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SINCE the old Poet1 can not withdraw our bard from his pursuits and reduce him to indolence, he endeavors, by invectives, to deter him from writing: for he is wont to say to this effect,--that the Plays which he has hitherto composed are poor in their language, and of meagre style; because he has nowhere described a frantic youth as seeing a hind in flight, and the hounds pursuing; while he implores2 and entreated that he would give her aid. But if he had been aware that his Play, when formerly first represented, stood its ground more through the merits of the performers than its own, he would attack with much less boldness than he does. Now, if there is any one who says or thinks to this effect, that if the old Poet had not assailed him first, the young one could have devised no Prologue for him to repeat, without having some one to abuse, let him receive this for an answer: "that the prize is proposed in common to. all who apply to the Dramatic art." He has aimed at driving our Poet from his studies to absolute want; he then has in-tended this for an answer, not an attack. If he had opposed him with fair words, he would have heard himself civilly addressed; what has been given by him, let him consider as now returned. I will make an end of speaking about him, when, of his own accord, he himself makes an end of offending. Now give your attention to what I request. I present you a new Play, which they call "Epidicazomenos,"3 in Greek: in the Latin, he calls it "Phormio;" because the person that acts the principal part is Phormio, a Parasite, through whom, principally, the plot will be' carried on, if your flavor attends the Poet. Lend your attention; in silence give an ear with impartial feelings, that we may not experience a like fortune to what we did, when, through a tumult, our Company was driven from the place;4 which place, the merit of the actor, and your good-will and candor seconding it, has since restored unto us.
1 Since the old Poet: He alludes to his old enemy, Luscus Lavinius, who is mentioned in all his Prologues, except those to the Hecyra.
2 While one implored)--Ver. 8. "Et eam plorare, orare ut subveniat sibi." This is probably in allusion to some absurd passage in one of the Plays of Lavinius. It is generally supposed to mean, that the stag implores the young man; but as the youth is mad, the absurdity of the passage is heightened if we suppose that he implores the stag, and, in the moment of its own danger, entreats it to come to his own assistance; as certainly the Latin will admit of that interpretation.--Ovid has a somewhat similar passage in the Pontic Epistles, B. ii. Ep. ii. 1. 39: "The hind that, in its terror, is flying from the savage dogs, hesitates not to trust itself to the neighboring house."
3 Epidicazomenos: A Play of Apollodorus, so called from that Greek word, signifying "one who demands justice from another," in. allusion to Phormio, who is the complainant in the suit, which is the foundation of the plot.
4 Was driven from the place: Alluding, probably, to the disturbances which took place at the first representation of the Hecyra, and which are mentioned in the Prologues to that Play.
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