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have grown into very nearly the appeared to us to carry much weight form in which we now have them with them. From the second to the before the art of writing was intro- seventh book Achilles is scarcely duced, although in the absence of alluded to; "and moreover,” adds that art it is almost impossible to Mr Grote, “the Greeks do perfectly suppose them to be designed and well without him.... Diomedes executed by one man in their present is in fact exalted to a pitch of glory entireness. This reasoning fails to in regard to contests with the gods produce its effect on other minds, which even Achilles himself never who, impressed with the internal obtains afterwards ; and Helenus evidence of unity in the composition, the Trojan puts him above Achilles will not yield to what they assert is in terrific prowess." a mere conjecture as to the motives These and other reasons for such dior the ability of a bard in the heroic vision of the Iliad Mr Gladstone comtimes.
bats, and is disposed to regard them Though in the first volume Mr as "wild suppositions." He sees the Gladstone passes over the contro- same marks of unity of design in versy, and refers us to the works of the Iliad that Mr Grote had recogothers, yet in the third volume he so nised in the Odyssey. The reasons far returns to it as to enter into some pro and con for this theory of an discussion with Mr Grote, and dis- original Achilleis we should not pute the view which that historian have space to enter on, and after all, had taken of the authorship of the every reader of Homer must be left Homeric poems. Mr Grote perceives to his own critical feeling and disstrong evidence of unity of design in crimination. We will content ourthe Odyssey, and attributes the whole selves with this very modest observapoem to one author ; but he judges tion. It is one thing to contend for differently of the Iliad. “The
Iliad,”. such a discrepancy or inequality in he says, “presents the appearance of the parts, as absolutely forbids the a house built upon a plan compara- belief that the Iliad and Odyssey were tively narrow, and subsequently en- written originally as entire poems, and larged by successive additions. The by the same poet, and another thing first book, together with the eighth, to show such discrepancies, or such and the books from the eleventh to redundancies, as would permit us to the twenty-second inclusive, seem to adopt the theory of their growth form the primary organisation of the from shorter poems, presuming that poem, then properly an Achilleis. other considerations favoured such a The twenty-third and twenty-fourth theory. Great poets are very unbooks are additions at the tail of this equal, the best poems have faults in primitive poem, which still leave it their structure, strange oversights nothing more than an enlarged Achil- are committed by the shrewdest of leis ; but the books from the second authors, and in ancient works the to the seventh inclusive, together text may have been corrupted. The with the tenth, are of a wider and evidence must be very stringent, more comprehensive character, and therefore, that would absolutely prove convert the poem from an Achilleis of any work that it could not have into an Iliad,” Mr Grote does not been designed and executed by one say that these last-mentioned parts man. But it is a much less degree are of inferior merit, or of an appre- of evidence we require to permit us ciably later date. K. O. Müller, in to believe that it may have grown his History of the Literature of up in the manner we have already Ancient Greece, had drawn attention stated, if the absence of the art of to a distinction between the two writing, and the fact that poets comparts of the poem, an original part posed for recitation, point to such a having chief reference to Achilles mode of growth. If there is an and the Greeks, and the superinduced antecedent probability that several part having reference to the entire separate, or perhaps serial, poems war. Mr Grote has drawn this dis- have been interwoven or welded totinction with more definiteness, and gether, we rather look for some justified it by several remarks which manifestations where the join may have been, then where it must have of duty;and on the other hand, brave, been.
hospitable, at times generous, and But, by whomsoever written, here (which is their best trait), sufficiently they are! The Iliad and the Odyssey humanised to treat their wives and exist for us; they have descended from their daughters with honour and a remote antiquity, and give us most respect. Their manners are of the valuable intimations of the manners most primitive character. Achilles and modes of thought and feeling of cooks the dinner ; Ulysses builds the ancient times. The precise date when house. Their political institutions these poems were written may still are very unsettled. Their kings or be doubtful; but this is of little conse- chiefs owe their authority to perquence so long as we confine our sonal prowess, to a reputation for deductions to a certain period that we bravery or sagacity. The prince has are contented to call the heroic period as much power as he can keep. of Greece. Whey, however, we pro- There is very little of the governceed, as Mr Gladstone does, to draw ment of law. If one man kills aninference from them of the political other, the relations of the murdered and religious state and condition of man pursue their own revenge. In Troy, and of the Greeks as they lieu of revenge they may accept a lived and acted at the siege of Troy, fine, but there appears to be no it becomes then necessary to fix the power to compel them to receive this date of their composition with some compensation. What we call our obprecision.
ligations to society, are very dimly Homer-for we shall speak of a recognised. Hospitality is practised, one Homer, the author of the Iliad as we find amongst other semi-barbarand the Odyssey, leaving the doubts ous people, but the stranger was not which hang over this subject still safe till he had put himself under the unresolved, — Homer would neces- protection of the gods : he came as sarily describe the state of manners à suppliant, and the host, binding with which he was familiar. Though himself by an oath, took the charhis poems are two great romances, acter of protector. Wherever there and though he deals with gods and is much dependence placed upon the demigods, and tells and invents the oath, we may be sure there is very most marvellous things, he would little general and habitual morality. not invent a whole system of man- This picture of Homeric manners is ners, customs, institutions. One may seen reflected amongst the gods: they find materials for history, and many too have very little care for the genetrue details of life, of customs and ral good-are capricious, revengeful opinions, in the Arabian Nights, —moved by personal feelings of hosbecause the authors of these fictions tility or of kindness. The governmight invent genii and giants, but ment of Jupiter is as lax and unthey would not, and could not, in- settled as the rule of Agamemnon. vent an entirely new state of society, His deities are self-willed, and Jove and forms of government and reli- himself has to make concessions, and gion that did not exist. We are it is as much by skilful management sure, therefore, that we have in the of his refractory council, as by inheIliad and the Odyssey a valuable rent power and authority, that he record of the age in which they were contrives to get the decrees of Fate written.
executed. : As a picture of ancient manners, All historians and critics agree in these poems have been well studied. portraying this period in much the There is very little left here for the same colours. Some are more imdiscoverer. Mr Gladstone adds no- pressed with the lights, some with thing to the terse and compendious the shadows, but the picture cannot descriptions which Mr Grote has be very different to any two candid given in the second volume of his observers. Mr Gladstone dwells History. The Greeks of Homer's more frequently on the virtues than time were a semi-barbarous race, the vices of this heroic period, but cruel, revengeful, often brutal, reck- he does not omit the latter. 'Perless of human life, bound by few ties haps the chief source of the difference that may be noticed in the estimate clusively to the poet, not to the formed of this period by any two stu- warrior, of that age. In some of the dents of Homer, lies in this, that one speeches assigned to his heroes we will make a greater allowance than think we see the reflective, meditaanother for the peculiar colouring it tive man giving out his own especial has received from the imagination or thoughts; uttering them in the perthe sentiments of the poet. It is son of that class of fighting men most true that the poet himself is amongst whom they would probably but the highest creation of his own never have originated.* age; it is most true that he cannot Some weight must doubtless be stir the minds of others, nor obtain attached to a remark which Mitford their admiration, unless he, to a cer- makes in his History of Greece, that, tain extent, is in unison with his own at a time when poets are the only age ; but it is equally true that a historians, they will be solicitous to great poet will occasionally attribute perform this part of historian; they to his warriors sentiments which will occasionally interweave in their would only arise in the minds of a poems mere matter of fact and sober few reflective men like himself. We narrative, simply because it is true, think that our Shakespeare has not and that the record should be preunfairly represented the English bar- served. Thus, besides these general ons of the middle ages; but how intimations incidentally given, there many thoughts and sentiments has are positive historical facts to be he given them which were quite un- gleaned from the Homeric poems. known to Yorkist or Lancastrian! Still they are chiefly valuable to us Homer idealised; he could not other- for the unintentional record they wise have been the great poet that have transmitted to us of a certain he was. Something-how much it is phase of human society. Even when hard to say-of what we admire in examining them in this light, we Achilles and Hector belongs ex- must proceed with caution. Mr
* For instance, in the Twelfth Book there is a speech assigned to Hector and another to Sarpedon, which seem to bring us into communion with the mind of the poet. We will quote from the prose translation in Bohn's series. It is only in prose that any translator can be faithful to the original. Polydamas has advised Hector to withdraw from the battle ; he has seen an eagle flying with a serpent in his talons, and interpreted this into an augury of defeat for the Trojans. Hector rises above these auguries-shows a contempt for them. “O Polydamas, thou dost not say things agreeable to me. Truly have the gods destroyed thy judgment from thee, who advisest me to be forgetful of the counsels of lofty-thundering Jove, which he hath himself undertaken for me and confirmed. And thou exhortest me to obey the wing-expanding birds ; which I very little regard, nor do I care for them whether they fly to the right towards the moon and the sun, or to the left towards the darkening west; but let us obey the will of mighty Jove, who rules over all mortals and immortals. There is one augury, the best, to fight for our country.".
In the other instance Sarpedon thus addresses Glaucus : “Glauous, why are we especially honoured in Lycia both with the first seat in banquet, and with full goblets, and why do all look to us as gods? Why do we also possess a great and beautiful enclosure of the vine-bearing and corn-bearing land on the banks of Zanthus ? Now, therefore, it beboves us, advancing among the foremost Lycians, to stand firm, and to bear the brunt of the raging fight; so that some one of the closely-armed Lycians may say, 'By no means inglorious do our kings govern Lycia, and eat the fat sheep, and drink the choice sweet wine; but their valour likewise is excelling, because they fight amongst the foremost Lycians.' O dear friend, if indeed, by escaping from this war, we were destined to be ever free from old age, and immortal, neither would I combat myself in the van, nor send thee into the glorious battle. But now-for of a truth ten thousand fates of death press upon us, which it is not possible for a mortal to escape or avoid, let us on : either we shall give glory to some one, or some one to us."
It seems to us that there is a strain of reflection here which the poet gave to, but did not find, amongst his warriors. In estimating the Homeric period, we may assign such sentiments to the Homerids if we please, but hardly to the military chiefs.
Gladstone finds in Homer an autho- a future life expand, and the immorrity for the political and religious in- tality of man shines out both upon stitutions of Troy. What did Homer Jew and Greek. know of Troy? He gave to it in- It is on the mythology of Homer stitutions which probably existed in that Mr Gladstone has bestowed his his own time in cities of Asia Minor, chief attention; it is here that he but Troy bad disappeared, had gone has indeed brought forward some for him into the region of fable. It striking novelties. Not that his has always been a subject of con- theory is new-on the contrary, it is troversy what interval had elapsed the revival of a theory which we between the siege of Troy and the thought had passed away from the composition of the Iliad. Opinions scholarship of the nineteenth century; have varied from eighty to five hun- but his manner of proving and exdred years. Mr Gladstone would emplifying it may assuredly have make the interval less even than the praise of novelty. Here, at all eighty. But it matters not what events-in this region of mythology length of time you imagine ; this fact -- Homer is good authority, for we remains certain, that, whether fifty are in the very region of imaginaor five hundred years, a period had tion; and if the poet invents here, he elapsed sufficiently long to throw must still be taken as an expounder Troy and the history of Troy into of the popular creed, for his inventhe region of fable. The manner in tions become a part of it. Here, which the siege terminates is suffi- what people have imagined, and felt, cient proof of this. The stratagem and thought, is the very fact of hisof the wooden horse bears some in- tory we are in search of, and the distinct reference to the fact that most interesting of all facts to know. peculiar and religious honours were Mr Gladstone accords to the Greeks given by the Trojans to the horse. the faculty of invention, and is ready Time enough had elapsed for some to acknowledge that any amount of mythical or allegorical story to grow nonsense may have grown up sponinto this absurd fable.
taneously in this fruitful soil of the Subject to these considerations, we human mind; but where there is can cordially agree with Mr Glad- any approximation in their concepstone when he says, that, next to tions of deity, in their religious senthe Hebrew Scriptures, the Homeric timents or practices, to our own stanpoems form the most precious record dard of truth and rationality, then he we possess of antiquity. And the refers us to traditions of an especially Greek and the Hebrew records throw divine communication
made to Adam light upon each other. Not that we and the patriarchs. From such traare able to detect any direct link of ditions did they obtain what light of connection between the two, but truth they possessed ; and by the dethey both originate from, and explain gradation and disintegration of such our common humanity. Even in traditions, and by corrupt additions that religious development in which to them, did they proceed to manuthe Hebrew outstript all other na- facture their own mythology. He tions, they throw light upon each finds, for instance, that Minerva and other, because, notwithstanding many Apollo have greater attributes than marked diversities, and the inferior- their place in the family of Jupiter ity of the one, there are also many would account for-attributes inconmarked resemblances and great char- sistent with the subordinate position acteristics common to them both. they hold to the Father of gods and How striking, for instance, is this men ; and he explains this, not as broad resemblance :—with both the other mythologists have explained early Greek and the early Hebrew, it, by showing that these deities had the god rules here on earth-inflicts been the supreme objects of worship his judgments here—bestows his re- to other people, or to separate Greek wards here. Hades or Elysium plays tribes, before Homer had gathered but a feeble part in the government them into his Olympian family—but of man. In both nations, as the he refers us for these higher attrimind grows in knowledge, views of butes to Messianic traditions de scanded from patriarchal times, of of all the glories and the growths of which those who desire to know more spring—noting how the earth produces than they will learn from the book of all this marvellous birth of tree, and Genesis, may consult the Talmud flower, and fruit, under the influence with advantage. We must endeavour of bright skies and moist showersto state Mr Gladstone's views in his should proclaim this to be the blessown words, though it will take some ed marriage of the heaven and the trouble to select from his ample and earth, we may be sure that some redundant pages any statement that subsequent thinker, dwelling on the will at once be brief, full, and explicit. image here presented to him, would
But before we proceed to the fur- be tempted to describe this marriage ther exposition of Mr Gladstone's the--to describe the bridegroom and ory, or the theory to which he has de- the bride. These would certainly voted this exercise of his argumen- be king and queen, if such dignities tative ingenuity, let us recall what we were known to him ; and these royal had previously learned, from other titles would alone suggest a govern; authorities, to consider as settled ment, as well as a matrimonial conclusions on this subject of Greek union, and subjects to govern both mythology. It is always well, before in heaven and in earth. We are opening a new book, to call to mind launched at once into an anthropowhat we have obtained by our pre- morphic mythology: A Zeus, the vious reading and reflection. Nothing god of day, and light, and of the can be more plain than that the upper air, marries Here, goddess of poems of Homer do not represent to the earth ; and by-and-by we have us the earliest form of religious faith ; a King and Queen of Olympus, rulthey refer us distinctly to earlier ing over men and gods, and a Jupiter gods, and to gods conceived of in an and Juno, who are no longer bound earlier manner. The fables related of to any one element, but to whom all the Olympian deities, their very names the elements of the world are equally and their attributes, carry us back to free. The stars of heaven, and the some period when the gods were more passage of the sun through constelnearly identified with the elements Iations, named from fancied resemover which they rule than they were blances to terrestrial objects-our in the times of Homer. Many of first astronomy, in short-was suffithese fables wear the unmistakable cient of itself to give origin to a appearance of having been suggested, multitude of fables. The imaginain the first place, by allegories and tive poet only needed that two or personifications which originally were three positive facts should be given merely methods of describing physical him—the wilder and the more unfacts. The alternation of day and connected the better-and he would night, of spring and winter - the piece them together into some narpower of the sun over all vegetable rative. The more abrupt and extraand animal life—the dawn, the dew, vagant the fragments given to him, the fertilising shower, the unceasing the more likely would they be to activity and mutability of nature, stimulate his invention to supply the life and death, generation and decay missing links. The zodiac alone, and incessantly giving place to each the sun, now brighter, and now dimother—these were the great patent mer, tracing his way through it, was truths which reflective men, of ardent enough to people the world with and imaginative temper, had first legends--the labours of Hercules, to express, and which they perhaps and the like—which very soon lost inevitably expressed in the language all recognisable connection with the of metaphor and personification. À sun, and the stars, and the seasons. statement of natural phenomena ex- What is more, when the poets have pressed in a series of personifications framed these wild legends out of becomes itself a history, or sooner or materials thus accidentally given to later tempts to the moulding of it them, other men, because they are into some narrative. If the imagin- so wild and absurd as narratives, ative thinker of one age, looking ad- begin to supply profound moral meanmiringly on the sudden bursting forth ings for them.