This article was originally published in A Short History of the Drama. Martha Fletcher Bellinger. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927. pp. 65-7.

EVEN though we have no specimens of plays from the centuries immediately following the "golden" age, yet there was enormous dramatic activity. Theatrical entertainments were practically universal. The names of fourteen hundred playwrights are preserved, though their plays are lost. The theatrical tradition seemed to run in families. Phrynicus and Pratinas each had a son who became a playwright; Euphorion, the son of Aeschylus, took part in the contests, offering both his own and his father's plays. The two sons of Sophocles, Ariston and Iophon, were also known as tragic poets. Sometimes the gift descended to the grandson or grand-nephew, as in the case of Morsimus, son of Philocles, who was the nephew of Aeschylus.

If any masterpieces were written during those later days, they have been lost and all records of them forgotten. The names of some of the writers are known; also a few fragments, a few literary traditions, and the jokes of the comic writers--that is all. In Alexandria, in the days of its glory, there rose a set of brilliant poets, seven of whom became celebrated under the title of the Pleiad; and later still there appeared a group of "literary dramatists" who wrote not for the stage, but for public declamation or private reading. Such writers merely used the dramatic form, they did not produce drama. Many of them wrote in order to teach some political or philosophical doctrine. These were the signs of ebbing life; and as life went out, rules and dogmatic traditions were the more zealously followed.

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