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Of that sort of Dramatick Poem calld Tragedy. ny. Augustus Cæfar also had begun his Ajax, but unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun, left it unfinisht. Seneca the Philosopher is by some thought the Author of those Tragedies (at least the best of them) that go under that
Gregory Nazianzen, a Father of the Church, thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a Tragedy, which is entitld, Christ suffering. This is mention'd to vindicate Tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it. undergoes at this day with other common interludes; hap’ning through the Poets error of intermixing Comick fuff with Tragick sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath been counted absurd ; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratifie the people. And though ancient Tragedy ufe no Prologue, yet ufing sometimes, in case of self-defence, or explanation, that which Martial calls an Epistle; in behalf of this Tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much before-hand may be Epiftld; that Chorus is here introduc'd after the Greek manner, not arcient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians. In the modelling therefore of this Poem, with good reason, the Ancients and Italians are rather follow'd, as of much more Authority and fame. The measure of Verse usd in the Chorus is of all forts, calld by the Greeks Monostrophick, or rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe or Épod, which were a kind of Stanza's fram'd only for the Musick, then us'd with the Chorus
Of that fort of Dramatick Poem call d Tragedy. that sung ; not essential to the Poem, and therefore not material; or being divided into Stanza's or Pauses; they may be callid Allaostropha. Division into Ad and Scene referring chiefly to the Stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.
It suffices if the whole Drama be found rot produc'd beyond the fifth Ad, of the style and uniformity, and that commonly call'd the Plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such ceconomy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with verisimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with Æschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the three Tragick Poets unequalld yet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write Tragedy. The circumscription of time wherein the whole Drama begins and ends is according to ancient rule, and best example, within the space of 24
Amfon made Captive, Blind, and now in the
prison at Gaza; there to labour as in a common work-house, on a Festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open Air, to a place nigh; Somewhat retird, there to fit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old Father Manoa, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure bis liberty by ransom; and lastly, that this Feast was proclaim'd by the Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoa then departs to profecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for Samson's redemption ; who in the mean while is visited by other perfons ; and lastly by a publick Officer to require his coming to the Feast before the Lords and People, to play or shew his strength in their preSence ; he at first refuses, dismissing the publick Officer with absolute denial to come ; at length persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he
yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him ; the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoa returns full of joyful hope, to procure e'er long his Son's deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haste confusedly at first ; and afterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philiftins, and by accident to himself; wherewith the Tragedy ends.