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who was born in the latter half of the third century, and died, in advanced old age, B. C. 157. The authority of Aristarchus finally prevailed, and from his recension comes the traditional Homeric text, slightly altered, by subsequent grammarians, into the vulgate of the third or fourth century of the Christian era. The recovery of this text must be, for us, the recovery of Homer.

Thus far, we have been dealing with facts and certainties. The earlier history of Homer has been, and remains still, a matter of great dispute. It is certain, however, that if the date at which the Homeric poems were composed was as early as that generally attributed to them (i. e. circa 950 B.C.), they were composed at a time when they could not have been preserved in writing, and must therefore have been handed down by the rhapsodists. Now these rhapsodists were themselves poets as well as reciters of poetry-they would have been ill fitted for their function else; their object was not to preserve any author intact, but simply to recite passages of verse which would give their hearers pleasure. Is it necessary to say more in proof of the incomplete, the fragmentary, the varying, forms in which poems, so preserved, must have come down to a later age, and of the necessity which must have existed for (at least) some entire revision, before a consistent Homeric tradition could have been created or revived?

Or again, if a considerably later date is to be assigned to their composition, the author in that case cannot have written independently of the materials already existing to his hands, and traditional. From whatever point of view, therefore, we regard it, a late revision or a late composition must be assumed; and the question takes the new form-how much did the reviser or composer do; what new work did he add ; how far did he follow others; how far did he produce an original poem?

These are points on which I will not attempt to offer an opinion. When it is seen clearly what are the real questions at issue their interest becomes mainly antiquarian. Whatever results may be arrived at, they cannot alter our judgment of the poems, nor ought they to lessen our admiring love for their authors. The merit is the same, whether the Homeric poems are the work of one man, or rather of an age and a nation that found in noble verse its natural expression, and the fullest satisfaction of all its deepest thoughts, as our own age and nation finds an expression and a satisfaction in political and industrial creations, and in the development of the exact sciences. For, in spite of the varied richness of our poetical literature, we have no poet who is to us what Homer was to the Greek.

The substance of the Homeric poems belongs to a time when philosophy, properly so called, had not sprung into being. And yet questions had been started similar to those to which philosophy afterwards turned itself and furnished only a different kind of answer. It might seem strange that the most difficult questions were the first to occupy attention'—that subjects, of which we still know nothing, should have been confidently dealt with in the early dawn of knowledge. Yet history shews us that it was so, and has always been so. What was the origin of the world; what the inner nature of the forces by which it is guided and governed; how is it that the "Laws of Nature", as we call them, produce the effects we witness? Philosophers took these questions and dealt with them in their own way. The world had arisen out of water, or air, or from the four elements combined; attraction and repulsion, love and hatred, necessity, chance, intellect;—such

1 Vide Grote, Hist. of Greece, Vol. I. cap. 16, where a full account will be found of the nature, and difficulty, and importance of the early Greek philosophy; and a comparison of it with the mythological system which preceded it.

were the principles assumed to solve the problem, such the conjectures thrown out at random and admitting neither of being confirmed nor refuted. Grotesque and useless in themselves, in their own place and order these theories are not to be undervalued. The time had not yet come for gradual work and patient industry, building up by slow degrees the great edifice of knowledge. Mankind in their feebleness and ignorance could be stimulated to exertion only by the deceptive prospect of omniscience; and the journey must be short, and the road smooth, and the goal easy of attainment. Think what we may of these notions now, modern science could never have arisen without them. But neither could they have arisen but for the system of thought that preceded them-the philosophy, as I shall venture to call it, of which the Homeric poems furnish us with the best examples. With Homer, all was referred to the personal agency of Gods, either residing in or identified with the several parts and phenomena of the material universe. The sun is a God, pursuing his daily journey through the heavens, and overlooking all things. The lightning is the sign and messenger of the wrath of Zeus. Pestilence and death come from the darts of Apollo or Artemis. Night and morning, even, are erected into divine personages. Men explained the world around them by the laws of their own nature, and knew no other explanation. Religion, history, art, philosophy, science-as far as these were possible, they are all combined in Homer's encyclopædic verse.

But what was the human nature which Homer has described, and the society of which the Homeric hero was a member? They were very different from human nature and society as they exist now, or as they existed at a later period of Greek history. The Homeric king is drawn as being in effect a constitutional sovereign. His power was inherited from his forefathers, and his prerogatives were fixed and


limited-fixed by custom and tradition rather than by enactment, and limited by the presence of the nobles who surrounded him, and themselves possessed a power similar to his own. Over the common people, indeed, the monarch was supreme, but here his supremacy ended. With his nobles he was little more than primus inter pares,—their natural leader, as long as he shewed capacity to lead them; their judge and lawgiver as long as the Oépores' he uttered bore stamp of the divine wisdom which was supposed to have dictated them. This state of society passed away when the nobles raised themselves to a full equality with the king, and substituted an avowed aristocratical for a monarchical form of government. The accession of the commons to a share of political power, was, in every case, of later growth3.

We may learn, too, from Homer's pages, how weak was the tie which bound together the assembled Greek warriors3. The Hellenic name and traditions were of later origin. It was not yet felt that the "EXAŋves were a separate people, the sole possessors of civilization-the worthy representatives of the race, while the outer world was barbarian. The story of the wrath of Achilles illustrates very well this weakness of national sentiment. At offence iven, he abandons the whole purpose of the campaign, and for some time withdraws his troops from all part in the war. And this continues until the same blind impulse (Ovuós) which had led him to inactivity, forces him on again to battle. It is to revenge the death of Patroclus that he fights, just as it was to avenge the rape of Brisëis that he had retired. The difficulties of Agamemnon were very similar to those which beset Montrose in the management of his troops of Highlanders; and they

1 Conf. I. 1. 238, note, and Maine's Ancient Law, p. 4.

2 On this whole subject, vide Arnold's Thucydides, Vol. I, Appendix I. Conf. Thucydides, Bk. I. cap. 3.

arose in both cases from the same cause-from the absence of any real bond of union between the half disciplined forces of which the army of either leader was composed from the absence, in other words, of nationality.

It is less easy, perhaps, to shew the essential differences between human nature then and now; but there are some obvious remarks which may help us to feel that such differences there are, real and deeply seated. It is clear in the first place, that several types of character have come into existence since Homer's time-the man of science, the philanthropist, the saint-while none have wholly disappeared. There is a corresponding difference, too, between some of the habitual motives and impulses under which men acted. The destructive instincts were in excess, the constructive barely developed. Veneration and love were possible; but benevolence-a regard for the good of others, independently of race and family-there was no such thing, nor did the militant civilization of Greece admit of it. We might readily multiply remarks such as these, but the matter will be made clearer by concrete instances than by any abstract discussion of types or motives. We shall be in a fair position to understand it when we consider, on the one hand, how easily could Ajax or Achilles or Priam or Diomed find a place or a counterpart in the modern world. The very characters seem to exist about us, to meet us with a deceptive freshness, and endanger our forgetting the changes that man's nature has undergone. But what place or what counterpart could be found, in Homer's world, for Howard, for Bossuet, for Newton, for St Francis ?

I must add, before concluding my preface, that, much as there is uncertain about the early history of Homer, we may assume the following as established. The Iliad and Odyssey were not the work of the same man, nor do they

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