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stories of great English kings. His work important things for you to do will doubtwas based on the chronicles, and is thus less occur to you in view of this introducrelated to history, but he added many tion. stories and characters so as to make his In the first place, you have a better dramas lifelike, and he often altered the chance now than you have had earlier in facts of history so that they would better your course to learn something about fit his plan. Nevertheless, our opinion of several of the great literary types. By kings like Henry V or Richard III has been keeping your eye of observation open, you influenced by Shakespeare's plays rather can learn more about these types from the more than by what historians have told selections here given than through any us are the facts about these kings. In number of lectures or books. For examJulius Caesar and other plays, Shakespeare ple, you may study plot, as handled in an dramatized Roman history. Thus we see epic like the Odyssey, a ballad like Otterhow history may be made the basis of bourne, a romance like The Lady of the Lake, drama as well as of epic. In fact, some of and a drama like Julius Caesar. You may Shakespeare's historical plays, such as study characterization in the same way. Henry V, have many epic characteristics. You may also study the social life, the
This little bird's-eye view of what you ideas of what the true man should be and are about to read will show how these do, the ideals of manners, citizenship, various types of literature, written in religion, and the like, in these same works widely different times, have a common that represent widely different periods of relationship. The same story, as we have civilization. By such a plan of study you already noticed, may be told in various will find your knowledge of the history ways, and each of these ways involves a of these periods greatly clarified and incertain technique, or art, dependent on the creased. form or type used by the author. Plutarch, Again, you have an opportunity to create a great scholar, studies legends and chroni- something for yourself. You read a cles about Caesar. His work is translated, moment ago about the long history of the by way of France, into English prose. A story of Caesar as it has been interpreted dramatist uses this as the basis for his play. by men twenty centuries apart. What This play is acted in widely different ways Shakespeare did with the old chronicles at various periods. The Elizabethan theater is what you should do for yourself as you was very different from ours; in the eight read. The chronicles were the mere frameeenth century still other ideals of dramatic work which he used for re-creating the life presentation were found. At present we of past time. He visualized it; saw it. may see an Elizabethan revival of Julius When you go to the picture-show, you find Caesar, or a gorgeous modern presentation a story set forth in a series of pictures. This of it, or we may even see it in the moving is what you should do for yourself as you picture theater. Such, then, has been the read ballad, legend, history. You should evolution of the story: first, authentic re-create, for yourself, the life of the past history about a man who actually lived; times. Every reader, if his imagination is then, legend in verse and prose about him; awake, may make his own series of moving then a drama in which his story is told by pictures, his own pageant of history and words and through action; finally, a series legend. of pictures so wonderfully done that they Finally, these selections deal for the most seem to bring before our eyes the scenes part with men as individuals, not with men in which Caesar played a part, a picture- in the mass. The great social and political story told without language at all.
movements, such as the rise of modern III
democracy, are not represented. The man
who seeks for personal distinction, or who Besides reading this material for the meets some crisis bravely, or bears up under stories that it tells, and besides reading it adverse fates, or, on the other hand, the for the sake of knowing something about man who fails in a crisis because of some the works of great writers, several other flaw in his character-such are the heroes
of ballad, epic, and heroic drama. Thus these stories answer to our very human curiosity about people. They deal with men who acted as we should like to act, or who failed to meet a test that may come to us.
In them we see our own real or imaginary experience. We may escape from the ordinary routine of life, For
these are not merely stories of adventure. They are, many of them, symbols of all human life. Therefore they represent, as in a moving picture, the heroism, the triumphs, the failures of men as they are confronted by the realities of living and by some of the mysteries that surround man's destiny.
The poem from which this selection is taken is one of the oldest in the world. It deals with a civilization that was highly developed before the dawn of history, and some of the material in this poem was ancient even when that civilization was at its height.
The Odyssey is one of the two great epic poems ascribed to Homer. About Homer nothing is known. Many legends have grown up around his name, such as his blindness, his poverty, the fame that came to him after death so that seven cities competed for the honor of being called his birthplace. But all this is legend; we know nothing. It is even doubtful if one man composed the whole of the Odyssey or of the Iliad, the other great epic ascribed to Homer. It is doubtful if the two poems were by the same man, even if each was the complete work of one man. And it is certain that these two poems are only two out of many epics composed in ancient Greece; some of the others are known by name, but the poems themselves disappeared before men began to keep records of their thoughts and imaginations, or perished among the wrecks of Time.
All that we know is that by some miracle two long Greek poems, each of them containing twenty-four parts, or “books," each perfect in structure and composition, have come down to us. Both of them are related to the so-called Trojan War. We know where Troy once stood, in Asia Minor, and it is probable that the region was once ruled by a powerful king. But we have no records of Troy, of the king, or of its people. We do not know in what century it flourished, or the date of its fall. There are legends about Helen, the beautiful wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, who was carried off by Paris in consequence of the promise made to him by Venus, the goddess to whom Paris had awarded the golden apple. From this, it
is said, the ten years' war at Troy came about, for Menelaus enlisted the aid of the great Agamemnon and the other Greek warriors and they set sail for Troy, whither Paris and Helen had fled. The entire story carries us back to the realms of ancient myth. It is probably the most famous story in the world, for not only were the Homeric legends connected with it in one way or another, but Vergil's Aeneid, the greatest poem produced by Roman genius, is a continuation of it, while it was used as the basis of poems and histories throughout the Middle Ages, has influenced many modern poets, and has become a part of the literature of all modern peoples.
The influence of the legend of Troy and its literature has been enormous.
Whole libraries have been written about the legend, about Homer, and about the poems ascribed to his name. Men have given their whole lives to the study of some of these problems. When you read this selection, therefore, you come into contact with one of the most interesting of all the manifestations of human genius.
The Iliad and the Odyssey are quite different, and illustrate two different forms of epic poetry. The Iliad, as its name indicates, deals with Ilium, or Troy, and is concerned with the last year of the
Its action covers only a few days, and it does not tell about the fall of the city. The theme of the poem is the wrath of Achilles and its effects. Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors, became angry because of an injustice that had been done him by his king, and refused to take any further part in the siege of the city. He remained in his tent, nursing his anger, deaf to the entreaties of the other leaders. The poem describes some of the battles, and finally tells how
Hector, whose rank and fame among the to secure the property of the hero and who Trojans corresponded to the position of spent years as unwelcome guests in his Achilles among the Greeks, fought Patro- house. But this outline does not sufficlus, friend of Achilles, and slew him. ciently show how masterly was the poet's After a period of deep melancholy, Achilles handling of these strands of story. For set forth to avenge the death of his friend, one thing, the action is compressed into a fought Hector, and triumphed. The poem short space by the device of having the ends with an account of the burial of the hero tell to Alcinoüs, king of the PhæaTrojan hero.
cians, some of his marvelous adventures. Such is the plot, reduced to the briefest A little further analysis will make even compass, of the poem. Such an abstract clearer the skill with which the poet does not bring in the episodes that are scat- handles his complicated material. tered through the Iliad, or the passages The poem opens at Ithaca, where that reveal the manners and customs of the Penelope and Telemachus are awaiting time, or the figures and descriptions that the hero's return. The suitors, thinking add beauty and stateliness to the style. that Ulysses is dead, try to persuade But it does show how simple and compact Penelope to choose one of their number was the plot. The poet does not give a as her husband, but she refuses. They history of the war—its causes, the events are so numerous and so powerful that she of the ten long years, the close. He
cannot drive them away. Telemachus merely seizes upon a set of events, cover- is told by Athena (Minerva) to go in ing only a few days, that are significant search of his father, and the story next of the whole; he contrives to make us relates how he went from place to place aware of the entire story of the war; and to find the various heroes who had seen he draws his picture swiftly and compactly his father at Troy. We then meet so that it stands out with unforgetable Ulysses, who has spent seven years as a distinctness.
captive of Calypso, a beautiful enchantThe Odyssey has for its hero Odysseus, ress, on a magic island. At last Calypso or as the Roman poets and historians consents to let Ulysses go, so he builds a named him, Ulysses. This hero was one raft and on it reaches the land of the of the Greek chieftains at Troy. After Phæacians. How he is received by them the war ended, he set forth for Ithaca, his is told in the selection that you are to home. But he was compelled by adverse read. He tells them of his adventures fates to become a wanderer, so that it was and at last departs for Ithaca. When he many years after the fall of Troy before reaches home he finds so many enemies he was restored to his wife and son. The that he does not at once reveal his identity, poem is very different from the Iliad. but puts on the disguise of a beggar. There are no battles in it. In place of Meantime Telemachus has returned, and this warlike atmosphere we have many father and son, reunited, plan to regain marvelous events, so that the poem has control of the kingdom by stratagem. become a treasure-house of folklore and Penelope adopts the plan of promising to legend, somewhat like the fairy stories and marry that one of the suitors who can use the Arabian Nights that you read years the bow of Ulysses. A great contest is ago. But the plot is as wonderfully con- arranged, but the weapon is so formidable structed as that of the Iliad. There are that none can bend it. At length Ulysses, three strands, or sets, of stories. The still disguised as a beggar, comes forward, first is concerned with the adventures of hits the mark, slays the suitors, and is Ulysses from the time he left Troy to the happily reunited to his queen. time he was restored to his kingdom at
II Ithaca. The second tells the adventures of Telemachus, Ulysses's son, who went out Something has already been said, in the in search of his father. The third tells Introduction to this section (page 212), us of Penelope, the wife of the hero, who about the nature of epic poetry. You will was besieged by many suitors who wished now have an opportunity to make some
further observations for yourself. Before Epic poetry, then, commonly finds its you begin the reading of the poem, how- sources in ballads and hero tales that have ever, a little further information will help been handed down by tradition for many you.
years. It is a form of story. It has The epic, as you probably have observed many episodes, which are woven into a by this time, is not a primitive kind of plot that gives a unified effect. Its poetry nor does it deal with rude and basis is historical, that is, it is related to barbarous life. The author, or authors, events that are felt by a people to be of these two ancient Greek epics perhaps significant in the story of their developlived in the tenth or eleventh century ment: some crucial war; the life-history of before Christ. Very probably the material one of the nation's founders. It therefore of the poems came from ballads and heroic portrays not only the character of a hero songs that had descended through many who is felt to be truly representative of the generations. There are stories in the Iliad national character, but the ideals of life very like some of the ballads that you will that the people feel to be their ideals. find in this book, and some stories in the It is not merely a story. It has stateliOdyssey are like certain of the folk tales ness and dignity and is told in an elevated you used to read in fairy books. In fact, and serious manner, but it also has the the Odyssey is a glorious collection of such simplicity and directness of a people not tales. But they are not told. in the spoiled by wealth or power or an advanced language of the ballads and fairy tales, civilization. nor in the same manner, and they are
III woven together into a plot of the most exquisite design. A primitive or unedu- All great peoples have ballads and epics cated people could not produce such work. that deal with their origins. In Rome the The style of the poem is stately. It greatest epic was the Aeneid, written by deals with noble subjects treated in a Vergil in the century before the Christian noble manner. No other form of narra
This poem is also connected with tive poetry, except tragic drama, is so the story of Troy, for Aeneas, the hero, was elevated and serious in treatment.
a Trojan chief who fled from his native The same remark applies to the life that city after its fall, wandered like Ulysses is depicted. It is a life of the utmost through many years, endured many simplicity. Kings and princesses do work hardships, and at length founded the city that many people nowadays think only which later became mighty Rome. The Servants should do. But how noble is legend of Troy was also told in epics of the this simplicity! No better lesson about Middle Ages, and some of the nations of the dignity of honest labor could be western Europe long thought that they taught than you find in this poem. The were descended from the ancient city. Engoccupations of the people, too, belong to a land, for example, was called Britain, and simple and uncomplicated civilization. it was thought, though without reason, that There are no gay knights, fashionable this name came from Brute, or Brutus, the ladies, great barons. There are carpenters, legendary founder of New Troy (London), leather-workers, smiths. The women are who was said to have been a grandson of spinners and weavers. There is no men- Aeneas. Several old English verse chronition of money. A man's wealth consisted cles, imitating the style of the epics, told in the number of oxen he owned. You
this story. should add to these observations as you The only true epic which deals with the read the poem, but the important thing real foundation of the English race, howis for you to try to feel that the life rep- ever, is Beowulf, a poem written in Angloresented in the poem has attained stateli- Saxon, the earliest form of the English ness, dignity, nobility, without losing the language. This poem has a slight hissimplicity of pioneer times. It is not torical foundation, though the events with -coarse or vulgar; neither is it courtly which it is connected took place before the or affected.
tribes that founded England had left