Obrazy na stronie

among all the citizens; the law punished with death the person who appropriated more than his just share. They were hospitable ; nay, they considered it a special favour to entertain a stranger, being convinced that the presence of a foreigner called down the protection of the gods on the family that received him. They sacrificed human victims to their divinities, and the priests pretended to read future events in the pal' pitating entrails. At every full moon, according to Strabo, they celebrated the festival of a god without a name; from this circumstance, their religion has been considered a corrupt deism.—The Phoenicians were the first people who established colonies on the coast of Spain: Tartessus was perhaps the most ancient; at a later period they founded Gades, now Cadiz, on the isle of Leon. They carried on there a very lucrative trade, inasmuch as it was unknown to other nations; but, in time, the Rhodians, the Samians, the Phocaeans, and other Greeks established factories on different parts of the coast. Carthage had been founded by the Phoenicians; but the inhabitants, regardless of their connexion with that people, took possession of the Phoenician stations, and conquered the whole of maritime Spain. The government of these republicans was still less supportable: the Carthaginians were unable to form any friendly intercourse with the Spaniards in the interior; their rapine and cruelty excited the indignation of the natives. The ruin of Carthage paved the way to new invaders, and Spain was considered a Roman province two centuries before the Christian era. Those who had been the allies became masters of the Spaniards, and the manners, customs, and even language of the conquerors were introduced into the peninsula. But Rome paid dearly for her conquest; the north, or the present Old Castile, Aragon, and Catalonia, were constantly in a state of revolt: the mountaineers shook off the yoke, and it was not before the reign of Augustus that the country was wholly subdued. The peninsula was then divided into Hispania Citerior and Ulterior. Hispania Citerior was also called Tarraconensis, from Tarraco, its capital, and extended from the foot of the Pyrenees to the mouth of the Durius or Douro, on the Atlantic shore; comprehending all the north of Spain, together with the south as far as a line drawn below Carthago Nova or Carthagena, and continued in an oblique direction to Salamantica or Salamanca, on the Durius. Hispania Ulterior was divided into two provinces; Baetica, on the south of Spain, between the Anas or Gaudiana, and Citerior, and above it Lusitania, corresponding in a great degree, though not entirely, to modern Portugal. In the age of Dioclesian and Constantine, Tarraconensis was subdivided into a province towards the limits of Baetica, and adjacent to the Mediterranean, called Carthaginiensis, from its chief city Carthago Nova, and another, north of Lusitania, called Gallaecia from the Callaici. The province of Lusitania was partly peopled by the Cynetes or Cynesii, the earliest inhabitants of Algarve. The Celtici possessed the land between the Guadiana (Anas) and the Tagus. The country round the mountains of Gredos belonged to the Wettones, a people that passed from a state of inactivity and repose to the vicissitudes and hardships of war. The Lusitani, a nation of freebooters, were settled in the middle of Estremadura ; they were distinguished by their activity and patience of fatigue; their food was flour and sweet acorns; beer was their common beverage. They were swift in the race; they had a martial dance, which the men danced while they advanced to battle.—The part of Baetica near the Mediterranean was peopled by the Bastuli Poeni. The Turduli inhabited the shores of the ocean, near the mouth of the Baetis. The Baeturi dwelt on the Montes Mariani, and the Turdetani inhabited the southern declivities of the Sierra d'Aracena. The last people, more enlightened than any other in

Baetica, were skilled in different kinds of industry long before their neighbours. When the Phoenicians ar. rived on their coasts, silver was so common among them that their ordinary utensils were made of it. What was afterward done by the Spaniards in America was then done by the Phoenicians in Spain : they exchanged iron and other articles of little value for silver; nay, if ancient authors can be credited, they not only loaded their ships with the same metal, but if their anchors at any time gave way, others of silver were used in their places.—The people in Gallaecia, a subdivision of Tarraconensis, were, the Artabri, who derived their name from the promontory of Artabrum, now Cape Finisterre; the Bracari, whose chief town was Bracara, the present Braga; and, lastly, the Lucences, the ...for whose country was Lucus Augusti, now Lugo. These tribes and some others formed the nation of the Callaici or Callaeci, who, according to the ancients, had no religious notions. The Astures, now the Asturians, inhabited the banks of the Asturis, or the country on the east of the Gallaecian mountains. Their capital was Asturica Augusta, now Astorga. The Vaccari, the least barbarous of the Celtiberians, cultivated the country on the east of the Astures. The fierce Cantabri occupied Biscay and part of Asturias: it was customary for two to mount on the same horse when they went to battle. The Vascones, the ancestors of the present Gascons, were settled on the north of the Iberus or Ebro. The Jacetani were scattered over the Pyrenaean declivities of Aragon. The brave Ilergetes resided in the country round Lerida. As to the country on the east of these tribes, the whole of Catalonia was peopled by the Ceretani, Indigetes, Ausetani, Cosetani, and others. The lands on the south of the Ebro were inhabited by the Arevaci and Pelendones; the former were so called from the river Areva; they were settled in the neighbourhood of Arevola, and in the province of Segovia : the latter possessed the high plains of Soria and Moncayo. The space between the mountains of Albaracino and the river was peopled by the Edetani, one of the most powerful tribes of Spain. The Ilercaones, who were not less formidable, inhabited an extensive district between the upper Jucar and the lower Ebro. The country of the Carpetani, or the space from the Guadiana to the Somo-Sierra, forms at present the archiepiscopal see of Toledo. The people on the south of the last were the Oretani, between the Guadiana and the Montes Mariani; and the Olcades, a small tribe near the confluence of the Gabriel and Jucar. Carthaginiensis, a subdivision of Tarraconensis, was inhabited by two tribes: the Bastitani, in the centre of Murcia, who often made incursions into Baetica; and the Contestani, who possessed the two banks of the Segura, near the shores of the Mediterranean, from Cape Palos to the Jucar.—In time of peace, says Diodorus Siculus, the Iberi and Lusitani amused themselves in a lively and light dance, which required much activity. The ancient writer alludes, perhaps, to the fandango, a dance of which the origin is unknown. An assembly, composed of old Celtiberians, was held every year; it was part of their duty to examine what the women had made with their own hands within the twelvemonth, and to her whose work the assembly thought the best a reward was given. An ancient author mentions that singular custom, and adds, that corpulency was considered a reproach by the same people; for, in order to preserve their bodies light and active, the men were measured every year by a cincture of a certain breadth, and some sort of punishment was inflicted on those who had become too large. (Nic. Damasc., frag. ap. Const. Porphyrog.) The age for marriage was fixed by law; the girls chose their husbands from among the young warriors, and the best means of obtaining the preference was to present the fair one with the head of an enemy o in battle. Strabo enters into some details concerning the dress of the ancient Spaniards. The Lusitani covered themselves with black mantles, because their sheep were mostly of that colour. The Celtiberian women wore iron collars, with rods of the same metal rising behind, and bent in front; to these rods was attached the veil, their usual ornament. Others wore a sort of broad turban, and some twisted their hair round a small ring about a foot above the head, and from the ring was appended a black veil. Lastly, a shining forehead was considered a great beauty; on that account they pulled out their hair and rubbed their brows with oil.— The different tribes were confounded while the Romans oppressed the country; but, in the beginning of the fifth century, the Suevi, Vandals, and isigoths invaded the Peninsula, and, mixing with the Celts and Iberians, produced the different races which the physiologist still observes in Spain. The first-mentioned people, or Suevi, descended the Durius or Duero under the conduct of Ermeric, and chose Braga for the capital of their kingdom. Genseric led his Vandals to the centre of the peninsula, and fixed his residence at Toletum or Toledo; but fifteen years had not elapsed after the settlement of the barbarous horde, when Theodoric, conquered by Clovis, abandoned Tolosa or Toulouse, penetrated into Spain, and compelled the Vandals to fly into Africa. During the short period that the Vandals remained in the country, the ancient province of Baetica was called Vandalousia, and all the country, from the Ebro to the Straits of Gibraltar, submitted to them. The ancient Celtiberians, who had so long resisted the Romans, made then no struggle for liberty or independence; they yielded without resistance to their new masters. Powers and privileges were the portion of the Gothic race, and the title of hijo del Goda, or the son of the Goth, which the Spaniards changed into hidalgo, became the title of a noble or a free and powerful man among a people of slaves. A number of petty and almost independent states were formed by the chiefs of the conquering tribes; but the barons or freemen acknowledged a liege lord. Spain and Portugal were thus divided, and the feudal system was thus established. Among the Visigoths, however, the crown was not hereditary, or, at least, the law of regular succession was often set at defiance by usurpers. The sovereign authority was limited by the assemblies of the great vassals, some of whom were very powerful ; indeed, the Count Julian, to avenge himself on King Roderic for an outrage committed on his daughter, delivered Spain to the Mohammedan yoke. (Malte-Brun, Geog., vol. 8, p. 18, seqq., Am. ed.)

HistleA. Vid. Oreus.

Hist1/Eotis. Vid. Estia otis.

HistiAzus, a tyrant of Miletus, who, when the Scythians had almost persuaded the Ionian princes to destroy the bridge over the Ister, in order that the Persian army might perish, opposed the plan, and induced them to abandon the design. His argument was, that if the Persian army were destroyed, and the power of Darius brought to an end, a popular government would be established in every Ionian city, and the tyrants expelled. He was held in high estimation on this account by Darius, and rewarded with a grant of land in Thrace. But Megabyzus having convinced the king that it was bad policy to permit a Grecian settlement in Thrace, Darius induced Histiaeus, who was already founding a city there, to come to Susa, having allured him by magnificent promises. Here he was detained under various pretences, the king being afraid of his influence and turbulent spirit at home. Histia us, tired of this restraint, urged, by means of secret messengers, his nephew Aristagoras to effect a revolt of the Ionians. This was done, and Histiasus was sent by Darius to stop the revolt. Availing himself of the earliest opportunity of escape, he passed

over to the side of the Greeks, and eventually obtained the command of a small squadron of eight triremes, with which he sailed to Byzantium. But the subjugation of Ionia by the arms of Persia was soon effected, and Histiaeus himself did not long survive the misery he had brought upon his countrymen. Having made a descent on the Persian territory, for the purpose of reaping the harvest in the vale of the Caicus, he was surprised and routed by Harpagus, a Persian commander, who happened to be at hand with a considerable force ; and, being taken prisener, was led to Artaphernes, the king's satrap in that quarter, who ordered him to be crucified, and sent his head to Susa, (Herodot., 4, 137. Id., 5, 11, seqq. Thirlwall's Greece, vol. 2, p. 222, seq.) Homerus, a celebrated Greek poet, whose life is involved in great obscurity. The only accounts which have been preserved on this subject are a few popular traditions, together with conjectures of the grammarians founded on inferences from different passages of his poems; yet even these, if examined with patience and candour, furnish some materials for arriving at probable results. With regard to the native country of Homer, the traditions do not differ so much as might at first view appear to be the case. Although seven cities contended sor the honour of having given birth to the great poet, the claims of many of them were only indirect. Thus the Athenians only laid claim to Homer from their having been the founders of Smyrna, as is clearly expressed in the epigram on Pisistratus contained in Bekker's Anecdota (vol. 2, p. 768), and the opinion of Aristarchus, the Alexandrean critic, which admitted their claim, was probably qualified with the same explanation. This opinion is briefly stated by the pseudo-Plutarch (Wit. Hom., 2, 2). Even Chios cannot establish its right to be considered as the original source of the Homeric poetry, although the claims of this Ionic island are supported by the high authority of the lyric poet Simonides (ap. Pseudo-Plutarch, 2, 2.) It is true that in Chios lived the race of the Homeridae, who, from the analogy of other yeun, or races, are to be considered not as a family, but as a society of persons, who followed the same art, and therefore worshipped the same gods, and placed at their head a hero, from whom they derived their name. (Niebuhr, Rom. Hist., vol. 1, note 747.) A member of this house of Homeridae was probably “the blind poet,” who, in the Homeric hymn to Apollo, relates of himself, that he dwelt on the rocky Chios, whence he crossed to Delos for the festival of the Ionians and the contests of the poets, and whom Thucydides (3, 104) took for Homer himself; a supposition which at least shows that this great historian considered Chios as the dwelling-place of Homer. But, notwithstanding the ascertained existence of this clan of Homeridae at Chios; nay, if we even, with Thucydides, take the blind man of the hymn for Homer himself, it would not follow that Chios was the birthplace of Homer; indeed, the ancient writers have reconciled these accounts by representing Homer as having, in his wanderings, touched at Chios, and afterwerd fixed his residence there. A notion of this kind is evidently implied in Pindar's statements, who in one place called Homer a Smyrnean by o in another a Chian and Smyrnean. (Bockh, Pond, Fragm. inc., 86.) The same idea is also indicated in the passage of an orator incidentally cited by Aristotle; which says, that the Chians greatly honoured Homer, although he was not a citizen. (Aristot, Rhet., 2, 23.) On the other hand, the opinion that Homer was a Smyrnean not only appears to have been the prevalent belief in the flourishing times of Greece, but is supported by the two following considerations: first, the important fact that it appears in the form of a popular legend, a mythus, the divine poet being called a son of a nymph, Critheis, and the Smyrnean river Meles; secondly, that, by assuming Smyrna as the central point of Homer's life and celebrity, the claims of all the other cities which rest on good authority, may be explained and reconciled in a simple and natural manner.—If one may venture to follow the faint light afforded by the dawnings of tradition, and by the memorials that have come down to us relative to the origin of the bard, the following may be considered as the sum of our inquiries. #. was an Ionian, belonging to one of the families which went from Ephesus to Smyrna, at a time when Æolians and Achaeans composed the chief part of the population of the city, and when, moreover, their hereditary traditions respecting the expedition of the Greeks against Troy excited the greatest interest; whence he reconciles, in his poetical capaci. ty, the conflict of the contending races, inasmuch as he treats an Achaean subject with the elegance and geniality of an Ionian. But when Smyrna drove out the Ionians, it deprived itself of this poetical renown; and the settlement of the Homeridae in Chios was, in all probability, a consequence of the expulsion of the Ionians from Smyrna. It may, moreover, be observed, that, according to this account, founded on the history of the colonies of Asia Minor, the time of Homer would fall a few generations after the Ionic migration to Asia; and with this determination the best testimonies of antiquity agree. Such are the computations of Herodotus, who places Homer, with Hesiod, 400 years before his time (Herod., 2, 53), and that of the Alexandrean chronologists, who place him 100 years after the Ionic migration, 60 years before the legislation of Lycurgus (Apollod, Fragm., 1, p. 410, ed. Heyne); although the variety of opinions on this subject, which prevailed among the learned writers of antiquity, cannot be reduced within these limits.—It is said by Tatian (Fahr., Bibl. Gr., 2, 1, 3), that Theagenes of Rhegium, in the time of Cambyses, Stesimbrotus the Thasian, Antimachus the Colophomian, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Dionysius the Olynthian, Ephorus of Cumae, Philochorus the Athenian, Metaclides and Chamaeleon the Peripatetics, and Zenodotus, Aristophanes, Callimachus, Crates, Eratosthenes, Aristarchus, and Apollodorus, the grammarians, all wrote concerning the poetry, the birth, and the age of Homer. Of the works of all these authors nothing now remains, with the nominal exception of a life of Homer attributed to Herodotus, but which, as well on account of its minute and fabulous details, as of the inconsistency of a statement in it with the undoubted language of Herodotus, is now almost universally considered as spurious. Such as it is, however, the life of Homer is a very ancient compilation, and the text from which all subsequent stories have been taken or altered. There is a short life of Homer, also, bearing the name of Plutarch, but which is, like the former, generally condemned as a forgery; a forgery, however, of this unusual nature, that there is reason to believe it more ancient than its supposed author. Thus Quintilian (10, 1) and Seneca (Ep., 88), both more ancient than Plutarch, seem clearly aware of this life of Homer. Some account of the common traditions about Homer will probably be looked for here, and the story will explain the origin of several epithets which are frequently applied to him, and the meanin

of many allusions to be met with in the Greek j Latin writers.-There is, then, a general agreement that the name of Homer's mother was Critheis; but the accounts differ a good deal as to his father. Ephorus says (pseud-Plutarch, Vit. Hom.) that there were three brothers, natives of Cumae, Atelles, Maeon, and Dius; that Dius, being in debt, migrated to Ascra in Boeotia, and there became the father of Hesiod by his wife Pycimede ; that Atelles died in Cumae, having appointed his brother Maeon guardian of his daughter Critheis; that Critheis, o. child by her uncle, was given in marriage to Phemius, a native of Smyrna,

and a schoolmaster in that city, and that, in due time aferward, while she was in or near the baths on the river Meles, she gave birth to a child who was called Melesigenes from this circumstance. Aristotle relates (pseud-Plut., W. H.), that a young woman of the island of Ios, being with child by a daemon or genius, a familiar of the Muses, fled to the coast, where she was seized by pirates, who presented her as a gift to Maeon, king of the Lydians, at that time resident in, and ruler over, Smyrna. Maeon married her; she, Critheis, gave birth to Melesigenes, as before mentioned, and upon her death, soon after, Maeon brought up the child as his own. Here we have an origin of the two epithets or appellations Melesigenes and Maeonides. Ephorus says (pseud. Plut., W. H.) he was called Homer (“Oumpoc.) when he became blind, the Ionians so styling blind men, because they were followers of a guide (jumpetov). Aristotle's account is, that the Lydians being pressed by the AEolians, and resolved to abandon Smyrna, made a proclamation, that whoever wished to sollow them should go out of the city, and that thereupon Melesigenes said he would follow or accompany them (óumpeiv); upon which he acquired the name of Homer. Another derivation of the name is from 6 uh ôpóv, one not seeing; as to which notion of blindness, Paterculus says, that whoever thinks Homer was born blind must needs be blind himself in all his senses. It was said also that he was so called from 6 upoc (the thigh), because he had some marks on his thigh to denote his illegitimacy. In the life of Homer by Proclus, the story is, that the poet was delivered up by the people of Smyrna to those of Chios as a pledge or hostage (bumpoo) on the conclusion of a truce. The derivation that favours the theories both of Wolfe and Heyne is from Čuois sipetv, “to speak together,” or from Öumptiv, “to assemble together.” Ilgen derives the name from Šuois, “together,” and āpay, “to fit,” whence comes jumpetiew, synonymous with traeidew, and hence "Oumpoc means, according to him, a poet who accompanies the lyre with his voice, “cantor qui citharam pulsans irrö kažov dežđet.” The stories proceed in general to state that Homer himself became a schoolmaster and poet of great celebrity at Smyrna, and remained till Mentes, a foreign merchant, induced him to travel. That the author or authors of the Iliad and Odyssey must have travelled pretty extensively for those times, is unquestionable; for, besides the accurate knowledge of Greece proper displayed in the Catalogue, it is clear that the poet had a familiar acquaintance with the islands both in the AEgean and Ionian seas, the coast of Asia Minor from the Hellespont indefinitely southward, Crete, Cyprus, and Egypt; and possessed also distinct information with respect to Libya, Caria, and Phrygia. In his travels Homer visited Ithaca, and there became subject to a disease of the eyes, which afterward terminated in total blindness. From this island he is said to have gone to Italy and even to Spain; but there is no sign in either of the two poems of any knowledge westward of the Ionian Sea. Wherever he went, Homer recited his verses, which were universally admired except at Smyrna, where he was a prophet in his own country. At Phocaea, a schoolmaster of the name of Thestorides obtained from Homer a copy of his poetry, and then sailed to Chios and recited the Homeric verses as his own. Homer followed, was rescued by Glaucus, a goatherd, from the attack of his dogs, and brought by him to Bolissus, a town in Chios, where he resided a long time in possession of wealth and a splendid reputation. Thestorides left the island upon Homer's arrival. According to Herodotus, he died at Ios, on his way to Athens, and was buried near the seashore. Proclus says he died in consequence of falling over a stone. Plutarch tells a very different story. He preserves two responses of an oracle to Homer, in both of which he was cautioned to beware of the young men's o and re lates that the poet, being on his voyage to Thebes, to attend a musical or poetical contest at the feast of Saturn in that city, landed in the island of Io, and, while sitting on a rock by the seashore, observed some young fishermen in a boat; that Homer asked them if they had anything (ei tu browev), and that the young wags, who, having had no sport, had been diligently catching, and killing as many as they could catch, of certain personal companions of a race not even yet extinct, answered, “as many as we caught we left; as many as we could not catch we carry with us.” The catastrophe is, that Homer, being utterly unable to guess the meaning of this riddle, broke his heart out of pure vexation, and that the inhabitants of the island buried him with great magnificence.—There has been as much doubt and controversy about the age of Homer as about himself and his poems. According to the argument of Wood (Essay on the Original Genius, &c., of Homer), Haller (Heyne, Ercurs. 4, ad Il., 24), and Mitford (History of Greece, c. 1), he lived about the middle of the ninth century before Christ; which date agrees exactly with the conjecture of Herodotus, who wrote B.C. 444, and is founded on the assumption that Homer must have lived before the return of the Heraclidae into Peloponnesus, an event which took place within eighty years after the Trojan war. The Newtonian calculation is also adopted, which fixes the capture of Troy as low as B.C. 904. The argument is based upon the great improbability that Homer, so minute as he is in his descriptions of Greece, and so full of the histories of the reigning dynasties in its various districts, should never notice so very remarkable an occurrence as the almost total abolition of the kingly government throughout Greece, and the substitution of the republican form in its stead. Now this national revolution was coincident with, or immediately consequent on, the return of the descendants of Hercules. It is said, also, that the poet mentions the grandchildren of AEneas as reigning in Troy, in the prophecy of Neptune in the Iliad (20,308), and that, in another speech of Juno's, he seems to intimate the insecure state of the chief existing dynasties of the race of Pelops; and it is inferred from this, that he flourished during the third generation, or upward of sixty years after the destruction of Troy. Upon this argument Heyne remarks (Excurs, ad Il., 24), that, in the first place, a poet who was celebrating heroes of the Pelopid race had no occasion to notice a revolution by which their families were expatriated and their kingdoms abolished ; and next, which seems an insurmountable objection, that the Ionic migration took place sixty years later than the return of the Heraclida: ; yet that Homer was an Ionian, and a resident in, or at least perfectly conversant with, Ionian Asia, is admitted on all hands, and is indeed incontestable; and as he never notices this migration, though it was certainly a very remarkable event, and one which he must have known, he may just as well, for other or the same reasons, have been silent on the subject of a revolution by which that migration was caused. The Arundelian marbles place Homer B.C. 907, the Ionian migration B.C. 1044, the return of the Heraclidae B.C. 1104, and the capture of Troy B.C. 1184. Heyne approves of this calculation, as, upon the whole, the most consistent with all the authorities; but it is at variance with Newton's Chronology, and is therefore a calculation, of the exactness of which we can never feel confident.—The vicissitudes to which Homer's reputation and influence have been subject, deserves notice. From the first known collection of the Iliad and Odyssey in the time of the Pisistratidae to the promulgation of Christianity, the love and reverence with which the name of Homer was regarded went on constantly increasing, till at last public games were instituted in his honour, statues dedicated, temples erected, and sacrifices offered to him as a divinity. There

[ocr errors]

were such temples at Smyrna, Chios, and Alexandrea; and, according to AElian (W. H., 9, 15), the Argives sacrificed to, and invoked the names and presence of Apollo and Homer together. But about the beginning of the second century of the Christian era, when the struggle between the old and new religion was warm and active, the tide turned. “Heathenism,” says Pope (Essay on Homer), “ was then to be destroyed, and Homer appeared the father of it, whose fictions were at once the belief of the pagan religion, and the objections of Christianity against it. He became, therefore, deeply involved in the question, and not with that honour which hitherto attended him, but as a criminal who had drawn the world into folly. He was, on the one hand (Just. Mart., admon. ad gentes), accused of having formed fables upon the works of Moses ; as the rebellion of the Giants from the building of Babel, and the casting of Ate out of Heaven from the fall of Lucifer. He was exposed, on the other hand, for those which he is said to invent, as when Arnobius (adv. gentes, lib. 7) cries out, ‘This is the man who wounded your Venus, imprisoned your Mars, who freed even your Jupiter by Briareus, and who finds authority for all your vices,’ &c. Mankind were derided (Tertull., Apollod., c. 14) for whatever he had hitherto made them believe ; and Plato (Arnobius, ib.—Euseb., Prap. Evang., 14, 10), who expelled him his commonwealth, has, of all the philosophers, found the best quarter from the fathers for passing that sentence. His finest beauties began to take a new appearance of pernicious qualities; and because they might be considered as allurements to fancy, or supports to those errors with which they were mingled, they were to be depreciated while the contest of faith was in being. It was hence that the reading of them was discouraged, that we hear Rufinus accusing St. Jerome of it, and that St. Augustin (Confess., 1, 14) rejects him as the grand master of sable; though indeed the dulcissime ranus which he applies to Homer, looks but like a sondling manner of parting with him. Those days are past ; and, happily for us, the obnoxious poems have weathered the storms of zeal which might have destroyed them. Homer will have no temples, nor games, nor sacrifices in Christendom; but his statue is yet to be seen in the palaces of kings, and his name will remain in honour, among the nations to the world's end. He stands, by prescription, alone and aloof on Parnassus, where it is not possible now that any human genius should stand with him, the father and the prince of all heroic poets, the boast and the glory of his own Greece, and the love and the admiration of all mankind.” (Muller, Hist. Greek Lit., p. 41, seqq.—Coleridge, Introduction to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets, pt. 1, p. 57, seqq.)—This

omer, then (of the circumstances of whose life we know so little that may be relied upon), was the person who gave epic poetry its first great impulse. Before his time, in general, only single actions and adventures were celebrated in short lays. The heroic mythology had prepared the way for the poets by grouping the deeds of the principal heroes into large masses, so that they had a natural connexion with each other, and referred to some common fundamental notion. Now, as the general features of the more considerable legendary collections were known, the poet before the time of Homer had the advantage of being able to narrate any one action of Hercules, or of one of the Argive champions against Thebes, or of the Achaeans against Troy; and, at the same time, of being certain that the scope and purport of the action (namely: the elevation of Hercules to the gods, and the fated destruction of Thebes and Troy) would be present to the minds of his hearers, and that the individual adventure would thus be viewed in its proper connexion. Thus, doubtless, for a long time, the bards were satisfied with illustrating single points of the heroic mythok ogy with brief epic lays; such as in later times were produced by several poets of the school of Hesiod. It was also possible, if it were desired, to form from them longer series of adventures of the same hero; but they always remained a collection of independent poems on the same subject, and never attained to that unity of character and composition which constitutes one poem. It was an entirely new phenomenon, which could not fail to make the greatest impression, when a poet selected a subject of the heroic tradition, which (besides its connexion with the other parts of the same legendary circle) had in itself the means of awakening a lively interest and of satisfying the mind; and, at the same time, admitted of such a development, that the principal personages could be represented as acting each with a peculiar and individual character, without obscuring the chief hero and the main action of the poem. One legendary subject of this extent and interest Homer found in the Anger of Achilles, and another in the Return of Ulysses. The former of these gave birth to the Iliad, the latter to the Odyssey. Of the character of these two poems we will treat in separate articles (vid. Ilias, Odyssea). Our attention will now be directed to other parts of the main subject.

Origin and Preservation of the Homeric Poems.

Whether the Homeric poems were in reality the work of a single bard or not, their intrinsic merit, and, consequently, their rank in Greek literature, must remain the same, and be equally a worthy object of studious inquiry. The decision of that question cannot in the slightest degree affect our estimate of their quality. Whether all the poems that are now attributed to Homer were his production; whether the Iliad and the Odyssey, both, or one of them only, can lay claim to such parentage; or whether, lastly, any such person as Homer, or, indeed, any individual author of the poem ever existed, whichever of these propositions be true, it seems to be a matter of little importance to those whose object it is not to spell the inscriptions on mouldering monuments, but to inhale the breath of ancient grandeur and beauty amid the undoubted ruins of the great. The Iliad and the Odyssey exist; we have them in our hands; and we should not set them the less in honour though we were to doubt the impress of any Homer's hand, any more than we should cease to reverence the genius or the ruins of Rome, because shepherds or worse may have laid the first stone of her walls. It is this very excellence, however, of the Homeric poetry, and the apparent peculiarity of the instance, together with the celebrity of the controversy, to which the scepticism of some modern scholars has given birth, that compels us to devote a portion of this article to a notice of the points in question. No trace appears of any doubt having ever been entertained of the personal existence of Homer, as the author of the Iliad, till the close of the 17th and be#. of the 18th century, when two French writers,

edelin and Perrault, first suggested the outlines of a theory respecting the composition of that poem, which has since been developed with so much learning and talent by Heyne, Wolfe, and others, that its original authors are now almost forgotten. The substance of this theory is, that, whether any such person as Homer lived or not, the Iliad was not composed entirely by him or by any other individual, but is a compilation, methodized indeed and arranged by successive editors, but still a compilation of minstrelsies, the works of various poets in the heroic age, all having one common theme and direction, the wars of Troy, and the exploits of the several Grecian chiefs engaged in them. Wolfe, in particular, believed that the verses now constituting the Iliad, were written (we should rather say made or invented) by one Homer, but in short rhapsodies, unconnected purposely with each

other, and that they were put together as after mentioned. Much of his argument, however, of the impossibility of one man having composed the Iliad in form as we now have it, applies to the theory just stated. Bentley expressed an opinion similar to Wolfe's on the history and compilation of the Iliad. “Homer wrote a sequel of songs and rhapsodies to be sung by himself, for small earnings and good cheer, at festivals and other days of merriment: the Iliad he made for the men, and the Odyssey for the other sex. These loose songs were not collected together in the form of an Epic poem till about 500 years after.” (Letter to N. N., by Phileleuth. Lipsicns, $ 7.). One of the main arguments insisted upon by those who deny the existence of a Homer, and the unity, consequently, of the Iliad and Odyssey, is the question of writing. It is said that the art of writing, and the use of manageable writing materials, were entirely, or all but entirely, unknown in Greece and the islands at the supposed date of the composition of the Iliad; that, if so, this poem could not have been committed to writing during the time of such its composition; that, in a question of comparative probabilities like this, it is a much grosser improbability that even the single Iliad, amounting, after all curtailments and expungings, to upward of 15,000 lines, should have been actually conceived and perfected in the brain of one man, with no other help but his own or others' memory, than that it should be, in fact, the result of the labours of several distinct authors; that, if the Odyssey be counted, the improbability is doubled; that if we add, upon the authority of Thucydides and Aristotle, the Hymns and Margites, not to say the Batrachomyomachia, that which was improbable becomes absolutely impossible; that all that has been so often said as to the fact of as many lines or more having been committed to memory, is beside the point in question, which is not whether 15,000 or 30,000 lines may not be learned by heart from a book or manuscript, but whether one man can compose a poem of that length, which, rightly or not, shall be thought to be a perfect model of symmetry and consistency of parts, without the aid of writing materials; that, admitting the superior probability of such a thing in a primitive age, we know nothing analogous to such a case, and that it so transcends the common limits of intellectual power, as, at the least, to merit, with as much justice as the opposite opinion, the character of improbability.—When it is considered that throughout the Homeric Poems, though they appear to embrace the whole circle of the knowledge then possessed by the Greeks, and enter into so many details on the arts of life, only one ambiguous allusion occurs to any kind of writing (Il., 6, 169), it is scarcely possible to avoid the conclusion, that the art, though known, was still in its infancy, and was very rarely practised. But the very poems from which this conclusion has been drawn would seem to overthrow it, if it should be admitted that they were originally committed to writing; for they would then seem to af. ford the strongest proof, that, at the time of their composition, the art had made very considerable progress, and that there was no want, either of materials or of skill, to prevent it from coming into common use. Hence the original form of these poems becomes a question of great historical as well as literary importance. The Greeks themselves almost universally, and the earliest writers the most unanimously, believed them both to have been the work of the same author, who, though nothing was known of his life, or even his birthplace, was commonly held to have been an Asiatic Greek. The doubt whether his poems were written from the first, seems hardly to have been seriously entertained by any of the ancients, and in modern times it has been grounded chiefly on the difficulty of reconciling such a fact with the very low degree in which the art of writing is supposed to have been cul

« PoprzedniaDalej »