to this day. Yes, still it bleeds, nor will the issue of

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[151] Hist. Greece, Vol. II. p. 208.

to this day. Yes, still it bleeds, nor will the issue of

As for Wolf's objection, that the Iliad and Odyssey are too long to have been preserved by memory, it may be met by a simple denial. It is a strange objection indeed, coming from a man of Wolf's retentive memory. I do not see how the acquisition of the two poems can be regarded as such a very arduous task; and if literature were as scanty now as in Greek antiquity, there are doubtless many scholars who would long since have had them at their tongues' end. Sir G. C. Lewis, with but little conscious effort, managed to carry in his head a very considerable portion of Greek and Latin classic literature; and Niebuhr (who once restored from recollection a book of accounts which had been accidentally destroyed) was in the habit of referring to book and chapter of an ancient author without consulting his notes. Nay, there is Professor Sophocles, of Harvard University, who, if you suddenly stop and interrogate him in the street, will tell you just how many times any given Greek word occurs in Thukydides, or in AEschylos, or in Plato, and will obligingly rehearse for you the context. If all extant copies of the Homeric poems were to be gathered together and burnt up to-day, like Don Quixote's library, or like those Arabic manuscripts of which Cardinal Ximenes made a bonfire in the streets of Granada, the poems could very likely be reproduced and orally transmitted for several generations; and much easier must it have been for the Greeks to preserve these books, which their imagination invested with a quasi-sanctity, and which constituted the greater part of the literary furniture of their minds. In Xenophon's time there were educated gentlemen at Athens who could repeat both Iliad and Odyssey verbatim. (Xenoph. Sympos., III. 5.) Besides this, we know that at Chios there was a company of bards, known as Homerids, whose business it was to recite these poems from memory; and from the edicts of Solon and the Sikyonian Kleisthenes (Herod., V. 67), we may infer that the case was the same in other parts of Greece. Passages from the Iliad used to be sung at the Pythian festivals, to the accompaniment of the harp (Athenaeus, XIV. 638), and in at least two of the Ionic islands of the AEgaean there were regular competitive exhibitions by trained young men, at which prizes were given to the best reciter. The difficulty of preserving the poems, under such circumstances, becomes very insignificant; and the Wolfian argument quite vanishes when we reflect that it would have been no easier to preserve a dozen or twenty short poems than two long ones. Nay, the coherent, orderly arrangement of the Iliad and Odyssey would make them even easier to remember than a group of short rhapsodies not consecutively arranged.

to this day. Yes, still it bleeds, nor will the issue of

When we come to interrogate the poems themselves, we find in them quite convincing evidence that they were originally composed for the ear alone, and without reference to manuscript assistance. They abound in catchwords, and in verbal repetitions. The "Catalogue of Ships," as Mr. Gladstone has acutely observed, is arranged in well-defined sections, in such a way that the end of each section suggests the beginning of the next one. It resembles the versus memoriales found in old-fashioned grammars. But the most convincing proof of all is to be found in the changes which Greek pronunciation went through between the ages of Homer and Peisistratos. "At the time when these poems were composed, the digamma (or w) was an effective consonant, and figured as such in the structure of the verse; at the time when they were committed to writing, it had ceased to be pronounced, and therefore never found a place in any of the manuscripts,--insomuch that the Alexandrian critics, though they knew of its existence in the much later poems of Alkaios and Sappho, never recognized it in Homer. The hiatus, and the various perplexities of metre, occasioned by the loss of the digamma, were corrected by different grammatical stratagems. But the whole history of this lost letter is very curious, and is rendered intelligible only by the supposition that the Iliad and Odyssey belonged for a wide space of time to the memory, the voice, and the ear exclusively."[152]

to this day. Yes, still it bleeds, nor will the issue of

[152] Grote, Hist. Greece, Vol. II. p. 198.

Many of these facts are of course fully recognized by the Wolfians; but the inference drawn from them, that the Homeric poems began to exist in a piecemeal condition, is, as we have seen, unnecessary. These poems may indeed be compared, in a certain sense, with the early sacred and epic literature of the Jews, Indians, and Teutons. But if we assign a plurality of composers to the Psalms and Pentateuch, the Mahabharata, the Vedas, and the Edda, we do so because of internal evidence furnished by the books themselves, and not because these books could not have been preserved by oral tradition. Is there, then, in the Homeric poems any such internal evidence of dual or plural origin as is furnished by the interlaced Elohistic and Jehovistic documents of the Pentateuch? A careful investigation will show that there is not. Any scholar who has given some attention to the subject can readily distinguish the Elohistic from the Jehovistic portions of the Pentateuch; and, save in the case of a few sporadic verses, most Biblical critics coincide in the separation which they make between the two. But the attempts which have been made to break up the Iliad and Odyssey have resulted in no such harmonious agreement. There are as many systems as there are critics, and naturally enough. For the Iliad and the Odyssey are as much alike as two peas, and the resemblance which holds between the two holds also between the different parts of each poem. From the appearance of the injured Chryses in the Grecian camp down to the intervention of Athene on the field of contest at Ithaka, we find in each book and in each paragraph the same style, the same peculiarities of expression, the same habits of thought, the same quite unique manifestations of the faculty of observation. Now if the style were commonplace, the observation slovenly, or the thought trivial, as is wont to be the case in ballad-literature, this argument from similarity might not carry with it much conviction. But when we reflect that throughout the whole course of human history no other works, save the best tragedies of Shakespeare, have ever been written which for combined keenness of observation, elevation of thought, and sublimity of style can compare with the Homeric poems, we must admit that the argument has very great weight indeed. Let us take, for example, the sixth and twenty-fourth books of the Iliad. According to the theory of Lachmann, the most eminent champion of the Wolfian hypothesis, these are by different authors. Human speech has perhaps never been brought so near to the limit of its capacity of expressing deep emotion as in the scene between Priam and Achilleus in the twenty-fourth book; while the interview between Hektor and Andromache in the sixth similarly wellnigh exhausts the power of language. Now, the literary critic has a right to ask whether it is probable that two such passages, agreeing perfectly in turn of expression, and alike exhibiting the same unapproachable degree of excellence, could have been produced by two different authors. And the physiologist--with some inward misgivings suggested by Mr. Galton's theory that the Greeks surpassed us in genius even as we surpass the negroes--has a right to ask whether it is in the natural course of things for two such wonderful poets, strangely agreeing in their minutest psychological characteristics, to be produced at the same time. And the difficulty thus raised becomes overwhelming when we reflect that it is the coexistence of not two only, but at least twenty such geniuses which the Wolfian hypothesis requires us to account for. That theory worked very well as long as scholars thoughtlessly assumed that the Iliad and Odyssey were analogous to ballad poetry. But, except in the simplicity of the primitive diction, there is no such analogy. The power and beauty of the Iliad are never so hopelessly lost as when it is rendered into the style of a modern ballad. One might as well attempt to preserve the grandeur of the triumphant close of Milton's Lycidas by turning it into the light Anacreontics of the ode to "Eros stung by a Bee." The peculiarity of the Homeric poetry, which defies translation, is its union of the simplicity characteristic of an early age with a sustained elevation of style, which can be explained only as due to individual genius.

The same conclusion is forced upon us when we examine the artistic structure of these poems. With regard to the Odyssey in particular, Mr. Grote has elaborately shown that its structure is so thoroughly integral, that no considerable portion could be subtracted without converting the poem into a more or less admirable fragment. The Iliad stands in a somewhat different position. There are unmistakable peculiarities in its structure, which have led even Mr. Grote, who utterly rejects the Wolfian hypothesis, to regard it as made up of two poems; although he inclines to the belief that the later poem was grafted upon the earlier by its own author, by way of further elucidation and expansion; just as Goethe, in his old age, added a new part to "Faust." According to Mr. Grote, the Iliad, as originally conceived, was properly an Achilleis; its design being, as indicated in the opening lines of the poem, to depict the wrath of Achilleus and the unutterable woes which it entailed upon the Greeks The plot of this primitive Achilleis is entirely contained in Books I., VIII., and XI.-XXII.; and, in Mr. Grote's opinion, the remaining books injure the symmetry of this plot by unnecessarily prolonging the duration of the Wrath, while the embassy to Achilleus, in the ninth book, unduly anticipates the conduct of Agamemnon in the nineteenth, and is therefore, as a piece of bungling work, to be referred to the hands of an inferior interpolator. Mr. Grote thinks it probable that these books, with the exception of the ninth, were subsequently added by the poet, with a view to enlarging the original Achilleis into a real Iliad, describing the war of the Greeks against Troy. With reference to this hypothesis, I gladly admit that Mr. Grote is, of all men now living, the one best entitled to a reverential hearing on almost any point connected with Greek antiquity. Nevertheless it seems to me that his theory rests solely upon imagined difficulties which have no real existence. I doubt if any scholar, reading the Iliad ever so much, would ever be struck by these alleged inconsistencies of structure, unless they were suggested by some a priori theory. And I fear that the Wolfian theory, in spite of Mr. Grote's emphatic rejection of it, is responsible for some of these over-refined criticisms. Even as it stands, the Iliad is not an account of the war against Troy. It begins in the tenth year of the siege, and it does not continue to the capture of the city. It is simply occupied with an episode in the war,--with the wrath of Achilleus and its consequences, according to the plan marked out in the opening lines. The supposed additions, therefore, though they may have given to the poem a somewhat wider scope, have not at any rate changed its primitive character of an Achilleis. To my mind they seem even called for by the original conception of the consequences of the wrath. To have inserted the battle at the ships, in which Sarpedon breaks down the wall of the Greeks, immediately after the occurrences of the first book, would have been too abrupt altogether. Zeus, after his reluctant promise to Thetis, must not be expected so suddenly to exhibit such fell determination. And after the long series of books describing the valorous deeds of Aias, Diomedes, Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Menelaos, the powerful intervention of Achilleus appears in far grander proportions than would otherwise be possible. As for the embassy to Achilleus, in the ninth book, I am unable to see how the final reconciliation with Agamemnon would be complete without it. As Mr. Gladstone well observes, what Achilleus wants is not restitution, but apology; and Agamemnon offers no apology until the nineteenth book. In his answer to the ambassadors, Achilleus scornfully rejects the proposals which imply that the mere return of Briseis will satisfy his righteous resentment, unless it be accompanied with that public humiliation to which circumstances have not yet compelled the leader of the Greeks to subject himself. Achilleus is not to be bought or cajoled. Even the extreme distress of the Greeks in the thirteenth book does not prevail upon him; nor is there anything in the poem to show that he ever would have laid aside his wrath, had not the death of Patroklos supplied him with a new and wholly unforeseen motive. It seems to me that his entrance into the battle after the death of his friend would lose half its poetic effect, were it not preceded by some such scene as that in the ninth book, in which he is represented as deaf to all ordinary inducements. As for the two concluding books, which Mr. Grote is inclined to regard as a subsequent addition, not necessitated by the plan of the poem, I am at a loss to see how the poem can be considered complete without them. To leave the bodies of Patroklos and Hektor unburied would be in the highest degree shocking to Greek religious feelings. Remembering the sentence incurred, in far less superstitious times, by the generals at Arginusai, it is impossible to believe that any conclusion which left Patroklos's manes unpropitiated, and the mutilated corpse of Hektor unransomed, could have satisfied either the poet or his hearers. For further particulars I must refer the reader to the excellent criticisms of Mr. Gladstone, and also to the article on "Greek History and Legend" in the second volume of Mr. Mill's "Dissertations and Discussions." A careful study of the arguments of these writers, and, above all, a thorough and independent examination of the Iliad itself, will, I believe, convince the student that this great poem is from beginning to end the consistent production of a single author.

The arguments of those who would attribute the Iliad and Odyssey, taken as wholes, to two different authors, rest chiefly upon some apparent discrepancies in the mythology of the two poems; but many of these difficulties have been completely solved by the recent progress of the science of comparative mythology. Thus, for example, the fact that, in the Iliad, Hephaistos is called the husband of Charis, while in the Odyssey he is called the husband of Aphrodite, has been cited even by Mr. Grote as evidence that the two poems are not by the same author. It seems to me that one such discrepancy, in the midst of complete general agreement, would be much better explained as Cervantes explained his own inconsistency with reference to the stealing of Sancho's mule, in the twenty-second chapter of "Don Quixote." But there is no discrepancy. Aphrodite, though originally the moon-goddess, like the German Horsel, had before Homer's time acquired many of the attributes of the dawn-goddess Athene, while her lunar characteristics had been to a great extent transferred to Artemis and Persephone. In her renovated character, as goddess of the dawn, Aphrodite became identified with Charis, who appears in the Rig-Veda as dawn-goddess. In the post-Homeric mythology, the two were again separated, and Charis, becoming divided in personality, appears as the Charites, or Graces, who were supposed to be constant attendants of Aphrodite. But in the Homeric poems the two are still identical, and either Charis or Aphrodite may be called the wife of the fire-god, without inconsistency.

Thus to sum up, I believe that Mr. Gladstone is quite right in maintaining that both the Iliad and Odyssey are, from beginning to end, with the exception of a few insignificant interpolations, the work of a single author, whom we have no ground for calling by any other name than that of Homer. I believe, moreover, that this author lived before the beginning of authentic history, and that we can determine neither his age nor his country with precision. We can only decide that he was a Greek who lived at some time previous to the year 900 B.C.

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