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A New and Complete Translation

Editorial Notes — Essays 81-90

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Essay 81

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [81.1] Actually published spring of 1768.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 [81.2] Lessing continues, from [80], his criticism of French theater.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 [81.3] Dominique Bouhours (1628–1702): French Jesuit priest, author, and literary critic, who stated in his Entretiens d’Ariste et d’Eugène [Conversations between Ariste and Eugène] (1671) that Germans rarely possess a “bel esprit,” contributing to a polemical discussion in Germany regarding French cultural superiority. See Bouhours, “Le Bel Esprit” in Les Entretiens d’Ariste et d’Eugène 302–3; for the English, see Bouhours, “The Bel Esprit from The Conversations of Aristo and Eugene” 221. The French mercenary soldier Riccaut, a minor character in Lessing’s Minna von Barnhelm (1767), is generally regarded as a satirical response to Bouhours.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [81.4] Hédelin: Abbé Hédelin d’Aubignac; Dacier: André Dacier.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 [81.5] “quelque moderation, quelque favorable interpretation” (some moderation, some favorable interpretation): this, and the quotation that follows, can be found in P. Corneille’s second discourse, “Sur la Tragédie” [“On Tragedy”] in Trois discours 63; for an English translation, see P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 9.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [81.6] Rodrigue, Chimène: characters from P. Corneille’s Le Cid (1637). In this paragraph, Lessing paraphrases from Corneille’s second discourse; see P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” 60–1; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 8. Ed. note: the English translation of the passage paraphrased by Lessing mistakenly references “Rodogune and Chimene” instead of “Rodrigue and Chimène.”

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [81.7] Cléopâtre, Prusias, Phocas: tragic characters from, respectively, Rodogune (1644), Héraclius (1647), and Nicomède (1651).

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [81.8] For Lessing’s discussion of Rodogune, see [29] – [32]. See P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” 62–3; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 9.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [81.9] See P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” 51; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 2–3. See also Lessing’s discussion of katharsis in [78].

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [81.10] For Lessing’s criticism of Dacier’s Poëtique d’Aristote, see [78].

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [81.11] For the quotation in Lessing’s footnote, see André Dacier, “Remarques sur le Chapitre VI” [“Notes on Chapter 6”] in La poëtique d’Aristote 80.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 [81.12] Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon (Crébillon père); see [74.5].

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 [81.13] In [82].

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Essay 82

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 [82.1] Actually published spring of 1768.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [82.2] Lessing continues, from [81] his refutation of French neoclassical theory by way of a point-by-point critique of Pierre Corneille’s interpretation of Aristotle’s Poetics. Tr. note: Lessing uses the word gräßlich here (horrible, dreadful, awful) to translate Aristotle’s “miarón” (repulsive, shocking). See [79.5].

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 [82.3] Lessing paraphrases from P. Corneille’s second discourse, “Sur la Tragédie” [“On Tragedy”] in Trois discours 55; for an English translation, see P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 4–5.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 [82.4] P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” in Trois discours 63; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 10.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 [82.5] “Here are two or three methods that perhaps Aristotle could not have foreseen, because there were no examples of these in the theater of his time.” P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” in Trois discours 63; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 10.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 [82.6] Antiochus, Rodogune; Héraclius, Pulchérie, and Martian: noble young lovers in P. Corneille’s tragedies Rodogune (1644) and Héraclius (1647), respectively. Cléopâtre, Antiochus’s mother, attempts to murder him (after having killed her other son); Phocas, a usurper, attempted to slaughter an entire royal family.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 [82.7] P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” in Trois discours 63–4; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 10.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 [82.8] In P. Corneille’s “Christian tragedy” Polyeucte (1643), the titular character, an Armenian prince, converts to Christianity and is martyred. Sévère, a Roman soldier, attempts to save him, but he is executed by his father-in-law Félix, the Roman governor of Armenia. His death inspires Félix and his daughter Pauline, Polyeucte’s wife, to convert to Christianity.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 [82.9] P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” in Trois discours 64; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 10–11.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 [82.10] For the argument in this paragraph, see P. Corneille, “Sur la Tragédie” in Trois discours 59–60; P. Corneille, “Discourse on Tragedy” 7–8.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 [82.11] Abbé Jean-Baptiste Du Bos (Dubos) (1670–1742): French diplomat, historian, and critic. His widely influential aesthetic treatise Réflexions critiques sur la poésie et sur la peinture [Critical Reflections on Poetry and Painting] (1719) was partially translated by Lessing; see [4.3]. Du Bos was an important contributor to discussions of theatrical emotion, arguing that the primary function of the arts was to stimulate the emotions, and that all emotions thus raised are inherently pleasurable. For the remarks referenced by Lessing here, see Dubos, Réflexions critiques 1: 108–113; Dubos, Critical reflections 1: 96–100.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 [82.12] Narcisse: the tutor of the titular character in Racine’s tragedy Britannicus (1669).

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Essay 83

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 [83.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 [83.2] Lessing concludes a refutation, begun in [81], of French neoclassical theory by way of a point-by-point critique of Pierre’s Corneille’s interpretation of Aristotle.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 [83.3] Lessing paraphrases from P. Corneille’s first discourse, “De l’utilité et des parties du poëme dramatique” in Trois discours 27; for an English translation, see P. Corneille, “First Discourse: On the Uses and Elements of Dramatic Poetry” 144.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 [83.4] Cléopâtre: tragic character from P. Corneille’s tragedy Rodogune (1644); for Lessing’s discussion of the play, see [29] – [32].

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 [83.5] Proairesis: reasoned choice; Aristotle introduces this term in his Nicomachean Ethics (see in particular Book 3, Chapter II).

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 [83.6] P. Corneille, “Du poëme dramatique” in Trois Discours 28; P. Corneille, “First Discourse” 144.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 [83.7] Le Menteur (1642): five-act verse comedy by P. Corneille, based on a comedy by Mexican-born Spanish playwright Juan Ruiz de Alarcón (1581–1639), La Verdad sospechosa [The Suspicious Truth] (1634) (mistakenly attributed by Corneille to Lope de Vega).

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 [83.8] Dorante: the central character of La Menteur. For the argument of Corneille that Lessing paraphrases here, see P. Corneille, “Du poëme dramatique” in Trois Discours 28; P. Corneille, “First Discourse” 144.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 [83.9] René Le Bossu (1631–80): distinguished French critic, whose theoretical work, Traité du poème épique [Treatise on Epic Poetry] (1675), is referenced by Andre Dacier in his edition of Aristotle’s Poetics.

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 [83.10] Aristotle and Dacier, 233.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 [83.11] Lessing’s multi-essay analysis of Aristotle, spanning essays [73] – [83], is prompted by his discussion of C. F. Weisse’s Richard der Dritte [Richard the Third] (1759/65), which he begins in [73] and returns to in [74] and [79].

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 [83.12] Herzog Michel (1750 / pub. 1757): one-act comedy in verse by J. C. Krüger; a highly popular Nachspiel (afterpiece), it was performed five times by the Hamburg National Theater company.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 [83.13] Krüger’s play is based on a story, Das ausgerechnete Glück [The Calculated Fortune] by Johann Adolf Schlegel (1731–93), published in vol. 4 (1747) of the weekly Bremen-based periodical Neue Beiträge zum Vergnügen des Verstandes und Witzes [New Contributions for the Pleasure of Reason and Wit], which is generally referred to as the Bremer Beiträge [Bremen Contributions] (1744–1759). Schlegel’s story was itself based on La Fontaine’s fable “La laitière et le pot au lait” [“The Milkmaid and the Pot of Milk”].

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 [83.14] Krüger died in 1750 at the age of 27.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 [83.15] Die Candidaten, oder die Mittel zu einem Amte zu gelangen [The Candidates, or the Means to an Office] (1748): five-act comedy in prose.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 [83.16] Johann Friedrich Löwen published Krüger’s collected plays as Johann Christian Krügers Poetische und Theatralische Schriften [Johann Christian Krüger’s Poetry and Theatrical Writings] (1763). Die Geistlichen auf dem Lande [The Clergyman in the Country] (1743): three-act comedy in prose.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 [83.17] Graue Kloster (Grey Monastery): the oldest secondary school in Berlin; founded in 1574, it took its name from the medieval Greyfriars monastery that originally occupied its site.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 [83.18] La femme qui a raison (1758): three-act comedy in verse by Voltaire. The German translation, Die Frau, welche Recht hat, was first published in 1762; the translator is unknown. La famille [The Family] (1736): comedy by Thomas L’Affichard; see [17].

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 [83.19] Voltaire did stage performances at his estates Les Délices and Ferney (in and just outside Geneva, respectively), but the original one-act version La femme qui a raison appears to have been first performed in 1748 at the court theater of Lunéville (where Voltaire was in residence), by the acting troupe of Duke Stanislas Leszczynski, the former King of Poland.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 [83.20] The three-act version of La femme qui a raison was first performed in 1758 at Carouge (a small city on the outskirts of Geneva). The play was staged throughout the provinces but was not performed in Paris in Voltaire’s lifetime.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 [83.21] François-Louis-Claude Marin (Marini) (1721–1809) and Antoine Le Bret (1717–2): lesser French playwrights.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 [83.22] In La femme qui a raison, a brother and sister, with the assistance of their mother, outwit their father in order to marry the people they love. For more on the play, see Russell and Waddicor, “Introduction to La femme qui a raison” 255–94.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 [83.23] mot pour rire: punchline.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 [83.24] Sidney (1745): comedy by Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gresset; see [17]. L’aveugle clairvoyant (1716): a one-act comedy in verse, by Marc Antoine Le Grand. This program actually occurred on July 31 rather than July 24.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 [83.25] L’aveugle clairvoyant (1650): a five-act comedy in verse by Brosse (or La Brosse) (first name unknown).

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 [83.26] Der sehende Blinde (1752), a translation in alexandrines, possibly by Karl August Suabe; see Robertson 92.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Essay 84

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 [84.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 [84.2] Le Père de famille (1758): five-act bourgeois drama in prose by Denis Diderot. Lessing’s translation was published anonymously in 1760, with the play’s accompanying essay De la Poésie Dramatique [On Dramatic Poetry], often referred to as the Discours sur la poésie dramatique [Discourse on Dramatic Poetry] (1758). See Das Theater des Herrn Diderot [The Theater of M. Diderot] in Werke und Briefe 5/1: 10–230; Lessing’s name was added to the second edition. Lessing quotes extensively from his own largely idiomatic translation of Diderot’s essay in [48].

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 [84.3] The play was in fact a theatrical success when it was first performed in Paris in 1761, but was critically attacked. It had twelve performances at the Hamburg National Theater.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 [84.4] Lessing’s critical engagement with Diderot, which dates back to his review of Diderot’s Lettre sur les sourds et muets [Letter on the Deaf and Dumb] (1751), significantly influenced his own dramatic and performance theory, as well as his playwriting. Diderot’s advocacy for new illusionistic theater practices appealed to Lessing, as the latter sought to undermine the supremacy of French neoclassicism in the German theater. Lessing’s admiration of Diderot is hardly slavish, however, as his criticism in the succeeding essays demonstrates.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 [84.5] Diderot’s essay Entretiens sur Le Fils naturel [Conversations on the Natural Son] was appended to his five-act bourgeois drama in prose Le Fils naturel [The Natural Son] (1757); the essay provides the theoretical background for Diderot’s experimental play, in the form of a dialogue between the author and his protagonist Dorval, For Lessing’s (originally anonymous) translation of both play and essay, see Das Theater des Herrn Diderot [The Theater of M. Diderot] in Werke und Briefe 5/1: 10–230.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 [84.6] The Indiscreet Jewels (1748): Diderot’s satirical, politically subversive, and enormously popular erotic novel, which was published anonymously and suppressed by the authorities; Diderot later claimed to regret writing the novel and officially apologized to the police, but would go on to add three new chapters between 1770 and 1775. A German translation, Die Verräther [The Traitors] (1793) is by Carl Friedrich Cramer.

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 [84.7] Diderot’s later work echoes ideas found in Les Bijoux indiscrets; Diderot therefore cannot disavow the earlier work or he will seem to have plagiarized it.

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 [84.8] In Diderot’s novel, the sultan Mangogul of the Congo is given a magic ring that can make women’s “jewels” (genitals) speak their secrets aloud; eventually, the sultan’s principled and keen-minded favorite, Mirzoza, becomes disgusted by what she learns of other women and asks for a respite from their company. Mangogul and Mirzoza (as Lessing well knows) represent Louis XV, the king of France (1710–74), and his mistress Madame de Pompadour (1721–64), a prominent patron of literature and the arts. The origins of Les Bijoux indiscrets date back to a medieval French fabliau (short comic tale in verse), Le Chevalier qui fit les cons parler [The Knight Who Made Cunts Speak], attributed to the jongleur Guerin (or Garin).

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 [84.9] Selim: a courtier; believed to represent Louis-François-Armand du Plessis, Duke de Richelieu (1696–1788), soldier, diplomat, and grandnephew of Cardinal de Richelieu. Ricaric: possibly Antoine Houdar de la Motte, although, as a leader of the “Moderns,” his views align more with those of Selim.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 [84.10] The topic of theater is introduced in Chapter 37; the discussion from which Lessing quotes significantly follows in Chapter 38, “Entretiens sur les lettres” [“A Conversation about Literature”], and is contextually situated within the aftermath of the seventeenth-century literary quarrel between the “Ancients” and the “Moderns.” For the entire exchange, see Diderot, “Entretiens sur les lettres” in Les bijoux indiscrets; for the English, see “A Conversation about Literature” in The Indiscreet Jewels 160–70 (Lessing’s quotation begins on page 163).

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 [84.11] Diderot substitutes fantastical “exotic” names for those of figures from the contemporary French literary scene.

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 [84.12] Eurisope: Euripides. Azophe: Sophocles

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 [84.13] Polipsile: Philoctetes, titular character of Sophoclean tragedy. Alindala: island on which Philoctetes was exiled. Ibrahim (Neoptolemus), Forfanti (Odysseus): also characters in Philoctetes.

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 Essay 85

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 [85.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 [85.2] Lessing continues, from [84], a long quotation from Chapter 38 (“A Conversation about Literature”) of Diderot’s erotic novel The Indiscreet Jewels (1748). The conversation, which here critiques the (French neoclassical) theater, takes place between Mongogul, the sultan of the Congo; Selim, a courtier; Ricaric, an academic; and Mirzoza, the sultan’s favorite, whose words begin this essay. Lessing’s translation is loose in several places. For more about the novel and the allegorical identity of these characters, see [84]. For the entire exchange, see Diderot, “Entretiens sur les lettres” in Les bijoux indiscrets; for the English, see “A Conversation about Literature” in The Indiscreet Jewels 160–70 (this quotation begins on page 165).

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 [85.3] Cinna, Maximus (Maxime), Aemilia (Emilie); Sertorius: characters from P. Corneille’s tragedies Cinna (1641) and Sertorius (1662), respectively.

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 [85.4] Charles Palissot de Montenoy (1730–1814): French playwright and satirist who attacked, through plays and essays, the writers of the Encyclopédie (one of the major works of the Enlightenment; Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert were its chief editors).

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 [85.5] Le Fils naturel (1757); see [84.5]. Palissot targets the play specifically in his Petites lettres sur de grands philosophes [Little Letters on Great Philosophers] (1757). The plot is as follows: Dorval, wealthy but illegitimate, is staying with Clairville (his best friend), Constance (Clairville’s sister), and Rosalie (Clairville’s fiancée), whose father is abroad. Dorval loves Rosalie, who also has feelings for him, as does Constance. Dorval, who is tormented by guilt, rescues Clairville from attackers; Clairville offers Dorval Constance’s hand in marriage. A devastated Rosalie learns that her father has lost his fortune; Dorval decides to transfer his fortune secretly to her and then retire from the world. Constance persuades Dorval that she cares only about his virtue (rather than birth or fortune) and that they should work to reunite Rosalie and Clairville before pursuing their own happiness. Rosalie’s father (Lysimond) returns and is revealed to be Dorval’s father as well; Lysimond gives each couple his blessing.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 [85.6] Le Père de famille (1758); see [84.2].

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 [85.7] Constance’s name was changed to Theresa in Lessing’s translation; she is “philosophical” in that her arguments are based on reason, rather than emotion (as opposed to Dorval, who is brooding and idealistic). Lessing refers here to Constance and Dorval’s climactic conversation in Act Four, Scene 3. See Diderot, Le Fils naturel 89–102; for the English, see Diderot, The Illegitimate Son 40–3.

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 [85.8] Entretiens sur le Fils naturel [Conversations on the Natural Son] (1757); see [84.5].

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 Essay 86

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 [86.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 [86.2] Lessing continues his discussion, from [84] and [85], of Diderot’s dramatic theory. At the end of [85], he begins a critique of Diderot’s Entretiens sur le Fils naturel [Conversations on the Natural Son] (1757); see also [84.5].

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 [86.3] The eighteenth-century saw the introduction of a number of “middle genres” situated between the extremes of tragedy and comedy, but differentiated from the “mixed” genre of tragicomedy. In his theory, Diderot seeks to establish a new “serious” genre, with “serious comedy” focusing on virtue and human duties. See Diderot, Entretiens sur le Fils naturel 184–5; Diderot, “Conversations on The Natural Son” 46–51. See also Diderot, De la Poésie Dramatique 229–34; Diderot, “Discourse on Dramatic Poetry” 57–9.

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 [86.4] See Diderot, Entretiens sur le Fils naturel 208–9; “Conversations on The Natural Son” 60.

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 [86.5] Charles Palissot de Montenoy; for his criticism of Le Fils naturel, see Palissot, Petites Lettres sur de grands Philosophes 18–73.

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 [86.6] Lessing, in his footnote, provides an excerpt from Molière’s one-act comedy L’Impromptu de Versailles [The Versailles Impromptu] (1663), a self-referential response to his critics in which Molière and his company are rehearsing a new play for the king; the “rehearsal” is repeatedly interrupted, allowing Molière to comment on contemporary playwriting and performance. See Molière, L’Impromptu de Versailles 30–1; Molière, The Versailles Impromptu 221–2. Tr. note: Lessing has excerpted this quotation from Palissot’s Petites Lettres, replicating Palissot’s textual errors, which we have corrected. The Misanthrope (1666): generally considered Molière’s masterwork. non plus ultra: the pinnacle of achievement.

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 [86.7] “The singular man”: refers to Destouches’ comedy L’homme singulier [The Singular Man] (1754). “The hypocrite of social virtues”: Palissot’s original reads “le Tartuffe de société” (“the Tartuffes of social conventions”), referring to Molière’s titular hypocrite (the comment that religious hypocrites are “out of fashion” is Lessing’s). For this list of characters, see Palissot 69–70.

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 [86.8] The new comic genres of the eighteenth century deviated from earlier comedies that offered characters up for ridicule, presenting instead exemplary characters that provided a model to follow, rather than behavior to be eschewed.

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 [86.9] Perfect characters: as evidenced in his discussions of Aristotle, Lessing’s dramatic and performance theory, which insists on a “sympathetic resonance” between actors and spectators, necessitates that characters be consistent, but neither totally good nor totally bad, in order for them to have the proper emotional effect on an audience.

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 [86.10] navigation charts: strictures of dramatic theory.

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 [86.11] Lessing extensively discusses Terence’s comedy The Brothers in essays [70] – [73]. See [70.7] for a plot synopsis.

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 [86.12] Micio, Demea: brothers of different temperaments; each is raising a son. Tr. note: our English translation is of Lessing’s (fairly accurate) translation of the French into German. See Diderot, De la Poésie Dramatique 310–11.

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 Essays 87 & 88

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 [87-88.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 [87-88.2] Lessing continues his discussion, begun in [84], of Diderot’s dramatic theory. In [85] and [86], he addresses criticisms of Diderot’s play Le Fils naturel [The Natural Son] (1757) made by Charles Palissot de Montenoy in his Petites lettres sur de grands philosophes [Little Letters on Great Philosophers] (1757).

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 [87-88.3] Lessing paraphrases here. See Palissot, Petites lettres 45.

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 [87-88.4] For the plot of Le Fils naturel, see [85.5].

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 [87-88.5] See Diderot, Entretiens sur Le Fils Naturel 190–1; for an English translation directly from the French, see Diderot “Conversations on The Natural Son” 50.

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 [87-88.6] Heautontimorumenos [The Self Tormentor]: comedy by Terence, modeled on a play by Menander that now exists only in fragments. Tr. note: with “Heautontimorumenos” Diderot seems to be referring simultaneously to the title of Terence’s play and to the central character, Menedemus, the father who torments himself.

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 [87-88.7] The following are references made by Lessing in his extended footnote. Anne Lefèvre Dacier; see [72.7]. George Colman (the Elder): his blank verse translation, The Comedies of Terence, with accompany commentary, appeared in 1765; Lessing provides Colman’s original English. Adrian (Hadrianus) Barlandus (von Baarland) (1486–1538): professor and classicist from the Netherlands; published a commentary on Terence’s comedies in 1530. Glossa interlinealis: intertextual or marginal notes. Jodocus Badius Ascensius (1462–1535): Flemish humanist and pioneering printer; published an edition of Terence’s comedies in 1493. Chremes, Clitipho: characters from Heautontimorumenos (father and son, neighbors of Menedemus, the titular “self tormentor”). Julius Caesar Scaliger (Giulio Cesare Scaligero, or Scaligeri) (1484–1558): Italian-born French classical scholar whose posthumous Poetice [Poetics] (1561) widely influenced neoclassical theorists of the baroque period. Eugraphius (6th century): Roman grammarian who authored a commentary on Terence. Gabriele Faerno (1510–61): Italian humanist whose commentary on Terence appeared in 1565. Diphilus (born c. 350 BCE): playwright who lived most of his life in Athens; a major influence on Plautus and Terence. Aediles: ancient Roman magistrates in charge of festivals and games (as well as other public works). Luscius Lavinius: ancient Roman comic playwright, considered a rival of Terence. Gnaeus Naevius (c. 270–c. 201 BCE): one of the earliest playwrights of ancient Rome. duplex quae ex argumento facta est duplici “a double play crafted from a double plot”: this reading is found in the Codex Bembo, the manuscript belonging to Cardinal Pietro Bembo (1470–1547). simplex quae ex argumento facta est duplici “a single play crafted from a double plot”: this is the reading of Tanneguy Lefèvre (Faber) (1615–72) and of Richard Bentley (1662–1742) in their editions of Terence (printed 1671 and 1726, respectively). simplex quae ex argumento facta est simplici “a single play crafted from a single plot”: Lessing’s reading is doubtful; Boris Dunsch suggests that Lessing is being “characteristically self-ironic and only half-serious,” and that his translation, “although possible metrically, must be regarded as desperate” (103).

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 [87-88.8] “ὦ Μένανδρε καὶ βίε, πότερος ἄρ ὑμῶν πότερον ἐμιμήσατο”: “Menander and life, which of you imitated which?” This assessment of Menander is attributed to Aristophanes of Byzantium; see Goldberg, The Making of Menander’s Comedy 109.

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 [87-88.9] The passage that follows is taken loosely from Horace, Satires I.ii.12–22 (Satires, Epistles, and Ars Poetica 18–21). See Diderot, Entretiens 191–2; Diderot, “Conversations” 50. Lessing translates Diderot’s quotation (rather than the original Latin).

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 [87-88.10] non se pejus cruciaverit: “never tortured himself worse.”

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 [87-88.11] “Now all these things are done in grief, from a persuasion of their truth and propriety and necessity; and it is plain that those who behave thus do so from a conviction of its being their duty; for should those mourners by chance drop their grief, and either act or speak for a moment in a more calm or cheerful manner, they presently check themselves and return to their lamentations again, and blame themselves for having been guilty of any intermissions from their grief; and parents and masters generally correct children not by words only, but by blows, if they show any levity by either word or deed when the family is under affliction, and, as it were, oblige them to be sorrowful. […] What does that man say in Terence who punishes himself, the Self-tormentor?” (Tr. by C. D. Yonge from Cicero, Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations 118–19).

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 [87-88.12] Dorval: the title character of The Natural (Illegitimate) Son.

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 [87-88.13] Lessing’s translation here is loose; see Diderot, Le Fils naturel 76; Diderot, The Illegitimate Son 40–1.

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 [87-88.14] See Diderot, Entretiens 192; Diderot, “Conversations” 51

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 [87-88.15] Serious drama: see [86.3].

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 Essay 89

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 [89.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 [89.2] Lessing continues his discussion, begun in [84], of Diderot’s dramatic theory. In the previous essay, Lessing critiques Diderot’s statement that tragic characters are individualized and comic characters are types. The assertion to which Lessing refers is Diderot’s statement that characters in the serious genre occupy a middle ground, that they will always be less individual than tragic characters, but may sometimes approach the universality of comic characters. For “serious genre,” see [86.3].

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 [89.3] Lessing provides, as he notes in the subsequent paragraph, his own “close to the exact words” translation of this passage from Poetics (Part IX). For an English translation directly from the Greek, see Butcher.

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 [89.4] Herodotus (c. 484 – c. 430/420 BCE): ancient Greek author who wrote an account of the Greco-Persian wars entitled The Histories (c. 425 BCE); considered the first historian of Western civilization.

112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 0 [89.5] Alcibiades (c. 450 – 404 BCE): cunning, flamboyant, and unscrupulous ancient Athenian statesmen and military commander who changed sides several times during the course of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE).

113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 [89.6] Agathon (c. 445–c. 400 BCE): Athenian tragic playwright, of whose work fewer than 40 lines have survived. No fragment of The Flower (dated between 416 and 406 BCE) is extant; the play’s Greek title is given variably as Anthos (flower) and Antheus (by those who believe that the title refers to a character’s name).

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 [89.7] καθόλον: kathólon (whole).

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 [89.8] See Diderot, Entretiens 191; Diderot, “Conversations” 50.

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 [89.9] οὗ στοχάζεται ἡ ποίησις ὀνόματα ἐπιτιθεμένη: “it is this universality at which poetry aims in the names she attaches to the personages.” Tr. S. H. Butcher in Aristotle, Poetics (Part IX).

117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 [89.10] “a general thing is that which every man of such and such a character has had to say or do, either probably or necessarily; this is the object of poetry, even when it imposes names on its characters.” See Aristotle and André Dacier, La poëtique d’Aristote [The Poetics of Aristotle] 126.

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 [89.11] Michael Conrad Curtius. Lessing has added the phrase “or necessity,” which Curtius’s translation does not contain; see Curtius, Aristoteles Dichtkunst [Aristotle’s Poetics] 19.

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 [89.12] lors même; “even when.”

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 [89.13] For the quotation in Lessing’s footnote, see André Dacier, “Remarques sur le Chapitre IX [“Notes on Chapter 9”] in La poëtique d’Aristote 132–3. For Curtius’s commentary, see “Anmerkungen zu Aristoteles Dichtkunst” [“Remarks on Aristotle’s Poetics”] 150–1.

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 [89.14] οὗ στοχάζεται: “at which [poetry] aims.”

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 Essay 90 

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 [90.1] Actually published Easter (March) 1769.

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 [90.2] Lessing continues his discussion of Aristotle’s views on dramatic character in Poetics (Part IX). Lessing’s analysis of Aristotle was triggered by Diderot’s statement, in [83], that tragic characters are individualized and comic characters are types. At the end of [89], Lessing explores the statement that dramatic poetry aspires to the universal, and questions how this aspiration might relate to the names of dramatic characters.

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 [90.3] “In Comedy this is already apparent: for here the poet first constructs the plot on the lines of probability, and then inserts characteristic names – unlike the lampooners who write about particular individuals.” Tr. S. H. Butcher in Aristotle, Poetics (Part IX).

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 [90.4] “This point is already rendered apparent in comedy, because comic poets, having arranged their subject according to verisimilitude, afterward impose on their characters whatever names they please, and do not imitate satiric poets, who are attached only to the particular.” See Aristotle and André Dacier, La poëtique d’Aristote [The Poetics of Aristotle] 126.

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 [90.5] See Curtius, Aristoteles Dichtkunst [Aristotle’s Poetics] 20.

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 [90.6] tels noms qu’il leur plaît: “whatever names they please.”

129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 0 [90.7] τὰ τυχόντα ὀνόματα: “randomly occurring names”; οὕτω: “thus” or “so.”

130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 [90.8] οὗ στοχάζεται ἡ ποίησις ὀνόματα ἐπιτιθεμένη: “it is this universality at which poetry aims in the names she attaches to the personages.” Tr. S. H. Butcher in Aristotle, Poetics (Part IX).

131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0 [90.9] This passage comes from Donatus’s commentary on Terence’s comedy The Brothers; see Donatus, Publii Terentii, Carthaginensis Afri, Comoediae 244. Lessing extensively discusses the play in essays [70] – [73].

132 Leave a comment on paragraph 132 0 [90.10] “The names of the characters, in comedies at any rate, must be chosen intentionally and in such a way that we can figure out what they mean. Indeed, it is absurd to openly invent a comedic plot: by either giving an unfitting name to a character or by giving a character a role that is different from its name.” In Lessing’s footnote: “Absurdum est . . .” (“It is absurd to openly provide a comedic plot that invents an unfitting name for a character”); “aperte argumentum . . .” (“to plainly invent a comedic plot and give an unfitting name to a character”).

133 Leave a comment on paragraph 133 0 [90.11] “Hence we have a faithful slave named Parmeno [“stand fast”]; an unfaithful slave named either Syrus [Syrian] or Geta [Goth]; a soldier named Thraso [“bold”] or Polemon [“warrior”]; a youth named Pamphilus [“beloved by all”]; a matron named Myrrhina [“myrtle”]; and a boy named Storax [a fragrant bush] because of his smell, or Circus [a circular racing track], because of his sport and gestures; and more of the same. In this lies the greatest error of the poet, if he uses some name that is antithetical and opposite, that fights against itself, unless he has assigned the name as a joke due to its antiphrasis, like the moneylender in Plautus called Misargyrides [“money-hater’s son”].” Misargyrides: character in Plautus’s comedy Mostellaria.

134 Leave a comment on paragraph 134 0 [90.12] ἐπὶ μὲν τῆς κωμῳδίας ἤδη τοῦτο δῆλον γέγονεν: “In Comedy this is already apparent”; see note 3 above.

135 Leave a comment on paragraph 135 0 [90.13] Pyrgopolinices: title character of Plautus’s play Miles Gloriosus [The Braggard Soldier], whose name in fact means “the much-conquering tower”; see Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 69.

136 Leave a comment on paragraph 136 0 [90.14] Artotrogus: the parasite (sycophant) in Plautus’s Miles Gloriosus, whose name means “bread-eater”; see Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 69.

137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 [90.15] Pheidippides (“sparing a horse”): character from Aristophanes’ comedy The Clouds (423 BCE).

138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 [90.16] New Comedies: ancient Athenian comedy has traditionally been divided into Old, Middle and New; contemporary scholars have indicated the ways in which these categories are unsatisfactory, and occasionally misleading, although they continue to be used (see Olson 1–32). Aristophanes (c. 450–c. 388 BCE) is representative of Old Comedy, which combined political, artistic, and philosophical criticism with savage personal attacks and scatological humor. Antiphanes (c. 408–c. 330 BCE) is representative of Middle Comedy, which is considered a transitional genre; it had less political commentary and fewer personal attacks, and also saw the emergence of stock characters. Menander (c. 342–c. 292 BCE) is representative of New Comedy, which gently satirized domestic life, and eschewed politics and obscenity. As Lessing states in his footnote, Aristotle died around the time that Menander’s first play was produced, but he would have seen other early examples of New Comedy.

139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 [90.17] Richard Hurd (1720–1808): English bishop and scholar; authored moral works and literary criticism, as well as multiple editions of Horace’s works. Hurd published Horace’s Ars Poetica (De Arte Poetica) [Art of Poetry] in 1749, with English commentary and notes. His subsequent editions of Horace added additional works, also supplemented by his own commentary; to each printing (1751, 1753, 1757, and 1766) Hurd added a new critical dissertation (culminating with four dissertations in the edition of 1766). Lessing owned the two-volume second edition, Q. Horatii Flacci Epistolae ad Pisones et Augustum [Q. Horace Flaccus’s Letters to Pisones and Augustus] (1766); in his footnote, he quotes (in English) from the second dissertation (“Dissertation on the Provinces of the Drama”). Lessing’s quotation from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is actually from Chapter 8 of Book IV (rather than Chapter 14). Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260-c. 337): Greek historian and early Christian bishop, whose world history, or Chronographia, contains a list of Olympic victors (used by the Greeks as a dating system). Philemon (c. 368–c. 264 BCE): playwright of Athenian New Comedy; a rival of Menander. Cocalos: one of Aristophanes’ final works (not extant). Life of Aristophanes: Lessing quotes from an anonymous text (XXVII Koster) in the collection of Byzantine treatises known as the Prolegomena on Comedy. “Κωκαλον ἐν ψ ἐισαγει φθοραν καὶ ἀναγνωρισμὸν καὶ τἀλλα πάντα ά ἐζηλώσε Μένανδρος”: Jeffrey Henderson’s translation reads “Cocalus, in which he introduced rape and recognition and all the other elements that Menander emulated” (Aristophanes, Fragments 8–9).

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