Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

roofed over and having close-fitting doors. How far this was removed, if at all, from the house proper does not appear, but it is quite an exceptional way of constructing the room which in other Homeric houses is described as the innermost or the back room of the house.

The vanlted treasure chamber at Ithaca, like that in the palace of Menelaus, is approached by descending or stepping down. Menelaus is described as going down to his fragrant treasure chamber, and Telemachus steps down into his father's vaulted treasure house. Whether this spacious store-room was entirely underground or only partly so is a question, but, as a place of security, it ought perhaps to be regarded as wholly below the surface. It was entered by closefitting folding doors with well-fitted doorposts set in a threshold of oak planed cunningly; and its general form is possibly to be seen in the treasure or tomb house of Atreus. At the back of the palace was a garden or private court for the use only of the master and the women of his household.

Going back to the hall, we find that against one of the pillars is a polished spear stand; but spears were also sometimes set against the tall pillars or piers of the entrance doorway (xvii.) In the hall too was the usual place of the weapons of war: the spears bristled in their stands, whilst the shields, bows, and helmets were probably suspended from pins in the pillars. These, by order of Odysseus, his son removed before the day of slaughter, on the pretence that they were being damaged by the vapour of the fire, a most natural excuse, seeing the proximity of tbe pillars to the braziers. And here I would note the air of severe economy that obtains in the hall of Odysseus. The cypress wood of the pillars is deftly planed and made straight, but not overlaid with bronze or plates of silver, or inlay of gold, amber, or ivory, as in the house of Menelaus. We have here nothing of the costly metallic sheen that Homer spreads over the house of Alcinous. The hall of the great Odysseus is spacious, is well and truly built, but, with the exception of a few thresholds of stone, there is nothing to show that it is built of aught but the simplest materials--e.g. cypress for the piers, pine for the roof and walls, ash for the floors of the raised aisles, and earth for the central floor. Indeed, throughout the whole account of the palace there is a very noticeable absence of words denoting display of wealth. There is a silver handle to the door of the chamber of Telemachus, on the upper floor of the house. For the treasure chamber there is a kev of bronze with an ivory handle (the ivory overlaid, I fancy), and the folding doors are shining -i.e. either of polished wood or overlaid with metal in bands arranged like the Balawat gates. For the rest

[ocr errors]

all is well built; the doors fit closely, the pillars and thresholds are cunningly planed and straight as a line: in brief, the workmanship is as good and as knowing as it can be, and the proportions possibly excellent, but there is no luxury, no grand display of costly material in the building itself. Herein is a lesson for us of the nineteenth century, if we could but learn it.

Two features in the hall yet remain to be described, the postern and the windows as exhibited in book xxii. The postern (ópoodúpn) is raised above the floor, and leads into an open passage, closed by well-fitted folding doors. This postern the swineherd is set to guar, because through it is the only approach by which relief can come to the wooers from outside, seeing that the mighty Odysseus is guarding the main entrance. One of the wooers calls for some one to

climb' to this postern and "give word to the people,' but he is answered that such an attempt would be useless, for the doors towards the court (i.e. the main entrance doors of the hall, where Odysseus stood) are grievously near to the postern, so that the entry to the passage is perilous, and one man would keep back a host.' I take it this postern was at the side, as one stood within the main door looking into the hall, that it was pierced in the side wall, was reached by a straight flight of steps or ladder, and opened out either directly or by an open passage to the battlements of the outer wall above the corridor of the great court. From this height a few steps would bring us to the flat roof of the aisle of the hall, by which access could easily be gained to the high or first floor over the women's rooms at the back of the ball. In support of this flat roof we recall the forest dwelling of Circe and the death of the young Elpenor, who, heavy with wine, lying apart from the rest on the housetop, was startled by the noise of his fellows, leaped suddenly up, and, forgetting where he was, instead of descending by the tall ladder, fell from the roof and broke his neck.

We have yet to deal with another part of the hall. In the 22nd book Telemachus, standing with his father on the great threshold on the raised floor, and just within the main entrance doors, says that he will fetch armour for his father, himself, and the two herdsmen. Thereupon he went forth by the chamber where his famous weapons were lying, but on leaving the chamber he omitted to shut and fasten the door. Melanthius, the goatherd, guessing at or seeing this, offers to fetch armour for the wooers, and forthwith climbs up by the windows of the hall to the inner chambers. Here he finds, as he supposed, the door open, and is able to secure twelve sets of armour. These delivered in the hall, he climbs up again to fetch another batch, but his intention being anticipated by the swineherd, the latter with the neatherd is sent by Odysseus to intercept the traitor. So the two herds went forth to the chamber, and found Melanthius seeking for the armour in the secret place of the chamber,'and they stood one on either side of the door waiting for him. Laden with helmets and shields, the traitor is caught as he is crossing the threshold, dragged in by the hair, bound hand and foot, and then hoisted

up the lofty pillar' by means of a rope to near the roof beams until the slaughter of the wooers should be completed.

Now where was this armoury ? and what were the approaches used by Telemachus and the faithful herds on the one hand and by the traitor Melanthius on the other? It will be remembered by the reader of Homer that Odysseus became somewhat alarmed when he saw the wooers arming themselves with the first lot of armour, and immediately thought either that one of the women had turned traitor or that it was the work of Melanthius. If we take the section of tbe hall to be like that of the south temple at Karnac, Homer's description becomes clear.

Telemachus ascends the postern steps and gains the flat roof of the aisle, traverses the whole length of this until he reaches the building of two stories containing the private apartments at the other end of the ball. Here, opening on to the flat roof by a doorway, is the chamber or wardrobe where a certain amount of armour has been stored. But as Telemachus ran along this roof-flat he passed the windows of the hall set in a kind of clerestory, and was spied by Melanthius, who after the return of Telemachus to the hall climbed to one of the windows, no doubt by one of the pillars in the upper end or side of the ball, and got out on the roof just by the door Telemachus in his haste bad left open.

· Apart from the dimensions of a building necessary to accommodate the number of Penelope's wooers, the castle of Odysseus on the Acropolis at Ithaca, according to Homer, can easily be traced in the general design of the minor temple palaces of Egypt, particularly in that of Kalapsche (ancient Talmis), which, though of Ptolemaic or Roman work, is acknowledged to be a restoration of a building designed in the time of Amenophis II. If we take away the pylons and change the back room to the particular form Homer gives to the bedroom of Odysseus, we can trace almost everything else the poet describes, and we have only to substitute for the thick inner walls of the Egyptian example the wooden framework of which Homeric palaces within the outer fortified enclosure were usually made, to complete the plan of Penelope's home. (See the plan here given.)

Hirt's conjectural ground-plan of the Homeric house, which I have seen since writing the foregoing, is founded also on the Egyptian type, but has a much more civilised arrangement than I think warranted by the text. There is a stable court and separate stables and coach houses, and the corridor surrounding the great court is merely a covered way opening into chambers for guests and sons on one side and the mills on the other. VOL. XIX.—No. 112.

3 Q

I have also read, since my notes were in type, the account given by Dr. W. Dörpfeld of the excavations on the Acropolis of Tiryns. Extremely interesting as these are, I cannot reconcile the complex ground-plan there exhibited with that indicated in Homer as the house of the Anax. In the Odyssey the women's rooms, for example, are always entered through the men's hall (uéryapov), and the movements of the dramatis personce cannot be followed if a plan like that at Tiryns be adopted.

Tiryns seems to me to be thoroughly Eastern. It has its seraglio and its harem, and in some leading and peculiar features it is certainly curiously like the arrangement in the palace of Sargon, although somewhat difficult to compare with it, for the harem court alone of the Assyrian king is equal to the entire fortress of the Tyrant or the Phænician merchant who founded Tiryns, either one or the other of whom would have been imbued with Asiatic manners, keeping his concubines in seclusion, and demanding a plan such as that supplied at Tiryns, but quite unnecessary to the chieftain living the simple domestic life described by Homer. The words—

'Ωκα μάλα μεγάροιο διελθέμεν, όφρ' άν ίκηαι

Mnrépéuñv(Od. vi. 304) and the passage in book vii. 133–141 should be enough to warn us against accepting the Asiatic ground-plan of Tiryns for the Homeric house.

E. W. GODWIN.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

A CONJECTURAL BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE HOUSE OF ODYSSEUS.

8 Dr. H. Schliemann's Tiryns. 1886. 9 See Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de l'Art, tome ii, fig. 196.

MR. GLADSTONE AND THE IRISH BILL.

A NONCONFORMIST VIEW.

WHEN a member of the present Ministry, referring to the defection of the Duke of Argyll, the resignation of Mr. Forster, and the withdrawal of Mr. Bright from the Cabinet of 1880, said that Mr. Gladstone's full strength would never be understood until he had been deserted by all his colleagues, the statement was naturally treated as a mere piece of hyperbole. But recent events have proved it to be little if at all in excess of the truth. In the House of Commons the clever author of this striking diagnosis is the only colleague of any political weight who still adheres to his chief, and his most ardent admirers would hardly say that his resignation would materially affect the position of the Prime Minister. The brilliant array of former members of Liberal Cabinets opposed to him is very imposing ; but, however impressive it may seem, it has proved utterly powerless to shake the faith of the people in their veteran leader. His popularity was never so great as at the present time. He has proposed a measure which offers nothing to the English nation, but, on the contrary, wears the appearance of a humiliating surrender to a people whom in their secret hearts they dislike ; and yet he has received an enthusiastic support where he might rather have expected indignant and contemptuous opposition.

Some of the results of this extraordinary ascendency of the Prime Minister cannot be regarded with unalloyed satisfaction. It is not good for a party that it should yield itself up so completely to the will of any leader, however trusted and however venerable. It is still worse if this submission is so absolute as to mean the suppression of individual thought. True Liberalism can never fourish under an Act of Uniformity, especially if the conditions of the Act are to be liable to constant change at the will of an individual. The intolerance of all difference of opinion, and the consequent injustice done to men who have always been loyal to Liberal principles, and who but recently were popular idols, are among the most painful features of the present controversy. Six months ago an avowed Home Ruler would have found it difficult to get a patient hearing, and if a Liberal constituency bad adopted him as its candidate, it would have been because his personal eminence led it to condone his political heresy.

« ForrigeFortsæt »