The Iliad of Homer

Page: 335

"What," says Archdeacon Wilberforce, "is the natural root of loyalty as distinguished from such mere selfish desire of personal security as is apt to take its place in civilized times, but that consciousness of a natural bond among the families of men which gives a fellow-feeling to whole clans and nations, and thus enlists their affections in behalf of those time-honoured representatives of their ancient blood, in whose success they feel a personal interest? Hence the delight when we recognize an act of nobility or justice in our hereditary princes

"'Tuque prior, tu parce genus qui ducis Olympo,
Projice tela manu sanguis meus'

"So strong is this feeling, that it regains an engrafted influence even when history witnesses that vast convulsions have rent and weakened it and the Celtic feeling towards the Stuarts has been rekindled in our own days towards the grand daughter of George the Third of Hanover.

"Somewhat similar may be seen in the disposition to idolize those great lawgivers of man's race, who have given expression, in the immortal language of song, to the deeper inspirations of our nature. The thoughts of Homer or of Shakespere are the universal inheritance of the human race. In this mutual ground every man meets his brother, they have been bet forth by the providence of God to vindicate for all of us what nature could effect, and that, in these representatives of our race, we might recognize our common benefactors.'—Doctrine of the Incarnation, pp. 9, 10.


Eikos de min aen kai mnaemoruna panton grapherthai. Vit. Hom. in Schweigh Herodot t. iv. p. 299, sq. Section 6. I may observe that this Life has been paraphrased in English by my learned young friend Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, and appended to my prose translation of the Odyssey. The present abridgement however, will contain all that is of use to the reader, for the biographical value of the treatise is most insignificant.


I.e. both of composing and reciting verses for as Blair observes, "The first poets sang their own verses." Sextus Empir. adv. Mus. p. 360 ed. Fabric. Ou hamelei ge toi kai oi poiaetai melopoioi legontai, kai ta Omaerou epae to palai pros lyran aedeto.

"The voice," observes Heeren, "was always accompanied by some instrument. The bard was provided with a harp on which he played a prelude, to elevate and inspire his mind, and with which he accompanied the song when begun. His voice probably preserved a medium between singing and recitation; the words, and not the melody were regarded by the listeners, hence it was necessary for him to remain intelligible to all. In countries where nothing similar is found, it is difficult to represent such scenes to the mind; but whoever has had an opportunity of listening to the improvisation of Italy, can easily form an idea of Demodocus and Phemius."—Ancient Greece, p. 94.


"Should it not be, since my arrival? asks Mackenzie, observing that "poplars can hardly live so long". But setting aside the fact that we must not expect consistency in a mere romance, the ancients had a superstitious belief in the great age of trees which grew near places consecrated by the presence of gods and great men. See Cicero de Legg II I, sub init., where he speaks of the plane tree under which Socrates used to walk and of the tree at Delos, where Latona gave birth to Apollo. This passage is referred to by Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. N. T. p. 490, ed. de Pinedo. I omit quoting any of the dull epigrams ascribed to Homer for, as Mr. Justice Talfourd rightly observes, "The authenticity of these fragments depends upon that of the pseudo Herodotean Life of Homer, from which they are taken." Lit of Greece, pp. 38 in Encycl. Metrop. Cf. Coleridge, Classic Poets, p. 317.


It is quoted as the work of Cleobulus, by Diogenes Laert. Vit. Cleob. p. 62, ed. Casaub.


I trust I am justified in employing this as an equivalent for the Greek leschai.


Os ei tous, Homerous doxei trephein autois, omilon pollon te kai achreoin exousin. enteuthen de kai tounoma Homeros epekrataese to Melaesigenei apo taes symphoraes oi gar Kumaioi tous tuphlous Homerous legousin. Vit. Hom. l. c. p. 311. The etymology has been condemned by recent scholars. See Welcker, Epische Cyclus, p. 127, and Mackenzie's note, p. xiv.


Thestorides, thnetoisin anoiston poleon per, ouden aphrastoteron peletai noou anthropoisin. Ibid. p. 315. During his stay at Phocoea, Homer is said to have composed the Little Iliad, and the Phocoeid. See Muller's Hist. of Lit., vi. Section 3. Welcker, l. c. pp. 132, 272, 358, sqq., and Mure, Gr. Lit. vol. ii. p. 284, sq.


This is so pretty a picture of early manners and hospitality, that it is almost a pity to find that it is obviously a copy from the Odyssey. See the fourteenth book. In fact, whoever was the author of this fictitious biography, he showed some tact in identifying Homer with certain events described in his poems, and in eliciting from them the germs of something like a personal narrative.


Dia logon estionto. A common metaphor. So Plato calls the parties conversing daitumones, or estiatores. Tim. i. p. 522 A. Cf. Themist. Orat. vi. p. 168, and xvi. p. 374, ed. Petav So diaegaemasi sophois omou kai terpnois aedio taen Thoinaen tois hestiomenois epoiei, Choricius in Fabric. Bibl. Gr. T. viii. P. 851. logois gar estia, Athenaeus vii p 275, A


It was at Bolissus, and in the house of this Chian citizen, that Homer is said to have written the Batrachomyomachia, or Battle of the Frogs and Mice, the Epicichlidia, and some other minor works.


Chandler, Travels, vol. i. p. 61, referred to in the Voyage Pittoresque dans la Grece, vol. i. P. 92, where a view of the spot is given of which the author candidly says,— "Je ne puis repondre d'une exactitude scrupuleuse dans la vue generale que j'en donne, car etant alle seul pour l'examiner je perdis mon crayon, et je fus oblige de m'en fier a ma memoire. Je ne crois cependant pas avoir trop a me plaindre d'elle en cette occasion."


A more probable reason for this companionship, and for the character of Mentor itself, is given by the allegorists, viz.: the assumption of Mentor's form by the guardian deity of the wise Ulysses, Minerva. The classical reader may compare Plutarch, Opp. t. ii. p. 880; Xyland. Heraclid. Pont. Alleg. Hom. p. 531-5, of Gale's Opusc. Mythol. Dionys. Halic. de Hom. Poes. c. 15; Apul. de Deo Socrat. s. f.


Vit. Hom. Section 28.


The riddle is given in Section 35. Compare Mackenzie's note, p. xxx.


Heeren's Ancient Greece, p. 96.


Compare Sir E. L. Bulwer's Caxtons v. i. p. 4.


Pericles and Aspasia, Letter lxxxiv., Works, vol ii. p. 387.


Quarterly Review, No. lxxxvii., p. 147.


Viz., the following beautiful passage, for the translation of which I am indebted to Coleridge, Classic Poets, p. 286.

"Origias, farewell! and oh! remember me
Hereafter, when some stranger from the sea,
A hapless wanderer, may your isle explore,
And ask you, maid, of all the bards you boast,
Who sings the sweetest, and delights you most
Oh! answer all,—'A blind old man and poor
Sweetest he sings—and dwells on Chios' rocky shore.'"

See Thucyd. iii, 104.


Longin., de Sublim., ix. Section 26. Othen en tae Odysseia pareikasai tis an kataduomeno ton Omaeron haelio, oo dixa taes sphodrotaetos paramenei to megethos


See Tatian, quoted in Fabric. Bibl. Gr. v. II t. ii. Mr. Mackenzie has given three brief but elaborate papers on the different writers on the subject, which deserve to be consulted. See Notes and Queries, vol. v. pp. 99, 171, and 221. His own views are moderate, and perhaps as satisfactory, on the whole, as any of the hypotheses hitherto put forth. In fact, they consist in an attempt to blend those hypotheses into something like consistency, rather than in advocating any individual theory.


Letters to Phileleuth; Lips.


Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 191, sqq.


It is, indeed not easy to calculate the height to which the memory may be cultivated. To take an ordinary case, we might refer to that of any first rate actor, who must be prepared, at a very short warning, to 'rhapsodize,' night after night, parts which when laid together, would amount to an immense number of lines. But all this is nothing to two instances of our own day. Visiting at Naples a gentleman of the highest intellectual attainments, and who held a distinguished rank among the men of letters in the last century, he informed us that the day before he had passed much time in examining a man, not highly educated, who had learned to repeat the whole Gierusalemme of Tasso, not only to recite it consecutively, but also to repeat those stanzas in utter defiance of the sense, either forwards or backwards, or from the eighth line to the first, alternately the odd and even lines—in short, whatever the passage required; the memory, which seemed to cling to the words much more than to the sense, had it at such perfect command, that it could produce it under any form. Our informant went on to state that this singular being was proceeding to learn the Orlando Furioso in the same manner. But even this instance is less wonderful than one as to which we may appeal to any of our readers that happened some twenty years ago to visit the town of Stirling, in Scotland. No such person can have forgotten the poor, uneducated man Blind Jamie who could actually repeat, after a few minutes consideration any verse required from any part of the Bible—even the obscurest and most unimportant enumeration of mere proper names not excepted. We do not mention these facts as touching the more difficult part of the question before us, but facts they are; and if we find so much difficulty in calculating the extent to which the mere memory may be cultivated, are we, in these days of multifarious reading, and of countless distracting affairs, fair judges of the perfection to which the invention and the memory combined may attain in a simpler age, and among a more single minded people?—Quarterly Review, l. c., p. 143, sqq.