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Greek Drama

Shakespeare, Schiller, Wagner

There remain the plays of the other nations. Great dramatists, the greatest in the history of the theater—Sophocles, Shakespeare, Lope, Calderon, and Schiller—have all been dramatists of the people in their day—at least in some of their plays. But differences of time and of race are most unfortunate. In spite of the compelling charm and melancholy majesty a play of Sophocles with its serene perfection of Greek art will always possess for a cultured few, and in spite of the intolerance of the admirers of what I may call the recent success of Œdipus the King, that success is for the most part due to erudition, superstitious respect and, above all, the prestige of an actor of genius. Without the name of Sophocles, and the poignant though almost wholly plastic emotion of Mounet-Sully's acting and the considerable impression produced by the mediocre music, neither the people nor the Bourgeoisie could have distinguished the sublime greatness of Œdipus the King from a host of melodramas of a bygone day.