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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.)

Hippolytos still lies unconscious


lastly, he dedicates the completed work to the "Lyric Love," whose blessing on its performance he has invoked in a memorable passage at the close of his introductory chapter.


Another group of works detaches itself from any possible scheme of classification: These are Mr. Browning's transcripts from the Greek.

The "Alkestis" of Euripides, imbedded in the dramatic romance called "Balaustion's Adventure." 1871.

The "Herakles" of Euripides, introduced into "Aristophanes' Apology." 1875.

The "Agamemnon" of AEschylus, published by itself. 1877.

They are even outside my subject because they are literal; and therefore show Mr. Browning as a scholar, but not otherwise as a poet than in the technical power and indirect poetic judgments involved in the work. All I need say about this is, that its literalness detracts in no way from the beauty and transparency of "Alkestis" or "Herakles," while it makes "Agamemnon" very hard to read; and that Mr. Browning has probably intended his readers to draw their own conclusion, which is so far his, as to the relative quality of the two great classics. Some critics contend that a less literal translation of the "Agamemnon" would have been not only more pleasing, but more true; but Mr. Browning

clearly thought otherwise. Had he not, he would certainly have given his author the benefit of the larger interpretation; and his principal motive for this indirect defence of Euripides would have disappeared.

Mr. Browning has also given us an original fragment in the classic manner:--

"ARTEMIS PROLOGIZES." ("Men and Women,"[30] published in "Dramatic Lyrics," in 1842.) This was suggested by the "Hippolytos" of Euripides; and destined to become part of a larger poem, which should continue its story. For, according to the legend, Hippolytos having perished through the anger of Aphrodite (Venus), was revived by Artemis (Diana), though only to disappoint her affection by falling in love with one of her nymphs, Aricia. Mr. Browning imagines that she has removed him in secret to her own forest retreat, and is nursing him back to life by the help of Asclepios; and the poem is a monologue in which she describes what has passed, from Phaedra's self-betrayal to the present time. Hippolytos still lies unconscious; but the power of the great healer has been brought to bear upon him, and the unconsciousness seems only that of sleep. Artemis is _awaiting the event_.

The ensuing chorus of nymphs, the awakening of Hippolytos, and with it the stir of the new passion within him, had already taken shape in Mr. Browning's mind. Unfortunately, something put the inspiration to flight, and it did not return.[31]


[Footnote 21: The song professedly refers to Catherine Cornaro, the Venetian Queen of Cyprus, and is the only one in the poem that is based on any fact at all.]

[Footnote 22: This pamphlet has supplied Mr. Browning with some of his most curious facts. It fell into his hands in London.]

[Footnote 23: The first hour after sunset.]

[Footnote 24: "Villa" is often called "vineyard" or "vigna," on account of the vineyard attached to it.]

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