Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/21

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(Elements: an Avenger and a Criminal)

Vengeance is a joy divine, says the Arab; and such indeed it seems to have frequently been, to the God of Israel. The two Homeric poems both end with an intoxicating vengeance, as does the characteristic Oriental legend of the Pandavas; while to the Latin and Spanish races the most satisfying of spectacles is still that of an individual capable of executing a legitimate, although illegal, justice. So much goes to prove that even twenty centuries of Christianity, following five centuries of Socratic philosophy, have not sufficed to remove Vengeance from its pedestal of honor, and to substitute thereon Pardon. And Pardon itself, even though sincere,—what is it but the subtile quintessence of vengeance upon earth, and at the same time the claiming of a sort of wergild from Heaven?

A (1)—The Avenging of a Slain Parent or Ancestor:—"The Singer," an anonymous Chinese drama; "The Tunic Confronted" (of the courtesan Tchang-koue-pin); "The Argives" and "The Epigones" of Aeschylus; Sophocles' "Aletes and Erigone;" "The Two Foscari," by Byron; Werner's "Attila;" "Le Crime de Maison-Alfort" (Coedes, 1881); "Le Maquignon" (Josz and Dumur, 1903). In the last three cases, as well as in the following one, the vengeance is accomplished not by a son, but by a daughter. Example