. Butterfly,
expecting to see Pinkerton, encounters his Americain wife, Kate, instead.
Butterfly accepts the truth calmly and tells Kate she may have a child in half an hour.
When they return, Butterfly is dead by her own hand...
The Magic Flute...
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was first performed
in Vienna in German in 1791. t takes place in ancient Memphis,
in Sarastro, the wise high priest of Isis
and Osiris , has taken Pamina to the temple to release her from
the influence of her mother, the evil Queen of the Night. The Queen induces young Princess Tamino
to go in search of her daughter and free her from Sarastro. Tamino, accompanied by
Papageno, a bird catcher, accomplishes his tash after various trials. But he becomes the friend
of Sarastro, whose wisdom and mildness he has learned to admire. Tamino and
Pamina are united as the cheers of the multitude hail the triumph of light.
.by Jules Massenet, was
first performed in Paris in French in 1884. It is based on a novel by
Abbe Prevost. The opera takes place in Amiens, and Paris
and on the road to Le Havre in 1721. Pretty, flighty Manon Lescaut
is destined by her family for a convent. She goes to Amiens to meet her cousin, Lescaut
who will escort her. At the inn, she captivates Finance Minister Guillot, but when the Chevalier
des Gieux enters, it is love of first sight. They elope in the coach Guillot had offered
Manon and Guillot live happily
in Paris, but the Count des Grieux, the Chevalier' s father, disapproves
of their plans to marry. He had his son kidnapped. At the festival the Count reveals that his son is
planning to enter the priesthood. The Count is just much opposed to his son' s becoming a priest
as he was to his marrying Manon. At the seminary the Count tries to stop his son from
entering the Church, but he is unsuccessful. Manon arrives. Des Grieux can not resist
her entreaties, and they live together.
Later, Des Grieux gambles with fabulous success. Guillot accuses
him of cheating and has him and Manon arrested. The Count has him quickly released, but
Manon is convicted and sentenced to deportation. Des Grieux and Lescaut
bribe the escorting officers to release Manon. Now desperately ill, she tries to respond to
the Chevalier' s pleas to escape but dies in his arms on the road to Le Havre...
Le Marriage of Figaro..
by Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart, was first performed in Vienna in Italian in 1786.
The events of the story come after those in The Barber of Seville, by Giocchino Rossini. Both
are based on the play by Pierre Beaumarchais. The scene is Count Almaviva' s castle
near Seville , Spain in the 17th century. The Count and Rosina have
been married some years. Figaro, now the army. Cherubino jumps out of the window to avoid
being discovered in the Countess' s bedroom, and Figaro takes the blame.
Marcellina, Dr. Bartolo' s housekeeper, is suing Figaro
for breach of promise. They discover, however, that Figaro is actually Marcellina 's
long - lost son. That obstacle removed, Figaro and Susanna are married.
Now the Countess and Susanna conspire to trap the staying Count. They exchange
clothes to keep a rendezvous. The Count makes love to the Countess, thinking she is
Susanna, dressed as the Countess, to make the Count jealous.
The substitution revealed, the Count apologizes to the Countess, and both couples are
by Friedrich von Flotow,
was first performed in Vienna in German in 1847. The story takes place in
Richmond, England, during the reign of Queen Anne ( 1702 - 1714 ). Lady Harriet, maid of honor to
Queen Anne is bired. She decides to go to Richmond Fair with her maid. Nancy, and
her cousin, Sir Tristram Mickleford. They dress as peasant girls and a country squire.
At the Fair servant girls offer their services to the farmers
for a year. Plunkett, a young farmer, and Lionel, his foster brother, hire
Harriet and Nancy and take them to farmhouse. Harriet says her name
is Martha. Nancy says her name is Julia. The men try to teach them to spin, and
Lionel and Harriet, Plunkett and Nancy, find they are growing fond
of each other. During the night Sir Tristram rescues the girls.
The four meet again, by chance, in Richmond Park. Harriet
and Nancy are in their fine clothes which confuses Plunkett and Lionel.
Lionel is taken away by the guards for disturbing a lady.
Harriet discovers that Lionel is really
the son of the Earl of Derby. She tells Lionel and asks his pardon for what she
has done, but he remains angry with her. To win him back, she arranges another Richmond Fair. She
and Nancy pretend to be servant girls again, and Lionel and Plunkett
hire them - as their wives...
The Masked Ball...
by Giuseppe Verdi, was first performed in Rome
in Italian in 1859. It is based on a historical incident. It is based on the historical
incident. King Gustavus III of Sweden was assassinated by Count
Anckarstrom at the masked ball in Stoclholm in 1792. Verdi
changed the locale from the Swedish court to colonial Boston. The King became
Riccardo, Earl of Warwick, governor of the colony. Anckarstrom became
Renato, the governor' s private secretary. Both Boston and Stockholm,
and even Naples, have since been used for the setting, but Verdi' s substitute
names are generally kept.
Riccado, King of Sweden, is secretely in
love with Amelia, wife of his secretary, Renato, Riccado and
Amelia disguised, each visit Ulrica, the fortune - teller. Ulrica
tells Amelia of an herb that will cure her secret love and predicts that Riccado
will bwe assassinated. As Amelia searches for the magic herb, Riccado
appears. They declare their hopeless love. Renato discovers Amelia with
Riccado. In his jealousy he joins a group of conspirators and assassinates the King at
the masked ball. He learns too late of his wife' s innocence, but he is forgiven by the dying King...
Die Meistersinger von Numberg...( The Mastersingers of Numberg )
by Richard Wagner, was first performed
in Munich in German, in 1868. It takes place in Nuremberg, Germany,
in the mid - 16th century. Most of the caracteres are actual historic persons.
The knight Walther von Stolzing has fallen in love with
Eva Pogner. Because her father has promised her hand to the winner of the singing prize, he asks the mastersingers
for permission to enter the competition. Beckmesser, the town clerk, who is infatuated with Eva,
maliciously marks up so many errors at Walther' s trial that the mastersingers refuse to let him enter
the contest. Later, when Beckmesser comes to serenade Eva, Hans Sachs,
the cobbler, sings and hammers lustily, arousing the neighborhood. The street fills with people. Eva and
Walther decide to clope , but Sachs restrains them. He leads
Walther into the house, and eventually quiet is restored.
In the morning, Walther describes a dream he has had,
and Sachs writes it down as Walther sings. Beckmesser
find the paper, and thinking it is by Sachs, pockets it. At the song contest, Beckmesser performs
from the stolen manuscript and is laughed off the platform. Sachs announces that the song is not his
but Walther' s. Walther sings it and wins both the mastersingers' laurel and
Eva' s hand...
by Vincenzo Bellini, was
first performed in Milan in Italian in 1831. It takes place in
Gaul during the Roman occupation., about 50 B.C. Norma, high priestess of the Druids, has broken
her sacred vows. She loves Pollione, the Roman proconsul, and has borne him two children.
Pollione has now tired of Norma. He tells Flavio, his centurion,
that his new love is Adalgisa, a lesser priestess. Not knowing this, Norma tries
to prevent a war that would place Pollione in danger. She acts agains the wishes of her father,
Oroveso, the Archdruid.
Adalgisa innoncently confesses to
Norma her love for a Roman, the faithless Pollione. Norma considers murdering her
children, but maternal pity causes her to confide them to Adalgisa' s care. Adalgisa refuses,
swearing that she has renounced Pollione forever. Pollione refuses to forsake
Adalgisa and tries to force to go away with him.
Norma calls for war, Pollione is caught
entering the sacred temple. Norma confesses thatshe had broken her vows and must be the sacrificial victim. Pollione
now understands the depth of her devotion and asks to share her fate. Norma and Pollione mount
the funeral pyre together.
Orfeo ed Euridice...
by Christoph Willibald Gluck, was
first performed in Vienna in Italian in 1762.
It is based on an accident Greek legend. At the tomb
of Euridice, Orfeo, the great musician, and his friends mourn her ultimely death. Orfeo
prays to the gods to restore his wife and is ready to go to Hades to regain her. Amor, god
of love, appears and tells him that the gods have decided to permit him to enter Hades, and return with
Euridice, on one condition. He must not gaze upon her face until they are safely back.
At the gateway to Hades the Furies are so moved by
Orfeo' s music that he is allowed throught the portals into the Elysian fields. Here he finds
Euridice. Taking her by the hand, he begins the journey back. Euridice begs for just one
glance, and eventually Orfeo yields. He turns and embraces her. She collapses instantly, lifeless.
Orfeo is desparate and is about to plunge a dagger into his heart when Amor appears and stays his
hand. Believing that Orfeo has suffered enough, Amor restores Euridice to
by Giuseppe Verdi, was first
performed in Milan in Italian in 1887. It is based on Shakespeare's famous
play Otello. It takes place at the seaport on Cyprus in the late 15th century. Otello,
the governor of Cyprus and commander of the Venetian fleet, returns triumphant after
defeating the Turkish Navy. He is acclaimed the the crowd, among whom is Otello' s aide,
Iago. Iago is resentful that Otello has chosen Cassio as his lieutenant. He is determined
de destroy Otello. He induces Cassio to drink heavily and duel with Montano, the
former governor of the island. Otello removes Cassio from hic command. Iago
advises Cassio to ask Desdemona, Otello' s wife, to intercede for him.
When Otello appears, Iago arouses his jealousy.
He arranges for Otello to find one of Desdemona' s handkershiefs in Cassio' s
possession.. Otello takes this as evidence of Desdemona 's unfaithfulness. Desdemona
who loves Otello dearly, protests her innocence. But he is conviced of her guilt and strangles her. Emilia,
Iago's wifwe, reveals Iago' s treachery. At last convinced of his wife' s innocence, Otello
stabs himself and falls death across Desdemona' s body...
by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, was first performed
in Milan in Italian in 1892. It takes place in a village in Italy in the 1800's
Torio, a clown, explains that he is a Prologue and that the
play to be witnessed is the real story about real people. The curtain then opens. Canio, the head of the theatrical
troupe, announces a performance for the evening and goes off to the inn, leaving his wife, Nedda, alone. Tonio
tries to make love to her and is driven off. Then Silvio , a villager, appears and she promises to elope with
him after the show.
When Nedda refuses to tell Canio the identity
of her lover, he attacks her with a dagger. Beppe, another member of the troupe, savec her. Canio
remarks on his tragic plight, for he must appear in a comedy while his heart is breaking. At the performance
Harlequin ( Beppe ) serenades Columbine ( Nedda ) and drives Taddeo ( Tonio ) away. They are interrupted
by Columbine' s husband,Paglioccio ( Canio ), who demands the name of his wife's lover. She refuses to tell
him, and he kills her with a dagger. When Silvio tries to help Nedda, Canio slays him, too. Then
Canio tells the horrified audience..." The comedy is ended..".
by Richard Wagner, was first
performed in Bayreuth in German in 1882. It takes place in the Middle Ages in the Pyrenees
mountains in northern Spain. The aging King Titurel had entrusted the Holy Grail to
his son, Amfortas. But Amfortas has sinned. He succumbed to the wiles of the enchantress Kundry,
in the power of the evil sorcerer Klingsor. Klingsor wounded Amfortas with
his own sacred spear. Gurnemanz, the knight of Grail, believes that the wound can be healed only by
recovery of the sacred relic.
Parsifal appears in the forest by Montsalvat Castle and
is taken into the hall of the Holy Grail to witness the knights at Communion. He watches the
ceremony without understanding it, and Gurnemanz drives him away.
In the enchanted garden near Khingsor' s castle Parsifal spurns
Kundry. When Klingsor hurls the sacred spear at him, Pasifal grasps it and makes
the sign of the cross with it, whereupon the garden withers and the castle falls in ruins.
After wandering for many years, Parsifal returns to Montsalvat
on Good Friday. He baptizes Kundry and heals Amfortas' wound with the sacred spear,
thus redeeming the brotherhood of the Knights of the Grail...
Pelleas et Melisande...
by Claude Debussy,
was first performed in Paris in French in 1902. It is set
innthe mythical kingdom of Allemonde in lengendary times. Golaud has met and
married Melisande, a mysterious girl he found wandering in the forest. He takes her home to the gloomy
castle of his grand - father, Arkel. As Melisande and Pelleas, Golaud'
s brother , sit by the fountain, ashe tosses her wedding ring in the air and it drops into the water.
Golaud misses the ring, Melisande says she dropped it by the sea. Golaud
asks her to find it. She and Pelleas look for it and meet thre blind beggars.
At the castle Melisande 's long hair becomes entwined in some
vines as she talks with Pelleas. Golaud discovers them and suspects that they are in lovers.
He set his son, Yniold, to spy on them. Golaud warms Pelleas
to spare Melisande any excitement, since she is soon to have a child. Pelleas must
leave and commes to bid Melisande farewell. For the first time they declare their love for each
other. Golaud finds them, kills Pelleas, and pursues Melisande. Melisande
gives birth to a daughter prematurely. She forgives Golaud, insists that the love she and Pelleas
had for each other was inoncent, and dies...
by Benjamen Britten, was
first performed in London in 1945. It takes place in a small fishing village on the eastern
coast of England about 1830.
Peter Grimes, a fisheman, is unpopular in the village. When his apprentice
dies, the villagers accuse him of murder. But the verdict of the coroner' scourt is accidental death. Only Ellen
Orford, the schoolteacher, believes in Peter. They love each other, but Peter feels
he does not have enough money to marry her.
Peter takes on another apprentice. When the villagers march menacingly
on Peter' s hut, the boy rushes out of the hut onto the cliftf above the sea, loses his footing, and dies.
The gossipy villagers mutter again about murder. Peter is haunted by the
death of his only refuge. He sails out to sea and sinks the boat too far out for him to be rescued.
Porgy and Bess...
by George Gersgwin,
was first performed in Boston in English in 1935.
It takes places in Catfish Row , Charleston, South Carolina,
in the recent past. Crown, a stevedore, quarrels with a man during a crap game and kills him.
Crown escapes, while his girl, Bess, takes refuge with Porgy, a crippled
Bess, completely reformed, is happy with Porgy, but somewhat against
her better judgement, she goes to a lodge picnic at Kittiwah Island. Crown has been hiding on the Island
and persuades Bess to stay with him. She returns a few days later, delirious and ill. But she recovers
and promises Porgy never to leave him.
Crown arrives back to town. He is looking for Bess when
Porgy stabs him. The police take in Porgy as a witness, but he is freed a few days
later. Meanwhile Sportin' Life, a New York dope peddler, has convinced Bess that
Porgy is gone for good and takes her to New York with him. Porgy set out to find her...
by Giuseppe Verdi,
was first performed in Venice in Italian in 1851.
It takes place in Mantua in the 16th century. The Duke of Mantua covets every female
he sees. His hunchbacked jester. Rigoletto, assists him in his amorous intrigues and taunts the
husbands. The courtiers vow vengeance on the jester, and Count Monterone, whose daughter hasbeen
dishonored by the Duke, curses Rigoletto.
Rigoletto' s daughter, Gilda, has been kept hidden by her father
in the secluded house. The Duke enters and, pretending to be a poor student, makes love to Gilda.
Thinking she is Rigoletto' s mistress, the hostile noblemen abduct Gilda.
At the place Rigoletto acknowledges that Gilda
is his daughter. Gilda admits her shame but implores Rigoletto to pardon
the Duke, whom she loves. Rigoletto shows Gilda the
Duke flirting with Maddalena, sister of the bandit Sparafucile, whom
Rigoletto has to hire to murder the Duke. Dressed as a man, Gilda returns
and hears Sparafucile promise Maddalena to spare the Duke
if someone takes his place before midnight. Gilda enters. She is stabbed and put in a sack for
Rigoletto, as agreed. Rigoletto hears the Duke singing in the distance. He opens the sack
and finds the dying Gilda. She asks his pardon and dies. Rigoletto cries out
in despair that Count Monterone' s curse has been fulfilled...
Der Ring des Nibelungen...
is a cycle of four music dramas by
Richard Wagner. The chasracters in the Ring cycle are the gods of ancient Germanic folklore.
Wotan is the head of god and occasionally appears in mortal form. Fricka is his
wife and the goddess of marriage. Freya, Fricka' s sister, is the goddess of youth and beauty.
Loge is the god of fire and deceit. Erda is the goddess of the earth. Donner
is the god of thunder. They dwell in Asgard, in the place called Valhalla.
The Valkyries are the nine daughters of Wotan and
Erda. They guard the gods and carry slain earthly heroes to Valhalla. The Nibelungs
are the race of dwarfs who live underground in Nibelheim.
1 - Das Rheingold is the first of the four operas and a prelude
to the cycle. It was first performed in Munich in German in 1869.
The evil - looking dwarf Alberich, King of the Nibelungs,
shouts his renunciation of love and makes off with the magic gold, which the three Rhine maidens had been
guarding. His brother, Mime, fashions from it a golden ring whose possessor may rule the world and a
magic helmet ( Tarnhelm ) that allow its wearer to assume any form. The giants Fasolt
and Fafner have finished Wotan' s and Fricka' s
palace, Valhalla, and demand Freya in payment. Loge
susgests the gold as a substitute. By tricky Wotan secures the Tarnhelm
from Alberich and forces the captive dwarf to bring from his caverns all the wealth
of the Nebelung, Alberich pyut a curse on the ring. Fasolt is killed when
the giants fight over it. Now the gods can enter Valhalla...
2 - In Die Walkure, the second
opera, first performed in Munich in German in 1870., the
weaponless Siegmund takes refuge in the hut of Hunding and his wife,
Sieglinde. Siegmund and Sieglinde fall in love, thought they realize that
they are the Walsungs, two children of Wotan. Siegmund wrenches
free the great sword. Nothung that Wotan had thurst into a tree for him to retrieve,
and the two rush away.
Wotan commands his favorite daughter, Brunnhilde,
to protect Siegmund in his coming fight with Hunding. But Fricka
demands that Siegmund be punished for breaking the marriage laws. Wotan
reverses his instructions, but Brunnhilde disobeys. Wotan intervenes,
wuith his spear breaks Siegmund' s sword. Hunding kills Siegmund
and is himself killed by Wotan. Brunnhilde gathers up Siegmund '
s broken sword. After her sister Valkyries refuse to help her, she sends Siegmund
away to bear Siegmund' s child. Wotan pities Brunnhilde, but
she must be punished. Deprive of her godhood, she will be protected by a circle of flame. The first masn who penetrates
the fire and awakens her will become her husband. Wotan places Brunnhilde on the
rock and orders Loge to surround her with flames...
3 - Siegfried, the third opera, was first performed in
Bayreuth in German in 1876. It tells the story of
Siegfried, son of Sieglinde and Siegmund. Sieglinde
died when Siegfried was born, and he has been raised by Mime.
Mime tries vainly to men the sword
that Sieglinde had left for her son. Siegfried demands information from
Mime, about his origin. Mime tells him of Sieglinde and
Siegmund and shows him the broken sword, an invincible weapon if it can be mended. Wotan, as the
Wanderer , appears and tells Mime that only a man without fear can forge
Nothung, Siegfried forges Nothung.
The Wanderer has told Alberich
that Siegfried will capture the ring. He urges the dwarf to convince Fafner,
now the dragon who guards the Niberlung treasure, to give it up before he is killed.
Siegfried, led by Mime appears and slays Fafner with Nothung.
A drop of Fafner' s blood enables Siegfried to understand the
language of the fiorest bird. On its advice, he takes possession of the ring and Tarnhelm.
He kills Mime when the dwarf tries to poison him.
The bird sings of a beautiful maiden asleep on the rock, waiting
to be wakened by the hero. Siegfried encounters The Wanderer on the
way and breaks his spear with Nothung. He passes through the flames that ring the rock and bends
over Brunnhilde. She awakens at his kiss and greets the hero ecstatically.
4 - Gotterdammerung,.. the fourth opera, first performed in
Bayreuth in German in 1876, the rope of destiny breaks as the Norms weave,
foretelling the downfall of Valhalla and the end of the gods. Siegfried and
Brunnhilde , emerge from the cave. zhe gives her a ring, and she gives him her horse...Grane.
In the hall of Gibichungs, Hagen, son of Alberich, tells him half brother,
Gunther, that he must marry Brunnhilde, and that Gutrune, his
half sister, must marry Siegfried. Siegfried arrives. Hagen brews a
potion to destroy his memory of women. Gutrune gives it to Siegfried. He has no recollection
of Brunnhilde, and woos Gutrune.
Siegfried assumes to guise of Gunther, overpowers
Brunnhilde, and forces the ring from her finger. Brunnhilde realizes that Siegfried
has betryed her and plots revenge with Gunther and Hagen.
By the Rhine the maidens beg Siegfried
to return the ring, warning him of its curse. Hagen gives him another potion, restoring his
memory. Siegfried tells of his life and his marriage to Brunnhilde. Hagen plunges
a spear into his back and he dies, singing a farewell to Berunnhilde. Gutrune accuses
Gunther of Siegfried' s murder. He denies it and accuses Hagen,
who admits it and demands the ring on Siegfried' s finger. Gunther says the ring
is his, and Hagen kills him. The arm of Siegfried rises as if in warning.
Brunnhilde commands that a funeral pyre be built. The Rhine
maidens have told her of Hagen' s treachery and Siegfried' s innocence. She
mounts Grane and rides into the flames. The ahll collapses, and the Rhine overflows
The Rhine maidens recover their ring from Brunnhilde' s dead hand and drag
Hagen to his death when he tries to seize it. In the distance, Valhalla is in flames.
It is the end of the gods.
Der Rosenkavalier ..
by Richard Strauss,
was first performed in Dresden in German in 1911. It talkes place in
Vienna in the 18th century during the reign of Maria Theresa .Young Octavian, Count
Rofrano, is telling the Marschallin, the Princess von Werdenberg, how
much he loves her, when the Marschallin' s cousin. Baron Ochs von Lerchenau,
arrives. Octavian hides. Ochs has decided to marry Sophie, daughter
of the newly rich Herr von Faninal, and seeks a cavalier to present the traditional silver rose.
The Marschallin suggests Octavian, who has meanwhile disguised himself as
her maid, Mariandel, and reappeared. The Baron tries to arrange a meeting with Mariandel.
The Marschallin receives callers and petitioners.
She muses on her lost youth and sends Octavian away. Octavian presents the silver
rose to Sophie. She is disgusted by the vulgar Ochs. and flatly refuses to marry him.
Ochs gets the note from Mariandel suggesting a rendezvous. They meet
at a disreputable inn where Ochs is harassed by a serie of pranks. The police, Faninal,
and Sophie are summoned. Octavian removes his disguise. The Marschallin
arrives. She forces Ochs to give up Sophie, and lamenting that
her vow to yield Octavian must be kept so soon, unites Sophie and Octavian,
to thier great joy.
by Richard Strauss,
was first performed in Dresden in German in 1905. It is based on
a play of Oscar Wilde. The story takes place on the terrace of
Herod' s palace about A.D. 30.
Jokanaan is a prisoner in the dungeon. Salome,
daughter of Herodias, pleads with the captain of the guard to let her see the prisoner.
She is fascinated by Jokanaan, but the prophet cries out that she is cursed and returns to
Herod and Herodias, his wife, appear.
When Herod asks Salome to dance, she says she will if he willswear
to grant her anything she desires. She performes her Dance of Seven Veils and then asks for
Jokanaan' s head on a silver platter. As she exults over the head, Herod, horrfied
by her behavior, commands his soldiers to kill her...
Samson et Dalila...
by Camile Saint - Saens,
was first performed in Weimar in French in 1877. It is based on a Biblical
story and takes place in Gaza in Palestine about 1150 B.C.
Samson, mighty leader of the Israelites,
who are in bondage to the Philistines, conforts his people by predicting early victory.
When Abimelech, the satrap, or ruler, of Gaza, threatens them, Samson
slays him. The Philistines flee when the victorious Israelites intone
a hymn of praise.
The high priest commands Dalila to deliver
Samson to the Philistines. Samson falls in love with her and confesses that the
secret of his strenght is his hair. Dalila lulls him to sleep and cuts off his hair.
She turns the now powerless hero over to the Philistines, who blind him.
The remorseful Samson is chained like an
animal to the millstone and forced to turn it. A child leads him to the temple for the Philistines'
victory celebration. He prays for a return of his former strenght. His prayer is answered. Grasping the pillars,
he brings the temple down on himself and the Philistines.
The Tales of Hoffmann...
by Jacques Offenbach, was
first performed in Paris in French in 1881. It takes place in
Nuremberg, Venice and Munich in the 19th century.
At Luther ' s Tavern, Lindorf,
a rival of the poet Hoffmann, intercepts a note from Stella, an opera singer,
inviting Hoffmann to meet her after the performance. Hoffmann, accompanied
by his friend Nicklausse, enters and tells the story of his three lovers.
The first was Olympia, a mechanical doll
created by the scientist Spalanzani and the magician Coppelius. When Coppelius
smashed her, Hoffmann found that he had been in love with clockwork.
The second was Giulietta, a courtesan in
the power of the magician Dapertutto, Giulietta had a lover, but Hoffmann killed
him in a duel. Giulietta then ran off with another man.
The third was Antonia, a singer who had consumption.
Urged on by Dr. Miracle, she fell dead while singing.
Stella arrives at the tavern, finds Hoffmann
drunk, throws him a flower, and goes off with Lindorf, Hoffmann' s enemy.
The roles of Lindorf, Coppelius, Dapertutto, and
Dr. Miracle are played by the same person...
. by Richard Wagner,
was first performed in Dresden in German in 1845. It takes place
in Venusberg and in around Wartburg cattle, Thuringia, Germany, in the
early 13th century. The minstrel - knight Tannhauser has tired of his life with Venus
and begs the goddess to allow him to return to his own world. He wil trust in the Virgin Mary for his salvation.
At the mention of this name, Venus and her realm disappear. Tannhauser finds himself near
Wartburg Cattle, listening to the singing of pilgrims on their way to Rome.
Wolfram and other knights appear and welcome
Tannhauser after his year' s mysterious absence. Princess Elizabeth, in seclusion
since his disappearance, greets Tannhauser joyfully.
A song contest begins, Wolfram sings a hymn to
unselfish love, but Tannhauser bursts into wild song, praising Venus and
life in the Venusberg. Elizabeth protects Tannhauser from the horrified
assembly, and he is allowed to join the pilgrims and seek the pope' s forgiveness.
Elizabeth awaits the returning pilgrims,
Tannhauser is not among them. He commes later and tells Wolfram that the pope refused him absolution.
He will go again to Venusberg.
Elizabeth has died of her grief. Tannhauser
sinks down before her bier and dies, redeemed ar last. A group of pilgrims comes, bearing the pope' s staff. It
has blossomed with new leaves, a sign of God' s forgiveness.
by Giacomo Puccini, was first
performed in Rome in Italian in 1900. Angelotti, an escaped
political prisoner, takes refuge in the church where Mario Cavaradossi is working on the painting of
Mary Magdalen. Mario discovers Angelotti, an old friend, and arranges for him to
hide at the villa. They are interrupted by Mario' s love, Floria Tosca, a singer, who
is jealous of the painting because Mario had used other woman as his model. Later, after
Angelotti has left, Baron Scarpia, the chief of police, arouses Tosca' s
suspicious by a fan he discovers.
Mario, suspected of aiding
Angelotti, is taken into custody and tortured while Tosca listens. She cannot bear
his suffering and reveals Angelotti' s hiding place, to Mario' s fury. Scarpia
condemns him to be executed.
Scarpia avows his passion
for Tosca and promises freedom for Mario when she yields. But
after Scarpia gives an order for a mock execution and writes out a safe - conduct pass,
Tosca stabs him. She then escapes.
Mario is writing a farewell letter
to Tosca when she arrives and tells him of the mock execution. But the execution turns out to be
real. Mario lies dead. As Scarlia' s men come to arrest her, Tosca
jumps over the parapet to her death....
by Giuseppe Verdi, was
first performed in Venice in Italian in 1853. It is based on the famous
play La Dame aux Camelias, by Alexandre Dumas fils. It takes place in Paris.
The frail Violetta Valery meets Alfredo Germont and for love of him abandons
her questionable life. They lead an idyllic existence in the country until Alfredo learns by accident
that Violetta has been selling her possessions to support them. He rushes off to Paris
to raise the money to pay their debts.
His father arrives and tells Violleta that the
future of Alfredo and the fortunes of his sister will be destroyed by his connection with
her. With growing remorse, she heeds the elder Germont and leaves Alfredo.
giving as explanation a desire for her former gay existence.
Grief - stricken, Violleta plunges back into
her old life. When she meets Alfredo at the party, he insults her and quarrels with Baron
Douphol, her admirer.
Violleta is now seriously ill. The elder
Germont, moved by compassion and realizing that Violleta' s love for
Alfredo is sincere, consents to their reunion. Alfredo hastens to her, understanding
at last that Violleta has sacrified herself for his sake. He negs her forgiveness,
but it is too late, and she dies in his arms.
Tristan und Isolde...
by Richard Wagner, was
first performed in Munich in German in 1865. It is based on a medieval legend
and takes place aboard ship, in Cornwall, and in Brittany in legendary times.
The knight Tristan has been sent to bring Isolde, intended bride of King
Mark, from Ireland to Cornwall. Isolde falls in love with
Tristan, though she recognizes him as the knight whose life she had spared after he had killed her fiance,
Morold. When Tristan spurns her, Isolde directs
Brangane, her lady - in - waiting, to prepare the death position. But Brangane substitutes
a love position. Tristan and Isolde both drink of it and fall helplessly in love.
In Cornwall, Isolde, now married to King
Mark, continues to meet Tristan. The King is suspicious and returns
from a hunting trip to find them together. Tristan is seriously wounded by Melot, one
of the King' s courtiers, Kurvenal, Tristan' s henchman, takes him to his
castle in Brittany. Isolde joins him there, and he dies in her arms. King Mark
has also followed, intending to forgive the pair. But Kurvenal, not knowing this, intervenes and is killed
by Melot. Isolde bids her lover farewell and falls dead on his body...
.by Giuseppe Verdi, was
first performed in Rome in Italian in 1853. It takes place in Aragon
and Biscay, Spain, in the mid - 15th century. Leonora, lady - in - waiting
to the Queen, is wooed by two men. Count di Luna and Manrico,
a troubadour, believed to be the son of the gypsy Azucena . Azucena has vowed
vengeance against Count di Luna because his father , believing that
Azucena' s mother had bewitched his young son, had her burned. Azucena had kidnapped the child,
intending to kill him, but as she tells Manrico, she hurled her own child into the fire by mistake.
On learning that Leonora loves Manrico,
the Count challenges him to the duel. Manrico overcomes the Count
but spares his life. Both intercept Leonora as she enters a convent, and Manrico
rushes to her rescue and is captured. Leonora decides to buy his freedom by supposedly yielding
to the Count. She is taken poison and dies in Manrico' s arms. The Count
orders Manrico to the scaffold, but the final triumph is Azucena' s. The Count
has killed his own brother..
by Giacoma Puccini ( completed by Franco
Alfano ) , was first performed in Milan in Italian in 1926.
It tales place in Peking, China in legendary times. The beautiful Princess Turandot has
made it known that she will wed any nobleman who can answer three riddles. Failure will be punished by death.
May unlucky wooers have already put on death by the cruel Princess before Calaf, a Tartar prince, arrives
and guesses al thre answers correctly. Turandot begs to be released from her promise, but Calaf
refuses, unless she can uncover his true identity before the next morning.
Calaf' s father, Timur,
an exiled Tartar King, and a loving handmaiden, Liu, come seeking him. They are tortured at the Princess' command,
but the faithful Liu kills herself rather than reveal Calaf' s name. Calaf'
s wooing finally melts the ice in Turandot' s heartand she surrenders to him., announcing
that his name is Love..
by Alban Berg, was first
performed in Berlin in German in 1925. It takes place in a town in Germany
Wozzeck, a poor soldier, works for
extra money for his mistress, Marie , and their child. He barbers his captain and serves as
guinea pig for a mad doctor, whose strange diet gives Wozzeck hallucinations.
Marie takes up with a handsome drum
major. She defies Wozzeck , who sees her dancing with the drum major. Later, in the
barracks, the drum major taunts Wozzeck about Marie and beats him.
Marie repents of her unfaithfulness and seeks
comfort from the Bible. She goes for a walk with Wozzeck. He kills her with a knife.
Returning to the scene, Wozzeck searches
for a knife, find it, and throws it into a pond. He wades out to recover it and drowns. The captain and the doctor
hear his cries for help, pause momentarily, then hurry away. Soem children tell Marie' s son of her death,
but he does not understands. He rides after them on his hobbyhorse...
aristotle' s notion of poetry..
This excerpts are the Notion
of Poetry of Aristotle . We surprise for his brillant knowledge for different fields from... Sciences, Philosophy,
Literature, included Poetry...As we know, Aristotle was living from 384- 322 B.C. He was one of the three
great philosophers at that time. He wrote many excellent pieces on different topics.
might see this topic with more details at
I propose to treat of Poetry
in itself and of its various kinds, noting the essential quality of each; to inquire into the structure of the plot as requisite
to a good poem; into the number and nature of the parts of which a poem is composed; and similarly into whatever else falls
within the same inquiry. Following, then the order of nature, let us begin with the principles which come first.
Epic Poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also and Dithyrambic
Poetry, and the music of the flute and the lyre in most of their forms, are all in their general conception modes of
imitation. They differ, however, from one another in three respects - the medium, the objects, the manner or mode
of imitation, being in each case distinct.
For as there are persons who, by conscious art or mere habit, imitate
and represent various objects through the medium of color and form , and again by the voice;
so in the arts above mentioned, taken as a whole, the imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or "harmony
" either singly or combined.
Since the object of imitation are men in action,
and these men must be either of a higher or a lower type ( for moral chanracter mainly anwers to these divisions, goodness
and badness being the distinguishing marks of moral differences ), it follows that we must represent men either as better
than in real life, or as worse, or as they are... Homer, for example, makes men better than they are; Cleophon as
they are; Hegemon, the Thasian, the inventor of parodies, and Nicochares, the author of the
Deiliad, worse than they are...
There is still a third difference - the manner in which each
of these objects may be imitated. For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration
- in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, inchnged
- or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us.
These, then, as we said at the beginning, are the three differences
which distinguish artistic imitation - the medium, the objects and the manner. So that fromone point
of view, Sophocles is an imotator of the same kind as Homer - for both imitate higher types of character;
from another point of view, of the same kind as Aristophanes - for both imitate persons acting and doing. Hence,
some say, the name of " drama " is given to such poems, as representing action..
This may suffice as to the number and nature of the various modes of
Poetry in general seems to
have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from
childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through
imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of
this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced
with minute fidelity; such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies. The cause of this again is, that to
learn gives the liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general; whose capacity, however, of learning is
more limited. Thus the reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is, that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or
interferring, and saying perhaps.." Ah, that is he ". For of you happen not to have seen the original, the pleasure
will be due not to the imitation as such, but to the execution, the coloring, or some such
Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Next there is the
instinct of " harmony " and rhythm, metres being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting
with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisisations gave birth to Poetry.
Poetry now diverged in two directions, according to the
individual character of the writers. The graves spirits imitated noble actions, and the actions of good men. The more trivial
sort imitated the actions of meaner persons, at first composing satires, as the former did hymns to the gods and the praises
of famous men...But when Tragedy and Comedy came to light, the two classes of poets still followed their
natural bent : the lampooners because writers of Comedy, and the Epic Poets were succeeded
by Tragedians; since the drama was larger and higher form of Art..
as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type - not, however, in the full sense of the world bad, the
Ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful
or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain..
Epic Poetry agrees with Tragedy in so faras it is an.imitation
in verse of characters of a higher type. They differ, in that Epic Poetry admits but one kind of metre, and
narrative in form. They differ, again, in their length forTragedy endeavors, as far as poccible, to confine itself
to a single revolution of the sun, or but slightly to exceed this limit; whereas the Epic action has no limits
of time. This , then, is a second point of difference; though at first the same freedom was admitted in Tragedy as
in Epic Poetry.
Of their constituent parts some are common to both,
some peculiar to Tragedy; however therefore, knows what is good or bad Tragedy, knows also about
Epic Poetry . All the elements of an Epic Poem are found in Tragedy, but the elements of a Tragedy
are not all found in the Epic Poem.
...Let us now discuss Tragedy,
resuming its formal definition, as resulting from what has been already said.
Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action, that
is serious, complete, and or a certainmagnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several
kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting
the proper purgation of these emotions. By " language embellished " I mean language into which rhythm, " harmony
", and song enter; By " the several kinds in separate partd ", I mean, that some parts are rendered through
the medium of verse alone, others again with the aid of song.
Now as trgic implies persons acting, it necessarily follows, in the
first place, that Spectacular equipment will be part of Tragedy. Next, Song and Dictation,
for these are the medium of Imitation. By Dictation, I mean the mere metrical arrangement of
the words: as for Song, it is a term whose sense every one understands.
Again, Tragedy is the Imitation of an Action;
and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of Character
- and Thoughtt; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these - thought and character -
are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again all sucess or failure depends. Hence, the
plot is the imitation of the action: - for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents,
By character, I mean the virtue of which we ascribe certain qualities to the agents. Thought is required wherever
a statement is proved, or it may be, a general truth enunciated. Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which
parts determine its quality - namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song. Two of the parts
constitute the medium of imitation, one the manner, and three the objects of imitation. And these complete the list.
These elements have been employed , we may say, by the poets to the man; in fact, every play contains Spectacular
Elements as well as Character, Plot, Diction, Song, and Thought
But most important of all is the structure of the incidents.
For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists
in action , and its end is a mode of action, not a quality. Now character
determines men' s qualities, but it is by their actions that they are happy or the reverse. Dramatic action,
therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character; character comes in as subsidiary to the actions.
Hence the incidents and the plot are the end of the Tragedy; and the end is the chief
thing of all. Again, without action there cannot be a Tragedy, there may be without character... Again, if you string
together a set of speeches expressive of character, and well finished in point of diction and thought , you will
not priduce the essential tragic effect nearly ao well as with a play which, however deficient in these respects, yet has
a plot and artistically constructed incidents. Besides which, the most powerful elements of emotional interest in Tragedy
-Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition Scenes - are parts of the plot. A further
proofs is, that novices in the art attain to finish of diction and precision of portraiture before they can construct the
plot. It is the same with almost all the early poets.
The Plot , then, is the first principle, and , as it were,
the Soul of the Tragedy: Character holds the second place ...
Third in order is Thought - that is, the faculty of saying
what is possible and pertinent in given circumstances. In the case of oratory , this is the function of the political
art and of the art of rhetoric: and so indeed the older poets make their characters speak the language of civic life; the
poets of our time, the language of rhetoricians. Character is that which reveals moral purpose, showing
what kind of things a man chooses or avoids. Speechs , therefore, which do not make this manifest, or in which the
speaker does not choose or avoid anything whatever, are not expressive of character. Thought , on the other hand,
is found where something is proved to be or not to be, or a general maxim is enunciated...
These principes being
established, let us now discuss the proper structure of the Plot, since this is the first and most important
thing in Tragedy.
Now, according to our definition, Tragedy is
an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude; for there may be a whole that is wanting
in magnitude. A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle and an end. A beginning is that which does
not itself follow anything by causal necessity, but after which something naturally is or comes to be. An end, on the contrary,
is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity, or as a rule, but has nothing following it.
A middle is that which follows something as some other thing follows it. A well constructed plot, therfore
must neither begin nor end at haphazard, but conform to these principles.
Again, a beautiful object, whether it be a living organism
or any whole composed of parts, must not only have an orderly arrangement of parts, but must also be of
a certain magnitude; for beauty depends on magnitude and order. Hence every small animal
organisms cannot be beautiful; for the view of it is confused, the object being seen in an almost imperceptable moment
of time.. Not again, can one of vast size be beutiful; for as eye cannot take it all in at once, the
unity and the sense of the whole is lost for the spectator; as for instance if there were one of the thousand miles long.
As, therefore, in the case of animate bodies and organisms a certain magnitude is necessary, and a magnitude which may
be easily embraced in one view; so in the plot, a certain length is necessary, and a length which
can be easily embraced by the memory. The limit of length in relation to dramatic competition and sensuous presentment,
in no part of artistic theory. For had it been the rule for a hundred tragedies to compete together, the performance
would heve been regulated by the water - clock, - as indeed we are told was formerly done. But the limit
as fixed by the nature of the drama itself is this: - the greater the length, the more beautiful will the piece be by reason
of its size, provided that the whole be perspicuous. And to define the matter roughly, we may say that the
proper magnitude is comprised within such limits, that the sequence of events, according to the law of probability law
or necessary, will admit of a change from bad fortune to good, or from good fortune to bad.
Unity of plot does not, as some
persons think, consist in the unity of the hero...In composing the Odyssey ( Homer ) did not include all the adventures
of Odysseus - such as his wound on Parnassus, or his feigned madness at the mustering of the host
- incidents between which there was no necessary or probable connection: but he made the Odyssey, and likewise
the Iliad, to centre round an action that in our sense of the word is one. As therefore, in the
other imitative arts, the imitationj is one when the object imitated is one, so the plot, being an imitation
of an action, must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them
is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjoined and disturbed. For a thing whose presence or absence make no
visible difference, is not an organic part of the whole.
It is, moreover, evident
from what has been said, what has happened, but what may happen - what is possible according to the law of probability
or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The
work of Herodotus might be put onto verse, and it would still be a species of history, with metre no less than
without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen. Poetry, therefore,
is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal ,
history the particular . By the universal, I mean how a person of a certain type will on occasion speak
or act, according to the law of probabily or necessarity, and it is this universality at which poetry
aims in the names she attaches to the personages.
Of all plots and actions, the epeisodic are the worst. I call
a plot " epeisodic " in which the episodes or acts succeed one another without probable or necessary sequence. Bad
poets compose such pieces by their own fault, Good poets, to please the players; for, as they write show
pieces for competition, they stretch the plot beyond its capacity, and are often forced to break the natural continuity.
But again, Tragedy is an immitation not only of a complete
action, but of events inspiring fear or pity. Such an effect is best produced when the events come on us by surprise; and
the effect is heightened when, at the same time, they follow as cause and effect. The tragic wonder will then
be greater than if they happened of themselves or by accident; for even coincidences are most striking when they have an air
of design. We may instance the statue of Mitys at Argos, which fell upon his murderer while he was a spectator
at the festival, and killed him. Such events seem not to be due to mere chance. Plots, therefore, constructed on
these principles are necessarily the best.
Plots are either Simple or
Complex, for the actions in real life, of which the plots are an immitation, obviously show a similar
distinction. Anaction which is one and continuous in the sens above defined, I call Simple, when the change
of fortune takes place without Reversal of Situation and without Recognition.
A Complex Action is one in which the change is accompanied
by such Reversal ,or by Recognition or by both. These last should arise from the internal structure
of the Plot, so that what follows shoud be necessary or probable result of the predicting action. It makes
all the difference whether any given event is a case of propter hoc or post hoc.
Reversal of the situation
is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject alway to our rule of probability or necessary.
Thus in the Oedipus the messenger comes to cheer Oedipus and free him from his alarms about
his mother, but by revealing who he is, he produces the opposite effect. Again in the Lynceus, Lynceus is being
led away to his death, and Danaus goes with him, meaning to slay him; but the outcome of the preceding incidents
is that Danaus is killed and Lynceus saved.
Recognition, as the name of indicates, is a change from ignorance
to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons, destined by the poet for good or bad fortune. The
best form of recognition is coincident with a Reversal of the Situation, as in the Oedipus.
( No specific text for the Poetry
As the sequel to what has already been
said, we must proceed to consider what the poet should aim at, and what he should avoid, in constructing his
plots; and by what means the specific effect of Tragedy will be produced.
A perfect Tragedy shoukld, as we have seen, be arranged not
on the simple, but on the complex plan. It should, moreover, imitate actions which excite pity and fear,
this being the disctinctive mark of tragic imitation. It follows plainly, in the first place, that the change of
fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves neither
pity nor fear, it merely shocks us. Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity: for nothing can be
more single tragic quality; it neither satisfies the moral sense nor calls forth pity or fear. Nor, again, should the downfall
of the utter villain be exhibited. A plot of this kind would, doubtless, satisfy the moral sense , but it would
inspire weither pity nor fear; for pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like
ourselves. Such an event, therefore, neither will be neither pitiful nor terrible. There remains, then,
the character between these two extremes, that of a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought
about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty. He must be one who is hightly renowned and prosperous, a personage
like Oedipus, Thyestes, or other illustrious men of such families.
A well constructed plot should, therefore, be single
in its issue, rather than double as some maintain. The change of fortune should be not from bad to good, but, reversely,
from good to bad. it should come great error or frailty, in a character either such as we have described, or
better rather than worse. The practice of the stage bears out our view. Ar first the poets recounted any legend that came
to their way. Now the best Tragedies are founded on the story of a few houses, on the fortunes of Alcmaeon,
Oedipus, Orestes, Meleager, Thyestes, Telephus, and those others who have done or suffered something terrible. ATragedy,
then, to be perfect according to the rules of art should be of this construction.
Fear and Pity may
be aroused by spectacular means; but they may also result from the inner structure of the piece, which is the better
way, and indicates a superior poet. For the plot ought to be so constructed that, even without the aid of
the eye, he whohears the tale told will thrill with horror and melt to pity at what takes place. This is the impression we
should receive from hearing the story of the Oedipus. But to produce this effect by the mere spectacle is a less
artistic method, not dependent on extraneous aids. Those who employ spectacular means to create a sense not of terrible but
only of the monstrous, are strangers to the purpose of Tragedy : for we must not demand of Tragedy any and
every kind of pleasure, but only that which is proper to it. And since the pleasure
which the poet should afford is that which comes from pity and fear through imitation., it
is evident that this quality must be impressed upon the incidents.
Let us tnen determine what are circumstances which strike us as terrible
Action capable of this effect must happen between persons
who are either friends or enemies or indifferent to one another. If an enemy kills an enemy, there is nothing to excite pity
either in the act or the intention, except so far as the suffering in itself is pitiful. So again with indifferent persons.
But when the tragic incident occurs between those who are near or dear to one another, of, for example, a brother kills, or
intends to kill, a brother, a son his father, a mother her son, a son his mother, or any other deed of the kind is done, there
are the situations to be looked for by the poet. He may not indeed destroy the framework of the received legends,
the fact, for instance, that Clytemnestra was slain by Orestes and Eriphyle by Alemaeon,
but he ought to show invention of his own, and skillfully handle the traditional material. Let us explain more
clearly what is meant by skillful handling.
The action may be done consciously and with knowledge of the
persons, in the manner of the older poets. It is thus too that Euripides makes Medea slay her children,
Or, again, the deed of horror may be done, but done in ignorance, and the tie of kinship or friendship be discovered afterwards.
The Oedipus of Sophocles is an example. Here, indeed, the incident is outside de drama proper; but cases occur
where it falls within the action of the play: one may cite the Alcmaeon of Astydamas, or Telegonus in
the Wounded Odysseus. Again, there is a third case, to be about to do an irreparable deed through ignorance,
and makes the discovery before it is done. There are the only possible ways.
For the deed must either be done or not doe, and that writtingly
or unwrittingly. But of all these ways, to be about to act knowing the persons, and then not to act, is the worst. It is shocking
without being tragic, for no disaster follows. It is, therefore, never, or very rarely, found on Poetry. One instance,
however, is in the Antigone, where Haemon threatens to kill Creon. The next and better way, is
that the deed should be perpetrated. Still better, that it should be perpetrated in ignorance, and the discovery made afterwards.
There is then nothing to shock us, while the discovery produces a starting effect. The last case is the best,
as when in the Cresphontes Merope is about to slay her son, but, recognising who he is, spares his life.
So in the Iphigenia, the sister recognises the brother just in time. Again in the Helle, the son recognizes
the mother when on the pouint of giving her up. This, then, is why a few families only, as has been already observed, furnish
the subject of Tragedy. It was not art, but happy chance, that led the poets in search of subjects to impress
the tragic quality upon their plots. They are compelled , therefore, to have recourse to those houses
whose history contains moving incidents like these.
Enough has now been said concerning the structure of the
incidents, and the right kind of plot.
In the respect of Character
there are four things to be at.
First, and most
important, it must be good . Now any speech or action that manifests moral purpose of any kind will be expressive
of Character: the Character will be good if the purpose is good. This rule is relative to each class. Even a woman
may be good, and also a slave; though the woman may be said to be an inferor being, and the slave quite worthless.
The Second thing to aim
at the propriety . There is a type of manly valor, but valor in a woman , or unscrupulous cleverness
, is inapproprate.
Thirdly, character must
be true to life: for this is a distinct thing from goodness and propriety, as here described.
The fourth point is consistency:
for though the subject of the imitation, who suggested the type, be inconsistent, still he must be consistently
As in the structure of the plot, so too
in the portraiture of Character, the poet should always aim either at ne necessary or the probable. Thus
a person of given character should speak or act in the given way, by the rule either of necessity or of probability;
just as this event should follow that by necessary or probable sequence.
Again, since Tragedy is an imitation
of persons who are above the common level, the example of good portrait - painters should
be followed. They, while reproducing the distinctive form of the original, make a likeness which is true to life and yet more
beautiful. So too the poet, in representing men who are irascible or indolent, or have other defects of character,
should preserve the type ond yet ennoble it. In this way, Achille is portraued by Agathon and
( no specific expression
for the Poetry )
( no specific expression
for the Poetry )
Every Tragedy falls
into two parts: Complication and Unravelling or Denouement. Incidents extraneous to the action
are frequently combined with a portion of the action proper, to form the Complication; the rest is the Unravelling.
By the Complication, I mean all that extends from the beginning of the action to the part which
marks the turning - point to good or bad fortune. The Unravelling is that which extends from the beginning
of the change to an end.
is included every effect which has to be produced by speech, the subdivisions being - proof and
refutation; the excitation of the feelings, such as pity, fear, anger and the like; the suggestion of
importance or its opposite. Now, it is evident that the dramatic incidents must be treated from
the same points of view as the dramatic speeches, when the object is to evoke the sense of pity, fear,
importance or probability. The only difference is, that the incidents should speak for
themselves without verbal exposition; while the effects aimed at in speech should be produced by the speaker, and as
a result of the speech. For what were the business of a speaker, if the Thought were revealed quite apart from what
( no important expression )
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...But the greatest thing by far
is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imported by another; it is the mark of genius.
for to make good metaphors imples an eye for ressemblance...
As to that poetic imitation
which is narrative in form and emplys a single metre, the plot manifestly ought, as in Tragedy, to
be constructed on dramatic principles. It should have for its subject a single action, whole and complete,
with the beginning, a middle, and an end. It will thus, resemble a living organism in all its unity, and produce the
leasure proper to it. It will differ in structure from historical compositions, which of necessary present not a single action,
but a single period,and all that happened within that period to one person or to many, little connected together
as the events may be. For as the sea-fight at Salamiand the battle with the Carthaginians in
Sicily took place at the same time, but did not tend to any one result, so in the sequence of events, one thing sometimes
follows another, and yet no single result is thereby produced. Such is the practice, we may say, of most poets.
Again, Epic Poetry must
have as many kinds as Tragedy: it must be simple, or complex, or " ethical " or "
pathetic ". The parts also, with the exception or song and spectacle, are the same; for it requires Reversal
of the Situation, Recognitions, and Scenes of Suffering. Moreover, the thoughts and the diction must be
artistic. In all these respects, Homer is our earliest and sufficient model. Indeed each of his poems
has a twofold character. The Iliad is at one simple and " pathetic ", and the Odysseus complex
( for Recognition scenes run through it ), and at the same time " ethical ". Moreover, in diction
and thought they are supreme.
Epic Poetry differs from Tragedy in the scale on
which it is constructed, and in its metre. As regards scale or length, we have already laid down an adequate limit: the beginning
and the end must be capable of being brought within a single view. This condition will be satisfied by poems on a smaller
scale than the old epics, andanswering in ligth to the group of Tragedies presented at the single sitting.
Epic Poetry has however, a great - a special - capacity for enlarging
its dimensions, and we can see the reason. In Tragedy we cannot imitate several lines of actions
carried on at one in the same time; we must confine ourselves to the action on the stage and the part taken by the
players. But in Epic Poetry, owing of the narrative form, many events simultaneously transacted
can be presented, and these, if relevant to the subject, add mass and dignity to the poem. The Epic has here
an advantage, and one that conduces to grandeur of effect, to diverting the mind of the hearer, and relieving the
story with varying episodes. For sameness of incident soon produces satiety, and makes Tragedies fail on the
Homer, admirable in all respects, has the special merit of being
the only poet only who rightly appreciates the parts he should take himself. The Poet should speak
as little as possible in his own person, for it is not this that makes an imitator. Other poets
appear themselves upon the scene throughout, and imitate but little and rarely. Homer, after a
few prefatory words, at once brings in a man, or woman, or other personage; none of them wanting in characteristic qualities,
but each with a character of his own.
The element of the wonderful is required in Tragedy. The irratiional,
on which the wonderful depends for its chief effects, has wider scope in Epic Poetry, because there the
person acting is not seen . Thus, the pursuit of Hector would be ludicrous of placed upon the stage, the Greeks
standing still and joining in the pursuit, and Achilles waving them back. But in the Epic Poem,
the absurdity passes unnoticed. Now the wonderful is pleasing: as may be inferred from the
fact that every one tells a story with some addition of his own, knowing that his hearers like it.
Accordingly, the poet should prefer probable impossibilities
to improbable possibilities. The tragic plot must not be composed of irrational parts. Everything irrational should,
if possible, be excluded; or, at all events, it should lie outside the action of the play ( as, in the Oedipus, the
hero' s ignorance as to the manner of Laius' death ); not within the drama - as in the
Electra, the messenger' s account of the Pythian games; or, as in the Mysians, the man who has
come from Tegea to Mysia and is still speechless. The Plea that otherwise the plot would
have been ruined; is ridiculous; such a plot should not in the first instance be constructed. But once the irrational
has been introduced and an air or likelihood imparted to it, we must accept it in spite of the absurdity. Take
even the irrational incidents in the Odyssey, where Odysseus is left upon the shore of Ithaca.
How intolerable even these might have been would be apparent if an inferior poet were to treat the
subject. As it is, the absurdity is veiled by the poetic charm with which the poet invested
The diction should be elaborated in the pause s of the
action, where there is no expression of character or thought. For, conversely, character and thought are merely
obscured by the diction that is over brilliant.
( trahslated by anonymous )