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ing those bodies in the heavens and on the earth, from which they received benefit, the immediate objects of their gratitude and adoration: the same were the motives afterwards which induced them to pay divine honours to mortal men; as we see in the account we have from Diodorus. The design of the poet was to give a catalogue of those deities who were, in any sense, esteemed as such in the times in which he lived, whether fabulous, historical, or physical; but we must take notice, that even where a story had rise from fable or history, he seems to labour at reducing it to nature, as in that of the muses: what was before of mean original, from nine minstrels, slaves to a prince, is rendered great by the genius of the poet.
I shall conclude (thinking it all that is further necessary to be said, and particularly on the Mythology) with the following translation from the preface of Lord Bacon to his treatise on the Wisdom of the Ancients.
I am not ignorant how uncertain fiction is, and how liable to be wrested to this or that sense, nor how prevalent wit and discourse are, so as ingeniously to apply such meanings as were not thought of originally: but let not the follies and license of a few lessen the esteem due to parables; for that would be profane and bold, since religion delights in such veils and shadows: but, reflecting on human wisdom, I ingenuously confess my real opinion is, that mystery and allegory were from the original intended in many fables of the ancient poets. This appears apt and conspicuous to me; whether ravished with
a veneration for antiquity, or because I find such coherence in the similitude with the things signified, in the very texture of the fable, and in the propriety of the names which are given to the persons or actors in the fable; and no man can positively deny that this was the sense proposed from the beginning, and industriously veiled in this manner. How can the conformity and judgment of the names be obscure to any? Metis being made the wife of Jove, plainly signifies Counsel. No one should be moved, if he sometimes finds any addition for the sake of history, or by way of embellishment: or if chronology should happen to be confounded, or if part of one fable should be transferred to another, and a new allegory introduced: for these were all necessary and to be expected, seeing they are the inventions of men of different ages, and who writ to different ends; some with a view to the nature of things, and other to civil affairs.
We have another sign, and that no small one, of this hidden sense which we have been speaking of; which is, that some of these fables are in the narration (that is, in themselves literally understood) so foolish and absurd, that they seem to proclaim a parable at a distance. Such as are probable may be feigned for amusement, and in imitation of history; but where no such designs appear, but they seem to be what none would imagine or relate, they must be calculated for other uses. What a fiction is this! Jove took Metis for his wife, and as soon as he perceived her pregnant, eat her; whence he himself conceived, and brought forth Pallas, armed,
from his head. Nothing can appear more monstrous, more like a dream, and more out of the course of thinking, than this story in itself. What has a great weight with me, is, that many of these fables seem not to be invented by those who have related them, Homer, Hesiod, and other writers; for were they the fictions of that age, and of those who delivered them down to us, nothing great and exalted, according to my opinion, could be expected from such an origin: but if any one will deliberate on this subject attentively, these will appear to be delivered and related as what were before believed and received, and not as tales then first invented and communicated; besides, as they are told in different manners by authors of almost the same times, they are easily perceived to be common, and derived from old memorial tradition, and are various only from the additional embellishments which diverse writers have bestowed on them.
In old times, when the inventions of men, and the conclusions deduced from them, were new and uncommon; parables, and similes of all kinds, abounded. As hieroglyphics were more ancient than parables, parables were more ancient than arguments. We shall close what we have here said, with this observation: the wisdom of the ancients was either great or happy; great, if these figures were the fruits of their industry; and happy, if they looked no further, that they have afforded matter and occasion so worthy contemplation.'
I CANNOT take my leave of this work without expressing my gratitude to Mr. Theobald for his kind assistance in it. Much may with justice be said to the advantage of that gentleman; but his own writings will be testimonies of his abilities, when, perhaps, this profession of my friendship for him, and of my zeal for his merit, shall be forgot.
Such remarks as I have received from my friends I have distinguished from my own, in justice to those by whom I have been so obliged; lest, by a general acknowledgment only, such errors as I may have possibly committed, should, by the wrong guess of some, be unjustly imputed to them,
Feb. 15, 1728.
COLUTHUS'S RAPE OF HELEN.
Translated from the Greek by Meen,
YE nymphs of Troy, for beauty famed, who trace