Training a Chorus.
has been said that the Greeks had three schools of comedy—the old, the middle, and the new. The old was the
"Comedy of Politics." It took the form of extravaganza or farce. The reader will find nine specimens of it in
this volume, all taken from Aristophanes, who indeed is the only writer of this school that is left to us. With
the middle we need not now concern ourselves. Possibly we may get some idea of what it was like from the
Women in Parliament and the Plutus, two of Aristophanes's later plays. The new comedy was
the "Comedy of Manners." It may be compared with the dramas that bear this name on the modern stage, and also
with the ordinary novel. We have it only in the translations of Plautus and Terence.
I have dealt very freely with my originals, not indeed adding anything, but leaving out much, translating
sometimes, and sometimes paraphrasing. Of the liberty which I have allowed myself, I may give an instance. In
the Acharnians I have in one place translated "drachmas" by "guineas," though "shillings"
would have been nearer the truth. But the context seemed to require it. It was necessary that the envoys should
be thought overpaid, and the word "shillings" would not have given the impression.
I have many obligations to acknowledge. Perhaps my largest debt is to the translation of Mr. Hookham Frere.
These I have even ventured to alter and compress, and to mingle with them some of my own renderings. I owe much
to the admirable versions by Mr. B. B. Rogers of the Wasps and the Peace, and to the
editions of Mr. Merry, one of the most ingenious and felicitous of Aristophanes's critics. I would mention also
a translation of the Acharnians by Mr. Billson, and of the Women in Parliament by the
Rev. R. Smith. Mr. Lucas Collins's excellent summaries in the "Ancient Classics for English Readers" I have
also found useful.