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Homer continued his career of difficulty and distress, until some Chian merchants, struck by the similarity of the verses they heard him recite, acquainted him with the fact that Thestorides was pursuing a profitable livelihood by the recital of the very same poems. This at once determined him to set out for Chios.
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No vessel happened then to be setting sail thither, but he found one ready to start for Erythræ, a town of Ionia, which faces that island, and he prevailed upon the seamen to allow him to accompany them. Having embarked, he invoked a favourable wind, and prayed that he might be able to expose the imposture of Thestorides.
Who, by his breach of hospitality, had drawn down the wrath of Jove the Hospitable. At Erythræ, Homer fortunately met with a person who had known him in Phocœa, by whose assistance he at length, after some difficulty, reached the little hamlet of Pithys. Here he met with an adventure, which we will continue in the words of our author.
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“Having set out from Pithys, Homer went on, attracted by the cries of some goats that were pasturing. The dogs barked on his approach, and he cried out. Glaucus (for that was the name of the goat-herd) heard his voice, ran up quickly, called off his dogs, and drove them away from Homer.
For some time he stood wondering how a blind man should have reached such a place alone, and what could be his design in coming. He then went up to him, and inquired who he was, and how he had come to desolate places and untrodden spots, and of what he stood in need.
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Homer, by recounting to him the whole history of his misfortunes, moved him with compassion; and he took him, and led him to his cot, and having lit a fire, bade him sup. “Half a century ago, the acute and valuable Prolegomena of F. A. Wolf, turning to account the Venetian Scholia.
Which had then been recently published, first opened philosophical discussion as to the history of the Homeric text. A considerable part of that dissertation (though by no means the whole) is employed in vindicating the position, previously announced by Bentley, amongst others.
That the separate constituent portions of the Iliad and Odyssey had not been cemented together into any compact body and unchangeable order, until the days of Peisistratus, in the sixth century before Christ. As a step towards that conclusion. Iliad PDF Book
Wolf maintained that no written copies of either poem could be shown to have existed during the earlier times, to which their composition is referred; and that without writing, neither the perfect symmetry of so complicated a work could have been originally conceived by any poet, nor, if realized by him, transmitted with assurance to posterity.
The absence of easy and convenient writing, such as must be indispensably supposed for long manuscripts, among the early Greeks, was thus one of the points in Wolf’s case against the primitive integrity of the Iliad and Odyssey. By Nitzsch, and other leading opponents of Wolf.
The connection of the one with the other seems to have been accepted as he originally put it; and it has been considered incumbent on those who defended the ancient aggregate character of the Iliad and Odyssey, to maintain that they were written poems from the beginning.
“To me it appears, that the architectonic functions ascribed by Wolf to Peisistratus and his associates, in reference to the Homeric poems, are nowise admissible. But much would undoubtedly be gained towards that view of the question, if it could be shown, that, in order to controvert it, we were driven to the necessity of admitting long written poems. Iliad PDF Book
In the ninth century before the Christian æra. Few things, in my opinion, can be more improbable; and Mr. Payne Knight, opposed as he is to the Wolfian hypothesis, admits this no less than Wolf himself. The traces of writing in Greece, even in the seventh century before the Christian æra, are exceedingly trifling.
We have no remaining inscription earlier than the fortieth Olympiad, and the early inscriptions are rude and unskilfully executed; nor can we even assure ourselves whether Archilochus, Simonidês of Amorgus, Kallinus, Tyrtæus, Xanthus, and the other early elegiac and lyric poets, committed their compositions to writing.
Or at what time the practice of doing so became familiar. The first positive ground which authorizes us to presume the existence of a manuscript of Homer, is in the famous ordinance of Solôn, with regard to the rhapsodies at the Panathenæa: but for what length of time previously manuscripts had existed, we are unable to say. Iliad PDF Book
I will not repeat the many discussions respecting whether the poems were written or not, or whether the art of writing was known in the time of their reputed author. Suffice it to say, that the more we read, the less satisfied we are upon either subject.
I cannot, however, help thinking, that the story which attributes the preservation of these poems to Lycurgus, is little else than a version of the same story as that of Peisistratus, while its historical probability must be measured by that of many others relating to the Spartan Confucius.
I will conclude this sketch of the Homeric theories, with an attempt, made by an ingenious friend, to unite them into something like consistency. It is as follows:— “No doubt the common soldiers of that age had, like the common sailors of some fifty years ago, some one qualified to ‘discourse in excellent music’ among them. Iliad PDF Book Download
Many of these, like those of the negroes in the United States, were extemporaneous, and allusive to events passing around them. But what was passing around them? The grand events of a spirit-stirring war; occurrences likely to impress themselves, as the mystical legends of former times had done, upon their memory.
Besides which, a retentive memory was deemed a virtue of the first water, and was cultivated accordingly in those ancient times. Ballads at first, and down to the beginning of the war with Troy, were merely recitations, with an intonation. Then followed a species of recitative, probably with an intoned burden.
Tune next followed, as it aided the memory considerably. “It was at this period, about four hundred years after the war, that a poet flourished of the name of Melesigenes, or Mœonides, but most probably the former. He saw that these ballads might be made of great utility to his purpose of writing a poem on the social position of Hellas. Iliad PDF Book Download
As a collection, he published these lays, connecting them by a tale of his own. This poem now exists, under the title of the ‘Odyssea.’ The author, however, did not affix his own name to the poem, which, in fact, was, great part of it, remodelled from the archaic dialect of Crete, in which tongue the ballads were found by him.
He therefore called it the poem of Homeros, or the Collector; but this is rather a proof of his modesty and talent, than of his mere drudging arrangement of other people’s ideas; for, as Grote has finely observed, arguing for the unity of authorship.
‘A great poet might have re-cast preexisting separate songs into one comprehensive whole; but no mere arrangers or compilers would be competent to do so.’ With words like these the troops Ulysses ruled, The loudest silenced, and the fiercest cool’d. Back to the assembly roll the thronging train, Desert the ships, and pour upon the plain. Iliad PDF Book Download
Murmuring they move, as when old ocean roars, And heaves huge surges to the trembling shores; The groaning banks are burst with bellowing sound, The rocks remurmur and the deeps rebound. At length the tumult sinks, the noises cease, And a still silence lulls the camp to peace.
Thersites only clamour’d in the throng, Loquacious, loud, and turbulent of tongue: Awed by no shame, by no respect controll’d, In scandal busy, in reproaches bold: With witty malice studious to defame, Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim:— But chief he gloried with licentious style To lash the great, and monarchs to revile.
His figure such as might his soul proclaim; One eye was blinking, and one leg was lame: His mountain shoulders half his breast o’erspread, Thin hairs bestrew’d his long misshapen head. Spleen to mankind his envious heart possess’d, And much he hated all, but most the best. Iliad PDF Book Download
Ulysses or Achilles still his theme; But royal scandal his delight supreme, Long had he lived the scorn of every Greek, Vex’d when he spoke, yet still they heard him speak. Sharp was his voice; which in the shrillest tone, Thus with injurious taunts attack’d the throne.
“Amidst the glories of so bright a reign, What moves the great Atrides to complain? ’Tis thine whate’er the warrior’s breast inflames, The golden spoil, and thine the lovely dames. With all the wealth our wars and blood bestow, Thy tents are crowded and thy chests o’erflow.
Thus at full ease in heaps of riches roll’d, What grieves the monarch? Is it thirst of gold? Say, shall we march with our unconquer’d powers (The Greeks and I) to Ilion’s hostile towers, And bring the race of royal bastards here, For Troy to ransom at a price too dear? Iliad PDF Book Download
But safer plunder thy own host supplies; Say, wouldst thou seize some valiant leader’s prize? Or, if thy heart to generous love be led, Some captive fair, to bless thy kingly bed? Whate’er our master craves submit we must, Plagued with his pride, or punish’d for his lust. Oh women of Achaia; men no more!
Hence let us fly, and let him waste his store In loves and pleasures on the Phrygian shore. We may be wanted on some busy day, When Hector comes: so great Achilles may: From him he forced the prize we jointly gave, From him, the fierce, the fearless, and the brave: And durst he, as he ought, resent that wrong, This mighty tyrant were no tyrant long.”
“By the same arm my seven brave brothers fell; In one sad day beheld the gates of hell; While the fat herds and snowy flocks they fed, Amid their fields the hapless heroes bled! My mother lived to wear the victor’s bands, The queen of Hippoplacia’s sylvan lands. Iliad PDF Book Download
Redeem’d too late, she scarce beheld again Her pleasing empire and her native plain, When ah! oppress’d by life-consuming woe, She fell a victim to Diana’s bow. “Yet while my Hector still survives, I see My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee: Alas! my parents, brothers, kindred, all Once more will perish, if my Hector fall.
Thy wife, thy infant, in thy danger share: Oh, prove a husband’s and a father’s care! That quarter most the skilful Greeks annoy, Where yon wild fig-trees join the wall of Troy; Thou, from this tower defend the important post; There Agamemnon points his dreadful host, That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain, And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train.
Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have given, Or led by hopes, or dictated from heaven. The thronging troops obscure the dusky fields, Horrid with bristling spears, and gleaming shields. As when a general darkness veils the main, (Soft Zephyr curling the wide wat’ry plain. Iliad PDF Book Free
The waves scarce heave, the face of ocean sleeps, And a still horror saddens all the deeps; Thus in thick orders settling wide around, At length composed they sit, and shade the ground. Great Hector first amidst both armies broke The solemn silence, and their powers bespoke.
“Hear, all ye Trojan, all ye Grecian bands, What my soul prompts, and what some god commands. Great Jove, averse our warfare to compose, O’erwhelms the nations with new toils and woes; War with a fiercer tide once more returns, Till Ilion falls, or till yon navy burns.
You then, O princes of the Greeks! appear; ’Tis Hector speaks, and calls the gods to hear: From all your troops select the boldest knight, And him, the boldest, Hector dares to fight. Here if I fall, by chance of battle slain, Be his my spoil, and his these arms remain; But let my body, to my friends return’d, By Trojan hands and Trojan flames be burn’d. Iliad PDF Book Free
And if Apollo, in whose aid I trust, Shall stretch your daring champion in the dust; If mine the glory to despoil the foe; On Phœbus’ temple I’ll his arms bestow: The breathless carcase to your navy sent, Greece on the shore shall raise a monument; Which when some future mariner surveys, Wash’d by broad Hellespont’s resounding seas.
Thus shall he say, ‘A valiant Greek lies there, By Hector slain, the mighty man of war,’ The stone shall tell your vanquish’d hero’s name And distant ages learn the victor’s fame.”