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melodramatically pathetic nature of his work. Cf. Introduction, p. xxvii, for this whole paragraph.
5 13 je doute que . . . eussent fait: an example of the frequent use of the pluperfect subjunctive for the conditional perfect; the que may be best translated as a substitute for si meaning 'whether' in this and similar connections.
5 20 Ronsard: Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) was chief of the "Pléiade," a group of seven ambitious poets who strove to ennoble and re-create French literature by a close imitation of ancient Greek and Latin models. His " Franciade" (1572), left unfinished after the fourth canto, is the first of a long series of attempts to produce a national epic patterned after Virgil's "/Eneid." Francus, a son of Hector, after adventures similar to those which befell jEneas, becomes the founder of the French nation.
The poets of the seventeenth century were accustomed to treat Ronsard quite disdainfully, so Racine's allusion is rather unexpected. Possibly Subligny, in the preface to his parody on " Andromaque," suggested to Racine his defense. After noting that Racine's déguisement de l'histoirc resembles that of Ronsard in his "Franciade," Subligny goes on to say that in the epic "il sert à quelque chose de grand et d'ingénieux, puisque le poète tire d'Astyanax l'origine de plusieurs grands rois; dans VAndromaque, au contraire, on le sauve sans dire pourquoi, ni ce qu'il devient."
S 22 vieilles chroniques: rather the pseudo-historical compilations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
5 23 à: the dative 'to' or 'for.' A smoother, though weak, translation would be ' of.'
6 29 dont: in its primitive usage as an adverb of place. It has been supplanted by d'où in this meaning 'whence.'
6 31 Hérodote: book ii, chap. 112-120. The nine books of Herodotus (484 B.c-425?) treat of the history of the great Persian invasions of Greece and the events that led up to them; the introductory part is the longest, and includes a general survey of the history and geography of most of the then known world.
6 34 détruire . . . altérer: these infinitives after entre are an example of the very general occurrence of the infinitive with all the functions of a noun. But writers of the seventeenth century were rapidly approaching modern usage in this particular.
6 38 Homère, etc.: in the twenty-first book of the " Iliad" Achilles is slightly wounded in the forearm by the spear of Asteropaios.
6 39 Sophocle: 495-405 B.c. vEschylus is said to have created Greek tragedy; Sophocles to have brought it to perfection. Of his hundred and more plays only seven have come down to us in their complete form. Under reserves we may say that he is the most modern of the ancient dramatists in the delineation of character. Racine refers to the "Œdipus Tyrannus," often cited by the Renaissance writers on poetic art as the one play which contained all the elements of a perfect tragedy.
6 43 commentateur: the German humanist Joachim Liebhard, called Camerarius, whose comment upon verses 540-542 of Sophocles' " Electra" Racine rather freely translates in the following passage.
8 acteurs: the characters will be discussed as they make their entrance upon the scene. — Buthrot: Buthrotum, now Butrinto, a flourishing seaport on a small peninsula opposite Corcyra.
Scène I. Orestes was the son of Agamemnon, king of Sparta, and Clytaemnestra. When Agamemnon on his return from Troy was slain by the queen and her paramour j'Egisthus, Orestes was saved by his sister Electra and taken to the home of his uncle, Strophius, king of Phocis. Here he was brought up and here he formed the friendship, which has become proverbial, with Pylades, son of Strophius. Together the two friends planned and executed the murder of Clytaemnestra and .lEgisthus. As a punishment for this crime, Orestes was driven to insanity by the furies. After his recovery he became king of Mycenae, Argos, and the Lacedaemonians. He died of a snake-bite in Arcadia. Owing to the tragic vicissitudes of his life, he was a favorite character for classic writers: notably Euripides and Seneca. The former not only made use of him for his " Andromache" (cf. Introduction), but devoted a whole tragedy to him, in which he presented him pursued by the furies. As for Orestes' relations with Pyrrhus, there was a post-Homeric tradition according to which Pyrrhus had married Hermione immediately after her father's return from Troy, in accordance with a promise which had been made Pyrrhus there. But she had been previously promised to Orestes, who claimed her on the ground of prior right. When this claim was contested by Pyrrhus, Orestes killed him, or had him killed, at Delphi, and married Hermione, who bore him a son. There were in this, however, as in all the classic legends, many variations of detail.
1 Oui: Nous n'avons pas vu naître la passion d'Oreste pour Hermione; nous n'avons pas vu la fille d'Hélène arriver en Ëpire et souffrir des mépris outrageants de Pyrrhus; nous n'avons pas vu le roi d'Épire essayer de vaincre les résistances d'Andromaque, tandis que celle-ci, étonnée, indignée en songeant à Hector, se contraint dans l'intérêt de son fils, et ménage, sans lui donner trop d'espérances, un vainqueur qui l'aime et dont la violence lui est connue. Tous ces faits, ces sentiments, ces passions, demanderaient de nombreuses pages pour être racontés et analysés: Racine nous jette au milieu du sujet, et son habileté sera de nous faire connaître et comprendre le plus rapidement possible tout ce qu'il n'a pas le temps de nous développer. (Robert.)
4 depuis que: in moder n French this is strictly temporal. In the sense in which it is used here it has been replaced by puisque.
I plus de six mois: translate as if modifying avais perdu, turning après into a conjunction.
8 With these introductory Unes the student should begin his study of the exquisite movement of Racine's verse (cf. Introduction).
Oui, puisque je retrouve un ami si fidèle.
II que = où, as frequently in the seventeenth century, and in moder n familiar discourse. — fureur des eaux: this storm which separated the two friends is an invention of the poet. It does not stand out very clearly in the text, nor did it in the imagination of Racine; this is shown by the fact that in early editions (1668 and 1673) tne ships were driven apart presque aux yeux de Mycine, not de PÉpire.
17 mélancolie: in its original sense of ' deep dejection," gloom.' The word was the more suggestive for Racine's spectators because they were quite familiar with the story of the violent madness which overtook Orestes after the murder of his mother. It is a sort of premonitory symptom which casts a shadow of apprehension as to what he may do.
19 cruel secours: Racine, like all his contemporaries, suffered from the influence of the précieux, for whom these plays on words represented a high form of art. Compare the charmant poison of Corneille.
23 pompeux: in the seventeenth century this word had none of its modern unfavorable significance. It meant 'magnificent,' 'imposing.'
24 point: supply celui.
26 inhumaine: the usual epithet applied to a lady refractory to her lover, in the novels and romantic literature of the time.
31 charme: in the seventeenth century still preserving much of the Latin carmen from which it was derived, which often meant 'incantation,' ' spell.'
83 à: often used with name of a country contrary to modern usage, which requires en when the name is feminine. The student will note throughout the play considerable freedom in the use of prepositions before place-names.
40 The following speech should be studied carefully in connection with the note to verse 1. It is a remarkable example of a narrative style which not only narrates in the fewest and clearest words possible what is to be made known, but also reflects in its construction the character of the narrator. All that deals with the feelings of Orestes, his love for Hermione, his struggles to overcome his loss, is put in the past definite as a thing long endured (v. 49-60; 85-88). That which he has done since a new hope sprang up within him, is put in sharply contrasted presents, j'entends (67), j'apprends (73), je triomphe (83), je viens (91), which reflect the feverish nature of the man.
41 disposa: Menelaus gave his daughter to Pyrrhus as a reward for assistance rendered the Greeks before Troy. See note to scene ii.
44 ennuis: consult vocabulary. For many words the modern meaning, or even the usual meaning, does not translate. The student should consult the vocabulary whenever the English equivalent to which he is accustomed does not give a clear or graphic rendering of the passage in question. See below, épris v. 51, premiere v. 63, admire v. 65.
50 Hermione: contemporary critics claim that this verse presented the heroine as immodest. Louis Racine came to his father's defense with the obvious explanation " Oreste veut dire seulement qu'Hermione, qui l'a oublié, ne songe qu'à plaire à Pyrrhus."
71 fils: the pronunciation of final s in fils, ours, mœurs, and is is of quite recent date. A grammarian (Maupas) writing in 1625 remarks: "The pronunciation of J at the end of words is not to be censured provided it is light. When one wants to suppress it, one must make the syllable rather longish (si faut-il tenir la syllabe un peu plus longuette)." The rime here and elsewhere in our play shows that it was wholly silent in Racine's time.
74 ingénieux: of the many epithets applied by Homer to Ulysses, those suggesting his cleverness and fertility in expedients were felt to be the most characteristic. Translate ' crafty.'
76 In his seconde Pré/ace Racine implies that he has invented this detail concerning the rescue of Astyanax. However, a tradition to that effect existed in the pseudo-historical compilations of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Strabo. This passage has called forth considerable comment in modern times, which may be summed up in Stendhal's remark "cet enfant avait cependant une mère aussi." Thereupon Deschanel adds: "un petit roturier quelconque tué à la place du jeune prince, il n'y avait pas là de quoi choquer un public monarchique, et la reine n'en paraissait pas moins bonne mère." He fortifies his remark by citing an incident which occurred at a public execution of the early eighteenth century.
82 il s'élève: impersonal; 'there arises.'
84 seule: the meaning of certain adjectives did not depend, as in modern French, upon their position before or after the noun. So here seule has the meaning ' only,' which it would not have in modern French unless it followed the noun. See below, v. 150 and 157.
100 In the " Cid" of Corneille, after her father has been killed in a duel with her lover Rodrigue, Chimène declares her purpose in a muchadmired verse, which Racine seems to recall:
Le poursuivre, le perdre, et mourir après lui.
103 encor: a poetic license permits here, as often in modern French poetry, the suppression of the final e to avoid an extra syllable.
105 Note that Pylades uses the formal vous, while Orestes addresses him by the familiar tu. Pylades was the confidant, Orestes the ambassador. Doubtless Racine's usage is due to conventional stage etiquette, which regularly represented the confidant as inferior in station to the person attended, even when both were of very nearly equal rank by birth. At the same time it serves admirably as a foil to the impassioned outbursts of Orestes, by opposing to them the dignity and restraint of formal address.
109 cette veuve inhumaine: it is hard to understand how a man of such sure taste as Racine could have used a phrase which to us, fairly