The Athenian Tribunal for Dramatic Composition
THE Athenians established a Tribunal, composed of five judges, to give their verdict on the merits of Compositions destined for the Theatre, and to decide if they deserved a public representation. The Romans had a similar tribunal.
To give an instance of the critical severity of these judges—They even arraigned at their bar Euripides, to make his defence for having permitted one of his dramatic characters impiously to say—“That he had made a vow with his tongue to the gods, but not with the intention of performing it.” Euripides defended himself, by supplicating the critics patiently to wait till the conclusion of the piece, when they would see that character broken on the wheel.
If such a Tribunal of Criticism was established at London, it would render the stage more instructive than it is at present; we might probably have fewer wretched operas: such vapours of wit, and dregs of the imagination, would be purged away from the purity of dramatic composition.