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KINDS OF POETRY.                              II
introduced for variety and broadened require­ments.
The word Tragedy (literally the goat-song) takes its name from the fact that the actors who sang and danced at these entertainments were dressed as satyrs. Comedy (a festive or rural song) was origi­nally applied to the coarse, comic verses, mixed with extempore witticisms, which were indulged in by bands of revellers at harvest homes and vintage festivities. In course of time men of genius began to avail themselves of the opportunities which the recital of these crude verses afforded, and which no other species of composition then presented for national instruction, and we soon find plays more regularly constructed and based upon an organised plot. Under AEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, the drama was rapidly developed and elaborated to its utmost perfection. Tragedy was intended to excite the patriotic and heroic feel­ings of the audience, and to arouse its sympathy and pity for devotion and suffering virtue. Comedy, by its ridicule, turned the laugh of the hearers against the foibles and vices of the time. The difference between a Greek play and a modern one will be clearly seen by comparing Milton's Samson Agonistes, which is constructed upon the classic model, with any of Shakspere's plays.
The English Drama, or, as it is called, the Gothic, to distinguish it from the classic drama, came into existence about the latter half of the sixteenth cen­tury. It grew out of the crude Mysteries, or miracle plays, and Moralities, or moral plays, which we find
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III