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伊利亚特

伊利亚特

    在西方文学史上,希腊史诗《伊利亚特》和《奥德赛》是现存最早的精品。一般认为,这两部史诗的作者是西方文艺史上第一位有作品传世的天才、饮誉全球的希腊诗人荷马。荷马史诗的历史背景是旷时十年、规模宏伟、给交战双方造成重大创伤的特洛伊战争。像许多重大事件一样,这场战争,用它的血和火,给文学和艺术提供了取之不尽的素材。英雄们的业绩触发了诗人的灵感,给他们安上了想像的翅膀,使他们在历史和现实之间找到一片文学的沃土,在史实和传闻之上架起五光十色的桥梁,用才华的犁头,耕耘在刀枪碰响的田野,指点战争的风云,催发诗的芳草,歌的香花。
  
               特洛伊战争和史诗系列
  
    久逝的岁月给特洛伊战争蒙上了一层神秘的色彩。但是,包括希罗多德和修昔底得在内的历史学家们一般都不否认这场战争的真实性,虽然对它进行的年代,自古以来便没有一种统一的定说。按希罗多德推测,特洛伊战争进行的年代约在公元前1250年左右,[●]而根据Mor Pchum的记载,希腊人攻陷特洛伊的时间应在前1290—8年间。近代某些学者将破城时间估放在前1370年左右。希腊学者厄拉托塞奈斯(Eratosthenes,生于前275年)的考证和提法得到一批学人的赞同——他的定取是前1193—84年。大体说来,西方学术界一般倾向于将特洛伊战争的进行年代拟定在公元前十三到十二世纪,即慕凯奈(或迈锡尼)王朝(前1600—1100年)的后期。
    ●《历史》或《希波战争史》2·145·4。
    根据故事和传说,特洛伊(即伊利昂)是一座富有的城堡,坐落在小亚细亚的西北部,濒临赫勒斯庞特的水流。国王普里阿摩斯之子帕里斯(即亚历克山德罗斯)曾出游远洋,抵斯巴达,备受王者墨奈劳斯的款待。其后,他将墨奈劳斯之妻海伦带出斯巴达,返回特洛伊。希腊(包括它的“殖民地”)各地的王者和首领们于是风聚云集,意欲进兵特洛伊,夺回海伦。舰队汇聚奥利斯,由慕凯奈国王阿伽门农统领。经过一番周折,希腊联军登岸特洛伊,兵临城下,但一连九年不得破获。在第十年里,阿伽门农和联军中最好的战将阿基琉斯发生争执,后者由此罢兵不战,使特洛伊人(由赫克托耳统领)节节获胜,兵抵希腊人的海船和营棚。赫克托耳阵杀帕特罗克洛斯后,阿基琉斯重返战场,逼回特洛伊军伍,战杀赫克托耳。其后,阿基琉斯亦战死疆场。按照神意,阿开亚人(即希腊人)最终攻下特洛伊,荡劫了这座城堡。首领们历经磨难,回返家园,面对新的挑战,新的生活。
    如果说特洛伊战争是一件确有其事的史实,世代相传的口述和不可避免的“创新”已使它成为一个内容丰富、五彩缤纷、充满神话和传奇的故事或故事系列。继荷马以后,诗人们又以特洛伊战争为背景,创作了一系列史诗,构成了一个有系统的史诗群体,即有关特洛伊战争(或以它为背景)的史诗系列。[●]“系列”中,《库普利亚》(Kypria,十一卷)描写战争的起因,即发生在《伊利亚特》之前的事件;《埃西俄丕斯》(Aethiopis,五卷)和《小伊利亚特》(Ilias Mikra,四卷)以及《特洛伊失陷》(Niupersis,两卷)续补《伊利亚特》以后的事件;《回归》(Nosti,五卷)叙讲返航前阿伽门农和墨奈劳斯关于回返路线的争执,以及小埃阿斯之死和阿伽门农回家后被妻子克鲁泰奈丝特拉和埃吉索斯谋害等内容。很明显,这三部史诗填补了《伊利亚特》和《奥德赛)之间的“空缺”。紧接着俄底修斯回归的故事(即《奥德赛》),库瑞奈诗人欧伽蒙(Eugamon)创作了《忒勒戈尼亚》(Telegonia,两卷),讲述俄底修斯和基耳凯之子忒勒戈诺斯外出寻父并最终误杀其父,以后又婚娶裴奈罗佩等事件。《库普利亚》和《小伊利亚特》等史诗内容芜杂,结构松散,缺少必要的概括和提炼,其艺术成就远不如荷马的《伊利亚特》和《奥德赛》。亚里斯多德认为,史诗诗人中,惟有荷马摆脱了历史的局限,着意于摹仿一个完整的行动,避免了“流水账”式的平铺直叙,摈弃了“散沙一盘”式的整体布局。[●]从时间上来看,《库普里亚》等明显的晚于荷马创作的年代,它们所描述的一些情节可能取材于荷马去世后开始流行的传说。
    ●除了荷马的《伊利亚特》和《奥德赛》外,其他史诗均已失传。此外,这些作品或史诗只是古希腊史诗系列(epikos kuklos)中的一部分。为了便于区分和对比,传统上,人们一般不把荷马史诗列入epic cycle的范围。
    ●《诗学》8·1451a16—30,26·1462B8—11。
  
                   荷马
  
    历史上是否确曾有过荷马其人,希腊人的回答是肯定的。生活在公元前七世纪上半叶的厄菲索斯诗人卡利诺斯(Callinos)曾提及史诗《塞拜德》,认为它是荷马的作品;生活在前六世纪的色谱法奈斯(Xenophanes)和开俄斯诗人西摩尼得斯(Simonides,约前556—468年)也曾提及荷马的名字。
    希腊人相信,荷马(Homeros)出生在小亚细亚,可能在伊俄尼亚(Ionia),也可能在埃俄利斯(Aeolis)。古时候,至少有七个地方或城市竞相争夺荷马的“所有权”,包括和小亚细亚隔海相望的雅典和阿耳戈斯。在众多的竞争者中,人们较为倾向于接受的有两个,即伊俄尼亚的基俄斯(Chios)和埃俄利亚的斯慕耳纳(Smuma)。开俄斯诗人西摩尼得斯称荷马为Chios aner(基俄斯人)[●],品达则认为基俄斯和斯慕耳纳同为荷马的故乡。[●]哲学家阿那克西墨奈斯(Anaximenes)认定荷马的家乡在基俄斯;史学家阿库西劳斯(Acusilaos)和赫拉尼科斯(Hellanikos)也表示过同样的意向。此外,在古时归于荷马名下的“阿波罗颂”里,作者称自己是个“盲人”,来自“山石嶙峋的基俄斯。”[●]
    ●片断85,Bergk;另见片断8,West
    ●古时候,人们传统上将斯慕耳纳定为荷马的出生地,而将基俄斯看作是他创编《伊利亚特》的地方,即《伊利亚特》的“故乡”。
    ●《荷马诗颂》,“阿波罗颂”172。
    萨摩斯史学家欧伽昂(Eugaion)相信荷马为斯慕耳纳人,荷马问题专家、萨索斯人斯忒新勃罗托斯(Stesimbrotos,生活在前五世纪)不仅认定荷马是斯慕耳纳人,而且还说那里有诗人的词龛,受到人们像敬神般的崇仰。在早已失传的《论诗人》里,亚里斯多德称荷马卒于小岛伊俄斯(Ios),这一提法可能取自当时流行的传闻。
    按希罗多德推算(以每百年三代人计),荷马的生活年代,“距今至多不超过四百年”,换言之,大约在公元前850年左右。[●]希罗多德将荷马和黑西俄得归为同时代的诗人,[●]而色诺法奈斯则以为荷马的活动年代早于黑西俄得。[●]修昔底得对此有过间接的提述,认为荷马生活在特洛伊战争之后,其间不会有太久远的年隙。[●]至迟在公元前七至六世纪,已有人引用荷马的诗句;至前五世纪,荷马已是家喻户晓的名字。由此可见,将荷马的生活年代推定在公元前八世纪(至七世纪初),应当不能算是太过草率的。一般认为,《伊利亚特》的创编时间可能在公元前750至675年间。
    ●《历史》2·53·2。
    ●《历史》2·53·2。
    ●片断B13,Diels—Kranz。
    ●《伯罗奔尼撒战争史》l·3·3。
  
                 《伊利亚特》
  
    荷马既不是古希腊惟一的、也不是最早的史诗诗人。《伊利亚特》基本上取用古老的伊俄尼亚方言,同时亦包容大量的埃俄利斯方言的用语、变格和其他语法特征,有的甚至可以追溯到古老的慕凯奈时代。此外,阿耳卡底亚一塞浦路斯方言也在《伊利亚特》中留下了它的印迹。很明显,关于特洛伊战争的史诗起源于古远的年代,(可能)以不太长的故事形式流传于宫廷、军营和民间。荷马的功绩,不在于首创描述特洛伊战争的故事或史诗,而在于广征博采,巧制精编,苔前人之长,避众家之短,以大诗人的情怀,大艺术家的功力,创作了《伊利亚特》和《奥德赛》这两部不朽的诗篇。
    Ilaias,即《伊利亚特》,意为“关于伊利昂的故事”或“伊利昂诗记”,作为诗名,最早见之于希罗多德的著作。《伊利亚特》共二十四卷(系后人所分),15,693(±)行,各卷的长度从429到999行不等。荷马史诗采用六音步长短短格(即扬抑抑格),取其前长后短的下冲之势。但是,荷马史诗又不是长短短格的“一统天下”。实际上,除第五音步外,其他音步亦可接受长长格(即扬扬格);此外,第六音步更是长短短格的“禁区”,一般用长短格(即扬抑格)取而代之。这样,我们可用下列符号或符号组合,表示荷马史诗(或六音步长短短格叙事诗,英雄史诗)的格律或节奏形式:
    —UUI—UUI—UUI—UUI—UUI—UUI—U
    荷马是一位吟诵诗人(aoides),生活在一个还没有书面文字,或书面文字已经失传、尚未复兴或重新输入(至少尚不广泛流行)的时代。所以,《伊利亚特》首先是一部口头文学作品。口诵史诗的一个共同和显著的特点是采用一整套固定或相对固定的饰词、短语和段落。显然,这一创作方式有助于诗人的构制。记忆以及难度很大的临场吟诵和不可避免的即兴发挥。在《伊利亚特》里,阿伽门农是“军队的统帅”(或“兵众的首领”),墨奈劳斯是“啸吼战场的”战将;我们读到“沉雷远播的”宙斯。“白臂膀的”赫拉、“足智多谋的”俄底修斯、“头盔闪亮的”赫克托耳、“捷足的”阿基琉斯、“胫甲坚固的”阿开亚人、“酒蓝色的”大海和“土地肥沃的”特洛伊。这些程式化用语(form.lae)不仅点出了被修饰者(名词,人或物)的某个或某些特点。属性和品类,而且有助于渲染和墨饰史诗凝重、宏伟和肃穆的诗品特征。英雄们“高大”、“魁伟”、“英俊”,在满足了吃喝的欲望后雄辩滔滔,送吐“长了翅膀的话语”,或躺下享受睡眠的香甜。英雄们敢作敢为,盛怒时“恶狠狠地盯着”对手,阵亡后淬然倒地,“轰然一声,铠甲在身上铿锵作响”。他们先是全副武装,接着冲上战场,跳下战车,和对手互骂一通,撂倒数名战将,把敌人赶得遑遑奔逃,然后自己受挫负伤,举手求告神佑,重新获得勇气和力量,继续战斗,阵杀敌方的犹首。接着,两军围着尸体展开恶战,伤亡惨重,凭借神的助佑,从枪林箭雨下救出阵亡的将领和伴友。《伊利亚特》中描述了五次这样的“壮举”(aristeiai),用了类似的模式,虽然在某些单项上略有出入。大段的复述(如 2·11—15, 23—33, 60—70,9·123—57,354—99等)有助于减轻诗人的劳动强度,加长史诗的篇幅,深化听众对某些内容的印象。
    程式化用语的形成和发展经历了漫长的岁月。某些用语,尤其是某些神祗的指称,如阿耳吉丰忒斯(赫耳墨斯)、阿特鲁托奈(雅典娜)等,在荷马生活的年代可能已是“化石”或“古董”。作为饰词,“牛眼睛的”可能产生于崇拜图腾的时代,在荷马史诗里已失去它的字面意义,成为“美丽的”、“漂亮的”同义语。
    一位神或英雄往往有一个以上、甚至几十个饰词或程式化用语。诗人可以根据格律和音步的需要选用合适的饰词。以对宙斯为例,在不同的上下文和格律组合里,诗人用了不同的修饰成分,包括“多谋善断的”、“汇聚乌云的”、“沉雷远播的”等等。同样,根据格律和音律的需要,诗人有时用“长发的”,有时则用“胫甲坚固的”,偶尔也用“身披铜甲的”修饰阿开亚人。格律和音律原则制约着诗人的用词,同时也丰富了史诗的语言,增强了它的表现力。众多的饰词使诗人有可能不仅根据格律的要求,而且还能照顾到意思或语义的需要,选用合适的用语。当阿基琉斯筹备帕特罗克洛斯的葬礼时,他就不再是“捷足的”英雄,而是“心胸豪壮的”伙伴,因为在这一语境中,后者似乎比前者更具庄重肃穆的色彩。然而,有时,为了照顾格律和句式的规整,也为了维护史诗中程式化用语的稳定性,诗人亦会有意识地“忽略”饰词的原意,而把它们当做纯粹的格律成分,附加在名词或被修饰成分之上。例如,我们一般不会把恶魔波鲁菲摩斯看作是“神一样的”(《奥德赛》l·70)英雄,也不会倾向于认为“尊贵的母亲”符合乞丐伊罗斯娘亲的身份(《奥德赛10·5)。有的程式化饰词明显地不符合被修饰成分当时的状态和处境。比如,阿芙罗底忒在冤诉时仍然是“欢笑的”(5·375),白日的晴空是“多星的”(8·46),而肮脏的衣服照旧是“闪光的”(《奥德赛》6·26)等等。
    荷马是一位功底深厚、想像丰富、善于创新的语言大师。《伊利亚特》“词章华丽,妙语迭出,精彩、生动的用词和比喻俯拾皆是。荷马知用暗喻(如“战斗的屏障”(喻善战的壮勇)。“羊群的母亲”(喻山地),但却更为熟悉,也更善使用明喻。《伊利亚特》中的明喻分两类,一类为简单型,另一类则是从简单型的基础上发展而来的复杂型。简单型明喻的结构特征是A像B。埃阿斯的战盾“像一堵墙”,兵勇们像狼或狮子似地战斗。阿波罗从俄林波斯上下来,“像黑夜一般”(l·47);塞提丝从海里出来,“像一层薄雾”(l·359)。此类明喻,荷马用来得心应手,熨贴自如,其技巧可谓已达炉火纯青的地步。
    另一类明喻,即复杂型明喻,在其他民族早期的史诗中绝少出现,但在荷马史诗中却是个用例众多、趋于普通的语言现象。此类明喻的结构特征是在A像B之后附加一整段完整的内容,其修饰或解说对象不是接受喻示的A,而是作为喻象物的B。例如:
    如同一位迈俄尼亚或卡里亚妇女,用鲜红的颜料
    涂漆象牙,制作驭马的颊片,尽管许多驭手
    为之唾涎欲滴,它却静静地躺在
    里屋,作为王者的佳宝,受到双重的
    珍爱,既是马的饰物,又能为驭者增添荣光。(4·141-45)
    通常,诗人以“就像这样……”结束明喻,继续故事的进程:
    就像这样,墨奈劳斯,鲜血浸染了你强健的
    大腿,你的小腿和线条分明的踝骨。(4·146—47)
    一般说来,史诗属叙事诗的范畴。《伊利亚特》中的叙述分两种,一种是诗人以讲叙者的身份所作的叙述,另一种是诗人以人物的身份所进行的表述、表白和对话。亚里斯多德称第一种形式为“描述”,称第二种形式为“表演”。[●]《伊利亚特》中,直接引语约占一半左右,而直接引语即为人物的叙述(包括复述),近似于剧中人(dramafis personae)的话白。毫无疑问,此类语言形式为表演式叙述提供了现成的材料。从这个意义上来说,《伊利亚特》是介于纯粹的叙事诗(即诗人完全或基本上以讲述者的身份叙述)和戏剧(诗)之间的一种诗歌形式。柏拉图认为,荷马史诗属于悲剧的范畴,[●]而荷马是“第一个悲剧诗人”。[●]
    ●《诗学》3·1448a21—24。
    ●《共和国》10·595C。
    ●《共和国》10·607A。
    《伊利亚特》描述了一场轰轰烈烈的战争中最悲壮的一页。它展示了战争的暴烈,和平的可贵;抒表了胜利的喜悦,失败的痛苦;描述了英雄的业绩,征战的艰难。它阐释人和神的关系,审视人的属性和价值;它评估人在战争中的得失,探索催使人们行动的内外因素;在一个神人汇杂、事实和想像并存、过去和现在交融的文学平面上对影响人的生活、决定人的思想、制导人的行为的一系列重大问题,进行了严肃的、认真的、有深度的探讨。
    《伊利亚特》所触及的一个最根本的问题是人生的有限和在这一有限的人生中人对生命和存在价值的索取。和平时期的生活是美好的。牛羊在山坡上漫步,姑娘们在泉溪边浣洗;年轻人穿梭在笑语之中,喜气洋洋地采撷丰产的葡萄。诗人弹拨竖琴,动情的引吭高歌;姑娘小伙们穿着漂亮的衣衫,跳出欢快的舞步(18·561—72)。然而,即便是典型意义上的幸福生活,也不可避免地包孕着悲愁的种子,人的属类使他最终无法摆脱死的迫胁。人是会死的,不管他愿不愿意见到死的降临。人生短暂,短得让人不寒而栗:
    裂地之神,你会以为我头脑发热,
    倘若我和你开打,为了可怜的凡人。
    他们像树叶一样,一时间风华森茂,
    如火的生机,食用大地催产的硕果;然而好景不长,
    他们枯竭衰老,体毁人亡。(21·462—6)
    人生如同树叶的催发和枯亡;在第六卷第145—49行里,荷马已表述过这一思想。在战争中,在你死我活的绞杀中,死亡每时每刻都在发生;人们尖叫着纷纷倒地,“头脸朝下”,“手抓泥尘”。死神把成百上千的壮勇拖人阴暗的地府;战争张开血盆大口,吞噬年轻的斗士,啐嚼蓬勃的人生。即便勇烈如阿基琉斯,最终也将走上战死疆场的辛酸路:
    但现在,谁也甭想死里逃生,倘若神3氏把他送到
    我的手里,在这伊利昂城前……所以,
    我的朋友,你也必死无疑。既如此,你又何必这般疾首痛心?
    帕特罗克洛斯已经死去,一位远比你杰出的战勇。
    还有我——没看见吗?长得何等高大、英武,
    有一位显赫的父亲,而生我的母亲更是一位不死的女神。
    然而,就连我也逃不脱死和强有力的命运的迫胁,
    将在某一天拂晓、黄昏或中午,
    被某一个人放倒,在战斗中,
    用投枪,或是离弦的箭镞。(21·103—13)兵勇们知晓他们的使命,他们的归宿;那是战斗的人生。正如俄底修斯慷慨陈辞的那样:……我们,按着
    宙斯的意志,历经残酷的战争,从青壮
    打到老年,直至死亡,谁也不能幸免。(且485—87)生命短暂,战争无情。但是,壮勇们并没有悲观失望,消极颓废,也没有因此贪生怕死,畏缩不前。不错,凡人的生聚就像树叶一样,秋风一起,籁籁落地,一去不返。但是,倘若
    ……一日
    春风拂起,枝干便会抽发茸密的新绿。
    人同此理,新的一代崛起,老的一代死去。(6·147—49)
    人生充满生机,充满创建功业的希望和喜悦。世代的更替给家族带来的不是悲生厌世的情绪,不是怨天尤人的悲叹,不是无所作为和默默无闻,而是枪马创立的霸业,汗血浇铸的英名,世代相传的美谈。战勇们不厌其烦地对着敌人大段地宣讲自己的宗谱,从中享受作为英雄后代的光荣和骄傲。战争诚然无情,死亡确实可怕,但战士的责职是效命疆场,战士的荣誉是拼杀掳掠,战士的喜悦是千古留芳:
    我的朋友啊,要是你我能从这场战斗中生还,
    得以长生不死,拒老抗衰,与天地同存,
    我就再也不会站在前排里战斗,
    也不会再要你冲向战场,人们争得荣誉的地方。
    但现在,死的精灵正挨站在我们身边,
    数千阴影,谁也逃生不得,躲不过它的击打——
    所以,让我们冲上前去,要么为自己争得荣光,要么把它
    拱手让给敌人!(12·322—28)在向对手挑战时,赫克托耳高声喊道,倘若让他得手,他将把遗体交还长发的阿开亚人,使他们得以礼葬死者,堆坟筑墓,在靠海的地方。他预言:
    将来,有人路经此地,驾着带坐板的海船,
    破浪在酒蓝色的洋面,眺见这个土堆,便会出言感叹:
    “那里埋着一个战死疆场的古人,
    一位勇敢的壮士,倒死在光荣的赫克托耳手下。”
    将来,有人会如此说告,而我的荣誉将与世长存。
    (7·87—91) 今生匆忽,所以在所必争;生命可贵,所以必须珍惜。财富可以通过掠劫获取,但人的魂息,一经滑出齿隙,就无法“再用暴劫掠回,也不能通过易贾复归”。阿基琉斯宁可做一个农人的帮工,也不愿当冥府里鬼魂的王者(《奥德赛》12·489—21)。然而,对生命的挚爱,没有使英雄成为生命的奴仆——除开神的因素,他们始终是它的主人。明知命运险厄,但却拒不向它屈服;明知征战艰难,但即使打到头破血流,也要拼个你死我活。活要活得扬眉吐气,死要死得明明白白。在黑雾弥漫的战场上,忒拉蒙之子埃阿斯喊出了悲愤的呼号:
    哦,父亲宙斯,把阿开亚人的儿子们拉出迷雾吧!
    让阳光照泻,使我们重见天日!把我们杀死吧,
    杀死在灿烂的日光里,如果此时此刻,毁灭我们能使你欢悦!
    (17·645—47) 用有限的生命抗拒无限的困苦和磨难,在短促的一生中使生命最大限度地获取和展现自身的价值,使它在抗争的最炽烈的热点上闪烁出勇力、智慧和进取的光华。这便是荷马的勇士们的人生,凡人试图冲破而又无法冲破自身的局限的悲壮(另见“英雄”节)。很明显,这是人生的悲剧,也是人生的自豪。虽然这一主题在后世的悲剧作家、尤其是索福克勒斯的作品中得到了淋漓尽致的发挥——我们不要忘记,是荷马和他的《伊利亚特》首先教我们看到人生的悲苦,人生的英烈,人生的渺小和伟大。
  
                   英雄
  
    按照荷马的观点,英雄或壮士是神的后裔,天之骄子,凡人中的宠儿。英雄们具备凡人所羡慕的一切,是阿开亚人中的俊杰(aristees panachaion)。他们出身高贵,人人都有显赫的门第,可资夸耀的家族,坐霸一方,王统天下。他们相貌俊美,仪表堂堂,鹤立鸡群在芸芸众生之中。阿基琉斯是男性美的典范(《奥德赛》11·470)。前往赎取儿子遗体的普里阿摩斯,在“满足了吃喝的欲望后”,凝目阿基琉斯,
    惊慕他的俊美,高大挺拔的身躯,就像
    神明一般……(24·630—31) 在特洛伊城楼上,普里阿摩斯望着阿伽门农的雄姿,开口问道(对海伦):
    走近些,告诉我他的名字,那个伟岸的勇士,
    他是谁,那位强健、壮实的阿开亚人?
    我从未见过如此出类拔萃的人物,
    这股高豪的气派——此人必是一位王贵!(3·166—70) 英雄俄底修斯,虽说比阿伽门农矮了一头,但他的肩膀和胸背却长得更为宽厚(3·193—94)。
    英雄们膀阔腰圆,力大如牛。埃阿斯的战盾大得像一面围墙,而阿基琉斯“仅凭一己之力,即可把它捅入检孔”的插杠,需要三个阿开亚人方能拴拢和拉开(24·454—56)。硕大的石岩,当今之人,即便站出两个,也莫它奈何,而图丢斯之子狄俄墨得斯却仅凭一己之力,轻松地把它高举过头(5·303-4)。很自然,在荷马看来,神的血脉,高贵的王家子弟,要是没有过人的勇力,那是荒唐的。英雄是力量的象征。
    尽管战争是“可怕的”、“可恨的”、“屠人的”,壮士们却嗜战如命,“渴望着”冲战杀敌,品味“战斗的喜悦”。勇敢战斗是祖传的古训。格劳斯对秋俄墨得斯嚷道:家父
    要我英勇作战,比谁都勇敢,以求出人头地,
    不致辱没我的前辈,生长在厄芙拉
    和辽阔的鲁基亚的最勇敢的人。(6·208—10)他们不仅嗜战,而且善战——天底下哪有英雄不会打仗的道理?面对埃阿斯的威胁,赫克托耳(在《伊利亚特》里,他还不是超一流的战将)针锋相对,开口作了一番“自我介绍”:
    我请熟格战的门道,杀人是我精通的绝活。
    我知道如何左抵右挡,用牛皮坚韧的
    战盾,此乃防卫的高招。
    我知道如何驾着快马,杀人飞跑的车阵;
    我知道如何攻战,荡开战神透着杀气的舞步。(7·237—41) 壮士们不仅擅使枪矛,而且能用口舌。荷马史诗中的英雄是口才出众的辩者,行动果敢的勇士(9·443,另见2·273,18·105—6,18·252)。勇猛豪强,雄辩滔滔,方为英雄本色,凡人的楷模。会场,如同战场一样,是人们“争得荣誉的地方”(1·490)。作为阿基琉斯的私人教师,福伊尼克斯负责教授辩说的技巧或本领,因为雄辩“使人出类拔萃”。能谋善辩的俄底修斯之所以受到全军的爱戴,除了作战勇敢和受到雅典娜的特别关照外,出众的辩才亦是一个不可忽略的原因。特洛伊智者安忒诺耳赞赏墨奈劳斯的表述,认为他用词精炼,出言迅捷,但却更为赞赏俄底修斯的稳笃,赞慕他的词锋和无与伦比的话辩:
    但是,当洪亮的声音冲出他的丹田,词句像冬天的
    雪片一样纷纷扬扬地飘来时,凡人中就不会有他的对手;
    谁也不能匹敌俄底修斯的口才!(3·221—23) 文武双全的奈斯托耳,虽说年纪轻轻(在他年轻时代),却已能征战掳掠,欢悦父亲的心胸(11·682—84);用他的如簧之舌,大江奔水般的辩才,争得同僚们的慕爱,使他们倾听他的意见,尊重他的言论(1·273)。年轻的狄俄墨得斯既是战场上的主将,又是会场上的精英,他的才华博得了老英雄奈斯托耳的称赞:
    图丢斯之子,论战斗,你勇冠全军;
    论谋辩,你亦是同龄人中的佼杰。
    阿开亚人中,谁也不能轻视你的意见,
    反驳你的言论……
    ……你,面对阿耳吉维人的
    王者,说话头头是道,条理分明。(9·53—59) 不过,狄俄墨得斯的辩才还没有臻达登峰造极的水平,因为他还年轻——论年龄,可做奈斯托耳的儿子,“最小的儿子”。
    英雄世界的价值观的中心内容是time(荣誉、声誉、面子)。他们把个人的荣誉和尊严看作是比生命更重要,因而是更可贵的东西。损害壮士的time,夺走应该属于他的所有,意味着莫大的刺激和冒犯。维护自己的time亦即维护自己的人格、家族的名誉和人际关系的公正,即dike。显然,如果发展不当,误入歧途,time是把英雄推向at6和hubris(见下文)的一个重要的价值观方面的因素。勇力和辩才是英雄手中的两种武器;通过它们,壮土为自己和家族争得土地、财富和尊荣,维持、巩固和捍卫已有的社会地位、分配格局和既得利益。
    毋庸置疑,英雄不是完人的同义词。他们(至少他们中的许多人)困于人生的局限,受欲念的支配和time的催激,有着秉性或性格上的弱点或缺点。由于阿伽门农的狂暴,夺走阿基琉斯的女伴,从而导致这位联军中最杰出的壮勇挟怒罢战,使希腊人遭受惨重的伤亡。当帕拉丝·雅典娜从天上下凡,试图阻止阿基琉斯和阿伽门农火并时,裴琉斯之子开口责问道:
    带埃吉斯的宙斯的孩子,为何现时降临?想看看
    阿特柔斯之子,看看阿伽门农的骄横跋扈(hubris)吗?
    (l·202-3) 奈斯托耳批评阿伽门农被高傲和狂怒蒙住了双眼,屈辱了全军最好的战勇;阿伽门农接受他的指责,承认“我是疯了……瞎了眼,听任恶怒的驱使”(9·116—19),并愿拿出丰厚的偿礼,弥补过失。他感叹道,是克罗诺斯之子把他推入了狂盲(ate)的陷阱(9·18)。同样,阿基琉斯的悲剧也有他自身方面的原因。他固执、刚愎、狂蛮,连身边最亲密的伴友对他亦不无微言,说他“刚烈、粗暴,甚至可对一个无辜之人动怒发火”(11·654)。“此人全然不顾礼面”——阿波罗骂道——“心胸狂蛮,偏顽执拗,像一头狮子,沉溺于自己的勇力和高傲”(24·40—42)。面对阿基琉斯重新出战的严酷局面,头脑冷静的普鲁达马斯劝说赫克托耳退兵城堡,以便在城内抗击阿开亚人的进攻,但赫克托耳不但不听忠告,反而“恶狠狠地盯着他”,把他骂得狗血喷头。赫克托耳的蛮横和暴虐造成了严重的后果;他葬毁了军队的前程,断送了自己的性命。
  
                    神
  
    荷马描述了一个好斗的、擅于辞令而不会或很少进行道德说教的神的群体。荷马史诗里的众神,不是普渡众生的菩萨,也不是作为道德楷模的基督,亦不是作为凡人的精神寄托的穆罕默德。古希腊诗人以人的形象、性情、心态和行为方式为原型,创造或塑造了一个神的群体。在荷马史诗里,神们按人的心理动机思考和行动,有着人的七情六欲,沿用人的社群特点,人的交际模式。神们分享人的弱点和道德方面的不完善——神是不死的凡人。在那个时代,神和人的交往是直接而具体的。神的参与贯穿着整部《伊利亚特》的进程。神可以在他或她需要的任何时候(除非受到宙斯的阻止)下到凡间,寻找任何一个要找的凡人,谈论任何想要谈论的事情。作为一种沟通的方式,凡人可以通过祈祷求得神的帮助。
    和凡人一样,神以家庭或家族的形式存在,而宙斯是神界的家长或旅长。神界的权威甚至比人间更明显地取决于单纯的、不加掩饰的力或体力。凭藉无与伦比的神力,宙斯推翻了父亲克罗诺斯的统治,夺得神界的王位。俄林波斯众神中谁也不敢和他抗衡,梦想和他争霸,因为宙斯的勇力远非其他诸神所能企及。他兽警告多管闲事的赫拉,用词相当粗暴、严厉:
    闭上你的嘴,静静地坐到一边去。按我说的办——
    否则,当我走过去,对你甩开我的双臂,展示不可抵御的
    神力时,
    俄林波斯山上的众神,就是全部出动,也帮不了你的忙!
    (1·565—67)
    这是个赤裸裸的力的世界。当然,宙斯不是个有勇无谋的莽汉。他是“工于心计的”克罗诺斯的儿子,以“能谋善辩”著称。俄林波斯众神分作两派,一派支持阿开亚人,以赫拉和雅典娜为骨干;另一派帮助特洛伊人,以阿波罗和埃阿斯为核心。宙斯时而偏袒这一方,时而放纵那一方,从中享受权势带来的喜悦。他曾严厉警告赫拉,也曾一本正经地威胁波塞冬,俨然一副凌驾于两派之上的神主模样。然而,他从来不想认真解决两派之间的争端。他喜欢远离众神,静静地坐在俄林波斯或伊达的峰脊,以此表示自己的独特和超群——不是吗,宇宙的孤主,既不同污于凡人,也不合流于他所统管的神群。“他远远地坐在那里,既不关心我们,也不把我们放在眼里”(15·105—6)。兴致上来时,他甚至可以就着某件事由,指令神界的两派大打出手,搅个天昏地暗,愉悦他的心怀(20·22—25)。这,或许就是神界的政治,而《伊利亚特》中的宙斯是个懂得如何运用权术和擅搞政治平衡的行家。
    同幸福的神祗相比,凡人是“可怜的”或“可悲的”。人的一个程式化用语是deiloisibrotoisi(悲苦的众生)。神的生活,由于超越了死的禁限,因而既没有人生的艰难,也缺少人生的严肃和厚重。按照诗人的观点,神们理所当然地拥有几人想要而又不那么容易得获的东西,并把它们赠送给可怜的、在体力、心力和智力方面都受到极大局限的凡人。对这些不幸的苍生,神是勇力、智慧和权威的赐造者。阿基琉斯凭着神的赐助而勇冠群雄,阿伽门农则凭藉神赋的权杖得以王统阿耳吉维人。如果说某人特别聪明,那是因为神给了他智慧;相反,倘若有人干出傻事,那就可能是因为神们夺走了他的睿智。神给了赫尔卡斯卜占的奇术(1·71),给了菲瑞克洛斯制作的绝艺(5·59—61),使菲弥俄斯获得唱诗的灵感(《奥德赛》22·347)。好猎手的技艺得之于阿耳忒弥丝的教诲,好射手的强弓得之于阿波罗的馈赠。
    荷马的史诗世界里不存在“盲目”、“偶然”或和事态的正常及一般状态对比而言的“偶发现象”。自然界和人世间的一切事端和现象,如果不是人为的,便是神的手笔。雷电是宙斯送来的,地震是波塞冬制导的,性爱是阿芙罗底忒驱怂的。《伊利亚特》里没有什么不能解释的事情。对人物作出的重大决定,荷马一般采用“双重动因”的解法(从中我们亦可看到人的作用;在荷马史诗里,人,尽管多灾多难,但决不是无足轻重的)。阿基琉斯作出夺取阿基琉斯女伴的决定,一则因为自己生性刚蛮,二则也因为受到神力的驱使(19·86—90)。同样,雅典娜的劝阻和阿基琉斯的抉择使他避免了和阿伽门农的火并(1·188—218)。在第九卷里,狄俄墨得斯预言阿基琉斯将重返战场,受(他自己)心灵的驱使,神明的催督(703)。对一些重大战事(和赛事)的处理,荷马亦常常沿用这一方法。帕特罗克洛斯死于神力和凡人战力的混合;同样,赫克托耳的死亡归之于阿基琉斯的骁勇和雅典娜的帮忙。
    按照荷马的神学观,除了神以外,人生还受到另一种超自然的力量,即命运或命限(moira,aisa)的制约和摆布。对命运,荷马一般不作人格化的描述;此外,moira亦没有家谱,不像一般神祗和神灵那样,可以找出祖宗三代。Moira的力量主要在于限定人生的长度或限度;凡人在出生的那一刻即已带上死亡的阴影(20·127—28,23·78—79,24·209—10)。凡人一般不能通过祈祷解脱命运的束缚。至少从理论上来说,命运是可以在一定程度上被冲破或超越的。在第二十卷里,宙斯对众神说道,挟着由帕特罗克洛斯之死引发的暴怒,阿基琉斯可能冲破命运的制约,攻破城堡(29—30)。作为“神和人的父亲”,无所不能随宙斯自然握有冲破命运的神力。在爱子萨耳裴冬死前,宙斯曾考虑把他救离战场,只是因为遭到赫拉的强烈反对而作罢:
    你打算把他救出悲惨的死亡,一个凡人,
    一个命里注定要死的凡人?
    做去吧,宙斯,但我等众神绝不会一致赞同。(16·441—43)可见,如果愿意,宙斯可以救出萨耳裴冬,但这么做可能会引起众神的反感,带出一系列连锁反应,破坏天体的和谐,产生难以预期的结果。
  
                  城堡及兵民
  
    荷马史诗里的核心社区单位是城堡或城镇(polis,astu,Ptoliethron)。Polis既是兵民的集会地点,又是抗御敌人进犯的堡垒;既是社会活动的中心,又是进行贸易和举行宗教仪式的场所。阿基琉斯的战盾上铸着两座城市,集中反映了兵民们在战争及和平时期的两种不同的生活景状。城堡的外围有一片农野或乡村地区,即agros或erga;城市和乡村一起组成“区域”或“地域”(demos,gaia)。广义上的polis往往包括城镇、郊区和城里城外的人民——由此组成荷马史诗中的一个基本的政治实体。
    城堡的统治者是basileus(国王、王者);某些王者或统治者(如阿伽门农等)拥有一个以上的城镇,而以王者居住的城堡为政治、军事和文化的中心。战时,basileus是本部兵民的统帅,下设若干分队,由头领们管带(1·171—72)。重要的社会行当包括信使、祭司等。在荷马史诗里,先知、医者、木匠和诗人同属“工作者”(demiourgoi)的范畴(《奥德赛》17·383—85),即用自己的手艺或本领为民众服务的人。荷马用laos、laoi、plethus、demos表示一般民众(或兵丁),即来自城堡的“公民”。来自外邦的定居者叫metanastes或xeinos(客民)。无业游民(thetes)似乎亦属自由人阶层,没有自己的土地,以帮工为生。此外,在一个以军事民主制为特征的古代社会里,当然不会没有奴隶(dmoes,dmoai)。如同分得的其他战礼(战利品)一样,奴隶一般归属个人所有。
  
                王者、辩议会、集会
  
    作为贵族的子弟和代表,王者是城邦或属地内的最高军政首长。在《伊利亚特》里,阿伽门农以希腊联军统帅的身份雄居众王之上,比后者更具决策的权威。“你统领着浩浩荡荡的大军”——奈斯托耳说道——“宙斯把王杖交在你的手里,使你有了决断的权力,得以训导麾下的兵丁”(998—99)。狄俄墨得斯承认,阿伽门农拥有“别人不可企及的尊荣”(9·37)。奈斯托耳劝慰盛怒中的阿基琉斯不要和阿伽门农争吵,“在荣誉的占有上,别人得不到他的份子”(1·278)。俄底修斯更是直截了当地警告遑遑奔跑的兵勇:阿开亚人不能个个都是王者,“王者众多不是一件好事——这里只应有一个统治者,一个大王”(2·203—5)。王者拥有上好的份地(temenos),享有率先挑取战礼(geraas)的特权,接受属民的礼物和贡奉。在宴会上,他们享坐尊位,吃用特份的肉食,喝饮满杯的醇酒。作为对权力的平衡,王者有义务宴请共事的首领和权贵。在第九卷里,奈斯托耳——在作过一番明智的劝议后——对阿伽门农说道:现在
    应由你,阿伽门农,作为最高贵的王者,行使统帅的职权。
    摆开宴席,招待各位首领;这是你的义务,和你的
    身份相符。……(9·69—71)
    荷马史诗里的王者尽管刚傲不羁、粗莽狂烈,但却不是典型意义上的暴君。事实上,在政治、司法,甚至在军事方面,最高统帅的权力都受到辩议会(Boule geronton)的掣肘。与会的gerontes(首领)通常本身即是王者——战场上,他们是统兵的将帅。他们享有很高的威望,言行举足轻重。阿伽门农必须认真倾听他们的意见,按最好的办法行事(9·74—75)。
    辩议会上商讨过的事情,如果事关重大,还要提交大会或集会(agore或agora)的讨论和通过。在《伊利亚特》里,阿开亚人的集会扩大到普通的laioi;而特洛伊人的集会还包括年老体弱的非战斗人员。有地位的发言者一般要手握王杖,以得体的方式讲话。首领们遵从“言论自由”的原则;在集会上,此乃他们的权利(9·33)。Gerontes可对任何人提出批评(甚至谩骂),包括对最高军事首长阿伽门农。不过,对地位比较低下的人,情况则不尽相同。卜者卡尔卡斯担心他的真言会招来阿伽门农的报复,只是在得到阿基琉斯的承诺后,方才道出阿波罗为何发怒的原因。对一个身份不够“吃重”的人,责辱王者只能替自己招来麻烦和不幸。兵众们通过呼喊表示他们的倾向和意志——是赞成,还是反对。
  
                   穿戴
  
    在荷马史诗里,人们穿着十分简单。男子们巾身穿用一件用亚麻布织制的衣衫(或许可称之为套衫),即chiton,然后,如果需要的话,罩上一件(或一条)衣篷或披篷(chlaina,pharos)。一般认为,chiton是个外来词,取自近邻闪米特人的用语。Chiton卡及膝上腹下,短袖。在第二卷里,阿伽门农起身后,穿上一件簇新的chiton和一领硕大的pharos。阿开亚人从普里阿摩斯进送的赎礼中留出一件chiton和一件pharos,作为遮裹遗体的用物(24·588)。赴战前,雅典娜穿上父亲的chiw,然后扣上胸甲chlainai取料羊毛,分单层和夹层(双层)两种,用饰针或钩扣连系(10·133)。披篷上可织出精美的图纹,并可染成深红、绛紫等视感庄重的色彩。Chlainai和pharos的具体区别,今人不得而知;但有一点可以肯定,即二者都可作铺盖之用。阿基琉斯的仆属们用chlainai为普里阿摩斯备床(24·646);慕耳弥冬兵勇们将帕特罗克洛斯抬上尸床,盖上一层薄薄的亚麻布,用一条白色的pharos罩掩全身(18·352—53)。甚至可作风帆的用料(《奥德赛》5·258)。在这些上下文里,chlaina和pharos似乎和大片的织布没有什么两样。兵勇们一般足蹬条鞋,可能取料坚韧的牛皮。
    妇女们通常身着裙衫(peplos,heanos),并和男子一样,穿用pharos。Peplos短袖,需用饰针别连。亚麻布裙衫常取其白亮的本色,亦可织出各种条纹,染出多种色彩(可能系羊毛质料)——荷马用“黎明抖开金红色的裙袍”(8·1)表现曙光铺泻大地的瑰丽景色。裙衫一般长垂直泻,hebewi(长裙飘摆的)是好的一个程式化饰语。妇女们几乎无例外地使用腰带,扎在peplos。外面——“束腰紧深的”和“束腰秀美的”正是对这一装束习惯的贴切而又富有诗意的写照。
    妇女们通常带用头巾(kredemnon,kaluptre),可能系一种亚麻布织物。Kredemon从头顶遮及脖项,甚至可能垂过肩头。倘若需要,用者可将头巾掩起脸面,如同裴奈罗珮在走入求婚者们的厅堂。
  
                  后器、铠甲
  
    荷马本身没有经历过特落伊战争。荷马史诗是传统和天才创作的产物,而不是严格意义上的历史。像对其他一些事物、状态和现象的描述一样,荷马对兵械的描述也带有“跨时代”的特征。他所提及的甲械,有的属于慕凯奈时期的用物,有的则可能出现在以后,甚至晚至荷马生活的年代。所谓史诗,是诗和史的结合,可以,而且应该有一些不合史实、甚至凭空想像出来的成分。
    (1)胫甲
    “胫甲坚固的”(euknemides)是形容阿开亚士兵的最常用的程式化饰语,在《伊利亚特》中出现了三十一次。早期的胫 甲可能用生牛皮(甚至粗布)制成,类似莱耳忒斯在葡萄园里工作时所有的皮质护腿(《奥德赛》24·228—29)。在慕凯奈时代,铜胫甲的使用并不普遍。从原文看,knemis(胫甲)本身并不包含“金属”的意思。在《伊利亚特》里,“胫甲青铜的(chalkoknemides)阿开亚人”仅出现一次(7·41)。赫法伊斯托斯用白锡为阿基琉斯打过一副胫甲,但这是神工的铸品,可能与众不同。胫甲上安着银质的拌扣,围系在脚踝边。胫甲的功用一可挡御敌人的击射,二可保护小腿不受盾牌(遮掩全身的巨盾,见“盾牌”节)的擦伤。弓战者一般用体积较小的圆盾,所以常常不带胫甲。
    (2)胸甲
    尽管到目前为止,考占学家们还拿不出一件实物,证明慕凯奈王朝的武士们——正如荷马所描述的那样——是“身披铜甲的”,但鉴于诗人一而再、再而三地使用这一程式化套语(不少于二十四次)的现实,我们很有必要在这个问题上采取严肃、谨慎的态度。“身披铜甲的”原文作chalkochitones(穿青铜chiton的); Chiton在比喻“甲”或“甲衣”。荷马似乎毫不怀疑阿开亚勇士是“身披铜甲的”(chaleorekon)。赫法伊斯托斯替阿基琉斯打过一副铜甲,欧墨洛斯亦收受过一副铜甲的赏礼。如果说这两副铜甲一副是神工制作的精品,另一副是馈赠的礼物而不足以说明普通胸甲的质地,那么,在另一些较为一般的场合,荷马描述的thorekes(胸甲)亦同样明显地包容“金属制作”的含义。诗人的用词包括“闪亮的”、“擦得锃亮的”等等。小埃阿斯和特洛伊人安菲俄斯穿用亚麻布胸甲(中间可能有所充填),但他们并不是一流的战将。在某些上下文里,荷马还提及一种叫做guala的东西(15·530),可能指胸甲前后的铜片,缀嵌在皮革或其他质料的甲面上,以增强thorekes的防护能力。
    (3)盾牌
    Sakose和aspis可能原指两种不同的战盾。Aspis通常是“盾面突鼓的”(omphaloessa)、“溜圆的”(pantos eise,而常常是“硕大、坚固的”(mpga te stibaronte)、“用七层牛皮制作的”(haptaboeion)、和“墙面似的”或“塔一般的”(eute purgos)。到了荷马生活的年代,aspis和sakos很可能已成为可以互换的同义词。
    据考古发现,慕凯奈时代的战勇们使用两种体积硕大、几可遮掩全身的皮盾,一种为长方形的、双边内卷的拱盾,另一种是中腰内收、呈8字形的护盾。二者都有盾带(telamon),背挎于左肩之上,横贯于右腋之下;不用时,可以甩至背后。《伊利亚特》中多次提及此类层面硕大的战盾。埃阿斯身背“墙面似的”巨盾(7·219),而赫克托耳的盾牌可以遮掩脖子以下、脚踝以上的身体部位(15·646)。荷马史诗里的战后通常是“闪亮的”或“闪光的”,此类饰语明显地喻指盾面或皮面上的铜层。慕凯奈王朝的后期是否出现带铜面的皮盾,到目前为止,我们还不能作出确切的答复。
    圆形战盾体积较小,中心突鼓,带图纹,有背带,出现于慕凯奈王朝的后期,可能亦是公元前九至七世纪的史诗诗人们在生活中常见的盾式。
    (4)头盔
    荷马用korus、kunee、truphaleia和pelex等词表示头帽或帽盔。这些词原来可能分指不同的盔样,但在荷马史诗里已具通用的性质。荷马可在同一个上下文里,用上述名词(不是全部)指称同一顶头盔。上述四词中,前二者更较常用。
    早期的头盔一般为皮料制品,遮盖头顶、前额和太阳穴,由盔带紧扣下颌;冠顶插缀马鬃(确切地说,应为马毛,包括马鬃和马尾),有的还带角质的或金属的突角(Phalos)。
    在荷马史诗里,头盔一般用料金属,或带有金属的护片。某些饰词,如chalkeres(铜光闪烁的)和phaeinos(铮亮的)等,明显地告示头盔的金属性质。在若干上下文里,荷马干脆在头盔前后加上“铜”字,称其为“铜盔”(chalkeie korus,kunee pagchalkos)。间忽出现的chalko pareios等词表明头盔带有青铜的颊片。自古以来,学者们对phalos的所指难能取得一致的解释:有的把它解作“突角”或某种形式的突出物,有的则取“冠脊”,还有的把它等同于“颊片”。头盔的用料和式样当不只限于一种。例如,在第十卷里,斯拉苏墨得斯给了狄俄墨得斯一顶帽盔,“牛皮做就,无角,也没有盔冠”(257—58);而墨里俄奈斯则给俄底修斯戴上一顶皮盔,“外面是一排排雪白的牙片”,“中间垫着一层绒毡”(262—65)。此种皮里牙片面的头盔在出土的慕凯奈文物中已有发现。
    (5)剑
    Xiphos、aor和phasganon三词均喻“剑”,意思上没有明显的区别。在同一个上下文里,荷马曾用这三个词表指同一柄利剑。在荷马史诗里,剑战的场合不多,亦没有大段的描述。“嵌缀银钉的”(arguloelon)一词把我们带到遥远的慕凯奈时代。战剑青铜,带鞘,有背带,可斜挎肩头。
    (6)枪矛
    长枪是《伊利亚特》中的主要兵器。在程式化的“武装赴战”场景中,阿基琉斯操提一杆长枪(egchos),而阿伽门农和帕特罗克洛斯则各拿两支枪矛(doUle)。 EgChO6较为粗重,常以“硕大、粗长、沉重(的)”为饰词。在第十六卷里,帕特罗克洛斯穿起阿基琉斯的铠甲,但却不曾抓握他的枪矛,“那玩艺……(除了阿基琉斯)阿开亚人中谁也提拿不得”(141—42)。一般认为,egchos用主要用于近战刺捅,而douree则主要用于远距离的投射。不过,在《伊利亚特》里,这两个词通常可以互换使用,其“自由”程度不下于xiphos和phasganon的替换。
    (7)弓箭(和弓手)
    荷马对弓的描述不多。在第四卷里,他告诉我们,潘达罗斯的弯弓取自一头自打的野山羊的叉角(105—6)。在《伊利亚特》里,尤其是在特洛伊盟军方面,弓(toxon)的使用相当普遍。在人员庞杂的兵队里,agkulotoxoi(弓手)似乎已是一个专门的兵种。鲁基亚人、卡里亚人和迈俄尼亚人都是使弓的兵勇,而鲁基亚首领潘达罗斯更是一位知名的好弓手。特洛伊人中,帕里斯。赫勒诺斯和多隆等都是携弓的战将。阿开亚人擅使长枪,弓手相对稀少,主要有菲洛克忒忒斯、墨里俄奈斯和丢克罗斯。在《伊利亚特》里,弓箭似乎是一种相对古旧的兵器;诗人显然以为“手对手”的攻战更能表现英雄搏杀的壮烈。在第十一卷里,狄俄墨得斯对使弓的帕里斯似乎颇有微词(385)。
    箭矢一般为铜头,但潘达罗斯的羽箭却以铁为镞。
    (8)战车
    战车(diphros)一般为木架结构,边围和底面用皮条绑扎,既可减轻车身的重量(一人即可顶抬,10·504—5),又可消缓跑动时的颠簸。战车做工精致,有的甚至带有金银的镶饰(10·438)。神用的diphros,如赫拉的战车,几乎是金、银、铜的拼合(5·722—31)。
    在《伊利亚特》里,战车的作用相当于今天的兵车。驭马将战车拉至战地,壮士(通常只有一人)从车上跳下,徒步介入战斗,而驭手则勒马留在后面,等待战勇的回归。作为一种定型的战式,它的产生大概多少带有诗人“创作”的成分。荷马应该不会不知道diphros的作战功用(除了运兵以外),但在《伊利亚特》里,他对这方面的描述却只有绝无仅有的一例。在第四卷里,老辈人物奈斯托耳命嘱他的部属:谁也不许单独出击或退却;交手时,车上的斗士要用长枪刺捅敌人(303—7)。奈斯托耳宣称,过去,这是一种相当成功的战式。

评论 (2)

hepingdao 写道 (2008-03-30 16:27):

  《伊里亚特》集中描写了战争结束前51天的故事:希腊联军统帅阿伽门农恃势当众辱骂希腊联军主将阿喀琉斯,并夺走了他的女俘。阿喀琉斯辱愤交加退出战斗,希腊联军因而节节败退。直至阿喀琉斯的好友也被特洛伊主将赫克托杀死,希腊联军面临崩溃的紧急关头,阿喀琉斯才抛弃旧怨,重新上阵,挽回败局,并杀死赫克托。史诗在特洛伊人为赫克托举行隆重葬礼中结束。《伊里亚特》以英雄业绩为中心,用大量篇幅描写英雄们的战斗,歌颂勇敢,充满英雄主义气息。
  
   《荷马史诗》是希腊最早的一部史诗,包括《伊里亚特》和《奥德赛》两部分,相传是由盲诗人荷马所作,实际上它产生于民间口头文学。
  
  伊里亚特(ΙΛΙΑΣ,Ilias,Iliad, 又译《伊利昂记》,今译《伊利亚特》。) 是古希腊盲诗人荷马(Homer, 800BC-600BC)的叙事诗史诗。是重要的古希腊文学作品,也是整个西方的经典之一。《伊利亚特》共二十四卷(系后人所分),15,693(±)行,各卷的长度从429到999行不等。史诗《伊利亚特》虽然取材于特洛亚战争的传说,却从希腊联军围攻特洛亚九年零十个月后的一场内讧写起,并且写到赫克托耳的葬礼就结束了。引起这场战争的金苹果的神话,在它描写海伦和帕里斯时有所提及,木马计和特洛亚的陷落,则见于《奥德修纪》(《奥德塞》)中奥德修对往事的回忆。《伊里亚特》的头一句是“阿喀琉斯的忿怒是我的主题”。希腊联军大将阿喀琉斯性烈如火,他有两次忿怒的表现。史诗写道,战争已经打了九年零十个月,还是胜负难测,这时希腊联军因瘟疫发生内讧。瘟疫是联军统帅阿伽门农拒绝归还一个女俘所引起的,因为这个女俘是日神阿波罗祭司的女儿,阿波罗的祭司请求阿伽门农归还他的女儿受到拒绝,就祈求阿波罗惩罚希腊联军。这场瘟疫蔓延下去就会使希腊联军不可收拾,因此阿喀琉斯要求阿伽门农把这个女俘归还,免得瘟疫继续蔓延。阿伽门农在很不情愿的情况下归还了这个女俘,却不公正地夺走了原来分配给阿喀琉斯的另一个女俘,作为他自己损失的补偿,阿喀琉斯在忿怒之下拒绝参战。在希腊联军中,只有阿喀琉斯才是赫克托耳的对手,因此他拒绝参战就必然引起希腊联军的失利。希腊联军在此情况下抵御不了特洛亚军队的反攻,只好退而固守海滨的战船,在那里构筑了防守性的壁垒。阿伽门农这时后悔自己对阿喀琉斯不公,只好派奥德修和另一位希腊将领去向他求和。可是他忿怒未消,坚决不答应回到战争。阿喀琉斯只是在特洛亚军队已经突破希腊联军的壁垒纵火焚烧他们的战船的十分危急的情况下,才把他的盔甲和战马借给他的好友帕特洛克罗斯,让帕特洛克罗斯前去应敌。帕特洛克罗斯虽然击退了特洛亚军队的攻击,但终为赫克托耳所杀,因此阿喀琉斯借给他的盔甲也丢掉了,这盔甲原是他的母亲忒提斯女神请匠神制造的。战友之死与盔甲被丢引起阿喀琉斯的第二次忿怒,而使他与阿伽门农和解,并且在他母亲请匠神给他制造了一副新盔甲之后,重新回到战争,最后杀死了赫克托耳,取得了决定性的胜利。
  
  《伊里亚特》叙述了特洛伊战争第十年(也是最后一年)中几个星期的活动,特别是“阿基里斯(Achilles,古希腊传说中勇士)的力量”。史诗以阿基里斯和阿伽门农(Agamemnon)的争吵开始,以赫克托耳的葬礼结束,故事的背景和最最终的结局都没有直接叙述。
  
  伊里亚特和奥德赛都只是更宏大的叙事诗传统的一部分,此外还有许多不同长度不同作者的叙事诗作,只不过只有一些片段流传下来。
  
  《伊利亚特》是荷马史诗中直接描写特洛亚战争的英雄史诗。希腊联军主将阿喀琉斯因喜爱的一个女俘被统帅阿伽门农夺走,愤而退出战斗,特洛亚人乘机大破希腊联军。在危急关头,阿喀琉斯的好友帕特洛克罗斯穿上阿喀琉斯的盔甲上阵,被特洛亚大将赫克托耳杀死。阿喀琉斯悔恨已极,重上战场,杀死赫克托耳。特洛亚老王以重金赎还儿子尸体。史诗在赫克托耳的葬礼中结束。
  
  《伊利亚特》的主题是赞美古代英雄的刚强威武、机智勇敢,讴歌他们在同异族战斗中所建立的丰功伟绩和英雄主义、集体主义精神。
  
  《伊利亚特》塑造了一系列古代英雄形象。在他们身上,既集中了部落集体所要求的优良品德,又突出了各人的性格特征。阿喀琉斯英勇善战,每次上阵都使敌人望风披靡。他珍爱友谊,一听到好友阵亡的噩耗,悲痛欲绝,愤而奔向战场为友复仇。他对老人也有同情之心,允诺白发苍苍的特洛亚老王归还赫克托耳尸体的请求。可是他又傲慢任性,为了一个女俘而和统帅闹翻,退出战斗,造成联军的惨败。他暴躁凶狠,为了泄愤,竟将赫克托耳的尸体拴上战车绕城三圈。与之相比,特洛亚统帅赫克托耳则是一个更加完美的古代英雄形象。他身先士卒,成熟持重,自觉担负起保卫家园和部落集体的重任。他追求荣誉,不畏强敌,在敌我力量悬殊的危急关头,仍然毫无惧色,出城迎敌,奋勇厮杀。他敬重父母,挚爱妻儿,决战前告别亲人的动人场面,充满了浓厚的人情味和感人的悲壮色彩。
  
  《伊利亚特》结构严谨,布局精巧。它以“阿喀琉斯的愤怒”作为全书的主线,其他人物、事件都环绕这条主线展开,形成严谨的整体。史诗善于用动物的动作,或用自然景观、生活现象作比喻,构成富有情趣的“荷马式比喻”。例如书中写到阿喀琉斯退出战斗,赫克托耳打得希腊军队四处奔逃,史诗用了这样的比喻:“好像一只野蛮的狮子攻进牛群,吃了一头而吓得其余的纷纷逃窜。”其中有名句“我的生命是不能贱卖的, 我宁可战斗而死去, 不要走上不光荣的结局, 让显赫的功勋传到来世 ”史诗节奏强烈,语调昂扬,既适于表现重大事件,又便于口头吟诵。《伊利亚特》高超的艺术手法常为后人所称道。
hepingdao 写道 (2008-03-31 10:12):

  This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org/license
  
  Title: The Iliad of Homer
  
  Author: Homer
  
  Release Date: September 2006 [Ebook #6130]
  
  Language: English
  
  The Iliad of Homer
  
  
  Translated by Alexander Pope,
  
  with notes by the
  Rev. Theodore Alois Buckley, M.A., F.S.A.
  
  and
  
  Flaxman's Designs.
  
  1899
  
  Contents
  INTRODUCTION.
  POPE'S PREFACE TO THE ILIAD OF HOMER
  BOOK I.
  BOOK II.
  BOOK III.
  BOOK IV.
  BOOK V.
  BOOK VI.
  BOOK VII.
  BOOK VIII.
  BOOK IX.
  BOOK X.
  BOOK XI.
  BOOK XII.
  BOOK XIII.
  BOOK XIV.
  BOOK XV.
  BOOK XVI.
  BOOK XVII.
  BOOK XVIII.
  BOOK XIX.
  BOOK XX.
  BOOK XXI.
  BOOK XXII.
  BOOK XXIII.
  BOOK XXIV.
  CONCLUDING NOTE.
  
  INTRODUCTION.
  Scepticism is as much the result of knowledge, as knowledge is of scepticism. To be content with what we at present know, is, for the most part, to shut our ears against conviction; since, from the very gradual character of our education, we must continually forget, and emancipate ourselves from, knowledge previously acquired; we must set aside old notions and embrace fresh ones; and, as we learn, we must be daily unlearning something which it has cost us no small labour and anxiety to acquire.
  
  And this difficulty attaches itself more closely to an age in which progress has gained a strong ascendency over prejudice, and in which persons and things are, day by day, finding their real level, in lieu of their conventional value. The same principles which have swept away traditional abuses, and which are making rapid havoc among the revenues of sinecurists, and stripping the thin, tawdry veil from attractive superstitions, are working as actively in literature as in society. The credulity of one writer, or the partiality of another, finds as powerful a touchstone and as wholesome a chastisement in the healthy scepticism of a temperate class of antagonists, as the dreams of conservatism, or the impostures of pluralist sinecures in the Church. History and tradition, whether of ancient or comparatively recent times, are subjected to very different handling from that which the indulgence or credulity of former ages could allow. Mere statements are jealously watched, and the motives of the writer form as important an ingredient in the analysis of his history, as the facts he records. Probability is a powerful and troublesome test; and it is by this troublesome standard that a large portion of historical evidence is sifted. Consistency is no less pertinacious and exacting in its demands. In brief, to write a history, we must know more than mere facts. Human nature, viewed under an induction of extended experience, is the best help to the criticism of human history. Historical characters can only be estimated by the standard which human experience, whether actual or traditionary, has furnished. To form correct views of individuals we must regard them as forming parts of a great whole—we must measure them by their relation to the mass of beings by whom they are surrounded, and, in contemplating the incidents in their[pg x] lives or condition which tradition has handed down to us, we must rather consider the general bearing of the whole narrative, than the respective probability of its details.
  
  It is unfortunate for us, that, of some of the greatest men, we know least, and talk most. Homer, Socrates, and Shakespere1 have, perhaps, contributed more to the intellectual enlightenment of mankind than any other three writers who could be named, and yet the history of all three has given rise to a boundless ocean of discussion, which has left us little save the option of choosing which theory or theories we will follow. The personality of Shakespere is, perhaps, the only thing in which critics will allow us to believe without controversy; but upon everything else, even down to the authorship of plays, there is more or less of doubt and uncertainty. Of Socrates we know as little as the contradictions of Plato and Xenophon will allow us to know. He was one of the dramatis personae in two dramas as unlike in principles as in style. He appears as the enunciator of opinions as different in their tone as those of the writers who have handed them down. When we have read Plato or Xenophon, we think we know something of Socrates; when we have fairly read and examined both, we feel convinced that we are something worse than ignorant.
  
  It has been an easy, and a popular expedient, of late years, to deny the personal or real existence of men and things whose life and condition were too much for our belief. This system—which has often comforted the religious sceptic, and substituted the consolations of Strauss for those of the New Testament—has been of incalculable value to the historical theorists of the last and present centuries. To question the existence of Alexander the Great, would be a more excusable act, than to believe in that of Romulus. To deny a fact related in Herodotus, because it is inconsistent with a theory developed from an Assyrian inscription which no two scholars read in the same way, is more pardonable, than to believe in the good-natured old king whom the elegant pen of Florian has idealized—Numa Pompilius.
  
  Scepticism has attained its culminating point with respect to Homer, and the state of our Homeric knowledge may be described as a free permission to believe any theory, provided we throw overboard[pg xi] all written tradition, concerning the author or authors of the Iliad and Odyssey. What few authorities exist on the subject, are summarily dismissed, although the arguments appear to run in a circle. "This cannot be true, because it is not true; and, that is not true, because it cannot be true." Such seems to be the style, in which testimony upon testimony, statement upon statement, is consigned to denial and oblivion.
  
  It is, however, unfortunate that the professed biographies of Homer are partly forgeries, partly freaks of ingenuity and imagination, in which truth is the requisite most wanting. Before taking a brief review of the Homeric theory in its present conditions, some notice must be taken of the treatise on the Life of Homer which has been attributed to Herodotus.
  
  According to this document, the city of Cumae in Æolia, was, at an early period, the seat of frequent immigrations from various parts of Greece. Among the immigrants was Menapolus, the son of Ithagenes. Although poor, he married, and the result of the union was a girl named Critheis. The girl was left an orphan at an early age, under the guardianship of Cleanax, of Argos. It is to the indiscretion of this maiden that we "are indebted for so much happiness." Homer was the first fruit of her juvenile frailty, and received the name of Melesigenes, from having been born near the river Meles, in Boeotia, whither Critheis had been transported in order to save her reputation.
  
  "At this time," continues our narrative, "there lived at Smyrna a man named Phemius, a teacher of literature and music, who, not being married, engaged Critheis to manage his household, and spin the flax he received as the price of his scholastic labours. So satisfactory was her performance of this task, and so modest her conduct, that he made proposals of marriage, declaring himself, as a further inducement, willing to adopt her son, who, he asserted, would become a clever man, if he were carefully brought up."
  
  They were married; careful cultivation ripened the talents which nature had bestowed, and Melesigenes soon surpassed his schoolfellows in every attainment, and, when older, rivalled his preceptor in wisdom. Phemius died, leaving him sole heir to his property, and his mother soon followed. Melesigenes carried on his adopted father's school with great success, exciting the admiration not only of the inhabitants of Smyrna, but also of the strangers whom the trade carried on there, especially in the exportation of corn, attracted to that city. Among these visitors, one Mentes, from Leucadia, the modern Santa Maura, who evinced a knowledge and intelligence rarely found in those times, persuaded Melesigenes to close his school, and accompany him on his travels. He promised not only to pay his expenses, but to furnish him with a further stipend, urging, that, "While he was yet young, it was fitting that he should see with his own eyes the countries and cities which might hereafter be the subjects of his discourses." Melesigenes consented, and set out with his patron, "examining all the curiosities of the countries they visited, and informing himself of everything by interrogating those whom he met." We may also suppose, that he[pg xii] wrote memoirs of all that he deemed worthy of preservation2 Having set sail from Tyrrhenia and Iberia, they reached Ithaca. Here Melesigenes, who had already suffered in his eyes, became much worse, and Mentes, who was about to leave for Leucadia, left him to the medical superintendence of a friend of his, named Mentor, the son of Alcinor. Under his hospitable and intelligent host, Melesigenes rapidly became acquainted with the legends respecting Ulysses, which afterwards formed the subject of the Odyssey. The inhabitants of Ithaca assert, that it was here that Melesigenes became blind, but the Colophomans make their city the seat of that misfortune. He then returned to Smyrna, where he applied himself to the study of poetry.3
  
  But poverty soon drove him to Cumae. Having passed over the Hermaean plain, he arrived at Neon Teichos, the New Wall, a colony of Cumae. Here his misfortunes and poetical talent gained him the friendship of one Tychias, an armourer. "And up to my time," continued the author, "the inhabitants showed the place where he used to sit when giving a recitation of his verses, and they greatly honoured the spot. Here also a poplar grew, which they said had sprung up ever since Melesigenes arrived".4
  
  But poverty still drove him on, and he went by way of Larissa, as being the most convenient road. Here, the Cumans say, he composed an epitaph on Gordius, king of Phrygia, which has however, and with greater probability, been attributed to Cleobulus of Lindus.5
  
  Arrived at Cumae, he frequented the converzationes6 of the old men, and delighted all by the charms of his poetry. Encouraged by this favourable reception, he declared that, if they would allow him a public maintenance, he would render their city most gloriously renowned.[pg xiii] They avowed their willingness to support him in the measure he proposed, and procured him an audience in the council. Having made the speech, with the purport of which our author has forgotten to acquaint us, he retired, and left them to debate respecting the answer to be given to his proposal.
  
  The greater part of the assembly seemed favourable to the poet's demand, but one man observed that "if they were to feed Homers, they would be encumbered with a multitude of useless people." "From this circumstance," says the writer, "Melesigenes acquired the name of Homer, for the Cumans call blind men Homers."7 With a love of economy, which shows how similar the world has always been in its treatment of literary men, the pension was denied, and the poet vented his disappointment in a wish that Cumoea might never produce a poet capable of giving it renown and glory.
  
  At Phocoea, Homer was destined to experience another literary distress. One Thestorides, who aimed at the reputation of poetical genius, kept Homer in his own house, and allowed him a pittance, on condition of the verses of the poet passing in his name. Having collected sufficient poetry to be profitable, Thestorides, like some would-be-literary publishers, neglected the man whose brains he had sucked, and left him. At his departure, Homer is said to have observed: "O Thestorides, of the many things hidden from the knowledge of man, nothing is more unintelligible than the human heart."8
  
  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. No vessel happened then to be setting sail thither, but he found one ready to Start for Erythrae, 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 Erythrae, Homer fortunately met with a person who had known him in Phocoea, 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. "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 or some time he stood wondering how a blind man should have[pg xiv] 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. 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.9
  
  "The dogs, instead of eating, kept barking at the stranger, according to their usual habit. Whereupon Homer addressed Glaucus thus: O Glaucus, my friend, prythee attend to my behest. First give the dogs their supper at the doors of the hut: for so it is better, since, whilst they watch, nor thief nor wild beast will approach the fold.
  
  Glaucus was pleased with the advice, and marvelled at its author. Having finished supper, they banqueted10 afresh on conversation, Homer narrating his wanderings, and telling of the cities he had visited.
  
  At length they retired to rest; but on the following morning, Glaucus resolved to go to his master, and acquaint him with his meeting with Homer. Having left the goats in charge of a fellow-servant, he left Homer at home, promising to return quickly. Having arrived at Bolissus, a place near the farm, and finding his mate, he told him the whole story respecting Homer and his journey. He paid little attention to what he said, and blamed Glaucus for his stupidity in taking in and feeding maimed and enfeebled persons. However, he bade him bring the stranger to him.
  
  Glaucus told Homer what had taken place, and bade him follow him, assuring him that good fortune would be the result. Conversation soon showed that the stranger was a man of much cleverness and general knowledge, and the Chian persuaded him to remain, and to undertake the charge of his children.11
  
  Besides the satisfaction of driving the impostor Thestorides from the island, Homer enjoyed considerable success as a teacher. In the town of Chios he established a school where he taught the precepts of poetry. "To this day," says Chandler,12 "the most curious remain is that which has been named, without reason, the School of Homer. It is on the coast, at some distance from the city, northward, and appears to have been an open temple of Cybele, formed on the top of a rock. The shape is oval, and in the centre is the image of the goddess, the[pg xv] head and an arm wanting. She is represented, as usual, sitting. The chair has a lion carved on each side, and on the back. The area is bounded by a low rim, or seat, and about five yards over. The whole is hewn out of the mountain, is rude, indistinct, and probably of the most remote antiquity."
  
  So successful was this school, that Homer realised a considerable fortune. He married, and had two daughters, one of whom died single, the other married a Chian.
  
  The following passage betrays the same tendency to connect the personages of the poems with the history of the poet, which has already been mentioned:—
  
  "In his poetical compositions Homer displays great gratitude towards Mentor of Ithaca, in the Odyssey, whose name he has _insert_ed in his poem as the companion of Ulysses,13 in return for the care taken of him when afflicted with blindness. He also testifies his gratitude to Phemius, who had given him both sustenance and instruction."
  
  His celebrity continued to increase, and many persons advised him to visit Greece, whither his reputation had now extended. Having, it is said, made some additions to his poems calculated to please the vanity of the Athenians, of whose city he had hitherto made no mention,14 he sent out for Samos. Here being recognized by a Samian, who had met with him in Chios, he was handsomely received, and invited to join in celebrating the Apaturian festival. He recited some verses, which gave great satisfaction, and by singing the Eiresione at the New Moon festivals, he earned a subsistence, visiting the houses of the rich, with whose children he was very popular.
  
  In the spring he sailed for Athens, and arrived at the island of Ios, now Ino, where he fell extremely ill, and died. It is said that his death arose from vexation, at not having been able to unravel an enigma proposed by some fishermen's children.15
  
  Such is, in brief, the substance of the earliest life of Homer we possess, and so broad are the evidences of its historical worthlessness, that it is scarcely necessary to point them out in detail. Let us now consider some of the opinions to which a persevering, patient, and learned—but by no means consistent—series of investigations has led. In doing so, I profess to bring forward statements, not to vouch for their reasonableness or probability.
  
  "Homer appeared. The history of this poet and his works is lost in doubtful obscurity, as is the history of many of the first minds who have done honour to humanity, because they rose amidst darkness. The majestic stream of his song, blessing and fertilizing, flows like the Nile, through many lands and nations; and, like the sources of the Nile, its fountains will ever remain concealed."
  
  [pg xvi]
  Such are the words in which one of the most judicious German critics has eloquently described the uncertainty in which the whole of the Homeric question is involved. With no less truth and feeling he proceeds:—
  
  "It seems here of chief importance to expect no more than the nature of things makes possible. If the period of tradition in history is the region of twilight, we should not expect in it perfect light. The creations of genius always seem like miracles, because they are, for the most part, created far out of the reach of observation. If we were in possession of all the historical testimonies, we never could wholly explain the origin of the Iliad and the Odyssey; for their origin, in all essential points, must have remained the secret of the poet." 16
  
  From this criticism, which shows as much insight into the depths of human nature as into the minute wire-drawings of scholastic investigation, let us pass on to the main question at issue. Was Homer an individual?17 or were the Iliad and Odyssey the result of an ingenious arrangement of fragments by earlier poets?
  
  Well has Landor remarked: "Some tell us there were twenty Homers; some deny that there was ever one. It were idle and foolish to shake the contents of a vase, in order to let them settle at last. We are perpetually labouring to destroy our delights, our composure, our devotion to superior power. Of all the animals on earth we least know what is good for us. My opinion is, that what is best for us is our admiration of good. No man living venerates Homer more than I do." 18
  
  But, greatly as we admire the generous enthusiasm which rests contented with the poetry on which its best impulses had been nurtured and fostered, without seeking to destroy the vividness of first impressions by minute analysis—our editorial office compels us to give some attention to the doubts and difficulties with which the Homeric question is beset, and to entreat our reader, for a brief period, to prefer his judgment to his imagination, and to condescend to dry details.
  
  Before, however, entering into particulars respecting the question of this unity of the Homeric poems, (at least of the Iliad,) I must express my sympathy with the sentiments expressed in the following remarks:—
  
  "We cannot but think the universal admiration of its unity by the better, the poetic age of Greece, almost conclusive testimony to its original composition. It was not till the age of the grammarians that its primitive integrity was called in question; nor is it injustice to assert, that the minute and analytical spirit of a grammarian is not the best qualification for the profound feeling, the comprehensive conception of an harmonious whole. The most exquisite anatomist may be no judge of the symmetry of the human frame: and we would take the opinion of Chantrey or Westmacott on the proportions and general beauty of a form, rather than that of Mr. Brodie or Sir Astley Cooper.
  
  [pg xvii]
  "There is some truth, though some malicious exaggeration, in the lines of Pope.—
  
  "'The critic eye—that microscope of wit
  Sees hairs and pores, examines bit by bit,
  How parts relate to parts, or they to whole
  The body's harmony, the beaming soul,
  Are things which Kuster, Burmann, Wasse, shall see,
  When man's whole frame is obvious to a flea.'"19
  Long was the time which elapsed before any one dreamt of questioning the unity of the authorship of the Homeric poems. The grave and cautious Thucydides quoted without hesitation the Hymn to Apollo,20 the authenticity of which has been already disclaimed by modern critics. Longinus, in an oft quoted passage, merely expressed an opinion touching the comparative inferiority of the Odyssey to the Iliad,21 and, among a mass of ancient authors, whose very names22 it would be tedious to detail, no suspicion of the personal non-existence of Homer ever arose. So far, the voice of antiquity seems to be in favour of our early ideas on the subject; let us now see what are the discoveries to which more modern investigations lay claim.
  
  At the end of the seventeenth century, doubts had begun to awaken on the subject, and we find Bentley remarking that "Homer wrote a sequel of songs and rhapsodies, to be sung by himself, for small comings and good cheer, at festivals and other days of merriment. These loose songs were not collected together, in the form of an epic poem, till about Peisistratus' time, about five hundred years after."23
  
  Two French writers—Hedelin and Perrault—avowed a similar scepticism on the subject; but it is in the "Scienza Nuova" of Battista Vico, that we first meet with the germ of the theory, subsequently defended by Wolf with so much learning and acuteness. Indeed, it is with the Wolfian theory that we have chiefly to deal, and with the following bold hypothesis, which we will detail in the words of Grote24—
  
  "Half a century ago, the acute and valuable Prolegomena of F. A. Wolf, turning to account the Venetian Scholia, which had then been[pg xviii] 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, 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, in the ninth century before the Christian aera. 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 aera, 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, Simonides of Amorgus, Kallinus, Tyrtaeus, 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 Solon, with regard to the rhapsodies at the Panathenaea: but for what length of time previously manuscripts had existed, we are unable to say.
  
  "Those who maintain the Homeric poems to have been written from the beginning, rest their case, not upon positive proofs, nor yet upon the existing habits of society with regard to poetry—for they admit generally that the Iliad and Odyssey were not read, but recited and heard,—but upon the supposed necessity that there must have been manuscripts to ensure the preservation of the poems—the unassisted memory of reciters being neither sufficient nor trustworthy. But here we only escape a smaller difficulty by running into a greater; for the existence of trained bards, gifted with extraordinary memory,[pg xix] 25 is far less astonishing than that of long manuscripts, in an age essentially non-reading and non-writing, and when even suitable instruments and materials for the process are not obvious. Moreover, there is a strong positive reason for believing that the bard was under no necessity of refreshing his memory by consulting a manuscript; for if such had been the fact, blindness would have been a disqualification for the profession, which we know that it was not, as well from the example of Demodokus, in the Odyssey, as from that of the blind bard of Chios, in the Hymn to the Delian Apollo, whom Thucydides, as well as the general tenor of Grecian legend, identifies with Homer himself. The author of that hymn, be he who he may, could never have described a blind man as attaining the utmost perfection in his art, if he had been conscious that the memory of the bard was only maintained by constant reference to the manuscript in his chest."
  
  The loss of the digamma, that crux of critics, that quicksand upon which even the acumen of Bentley was shipwrecked, seems to prove beyond a doubt, that the pronunciation of the Greek language had undergone a considerable change. Now it is certainly difficult to suppose that the Homeric poems could have suffered by this change, had written copies been preserved. If Chaucer's poetry, for instance, had not been written, it could only have come down to us in a softened form, more like the effeminate version of Dryden, than the rough, quaint, noble original.
  
  "At what period," continues Grote, "these poems, or indeed any other Greek poems, first began to be written, must be matter of conjecture, though there is ground for assurance that it was before the time of Solon. If, in the absence of evidence, we may venture upon[pg xx] naming any more determinate period, the question a once suggests itself, What were the purposes which, in that state of society, a manuscript at its first commencement must have been intended to answer? For whom was a written Iliad necessary? Not for the rhapsodes; for with them it was not only planted in the memory, but also interwoven with the feelings, and conceived in conjunction with all those flexions and intonations of voice, pauses, and other oral artifices which were required for emphatic delivery, and which the naked manuscript could never reproduce. Not for the general public—they were accustomed to receive it with its rhapsodic delivery, and with its accompaniments of a solemn and crowded festival. The only persons for whom the written Iliad would be suitable would be a _select_ few; studious and curious men; a class of readers capable of analyzing the complicated emotions which they had experienced as hearers in the crowd, and who would, on perusing the written words, realize in their imaginations a sensible portion of the impression communicated by the reciter. Incredible as the statement may seem in an age like the present, there is in all early societies, and there was in early Greece, a time when no such reading class existed. If we could discover at what time such a class first began to be formed, we should be able to make a guess at the time when the old epic poems were first committed to writing. Now the period which may with the greatest probability be fixed upon as having first witnessed the formation even of the narrowest reading class in Greece, is the middle of the seventh century before the Christian aera (B.C. 660 to B.C. 630), the age of Terpander, Kallinus, Archilochus, Simonides of Amorgus, &c. I ground this supposition on the change then operated in the character and tendencies of Grecian poetry and music—the elegiac and the iambic measures having been introduced as rivals to the primitive hexameter, and poetical compositions having been transferred from the epical past to the affairs of present and real life. Such a change was important at a time when poetry was the only known mode of publication (to use a modern phrase not altogether suitable, yet the nearest approaching to the sense). It argued a new way of looking at the old epical treasures of the people as well as a thirst for new poetical effect; and the men who stood forward in it, may well be considered as desirous to study, and competent to criticize, from their own individual point of view, the written words of the Homeric rhapsodies, just as we are told that Kallinus both noticed and eulogized the Thebais as the production of Homer. There seems, therefore, ground for conjecturing that (for the use of this newly-formed and important, but very narrow class), manuscripts of the Homeric poems and other old epics,—the Thebais and the Cypria, as well as the Iliad and the Odyssey,—began to be compiled towards the middle of the seventh century (B.C. 1); and the opening of Egypt to Grecian commerce, which took place about the same period, would furnish increased facilities for obtaining the requisite papyrus to write upon. A reading class, when once formed, would doubtless slowly increase, and the number of manuscripts along with it; so that before the time of Solon, fifty years afterwards, both readers and manuscripts, though still comparatively few, might have attained a[pg xxi] certain recognized authority, and formed a tribunal of reference against the carelessness of individual rhapsodes."26
  
  But even Peisistratus has not been suffered to remain in possession of the credit, and we cannot help feeling the force of the following observations—
  
  "There are several incidental circumstances which, in our opinion, throw some suspicion over the whole history of the Peisistratid compilation, at least over the theory, that the Iliad was cast into its present stately and harmonious form by the directions of the Athenian ruler. If the great poets, who flourished at the bright period of Grecian song, of which, alas! we have inherited little more than the fame, and the faint echo, if Stesichorus, Anacreon, and Simonides were employed in the noble task of compiling the Iliad and Odyssey, so much must have been done to arrange, to connect, to harmonize, that it is almost incredible, that stronger marks of Athenian manufacture should not remain. Whatever occasional anomalies may be detected, anomalies which no doubt arise out of our own ignorance of the language of the Homeric age, however the irregular use of the digamma may have perplexed our Bentleys, to whom the name of Helen is said to have caused as much disquiet and distress as the fair one herself among the heroes of her age, however Mr. Knight may have failed in reducing the Homeric language to its primitive form; however, finally, the Attic dialect may not have assumed all its more marked and distinguishing characteristics—still it is difficult to suppose that the language, particularly in the joinings and transitions, and connecting parts, should not more clearly betray the incongruity between the more ancient and modern forms of expression. It is not quite in character with such a period to imitate an antique style, in order to piece out an imperfect poem in the character of the original, as Sir Walter Scott has done in his continuation of Sir Tristram.
  
  "If, however, not even such faint and indistinct traces of Athenian compilation are discoverable in the language of the poems, the total absence of Athenian national feeling is perhaps no less worthy of observation. In later, and it may fairly be suspected in earlier times, the Athenians were more than ordinarily jealous of the fame of their ancestors. But, amid all the traditions of the glories of early Greece embodied in the Iliad, the Athenians play a most subordinate and insignificant part. Even the few passages which relate to their ancestors, Mr. Knight suspects to be interpolations. It is possible, indeed, that in its leading outline, the Iliad may be true to historic fact, that in the great maritime expedition of western Greece against the rival and half-kindred empire of the Laomedontiadae, the chieftain of Thessaly, from his valour and the number of his forces, may have been the most important ally of the Peloponnesian sovereign; the preeminent value of the ancient poetry on the Trojan war may thus have forced the national feeling of the Athenians to yield to their taste. The songs which spoke of their own great ancestor were, no doubt, of far inferior sublimity and popularity, or, at first sight, a Theseid would have been much more likely to have emanated from an Athenian synod of compilers of[pg xxii] ancient song, than an Achilleid or an Olysseid. Could France have given birth to a Tasso, Tancred would have been the hero of the Jerusalem. If, however, the Homeric ballads, as they are sometimes called, which related the wrath of Achilles, with all its direful consequences, were so far superior to the rest of the poetic cycle, as to admit no rivalry,—it is still surprising, that throughout the whole poem the callida junctura should never betray the workmanship of an Athenian hand, and that the national spirit of a race, who have at a later period not inaptly been compared to our self admiring neighbours, the French, should submit with lofty self denial to the almost total exclusion of their own ancestors—or, at least, to the questionable dignity of only having produced a leader tolerably skilled in the military tactics of his age."27
  
  To return to the Wolfian theory. While it is to be confessed, that Wolf's objections to the primitive integrity of the Iliad and Odyssey have never been wholly got over, we cannot help discovering that they have failed to enlighten us as to any substantial point, and that the difficulties with which the whole subject is beset, are rather augmented than otherwise, if we admit his hypothesis. Nor is Lachmann's28 modification of his theory any better. He divides the first twenty-two books of the Iliad into sixteen different songs, and treats as ridiculous the belief that their amalgamation into one regular poem belongs to a period earlier than the age of Peisistratus. This, as Grote observes, "explains the gaps and contradictions in the narrative, but it explains nothing else." Moreover, we find no contradictions warranting this belief, and the so-called sixteen poets concur in getting rid of the following leading men in the first battle after the secession of Achilles: Elphenor, chief of the Euboeans; Tlepolemus, of the Rhodians; Pandarus, of the Lycians; Odius, of the Halizonians; Pirous and Acamas, of the Thracians. None of these heroes again make their appearance, and we can but agree with Colonel Mure, that "it seems strange that any number of independent poets should have so harmoniously dispensed with the services of all six in the sequel." The discrepancy, by which Pylaemenes, who is represented as dead in the fifth book, weeps at his son's funeral in the thirteenth, can only be regarded as the result of an interpolation.
  
  Grote, although not very distinct in stating his own opinions on the subject, has done much to clearly show the incongruity of the Wolfian theory, and of Lachmann's modifications with the character of Peisistratus. But he has also shown, and we think with equal success, that the two questions relative to the primitive unity of these poems, or, supposing that impossible, the unison of these parts by Peisistratus, and not before his time, are essentially distinct. In short, "a man may believe the Iliad to have been put together out of pre-existing songs, without recognising the age of Peisistratus as the period of its first compilation." The friends or literary employes of Peisistratus must have found an Iliad that was already ancient, and the silence of the Alexandrine critics respecting the Peisistratic "recension," goes far[pg xxiii] to prove, that, among the numerous manuscripts they examined, this was either wanting, or thought unworthy of attention.
  
  "Moreover," he continues, "the whole tenor of the poems themselves confirms what is here remarked. There is nothing, either in the Iliad or Odyssey, which savours of modernism, applying that term to the age of Peisistratus—nothing which brings to our view the alterations brought about by two centuries, in the Greek language, the coined money, the habits of writing and reading, the despotisms and republican governments, the close military array, the improved construction of ships, the Amphiktyonic convocations, the mutual frequentation of religious festivals, the Oriental and Egyptian veins of religion, &c., familiar to the latter epoch. These alterations Onomakritus, and the other literary friends of Peisistratus, could hardly have failed to notice, even without design, had they then, for the first time, undertaken the task of piecing together many self existent epics into one large aggregate. Everything in the two great Homeric poems, both in substance and in language, belongs to an age two or three centuries earlier than Peisistratus. Indeed, even the interpolations (or those passages which, on the best grounds, are pronounced to be such) betray no trace of the sixth century before Christ, and may well have been heard by Archilochus and Kallinus—in some cases even by Arktinus and Hesiod—as genuine Homeric matter29 As far as the evidences on the case, as well internal as external, enable us to judge, we seem warranted in believing that the Iliad and Odyssey were recited substantially as they now stand (always allowing for paitial divergences of text and interpolations) in 776 B.C., our first trustworthy mark of Grecian time; and this ancient date, let it be added, as it is the best-authenticated fact, so it is also the most important attribute of the Homeric poems, considered in reference to Grecian history; for they thus afford us an insight into the anti-historical character of the Greeks, enabling us to trace the subsequent forward march of the nation, and to seize instructive contrasts between their former and their later condition."30
  
  On the whole, I am inclined to believe, that the labours of Peisistratus were wholly of an editorial character, although, I must confess, that I can lay down nothing respecting the extent of his labours. At the same time, so far from believing that the composition or primary arrangement of these poems, in their present form, was the work of Peisistratus, I am rather persuaded that the fine taste and elegant mind of that Athenian31 would lead him to preserve an ancient and traditional order of the poems, rather than to patch and re-construct them according to a fanciful hypothesis. 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.
  
  [pg xxiv]
  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. 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 Moeonides, 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, and, 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 pre-existing separate songs into one comprehensive whole; but no mere arrangers or compilers would be competent to do so.'
  
  "While employed on the wild legend of Odysseus, he met with a ballad, recording the quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon. His noble mind seized the hint that there presented itself, and the Achilleis32 grew under his hand. Unity of design, however, caused him to publish the poem under the same pseudonyme as his former work: and the disjointed lays of the ancient bards were joined together, like those relating to the Cid, into a chronicle history, named the Iliad. Melesigenes knew that the poem was destined to be a lasting one, and so it has proved; but, first, the poems were destined to undergo many vicissitudes and corruptions, by the people who took to singing them in the streets, assemblies, and agoras. However, Solon first, and then[pg xxv] Peisistratus, and afterwards Aristoteles and others, revised the poems, and restored the works of Melesigenes Homeros to their original integrity in a great measure."33
  
  Having thus given some general notion of the strange theories which have developed themselves respecting this most interesting subject, I must still express my conviction as to the unity of the authorship of the Homeric poems. To deny that many corruptions and interpolations disfigure them, and that the intrusive hand of the poetasters may here and there have inflicted a wound more serious than the negligence of the copyist, would be an absurd and captious assumption, but it is to a higher criticism that we must appeal, if we would either understand or enjoy these poems. In maintaining the authenticity and personality of their one author, be he Homer or Melesigenes, quocunque nomine vocari eum jus fasque sit, I feel conscious that, while the whole weight of historical evidence is against the hypothesis which would assign these great works to a plurality of authors, the most powerful internal evidence, and that which springs from the deepest and most immediate impulse of the soul, also speaks eloquently to the contrary.
  
  The minutiae of verbal criticism I am far from seeking to despise. Indeed, considering the character of some of my own books, such an attempt would be gross inconsistency. But, while I appreciate its importance in a philological view, I am inclined to set little store on its aesthetic value, especially in poetry. Three parts of the emendations made upon poets are mere alterations, some of which, had they been suggested to the author by his Maecenas or Africanus, he would probably have adopted. Moreover, those who are most exact in laying down rules of verbal criticism and interpretation, are often least competent to carry out their own precepts. Grammarians are not poets by profession, but may be so per accidens. I do not at this moment remember two emendations on Homer, calculated to substantially improve the poetry of a passage, although a mass of remarks, from Herodotus down to Loewe, have given us the history of a thousand minute points, without which our Greek knowledge would be gloomy and jejune.
  
  But it is not on words only that grammarians, mere grammarians, will exercise their elaborate and often tiresome ingenuity. Binding down an heroic or dramatic poet to the block upon which they have previously dissected his words and sentences, they proceed to use the axe and the pruning knife by wholesale, and inconsistent in everything but their wish to make out a case of unlawful affiliation, they cut out book after book, passage after passage, till the author is reduced to a collection of fragments, or till those, who fancied they possessed the works of some great man, find that they have been put off with a vile counterfeit got up at second hand. If we compare the theories of Knight, Wolf, Lachmann, and others, we shall feel better satisfied of the utter uncertainty of criticism than of the apocryphal position of Homer. One rejects what another considers the turning-point of his[pg xxvi] theory. One cuts a supposed knot by expunging what another would explain by omitting something else.
  
  Nor is this morbid species of sagacity by any means to be looked upon as a literary novelty. Justus Lipsius, a scholar of no ordinary skill, seems to revel in the imaginary discovery, that the tragedies attributed to Seneca are by four different authors.34 Now, I will venture to assert, that these tragedies are so uniform, not only in their borrowed phraseology—a phraseology with which writers like Boethius and Saxo Grammaticus were more charmed than ourselves—in their freedom from real poetry, and last, but not least, in an ultra-refined and consistent abandonment of good taste, that few writers of the present day would question the capabilities of the same gentleman, be he Seneca or not, to produce not only these, but a great many more equally bad. With equal sagacity, Father Hardouin astonished the world with the startling announcement that the Æneid of Virgil, and the satires of Horace, were literary deceptions. Now, without wishing to say one word of disrespect against the industry and learning—nay, the refined acuteness—which scholars, like Wolf, have bestowed upon this subject, I must express my fears, that many of our modern Homeric theories will become matter for the surprise and entertainment, rather than the instruction, of posterity. Nor can I help thinking, that the literary history of more recent times will account for many points of difficulty in the transmission of the Iliad and Odyssey to a period so remote from that of their first creation.
  
  I have already expressed my belief that the labours of Peisistratus were of a purely editorial character; and there seems no more reason why corrupt and imperfect editions of Homer may not have been abroad in his day, than that the poems of Valerius Flaccus and Tibullus should have given so much trouble to Poggio, Scaliger, and others. But, after all, the main fault in all the Homeric theories is, that they demand too great a sacrifice of those feelings to which poetry most powerfully appeals, and which are its most fitting judges. The ingenuity which has sought to rob us of the name and existence of Homer, does too much violence to that inward emotion, which makes our whole soul yearn with love and admiration for the blind bard of Chios. To believe the author of the Iliad a mere compiler, is to degrade the powers of human invention; to elevate analytical judgment at the expense of the most ennobling impulses of the soul; and to forget the ocean in the contemplation of a polypus. There is a catholicity, so to speak, in the very name of Homer. Our faith in the author of the Iliad may be a mistaken one, but as yet nobody has taught us a better.
  
  While, however, I look upon the belief in Homer as one that has nature herself for its mainspring; while I can join with old Ennius in believing in Homer as the ghost, who, like some patron saint, hovers round the bed of the poet, and even bestows rare gifts from that wealth of imagination which a host of imitators could not exhaust,—still I am far from wishing to deny that the author of these great poems found a rich fund of tradition, a well-stocked mythical storehouse from whence[pg xxvii] he might derive both subject and embellishment. But it is one thing to use existing romances in the embellishment of a poem, another to patch up the poem itself from such materials. What consistency of style and execution can be hoped for from such an attempt? or, rather, what bad taste and tedium will not be the infallible result?
  
  A blending of popular legends, and a free use of the songs of other bards, are features perfectly consistent with poetical originality. In fact, the most original writer is still drawing upon outward impressions—nay, even his own thoughts are a kind of secondary agents which support and feed the impulses of imagination. But unless there be some grand pervading principle—some invisible, yet most distinctly stamped archetypus of the great whole, a poem like the Iliad can never come to the birth. Traditions the most picturesque, episodes the most pathetic, local associations teeming with the thoughts of gods and great men, may crowd in one mighty vision, or reveal themselves in more substantial forms to the mind of the poet; but, except the power to create a grand whole, to which these shall be but as details and embellishments, be present, we shall have nought but a scrap-book, a parterre filled with flowers and weeds strangling each other in their wild redundancy: we shall have a cento of rags and tatters, which will require little acuteness to detect.
  
  Sensible as I am of the difficulty of disproving a negative, and aware as I must be of the weighty grounds there are for opposing my belief, it still seems to me that the Homeric question is one that is reserved for a higher criticism than it has often obtained. We are not by nature intended to know all things; still less, to compass the powers by which the greatest blessings of life have been placed at our disposal. Were faith no virtue, then we might indeed wonder why God willed our ignorance on any matter. But we are too well taught the contrary lesson; and it seems as though our faith should be especially tried touching the men and the events which have wrought most influence upon the condition of humanity. And there is a kind of sacredness attached to the memory of the great and the good, which seems to bid us repulse the scepticism which would allegorize their existence into a pleasing apologue, and measure the giants of intellect by an homeopathic dynameter.
  
  Long and habitual reading of Homer appears to familiarize our thoughts even to his incongruities; or rather, if we read in a right spirit and with a heartfelt appreciation, we are too much dazzled, too deeply wrapped in admiration of the whole, to dwell upon the minute spots which mere analysis can discover. In reading an heroic poem we must transform ourselves into heroes of the time being, we in imagination must fight over the same battles, woo the same loves, burn with the same sense of injury, as an Achilles or a Hector. And if we can but attain this degree of enthusiasm (and less enthusiasm will scarcely suffice for the reading of Homer), we shall feel that the poems of Homer are not only the work of one writer, but of the greatest writer that ever touched the hearts of men by the power of song.
  
  And it was this supposed unity of authorship which gave these poems their powerful influence over the minds of the men of old.[pg xxviii] Heeren, who is evidently little disposed in favour of modern theories, finely observes:—
  
  "It was Homer who formed the character of the Greek nation. No poet has ever, as a poet, exercised a similar influence over his countrymen. Prophets, lawgivers, and sages have formed the character of other nations; it was reserved to a poet to form that of the Greeks. This is a feature in their character which was not wholly erased even in the period of their degeneracy. When lawgivers and sages appeared in Greece, the work of the poet had already been accomplished; and they paid homage to his superior genius. He held up before his nation the mirror, in which they were to behold the world of gods and heroes no less than of feeble mortals, and to behold them reflected with purity and truth. His poems are founded on the first feeling of human nature; on the love of children, wife, and country; on that passion which outweighs all others, the love of glory. His songs were poured forth from a breast which sympathized with all the feelings of man; and therefore they enter, and will continue to enter, every breast which cherishes the same sympathies. If it is granted to his immortal spirit, from another heaven than any of which he dreamed on earth, to look down on his race, to see the nations from the fields of Asia to the forests of Hercynia, performing pilgrimages to the fountain which his magic wand caused to flow; if it is permitted to him to view the vast assemblage of grand, of elevated, of glorious productions, which had been called into being by means of his songs; wherever his immortal spirit may reside, this alone would suffice to complete his happiness."35
  
  Can we contemplate that ancient monument, on which the "Apotheosis of Homer"36 is depictured, and not feel how much of pleasing association, how much that appeals most forcibly and most distinctly to our minds, is lost by the admittance of any theory but our old tradition? The more we read, and the more we think—think as becomes the readers of Homer,—the more rooted becomes the conviction that the Father of Poetry gave us this rich inheritance, whole and entire. Whatever were the means of its preservation, let us rather be thankful for the treasury of taste and eloquence thus laid open to our use, than seek to make it a mere centre around which to drive a series of theories, whose wildness is only equalled by their inconsistency with each other.
  
  As the hymns, and some other poems usually ascribed to Homer, are not included in Pope's translation, I will content myself with a brief account of the Battle of the Frogs and Mice, from the pen of a writer who has done it full justice37:—
  
  "This poem," says Coleridge, "is a short mock-heroic of ancient date. The text varies in different editions, and is obviously disturbed and corrupt to a great degree; it is commonly said to have been a juvenile essay of Homer's genius; others have attributed it to the same Pigrees,[pg xxix] mentioned above, and whose reputation for humour seems to have invited the appropriation of any piece of ancient wit, the author of which was uncertain; so little did the Greeks, before the age of the Ptolemies, know or care about that department of criticism employed in determining the genuineness of ancient writings. As to this little poem being a youthful prolusion of Homer, it seems sufficient to say that from the beginning to the end it is a plain and palpable parody, not only of the general spirit, but of the numerous passages of the Iliad itself; and even, if no such intention to parody were discernible in it, the objection would still remain, that to suppose a work of mere burlesque to be the primary effort of poetry in a simple age, seems to reverse that order in the development of national taste, which the history of every other people in Europe, and of many in Asia, has almost ascertained to be a law of the human mind; it is in a state of society much more refined and permanent than that described in the Iliad, that any popularity would attend such a ridicule of war and the gods as is contained in this poem; and the fact of there having existed three other poems of the same kind attributed, for aught we can see, with as much reason to Homer, is a strong inducement to believe that none of them were of the Homeric age. Knight infers from the usage of the word deltos, "writing tablet," instead of diphthera, "skin," which, according to Herod. 5, 58, was the material employed by the Asiatic Greeks for that purpose, that this poem was another offspring of Attic ingenuity; and generally that the familiar mention of the cock (v. 191) is a strong argument against so ancient a date for its composition."
  
  Having thus given a brief account of the poems comprised in Pope's design, I will now proceed to make a few remarks on his translation, and on my own purpose in the present edition.
  
  Pope was not a Grecian. His whole education had been irregular, and his earliest acquaintance with the poet was through the version of Ogilby. It is not too much to say that his whole work bears the impress of a disposition to be satisfied with the general sense, rather than to dive deeply into the minute and delicate features of language. Hence his whole work is to be looked upon rather as an elegant paraphrase than a translation. There are, to be sure, certain conventional anecdotes, which prove that Pope consulted various friends, whose classical attainments were sounder than his own, during the undertaking; but it is probable that these examinations were the result rather of the contradictory versions already existing, than of a desire to make a perfect transcript of the original. And in those days, what is called literal translation was less cultivated than at present. If something like the general sense could be decorated with the easy gracefulness of a practised poet; if the charms of metrical cadence and a pleasing fluency could be made consistent with a fair interpretation of the poet's meaning, his words were less jealously sought for, and those who could read so good a poem as Pope's Iliad had fair reason to be satisfied.
  
  It would be absurd, therefore, to test Pope's translation by our own advancing knowledge of the original text. We must be content to[pg xxx] look at it as a most delightful work in itself,—a work which is as much a part of English literature as Homer himself is of Greek. We must not be torn from our kindly associations with the old Iliad, that once was our most cherished companion, or our most looked-for prize, merely because Buttmann, Loewe, and Liddell have made us so much more accurate as to amphikupellon being an adjective, and not a substantive. Far be it from us to defend the faults of Pope, especially when we think of Chapman's fine, bold, rough old English;—far be it from, us to hold up his translation as what a translation of Homer might be. But we can still dismiss Pope's Iliad to the hands of our readers, with the consciousness that they must have read a very great number of books before they have read its fellow.
  
  As to the Notes accompanying the present volume, they are drawn up without pretension, and mainly with the view of helping the general reader. Having some little time since translated all the works of Homer for another publisher, I might have brought a large amount of accumulated matter, sometimes of a critical character, to bear upon the text. But Pope's version was no field for such a display; and my purpose was to touch briefly on antiquarian or mythological allusions, to notice occasionally some departures from the original, and to give a few parallel passages from our English Homer, Milton. In the latter task I cannot pretend to novelty, but I trust that my other annotations, while utterly disclaiming high scholastic views, will be found to convey as much as is wanted; at least, as far as the necessary limits of these volumes could be expected to admit. To write a commentary on Homer is not my present aim; but if I have made Pope's translation a little more entertaining and instructive to a mass of miscellaneous readers, I shall consider my wishes satisfactorily accomplished.
  
  THEODORE ALOIS BUCKLEY.
  
  Christ Church.
  
  
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  
  [pg xxxi]
  POPE'S PREFACE TO THE ILIAD OF HOMER
  Homer is universally allowed to have had the greatest invention of any writer whatever. The praise of judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their pretensions as to particular excellences; but his invention remains yet unrivalled. Nor is it a wonder if he has ever been acknowledged the greatest of poets, who most excelled in that which is the very foundation of poetry. It is the invention that, in different degrees, distinguishes all great geniuses: the utmost stretch of human study, learning, and industry, which masters everything besides, can never attain to this. It furnishes art with all her materials, and without it judgment itself can at best but "steal wisely:" for art is only like a prudent steward that lives on managing the riches of nature. Whatever praises may be given to works of judgment, there is not even a single beauty in them to which the invention must not contribute: as in the most regular gardens, art can only reduce beauties of nature to more regularity, and such a figure, which the common eye may better take in, and is, therefore, more entertained with. And, perhaps, the reason why common critics are inclined to prefer a judicious and methodical genius to a great and fruitful one, is, because they find it easier for themselves to pursue their observations through a uniform and bounded walk of art, than to comprehend the vast and various extent of nature.
  
  Our author's work is a wild paradise, where, if we cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the seeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but _select_ed some particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant it is owing to the richness of the soil; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is only because they are overrun and oppressed by those of a stronger nature.
  
  It is to the strength of this amazing invention we are to attribute that unequalled fire and rapture which is so forcible in Homer, that no man of a true poetical spirit is master of himself while he reads him. What he writes is of the most animated nature imaginable; every thing moves, every thing lives, and is put in action. If a council be called, or a battle fought, you are not coldly informed of what was said[pg xxxii] or done as from a third person; the reader is hurried out of himself by the force of the poet's imagination, and turns in one place to a hearer, in another to a spectator. The course of his verses resembles that of the army he describes,
  
  Hoid' ar' isan hosei te puri chthon pasa nemoito.
  "They pour along like a fire that sweeps the whole earth before it." It is, however, remarkable, that his fancy, which is everywhere vigorous, is not discovered immediately at the beginning of his poem in its fullest splendour: it grows in the progress both upon himself and others, and becomes on fire, like a chariot-wheel, by its own rapidity. Exact disposition, just thought, correct elocution, polished numbers, may have been found in a thousand; but this poetic fire, this "vivida vis animi," in a very few. Even in works where all those are imperfect or neglected, this can overpower criticism, and make us admire even while we disapprove. Nay, where this appears, though attended with absurdities, it brightens all the rubbish about it, till we see nothing but its own splendour. This fire is discerned in Virgil, but discerned as through a glass, reflected from Homer, more shining than fierce, but everywhere equal and constant: in Lucan and Statius it bursts out in sudden, short, and interrupted flashes: In Milton it glows like a furnace kept up to an uncommon ardour by the force of art: in Shakspeare it strikes before we are aware, like an accidental fire from heaven: but in Homer, and in him only, it burns everywhere clearly and everywhere irresistibly.
  
  I shall here endeavour to show how this vast invention exerts itself in a manner superior to that of any poet through all the main constituent parts of his work: as it is the great and peculiar characteristic which distinguishes him from all other authors.
  
  This strong and ruling faculty was like a powerful star, which, in the violence of its course, drew all things within its vortex. It seemed not enough to have taken in the whole circle of arts, and the whole compass of nature, to supply his maxims and reflections; all the inward passions and affections of mankind, to furnish his characters: and all the outward forms and images of things for his descriptions: but wanting yet an ampler sphere to expatiate in, he opened a new and boundless walk for his imagination, and created a world for himself in the invention of fable. That which Aristotle calls "the soul of poetry," was first breathed into it by Homer, I shall begin with considering him in his part, as it is naturally the first; and I speak of it both as it means the design of a poem, and as it is taken for fiction.
  
  Fable may be divided into the probable, the allegorical, and the marvellous. The probable fable is the recital of such actions as, though they did not happen, yet might, in the common course of nature; or of such as, though they did, became fables by the additional episodes and manner of telling them. Of this sort is the main story of an epic poem, "The return of Ulysses, the settlement of the Trojans in Italy," or the like. That of the Iliad is the "anger of Achilles," the most short and single subject that ever was chosen by any poet. Yet this he has supplied with a vaster variety of incidents[pg xxxiii] and events, and crowded with a greater number of councils, speeches, battles, and episodes of all kinds, than are to be found even in those poems whose schemes are of the utmost latitude and irregularity. The action is hurried on with the most vehement spirit, and its whole duration employs not so much as fifty days. Virgil, for want of so warm a genius, aided himself by taking in a more extensive subject, as well as a greater length of time, and contracting the design of both Homer's poems into one, which is yet but a fourth part as large as his. The other epic poets have used the same practice, but generally carried it so far as to superinduce a multiplicity of fables, destroy the unity of action, and lose their readers in an unreasonable length of time. Nor is it only in the main design that they have been unable to add to his invention, but they have followed him in every episode and part of story. If he has given a regular catalogue of an army, they all draw up their forces in the same order. If he has funeral games for Patroclus, Virgil has the same for Anchises, and Statius (rather than omit them) destroys the unity of his actions for those of Archemorus. If Ulysses visit the shades, the Æneas of Virgil and Scipio of Silius are sent after him. If he be detained from his return by the allurements of Calypso, so is Æneas by Dido, and Rinaldo by Armida. If Achilles be absent from the army on the score of a quarrel through half the poem, Rinaldo must absent himself just as long on the like account. If he gives his hero a suit of celestial armour, Virgil and Tasso make the same present to theirs. Virgil has not only observed this close imitation of Homer, but, where he had not led the way, supplied the want from other Greek authors. Thus the story of Sinon, and the taking of Troy, was copied (says Macrobius) almost word for word from Pisander, as the loves of Dido and Æneas are taken from those of Medea and Jason in Apollonius, and several others in the same manner.
  
  To proceed to the allegorical fable—If we reflect upon those innumerable knowledges, those secrets of nature and physical philosophy which Homer is generally supposed to have wrapped up in his allegories, what a new and ample scene of wonder may this consideration afford us! How fertile will that imagination appear, which as able to clothe all the properties of elements, the qualifications of the mind, the virtues and vices, in forms and persons, and to introduce them into actions agreeable to the nature of the things they shadowed! This is a field in which no succeeding poets could dispute with Homer, and whatever commendations have been allowed them on this head, are by no means for their invention in having enlarged his circle, but for their judgment in having contracted it. For when the mode of learning changed in the following ages, and science was delivered in a plainer manner, it then became as reasonable in the more modern poets to lay it aside, as it was in Homer to make use of it. And perhaps it was no unhappy circumstance for Virgil, that there was not in his time that demand upon him of so great an invention as might be capable of furnishing all those allegorical parts of a poem.
  
  The marvellous fable includes whatever is supernatural, and especially the machines of the gods. If Homer was not the first who introduced the deities (as Herodotus imagines) into the religion of[pg xxxiv] Greece, he seems the first who brought them into a system of machinery for poetry, and such a one as makes its greatest importance and dignity: for we find those authors who have been offended at the literal notion of the gods, constantly laying their accusation against Homer as the chief support of it. But whatever cause there might be to blame his machines in a philosophical or religious view, they are so perfect in the poetic, that mankind have been ever since contented to follow them: none have been able to enlarge the sphere of poetry beyond the limits he has set: every attempt of this nature has proved unsuccessful; and after all the various changes of times and religions, his gods continue to this day the gods of poetry.
  
  We come now to the characters of his persons; and here we shall find no author has ever drawn so many, with so visible and surprising a variety, or given us such lively and affecting impressions of them. Every one has something so singularly his own, that no painter could have distinguished them more by their features, than the poet has by their manners. Nothing can be more exact than the distinctions he has observed in the different degrees of virtues and vices. The single quality of courage is wonderfully diversified in the several characters of the Iliad. That of Achilles is furious and intractable; that of Diomede forward, yet listening to advice, and subject to command; that of Ajax is heavy and self-confiding; of Hector, active and vigilant: the courage of Agamemnon is inspirited by love of empire and ambition; that of Menelaus mixed with softness and tenderness for his people: we find in Idomeneus a plain direct soldier; in Sarpedon a gallant and generous one. Nor is this judicious and astonishing diversity to be found only in the principal quality which constitutes the main of each character, but even in the under parts of it, to which he takes care to give a tincture of that principal one. For example: the main characters of Ulysses and Nestor consist in wisdom; and they are distinct in this, that the wisdom of one is artificial and various, of the other natural, open, and regular. But they have, besides, characters of courage; and this quality also takes a different turn in each from the difference of his prudence; for one in the war depends still upon caution, the other upon experience. It would be endless to produce instances of these kinds. The characters of Virgil are far from striking us in this open manner; they lie, in a great degree, hidden and undistinguished; and, where they are marked most evidently affect us not in proportion to those of Homer. His characters of valour are much alike; even that of Turnus seems no way peculiar, but, as it is, in a superior degree; and we see nothing that differences the courage of Mnestheus from that of Sergestus, Cloanthus, or the rest, In like manner it may be remarked of Statius's heroes, that an air of impetuosity runs through them all; the same horrid and savage courage appears in his Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippomedon, &c. They have a parity of character, which makes them seem brothers of one family. I believe when the reader is led into this tract of reflection, if he will pursue it through the epic and tragic writers, he will be convinced how infinitely superior, in this point, the invention of Homer was to that of all others.
  
  [pg xxxv]
  The speeches are to be considered as they flow from the characters; being perfect or defective as they agree or disagree with the manners, of those who utter them. As there is more variety of characters in the Iliad, so there is of speeches, than in any other poem. "Everything in it has manner" (as Aristotle expresses it), that is, everything is acted or spoken. It is hardly credible, in a work of such length, how small a number of lines are employed in narration. In Virgil the dramatic part is less in proportion to the narrative, and the speeches often consist of general reflections or thoughts, which might be equally just in any person's mouth upon the same occasion. As many of his persons have no apparent characters, so many of his speeches escape being applied and judged by the rule of propriety. We oftener think of the author himself when we read Virgil, than when we are engaged in Homer, all which are the effects of a colder invention, that interests us less in the action described. Homer makes us hearers, and Virgil leaves us readers.
  
  If, in the next place, we take a view of the sentiments, the same presiding faculty is eminent in the sublimity and spirit of his thoughts. Longinus has given his opinion, that it was in this part Homer principally excelled. What were alone sufficient to prove the grandeur and excellence of his sentiments in general, is, that they have so remarkable a parity with those of the Scripture. Duport, in his Gnomologia Homerica, has collected innumerable instances of this sort. And it is with justice an excellent modern writer allows, that if Virgil has not so many thoughts that are low and vulgar, he has not so many that are sublime and noble; and that the Roman author seldom rises into very astonishing sentiments where he is not fired by the Iliad.
  
  If we observe his descriptions, images, and similes, we shall find the invention still predominant. To what else can we ascribe that vast comprehension of images of every sort, where we see each circumstance of art, and individual of nature, summoned together by the extent and fecundity of his imagination to which all things, in their various views presented themselves in an instant, and had their impressions taken off to perfection at a heat? Nay, he not only gives us the full prospects of things, but several unexpected peculiarities and side views, unobserved by any painter but Homer. Nothing is so surprising as the descriptions of his battles, which take up no less than half the Iliad, and are supplied with so vast a variety of incidents, that no one bears a likeness to another; such different kinds of deaths, that no two heroes are wounded in the same manner, and such a profusion of noble ideas, that every battle rises above the last in greatness, horror, and confusion. It is certain there is not near that number of images and descriptions in any epic poet, though every one has assisted himself with a great quantity out of him; and it is evident of Virgil especially, that he has scarce any comparisons which are not drawn from his master.
  
  If we descend from hence to the expression, we see the bright imagination of Homer shining out in the most enlivened forms of it. We acknowledge him the father of poetical diction; the first who taught that "language of the gods" to men. His expression is like[pg xxxvi] the colouring of some great masters, which discovers itself to be laid on boldly, and executed with rapidity. It is, indeed, the strongest and most glowing imaginable, and touched with the greatest spirit. Aristotle had reason to say, he was the only poet who had found out "living words;" there are in him more daring figures and metaphors than in any good author whatever. An arrow is "impatient" to be on the wing, a weapon "thirsts" to drink the blood of an enemy, and the like, yet his expression is never too big for the sense, but justly great in proportion to it. It is the sentiment that swells and fills out the diction, which rises with it, and forms itself about it, for in the same degree that a thought is warmer, an expression will be brighter, as that is more strong, this will become more perspicuous; like glass in the furnace, which grows to a greater magnitude, and refines to a greater clearness, only as the breath within is more powerful, and the heat more intense.
  
  To throw his language more out of prose, Homer seems to have affected the compound epithets. This was a sort of composition peculiarly proper to poetry, not only as it heightened the diction, but as it assisted and filled the numbers with greater sound and pomp, and likewise conduced in some measure to thicken the images. On this last consideration I cannot but attribute these also to the fruitfulness of his invention, since (as he has managed them) they are a sort of supernumerary pictures of the persons or things to which they were joined. We see the motion of Hector's plumes in the epithet Korythaiolos, the landscape of Mount Neritus in that of Einosiphyllos, and so of others, which particular images could not have been insisted upon so long as to express them in a description (though but of a single line) without diverting the reader too much from the principal action or figure. As a metaphor is a short simile, one of these epithets is a short description.
  
  Lastly, if we consider his versification, we shall be sensible what a share of praise is due to his invention in that also. He was not satisfied with his language as he found it settled in any one part of Greece, but searched through its different dialects with this particular view, to beautify and perfect his numbers he considered these as they had a greater mixture of vowels or consonants, and accordingly employed them as the verse required either a greater smoothness or strength. What he most affected was the Ionic, which has a peculiar sweetness, from its never using contractions, and from its custom of resolving the diphthongs into two syllables, so as to make the words open themselves with a more spreading and sonorous fluency. With this he mingled the Attic contractions, the broader Doric, and the feebler Æolic, which often rejects its aspirate, or takes off its accent, and completed this variety by altering some letters with the licence of poetry. Thus his measures, instead of being fetters to his sense, were always in readiness to run along with the warmth of his rapture, and even to give a further representation of his notions, in the correspondence of their sounds to what they signified. Out of all these he has derived that harmony which makes us confess he had not only the richest head, but the finest ear in the world. This is so great a truth, that whoever will but[pg xxxvii] consult the tune of his verses, even without understanding them (with the same sort of diligence as we daily see practised in the case of Italian operas), will find more sweetness, variety, and majesty of sound, than in any other language of poetry. The beauty of his numbers is allowed by the critics to be copied but faintly by Virgil himself, though they are so just as to ascribe it to the nature of the Latin tongue: indeed the Greek has some advantages both from the natural sound of its words, and the turn and cadence of its verse, which agree with the genius of no other language. Virgil was very sensible of this, and used the utmost diligence in working up a more intractable language to whatsoever graces it was capable of, and, in particular, never failed to bring the sound of his line to a beautiful agreement with its sense. If the Grecian poet has not been so frequently celebrated on this account as the Roman, the only reason is, that fewer critics have understood one language than the other. Dionysius of Halicarnassus has pointed out many of our author's beauties in this kind, in his treatise of the Composition of Words. It suffices at present to observe of his numbers, that they flow with so much ease, as to make one imagine Homer had no other care than to transcribe as fast as the Muses dictated, and, at the same time, with so much force and inspiriting vigour, that they awaken and raise us like the sound of a trumpet. They roll along as a plentiful river, always in motion, and always full; while we are borne away by a tide of verse, the most rapid, and yet the most smooth imaginable.
  
  Thus on whatever side we contemplate Homer, what principally strikes us is his invention. It is that which forms the character of each part of his work; and accordingly we find it to have made his fable more extensive and copious than any other, his manners more lively and strongly marked, his speeches more affecting and transported, his sentiments more warm and sublime, his images and descriptions more full and animated, his expression more raised and daring, and his numbers more rapid and various. I hope, in what has been said of Virgil, with regard to any of these heads, I have no way derogated from his character. Nothing is more absurd or endless, than the common method of comparing eminent writers by an opposition of particular passages in them, and forming a judgment from thence of their merit upon the whole. We ought to have a certain knowledge of the principal character and distinguishing excellence of each: it is in that we are to consider him, and in proportion to his degree in that we are to admire him. No author or man ever excelled all the world in more than one faculty; and as Homer has done this in invention, Virgil has in judgment. Not that we are to think that Homer wanted judgment, because Virgil had it in a more eminent degree; or that Virgil wanted invention, because Homer possessed a larger share of it; each of these great authors had more of both than perhaps any man besides, and are only said to have less in comparison with one another. Homer was the greater genius, Virgil the better artist. In one we most admire the man, in the other the work. Homer hurries and transports us with a commanding impetuosity; Virgil leads us with an attractive majesty; Homer scatters with a generous profusion;[pg xxxviii] Virgil bestows with a careful magnificence; Homer, like the Nile, pours out his riches with a boundless overflow; Virgil, like a river in its banks, with a gentle and constant stream. When we behold their battles, methinks the two poets resemble the heroes they celebrate. Homer, boundless and resistless as Achilles, bears all before him, and shines more and more as the tumult increases; Virgil, calmly daring, like Æneas, appears undisturbed in the midst of the action; disposes all about him, and conquers with tranquillity. And when we look upon their machines, Homer seems like his own Jupiter in his terrors, shaking Olympus, scattering the lightnings, and firing the heavens: Virgil, like the same power in his benevolence, counselling with the gods, laying plans for empires, and regularly ordering his whole creation.
  
  But after all, it is with great parts, as with great virtues, they naturally border on some imperfection; and it is often hard to distinguish exactly where the virtue ends, or the fault begins. As prudence may sometimes sink to suspicion, so may a great judgment decline to coldness; and as magnanimity may run up to profusion or extravagance, so may a great invention to redundancy or wildness. If we look upon Homer in this view, we shall perceive the chief objections against him to proceed from so noble a cause as the excess of this faculty.
  
  Among these we may reckon some of his marvellous fictions, upon which so much criticism has been spent, as surpassing all the bounds of probability. Perhaps it may be with great and superior souls, as with gigantic bodies, which, exerting themselves with unusual strength, exceed what is commonly thought the due proportion of parts, to become miracles in the whole; and, like the old heroes of that make, commit something near extravagance, amidst a series of glorious and inimitable performances. Thus Homer has his "speaking horses;" and Virgil his "myrtles distilling blood;" where the latter has not so much as contrived the easy intervention of a deity to save the probability.
  
  It is owing to the same vast invention, that his similes have been thought too exuberant and full of circumstances. The force of this faculty is seen in nothing more, than in its inability to confine itself to that single circumstance upon which the comparison is grounded: it runs out into embellishments of additional images, which, however, are so managed as not to overpower the main one. His similes are like pictures, where the principal figure has not only its proportion given agreeable to the original, but is also set off with occasional ornaments and prospects. The same will account for his manner of heaping a number of comparisons together in one breath, when his fancy suggested to him at once so many various and correspondent images. The reader will easily extend this observation to more objections of the same kind.
  
  If there are others which seem rather to charge him with a defect or narrowness of genius, than an excess of it, those seeming defects will be found upon examination to proceed wholly from the nature of the times he lived in. Such are his grosser representations of the gods; and the vicious and imperfect manners of his heroes; but I must here[pg xxxix] speak a word of the latter, as it is a point generally carried into extremes, both by the censurers and defenders of Homer. It must be a strange partiality to antiquity, to think with Madame Dacier,38 "that those times and manners are so much the more excellent, as they are more contrary to ours." Who can be so prejudiced in their favour as to magnify the felicity of those ages, when a spirit of revenge and cruelty, joined with the practice of rapine and robbery, reigned through the world: when no mercy was shown but for the sake of lucre; when the greatest princes were put to the sword, and their wives and daughters made slaves and concubines? On the other side, I would not be so delicate as those modern critics, who are shocked at the servile offices and mean employments in which we sometimes see the heroes of Homer engaged. There is a pleasure in taking a view of that simplicity, in opposition to the luxury of succeeding ages: in beholding monarchs without their guards; princes tending their flocks, and princesses drawing water from the springs. When we read Homer, we ought to reflect that we are reading the most ancient author in the heathen world; and those who consider him in this light, will double their pleasure in the perusal of him. Let them think they are growing acquainted with nations and people that are now no more; that they are stepping almost three thousand years back into the remotest antiquity, and entertaining themselves with a clear and surprising vision of things nowhere else to be found, the only true mirror of that ancient world. By this means alone their greatest obstacles will vanish; and what usually creates their dislike, will become a satisfaction.
  
  This consideration may further serve to answer for the constant use of the same epithets to his gods and heroes; such as the "far-darting Phoebus," the "blue-eyed Pallas," the "swift-footed Achilles," &c., which some have censured as impertinent, and tediously repeated. Those of the gods depended upon the powers and offices then believed to belong to them; and had contracted a weight and veneration from the rites and solemn devotions in which they were used: they were a sort of attributes with which it was a matter of religion to salute them on all occasions, and which it was an irreverence to omit. As for the epithets of great men, Mons. Boileau is of opinion, that they were in the nature of surnames, and repeated as such; for the Greeks having no names derived from their fathers, were obliged to add some other distinction of each person; either naming his parents expressly, or his place of birth, profession, or the like: as Alexander the son of Philip, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Diogenes the Cynic, &c. Homer, therefore, complying with the custom of his country, used such distinctive additions as better agreed with poetry. And, indeed, we have something parallel to these in modern times, such as the names of Harold Harefoot, Edmund Ironside, Edward Longshanks, Edward the Black Prince, &c. If yet this be thought to account better for the propriety than for the repetition, I shall add a further conjecture. Hesiod, dividing the world into its different ages, has placed a fourth age, between the brazen and the iron one, of "heroes distinct from other[pg xl] men; a divine race who fought at Thebes and Troy, are called demi-gods, and live by the care of Jupiter in the islands of the blessed." Now among the divine honours which were paid them, they might have this also in common with the gods, not to be mentioned without the solemnity of an epithet, and such as might be acceptable to them by celebrating their families, actions or qualities.
  
  What other cavils have been raised against Homer, are such as hardly deserve a reply, but will yet be taken notice of as they occur in the course of the work. Many have been occasioned by an injudicious endeavour to exalt Virgil; which is much the same, as if one should think to raise the superstructure by undermining the foundation: one would imagine, by the whole course of their parallels, that these critics never so much as heard of Homer's having written first; a consideration which whoever compares these two poets ought to have always in his eye. Some accuse him for the same things which they overlook or praise in the other; as when they prefer the fable and moral of the Æneis to those of the Iliad, for the same reasons which might set the Odyssey above the Æneis; as that the hero is a wiser man, and the action of the one more beneficial to his country than that of the other; or else they blame him for not doing what he never designed; as because Achilles is not as good and perfect a prince as Æneas, when the very moral of his poem required a contrary character: it is thus that Rapin judges in his comparison of Homer and Virgil. Others _select_ those particular passages of Homer which are not so laboured as some that Virgil drew out of them: this is the whole management of Scaliger in his Poetics. Others quarrel with what they take for low and mean expressions, sometimes through a false delicacy and refinement, oftener from an ignorance of the graces of the original, and then triumph in the awkwardness of their own translations: this is the conduct of Perrault in his Parallels. Lastly, there are others, who, pretending to a fairer proceeding, distinguish between the personal merit of Homer, and that of his work; but when they come to assign the causes of the great reputation of the Iliad, they found it upon the ignorance of his times, and the prejudice of those that followed: and in pursuance of this principle, they make those accidents (such as the contention of the cities, &c.) to be the causes of his fame, which were in reality the consequences of his merit. The same might as well be said of Virgil, or any great author whose general character will infallibly raise many casual additions to their reputation. This is the method of Mons. de la Mott; who yet confesses upon the whole that in whatever age Homer had lived, he must have been the greatest poet of his nation, and that he may be said in his sense to be the master even of those who surpassed him.39
  
  In all these objections we see nothing that contradicts his title to the honour of the chief invention: and as long as this (which is indeed the characteristic of poetry itself) remains unequalled by his followers, he still continues superior to them. A cooler judgment may commit fewer faults, and be more approved in the eyes of one sort of critics: but that warmth of fancy will carry the loudest and most[pg xli] universal applauses which holds the heart of a reader under the strongest enchantment. Homer not only appears the inventor of poetry, but excels all the inventors of other arts, in this, that he has swallowed up the honour of those who succeeded him. What he has done admitted no increase, it only left room for contraction or regulation. He showed all the stretch of fancy at once; and if he has failed in some of his flights, it was but because he attempted everything. A work of this kind seems like a mighty tree, which rises from the most vigorous seed, is improved with industry, flourishes, and produces the finest fruit: nature and art conspire to raise it; pleasure and profit join to make it valuable: and they who find the justest faults, have only said that a few branches which run luxuriant through a richness of nature, might be lopped into form to give it a more regular appearance.
  
  Having now spoken of the beauties and defects of the original, it remains to treat of the translation, with the same view to the chief characteristic. As far as that is seen in the main parts of the poem, such as the fable, manners, and sentiments, no translator can prejudice it but by wilful omissions or contractions. As it also breaks out in every particular image, description, and simile, whoever lessens or too much softens those, takes off from this chief character. It is the first grand duty of an interpreter to give his author entire and unmaimed; and for the rest, the diction and versification only are his proper province, since these must be his own, but the others he is to take as he finds them.
  
  It should then be considered what methods may afford some equivalent in our language for the graces of these in the Greek. It is certain no literal translation can be just to an excellent original in a superior language: but it is a great mistake to imagine (as many have done) that a rash paraphrase can make amends for this general defect; which is no less in danger to lose the spirit of an ancient, by deviating into the modern manners of expression. If there be sometimes a darkness, there is often a light in antiquity, which nothing better preserves than a version almost literal. I know no liberties one ought to take, but those which are necessary to transfusing the spirit of the original, and supporting the poetical style of the translation: and I will venture to say, there have not been more men misled in former times by a servile, dull adherence to the letter, than have been deluded in ours by a chimerical, insolent hope of raising and improving their author. It is not to be doubted, that the fire of the poem is what a translator should principally regard, as it is most likely to expire in his managing: however, it is his safest way to be content with preserving this to his utmost in the whole, without endeavouring to be more than he finds his author is, in any particular place. It is a great secret in writing, to know when to be plain, and when poetical and figurative; and it is what Homer will teach us, if we will but follow modestly in his footsteps. Where his diction is bold and lofty, let us raise ours as high as we can; but where his is plain and humble, we ought not to be deterred from imitating him by the fear of incurring the censure of a mere English critic. Nothing that belongs to Homer[pg xlii] seems to have been more commonly mistaken than the just pitch of his style: some of his translators having swelled into fustian in a proud confidence of the sublime; others sunk into flatness, in a cold and timorous notion of simplicity. Methinks I see these different followers of Homer, some sweating and straining after him by violent leaps and bounds (the certain signs of false mettle), others slowly and servilely creeping in his train, while the poet himself is all the time proceeding with an unaffected and equal majesty before them. However, of the two extremes one could sooner pardon frenzy than frigidity; no author is to be envied for such commendations, as he may gain by that character of style, which his friends must agree together to call simplicity, and the rest of the world will call dulness. There is a graceful and dignified simplicity, as well as a bold and sordid one; which differ as much from each other as the air of a plain man from that of a sloven: it is one thing to be tricked up, and another not to be dressed at all. Simplicity is the mean between ostentation and rusticity.
  
  This pure and noble simplicity is nowhere in such perfection as in the Scripture and our author. One may affirm, with all respect to the inspired writings, that the Divine Spirit made use of no other words but what were intelligible and common to men at that time, and in that part of the world; and, as Homer is the author nearest to those, his style must of course bear a greater resemblance to the sacred books than that of any other writer. This consideration (together with what has been observed of the parity of some of his thoughts) may, methinks, induce a translator, on the one hand, to give in to several of those general phrases and manners of expression, which have attained a veneration even in our language from being used in the Old Testament; as, on the other, to avoid those which have been appropriated to the Divinity, and in a manner consigned to mystery and religion.
  
  For a further preservation of this air of simplicity, a particular care should be taken to express with all plainness those moral sentences and proverbial speeches which are so numerous in this poet. They have something venerable, and as I may say, oracular, in that unadorned gravity and shortness with which they are delivered: a grace which would be utterly lost by endeavouring to give them what we call a more ingenious (that is, a more modern) turn in the paraphrase.
  
  Perhaps the mixture of some Graecisms and old words after the manner of Milton, if done without too much affectation, might not have an ill effect in a version of this particular work, which most of any other seems to require a venerable, antique cast. But certainly the use of modern terms of war and government, such as "platoon, campaign, junto," or the like, (into which some of his translators have fallen) cannot be allowable; those only excepted without which it is impossible to treat the subjects in any living language.
  
  There are two peculiarities in Homer's diction, which are a sort of marks or moles by which every common eye distinguishes him at first sight; those who are not his greatest admirers look upon them as defects, and those who are, seemed pleased with them as beauties. I speak of his compound epithets, and of his repetitions. Many of the[pg xliii] former cannot be done literally into English without destroying the purity of our language. I believe such should be retained as slide easily of themselves into an English compound, without violence to the ear or to the received rules of composition, as well as those which have received a sanction from the authority of our best poets, and are become familiar through their use of them; such as "the cloud-compelling Jove," &c. As for the rest, whenever any can be as fully and significantly expressed in a single word as in a compounded one, the course to be taken is obvious.
  
  Some that cannot be so turned, as to preserve their full image by one or two words, may have justice done them by circumlocution; as the epithet einosiphyllos to a mountain, would appear little or ridiculous translated literally "leaf-shaking," but affords a majestic idea in the periphrasis: "the lofty mountain shakes his waving woods." Others that admit of different significations, may receive an advantage from a judicious variation, according to the occasions on which they are introduced. For example, the epithet of Apollo, hekaebolos or "far-shooting," is capable of two explications; one literal, in respect of the darts and bow, the ensigns of that god; the other allegorical, with regard to the rays of the sun; therefore, in such places where Apollo is represented as a god in person, I would use the former interpretation; and where the effects of the sun are described, I would make choice of the latter. Upon the whole, it will be necessary to avoid that perpetual repetition of the same epithets which we find in Homer, and which, though it might be accommodated (as has been already shown) to the ear of those times, is by no means so to ours: but one may wait for opportunities of placing them, where they derive an additional beauty from the occasions on which they are employed; and in doing this properly, a translator may at once show his fancy and his judgment.
  
  As for Homer's repetitions, we may divide them into three sorts: of whole narrations and speeches, of single sentences, and of one verse or hemistitch. I hope it is not impossible to have such a regard to these, as neither to lose so known a mark of the author on the one hand, nor to offend the reader too much on the other. The repetition is not ungraceful in those speeches, where the dignity of the speaker renders it a sort of insolence to alter his words; as in the messages from gods to men, or from higher powers to inferiors in concerns of state, or where the ceremonial of religion seems to require it, in the solemn forms of prayers, oaths, or the like. In other cases, I believe the best rule is, to be guided by the nearness, or distance, at which the repetitions are placed in the original: when they follow too close, one may vary the expression; but it is a question, whether a professed translator be authorized to omit any: if they be tedious, the author is to answer for it.
  
  It only remains to speak of the versification. Homer (as has been said) is perpetually applying the sound to the sense, and varying it on every new subject. This is indeed one of the most exquisite beauties of poetry, and attainable by very few: I only know of Homer eminent for it in the Greek, and Virgil in the Latin. I am sensible it is what may sometimes happen by chance, when a writer is warm, and fully[pg xliv] possessed of his image: however, it may reasonably be believed they designed this, in whose verse it so manifestly appears in a superior degree to all others. Few readers have the ear to be judges of it: but those who have, will see I have endeavoured at this beauty.
  
  Upon the whole, I must confess myself utterly incapable of doing justice to Homer. I attempt him in no other hope but that which one may entertain without much vanity, of giving a more tolerable copy of him than any entire translation in verse has yet done. We have only those of Chapman, Hobbes, and Ogilby. Chapman has taken the advantage of an immeasurable length of verse, notwithstanding which, there is scarce any paraphrase more loose and rambling than his. He has frequent interpolations of four or six lines; and I remember one in the thirteenth book of the Odyssey, ver. 312, where he has spun twenty verses out of two. He is often mistaken in so bold a manner, that one might think he deviated on purpose, if he did not in other places of his notes insist so much upon verbal trifles. He appears to have had a strong affectation of extracting new meanings out of his author; insomuch as to promise, in his rhyming preface, a poem of the mysteries he had revealed in Homer; and perhaps he endeavoured to strain the obvious sense to this end. His expression is involved in fustian; a fault for which he was remarkable in his original writings, as in the tragedy of Bussy d'Amboise, &c. In a word, the nature of the man may account for his whole performance; for he appears, from his preface and remarks, to have been of an arrogant turn, and an enthusiast in poetry. His own boast, of having finished half the Iliad in less than fifteen weeks, shows with what negligence his version was performed. But that which is to be allowed him, and which very much contributed to cover his defects, is a daring fiery spirit that animates his translation, which is something like what one might imagine Homer himself would have writ before he arrived at years of discretion.
  
  Hobbes has given us a correct explanation of the sense in general; but for particulars and circumstances he continually lops them, and often omits the most beautiful. As for its being esteemed a close translation, I doubt not many have been led into that error by the shortness of it, which proceeds not from his following the original line by line, but from the contractions above mentioned. He sometimes omits whole similes and sentences; and is now and then guilty of mistakes, into which no writer of his learning could have fallen, but through carelessness. His poetry, as well as Ogilby's, is too mean for criticism.
  
  It is a great loss to the poetical world that Mr. Dryden did not live to translate the Iliad. He has left us only the first book, and a small part of the sixth; in which if he has in some places not truly interpreted the sense, or preserved the antiquities, it ought to be excused on account of the haste he was obliged to write in. He seems to have had too much regard to Chapman, whose words he sometimes copies, and has unhappily followed him in passages where he wanders from the original. However, had he translated the whole work, I would no more have attempted Homer after him than Virgil: his version of whom (notwithstanding some human errors) is the most noble and spirited translation I know in any language. But the fate of great geniuses is like[pg xlv] that of great ministers: though they are confessedly the first in the commonwealth of letters, they must be envied and calumniated only for being at the head of it.
  
  That which, in my opinion, ought to be the endeavour of any one who translates Homer, is above all things to keep alive that spirit and fire which makes his chief character: in particular places, where the sense can bear any doubt, to follow the strongest and most poetical, as most agreeing with that character; to copy him in all the variations of his style, and the different modulations of his numbers; to preserve, in the more active or descriptive parts, a warmth and elevation; in the more sedate or narrative, a plainness and solemnity; in the speeches, a fulness and perspicuity; in the sentences, a shortness and gravity; not to neglect even the little figures and turns on the words, nor sometimes the very cast of the periods; neither to omit nor confound any rites or customs of antiquity: perhaps too he ought to include the whole in a shorter compass than has hitherto been done by any translator who has tolerably preserved either the sense or poetry. What I would further recommend to him is, to study his author rather from his own text, than from any commentaries, how learned soever, or whatever figure they may make in the estimation of the world; to consider him attentively in comparison with Virgil above all the ancients, and with Milton above all the moderns. Next these, the Archbishop of Cambray's Telemachus may give him the truest idea of the spirit and turn of our author; and Bossu's admirable Treatise of the Epic Poem the justest notion of his design and conduct. But after all, with whatever judgment and study a man may proceed, or with whatever happiness he may perform such a work, he must hope to please but a few; those only who have at once a taste of poetry, and competent learning. For to satisfy such a want either, is not in the nature of this undertaking; since a mere modern wit can like nothing that is not modern, and a pedant nothing that is not Greek.
  
  What I have done is submitted to the public; from whose opinions I am prepared to learn; though I fear no judges so little as our best poets, who are most sensible of the weight of this task. As for the worst, whatever they shall please to say, they may give me some concern as they are unhappy men, but none as they are malignant writers. I was guided in this translation by judgments very different from theirs, and by persons for whom they can have no kindness, if an old observation be true, that the strongest antipathy in the world is that of fools to men of wit. Mr. Addison was the first whose advice determined me to undertake this task; who was pleased to write to me upon that occasion in such terms as I cannot repeat without vanity. I was obliged to Sir Richard Steele for a very early recommendation of my undertaking to the public. Dr. Swift promoted my interest with that warmth with which he always serves his friend. The humanity and frankness of Sir Samuel Garth are what I never knew wanting on any occasion. I must also acknowledge, with infinite pleasure, the many friendly offices, as well as sincere criticisms, of Mr. Congreve, who had led me the way in translating some parts of Homer. I must add the names of Mr. Rowe, and Dr. Parnell, though I shall take a further opportunity of doing justice to the last, whose good nature (to[pg xlvi] give it a great panegyric), is no less extensive than his learning. The favour of these gentlemen is not entirely undeserved by one who bears them so true an affection. But what can I say of the honour so many of the great have done me; while the first names of the age appear as my subscribers, and the most distinguished patrons and ornaments of learning as my chief encouragers? Among these it is a particular pleasure to me to find, that my highest obligations are to such who have done most honour to the name of poet: that his grace the Duke of Buckingham was not displeased I should undertake the author to whom he has given (in his excellent Essay), so complete a praise:
  
  "Read Homer once, and you can read no more;
  For all books else appear so mean, so poor,
  Verse will seem prose: but still persist to read,
  And Homer will be all the books you need."
  That the Earl of Halifax was one of the first to favour me; of whom it is hard to say whether the advancement of the polite arts is more owing to his generosity or his example: that such a genius as my Lord Bolingbroke, not more distinguished in the great scenes of business, than in all the useful and entertaining parts of learning, has not refused to be the critic of these sheets, and the patron of their writer: and that the noble author of the tragedy of "Heroic Love" has continued his partiality to me, from my writing pastorals to my attempting the Iliad. I cannot deny myself the pride of confessing, that I have had the advantage not only of their advice for the conduct in general, but their correction of several particulars of this translation.
  
  I could say a great deal of the pleasure of being distinguished by the Earl of Carnarvon; but it is almost absurd to particularize any one generous action in a person whose whole life is a continued series of them. Mr. Stanhope, the present secretary of state, will pardon my desire of having it known that he was pleased to promote this affair. The particular zeal of Mr. Harcourt (the son of the late Lord Chancellor) gave me a proof how much I am honoured in a share of his friendship. I must attribute to the same motive that of several others of my friends: to whom all acknowledgments are rendered unnecessary by the privileges of a familiar correspondence; and I am satisfied I can no way better oblige men of their turn than by my silence.
  
  In short, I have found more patrons than ever Homer wanted. He would have thought himself happy to have met the same favour at Athens that has been shown me by its learned rival, the University of Oxford. And I can hardly envy him those pompous honours he received after death, when I reflect on the enjoyment of so many agreeable obligations, and easy friendships, which make the satisfaction of life. This distinction is the more to be acknowledged, as it is shown to one whose pen has never gratified the prejudices of particular parties, or the vanities of particular men. Whatever the success may prove, I shall never repent of an undertaking in which I have experienced the candour and friendship of so many persons of merit; and in which I hope to pass some of those years of youth that are generally lost in a circle of follies, after a manner neither wholly unuseful to others, nor disagreeable to myself.

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