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Having hinted at the points of resemblance between the dithyrambic ἀναβολαί and the epideictic prooemia, he now proceeds to explain further the resemblance of the dicastic proem to the prologue of tragedy and prelude of the Epic poem.

‘In the prose speeches as well as the poetry’ (Victorius understands τ. λόγοις1, fabulae poetarum, meaning the dramas as contrasted with the Epics: the other contrast of prose and verse is more natural as well as more suitable here) ‘these prooemia are (present, offer) a specimen or sample of the subject (of the speech or poem) in order that they may have some previous acquaintance with the intention of it’ (if ἦν, ‘about what it was to be’, as in τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι; the object, purpose, or design), ‘and the mind not be kept in suspense; for all that is vague and indefinite keeps the mind wandering (in doubt and uncertainty): accordingly, (the speaker or writer) that puts the beginning into his hand supplies him with a clue, as it were, by which he may hold, so as to enable him to follow the story (or argument). This is why (Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey, began the two poems with the lines quoted; and Choerilus—if Näke u. s. is right about the order of the two fragments in our text—did not begin his poem with ἥγεό μοι κ.τ.λ., but introduced it in his exordium)’—here the quotations from the three poems are introduced, and the sentence remains unfinished.

‘Similarly the tragic poets explain the subject of their play, if not immediately at the opening, as Euripides, at any rate somewhere or other the poet explains it in his prologue or introduction), as even Sophocles (who does not usually employ it; in the Oedip. Tyr. 774 seq.) “Polybus of Corinth was my father, &c.”, and the following.’

“The Commentators object to προλόγῳ here because the passage that it indicates occurs not at the beginning, but in the middle of the play. But, it seems that Aristotle has here used πρόλογος in a more compre hensive sense than that which it usually bears, for an ‘explanatory introduction’ in general, wherever it may occur: and that it has much the same relation here to its ordinary signification, as πρόθεσις has to διήγησις in c. 13. Also the analogous προοίμιον is applied twice in § 10 infra to introductory speeches anywhere in a play.” Introd. p. 339 note.

‘And comedy in like manner’: that is, wherever an introductory explanation is required, there it is introduced. Victorius notes that this appears in Terence, the Latin representative of the New Comedy, and Plautus. Simo in the Andria, Menedemus in the Heautontimorumenos, Micio in the Adelphi, perform this office. And similarly, Strepsiades in Aristoph. Nubes, Demosthenes in the Equites 40 seq., Dionysius in the Ranae—Victorius says “tum maxime cum Servo narrat, &c.,” but the conversation referred to is with Hercules, not Xanthias, lines 64 seq. There is another explanatory introduction, preparatory to the dramatic contest between Aeacus and Xanthias, 759 seq.

‘So then (to resume) the most necessary function of the prooemium, and that peculiar to it, is to make it clear what is the end and object of the speech or story’ (the former is the λόγος in Rhetoric, the latter in the Epic and the drama). Compare Rhet. ad Alex. 29 (30). I, def. of προοίμιον. ‘And therefore if the subject (the thing, the matter in hand) be already clear and short (or, of trifling importance) the prooemium is not to be employed’. Comp. Cic. de Or. II 79. 320, in parvis atque infrequentibus causis ab ipsa re est exordiri saepe commodius: Victorius, who writes frequentibus: repeated in Gaisford, Not. Var.

1 Spengel puts λόγοις καὶ and ἦν in brackets, as spurious or doubtful: Bekker retains ἦν. MS A^{c} has ἠῖ. By rejecting the words Spengel seems to shew that he thinks that λόγοι alone cannot mean ‘stories’ in the sense of dramas. I think it is doubtful. Otherwise, this interpretation is certainly more suitable to the general connexion and what follows. On the other hand, our author here seems to be rather digressive, and not to observe any very regular order of succession in his remarks. So that perhaps upon the whole, we may let the other consideration have its due weight in deciding the point.

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