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Title: Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age, Vol. 3 of 3
Author: Gladstone, W. E. (William Ewart)
Language: English
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  Plenius ac melius Chrysippo et Crantore.--HORACE.


  [_The right of Translation is reserved._]







  Plenius ac melius Chrysippo et Crantore.--HORACE.


  [_The right of Translation is reserved._]


Since the Sections which relate to Ethnology passed through the Press,
the First Volume of Mr. Rawlinson’s Herodotus has appeared. Earlier
possession of this important Publication would have emboldened me
to proceed a step further in the attempt to specify the probable or
possible form of the original Ethnic relation between the Pelasgians
and the Hellenes of the Greek Peninsula, but designating the latter
as pure Arian, and the former as Arian, with a residue or mixture of
Turanian elements.

It has also been since the ‘Olympus’ was printed, that I have become
acquainted with Welcker’s recent and unfinished ‘_Griechische
Götterlehre_,’ (Göttingen, 1857.) I could have wished to refer to it
at various points, and especially to avail myself of the clearer view,
which the learned Author has given, of the position of Κρόνος.

Founding himself in part on the exclusive appropriation by Homer of the
term Κρονίδης to Jupiter, he enables us to see how Jupiter may have
inherited the sole use of the title as being ‘the Ancient of days;’
and how Κρόνος was a formation in the Mythology wholly secondary and
posterior to his reputed son. (Welcker, sectt. 27, 8. pp. 140-7.)

Another recent book, M. Alfred Maury’s _Histoire des Religions de la
Grèce Antique_, undertakes the useful task of unfolding largely the
relations of the Greek religion to the East. But the division of it
which deals with Homer specifically is neither complete nor accurate,
and affords a new illustration of the proposition which I chiefly
desire to establish, namely, that Homer ought to be treated as a
separate and independent centre of study.

      March 15, 1858.



  Political ideas of later Greece                                Page  1
  Their strong development in Heroic Greece                            2
  Germ of the Law of Nations                                           4
  Grote’s account of the Heroic Polities                               5
  Their peculiar features, Publicity and Persuasion                    6
  Functions of the king in the Heroic Polities                         8
  Nature of the Pelopid Empire                                         9
  Degrees in Kingship and in Lordship                                 10
  Four forms of Sovereignty                                           12
  First tokens of change in the Heroic Polities                       12
  Shown by analysis of the Catalogue                                  14
  Extended signs in the Odyssey                                       17
  Altered sense of Βασιλεὺς or King                                   18
  New name of Queen                                                   20
  Disorganization caused by the War                                   21
  Arrival of a new race at manhood                                    22
  Increased weight of the nobles                                      24
  Altered idea of the kingly office                                   25
  The first instance of a bad King                                    27
  Further change in the time of Hesiod                                28
  Veneration long adhering to the name                                31
  Five distinctive notes of Βασιλῆες in the Iliad                     32
  The nine Greek Βασιλῆες of the Iliad                                35
  The case of Meges                                                   36
  Of Phœnix                                                           37
  Of Patroclus and Eurypylus                                          38
  Conditions of Kingship in the Iliad                                 39
  The personal beauty of the Kings                                    40
  Custom of resignation in old age                                    40
  Force of the term αἴζηος                                            41
  Gymnastic superiority of the Kings                                  44
  Their pursuit of Music and Song                                     45
  Ulysses as artificer and husbandman                                 46
  The Kings as Gentlemen                                              47
  Achilles in particular                                              48
  Tenderness and tears of the Greek chiefs                            49
  Right of hereditary succession                                      50
  Right of primogeniture                                              52
  The Homeric King (1) as Priest                                      55
  (2) as Judge                                                        56
  (3) as General                                                      57
  (4) as Proprietor: the τέμενος                                      58
  His revenues, from four sources in all                              59
  Burdens upon them                                                   61
  The political position of Agamemnon                                 62
  The governing motives of the War                                    64
  Position of Agamemnon in the army                                   66
  His personal character                                              67
  The relation of sovereign and subject a free one                    67
  The personal attendants of the King                                 69
  The Aristocracy or chief proprietors                                69
  The Trades and Professions                                          70
  The Slaves of the Homeric age                                       72
  The θῆτες or hired servants                                         74
  Supply of military service                                          75
  Whether there was a peasant-proprietary                             77
  Political Economy of the Homeric age                                78
  The precious metals not a measure of value                          81
  Oxen in some degree a measure of value                              82
  Relative scarcity of certain metals                                 84
  Mode of government of the Army                                      85
  Its military composition                                            88
  Chief descriptions of fighting men                                  91
  The Battle and the Ambuscade                                        92
  The Βουλὴ or Council of the Greeks                                  94
  It subsisted in peace and in war                                    97
  Opposition in the Βουλὴ                                             98
  Agamemnon’s proposals of Return                                     99
  The influence of Speech in the Heroic age                          102
  It was a subject of regular training                               103
  Varied descriptions of oratory in Homer                            104
  Achilles the paramount Orator                                      105
  The orations of the poems                                          106
  The power of repartee                                              108
  The power of sarcasm                                               109
  The faculty of debate in Homer                                     111
  The discussion of the Ninth Iliad                                  111
  Function of the Assembly in the Heroic age                         114
  The formal use of majorities unknown                               116
  The great decisions of the War taken there                         117
  It was not summoned exclusively by Agamemnon                       118
  Opposition in the Agorè by the chiefs                              119
  Opposition by Thersites                                            120
  Grote’s judgment on the case of Thersites                          123
  How that case bears witness to the popular principle               126
  As does the Agorè on the Shield                                    126
  Mode of addressing the Assembly                                    129
  Its decisions in the Seventh and Ninth Iliads                      129
  Division in the Drunken Assembly                                   130
  Appeal of Telemachus to the Ithacan Assembly                       132
  Phæacian Assembly of the Eighth Odyssey                            134
  Ithacan Assembly of the Twenty-fourth                              136
  Councils or Assemblies of Olympus                                  137
  Judicial functions of the Assembly                                 139
  Assembly the central point of the Polity                           140
  The common soul or Τὶς in Homer                                    141
  Imperfect organization of Heroic Polities                          143

  Relationship of Troy and Greece twofold                            145
  Greek names of deities found also in Troas                         147
  Include nearly all the greater deities                             150
  Worship of Vulcan in Troas                                         151
  Worship of Juno and Gaia in Troas                                  153
  Worship of Mercury in Troas                                        154
  Worship of Scamander                                               155
  Different view of Rivers in Troas                                  158
  Essential character of Trojan River-worship                        160
  Trojan impersonations from Nature rare                             162
  Poverty of Mythology among the Trojans                             165
  Their jejune doctrine of a Future State                            166
  Redundance of life in the Greek system                             168
  Worship from hills                                                 169
  The nations compared as to external development of religion.--
  1. Temples                                                         170
  2. As to endowments in land, or τεμένεα                            172
  3. As to Groves’ ἄλσεα                                             173
  4. As to Statues of the Gods                                       174
  5. As to Seers or Diviners                                         177
  6. As to the Priesthood: Priesthood in Greece                      179
  Priesthood in later Greece                                         183
  Priesthood among the Trojans                                       184
  Comparative observance of sacrifice                                187
  The Trojans more given to religious observances                    189
  Homer’s different modes of handling for Greece and Troy            190
  Moral superiority of his Greeks on the whole                       192
  Homer’s account of the abduction of Helen                          193
  The Greek estimate of Paris                                        197
  Its relation to prevailing views of Marriage                       200
  And to Greek views of Homicide                                     202
  The Trojan estimate of Paris                                       205
  Public opinion less developed in Troy                              206
  The Trojans more sensual and false                                 207
  Trojan ideas and usages of Marriage                                210
  The family of Priam                                                211
  Stricter ideas among the Greeks                                    215
  Trojan Polity less highly organized                                216
  Rule of Succession in Troy                                         217
  Succession to the throne of Priam                                  219
  Paris, most probably, was his eldest son                           221
  Position of Priam and his dynasty in Troas                         223
  Meaning of Τροίη and of Ἴλιος                                      224
  Evidence from the Trojan Catalogue                                 225
  Extent of his sovereignty and supremacy                            228
  Polity of Ilios: the Βασιλεύς                                      232
  The Assembly                                                       232
  The greater weight of Age in Troy                                  234
  The absence of a Βουλὴ in Troy                                     236
  The greater weight of oratory in Greece                            239
  Trojans less gifted with self-command                              242
  And with intelligence generally                                    244
  Difference in the pursuits of high-born youth                      245
  Difference as to αἰδὼς                                             246
  Summary of differences                                             247

  Why it deserves investigation                                      249
  Principal heads of the inquiry                                     251
  The two Spheres of Inner and Outer Geography                       252
  Limits of the Inner Geography                                      255
  The intermediate or doubtful zone                                  257
  The Sphere of the Outer Geography                                  260
  The two Keys of the Outer Geography                                261
  The traditional interpretations valueless                          262
  Manifest dislocations of actual nature                             263
  Postulates for examining the Outer Geography                       264
  The Winds of Homer                                                 265
  Special notices of Eurus and Notus                                 267
  Of Zephyr and Boreas                                               268
  Points of the Compass for the two last                             270
  For the two first                                                  272
  Scheme of the four Winds                                           273
  Signification of Eurus                                             273
  Homeric distances and rates of speed                               275
  Particulars of evidence on speed                                   277
  The northward sea-route to the Euxine                              280
  Evidence from Il. xiii. 1-6                                        281
  From Od. vii. 319-26                                               282
  From Od. v. 44-57                                                  283
  From Od. xxiv. 11-13                                               285
  Amalgamated reports of the Ocean-mouth                             287
  Open-sea passage to the Ocean-mouth                                289
  Homeward passage by the Straits, why preferred                     290
  Three maritime routes to the Ocean-mouth                           291
  Its two possible originals in nature                               292
  Straits of Yenikalè as Ocean-mouth                                 294
  Summary of facts from Phœnician reports                            295
  Two sets of reports are blended into one                           296
  The site of Ææa; North-western hypothesis                          298
  North-eastern hypothesis                                           300
  Argument from the Πλαγκταὶ                                         302
  From the Island Thrinacie                                          302
  Local notes of Ææa                                                 303
  Site of Ogygia                                                     304
  Argument from the flight of Mercury                                305
  From the floatage of Ulysses                                       306
  From his homeward passage                                          308
  Site of Scylla relatively to the Dardanelles                       309
  Why Ææa cannot lie North-westward                                  311
  Construction of Od. xii. 3, 4                                      312
  Construction of Od. v. 276, 7                                      315
  Genuineness of the passage questionable                            316
  Its real meaning                                                   317
  Homer’s indications of geographical misgivings                     318
  Stages of the tour of Ulysses to Ææa (i-vi.)                       320
  Ææa and the Euxine (vi-viii.)                                      325
  Remaining stages (viii-xi.)                                        327
  Directions and distances from Ææa onwards                          329
  Tours of Menelaus and Ulysses compared                             331
  The earth of Homer probably oval                                   334
  Points of contact with Oceanus                                     337
  The Caspian and Persian Gulf belong to Oceanus                     338
  Contraction and compression of the Homeric East                    340
  Outline of Homer’s terrestrial system                              342
  Map of Earth according to Homer                                    343

  _Parentage and Extraction of Minos._
  On the genuineness of Il. xiv. 317-27                              344
  On the sense of the line Il. xiv. 321                              346
  Collateral testimony to the extraction of Minos                    347

  _On the line Odyss. v. 277._
  Points of the question stated                                      349
  Senses of δεξιὸς and ἀριστερὸς                                     350
  Illustrated from Il. xiii                                          352
  On the force of the Homeric ἐπὶ                                    354
  Force of ἐπὶ with ἀριστερὰ                                         356
  Illustrated from Il. ii. 353. Od. xxi. 141                         358
  From Il. i. 597. vii. 238. xii. 239, 249                           359
  From Il. xxiii. 335-7                                              360
  From Il. ii. 526                                                   362
  Application to Od. v. 277                                          364
  Another sense prevailed in later Greek                             365

  SECT. I.
  _On the Plot of the Iliad._
  The Theory of Grote on the structure of the poem                   366
  Offer related in the Ninth Book and its rejection                  369
  Restitution and gifts not the object of Achilles                   371
  The offer was radically defective                                  373
  Apology needed in particular                                       375
  Consistency maintained in and after Il. ix                         377
  Skilful adjustment of conflicting aims                             379
  Glory given to Achilles                                            380
  Glory given to Greece                                              380
  Trojan inferiority mainly in the Chiefs                            382
  But it pervades the poem                                           384
  In the Chiefs it is glaring                                        385
  Conflicting exigencies of the plan                                 387
  Greeks superior even without Achilles                              388
  Harmony in relative prominence of the Chiefs                       389
  Retributive justice in the two poems                               392
  The sufferings of Achilles                                         394
  Double conquest over his will                                      395

  _The Sense of Beauty in Homer: human, animal, and inanimate._
  His sense of Beauty alike pure and strong                          397
  Degeneracy of the popular idea had begun                           398
  Illustrated by the series of Dardanid traditions, (1) Ganymede     398
  (2) Tithonus, (3) Anchises                                         400
  (4) Paris and Venus                                                401
  Homer’s sense of Beauty in the human form                          402
  His treatment of the Beauty of Paris                               402
  Beauty among the Greek chieftains                                  404
  Ascribed also to the nation                                        405
  Beauty of Nireus                                                   406
  Of Nastes and of Euphorbus                                         407
  Beauty placed among the prime gifts of man                         408
  Homer’s sense of Beauty in animals                                 409
  Especially in horses                                               410
  As to their movements                                              411
  As to their form and colour                                        413
  Homer’s sense of Beauty in inanimate nature                        416
  The instance of Ithaca                                             417
  Germ of feeling for the picturesque in Homer                       419
  Close relation of Order and Beauty                                 420
  Causes adverse to the development of the germ                      421
  Beauty of material objects absorbed in their Life                  423

  _Homer’s perception and use of Number._
  The traditional character of aptitudes                             425
  Conceptions of Number not always definite in childhood             427
  Nor even in manhood                                                428
  No calculations in Homer                                           430
  Greek estimate of the discovery of Number                          431
  Enumerative addition in Od. iv. 412, 451                           432
  Highest numerals of the poems                                      432
  The three hundred and sixty fat hogs                               434
  The Homeric ἑκατομβὴ                                               435
  The numerals expressive of value                                   436
  His silence as to the numbers of the armies                        439
  Especially in the Greek Catalogue                                  440
  Case of the Trojan bivouac                                         442
  Case of the herds and flocks in Od. xiv.                           443
  Hesiod’s age of the Nymphs                                         444
  Case of the cities of Crete                                        445
  No scheme of chronology in Homer                                   446
  Case of the three Decades of years                                 448
  Meaning of the γενεὴ of Homer                                      449
  Homer reckons time by generations                                  451
  Some difficulties of the Decades taken literally                   452
  Uses of the proposed interpretation                                455

  _Homer’s Perceptions and Use of Colour._
  Modern perceptions of colour usually definite                      457
  Signs of immature perception in Homer                              458
  His chief adjectives of colour                                     459
  His quasi-adjectives of colour                                     460
  Applications of ξανθὸς, ἐρυθρὸς, πορφύρεος                         460
  Of κύανος and κυάνεος                                              462
  Of φοίνιξ                                                          465
  Of πόλιος                                                          466
  The quasi-adjectives of colour; χλωρὸς                             467
  The αἰθαλόεις of Homer                                             468
  The ῥοδόεις and ῥοδοδάκτυλος                                       469
  The ἰόεις, ἰοειδὴς, ἰοδνεφὴς                                       470
  The οἴνοψ and μιλτοπάρηος                                          472
  Αἴθων and its cognates; also ἀργὸς, αἴολος                         473
  Γλαυκὸς, γλαυκῶπις, γλαυκιόων                                      474
  Χάροπος, σιγαλόεις, μαρμάρεος, ἠεροειδὴς                           475
  Conflict of the colours assigned to the same object                475
  Great predominance of white and black                              476
  Remarkable omissions to specify colour                             477
  In the case of the horse among others                              479
  In the case of human beauty, and of Iris                           482
  In the case of the heavens                                         483
  Causes of this peculiar treatment of colour                        483
  License of poetry in the matter of colour                          484
  Illustrated from Shakespeare                                       485
  Homer’s contracted means of training in colour                     487
  His system one of light and dark                                   488
  Colour in the later Greek language                                 491
  Greek philosophy of colour                                         493
  Nature of our advantage over Homer                                 495

  _Note on κύανος and χαλκός._
  Meanings for κύανος heretofore suggested                           496
  Probably a native blue carbonate of copper                         497
  Χαλκὸς to be understood as hardened copper                         499

  SECT. V.
  _Homer and some of his successors in Epic Poetry; particularly
  Virgil and Tasso._
  Milton’s place among Epic poets                                    500
  Difficulty of comparing him with Homer                             501
  The same as to Dante                                               501
  Æneid and Iliad; their resemblances and contrasts                  502
  Contrast between form and spirit in the Æneid                      503
  Catalogue in the Iliad and in the Æneid                            504
  Character of Æneas in the Æneid                                    505
  Character of Æneas in the Iliad                                    507
  The fine character of Turnus                                       508
  The false position of Virgil before Augustus                       509
  Difficulty of learning the poet from the poem                      510
  His false position as to religion, liberty, and nationality        511
  Untruthfulness hence resulting                                     512
  Homer is misapprehended through Virgil                             513
  In minor matters, e. g. Simois and Scamander                       513
  Νεκυΐα of Homer and of Virgil                                      515
  Ethnological and genealogical dislocations                         516
  Action of the Twelfth Æneid                                        520
  Unfaithful imitations of details                                   521
  Maltreatment of the Homeric characters                             522
  And of the Homeric Mythology and Ethics                            523
  Æneas and Dido in the Shades beneath                               525
  The woman characters of Homer and Virgil                           527
  Virgil’s insufficient care of minor proprieties                    528
  And of the order of natural phenomena                              529
  Use of exaggeration in Homer and in Virgil                         530
  Contrast of principal aims respectively                            531
  Character of the Bard; not found in Virgil                         532
  Post-Homeric change in the idea of the Poet’s office               533
  Virgil’s poetical disadvantages                                    534
  Comparison of the Trojan War with the Crusades                     535
  Rinaldo and Achilles                                               535
  Exaggerations of bulk in Homer and in Tasso                        536
  Mr. Hallam’s judgment on the Jerusalem                             537
  Tasso’s poetical disadvantages                                     538
  The man Achilles in relation to the Iliad                          539
  Liberation of the Sepulchre in relation to the _Gerusalemme_       540
  Intrusion of incongruous elements                                  542
  Relative prominence of Tancredi and Rinaldo                        543
  The Woman-characters of Tasso                                      544
  The Armida of Tasso                                                545
  Her resemblances and inferiority to Dido                           546
  Her passion ill-sustained                                          546
  Obtrusiveness of the amatory element                               548
  The Affront of Gernando                                            549
  Difference in modes of describing personages                       551
  Battles and Similes of Tasso                                       552
  Inferiority of the Return in the _Gerusalemme_                     553
  Tasso’s greatness except as compared with Homer                    554

  _Some principal Homeric Characters in Troy.
  Hector: Helen: Paris._
  Homer’s character-drawing power                                    555
  Corruption of the later tradition                                  556
  Why specially destructive in his case                              557
  Mure’s treatment of the Homeric characters                         558
  The character of Hector set off with generalities                  558
  It became the basis for that of Orlando                            559
  The martial heroism of Hector second-rate                          559
  His boastfulness his only moral fault                              561
  Hectoring and Rodomontading                                        562
  Hector’s sense of the guilt and shame of Paris                     563
  His responsibilities beyond his strength                           565
  Brightness of his character as to the affections                   567
  His piety, gentleness, and equity                                  568
  Inequality of his character as a whole                             569
  Apparent reason for it                                             569
  Opposite views of the character of Helen                           571
  Homer’s intention with respect to it                               572
  Two adverse mentions of her only                                   574
  Homer’s epithets and simile for Helen                              575
  The case of Bathsheba                                              576
  As to the free agency of Helen                                     577
  Picture of Helen in Il. iii.                                       572
  In Il. vi., Il. xxiv., Od. iv.                                     581
  The marriage with Deiphobus                                        583
  General estimate of the Homeric Helen                              584
  The character of Paris                                             585
  His apathy, levity, and selfishness                                586
  His place in the War                                               587
  Relation of his intellect to his morality                          588

  _The declension of the great Homeric Characters
  in the later Tradition._
  Physical conditions of the Greek Theatre                           590
  Absolute dependence on the popular taste                           592
  General obliteration of the finer distinctions                     593
  Mutilation of the Helen of Homer                                   593
  The Helen of Euripides                                             595
  Of Isocrates and of Virgil                                         597
  Characters of Achilles and Ulysses in Homer                        598
  Mutilation of the Ulysses of Homer                                 601
  Of the Achilles of Homer                                           602
  The Achilles of Statius                                            604
  Homeric characters in Seneca                                       605
  New relative position of Trojans and Greeks                        606
  Trojanism in England                                               608
  Imitations of Homeric characters by Tasso                          609
  The Troilus and Cressida                                           610
  Shirley’s Ajax and Ulysses                                         612
  Racine’s Iphigénie                                                 613
  Racine’s Andromaque                                                614
  CONCLUSION                                                         615



It is complained, and perhaps not without foundation, that the study of
the ancient historians does not supply the youth of England with good
political models: that, if we adjust our sympathies and antipathies
according to the division of parties and classes offered to our view
in Rome, Athens, or Sparta, they will not be cast in an English mould,
but will come out in the cruder forms of oligarchic or democratic
prejudice. Now I do not wait to inquire how far these defects may
be supplied by the political philosophers, and in particular by the
admirable treatise of Aristotle. And it certainly is true, that in
general they present to us a state of political ideas and morals
greatly deranged: the choice lies between evil on this side in one
form, and on that side in another form: the characters, who can be
recommended as examples, are commonly in a minority or in exile. Nor
do I ask how far we ought to be content, having an admirable range,
so to speak, of anatomical models in our hands, to lay aside the idea
of attaching our sympathies to what we see. I would rather incite the
objector to examine and judge whether we may not find an admirable
school of polity, and see its fundamental ideas exhibited under the
truest and largest forms, in a quarter where perhaps it would be the
least expected, namely, in the writings of Homer.

As respects religion, arts, and manners, the Greeks of the heroic age
may be compared with other societies in the infancy of man. But as
respects political science in its essential rudiments, and as respects
the application of those principles by way of art to the government of
mankind, we may say with almost literal truth that they are the fathers
of it; and Homer invites those who study him to come and view it in its
cradle, where the infant carries every lineament in miniature, that we
can reasonably desire to see developed in manhood.

~_Strong development of political ideas._~

I cannot but deprecate the association established, perhaps
unintentionally, by Grote, where, throwing Homer as he does into
hotch-pot, so to speak, with the ‘legendary age,’ he expresses
himself in his Preface[1], as follows. ‘It must be confessed that
the sentimental attributes of the Greek mind--its religious and
poetical vein--here appear in disproportionate relief, as compared
with its more vigorous and masculine capacities--with those powers of
acting, organizing, judging, and speculating, which will be revealed
in the forthcoming volumes.’ If the sentimental attribute is to be
contra-distinguished from the powers, I will not say of speculating,
but of acting, organizing, and judging, then I know of nothing less
sentimental in the after-history of Greece than the characters of
Achilles and Ulysses, than the relations of the Greek chiefs to one
another and to their people, than the strength and simplicity which
laid in those early times the foundation-stones of the Greek national
character and institutions, and made them in the social order the
just counterparts of the material structures that are now ascribed
to the Pelasgians; simple indeed in their elements, but so durable
and massive in their combination, as to be the marvel of all time.
The influences derived from these sources were of such vitality and
depth, that they secured to an insignificant country a predominating
power for centuries, made one little point of the West an effective
bulwark against the East, and caused Greece to throw out, to the right
and left, so many branches each greater than the trunk. Even when the
sun of her glory had set, there was yet left behind an immortal spark
of the ancient vitality, which, enduring through all vicissitudes,
kindled into a blaze after two thousand years; and we of this day
have seen a Greek nation, founded anew by its own energies, become
a centre of desire and hope at least to Eastern Christendom. The
English are not ashamed to own their political forefathers in the
forests of the Northward European Continent; and the later statesmen
with the lawgivers of Greece were in their day glad, and with reason
glad, to trace the bold outline and solid rudiments of their own and
their country’s greatness in the poems of Homer. Nothing in those
poems offers itself, to me at least, as more remarkable, than the
deep carving of the political characters; and what is still more, the
intense political spirit which pervades them. I will venture one step
farther, and say that, of all the countries of the civilized world,
there is no one of which the inhabitants ought to find that spirit so
intelligible and accessible as the English: because it is a spirit,
that still largely lives and breathes in our own institutions, and, if
I mistake not, even in the peculiarities of those institutions. There
we find the great cardinal ideas, which lie at the very foundation of
all enlightened government: and then we find, too, the men formed under
the influence of such ideas; as one among ourselves, who has drunk into
their spirit, tells us;

[1] Page xvii.

  Sagacious, men of iron, watchful, firm,
  Against surprise and sudden panic proof.

And again,

  The sombre aspect of majestic care,
  Of solitary thought, unshared resolve[2].

[2] Merope; by Matthew Arnold, pp. 94, 135.

It was surely a healthful sign of the working of freedom, that in
that early age, despite the prevalence of piracy, even that idea of
political justice and public right, which is the germ of the law of
nations, was not unknown to the Greeks. It would appear that war could
not be made without an appropriate cause, and that the offer of redress
made it the duty of the injured to come to terms. Hence the offer of
Paris in the Third Iliad is at once readily accepted: and hence, even
after the breach of the Pact, arises Agamemnon’s fear, at the moment
when he anticipates the death of Menelaus, that by that event the claim
to the restoration of Helen will be practically disposed of, and the
Greeks will have to return home without reparation for a wrong, of
which the _corpus_, as it were, will have disappeared[3].

[3] Il. iv. 160-82.

Before proceeding to sketch the Greek institutions as they are
exhibited in Homer, I will give a sketch of the interesting account of
them which is supplied by Grote. I cite it more for contrast than for
concurrence; but it will assist materially in bringing out into clear
relief the points which are of the greatest moment.

~_Grote’s account of the Heroic Polities._~

The Greek States of the historic ages, says Grote, always present
to us something in the nature of a constitution, as the condition
of popular respect towards the government, and of the sense of an
obligation to obey it[4]. The man who broke down this constitution,
however wisely he might exercise his ill gotten power, was branded by
the name of τύραννος, or despot, “as an object of mingled fear and
dislike.” But in the heroic age there is no system, still less any
responsibility[5]: obedience depends on personal reverence towards the
king or chief. Into those ‘great individual personalities, the race
or nation is absorbed[6].’ Publicity indeed, through the means of the
council and assembly, essentially pervades the whole system[7]; but it
is a publicity without consequences; for the people, when they have
heard, simply obey the orders of the king[8]. Either resistance or
criticism is generally exhibited as odious, and is never heard of at
all except from those who are at the least subaltern chiefs: though
the council and assembly would in practice come to be restraints
upon the king, they are not so exhibited in Homer[9], but are simple
_media_ for supplying him with information, and for promulgating his
resolves[10]. The people may listen and sympathize, but no more. In the
assembly of the Second Iliad, a ‘repulsive picture’ is presented to us
of ‘the degradation of the mass of the people before the chiefs[11].’
For because the common soldiery, in conformity with the ‘unaccountable
fancy’ which Agamemnon had propounded, made ready to go home, Ulysses
belabours them with blows and covers them with scornful reproofs[12];
and the unpopularity of a presumptuous critic, even when he is in
substance right, is shown, partly by the strokes that Ulysses inflicts
upon Thersites, but still more by the hideous deformities with which
Homer has loaded him.

[4] Grote’s Hist. Greece, vol. ii. p. 83.

[5] Ibid. p. 84.

[6] Ibid. p. 102.

[7] Ibid. p. 101.

[8] Ibid. p. 86.

[9] Ibid. pp. 90, 102.

[10] Ibid. p. 92.

[11] Ibid. p. 95.

[12] Grote’s Hist. Greece, vol. ii. pp. 94, 96.

It is, I think, in happy inconsistency with these representations,
that the historian proceeds to say, that by means of the Βουλὴ and
Ἀγορὴ we are enabled to trace the employment of public speaking, as the
standing engine of government and the proximate cause of obedience,
‘up to the social infancy of the nation[13].’ But if, in order to make
this sentence harmonize with what precedes and follows it, we are to
understand that the Homeric poems present to us no more than the dry
fact that public speaking was in use, and are to infer that it did not
acquire its practical meaning and power until a later date, then I must
include it in the general protest which I beg leave to record against
the greater part of the foregoing propositions, in their letter and in
their spirit, as being neither warranted in the way of inference from
Homer, nor in any manner consistent with the undeniable facts of the

[13] Ibid. p. 105.

~_Their use of Publicity and Persuasion._~

Personal reverence from the people to the sovereign, associated with
the duties he discharges, with the high attributes he does or should
possess, and with the divine favour, or with a reputed relationship to
the gods, attaching to him, constitutes the primitive form in which
the relation of the prince and the subject is very commonly cast in
the early stages of society elsewhere than among the Greeks. What is
sentimental, romantic, archaic, or patriarchal in the Homeric polities
is common to them with many other patriarchal or highland governments.
But that which is beyond every thing distinctive not of Greece only,
but of Homeric Greece, is, that along with an outline of sovereignty
and public institutions highly patriarchal, we find the full, constant,
and effective use, of two great instruments of government, since and
still so extensively in abeyance among mankind; namely, publicity
and persuasion. I name these two great features of the politics and
institutions of the heroic age, in order to concentrate upon them
the marked attention which I think they deserve. And I venture to
give to this paper the name of the Ἀγορὴ, because it was the Greek
Assembly of those days, which mainly imparted to the existing polities
their specific spirit as well as features. Amid undeveloped ideas,
rude methods, imperfect organization, and liability to the frequent
intrusion of the strong hand, there lies in them the essence of a
popular principle of government, which cannot, I believe, plead on its
behalf any other precedent so ancient and so venerable.

As is the boy, so is the man. As is the seed, so is the plant. The dove
neither begets, nor yet grows into the eagle. How came it that the
prime philosophers of full-grown Greece gave to the science of Politics
the very highest place in the scale of human knowledge? That they,
kings in the region of abstract thought, for the first and perhaps the
only time in the history of the world, came to think they discerned in
the turbid eddies of state affairs the image of the noblest thing for
man, the noblest that speculation as well as action could provide for
him? Aristotle says that, of all sciences, Πολιτικὴ is ἡ κυριωτάτη καὶ
μάλιστα ἀρχιτεκτονική[14]; and that ethical science constitutes but
a branch of it, πολιτική τις οὖσα. Whence, I ask, did this Greek idea
come? It is not the Greece, but it is the Rome of history, which the
judgment and experience of the world has taken as its great teacher in
the mere business of law and political organization. For so lofty a
theory (a theory without doubt exaggerated) from so practical a person
as Aristotle, we must assume a corresponding elevation of source. I
cannot help believing that the source is to be found rather in the
infancy, than in the maturity, of Greek society. As I read Homer, the
real first foundations of political science were laid in the heroic
age, with a depth and breadth exceeding in their proportions any
fabric, however imposing, that the after-time of Greece was able to
rear upon them. That after-time was in truth infected with a spirit of
political exaggeration, from which the heroic age was free.

[14] Ar. Eth. Nic. i. 2.

We shall have to examine the political picture presented by the heroic
age with reference to the various classes into which society was
distinguished in its normal state of peace: to the organization of the
army in war, and its mixture of civil with military relations: to the
institutions which embodied the machinery of government, and to the
powers by which that machinery was kept in motion.

~_Functions of the King._~

Let us begin with the King; who constituted at once the highest class
in society, and the centre of its institutions.

The political regimen of Greece, at the period immediately preceding
the Trojan war, appears to have been that described by Thucydides,
when he says that the tyrannies, which had come in with the increase
of wealth, were preceded by hereditary monarchies with limited
prerogatives[15]: πρότερον δὲ ἦσαν ἐπὶ ῥητοῖς γέρασι πατρικαὶ
βασιλεῖαι. And again by Aristotle; βασιλεία ... ἡ περὶ τοὺς ἡρωικοὺς
χρόνους ... ἦν ἑκόντων μὲν, ἐπὶ τισὶ δὲ ὡρισμένοις· στρατηγὸς γὰρ ἦν
καὶ δικαστὴς ὁ βασιλεὺς, καὶ τῶν περὶ τοὺς θεοὺς κύριος. The threefold
function of the King was to command the army, to administer justice
chiefly, though not exclusively, between man and man, and to conduct
the rites of religion[16].

[15] Thuc. i. 13.

[16] Ar. Pol. III. xiv. xv. V. x.

Independently of sovereignties purely local, we find in Homer traces
of a maritime Cretan empire, which had recently passed away: and we
find a subsisting Pelopid empire, which appears to have been the first
of its kind, at least on the Greek mainland. For the Pelopid sceptre
was not one taken over from the Perseids: it was obtained through
Mercury, that is, probably through contrivance, from Jupiter: and the
difference probably consisted in one or both of these two particulars.
It comprehended the whole range of continental Greece, πᾶν Ἄργος, to
which are added, either at once or in its progressive extension, the
πολλαὶ νῆσοι (Il. ii. 108) of the Minoan empire. Besides this, it
consisted of a double sovereignty: one, a suzerainty or supremacy over
a number of chiefs, each of whom conducted the ordinary government of
his own dominions; the other, a direct, though perhaps not always an
effective control, not only over an hereditary territory, but over
the unclaimed residue of minor settlements and principalities in the
country. This inference may, I think, be gathered from the fact that
we find the force of Agamemnon before Troy drawn exclusively from his
Mycenian dominions, while he had claims of tribute from towns in the
south-west of Peloponnesus, which lay at some distance from his centre
of power, and which apparently furnished no aid in the war of Troy.

The Pheræ of Diocles lay on the way from Pylos to Sparta: and Pheræ
is one of the towns which Agamemnon promised to Achilles. It should,
however, be borne in mind that, as the family of names to which Pheræ
belonged was one so largely dispersed, we must not positively assume
the identity of the two towns.

~_Degrees in Kingship and in Lordship._~

Kingship in Homer is susceptible of degree; it is one thing for the
local sovereignties, such as those of Nestor or Ulysses, and another
for the great supremacy of Agamemnon, which overrode them. Still the
Greek βασιλῆες in the Iliad constitute a class by themselves; a class
that comprises the greater leaders and warriors, who immediately
surround Agamemnon, the head of the army.

Of by much the greater part even of chiefs and leaders of contingents,
it is plain from the poem that though they were lords (ἄνακτες) of a
certain tribe or territory, they were not βασιλῆες or kings.

These chiefs and lords again divide themselves into two classes: one
is composed of those who had immediate local heads, such as Phœnix,
lord of the Dolopes, under Peleus at Phthia, probably Sthenelus under
Diomed, and perhaps also Meriones under Idomeneus: the other is the
class of chieftains, to which order the great majority belong, owning
no subordination to any prince except to Agamemnon. Among these, again,
there is probably a distinction between those sub-chiefs who owned him
as a local sovereign, and those who were only subject to him as the
head of the great Greek confederation.

It is probable that the subordination of the sub-chief to his local
sovereign was a closer tie than that of the local sovereign to the head
of Greece. For, according to the evidence supplied by the promises of
Agamemnon to Achilles[17], tribute was payable by the lords of towns
to their immediate political superior: not a tribute in coined money,
which did not exist, nor one fixed in quantity; but a benevolence
(δωτίνη), which must have consisted in commodities. Metals, including
the precious metals, would, however, very commonly be the medium of
acquittance. Again, we find these sub-chiefs invested with dominion by
the local sovereign, residing at his court, holding a subaltern command
in his army. All these points are combined in the case of Phœnix. On
the other hand, as to positive duty or service, we know of none that
a sovereign like Nestor owed to Agamemnon, except it were to take a
part in enterprises of national concern under his guidance. But the
distinction of rank between them is clear. Evidently on account of
his relation to Agamemnon, Menelaus is βασιλεύτερος, higher in mere
kingship, or more a king, than the other chiefs: Agamemnon boasts[18]
that he is greatly the superior of Achilles, or of any one else in the
army; and in the Ninth Book Achilles seems to refer with stinging, nay,
rather with slaying irony, to this claim of greater kingliness for
the Pelopids, when he rejects the offer of the hand of any one among
Agamemnon’s daughters; No! let him choose another son-in-law, who may
be worthy of him, and who is more a king than I[19];

[17] Il. ix. 297.

[18] Il. i. 186.

[19] Il. ix. 392.

  ὅστις οἷ τ’ ἐπέοικε, καὶ ὃς βασιλεύτερός ἐστιν.

But although one βασιλεὺς might thus be higher than another, the rank
of the whole body of Βασιλῆες is, on the whole, well and clearly marked
off, by the consistent language of the Iliad, from all inferior ranks:
and this combination may remind us in some degree of the British
peerage, which has its own internal distinctions of grade, but which
is founded essentially upon parity, and is sharply severed from all
the other orders of the community. We shall presently see how this
proposition is made good.

It thus far appears, that we find substantially, though not very
determinately, distinguished, the following forms of larger and lesser
Greek sovereignty:

I. That held by Agamemnon, as the head of Greece.

II. The local kings, some of them considerable enough to have other
lords or princes (ἄνακτες) under them.

III. The minor chiefs of contingents; who, though not kings, were
princes or lords (ἄνακτες), and governed separate states of their own:
such as Thoas for Ætolia, and Menestheus for Athens.

IV. The petty and scattered chiefs, of whom we can hardly tell how far
any account is taken in the Catalogue, but who belonged, in some sense,
to Agamemnon, by belonging to no one else.

~_First tokens of change in the Heroic Polities._~

There are signs, contained in the Iliad itself, that the primitive
monarchies, the nature and spirit of which will presently be examined,
were beginning to give way even at the time of the expedition to Troy.
The growth of the Pelopid empire was probably unfavourable to their
continuance. In any case, the notes of commencing change will be found
clear enough.

Minos had ruled over all Crete as king; but Idomeneus, his grandson,
is nowhere mentioned as the king of that country, of which he appears
to have governed a part only. Among obvious tokens of this fact are
the following. The cities which furnish the Cretan contingent are all
contained in a limited portion of that island. Now, although general
words are employed (Il. ii. 649.) to signify that the force was not
drawn from these cities exclusively, yet Homer would probably have been
more particular, had other places made any considerable contribution,
than to omit the names of them all. Again, Crete, though so large and
rich, furnishes a smaller contingent than Pylos. And, once more, if it
had been united in itself, it is very doubtful whether any ruler of so
considerable a country would have been content that it should stand
only as a province of the empire of Agamemnon. In the many passages
of either poem which mention Idomeneus, he is never decorated with a
title implying, like that of Minos (Κρήτῃ ἐπίουρος), that he was ruler
of the whole island. Indeed, one passage at least appears to bear
pretty certain evidence to the contrary. For Ulysses, in his fabulous
but of course self-consistent narration to Minerva, shows us that even
the Cretan force in Troy was not thoroughly united in allegiance to a
single head. ‘The son of Idomeneus,’ he says, ‘endeavoured to deprive
me of my share of the spoil, because I did not obey his father in
Troas, but led a band of my own:’

  οὕνεκ’ ἄρ’ οὐχ ᾧ πατρὶ χαριζόμενος θεράπευον
  δήμῳ ἔνι Τρώων, ἀλλ’ ἄλλων ἦρχον ἑταίρων[20].

[20] Od. xiii. 265.

So likewise in the youth of Nestor, two generations back, Augeias
appears as the sole king of the Epeans; but, in the Catalogue, his
grandson Polyxeinus only commands one out of the four Epean divisions
of ten ships each, without any sign of superiority: of the other
three, two are commanded by generals of the Actorid family, which
in the earlier legend appears as part of the court or following of
Augeias[21]. And wherever we find in the case of any considerable
Greek contingent the chief command divided among persons other than
brothers, we may probably infer that there had been a breaking up of
the old monarchical and patriarchal system. This point deserves more
particular inquiry.

[21] Il. xi. 709, 39, 50.

~_Shown by analysis of the Catalogue._~

In the Greek armament, there are twenty-nine contingents in all.

Of these, twenty-three are under a single head; with or without
assistants who, where they appear, are described as having been

   1. Locrians                with 40 ships.
   2. Eubœans                      40
   3. Athenians                    50
   4. Salaminians                  12
   5. Argives                      80
   6. Mycenians                   100
   7. Lacedæmonians                60
   8. Pylians                      90
   9. Arcadians                    60
  10. Dulichians &c.               40
  11. Cephallenians                12
  12. Ætolians                     40
  13. Cretans                      80
  14. Rhodians                      9
  15. Symeans                       3
  16. Myrmidons                    50
  17. Phthians of Phylace          40
  18. Phereans, &c.                11
  19. Phthians of Methone &c.       7
  20. Ormenians &c.                40
  21. Argissans &c.                40
  22. Cyphians &c.                 22
  23. Magnesians                   40
                                  966 ships.

Under brothers united in command, there were four more contingents:

  1. Of Aspledon and Orchomenus, with   30 ships.
  2. Of Phocians                        40
  3. Of Nisuros, Cos &c.                30
  4. Of Tricce &c.                      30
                                       130 ships.

In all these cases, comprising the whole armament except from two
states, the old form of government seems to have continued. The two
exceptions are:

  1. Bœotians; with 50 ships, under five leaders.
  2. Elians; with 40 ships, under four leaders.

It is quite clear that these two divisions were acephalous. As to the
Elians, because the Catalogue expressly divides the 40 ships into four
squadrons, and places one under each leader, two of these being of the
Actorid house, and a third descended from Augeias. As to the Bœotians,
the Catalogue indicates the equality of the leaders by placing the five
names in a series under the same category.

An indirect but rather strong confirmation is afforded by the passage
in the Thirteenth Book[22], where five Greek races or divisions are
engaged in the endeavour to repel Hector from the rampart. They are,

[22] Il. xiii. 685-700.

1. Bœotians.

2. Athenians (or Ionians), under Menestheus, seconded by Pheidas,
Stichios, and Bias.

3. Locrians.

4. Epeans (of Dulichium &c.) under Meges, son of Phyleus, with Amphion,
and Drakios. The addition of the patronymic to Meges seems in this
place to mark his position; which is distinctly defined as the chief
one in the Catalogue, by his being mentioned there alone.

5. Phthians, under Medon and Podarces. These supplied two contingents,
numbered 17 and 19 respectively in the list just given; and they
constituted separate commands, though of the same race.

It will be remarked that the Poet enumerates the commanders of the
Athenians, Epeans, and Phthians; but not of the Locrians and Bœotians.
Obviously, in the case of the Locrians, the reason is, that Oilean
Ajax, a king and chief of the first rank, and a person familiar to us
in every page, was their leader. Such a person he never mixes on equal
terms with secondary commanders, or puts to secondary duties; and
the text immediately proceeds to tell us he was with the Telamonian
Ajax[23]. But why does it not name the Bœotian leader? Probably, we
may conjecture, because that force had no one commander in chief,
but were an aggregation of independent bodies, whom ties of blood or
neighbourhood drew together in the armament and in action.

[23] Il. xiii. 701-8.

Having thus endeavoured to mark the partial and small beginnings of
disorganization in the ancient form of government, let us now observe
the character of the particular spots where they are found. These
districts by no means represent, in their physical characteristics, the
average character of Greece. In the first place, they are both on the
highway of the movement between North and South. In the second, they
both are open and fertile countries; a distinction which, in certain
local positions, at certain stages of society, not only does not favour
the attainment of political power, but almost precludes its possession.
The Elis of Homer is marked by two epithets having a direct reference
to fertility of soil; it is ἱππόβοτος, horse-feeding, and it is also
εὐρύχορος, wide-spaced or open. Again, the twenty-nine towns assigned
in the Catalogue to the Bœotians far exceed in number those which
are named for any other division of Greece. We have other parallel
indications; such as the wealth of Orchomenos[24]; and of Orestius
with the variegated girdle. He dwelt in Hyle, one of the twenty-nine,
amidst other Bœotians who held a district of extreme fertility[25],
μάλα πίονα δῆμον ἔχοντες. Now when we find signs like these in Homer,
that Elis and Bœotia had been first subjected to revolution, not in the
shape of mere change of dynasty, but in the decomposition, so to speak,
of their ancient forms of monarchy, we must again call to mind that
Thucydides[26], when he tells us that the best lands underwent the most
frequent social changes by the successions of new inhabitants, names
Bœotia, and ‘most of Peloponnesus’ as examples of the kind of district
to which his remark applied.

[24] Il. ix. 381.

[25] Il. v. 707-10.

[26] Thuc. i. 2.

Upon the whole, the organization of the armament for Troy shows us the
ancient monarchical system intact in by far the greater part of Greece.
But when we come to the Odyssey, we find increasing signs of serious
changes; which doubtless were then preparing the way, by the overthrow
of old dynasties, for the great Dorian invasion. And it is here worth
while to remark a great difference. The mere supervention of one race
upon another, the change from a Pelasgian to an Hellenic character,
does not appear to have entailed alterations nearly so substantial in
the character and stability of Hellenic government, as did the Trojan
expedition; which, by depriving societies of their natural heads,
and of the fighting men of the population, left an open field to the
operation of disorganizing causes.

Strabo has a remarkable passage, though one in which he makes no
particular reference to Homer, on the subject of the invasions and
displacements of one race by another. These, he says[27], had indeed
been known before the Trojan war: but it was immediately upon the
close of the war, and then after that period, that they gained head:
μάλιστα μὲν οὖν κατὰ τὰ Τρωικὰ, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα, τὰς ἐφόδους γένεσθαι
καὶ τὰς μεταναστάσεις συνέβη, τῶν τε βαρβάρων ἅμα καὶ τῶν Ἑλλήνων ὁρμῇ
τινὶ χρησαμένων πρὸς τὴν τῶν ἀλλοτρίων κατάκτησιν. Of this the Odyssey
affords some curious indications.

[27] B. xii. 8, 4. p. 572.

~_Extended signs in the Odyssey._~

Among many alleged and some real shades of difference between the
poems, we may note two of a considerable political significance: the
word _King_ in the Odyssey has acquired a more lax signification, and
the word _Queen_, quite unknown to the Iliad, has come into free use.

~_Altered meaning of ‘King.’_~

It will be shown how strictly, in the Iliad, the term βασιλεὺς, with
its appropriate epithets, is limited to the very first persons of the
Greek armament. Now in the Odyssey there are but two States, with
the organization of which we have occasion to become in any degree
acquainted: one of them Scheria, the other Ithaca. Of the first we do
not see a great deal, and the force of the example is diminished by the
avowedly mythical or romantic character of the delineation: but the
fact is worthy of note, that in Scheria we find there are twelve kings
of the country, with Alcinous[28], the thirteenth, as their superior
and head. It is far more important and historically significant that,
in the limited and comparatively poor dominions of Ulysses, there are
now many kings. For Telemachus says[29],

[28] Od. viii. 391. vi. 54.

[29] Od. i. 394.

  ἀλλ’ ἤτοι βασιλῆες Ἀχαιῶν εἰσὶ καὶ ἄλλοι
  πολλοὶ ἐν ἀμφιάλῳ Ἰθάκῃ, νέοι ἠδὲ παλαιοί.

His meaning must be to refer to the number of nobles who were now
collected, from Cephallonia and the other dominions of Ulysses, into
that island. The observation is made by him in reply to the Suitor
Antinous, who had complained of his bold language, and hoped he never
would be king in Ithaca[30]:

[30] Ibid. 386.

  μὴ σέ γ’ ἐν ἀμφιάλῳ Ἰθάκῃ βασιλῆα Κρονίων
  ποιήσειεν, ὅ τοι γενεῇ πατρώϊόν ἐστιν.

It is, I think, clear, that in this place Antinous does not mean
merely, ‘I hope you will not become one of us,’ which might be said in
reference merely to the contingency of his assuming the controul of his
paternal estates, but that he refers to the sovereignty properly so
called: for Telemachus, after having said there are many βασιλῆες in
Ithaca, proceeds to say, ‘Let one of them be chosen’, or ‘one of these
may be chosen, to succeed Ulysses;’

  τῶν κέν τις τόδ’ ἔχῃσιν, ἐπεὶ θάνε δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς.

‘but let me,’ he continues, ‘be master of my own house and property.’
Thus we have βασιλεὺς bearing two senses in the very same passage.
First, it means the noble, of whom there are many in the country, and
it is here evidently used in an improper sense; secondly, it means
the person who rules the whole of them, and it is here as evidently
employed in its original and proper signification. It seems very
doubtful, however, whether, even in the Odyssey, the relaxed sense
ever appears as a simple title in the singular number. The only signs
of it are these; Antinous is told that he is _like_ a king[31] in
appearance; and he is also expressly called βασιλεὺς in the strongly
and generally suspected νεκυΐα of the Twenty-fourth Book[32]. So
again, the kingly epithet Διοτρεφὴς is not used in the singular for
any one below the rank of a βασιλεὺς of the Iliad, except once, where,
in addressing Agelaus the Suitor, it is employed by Melanthius, the
goatherd, one of the subordinate adherents and parasites of that

[31] Od. xvii. 416.

[32] Od. xxiv. 179.

[33] Od. xxii. 136.

This relaxation in the sense of βασιλεὺς, definite and limited as is
its application in the Iliad, is no inconsiderable note of change.

~_New name of Queen._~

Equally, or more remarkable, is the introduction in the Odyssey of the
words δέσποινα and βασίλεια, and the altered use of ἄνασσα.

1. δέσποινα is applied, Od. iii. 403, to the wife of Pisistratus, son
of Nestor; to Arete, queen of the Phæacians, Od. vii. 53, 347; to
Penelope, Od. xiv. 9, 127, 451; xv. 374, 7; xvii. 83; xxiii. 2.

2. ἄνασσα is applied in the Iliad, xiv. 326, to Ceres only; but in the
Odyssey, besides Minerva, in Od. iii. 380, Ulysses applies it twice
to Nausicaa, in Od. vi. 149, 175; apparently in some doubt whether
she is a divinity or a mortal. I would not however dwell strongly on
this distinction between the poems; for we seem to find substantially
the human use of the word ἄνασσα in the name of Agamemnon’s daughter,
Ἰφιάνασσα, which is used in Il. ix. 145.

3. Βασίλεια is used many times in the Odyssey; and is applied to

  _a._ Nausicaa, Od. vi. 115.
  _b._ Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus, Od. xi. 258; but only in the phrase
        βασίλεια γυναικῶν, which seems to resemble δῖα γυναικῶν.
  _c._ Arete, queen of the Phæacians, Od. xiii. 59.
  _d._ Penelope, Od. xvi. 332, 7: and elsewhere.

Now it cannot be said that the use of the word is forborne in the
Iliad from the want of fit persons to bear it; for Hecuba, as the wife
of Priam, and Helen, as the wife of Paris, possibly also Andromache,
(though this is much more doubtful[34],) were all of a rank to have
received it: nor can we account for its absence by their appearing only
as Trojans; for the title of βασιλεὺς is frequently applied to Priam,
and it is likewise assigned to Paris, though to no other member of the
Trojan royal family.

[34] See inf. ‘Ilios.’

We have also two other cases in the Iliad of women who were queens of
some kind. One is that of Hypsipyle, who apparently exercised supreme
power[35] in Lemnos, but we are left to inference as to its character:
the other is the mother of Andromache[36],

[35] Il. vii. 469.

[36] Il. vi. 395-7. 425.

  ἣ βασίλευεν ὑπὸ Πλάκῳ ὑληέσσῃ.

She was what we term a Queen consort, for her husband Eetion was alive
at the time. In the Odyssey we are told that Chloris, whom Neleus
married, reigned at Pylos; ἡ δὲ Πύλου βασίλευε, Od. xi. 285. In this
place the word βασιλεύειν may perhaps imply the exercise of sovereign
power. Be this as it may, the introduction of the novel title of Queen
betokens political movement.

There are other signs of advancing change in the character of kingship
discernible from the Odyssey, which will be more conveniently
considered hereafter. In the meantime, the two which are already before
us are, it will be observed, exactly in the direction we might expect
from the nature of the Trojan war, and from the tradition of Strabo. We
have before us an effort of the country amounting to a violent, and
also an unnaturally continued strain; a prolonged absence of its best
heads, its strongest arms, its most venerated authorities: wives and
young children, infants of necessity in many cases, remain at home. It
was usual no doubt for a ruler, on leaving his country, to appoint some
guardian to remain behind him, as we see from the case of Agamemnon,
(Od. iii. 267,) and from the language of Telemachus, (Od. xv. 89);
but no regent, deputy, or adviser, could be of much use in that stage
of society. Again, in every class of every community, there are boys
rapidly passing into manhood; they form unawares a new generation,
and the heat of their young blood, in the absence of vigorous and
established controul, stirs, pushes forward, and innovates. Once more,
as extreme youth, so old age likewise was ordinarily a disqualification
for war. And as we find Laertes and Peleus, and Menœtius, with Admetus,
besides probably other sovereigns whom Homer has not named to us, left
behind on this account, so there must have been many elderly men of the
class of nobles (ἀριστῆες, ἔξοχοι ἄνδρες) who obtained exemption from
actual service in the war. There is too every appearance that, in some
if not all the states of Greece, there had been those who escaped from
service on other grounds; perhaps either from belonging to the elder
race, which was more peculiarly akin to Troy, or from local jealousies,
or from the love of ease. For in Ithaca we find old men, contemporaries
and seniors of Ulysses, who had taken no part in the expedition; and
there are various towns mentioned in different parts of the poems,
which do not appear from the Catalogue to have made any contribution to
the force. Such were possibly the various places bearing the name of
Ephyre, and with higher likelihood the towns offered by Agamemnon to
be made over to Achilles[37].

[37] There is a _nexus_ of ideas attached to these towns that excites
suspicion. It would have been in keeping with the character of
Agamemnon to offer them to Achilles, on account of his having already
found he could not control them himself. No one of them appears in the
Catalogue. Nor do we hear of them in the Nineteenth Book, when the
gifts are accepted. It seems, however, just possible that the promise
by Menelaus of the hand of his daughter Hermione to Neoptolemus may
have been an acquittance of a residue of debt standing over from the
original offer of Agamemnon, out of which the seven towns appear to
have dropped by consent of all parties.

~_Disorganization caused by the War._~

Again, as Cinyres[38] the ruler of Cyprus, and Echepolus[39] the son
of Anchises, obtained exemption by means of gifts to Agamemnon, so
may others, both rulers and private individuals, have done. But the
two main causes, which would probably operate to create perturbation
in connection with the absence of the army, were, without much doubt,
first, the arrival of a new race of youths at a crude and intemperate
manhood; and secondly, the unadjusted relations in some places of the
old Pelasgian and the new Hellenic settlers. Their differences, when
the pressure of the highest established authority had been removed,
would naturally in many places spring up afresh. In conformity with
the first of these causes, the Suitors as a body are called very
commonly νεοὶ ὑπερηνορέοντες[40], ‘the domineering youths.’ And the
circumstances under which Ulysses finds himself, when he has returned
to Ithaca, appear to connect themselves also with the latter of the
above-named causes. But, whatever the reasons, it is plain that his
position had become extremely precarious. Notwithstanding his wealth,
ability, and fame, he did not venture to appeal to the people till he
had utterly destroyed his dangerous enemies; and even then it was only
by his promptitude, strength of hand, and indomitable courage, that he
succeeded in quelling a most formidable sedition.

[38] Il. xi. 20.

[39] Il. xxiii. 296.

[40] Od. ii. 324, 331, _et alibi_. The epithet is, I think, exactly
rendered by another word very difficult to translate into English, the
Italian _prepotenti_.

Nothing, then, could be more natural, than that, in the absence of the
sovereigns, often combined with the infancy of their children, the
mother should become the depositary of an authority, from which, as we
see by other instances, her sex does not appear to have excluded her:
and that if, as is probable, the instances were many and simultaneous,
this systematic character given to female rule should have its formal
result on language in the creation of the word Queen, and its twin
phrase δέσποινα, or Mistress. The extension of the word ἄνασσα from
divinities to mortals might result from a subaltern operation of the
same causes.

In the very same manner, the diminished force of authority at its
centre would increase the relative prominence of such among the nobles
as remained at home. On reaching to manhood, they would in some cases,
as in Ithaca, find themselves practically independent. The natural
result would be, that having, though on a small scale, that is to say,
so far probably as their own properties and neighbourhoods respectively
were concerned, much of the substance of sovereignty actually in
their hands, they should proceed to arrogate its name. Hence come the
βασιλῆες of Ithaca and the islands near it; some of them young men,
who had become adult since the departure of Ulysses, others of them
old, who, remaining behind him, had found their position effectively
changed, if not by the fact of his departure, yet by the prolongation
of his absence.

The relaxed use, then, of the term βασιλεὺς in the Odyssey, and the
appearance of the term βασίλεια and of others in a similar category,
need not qualify the proposition above laid down with respect to the
βασιλεὺς of the Iliad. He, as we shall see from the facts of the poem,
stands in a different position, and presents to us a living picture of
the true heroic age[41].

[41] I need hardly express my dissent from the account given of the
βασιλεὺς and ἄναξ in the note on Grote’s History of Greece, vol. II.
p. 84. There is no race in Troas called βασιλεύτατον. Every
βασιλεὺς was an ἄναξ; but many an ἄναξ was not a βασιλεύς. It is true
that an ἄναξ might be ἄναξ either of freemen or of slaves; but so he
might of houses (Od. i. 397), of fishes (Il. xiii. 28), or of dogs (Od.
xvii. 318).

~_Altered idea of the Kingly office._~

This change in the meaning of the word King was accompanied by
a corresponding change in the idea of the great office which it
betokened. It had descended from a more noble to a less noble type. I
do not mean by this that it had now first submitted to limitations. The
βασιλεὺς of the Greeks was always and essentially limited: and hence
probably it was, that the usurper of sole and indefinite power in the
state was so essentially and deeply odious to the Greeks, because it
was felt that he had plundered the people of a treasure, namely, free
government, which they and their early forefathers had possessed from
time immemorial.

It is in the Odyssey that we are first startled by meeting not only
a wider diffusion and more lax use of the name of king, but together
with this change another one; namely, a lower conception of the kingly
office. The splendour of it in the Iliad is always associated with
duty. In the simile where Homer speaks of corrupt governors, that draw
down the vengeance of heaven on a land by crooked judgments, it is
worthy of remark, that he avoids the use of the word βασιλεύς[42]:

[42] Il. xvi. 386.

        ὅτε δή ῥ’ ἄνδρεσσι κοτεσσάμενος χαλεπήνῃ,
  οἳ βίῃ εἰν ἀγορῇ σκολίας κρίνωσι θέμιστας.

The worst thing that is even hinted at as within the limits of
possibility, is slackness in the discharge of the office: it never
degenerates into an instrument of oppression to mankind. But in the
Odyssey, which evidently represents with fidelity the political
condition of Greece after the great shock of the Trojan war, we find
that kingship has come to be viewed by some mainly with reference to
the enjoyment of great possessions, which it implied or brought, and as
an object on that account of mere ambition. Not of what we should call
absolutely vicious ambition: it is not an absolute perversion, but it
is a clear declension in the idea, that I here seek to note

  ἦ φῂς τοῦτο κάκιστον ἐν ἀνθρώποισι τετύχθαι;
  οὐ μὲν γάρ τι κακὸν βασιλευέμεν· αἶψά τέ οἱ δῶ
  ἀφνειὸν πέλεται, καὶ τιμηέστερος αὐτός.[43]

[43] Od. i. 391-3.

This general view of the office as one to be held for the personal
enjoyment of the incumbent, is broadly distinguished from such a
case as that in the Iliad, where Agamemnon, offering seven cities
to Achilles[44], strives to tempt him individually by a particular
inducement, drawn from his own undoubtedly rather sordid mind;

[44] Il. ix. 155.

  οἵ κέ ἑ δωτίνῃσι θεὸν ὣς τιμήσουσιν.

The moral causes of this change are in a great degree traceable to the
circumstances of the war, and we seem to see how the conception above
expressed was engendered in the mind of Mentor, when he observes[45],
that it is now useless for a king to be wise and benevolent like
Ulysses, who was gentle like a father to his people, in order that,
like Ulysses, he may be forgotten: so that he may just as well be
lawless in character, and oppressive in action. The same ideas are
expressed by Minerva[46] in the very same words, at the second Olympian
meeting in the Odyssey. It would therefore thus appear, that this
particular step downwards in the character of the governments of the
heroic age was owing to the cessation, through prolonged absence,
of the influence of the legitimate sovereigns, and to consequent
encroachment upon their moderate powers.

[45] Od. ii. 230-4.

[46] Od. v. 8-12.

~_Instance of a bad King._~

And it is surely well worthy of remark that we find in this very same
poem the first exemplification of the character of a bad and tyrannical
monarch, in the person of a certain king Echetus; of whom all we know
is, that he lived somewhere upon the coast of Epirus, and that he was
the pest of all mortals that he had to do with. With great propriety,
it is the lawless Suitors who are shown to be in some kind of relation
with him; for in the Eighteenth Odyssey they threaten[47] to send Irus,
who had annoyed them in his capacity of a beggar, to king Echetus, that
he might have his nose and ears cut off, and be otherwise mutilated.
The same threat is repeated in the Twenty-first Book against Ulysses
himself, and the line that conveys it reappears as one of the Homeric

[47] Od. xviii. 83-6 and 114.

[48] Od. xxi. 308.

  εἰς Ἔχετον βασιλῆα, βροτῶν δηλήμονα πάντων.

Probably this Echetus was a purchaser of slaves. It is little likely
that the Suitors would have taken the trouble of sending Irus away,
rather than dispose of him at home, except with the hope of a price; as
they suggest to Telemachus to ship off Theoclymenus and Ulysses (still
disguised) to the Sicels, among whom they will sell well[49].

[49] Od. xx. 382, 3.

~_Kingship in the age of Hesiod._~

The kingship, of which the features were so boldly and fairly defined
in the Homeric age, soon passed away; and was hardly to be found
represented by any thing but its φθορὰ, the τυραννὶς or despotism,
which neither recognised limit nor rested upon reverence or upon usage,
but had force for its foundation, was essentially absolute, and could
not, according to the conditions of our nature, do otherwise than
rapidly and ordinarily degenerate into the positive vices, which have
made the name of tyrant ‘a curse and a hissing’ over the earth. In
Hesiod we find what Homer nowhere furnishes; an odious epithet attached
to the whole class of kings. The θεῖοι βασιλῆες of the heroic age have
disappeared: they are now sometimes the αἰδοῖοι still, but sometimes
the δωρόφαγοι, the gift-greedy, instead. They desire that litigation
should increase, for the sake of the profits that it brings them[50];

[50] Hesiod Ἔργ. i. 39. 258. cf. 262.

                    μέγα κυδαίνων βασιλῆας
  δωροφάγους, οἳ τήνδε δίκην ἐθέλουσι δικάσσαι.

The people has now to expiate the wickedness of these corrupted kings;

                        ὀφρ’ ἀποτίσῃ
  δῆμος ἀτασθαλίας βασιλέων·

A Shield of Achilles, manufactured after the fashion of the Hesiodic
age, would not have given us, for the pattern of a king, one who stood
smiling in his fields behind his reapers as they felled the corn[51].
Yet while Hesiod makes it plain that he had seen kingship degraded
by abuse, he has also shown us, that his age retained the ideas both
that justice was its duty, and that persuasion was the grand basis of
its power. For, as he says in one of his few fine passages[52], at
the birth of a king, the Muses pour dew upon his tongue, that he may
have the gift of gentle speech, and may administer strict justice to
the people. He then, or the ancient writer who has interpolated him,
goes on to describe the work of royal oratory, in thoughts chiefly
borrowed from the poems of Homer. But the increase of wealth, and the
multiplication of its kinds through commerce, mocked the simple state
of the early kings, and tempted them into a rapacity, before which
the barriers of ancient custom gave way: and so, says Thucydides[53],
τὰ πολλὰ τυραννίδες ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι καθίσταντο, τῶν προσόδων μειζόνων
γιγνομένων. The germ of this evil is just discernible in the Agamemnon
of the Iliad: and it is marked by the epithet of Achilles, who,
when angry, still knows how to strike at the weakest point of his
character, by calling him δημόβορος βασιλεὺς[54], a king who eat up,
or impoverished, those under his command. Whether the charge was in
any great degree deserved or not, we can hardly say. Helen certainly
gives to the Achæan king a better character[55]. But however that may
be, the reproach was altogether personal to the man. The reverence due
and paid to the office must have been immense, when Ulysses, alone, and
armed only with the sceptre of Agamemnon, could stem the torrent of
the flying soldiery, and turn them back upon the place of meeting.

[51] Il. xviii. 556.

[52] Hes. Theog. 80-97.

[53] Thuc. i. 13.

[54] Il. i. 231.

[55] Il. iii. 179.

~_Veneration long adhering to the name._~

Even in the Iliad, indeed, we scarcely find the strictly patriarchal
king. The constitution of the state has ceased to be modelled in any
degree on the pattern of the family. The different classes are united
together by relations which, though undefined and only nascent, are
yet purely political. Ulysses, in his character of king, had been
gentle _as_ a father[56]; but the idea which makes the king even
metaphorically the father of his people is nowhere, I think, to
be found in Homer: it was obsolete. Ethnical, local, and dynastic
changes, often brought about by war, had effaced the peculiar traits
of patriarchal kingship, with the exception of the old title of ἄναξ
ἀνδρῶν; and had substituted those heroic monarchies which retained,
in a larger development, so much of what was best in the still older
system. As even these monarchies had begun, before the Trojan war, to
be shaken here and there, and as the Odyssey exhibits to us the state
of things when apparently their final knell had sounded, so, in the age
of Hesiod, that iron age, when Commerce had fairly settled in Greece,
and had brought forth its eldest-born child Competition[57], they had
become a thing of the past. Yet they were still remembered, and still
understood. And it might well be that, long after society had outgrown
the forms of patriarchal life, men might nevertheless cling to its
associations; and so long as those associations were represented by old
hereditary sovereignties, holding either in full continuity, or by ties
and traditions not absolutely broken, much of the spirit of the ancient
system might continue to subsist; political freedom respecting the
tree, under the shadow of which it had itself grown up.

[56] Od. ii. 47.

[57] Hesiod. Ἔργ. 17-24.

It should be easier for the English, than for the nations of most other
countries, to make this picture real to their own minds; for it is the
very picture before our own eyes in our own time and country, where
visible traces of the patriarchal mould still coexist in the national
institutions with political liberties of more recent fashion, because
they retain their hold upon the general affections.

And, indeed, there is a sign, long posterior to the account given
by Hesiod of the heroic age, and distinct also from the apparently
favourable notice by Thucydides of the πατρικαὶ βασιλεῖαι, which might
lead to the supposition that the old name of king left a good character
behind it. It is the reverence which continued to attend that name,
notwithstanding the evil association, which events could not fail to
establish between it and the usurpations (τυραννίδες). For when the
office of the βασιλεὺς had either wholly disappeared, as in Athens,
or had undergone essential changes, as in Sparta, so that βασιλεία no
longer appears with the philosophical analysts as one of the regular
kinds of government, but μοναρχία is substituted, still the name
remained[58], and bore for long long ages the traces of its pristine
dignity, like many another venerable symbol, with which we are loath
to part, even after we have ceased either to respect the thing it
signifies, or perhaps even to understand its significance.

[58] The title is stated to have been applied in Attica even to the
decennial archons. Tittmann, Griechische Staatsverfassungen, b. ii. p.

Such is a rude outline of the history of the office. Let us now
endeavour to trace the portrait of it which has been drawn in the Iliad
of Homer.

~_Notes of Kingship in the Iliad._~

1. The class of βασιλῆες has the epithet θεῖοι, which is never used by
Homer except to place the subject of it in some special relation with
deity; as for (_a_) kings, (_b_) bards, (_c_) the two protagonists,
Achilles and Ulysses, (_d_) several of the heroes who predeceased the
war, (_e_) the herald in Il. iv. 192; who, like an ambassador in modern
times, personally represents the sovereign, and is therefore Διὸς
ἄγγελος ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν, Il. i. 334.

2. This class is marked by the exclusive application to it of the
titular epithet Διοτρεφής; which, by the relations with Jupiter which
it expresses, denotes the divine origin of sovereign power. The word
Διογενὴς has a bearing similar to that of Διοτρεφὴς, but apparently
rather less exclusive. Although at first sight this may seem singular,
and we should perhaps expect the order of the two words to be reversed,
it is really in keeping; for the gods had many reputed sons of whom
they took no heed, and to be brought up under the care of Jupiter was
therefore a far higher ascription, than merely to be born or descended
from him.

3. To the βασιλεὺς, and to no one else, is it said that Jupiter has
intrusted the sceptre, the symbol of authority, together with the
prerogatives of justice[59]. The sceptre or staff was the emblem of
regal power as a whole. Hence the account of the origin and successive
deliveries of the sceptre of Agamemnon[60]. Hence Ulysses obtained
the use of it in order to check the Greeks and bring them back to the
assembly, ii. 186. Hence we constantly hear of the sceptre as carried
by kings: hence the epithet σκηπτοῦχοι is applied to them exclusively
in Homer, and the sceptre is carried by no other persons, except by
judges, and by herald-serjeants, as their deputies.

[59] Il. ii. 205.

[60] Il. ii. 101.

4. The βασιλῆες are in many places spoken of as a class or order by
themselves; and in this capacity they form the βουλὴ or council of
the army. Thus when Achilles describes the distribution of prizes by
Agamemnon to the principal persons of the army, he says[61],

[61] Il. ix. 334.

  ἄλλα δ’ ἀριστήεσσι δίδου γέρα, καὶ βασιλεῦσιν.

In this place the Poet seems manifestly to distinguish between the
class of kings and that of chiefs.

When he has occasion to speak of the higher order of chiefs who usually
met in council, he calls them the γέροντες[62], or the βασιλῆες[63]:
but when he speaks of the leaders more at large, he calls them by
other names, as at the commencement of the Catalogue, they are ἀρχοὶ,
ἡγεμόνες, or κοίρανοι: and, again, ἀριστῆες[64]. In two places, indeed,
he applies the phrase last-named to the members of that select class
of chiefs who were also kings: but there the expression is ἀριστῆες
Παναχαιῶν[65], a phrase of which the effect is probably much the same
as βασιλῆες Ἀχαιῶν: the meaning seems to be those who were chief over
all orders of the Greeks, that is to say, chiefs even among chiefs.
Thus Agamemnon would have been properly the only βασιλεὺς Παναχαιῶν.

[62] Il. ii. 53 _et alibi_.

[63] Il. xix. 309. ii. 86.

[64] Il. ii. 487, 493. xx. 303.

[65] Il. ii. 404, and vii. 327. On the force of Παναχαιοὶ, see Achæis,
or Ethnology, p. 420.

The same distinction is marked in the proceedings of Ulysses, when he
rallies the dispersed Assembly: for he addressed coaxingly,

  ὅντινα μὲν βασιλῆα καὶ ἔξοχον ἄνδρα κιχείη,

whatever king _or_ leading man he chanced to overtake[66].

[66] Il. ii. 188.

5. The rank of the Greek βασιλεῖς is marked in the Catalogue by this
trait; that no other person seems ever to be associated with them on an
equal footing in the command of the force, even where it was such as to
require subaltern commanders. Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor, Ulysses, the
two Ajaxes, Achilles, are each named alone. Idomeneus is named alone as
leader in opening the account of the Cretans, ii. 645, though, when he
is named again, Meriones also appears (650, 1), which arrangement seems
to point to him as only at most a quasi-colleague, and ὀπάων. Sthenelus
and Euryalus are named after Diomed (563-6), but it is expressly added,

  συμπάντων δ’ ἡγεῖτο βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης.

Thus his higher rank is not obscured. Again, we know that, in the case
of Achilles, there were five persons, each commanding ten of his fifty
ships (Il. xvi. 171), of whom no notice is taken in the Catalogue
(681-94), though it begins with a promise to enumerate all those who
were in command of the fleet (493),

  ἀρχοὺς αὖ νηῶν ἐρέω νῆάς τε προπάσας;

and in the case of the Elians he names four leaders who had exactly the
same command, each over ten ships (618). It thus appears natural to
refer his silence about the five to the rank held by Achilles as a king.

So much for the notes of this class in the Iliad.

Though we are not bound to suppose, that Homer had so rigid a
definition of the class of kings before his mind as exists in the case
of the more modern forms of title, it is clear in very nearly every
individual case of a Greek chieftain of the Iliad, whether he was a
βασιλεὺς or not.

~_The Nine Greek Kings of the Iliad._~

The class clearly comprehends:

  1. Agamemnon, Il. i. 9, and in many places.

  2. Menelaus  } from Il. xix. 310, 311, where they remain
  3. Nestor    } with Achilles, while the other
  4. Ulysses   } βασιλῆες, ver. 309, are sent away.
  5. Idomeneus } Also for Ulysses, see xiv. 379; and
               } various places in the Odyssey.

  6. Achilles, Il. i. 331. xvi. 211.

  7. Diomed, Il. xiv. 27, compared with 29 and 379.

  8. Ajax Telamonius, Il. vii. 321 connected with 344.

  9. Ajax, son of Oileus.

Among the indications, by which the last-named chief is shown to have
been a βασιλεὺς, are those which follow. He is summoned by Agamemnon
(Il. ii. 404-6) among the γέροντες ἀριστῆες Παναχαιῶν: where all the
abovenamed persons appear (except Achilles), and no others. Now the
γέροντες or elders are summoned before in ver. 53 of the same book,
and are called in ver. 86 the σκηπτοῦχοι βασιλῆες. Another proof of
the rank of Oilean Ajax is the familiar manner in which his name is
associated on terms of equality, throughout the poem, with that of Ajax

But the part of the poem, which supplies the most pointed testimony as
a whole with respect to the composition of the class of kings, is the
Tenth Book.

Here we begin with the meeting of Agamemnon and Menelaus (ver. 34).
Next, Menelaus goes to call the greater Ajax and Idomeneus (53), and
Agamemnon to call Nestor (54, 74). Nestor awakens Ulysses (137); and
then Diomed (157), whom he sends to call Oilean Ajax, together with
Meges (175). They then conjointly visit the φύλακες or watch, commanded
by Thrasymedes, Meriones, and others (ix. 80. x. 57-9). Nestor gives
the watch an exhortation to be on the alert, and then reenters within
the trench, followed by the Argeian kings (194, 5);

                            τοὶ δ’ ἅμ’ ἕποντο
  Ἀργείων βασιλῆες, ὅσοι κεκλήατο βουλήν.

The force of the term βασιλῆες, as marking off a certain class, is
enhanced by the lines which follow, and which tell us that with them,
the kings τοῖς δ’ ἅμα, went Meriones and Thrasymedes by special
invitation (196, 7);

  αὐτοὶ γὰρ κάλεον συμμητιάασθαι.

Now in this narrative it is not stated that each of the persons, who
had been called, joined the company which visited the watch: but all
who did join it are evidently βασιλῆες. But we are certain that Oilean
Ajax was among them, because he is mentioned in ver. 228 as one of
those in the Council, who were anxious to accompany Diomed on his

Ajax Oileus therefore makes the ninth King on the Greek side in the

These nine King-Chiefs, of course with the exception of Achilles,
appear in every Council, and appear either absolutely or almost alone.

The line between them, and all the other chiefs, is on the whole
preserved with great precision. There are, however, a very few persons,
with regard to whom the question may possibly be raised whether they
passed it.

~_Certain doubtful cases._~

1. Meges, son of Phyleus, and commander of the Dulichian Epeans, was
not in the first rank of warriors; for he was not one of the ten who,
including Menelaus, were ready to accept Hector’s challenge[67].
Neither was he a member of the ordinary Council; but on one occasion,
that of the Night-council, he is summoned. Those who attended on this
occasion are also, as we have seen, called kings[68]. And we have seen
that the term has no appearance of having been loosely used: since,
after saying that the kings followed Nestor to the council, it adds,
that with them went Meriones and Antilochus[69].

[67] Il. vii. 167-70.

[68] Il. x. 175, connected with 195.

[69] Il. x. 196, 7.

But when Diomed proceeds to ask for a companion on his expedition, six
persons are mentioned (227-32) as having been desirous to attend him.
They are the two Ajaxes, Meriones, Thrasymedes, Menelaus, and Ulysses.
Idomeneus and Nestor are of course excepted on account of age. It
seems plain, however, that Homer’s intention was to include the whole
company, with those exceptions only. He could not mean that one and one
only of the able-bodied warriors present hung back. Yet Meges is not
mentioned; the only one of the persons summoned, who is not accounted
for. I therefore infer that Homer did not mean to represent him as
having attended; and consequently he is in all likelihood not included
among the βασιλῆες by v. 195.

2. Phœnix, the tutor and friend of Achilles, is caressingly called
by him Διοτρεφὴς[70] in the Ninth Book; but the petting and familiar
character of the speech, and of the whole relation between them, would
make it hazardous to build any thing upon this evidence.

[70] Il. ix. 607.

In the Ninth Book it may appear probable that he was among the elders
who took counsel with Agamemnon about the mission to Achilles, but it
is not positively stated; and, even if it were, his relation to that
great chieftain would account for his having appeared there on this
occasion only (Il. ix. 168). It is remarkable that, at this single
juncture, Homer tells us that Agamemnon collected not simply the
γέροντες, but the γέροντες ἀολλέες, as if there were persons present,
who did not belong to the ordinary Council (Il. ix. 89).

Again, in the Nineteenth Book, we are told (v. 303) that the γέροντες
Ἀχαιῶν assembled in the encampment of Achilles, that they might urge
him to eat. He refused; and he sent away the ‘other kings;’ but there
remained behind the two Atreidæ, Ulysses, Nestor, and Idomeneus, ‘and
the old chariot-driving Phœnix.’ The others are mentioned without
epithet, probably because they had just been described as kings; and
Phœnix is in all likelihood described by these epithets, for the reason
that the term βασιλῆες would not include him (xix. 303-12).

On the whole then, and taking into our view that Phœnix was as a lord,
or ἄναξ, subordinate to Peleus, and that he was a sub-commander in
the contingent of Achilles, we may be pretty sure that he was not a
βασιλεύς; if that word had, as has I think been sufficiently shown, a
determinate meaning.

3. Though Patroclus was in the first rank of warriors he is nowhere
called βασιλεὺς or Διοτρεφής; but only Διογενὴς, which is a word
apparently used with rather more latitude. The subordinate position of
Menœtius, the father of Patroclus, makes it improbable that he should
stand as a king in the Iliad. He appears to have been lieutenant to
Achilles over the whole body of Myrmidons.

4. Eurypylus son of Euæmon[71], commander of a contingent of forty
ships, and one of the ten acceptors of the challenge, is in one place
addressed as Διοτρεφής. It is doubtful whether he was meant to be
exhibited as a βασιλεὺς, or whether this is a lax use of the epithet;
if it is so, it forms the only exception (apart from ix. 607) to the
rule established by above thirty passages of the Iliad.

[71] Il. ii. 736, 7. vii. 167. xi. 819.

Upon the whole, then the evidence of the Iliad clearly tends to
show that the title βασιλεὺς was a definite one in the Greek army,
and that it was confined to nine persons; perhaps with some slight
indistinctness on the question, whether there was or was not a claim to
that rank on the part of one or two persons more.

~_Conditions of Kingship in the Iliad._~

Upon viewing the composition of the class of kings, whether we include
in it or not such cases as those of Meges or Eurypylus, it seems to
rest upon the combined basis of

  1. Real political sovereignty, as distinguished from subaltern

  2. Marked personal vigour; and

  3. _Either_, _a._ Considerable territorial possessions, as in the case
                    of Idomeneus and Oilean Ajax;

               _b._ Extraordinary abilities though with small dominions,
                    as in the case of Ulysses; or, at the least,

               _c._ Preeminent personal strength and valour, accepted in
                    like manner as a compensation for defective political
                    weight, as in the case of Telamonian Ajax.

Although the condition of commanding considerable forces is, as we
see, by no means absolute, yet, on the other hand, every commander of
as large a force as fifty ships is a βασιλεὺς, except Menestheus only,
an exception which probably has a meaning. Agapenor indeed has sixty
ships; but then he is immediately dependent on Agamemnon. The Bœotians
too have fifty; but they are divided among five leaders.

Among the bodily qualities of Homeric princes, we may first note
beauty. This attribute is not, I think, pointedly ascribed in the
poems to any person, except those of princely rank. It is needless to
collect all the instances in which it is thus assigned. Of some of
them, where the description is marked, and the persons insignificant,
like Euphorbus and Nireus[72], we may be the more persuaded, that Homer
was following an extant tradition. Of the Trojan royal family it is the
eminent and peculiar characteristic; and it remains to an observable
degree even in the case of the aged Priam[73]. Homer is careful[74]
to assert it of his prime heroes; Achilles surpasses even Nireus;
Ulysses possesses it abundantly, though in a less marked degree; it is
expressly asserted of Agamemnon; and of Ajax, who, in the Odyssey, is
almost brought into competition with Nireus for the second honours; the
terms of description are, however, distinguishable one from the other.

[72] Il. xvii. 51. ii. 673.

[73] Il. xxiv. 631.

[74] Il. ii. 674. Od. xvi. 175. Il. iii. 224, 169, 226, and Od. xi. 469.

Again, with respect to personal vigour as a condition of sovereignty,
it is observed by Grote[75] that ‘an old chief, such as Peleus and
Laertes, cannot retain his position.’ There appears to have been some
diversity of practice. Nestor, in very advanced age, and when unable to
fight, still occupies his throne. The passage quoted by Grote to uphold
his assertion with respect to Peleus falls short of the mark: for it
is simply an inquiry by the spirit of Achilles, whether his father
is still on the throne, or has been set aside on account of age, and
the question itself shows that, during the whole time of the life of
Achilles, Peleus, though old, had not been known to have resigned the
administration of the government. Indeed his retention of it appears
to be presumed in the beautiful speech of Priam to Achilles (Il. xxiv.

[75] Hist. vol. ii. p. 87.

~_Custom of resignation in old age._~

At the same time, there is sufficient evidence supplied by Homer to
show, that it was the more usual custom for the sovereign, as he grew
old, either to associate his son with him in his cares, or to retire.
The practice of Troy, where we see Hector mainly exercising the
active duties of the government--for he feeds the troops[76], as well
as commands them--appears to have corresponded with that of Greece.
Achilles, in the Ninth Iliad, plainly implies that he himself was not,
as a general, the mere delegate of his father; since he invites Phœnix
to come and share his kingdom with him.

[76] Il. xvii. 225.

But the duties of counsel continued after those of action had been
devolved: for Priam presides in the Trojan ἀγορὴ, and appears upon the
walls, surrounded by the δημογέροντες, who were, apparently, still its
principal speakers and its guides. And Achilles[77], when in command
before Troy, still looked to Peleus to provide him with a wife.

[77] Il. ix. 394.

I find a clear proof of the general custom of retirement, probably
a gradual one, in the application to sovereigns of the term αἴζηοι.
This word is commonly construed in Homer as meaning youths: but the
real meaning of it is that which in humble life we convey by the term
able-bodied; that is to say, those who are neither in boyhood nor
old age, but in the entire vigour of manhood. The mistake as to the
sense of the term has created difficulties about its origin, and has
led Döderlein to derive it from αἴθω, with reference, I suppose, to
the heat of youth, instead of the more obvious derivation form α and
ζάω, expressing the height of vital power. A single passage will, I
think, suffice to show that the word αἴζηος has this meaning: which is
also represented in two places by the paraphrastic expression αἰζήιος
ἀνήρ[78]. In the Sixteenth Iliad, Apollo appears to Hector under the
form of Asius (716):

[78] Il. xvii. 520. Od. xii. 83.

  ἀνέρι εἰσάμενος αἰζηῷ τε κρατερῷ τε.

Now the Asius in question was full brother to Hecuba, the mother of
Hector and eighteen other children; and he cannot, therefore, be
supposed to have been a youth. The meaning of the Poet appears clearly
to be to prevent the supposition, which would otherwise have been a
natural one in regard to Hector’s uncle, that this Asius, in whose
likeness Apollo the unshorn appeared, was past the age of vigour and
manly beauty, which is designated by the word αἴζηος.

~_Force of the term αἴζηος._~

There is not a single passage, where this word is used with any
indication of meaning youths as contra-distinguished from mature men.
But there is a particular passage which precisely illustrates the
meaning that has now been given to αἴζηος. In the Catalogue we are told
that Hercules carried off Astyoche[79]:

[79] Il. ii. 660.

  πέρσας ἄστεα πολλὰ Διοτρεφέων αἰζηῶν.

Pope renders this in words which, whatever be their intrinsic merit,
are, as a translation, at once diffuse and defective:

  ‘Where mighty towns in ruins spread the plain,
  And saw their blooming warriors early slain.’

Cowper wholly omits the last half of the line, and says,

  ‘After full many a city laid in dust’....

Chapman, right as to the epithet, gives the erroneous meaning to the

  ‘Where many towns of princely youths he levelled with the ground.’

Voss, accurate as usual, appears to carry the full meaning:

  ‘Viele Städt’ austilgend der gottbeseligten Männer.’

This line, in truth, affords an admirable touchstone for the meaning
of two important Homeric words. The vulgar meaning takes Διοτρεφέων
αἰζήων as simply illustrious youths. What could Homer mean by cities
of illustrious youths? Is it their sovereigns or their fighting
population? Were their sovereigns all youths? Were their fighting
population all illustrious? In no other place throughout the Iliad,
except one, where the rival reading ἀρηιθόων is evidently to be
adopted, does the Poet apply Διοτρεφὴς to a mass of men[80]. If,
then, the sovereigns be meant, it is plain that they could not all be
youths, and therefore αἴζηος does not mean a youth. But now let us
take Διοτρεφὴς in its strict sense as a royal title only; then let us
remember that thrones were only assumed on coming to manhood, as is
plain from the case of Telemachus, who, though his father, as it was
feared, was dead, was not in possession of the sovereign power. ‘May
Jupiter,’ says Antinous to him, ‘never make you the βασιλεὺς in Ithaca:
which is your right,’ or ‘which would fall to you by birth[81]:’

[80] Nor is it applied in the Odyssey to any bodies more numerous
than the thirteen ‘kings’ of Scheria, Od. v. 378; and to them in the
character of kings.

[81] Od. i. 386.

  ὅ τοι γενεῇ πατρώϊόν ἐστιν.

When Telemachus answers, by proposing that one of the nobles should
assume the sovereignty. Lastly, upon declining into old age, it
was, for the most part, either as to the more active cares, or else
entirely, relinquished. Then the sense of Il. ii. 660 will come out
with Homer’s usual accuracy and completeness. It will be that Hercules
sacked many cities of prince-warriors, or vigorous and warlike princes.

Thus, then, it was requisite that the Homeric βασιλεὺς should be a
king, a _könig_, a man of whom we could say that actually, and not
conventionally alone, he _can_, both in mind and person. Such was the
theory and such the practice of the Homeric age. There is not a single
Greek sovereign, with the honourable exception of Nestor, who does
not lead his subjects into battle; not one who does not excel them
all in strength of hand, scarcely any who does not also give proofs
of superior intellect, where scope is allowed for it by the action of
the poem. Over and above the work of battle, the prince is likewise
peerless in the Games. Of the eight contests of the Twenty-third Book,
seven are conducted only by the princes of the armament. The single
exception is remarkable: it is the boxing match, which Homer calls
πυγμαχίη ἀλεγεινὴ[82], an epithet that he applies to no other of the
matches except the wrestling.

[82] Il. xxiii. 653.

But his low estimation of the boxing comes out in another form, the
value of the prizes. The first prize is an unbroken mule: the second,
a double-bowled cup, to which no epithet signifying value is attached.
But for the wrestlers (a contest less dangerous, and not therefore
requiring, on this score, greater inducement to be provided,) the first
prize was a tripod, worth twelve oxen; and the second, a woman slave,
worth four. What, then, was the relative value of an ox and a mule not
yet broken? Mules, like oxen, were employed simply for traction. They
were better, because more speedy in drawing the plough[83]; but, then,
oxen were also available for food, and we have no indication that the
former were of greater value. Without therefore resting too strictly on
the number twelve, we may say that the prize of wrestling was several
times more valuable than that of boxing. Again, the second prize of the
foot-race was a large and fat ox, equal, probably, to the first prize
of the boxing-match[84]. Epeus, who wins the boxing-match against the
prince Euryalus, third leader of the Argives, was evidently a person
of traditional fame, from the victory he obtains over an adversary of
high rank. But Homer has taken care to balance this by introducing
a confession from the mouth of Epeus himself, that he was good for
nothing in battle[85];

[83] Il. x. 352.

[84] Il. xxiii. 750.

[85] Il. xxiii. 670.

  ἦ οὐχ ἅλις, ὅττι μάχης ἐπιδεύομαι;

an expression which, I think, the Poet has used, in all likelihood,
for the very purpose of shielding the superiority of his princes, by
showing that this gift of Epeus was a single, and as it were brutal,

~_Accomplishments of the Kings._~

As with the games, so with the more refined accomplishments. There
are but four cases in which we hear of the use of music and song from
Homer, except the instances of the professional bards. One of these is
the boy, who upon the Shield of Achilles plays and sings, in conducting
the youths and maidens as they pass from the vineyard with the grapes.
It is the bard, who plays to the dancers; but his dignity, and the
composure always assigned to him, probably would not allow of his
appearing in motion with such a body, and on this account the παὶς may
be substituted; of whose rank we know nothing. In the other cases, the
three persons mentioned are all princes: Paris is the first, who had
the lighter and external parts of the character of a gentleman, and
who was of the highest rank, yet to whom it may be observed only the
instrument is assigned, and not the song. The second is the sublime
Achilles, whose powerful nature, ranging like that of his Poet through
every chord of the human mind and heart, prompts him to beguile an
uneasy solitude by the Muse; and who is found in the Ninth Iliad[86] by
the Envoys, soothing his moody spirit with the lyre, and singing, to
strains of his own, the achievements of bygone heroes. Again, thirdly,
this lyre itself, like the iron globe of the Twenty-third Book, had
been among the spoils of King Eetion.

[86] Il. ix. 186.

But the royal and heroic character must with Homer, at least when
exhibited at its climax, be all comprehensive. As it soars to every
thing above, so, without stooping, must it be master of every thing
beneath it. Accordingly, the Poet has given it the last touch in the
accomplishments of Ulysses. As he proves himself a wood-cutter and
ship-builder in the island of Calypso, so he is no stranger to the
plough and the scythe; and he fairly challenges[87] Eurymachus the
Suitor to try which of them would soonest clear the meadow of its
grass, which drive the straightest furrow down a four-acre field.

[87] Od. xviii. 366-75.

So much for the corporeal accomplishments of the Greek kings and
princes; of their intellectual powers we shall have to treat in
considering the character of the governments of the heroic age.

~_The Kings as Gentlemen._~

But these accomplishments, mental and bodily, are not vulgarly
heaped upon his characters by Homer, as if they were detailed in a
boarding-school catalogue. The Homeric king should have that which
incorporates and harmonizes them all: he should be emphatically a
gentleman, and that in a sense not far from the one familiar to the
Christian civilization of Europe. Nestor, Diomed, Menelaus, are in a
marked manner gentlemen. Agamemnon is less so; but here Homer shows his
usual discrimination, for in Agamemnon there is a sordid vein, which
most of all mars this peculiar tone of character. It is, however, in
the two superlative heroes of the poems, that we see the strongest
development of those habits of feeling and action, which belong to the
gentleman. It will be admitted that one of these traits is the love of
that which is straightforward, truthful, and above-board. According to
the vulgar conception of the character of Ulysses, he has no credit
for this quality. But whatever the Ulysses of Virgil or of Euripides
may be, the Ulysses of Homer, though full of circumspection, reserve,
and even stratagem in dealing with enemies and strangers, has nothing
about him of what is selfish, tricky, or faithless. And, accordingly,
it is into his mouth that Homer has put the few and simple words,
which rebuke the character of the informer and the tale-bearer, with
a severity greater perhaps even than, under the circumstances, was
necessary. When he is recognised by Euryclea, he strictly enjoins upon
her the silence, on which all their lives at the moment depended. Hurt
by the supposition that she could (in our homely phrase) be likely to
blab, she replies that she will hold herself in, hard as stone or as
iron. She adds, that she will point out to him which of the women in
the palace are faithful, and which are guilty. No, he replies; I will
observe them for myself; that is not your business[88]:

[88] Od. xix. 500-2.

  μαῖα, τίη δὲ σὺ τὰς μυθήσεαι; οὐδέ τί σε χρή·
  εὖ νυ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐγὼ φράσομαι καὶ εἴσομ’ ἑκάστην·
  ἀλλ’ ἔχε σιγῇ μῦθον, ἐπίτρεψον δὲ θεοῖσιν.

~_Achilles as a Gentleman._~

As Homer has thus sharply exhibited Ulysses in the character of a
gentleman with respect to truth[89], so he has made the same exhibition
for Achilles with respect to courtesy: protesting, as it were, in this
manner by anticipation against the degenerate conceptions of those
characters, which were to reproduce and render current through the
world Achilles as a brute, and Ulysses as a thorough knave. But let us
see the residue of the proof.

[89] In Od. xxii. 417, he applies to Euryclea for the information,
which he had before declined. This is after the trial of the Bow: the
other was before it was proposed, and when the Chief probably reckoned
on having himself more time for observation than proved to be the case.

In the first Iliad, when the wrath is in the first flush of its heat,
the heralds Talthybius and Eurybates are sent to his encampment, with
the appalling commission to bring away Briseis. On entering, they
remain awe-struck and silent. Though, in much later times, we know that

              The messenger of evil tidings
  Hath but a losing office,

he at once relieves them from their embarrassment, and bids them
personally welcome;

  χαίρετε, κήρυκες, Διὸς ἄγγελοι, ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν·
  ἆσσον ἴτ’[90]·

[90] Il. i. 334.

And he desires Patroclus to bring forth the object of their quest. More
extraordinary self-command and considerateness than this, never has
been ascribed by any author to any character.

Again, when in the Ninth Book he is surprised in his seclusion by the
envoys Phœnix, Ulysses, and Ajax, though he is prepared to reject every
offer, he hails them all personally, without waiting to be addressed
and with the utmost kindness[91], as of all the Greeks the dearest to
him even in his wrath; he of course proceeds to order an entertainment
for them. But the most refined of all his attentions is that shown
to Agamemnon in the Twenty-third Book. Inferior to Ajax, Diomed, and
Ulysses, Agamemnon could not enter into the principal games, to be
beaten by any abler competitor, without disparagement to his office:
while there would also have been a serious disparagement of another
kind in his contending with a secondary person. Accordingly, Achilles
at the close makes a nominal match for the use of the sling--of which
we never hear elsewhere in the poems--and, interposing after the
candidates are announced, but before the actual contest, he presents
the chief prize to Agamemnon, with this compliment; that there need be
no trial, as every one is aware already how much he excels all others
in the exercise.

[91] Il. ix. 197.

Yet these great chiefs, so strong and brave and wise, so proud and
stern, so equipped in arts, manners, and accomplishments, can upon
occasion weep like a woman or a child. Ulysses, in the island of
Calypso daily pours forth his ‘waterfloods’ as he strains his vision
over the sea; and he covers up his head in the halls of Alcinous,
while Demodocus is singing, that his tears may flow unobserved. And so
Achilles, fresh from his fierce vengeance on the corpse of Hector,
yet, when the Trojan king[92] has called up before his mind the image
of his father Peleus, at the thought now of his aged parent, and now
of his slaughtered friend, sheds tears as tender as those of Priam
for his son, and lets his griefs overflow in a deep compassion for
the aged suppliant before him. Nor is it only in sorrow that we may
remark a high susceptibility. The Greek chieftains in general are
acutely sensible of praise and of blame. Telemachus[93] is delighted
when Ægyptius commends him as a likely looking youth: and even Ulysses,
first among them all in self-command, is deeply stung by the remark of
the saucy Phæacian on his appearance, and replies upon the offender
with excellent sense, but with an extraordinary pungency[94]. A similar
temper is shown in all the answers of the chieftains to Agamemnon when
he goes the round of the army[95].

[92] Il. xxiv. 486.

[93] Od. ii. 33, 5.

[94] Od. viii. 159. and seqq.

[95] Il. iv. 231 and seqq.

~_Rights of Hereditary Succession._~

The hereditary character of the royal office is stamped upon almost
every page of the poems; as nearly all the chiefs, whose lineage we are
able to trace, have apparently succeeded their fathers in power. The
only exception in the order, of which we are informed, is one where,
probably on account of the infancy of the heir, the brother of the
deceased sovereign assumes his sceptre. In this way Thyestes, uncle to
Agamemnon, succeeded his father Atreus, and then, evidently without any
breach of regularity, transmitted it to Agamemnon.

And such is probably the reason why, Orestes being a mere child[96],
a part of the dignity of Agamemnon is communicated to Menelaus. For
in the Iliad he has a qualified supremacy; receives jointly with
Agamemnon the present of Euneus; is more royal, higher in rank, than
the other chieftains: we are also told of him[97], μέγα πάντων Ἀργείων
ἤνασσε; and he came to the second meeting of γέροντες in the Second
Book αὐτόματος, without the formality of a summons.

[96] Od. i. 40.

[97] Il. x. 32.

In a case like that of Thyestes, if we may judge from what actually
happened, the uncle would perhaps succeed instead of the minor, whose
hereditary right would in such case be postponed until the next turn.

The case of Telemachus in the Odyssey is interesting in many ways,
as unfolding to us the relations of the family life of the period.
Among other points which it illustrates, is that of the succession
to sovereignty. It was admitted by the Suitors, that it descended to
him from his father[98]. Yet there evidently was some special, if not
formal act to be done, without which he could not be king. For Antinous
expresses his hope that Jupiter will never make Telemachus king of
Ithaca. Not because the throne was full, for, on the contrary, the
death of Ulysses was admitted or assumed to have occurred[99]; but
apparently because this act, whatever it was, had not been performed in
his case.

[98] ὅ τοι γενεῇ πατρώϊόν ἐστιν, Od. i. 387.

[99] Od. i. 396. ii. 182.

Perhaps the expressions of Antinous imply that such a proceeding
was much more than formal, and that the accession of Telemachus to
the supreme dignity might be arrested by the dissent of the nobles.
The answer too of the young prince[100] (τῶν κέν τις τόδ’ ἔχῃσιν)
seems to be at least in harmony with the idea that a practice,
either approaching to election, or in some way involving a voluntary
action on the part of the subjects or of a portion of them, had to
be gone through. But the personal dignity of the son of Ulysses was
unquestioned. Even the Suitors pay a certain regard to it in the midst
of their insolence: and when the young prince goes into the place of
assembly[101], he takes his place upon his father’s seat, the elders
spontaneously making way for him to assume it.

[100] Od. i. 396.

[101] Od. ii. 82.

~_Rights of primogeniture._~

It may, however, be said with truth, that Telemachus was an only son,
and that accordingly we cannot judge from his case whether it was the
right of the eldest to succeed. Whether the rights of primogeniture
were acknowledged among the Greeks of the heroic age, is a question of
much interest to our own. For, on the one hand, there is a disposition
to canvass and to dispute those rights. On the other hand, we live
in a state of society, to which they probably have contributed more
largely than any other specific cause, after the Christian religion,
to give its specific form. Homer has supplied us with but few cases
of brotherhood among his greater characters. We see, however, that
Agamemnon everywhere bears the character of the elder, and he appears
to have succeeded in that capacity to the throne of Atreus, while
Menelaus, the younger, takes his inheritance in virtue of his wife.
Tyro, in the Eleventh Odyssey, is said to have borne, on the banks of
the Enipeus, the twins Pelias and Neleus. In this passage the order
in which the children are named is most probably that of age[102].
We find Pelias reigning in Iolcus, a part of the original country of
the Æolids: while Neleus emigrates, and, either by or before marrying
Chloris, becomes king of Pylos in the south of Greece[103]. Of the
two brothers Protesilaus and Podarces, the former, who is also the
elder, commands the force from Phylace. He was, however, braver, as
well as older. This statement of the merits, ages, and positions of
the two brothers raises a question applicable to other cases where two
brothers are joined without ostensible discrimination in command. Of
these there are four in the Catalogue. The first is that of Ascalaphus
and Ialmenus, whom their mother Astyoche bore clandestinely to Mars,
ὑπερώϊον εἰσαναβᾶσα. The expression seems to imply, that it was at a
single birth. But even by this supposition we do not get rid of the
idea of seniority in this case; nor can we suppose all the pairs to
have been twins. We naturally therefore ask, whether this conjunction
implied equality in command? We may probably venture to answer,
without much doubt, in the negative. On the one hand, there is nothing
unlikely in the supposition that the first named of two brothers was
the eldest, and had the chief command. While on the other hand it is
certain, that there is no case of two coequal commanders except it be
among these four, which are all cases of brothers; and which, under the
interpretation which seems the most natural one they can receive, would
bear fresh testimony to the prevalence of the custom of primogeniture.
Again, among the sons of Nestor, who are exhibited to us as surrounding
him in the Third Odyssey, we may perhaps find, from the offices
assigned to them at the solemn sacrifice and otherwise, decisive signs
of primogeniture. Pisistratus steps forward to greet Telemachus on
his arrival, and leads him to his seat[104], sleeps near him under
the portico, and accompanies him on his journey. But these functions
appertain to him because he was the bachelor (ἠΐθεος) of the family,
as we are appropriately told in reference to his taking a couch near
the guest, while the married persons always slept in some separate
and more private part of the palace[105]. Pisistratus, therefore, was
probably the youngest son. But it is also pretty clear that Thrasymedes
was the eldest. For in the sacrifice he strikes the fatal blow at the
ox: while Stratius and Echephron bring it up, Aretus holds the ewer
and basin, Perseus holds the lamb, Pisistratus cuts up the animal and
Nestor performs the religious rites of prayer and sacrifice[106].

[102] Od. xi. 254, 6.

[103] Od. xi. 281.

[104] Od. iii. 36.

[105] Od. iii. 402. Il. vi. 242-50.

[106] Od. iii. 439-46 and 454.

And again, when Pisistratus brings up Telemachus and the disguised
Minerva, he places them, evidently as in the seat of honour, ‘beside
his brother Thrasymedes and his father.’

This is in perfect consonance with our finding Thrasymedes only,
together with Antilochus who fell, selected for service in the Trojan

Upon this question, again, an important collateral light is cast by
Homer’s mythological arrangements. They are, in fact, quite conclusive
on the subject of primogeniture among the Hellenes. The Olympian order
is founded upon it. It is as the eldest of the three Kronid brothers,
and by no other title, that Jupiter stands at the head of the Olympian
community. With respect to the lottery, he is but one of three. His
being the King of Air invests him with no right to command the King of
Sea. In the Fifteenth Book, as he is of nearly equal force, Neptune
declines to obey his orders until reminded by Iris of his seniority.
The Erinues, says the Messenger Goddess, attend upon the elder. That
is to say, his rights lie at the foundation of the moral order. Upon
this suggestion, the refractory deity at once succumbs[107]. And,
reciprocally, Jupiter in the Thirteenth Odyssey recognises the claim of
Neptune to respect as the _oldest_ and best (of course after himself)
of the gods[108].--

[107] Il. xv. 204-7.

[108] Od. xiii. 141.

Thus exalted and severed in rank, thus beautiful in person, thus
powerful in hand and mind, thus associated with the divine fountain of
all human honours, the Greek Βασιλεύς of the Iliad has other claims,
too, to be regarded as representing, more nearly perhaps than it has
ever been represented by any other class of monarchs, a benignant and
almost ideal kingship. The light of these great stars of heroic society
was no less mild than it was bright; and they might well have supplied
the basis of that idea of the royal character, which has given it so
extraordinary a hold over the mind of Shakspeare, and led him to adorn
it by such noble effusions of his muse.

~_Function of the King as Priest._~

The Homeric King appears before us in the fourfold character of Priest,
Judge, General, and Proprietor.

It has already been remarked, that no priest appears among the Greeks
of the Troic age; and, in conformity with this view, we find Agamemnon
in the Iliad, and Nestor in the Odyssey, charged with the actual
performance of the rite of sacrifice; nor is it apparently committed to
any other person than the head of the society, assisted by his κήρυκες,
officers who acted as heralds and as serjeants, or by his sons.

But while this was the case in regard to what may be called state
sacrifices, which were also commonly banquets, we likewise learn,
as to those of a more private character, that they must have been
performed by the head of the household. To slay an animal for food
is in every case to sacrifice him (ἱερεύειν) whether in the camp, the
palace of Nestor, the unruly company of the Suitors, or the peaceful
cottage of Eumelus; and every animal ready for the knife was called an

[109] Od. xiv. 74. 94.

~_As Judge and as General._~

The judicial office of the king is made known to us, first, by the
character of Minos. While on earth, he had direct communications from
Jupiter, which probably referred to the administration of justice;
and, in the Shades beneath, we find him actually exercising the office
of the judge. Nothing with which we become acquainted in Homer has
the semblance of criminal justice, except the fines for homicide; and
even these have no more than the semblance only. The punishment was
inflicted, like other fines, as an adjustment or compensation[110]
between man and man, and not in satisfaction of the offence against
public morality, peace, or order.

[110] Il. xviii. 498.

In the Second Iliad, the remonstrance of Ulysses with the commonalty
declares that it is the king, and to the king alone, to whom Jupiter
has committed the sceptre and the administration of justice, that by
these he may fulfil his regal office[111]:

[111] Il. ii. 204.

                                εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,
  εἷς βασιλεὺς, ᾧ ἔδωκε Κρόνου παῖς ἀγκυλομήτεω
  σκῆπτρόν τ’ ἠδὲ θέμιστας, ἵνα σφίσιν ἐμβασιλεύῃ.

Now the sceptre is properly the symbol of the judicial authority, as we
know from the oath of Achilles[112]:

[112] Il. i. 237.

                        νῦν αὖτέ μιν υἷες Ἀχαιῶν
  ἐν παλάμῃς φορέουσι δικασπόλοι, οἵτε θέμιστας
  πρὸς Διὸς εἰρύαται.

From the combined effect of the two passages it is clear that the
duties of the judicature, the determination of relative rights between
the members of the community, constituted, at least in great part, the
primary function of sovereignty. Still the larger conception of it,
which includes the deliberative office, is that presented to us in the
speech of Nestor to Agamemnon, on the occasion of the Council which
followed the Night-assembly[113].

[113] Il. ix. 98.

                              καί τοι Ζεὺς ἐγγυάλιξεν
  σκῆπτρόν τ’, ἠδὲ θέμιστας, ἵνα σφίσι βουλεύῃσθα.

The judicial function might, however, even in the days of Homer, be
exercised by delegation. For in the Assembly graven on the Shield,
while the parties contend, and the people sympathize some with one
and some with the other, it is the γέροντες, or elders, who deliver
judgment[114]. Of these persons each holds the sceptre in his hands.
The passage, Il. i. 237, seems to speak of one sceptre held by many
persons: this scene on the Shield exhibits to us several sceptres.
In the simile of the crooked judgments, a plurality of judges[115]
are referred to. But as we never hear of an original and independent
authority, like that of Il. ii. 204, in the senators or nobles, it
seems most likely that they acted judicially by an actual or virtual
delegation from the king.

[114] Il. xviii. 506.

[115] Il. xvi. 386.

The duty of the king to command his troops is inscribed on every page
of the Iliad; and the only limit to it seems to have been, that upon
the approach of old age it was delegated to the heir, or to more than
one of the family, even before the entire withdrawal of the sire from
public cares. The martial character of the sovereign was indeed
ideally distinguishable from his regal one; for Agamemnon was[116]

[116] Il. iii. 179.

  ἀμφότερον, βασιλεύς τ’ ἀγαθὸς, κρατερός τ’ αἰχμητής.

Still, martial excellence was expected of him. When Hippolochus
despatched his son Glaucus to Troy, he enjoined him always to be
valiant, and always to excel his comrades in arms[117].

[117] Il. vi. 207.

Lastly, the king was a proprietor. Ulysses had very large landed
property, and as many herds and flocks, says Eumæus in a spirit of
loyal exaggeration, as any twenty chiefs alive[118]. And Homer, who
always reserves his best for the Lycians, has made Sarpedon declare,
in an incomparable speech, the virtual condition on which estates like
these were held. He desires Glaucus to recollect, why it is that they
are honoured in Lycia with precedence at banquets, and with greater
portions than the rest, why looked upon as deities, why endowed with
great estates of pasture and corn land by the banks of Xanthus; it is
that they may the more boldly face the burning battle, and be great
in the eyes and in the minds of their companions. So entirely is the
idea of dignity and privilege in the Homeric king founded upon the sure
ground of duty, of responsibility, and of toil[119].

[118] Od. xiv. 98.

[119] Il. xii. 310-28.

What Hippolochus taught, and Sarpedon stated, is in exact
correspondence with the practical part of the narrative of Glaucus in
the Sixth Book. When Bellerophon had fully approved himself in Lycia by
his prowess, the king of the country gave him his daughter in marriage,
together with one half of his kingdom; and the Lycians presented him
with a great and fertile demesne.

~_As proprietor; the τέμενος._~

This estate is called τέμενος; a name never applied in Homer but to the
properties of deities and of rulers. He uses the word with reference to
the glebe-lands of

  Spercheius, Il. xxiii. 148.
  Venus, Od. viii. 362.
  Ceres, Il. ii. 696.
  Jupiter, Il. viii. 48.

And to the domains of

  Bellerophon, Il. vi. 194.
  Æneas (promised by the Trojan community if he should slay
        Achilles), Il. xx. 184.
  Meleager, Il. ix. 574.
  Sarpedon and Glaucus, Il. xii. 313.
  The βασιλεὺς on the Shield, Il. xviii. 550.
  Iphition (πολέων ἡγήτωρ λαῶν), Il. xx. 391.
  Alcinous, Od. vi. 293.
  Ulysses, Od. xi. 184, and xvii. 299.

On the other hand, the merely rich man (Il. xi. 68) has an ἄρουρα, not
a τέμενος; and the farm of Laertes is called ἀγρὸς, not τέμενος. And
why? Because it was a private possession, acquired by him apparently
out of savings (Od. xxiv. 206);

                            ὅν ῥά ποτ’ αὐτὸς
  Λαέρτης κτεάτισσεν, ἐπεὶ μάλα πόλλ’ ἐμόγησεν.

The word τέμενος is probably from τέμνω, or from the same root with
that verb, and signifies land which, having been cut off from the
original common stock, available for the uses of private persons, has
been set apart for one of the two great public purposes, of government
or of religion.

~_Revenues and burdens on them._~

Besides their great estates, the kings appear to have had at least two
other sources of revenue. One of these was not without resemblance
in form to what we now call customs’-duties, and may have contained
their historical germ. In the Book of Genesis, where the sons of Jacob
go down to buy corn in Egypt, they carry with them a present for the
ruler; and doubtless the object of this practice was to conciliate the
protection to which, as foreigners, and perhaps as suspected persons,
avowedly seeking their own gain, they would not otherwise have had a
claim. ‘Take of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry
down the man a present; a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and
myrrh, nuts, and almonds[120].’ In conformity with the practice thus
exemplified, when Euneus in the Seventh Iliad despatches his ships from
Lemnos to sell wine to the Greek army, in return for which they obtain
slaves, hides, and other commodities, he sends a separate supply, χίλια
μέτρα, as a present to the two sons of Atreus[121]. Agamemnon indeed
is, in the Ninth Book, slily twitted by Nestor with the largeness of
the stores of wine, that he had contrived to accumulate.

[120] Gen. xliii. 11.

[121] Il. vii. 467-75.

So likewise we find that certain traders, sailing to Scheria, made a
present to Alcinous, as the sovereign, of the captive Eurymedusa. When
we compare this with the case of Euneus, the gift obviously appears to
have been a consideration for permission to trade[122].

[122] Od. vii. 8-11.

The other source of revenue traceable in the Iliad was one sure to
lead to the extensive corruptions, which must already have prevailed
in the time of Hesiod. It consisted in fees upon the administration of
justice. In the suit described upon the shield, the matter at issue is
a fine for homicide. But quite apart, as it would seem, from this fine,
there lie in the midst, duly ‘paid into court,’ two talents of gold, to
be given at the close to him, of all the judges, who should deliver
the most upright, that is the most approved, judgment[123]:

[123] Il. xviii. 508.

  τῷ δόμεν ὃς μετὰ τοῖσι δίκην ἰθύντατα εἴποι.

However righteous the original intention of a payment in this form, it
is easy to estimate its practical tendencies, and curious to remark how
early in the course of time they were realized.

On the other hand, the great possessions of the king were not given
him for his own use alone. Over and above the general obligation of
hospitality to strangers, it was his duty to entertain liberally the
principal persons among his subjects. Doubtless this provided the
excuse, which enabled the Suitors to feast upon the stores of Ulysses,
without the shame, in the very outset, of absolute rapine. And it would
appear from the Odyssey that Alitherses[124] and other friends of the
royal house, frequented the table there as well as its enemies, though
not perhaps so constantly.

[124] Od. xvii. 68.

In the Seventh Iliad, after his fight with Hector, Ajax[125] repairs,
not invited, but as if it were a matter of course, to share the
hospitality of Agamemnon. In the Ninth Book, Nestor urges Agamemnon to
give a feast to the elders, as a duty of his office:

[125] Il. vii. 313.

  ἔοικέ τοι, οὔτοι ἀεικές[126],

[126] Il. ix. 70.


  πολέεσσι δ’ ἀνάσσεις[127],

[127] Ibid. 73.

and then to take their counsel. But perhaps the ordinary exercise of
this duty is best exhibited in the case of Alcinous, who is discovered
by Ulysses on his arrival entertaining his brother kings in his

[128] Od. vii. 49, 108.

I have not here taken specific notice of the δώτιναι, or tributes,
which, as Agamemnon promised, Achilles was to receive, from the
seven cities, that it was proposed to place under his dominion. The
expression is[129],

[129] Il. ix. 155.

  οἵ κέ ἑ δωτίνῃσι θεὸν ὣς τιμήσουσιν,
  καί οἱ ὑπὸ σκήπτρῳ λιπαρὰς τελέουσι θέμιστας.

The connection of the ideas in the two lines respectively would appear
to show, that the δώτιναι may be no more than the fees payable to the
sovereign on the administration of justice.

Thus then the king might draw his ordinary revenues mainly from the
following sources:

First and principally, the public τέμενος, or demesne land.

Next, his own private acquisitions, such as the ἀγρὸς of Laertes.

Thirdly, the fees on the administration of justice.

Fourthly, the presents paid for licenses to trade.

~_The position of Agamemnon._~

The position of Agamemnon, the greatest king of the heroic age,
constitutes in itself too considerable a feature of Greek polity at
that period to be dismissed without especial notice.

He appears to have united in himself almost every advantage which could
tend to raise regal power to its _acmè_. He was of a house moving
onward in its as yet unbroken career of accumulating greatness: he was
the head of that house, supported in Lacedæmon by his affectionate
brother Menelaus; and the double title of the two was fortified
with twin supports, by their marriages with Clytemnestra and Helen
respectively. This family was at the head of the energetic race
which ruled, and deserved to rule, in the Greek peninsula; and which
apparently produced such large and full developments of personal
character, as the world has never seen, either before or since, at
so infantine a stage of civilization. There were various kings in the
army before Troy, but among them all the race of Pelopids was the most
kingly[130]. Agamemnon possessed the courage, strength, and skill of a
warrior, in a degree surpassed only by the very greatest heroes of his
nation; and (according to Homer) evidently exceeding that of Hector,
the chief Trojan warrior opposed to him. He must have been still in
the flower of his age; and though neither gifted with extraordinary
talents, nor with the most popular or attractive turn of character, yet
he possessed in a high degree the political spirit, the sense of public
responsibility, the faculty of identifying himself with the general
mind and will. Avarice and irresolution appear to have been the two
most faulty points in his composition.

[130] Il. x. 239.

His dominions were the largest which, up to that time, had been known
in that portion of the world: including Greece, from Mount Olympus to
the Malean Cape, reaching across to the islands on the coast of Asia
Minor, and even capable of being held to include the island of Cyprus.
Before Troy, his troops were πολὺ πλεῖστοι καὶ ἄριστοι (Il. ii. 577),
which must imply, as his ships were not greatly more numerous than
those of some other contingents, that they were of large size; and
he also supplied the Arcadians, who had none of their own, (v. 612.)
Lastly, he bore upon him the mellow brightness of the patriarchal age,
signified by the title ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν.

Thucydides was not an antiquarian, or he would have left on his history
more marks of his researches in that department. But he seems to have
formed with care the opinions which he expresses on archaic Greece, in
the admirable introduction to his great work. Among them he says that,
as he conceives, the fear of Agamemnon operated more powerfully than
the oath given to Tyndareus[131], or than good will, in the formation
of the confederacy which undertook the war of Troy.

[131] Thuc. i. 9.

It seems clear from Homer, that the name and fame of Agamemnon were
known far beyond the limits of Greece, and that the reputation of
being connected with him was thought to be of value. For Menelaus, on
his return from Pharos to Egypt, erected there a funeral mound in his
honour[132], ἵν’ ἄσβεστον κλέος εἴη; which he would not have done in a
country, to whose inhabitants that monarch was unknown. And again, when
Ulysses is challenged by the Cyclops to declare, to what and to whom he
and his crew belong, he makes the reply, that they are the subjects of
Agamemnon, the son of Atreus[133]:

[132] Od. iv. 584.

[133] Od. ix. 263.

  λαοὶ δ’ Ἀτρείδεω Ἀγαμέμνονος εὐχόμεθ’ εἶναι,
  τοῦ δὴ νῦν γε μέγιστον ὑπουράνιον κλέος ἐστίν.

Ulysses evidently conceives the fame of the great monarch, thus
enhanced by success, to have been likely to supply any one who belonged
to him with a defence against the formidable monster, before whom he

~_Governing motives of the War._~

The statements of Homer respecting the position of Agamemnon and the
motives of the war, fall short of, but are not wholly at variance
with, the opinion which has been expressed by Thucydides. Of the
oath to Tyndareus Homer knows nothing: but he tells us of the oath,
by which the Greek chieftains had bound themselves to prosecute the
expedition. Before setting out, they had a solemn ceremonial at Aulis;
they offered sacrifices, they made libations, they swore, they pledged
hands[134], they saw a portent, and had it interpreted by Calchas[135].
But all this only shows that the Atreidæ were conscious how formidable
an enterprise they were about, and how they desired accordingly that
their companion kings should, after having once embarked, be as deeply
pledged as possible to go forward. It does not tell us what was the
original inducement to enter into the undertaking. Again, it does not
appear that the Greeks in general cared much about the abduction or
even the restoration of Helen. The only passage directly touching the
point is the one in which Agamemnon[136] expresses his opinion that, if
Menelaus should die of his wound, the army would probably return home.
It seems as if Agamemnon thought, that without doubt they would then be
in honour released from their engagement, and that they would at once
avail themselves of their freedom. The hope of booty, however, would do
much; and the members of a conquering race unite together with great
facility for purposes of war, through a mixture of old fellow-feeling
and the love of adventure, as well as through anticipation of spoil.
On the other hand, it was evidently no small matter to organize the
expedition: much time was consumed; a friendly embassy to Troy had been
tried without success; the ablest princes, Nestor and Ulysses, were
employed in obtaining cooperation. The general conclusion, I think, is,
that a combination of hope, sympathy, respect, and fear, but certainly
a very strong personal feeling, whatever its precise ingredients may
have been, towards the Pelopid house, must have operated largely in
the matter. And it is in this spirit that we should construe the
various declarations of Homer respecting those who came to the war, as
courting the Atreidæ, and as acting for their honour; namely these,

[134] Il. ii. 303-7. 339-41.

[135] Ibid. 308, 322.

[136] Il. iv. 169-72.

  χάριν Ἀτρείδῃσι φέροντες. Od. v. 307.
  Ἀγαμέμνονι ἦρα φέροντες. Il. xiv. 132.
  τιμὴν ἀρνύμενοι Μενελάῳ σοί τε, κυνῶπα. Il. i. 159.

Before Troy, Agamemnon is always regarded by others as responsible for
the expedition, and it is plain that he so regards himself. The use of
his sceptre by Ulysses in the great effort to stem the torrent of the
retiring multitude, is highly significant of the influence belonging
to his station; and when Ulysses argues with the leaders, he rests his
case on the importance of knowing the whole mind of Agamemnon, while he
strongly dwells on his royal authority, and on the higher authority of
heaven as its foundation.

His position, however, did not place him above the influence of
jealousy and fear: for he was gratified when he saw Achilles and
Ulysses, the first of his chieftains, at variance[137]. And his weight
and authority depended for their efficacy on reason, and on the free
will of the Greeks. Agamemnon takes Briseis from Achilles by an act
of force; but he nowhere seeks to move the army, or the individuals
composing it, upon that principle; nor does the prolongation of
the service appear to have been placed beyond the judgment of the
particular chiefs and of the troops. Achilles not only declares that
he will go, but says he will advise others to go with him[138], and
asks Phœnix to remain in his tent for the purpose. The deference paid
to the Head is a deference according to measure; and the measure is
that of his greater responsibility, his heavier stake in the war[139].
His functions in regard to the host are, to think for and advise it in
council, and to stimulate it by exhortation and example in the field.
If we may rely on Homer, it was essentially, so far as regarded the
relation between the general in chief and the rest of the body, a free
military organization.

[137] Od. vii. 77.

[138] Il. ix. 356-63, 417-20.

[139] Il. iv. 415-8.

~_Personal Character of Agamemnon._~

The Agamemnon of Homer does not appear to be intended by the Poet for
a man of genius. But on this very account, the dominance of political
ideas in his mind is more remarkable. On political grounds he is ready
to give up Chryseis[140]. On political grounds he quells his own
avarice, and slays Trojans instead of taking ransom for them[141]. He
deeply feels the responsibilities of his station, and care banishes
his sleep. The amiable trait in his character is his affection for
Menelaus, and in this, as in many other respects, he recalls the
Jupiter of Homer, whose selfishness is nowhere relieved, except by
paternal affection.

[140] Il. i. 117.

[141] Il. vi. 45-62.

Further, Agamemnon, though without genius, is a practitioner in
finesse. In his love of this art, I fear, he resembles the tribe of
later politicians. He resembles them, too, in outwitting himself by
means of it: he is ‘hoist upon his own petard.’ This seems to be, in
part at least, the explanation of his unhappy device in the Second
Iliad, to prepare the people for an attack on Troy, by counselling them
to go home forthwith. The breakdown of his scheme is, as it were, the
first-fruits of retribution for his ἄτη in the First Book.----

As, upon the whole, there is no idea of selfishness involved in the
prerogatives of the Homeric king, so is it clear that, except as
against mere criminals, there is no general idea of coercion. The
Homeric king reigns with the free assent of his subjects--an assent
indeterminate, but real, and in both points alike resembling his
kingly power. The relation between ruler and ruled is founded in the
laws and condition of our nature. Born in a state of dependence, man,
when he attains to freedom and capacity for action, finds himself the
debtor both of his parents and of society at large; and is justly
liable to discharge his debt by rendering service in return. Of
this we have various indications in Homer, with respect to parents
in particular. Those who die young, like Simoeisius by the hand of
Ajax[142], die before they have repaid to their parents the cost, that
is the care, of their education (θρεπτρά). In a most remarkable and
characteristic passage. Phœnix describes how, when he was young, some
deity restrained his wrath against his father, and shows the infamy
that would attend the taking away of that life, in a country where
voluntary homicide, in general, was regarded more as a misfortune than
a crime[143]:

[142] Il. iv. 473-9.

[143] Il. ix. 459.

                                ὅς ῥ’ ἐνὶ θυμῷ
  δήμου θῆκε φάτιν, καὶ ὀνείδεα πόλλ’ ἀνθρώπων,
  ὡς μὴ πατροφόνος μετ’ Ἀχαιοῖσιν καλεοίμην.

The reciprocal obligations of father and son are beautifully shown by
Andromache in her lament over Hector, when she speaks of her child[144]:

[144] Il. xxii. 485. Od. xxiv. 434.

                          οὔτε σὺ τούτῳ
  ἔσσεαι, Ἕκτορ, ὄνειαρ, ἐπεὶ θάνες, οὔτε σοὶ οὗτος.

~_The relation of sovereign and subject free._~

As to the relation between the subject and the sovereign authority,
it seems everywhere to be taken for granted. In the Twenty-fourth
Odyssey, the object of those who march against Ulysses is not to put
down authority, but to avenge the deaths of their sons and brothers.
But there appears nowhere in Homer the idea that in this relation
could be involved a difference of interest, or even of opinion, between
class and class, between governors and governed. The king or chief
was uplifted to set a high example, to lead the common counsels to
common ends, to conduct the public and common intercourse with heaven,
to decide the strifes of individuals, to defend the borders of the
territory from invasion. That the community at home, or any regularly
subsisting class of it, could require repression or restraint from the
government, was an idea happily unknown to the Homeric times.

Those classes, indeed, were few and simple. There was, first of all,
the king; and round him his family and his κήρυκες, the serjeants or
heralds, who were his immediate, and apparently his only immediate,
agents. They conveyed his orders; they assisted him in the Assembly,
in sacrifice, and in banquets. They appear to be the only executive
officers that are found in Homer. With these was the Bard, apparently
also an indispensable member of royal households. Both were recognised
among the established professions.

Next to the kings and other sovereigns, we must place the chief
proprietors of the country. In the Odyssey, we find the members of the
aristocracy having their own estates and functions, and sustaining the
part of γέροντες, or leaders in the Assembly. The judicial office,
as we have seen from the Shield and otherwise, was in their hands,
probably by delegation. But it would appear, that the distinction
between them and the sovereign family was rather a broad one; since,
in almost every case, we seem to find the prince contracting a
marriage beyond his own borders. Laertes brings Anticlea[145] from
the neighbourhood of Parnassus; Theseus marries Ariadne from Crete;
Agamemnon and Menelaus, belonging to Mycenæ, are united to the
daughters of the king of Sparta; of the two daughters of Icarius,
Ulysses in Ithaca married Penelope, and Eumelus in Pheræ married
Iphthime (Od. iv. 797); one of the two, at least, and perhaps both,
must have married from a considerable distance; Menelaus sends his
beautiful daughter Hermione to be the wife of Neoptolemus in Thessaly:
and the only instance, even apparently in the opposite sense, seems
to be that of his son Megapenthes, who married a Spartan damsel, the
daughter of Alector. But then Megapenthes was not legitimate; he was
born of a slave-mother, and therefore he was not a prince[146]. All
these facts seem to show us that the royal houses formed a network
among themselves, spread over Greece, and keeping pretty distinct from
the aristocracy: a circumstance which may, in some degree, help to
explain the wonderful patience and constancy of Penelope.

[145] Od. xi. 85.

[146] Od. iv. 10-12.

~_Other classes of the community._~

Next to the nobles, and in the third place, we may class what we should
now call trades and professions: observing, however, that, in Homer’s
time, both the useful arts and the fine arts had a social dignity, as
compared with that of wealth and station, which the former have long
ago lost, and which the later have not retained in as full manner as
perhaps might be desired, not for their own advantage merely, but to
secure due honour for labour, and the humanizing effect of this kind of
labour in particular for society at large. I draw the proof of their
estimation in the heroic age, first, from the manner in which they are
combined under the common designation of δημιοεργοὶ, and arranged
in a mixed order, the preference being only given by a more emphatic
description to the bard[147]:

[147] Od. xvii. 383.

                    τῶν, οἳ δημιοεργοὶ ἔασιν,
  μάντιν, ἢ ἰητῆρα κακῶν, ἢ τέκτονα δούρων,
  ἢ καὶ θέσπιν ἀοιδὸν, ὅ κεν τέρπῃσιν ἀείδων;

Here I take τέκτονα δούρων to represent the entire class of artificers,
of whom many are named in Homer; in a poor country like Ithaca,
depending very much on the use of boats for fishing and for its
communications, the carpenters might naturally represent the whole.

And next, from the manner in which these arts were practised by
princes, it seems plain that there was nothing in the pursuit of them
inconsistent with high rank. The physicians, or surgeons rather, of
the Greek army, Podaleirius and Machaon, were themselves princes and
commanders of a contingent: and even Paris, who was not the man to
demean himself by employments beneath his station, seems to have taken
the chief share in the erection of his own palace[148]:

[148] Il. vi. 314.

          τά ῥ’ αὐτὸς ἔτευξε σὺν ἀνδράσιν, οἳ τότ’ ἄριστοι
  ἦσαν ἐνὶ Τροίῃ ἐριβώλακι τέκτονες ἄνδρες.

Again, the bard of Agamemnon was appointed quasi-guardian[149] to
Clytemnestra in her husband’s absence: and Phemius, the bard of
Ulysses[150], proceeded to the Assembly of the Twenty-fourth Odyssey
in order to prevent any tumult, together with Medon the herald, who
addressed the people accordingly. The heralds, or serjeants, are also
recognised as δημιοεργοί[151]. Again, Alitherses, being the μάντις or
seer of the island, and apparently the only one, takes part in the
debates both of the Second and of the Twenty-fourth Books.

[149] Od. iii. 267.

[150] Od. xvii. 263. xxiv. 439.

[151] Od. xix. 135.

The professions, then, thus far are five:

  1. Seers.
  2. Surgeons.
  3. Artificers.
  4. Bards.
  5. Heralds.

We may remark the absence of priests and merchants. Not that merchants
were unknown: we find them mentioned by Euryalus the Phæacian, as
πρηκτῆρες, but their business was esteemed sordid; it too much
resembled that of the kidnapper or swindler, and it is the reproach of
seeming to belong to this class that smartly stings Ulysses[152]. And
even the merchant Mentes, whose form was assumed by Pallas, belonged
to the Taphians, a tribe of pirates[153]. As yet, neither the order
of priests would seem to have been completely taken over from the
Pelasgians, nor the class of merchants formed in imitation of the

[152] Od. viii. 161.

[153] Od. i. 183.

~_Slaves in the Homeric age._~

After the classes we have named, come the great mass of the population,
who till the ground and tend the live stock for themselves or their
employers, if free, and for their lords if slaves. The fisherman, too,
is distinctly noticed[154] in Ithaca. Mr. Grote classes with the free
husbandmen the artisans[155], and separates both of them from the
θῆτες, or hired labourers, and the slaves. It appears to me, however,
that we ought to distinguish the artisans from the mere husbandmen, as
having been in a higher station. On the other hand, I see no passage
in Homer which clearly gives to the husbandmen as a class a condition
superior to that of the hired servants, or even, perhaps, the slaves.
The evidence of the poems is not clear as to the existence or extent of
a peasant proprietary. We must beware of confounding those conceptions
of a slavery maintained wholesale for the purposes of commerce, which
our experience supplies, with its earliest form, in which the number
of slaves would seem to have been small, and their ranks to have
been recruited principally by war, with slight and casual aid from
kidnapping. In those times, the liability to captivity would seem to
have affected all men alike, independently of all distinctions whether
in rank or in blood. The sons of Priam were sold into slavery like any
one else: the only difference was, that, in proportion to the wealth of
the parents, there was a better chance of ransom. It would appear that
the slaves of Homer were properly, even when not indoor, yet domestic.
The women discharged the indoor and household offices: except that a
few men performed strictly personal services about their masters, as
δρηστῆρες and as carvers[156] (θεράποντε δαήμονε δαιτροσυνάων). But
the men-slaves were more largely employed out of doors in the care
of flocks and herds, fields and vineyards. Thus, the slaves were in
a different position apparently from the freemen, for they seem to
have been gathered as servants and attendants round the rich. It would
appear, however, from the case of Eumæus, who had a slave of his own,
Mesaulios[157], that they might hold property for themselves. Again,
not Eumæus only, but in the Twenty-fourth Odyssey Dolius and his six
sons, sit down to table together with Ulysses, and fondly clasp his
hands. They bear arms too; and this could not have been very strange,
for Homer describes the arming of the sons without remark, while he
calls both the father and Laertes, on account of their old age[158],
ἀναγκαῖοι πολεμισταί. The moral deterioration of slaves is noticed very
strongly by Eumæus himself[159], though not with reference to himself.
We have, however, no reason to suppose that their outward condition was
inferior to that of the free labouring population in any thing, except
that we must presume they did not take part in the assemblies or in
war. When Achilles[160] in the infernal regions compares the highest
condition there with the lowest on earth, he does not choose the slave,
but the labourer for hire (θητεύεμεν is his expression), as the type
of a depressed condition upon earth. The state of the hired servant
probably resembled that of the slave in being dependent upon others,
and fell beneath it in the point of security. This is the more likely,
because the point of the passage turns on the poverty of the employer,

[154] Od. xxiv.

[155] Hist. Greece ii. p. 84.

[156] Od. xvi. 248, 253, also δαιτρὸς, Od. i. 141. There were likewise
in Scheria nine αἰσυμνῆται, who made arrangements for the dance. These
were public officers (δήμιοι) and may fairly be rendered ‘masters of
the ceremonies.’ (Od. viii. 258.)

[157] Od. xiv. 449-52.

[158] Od. xxiv. 498.

[159] Od. xvii. 320-3.

[160] Od. xi. 489-91.

  ἀνδρὶ παρ’ ἀκλήρῳ, ᾧ μὴ βιοτὸς πολὺς εἴη,

as constituting the misery of the servant.

Indeed, if we consider the matter a little further, we shall perhaps
see the greater reason to think, that the expression θητεύεμεν has been
chosen otherwise than at random. What do we mean by a hired servant, at
a period in the movement of society when money did not exist? We can
only mean one who was paid by food, clothes, and lodging, like a slave,
but who was not, like a slave, permanently attached to his master or
his master’s estate. The difference between the two would thus lie in
the absence of the permanent tie: a difference much more against the
θὴς, than in his favour.

The position, then, of the slaves was probably analogous to that of
domestic servants among ourselves, who practically forfeit the active
exercise of political privileges, but are in many respects better off
than the mass of those who depend on bodily labour. It doubtless grew
out of the state of things in which slaves were practically servants,
and servants of the rich, that masters, or ἄνακτες[161], were regarded
as constituting the wealthy class of the community.

[161] Od. xiii. 223.

~_Supply of military service._~

I stop for a moment to observe, that the view here taken of the
comparatively restricted numbers and sphere of the slaves in heroic
Greece may serve in some degree to answer the question, why do we not
hear of them in the army of the Iliad? As men of equal blood with the
Greeks themselves, they would perhaps be dangerous comrades in arms.
As persons established in charge of the property of the lord, there
would be a strong motive to leave them behind for its care. It is
very difficult to judge how far the state of heroic Greece bore any
resemblance to the feudal system of the later middle ages, and whether
it did not present a more substantial correspondence with the allodial
system of the earlier. We have before us a large number of independent
proprietors, each bound by usage probably to render personal service,
but we have nothing that resembles the obligation to bring so many
retainers into the field with reference to the size of the estate.
And accordingly, in the Iliad we do not find many merely personal
retainers. The menial services in the tent of Achilles are performed
by the women-captives, or by Patroclus in person. After Patroclus was
dead, his tent was attended only by Automedon, his charioteer, and by
one other warrior. Agamemnon had no other male attendants that we hear
of, except his two herald-serjeants, Talthybius and Eurybates, who
discharged a double function[162]:

[162] Il. i. 321.

  τώ οἱ ἔσαν κήρυκε καὶ ὀτρηρὼ θεράποντε.

We may infer from the poems, that each independent family
furnished one or more of its members, drawn by lot, to serve in the
expedition[163]. Such is the declaration of the pseudo-Myrmidon to
Priam: and again, in the Odyssey we find Ægyptius[164] of Ithaca had
sent one son to Troy, while he kept three at home. The inference
is strengthened[165] by the negative evidence of the Twenty-fourth
Odyssey. There[166] Dolius the slave appears with no less than six
sons: but no mention is made of any member of his family as having
attended Ulysses to Troy, although, if there had been such a person,
some reference to him here, in the presence of Ulysses just returned,
would have been most appropriate. Indeed, the six are introduced as
‘the sons’ of Dolius, which of itself almost excludes the idea of his
having sent any son to the war.

[163] Il. xxiv. 396-400.

[164] Od. ii. 17.

[165] Ibid. 474.

[166] Od. xxiv. 387. 497.

Again, we see that the whole mass of the soldiery attended the
assemblies, and were there addressed by kings and chiefs in terms
which seemed to imply a brotherhood. They are ‘friends, Danaan heroes,
satellites of Mars[167],’ and it is hard to suppose such words could
be addressed to persons held in slavery, however mild, familiar, or
favourable. The employment of these terms may suggest a comparison
with our own modes of public address, according to which the word
‘Gentlemen’ would be commonly used, though the audience should be
composed in great part of the humbler class. But all these words are so
many proofs of that political freedom, pervading the community and the
spirit of its institutions as a whole, which exacts this kind of homage
from the great and wealthy on public occasions.

[167] Il. ii. 110.

It was a natural and healthful sign of the state of political society,
that slavery was held to be odious. But it was odious on account
of its effects on the mind, and not because it entailed cruelty or
oppression. There is not, I think, a single passage in the poems which
in any degree conveys the impression either of hardship endured, or of
resentment felt, by any slave of the period.

~_As to a peasant proprietary._~

Neither, as has been said, is there any thing in Homer, which clearly
exhibits to us a peasant-proprietary; or entitles us positively
to assert that the land was cultivated to a great extent by small
proprietors, each acting independently for himself. On the one hand, as
has been remarked, we do not find large numbers of personal retainers
and servants about the great men: but, on the other hand, Homer does
not paint for us a single picture of the independent peasant. In the
similes, in the legends, on the Shield of Achilles, in Ithaca, we
hear much of large flocks and herds, of great proprietors, of their
harvest-fields and their vineyards, but nothing of the small freeman,
with property in land sufficient for his family, and no more. The rural
labour, which he shows us in action, is organized on a large scale.

The question, what after all was the actual condition of the Greek
people in the age of the _Troica_, is thus left in great obscurity.
It is indeed at once the capital point, and the one of which history,
chronicle, and poem commonly take the least notice. Upon the whole
it would appear most reasonable, while abstaining from too confident
assertion, to suppose,

1. That, as respected primogeniture and the disposition of landed
property, society was aristocratically organized.

2. That this aristocratic organization, being founded on military
occupation, embraced a rather wide range of greater and of smaller

3. That these proprietors, by superior wealth, energy, and influence,
led the remainder of the population.

4. That there may have existed a peasant-proprietary class in
considerable numbers, neither excluded from political privilege nor
exempt from military service, but yet not combined, under ordinary
circumstances, by any community of interest or of hardship; led, not
unwillingly, by the dominant Achæan race; and by no means forming a
social element of such interest or attractiveness, in the view of
the Poet, as to claim a marked place or vivid delineation, which it
certainly has not received, on his canvass.

5. That the cultivation of the greater estates was carried on by hired
labourers and by slaves, between which two classes, for that period, no
very broad line of distinction can be drawn.

It is not within the scope of this work to enter largely upon the
‘political economy’ of the Homeric age. But, as being itself an
important feature of polity, it cannot be altogether overlooked; and
this appears to be the place for referring to it.

~_Political Economy of the Homeric age._~

There has been, of late years, debate and research respecting the
name given to the important science, which treats of the creation and
distribution of wealth. The phrase ‘political economy,’ which has been
established by long usage, cannot be defended on its merits. The name
Chrematistic has been devised in its stead; an accurate, but perhaps
rather dry definition, which does not, like the names Πολιτικὴ and
Ἠθικὴ, and like the exceptionable title it is meant to displace, take
the human being, who is the real subject of the science, into view.
Homer has provided us beforehand with a word which, as it appears
to me, retrenches the phrase ‘economy’ precisely in the point where
retrenchment is required. The Ulysses of the Fourteenth Odyssey, in one
of his fabulous accounts of himself as a Cretan, states[168],

[168] Od. xiv. 222.

                ἔργον δέ μοι οὐ φίλον ἔσκεν
  οὐδ’ οἰκωφελίη, ἥτε τρέφει ἀγλαὰ τέκνα.

And I believe that, were it not too late to change a name, ‘political
œcophely’ precisely expresses the idea of the science, which, having
its fountain-head in good housekeeping, treats, when it has reached its
expansion and maturity, of the ‘Wealth of Nations.’

It was not surprising, that the Greeks of the heroic age should have
a name for the business of growing wealthy; for it was one to which
Hellenes, as well as Pelasgians, appear to have taken kindly. Of this
we find various tokens. Though the spirit of acquisition had not
yet reached the point, at which it becomes injurious to the general
development of man, we appear to have in the distinguished house of
the Pelopids at least one isolated example of its excess. We have
the friendly testimony of Nestor, as well as the fierce invective of
Achilles[169], to show that in Agamemnon it constituted a weakness: and
he is distinguished in war from the other great chieftains[170], by
his habit of forthwith stripping those whom he had slain. But Ulysses
also, to whom we may be certain that Homer did not mean in this matter
to impute a fault, was, according to Eumæus[171], richer than any
twenty; and after making every allowance for friendly exaggeration, we
cannot doubt that Homer meant us to understand that, in the wealth of
those days, he was very opulent. The settlement from time to time of
Phœnicians in Greece, and the ready docility of the Hellenes in the
art of navigation, are signs to the same effect. The idea of wealth
again is deeply involved in the name of ὄλβος, which appears to mean
a god-given felicity: and μάκαρ is the epithet in common of the gods,
the rich man, and the happy man[172]. Not that the Greeks of those
times were, in a greater degree than ourselves, the slaves of wealth,
but that they spoke out in their simplicity, here, as also with other
matters, what we keep in the shade; and thus they made a greater show
of particular propensities, even while they had less of them in reality.

[169] Il. ix. 70-73, 330-3. i. 121.

[170] Il. xi. 100, 110.

[171] Od. xiv. 96-104.

[172] The gods, Il. i. 599 _et alibi_. The rich man, Il. xi. 68. Od. i.
217. The happy man, Od. vi. 158. xi. 482. Il. iii. 182. xxiv. 377.

But, even more than from particular signs, I estimate the capacity
of the Homeric Greeks for acquisition from the state of facts in the
poems. Here we observe a remarkable temperance, and even a detestation
of excess, in all the enjoyments of the senses, combined with the
possession, not only of a rude abundance in meat, corn, and wine,
but with the principle of ornament, largely, though inartificially,
established in their greater houses and gardens; with considerable
stores of the precious as well as the useful metals, and of fine
raiment; and with the possession of somewhat rich works of art, both in
metal and embroidery. This picture seems to belong to a stage, although
a very early one, in a process of rapid advance to material wealth and
prosperity. The wealth and the simplicity of manners, taken together,
would seem to imply that they had not yet had time to be corrupted
by it, and consequently that, by their energy and prudence, they had
gathered it promptly and with ease.

~_The precious metals not a measure of value._~

The commercial intercourse of the age, however, was still an
intercourse of barter. There can hardly be a stronger sign of the
rudeness of trading relations, than the Homeric use of the word χρεῖος.
It signifies both the obligation to pay a debt regularly contracted for
value received (Od. iii. 367), and the liability to sustain retaliation
after an act of rapine (Il. xi. 686, 8). The possession of the precious
metals was probably confined to a very few. Both these, and iron, which
apparently stood next to them in value, formed prizes at the Games; in
which, speaking generally, only kings and chiefs took part. A certain
approximation had been made towards the use of them as money, that
is, as the measure of value for other commodities. For, as they were
divided into fixed quantities, those quantities were in all likelihood
certified by some mark or stamp upon them. Nor do we ever find mere
unwrought gold and silver estimated or priced in any other commodity.
The arms of Glaucus are indeed ἑκατομβοῖα[173], and they are χρύσεα.
But this means gilded or adorned with gold; an object made of gold
would with Homer be παγχρύσεος. Such are the θύσανοι, the gold drops
or tassels of Minerva’s Ægis; each of which is worth an hundred oxen.
Thus gold, when manufactured, even if not when in mass, had its value
expressed in oxen[174].

[173] Il. vi. 236.

[174] Il. ii. 448, 9.

It is possible that gold and silver may, to a limited extent, have
been used as a standard, or as a medium of exchange. The payment of
the judge’s fee in the Eighteenth Iliad suggests, though it does not
absolutely require, this supposition. Like writing in the Homeric age,
like printing when it was executed from a mould among the Ancients, the
practice may have existed essentially, but in a form and on a scale
that deprived it of importance, by limiting its extent.

~_Oxen in some degree a measure of value._~

The arms of Glaucus and Diomed, and the drops of Minerva’s Ægis, are,
as we have seen, valued or priced in oxen. The tripod, which was the
first prize for the wrestlers of the Twenty-third Book, was valued at
twelve oxen: the captive woman, who was the second, accomplished in
works of industry, was worth four[175].

[175] Il. xxiii. 702-5.

But Laertes gave for Euryclea no less than twenty oxen, or rather the
value of twenty oxen (ἐεικοσάβοια δ’ ἔδωκεν, Od. i. 431). We need not
ascribe the difference in costliness to the superior merit of Euryclea;
but we may presume the explanation to be, that Laertes, in time of
peace, paid for Euryclea the high price of an importing market; whereas
the Greeks, in a state of war before Troy, had probably more captives
than they knew how to feed. They were, at any rate, in the country of
production: and the price was low accordingly.

When we find it said that a woman slave was estimated at four oxen, we
are not enabled at once to judge from such a statement whether oxen
were a measure of value, or whether the meaning simply was, that a man,
who wanted such a slave, would give four oxen for her. But the case of
Euryclea clears up this point. For what Laertes gave was not the twenty
oxen, but something equal to them, something in return for which they
could ordinarily be had. Again, Lycaon brought Achilles the value of a
hundred oxen, a hundred oxen’s worth[176]. In this case, then, oxen are
used as a medium for the expression of value.

[176] Il. xxi. 79.

In a passage of the Odyssey, we find that the Suitors, when they try
to make terms with Ulysses in his wrath, promise as follows by the
mouth of Eurymachus[177];

[177] Od. xxii. 57-9.

  τιμὴν ἀμφὶς ἄγοντες ἐεικοσάβοιον ἕκαστος,
  χαλκόν τε χρυσόν τ’ ἀποδώσομεν, εἰσόκε σὸν κῆρ

This has been rendered as a double engagement to pay the oxen and the
metals. It seems to me, from the construction of the passage, as if it
would be more properly understood to be a declaration, that they would
each of them bring him a compensation of the value of twenty oxen in
gold, and in copper. If Eurymachus had meant to express the restoration
of the live stock of Ulysses, it is not likely that he would have
spoken of oxen only, especially in the goat-feeding and swine-feeding

There is another passage in the poems, which seems to carry a similar
testimony one point further. When Euneus sends ships with wine to the
Greek camp, the Greeks pay him for his wine, some with copper, some
with iron, some with hides, some with slaves, and some with oxen.
Slaves, as we have seen, would probably be redundant in the camp. The
same would be eminently the case with respect to hides; since they
would be redundantly supplied by the animals continually slaughtered
for the subsistence of the army. Even as to the metals, we need not
feel surprise at the passage; for they were acquired largely by spoil,
and not greatly needed by the force, since wear and tear scarcely
constitute an element in the question of supply for those times. But
it is certainly more startling that any of the Greeks should have sold
oxen to the crews of Euneus. Neither in that age nor in this would any
merchants carry away oxen from a vast and crowded camp, where they
would be certain to be in the highest demand. I therefore presume the
meaning to be as follows; that those particular Greeks, who happened to
have more oxen than they wanted at the moment, sold them to the people
of the ships; and that the people of the ships took these oxen, in
exchange for wine, not intending to carry them away, but to sell them
again, perhaps against hides or slaves on the spot, as the live cattle
would be certain to find a ready and advantageous market among other
Greeks of the army.

Oxen therefore, in that age, seem to have come nearer, than any other
commodity, to the discharge of the functions now performed by the
precious metals: for they were both used to express value, and probably
purchased not for use only, but also with a view to re-sale. Thus the
Homeric evidence, with respect to them, is in conformity with the
testimony of Æschylus in the Agamemnon, who seems to represent the ox
as the first sign imprinted upon money[178].

[178] Agam. 37.

The precious metals themselves were much employed for both personal
ornament and for art. This was, no doubt, their proper and established
application; and when they are stored, they are stored in common with
other metals not of the same class, and with a view, in all likelihood,
to manufacture.

~_Relative scarcity of metals._~

It appears clear, from the Homeric poems, that silver was more rare
than gold. It is used, when used at all, in smaller quantities: and
it much more rarely appears in the accounts of stored-up wealth. A
like inference may be drawn, perhaps, from the books of Moses; and
it corresponds with the anticipations we should reasonably form from
the fact that gold is found in a native state, and, even when mixed
with other material, is more readily fitted for use. The extensive
employment of silver only arrives, when society is more advanced, and
when the use of money is more familiar and minute. Payments in the
precious metals on a somewhat large scale precede those for smaller
transactions. We are not however to infer, from the greater rarity of
silver, that it was more valuable than gold: the value depending, not
on the comparative quantities only, but upon the compound ratio of the
quantities as compared with the demand. It would however appear from a
passage in the account of the funeral games, that gold, if not silver,
was then much less esteemed than it now is. For, while a silver bowl
was the first prize of the foot-race, a large and fat ox (perhaps worth
three ordinary ones) was the second, and a half talent of gold was only
the third[179].

[179] Il. xxiii. 740-51.

The position of iron, however, relatively to the other metals, was very
different in the heroic age from what it now is: and probably its great
rarity was due, like that of silver, to the difficulty of bringing the
metal into a state fit for use; which could more readily be effected
with copper, with tin, or with κύανος, in whatever sense it is to be
interpreted. Iron, however, would appear to have been more valuable
than these metals; greatly more valuable, in particular, than copper,
which is now worth from fifteen to twenty times as much as iron. A
mass of crude iron is produced at the funeral games as a prize; and
iron made into axe-heads forms another. No other metal, below the rank
of gold and silver, is ever similarly employed in an unmanufactured

Let us now turn to a brief view of the polity and organization of the

We perceive the organization of the Greek communities in a double form:
both as a community, properly so called, in time of peace, a picture
supplied by the Odyssey; and likewise as an army, according to the
delineations of the Iliad.

~_Mode of government of the army._~

The differences are worth noting: but they do not seem to touch
fundamental principles. Agamemnon governed the army by the ordinary
political instruments, not by the rules of military discipline.
Aristotle[180] quotes from the Iliad of his own day and place, and as
proceeding from the mouth of Agamemnon, the words,

[180] Pol. iii. 14. 5.

  πὰρ γὰρ ἐμοὶ θάνατος·

and Grote founds upon this citation the remark, that ‘the Alexandrian
critics effaced many traces of the old manners.’ But was this really a
trace of the old manners? Is there a single passage now remaining of
the Iliad, a single thought, a single word, which at all corresponds
with the idea that Agamemnon had in his own hands, in the shape of
a defined prerogative, the power of capital punishment? Aristotle
certainly accepts the passage, and contrasts this military power of
Agamemnon with the restraints upon him in the peaceful sphere of the
ἀγορή; but I am by no means sure that English institutions do not
afford us the aid of far more powerful analogies for appreciating
the real political spirit of the Homeric poems, than any that even
Aristotle could draw in his own day from the orientalizing government
of Alexander. I do not, however, so much question the passage, as
the construction put upon it. The prerogatives of the Greek kings
were founded in general duty and feeling, not in law. When Ulysses
belaboured Thersites, it was not in the exercise of a determinate
right, but in obedience to the dictates of general prudence, which,
upon a high emergency, the general sense approved. Doubtless, if
Agamemnon had caught a runaway from the ranks, he might have slain him;
but is it supposed that Ulysses might not? What was the meaning of the
advice of Nestor, to put the poltroons in the middle of the ranks,
but that their comrades about them should spear them if they should
try to run? There is no criminal justice, in the proper sense of the
term, though there is civil justice, in either of the Homeric poems;
the wrongs of man to man are adjusted or requited by the latter form
of remedy, but the ideas on which the former rests were unknown: there
is no king’s peace, more than there is a king’s highway: the sanctions
of force are added upon occasion to the general authority of office by
those who bear it, according to the suggestions of their common sense.
Had it been otherwise, Ulysses would never have put the wretched women
in his household, who could not, like the Suitors their paramours, be
politically formidable, to a death, which fully entitled him to say
with the Agamemnon of the citation, πὰρ γὰρ ἐμοὶ θάνατος. The general
reverence for rank and station, the safeguard of publicity, and the
influence of persuasion, are the usual and sufficient instruments
for governing the army, even as they governed the civil societies of
Greece. In the Assembly of the army, the quarrel with Achilles takes
place: in the Assembly arises the tumultuary impulse to return home:
in the Assembly, that impulse having been checked, it is deliberately
resolved to see what they can do by fighting: in the Assembly it is
determined to ask a truce for burials, and to erect the rampart: in the
nocturnal Assembly that Council is appointed to sit, which sends the
abortive mission to Achilles. Every great measure affecting the whole
body is, as we shall find, adopted in the Assembly: and, finally, it
is here that Agamemnon explicitly confesses and laments his fault, and
that the reconciliation with Achilles is ratified.

We may therefore take the polity, so to speak, of the Greek army into a
common view with that of the Ithacan ἀγορή; but first it will be well
to sketch its military organization.

~_Its military composition._~

Next to the βασιλῆες came the ἔξοχοι ἄνδρες (Il. ii. 188), or ἀριστῆες,
of the Greek army. They are pretty clearly distinguished from the
kings in the speech of Achilles (ix. 334); when, after describing the
niggardliness of Agamemnon with respect to booty, he goes on to say,

  ἄλλα δ’ ἀριστήεσσι δίδου γέρα καὶ βασιλεῦσιν·

which I understand to mean, he gave to these two classes prizes
different, i. e. proportioned to their respective stations.

The language of the Catalogue pointedly marks the same distinction in
other words. At the beginning, the Poet invites the Muses to tell him
(ver. 487),

  οἵτινες ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν,

and at the close he says (ver. 760),

  οὗτοι ἄρ’ ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν.

These two verses appear to be in evident correspondence with each
other: and if so, we may the more confidently rely on the language
as carefully chosen to describe the two classes, first the kings
as κοίρανοι (cf. Il. ii. 204, 207), and, secondly, the ἀριστῆες as

This class, it is probable, consisted,

First, of the leaders of the minor and less significant contingents.

Secondly, of lieutenants, or those who are named in the Catalogue as
holding inferior commands under the great leaders (such as Meriones,
Sthenelus, and Euryalus).

But, below the ἡγεμόνες of the Catalogue, there would appear to
have been several grades of minor officers, in command of smaller
subdivisions of the army. These would seem to have been described by a
general name, ἡγεμόνες. When Nestor (ii. 362) advises the distribution
of the army according to φῦλα and φρήτραι, it will, he says, have the
advantage of showing not only which of the soldiers, but which of
the officers were good, and which bad. Probably therefore there were
officers of each φῦλον, if not even, under these, of each φρήτρη.

Of the Greeks nine are named in Il. xi. 301-3, who were slain by Hector
at once, before he went among the privates (πληθύς). Of these nine no
one is mentioned in any other part of the poem; and since at the same
time they are expressly declared to be ἡγεμόνες, we may safely look
upon them as examples of the class of minor or secondary officers. From
their names, which have a strong Hellenic colour[181], we may venture
at least to conjecture, that this class was chiefly Achæan, or of
Achæan rank, and that the Pelasgian blood of the army was principally
among the common soldiers.

[181] Vid. Achæis or Ethnology, p. 574.

The maritime order of the armament, which required a commander for each
vessel, necessarily involved the existence of a class of what we may
call subaltern officers.

When Helen describes the chieftains to Priam from the tower, of whom
Idomeneus is one, she proceeds (Il. iii. 231);

  ἀμφὶ δέ μιν Κρητῶν ἀγοὶ ἠγερέθονται.

Again, when Achilles went with fifty ships to Troy, he divided his 2500
men under five ἡγεμόνες, whom he appointed to give the word of command
(σημαίνειν) under him. The force thus arranged formed five στίχες or
ranks, Il. xvi. 168-72: and here the private persons are expressly
called ἑταῖροι (ver. 170). Most probably these ἀγοὶ of the Cretans,
and these five Myrmidon leaders, are to be considered as belonging to
a class below the ἀριστῆες, yet above the subalterns.

Lastly, we have to notice the privates, so to speak, of the Greek army,
who are called by the several names of λαὸς (Il. ii. 191. i. 54), δῆμος
(ii. 198), and πληθὺς (ii. 278).

In their military character they are indeed a mass of atoms,
undistinguishable from one another, but yet distinguished by their
silence and order, which was founded probably on confidence in their

~_The descriptions of fighting men._~

No private or nameless[182] person of the Greek army, however, on any
occasion performs any feat, either great or small: these are always
achieved by the men of birth and station: and the three designations
we have mentioned, the only ones which are used to designate the whole
mass of the soldiery, represent them to us as a community bearing arms,
rather than as an army in any sense that is technical or professional.

[182] Even the instance, in Il. xiii. 211, of a nameless person who had
simply been wounded is a rare, if not indeed the single, exception.

All these were entitled to attend the ἀγορὴ, or Assembly, if they
pleased. And accordingly, on the first Assembly that Achilles attended
after renouncing his wrath, we find that, from the great interest
of the occasion, even those persons were present who did not usually
appear: namely, the pilots of the ships, and others who probably
had charge of them while ashore, together with those who managed
the provisioning of the force (ταμίαι), or, in our language, the
commissariat (Il. xix. 42-5).

In their strictly military capacity they were, however, divided into

1. ἱππῆες, who fought in chariots, commonly (Il. xxiii. 334-40) with
two horses. When there were three (xvi. 467-75), the outrunner was
called παρήορος. The chariot of Hector was drawn by four horses (viii.
185), but we have no such case among the Greeks. Two persons went in
each chariot; of whom the inferior (ἠνίοχος) drove, and the superior
(παρέβασκε) stood by him free to fight. But probably none of these
ἱππῆες were of the mere πληθὺς of the army, or common soldiery.

2. ἀσπισταί, the heavy-armed, of the σταδίη ὑσμίνη. These use the
longer spear, the axe, the sword, or the stone.

3. ἀκοντίσται, using the lighter spear (Il. xv. 709. xxiii. 622. Od.
xviii. 261).

4. τοξόται (Il. ii. 720. iii. 79).

Again, the men are distinguished by epithets according to merit; each
being ἔξοχος, μεσήεις, or χερειότερος (Il. xii. 269), or even κακός;
and with the last-named the precaution is taken to place them in the
midst of their comrades.

The policy of Nestor, which recommended the muster of the whole army,
with a view to stronger mutual support among those who had peculiar
ties, was entirely in harmony with what we meet elsewhere in the
poems. For instance, in the defence of the rampart in the Thirteenth
Book, we find Bœotians, Athenians, and Locrians[183], who were
neighbours, all mentioned as fighting side by side.

[183] Il. xiii. 685.

All ranks apparently went to the Assemblies as freemen, and were
treated there by their superiors with respect. It was not those of
the common sort in general, but only such as were clamorous for the
tumultuary breaking up of the Assembly, that Ulysses went so far as
to hit (ἐλάσασκε) with the staff he bore, the supreme sceptre of
Agamemnon. In addressing them he used the word δαιμόνιε, the same
word which he employed to their superiors, the kings and chiefs (Il.
ii. 190, 200). When they heard a speech that they approved of, they
habitually and immediately shouted in applause[184],

[184] Il. ii. 333.

                Ἀργεῖοι δὲ μέγ’ ἴαχον ...
  μῦθον ἐπαινήσαντες Ὀδυσσῆος θείοιο·

and they commented freely among themselves on what occurred (Il. ii.
271 and elsewhere).

The modes of warfare in the heroic age were very simple: the open
battle was a battle of main force, as regarded both the chieftains and
the men, relieved from time to time by a sprinkling of panics. But
besides the battle, there was another and a more distinguished mode of
fighting: that of the λόχος or ambuscade. And the different estimate of
the two, which reverses the popular view, is eminently illustrative of
the Greek character.

~_The λόχος or ambuscade._~

In that epitome of human life, which Homer has presented to us on the
Shield of Achilles, martial operations are of course included. The
collective life of man is represented by two cities, one for peace
and the other for war. Two armies appear beneath the walls of the
latter; and one of these takes its post in an ambush[185]. Whenever
persons were to be appointed out of an army for this duty, the noblest
and bravest were chosen. Hence Achilles launches the double reproach
against Agamemnon, that he has never had spirit enough to arm either
with the soldiery at large for battle, or with the chiefs and prime
warriors for ambuscade[186]. And the reason why the ambuscade stood
thus high as the duty and the privilege of the best, is explained in
an admirable speech of Idomeneus. It is simply because it involves a
higher trial, through the patience it requires, of moral as opposed to
animal courage.

[185] Il. xviii. 509, 13, 20.

[186] Il. i. 226.

The Cretan leader supposes the case to have occurred, when all the
flower of the army are picked for an ambush. ‘There,’ he says, ‘is the
true criterion of valour;

  ἔνθα μάλιστ’ ἀρετὴ διαείδεται ἀνδρῶν·

and there it soon appears who is the hero, and who the coward; for
the flesh of the poltroon turns to one colour and another, nor can he
settle his mind so as to sit quiet, for his knees yield under him, and
he shifts from resting on one foot to resting on the other; his heart
is fluttering in his breast, and his teeth chatter, as he gives himself
up for lost: but the brave man, from the moment when he takes his place
in the ambush, neither changes colour, nor is over nervous; but only
prays that the time may soon come for him to mingle in the fearful
fight[187].’ Then he goes on to commend Meriones as one suited for such
a trial.

[187] Il. xiii. 276-86.

In exact conformity with what we should expect from these descriptions,
it appears that Ulysses was the warrior who was preeminent in the
λόχος, while Achilles towered so immeasurably above all others in the
field. When the Greeks were concealed in the cavity of the Horse,
and Helen came down from the city imitating the voices of their
wives, Menelaus and Diomed were on the point of either going forth,
or answering; but Ulysses restrained them. One Anticlos was still
unwilling to be silent; and Ulysses, resolutely gagging him with his
hand, ‘saved the lives of all the Achæans[188].’ In all this we again
see how the poems of Homer are, like the Shield, an epitome of life.
All the points of capital and paramount excellence, for which he could
find no place in the hero of the one poem, he has fully represented in
the hero of the other; and he has so exhausted, between the two, the
resources of our nature, and likewise its appliances as they were then
understood, that, had he produced yet a third Epic, not even he could
have furnished a third protagonist to form its centre, who should have
been worthy to count with Achilles and Ulysses among the undying ideals
of human greatness.

[188] Od. iv. 277-88.

We have now considered the Greek community of the heroic age, as it
was divided in time of peace into classes, and as in time of war it
resolved all its more potent and energetic elements into the form of a
military order.

We have also examined the position and functions of the king; who
was at once a person, a class, and a great political institution.
It remains to consider two other political institutions of heroic
Greece, which not only, with the king, made up the whole machinery both
of civil and military administration for that period, but likewise
supplied the essential germ, at least, of that form of constitution,
on which the best governments of the continent of Europe have, two of
them within the last quarter of a century, been modelled, with such
deviations as experience has recommended, or the change of times has
required. I mean the form of government by a threefold legislative
body, having for one of its members, and for its head, a single person,
in whose hands the executive power of the state is lodged. This
form has been eminently favoured in Christendom, in Europe, and in
England; and it has even survived the passage of the Atlantic, and the
transition, in the United States of America, to institutions which are
not only republican, but highly democratic.

~_The Greek Βουλὴ or Council._~

Of these two Greek institutions, we will examine first the βουλὴ, or

It was the usage of the Greeks to consider, in a small preliminary
meeting of principal persons, which was called the βουλὴ, of the
measures to be taken in managing the Assembly, or ἀγορή.

To the persons, who were summoned thither, the name of γέροντες appears
to have been officially applied. It had thus become dissociated from
the idea of age, its original signification: for Nestor was the only
old man among the Greek senators. Idomeneus, indeed, was near upon
old age: Ulysses was elderly (ὠμογέρων[189]), apparently not under
fifty. The majority would seem to have been rather under middle life;
so that γέρων was, when thus employed, a title, not a description. The
βουλὴ was composed of the men of greatest rank and weight; and no more
required an advanced age among the qualifications for it, than does the
presbyterate of the Christian Church, though it too signifies eldership.

[189] Il. xxiii. 791.

Before the great assembly of the Second Book, we are told, not
that Agamemnon thought it would be well, as it were for the nonce,
to consult the kings or seniors of the expedition; but, in language
which indicates a fixed practice, that the choice of the place for the
meeting was on this occasion by the ship of Nestor, whose great age
possibly either made nearness convenient, or entitled him to this mark
of honour:

  βουλὴ δὲ πρῶτον μεγαθύμων ἷζε γερόντων
  Νεστορέῃ παρὰ νηῒ Πυλαιγενέος βασιλῆος. Il. ii. 53.

These γέροντες were summoned[190] again by Agamemnon before the
sacrifice of the Second Book, which preceded the enumeration. On this
occasion they are not called a βουλή; probably because they were not
called for consultation.

[190] Il. ii. 408-9.

The Council meets again in the Ninth Book[191], by appointment of the
Assembly, and sends the mission to Achilles[192]. In the same night,
and perhaps under the same authority, the expedition of Ulysses and
Diomed is arranged.

[191] Il. ix. 10. 89.

[192] Il. x. 195.

There is no βουλὴ indeed in the First Book, and none in the great
Assembly of the Nineteenth: but then both of these were summoned
by Achilles, not by Agamemnon, and neither of them were called for
properly deliberative purposes[193].

[193] Il. i. 54. xix. 41.

Again, Ulysses, in urging the Greeks not to quit the assembly of the
Second Book prematurely, reminds them that they ought to know fully the
views of Agamemnon, and that they have not all had the advantage of
learning those views in the βουλή.

In the Seventh Book, the Council held under the roof of Agamemnon
forms the plan for a pause to bury the dead, and erect the rampart.
Accordingly, when just afterwards a herald arrives with a proposal
from Troy, he finds the Greeks in their Assembly, doubtless an Assembly
held to sanction the project of the kings. That this amounted to an
institution of the Greeks, we may further judge from the familiar
manner, in which Nestor mentions it in the Odyssey to Telemachus, on
seeing him for the first time, (Od. iii. 127). ‘Ulysses and I,’ he
says, ‘never differed:’ οὔτε ποτ’ εἰν ἀγορῇ δίχ’ ἐβάζομεν, οὔτ’ ἐνὶ

[194] Il. vii. 344, 382.

Among other causes, which might tend to promote the establishment of
the Greek βουλὴ or Council, we may perhaps reckon with propriety the
inability of the old to discharge the full duties of sovereignty in
the heroic age. Bodily force usually undergoes a certain amount of
decay, before the mind has passed out of its ripeness; and both kings
and subordinate lords, who had ceased to possess the strength that was
requisite for bearing the principal burdens of government, might still
make their experience available for the public good in the Council;
even as we find that in Troas the brothers of Priam, with others
advanced in life, were the principal advisers of the Assembly[195].

[195] Il. iii. 146-53.

~_The βουλὴ in time of peace._~

I admit that we have no example to give of the use of the βουλὴ by
the Greeks during peace, so precise as those which the Iliad supplies
for time of war. But even in war we do not find it except before
Assemblies, which had deliberative business to transact. Now the only
deliberative Greek ἀγορὴ which we meet with in time of peace is that of
the Twenty-fourth Odyssey. The absence of a sovereign and a government
in Ithaca at that time, and the utter discord of the principal persons,
made a Council quite impossible, and left no measure open except a
direct appeal to the people.

It appears however clear, that the action of the βουλὴ was not
confined to war. For we not only find the γέροντες on the Shield[196],
who sit in the ἀγορὴ, exercising exclusively the office of judges,
but they are also distinctly noticed as a class or order[197] in the
Ithacan Assembly, who had a place in it set apart for themselves.
Nor are we without a proof which, though conveyed in few words, is
complete, of the conjunction of the Council with the sovereign in acts
of government. For when Ulysses in his youth undertook the mission to
Messene, in the matter of the sheep that had been carried off from
Ithaca, he did it under the orders of Laertes, together with his

[196] Il. xviii. 506.

[197] Od. ii. 14.

[198] Od. xxi. 21.

  πρὸ γὰρ ἧκε πατὴρ ἄλλοι τε γέροντες.

And Nausicaa meets her father Alcinous, on his way to the βουλὴ of the

Upon the whole, the βουλὴ seems to have been a most important auxiliary
instrument of government; sometimes as preparing materials for the
more public deliberations of the Assembly, sometimes intrusted, as a
kind of executive committee, with its confidence; always as supplying
the Assemblies with an intellectual and authoritative element, in a
concentrated form, which might give steadiness to its tone, and advise
its course with a weight adequate to so important a function.

~_Opposition in the βουλή._~

The individuals who composed this Council were of such a station
that, when they acted separately, King Agamemnon himself might have
to encounter resistance and reproof from them in various instances.
Accordingly, upon the occasion when Agamemnon made a survey of the
army, and when he thought fit to rebuke Ulysses for slackness, that
chieftain remonstrated with him something more than freely (ὑποδρὰ
ἰδὼν) both in voice and manner. So far from trusting to his authority,
Agamemnon made a soothing and even an apologetic reply[199]. Again,
when on the same occasion he reproved Diomed[200], Sthenelus defended
his immediate Chief in vainglorious terms. These the more refined
nature of Diomed himself induced him at once to disclaim, but they
do not appear to have been considered as involving any thing in the
nature of an offence against the station of Agamemnon. Again, though
Diomed on this occasion restrained his lieutenant, yet, when he meets
Agamemnon in the Assembly of the Ninth Book, he frankly tells him that
Jupiter, who has given him the honours of the sceptre, has not endowed
him with the superior power that springs from determined courage[201];
and even the passionate invectives of Achilles in the First Book bear a
similar testimony, because they do not appear to have been treated as
constituting any infringement of his duty.

[199] Il. iv. 329-63.

[200] Ibid. 385-418.

[201] Il. ix. 37.

In the βουλὴ[202], Nestor takes the lead more than Agamemnon. As to
the Assembly, the whole plan in the Second Iliad is expressly founded
upon the supposition, that the army was accustomed to hear the chiefs
argue against, and even overthrow, the proposals of Agamemnon. His
advice that they should return home, which Grote[203] considers only an
unaccountable fancy and a childish freak, is however capable of being
regarded in this view, that, before renewing active operations without
Achilles, it was thought wise to test the feeling of the army, and
that it could not be more effectually tried than by a recommendation
from the commander-in-chief that they should re-embark for Greece.
The plan was over-refined; and it may even seem ridiculous, because it
failed, and simply kindled an ungovernable passion, which would not
listen to debate. But the proposal does not bear that character in the
Ninth Book, where the same suggestion is renewed, without the previous
knowledge of the chiefs, in the same words, and at a time when the
Greeks were in far worse condition.

[202] Cf. Od. xi. 512.

[203] Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. 95, 97.

When Agamemnon made it in order to be overruled it took effect: when
he made it in good earnest, it failed. If then the Greeks could be
retained contrary to his wish in the Ninth Book, it might be misjudged,
but could hardly be absurd, to expect a similar result in the Second,
when they had less cause for discouragement.

And why did it take effect? Simply because the Assembly, instead of
being the simple medium[204] through which the king acted, was the
arena on which either the will of the people might find a rude and
tumultuary vent, or, on the other hand, his royal companions in arms
could say, as Diomed says, ‘I will use my right and resist your foolish
project in debate; which you ought not to resent.’

[204] Grote ii. 104.

  Ἀτρείδη, σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
  ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν, ἄναξ, ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.

The proposal of Agamemnon had been heard in silence[205], the mode
by which the army indicated its disinclination or its doubt. But the
counter proposal of Diomed, to fight to the last, was hailed with

[205] Il. ix. 30.

[206] Ibid. 50.

          οἱ δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἐπίαχον υἷες Ἀχαιῶν,
  μῦθον ἀγασσάμενοι Διομήδεος ἱπποδάμοιο·

so that the Assembly was then ripe for the plan of Nestor, which at
once received its approval[207]:

[207] Il. ix. 79.

  ὣς ἔφαθ’· οἱ δ’ ἄρα τοῦ μάλα μὲν κλύον, ἠδ’ ἐπίθοντο.

Subsequently, in the βουλὴ of the same Book, Nestor tells Agamemnon
that it is his duty to listen as well as to speak, and to adopt the
plans of others when they are good (100-2). At the same time, the aged
chieftain appears to submit himself to the judgment of Agamemnon in the
Council[208]. His expressions are perhaps matter more of compliment
than of business; and at any rate we do not find any like terms used in
the Assembly.

[208] Ibid. 97.

It was a happy characteristic of heroic Greece, that while she abounded
in true shame, she had no false shame. It was not thought that a king,
who had done wrong, compromised his dignity by atonement; but, on the
contrary, that he recovered it. So says Ulysses, in the Assembly of the
Nineteenth Iliad[209];

[209] Il. xix. 182.

          οὐ μὲν γάρ τι νεμεσσητὸν βασιλῆα
  ἄνδρ’ ἀπαρέσσασθαι, ὅτε τις πρότερος χαλεπήνῃ.

This passage at once establishes in the most pointed manner both the
right to chide the head of the army, and the obligation incumbent on
him, as on others, where he had given offence to make amends.

Thus then a large liberty of speech and judgment on the part of the
kings or chiefs, when they differed from Agamemnon, would appear
to be established beyond dispute, a liberty which in certain cases
resulted in his being summarily overruled. I cannot therefore here
subscribe even to the measured statement of Mure, who, admits the
liberty of remonstrance, but asserts also the sovereignty of the will
of Agamemnon. Much less to the very broad assertions of Grote, that the
resolutions of Agamemnon appear uniformly to prevail in the Council,
and that the nullity of positive function is still more striking in the

[210] Grote’s Hist. vol. ii. pp. 90, 2.

To that institution it is now time for us to turn.

~_Influence of Speech._~

The trait which is truly most worthy of note in the polities of
Homeric Greece, is also that which is so peculiar to them; namely,
the substantive weight and influence which belonged to speech as an
instrument of government; and of this power by much the most remarkable
development is in its less confined and more popular application to the

This power of speech was essentially a power to be exercised over
numbers, and with the safeguards of publicity, by man among his
fellow-men. It was also essentially an instrument addressing itself to
reason and free will, and acknowledging their authority. No government
which sought its power in force, as opposed to reason, has at any
time used this form of deception. The world has seen absolutism deck
itself with the titles and mere forms of freedom, or seek shelter under
its naked abstractions: but from the exercise of free speech as an
instrument of state, it has always shrunk with an instinctive horror.

One mode of proving the power of speech in the heroic age is, by
showing what place it occupied in the thoughts of men, as they are to
be gathered from their language. Another mode is, by pointing to its
connection, in practical examples, with this or that course of action,
adopted or shunned. A third is, by giving evidence of the earnestness
with which the art was prosecuted, and the depth and comprehensiveness
of the conceptions from which it derived its form.

We shall presently trace the course of public affairs, as they were
managed by the Greeks of the heroic age in their public assemblies.
For the present, let us endeavour to collect the true sense of Homer
respecting oratory from his language concerning it, from the characters
with whom he has particularly connected it, and from the knowledge
which he may be found to have possessed of its resources.

Although it is common to regard the Iliad as a poem having battle for
its theme, yet it is in truth not less a monument of policy than of
war; and in this respect it is even more broadly distinguished, than in
most others, from later epics.

The adjectives in Homer are in very many cases the key to his inner
mind: and among them all there is none of which this is more true, than
the grand epithet κυδιάνειρα. He confines it strictly to two subjects,
battle and debate, the clash of swords and the wrestling of minds. Of
Achilles, he says in the First Book[211], (490)

[211] He uses the epithet for battle in Il. iv. 225, 6. 124, 7. 113, 8.
448, 12. 325, 13. 270, 14. 155, and 24. 391.

  οὔτε ποτ’ εἰς ἀγορὴν πωλέσκετο κυδιάνειραν,
  οὔτε ποτ’ ἐς πόλεμον.

In every other passage where he employs the word, it is attached to the
substantive μάχη. Thus with him it was in two fields, that man was to
seek for glory; partly in the fight, and partly in the Assembly.

The intellectual function was no less essential to the warrior-king of
Homer, than was the martial; and the culture of the art of persuasion
entered no less deeply into his early training. How, says Phœnix to
Achilles, shall I leave you, I, whom your father attached to you when
you were a mere child, without knowledge of the evenhanded battle, or
of the assemblies, in which men attain to fame,

          οὔπω εἰδόθ’ ὁμοιΐου πολέμοιο
  οὐτ’ ἀγορέων, ἵνα τ’ ἄνδρες ἀριπρέπεες τελέθουσιν.

So he sent me to teach you the arts both of speech and fight[212],

[212] Il. ix. 438-43.

  μύθων τε ῥητῆρ’ ἔμεναι, πρηκτῆρά τε ἔργων.

Even so Ulysses, in the under-world, relates to Achilles the greatness
of Neoptolemus in speech, not less than in battle, (Od. xi. 510-16.)

Nay, the ἀγορὴ of little Ithaca, where there had been no Assembly for
twenty years, is with Homer the ἀγορὴ πολύφημος[213]. In a description,
if possible yet more striking than that of Phœnix, Homer places before
us the orator at his work. ‘His hearers behold him with delight;
he speaks with tempered modesty, yet with confidence in himself
(ἀσφαλέως); he stands preeminent among the assembled people, and while
he passes through the city, they gaze on him as on a god[214]. From a
passage like this we may form some idea, what a real power in human
society was the orator of the heroic age; and we may also learn how and
why it was, that the great Bard of that time has also placed himself in
the foremost rank of oratory for all time.

[213] Od. ii. 150.

[214] Od. viii. 170-3.

It is in the very same spirit that Ulysses, in the same most
remarkable speech given in the Odyssey[215], sets forth the different
accomplishments by which human nature is adorned. The three great
gifts of the gods to man are, first, corporeal beauty, strength and
bearing, all included in the word φύη; secondly, judgment or good sense
(φρένες), and thirdly, the power of discourse, or ἀγορητύς. To one man,
the great gift last named is the compensation for the want of corporeal
excellence. To another is given beauty like that of the Immortals;
but then his comeliness is not crowned by eloquence: ἀλλ’ οὔ οἱ χάρις
ἀμφιπεριστέφεται ἐπέεσσιν. For χάρις in Od. xi. 367 we have μορφὴ ἐπέων.

[215] Od. viii. 166-85.

~_Varied descriptions of Oratory._~

In full conformity with this strongly developed idea, the Poet
places before us the descriptions of a variety of speakers. There is
Thersites[216], copious and offensive, to whom we must return. There
is Telemachus, full of the gracious diffidence of youth[217], but
commended by Nestor for a power and a tact of expression beyond his
years. There is Menelaus, who speaks with a laconic ease[218]. There
are the Trojan elders, or δημογέροντες, who from their experience and
age chiefly guide the Assembly, and whose volubility and shrill small
thread of voice[219] Homer compares to the chirping of grasshoppers.
Then we have Nestor the soft and silvery, whose tones of happy and
benevolent egotism flowed sweeter than a stream of honey[220]. In
the hands of an inferior artist, Phœnix must have reproduced him;
but an absorbing affection for Achilles is the key-note to all he
says; even the account in his speech of his own early adventures is
evidently meant as a warning on the effects of rage: this intense
earnestness completely prevents any thing like sameness, and thus the
two garrulities stand perfectly distinct from one another, because
they have (so to speak) different centres of gravity. Lastly, we have
Ulysses, who, wont to rise with his energies concentrated within him,
gives no promise of display: but when his deep voice issues from
his chest, and his mighty words drive like the flakes of snow in
winter[221], then indeed he soars away far above all competitors.

[216] Il. ii. 212.

[217] Od. iii. 23, 124.

[218] Il. iii. 213.

[219] Il. iii. 150.

[220] Il. i. 248.

[221] Il. iii. 216, 23.

It is very unusual for Homer to indulge thus largely in careful and
detailed description. And even here he has left the one superlative,
as well as other considerable, orators, undescribed. The eloquence of
Achilles is left to describe itself; and to challenge comparison with
all the choicest patterns both of power and beauty in this kind, that
three thousand years since Homer, and all their ebbing and flowing
tides, have brought within the knowledge of man. Although he modestly
describes himself as beneath Ulysses in this accomplishment, yet in
truth no speeches come near to his. But Homer’s resources are not even
now exhausted. The decision of Diomed, the irresolution of Agamemnon,
the bluntness of Ajax, are all admirably marked in the series of
speeches allotted to each. Indeed Homer has put into the mouth of
Idomeneus, whom he nowhere describes as an orator at all, a speech
which is quite enough to establish his reputation in that capacity.
(Il. xiii. 275-94.)

In reviewing the arrangements Homer has made, we shall find one feature
alike unequivocal and decisive. The two persons, to whom he has given
supremacy in oratory, are his two, his only two godlike heroes (θεῖοι),
the Achilles and the Ulysses, each of whom bears up, like the Atlas of
tradition, the weight of the epic to which he principally belongs.

How could Homer have conceived thoughts like these, if government
in his eyes had rested upon either force or fraud? Moreover, when
he speaks of persuasion and of strength or valour, of the action of
the tongue and that of the hand, he clearly does not mean that these
elements are mixed in the ordinary conduct of a sovereign to his
subjects: he means the first for peace, the latter for war; the first
to be his sole instrument for governing his own people, the latter for
their enemies alone.

If, again, we endeavour to estimate the importance of Speech in the
heroic age by the degree in which the faculty was actually cultivated,
we must take the achievements of the Poet as the best indicators of
the capacities of the age. The speeches which Homer has put into the
mouths of his leading orators should be tolerably fair representatives
of the best performances of the time. Nor is it possible that in any
age there should be in a few a capacity for making such speeches,
without a capacity in many for receiving, feeling, and comprehending
them. Poets of modern times have composed great works, in ages that
stopped their ears against them. ‘Paradise Lost’ does not represent the
time of Charles the Second, nor the ‘Excursion’ the first decades of
the present century. The case of the orator is entirely different. His
work, from its very inception, is inextricably mixed up with practice.
It is cast in the mould offered to him by the mind of his hearers. It
is an influence principally received from his audience (so to speak)
in vapour, which he pours back upon them in a flood. The sympathy
and concurrence of his time is with his own mind joint parent of his
work. He cannot follow nor frame ideals; his choice is, to be what his
age will have him, what it requires in order to be moved by him, or
else not to be at all. And as when we find the speeches in Homer, we
know that there must have been men who could speak them, so, from the
existence of units who could speak them, we know that there must have
been crowds who could feel them.

~_The orations of the Poems._~

Now if we examine those orations, we shall, I think, find not only
that they contain specimens of transcendent eloquence which have never
been surpassed, but likewise that they evince the most comprehensive
knowledge, and the most varied and elastic use, of all the resources of
the art. If we seek a specimen of invective, let us take the speeches
of Achilles in the debate of the First Iliad. If it is the loftiest
tone of terrible declamation that we desire, I know not where (to
speak with moderation) we can find any thing that in grandeur can
surpass the passage (Il. xvi. 74-9) beginning,

  οὐ γὰρ Τυδειδέω Διομήδεος ἐν παλάμῃσιν
  μαίνεται ἐγχείη, κ. τ. λ.

But if it is solemnity that is sought, nothing can, I think, excel the
ναὶ μὰ τόδε σκῆπτρον. (Il. i. 233-44.)

What more admirable example of comprehensive statement, which exhausts
the case, and absolutely shuts up the mouth of the adversary, than in
the speech of Ulysses to Euryalus, who has reproached him with looking
like a sharper? That speech consists of twenty lines: and I think any
one who attempts to give a really accurate summary of it will be apt to
find that his epitome, if it be at all complete, has become unawares
a paraphrase. Nor is Homer less successful in showing us, how he has
sounded the depths of pathos. For though the speeches of Priam to
Achilles in the Twenty-fourth Iliad are spoken privately, and from man
to man only, and are therefore not in the nature of oratory properly so
called, they are conclusive, _a fortiori_, as to his knowledge of the
instruments by which the human affections might be moved so much more
easily, when the speaker would be assisted at once by the friendliness
and by the electric sympathies of a multitude.

~_Repartee and Sarcasm._~

All these are direct instruments of influence on the mind and actions
of man. But of assaults in flank Homer is quite as great a master. He
shows a peculiar genius for that which is properly called repartee; for
that form of speech, which flings back upon the opponent the stroke of
his own weapon, or on the supplicant the plea of his own prayer. There
was one Antimachus, a Trojan, who had grown wealthy, probably by the
bribes which he received from Paris in consideration of his always
opposing, in the Trojan Agorè, the restoration of Helen to the Greeks.
His sons are mastered by Agamemnon in the field. Aware that he had a
thirst for money, they cry, ‘Quarter, Agamemnon! we are the sons of
rich Antimachus: _he_ will pay well for our lives.’ ‘If,’ replies the
king, ‘you are the sons of that Antimachus, who, when Menelaus came
as envoy to Troy, advised to take and slay him, here and now shall ye
expiate your father’s infamy[222].’ Compare with this the yet sharper
turn of Ulysses on Leiodes in the Odyssey: ‘Spare me, Ulysses! I have
done no ill in your halls; I stopped what ill I could; I was but Augur
to the Suitors.’ Then follows the stern reply. ‘If thou dost avow that
thou art Augur to the Suitors, then often in prayer must thou have
augured my destruction, and desired my wife for thine own; wherefore
thou shalt not escape the painsome bed of death[223].’

[222] Il. xi. 122-42.

[223] Od. xxii. 310-25.

But the weapons of sarcasm, from the lightest to the weightiest, are
wielded by Homer with almost greater effect than any others. As a
sample of the former, I take the speech of Phœnix when he introduces,
by way of parable, the Legend of Meleager. ‘As long as Meleager fought,
all was well; but when rage took possession of him--which (I would just
observe) now and then bewilders other great minds also--then,’ and so

But for the great master of this art, Homer has chosen Achilles. As
with his invectives he grinds to powder, so with the razor edge of
the most refined irony he cuts his way in a moment to the quick. When
Greece, in the person of the envoy-kings, is at his feet, and he has
spurned them away, he says, ‘No: I will go home: you can come and see
me depart--if you think it worth your while.’

  ὄψεαι, ἢν ἐθέλῃσθα, καὶ αἴ κέν τοι τὰ μεμήλῃ.

Of this passage, Il. ix. 356-64, the following translation may give a
very imperfect idea[224]:

[224] The version of Voss is very accurate, but, I think, lifeless. The
version of Cowper is at this point not satisfactory: he weakens, by
exaggerating, the delicate expression μεμήλῃ:

                    Look thou forth at early dawn,
  And, if such spectacle _delight_ thee aught,
  Thou shalt behold me cleaving with my prows, &c.

The version of Pope simply omits the line!

  Tomorrow we the favouring gods implore:
  Then shall you see our parting vessels crowned,
  And hear with oars the Hellespont resound.

  Of fight with Hector will I none;
  Tomorrow, with the rising sun,
  Each holy rite and office done,
  I load and launch my Phthian fleet;
      Come, if thou thinkest meet,
  See, if thou carest for the sight,
  My ships shall bound in the morning’s light,
  My rowers row with eager might,
      O’er Helle’s teeming main.
  And, if Poseidon give his grace,
  Then, with but three revolving days,
      I see my home again;
  My home of plenty, that I left
  To fight with Troy; of sense bereft!

The plenty of his house (ἔστι δέ μοι μάλα πολλὰ) is the finishing
stroke of reply on Agamemnon, who had thought that his resentment,
unsatisfied in feeling, could be appeased with gifts.

In the same speech occurs the piercing sarcasm[225]:

[225] Il. ix. 340.

  ἦ μοῦνοι φιλέουσ’ ἀλόχους μερόπων ἀνθρώπων

The Greeks had come to Troy to recover the wife of Menelaus: and while
they were there, Agamemnon took for a concubine the intended wife of
Achilles. Was it, he asks, the privilege of the sons of Atreus alone
among mankind to love their wives? Agamemnon, too, being the chief
of the two; who had laid hold on Briseis, as he had meant to keep
Chryseis, in disparagement of his own marriage bed. Nor can the reader
of this passage fail, I think, to be struck with the wonderful manner
in which it combines a stately dignity, and an unimpeachable solidity
of argument, with the fierceness of its personal onslaught.

~_The faculty of debate in Homer._~

~_The discussion of the Ninth Iliad._~

If the power of oratory is remarkable in Homer, so likewise is the
faculty of what in England is called debate. Here the orator is a
wrestler, holding his ground from moment to moment; adjusting his
poise, and delivering his force, in exact proportion to the varying
pressure of his antagonist. In Homer’s debates, every speech after
the first is commonly a reply. It belongs not only to the subject,
but to the speech that went before: it exhibits, given the question
and the aims of the speaker, the exact degree of ascent or descent,
of expansion or contraction, of relaxation or enhancement, which
the circumstances of the case, in the state up to which they were
brought by the preceding address, may require. In the Assembly of
the First Book, five, nay, six, successive speeches of Achilles and
Agamemnon[226] bring their great contention to its climax. But the
discussion with the Envoys deserves very particular notice. Ulysses
begins a skilled harangue to the offended hero with a most artful
and well-masked exaggeration of the martial fury of Hector. He takes
care only to present it as part of a general picture, which in other
parts is true enough; but he obviously relies upon it as a mode of
getting within the guard of Achilles. He next touches him upon the
point, to which Priam afterwards made a yet higher appeal; the tender
recollection of his father Peleus, who had warned him how much more
arduous was the acquisition of self-command, than that of daring.
He then recites the gifts of Agamemnon: and, encouraged perhaps by
the kind greeting that, with his companions, he had received, he
closes by urging that, however hateful Agamemnon may be, yet, in
pity for the other Greeks, both high and low, and in anticipation
of their gratitude, he ought to arm. I shall not attempt to analyse
the wonderful speech of Achilles which follows, and to which some
references have already been made. Suffice it to say, that it commences
with an intimation to Ulysses that it will, in the opinion of the
speaker, be best for all parties if he tells out his mind plainly: an
indirect and courteous reproof to Ulysses for having thought to act
upon him by tact and by the processes of a rhetorician. After this
follows such a combination of argument, declamation, invective, and
sarcasm as, within the same compass, I do not believe all the records
of the world can match. But the general result of the whole is the
announcement that he will return to Phthia the very next morning;
together with an absolute, unconditional rejection of all gifts and
proffers, until the outrage of Agamemnon is entirely wiped away[227]:

[226] Il. i. 106-244.

[227] Il. ix. 387.

  πρίν γ’ ἀπὸ πᾶσαν ἐμοὶ δόμεναι θυμαλγέα λώβην.

When he has concluded, all his hearers, abashed by his masculine wrath,
are silent for a while. Then Phœnix, in the longest speech of the
poem, pours forth his unselfish and warm, but prolix and digressive
affection. This speech displays far less of rhetorical resource,
than that of Ulysses. Ulysses had conceded, as it were, the right of
Achilles to an unbounded resentment against Agamemnon (300): Phœnix, on
the contrary, by parable, menaces him with retribution from the Erinūs,
unless he shall subdue the mighty soul within him. But Achilles,
touched in his better nature, gives way a little to the more ethical
appeal, where he had been inflexible and invulnerable before the
intellectual and rhetorical address. He now bids Phœnix come himself,
and sleep in his encampment: there they can consider together, in the
morning, whether to go or to stay (618). Still he announces, that
nothing will induce him to quit the ships for the field (609). Next
comes blunt Ajax into the _palæstra_; deprecates the wasting of time;
is for taking back the answer, bad as it may be: Achilles has evidently
made up his mind; and cares not a rush for all or any of them. ‘What,’
says the simple man-mountain, ‘the homicide of a brother or child is
atoned for by a fine, and yet here is all this to-do about a girl. Aye,
and a single girl; when we offer seven of the very best, and ever so
much besides.’ Having thus reached the _acmè_ of his arts, he now aims
at the friendly feeling of Achilles, and in a single word bids him be
placable to men whom he has admitted beneath his roof, and whom he owns
for as loyal friends as the whole army could find him.

The leverage of this straightforward speech, which is only saved by
kindliness from falling into rudeness, again produces an initial
movement towards concession on the part of the great hero. He replies
in effect to Ajax, ‘You have spoken well: I like your way of going
to work: but my heart swells and boils with the shame inflicted on
me before the Greeks by Agamemnon. Tell them then’--there is now no
announcement of setting sail; nay, there is no longer any need for
debate in the morning whether to set sail or not--‘tell them that I
fight no more, till Hector, carrying slaughter and fire, shall reach
this camp, these ships. Keen as he may be, it will then be time enough
for ME to stay his onward path.’

Such is the remarkable course of this debate. But Ulysses, when they
return to Agamemnon--meaning probably to bring him and all the Greeks
fairly to bay--takes no notice of the partial relaxations of the iron
will of Achilles, but simply reports that he has threatened to set
sail. Then comes the turn of Diomed. ‘You were wrong to cringe to him.
Of himself, he is arrogant enough: you have made him worse. Let him
alone; he will come when he thinks proper, or when Providence wills it;
and no sooner. My advice is that we sleep and eat now, and fight at
dawn. I, at any rate, will be there, in the foremost of the battle.’

~_Function of the Assembly._~

We will now proceed to consider the nature and place of the ἀγορὴ or
Assembly, in the heroic age: and a view of the proceedings on several
occasions will further illustrate the great and diversified oratorical
resources of the Poet.

A people cannot live in its corporate capacity without intermission,
and the king is the standing representative of the community. But yet
the ἀγορὴ, or Assembly, is the true centre of its life and its vital
motion, as the monarch is of its functional or administrative activity;
and the greatest ultimate power, which the king possesses, is that
of influence upon his subjects collected there, through the combined
medium of their reverence for his person, and of his own powers of
persuasion. In the case of the army before Troy, to the strength
of these ordinary motives is added, along with a certain spirit of
resentment for injury received in the person of Helen, the hope of
a rich booty on the capture of the city, and the principle of pure
military honour; never perhaps more powerfully drawn than in the Iliad,
nor with greater freedom from extravagances, by which it is sometimes
made to ride over the heads of duty and justice, its only lawful

First, it would appear to have belonged to the Assembly, not indeed to
distribute the spoil, but to consent to its distribution by the chief
commander, and his brother-leaders. To the former it is imputed in the
Ninth Book. But in the First Book Achilles says to him in the Assembly,
We the Greeks (Ἀχαιοὶ) will requite you three and four-fold, when Troy
is taken[228]. It is probable that he here means to speak of the chiefs
alone, (but only so far as the act of distribution is concerned,)
because Thersites uses the very same expression (ἅς τοι Ἀχαιοὶ πρωτίστῳ
δίδομεν[229]) in the Second Book. Therefore the division of booty was
probably made on the king’s proposal, with the aid of the chiefs, but
with the general knowledge and consent of the army, and in right of
that consent on their part.

[228] Il. i. 127.

[229] ii. 227.

It must be remembered all along, that the state of political society,
which Homer represents to us, is that in which the different elements
of power wear their original and natural forms; neither much altered
as yet by the elaborate contrivances of man, nor driven into their
several extremes by the consequences of long strife, greedy appetite,
and furious passions, excited by the temptations which the accumulation
of property presents.

In those simple times, when the functions of government were few, and
its acts, except perhaps the trial of private causes, far between,
there was no formal distribution of political rights, as if they could
be made the object of ambitious or contentious cupidity: but the grand
social power that moved the machine was in the determinations of the
ἀγορὴ, however informally declared.

Grote has observed, that in the Homeric ἀγορὴ no division of
affirmative and negative voices ever takes place. It would require
a volume to discuss all that this remark involves and indicates. I
will however observe that the principle surely cannot be made good
from history or in philosophy, that numbers prevail by an inherent
right. Decision by majorities is as much an expedient, as lighting by
gas. In adopting it as a rule, we are not realizing perfection, but
bowing to imperfection. We follow it as best for us, not as best in
itself. The only _right_ to command, as Burke has said, resides in
wisdom and virtue. In their application to human affairs, these great
powers have commonly been qualified, on the one hand by tradition and
prepossession, on the other hand by force. Decision by majorities has
the great merit of avoiding, and that by a test perfectly definite,
the last resort to violence; and of making force itself the servant
instead of the master of authority. But our country still rejoices in
the belief, that she does not decide all things by majorities. The
first Greeks neither knew the use of this numerical dogma, nor the
abuse of it. They did not employ it as an instrument, and in that they
lost: but they did not worship it as an idol, and in that they greatly
gained. Votes were not polled in the Olympus of Homer; yet a minority
of influential gods carry the day in favour of the Greeks against the
majority, and against their Head. There surely could not be a grosser
error than to deny every power to be a real one, unless we are able
both to measure its results in a table of statistics, and to trace at
every step, with our weak and partial vision, the precise mode by which
it works towards its end.

~_Great decisions all taken there._~

We have seen, in the first place, that all the great decisions of
the War were taken in the Assembly of the Greeks. And here the first
reflection that arises is, how deeply this method of political action
must have been engrained in their habits and ideas, when it could
survive the transition from peace to war, and, notwithstanding its
palpable inconveniences in a camp, form the practical rule of its
proceedings under the eye of the enemy.

The force of this consideration is raised to the utmost height by the
case of the Night Assembly in the Ninth Book. The Trojans, no longer
confined to their walls, are lying beside a thousand watch-fires, just
outside the rampart. Some important measure is absolutely demanded on
the instant by the downcast condition of the less than half-beaten,
but still thoroughly discouraged army. Yet not even under these
circumstances would Agamemnon act individually, or with the kings
alone. He sends his heralds round the camp (Il. ix. 11),

  κλήδην εἰς ἀγορὴν κικλήσκειν ἄνδρα ἕκαστον,
  μηδὲ βοᾶν·

to summon an Assembly noiselessly, and man by man. Can there be a more
conclusive proof of the vigour, with which the popular principle
entered into the idea of the Homeric polities? If it be said that
such an operation could hardly be effected at night without stir, I
reply that if it be so, the argument for the power and vitality of the
Assembly is but strengthened: for Homer was evidently far more careful
to speak in harmony with the political tone of his country than to
measure out time by the hour and minute, or place by the yard, foot,
and inch; as valuing not the latter methods less, but the former more.

The Greek army, in fact, is neither more nor less than, so to speak,
the State in uniform. As the soldier of those days was simply the
citizen armed, so the armament was the aggregate of armed citizens,
who, in all except their arms and the handling of them, continued to
be what they had been before. But when we find that in such great
emergencies political ideas did not give way to military expediency, we
cannot, I think, but conclude that those ideas rested on broad and deep

It further tends to show the free nature of the relation between the
Assembly and the Commander-in-chief, that it might be summoned by
others, as well as by him. We are told explicitly in the First Book,
that Achilles called it together, as he did again in the Nineteenth
for the Reconciliation. On the second of these occasions, it may
have been his purpose that the reparation should be as public as had
been the insult: at any rate there was a determination to make the
reconciliation final, absolute, and thorough. But, at the former
time, the act partook of the nature of a moral appeal from Agamemnon
to the army. It illustrated, in the first place, the principle of
publicity so prevalent in the Greek polities. That which Calchas had
to declare, he must declare not in a ‘hole and corner,’ but on his
responsibility, liable to challenge, subject to the δήμου φάτις if he
told less than the truth, as well as to the resentment of the sovereign
if he should venture on divulging it entire. But secondly, it shows
that Achilles held the Greeks at large entitled and bound to be parties
to the transaction. He meant that the Greeks should see his wrong.
Perhaps he hoped that they would intercept its infliction. This at
any rate is clear: he commenced the debate with measured reproofs of
Agamemnon[230]; but afterwards he rose, with a wider scope, to a more
intense and a bitterer strain[231].

[230] Il. i. 121-9.

[231] Ibid. 149-71.

When he found that the monarch was determined, and when he had
repressed the access of rage which tempted him to summary revenge, he
began to use language not now of mere invective against Agamemnon, but
of such invective as tended to set him at odds with the people. Then
further on, perhaps because they did not echo back his sentiments,
and become active parties to the terrible fray, he both taunts and
threatens them. For he begins[232], ‘Coward that thou art! Never
hast thou dared to arm with the people for the fight, or with the
leaders for the ambush.’ And then[233]. ‘Devourer of the people! over
what nobodies thou rulest! or surely this would be the last of your
misdeeds.’ Again, in the peroration[234], ‘By this mighty oath, every
man among you shall lament the absence of Achilles.’

[232] Ibid. 225.

[233] Ibid. 231.

[234] Ibid. 239.

~_Opposition in the Agorè._~

It has often been asserted that the principle of popular opposition
in debate is only represented by Thersites. But let us proceed step
by step. It is at any rate clear enough that opposition by the
confederate kings is at once sufficiently represented in Achilles; and
that it is not represented by him alone, since in the Assembly of the
Ninth Book, Diomed both strongly reprehended Agamemnon, and proposes
a course diametrically the reverse of his; which course was forthwith
adopted by the acclamations of the army.

~_The case of Thersites._~

Let us now pass on to Thersites. There is no more singular picture
in the Iliad, than that which he presents to us. It well deserves
examination in detail.

Homer has evidently been at pains to concentrate upon this personage
all that could make him odious to the hearers of his song, while
nevertheless he puts into his mouth not only the cant of patriotism,
but also a case that would perhaps have been popular, had he not
averted the favour of the army by his insolent vulgarity.

Upon its merits, too, it was a tolerable case, but not a good one;
for he was wrong in supposing Achilles placable; and again wrong in
advising that the Greeks, now without Achilles, should give way before
the Trojans, to whom they were still superior in war.

He is in all things the reverse of the great human ideals of Homer. As,
in the pattern kings and heroes, moral, intellectual, and corporeal
excellences, each in the highest degree, must be combined, so Thersites
presents a corresponding complication of deformities to view. As to
the first, he is the most infamous person (αἴσχιστος) in the army;
and he relies for his influence, not on the sense and honour of the
soldiers, but on a vein of gross buffoonery; which he displays in the
only coarse allusion that is to be found in all the speeches of the
poems. As to the second head, his voluble speech is as void of order
as of decency[235]. As to the third, he is lame, bandy-legged[236],
hump-backed, round-shouldered, peak-headed, and lastly, (among the
καρηκομόωντες,) he is bald, or indeed worse, for on his head a hair is
planted here and there[237]. Lastly, hateful to all[238], he is most of
all hateful to, as well as spiteful against, the two paramount heroes
of the poems, Achilles and Ulysses: an observation inserted with equal
ingenuity and significance, because Homer, by inserting it, effectually
cuts off any favour which Thersites might otherwise have gained with
his hearers from seeming to take the side of the wronged Achilles. It
is also worthy of note, as indicating how Homer felt the strength of
that bond which unites together all great excellences of whatever kind.
Upon a slight and exterior view, the two great characters of Achilles
and Ulysses appear antagonistic, and we might expect to find their
likes and dislikes running in opposite directions. But as, in the Ninth
Book, Ulysses is declared by Achilles to be one of those whom he loves
best among the Greeks[239], so here they are united in carrying to the
highest degree a common antipathy to Thersites.

[235] Il. ii. 213.

[236] φολκός. See Buttmann, Liddell and Scott. Commonly rendered

[237] Il. ii. 214-19.

[238] Ibid. 275, 220.

[239] Il. ix. 198.

While depriving the wretch of all qualities that could attract towards
him the slightest share of sympathy, Homer has taken care to leave
Thersites in full possession of every thing that was necessary for his
trade; an ample flow of speech (213), and no small power of vulgar
invective (215).

Again, the quality of mere scurrility assigned to Thersites, and well
exemplified in his speech, stands alike distinguished in Homer from the
vein of fun, which he can open in the grave Ulysses of the Odyssey,
even while he is under terror of the Cyclops; and from that tremendous
and perhaps still unrivalled power of sarcasm, of which we have found
the climax in Achilles.

In the short speech of Thersites, Homer has contrived to exhibit
striking examples of malice (vv. 226, 234), coarseness (232), vanity
(vv. 228, 231, 238), cowardice (236); while it is a tissue of
consummate impudence throughout. Of this we find the finest stroke at
the end of it, where he says[240],

[240] In 237 he appears to follow what Achilles had said i. 170.

  ἀλλὰ μάλ’ οὐκ Ἀχιλῆϊ χόλος φρεσὶν, ἀλλὰ μεθήμων·
  ἦ γὰρ ἂν, Ἀτρείδη, νῦν ὕστατα λωβήσαιο[241].

[241] Il. ii. 241, 2.

For here the wretch apes Achilles, whom (for the sake of damaging
Agamemnon) he affects to patronize, and, over and above the pretension
to speak of his feelings as if he had been taken into his confidence on
the occasion, he actually closes with the very line which Achilles, at
the moment of high passion, had used in the Assembly of the First Book
(i. 232).

If we consider the selection of topics each by themselves, with
reference to effect, the speech is not without a certain εὐστοχία: he
hits the avarice of Agamemnon hard (226); and his responsibility as
a ruler (234): while pretending to incite the courage of the Greeks
(235), he flatters their home-sickness and faint-heartedness by
counselling the return (236); and, in supporting Achilles, he plausibly
reckons on being found to have taken the popular side. But if we
regard it, as every speech should be regarded, with reference to some
paramount purpose, it is really senseless and inconsequent. Dwelling as
he does upon the wrong done to Achilles, and asserting the placability
of that chieftain, he ought to have ended with recommending an attempt
to compensate and appease him; instead of which he recommends the
Return, which had been just abandoned. But the real extravagance of
the speech comes out only in connection with his self-love; when, like
many better men, he wholly loses whatever sense of the ridiculous he
might possess. It is not only ‘the women whom we give you’ (227); ‘the
service which we render you’ (238), but it is also ‘the gold[242] that
some Trojan may bring to ransom his son, whom I, or else some other
Greek, may have led captive.’ I, Thersites, or some other Greek! The
only Greek, of whom we hear in the Iliad as having made and sold on
ransom captives during the war, is Achilles[243]; and it is with him
that Thersites thus couples himself. Upon this, Ulysses, perceiving
that he stands in opposition to the prevailing sentiment of the
Assembly, silences him by a judicious application of the sceptre to his
back and shoulders: yet not even Thersites does he silence by force,
until he has first rebuked him by reasoning[244].

[242] Il. ii. 229-31.

[243] xxi. 40, 79. xxii. 44.

[244] 246-56.

Such are the facts of the case of Thersites. Are we to infer from it,
with Grote, that Homer has made him ugly and execrable because he was a
presumptuous critic, though his virulent reproaches were substantially
well founded, and that his fate, and the whole circumstances of this
Assembly, show ‘the degradation of the mass of the people before the

[245] Grote’s Hist. Greece, vol. ii. 95, 6.

In rallying the Greeks, says the distinguished historian[246], Ulysses
flatters and soothes the chiefs, but drives the people with harsh
reprimand and blows. Now surely, as to the mere matter of fact, this is
not quite so. It is not the people, but those whom he caught carrying
the matter by shouts, instead of returning to hear reason in the
Assembly, that he struck with the sceptre[247]:

[246] Ibid. pp. 96, 98.

[247] Il. ii. 198.

  ὃν δ’ αὖ δήμου τ’ ἄνδρα ἴδοι, βοόωντά τ’ ἐφεύροι·

and it may be observed, that he addresses all classes alike by the word
δαιμόνιε[248]; which, though a term of expostulation, is not one of

[248] Ibid. 190, 200.

If Thersites represented the principle of reasoning in the public
Assembly, we might well see in the treatment of him the degradation of
the people. But it is railing, and not reasoning, that he represents;
and Homer has separated widely between this individual and the mass
of the army, by informing us that in the general opinion Ulysses had
rendered a service, even greater than any of his former ones, by
putting down Thersites. ‘Ulysses has done a thousand good things in
council and in war: but this is the best of all, that he has stopped
the scoundrel in his ribaldry[249].’

[249] vv. 271-8.

Thersites spoke not against Agamemnon only, but against the sense of
the whole army (212); and the ground of the proceeding of Ulysses is
not laid in the fact of his having resisted Agamemnon, or Agamemnon
with the whole body of the kings; but in the manner of his speech, and
in his having acted alone and against the general sentiment. Above
all, we must recollect the circumstances, under which Ulysses ventured
to chastise even this rancorous and foul-mouthed railer. It was at a
moment of crisis, nay, of agony. The rush from the Assembly to the
ships did not follow upon an orderly assent to a proposal, such as was
generally given; but it resulted from a tumultuous impulse, like that
of blasts tossing the sea, or sweeping down upon the cornfield (Il.
ii. 144-54). If therefore Ulysses employs the sceptre of Agamemnon to
smite those who were shouting in aid of this ruinous tumult (ii. 198),
we need not take this for a sample of what would be done in ordinary
circumstances, more than the fate of Wat Tyler for a type of British
freedom under the Plantagenets. Odious too as was Thersites, yet the
army, amidst a preponderating sentiment of approval, still appear to
have felt some regret at his mishap[250];

[250] Il. ii. 270.

  οἱ δὲ, καὶ ἀχνύμενοί περ, ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ἡδὺ γέλασσαν·

for the first words would suggest, that they knew how to value the
liberty of thought, which had been abused, disgraced, and consequently
restrained, in his person. Surely it would be most precipitate to
conclude, from a case like this, that the debates of the Assemblies
were formal, and that they had nothing to do but to listen to a sham
discussion, and to register or follow decrees which were substantially
those of Agamemnon only.

I believe that the mistake involved in the judgment we have been
canvassing is a double one: a mistake of the relation of Agamemnon
to the other kings and chiefs; and a mistake of the relation of the
sovereigns generally to their subjects. Agamemnon was strong in
influence and authority, but he had, as we have already seen, nothing
like a despotic control over the other kings. The kings were strong
in personal ability, in high descent, in the sanction of Jupiter, in
possession, and in tradition: but all their strength, great as it was,
lay as a general rule in the direction of influence, and not in that of

I do not think, however, that we ought to be contented with the merely
negative mode of treatment for the case of Thersites. I cannot but
conceive that, upon an impartial review, it may teach more, than is
drawn from it by merely saying that it does not prove the Assembly to
have been an illusion. We must assume that Homer’s picture, if not
historical, at least conformed to the laws of probability. Now, what is
the picture? That the buffoon of the army, wholly without influence,
capable of attracting no respect, when the mass of the people had
overcome their homeward impulse, had returned to the Assembly, and
were awaiting the proposition of the kings, first continues to rail
(ἐκολῴα) while every one else is silent, and then takes upon himself
the initiative in recommending the resumption of the project, which
they had that moment abandoned. If such conduct could be ascribed by
the Poet to a creature sharp-witted enough, and as careful as others of
his own back, does not the very fact presuppose that freedom of debate
was a thing in principle at least known and familiar?

~_Agorè on the Shield in Il._ xviii.~

In the scene depicted on the Shield of Achilles, new evidence is
afforded us that the people took a real part in the conduct of public
affairs. The people are in Assembly. A suit is in progress. The matter
is one of homicide; and the guilty person declares that he has paid the
proper fine, while his antagonist avers that he has not received it.
Each presses for a judicial decision. The people sympathizing, some
with one, and some with the other, cheer them on.

  Λαοὶ δ’ ἀμφοτέροισιν ἐπήπυον, ἀμφὶς ἀρωγοί·
  κήρυκες δ’ ἄρα λαὸν ἐρήτυον[251].

[251] Il. xviii. 502.

I understand the latter words as declaring, not that the heralds
forbade and put a stop to the cheering of the people, but either that
they kept it within bounds, or rather that, when the proper time
came for the judges to speak, these, the heralds, procured silence.
According to the meaning of ἐρητύω in Il. ii. 211,

  ἄλλοι μέν ῥ’ ἕζοντο, ἐρήτυθεν δὲ καθ’ ἕδρας.

Now of the cheering of the people I venture to say, not that it
raises a presumption of, but that it actually constitutes, their
interference. The rule of every tolerably regulated assembly, charged
with the conduct of important matters, is to permit no expressions of
approval or otherwise during the proceedings, except from the parties
immediately belonging to the body. The total exclusion of applause in
judicial cases belongs to a state of mind and manners different from
that of the heroic age. But the exclusion of all applause by mere
strangers to the business rests upon a truth common to every age;
namely, that such applause constitutes a share in the business, and
contributes to the decision. It will be remembered how the cries of the
Galleries became one of the grievous scandals of the first revolution
in France, and how largely they affected the determinations of the
National Assembly. The irregular use of such a power is a formidable
invasion of legislative or judicial freedom: the allowed possession of
the privilege amounts to participation in the office of the statesman
or the judge, and demonstrates the substantive position of the λαὸς, or
people, in the Assemblies of the heroic age.

But apparently their function was not completed by merely encouraging
the litigant, with whom each man might chance to sympathize. For we are
told not only that the Judges, that is to say, the γέροντες, delivered
their opinions consecutively, but likewise that there lay in the sight
of all two golden talents, to be given to him who should pronounce the
fairest judgment (xviii. 508);

  τῷ δόμεν, ὃς μετὰ τοῖσι δίκην ἰθύντατα εἴποι.

Thus it is plain that the judge who might do best was to get the
two talents: but who was to give them? Not the γέροντες or elders
themselves, surely; for among them the competition lay. There could
be but one way in which the disposal of this fee could be settled:
namely, by the general acclamation of the people, to be expressed,
after hearing the respective parties, in favour of him whose sentiments
they most approved. And those, to whom it may seem strange to speak of
vote by acclamation, should remember, that down to this day, in all
deliberative assemblies, an overpowering proportion of the votes are
votes by acclamation, or by the still less definite test of silence.
The small minority of instances, when a difference of opinion is
seriously pressed, are now settled by arithmetic; they would then have
been adjusted by some prudent appeal to the general will, proceeding
from a person of ability and weight. Indeed even now, in cases when
the numbers approximate to those of the Greek army, there can be
no _bonâ fide_ decision by arithmetic. The demand, however, that
dissension shall be the only allowed criterion of liberty, is one which
really worsens the condition of human nature beyond what the truth of
experience requires.

~_Decisions in Assemblies of Il._ vii. _and_ ix.~

And finally, what shall we say to the direct evidence of Agamemnon
himself? Idæus[252], the Trojan herald, arrives with the offer to
restore the stolen property, but not Helen. He is received in dead
silence. After a pause, Diomed gives utterance to the general feeling.
‘Neither will we have the goods without Helen, nor yet Helen with the
goods. Troy is doomed.’ The Assembly shouts its approbation. Agamemnon
immediately addresses himself to the messenger; ‘Idæus, you hear the
sense of the Achæans, how they answer you; and I think with them.’ At
the least this is a declaration as express as words can make it, and
proceeding out of the mouth of the rival authority, to the effect that
the acclamation of the Assembly was, for all practical purposes, its
vote, and that it required only concurrence from the king, to invest it
with the fullest authority. In the Ninth Iliad, as we have seen, the
vote held good even without that concurrence[253].

[252] Il. vii. 381.

[253] Sup. p. 100.

We may now, I hope, proceed upon the ground that we are not to take
the ill success of a foulmouthed scoundrel, detested by the whole
army, as a sample of what would have happened to the people, or even
a part of them, when differing in judgment from their king. But what
shall we say to the argument, that no case is found where a person
of humble condition takes part in the debates of the Assemblies? No
doubt the conduct of debates was virtually in the hands of those whose
birth, wealth, station, and habits of life gave them capacity for
public affairs. Even in the nineteenth century, it very rarely happens
that a working man takes part in the proceedings of a county meeting:
but no one would on that account suppose that such an assembly can be
used as the mere tool of the class who conduct the debate, far less of
any individual prominent in that class. If we cannot conceive freedom
without perpetual discord, the faithful performance of the duty of
information and advice without coercion and oppression, it is a sign
either of our narrow-mindedness, or of our political degeneracy; but
a feeble eye does not impair the reality of the object on which it may
happen to be fixed.

Still we may admit that among the numerous assemblies of the Iliad,
there is no instance where assent is given by one part of the Assembly,
and withheld by the other. There is, as we have seen, a clear and
strong case where the opinion of the commander-in-chief is rejected,
and that of an inferior commander adopted in its stead. This in my
opinion goes far to prove all that is necessary. We have from the
Odyssey, however, the means of going further still.

Only, before leaving the Iliad, let us observe the terms in which the
Greek Assemblies are addressed by the kings: they are denominated
friends and heroes; names which at least appear to imply their title
to judge, or freely to concur, at least as much as such a title was
recognised in the ancient councils and assemblies of the Anglo-saxons.
Was this appearance a mockery? I do not say we should compare it with
the organized, secure and regular privileges of a few nations in modern
days. But it would be a far greater mistake to treat it as an idle
form, or as otherwise than a weighty reality.

~_Division in the Drunken Assembly._~

From what is related in that poem to have occurred after the capture
of Troy, it becomes abundantly clear that the function of the Greek
Assembly was not confined to listening. The army met in what, for the
sake of distinction, we may call the Drunken Assembly[254]. Now, the
influence of wine upon its proceedings is amply sufficient to show that
its acts were the acts of the people: for Homer never allows his chiefs
to be moved from their self-possession by the power of liquor.

[254] Od. iii. 139.

There was a marked difference of opinion on that occasion: the people
took their sides; δίχα δέ σφισιν ἥνδανε βουλή (Od. iii. 150). One
half embarked; the residue staid behind with Agamemnon (155-7). The
moiety, which had sailed away, split again (162); and a portion of
them went back to Agamemnon. We see, indeed, throughout the Odyssey,
how freely the crews of Ulysses spoke or acted, when they thought fit,
in opposition to his views. If it be said, we must not argue from the
unruly speeches of men in great straits at sea, the answer is, first,
that their necessities might rather tend to induce their acquiescence
in a stricter discipline; and secondly, that their liberty, and even
license, are not out of keeping with the general tone of the relations
between freemen of different classes, as exhibited to us elsewhere in
the Homeric poems.

It may, indeed, be said, that the divisions of the Greeks in the final
proceedings at Troy were divisions, not of the men, but of the chiefs.
This, however, upon the face of the text, is very doubtful. We see from
the tale of the Pseudo-Ulysses, in the Thirteenth Odyssey (265, 6),
that there were parties and separate action in the Greek contingents:
and it is probably to these that Nestor may allude, when he recommends
the Review in order that the responsibility of the officers may be
brought home to them individually. Now, in the case before us, the
first division is thus described. Menelaus exhorted all the Greeks
(πάντας Ἀχαιοὺς) to go home: Agamemnon disagreed (141, 3): while they
were contesting the point, the Assembly rose in two parties (vv. 149,

        οἱ δ’ ἀνόρουσαν ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοὶ
  ἠχῇ θεσπεσίῃ· δίχα δέ σφισιν ἥνδανε βουλή.

There is no intimation here that the people in dividing simply
followed their chiefs. Nay, the tone of the description is such as
obliges us to understand that the movement was a popular one, and took
its rise from the debate: so that, even if the chiefs and their men
kept together respectively, as they may have done, still the chiefs
may probably have followed quite as much as they led. Again, when the
second separation takes place, it is thus described, ‘One portion
returned, under Ulysses, to Agamemnon. Prognosticating evil, I made
sail homewards with the whole body of my ships, which followed me.
Diomed did the same, and (ὦρσε δ’ ἑταίρους) invited his men (to do it).
And after us at last came Menelaus.’ (vv. 162-8). Now here instruction
is given us on three points:

1. Diomed urged his men; therefore it was not a mere matter of course
that they should go.

2. Nestor mentions especially that his division all kept together (σὺν
νηυσὶν ἀολλέσιν); therefore this did not always happen.

3. It is very unlikely that the part, which is first named as having
returned with Ulysses, should have been confined to his own petty

Thus it is left in great doubt, whether the chiefs and men did
uniformly keep together: and the tenour of the narrative favours the
supposition, that the men at least contributed materially to any joint

~_Ithacan Assembly of Od._ ii.~

As, in the first Assembly of the Iliad, Achilles acts his personal
quarrel in the public eye, and lodges a sort of tacit appeal against
Agamemnon, so, in that of the Odyssey, Telemachus does the like
with reference to the Suitors. It is there that he protests against
their continued consumption of his substance; that he rejects their
counter-proposal for the dismissal of his mother on their behalf, and
that he himself finally propounds the voyage to the mainland[255].
There too we find a most distinct recognition by Mentor, his guardian,
of the powers and rights of the people; for he loudly complains of
their sitting silent, numerous as they are[256], instead of interposing
to rebuke the handful of Suitors that were the wrongdoers. But if,
according to the genius and usages of the heroic age, the people had
nothing to do but to listen and obey their betters, the expectation
that they should have risen to defend a minor against the associated
aristocracy of the country would have been absurd, and could not have
been expressed, as we find it expressed, by Mentor.

[255] Od. ii. 212.

[256] Od. ii. 239-41.

It is true indeed, as has been observed by Tittmann[257], that this
Assembly makes no effective response to the appeal of Telemachus; and
that the Suitor Antinous is allowed to declare in it his own intention,
and that of his companions, to continue their lawless proceedings.
But what we see in the Odyssey is not the normal state of the heroic
polities: it is one of those polities disorganized by the absence
of its head, with a people, as the issue proves, deeply tainted by
disloyalty. Yet let us see what, even in this state of things, was
still the weight of the Agorè. First, when Telemachus desires to make
an initial protest against the acts of the Suitors, he calls it to his
aid. Secondly, though at the outset of the discussion no concession
is made to him, yet he gains ground as it proceeds. The speech of
Antinous, the first Suitor who addresses the Assembly (Od. ii. 85-128),
is in a tone of sheer defiance, and treats his attempt as a jest and as
an insult (v. 86). The next is that of Eurymachus; who, while deriding
the omens, yet makes an advance by appealing to Telemachus to take the
matter into his own hands, and induce his mother to marry one among
them (178-207). The third, that of Leiocritus, contains a further
slight approximation; for it conveys an assent to his proposed voyage,
and recommends that Mentor and Alitherses shall assist him in making
provision for it (242-56). Thus even here we see that progression,
which may always be noticed in the Homeric debates; and the influence
under which it was effected must surely have been an apprehension of
the Assembly, to which both Telemachus, and still more directly Mentor,
had appealed.

[257] Griech. Staatsv. b. ii. p. 57.

Thirdly, however, we perceive in this very account the signs of the
disordered and distracted state of the public mind. For, beyond a
sentiment of pity for Telemachus when he bursts into tears (v. 81),
they make no sign of approval or disapproval. We miss in Ithaca the
well-known cheers of the Iliad, the

  οἱ δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἐπίαχον υἷες Ἀχαιῶν.

They are dismissed without having made a sign; just as it is in the
Assembly of the First Iliad (an exception in that poem); where the mind
of the masses, puzzled and bewildered, is not in a condition to enable
them to interfere by the distinct expression of their sympathies[258].

[258] Od. ii. 257. Il. i. 305.

There are, however, two other instances of Assemblies in the Odyssey.

~_Phæacian Assembly of Od._ viii.~

The first of these is the Assembly of the Phæacians in the Eighth Book;
which we may safely assume to be modelled generally according to the
prevailing manners.

The petition[259] of Ulysses to Alcinous is, that he may be sent
onwards to his home. The king replies, that he will make arrangements
about it on the following day[260]. Accordingly, the Assembly of the
Phæacian people is called: Minerva herself, under the form of the
herald, takes the pains to summon the principal persons[261]. Alcinous
then proposes that a ship shall be got ready, with a crew of fifty-two
picked men[262]. For his part he will give to this crew, together with
the kings, an entertainment at the palace before they set out[263].
This is all done without debate. Then comes the banquet, and the first
song of Demodocus. The company next return to the place of assembly,
for the games. It is here that Ulysses is taunted by Euryalus[264]. In
his reply he appeals to his character as a suppliant; but he is the
suppliant of the king and all the people, not of the king, nor even of
the king and his brother kings, alone[265];

[259] Od. vii. 151.

[260] Od. vii. 189-94, 317.

[261] Od. viii. 7-15.

[262] The number deserves remark. Fifty, as we know from the Catalogue,
was a regular ship’s crew of rowers. What were the two? Probably a
commander, and a steersman. The dual is used in both the places where
the numbers are mentioned (κρινάσθων, ver. 36, κρινθέντε, 48,
βήτην, 49). There are other passages where the dual extends beyond the
number two, to three and four. See Nitzsch, in loc. But the use of it
here with so large a number is remarkable, and may be best explained
by supposing that it refers to the δύω, who were the principal men of
the crew, and that the fifty are not regarded as forming part of the
subject of the verb. If this be so, the passage shows us in a very
simple form the rudimentary nautical order of the Greek ships.

[263] Od. viii. 38.

[264] Od. viii. 158-64.

[265] Od. viii. 157.

  ἧμαι, λισσόμενος βασιλῆά τε, πάντα τε δῆμον.

We must therefore assume that Alcinous, in his proposal, felt that he
was acting according both to precedent and the general opinion. He does
not order any measure to be taken, but simply gives his opinion in the
Assembly about providing a passage, which is silently accepted (ver.
46). Yet I cannot but take it for a sign of the strong popular infusion
in the political ideas of the age, when we find that even so slight a
measure, as the dispatch of Ulysses, was thought fit to be proposed and
settled there.

But we have weightier matter disposed of in the Twenty-fourth Odyssey,
which affords us an eighth and last example of the Greek Assembly, its
powers, and usages.

The havock made of the Suitors by Ulysses is at last discovered after
the bodies have been disposed of; and upon the discovery, the chiefs
and people repair in a mass to the open space where Assemblies were
held, and which bears the same name with them[266]. Here the people are
addressed on the one side by Eupeithes, father of the leading Suitor
Antinous, on the other, by Medon the herald, and Alitherses, son of
Mastor the Seer. And here we are supplied with further proofs, that
the Assemblies were not wholly unaccustomed to act according to their
feelings and opinions. There is no sign of perplexity or confusion; but
there is difference of sentiment, and each party acts upon its own.
More than half the meeting loudly applaud Alitherses, and break up,
determined not to meddle in the affair[267]. The other party keep their
places, holding with Eupeithes; they then go to arm, and undertake the
expedition against Ulysses. Having lost their leader by a spear’s throw
of Laertes, for which Minerva had supplied him with strength, they fall
like sheep before the weapons of their great chief and his son. Yet,
though routed, they are not treated as criminals for their resistance;
but the poem closes by informing us that Minerva, in the form of
Mentor[268], negotiated a peace between the parties[269].

[266] Probably the strictly proper name of the Assembly, as
distinguished from the place of meeting, is ἄγυρις or πανήγυρις
(as Od. iii. 131), but the name common to the two prevails.

[267] Od. xxiv. 463.

[268] Od. xxiv. 546.

[269] Besides all the particulars which have been cited, we have
incidental notices scattered about the poems, which tend exactly in the
same direction. For example, when Chryses prays for the restitution of
his daughter, his petition is addressed principally to the two Atridæ,
but it is likewise addressed to the whole body of Ἀχαιοὶ (Il. i. 15),
that is, either to the entire army, or at any rate to all the kings;
or, to all the members of the Achæan race. This we may compare with the
application of the prayer of Ulysses in Scheria to the king and people.

~_Councils or Assemblies of Olympus._~

Since the Assemblies of Olympus grow out of the polytheistic form of
the Greek religion, we must treat them as part of its human element,
and as a reflection of the heroic life. There will therefore be an
analogy perceptible between the relation of Jupiter to the other
Immortals in the Olympian Assembly, and that of the Greek Sovereign
to all or some of those around him. But as the deities meet in the
capacity of rulers, we should seek this analogy rather in the relation
between Agamemnon and the kings, or between the local sovereign and his
elders (γέροντες), than between either of the two respective heads,
and the mass of those whom he ruled. This analogy is in substance
sustained by the poems. The sovereignty of Jupiter undoubtedly stands
more elevated, among the divinities of Olympus, than that of Agamemnon,
or any other of his kings, on earth. It includes more of the element
of force, and it approximates more nearly to a positive supremacy.
Accordingly, whatever indicates freedom in Olympus will tend _a
fortiori_ to show, that the idea of freedom in debate was, at least as
among the chiefs, familiar here below. Yet even in Olympus the other
chief deities could murmur, argue, and object. The power of Jupiter
is exhibited at its zenith in the Assembly of the Eighth Iliad, when
he violently threatens all that disobey, and challenges the whole pack
to try their strength with him. The vehemence with which he spoke
produced the same intimidatory effect upon the gods, as did the great
speech of Achilles upon the envoys: and the result upon the minds of
the hearers in the two cases respectively, is described in lines which,
with the exception of a single word, precisely correspond[270]. Still,
immediately after Jupiter has given the peremptory order not to assist
either party, Minerva answers, Well, we will not fight--which she never
had done--but we will advise; and this Jupiter at once and cheerfully
permits[271]. But there is more than this. Be the cause what it may,
the personal will of Jupiter, fulfilled as to Achilles[272], is not
fulfilled as to Troy. The Assembly of the Fourth Book is opened with a
proposal from him, that Troy shall stand[273]. From this he recedes,
and it is decided that the city shall be destroyed; while the only
reservation he makes is not at all on behalf of the Trojans, but simply
on behalf of his own freedom to destroy any other city he may mislike,
however dear it may chance to be to Juno.

[270] Il. viii. 28, 9. ix. 430, 1.

[271] Il. viii. 38-40.

[272] Il. i. 5.

[273] Il. iv. 17-19.

The position of Agamemnon, of which Jupiter is in a great degree a
reflection, bears a near resemblance to that of a political leader
under free European, and, perhaps it may be said, especially under
British, institutions. Its essential elements are, that it is worked in
part by accommodation, and in part by influence.

Besides its grand political function, the ἀγορὴ is, as we have seen,
in part a judicial body. But the great safeguard of publicity attends
the conduct of trials, as well as the discussion of political affairs.
The partialities of people who manifest their feelings by visible signs
is thus prevented, on the one hand, by the cultivation of habitual
self-respect, from passing into fury, and on the other hand, from
degenerating into baseness.

It is perhaps worthy of notice, as assisting to indicate the
substantive and active nature of the popular interest in public
affairs, that where parties were formed in the Assemblies, those who
thought together sat together. Such appears to be the intimation of the
line in the Eighteenth Iliad (502),

  λαοὶ δ’ ἀμφοτέροισιν ἐπήπυον, ἀμφὶς ἀρωγοί.

As the ἀμφὶς ἀρωγοὶ expresses their sentiments, ἀμφοτέρωθεν can hardly
signify any thing other than that they sat separately on each side
of the Assembly. A similar arrangement seems to be conveyed in the
Twenty-fourth Odyssey, where we find that the party of the Suitors
remained in a mass (τοὶ δ’ ἀθρόοι αὐτόθι μίμνον, v. 464.) I think this
circumstance by no means an unimportant one, as illustrative of the
capacity, in which the people attended at the Assemblies for either
political or judicial purposes.

~_Judicial functions of the Assembly._~

The place of Assemblies is also the place of judicature. But the
supremacy of the political function is indicated by this, that the
word ἀγορὴ, which means the Assembly for debate, thus gives its own
designation to the place where both functions were conducted. At the
same time, we have in the word Themis a clear indication that the
original province of government was judicial. For that word in Homer
signifies the principles of law, though they were not yet reduced to
the fixed forms of after-times; but on the other hand Themis was also
a goddess, and she had in that capacity the office of summoning and of
dissolving Assemblies[274]. Thus the older function, as often happens,
came in time to be the weaker, and had to yield the precedence to its
more vigorous competitor.

[274] Od. ii. 68, 9.

But in Homer’s time, though they were distinguished, they were not yet
divided. On the Shield of Achilles, the work of Themis[275] is done in
full Assembly: and this probably signifies the custom of the time. But
in the Eleventh Iliad, Patroclus passes by the ships of Ulysses[276],

[275] Il. xviii. 497.

[276] Il. xi. 807.

                  ἵνα σφ’ ἀγορή τε θέμις τε

And, in the description of the Cyclopes, the line is yet more clearly
drawn; for it is said[277],

[277] Od. ix. 112-15.

  τοῖσιν δ’ οὔτ’ ἀγοραὶ βουληφόροι, οὔτε θέμιστες.

In that same place, too, the public solemnities of religion were
performed: and though in the Greek camp it was doubtless placed at the
centre of the line with a view to security, its position most aptly
symbolized also its moral centrality, as the very heart of the national
life. At the spot where the Assemblies were held were gathered into a
focus the religious, as well as the patriotic sentiments of the country.

The fact is, that everywhere in Homer we find the signs of an intense
corporate or public life, subsisting and working side by side with
that of the individual. And of this corporate life the ἀγορὴ is the
proper organ. If a man is to be described as great, he is always great
in debate and on the field; if as insignificant and good for nothing,
then he is of no account either in battle or in council. The two grand
forms of common and public action are taken for the criteria of the

When Homer wished to describe the Cyclopes as living in a state of
barbarism, he says, not that they have no kings, or no towns, or
no armies, or no country, but that they have no Assemblies, and no
administration of justice, which, as we have seen, was the primary
function of the Assemblies. And yet all, or nearly all the States had
Kings. The lesson to be learned is, that in heroic Greece the King,
venerable as was his title, was not the fountainhead of the common
life, but only its exponent. The source lay in the community, and the
community met in the Agorè. So deeply imbedded is this sentiment in
the mind of the Poet, that it seems as if he could not conceive an
assemblage of persons having any kind of common function, without their
having, so to speak, a common soul too in respect of it.

~_The common Soul or Τὶς in Homer._~

Of this common soul the organ in Homer is the Τὶς or ‘Somebody;’
by no means one of the least remarkable, though he has been one of
the least regarded, personages of the poems. The Τὶς of Homer is, I
apprehend, what in England we now call public opinion. We constantly
find occasions, when the Poet wants to tell us what was the prevailing
sentiment among the Greeks of the army. He might have done this
didactically, and described at length the importance of popular
opinion, and its bearings in each case. He has adopted a method more
poetical and less obtrusive. He proceeds dramatically, through the
medium of a person, and of a formula:

  ὧδε δέ τις εἴπεσκεν, ἰδὼν ἐς πλήσιον ἄλλον.

It may, however, not seem worthy of remark, considering the amount of
common interest among the Greeks, that he should find an organ for it
in his Τίς. But when he brings the Greeks and Trojans together in the
Pact, though it is only for the purpose of a momentary action, still he
makes an integer _pro hâc vice_ of the two nations, and provides them
with a common Τὶς (Il. iii. 319):

  ὧδε δέ τις εἴπεσκεν Ἀχαιῶν τε Τρώων τε.

We find another remarkable exemplification in the case of the Suitors
in the Odyssey. Dissolute and selfish youths as they are, and
competitors with one another for a prize which one only can enjoy, they
are nevertheless for the moment banded together in a common interest.
They too, therefore, have a collective sentiment, and a ready organ for
it in a Τὶς of the Odyssey (Od. ii. 324), who speaks for the body of

  ὧδε δέ τις εἴπεσκε νέων ὑπερηνορεόντων.

All these are, in my view, most striking proofs of the tenacious hold,
which the principle of a public or corporate life for all aggregations
of men had taken upon the mind of Homer, and upon Greece in the heroic
age. Nor can I help forming the opinion, that in all probability we may
discern in the Homeric Τὶς the primary ancestor of the famous Greek
Chorus. It is the function of the Chorus to give utterance to the
public sentiment, but in a sense apt, virtuous, and pious. Now this is
what the Homeric Τὶς usually does; but of course he does on behalf of
the community, what the Chorus does as belonging to the body of actors.

It is then surely a great error, after all we have seen, to conclude
that, because the political ideas and practices of those times did not
wear the costumes now in fashion, they were without their own real
vitality, and powerful moral influence upon the minds and characters of

~_Imperfect organization of the Heroic Polities._~

But, on the other hand, in repelling these unsound and injurious
notions, we must beware of assuming too much of external resemblance
between the heroic age and the centuries either of modern Christendom
or even of historic Greece and Rome. All the determinate forms of
public right are the growth of long time, of dearbought experience, and
of proved necessity. Right and force are supplements to one another;
but the proportions, in which they are to be mingled, are subject to
no fixed rule. If the existence of rights, both popular and regal,
in the heroic age is certain, their indeterminateness is glaring and
conspicuous. But the shape they bore, notwithstanding the looseness
of its outline, was quite adequate to the needs of the time. We must
not, in connection with the heroic age, think of public life as a
profession, of a standing mass of public affairs, of legislation
eternally in arrear, of a complex machinery of government. There were
no regular regencies in Greece during the Trojan war. There was no
Assembly in Ithaca during the long absence of Ulysses[278], before
the one called by Telemachus, and reported in the Second Book of the
Odyssey. We have seen, however, in what way this lack of machinery
told upon the state of Greece by encouraging faction, and engendering
revolution. The strain of the Trojan expedition was too great for a
system so artless and inorganic. The state of Ithaca in the Odyssey
is politically a state almost of anarchy; though the symptoms of that
disease were milder by far then, than they could now be. The condition
of the island shows us what its polity had been, rather than what it
was. But for all ordinary occasions it had sufficed. For Assemblies
met only when they had something to do; and rarely indeed would such
junctures arrive. Infractions of social order and social rights, which
now more commonly take place by fraud, were then due almost wholly to
violence. And violence, from its nature, could hardly be the subject
of appeal to the Assembly: as a general rule, it required to be repaid
on the instant, and in the same coin. Judicial questions would not
often be of such commanding interest, as to divide a people into two
opinions; nor the parties to them wealthy enough to pay two talents
to the successful judge. Great controversies, affecting allegiance
and the succession, must of necessity in all ages be rare; and of a
disputed succession in Greece the poems can hardly be said to offer
us an instance. We find, however, in the last Book of the Odyssey,
that, according to the ideas of that period, when a question as to
the sovereignty did arise, the people needed no instructor as to the
first measure they were to take. They repaired, as if by a common and
instinctive impulse, to the Agorè; in which lay deposited their civil
rights and their old traditions, like the gems of the wealth of Greece
in the shrine of the Archer Apollo[279].

[278] Tittmann Griech. Staatsv. b. ii. p. 56.

[279] Il. ix. 404.



We have perhaps been accustomed to contemplate the Trojans too
exclusively, either as enemies of the Greeks, or else as constituting,
together with them, one homogeneous chapter of antiquity, which we
might be content to examine as a whole, without taking notice of
specific differences. Let us now endeavour to inquire what were the
relations, other than those of mere antagonism in the war, between the
two nations; what points they embraced, and what affinities or discords
they disclose. The direct signs of kindred between Troy and Greece have
already been considered; but the examination into points of contrast
and resemblance as respects religion, polity, and character, will
assist us in judging how far a key to those affinities and discords is
to be found in the different interfusion and proportion, in the two
cases, of ethnical elements which they possessed in common.

We have seen in another place[280] that the Greeks, or Achæans, and the
Trojans, were akin by the Hellic element, which appears to establish
a connection chiefly as regarded the royal house, and other ruling
houses, of Troy. On the other hand it has seemed clear, from many
sources, that the main affinity between the bulk of the two nations
was Pelasgian. As respects the ethnological question, the supposition
most consonant to the evidence as a whole appears to me to be, that
in Troas we find Hellic families, possessed of dominion over a
Pelasgian people: in Greece we find Hellic tribes, placed in dominant
juxtaposition with Pelasgic tribes, of prior occupancy; constituting,
as is probable, whole classes of the community, and mingling with and
powerfully modifying the aggregate composition so as to produce a
mixed result; while in Troy, though the ruling houses are probably a
different order, and there may be found here and there the tokens of
this influence, yet the general face of society, and the substance of
manners and institutions, are Pelasgian. It will be recollected, that
even in Greece we trace two forms of Hellic diffusion. Sometimes the
descendants of the Helli appear as single families, like the Æolids;
sometimes as races, like the Achæans. The state of facts here supposed
as to Troy is in accordance with the former class of indications within
Greece itself.

[280] Achæis, or Ethnology, sect. ix. p. 496.

Upon the footing supplied by these assumptions, I shall treat the
comparison of the two countries as to religion, policy, social usages,
and moral ideas and practice.

We have already been obliged, in considering the respective shares of
the Hellenic and Pelasgian factors in the compound Greek character, to
anticipate in some degree the conclusions with regard to the religion
of the Trojans in its general character, which I will now proceed more
fully to explain and illustrate.

We have found three conspicuous deities, of worship apparently supreme
and universal: Jupiter, Minerva, and Apollo. After these comes Neptune,
of a more doubtful position when we pass out of the Hellenic and
Phœnician circles; and Latona with Diana, who, doubtless from the
vantage ground of early tradition, take rank alike with an Hellenic and
a Pelasgian people. We have also supposed Ceres to be of immemorial
standing as a deity of the Pelasgians; and Venus to have made great way
among them.

~_Greek names of deities found also in Troas._~

Passing on from the consideration of Pelasgian religion at large, it
will now be requisite to show, with particular reference to Troy, how
far we find the names of the Greek divinities recognised there; nor
must we omit to consider, in what degree identity of name implies
identity of person and function.

1. Jupiter had a τέμενος, or portion of consecrated land, on Mount
Gargarus; and there Onetor was his priest[281]. He is, with the
Trojans as with the Greeks, the first and greatest of the gods[282].
He himself attests their abundant liberality in sacrifices offered
to himself[283]. The Greek Jupiter is Olympian; the Trojan Jupiter
is Jupiter of Ida. Except as to abode, there is no difference to be
discerned between the features of the two.

[281] Il. viii. 47, 8.

[282] Il. iii. 298.

[283] Il. iv. 48.

2. We have no direct indication, in the Iliad, of the worship of
Neptune by the Trojans. But the legend of his employment under Laomedon
must be taken to imply that his divinity was acknowledged in that
country: confirmed as it is by his sharing with Jupiter and Apollo the
destruction of the Greek rampart after the conclusion of the war[284].

[284] Il. xxi. 442 seqq. vii. 459. xii. 17.

3. In the case of Juno, I have elsewhere noticed[285] the three
passages, which alone appear to establish a faint connection between
her and the Trojans.

[285] Olympus, sect. iii. p. 197.

4. Minerva had a temple on Pergamus; and was served there by a
priestess, Theano; who, as the wife of Antenor, was of the very
next rank to Priam and his house. The goddess is addressed, on the
occasion of the procession of the Sixth Book, in a strain which seems
to acknowledge her possession of supreme power[286]: the defender of
cities, excellent among goddesses, she is entreated to have pity on
Troy, to break the lance of Diomed, and to grant that he himself may

[286] Il. vi. 298-300. 305-10.

5. Apollo would appear to be the favourite among the great deities
of the country. He, like Minerva, has a temple in the citadel[287].
Chryses is his priest at Chryse, and there too he has a temple. He is
the special protector of Cilla and of Tenedos[288]. With Minerva, he
is indicated as the recipient of supreme honour[289]. The Lycian name,
so prevalent in Troas, establishes a special connection with him. In
the Iliad, he seems to be the ordinary and immediate Providence to the
Trojan chiefs, as Minerva is to the Greek ones. At the same time, he
carries no sign of exclusive nationalism; he bears no hatred to the
Greeks; but, after the restitution and propitiation, he at once accepts
the prayer, and stays the pestilence[290].

[287] Il. v. 446.

[288] Il i. 37-9.

[289] Il. vii. 540. xiii. 827.

[290] Il. i. 457.

6. Latona must have been known among the Trojans; because Homer has
represented her as contending on the Trojan side in the war of the
gods, and as engaged in tending the wounded Æneas within the temple of
Apollo on Pergamus.

7. The same reasons apply also to Diana: and we moreover find, that she
instructed the Trojan Scamandrius in the huntsman’s art[291].

[291] Il. v. 49.

8. Venus is eminently Trojan. Her relation to this people is marked
by her favour towards Paris: her passion for Anchises: her sending a
personal ornament as a marriage gift to Andromache; her ministerial
charge over the body of Hector (Il. xxiii. 184-7); her being chosen
as the model to which Trojan beauties are compared, while Diana is
the favourite standard for the Greek woman. It is also marked by
her zealous, though feeble, partizanship in favour of Troy among
the Immortals: and by the biting taunts of Pallas, of Helen, and of

[292] Il. v. 421-5. 348-51. iii. 405-9.

9. Vulcan is not only known, but has a _cult_ in Troy: for Dares is his
priest, and is a person of great wealth and consideration; one of whose
sons he delivers from death in battle, to comfort the old man in his

[293] Il. v. 9. and 20-4.

10. Mars. Of this deity it would seem, that he has been given by
Homer to the Pelasgians, mainly because of his so strongly marked
Thracian character, and his want of recognition among the Hellenes,
who had a higher deity of war in Minerva. I have touched elsewhere
upon his equivocal position as between the two parties to the war. It
corresponds with that of the Thracians, who appear to form a point of
intersection, so to speak, for the Hellic and Pelasgian races. Those of
the plain of Adrianople are, like the Pelasgi, horse-breeders, dwelling
in a fertile country: the ruder portion are among the mountains to the
north and west.

11. Mercury. One sign only of the ordinary agency of this deity in
Troas is exhibited; he gives abundant increase to the flocks of

[294] Il. xiv. 490.

12. Earth (Γαῖα) would appear to have been recognised as an object of
distinct worship in Troas: for when Menelaus proposes the Pact, he
invites the Trojans to sacrifice a black lamb to her, and a white one
to the Sun; while the Greeks will on their part offer up a lamb to
Jupiter. The proposal is at once accepted; and the heralds are sent by
Hector to the city for the lambs[295], which seems to be conclusive as
to the acknowledgment of these two deities in Troy.

[295] Il. iii. 103. 116.

13. The Sun. Besides that the passage last quoted for Earth is also
conclusive for the Sun, we have another token of his relation to Troy,
in the unwillingness with which he closes the day, when with his
setting is to end the glory of Hector and of his country[296].

[296] Il. xviii. 239.

We have thus gone through the list of the greater Greek deities,
and have found them all acknowledged in Troas, with the following
exceptions: 1. of Ceres, whom we may however suspect, from her
Pelasgian character, to have been worshipped there under some name or
form; 2. of Aidoneus; and 3. of Persephone. These exceptions will be
further noticed.

Again, among the thirteen who have been identified as objects of Trojan
worship, we find one, namely, Γαῖα, of whom we can hardly say that she
was worshipped in Greece; though she was invoked, as by Agamemnon in
the Nineteenth Book, and by Althea in the Ninth, to add a more solemn
sanction to oaths.

14. Together with her, we may take notice of a fourteenth deity,
apparently of great consideration in Troy, namely, the River Scamander.
He bears a marked sign of ancient worship, in having a divine
appellation, Xanthus, as well as his terrestrial one, Scamander. He
had an ἀρήτηρ, by name Dolopion. To him, according to the speech
of Achilles, the Trojans sacrificed live horses. He enters into
the division of parties among the gods about the war, and fights
vigorously against Achilles, until he is at length put down by
Hephæstus, or Vulcan. As a purely local deity, however, he has of
course no place in the Greek mythology.

15. Though we have no direct mention of the translation of Tithonus
by Ἠὼς, or Aurora, yet, as Homer gives Tithonus a place both in the
genealogy of the Dardanidæ, and likewise by the side of Aurora, we may
consider that, by thus recognising the translation, he also points out
Aurora as an acknowledged member of the supernatural order in Troas.

Several among these names call for more particular notice: especially
those of Vulcan, Earth, and Scamander.

~_Worship of Vulcan in Troas._~

The case of Vulcan, and his place in Troy, may serve to remind us of
a proposition somewhat general in its application; this namely, that,
in classifying the Trojan divinities, Homer need not have intended
to imply that the same name must in all cases carry exactly the same
attributes. We must here bear in mind, that probably all, certainly
almost all, of the properly Olympian gods, were Greek copies modified
from Oriental or from traditive originals. But as these conceptions
were propagated in different quarters, each country would probably add
or take away, or otherwise alter, in conformity with its own ruling
tendencies. Hence when we find a Vulcan in Greece, and a Vulcan in
Troas, it by no means follows, that each of them presented the same
features and attributes. If Homer believed them to be derived from a
common original in Egypt or elsewhere, that would be a good and valid
reason for his describing them by the same name, though the Trojan
Vulcan might not present all the Hellenic traits, nor _vice versâ_.
In some cases, such as those of Jupiter, Apollo, Minerva, Diana, and
Venus, there is such a correspondence of attributes entering into the
portraiture of the respective deities in the two countries, that their
identity, at least so far as the evidence goes, seems quite unimpaired
and unequivocal. But we have no means of showing from the poems, that
the Trojan Hephæstus corresponded with the Greek one. Indeed when we
find no mention of his being actually worshipped in Greece, and at the
same time learn that he had a priest in Troas, the presumption arises,
that different conceptions of him prevailed in the two countries.
Again, there is nowhere assigned to him as a Greek deity any such
exercise of power, as that by which he saves Idæus, a son of his priest
Dares, from imminent death on the field of battle.

These general considerations, which tend to show that the identity
of name in a Trojan and a Greek deity may be compatible with much
of dissimilarity in the popular development of the functions, will
relieve us from difficulties, which we should otherwise have had to
meet, in accounting for the place of some of the Olympian divinities
in Trojan worship. We have found reason to suppose, that Vulcan may
have come into Greece through Phœnicia. But the Trojans appear to
have had very little connection with Phœnicia. The precious κειμήλιον
of Priam, the cup that he carried to Achilles, was not Phœnician but
Thracian[297]. The only token of intercourse mentioned is, that Paris
brought textile fabrics from Sidon[298]. Again, Vulcan was especially
worshipped in Lemnos, and had his terrestrial abode there. But this
goes more naturally to account for the works of metal in Thrace, than
for the position of Vulcan in Troas; higher as it was, apparently,
than in Greece. Again, it is worth notice, that the Vulcan of the
Romans was, like their Mars, one of the old gods of Etruria, a country
stamped with many Pelasgian characteristics. It may be, that we ought
to look back to Egypt for the origin of all these Vulcans. In the time
of Herodotus[299], the Egyptian priests claimed him as their own: and
Phtah, the principal deity of Memphis, was held by the later Greeks
to correspond with their Ἥφαιστος. Even the two names carry tokens of
relationship. From that fountain-head might be propagated diverging
copies of the deity: and, as far as we can judge, the Vulcan worshipped
in Troy was much more like the common ancestor, than the highly
idealized artificer of Olympus, upon whom the Poet has worked out all
his will[300].

[297] Il. xxiv. 234-5.

[298] Il. vi. 289-92.

[299] Herod. ii. 50.

[300] Döllinger Heid. u. Jud. VI. iii. p. 411.

~_Worship of Juno and Gaia in Troas._~

There is another of its points of contact with the Olympian system, in
which this list of Trojan deities is remarkable. While investigating
the Greek mythology, we have found reason to suppose that Juno, Ceres,
and Gaia are but three different forms of the same original tradition
of a divine _feminine_: of whom Ceres is the Pelasgian copy, Juno
the vivid and powerful Hellenic development, and Gaia the original
skeleton, retaining nothing of the old character, but having acquired
the function of gaol-keeper for perjurors when sent to the other
world[301]. In the retention however of all three within the circle of
religion, we see both the receptiveness and the universalism of the
Greek mythology. Now, in Troy, where there was less of imaginative
power, the case stands very differently. Of Ceres, who represents
the Pelasgian impression of the old earth-worshipping tradition, we
hear nothing in Troas. Probably she was not there, because Gaia, her
original, was still a real divinity for the Trojans. But how are we
to explain the fact that Gaia and Juno are both there? I venture to
suggest, that it is because these are different names, the foreign and
the domestic one, for the same thing. When Hector swears to Dolon, it
is by Jupiter, ‘the loud-thundering husband of Here:’ which almost
appears as if Juno held, in the Trojan oath, a place more or less
resembling the place occupied in the Greek oaths (where Juno does not
appear at all) by Gaia.

[301] Rhea (ἔρα) shows us the fourth and cosmogonic side of the same

Again, it is obvious that, if this relation exists between Gaia and
Juno, it explains the fact that we do not find both, so to speak,
thriving together. In Troas Gaia is worshipped, but Juno scarcely
appears. In Greece Juno is highly exalted, but Gaia has lost all body,
and has dwindled to a spectral phantasm. It is the want of imagination
in the Trojan mythology, which makes it a more faithful keeper of
traditions, stereotyped in the forms in which they were had from their

~_Worship of Mercury in Troas._~

Next, as to Mercury. I have already adverted to the fact that
Priam[302], notwithstanding his obligations to Mercury in the
Twenty-fourth Iliad, takes no notice of his divinity. I think that
a close examination of the narrative tends to show, that the Greek
Mercury was not worshipped in Troy; and leaves us to conclude that
Homer uses a merely poetical mode of speech in saying that this god
gave increase to the flocks of Phorbas[303]: even as when he makes
Priam call Iris an _Olympian_ messenger[304].

[302] Olympus, sect. iii. p. 234.

[303] Il. xiv. 490.

[304] Il. xxiv. 194.

He appears before Priam and his companion Idæus, when they are on
their way to the Greek camp, in the semblance of a young and noble
Myrmidon. There were, we know[305], certain visible signs, by which
deities could in general be recognised or, at least, guessed as
such. Both Idæus, however, and Priam himself, saw nothing of this
character in Mercury, and simply took him for a Greek enemy[306].
Mercury, after some genial conversation, conducts his chariot to
the quarters of Achilles, and then, before quitting him, announces
himself. Not, however, like Apollo to Hector (Il. xv. 256), and Minerva
to Ulysses (Od. xiii. 299), simply by giving his name: but he also
declares himself to be an Immortal, θεὸς ἄμβροτος (460). This unusual
circumstance raises a presumption, that he was not already known as a
divinity to Priam; and the presumption seems to become irrefragable,
when we find that Priam, though given to the observances of religion,
uses no act or expression of reverence or even recognition to his
benefactor, either on his first declaration and departure (460, 7), or
upon his second nocturnal appearance (682), followed by a second and
final flight to Olympus (694).

[305] Olympus, sect. v.

[306] Il. xxiv. 347, 355, 358-60.

The case of Scamander will require particular notice: because it is
immediately connected with the question, whether the Trojans partook of
that tendency to a large imaginative development of religion, which so
eminently distinguishes the Grecian supernaturalism.

We will therefore consider carefully the facts relating to this deity,
and such other kindred facts as Homer suggests.

He speaks of Dolopion as follows[307];

[307] Il. v. 77.

          ὑπερθύμου Δολοπίονος, ὅς ῥα Σκαμάνδρου
  ἀρητὴρ ἐτέτυκτο, θεὸς δ’ ὣς τίετο δήμῳ.

This is entirely in keeping, as to particulars, with the Pelasgian
and Trojan institutions. The ἀρητὴρ of Homer is apparently always the
priest. Dolopion was a man in very high station and honour, like the
priests of Rome, and of early Ætolia[308]; but not like those of later
Greece. And he had been ‘made’ or ‘appointed’ priest; as Theano was
chosen to be priestess by the people. The priesthood of the Homeric age
never appears as a caste in these latitudes. The only approximation to
caste is in the gift of the μάντις, which, as we find from the Odyssey,
was hereditary in the family of Melampus[309]. Thus far, then, the
evidence respecting Scamander certainly would appear to belong to the
category of Homer’s historical statements.

[308] Il. ix. 575.

[309] Od. xv. 223 and seqq.

Beyond this, everything assumes a figurative stamp. Scamander fights
as a deity with Achilles, and his waters are so powerful that they can
only be subdued by the immediate action of the god of fire. The hero,
too, is aided by the powerful blasts of Zephyr and of Notus, whom Juno
rouses up to scorch the Trojans[310]. As we can hardly doubt, that
the plague in the First Book represents some form of marsh-fever, so
here it appears likely that the Poet takes very skilful advantage of a
flood, caused by summer rains, which had annoyed the Greeks, and which
had been followed by the subsidence of the waters upon the return of
hot weather.

[310] Il. xxi. 331 and seqq.

Scamander is very great in the Iliad, but with a purely local
greatness. As a person, he speaks both to men and to gods. He addresses
Simois as his beloved brother; but it is entirely on the affair of the
deluge and the heat. Though he takes part in the war, the distinction
is not awarded to him of being a member of the smaller and select
Olympian community: he merely stands included by presumption in the
general category of Rivers[311].

[311] Il. xx. 7.

~_Worship of Scamander._~

We have a description from the mouth of Achilles of certain sacrifices,
as belonging to the worship of Scamander[312]:

[312] Il. xxi. 130-2.

  οὐδ’ ὑμῖν ποταμός περ ἐΰῤῥοος ἀργυροδίνης
  ἀρκέσει, ᾧ δὴ δηθὰ πολέας ἱερεύετε ταύρους,
  ζωοὺς δ’ ἐν δίνῃσι καθίετε μώνυχας ἵππους.

This offering of live horses is peculiar, and unlike anything else
represented to us in the Homeric poems. Not only the youths, but even
the dogs, whom Achilles offers to the Shade of Patroclus, are slain
before they are cast into the fire. The same thing is not mentioned
with respect to the four horses, who are also among the victims; but
it is probably, even from the physical necessities of the case, to be

It may, perhaps, be argued, that this speech of Achilles partakes
of the nature of a sarcasm. The fine Trojan horses were reared and
pastured on the river banks; taunts often pass between the warriors of
the two sides: the δὴ δηθὰ may have had the force of _forsooth_. Some
doubt may attach to the evidence, which the passage gives, on this
ground; and also from the singularity of the practice that is imputed.
It is, on the whole, however, safest to assume that it is trustworthy.

The case will then stand thus; that we have apparently one single case
in Troy of a pure local impersonation of a power belonging to external
nature. Now this might happen under peculiar circumstances, and yet a
very broad distinction might subsist between the religion of the two
nations as to imaginative development.

Scamander was indeed a great power for the Trojans; it was the great
river of the country, the μέγας ποταμὸς βαθυδίνης. The child of the
great Hector was named by him Scamandrius, while Simoeisius[313]
was the son of a very insignificant person. Another Scamandrius was
a distinguished huntsman, taught by Diana, in a country where the
accomplishment was rare[314]. His floods, however useful in time of
war, would in time of peace do fearful damage. It is possibly the
true explanation of the last among the lines quoted from the speech
of Achilles, that he carried away, in sudden _spates_, many of the
horses that were pastured on his banks. The Trojans, then, may have had
strong motives for deifying Scamander, and particularly for providing
him with a priest, who might beseech him to keep down his waters. And
it will be remembered, from the case of Gaia, that the Trojan religion
was, without doubt, favourable to the idea of purely elemental deities:
what lacked was the vivid force of fancy, that revelled in profuse

[313] Il. iv. 474, 488.

[314] Il. v. 49.

~_Different view of Rivers in Troas._~

For we cannot fail to perceive, that the idea of a river-god did not
enter into the Trojan as it did into the Greek life. Ulysses, when in
difficulty, at once invokes the aid of the Scherian river[315], at
whose mouth he lands. Now the Trojans are driven in masses into the
Scamander by the terrible pursuit of Achilles, and they hide and sculk,
or come forth and fight, about its banks and waters. Yet no one of
them invokes the River, although that River was a deity contending on
their side. So entirely was he without place in their consciousness as
a power able to help, even though he may have been publicly worshipped
in deprecation of a calamity, which he was known to be able to inflict.

[315] Od. v. 445.

With this remarkable silence we may compare, besides the prayer and
thanksgiving of Ulysses, the invocation of Achilles to Spercheius[316].
On his leaving home, his father Peleus had dedicated his hair as an
offering to be made to the River on his return, and to be accompanied
by a hecatomb. This would have been a thank-offering; and as such, in
accordance with the prayer of Ulysses, it implies the power of the
River deity to confer benefits. Nor is that power rendered doubtful
by the fact, that in the particular case the prayer is not fulfilled,
and that the hair is therefore devoted to the remains of Patroclus. We
may remark, again, the sacrifice offered, apparently almost as matter
of course, by the Pylian army to Alpheus, on their merely reaching
his banks[317]. And, as a whole, the multitudinous impersonations of
natural objects in the Greek mythology are, both with Homer and in the
later writers, of a benign and genial character. This bright and sunny
aspect is in contrast with the formidable character of Scamander, and
of the worship offered to him.

[316] Il. xxiii. 144.

[317] Il. xi. 728.

There is, perhaps, enough of resemblance between the Scamander of the
Trojan mythology, and the Spercheus or Alpheus of the Greek, to suggest
the question, whether the deification of this river may possibly have
been due to the Hellic influences, which resided in the royal houses
of the country. There are not wanting signs, that the family of Priam
was closely connected with the river and its banks. The name given
to Hector’s child is one such token; and we know that the mares of
Erichthonius were fed upon the marshes near Scamander[318]. It is also
worth observation that the Priest of Scamander was called Dolopion,
while Dolops was the name of a son of Lampus, a Trojan of the highest
rank, brother to Priam, and one of the δημογέροντες of Troy[319].

[318] Il. xx. 221.

[319] Il. iii. 147-9. xv. 525-7.

But though there may be a special relation between the worship
of Scamander, and the influence of the royal family, I think the
explanation is chiefly to be sought in the specific differences which
separate it from River-worship, as generally conceived in the Olympian

There is another aspect of River-worship in Greece, with which it
seems to have more affinity. There is the terrible adjuration of Styx,
which implies its vindictive agency[320]. This river is represented on
earth by a branch from itself, called Titaresius, near the Perrhæbian
Dodona[321]. The Rivers are expressly invoked, in this character, by
Agamemnon in the adjuration of the Pact: and are associated with the
deities that punish perjury after death. Moreover, it is curious that,
when Agamemnon makes an adjuration before Greeks alone, he omits the
appeal to the Rivers, whom he had named when he was acting for the two
peoples jointly[322]. This seems to show that the invocation of Rivers,
or of some class of Rivers, in a retributive capacity, was familiar,
and may have been peculiar, to the Trojans.

[320] Il. xiv. 271. xv. 37.

[321] Il. 2. 751-5.

[322] Compare Il. iii. 276. xix. 258.

~_True aspect of Trojan River-worship._~

In effect, then, the grand distinction seems to be this. The worship of
Scamander in Troas belonged to the elemental system and earth-worship,
which the Greeks, for the purposes of their Olympus, had refined away
into a poetical vivifying Power, replete with more bland influences:
retaining it, more or less, for the purpose of adjuration, in the
darker and sterner sense. Accordingly, while Scamander, who is also
called Xanthus, has, as a god, a mark of antiquity in the double
name[323], he shows none of the Greek anthropophuistic ingredients.
Even for speech and action, he does not take the human form; but he is,
simply and strictly, the element alive.

[323] Il. xx. 74.

The species of deification, implied in earth-worship, scarcely lifted
the objects of it in any degree out of the sphere of purely material
conceptions. Thus, while Scamander, from his superior power, is no
more than Nature put in action, all the other Rivers of Troas exhibit
to us Nature purely passive, a blind instrument in the hand of deity.
The total silence and inaction of Simois[324], after the appeal of
Scamander, makes his impersonality more conspicuous, than if he had
not been addressed. Again, when the Greeks have quitted the country,
Apollo takes up the streams of the eight rivers that descend from Ida,
including great Scamander, like so many firemen’s hose, and turns them
upon the rampart to destroy it. We have no example in Homer of this
mechanical mode of handling Greek rivers.

[324] Il. xxi. 308.

The distinction of treatment seems to be due to a difference in the
mythology of the two countries as its probable source. And I find an
analogous method of proceeding with reference to the Winds. In the
Iliad they are deities, addressed in prayer, and capable of receiving
offerings. In the Odyssey they are mere senseless instruments of
nature, under the control of Æolus. But then in the Iliad Homer deals
with them for a Greek purpose (for I do not except the impersonation
of Boreas, Il. xx. 203, where the Dardanid family is concerned): it is
Achilles who prays to them: it is the Greek war-horse that they beget.
In the Odyssey he introduces them amidst a system of foreign, that is
to say, of Phœnician traditions.

Turning now to other objects, let us next see whether further inquiry
will confirm the suggestions, which I have founded on the cases of Gaia
and of Scamander.

At the head of Scamander are two fountains, and hard by them are the
cisterns, which the women of the city frequent for washing clothes.
Thus the spot is one of great notoriety; yet there is not a word
of any deity connected with these fountains. This is in remarkable
contrast with what we meet in Homer’s Greek topography. Ulysses[325],
immediately on being aware that he has been disembarked in Ithaca,
prays to the Nymphs of the grotto, which was dedicated to them. There
they had their bowls and vases, and their distaffs of stone, with which
they spun yarn of sea-purple[326]. And the harbour, in which he was
landed, was the harbour of Phorcys, the old man of the sea[327]. So
again at the fountain, where the people of the town drew water, there
was an altar of the Nymphs that presided over it, upon which all the
passers-by habitually made offerings[328]. Nor could this be wonderful,
as all groves, all fountains, all meadows, and probably all mountains,
had their proper indwelling Nymphs according to the Greek mythology;
while the Rivers were impersonated as deities, and the sea too teemed
at every point with preternatural life.

[325] Od. xiii. 356.

[326] Od. xiii. 103.

[327] Ibid. 96.

[328] Od. xvii. 208-11.

~_Trojan impersonations from Nature rare._~

Homer has named many, besides Scamander, of the rivers of Mount
Ida; but to none, not even to Simois, nor again to Ida or Gargarus
themselves, does he assign any of these local inhabitants.

There are, however, three curious cases of Nymphs assigned by him
to Troas. The νύμφη νηῒς, called Abarbaree, bears two sons to
Bucolion[329], a spurious child of Laomedon; and another nymph of
the same class bears Satnius to Enops[330]. A third similar case is
recorded in the Twentieth Book[331]. These would appear to be simple
cases of spurious births, and to have no proper connection with
mythology. For the mother of Satnius is called ἀμύμων; a name never
applied by Homer to the Immortals. If, however, the Nymphs be deities,
they mark another difference between Greece and Troy: for Homer never
attributes lusts to the Nymphs of the Greek Olympus.

[329] Il. vi. 21.

[330] Il. xiv. 444.

[331] Il. xx. 384.

Amidst the whole detail of the Iliad, in one instance only have we
Trojan Nymphs conceived after the Greek fashion: it is when those of
the mountains, according to the speech of Andromache, planted elms
round about the fresh-made tomb of her father Eetion.

As a general rule, no Trojan refers in speech either to any legend,
or to any intermediate order, of supernatural beings. Destiny, named
by Hecuba, is, as we have seen, a metaphysical idea, rather than a

[332] Il. xxii. 435. xxiv. 209.

The very name of Olympus itself is a symbol of nationality; and around
it are grouped the forms, which either the popular belief, or the
imagination of the Poet, incorporated into the company of objects
for worship. They form a body wonderfully brilliant and diversified.
They pervade the Greek mind in such a way, as to appear alike in its
didactic, and its most deeply pathetic moods. The speech of Phœnix
gives us the Parable of Ἄτη and the Λιταί: then the episode of
Meleager, which is founded on the wrath of Diana: but into this legend
itself, inserted into the speech, is again interpolated the separate
legend of Apollo and Alcyone[333]. The speech of Agamemnon, in the
Nineteenth Book, affords us another example[334]. The case is the same
in the most pathetic strains. Achilles, in the interview with Priam,
exhorts him to take food by the example of Niobe, and appends her
tale[335]: Penelope, praying to Diana in the extremity of her grief,
recites the tale of the daughters of Pandareus[336]. Even the Suitor
Antinous points his address to Ulysses with the semi-divine legend of
the Centaurs and Lapithæ[337]. Everywhere, and from all the receptacles
of thought, mythology overflows. But in Troy the case is quite
different. There the human mind never seems to resort to it, either
for food or in sport. We find deities, priests, prophets, ceremonial,
all apparently in abundance: in all of these, except the first, the
Greeks are much poorer; but each of them, in and for himself, is in
contact with an entire supernatural world, the creation of luxuriant
and energetic fancy, which ranges alike over the spheres of sense and
of metaphysics. Andromache, virtuous and sincere as Penelope, has no
such mental wealth; her thoughts, and those of Hecuba and Priam, both
ordinarily and also on the death of Hector, are limited to topics the
most obvious and primitive, with which society, however undeveloped, is
familiar. From this limitation, and from the nature of those legends
respecting deities, of which the scene is laid in Troas, it seems
reasonable to believe that the mythological dress is of purely Hellenic

[333] Il. ix. 559.

[334] Il. xix. 90-133.

[335] Il. xxiv. 602-17.

[336] Od. xx. 66.

[337] Od. xxi. 295-304.

The dedication to Jupiter of the lofty and beautiful chestnut-tree[338]
near Troy, is in correspondence with the oak of Dodona, and indicates
quite a different train of thought from those which conceived the
Greek Olympus. It is probably both a fragment of nature-worship in
its Oriental form, and likewise a portion of the external and ritual
development, in which the religion of Troy was evidently prolific
enough. And in this case the negative evidence of Homer is especially
strong; because the great number of the particular spots on the plain
of Troy, which he has had occasion to commemorate, constitute a much
more minute topography there, than he has given us on any other scene,
not even excepting Ithaca: so that he could hardly have avoided showing
us, had it been the fact, that the religion of Troy entered largely
into what Mr. Grote has so well called ‘the religious and personal
interpretation of nature.’

[338] Il. v. 697, and vii. 60.

Next as to those divine persons of the second order, who are so
abundantly presented to us by Homer in relations with the Greeks. Iris
visits the Trojans thrice. First, she repairs to their Assembly in the
form of Polites. Secondly, she appears to Helen, as her sister-in-law
Laodice. She delivers her message to Priam in the Twenty-fourth Book
without disguise; perhaps because it was necessary[339] that he should
have the assistance of a deity seen and heard, in order to embolden
him for a seemingly desperate enterprise. But there is nothing in his
account of the interview, which requires us to suppose that the person
Iris was known to Priam. The expression he uses is[340]

[339] Il. xxiv. 220.

[340] Il. xxiv. 223, 194.

  αὐτὸς γὰρ ἄκουσα θεοῦ καὶ ἐσέδρακον ἄντην.

And again, he calls her an Olympian messenger[341] from Jupiter.
Another passage carries the argument a point further, by showing us
that the appearance of this benignant deity was alarming, doubtless
because it was strange, to him. When she arrives, she addresses him
very softly τυτθὸν φθεγξαμένη (170): but he is seized with dread;

[341] Sup. p. 155.

  τὸν δὲ τρόμος ἔλλαβε γυῖα·

an emotion, which I do not remember to have found recorded on any
apparition of a divinity to a Greek hero.

~_Poverty of Trojan Mythology._~

Thus far then it would appear probable, that in the Trojan mythology
the list of major deities was more contracted than in Greece, and that
the minor deities were almost unknown. But perhaps the most marked
difference between the two systems is in the copious development on the
Greek side of the doctrine of a future state, compared with the jejune
and shadowy character of that belief among the Trojans.

~_Jejune doctrine of a Future State._~

In the narrative of the sack of Hypoplacian Thebes, and again in her
first lament over Hector, Andromache does indeed speak of her husband,
father, and brothers, respectively, as having entered the dwellings of
Aides[342]. But these references are slight, and it may almost be said
perfunctory. Not another word is said either in the Twenty-second Book,
or in the whole of the Twenty-fourth, about the shade of Hector.

[342] Il. vi. 422. xxii. 482.

When Pope closed his Iliad with the line

  And peaceful slept the mighty Hector’s shade,

it probably did not occur to him, that he was not merely altering
the poetry of Homer, but falsifying also his picture of the Trojan
religion; which had indeed its funeral rites, but so described as to
leave us no means of concluding, that they were in any degree directed
to procuring the comfort and tranquillity of the dead. The silence
observed about the spirit of Hector is remarkable from the contrast
with the case of Patroclus. Both are mourned for passionately, by
those who love them best: but the shade of Patroclus is the great
figure in the mourning of Achilles, while Hector’s existence after
death is but once owned, faintly and in the abstract. Nor, as we
see from the Odyssey, was this homage to the shade of Patroclus a
thing occasional or accidental. We there meet the souls of all the
great departed of the War, in the under-world. That region, opened
to Ulysses, had formerly been opened to Hercules. Even the dissolute
Suitors cannot be dismissed from life, without our being called to
accompany their spirits past the Leucadian rock to the place of their
destination. The warriors slain in battle with the Cicones are thrice
invoked by the survivors[343]. Nay Elpenor himself, most insignificant
of men, is duly brought before us in his last home[344].

[343] Od. ix. 65.

[344] Od. xi. 51.

We are, however, enabled to open another chapter of evidence, that
bears upon this interesting subject. It is obtained through the medium
of the oaths of the two nations respectively.

Displacing the elemental powers from their ordinary religion, the
Greeks made them gaolers, as it were, of the under-world, and gave
them this for their proper business. Hence they are paraded freely in
the Greek oaths[345]. Agamemnon before the Pact invokes, with Jupiter,
the Sun, the Rivers, the Earth, the infernal gods. In the Nineteenth
book, the same; omitting however the Rivers, and naming, instead of
simply describing, the Erinües[346]. In the Fourteenth Iliad, Juno
apparently swears by Styx, Earth, Sea, and the infernal gods[347]. In
the Fifteenth, by Earth, Heaven, Styx, the head of Jupiter, and their
marriage bed[348]. Calypso swears, for the satisfaction of Ulysses,
and according to his fashion as the _imponens_, by Earth, Heaven, and
Styx[349]. Thus the Greeks made an effective use of these earthy and
material divinities, in connection with their large development of the
Future State, by installing them as the official punishers of perjury.
Now the Trojans appear, from what we have seen, to have worshipped this
class of deities; but as super-terranean, not as sub-terranean gods.
Had they not been _thus_ worshipped at the least, Agamemnon could not
have included them in the Invocation of the Pact, where he had to act
and speak for both nations[350]. And while we see they sacrificed lambs
to Earth and Sun, still we have a curious proof that these deities were
not worshipped in Troy as avengers of perjury. For when in the Tenth
Book Hector swears to Dolon, he invokes no divinity, except Jupiter
the loud-thundering husband of Juno. There may, as we have seen here,
be a faint reference to the earthy character of the Trojan Juno; but
there is no well-developed system, which uses a particular order of
powers for the punishment of perjurors in a future state. We can hardly
doubt that this was primarily because the doctrine of the Future State
was wanting in deep and practical roots, so far as we can see, among
the Trojans. A materializing religion seems essentially hostile to the
full development of such a doctrine. And it is not a little curious to
find that in this same country, where the oath was less solemn than
in Greece, and the life after death less a subject of practical and
energetic belief, perjury and breach of faith should have been, as we
shall find they were, so much more lightly regarded.

[345] Il. iii. 276.

[346] Il. xix. 258.

[347] Il. xiv. 271-4, 278, 9.

[348] Il. xv. 36-40.

[349] Od. v. 184.

[350] Il. iii 264-75.

For the sake of realizing to ourselves the contrast between the
religious system of Troy, as we thus at least by glimpses seem
to perceive it, and the wonderful imaginative richness of the
preternatural system of the Greeks as exhibited in Homer, it may be
well to point briefly to a few cases, which are the more illustrative,
because they are the accessories, and not the main pillars of the
system. Take, then, the personifications of all the forms of Terror in
the train of Mars: the transport, by Sleep and Death, of the body of
Sarpedon to his home; the tears of blood wept by Jupiter; the agitation
of the sea in sympathy with Neptune’s warlike parade; the dread of
Aidoneus lest the crust of earth should give way under the tramp of
the gods in battle; the mourning garb of Thetis for the friend of her
son’s youth; the long train of Nymphs, rising from the depths of the
sea to accompany her, when she mounts to visit the sorrowing Achilles;
the redundant imagery of the nether world; the inimitable tact with
which he preserves the identity of his great chieftains when visited
below, but presents each under a deep tint of sadness. All this makes
us feel not only that war, policy, and poetry, are indissolubly blended
in the great mind of Homer, and of his race, but that the harmonious
association of all these with the Olympian religion was the work of a
vivifying imagination, which was a peculiar and splendid part of their

~_Worship from the hills._~

There is a more marked trace in the Trojan worship, than is to be found
among the Greeks, of the practice of the Persian; who paid homage to
the Deity,

  To loftiest heights ascending, from their tops,
  With myrtle-wreathed tiara on his brow[351].

[351] Wordsworth’s Excursion, b. iv.

For Hector offered to Jupiter sometimes (which may be referred to a
different cause) on the highest ground of the city, sometimes on the
tops of Ida[352]:

[352] Il. xxii. 171.

  Ἴδης ἐν κορυφῇσι πολυπτύχου, ἀλλότε δ’ αὖτε
  ἐν πόλει ἀκροτάτῃ.

At all events we may say, that the only sign remaining in Greece of
this principle of worship, was one common to it with Troy, and seen in
the epithet ὑψίζυγος applied to Jupiter, as well as in the association
between the seats of the gods, and the highest mountains.

On the other hand, the religion of the Trojans appears to have abounded
more in positive observance and hierarchical development, than that of
the Greeks.

This subject may be considered with reference to the several subjects

  1. Temples.
  2. Endowments (τεμένεα).
  3. Groves.
  4. Statues.
  5. Seers or Prophets.
  6. The Priesthood.

~_Troy and Greece as to Temples._~

It has been debated, whether the Greeks of the Homeric age had yet
begun to erect temples to the gods.

The only case of a temple, distinctly and expressly mentioned as
existing in Greece, is in the passage of the Catalogue respecting the
Athenians, on which there hangs a slight shade of doubt. But another
passage, though it does not contain the word, seems to be conclusive as
to the thing. It is that where Achilles mentions treasures, which lie
within the stony threshold of Apollo at Pytho[353]:

[353] Il. ix. 404. Ld. Aberdeen’s Essay, p. 86.

  οὐδ’ ὅσα λάϊνος οὐδὸς ἀφήτορος ἐντὸς ἐέργει,
  Φοίβου Ἀπόλλωνος, Πυθοῖ ἔνι πετρήεσσῃ.

Though there may have been treasuries which were not temples, they
could hardly have been treasuries of the gods: for in what sense could
treasures be placed under their special protection, unless by being
deposited in places which were peculiarly theirs?

In the Odyssey, Eurylochus promises to build a temple to the Sun,
on getting safe to Ithaca[354]; and Nausithous[355], the father of
Alcinous, built temples of the gods in Scheria. Now Scheria was not
Greece; yet it was more akin to Greece than to Troy.

[354] Od. xii. 345.

[355] Od. vi. 10; vii. 56.

It is, on the other hand, observable that, though under these
circumstances we can hardly deny that temples existed among the Greeks,
yet we have no case in Homer of a temple actually erected to a purely
Hellic deity.

Our clear instances are, in fact, confined to the temples of Minerva at
Troy and Athens, and the temples of Apollo at Troy, Chryse[356], and
Pytho: and when we see old Nestor performing solemn sacrifice in the
open air at Pylos, himself, too, a reputed grandchild of Neptune, we
cannot suppose that it was usual with the Hellenes to worship Hellenic
gods in temples. It is possible, though I would not presume to say
more, that Apollo and Minerva may have been the only deities to whom it
was usual in that age to erect temples, whether in Greece or Troy.

[356] Il. i. 39.

I must not, however, presume to dismiss this subject without noticing
the line, Od. vi. 266;

  ἔνθα δέ τέ σφ’ ἀγορὴ, καλὸν Ποσιδήϊον ἄμφις.

This verse is often interpreted as ‘the place of assembly round about
the beautiful temple of Neptune.’ So Eustathius[357]: so one of the
scholiasts: the other interprets it to mean a τέμενος only. Nitzsch,
Terpstra[358] and Crusius take it for a temple. The word Ποσιδήϊον
without a substantive is a form found nowhere else in Homer: so that
we have only the aid of reason to interpret it. Now, this ἀγορὴ was the
place of the public assemblies for business. It is surely improbable,
that there could have been a roofed temple in the midst of it, which
would interrupt both sight and hearing. On the other hand, we know
that before Troy the altars were in the ἀγορὴ of the camp[359]: and
this would cause no inconvenience. It would seem then, that Ποσιδήϊον
means not a covered temple, but a consecrated spot, in all likelihood
inclosed, on which an altar stood.

[357] In loc.

[358] Terpstra, c. iii. 4.

[359] Il. xi. 807, 8.

I would not, however, argue absolutely upon the word νηὸν, in cases
where it is found without a word signifying to construct, or other
signs marking it as a building. For its resemblance to νήϊον raises
the question, whether it may not originally have meant the consecrated
land which passed under the name of τέμενος. If so, it may have had
this sense in a passage like that of the Catalogue; where the epithet
joined to it (ἑῷ ἐνὶ πίονι νηῷ) is one more suitable to the idea of a
piece of ground, than of a temple; though applicable by Homeric usage
to the latter too, and though sufficiently supported by μάλα πίονος ἐξ
ἀδύτοιο. (Il. v. 512.)

2. The derivation of τέμενος is supposed, by some philologists, to be
the same with that of _templum_. And if so, there is a marked analogy
between this association and that of νηόν with νήϊον. Each would seem
to indicate the customs of a race, which had both dedicated lands and
a priesthood, before it began to raise sacred edifices.

~_As to endowments in land._~

As respects the endowment in land, which was sometimes consecrated to
the gods, and was called τέμενος, I presume we must conclude that,
wherever such an endowment was found, there must have been a priesthood
supported by it. For it is difficult to conceive what other purpose
could have been contemplated, at such a time, by such an appropriation
of land. And again we may assume that, where the τέμενος or glebe
existed, there would be if not a temple yet at least an altar,
something which localized the worship in the particular spot.

It is indeed much more easy to suppose a temple without a priesthood,
than a glebe. And here it is again remarkable, that we meet with no
example in Homer of a glebe set apart for an exclusively Hellic god.

The cases of glebes, with which he supplies us, are these:

1. Of Ceres, a Pelasgian deity, in Thessaly, Il. ii. 696;

2. Of Jupiter, on Mount Gargarus in Troas, together with an altar, Il.
viii. 48;

3. Of Venus, a Pelasgian deity, at Paphos in Cyprus, with an altar, Od.
viii. 362;

4. Of Spercheius in Thessaly, with an altar, Il. xxiii. 148. As
respects this case, we have indeed found, that the imaginative
deification of Nature appears to have been Hellenic, and not Pelasgian.
Still, with the case of Scamander before us, and considering that we
find the τέμενος attached to Spercheius in an eminently Pelasgian
district, while there is no example of such an inheritance for the
deities among the Hellic tribes, it seems most rational to consider the
appropriation of it as belonging to the Pelasgian period, and as having
simply lived over into the Hellenic age.

3. The ἄλσος of Homer appears to be quite different from the τέμενος:
and to mean rather what we should call a site for religious worship, as
distinguished from an endowment which, as such, would produce the means
of subsistence. Such places were required by the spirit of Hellenic
religion, as much as by the Pelasgian worship, and we find them
accordingly disseminated as follows: we have

1. In Scheria, the ἄλσος of Minerva, Od. vi. 291, 321.

2. At Ismarus, the ἄλσος of Apollo, in which dwelt Maron the priest,
Od. ix. 200.

3. In Ithaca, the ἄλσος of the Nymphs, with an altar, beside the
fountain, where all passers-by offered sacrifice, Od. xvii. 205-11.

4. In Ithaca again, the ἄλσος of Apollo, where public sacrifice was
performed in the city on his feast-day, Od. xx. 277, 8.

5. In Bœotia, Onchestus is called the ἄγλαον ἄλσος of Neptune, Il. ii.

6. The ἄλσεα of Persephone are on the beach beyond Oceanus, and are
composed of poplars and willows, Od. x. 509.

7. In the great Assembly of gods before the Theomachy, all the Nymphs
are summoned, who inhabit ἄλσεα as well as fountains and meadows, Il.
xx. 8. But here the meaning includes any grove, dedicated or not. And

8. The attendants of Circe are such as inhabit ἄλσεα, groves, or
fountains, or rivers, Od. x. 350.

Thus the ἄλσος, when used in the religious sense, means a grove or
clump of trees, sometimes with turf, or with a fountain; set apart
as a place for worship, and inhabited by a deity or his ministers,
yet quite distinct from a property capable of supporting them. These
clumps appear to be so appropriated more commonly by Hellenic, than by
Pelasgian practice.

~_As to statues of the gods._~

4. We will take next the case of statues of the gods.

In the opinion of Mure, the metaphor which represents human affairs
as resting in the lap of the gods (θεῶν ἐν γούνασι), gives conclusive
evidence that the custom of making statues of the deities prevailed
among the Greeks. I do not however see why this particular figure
should bear upon the question, more than any of the other very numerous
representations which treat them as endowed with various members of the
body. If this evidence be receivable at all, it is overwhelming. But
it is open to some doubt, whether, because gods are mentally conceived
according to the laws of anthropomorphism, we may therefore assume that
they were also materially represented under the human form.

We have, I believe, no more than one single piece of direct evidence on
the subject, and it is this; that, when the Trojan matrons carry their
supplication to the temple of Minerva, together with the offering of a
robe, they deposit it on her knees (Il. vi. 303), Ἀθηναίης ἐπὶ γούνασιν
ἠϋκόμοιο. This appears to be quite conclusive as to the existence of a
statue of Minerva at Troy: but it leaves the question entirely open,
whether it was an Hellenic, as well as a Pelasgian, practice thus to
represent the gods.

It is quite plain, I think, that the practice was not one congenial
or familiar to the mind of Homer. Had it been so, he surely must have
made large poetic use of it. Whereas on the contrary it is by inference
alone, though certainly by unavoidable inference, from language which
he uses without that intention, that we become assured even of their
existence in his time. He speaks, indeed, more than once of placing
ἀγάλματα in temples, or of suspending them in honour of the gods[360]:
but our title to construe this of statues appears to be wholly

[360] Od. iii. 438. xii. 347.

It would seem inexplicable that a poet, who enlarges with so much
power, not only on the Shield of Agamemnon and the Arms of Achilles,
but on the ideal Ægis of Minerva, the chariot of Juno, the bow
of Apollo, and the metallic handmaids of Vulcan, should entirely
avoid description of the statues of the Olympian gods, if they were
habitually before his eyes.

I have argued elsewhere that we see in Homer the Hellenic, not the
Pelasgian, mind. And if it be so, then I think we are justified
in associating with his Hellenism, as one among many signs, this
remarkable silence. The ritual and external development of Pelasgian
religion would delight in statues as visible signs: the Hellenic
idealism would not improbably eschew them. Hence we may treat this
practice of the period as belonging to Pelasgian peculiarities.

If this be so, then I think we may pass on to the conclusion, that the
original tendency to produce visible forms of the Divinity was not
owing to, and formed no part of, the efforts of the human imagination,
so largely developed in Homer, to idealize religion, and to beautify
the world by its imagery. But, on the contrary, so far as we can judge
from Homer, it first prevailed among a race inclined to material and
earthy conceptions in theology, and from them it spread to others of
higher intelligence. It was a crutch for the lameness of man, and not
a wing for his upward aspirations.

And indeed, as it appears to me, this proposition is sustained even
by the past experience and present state of Christendom. When faith
was strongest, images were unknown to the faithful. Nor is it art,
which produces them: it is merely a kind of corporal and mechanical
imitation. No considerable work of art is at this moment, I believe, in
any Christian country, an object of religious worship. The sentiment
which craves for material representations of such objects in order
to worship them, appears also commonly to exact that they should be
somewhat materialized. The higher office of art, in connection with
devout affection, seems to be that it should point our veneration
onwards, not arrest it. It holds out the finger which we are to follow,
not the hand which we are to kiss.

~_As to Seers or Diviners._~

The order of Seers or Diviners was common to Greeks, Trojans, and
probably we may add, from its being known among the Cyclopes, to all
contemporary races. It is singular that we should find here, and not
among the priesthood, the traces of caste, or the hereditary descent
of the gift. In all other points, this function stands apart from
hierarchical developments. For the μάντις, except as to his gift,
is like other men. Melampus engages to carry off oxen. Polypheides
migrates upon a quarrel with his father. Cleitus is the lover of
Aurora. Theoclymenus has committed homicide[361]. Teiresias is called
ἄναξ, a lord or prince[362]. We do not know that Calchas fought as
well as prophesied, but it may have been so, since Helenus, the son
of Priam, and Eunomus, the Mysian leader, were seers or augurs not
less than warriors. But the most instructive specimen of this order
among the Greeks is the Suitor Leiodes[363], who was also θυοσκόος,
or inspector of sacrifices, to the body of Suitors. Now Ulysses had,
in consideration of a ransom, spared Maron the priest of Apollo at
Ismarus[364]. But, far from recognising in the professional character
of Leiodes a title to immunity, he answers the plea with characteristic
and deadly repartee. And this, notwithstanding that Leiodes was, as
we learn, distinguished from the rest of the Suitors by the general
decency of his conduct.

[361] Od. xv. 224 _et seqq._

[362] Od. xi. 150.

[363] Od. xxii. 310-29. xxi. 144.

[364] Od. ix. 197-201.

The θυοσκόος apparently inspected sacrifices, but did not offer them;
for this character is clearly distinguished in the Iliad[365] from
that of the priest. Indeed, the word θύειν in Homer appears properly
to apply to those minor offices of sacrifice, which did not involve
the putting to death of victims; as in Il. ix. 219, where, it may be
observed, the function is not performed by the principal person, but
is deputed by Achilles to Patroclus. The inspection of slain animals
would probably stand in the same category, among divine offices, as the
interpretation of other signs and portents.

[365] Il. xxiv. 221.

The members of this class are, upon the whole, as broadly distinguished
from the priests in Homer, as are the prophets of the Old Testament
from the Levitical priesthood.

They were called by the general name of μάντις, or by other names,
some of them more limited: such as θεόπροπος, ὑποφήτης, οἰωνόπολος,
ὀνειρόπολος. They sometimes interpreted from signs and omens;
sometimes, as in Il. vi. 86, and vii. 44, without them.

The diffusion of the gift among the royal house of Troy, where
Polydamas had it as well as Helenus, and possibly also Hector, is less
marked than the great case of the family of Melampus. The augur was
in all respects a citizen, while possessed of a peculiar endowment:
and the ὑποφῆται[366] mentioned in the invocation of Achilles, whether
they were the royal house, or persons dispersed through the community,
evidently formed a more conspicuous object among the Helli than we find
in any Pelasgian race. Again; in Greece we find the oracles of Delphi
and Delos, as well as of Dodona; but there is no similar organ for the
delivery of the divine will reported to us in Troy.

[366] Il. xvi. 235.

~_As to the Priesthood._~

We come now to the last and most important point connected with the
outward development of the religious system, that of the priesthood:
and here I shall endeavour to describe distinctly the evidence with
regard to both nations. First, let us consider the case of priesthood
as it respects the Greeks.

We have at least one instance before us in the Iliad, where a combined
religious action of Greeks and Trojans is presented to us. In the
Third Book, Priam comes from Troy to an open space between the armies,
and meets Agamemnon and Ulysses. The honour of actually offering
the sacrifice is allotted to the Greeks. No priest appears; and the
function is performed by the King, Agamemnon. It is therefore natural
to suppose that the Greeks have with them in Troas no sacrificing
priest. On every occasion, the Greek Sovereign offers sacrifice for
himself and for the army. So also do the soldiery[367] at large for

[367] Il. ii. 400.

  ἄλλος δ’ ἄλλῳ ἔρεζε θεῶν αἰειγενετάων.

There was an altar[368] for the very purpose in the part of the
camp appropriated for Assemblies; a fact which, though it does not
demonstrate, accords with the union of the regal and sacerdotal
functions. Nor can we account for the absence of priests from the
camp, on the same principle as for that of bards; since poems
were a luxury, but sacrifices a necessity. And we find Calchas
representing the class of religious functionaries that the Greek nation
did acknowledge; namely, the Seers, who interpreted the divine will,
without any fixed ministry belonging to any particular place, although
the gift was generally derived from Apollo, as one among his peculiar

[368] Il. xi. 807, 8.

In the remarkable passage, which enumerates for us the principal
trades and professions of Greece in the heroic age[369], we find
mentioned the prophet, the physician, the artificer, the divinely
prompted bard; but not the priest. Yet, had such an order existed, it
could not well, on account of its importance, have been omitted. For in
truth this enumeration is, as we have before seen, nearly exhaustive,
as applied to an age when there was no professional soldier, when the
husbandman, fisherman, or herd, could not be called a δημιοεργὸς,
for he had no relation to the public, and when commerce was confined
to foreigners like the Phœnicians, or pirates like the Taphians, and
formed no part of the business of the settled communities of Greece.

[369] Od. xvii. 384-6.

On the other hand, in the Legend of Phœnix concerning Meleager, we
have a notice of priests as having existed at that time in Ætolia. The
embassy, which was sent to conciliate Meleager, consisted of elders and
of the best, or most distinguished, among the priests;

                  τὸν δὲ λίσσοντο γέροντες
  Αἰτωλῶν, πέμπον δὲ θεῶν ἱερῆας ἀρίστους. Il. ix. 574.

Now, the word Αἰτωλὸς, I apprehend, indicates an Hellenic race, for
Tydeus is Αἰτώλιος; and it is worth notice, that in this passage the
elders are called Ætolian, but not the priests.

Again, this event took place during the reign of Œneus, two generations
before the Trojan war[370]. At that time the Hellenic influence was
quite recent in Middle and in Southern Greece. The family of Sisyphus
had indeed arrived there at least two generations before, but it
disappeared, and it had never risen to great power. It was the date
of Augeias, of Neleus, and of Pelops; all of them, apparently, the
first of their respective families in Peloponnesus. So again the name
Portheus, assigned to the father of Œneus, probably marks him as the
first Hellenic occupant of the country.

[370] Il. ix. 535.

Plato observes, that new settlers might naturally remain for a time
without religious institutions[371] of their own.

[371] Legg. vi. 7.

The Hellenes, then, had recently come into Ætolia at the time, and
even on this ground were less likely to have had priests of their own
institution. But it is not to be supposed that, finding a hierarchy
among the Pelasgian tribes, devoted to the worship of such deities
(Minerva and Apollo for example) as they themselves acknowledged, they
would extirpate such a body. The most probable supposition is, that
it would continue in all cases for a time. The person of Chryses,
the priest of Apollo, was respected, at least for the moment, even
by Agamemnon[372] in his displeasure. Fearless of his threats, the
injured priest immediately appealed to his god for aid. We cannot doubt
that interests thus defended would be generally left intact. Still,
as priests were, in the language of political economy, unproductive
labourers, and as they seem to have held their offices not by descent
but by election, we can easily perceive a road, other than that of
violence, to the extinction of the order among a people that set no
store by its services.

[372] Il. i. 28.

There is yet another place, in which the name is mentioned among the
Greeks. It is in the Assembly of the First Iliad, held while the plague
is raging. Achilles says, ‘Let us inquire of some prophet, or priest,
or interpreter of dreams (for dreams too are from Jupiter), who will
tell us, why Apollo is so much exasperated[373].’ But the allusion here
seems plainly to be to Chryses, who had himself visited the camp, and
had appeared with the insignia of his priestly office in a previous
Assembly of the Greeks[374]. Being now in possession of the whole open
country, they of course had it in their power to consult either him or
any other Trojan priest not within the walls. We cannot, therefore,
argue from this passage, that priesthood was a recognised Hellenic
institution at the period.

[373] Il. i. 62.

[374] Il. i. 15.

In the Odyssey, we find Menelaus engaged in the solemn rites of a great
nuptial feast; and Nestor in like manner offering sacrifice to Neptune,
his titular ancestor, in the presence of thousands of the people. In
neither of these cases is there any reference to a priest: and on the
following day Nestor with his sons offers a new sacrifice, of which the
fullest details are given.

Again, had there been priests among the Homeric Greeks, it is hardly
possible but that we must have had some glimpse of them in Ithaca,
where the order of the community and the whole course of Greek life are
so clearly laid open.

An important piece of negative evidence to the same effect is afforded
by the great invocation of Achilles in the Sixteenth Iliad. It will be
remembered, that we there find the rude highland tribe of the Helli in
possession of the country where Dodona was seated, together with the
worship of the Pelasgian Jupiter; and themselves apparently exercising
the ministry of the god. Now that ministry was not priesthood, but
interpretation; for they are ὑποφῆται, not ἱερῆες[375].

[375] Il. xvi. 235.

It therefore appears clear, that the Hellenic tribes of Homer’s day did
not acknowledge a professional priesthood of their own; that there was
no priest in the Greek armament before Troy; that the priest was not
a constituent part of ordinary Greek communities: and that, if he was
any where to be found in the Homeric times, it was as a relic, and in
connection with the old Pelasgian establishments of the country.

At a later period, when wealth and splendour had increased, and when
the increased demand for them extended also to religious rites, the
priesthood became a regular institution of Greece. It is reckoned by
Aristotle, in the Politics, among the necessary elements of a State;
while he seems also to regard it as the natural employment of those,
who are disqualified by age from the performance of more active duties
to the public, either in war or in council. The priest was, even in
Homer’s time, a distinctly privileged person. Like other people, he
married and had children: but his burdens were not of the heaviest. He
would live well on sacrifices, and the proceeds of glebe-land: and it
is curious, that Maron the priest had the very best wine of which we
hear in the poems[376]. The priest formed no part of the teaching power
of the community, either in this or in later ages. Döllinger makes the
observation[377], that Plutarch points out as the sources of religious
instruction three classes of men, among whom the priests are not even
included. They are (1) the poets, (2) the lawgivers, and (3) the
philosophers: to whom Dio Chrysostom adds the painters and sculptors.
So that Isocrates may well observe, that the priesthood is anybody’s
affair. Plato[378] in the Νόμοι requires his priests, and their parents
too, to be free from blemish and from crime: but carefully appoints
a separate class of ἐξηγηταὶ, to superintend and interpret the laws
of religion; as well as stewards, who are to have charge of the
consecrated property.

[376] Od. ix. 205.

[377] Döllinger, Heid. u. Jud. iv. 1.

[378] Plat. Legg. vi. 7. (ii. 759.)

The priest of the heroic age would however appear to have slightly
shared in the office of the μάντις, although the μάντις had no special
concern with the offering of sacrifice. The inspection of victims would
fall to priests, almost of course, in a greater or a less degree; and
there is some evidence before us, that they were entitled to interpret
the divine will. It is furnished by the speech of Achilles[379], which
appears to imply some professional capacity of this kind: and, for
Troy at least, by the declaration[380] of Priam, who mentions priests
among the persons, that might have been employed to report to him a
communication from heaven.

[379] Il. i. 62.

[380] Il. xxiv. 22.

We have now seen the case of priesthood among the Greeks. With the
Trojans it is quite otherwise. We are introduced, at the very beginning
of the Iliad, to Chryses[381] the priest (ἱερεὺς) of Apollo. In the
fifth Iliad we have a Trojan[382], Dares, who is priest of Vulcan; and
we have also Dolopion, who, as ἀρητὴρ[383] of the Scamander, filled
an office apparently equivalent. Chryses the priest is also called an
ἀρητήρ[384]; and though, on the other hand, it was the duty of Leiodes
in the Odyssey to offer[385] prayer on behalf of the Suitors, yet
he is never termed ἀρητήρ. In the Sixth Iliad appears Theano, wife
of Antenor, and priestess of Minerva[386]. And in the Sixteenth, we
have Onetor[387], priest of Idæan Jupiter. Again, while Eumæus in the
Odyssey does not recognise the priest among the Greek professions, but
substitutes the prophet, Priam, on the contrary, in the Twenty-fourth
Iliad, says he would not have obeyed the injunction to go to the
Greek camp if conveyed to him by any mortal, of such as are in these

[381] Il. i. 23.

[382] Il. v. 9.

[383] Ibid. 76.

[384] Il. i. 11.

[385] Od. xxii. 322.

[386] Il. vi. 298.

[387] Il. xvi. 604.

[388] Il. xxiv. 221.

  ἢ οἳ μάντιές εἰσι, θυοσκόοι, ἢ ἱερῆες,

where it might be questioned, whether μάντις and θυοσκόος are different
persons, or whether he speaks of the μάντις θυοσκόος; but in either
case it is equally clear that he names the priest, ἱερεὺς, apart from
either. The speech of Mentes, in Od. i. 202, probably suffices to draw
the line between the μάντις and the θυοσκόος.

It further appears that among the allies of Troy, as well as in the
country, the priest was known; for in the Ninth Odyssey we find
Maron, son of Euanthes the priest of Apollo at Ismarus[389], among
the Cicones. The city they inhabited was sacked by Ulysses on his way
from Troy, and on this account we must infer that, as they were allies
of Troy (Il. ii. 846), so likewise they belonged to the family of
Pelasgian tribes.

[389] Od. ix. 196-9.

To these priests, personally engaged in the service of the deities, a
personal veneration, and an exemption from military service, appear to
have attached, which were not enjoyed by the μάντιες. This is plainly
developed in the case of Chryses. The offence is not that of carrying
off a captive, for there could be no guilt in the act, as such matters
were then considered, but rather honour: it is the insult offered to
Apollo in the person of his servant, by subjecting his daughter to the
common lot of women of all ranks, including the highest, that draws
down a frightful vengeance on the army. So, again, the priest never
fought; Dolopion, Dares, and Onetor, all become known to us through
their having sons in the army, whose parentage is mentioned. And as
to the priest Maron, Ulysses says he was spared from a feeling of awe
towards the god, in whose wooded grove, or portion, he resided[390]:

[390] Ibid. 199-201.

  οὕνεκά μιν σὺν παιδὶ περισχόμεθ’ ἠδὲ γυναικὶ
  ἁζόμενοι· ᾤκει γὰρ ἐν ἄλσεϊ δενδρήεντι
  Φοίβου Ἀπόλλωνος.

But it does not appear that the μάντις, though he was endowed with a
particular gift, bore, in respect of it, such a character, as would
suffice to separate him from ordinary civil duties, and to make him,
like the priest, a clearly privileged person.

Upon the other hand, we should not omit to notice that we are told
in the case of Theano, though she was of high birth and the wife of
Antenor, that she was made priestess by the Trojan people. The same
fact is probably indicated in the case of Dolopion, who, we are told,
had been made or appointed ἀρητὴρ to Scamander (ἀρητὴρ ἐτέτυκτο Il. v.
77). And the appearance of the sons of priests in the field appears to
show, that there was nothing like hereditary succession in the order;
which was replenished, we may probably conclude, by selections having
the authority or the assent of the public voice. Thus the body was
popularly constituted, and was in thorough harmony with the national
character. It does not, on that account, constitute a less important
element in the community, but rather the reverse.

Now, whatever might be the other moral and social consequences of
having in the community an order of men set apart to maintain the
solemn worship of the gods, it must evidently have exercised a very
powerful influence in the maintenance of abundance and punctuality in
ritual observances. There can be no doubt, that the priest lived by
the altar which he served, and lived the better in proportion as it
was better supplied. Besides animals, cakes of flour too, and wine,
were necessary for the due performance of his office[391]; and in the
case of Maron this wine was so good, that the priest kept it secret
from his servants, and that it has drawn forth the Poet’s most genial

[391] Il. i. 458, 462.

[392] Od. ix. 205.

  ἡδὺν, ἀκηράσιον, θεῖον ποτόν·

He was rich too; for he had men and women servants in his house. So
was Dares, the priest of Vulcan[393]. So probably was Dolopion, priest
of Scamander; at any rate his station was a high one; as we see from
the kind of respect paid to him (θεὸς δ’ ὡς τίετο δήμῳ); and we have
another sign in both these cases of the station of the parents, from
the position of the sons in the army, which is not among the common
soldiery (πληθὺς), but among the notables. The sons of Dares fight in
a chariot; and the name of Hypsenor, son of Dolopion, by its etymology
indicates high birth.

[393] Il. v. 9, 78.

~_Comparative observance of Sacrifice._~

In point of fact the Homeric poems exhibit to us, together with the
existence and influence of a priestly order, a very marked distinction
in respect to sacrifice between the Trojans and the Greeks: a state of
things in entire conformity with what we might thus expect.

In no single instance do we hear of a Trojan chief, who had been
niggardly in his banquets to the gods. Hector[394] is expressly
praised for his liberality in this respect by Jupiter, and Æneas
by Neptune[395]. The commendation, however, extends to the whole
community. In the Olympian Assembly of the Fourth Book, Jupiter says
that, of all the cities inhabited by men, Troy is to him the dearest;
for there his altar never lacked the sacrifice, the libation and the
savoury reek, which are the portion of the gods[396]:

[394] Il. xxii. 170. xxiv. 168.

[395] Il. xx. 298.

[396] Il. iv. 48.

  οὐ γάρ μοί ποτε βωμὸς ἐδεύετο δαιτὸς ἐΐσης,
  λοιβῆς τε κνίσης τε· τὸ γὰρ λάχομεν γέρας ἡμεῖς.

But the Greeks, thus destitute of priests, often fail, as we might
expect, in the regularity of their religious rites. Ulysses[397],
indeed, is in this, as in all the points of excellence, unimpeachable.
But his was not the rule of all. Œneus, two generations before the
_Troica_, while sacrificing to the other deities, either forgot or did
not think fit (ἢ λάθετ’ ἢ οὐκ ἐνόησεν) to sacrifice to Diana[398];
hence the devastations of the Calydonian boar. Nor is his the only case
in point.

[397] Od. i. 61.

[398] Il. ix. 523.

The account given by Nestor to Telemachus in the Third Odyssey is
somewhat obscure in this particular. He says that, after the Greeks
embarked, the deity dispersed them; and that then Jupiter ordained the
misfortunes of their return, since they were not all intelligent and
righteous[399]. It appears to be here intimated, that the Greeks in
the first flush of victory forgot the influence of heaven; and that an
omission of the proper sacrifices was the cause of the first dispersion.

[399] Od. iii. 131.

After they collect again in Troas, the Atreid brothers differ, as
Menelaus proposes to start again, and Agamemnon to remain, and offer
sacrifices in order to appease Minerva; but, as Nestor adds, the
deities are not so soon appeased. Agamemnon, therefore, seems to have
been too late with his celebration; and Menelaus, again, to have
omitted it altogether.

The party who side with Menelaus offer sacrifices on their arrival at
Tenedos, seemingly to repair the former error: but Jupiter is incensed,
and causes them to fall out anew among themselves. A portion of them
return once more to Agamemnon[400].

[400] Ibid. 164.

Menelaus finds his way to Lesbos, and then sails as far as Malea. Here
he encounters a storm, and with part of his ships he gets to Egypt:
where he is again detained by the deities, because he did not offer up
the proper hecatombs[401]. Such remissness is the more remarkable,
because Menelaus certainly appears to be one of the most virtuous
characters in the Greek host.

[401] Ibid. 135.

The course, however, of the siege itself affords a very marked
instance, in which the whole body of the Greeks was guilty of omitting
the regular sacrifices proper to be used in the inauguration of a great
undertaking. In the hasty construction of the trench and rampart, they
apparently forgot the hecatombs[402]. Neptune immediately points out
the error in the Olympian Court; and uses it in aid of his displeasure
at a work, which he thinks will eclipse the wall of Troy, executed
for Laomedon by himself in conjunction with Apollo. Jupiter forthwith
agrees[403], that after the siege he shall destroy it. And the Poet,
returning to the subject at the commencement of the Twelfth Book,
observes that the work could not last, because it was constructed
without enlisting in its favour the good will of the Immortals[404].
This omission of the Greeks is the more characteristic and remarkable,
because the moment when they erected the rampart was a moment of
apprehension, almost of distress.

[402] Il. vii. 450.

[403] Ibid. 459.

[404] Il. xii. 3, 9.

Thus, then, it appears that, as a nation, the Trojans were much
more given to religious observances of a positive kind, than the
Greeks. They were, like the Athenians[405] at a later epoch,
δεισιδαιμονέστεροι. And, again, as between one Greek and another,
there is no doubt that the good are generally, though not invariably,
scrupulous in this respect, and the bad commonly careless. Thus much
is implied particularly in Od. iii. 131, as well as conclusively shown
in the general order of the Odyssey. But, as between the two nations,
we cannot conceive that the Poet had any corresponding intention.
Although a more scrupulous formality in religion marks the Trojans
than the Greeks, and although in itself, and _cæteris paribus_, this
may be the appropriate sign of piety, yet it is a sign only; as a sign
it may be made a substitute, and, as a substitute, it becomes the
characteristic of Ægisthus and Autolycus, no less than it is of Eumæus
and Ulysses. As between the two nations, the difference is evidently
associated with other differences in national character and morality.
We must look therefore for broader grounds, upon which to form an
estimate of the comparative virtue of the two nations, than either the
populousness of Olympus on the one side, or the array of priests and
temples on the other.

[405] Acts xvii. 22.

Nowhere do the signs of historic aim in Homer seem to me more evident,
than in his very distinct delineations of national character on
the Greek and the Trojan part respectively. But this is a general
proposition; and it must be understood with a certain reservation as to

~_Two modes of handling for Greece and Troy._~

It does not appear to me that Homer has studied the more minute points
of consistency in motive and action among the Trojans of the poem, in
the same degree as among the Greeks. He has (so to speak) manœuvred
them as subsidiary figures, with a view to enhancing and setting
off those in whom he has intended and caused the principal interest
to centre; not so as to destroy or diminish effects of individual
character, but so as to give to the collective or joint action on the
Trojan side a subordinate and ministerial function in the machinery
of the poem. As Homer sung to Greeks, and Greeks were his judges and
patrons as well as his theme, nay rather as his heart and soul were
Greek, so on the Greek side the chain of events is closely knit; if
its direction changes, there is an adequate cause, as in the vehemence
of Achilles, or the vacillation of Agamemnon. But he did not sing to
Trojans; and so, among the Trojans of the Iliad, there are as it were
stitches dropped in the web, and the connection is much less carefully
elaborated. Thus they acquiesce in the breach of covenant after the
single combat of the Third Book, although the evident wish among
them, independent of obligation, was for its fulfilment[406]. Then
in the Fourth Book, after the treachery of Pandarus, the Trojans not
only do not resent it, but they recommence the fight while the Greek
chiefs are tending the wounded Menelaus[407]; which conduct exhibits,
if the phrase may be permitted, an extravagance of disregard to the
obligations of truth and honour. Hector, in the Sixth Book, quits the
battle field upon an errand, to which it is hardly possible to assign
a poetical sufficiency of cause, unless we refer it to the readiness
which he not unfrequently shows to keep himself out of the fight.
Again, there is something awkward and out of keeping in his manner of
dealing with the Fabian recommendations of Polydamas when the crisis
approaches. Some of these he accepts, and some he rejects, without
adequate reason for the difference, except that he is preparing himself
as an illustrious victim for Achilles, and that he must act foolishly
in order that the superior hero, and with him the poem itself, may not
be baulked of their purpose.

[406] Il. iii. 451-4.

[407] Il. iv. 220.

Thus, again, Homer has given us a pretty clear idea even of the
respective ages of the Greek chiefs. It can hardly be doubted that
Nestor stands first, Idomeneus second, Ulysses third: while Diomed
and Antilochus are the youngest; Ajax and Achilles probably the next.
But as to Paris, Helenus, Æneas, Sarpedon, Polydamas, we find no
conclusion as to their respective ages derivable from the poem.

Yet though Homer may use a greater degree of liberty in one case,
and a lesser in another, as to the mode of setting his jewels, he
always adheres to the general laws of truth and nature as they address
themselves to his poetical purpose. Thus there may be reason to doubt,
whether he observed the same rigid topographical accuracy in dealing
with the plain of Troy, as he has evinced in the Greek Catalogue: but
he has used materials, all of which the region supplied; and he has
arranged them clearly, as a poetic whole, before the mental eye of
those with whom he had to do. Even so we may be prepared to find that
he deals with the moral as with the material Troas, allowing himself
somewhat more of license, burdening himself with somewhat less of
care. And then we need not be surprised at secondary or inferential
inconsistencies in the action, as respects the Trojan people, because
it has not been worth his while to work the delineation of them, in
its details, up to his highest standard; yet we may rely upon his
general representations, and we are probably on secure ground in
contemplating all the main features of Trojan life and character as
not less deliberately drawn, than those of the Greeks. For, in truth,
it was requisite, in order to give full effect among his countrymen to
the Greek portrait, that they should be able, at least up to a certain
point, to compare it with the Trojan.

~_Moral superiority of his Greeks._~

Regarding the subject from this point of view, I should say that Homer
has, upon the whole, assigned to the Greeks a moral superiority over
the Trojans, not less real, though less broad and more chequered, than
that which he has given them in the spheres of intellectual and of
military excellence. But, in all cases alike, he has pursued the same
method of casting the balance. He eschews the vulgar and commonplace
expedient of a formal award: he decides this and every other question
through the medium of action. The first thing, therefore, to be done
is, to inquire into the morality of his contemporaries, as it is
exhibited through the main action of the poems.

It is admitted on all hands that, in the ethical picture of the
Odyssey, the distinctions of right and wrong are broad, clear, and
conspicuous. But the case of the Iliad is not so simple. The conduct
of Paris, which leads to the war, is so flagrant and vile, and the
conduct of the Greeks in demanding the restoration of Helen before they
resort to force, so just and reasonable, that it is not unnaturally
made matter of surprise that any war could ever have arisen upon such a
subject, except the war of a wronged and justly incensed people against
mere ruffians, traitors, and pirates. The Trojans appear at first sight
simply as assertors of a wrong the most gross and aggravated, even in
its original form; their iniquity is further darkened by obstinacy, and
their cause is the cause of enmity to every law, human and divine. Yet
the Greeks do not assume to themselves, in connection with the cause of
the war, to stand upon a different level of morality: and the amiable
affections, with the sense of humanity, if not the principles of honour
and justice, are exhibited in the detail of the Iliad as prevailing
among the Trojans, little less than among the Greeks.

Now, let us first endeavour to clear away some misapprehensions that
simply darken the case: and after this let us inquire what exhibition
Homer has really given us of the moral sense of the Greeks and the
Trojans respectively, in connection with the crime of Paris.

In the first place, something is due to the falsification by later
poets of the Homeric tradition: and to the reflex affiliation upon
Homer of those traits which, through the influence first of the Cyclic
poets, probably exaggerating the case in order to conceal their
relative want of strength, and then of the tragedians and Virgil,
have come to be taken for granted as genuine parts of the original

According to the Argument of the Κύπρια Ἔπη, as it has been handed down
to us, Paris, having been received in hospitality by Menelaus, was left
by him under the friendly care of his wife, on his setting out for
Crete. He then corrupted Helen; and induced her, after being corrupted,
to elope with him, and with the greater part of the moveable goods of

Upon this tale our ideas have been formed, and, this being so, we
marvel why Homer does not make the Greeks feel more indignation at a
proceeding which simply combined treachery, robbery, and adultery. As
he prizes so highly the rights of guests, and pitches their gratitude
accordingly, we cannot understand how he should be so insensible to the
grossest imaginable breach of their obligations.

~_Homer’s account of the abduction._~

Homer is here made responsible for that which, in part, he does not
tell us, and which is positively, as well as inferentially, at variance
with what he does tell us. He tells us absolutely, that Helen was not
inveigled into leaving Sparta, but carried off by force: and that the
crime of adultery was committed after, and not before, her abduction.

This difference alters the character of the deed of Paris, in a
manner by no means so insignificant according to the heroic standard
of morality, as according to ours. As it seems plain from Homer’s
expression, ἁρπάξας[408], that Paris carried off Helen in the first
instance by an act of violence, so also it is probable that, when
the first adultery was committed in the island of Cranae, he was her
ravisher much more than her corrupter. Her offence appears to have
consisted mainly in the mere acceptance, at what precise date we know
not, of the relation thus brought into existence between them, and in
compliances that with the lapse of time naturally followed, such as
the visit to the Trojan horse. It would have been, however, under all
the circumstances, an act of superhuman rather than of human virtue,
if she had refused, through the long years of her residence abroad, to
recognise Paris as a husband: and accordingly the light, in which she
is presented to us by the Poet, is that of a sufferer infinitely more
than of an offender[409].

[408] Il. iii. 444.

[409] See inf. Aoidos, sect. vi.

When we regard Helen from this point of view, we perceive that Homer’s
narrative is at least in perfect keeping with itself. The Greeks have
made war to avenge the wrongs of Helen not less than those of Menelaus:
nay, Menelaus himself, the keenest of them all, is keen on her behalf
even more than on his own[410]. He regards her as a person stolen from
him: and the Greeks regard Paris only as the robber.

[410] Il. ii. 589.

We have no reason to suppose the Cyprian Epic to be a trustworthy
supplement to the narrative of Homer. We have seen some important
points of discrepancy from the Iliad. And there are others. For
instance, this poem makes Pollux immortal and Castor only mortal, while
Homer acquaints us in the Iliad with the interment of both, and in the
Odyssey with their restoration on equal terms to an alternate life. It
gives Agamemnon four daughters, the Iliad but three. It brings Briseis
from Pedasus, the Iliad brings her from Lyrnessus. And there is other
matter in the plot, that does not appear to correspond at all with the
modes of Homeric conception[411]. Had Homer told us the same story as
the Cyprian Epic, he would perhaps have made his countrymen express all
the indignation we could desire.

[411] Düntzer, pp. 9-16. Fragm. iv. xi. xv.

And now let us consider what is the view taken of the abduction in the
Iliad by the various persons whose sentiments are made known to us:
and how far that view can be accounted for by the general tone of the
age, or by what was peculiar to the character and institutions of each
people respectively.

Helen herself nowhere utters a word of attachment or of respect to
Paris. Even of his passions she appears to have been the reluctant,
rather than the willing instrument. She thinks alike meanly of his
understanding[412] and of his courage[413]: and he shares[414] in the
rebukes which she everywhere heaps upon herself; though, with the
delicacy and high refinement of her irresolute but gentle character,
she never reproaches him in the presence of his parents, by whom he
continued to be loved.

[412] Il. vi. 352.

[413] Il. iii. 428-36, and vi. 351.

[414] Il. vi. 356.

To the Trojan people he was unequivocally hateful[415]. They would have
pointed him out to Agamemnon, if they could: for they detested him like
black Death. It was by a mixture of bribery and the daring assertion
of authority, that he checked those movements in the Assembly, which
had it for their object to enforce the restoration of Helen to
Menelaus[416]. Of all his countrymen, Hector appears to have been most
alive to his guilt, and is alone in reproaching him with it[417]. It is
under the influence of a sharp rebuke from Hector, that he proposes to
undertake a single combat with Menelaus[418].

[415] Il. iii. 453.

[416] Il. vii. 354-64, and xi. 123.

[417] Il. iii. 46-53.

[418] Ibid. 68-75.

~_The Greek estimate of Paris._~

The only persons on the Greek side, who utter any strong sentiment
in respect to Paris, are Diomed and Menelaus. This is singular; for
when we consider what was the cause of war, we might have expected,
perhaps, that recurrence to it would be popular and constant among the
Greeks. Nor is this all that may excite surprise. Diomed is unmeasured
in vituperating Paris, but it is for his cowardice and effeminacy.
The only word, which comes at all near the subject of his crime, is
παρθενοπῖπα: and by mocking him as a dangler after virgins, the brave
son of Tydeus shows how small a place the original treachery of Paris
occupied in his mind.

Menelaus, indeed, has a keen sense of the specific nature and malignity
of the outrage. He beseeches Jupiter to strengthen his hand against the
man who has done such deadly wrong, not to him only, but to all the
laws which unite mankind:

  ὄφρα τις ἐρρίγῃσι καὶ ὀψιγόνων ἀνθρώπων
  ξεινοδόκον κακὰ ῥέξαι, ὅ κεν φιλότητα παράσχῃ[419].

[419] Ibid. 351-4.

But then Homer has already, in the Catalogue, introduced Menelaus to
us as distinguished from the rest of his countrymen, by his greater
keenness to revenge the wrongs and groans of Helen[420]. Accordingly,
the injured husband returns on other occasions to the topic: calls the
Trojans κακαὶ κύνες, and invokes upon them the anger of Ζεὺς ξείνιος,
the Jupiter of hospitality[421];

[420] Il. ii. 588-90.

[421] Il. xiii. 620-7.

  οἵ μευ κουριδίην ἄλοχον καὶ κτῄματα πολλὰ
  μὰψ οἴχεσθ’ ἀνάγοντες, ἐπεὶ φιλέεσθε παρ’ αὐτῇ.

Thus it is plain, that Menelaus resents not only a privation and an
act of piracy, but a base and black breach of faith. It is quite
plain, on the other hand, that in this respect he stands alone among
his countrymen. They, regarding the matter more crudely, and from a
distance, appear to see in it little beyond a violent abduction, which
it is perfectly right, for those who can, to resent and retrieve, but
which implies no extraordinary and damning guilt in the perpetrator.

Hence probably that singular appearance of apathy on the part of the
Greeks, which might at first sight seem to entail on them a moral
reproach, in some degree allied to that which justly attaches itself
to the Trojan community. It is not possible, indeed, to take a full
measure of their state of mind in regard to the crime of Paris,
without condemning the views and propensities to which it was due.
But the causes were various: and the blame they may deserve is both
very different from that which must fall upon the Trojans, and is
also different in a mode, which may help to illustrate some main
distinctions in the two national characters.

I speak here, as everywhere, of the adjustment of acts and motives
in the poem as poetical facts, that is to say, as placed relatively
to one another with care and accuracy in order to certain effects;
and as liable to be tried under the law of effect, just as, in a
simple history, all particulars alleged are liable to be tried under
the law of fact. The assumption of truth or fable in the poem does
not materially widen or narrow the field of poetical discussion. The
critic looks for consistency as between motive and action, causes and
effects, in the voyage to Lilliput or Laputa, as well as in Thucydides
or Clarendon. The difference is that, in the one case, our discussion
terminates with the genius of the inventor; in the other we are
verifying the life and condition of mankind.

If then we admit the abduction, and inquire for what probable cause it
is that the wrong, being so obvious and gross, was not more prominent
in the mind of the people who had endured it, a part at least of the
answer is this. We do not require to go back three thousand years in
the history of the world in order to learn how often it happens that,
when a conflict has arisen between nations, the original causes of
quarrel tend irresistibly to become absorbed and lost in its incidents.
As long as honour and security are held to depend more on strength than
on right, relative strength must often prevail over relative right
in the decision of questions, where the arbitrement of battle has
been invoked. Both the willingness of the Trojans to restore, and the
willingness of the Greeks to accept the atonement, may be expedients of
the Poet to give a certain moral harmony to his work; of which it is
a marked feature that it artfully divides our sympathies throughout,
so far at least as is needed for the interest of the poem. On the one
side, the ambition and rapacity of Agamemnon may have induced him not
only not to seek, but even to decline or discourage accommodation;
which, we may observe, he never promotes in the Iliad. Having got a
fair cause of war, he may have been bent on making the most of it,
and confident, as Thucydides believes he was, in his power to turn it
to account. While, on the other hand, Troy was not so far from or so
strange to Greece, as to be exempt from the fear of appearing afraid;
and, until it had become too late, she may have thought her safety
would be compromised by the surrender of Helen.

Here may be reasons why restitution was neither given on the one side,
nor steadily kept in view on the other: especially as it was of course
included in the idea of the capture of the city. But it is not clear
that this was enough to account for the apathy of the Greeks in general
with respect to the crime of Paris, which we might have expected to
find a favourite and familiar topic with his enemies at large, instead
of being confined, as it is, to the immediate sufferer by the wrong.

~_Its relation to prevailing views of marriage._~

Now, the answer to this question must after all be sought partly in
the prevalent ideas of the heroic age; and partly in those which were
peculiar more or less to the Greek people.

According to Christian morality, the abduction and appropriation of a
married woman is not simply a crime when committed, but it is a crime
that is aggravated by every day, during which her relation with her
seducer or ravisher is continued. This was not so in the heroic age.

We have examples in the poems of what Homer considers to be a continued
course of crime. Such is the conduct of the Suitors in the Odyssey,
who for years together waste the substance of Ulysses, woo his wife,
oppress his son, and cohabit with the servants. This was habitual
crime, crime voluntarily and deliberately persevered in, when it might
at any time have been renounced.

This vicious course of the Suitors is never called by Homer an ἄτη; it
is described by the names of ἀτασθαλίαι and ὑπερβασίη[422]. So likewise
the series of enormities committed by Ægisthus, the corruption of
Clytemnestra, the murder of her husband, the expulsion of Orestes and
prolonged usurpation of the throne; these are never called by the name
of ἄτη; but ἄτη, and not one of the severer names quoted above, is the
appellation always given by Homer to the crime of Paris.

[422] Od. xxi. 146. xxiii. 67. xiii. 193. xxii. 64. See Olympus, sect.
ii. p. 162.

The ἄτη of a man is a crime so far partaking of the nature of error,
that it is done under the influence of passion or weakness; perhaps
excluding premeditation, perhaps such that its consequences follow
spontaneously in its train, without a new act of will to draw them,
so that the act, when once committed, is practically irretrievable.
Something, according to Homer, was evidently wanting in the crime of
Paris, to sink it to the lower depths of blackness. Perhaps we may find
it partly in the nature of marriage, as it was viewed by his age.

Having taken Helen to Troy, he made her his wife, and his wife she
continued until the end of the siege. We should of course say he did
not make her his wife, for she was the wife of another man. But the
distinction between marriage _de facto_ and marriage _de jure_, clear
to us in the light of Divine Revelation, was less clear to the age of
Homer. Helen was to Paris the mistress of his household; the possessor
of his affections, such as they were; the sole sharer, apparently,
of his dignities and of his bed. To the mind of that period there
was nothing dishonourable in the connection itself, apart from its
origin; while, to our mind, every day of its continuance was a fresh
accumulation of its guilt. The higher wrong of wounded and defrauded
affections was personal to Menelaus. In the aspect it presented to the
general understanding, the act of Paris, once committed, and sealed by
the establishment of the _de facto_ conjugal relation, remained an act
of plunder and nothing else.

~_And to Greek views of homicide._~

To comprehend these notions, so widely differing from our own, we may
seek their further illustration by a reference to the established view
of homicide. He, who had taken the life of a fellow creature, was
bound to make atonement by the payment of a fine. If he offered that
atonement, it was not only the custom, but the duty, of the relations
of the slain man to accept it. So much so, that the blunt mind of
Ajax takes this ground as the simplest and surest for argument with
Achilles, whom he urges not to refuse reparation offered by Agamemnon,
in consideration that reparation (ποίνη) covers the slaughter of a
brother or a son. Beforehand, the Greek would have scorned to accept a
price for life. But, the deed being done, it came into the category of
exchangeable values. Even so the abstraction of Helen, once committed,
assumed for the common mind the character of an act of plunder,
differing from the case of homicide, inasmuch as the thing taken could
be given back, but not differing from it as to the essence of its moral
nature, however aggravated might have been the circumstances with which
it was originally attended.

Now, wherever the moral judgment against plunder has been greatly
relaxed, that of fraud in connection with it is sure to undergo a
similar process; because, in the same degree in which acts of plunder
are acquitted as lawful acquisition, fraud is sure to come into
credit by assuming the character of stratagem. We may, I think, find
an example of this rule in the Thirteenth Odyssey; where, with an
entire freedom from any consciousness of wrong, Ulysses feigns to have
slaughtered Orsilochus at night by ambush, in consequence of a quarrel
that had previously occurred about booty[423].

[423] Od. xiii. 258 et seqq.

Here then we reach the point, at which we must take into view the
peculiar ideas and tendencies of the Greek mind in the heroic age,
as they bear necessarily upon its appreciation of an act like that
of Paris. The Greeks, of whom we may fairly take Diomed as the type,
detest and despise him for affectation, irresolution, and poltroonery:
these are the ideas uppermost in their mind: we are not to doubt that,
besides seeking reparation for Menelaus, they condemned morally the
act which made it needful; what we have to account for is, that they
did not condemn it in such a manner as to make this moral judgment the
ruling idea in their minds with regard to him.

We have seen that, according to Homer, instead of Helen’s having been
originally the willing partner of the guilt of Paris, he was, under her
husband’s roof, her kidnapper and not her corrupter. Her offence seems
to have consisted in this, that she gave a half-willing assent to the
consequences of the abduction. Though never escaping from the sense of
shame, always retaining along with a wounded conscience her original
refinement of character, and apparently fluctuating from time to time
in an alternate strength and weakness of homeward longings[424], the
specific form of her offence, according to the ideas of the age, was
rather the preterite one of unresisting acquiescence, than the fact
of continuing to recognise Paris as a husband during the lifetime of
Menelaus. It was the having changed her husband, not the living with a
man who was not her husband; and hence we find that she was most kindly
treated in Troy by that member of the royal house, namely Hector, who
was himself of the highest moral tone.

[424] See Il. iii. 139. Od. iv. 259-61.

The offence of Paris, though also (except as to the mere restitution
of plundered goods) a preterite offence, was more complex. He violated
the laws of hospitality, as we find distinctly charged upon him by
Menelaus[425]. He assumed the power of a husband over another man’s
wife. This he gained by violence. Now, paradoxical as it may appear,
yet perhaps this very ingredient of violence, which we look upon as
even aggravating the case, and which in the view of the Greeks was the
proper cause of the war, (for their anxiety was to avenge the forced
journey and the groans of Helen,) may nevertheless have been also the
very ingredient, which morally redeemed the character of the proceeding
in the eyes of Greece. This it might do by lifting it out of the
region of mere shame and baseness, into that class of manful wrongs,
which they habitually regarded as matters to be redressed indeed by
the strong hand, but never as merely infamous. Hence, when we find the
Greeks full of disgust and of contempt towards Paris, it is only for
the effeminacy and poltroonery of character which he showed in the war.
His original crime was probably palliated to them by its seeming to
involve something of manhood and of the spirit of adventure. So that we
may thus have to seek the key to the inadequate sense among the Greeks
of the guilt of Paris in that which, as we have seen, was the capital
weakness of their morality; namely, its light estimation of crimes of
violence, and its tendency to recognise their enterprise and daring as
an actual set-off against whatever moral wrong they might involve.

[425] Il. iii. 354.

The chance legend of Hercules and Iphitus, in the Odyssey, affords the
most valuable and pointed illustration of the great moral question[426]
between Paris and Menelaus, which lies at the very foundation of the
great structure of the Iliad. For in that case also, we seem to find
an instance of abominable crime, which notwithstanding did not destroy
the character of its perpetrator, nor prevent his attaining to Olympus;
apparently for no other reason, than that it was a crime such as had
probably required for its commission the exercise of masculine strength
and daring.

[426] Vid. Od. xxi. 22-30.

There remained, however, even according to contemporary ideas, quite
enough of guilt on the part of Paris. The abduction and corruption of
a prince’s wife, combined with his personal cowardice, his constant
levity and vacillation, and his reckless indifference to his country’s
danger and affliction, amply suffice to warrant and account for Homer’s
having represented him as a personage hated, hateful, and contemptible.
But while the foregoing considerations may explain the feelings and
language of the Greeks, otherwise inexplicable, there still remains
enough of what at first sight is puzzling in the conduct, if not in the
sentiments, of the Trojans.

~_The Trojan estimate of Paris._~

We ask ourselves, how could the Trojans endure, or how could Homer
rationally represent them as enduring, to see the glorious wealth and
state of Priam, with their own lives, families, and fortunes, put upon
the die, rather than surrender Helen, or support Paris in withholding
her? The people hate him: the wise Antenor opens in public assembly the
proposal to restore Helen to the Greeks: Hector, the prince of greatest
influence, almost the actual governor of Troy, knew his brother’s
guilt, and reproached him with it[427]. How is it that, of all these
elements and materials, none ever become effective?

[427] Il. iii. 46-57.

We must, I think, seek the answer to the questions partly in the
difference of the moral tone, and the moral code, among Greeks and
Trojans; partly in the difference of their political institutions.

We shall find it probable that, although the ostensible privileges
of the people were not less, yet the same spirit of freedom did not
pervade Trojan institutions; that their kings were followed with a more
servile reverence by the people; that authority was of more avail,
apart from rational persuasion; that amidst equally strong sentiments
of connection in the family and the tribe, there was much less of moral
firmness and decision than among the Greeks, and perhaps also a far
less close adherence to the great laws of conjugal union, which had
been violated by the act of Paris. Indeed it would appear from the
allusion of Hector to a tunic of stone[428], that Paris was probably by
law subject to stoning for the crime of adultery: a curious remnant, if
the interpretation be a correct one, of the stern traits of pristine
justice and severity, still remembered amidst a prevalent dissolution
of the stricter moral ties.

[428] Il. iii. 57.

Although it results from our previous inquiries that the plebeian
_substratum_, so to speak, of society, was perhaps nearly the same in
both countries, yet the opinions of the masses would not then have the
same substantiveness of character, nor so much independence of origin,
as in times of Christianity, and of a more elaborate development of
freedom and its main conditions. Then, much more than now, the first
propelling power in the formation of public opinion would be from the
high places of society: and in the higher sphere of the community, if
not in the lower, Greece and Troy were, while ethnically allied, yet
materially different as to moral tone. It is remarkable, that there is
no Τὶς in Troy.

~_The Trojans more sensual and false._~

If we may trust the general effect of Homer’s representations, we
shall conclude that the Trojans were more given to the vices of
sensuality and falsehood, the Greeks, on the other hand, more inclined
to crimes of violence: in fact, the latter bear the characteristics of
a more masculine, and the former of a feebler, people. In the words
of Mure, the contrast shadows forth ‘certain fundamental features of
distinction, which have always been more or less observable, between
the European and Asiatic races[429].’

[429] Greek Lit. vol. i. p. 339.

On looking back to the previous history of Troy, we find that Laomedon
defrauded Neptune and Apollo of their stipulated hire: and Anchises
surreptitiously obtained a breed of horses from the sires belonging to
Laomedon, who was his relative[430]. The conditions of the bargain,
under which Paris fought with Menelaus, are shamelessly and grossly
violated. Pandarus, in the interval of truce, treacherously aims at
and wounds Menelaus with an arrow; but no Trojan disapproves the deed.
Euphorbus comes behind the disarmed Patroclus, and wounds him in the
back; and even princely Hector, seeing him in this condition, then only
comes up and dispatches him. That these were not isolated acts, we may
judge from the circumstance that Menelaus, ever mild and fair in his
sentiments, when he accepts the challenge of Paris, requires that Priam
shall be sent for to conclude the arrangement, because his sons--and
he makes no exceptions--are saucy and faithless, ὑπερφίαλοι καὶ
ἄπιστοι[431]. This must, I think, be taken as characteristic of Troy;
though he mildly proceeds to take off the edge of his reproach by a
γνώμη about youth and age. But the most scandalous of all the Trojan
proceedings seems to have been the effort made, though unsuccessfully,
to have Menelaus put to death, when he came on a peaceful mission to
demand the restoration of his wife[432].

[430] Il. v. 269.

[431] Il. iii. 105.

[432] Il. xi. 139.

Nothing of this admiration for fraud apart from force appears either in
the conduct of the Greeks during the war, or in their prior history:
and the passage respecting Autolycus, which, more than any other,
appears to give countenance to knavery, takes his case out of the
category of ordinary human action by placing it in immediate relation
to a deity; so that it illustrates, not the national character as it
was, but rather the form to which the growing corruptions of religion
tended to bring it. Yet, while Homer gives to the Trojans alone the
character of faithlessness, he everywhere, as we must see, vindicates
the intellectual superiority of the Greeks in the stratagems of the
war. And if, as I think is the case, I have succeeded in proving above
that the doctrine of a future state was less lively and operative among
the Trojans than among the Greeks, it is certainly instructive to view
that deficiency in connection with the national want of all regard
for truth. This difference teaches us, that the imprecations against
perjurers, and the prospects of future punishment, were probably no
contemptible auxiliaries in overcoming the temptations to present
falseness, with which human life is everywhere beset.

As respects sensuality, the chief points of distinction are, that we
find a particular relation to this subject running down the royal line
of Troy; and that, whereas in Greece we are told occasionally of some
beautiful woman who is seduced or ravished by a deity, in Troas we
find the princes of the line are those to whose names the legends are
attached. The inference is, that in the former case a veil was thrown
over such subjects, but that in the latter no sense of shame required
them to be kept secret. The cases that come before us are those of
Tithonus, who is said to become the husband of Aurora; of Anchises, for
whom Venus conceives a passion; and of Paris, on whom the same deity
confers the evil gift of desire[433], and to whom she promises the most
beautiful of women, the wife of Menelaus. All these are stories, which
seem to have tended to the fame of the parties concerned on earth, and
by no means to their discredit with the Immortals. And again, if, as
some may take to be the case, we are to interpret the three νύμφαι[434]
of Troas as local deities, how remarkable is the fact that Homer should
thus describe them as tainted with passions, which nowhere appear among
the corresponding order within the Greek circle! There, male deities
alone are licentious. Juno, Minerva, Diana, and Persephone, whom alone
we can call properly Greek goddesses of the period, have no such impure
connection with mortals, as the goddesses both of the Trojan and of the
Phœnician traditions.

[433] Il. xxiv. 30.

[434] Sup. p. 162.

We hear indeed of Orion[435], who was also the choice of Aurora: but we
cannot tell whether he belonged more to the Trojan than to the Greek
branch of the common stem. To the Greek race he cannot have been alien,
as he is among Greek company in the Eleventh Odyssey: but then he is
not there as an object of honour; he appears in a state of modified
suffering, engaged in an endless chase[436]. We also find Iasion,
probably in Crete, who is reported to have been loved by Ceres[437]:
but he was immediately consumed for it by the thunderbolt of Jupiter.
And so the detention of Ulysses by the beautiful and immortal Calypso
is not in Homer a glory, but a calamity; and it allays none of the
passionate longings of that hero for his wife and home.

[435] Od. v. 121.

[436] Od. xi. 572.

[437] Od. v. 128.

The marked contrast, which these groups of incidents present, is
perhaps somewhat heightened by the enthusiastic observation of the
Trojan Elders on the Wall in the Third Iliad[438]. Though susceptible
of a good sense, yet, when the old age of the persons is taken into
view, the passage seems to be in harmony with the Trojan character at
large, rather than the Greek: and perhaps it may bear some analogy
to the licentious glances of the Suitors[439]. If so, it is very
significant that Homer should assign to the most venerable elders
of Troy, what in Greece he does not think of imputing except to
libertines, who are about to fall within the sweep of the divine

[438] Il. iii. 154-60.

[439] Od. xviii. 160-212.

The difference between the races in this respect seems to have been
deeply rooted, for there is evidently some corresponding difference
between their views and usages in respect to marriage.

~_Trojan ideas and usages of marriage._~

The character of Priam, which has been so happily conceived by
Mure[440], undoubtedly bears on its very surface the fault of over
indulgence, along with the virtues of gentleness and great warmth
and keenness of the affections. But it may be doubted, whether the
poems warrant our treating him as individually dissolute. His life
was a domestic life: but the family was one constructed according to
Oriental manners. According to those manners, polygamy and wholesale
concubinage were in some sense the privilege, in another view almost
the duty, of his station; confined, as these abuses must necessarily be
from their nature (and as they even now are in Turkey), to the highest
ranks wherever they prevail. The household of Priam, notwithstanding
his diversified relations to women, is as regularly organized as that
of Ulysses: and when he speaks of his vast family, constituted as it
was, he makes it known to Achilles, in a moment of agonizing sorrow,
and evidently by way of lodging a claim for sympathy[441], though
the effect upon modern ears may be somewhat ludicrous. ‘I had,’ he
says, ‘fifty sons: nineteen from a single womb: the rest from various
mothers in my palace.’ He might have added that he had also twelve
daughters[442], whom he probably does not need to mention on the
occasion, as in this department he was not a bereaved parent.

[440] Lit. Greece, vol. i. p. 341 and _seqq._

[441] Il. xxiv. 493-7.

[442] Il. vi. 248.

Hecuba, the mother of the nineteen, was evidently possessed of rights
and a position peculiar to herself. The very passage last quoted
distinguishes her from the γυναῖκες, and throughout the poem she moves

[443] See particularly vi. 87 and seqq. 364 and seqq.

~_The family of Priam._~

Of the children of Priam we meet with a great number in various places
of the poem.

There are, I think, five expressly mentioned as children of Hecuba.

  Hector, Il. vi. 87.
  Helenus, ibid.
  Laodice, vi. 252.
  Deiphobus, Il. xxii. 333.
  Paris, (because Hecuba was ἑκυρὴ to Helen,) Il. xxiv.

Next, we have two children of Laothoe, daughter of Altes, lord of the
Lelegians of Pedasus.

  Lycaon, Il. xxi. 84.
  Polydorus, ibid. 91.

Next Gorgythion, son of Kastianeira, who came from Aisume, (Il. viii.

Then we have, without mention of the mother,

  Agathon       }
  Pammon        } Il. xxiv.
  Antiphonos    } 249-51.
  Hippothoos    }
  Dios          }
  Cassandra, xxiv. 699.
  Mestor, xxiv. 257.
  Troilos, Il. xxiv. 257.
  Echemmon[444], v. 159.
  Chromios[444], ibid.
  Antiphos, iv. 490. xi. 101.
  Cebriones, viii. 318.
  Polites, ii. 791.

[444] Possibly one of these is νόθος, illegitimate: for they are
together in the same chariot, as Antiphus and Isus were. One of the
two would be the charioteer; who was commonly, though not always, an

And, lastly, illegitimate (νόθοι),

  Isos, Il. xi. 101.
  Doryclos, xi. 489.
  Democoon, iv. 499.
  Medesicaste, xiii. 173.

The most important conclusion derivable from the comparison of the
names thus collected is, that the children of Priam, and consequently
their mothers, fell into three ranks:

1. The children of Hecuba.

2. The children of his other wives.

3. The children of concubines, or of chance attachments, who were,
νόθοι, bastards.

The name νόθος with Homer, at least among the Greeks, ordinarily marks
inferiority of condition. The mothers of the four νόθοι are never
named. This may, however, be due to accident. At any rate Lycaon
appears to have the full rank of a prince: he was once ransomed with
the value of a hundred oxen, and, when again taken, he promises thrice
as much; again, in describing himself as the half-brother of Hector,
he avows nothing like spurious birth. The reference to him by Priam
explains his position more clearly, and places it beyond doubt that
Laothoe was recognised as a wife, for she brought Priam a large
dowry[445]; and if her sons be dead, says the aged king, ‘it will be
an affliction to me and to their mother.’ The language used in another
passage about Polydorus is also conclusive[446]. He is described as the
youngest and dearest of the sons of Priam, which evidently implies his
being in the fullest sense a member of the family. Again, in the palace
of Priam there were separate apartments, not for the nineteen only, but
for the fifty. Thus they seem to have included all the three classes.
So that it is probable enough that the state of illegitimacy did not
draw the same clear line as to rank in Troy, which it drew in Greece.

[445] Il. xxii. 51, 3.

[446] Il. xx. 407. xxi. 79, 95.

Laothoe, mother of Lycaon and Polydorus, was a woman of princely rank:
and when Lycaon says that Priam had many more besides her[447],

[447] Il. xxi. 88.

  τοῦ δ’ ἔχε θυγατέρα Πρίαμος, πολλὰς δὲ καὶ ἄλλας,

he probably means many more of the same condition, wives and other
well-born women, who formed part of his family.

So that Homer, in all likelihood, means to describe to us the threefold

1. Hecuba, as the principal queen.

2. Other wives, inferior but distinctly acknowledged.

3. Either concubines recognised as in a position wholly subordinate, or
women who were in no permanent relation of any kind with Priam.

Beyond the case of Priam, we have slender means of ascertaining the
usages and ideas of marriage among the Trojans. We have Andromache,
wife of Hector; Helen, a sort of wife to Paris; Theano, wife to
Antenor, and priestess of Minerva; who also took charge of and brought
up his illegitimate son Pedæus[448]. The manner in which this is
mentioned, as a favour to her husband, certainly shows that the mark
of bastardy was not wholly overlooked, even in Troy. But, besides this
Pedæus, we meet in different places of the Iliad no less than ten
other sons of Antenor, all, I think, within the fighting age. This is
not demonstrative, but it raises a presumption that some of them were
probably the sons of other wives than Theano; who is twice described as
Theano of the blooming cheeks, and can hardly therefore be supposed to
have reached a very advanced period of life[449].

[448] Il. v. 71.

[449] Il. vii. 298. xi. 224.

But it is clear from the important case of Priam, even if it stands
alone, that among the Trojans no shame attaches to the plurality of
wives, or to having many illegitimate children, the birth of various
mothers. It is possible that the manners of Troy, with regard to
polygamy, were at this time the same (unless as to the reason given,)
with those which Tacitus ascribes to the Germans of his own day:
_Singulis uxoribus contenti sunt; exceptis admodum paucis, qui, non
libidine, sed ob nobilitatem, plurimis nuptiis ambiuntur_[450]. We
must add to this, that Paris, in detaining as his wife the spouse of
another man still living, does an act of which we have no example,
to which we find no approximation, in the Greek manners of the time.
Its significance is increased, when we find that after his death she
is given to Deiphobus: for this further union alters the individual
trait into one which is national. Her Greek longings, as well as her
remorse for the surrender of her honour to Paris, afford the strongest
presumption that the arrangement could hardly have been adopted
to meet her own inclination; and that it must have been made for
her without her choice, as a matter of supposed family or political

[450] Tac. Germ. c. 18.

We seem therefore to be justified in concluding that, as singleness
did not enter essentially into the Trojan idea of marriage, so neither
did the bond with them either possess or even approximate to the
character of indissolubility. The difference is very remarkable between
the horror which attaches to the first crime of Ægisthus in Greece,
the corruption of Clytemnestra, though it was analogous to the act of
Paris, and the indifference of the Trojans to the offence committed
by their own prince. We have no means indeed of knowing directly how
Ægisthus was regarded by the Greeks around him, during the period
which preceded the return and murder of Agamemnon. But we find that
Jupiter, in the Olympian Court, distinctly describes his adultery as a
substantive part of his sin[451];

[451] Od. i. 35.

  ὡς καὶ νῦν Αἴγισθος ὑπέρμορον Ἀτρείδαο
  γῆμ’ ἄλοχον μνηστὴν, τὸν δ’ ἔκτανε νοστήσαντα.

And I think we may rest assured, that Jupiter never would give
utterance on Olympus to any rule of matrimonial morality, higher than
that which was observed among the Greeks on earth.

So again, it was a specific part of the offence of the Suitors in
the Odyssey, that they sought to wed Penelope while her husband was
alive[452]; that is to say, before his death was ascertained, though it
was really not extravagant to presume that it had occurred.

[452] Od. xxii. 37.

~_Stricter ideas among the Greeks._~

From both these instances, and more especially from the last, we must,
I think, reasonably conclude that the moral code of Greece was far
more adverse to the act of Paris, considered as an offence against
matrimonial laws, than the corresponding rule in Troy.

In connection with this topic, we may notice, how Homer has overspread
the Dardanid family, at the epoch of the war as well as in former
times, with redundance of personal beauty. Of Paris we are prepared
to hear it as a matter of course; but Hector has also the εἶδος
ἀγητόν[453]; and, even in his old age, the ὄψις ἀγαθὴ of Priam was
admired by Achilles[454]. Deiphobus again is called θεοείκελος and
θεοειδὴς[455], and on two of Priam’s daughters severally does Homer
bestow the praise of being each the most beautiful[456] among them
all. With this was apparently connected, in many of them, effeminacy,
as well as insolence and falseness of character; for we must suppose
a groundwork of truth in the wrathful invective of their father, who
describes his remaining sons as (Il. xxiv. 261.)

[453] Il. xxii. 370.

[454] Il. xxiv. 632.

[455] Il. xii. 94. and Od. iv. 276. See also the case of Euphorbus, Il.
xvii. 51.

[456] The sense of ἄριστος in Homer, though emphatic, is not absolute.

  ψευσταί τ’ ὀρχησταί τε, χοροιτυπίῃσιν ἄριστοι,
  ἀρνῶν ἠδ’ ἐρίφων ἐπιδήμιοι ἁρπακτῆρες.

An invective, which completely corresponds with the Greek belief
concerning their general character in the Third Book[457]. The great
Greek heroes are also beautiful; but their mere beauty, particularly in
the Iliad, is for the most part kept carefully in the shade.

[457] Il. iii. 106.

~_Trojan polity less highly organized._~

We will turn now to the political institutions of Troy. Less advanced
towards organization, and of a less firm tone than in Greece, they will
help to explain how it could happen that a people should bear prolonged
calamity and constant defeat, and could pass on to final ruin, for the
wicked and wanton wrong of an individual prince.

It has been noticed, that the idea of hereditary succession was
definite, as well as familiar, in Greece. In Troy it appears to have
been less so. And this is certainly what we might expect from the
recognition in any form, however qualified, of polygamy. It tends to
confound the position of any one wife, although supposed supreme, with
that of others; and in confounding the order of succession, as among
the issue of different wives, it altogether breaks up the simplicity of
the rule of primogeniture.

And again, if, as we shall presently see, the Trojan race had a less
developed capacity for political organization, they would be less
likely to establish a clear rule and practice of succession, which is
a primary element of political order in well-governed countries.

The evidence as to the Asiatic rule of inheritance is, I admit,
indirect and scanty: nor do I attempt to place what I have now to offer
in a rank higher than that of probable conjecture.

1. Sarpedon was clearly leader of the Lycians, with some kind of
precedence over Glaucus.

The general tenour of the poem clearly gives this impression. He speaks
and acts as the person principally responsible[458]. But by birth he
was inferior to Glaucus; for he was the grandson of Bellerophon only
in the female line through Laodamia, while Glaucus stood alone in the
male line through Hippolochus. I do not venture to rely much on the
mere order of the names; and therefore I do not press the fact, which
indeed is not needed for the argument, that it makes Laodamia junior
to Hippolochus. It will be said that Sarpedon was in chief command,
because he was of superior merit. But among the Greeks we have no
instance in which superior merit gives preeminence as against birth.
And the reputation of divine origin clearly could not put aside the
prior right of succession.

[458] See Il. v. 482.

Again, both Sarpedon and Glaucus are both expressly called
βασιλῆες[459], kings. Now, they were first cousins, and they belonged
to the same kingdom. Hippolochus was perhaps still alive[460]; for
he gave Glaucus a parting charge, and his death is not mentioned. In
Greece we find the heir apparent called king, namely, Achilles: but
the title is never given to more than one person standing in the line
of succession. A possible explanation, I think, is, that the Lycian
kingdom had been divided[461]: but if this be not so, then the use of
the term seems to prove that in Asia all the children of the common
ancestor stood, or might stand, upon the same footing by birth: and as
if it was left to other causes, instead of to a definite and single
rule, to determine who should succeed to the throne.

[459] Il. xii. 319.

[460] Il. vi. 207.

[461] Il. vi. 193.

2. In a former part of this work[462], I have stated reasons for
supposing that Æneas represented the elder branch of the house of
Dardanus. But, whether he did so or not, it is sufficiently clear from
the Iliad that he was not without pretensions to the succession. The
dignity of his father Anchises is marked by his remaining at Dardania,
and not appearing in the court of Priam. Æneas habitually abstains
from attending the meetings or assemblies for consultation, in which
Priam, where they are civil, and Hector, where they are military,
takes the lead. Achilles taunts him expressly with looking forward to
the succession after the death of Priam, and with the anticipation of
public lands which he was to get from the Trojans forthwith, if he
could but slay the great Greek warrior. The particular succession, to
which the taunt refers, is marked out; it is the dominion, not over the
mere Dardanians, but over the Τρῶες ἱππόδαμοι[463]. In following down
the genealogy, Æneas does not adhere to either of the two lines (from
Ilus and Assaracus respectively) throughout, as senior, and therefore
supreme; but, after putting the line of Ilus first in the earlier part
of the chain, he places his own birth from Anchises before that of
Hector from Priam.

[462] On the ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν, see Achæis, sect. ix.

[463] xx. 180.

Apart from the question _which_ was the older line, the effect of all
these particulars, taken together, is to show an indeterminateness
in the rule of succession, of which we have no indication among the
Greeks. Even the incidental notice of the right of Priam to give it
to Æneas, if he pleased, is as much without example in anything Homer
tells us of the Greek manners, as the corresponding power conferred by
the Parliament on the Crown in the Tudor period was at variance with
the general analogies of English history and institutions.

~_Succession to the Throne of Priam._~

3. The third case before us is one in the family of Priam itself. It
appears extremely doubtful whether we can, upon the authority of the
poems, confidently mark out one of his sons as having been the eldest,
or as standing on that account in the line of succession to the throne
of Priam. The evidence, so far as it goes, seems rather to point to
Paris; while the question lies between him and Hector.

Theocritus[464] indeed calls Hector the eldest of the twenty children
of Hecuba. But this is an opinion, not an authority; and the number
named shows it to be unlikely that he was thinking of historic
accuracy, for Homer says, Hecuba had nineteen sons, while she had also
several daughters[465].

[464] Idyll. xv. 139.

[465] Il. xxiv. 496. vi. 252.

There can be no doubt whatever, that Hector was the most conspicuous
person, the most considerable champion of the city. He was charged
exclusively with the direction of the war, and with the regulation of
the supplies necessary to feed the force of Trojans and of allies.
Polydamas, who so often takes a different view of affairs, and
Sarpedon, when having a complaint to make, alike apply to him. Æneas
is the only person who appears upon the field in the same rank with
him, and he stands in a position wholly distinct from the family of
Priam. As among the members of that family, there can be no doubt of
the preeminence of Hector. He was, indeed, in actual exercise of the
heaviest part of the duties of sovereignty. Æneas, in the genealogy,
finishes the line of Assaracus with himself; and, to all appearance,
as not less a matter of course, the line of Ilus with Hector[466].
Again, the name Astuanax, conferred by the people on his son, appears
to show that the crown was to come to him. But all this in no degree
answers the question, whether Hector held his position as probable
king-designate by birth, or whether it was rather due to his personal
qualities, and his great and unshared responsibilities and exertions.
There are several circumstances, which may lead us to incline towards
the latter alternative.

[466] Il. xx. 240.

(1.) When his parents and widow bewail his loss, it is the loss of
their great defender and chief glory[467], not of one who by death had
vacated the place of known successor to the sovereignty.

[467] Il. xxii. 56, 433, 507. xxiv. 29.

(2.) Had Hector been by birth assured of the seat of Priam, his right
would have been sufficient cause for giving to his son at once the
name of Astuanax. But this we are told the people did for the express
reason, that Hector was the only real bulwark of Troy. It seems
unlikely that in such a case his character as heir by birth would have
been wholly passed by. The name, therefore, appears to suggest, that it
was by proving himself the bulwark of the throne that Hector had become
as it were the presumptive heir to it[468].

[468] Il. vi. 402, and xxii. 506.

When Hector takes his child in his arms, he prays, on the infant’s
behalf, that he may become, like himself[469],

[469] Il. vi. 477.

                          ἀριπρεπέα Τρώεσσιν,
  ὧδε βίην τ’ ἀγαθὸν, καὶ Ἰλίου ἶφι ἀνάσσειν·

that is, that he may become distinguished and valiant, and may mightily
rule over the Trojans. This seems to point to succession by virtue of
personal qualities rather than of birth.

~_Paris most probably the eldest-born._~

There are also signs that Paris, and not Hector, may have been the
eldest son of Priam, and may have had that feebler inchoate title to
succession, which, in the day of necessity, his brother’s superior
courage and character was to set aside.

This supposition accords better with the fact of his having had
influence sufficient to cause the refusal of the original demand for
the restitution of Helen, peacefully made by the Greek embassy; and the
endurance of so much evil by his country on his behalf.

It explains the fact of his having had a palace to himself on Pergamus;
a distinction which he shared with Hector only[470], for the married
sons as well as daughters of Priam in general slept in apartments
within the palace of their father[471]. And also it accords with his
original expedition, which was evidently an affair of great pains and
cost; and with his being plainly next in military rank to Hector among
the sons of Priam.

[470] Il. vi. 313, 317, 370.

[471] Ibid. 242-50.

Further, it would explain the fact, otherwise very difficult to deal
with, that alone among the children of Priam, Paris or Alexander is
honoured with the significant title of βασιλεύς. Helenus is called
ἄναξ, and Hector ποίμην λαῶν, but neither expression is of the same
rank, or has a similar effect. This exclusive application of the term
βασιλεὺς is a very strong piece of evidence, if, as I believe to be
the case, it is nowhere else applied in the Iliad to a person thus
selected, without indicating either the possession, or the hereditary
expectancy of a throne.

And indeed, even if we could show that Homer had applied the name
βασιλεὺς to two brothers in one family, the result would be the
same, as far as the main argument is concerned, for there is no such
pronounced mark of equality found among brothers in any of the royal
families of Greece.

Again; in considering the law of succession among the Greeks, we have
found four cases in the Catalogue, where contingents were placed under
the command of two leaders seemingly co-ordinate; they are in every
instance brothers, and the four dual commands occur in a total of
twenty-nine. Or let us state the case in another form, so as to include
the cases of Bœotia and Elis. Among sixteen Trojan contingents, there
are but six where the chief authority is plainly in a single hand; out
of twenty-nine Greek contingents, there are twenty-three, and, of the
remaining six, four are the cases of brothers. This fact is material,
as tending to show a looser and less effective military organization in
the ranks of the Trojans and their allies, than in those of the Greeks;
a circumstance which does not prove, but which harmonizes with, the
hypothesis that they were wanting also in a defined order of succession
to the seat of political power.

There are other reasons, immediately connected with Hector, for
supposing that Homer intended to represent Paris as older than his
brother[472]. Paris had been in manhood for at least twenty years,
according to the letter of the poem, which must at least represent a
long period of time. But Hector has one child only, a babe in arms,
which is in itself a presumption of his being less advanced in life.
Again, we must suppose his age probably to be not very different from
that of Andromache. But it is quite plain that she was a young mother;
since after the slaughter of Eetion, her father, Achilles shortly
took a ransom for her mother, who thereupon went back to the house of
her own father, Andromache’s maternal grandfather, and subsequently
died there[473]. If then the grandfather of Andromache was alive when
Thebe was taken, and Hector’s age was in due proportion to her own,
he must in all likelihood have been younger than Paris. Again, it may
be noticed that the term ἥβη is nowhere ascribed to Paris, but it is
assigned to Hector at his death[474]. Notwithstanding its complimentary
use for Ulysses in Od. viii. 135, that word has a certain leaning to
early life. But we have a stronger, and indeed I think a conclusive
argument in the speech of Andromache after his death[475];

[472] Il. xxiv. 765.

[473] Il. vi. 426-8.

[474] Il. xxii. 363.

[475] Il. xxiv. 725.

  ἆνερ, ἀπ’ αἰῶνος νέος ὤλεο.

Thus he is distinctly called young. And we may consider it almost
certain, under these circumstances, that Paris was the first-born son
of Priam[476], but that his right of succession oozed away like water
from a man’s hand.

[476] Possibly Horace meant to convey this opinion in the words _Quid
Paris? ut salvus regnet, vivatque beatus, Cogi posse negat_. Epist. I.
ii. 10.

The relations of race between the Trojans and the Greeks have already
been examined, in connection with the great Homeric title of ἄναξ
ἀνδρῶν[477]; under some difficulties, which resolve themselves into
this, that Homer, on almost every subject so luminous a guide, is in
all likelihood here, as it were, retained on the side of silence; and
that we have no information, except such as he accidentally lets fall.
But he was under no such preoccupation with regard to the institutions
of Troy; so that, while he had no occasion for the same amount of
detail as he has given us with reference to the Greeks, or the same
minute accuracy as he has there observed, enough appears to supply a
tolerably clear and consistent outline.

[477] Achæis, sect. ix. p. 492.

We have been accustomed too negligently to treat the Homeric term Troy,
as if it designated only or properly a single city. But in Homer it
much more commonly means a country, with the city sometimes called Troy
for its capital, and containing many other cities beside it. The proper
name, however, of the city in the poems is Ἴλιος, not Τροίη. Ilios
is used above an hundred and twenty times in the Iliad and Odyssey,
and always strictly means the city. The word Τροίη is used nearly
ninety times, and in the great majority of cases it means the country.
Often it has the epithets εὐρεῖα, ἐρίβωλος, ἐριβώλαξ, which speak for
themselves. But more commonly it is without an epithet; and then too it
very generally means the country. When the Greeks speak, for example,
of the voyage Τροίηνδε, this is the natural sense, rather than to
suppose it means a city not on the sea shore, and into which, till the
end of the siege, they did not find their way at all[478].

[478] One only of the epithets of the word Ilios seems to point out
that it may too mean the district. It is εὔπωλος, used Il. v. 551, and
in four other places.

~_Priam and his dynasty in Troas._~

According to the genealogical tree in the Twentieth Iliad, Dardanus
built Dardania among the mountains: his son Erichthonius became
wealthy by possessions in the plain; and Tros, the son of Erichthonius,
was the real founder of the Trojan state and name[479].

[479] Il. xx. 230.

  Τρῶα δ’ Ἐριχθόνιος τέκετο Τρώεσσιν ἄνακτα.

Thus the name of Troes at that time covered the whole race. But the
town of Ilios must, from its name, have been built not earlier than
the time of Ilus, the son of Tros. And now the dynasty separates into
two lines, as Assaracus, the brother of Ilus, continues to reign in
Dardania. Thus the local existence of the Dardanian name is prolonged;
for it is plain that the Dardanian throne was associated, at least in
dignity, with a rival, and not a subordinate, sovereignty. Still it
does not extend beyond the hills. It was over these that Æneas fled
from Achilles[480]. But even the Dardanians did not wholly cease to be
known by the appellation of Trojans; for not only does Homer frequently
use the dominant name Troes for the entire force opposed to the Greeks,
which is naming the whole from the principal part, but he also uses the
word Troes to signify all that part of the force, which was under the
house of Dardanus in either branch; and he distinguishes this portion
from the rest of the force described under the name ἐπίκουροι, at the
opening of the Trojan Catalogue:

[480] Ibid. 189.

  ἔνθα τότε Τρῶές τε διέκριθεν, ἠδ’ ἐπίκουροι[481].

[481] Il. ii. 815. So likewise Il. vi. 111. xiii. 755. xvii. 14. xviii.

This line is followed by an account of the whole force opposed to the
Greeks, in sixteen divisions. Of these the eleven last bear each their
own national name, beginning with the Pelasgians of Larissa, and ending
with the Lycians; and they are under leaders, whom the whole course
of the poem marks as not being Trojan, but independent. These eleven
evidently were the ἐπίκουροι of ver. 815.

The five first contingents are introduced and commanded as follows:

1. Troes under Hector[482]:

[482] Ver. 816.

  Τρωσὶ μὲν ἡγεμόνευε μέγας κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ.

2. Dardanians, under Æneas, with two of the (ten) sons of Antenor,
Archelochus and Acamas, for his colleagues[483]:

[483] Ver. 819.

  Δαρδανίων αὖτ’ ἦρχεν ἐῢς παῖς Ἀγχίσαο.

3. Trojans of Zelea, at the extreme spur of Ida, under Pandarus[484]:

[484] Ver. 824-6.

  οἳ δὲ Ζέλειαν ἔναιον ὑπαὶ πόδα νείατον Ἴδης

4. People of Adresteia and other towns, under Adrestus and Amphius,
sons of Merops of Percote[485]:

[485] Ver. 828.

  οἳ δ’ Ἀδρήστειάν τ’ εἶχον, κ. τ. λ.

5. People of Percote and other towns, under Asius:

  οἳ δ’ ἄρα Περκώτην, κ. τ. λ.

And then begins the enumeration of the Allies, each under their
respective national names.

It seems evident, that these five first-named contingents comprise the
whole of the subjects of the race of Dardanus. First come the Trojans
of the capital and its district, under Hector. Then, taking precedence
on account of dignity, the Dardanian division of Æneas. In the third
contingent the Poet returns to the name Troes, which, I think, plainly
enough overrides the fourth and fifth, just as in the Greek Catalogue
the name Pelasgic Argos[486] introduces and comprehends a number of
contingents that follow, besides that of Achilles.

[486] ii. 681.

There are several reasons, which tend plainly to this conclusion.
The sense of διέκριθεν (815) and the reference to the diversity of
tongues spoken (804) almost require the division of the force between
Troes and allies; it is also the most natural division. The fourth
and fifth contingents are not indeed expressly called Troes, but this
name, already given to the third, may include them. We must, I think,
conclude that it does so, when we find clear proof that they were
not independent national divisions: for the troops of Percote were
in the fifth, but the sons of Percosian Merops command the fourth, a
fact inexplicable if these were the forces of independent States, but
natural enough if they were all under the supremacy of Priam and his

In the great battle of the Twelfth Iliad, the Trojans are πένταχα
κοσμηθέντες (xii. 87). Sarpedon commands the allies with Glaucus
and Asteropæus (v. 101), thus accounting for eleven of the sixteen
divisions in the Catalogue. Æneas, with two sons of Antenor, commands
the Dardanians, thus disposing of a twelfth. Again, Hector, with
Polydamas and Cebriones, commands the πλεῖστοι καὶ ἄριστοι, evidently
the division standing first in the Catalogue. This makes the number
thirteen. The three remaining contingents of the Catalogue are

  1. Zelean Troes, under Pandarus, (since slain,) Il. ii. 824-7.

  2. Adresteans &c. under Adrestus and Amphius, (828-34,) both slain,
  Il. v. 612. vi. 63.

  3. Percotians &c. under Asius (835-9).

These three remaining divisions of the Catalogue evidently reappear
in the second and third of the five Divisions of the Twelfth Book.
The Second is under Paris, with Alcathous, son-in-law of Antenor, and
Agenor, one of his sons. In the command of the Third, Helenus and
Deiphobus, two sons of Priam, are associated with, and even placed
before, Asius. The position given in these divisions to the family of
Priam appears to prove, that the troops forming them were among his
proper subjects.

Again, the territorial juxtaposition of these districts, between
Phrygia, which lay behind the mountains of Ida, on the one side, and
the sea of Marmora with the Ægæan on the other, perfectly agrees with
the description in the Twenty-fourth Iliad[487] of the range of country
within which Priam had the preeminence in wealth, and in the vigour and
influence of his sons. Strabo quotes this passage as direct evidence
that Priam reigned over the country it describes, which is rather more
than it actually states; and he says that Troas certainly reached to
Adresteia and to Cyzicus.

[487] Il. xxiv. 543-5.

Again, we have various signs in different passages of a political
connection between the towns we have named and the race of Priam.
Melanippus, his nephew, was employed before the war at Percote[488].
Democoon[489], his illegitimate son, tended horses at Abydus;
doubtless, says Strabo[490], the horses of his father.

[488] Il. xv. 548.

[489] Il. iv. 99.

[490] P. 585.

The partial inclusion of the Dardanians within the name of Troes is
further shown by the verse[491],

[491] Il. xiii. 463.

  Αἰνεία, Τρώων βουληφόρε·

and by the appeal of Helenus to Æneas and Hector jointly, as the
persons chiefly responsible for the safety of the Troes and Lycians:
the name Lycians being taken here, as in some other places[492], to
denote most probably a race akin to and locally interspersed with the

[492] See Il. iv. 197, 207. xv. 485.

But the Dardanians have more commonly their proper designation
separately given them. It never includes the Troes. And we never find
the two appellations, Troes and Dardans, covering the entire force.
Whenever the Dardans are named with the Troes, there is also another
word, either ἐπίκουροι, or Λύκιοι.

The word Troes, it is right to add, is sometimes confined strictly to
the inhabitants of the city: but the occasions are rare, and perhaps
always with contextual indications that such is the sense.

Another sign that Priam exercised a direct sovereignty over the
territory which yielded the five contingents may perhaps be found in
the fact, that we do not find any of his nephews in command of them.
They were led by their local officers, while the brothers of Priam
constituted a part of the community of Troy, and chiefly influenced the
Assembly: and their sons, though apparently more considerable persons
than most of those local officers in general, simply appear as acting
under Hector without special command. The brothers of Priam are Lampus,
Clytius, and Hiketaon. His nephews and other relatives are Dolops the
son of Lampus; Melanippus the son of Hiketaon; Polydamas, Hyperenor,
and Euphorbus, the sons of Panthous and his wife Phrontis.

Had the senior members of the family held local sovereignties, we
should have found their sons in local commands. But we find only two
sons of Antenor in command, as either colleagues or lieutenants of
Æneas, over the Dardans, whom we have no reason to suppose they had
any share in ruling.

Strabo, indeed, contends, that there are nine separate δυναστεῖαι
immediately connected with Troy[493], besides the ἐπίκουροι. Of these
states one he thinks was Lelegian, and was ruled over by Altes,
father of Laothoe, one of Priam’s wives. Another by Munes, husband of
Briseis. Another, Thebe, by Eetion, father of Andromache. Others he
considers to be represented by Anchises and Pandarus: but this does
not well agree with the structure of the Catalogue. He refers also
to Lyrnessus and Pedasus; which are nowhere mentioned by Homer as
furnishing contingents, but they had apparently been destroyed, as well
as taken, by Achilles. He places several of the dynasties in cities
thus destroyed: and they all, according to him, lay beyond the limits
marked out in the Twenty-fourth Iliad.

[493] Strabo xiii. 7. p. 584.

This assemblage of facts appears to point to a very great diversity of
relations subsisting between Priam, with his capital, and the states,
cities, and races, of which we hear as arrayed on his side in the war.
There are first the cities of Troas, or Troja proper, furnishing the
five, or if we except Dardania four out of the five, first contingents
of the Catalogue. Over these Priam was sovereign.

There are next the cities, so far as they can be traced, under the
δυναστεῖαι mentioned by Strabo, such as Thebe, and the cities of Altes
and Munes. These were probably in the same sort of relation to the
sceptre of Priam, as the Greek states in general to that of Agamemnon.

Thirdly, there are the independent nations. Of these eleven named
in the Catalogue; others are added as newly arrived in the Tenth
Book[494], and further additions were subsequently made, such as the
force under Memnon, and the Keteians under Eurypylus[495]. Nothing
perhaps tends so much, as the powerful assistance lent to Priam by
numerous and distant allies, to show how justly in substance Horace has
described the Trojan war as the conflict between the Eastern and the
Western world. The two confederacies, which then came into collision,
between them absorbed the whole known world of Homer; and foreshadowed
the great conflicts of later epochs.

[494] Il. x. 428-30.

[495] Od. xi. 519-22.

~_Political institutions of Troy._~

We may now proceed to consider the political institutions of the
kingdom of Priam, which has thus loosely been defined.

The Βασιλεὺς of the Trojans is less clearly marked, than he is among
the Greeks: for (as we shall find) they had no Βουλὴ, and therefore we
have not the same opportunities of seeing the members of the highest
class collected for separate action in the conduct of the war. Still,
however, the name is distinctly given to the following persons on the
Trojan side, and to no others.

  1. Priam, Il. v. 464, xxiv. 630.
  2. Paris, iv. 96.
  3. Rhesus, x. 435.
  4. Sarpedon, xii. 319. xvi. 660.
  5. Glaucus, xii. 319.

Among the Trojans, as among the Greeks, it was the custom for the
kings, as they descended into the vale of years, to devolve the more
active duties of kingship on their children, and to retain, perhaps
only for a time, those of a sedentary character. Hence Hector at least
shares with Priam the management of Assemblies, as it is he[496] who
dissolves that of the Second Book, and calls the military one of the
Eighth. Hence, too, he speaks of himself as the person responsible for
the burdens entailed by the war upon the Trojans. ‘I did not,’ he says
to the allies, ‘bring you from your cities to multiply our numbers,
but that you might defend for me the wives and children of Trojans;
with this object in view, I exhaust the people for your pay and
provisions[497].’ Hence we have Æneas leading the Dardanians, while his
father Anchises nowhere appears, and, as it must be presumed, remains
in his capital. Hence, while ten or twelve sons of Antenor bear arms
for Troy, and two of them are the colleagues of Æneas in the command of
the Dardanian contingent, their father appears among the δημογέροντες,
who were chief speakers in the Assembly within the city. We do not know
that Antenor was a king; more probably he held a lordship subordinate
to Priam, in a relation somewhat more strict than that between
Agamemnon and the Greek chieftains, and rather resembling that between
Peleus and Menœtius; but the same custom of partial retirement seems to
have prevailed in the case of subaltern rulers, as indeed it would be
dictated by the same reasons of prudence and necessity.

[496] Il. ii. 808. viii. 489.

[497] Il. xvii. 223-6.

The βασιλήϊς τιμὴ of Troy was not, any more than those of Greece, an
absolute despotism. In Troy, as in Greece, the public affairs were
discussed and settled in the Assemblies, though with differences, which
will be noticed, from the Greek manner of procedure. It was in the
Assembly that Iris, disguised as Polites, addressed Priam and Hector to
advise a review of the army[498]. And it was again in an Assembly that
Antenor proposed, and that Paris refused, to give up Helen: whereupon
Priam proposed the mission of Idæus to ask for a truce with a view to
the burial of the dead, and the people assented to the proposal[499];

[498] Il. ii. 795.

[499] Il. vii. 379.

  οἱ δ’ ἄρα τοῦ μάλα μὲν κλύον ἠδ’ ἐπίθοντο.

It was in the Assembly, too, that those earlier proposals had been
made, of which the same personage procured the defeat by corruption.

Lastly, in the Eighth Book, Hector[500], as we have seen, holds a
military ἀγορὴ of the army by the banks of the Scamander. At this he
invites them to bivouac outside the Greek rampart, and they accept
his proposal by acclamation. This Assembly on the field of battle is
an argument _a fortiori_ to show, that ordinary affairs were referred
among the Trojans to such meetings. We have, indeed, no detail of any
Trojan Assembly except these three. But we have references to them,
which give a similar view of their nature and functions. Idæus, on his
return, announces to the Assembly that the truce is granted[501]. It
is plain that the restoration of Helen was debated before, as well as
during the war, in the Assembly of the people; because Agamemnon slays
the two sons of Antimachus on the special ground that the father had
there proposed that Menelaus, if not Ulysses, should be murdered[502],
when they came as Envoys to Troy, for the purpose of demanding her
restoration. This Antimachus was bribed by Paris, as the Poet tells us,
to oppose the measure[503]. Again, Polydamas, in one of his speeches,
charges Hector with having used him roughly, when he had ventured
to differ from him in the Assemblies, upon the ground that he ought
not, as a stranger to the Trojan δῆμος, to promote dissension among

[500] Il. viii. 489, 542.

[501] Il. vii. 414-7.

[502] Il. xi. 138.

[503] Ibid. 123.

[504] Il. xii. 211-14.

Trojan institutions do not, then, present to our view a greater
elevation of the royal office. On the contrary, it is remarkable, that
the title of δημογέρων, which Homer applies to the chief speakers of
the Trojan Assembly, not being kings, is also used by him to describe
Ilus the founder of the city[505]. It is, however, possible, perhaps
even likely, that this title may be applied to Ilus as a younger son,
if his brother Assaracus was the eldest and the heir[506].

[505] Il. xi. 37.

[506] Il. xx. 232.

But although it thus appears that monarchy was limited in Troy, as it
was in Greece, and that public affairs were conducted in the assemblies
of the people, the method and organization of these Assemblies was
different in the two cases.

1. The guiding element in the Trojan government seems to have been age
combined with rank; while among the Greeks, wisdom and valour were
qualifications, not less available than age and rank.

2. The Greeks had the institution of a βουλὴ, which preceded and
prepared matter for their Assemblies. The Trojans had not.

3. The Greeks, as we have seen, employed oratory as a main instrument
of government; the Trojans did not.

4. The aged members of the Trojan royal family rendered their aid to
the state, not as counsellors of Priam in private meetings, but only in
the Assembly of the people.

A few words on each of these heads.

~_The greater weight of Age in Troy._~

1. The old men who appear on the wall with Priam, in the Third Book,
are really old, and not merely titular or official γέροντες; they

[507] Il. iii. 150.

  γήραϊ δὴ πολέμοιο πεπαυμένοι.

There are no less than seven of them, besides Priam. Three are his
brothers, Lampus, Clytius, Hiketaon; the others probably relatives,
we know not in what precise degree: Panthous, Thymœtes, Ucalegon,
Antenor. They are called collectively the Τρώων ἡγήτορες, as well as
the ἀγορηταὶ ἐσθλοί; and they were manifestly habitual speakers in the

There is nothing in the Greek life of the Homeric poems that comes near
this aggregation of aged men. Now we have no evidence, that their being
thus collected was in any degree owing to the war. Theano, wife of
Antenor, was priestess of Minerva in Troy; which makes it most probable
that he resided there habitually, and not only on account of the war.

The only group at all approaching this is, where we see Menœtius and
Phœnix at the Court of Peleus; but we cannot say whether this was a
permanent arrangement. Phœnix, as we know, was lord of the Dolopians,
and if so, could not have been a standing assistant at the court of
Peleus; we do not know that the Trojan elders held any such local
position apart from Troy, even in any single case; and on the other
hand, we have no knowledge whether Phœnix and Menœtius, even when at
the court of Peleus, took any share in the government of his immediate
dominions. The name γέροντες, as usually employed among the Greeks to
describe a class, had no necessary relation to age whatever.

Of the respect paid to age in Greece, we have abundant evidence; but we
find nothing like this gathering together of a body of old men to be
the ordinary guides of popular deliberation in the Assemblies.

It is true that we hear by implication of both Hector and Polydamas,
who were not old, as taking part in affairs: but all the indications
in the Iliad go to show that Hector’s share in the government of Troy,
though not limited to the mere conduct of the forces in the field,
yet arose out of his military office, and probably touched only such
matters as were connected with the management of the war. Polydamas
evidently was treated as more or less an interloper.

But even if it were otherwise, and if the middle-aged men of high
station and ability took a prominent part in affairs, the existence of
this grey-headed company, with apparently the principal statesmanship
of Troy in their hands, forms a marked difference from Greek manners.
For in Greece at peace we have nothing akin to it; while in Greece at
war upon the plain of Troy, we see the young Diomed as well as the old
Nestor, and the rather young Achilles and Ajax, as well as the elderly
Idomeneus, associated with the middle-aged men in the government of the
army and its operations.

~_The absence of a Βουλὴ in Troy._~

First then, I think it plain that the Trojans had no βουλὴ, for the
following reasons:

1. That although we often hear of deliberations and decisions taken on
the part of the Trojans, and we have instances enough of their holding
assemblies of the people, yet we never find mention of a βουλὴ, or
Council, in connection with them.

2. In the Second Book, Homer describes the Trojan ἀγορὴ thus (Il. ii.
788, 9):

  οἱ δ’ ἀγορὰς ἀγόρευον ἐπὶ Πριάμοιο θύρῃσιν
  πάντες ὁμηγερέες, ἠμὲν νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες.

This latter line is only to be accounted for by the supposition, that
Homer meant to describe a difference between the usages of the Trojans,
and those of the Greeks; whose γέροντες were recognised as members of
the βουλὴ, even when in the Assemblies.

Of the separate place of the Greek γέροντες in the Assemblies, we have
conclusive proof from the Shield of Achilles (xviii. 497, 503):

  λαοὶ δ’ εἰν ἀγορῇ ἔσαν ἄθροοι·

and afterwards,

                                      οἱ δὲ γέροντες
  εἵατ’ ἐπὶ ξεστοῖσι λίθοις, ἱερῷ ἐνὶ κύκλῳ.

And again, where the Ithacan γέροντες make way for Telemachus, as he
passes to the chair of his father.

But in Troy the γέροντες (such is probably the meaning of Il. ii. 789.)
have no separate function: the young and the old meet together: while
in Greece, besides distinct places in the Assembly, the γέροντες had an
exclusive function in the βουλὴ, at which they met separately from the

3. It would appear that the ἀγορὴ was with the Trojans not occasional,
as with the Greeks, for great questions, but habitual. And this agrees
with the description in Il. ii. 788. For when Jupiter sends Iris to
Troy, she finds the people in Assembly, but apparently for no special
purpose, as she immediately, in the likeness of Polites, begins to
address Priam, and we do not hear of any other business. So, when
Idæus came back from the Greeks, he found the Trojan Assembly still
sitting. All this looks as if the entire business of administering the
government rested with that body only.

I draw a similar inference from the remarkable expression in Il. ii.
788, ἀγορὰς ἀγόρευον. This seems to express that there was a standing,
probably a daily, assembly of the Trojans, not formally summoned, and
open to all comers, which acted as the governing body for the state.
The line would then mean, not simply ‘the Trojans were holding an
assembly,’ but ‘the Trojans were holding their assembly as usual.’

The names βουλευτὴς and ἀγορητὴς appear to have been merely
descriptive, and not titular. Both are applied to the Trojan elders.

And so βουλαὶ, βουλεύειν, βουληφόροι, are constantly used without any,
so to speak, official meaning. In Il. x. 147, the expression βουλὰς
βουλεύειν can hardly mean ‘to attend the βουλὴ,’ for the singular
number would be the proper term for the βουλὴ specially convoked: and
I interpret it as meaning, to attend at or to hold the usual council.
This is among the Greeks. Among the Trojans, in Il. x. 415-17, Dolon

  Ἕκτωρ μὲν μετὰ τοῖσιν, ὅσοι βουληφόροι εἰσὶν,
  βουλὰς βουλεύει θείου παρὰ σήματι Ἴλου,
  νόσφιν ἀπὸ φλοίσβου.

Now the word βουληφόρος is applied, Il. xii. 414, to Sarpedon, as well
as in xiii. 463 and elsewhere to Æneas. Neither were among the γέροντες
βουλευταί. But further, it is applied, Od. ix. 112, to the ἀγορὴ itself:

  τοῖσιν δ’ οὔτ’ ἀγοραὶ βουληφόροι, οὔτε θέμιστες

And therefore the word, though it means councillor in a general sense,
does not mean officially member of a βουλὴ, as opposed to an ἀγορὴ or

The phrase βουλὰς βουλεύει, in the passage Il. x. 415-17, does not
oppose, but supports what has now been said. It is quite plain that
this of Hector’s was a small military meeting, or council of war,
just as in viii. 489 he held an ἀγορὴ, or assembly of the army, both
Trojans and allies; it was not a meeting of a βουλὴ of Troy, because
it was held in the field, far from the city, and without any of the
Elders, who were the great ἀγορηταὶ and βουλευταὶ of Troy; for Hector
had already arranged (Il. viii. 517-19) that the old men should remain
in the city, to defend the walls from any night attack: most of all
however because, as we hear of no βουλὴ before the military Assembly
in the Eighth Book, so we hear of no Assembly following the meeting
for deliberation in the Tenth. Generals in modern times hold councils
of war: but no parallel can be drawn between them, and Councils for
dispatching the affairs of a State.

As we never have occasion to become acquainted with Trojan politics in
peace, we can only argue the case as to the nonexistence of a council
from the state of war. But in Greece, it will be remembered, both war
and peace present their cases of the use of this institution, as one
regularly established, and apparently invested with both a deliberative
and an executive character.

~_The greater weight of oratory in Greece._~

It is next to be inquired, whether the Trojans, like the Greeks,
employed eloquence, detailed argument as furnishing, and the other
parts of oratory, a main instrument of government.

I think it is plain, that the decisions of their Assemblies were
governed rather by simple authority; by the ἀναποδεικταὶ φάσεις, the
simple declarations, of persons of weight.

The report of the re-assembled ἀγορὴ of the Greeks in the Second
Book begins with the 211th line, and ends with the 398th: occupying
188 lines. But the Trojan ἀγορὴ of the same Book is despatched in
twenty-one lines (788-808).

A more remarkable example is afforded by the second Trojan Assembly
(Il. vii. 345-379). For this ἀγορὴ is described as δεινὴ, τετρηχυῖα;
and well it might be, in circumstances so arduous. The Elders in the
Third Book were of opinion that, beautiful as Helen was, it was better
to restore her, than to continue the sufferings and dangers of the
war. Accordingly, Antenor urged in this Assembly that she should be
restored, together with the plundered property. He referred also to the
recent breach of a sworn covenant on the Trojan side, and said no good
could come of it. This he effects in a speech of six lines; the first
of which is the mere vocative address to the Assembly, and the last is
marked as surplusage with the _obelos_ (348-53).

Paris, the person mainly concerned, replies. He does not address
himself to the Assembly at all, but to Antenor: and he disposes of the
subject of debate in eight lines (357-64). Four of them are given to
the announcement of his intentions, and four to abuse of Antenor.

It was impossible to conceive a subject more likely to cause debate;
and excitement we see there was, but after the speech of Paris, nothing
more was said about Helen, either for or against the restoration. Priam
then arose, and in a speech of eleven lines (368-78) laid down another
plan of proceeding, namely, by a message to the Greeks for a truce with
a view to funeral obsequies, which was at once accepted.

~_Oratory of greater weight in Greece._~

Nowhere, in short, among the Trojans have we any example, I do not
say of multiplied or lengthened speeches, but of real reasoning and
deliberation in the conduct of business: though Glaucus tells his story
at great length to Diomed on the field of battle (Il. vi. 145-211),
and Æneas to Achilles (Il. xx. 199-258) nearly equals him. Indeed, it
may almost be said, the Trojans are long speakers when in battle, and
short when in debate: the Greeks copious in debate, but very succinct
in battle.

Again, we may observe the different descriptions which the Poet
has given of the elocution of Nestor, and of that of the Trojan
δημογέροντες in their respective ἀγοραί. To Nestor (Il. i. 248, 9)
he seems to assign a soft continuous flow indefinitely prolonged.
Theirs he describes as resembling the ὄπα λειριόεσσαν of grasshoppers
(Il. iii. 151, 2), a clear trill or thread of voice, not only without
any particular idea of length attached to it, but apparently meant
to recall a sharp intermittent chirp. Yet there is an odd proof that
to Priam at least, as one of these old men, there was attached, by
the younger ones, the imputation of favouring either too many or else
too long orations. For, in the ἀγορὴ of the Second Book, Iris in the
character of Polites, though there is no account of what had preceded
her arrival, objurgates Priam as both then encouraging what may be
called indiscriminate speaking, and as having formally, before the war,
been addicted to the same practice[508];

[508] Il. ii. 796.

  ὦ γέρον, αἰεί τοι μῦθοι φίλοι ἄκριτοί εἰσιν,
  ὥς ποτ’ ἐπ’ εἰρήνης.

Upon the whole, I think it must have been Homer’s intention, while
representing both Trojans and Greeks as carrying on public affairs in
their public Assemblies, to draw a very marked distinction between them
in regard to the use of that powerful engine of oratory, which played
so conspicuous a part in the former, as well as in the later stages of
the Greek history.

And it is important, that nowhere does a sentiment escape the lips of
a Trojan chieftain, which indicates a consciousness of the political
value of oratory. Ulysses, in a state of peace, describes before the
Phæacians beauty and eloquence as the noblest gifts of the gods to
man[509]: and employs ἔπεα and νόος, eloquence and intelligence, as
convertible terms. Polydamas, when rebuking Hector in the Thirteenth
Iliad, delivers a passage in many respects strikingly analogous. He
speaks, however, of νόος and βουλὴ, mind and counsel[510]; he does not
drop a word relating to public speech or to eloquence as instruments of
government, though he describes the mental quality and the habit which
he names as of priceless value for the benefit of States.

[509] Od. viii. 170, 5, 7.

[510] Il. xiii. 726-34.

The phrases applied to the Trojan elders appear to indicate, that they
derived their political character from taking a prominent part in the
Assembly, and from that alone. For the word δημογέρων indicates an
elder acting in and among the δῆμος, or people. And this name the Poet
uses but twice: once in Il. iii. 149, where he enumerates the eight
persons, who bore that character in Troy; and once with reference to
Ilus (Il. ii. 372). Homer nowhere employs this term for any of the

The want of the βουλὴ shows us, that there was no balance of forces
in the Trojan polity, less security against precipitate action, more
liability to high-handed insolence and oppression of the people, and,
on the other hand, unless the danger had been neutralized by mildness
or lethargy of character, likewise in all likelihood to revolutionary

~_Trojans less gifted with self-command._~

Again, on the Trojan side we do not find the silence and
self-possession of the Greeks. After the enumeration in the Third Book,
at its opening, we find that the Trojans marched with din and buzz:

  Τρῶες μὲν κλαγγῇ τ’ ἐνοπῇ τ’ ἴσαν, ὄρνιθες ὥς·

but as to the Greeks, we are told that they marched in profound
silence: and the Poet skilfully heightens the contrast by mentioning
that they breathed forth what they did not articulate, and that they
were steeled with firm resolution to stand by one another[511]:

[511] Il. iii. 2, 8.

  οἱ δ’ ἄρ’ ἴσαν σιγῇ μένεα πνείοντες Ἀχαιοὶ,
  ἐν θυμῷ μεμαῶτες ἀλεξέμεν ἀλλήλοισιν.

We are finally told that each leader indeed gave the word to his men,
while all beside were mute[512]:

[512] Il. iv. 429.

            οἱ δ’ ἄλλοι ἀκὴν ἴσαν, οὐδέ κε φαίης
  τόσσον λαὸν ἕπεσθαι ἔχοντ’ ἐν στήθεσιν αὐδὴν,
  σιγῇ δειδιότες σημάντορας·

but from the Trojans there arose a sound, like that of sheep bleating
for their lambs[513]:

[513] Ibid. 436.

  ὣς Τρώων ἀλαλητὸς ἀνὰ στρατὸν εὐρὺν ὀρώρει.

And, again, we find the relation of the burning of the dead given with
the usual consistency of the Poet. The men of the two armies met: and
on both sides they shed tears as they lifted their lifeless comrades on
the wagons: but, he adds, there was silence among the Trojans,

  οὐδ’ εἴα κλαίειν Πρίαμος μέγας·

and it was because the king had felt that there would be indecency in a
noisy show of sorrow: while the Greeks needed not the injunction (Il.
vii. 426-32), from their spontaneous self-command.

When the Poet speaks of the Trojan Assembly in the Seventh Book as
δεινὴ τετρηχυῖα, he evidently means to describe an excitement tending
to disorder: and one contrasted in a remarkable manner with the
discipline of the Greeks, who were summoned to meet silently in the
night, that they might not, in gathering, arouse the enemy outside the
ramparts. Even in their respective modes of expressing approbation,
Homer makes a shade of difference. When the Greeks applaud, it is
ἐπίαχον υἷες Ἀχαιῶν, or what we call loud or vehement cheering: but
when the Trojans, it is ἐπὶ δὲ Τρῶες κελάδησαν, which signifies a more
miscellaneous and tumultuous noise.

In short, it would appear to be the intention of Homer to represent
the Greeks as possessed of a higher intelligence throughout. In the
Odyssey, we find that Ulysses made his way into Troy disguised as
a beggar, communicated with Helen, duly informed himself (κατὰ δὲ
φρόνιν ἤγαγε πολλήν[514]), and contrived to despatch certain of the
Trojans before he departed. In the Iliad we are supplied with abundant
instances of the superior management of the Greeks, and likewise of
their auxiliary gods, in comparison with those of the Trojans. Juno
outwits Venus in obtaining from her the cestus, and then proceeds
to outwit Jupiter in the use of it. Minerva, on observing that the
Greeks are losing, (Il. vii. 17) betakes herself to Troy, where Apollo
proposes just what she wants, namely, a cessation of the general
engagement, with a view to a personal encounter between Hector and some
chosen chieftain: she immediately adopts the plan; and he causes it to
be executed through Helenus. It both stops the general havoc among the
Greeks, and redounds greatly to the honour of their champion Ajax. At
the end of the day, however, Nestor suggests to the Greek chiefs, on
account of their heavy losses (Il. vii. 328), that they should, on the
occasion of raising a mound over their dead, likewise dig and fortify
a trench, which might serve to defend the ships and camp. In the mean
time the Trojans are made to meet; and they send to propose the very
measure, namely, an armistice for funeral rites, which the Greeks
desire, in order, under cover of it, to fortify themselves (Il. vii.
368-97). And this accordingly Agamemnon is enabled to grant as a sort
of favour to the Trojans (Il. vii. 408):

[514] Od. iv. 258.

  ἀμφὶ δὲ νεκροῖσιν κατακαιέμεν οὔτι μεγαίρω.

This superior intelligence is probably meant to be figured by the
exchange of arms between Glaucus and Diomed. And, again, when Hector
attempts anything in the nature of a stratagem, as the mission of
Dolon by night, it is only that he may fall into the hands of Diomed
and Ulysses. But there does not appear to be in any of these cases
a violation of oath, compact, or any absolute rule of equity by the

Of all these traits, however, it may be said, that they are of no
value as evidence, if taken by themselves. They are means which would
obviously occur to the Poet, zealous for his own nation. It is their
accordance with other indications, apparently undesigned, which
warrants our relying upon them as real testimonies, available for an
historic purpose.

~_Difference in pursuits of high-born youth._~

Although, on the whole, we seem to have the signs of greater wealth
among the Trojans than the Greeks, yet in certain points also their
usages were more primitive and simple. Thus we find the youths of the
house of Nestor immediately about his person; and Patroclus, as well
as Achilles, was apparently brought up at the court of Peleus. Again,
the youthful Nestor travels into Thessaly for a campaign: Ulysses
goes to hunt at the Court of his grandfather Autolycus. The Ithacan
Suitors employ themselves in manly games. But we frequently come upon
passages where we are incidentally informed, that the princes of the
house of Dardanus were occupied in rustic employments. Thus Melanippus,
son of Hiketaon, and cousin of Hector, who was residing in Priam’s
palace, and treated as one of his children, had before the war tended
oxen in Percote[515]. Æneas, the only son and heir of Anchises, had
been similarly occupied among or near the hills, at the time when he
had a narrow escape from capture by Achilles[516]. Lycaon, son of
Priam, was cutting the branches of the wild fig for the fellies of
chariot-wheels when Achilles took him for the second time: on the first
occasion, he had been at work in a vineyard[517]. Antiphos and Isos,
sons of Priam, had been captured by Achilles whilst they were acting
as shepherds[518]. Anchises was acting as a herdsman, when he formed
his connection with Venus[519]. The name of Boucolion, an illegitimate
son of Laomedon, seems to indicate that he was bred for the like

[515] Il. xv. 546-51.

[516] Il. xx. 188.

[517] Il. xxi. 37. 77.

[518] Il. xi. 105.

[519] Il. ii. 821. v. 313.

[520] Il. vi. 25.

From the force, variety, and extreme delicacy of his uses of the
word, it is evident that Homer set very great store by the sentiment
which is generally expressed through the word αἰδώς, and which ranges
through all the varieties of shame, honour, modesty, and reverence.
Though a minute, it is a remarkable circumstance, that he confines
the application of this term to the Greeks; except, I think, in one
passage, where he bestows it upon his particular favourites the
Lycians[521], and a single other one, where Æneas[522] employs it under
the immediate inspiration of Apollo, with another sense, in an appeal
to Hector and his brother chiefs, not to the soldiery at large.

[521] Il. xvi. 422.

[522] Il. xvii. 336.

With the Greeks it supplies the staple of military exhortation[523]
from the chiefs to the army; Αἰδὼς, Ἀργεῖοι.

[523] Il. v. 787. viii. 228. _et alibi_.

But quite a different form of speech is uniformly addressed to the
Trojans proper: it is

  ἀνέρες ἔστε, φίλοι, μνήσασθε δὲ θουρίδος ἀλκῆς,

which is below the other, and appeals to a less peculiar and refined
frame of intelligence and of sentiment.

~_Summary of differences._~

Whatever may be thought of the degree of detail into which (guided as
I think by the text) I have ventured to carry this discussion, and of
the particularity of some of the inferences that have been drawn, I
venture to hope few will quit the subject without the conviction that
Homer has worked with the purpose and precision which are his wont, in
the diversities which mark the general outline of his Greeks and his
Trojans, and of the institutions of each respectively; and that he has
not altogether withheld from his national portraits the care, which he
is admitted to have applied to his individual characters on both sides
with such extraordinary success. If we look to the institutions of the
two countries, although the comparison is diversified, we must upon
the whole concede to the Greeks, that they had laid more firmly than
their adversaries those great corner stones of human society, which are
named in their language, θέμις, ὅρκος, and γάμος. In the polity of Troy
we find more scope for impulse, less for deliberation and persuasion;
more weight given to those elements of authority which do not depend
on our free will and intelligence, less to those which do; less of
organization and of diversity, less firmness and tenacity of tissue, in
the structure of the community. We are told of no φῦλα and no φρῆτραι,
no intermediate ranks of officers in the army; no order of nobles or
proprietors, such as that which furnished the Suitors of Ithaca. There
are, in short, fewer secondary eminences; it is a state of things, more
resembling the dead level of the present Oriental communities subject
to a despotic throne, though such was not the throne of Priam. Among
the people themselves, there is more of religious observance and
apparatus, but not more of morality: less tendency indeed to crimes
of violence and turbulence, but also less of truth, of honour, above
all of personal self-mastery and self-command. The Greeks never would
have produced the Paris of the Iliad; for on behalf of no such dastard
would they have been induced to bleed. But if they had engendered
such a creature, they would not have paid the penalty: for man in
the Trojan type would not have had the energy to recover it from the
warrior-statesmen of the Achæan race, and under no circumstances could
the really extravagant sentiment put by Virgil into the mouth of
Diomed[524] have been fulfilled:

[524] Æn. xi. 286.

        ultro Inachias venisset ad urbes
  Dardanus, et versis lugeret Græcia fatis.



The legendary Geography of the Odyssey may in one sense be compared
with that of Ariosto, and that of Bojardo. I should be the first,
indeed, to admit that a disquisition, having for its object to
establish the delimitation of the Geography of either of those poets,
and to fix its relation to the actual surface of the earth, was but
labour thrown away. For two thousand years, however, perhaps for more,
the Geography of the Odyssey has been a subject of interest and of
controversy. In entering upon that field I ask myself, why the case of
Homer is in this respect so different from that of the great Italian
romancers? It is not only that, great as they were, we are dealing with
one before whom their greatness dwindles into comparative littleness.
Nor is it only, though it seems to be in part, because the adventures
of Ulysses are, or appear to be, much more strictly bound up with
place, than those of Orlando, Rinaldo, or Ruggiero. The difference, I
think, mainly lies in this, that an intense earnestness accompanies
Homer every where, even through his wild and noble romance. Cooped up
as he was within a narrow and local circle--for such it was, though
it was for so many centuries the centre of the whole greatness of the
world--here is his effort to pass the horizon ‘by strength of thought;’
to pierce the mist; to shape the dim, confused, and conflicting
reports he could pick up, according to the best of his knowledge and
belief, into land and sea; to people its habitable spots with the
scanty material he could command, every where enlarged, made good, and
adorned out of the wealth of his vigorous imagination; and to form,
by effort of the brain, for the first time as far as we know in the
history of our race, an idea of a certain configuration for the surface
of the Earth.

Hence, perhaps, may have flowed the potency of the charm, which has
attended the subject of Homer’s Outer Geography. The subject has,
however, in my belief, its utility too. It is rarely otherwise than
well worth while to trace even the erroneous thoughts of powerful
minds. But, moreover, in the present instance, I apprehend we can
learn, through the Outer Geography of Homer, important and interesting
matter of history, which is not to be learned from any other source.
For the Poet has embedded into his imaginative scheme a multitude of
real geographical and physical traditions; and by means of these, upon
comparing them with their proper originals, we can judge with tolerable
accuracy what were the limits of human enterprise on the face of earth
in the heroic age.

The question before us is, what map of the earth did Homer shape in
his own mind, that he might adjust to it the voyages and tours of his
heroes Menelaus and Ulysses, particularly the latter? And in order to a
legitimate inquiry the first step to be taken is negative. Do not let
us engage in the vain attempt to construct the Geography of the Odyssey
upon the basis of the actual distribution of the earth’s surface. Such
a process can lead to no satisfactory result. Whatever materials Homer
may have obtained to assist him, we must consider as so many atoms;
I speak of course, as to all that lay beyond the narrow sphere of his
Greek knowledge and experience. He had no adequate means of placing
the different parts of the accounts which reached him in their true
geographical relations to one another. The outer world was for him
broken up into fragments, and these fragments were rearranged at his
pleasure, with the aid of such lights only, as his limited physical
knowledge could afford him.

~_Principal heads of the inquiry._~

Assuming for the present that the Phœnicianism of the Outer Geography
has been on the whole sufficiently proved, I proceed to a more exact
examination of the subject itself; and I propose to inquire into the
following questions.

1. Has Homer two modes of dealing with the subject of locality,
considered at large? if so, can it be shown that he applies them to two
distinct geographical regions; one the circumscribed central tract of
land and sea within which he lived, the other a wider and larger zone,
which lay beyond it in all directions; and can a line be drawn with
reasonable confidence and precision between these geographical regions

2. If it be established that Homer has a system of Outer Geography,
severed by a sufficiently-defined barrier from his Inner Geography,
then are there any, and if so what, keys, or leading ideas of local
arrangement for the former scheme, which, themselves derived from the
evidence of his text, should be used for the adjustment of its details?

3. Under the system thus ascertained, what was the route of Menelaus,
and more especially of Ulysses, as these presented themselves to the
mind of Homer?

I set out from the proposition, which, as I conceive, rests upon
universal consent, that within a certain sphere the poems may be
considered as a record of experimental geography; and one sometimes
carried down into detail with so much of accuracy, that it embraces
even the miniature of that branch of knowledge, to which we usually
give the name of topography.

By way of example for the former, I should say that when Homer
describes the Bœotian towns, when he measures the distance over the
Ægean, nay, when he makes Ulysses represent that he floated in ten
days from some point near Crete to the Thesprotian coast, he is a
geographer. Again, in his variously estimated account of the interior
of Ithaca, he is a topographer. He is the same on the whole, though
probably with greater license, when he is dealing with the Plain of

~_The two spheres of Geography._~

In speaking of the experimental geography of Homer, of course I do
not intend to imply that he had, even within his narrow sphere, the
means that later science has afforded of establishing situations and
distances with absolute precision. He could only proceed by the far
ruder testimony of the senses, trained in the school of experience.
Neither do I mean that the experience was in every case his own, though
to a great extent his geographical information was probably original,
and acquired by him principally in the exercise of his profession as an
itinerating Bard. But by the experimental and real geography of Homer,
I mean these two things; first, that the Poet believed himself to be
describing _pro tanto_ points upon the earth’s surface as they actually
were; secondly, that his means of information were for practical
purposes adequate. The evidence of the passage containing the simile of
the Thought (Il. xv. 580) would suffice, were there none other, to show
that he was himself a traveller; he also lived among a people already
accustomed to travel, and familiar with the navigation of a certain
portion of the earth’s surface. In a former part of this work I have
given several instances to illustrate the disposition of the early
Greeks with respect to travel[525]. A people of habits like theirs was
well qualified to supply a practical system of geography for the whole
sphere with which it was habitually conversant.

[525] Achæis, or Ethnology; sect. vii. p. 336.

But the boldness and maturity of navigation may be measured pretty
nearly by the length of its voyages. The geographical particulars of
the Wanderings, however dislocated and distorted, show us that the
people who had supplied them had acquired a considerable acquaintance
with all the waters within, and probably also, nay, I should be
disposed to say certainly, some that were without, the Straits of
Gibraltar. But in all the poems of Homer we find the traces of Greek
knowledge and resort become fainter and fainter, as we pass beyond
certain points. On the Greek Peninsula, to the south of the Ambracian
gulf on the west and of Mount Olympus on the east, we have the signs
of a constant intercourse to and fro. The same tokens extend to the
islands immediately surrounding it, and reaching at least as far as
Crete. Indeed, apart from particular signs, we may say that, without
familiar and frequent intercourse among the members that composed it,
the empire of Agamemnon could not have subsisted.

But, at certain distances, the mode of geographical handling becomes
faint, mistrustful, and indistinct. Distances are misstated, or cease
to be stated at all. The names of countries are massed together in such
a way as to show that the Poet had no idea of a particular mode of
juxtaposition for them. Topographical or local features, of a character
such as to identify a description with some particular place or
region as its prototype in nature, are erroneously transposed to some
situation which, from general indications, we can see must be upon a
different and perhaps distant part of the surface of the globe. Again,
by ceasing to define distances and directions, he shows from time to
time that he has lost confidence in his own collocation, that he is
not willing to challenge a comparison with actual nature, and that,
from want of accurate knowledge, he feels he must seek some degree of
shelter in generalities.

It is obvious that, under the circumstances as they have thus far been
delineated, the geography of the poems, with a centre fixed for it
somewhere in Greece, say at Olympus or Mycenæ, might be first of all
divided into three zones, ranging around that centre. The first and
innermost would be that of the familiar knowledge and experience of
his countrymen. The second would be that of their rare and occasional
resort. The third would be a region wholly unknown to them, and with
respect to which they were wholly dependent on foreign, that is on
Phœnician, report; much as a Roman, five hundred years ago, would
practically depend upon the reports of Venetians and Genoese mariners
for all or nearly all his ultra-marine knowledge.

Now, though we may not be able to mark positively at every point of the
compass the particular spot at which we step from the first zone to the
second, and from the second to the third, yet there is enough of the
second zone discernible to make it serve for an effectual delimitation
between the first and the third; between the region of experience and
that of marvel; of foreign, arbitrary, unchecked, and semifabulous
report. Just as we are unable to fix the moment at which night passes
into dawn, and dawn into day; but yet the dawn of morning, and the
twilight of evening are themselves the lines which broadly separate
between the day and the night, lying respectively at the extremities of
each. So with the poems of Homer, it may be a question whether a given
place, say Phœnicia, is in the first or the second zone; or whether
some other, such as Scheria, or as the Bosphorus, is in the second or
the third; but it will never be difficult to affirm of any important
place named in the poems _either_ that it is not in the zone of common
experience, or else that it is not in the zone of foreign fable.

~_Limits of the Inner Geography._~

Let me now endeavour to draw the lines, which thus far have been laid
down only in principle.

1. And first it seems plain, that the experimental knowledge of Homer
extended over the whole of the continental territory embraced within
the Greek Catalogue, including, along with the continent, those islands
which he has classed with his mainland, and not in his separate insular

[526] Il. ii. 645-80.

2. It may be slightly doubtful whether he had a similar knowledge of
the islands forming the base of the Ægean. There is a peculiarity in
the Cretan description (Il. ii. 645-52), namely, that after enumerating
certain cities he closes with general words (649),

  ἄλλοι θ’, οἳ Κρήτην ἑκατόμπολιν ἀμφενέμοντο.

Still he uses characteristic epithets: and in another place (Od. xiv.
257), he defines (of course by time) the distance from Crete to Egypt.
So again in Rhodes (656), Camirus has the characteristic epithet of
ἀργινόεις. On the whole we may place this division within the first
zone of Homeric geography.

3. Homer would appear to have had an accurate knowledge of the
positions of the islands of Lemnos, Samothrace, Imbros, Lesbos, Samos,
and Chios[527]. These we may consider, without further detail, as
answering practically for the whole Ægean sea.

[527] Il. xiv. 225-30. xiii. 10-16, 33. xiv. 281. xxiv. 78, 753, 434.
Od. iii. 169-72.

4. Homer knew the positions of Emathia and Pieria, relatively to one
another and to Greece; and the general course of the southern ranges of
the Thracian mountains[528]. The Trojan Catalogue appears to show that
he also knew the coast-line westward from the Dardanelles, as far as
to the river Axius. There we may consider that his Pieria begins, with
Greece upon its southern and western border.

[528] Il. xiv. 225-30. Od. v. 50.

5. It would appear that Homer had a pretty full knowledge of the
southern coast-line of the Propontis. He seems to place the Thracians
of the Trojan Catalogue on the northern side of that sea, but his
language is quite general with respect to this part of it. On the south
side, however, and in the whole north-western corner of Asia Minor,
we appear to find him at home[529]. Thus much we may safely conclude
from the detail of the Trojan Catalogue; from the particular account
of the Idæan rivers in the Twelfth Iliad[530]; from the latter part
of the journey of Juno in the Fourteenth[531]; and from the speech of
Achilles in the Twenty-fourth[532], which fixes the position of Phrygia
relatively to Troy.

[529] Forbiger thinks he knew the southern coast of the Black sea to a
certain extent. Handbuch der Alten Geographie, sect. 4. p. 10.

[530] Il. xii. 17-24.

[531] Il. xiv. 280-4.

[532] Il. xxiv. 543-6.

6. From the point of Lectum to the southward, Homer shows a knowledge
of the coast-line as far as Lycia in the south-western quarter of Asia
Minor. But here we must close his inner sphere. The Solyman mountains
supply the only local notice in the poems which can be said to belong
to the interior country, and of these his conceptions are evidently as
far as possible from geographical. In the Sixth Iliad[533] he appears
to conceive of the Solyman people as bordering upon Lycia. Although
the name has suggested to some a connection with Jerusalem, we ought
to consider it as representing that for which it stands in geography,
a part of the grand inland mass of Asiatic mountains. But from the
proximity of the Solymi to Lycia, Homer would appear to have moved them
greatly westward. Again, when Neptune in the Fifth Odyssey sees Ulysses
from the Solyman mountains on his way from Ogygia, we must suppose
that Homer conceived them to command some point of a neighbouring and
continuous line of sea, which would allow of such a prospect. He would
hardly have made Neptune see Ulysses from Lycia, or from a point across
the mountains of Thrace, or from one on the other side of the actual
Mount Taurus.

[533] Il. vi. 184.

We have now, I think, made the circuit of the whole zone, and it is a
small one, of the real or experimental geography of Homer.

~_The intermediate or doubtful Zone._~

Let us take next the intermediate zone, which marks the extreme and
infrequent points of Greek resort.

Beginning in the west and north-west, we have found Sicania (now Upper
Calabria), Epirus, and the country of the Thesprotians[534], marking
the points of this intermediate region. To the northward, we may
fix it at Emathia. In the north-east, it seems to be bounded by the
northern shore of the Sea of Marmora. The Thracians of Homer inhabit a
country which he calls ἐριβώλαξ, Il. xx. 485, and which the Hellespont
enclosed (ἐέργει), that is to say, washes on two sides at least. The
Hellespont, as in this place it is termed ἀγάῤῥοος, signifies to the
Eastern part of its waters in particular; and the name probably
includes the Propontis (which he might well suppose to have a strong
current throughout, like the Straits of Gallipoli), together with the
northern Ægean between Chalcidice and the Thracian Chersonese. He has
described these Thracians in very vague terms[535], and without any
local circumstance, in the Catalogue: but the form of the coast-line
apparently implied in the word ἐέργει, and the epithet of fertility,
appear to indicate the plain of Adrianople and the Maritz. But this
inclosure on two sides terminates when the northern shore begins to
trend directly to the eastward: and the Πλαγκταὶ, or Bosphorus, which
no man but Jason ever succeeded in passing, are to be considered as in
the zone of a semifabulous or exterior chorography.

[534] Achæis, or Ethnology, sect. iv. p. 235.

[535] Il. ii. 844, 5.

When we pass into the south-east, we find that Cyprus, Phœnicia, and
Egypt may perhaps most properly be placed in the doubtful zone. We have
seen that Cyprus was known as a stage on the passage to the East, and
as within the possible military reach of Agamemnon. But its lord did
not join in the war: and Homer has no details about the island, beyond
the specification of Paphos as the seat of the residence, and of the
principal worship, of Venus.

We have no instance of any visit paid by Greeks to Phœnicia under
ordinary circumstances. The tour of Menelaus is, like that of Ulysses,
outside the sphere of ordinary life. He describes himself in it to
Telemachus as πολλὰ παθὼν καὶ πόλλ’ ἐπαληθεὶς[536], which may be
compared with Od. i. 4. respecting Ulysses. We hear of the Taphians
there; for it was at Sidon that they kidnapped the nurse of Eumæus.
Piracy in those times probably reached somewhat further than trade.
These same Taphians appear to be of doubtful Hellenism. On the one
hand, Mentes their leader was a ξεῖνος to Ulysses[537]. But (1) we thus
find them in Phœnicia[538], which is not a place of usual Greek resort.
(2) They sail to Temese in foreign parts, ἐπ’ ἀλλοθρόους ἀνθρώπους (Od.
i. 183), which we do not find elsewhere said of Greeks. The case of
the pseudo-Ulysses cannot stand as a precedent for the rest of Greece,
nor even for the rest of Crete[539]. (3) The father of Mentes had
given Ulysses poison for his arrows, which Ilus, the Hellene, had from
motives of religion refused him. This at once supplies a particular
reason for the xenial bond between them, and suggests that this Taphian
prince may have been, though a ξεῖνος, yet of a different religion and
race. (4) The absence of the Taphians from the war, especially as a
tribe so much given to navigation, further strengthens the presumption
that they were not properly Greeks.

[536] Od. iv. 83.

[537] Od. i. 105.

[538] Sup. Ethnology, sect. iv.

[539] Ibid.

Phœnicia, then, hangs doubtfully on the outer verge of the Greek
world, and belongs to the intermediate zone. Yet more decidedly is
this the case with Egypt. For Ulysses means something unusual, when
he describes the voyage as one lasting for five days across the open
sea, even with the very best wind all the way, from Crete; and it is
elsewhere described as at a distance formidably great. Such is the idea
apparently intended by the statement, that the very birds do but make
the journey once a year over so vast a sea[540]. No ordinary Greek ever
goes to Egypt: and when the pseudo-Ulysses planned his voyage thither,
it was under a sinister impulse from Jupiter, who meant him ill[541]:

[540] Od. iii. 320-2.

[541] Od. xiv. 243.

  αὐτὰρ ἐμοὶ δειλῷ κακὰ μήδετο μητίετα Ζεύς.

Again, the Poet appears to have entirely misconceived the distance
of Pharos from the coast. He places it at a day’s sail from Αἴγυπτος,
meaning probably by that name the Nile. Vain attempts have been made to
get rid by explanation of this geographical error. Nitzsch[542] says
truly, that for the geography of this passage Homer was dependent on
the gossip of sailors, and compares it with that of Ogygia, Scheria,
and the rest. When Menelaus went to Egypt, it was involuntarily, as we
are assured by Nestor[543];

[542] On Od. iv. 354.

[543] Od. iii. 299.

          ἀτὰρ τὰς πέντε νέας κυανοπρῳρείους
  Αἰγύπτῳ ἐπέλασσε φέρων ἄνεμός τε καὶ ὕδωρ.

Beyond the circumscriptions which have thus been drawn, lie the
countries of the Outer Geography. Outwards their limit in the mind of
Homer was either the great River Ocean, or else the land immediately
bordering upon it. Their inner line, that is, the line nearest to the
known Greek or Homeric world, may be defined by a number of points
specified in the poems. We have, for example, the Lotophagi and Libya
in the south; the land of the Cyclops on the west; (I pass by Sicily,
because it can, I think, be shown, that Homer transplanted it into
another quarter;) Scheria to the north-west, the Abii, Glactophagi,
and Hippemolgi, to the north. Then come the Strait of the Πλαγκταὶ, or
Bosphorus, pretty accurately conceived as to its site; next towards
the east, the Amazons and the Solymi with their mountains; in the
south-east the Ἐρεμβοὶ, and then the widely spread Αἰθίοπες. All the
places and people visited by Ulysses after the Lotophagi, that have not
been named, must be conceived to lie yet further outwards.

I have now explained the grounds on which I assume the existence
of two great zones, the one of a real, the other of an imaginative,
fluctuating, and semi-fabulous Geography in Homer; and of a third zone,
drawn as a somewhat indeterminate border-ground between them.

~_Sphere of the Outer Geography._~

I come now to consider what are the keys or leading ideas of local
arrangement which we can first obtain from the particulars of the Outer
Geography of Homer, and which we may then apply to the solution of such
questions of detail as it presents.

It is plain that we have real need of some such keys. To ascertain the
general direction of the movements of the Wanderings of Ulysses, and
the general idea entertained by the Poet of the distribution of land
and sea, is an essential preliminary to the solution of such questions
as, Where were the Sirens? or, Where were the Læstrygones? According to
the statement I have recently given, many of the points, that Ulysses
in the Wanderings visited by sea, would appear to have been so fixed by
Homer, as to imply his belief that the chieftain sailed over what we
know to be the European continent.

The two propositions, which I have already ventured to state as being
the keys to the Outer Geography of the Odyssey, are in the following

[544] See Ethnology, sect. iv. p. 304.

1. That Homer placed to the northward of Thrace, Epirus, and the
Italian peninsula, an expanse, not of land, but of sea, communicating
with the Euxine; or, to express myself in other words, that he greatly
extended the Euxine westwards, perhaps also shortening it towards
the East; and that he made it communicate, by the gulfs of Genoa and
Venice, with the southern Mediterranean.

2. That he compounded into one two sets of Phœnician traditions
respecting the Ocean-mouth, and fixed the site of it in the North-East.

In the first place, I assume that it would be a waste of time to enter
upon an elaborate confutation of the traditional identifications, which
the pardonable ambition of after-times has devised for the various
points of the wanderings. According to those expository figments,
we must believe that the land of the Cyclops is an island, that it
is the same island which reappears at a later date as Thrinacie,
that Æolia is Stromboli in sight of that island of the Cyclops,
(though it took Ulysses nine days of fair wind to sail from it to
within sight of Ithaca,) and that Ulysses could sail straight across
the sea from Æolia to Ithaca. We must look for the Læstrygones and
their perpetual day in the latitudes of the Mediterranean. We must
either place the ocean northward, (but wholly without any prototype
in nature,) and the under-world on the west coast of Italy, where
there is no stream whatever, and seek, too, for fogs and darkness in
the choicest atmospheres of the world; or else we must remove the
Ocean-mouth to a distance about four times as far from the island
of Circe, as that island is from Greece, whereas the poem evidently
presumes their comparative proximity. But in truth, it is useless to go
on accumulating single objections, for it is not upon these that the
confutation principally depends. The confutation of these pardonable
but idle traditions rests on broader grounds. The grounds are such as
really these, that in no one particular do these Italian fables--for
such I must call them, notwithstanding the partial countenance they
receive from the chaotic and seemingly adulterated parts of the
Theogony of Hesiod[545]--satisfy the letter of the text of Homer; that
in the attempt to give it a geographical character, they misconceive
its spirit; and that they oblige us to override and nullify not only
the facts of actual geography, for that we might do without violating
any law of reason and likelihood under the conditions of the case, but
also the positive indications which Homer has given us from phenomena
that lay within his knowledge and experience. In fact, they would
oblige us to condemn Homer as geographically unworthy of trust, within
the sphere of the every day life and resort of the Greeks, as well as
in regions, which he and his countrymen never visited.

[545] Hes. Theog. 1011-15.

And the result of all the violence thus done to Homer would be, that we
should have sacrificed at once his language and his imagination, in the
attempt to struggle with contradictions to the actual geography which
defy every attempt at reconciliation.

At the outset, according to my view, both admissions must be made, and
principles must be laid down, as cardinal and essential to the conduct
of the inquiry we have now in hand.

~_Dislocation of actual nature._~

It must, I think, be admitted,

1. That Homer has dislocated or transplanted the traditions he
had received. For example, he has either carried the Bosphorus
westwards[546], or else the Straits of Messina eastwards.

[546] Müller’s Orchomenos, p. 274.

2. That therefore as we are on this occasion inquiring not into the
geographical information Homer can give us, but into the errors he
had embraced, we must not be surprised if we fail to arrive at any
conclusions, either wholly self-consistent or demonstratively clear. We
must exact from his text, with something less than geographical rigour,
even the conditions of inward harmony.

It may then reasonably be asked, if this be so, how are we to find any
clue to his meaning.

My answer is, by laying down rules which will enable us to
discriminate between his primary and his secondary statements; between
the results of his knowledge, and the fruits of his fancy.

By his knowledge I mean, what he had seen, what he had travelled over,
what was familiarly and habitually known to his countrymen, so as to
give him ample opportunities of refreshing recollection, of enlarging
knowledge, and of correcting error.

By the fruits of his fancy I mean, the forms he has thought fit to
give to statements of geography lying outside the world of his own
experience, and that of the Greeks in general. These statements,
gathered here and there as time and opportunity might serve, he could
hardly have moulded into a correct and consistent scheme. Emancipating
himself wholly from obligations which it was impossible for him to
fulfil, he has treated them simply as the creatures of his poetic
purpose, and has analysed, shifted, and recombined them into a world of
his own, in the creation and adjustment of which, the principal factor
has of necessity been his own will.

~_Postulates for the inquiry._~

I therefore lay down the following postulates:

1. That, Homer having an Inner or known and an Outer or imagined world,
between which a line may be drawn with tolerable certainty, the voyage
of Ulysses, from the Lotophagi to Scheria inclusive, lies in the Outer

2. That we may not only implicitly accept the geographical statements
of Homer, when they lie within his own horizon or the Inner world, but
may fearlessly argue from them.

3. That arguments so drawn are available and paramount, as far as
they go, for governing the construction of passages relating to the
geography of the Outer world.

4. That we have no title to argue, when we find a point in the Outer
world described in such a manner as to correspond with some spot now
known, that Homer gave to that tract or region in his own mind, the
site which we may now know it to occupy, but that he is quite as likely
to have placed it elsewhere.

5. That arguments grounded on the physical knowledge of the Poet are
to be trusted. I would name by way of example, (subject only to a
certain latitude for inexactness,) such arguments as are drawn from the
directions of winds, and from other patent and cardinal facts of common
experience, for example, the distances which may be traversed within
given times.

6. So likewise are the indications, which harmonize with known or
reasonably presumed historical and ethnological views, to be trusted as
good evidence on questions relating to his geographical meaning.

In order, however, to be in a condition to make use of indications
supplied by the Winds, we must consider what the Winds of Homer are.

~_The Winds of Homer._~

The Winds of Homer are only four in number, and the manner of their
physical arrangement is rude. It by no means corresponds with our own,
but varies from it greatly, just as his points of the compass varied
from ours. And though he names only four winds, yet I apprehend we must
consider that upon the whole he uses them with such latitude, as to
express under the name of some one of them every gale that blew.

As to some of these winds, Homer has provided us with an abundance of
trustworthy _data_ for their point of origin: and through them the
evidence as to the rest may be enlarged.

Homer’s governing points, from which to measure arcs of the horizon
were, as is evident, the sunrise and the sunset. This is clearly shown
by his expressions, such as πρὸς ἠῶ τ’ ἠέλιόν τε, for the east, and
then in opposition to this, ποτὶ ζόφον ἠερόεντα[547] for the west.
Again, when Ulysses urges upon his companions that he has lost all
means of forming a judgment of their position, his mode of expression
is this, that he does not know where is dusk or where is dawn; where
the joy-giving sun rises, or where he sinks[548]. We must therefore
dismiss from our minds the four cardinal points to which we are
accustomed. They were not cardinal points for Homer. We must also
remember not only (1) that Homer had only two[549], but also (2) that
his two did not correspond with any of our four, and (3) that from the
variation of sunrise and sunset with the seasons of the year a certain
amount of vagueness was of necessity introduced into his conceptions of
the point of origin for each of the different winds.

[547] Il. xii. 239, 40.

[548] Od. x. 190-2.

[549] Wood (Genius of Homer, p. 23,) says, ‘only four,’ meaning only
four winds. But it is pretty clear that Homer’s four winds were not at
anything like ninety degrees from one another. There is in Homer no
word meaning strictly either south, or north. _Daksha_, however, from
whence is derived δεξιὸς, means _southerly_ as well as _on the right_:
but probably S. E. rather than S. Pott, Etymolog. Forschungen, II. 186,

We should not, however, exaggerate this vagueness. It had its cause in
the variations of the ecliptic, and, like its cause, it was limited.
I suppose, however, that the eye guesses rudely at the deviations of
the ecliptic, and that we must take N.W. and S.E. for the two cardinal
points of Homer.

Homer’s west then ranged to the north of west, and Homer’s east to
the south of east. But although this must be borne in mind when we
translate his winds into our language, yet of course the winds
themselves were arranged, not technically so as each to cover a certain
arc on the horizon, but with reference to the directions in which they
were found by experience commonly to blow. And in associating each wind
with a particular point of the horizon, we must bear in mind that such
a point is to be regarded as its centre, and that the same name would
be given to a wind within a number of points on either side of it.

As to the respective prevalence of the different winds, the criterion
is certainly a rude one, still it is a criterion, which is provided
for us by the comparative frequency of the occasions on which they are
mentioned. Eurus is mentioned in the poems seven times, Notus fifteen;
Boreas twenty-seven, subject to a small deduction for cases where he is
simply a person; and Zephyr twenty-six. The latter pair are the leading
Winds of the poem: not necessarily that they indicated the prevailing
currents of air, but that they represented such currents of air as
usually prevailed with force sufficient to make them good poetical

We may also learn, from the epithets given to the winds, the
impressions which they respectively made upon the mind of Homer.

Eurus never has a character attached to it. Notus seldom has any
epithet; but still it is mentioned, by the comrade of Ulysses in Od.
xii. 289, as one of the most formidable winds. This may probably
have been on account of its direction relatively to the place of the
speaker; because from that point it blew right upon Scylla[550]. Again,
as Zephyr and Notus are nowhere else associated by the Poet, the
presumption arises on that ground also that here Notus is put in for a
special and local reason. It is called ἀργέστης, and is so essentially
allied with the idea of moisture, that νότιος stands simply for wet
(νότιος ἱδρὼς, Il. xi. 810).

[550] Od. xii. 427.

The characteristic epithets of Boreas are μέγας, ὀπώρινος, and
αἰθρηγένης. The first of these indicates that he blew hard: and we know
the same thing from the facts, that Achilles desired him to contribute
towards rapidly consuming the pyre of Patroclus, and that he is often
used for a storm[551].

[551] Il. xxiii. 194.

But, of all the winds, the Zephyr evidently was the most prominent in
the view of Homer. It is μέγας (Od. xiv. 458), λαβρὸς ἐπαιγίζων (Il.
ii. 148), κελαδεινὸς (Il. xxiii. 208), δυσαὴς (Il. xxiii. 200, and Od.
xii. 289), κεκληγὼς (Od. xii. 408); and it alone of the winds roars,
ζεφύροιο ἰώη (Il. iv. 276). In Od. xii. 289, it is mentioned with
Notus: they are the winds most apt to destroy ships even despite or
without the gods. For Notus, as I have said, this character seems to
be local: but the Zephyr is here called δυσαὴς, and the sense of the
passage is in accordance with his general reputation. He, with Boreas,
is invoked for the pyre of Patroclus: and these two are the only winds
which are ever employed singly to make foul weather. Homer’s other
modes of creating a tempest by the agency of the winds are (1) to make
a combination of all or several of them, (2) to cover the matter in a
generality by speaking of the ὀλοοὶ ἄνεμοι without distinction.

There is, however, in Homer a faint trace of the milder character,
which was afterwards more fully recognised in Zephyr, when he had moved
down from the north, and become a simple west wind. In the description
of the Elysian plain, we find that it is never vexed with tempest or
with rain, but that the happy spirits dwelling there are incessantly
refreshed with the Zephyrs which spring from Ocean[552]. But even here
the breezes are λιγυπνείοντες: and this word means what is called
blowing _fresh_. And the conception of the wind here is rather as a
sea-wind, and therefore not a cold one, than as being soft and gentle.

[552] Od. iv. 565-9.

Of these four Winds, Homer has made, on various occasions, two couples.
He repeatedly associates Boreas and Zephyr in the same work[553]:

[553] Il. ix. 4.

  ὡς δ’ ἄνεμοι δύο πόντον ὀρίνετον ἰχθυόεντα,
  Βορέης καὶ Ζέφυρος, τώτε Θρῄκηθεν ἄητον.

And again, for the purposes of Achilles, the two come together over the
sea, and quickly fall to, that the pyre may be consumed; even as the
prayer of the hero had been addressed to them in common[554].

[554] Il. xxiii. 194, 212.

In the same way, Eurus and Notus are associated together as exciting
the Icarian Sea. This passage is curiously illustrative of Homer’s
distinctions between the winds. He has two successive similes, both
describing the agitation of the same Assembly[555]. In the first it is
compared to the Icarian Sea lashed by Eurus, and by Notus charging from
the clouds. In the second, to a corn-field, on which Zephyr powerfully
sweeps down[556].

[555] Il. ii. 144-6, 147-9.

[556] The arrangement of these similes tells powerfully against the
ingenious argument of Mr. Wood concerning the birthplace of Homer.
Genius of Homer, pp. 7-33.

From a just consideration of these passages, it becomes clear that the
four winds of Homer were not at equidistant points of the compass,
but that each two of them were capable of association, while neither
member of one pair is ever described, except in a single passage,
which I will presently notice, as cooperating with one of the other.
Of course I do not refer to those cases, where the Poet raises all the
four winds at once, simply to create a hurricane; no bad conjecture, I
will add, for those times, in anticipation of the modern discovery that
hurricanes are eddies, and that it is their circular motion which makes
them seem to blow almost simultaneously in all directions[557].

[557] See General Reid’s Law of Storms and Variable Winds. London. 1849.

Let us now inquire what can be done towards ascertaining more
particularly the leading points of these winds, of which we have
surveyed the general descriptions.

~_Points of origin for Zephyr and Boreas._~

I begin with the more prevailing pair, Zephyr and Boreas.

There can, I think, be no hesitation in deriving Ζέφυρος from ζόφος.
It may be well to remind the reader that ζόφος is the same word in
substance with κνέφας and νέφος[558].

[558] Buttmann. Lexil. voc. κέλαινος.

Thus the north-west is his cradle. But he is so closely associated
with Thrace and with Boreas, the former being his residence, and
the latter[559] his companion, that though he may mean any wind
from west up to north, we must consider him as usually leaning from
the north-west towards the north, while he properly belongs to the
north-west rather than any other given point of the compass.

[559] Il. xxiii. 214.

The position of Boreas is the best defined of all the winds of Homer.
He cannot come from any point to the west of due north: for all that
space is appropriated to Zephyr. He is equally well defined on the
other side. For he blows from Thrace, both generally, as in Il. ix.
5, and particularly on the Plain of Troy[560]. I hold to be of no
authority, as fixing the direction of this wind, the Boreas which
carries the pseudo-Ulysses from Crete to Egypt[561]: for there Homer
is already beyond the Inner World, and he only knows the position of
Egypt from Phœnician report. But we have other trustworthy indications
from within the sphere of Greek nautical knowledge, in his carrying
Hercules from Ilium to Cos[562], in his preventing a voyage from Crete
to Ilium[563], and in the fate of Ulysses, who, in rounding Malea,
is carried off by Boreas to the westward of Cythera[564]. All these
operations can be performed only by a wind blowing from the quarter
between east and north-east.

[560] Il. xxiii. 214, as above.

[561] Od. xiv. 253.

[562] Il. xiv. 255. xv. 26.

[563] Od. xix. 200.

[564] Od. ix. 81.

Putting together these indications, I think we must conclude that the
Boreas of Homer is a wind to the east of north. But it seems plain that
he does not embrace nearly the whole quadrant from north to east. For,
like and even more than Zephyr on the other side of the pole, he has a
leaning towards the polar side, and, in the absence of more particular
marks, Homer should be taken to mean by him a N.N.E. wind, that is, a
wind ranging principally or wholly from N. to N.E.

I take the line Il. ix. 5, which many have treated as a difficulty, for
a sound and valuable geographical indication. Boreas and Zephyr blow
from Thrace. To a Greek, say at Mycenæ, Thrace, which reaches from the
Adriatic to the Euxine, covers more than ninety degrees of the horizon.
It is from within those ninety degrees that every Boreas, and probably
every Zephyr, of Homer can be shown to blow. These are facts which
we may hold in deposit, ready for service in the explanation of the
movements of the Outer Geography.

And along with them we must keep in mind the Homeric affinity and
sympathy established between Boreas and Zephyr. It is so considerable,
and they are especially in such local proximity, that practically
we should not go far wrong were we to say Homer divides the whole
circumference of his horizon into three nearly equal arcs of 120
degrees, more or less. The first of these, beginning from due west,
is given to Zephyr and to Boreas. The next, reaching to within 30° of
the South Pole, to Eurus: and the third, embracing the residue of the
circle, to Notus.

~_Points of the Compass for Notus and Eurus._~

Notus is the great southern wind, Eurus being comparatively of little
account. Now, one of the chief _data_ applicable to determining the
direction of these winds is the passage Il. ii. 144-6. Here they are
described as disturbing the Icarian Sea, which was within the sphere of
Greek navigation. Now the position of that sea, on the coast of Asia
Minor to the south of Samos, shows,

1. That both these winds in Homer have a decidedly southern character.

2. That one, of course Eurus, must come from the east, and the other,
Notus, in that place, from the west of south. Because the conflict of
the two winds presumes a considerable space between the points from
which they blow, while the position of the Icarian Sea requires both
to be southern. But in the Fifth Odyssey, too, Notus is treated as the
proper antagonist of Boreas. His centre therefore lies a little to the
westward of due south; but Eurus does not approach the South Pole,
and every wind from about S.S.E. to W. will probably fall within the
Homeric description of Notus.

The associations of Notus and Eurus are frequent[565]. On one
occasion, however, Notus is combined with Zephyr, though there is no
corresponding case of junction between Eurus and Boreas. Notus and
Zephyr are sent from the sea by Juno to blast the Trojan army with
heat. Boreas would of course be a cold wind: and Eurus would be cold on
the plain of Troy, from passing over the chain of Ida: though in Greece
he melts the snow that Zephyr has brought. Differences of season, as
well as of situation, may have to do with these varieties of operation.

[565] Il. ii. 144-6. xvi. 765. Od. v. 330. xii. 326.

Though less strong than Zephyr and Boreas, Notus is a stronger wind
than Eurus. And though generally the counterpart of Boreas, his power
of cooperating with Zephyr shows that he must reach over the quadrant
from the South pole to West, whereas we have no Boreas coming down from
the North pole as far as East.

As the opposite of Zephyr, Eurus blows principally from the
south-eastern quarter; and hence is in frequent cooperation with Notus,
but never with any other wind. He must, however, be understood to cover
the whole space from the rigidly northern Boreas down to Notus, or
from about N.E. to within 30° of the South pole. Boreas is inflexibly
confined by all the evidence of the poems to a very narrow space: and
Eurus, his neighbour eastward, does not much frequent those points of
the compass that lie nearest to him.

    [Illustration: winds and directions]

The accompanying sketch expresses what I believe to be in the main
Homer’s arrangement of the Winds. At the same time, I do not know that
we have any practical example of any wind in Homer which blows from
within forty-five degrees on either side of due East, or from within
about the same number of degrees on either side of due West. Perhaps it
was from their local infrequency, that he does not appear to have put
such winds in requisition[566].

[566] Friedreich has discussed the winds of Homer (Realien der Il. und
Od. §. 3). His results are to me unsatisfactory: but the fault seems
to lie in his basis. For (1) he fixes the four Winds of Homer as the
four cardinal points: and (2) he finds _data_ for ascertaining the
Winds in the Passages of the Outer Geography, instead of determining
those Passages themselves by the Winds, after these latter have been
ascertained from evidence belonging to the sphere of Homer’s own

The name Eurus is further attached to the point of sunrise by the root
ἔως, to which it is traced[567]. The tracts of Aides are with Homer
σμερδάλεα εὐρώεντα (Il. xx. 65). May not this εὐρωεὶς come from the
same source? The Cimmerian darkness of Homer is close to the mouth
of Ocean, and _near_ that chamber of the Sun, which is at Ææa[568].
Viewing dawn as the middle point between night and day, Homer possibly
connected it with each. It seems further possible, that he connected
the Eastern with the Western darkness: both because this would bring
his two regions of the future world into relations with each other, and
because he makes the Sun disport himself with his oxen on the same spot
in Thrinacie after his setting in the evening, and before his rising in
the morning: a passage, which for its full explanation might require
the supposition, that Homer believed the earth to be cylindrical in
form, and thus the extremes of East and West to meet[569]. There will
shortly be occasion to revert to this subject, in further considering
what were the constituent parts of Homer’s East.

[567] Liddell and Scott _in voc._

[568] Od. xi. 13-16. xii. 1-4.

[569] See Friedreich, Realien, §. 9. p. 19.

_Homeric distances and rates of speed._

I shall trust mainly then to winds, thus ascertained from Homer’s Inner
world, as the means of indicating the directions of the movements
described in his Outer one. But besides directions, we have distances
to consider. And here too we have some evidence, supplied by his
experimental knowledge, to guide us.

By combining the inner-world _data_ of distance with those of
direction, we shall obtain the essential conditions of decision for the
outer-world problems. Conditions both essential and sufficient, when we
can lay hold upon them; but we shall still have to contend with this
difficulty, that in one or two remarkable cases the Poet takes refuge
in language wholly vague, and leaves us no guide for our conjectures,
except the rule of making the unascertained conform in spirit to what
has been made reasonably certain.

The distances of which I now speak are sea-distances. It is a somewhat
remarkable fact, that Homer scarcely gives us land-distances at all.
Telemachus and Pisistratus drive in two days from Pylus to Sparta: but
it is not the wont of the Poet to describe places, which communicate
over land, by the number of days occupied in travelling between them.
This circumstance is illustrative of a trait, which assumes great
importance in Homer’s Outer Geography, namely, the miniature scale of
his conceptions as to all land-spaces; a trait, I may add, to which we
shall have occasion to revert.

The sea-distances of Homer are performed in no less than six different

  1. By ordinary sailing.
  2. By ordinary rowing.
  3. By rafts, Od. v. 251.
  4. By drifting on a timber, Od. xiv. 310-15.
  5. By floating and swimming, Od. v. 374, 5, 388, 399.

Sixthly, and lastly, the ships of the Phæacians perform their voyages
by an inward instinct, and with a rapidity described as marvellous.

~_Evidence as to rates of motion._~

The language of the poems nowhere takes cognizance of any difference in
speed as between sailing and rowing. For example, when Achilles speaks
of the time of his voyage to Phthia as dependent upon εὐπλοίη, which
the favour of Neptune could give, he evidently means a good sea and
the absence of tempest, and does not at all bargain for a wind from
a particular quarter, which was not a matter lying within Neptune’s
especial province. Nor does there seem to be, on general grounds, any
cause for assuming a difference between the average speeds of rowing
and of sailing, when we consider, in favour of the first, that the
crew rowed almost to a man, with little cargo to carry; and, to the
prejudice of the second, that the science and art of building quick
sailers could not then have been understood. I therefore take rowing
and sailing as equal in celerity. So that we have in reality no more
than five different cases to consider.

But, again, I think there is no reason why we should assume a
difference in speed between drifting on a piece of timber, and making
way by floating and swimming only. In practicability there may be a
considerable difference: but that is not the point before us.

The four methods now remaining seem to require the assumption of
different speeds respectively.

Now Homer has supplied us with the times necessary for performing known
distances in two cases; and has also given us a third case, which may
be used for checking one of the other instances.

A case of known distance is that from the mouth of the Straits
of Gallipoli to Phthia. This, according to Achilles in the Ninth
Iliad[570], would, with favourable weather, be performed so as to
arrive on the third day. It may amount to a little more than three
degrees, and may be taken at two hundred and twenty miles. The time is
three days and two nights. So that, for ordinary sailing or rowing, a
day and a night may be taken at about ninety miles, of course without
any pretension to minute accuracy.

[570] Il. ix. 362.

Secondly. With a good passage, a ship sailing from Crete to Egypt
arrives on the fifth day (Od. xiv. 257). But we cannot consider Homer’s
opinion of the distance between Crete and Egypt as entitled to the
full weight of his experimental knowledge. Again, it is to be borne in
mind, that here the north wind, which carries the ship, was a prime one
(ἀκραὴς καλὸς, 253). Lastly, much might depend on the part of Crete,
from which we suppose the vessel to have sailed.

As respects the last-named question, we must, from the habits of
ancient navigation, suppose the eastern extremity of the island to have
been the point of departure; because no sailor would have committed
himself to Boreas on the open sea, as long as he could make way under
cover of a shore lying to windward.

The distance between the eastern point of Crete and the western mouth
of the Nile is about three hundred and fifty miles; the time five days
and four nights. This would give a somewhat less rate of progress _per
diem_ than the last case; but then it is likely that Homer took the
distance to be greater in that almost unknown sea (see Od. iii. 320.)
than it really is; so that we have cause to view the two computations
as in substance accordant. And even if they had clashed, the former
would still be entitled to our acceptance.

What, however, does appear to be the case is, that Homer mistook the
course from Crete to Egypt. It is really S. W.: he has defined it by
the wind Boreas, which never blows from a point westward, or at the
very uttermost never from one materially westward, of N. So that the
course must have been about S. Now, as Homer knew the position of
Crete, this would show that he brought Egypt too much to the westward,
by shortening the eastern recess or arm of the Mediterranean; an error
in exact conformity, I conceive, with all his operations in imagining
the geography of the east. But this by the way.

The third test of sea-distances is supplied by the pretended passage
of Ulysses, on a mast, from a point just out of sight of Crete[571] to
Thesprotia[572]. He arrives on the tenth night. The distance exceeds,
by about one half, the voyage from Troas to Phthia. The time is nearly
four times as long. But then some allowance may be made for delay on
the score of the irregular winds (ὀλοοὶ ἄνεμοι) which prevailed. We may
therefore justly calculate the rate of a floating or drift-passage at
about one half that of a sailing passage, or two miles an hour instead
of four. And here our direct evidence closes.

[571] Od. xiv. 301.

[572] Ibid. 310-15.

At an intermediate point between these, we may place the mode of
passage by raft, which brought Ulysses from Ogygia. For merchant ships
were built broad in the beam; and the raft was as broad as a merchant
ship[573]. Thus constructed, and with its flat bottom, it must have
been very greatly slower than an ordinary sailing vessel, and I venture
to put it by conjecture as low as two and a half miles an hour.

[573] Od. v. 249-51.

Lastly, we have to consider the rates of the Scherian ships. About
these the only thing that is clear is, that Homer meant to represent
them as far exceeding all known speed of the kind. They went, says
Alcinous, to Eubœa, or as the verse may be rendered, to Eubœa and back,
in a day[574]: they are like a chariot with four horses scouring the
plain; the hawk, swiftest of birds, could not keep up with them[575].
We cannot, I think, pretend to appreciate with great precision Homer’s
meaning in this point; but it is plain that, as he had a map of some
kind in his head, he must have had some meaning with respect to the
distance performed by the ship from Scheria, though probably a vague
one. I think we may venture to take it at three times the speed of the
ordinary sailing vessel, or at about twelve miles an hour.

[574] Od. vii. 325.

[575] Od. xiii. 81, 86.

Thus, taking drift-speed for our unit, we have the following scale
approximately established:

1. Drift = 2 miles per hour = 48 miles per day of 24 hours.

2. Raft = 1¼ drift = 2½ miles per hour = 60 miles per day of 24 hours.

3. Sailing or rowing ship = 2 drift = 4 miles per hour = 96 miles per
day of 24 hours.

4. Hawk-ship of Scheria = 3 sailing ship = 6 drift = 12 miles per hour
= 288 miles per day of 24 hours.--

Let us next proceed to consider, whether there are any cardinal ideas
of particular places or arrangements in the Outer Geography of Homer,
which govern its general structure. For such ideas may, together
with the _data_ that we have now drawn from the circle of his Inner
or Experimental Geography, assist us in the examination of what
undoubtedly at first sight appear to be almost chaotic details.

~_Northward sea-route to the Euxine._~

Setting out from this point, my first business is to show, that Homer
believed in a sea-route from the Mediterranean to the Euxine, other
than that of the Straits of Gallipoli and the Bosphorus. This route
was formed in his mind, as I shall endeavour to prove, by cutting off
the land from east to west, a little to the north of the Peninsula
of Greece, all the way from the Adriatic to the Euxine. Thus we
practically substitute an expanse of sea for the mass of the European
continent; and we must not conceive of any definite boundary to this
θάλασσα, other than the mysterious one which may finally separate
it from Ocean. Or, in other words, we must give to the Black Sea
an indefinite extension to the west and north-west, perhaps also
shortening it in the direction of the East. This is the one master
variation from nature in Homer’s ideal geography[576]; and, when his
belief on this subject has been sufficiently proved, almost every thing
else will fall into its place with comparative ease.

[576] On this hypothesis is founded the Homeric _Erdkarte_ of Forbiger,
Handbuch der Alt. Geogr. I. 4.

I will endeavour to illustrate and sustain this hypothesis from
the positive evidence, either direct or inferential, of the poems:
and I hope to show that it stands upon grounds independent of the
negative argument, that it is absolutely necessary in order to supply
a key to the Wanderings. At the same time, I hold that that negative
argument, if made good, would suffice: for, though we do no violence
to probability in imputing to the geography of the Odyssey any amount
of variance, however great, from actual nature, yet we should sorely
offend against reason, if we supposed that Homer had constructed a
route so elaborate and detailed, without laying it out before his own
mental vision, and presenting it to that of his hearers, after the
fashion of something like a map. This was alike demanded by the realism
(so to speak) of the time, and needful for the complete comprehension
and easy enjoyment of the romance.

The indications on this subject, apart from the evidence of the
Wanderings themselves, are as follows:

1. When, in the Thirteenth Iliad[577], Jupiter turns away his eyes
from the battle by the Ships, he turns them towards the north-east: in
the direction, that is, in which, according to the hypothesis above
stated, there was for Homer not, as we now know to be the case, a
wide expanse of land capable of containing a countless multitude of
tribes, but, after a certain interval, a vast and unexplored sea. Now
the Poet tells us, not that Jupiter looked over an indefinite mass of
continent, or the ἀπείρονα γαῖαν; but that he looked over the country
of the Thracians, the Mysians, the Hippemolgi, the Glactophagi, and
the Abii. Moreover, he indicates, by giving characteristic epithets to
each of these nations, that they lay more or less within the sphere
of contact with Greek intercourse and experience, and therefore at no
great distance to the northward: for not only are the Thracians riders
of horses, but the Mysians are fighters hand to hand, the Hippemolgi
are formidable or venerable, and the Abii are the most righteous of
men. The Glactophagi are defined by their name as feeders upon milk.
This limited and characteristic enumeration is in conformity, at the
very least, with the hypothesis, that Homer imagined in that direction
no continuous succession of land and of inhabitants, but a sea
circumscribing the country of Thrace to the north.

[577] Il. xiii. 1.

2. A more marked indication is, I think, yielded by the passage of the
Odyssey, in which Alcinous says to Ulysses, ‘We will convey you to your
home, even though it should be more distant than Eubœa, the furthest
point that has been visited by our people; of whom some saw it, when
they carried Rhadamanthus thither, in the matter of Tityus, son of the

[578] Od. vii. 19-26.

It appears to me evident, that Homer means in this place to suppose a
maritime route between Scheria and Eubœa, to the North of Thrace. He is
not, we must remember, experimentally informed as to the position of
Scheria itself, and probably he conceived it to lie quite outside the
sphere of Greece, at a considerable distance to the northward. Though
he brings Ulysses from thence to Ithaca in a day, this is effected
by the privileged and miraculous rapidity of passage, which was the
distinguishing gift of the Phæacians, as the kin of the Immortals.
They are indeed in contact, according to the poem, with the habitable
world, but they are strictly upon the outer line of it. They are of
the race of Neptune: related to the Cyclops and the Giants: their
ordinary life and their maritime routes could not, without doing
utter violence to the conceptions of the Poet, be brought within the
sphere of ordinary Greek experience. We cannot, therefore, be intended
to suppose them to have carried the ancient Rhadamanthus past every
known town, port, and point in Greece; past Ithaca, Dulichium, the
Cephallenes, Pylus, and the rest. Nor would Eubœa, thus approached,
be to Ulysses, who had himself visited Aulis on his way to Troy, a
good type of remoteness: nor does it answer that description for the
Phæacians themselves, if we consider it according to geographic prose;
for though the way to it is long, it is not so distant in a direct line
as other parts of Greece, Crete for example; and any people who had
made a voyage to Eubœa by sea, round the peninsula, would know very
well that the proper way to it was by land. We must, in short, presume
such a position for the Scheria of Homer, as to imply a communication
by sea between it and Eubœa, other than that through the known waters
of Greece.

But if we suppose a maritime passage from the Adriatic round Thrace
to exist, then we keep the Phæacians entirely in their own element,
as borderers between the world of Greek experience, and the world of
fable. They still, when they carry Rhadamanthus, as in all other cases,
hang upon the skirt, as it were, of actual humanity. And, thus viewed,
Eubœa might fairly stand for a type of extreme remoteness.

3. Another passage of Homer, when understood according to its
geographical bearings, appears to me, of itself, nearly conclusive upon
this question.

When Mercury is ordered to carry the message of the gods from Olympus
to Calypso[579], his proceedings are carefully described. He equipped
himself with his foot-wings (Od. v. 44), took in hand his wand (47),
and got upon the wing (49). The next step in the narrative is,

[579] Od. v. 43-58.

  Πιερίην δ’ ἐπιβὰς, ἐξ αἰθέρος ἔμπεσε πόντῳ· (50.)

He then bounded along the wave (51), reached the remote island (55),
landed on the beach (56), and finally arrived at the cave (57). I think
no one can read this description, which extends over sixteen verses,
without feeling that it is meant to convey to us, that Mercury moved
with great rapidity in a right line, the shortest by which he could
reach his destination. But now, if this be so, then, as Pieria lies to
the northward of Olympus, we have only to ask how does he pursue his
further route? From Pieria he sweeps down upon the sea, and rides upon
the waves (54) all the way to Ogygia. It is hopeless to fit this even
by a moderate deviation either way to any existing sea: we have only,
therefore, to conclude, in conformity with the other indications, that
Homer believed in a θάλασσα to the northward of Pieria. We cannot take
refuge in the plea, that Homer did not know where Pieria lay. First,
because it was on the Olympian border of Thessaly, and as Homer knew
that region well, he must have known that Pieria lay to the north of
it. Secondly, it was probably within the circle of Greek traditions;
since it is sometimes read for Πηρείῃ in Il. ii. 766, and at any
rate they seem to be in all likelihood different forms of the same
word. Thirdly, a complete proof is given by the route of Juno in the
Fourteenth Iliad. She passes, in accordance with the actual geography,
from Olympus to Pieria, from Pieria (apparently verging eastwards) to
Emathia, and so by the Thracian mountains, evidently of Chalcidice, to

[580] Il. xiv. 225-30.

4. There is another passage which may be cited in direct corroboration
of these views[581]. The spirits of the Suitors passed (1) the stream
of Ocean, and (2) the Leucadian rock; and also passed (3) the gates of
the Sun, and (4) the people of Dream Land.

[581] Od. xxiv. 11.

~_Northward route to the Euxine._~

Now it may be observed, that to pass the Leucadian rock is not the way
from Ithaca to the Straits of Gibraltar: the course would lie round
either the north or the south point of Cephallonia. Neither is it the
way to the Bosphorus and Black Sea; which must be sought by steering
first in a southerly direction. But it is the way to Ocean, and the
nether Shades, if I am correct in my belief that Homer believed the
route to lie along the Adriatic, and round the north of Thrace. Nor
am I aware of any other view of his geography, on which this passage
can be explained. The evidence, which it affords, is at first sight
conclusive in support of the proposition, that Homer’s route to the
Ocean-mouth lay up the Adriatic. But there are two grounds, on which a
scruple may be felt about its reception. First, it stands in the second
Νεκυΐα, the only considerable portion of either poem which appears,
to me at least, open to the suspicion that it may have been seriously
tampered with. Secondly, the order of the passage is singular, as it
runs thus: they passed, or they went towards, the channels of Ocean,
and the Leucadian rock, and the gates of the Sun: while, according to
Homer’s geography, the Leucadian rock would come first, the gates of
the Sun second, and Ocean-mouth would be the last of the three points.

But in answer to the first, the suspicions affecting this passage are
too vague and indeterminate to warrant our rejecting its evidence,
where it is in harmony with the general testimony of Homer. Even if
these lines were interpolated, they would be remarkable as embodying an
ancient, probably a very ancient opinion, as to Homer’s geographical
view on the point at issue.

As regards the second, we may cite the parallel case of Menelaus in
his narrative of his own tour. After Cyprus and Phœnicia, he describes
his visits in the following order: (1) Egypt, (2) Ethiopians, (3)
Sidonians, (4) Erembi, (5) Libya. It is evident that this cannot be
intended to be understood as the order in which the several places were
actually visited[582].

[582] Od. iv. 83-5.

We have thus, I hope, secured for Ulysses, without drawing upon the
Wanderings for testimony, what seamen call a good or wide berth; room
enough for the disposition of his marvels, and the mystery of the
distances between them. In this northern division of the θάλασσα we
may imagine Homer to have placed, without any impropriety, or any
violence done to his experience of his own latitude, both the double
day of the Læstrygones, and the fogs of the Cimmerians. Into it he
might well drive Ulysses by the force of the south wind[583], and from
it bring him back by the strength of Zephyr or of Boreas[584]. Lastly,
by means of this θάλασσα, we can avoid placing Circe and the Sunrise
to the west of Homer’s own country; and we are not obliged to find his
representation of the Πλαγκταὶ involving him in the hopeless absurdity
of contradiction to his own experimental knowledge of the general
direction of Jason’s course with the ship Argo.

[583] Od. xii. 325, 427.

[584] Od. v. 485. x. 25. xii. 407.

~_Amalgamated reports of the Ocean-mouth._~

I now pass on to the second of the two propositions, on which it
appears to me that a reasonable interpretation of the Outer Geography
is to be founded.

It is this: that the Poet has compounded into one two sets of Phœnician
traditions respecting the Ocean-mouth, one of them originally
proceeding from, or belonging to, the West, and the other to the
North-east: and that he has chosen the north-eastern site as the ground
on which to fix the scene of his amalgamated representation.

The argument, which has recently been adduced for another purpose from
the Twenty-fourth Odyssey, is available to show that the Ocean-mouth
of Homer is towards the north: but it does not suffice to decide the
question between North-east and North-west, nor does it decide whether
Homer simply transplanted the Straits of Gibraltar, or whether he mixed
together the accounts of it and of some other strait, and welded them
into one.

This question we must examine from the evidence concerning the
Ocean-mouth supplied by the Wanderings themselves.

Ulysses and his companions, when they enter the great River Ocean,
enter it at a point far north, by the city and country of the
Cimmerians, who are enveloped in cloud and vapour[585]: and they
are carried up or against the stream (παρὰ ῥόον), by the breath of
Boreas[586], to the mouth of the _Inferno_. Returning from thence, they
come down the stream (κατὰ ῥόον Od. xi. 639) back to the sea (θάλασσα);
and they there find themselves at the isle of Circe, where is the
dwelling of Ἠὼς, and where is also the couch, from which the sun rises
in the morning.

[585] Od. xi. 13, 21.

[586] Od. X. 507.

In this account it is not difficult to trace certain outlines of
truth. The ideas of Homer respecting the gates of Ocean would be drawn
from reports which may have related _primâ facie_ to any one of several
geographical points; to the Straits of Gibraltar, to the Bosphorus, to
the Straits of Yenikalè leading into the Sea of Azof, or to all the
three. At one and all of these there appears to be a continual stream
flowing inwards in the direction of the Mediterranean or θάλασσα. One
and all, as sea-straits, present the character of a vast marine river.
In exact accordance with these physical facts, Homer makes the ship
of Ulysses, entering the great River Ocean, sail up the stream. We
may observe in passing, that he describes his θάλασσα as εὐρύπορος,
in evident contrast with the Ocean, which is marked, therefore, by a
contraction of shores.

Further, Homer had conceived the existence of what we may call
ultra-terrene parts, both westwards and eastwards. On the one hand,
Menelaus, after death, is to be carried to the Elysian plain, where
Zephyrs continually blow, springing fresh from the bed of western
Ocean. On the other hand, the groves of Persephone are on the beach of
Ocean, but in the furthest East.

Still it does not at all follow from this, that he had in his mind
the idea of a double egress from the Mediterranean, or, the θάλασσα
at large, to the Ocean. On the contrary, we never hear of any mode of
access to it except one; and his placing the point where Ulysses enters
it amidst mist and cloud, and his calling in the aid of Boreas to carry
the ship to the groves of Persephone and mouth of the Shades (which
he probably intended to be the exact counterpart in position of the
Elysian plain), lead to the belief that his egress from sea to Ocean
was in the north, and that the further route to the Shades lay, for
the most part, in a southerly direction.

~_Open-sea Passage to Ocean-mouth._~

The reader of the Odyssey will observe, that Ulysses encounters on his
passage tempests indeed, but yet nothing in the nature of a dangerous
maritime passage, before he has entered the Ocean-river, and then,
completing his excursion to the nether world, has returned to the
island of Circe[587]. Therefore we may say with certainty, that the
mouth of Oceanus is, according to the ideas of Homer, accessible by the
broad and open sea. Thus we have attained a first condition for the
determination of its site.

[587] Od. xii. 3.

But, before he sets out a second time from Ææa, Circe, now his friend,
directs him as to his onward and homeward course. First, he was to
reach the island of the Sirens[588]. After passing beyond this, the
deity no longer lays before him a single and continuous route[589]:
but indicates to him two alternatives, each involving a most dangerous
passage. The first is described in the lines Od. xii. 59-72, beginning
ἔνθεν μὲν γάρ. The second, which she recommends in vv. 73-110, begins
with οἱ δὲ δύω σκόπελοι: where the δὲ is the _apodosis_ to the μὲν of
v. 59. Now, it must be remembered, that physically there was nothing
to prevent his returning by the way he came, and thus avoiding both of
these passages. Why then does Homer expose him to such extraordinary
danger, leaving him no option but either total destruction, or the
certain loss, at the least, of six men of his crew[590]?

[588] Ibid. 39, 167.

[589] Ibid. 56.

[590] Ibid. 109, 10.

The voyage of Ulysses might have been given us by the Poet as the
execution of a divine plan, comprehensively premeditated as a whole:
but it is not so: it is shown us as simply prolonged from time to time
by some error of his own or of his companions, or by the spite of
Neptune, or by the vengeance which the Sun demanded and obtained[591].
At Ææa he has nothing to do, but to take the best way home. Tiresias
had indeed prophesied that he would come to Thrinacie[592], but nowhere
intimates that he was to be divinely compelled to do this, or that he
would take that route for any other reason than according to his own
best judgment. Why then does he not return, as he had come, by the open
sea, instead of tempting either of the two passages of peril?

[591] Od. i. 75. xii. 373 _et seqq._

[592] Od. xi. 104-7.

The answer I believe to be this. He was subject to the resentment of
Neptune, who operates by storm in the open sea. Otium divos rogat in
_patenti_ prensus Ægæo. As in the heroic age, every wound, generally
speaking, is death, so storm either invariably or commonly means
foundering or shipwreck. Thus then Ulysses might prudently keep to
landlocked waters and narrow seas, even with a crisis of great danger
before him, rather than face the angry Sea-god on the long passages
over the open main, by which he had come to the land of the Cyclops,
and so onwards to Ææa.

Rationalized, and reduced to its simplest form, this seems to imply
that the routes pointed out to him by Circe, and perhaps especially
that which he was to prefer, were short cuts either to his home, or at
least back into the Inner or Greek world. And in conformity with this
supposition, the whole prediction of Circe appears to presume that a
passage of moderate length would bring him back within the known world;
for it never speaks of the breadth of any unknown sea to be crossed,
which to the navigators of that day was always its most formidable

In the mental view of Homer, then, the passage of Scylla could not lie
much beyond the horizon of his own Greek world and of geography proper.
This was the more eligible of the two routes. The other was that of
the Πλαγκταὶ, or Bosphorus. It was rejected as involving certain
destruction: for only Jason had safely passed it by the aid of Juno,
and Pallas was not now at hand to succour Ulysses; since he was outside
that Greek world, to which her action has been restricted, generally
speaking, and in all likelihood for poetical reasons, in the Odyssey.
Now, since both these passages are spoken of as apparently lying near
the island of the Sirens, which is itself separated, as far as we can
judge, by no long interval from Ææa and Circe, the next inferences
we have to draw are two of very great importance. The first is, that
although the one strait of Homer physically corresponds with the
Straits of Messina, while by the other he plainly means the Bosphorus,
yet he conceived of these as within no great distance of one another.
The second inference is that, according to the belief of Homer, the
waters beyond the Bosphorus were accessible by some channel other than
that of the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmora: for otherwise Ulysses could
not have placed himself on the farther side of those terrible narrows,
except by navigating one of them.

~_Three maritime routes to Ocean-mouth._~

There were therefore three maritime routes by which Homer conceived
that mouth of Ocean, which Ulysses entered, to be approachable:

1. The route by which the hero actually arrived there:

2. The route of Scylla and Charybdis, by which he returned from it:

3. The route of the Bosphorus, by which Jason had passed, and which
Ulysses might, according to the description of Circe, have attempted.

But now, what in the view of Homer was this mouth of Ocean? that is,
on what geographical basis rested the reports or descriptions which he
adopted for the groundwork of his picture? We cannot but admire, as we
pass along, the manner in which the Phœnicians guarded the treasures of
their distant markets: no way lay to them except through a choice of
terrors; terror in the boundless expanse of devouring waters; terror
in shipwreck by the Πλαγκταὶ, which none but Jason (so says Circe, the
Phœnician witness) had escaped; terror in certain loss of men by the
voracious maw of Scylla. What, however, was this Ocean-mouth that lay
beyond them?

My answer is, that there are two mouths of Ocean, either of which
might tolerably correspond with the Homeric picture, if tried only by
its relation to the intermediate points that are represented by these
dangerous passages.

Firstly, the Straits of Gibraltar, leading to the Atlantic.

Secondly, the Straits of Kertch or Yenikalè, leading to the Sea of Azof.

~_Straits of Gibraltar as Ocean-mouth._~

1. As regards the Straits of Gibraltar, they correspond with the
Homeric description in respect of their great distance from Ithaca: of
their current ever setting inwards to the Mediterranean: of their being
accessible, without previously leaving the wide or open sea for any
narrow passage: of their being, we may confidently believe, within the
maritime experience of the Phœnicians. Further, on the route to them
there lies an island triangular in form, which was already described
by the name Thrinacie[593]. Again, it would appear that there were
other islands between Thrinacie and this Ocean-mouth. For both Circe
and the Sirens inhabit islands. Even the nearest of the Balearic isles,
namely, Ibiza, is from the Straits of Gibraltar about as far as Crete
from Egypt, which we know to have been estimated by the Poet at five
days’ sail. It seems, however, not unlikely that Homer, having received
a notice of the Balearic isles in the Phœnician reports concerning the
Pillars of Atlas, carried them over, together with Atlas himself, into
the eastern situation, where he blends two sets of traditions into one.
He may therefore have been supplied from this source with materials for
his island of Circe and island of the Sirens.

[593] Od. xii. 127.

Lastly, although the misty Cimmerians are close by the Ocean-mouth,
while the atmosphere of Gibraltar is warm and sunny, yet even the
fogs may find their prototype in St. George’s Channel[594], or in the
Straits of Dover, and it may also be said that, in the hazy distance of
a Phœnician captain’s tale, they might from Homer’s point of view seem
to stand nearly together. But still this is a difficulty. There are
other more serious impediments, which make it absolutely impossible for
us to say that the Homeric mouth of Ocean corresponds with the Straits
of Gibraltar. This one especially: that he has, by a multitude of ties,
fastened down his mouth of Ocean to an eastern rather than a western
site; for there, at least hard by, is the dwelling of Aurora; there is
the morning couch of the Sun; there is Circe, sister of Æetes, to whose
country Jason sailed through the Bosphorus; and these both have had the
Sun for their father, and Perse, daughter of Ocean, without doubt an
eastern and not a western personage, for their mother[595]. The site
of Ææa will, however, together with that of Ogygia, receive presently
a fuller consideration.

[594] Quart. Rev. vol. 102. p. 324.

[595] Od. x. 135-9, and xii. 1-4.

~_Straits of Yenikalè as Ocean-mouth._~

Let us turn then to the other alternative in the inquiry.

2. As the Straits of Gibraltar offer a resemblance to the Homeric
picture, by their lying beyond the Straits of Messina, so do the
Straits of Yenikalè, by their lying beyond the Bosphorus. The perpetual
current inwards[596] is another feature of correspondence, such as may
apply to both the cases, and such as probably assisted the process at
which I shall presently glance. The whole group of Oriental conditions,
attaching to Homer’s Ocean-mouth, appear to be exactly realized in the
straits of Yenikalè.

[596] Danby Seymour’s Black Sea and Sea of Azof, ch. xvii.

The Cimmerian country of Homer is represented down to the present day
by the Crimea, one of the most ancient passages from Asia into Europe,
and probably known to the Phœnicians, who could well enough pass the
Bosphorus themselves, while making it a bugbear to others. The cloud,
in which these Cimmerians are wrapped, finds its counterpart in the
notoriously frequent winter fogs of the Euxine. The peninsula, lying
on the very Straits themselves, is in exact correspondence with the
passage (Od. xi. 13),

  ἡ δ’ εἰς πείραθ’ ἵκανε βαθυρρόου Ὠκεανοῖο·
  ἔνθα δὲ Κιμμερίων ἀνδρῶν δῆμός τε πόλις τε.

The only point of the description which is less faithfully represented
at this point than at the other, is the epithet βαθύρροος. This agrees
better with the deep water of Gibraltar, than with the (now at least)
shallow current of Yenikalè[597].

[597] Ibid. The _minimum_ appears to be fourteen feet: but it seems to
have been much deeper in old times.

Nor is it unnatural, that near the Cimmerian darkness he should place
the home of Aurora and the Eastern Sun: for it is out of darkness that
dawn and day must ever rise; and we have occasion to notice, in various
forms, the association in Homer’s mind of ideas belonging to darkness
with the East. Again, there is a combination of a northerly with an
easterly direction in the conditions of the Homeric description, which
is exactly met by the position of these Straits relatively to Greece.

But if we say, that these Straits form the single prototype of the
Homeric description, we are again met by hopeless contradictions.
For there does not lie any triangular island close by the Bosphorus,
which might answer to Thrinacie: and there is no free maritime passage
whatever, other than the Bosphorus, by which the Ocean-mouth, that is,
the mouth of the _Palus Mæotis_, can be attained by a person who has
Troy for his point of departure.

These facts appear to direct us plainly towards one satisfactory, and
as it seems inevitable, conclusion. It is exhibited in the sentences
that immediately follow.

First, it seems at once clear that Homer either knew, or else dimly
figured to himself by Phœnician report, certain geographical facts,
including those which follow:--

1. That there was an island, whose figure was defined by a word
signifying three promontories, and which was accessible by a passage on
the western side of Greece.

2. That near this island, there lay on one side the jaw of a dangerous

3. That either on the other side of it or in some other neighbouring
quarter lay the open sea, and a route along it, by which the further
side of the island might be reached, without traversing the narrow.

4. That at a point beyond both these openings (I say nothing for the
present of the points of the compass) there lay a great stream such
as he called Ὠκεανὸς, flowing always inwards to the θάλασσα, which he
supposed to be fed by it (Il. xxi. 196).

5. That there was likewise a passage, which Homer called the Πλαγκταὶ,
accessible from the eastern side of Greece; and through which Jason,
and as he believed Jason alone, had sailed.

6. That at a point beyond this passage too, there lay an expanse of
sea, θάλασσα, and again a great stream, such as he called Ὠκεανὸς,
flowing always inwards to the θάλασσα.

Now we have seen that he gives us in the poem one mouth, and one
mouth only, of Ὠκεανὸς, which corresponds with every one of these
propositions taken singly: it is, according to him, beyond Thrinacie,
beyond the Straits of Scylla and Charybdis, attainable by an open sea
passage, and beyond the Πλαγκταὶ or Bosphorus.

It seems to follow almost mathematically, that he believed in an open
sea route, which must have lain to the north, and which established a
communication, independent of the Bosphorus, between the Mediterranean
and the Euxine.

~_He blends two sets of reports into one._~

It also hereby appears that he had received from the Phœnicians
two sets of reports, one relating to western, and the other to
north-eastern navigation, but both involving a description of a great
inward flowing stream as an ultimate point, agreeably to his idea of
the River Ocean. These two ulterior points, obtained respectively
from each set of reports, Homer, led by the similarity of features,
has blended into one. We can even now take his untrue representation
to pieces, and can see where and how it separates into two, each of
them geographically true. In his one mouth of Ocean he has combined
the conditions, that in nature belong to two separate geographical
points. Both the north-eastern report and the western report he
has amalgamated, by carrying the remote point of the former round,
so to speak, in order to meet the latter: and having thus made his
Ocean-mouth northern, as well as eastern, he consistently calls in
Boreas to take the ship of Ulysses to the mouth of the Shades below, so
as to fix that point in the east, because it was the counterpart to his
Elysian fields which lay in the west. The two sets of Phœnician reports
are in this way oddly brought to integrate one another. The Ocean mouth
in the Euxine gets the benefit of the open sea route; and the Ocean
mouth at Gibraltar has credit for being placed in a northern latitude
and eastern longitude; each report thus throwing its own separate
attributes into the common stock.

The effect of thus forcing Yenikalè and Gibraltar to meet, naturally
enough brings the Faro of Messina and the Bosphorus near to one
another: and hence Circe, in the Twelfth Book, names them to Ulysses as
alternative routes, both apparently lying in the same region.

But again I say, that in order to comprehend the Outer or imaginary
geography of the Odyssey, we must entirely dismiss from our minds the
map of Europe as it is. We must treat as having been a real map to
Homer only the little sphere which was embraced within the resort of
ordinary Greek navigation. Beyond that narrow range, we must consider
him as distributing land and sea in the manner he best could, by
the aid of reports, necessarily in that age most indistinct, and in
all likelihood exaggerated, and even wilfully darkened to boot, by
trading craft. Sometimes therefore he puts a people upon poetical
_terra firma_ at points, where it fortunately but accidentally turns
out that nature has provided an antitype for the imagery of the Poem.
Sometimes he lodges them where there is none; _ubi nîl nisi pontus et
aer_. But though details are to be thus disposed of, still the one
master variation from actual nature is this; the sea extended from
the Mediterranean to the Euxine, behind, i. e. to the north of, the
Bosphorus and of Thrace. This gives us that open passage into the
Euxine, by which Homer supposed Ulysses to have reached the maritime
region, that Jason had sought and found through the Bosphorus.

In sum; it is too plain to require much of the detailed proof which I
have tried to give, that Homer believed in a great expanse of waters
lying somewhere to the north. The probability is, that from some
Phœnician source he had heard rumours of the great German Ocean. It
need not to us appear strange that his mind did not readily conceive
an extent of land like that of the continent of Europe, when we notice
that his experience made him conversant partly with islands, partly
with countries in minute subdivisions, and of small breadth from sea
to sea. This great imaginary mass of waters he included within the
θάλασσα, to which everything belonged as far as the point where the
great River Oceanus was reached.

I think then that we have now found the two keys to the Outer Geography,

1. In the sea-route north of Thrace;

2. In the amalgamation of the western with the north-eastern report of
the Ocean-mouth.

From the site of the Ocean-mouth of Homer, we may most naturally
proceed to examine the site of Ææa; which, as being within one day’s
sail, is a kind of porter’s lodge to it[598], and is a point of the
utmost importance in the system. Hitherto I have proceeded only by
assertion, so far as the site of the Homeric Ææa is conceived. But to
defend the second main proposition or key to the system, in the face of
counter-theories, it will be necessary to examine, with as much care as
may be, all the Homeric evidence that bears either upon this question,
or upon the kindred one of the site of Ogygia.

[598] Od. xii. 10-13.

We have then to inquire, subject to the rules which have been laid
down, first, whether Ææa, the island of Circe, is to be placed, its
northward direction being generally admitted, in the north-west or in
the north-east?

Secondly, as dependent very much upon the prior question, and as
entering at the same time largely into the proof of it, what is the
site of Ogygia, the island of Calypso?

~_North-western hypothesis for the site of Ææa._~

Now I think that the arguments, which have been used for the
north-western theory, have been principally founded,

1. Upon precipitate inferences, drawn from some one or more of Homer’s
outer-world statements, and then illegitimately used in order to govern
the rest of them;

2. Upon the course of the later tradition, which was led, probably by
the course of colonization, to identify and appropriate the particulars
of the Outer Geography rather in the West than in the East. For Sicily
and Italy became at an early period familiar to the Greeks; but it was
long before they grew to be well acquainted with the more dangerous,
remote, and isolated navigation of the Black Sea[599]. Perhaps,
indeed, the main reason for placing the tour of Ulysses all along in
the West has been no better than this; that Homer has given us an
account of an island apparently corresponding in form with Sicily;
which it may very well do, and yet the conception of the site may be
totally erroneous. Again, with respect to traditional authority, I
apprehend it may be asserted, that the Fragment of Mimnermus[600],
which carries Jason to the East, to the chamber of the Sun, and to the
city of Æetes, as to one and the same point, expresses an universal
tradition, so far as the voyage of the Argonauts is concerned. And I
would also observe, that the current local appropriations about the
coast of Italy seem to be given up on all hands as geographically
worthless: the only question is, not so much that of removal, as
into which of two quarters they shall be transplanted. On the other
hand, the principal arguments for the north-eastern hypothesis are,
as I conceive, founded upon legitimate inferences, drawn from the
inner-world or experimental statements of Homer, and then applied, by a
law essentially sound, to determine the cardinal problems of his Outer

[599] Müller’s Orchomenos, p. 269.

[600] Mimn. Fragm. x. quoted in Strabo, i. p. 67.

~_North-eastern hypothesis._~

For example, much will depend upon the answer to the question, whether
we are to carry the Straits of Messina, or rather the fable of Scylla
and Charybdis, taken to represent them, eastwards, or whether we are in
preference to move the Bosphorus westwards.

I answer without hesitation, that it is much more reasonable to
construe Homer as shifting essentially the site of Scylla and
Charybdis, than the site of the Bosphorus; and for the following

We have not the slightest reason to suppose that either Sicily or the
Scylla passage came within the experimental knowledge of Homer and the
Greeks of his time, either as to the island and the Strait themselves,
or as to the direction in which they lay.

We find indeed that a continuance of winds, which ranged between E.
and S. W. detained Ulysses in Thrinacie or Trinacria. It has from this
been, as I think by much too hastily, inferred that Thrinacie lay to
the north-west of Ithaca[601]. Even if it did so, we should still
miss the true bearing of Sicily, which is west, with all inclination
to the south, and not north-west, from Ithaca. But the assumption is
in fact unwarranted. The wind, which principally held Ulysses fast in
Thrinacie, was, as is evident from the passage, Notus, a southerly
wind. Eurus plays a secondary part there[602]. Besides this, the wind,
which Ulysses needed, may have been needed to bring him not to Ithaca,
but to some point on his way to Ithaca, from whence his bearings would
be known; to some point at which, from the Outer, it would have been
practicable for him to re-enter the Inner or Greek world. The needful
conditions would be satisfied if, for instance, Thrinacie lay either
north-west or north-east from the Dardanelles; and then Ulysses would
want either Zephyr or else Boreas to get there. And the opposite theory
proceeds upon the entirely arbitrary, nay, untrue, assumption, that the
way back through the Narrows was, like the way by which Ulysses had
come to Ææa, an open-sea route, and not one in which the course would
have to be governed by fixed points of land lying along the course.

[601] Müller’s Orchomenos, p. 272. Nitzsch, Od. xii. 361.

[602] Od. xii. 325, 6.

There is then no middle term between Thrinacie and any fixed point of
the Inner Homeric world, from which we can by direct inference argue as
to its site. And the winds, which detain Ulysses in Thrinacie, go far
of themselves to show that this island is not on the site of Sicily.

The case is far otherwise in regard to the Bosphorus, or Πλαγκταὶ, of
the Odyssey. For here we know,

1. That Homer was familiar with the Dardanelles, a stage on the way to
it, and not very far from it:

2. That he makes Jason pass the Bosphorus:

3. That he also makes Jason settle at Lemnos, and become sovereign of
the island, evidently in connection with his route from Thessaly to the

But Thessaly, and Lemnos too, are places of the inner world: with
Lemnos the Poet appears to have been accurately acquainted; and the
line between that island and the home of Jason determines absolutely
so much as this; that the general direction of his voyage was known by
Homer, at least up to this point, to have lain to the north-eastward
through the Straits of Gallipoli.

I hold therefore that the passage of the Πλαγκταὶ is fixed immovably,
by known-world evidence, as to its general direction: that to
transplant it to the west, is to break up the foundations of Homer’s
experimental knowledge, which is always to be trusted: whereas to move
his Thrinacie eastward is merely to suppose that he gave the site which
was poetically most convenient to a tradition which, as it came to him,
had no site at all, no positive local or geographical determination.

~_Character and site of Thrinacie._~

Again, I take the island Thrinacie by itself; and I contend that,
although the report on which this delineation was founded may probably
have had its origin in Sicily, yet the Thrinacie of Homer is associated
rather with the East than with the West.

For, though he has given us no geographical means for directly
determining the site, he has supplied us with other means that belong,
not to Phœnician rumour or fireside tale, but to his own knowledge and
experience. Since nothing can be more certain, than that the leading
local association of the Sun, for Homer as for all mankind, is with the
east. It is true that he is in the west just as often as in the east;
but we certainly hold Napoleon to belong more to Corsica than to Saint
Helena; and so the mind connects the Sun with the place of his daily
birth, and not with that of his daily death. Now, without entering upon
any other question for the present, I only observe, that in Thrinacie
are the oxen with which the Sun disports himself when not engaged in
his daily labours; that is, as he himself supplies the explanation,
both before they begin, and after they are ended[603]. In deference,
then, to those associations, founded on actual nature, which for the
present purpose are strictly facts, I cannot hesitate to maintain, that
the island of Thrinacie is upon the whole, relatively to Greece, an
eastern island.

[603] Od. xii. 380.

A like inference may be drawn from the names Lampetie (λάμπειν) and
Phaethusa (φάος), which he has given to the Nymphs of the Sun. Had the
island been in his intention western, he would have called them by
names of a different etymology.

And as the Scylla passage, which is on its coast, is near the Πλαγκταὶ,
I think we shall pretty closely conform to the views of Homer, if
we make Thrinacie form the western side of the Bosphorus, and if we
separate it by an imaginary or poetical Scylla from the main land of
Turkey in Europe.

Again, it is admitted that Αἰήτης has his name from Αἰαίη. From the
personal relations of Æetes, as well as from those of his daughter
Circe, we may therefore argue respecting the site of Ææa, provided we
can attach them to any known and fixed point of the system of Homeric

Now their parentage furnishes a point of this kind, on both the
father’s and the mother’s side. Their father is the Sun: a divinity
not, like the Apollo or Minerva[604], de-localized, but one having his
daily sojourn (out of work-hours) in the east. The mother is Perse: and
enough, I think, has been shown with respect to the import of this name
for the Achæan mind[605], to make it pretty certain that, when Homer
gives a residence to the children of Perse, he intends it to be in the

[604] See Olympus, sect. iii. p. 82.

[605] See Achæis, or Ethnology, sect. x; and Olympus, sect. iv. p. 220,
on Persephone.

It is now time to bring more directly into the discussion a point much
contested--the situation of the island of Calypso. The usual modes of
solution, which place the original of this picture on the Bruttian
coast or in Malta[606], are inadmissible in spirit as well as in the
letter. For very great remoteness is the most essential point in the
description, and to bring it near would wholly change its character. It
requires eighteen days of favourable wind[607] to come by raft within
sight of Scheria from Ogygia: while even the distance from Crete to
Egypt, a greater one than from the Bruttian coast to Greece, might
be performed, as Homer thinks, in five[608]. It is the midpoint, or
ὄμφαλος[609], of a vast expanse of sea: and Mercury, passing thither
from Olympus, mentions the route as one which traverses a mighty space
of water, without habitations of men between[610]. Again, the name
of Calypso (καλύπτειν) places it wholly beyond the circle of Greek
maritime experience: as does her relation to Atlas, who holds the
pillars, that is, stands at the extremity, of earth and sea. The first
and cardinal point to be fixed therefore is its decided, if not extreme

[606] Schönemann de Geogr. Hom. p. 20. Nitzsch on Od. v. 50, n.

[607] Od. v. 268-75.

[608] Od. xiv. 257.

[609] Od. i. 50.

[610] Od. v. 100-2.

Next, if it is thus remote, we find by a process of exhaustion that it
must be in the north. As far as we know, Homer recognised the African
coast by placing the Lotophagi upon it, and the Ethiopians inland from
the East all the way to the extreme West. In that direction there is no
more θάλασσα, or sea. And again, as Nitzsch truly remarks, Scheria is
on the proper homeward line of the voyage of Ulysses[611]. Consequently
he cannot pass, nor can he even approach, Ithaca while on his way to
Scheria: I add, he must come to it down the Adriatic on his way to

[611] Nitzsch on Od. v. 276-8.

~_Site of Ogygia to the East of North._~

Now we are provided with an important argument, drawn, like some
preceding ones, from what we may fairly call Homer’s experience, and
tending to fix the site of Ogygia in the north or north-east. It is
derived from the route taken by Mercury, when he carries the message
of the Immortals to Calypso, which in another point of view we have
already had to examine[612]:

[612] Od. v. 50.

  Πιερίην δ’ ἐπιβὰς, ἐξ αἰθέρος ἔμπεσε πόντῳ.

We are obliged to suppose, as has been observed, that Mercury, who
does not march, but flies like a bird wont to hunt for fish[613], must
move in a direct line towards his object. But Pieria is a district
stretching along the shore of Macedonia; it begins in the south, to
the eastward of Olympus, and then extends due north of it. Its limits
are variously defined[614]; but the only question about it could be,
whether it verges, not to the westward, but to the eastward of North.
Again, from the route of Juno in the Fourteenth Iliad[615], no question
can arise, except what would tend to give Pieria an eastward turn.

[613] Ibid. 51-3.

[614] Cramer’s Greece, i. 204.

[615] Il. xiv. 226.

A line drawn from Olympus over the centre of Pieria would carry Mercury
to the North. It might, consistently with the condition of crossing
Pieria, diverge a little either to the east or the west of due North,
but only a little. Consequently the island of Calypso may be affirmed
to be, according to the intention of Homer, in the North, and not very
far from due North.

This conclusion is confirmed by two other arguments; which are both
of the class which I have described as legitimate, because they are
founded on Homer’s physical knowledge of the direction of the winds.

After the storm has destroyed the ship of Ulysses to the south of
Thrinacie, Notus, a wind of decidedly southerly character, carries him
back again to Scylla, Od. xii. 426: and again, when he has passed it,
he proceeds thus[616]:

[616] Od. xii. 447.

  ἔνθεν δ’ ἐννῆμαρ φερόμην, δεκάτῃ δέ με νυκτὶ
  νῆσον ἐς Ὠγυγίην πέλασαν θεοί.

Now there is no mention between these two passages either of any change
of wind, or of any particular wind. Consequently it seems rational to
assume that Homer meant us to understand a continuance of the wind just
named, namely Notus. Even independently of this collocation, we should
be thrown back upon the general rule of the Wanderings, which is that
southerly winds blow Ulysses away from home, while northerly ones bring
him back again.

Consequently, the natural construction to put upon the passage is, that
it was a south wind, whether a little east or west of south matters
not much, which continued to blow, and which drifted Ulysses away
from Ithaca to the island of Calypso. This is in entire accordance
with the passage which describes him as windbound by Eurus and Notus
at Thrinacie; since the way from home is presumably the exact reverse
of the way towards it. But it will be said, this implies that he
made westing on his way to Ogygia from Ææa. I answer, that this is
probably so: for Circe is described as immediately connected with the
east, while Calypso is far, as Mercury complains, from all land and
habitation: so that apparently her island is, in the intention of
Homer, materially to the westward, as well as greatly to the northward,
of Ææa. But the main direction taken from Scylla is northward; and,
since Scylla is near the Πλαγκταὶ, and the Πλαγκταὶ are the Bosphorus
of actual nature, it must be taken from a point near the Bosphorus,
along the imaginary expanse of an enlarged and westward-reaching Euxine.

According to this argument, then, Ogygia might lie upon a line drawn
from Mount Olympus in a direction not very wide either way of St.

Nor are we wholly without means of measuring the distance. He floats
(from Scylla) for nine days, and arrives on the tenth. Now this is just
what happened to the pseudo-Ulysses[617], who in the same space of time
drifted from a point near Crete to the country of the Thesprotians. We
may therefore fix Ogygia as (in the intention of the Poet), at about
the same distance from Scylla, which we measure from the south of
Epirus to a point near, yet not in sight of, Crete. But this in passing.

[617] Od. xiv. 310-15. 301-4.

The corresponding argument is derived from the homeward passage of
Ulysses, and stands as follows:

For seventeen days Ulysses pursues his raft-voyage from Ogygia to
Scheria; and the raft threatens to founder on the eighteenth. He then
floats, by the aid of the girdle he had received from Ino. Up to this
point there is no positive indication of the wind; the argument from
the relation between his course and the stars I will consider shortly.
But after he has put on the girdle, and when Neptune withdraws his
persecution, since he is now approaching the horizon of the Inner
world again, Minerva’s agency revives, and she sends a north wind or a
north-north-east wind, Boreas, to bring him to Scheria.

Now there is no reason for our supposing that Homer meant to represent
Ulysses as changing his general direction at this particular point. The
orders of Circe with respect to the stars all indicate a single right
line from Ogygia to Scheria, and neither the wind nor his course alter,
until he has seen the island on the far horizon. The natural inference
therefore is, that Boreas, the N. or N. N. E. wind, which at last
drifted him in, was the wind which had brought him all the way from the
island of Calypso, over an unbroken and unincumbered expanse of sea.

We appear to have seen, thus far, that Ogygia is greatly to the
northward, and probably somewhat to the westward, of the Strait of
Scylla. We shall obtain further light upon the site of that island, if
we can more precisely define the position of Scylla with regard to
what lay southward, as well as with respect to what lay northward, from

Our _data_ are as follows:

1. Thrinacie appears to be close to Scylla, for it is reached αὐτίκα
(xii. 261).

2. The comrades of Ulysses, when they arrive at the island, and when
he attempts to dissuade them from landing, reply by asking what is to
become of them if they set sail at night, and are then caught by a
squall of Eurus or of Zephyr (284-93).

3. The ship is windbound in Thrinacie for a month by Eurus and Notus;
which may be taken in Homer as the winds that cover the whole horizon
from a point north of east to the western quarter[618].

[618] See sup. p. 274.

4. When they finally set sail, we are not told with what wind it was:
but, after they have got out of sight of the island, the sky darkens,
and mischief follows[619];

[619] Od. xii. 403-8.

                    αἶψα γὰρ ἦλθεν
  κεκληγὼς Ζέφυρος, μεγάλῃ σὺν λαίλαπι θύων·

and the ship goes to pieces in the tempest. At length Zephyr ceases,
and Notus blows Ulysses back upon Scylla.

5. If it was the intention of Homer to place Thrinacie by the
Bosphorus, then the next point which Ulysses had to make was the

~_Scylla and the Dardanelles._~

The question therefore is, what conclusion can we draw from the
evidence now before us as to the position of Scylla relatively to the
Dardanelles? I think a pretty clear one.

We have at least two of those statements, which may be called
experimental, now before us. Homer knew the position of the mouth of
the Dardanelles. He knew the nature of the wind Notus. And there is a
third piece of evidence not unimportant, which we may here properly
bring into view. We have seen that, in Il. ii. 845, Homer confines
or contains his Thracians (ἔντος ἐέργει) by the Hellespont: and the
Hellespont with him means all the waters from the Sea of Marmora to the
northern Ægæan inclusive. Now by this he intends only a part of the
Thracians, those, say, of the plain of Adrianople. It is presumable
therefore that he believed the configuration of the coast at the two
extremities of the Dardanelles to be something like at least two of the
sides of a square, running N. and W. respectively: for unless it formed
a portion of some marked figure, it would not answer his description of
including a certain district, and the words would become applicable to
the whole of Thrace alike. Therefore it appears that Homer thought the
northern coast of the Sea of Marmora trended, from its western point,
more rapidly to the north, than is really the case.

The most decisive evidence, however, is that which had been previously

When the storm came, which shattered the ship, Ulysses was on the true
course from Thrinacie to the Dardanelles. But if we know the point for
which he was making in a right line from point _x_, and if we also
know the wind which carried him back to point _x_, then the line on
which point _x_ itself lies is also known. In other words, as Notus,
or say the S.S.W. wind, carried him back upon Scylla, Scylla lies to
the N.N.E. of the inner mouth of the Dardanelles: and the unnamed wind
which takes him back to Scylla is Notus, which we are entitled to
consider as blowing (even as Boreas, its counterpart, blows from due N.
to the eastward) from any point between the limit of Eurus on the East
of South, and 45 or even 90 degrees beyond South to the westward.

Ææa, then, is in the East; with somewhat of an inclination, as measured
from Greece, towards the north. Ulysses has much westing to make, in
order to get to Scheria. Part of this is made on his passages between
Ææa and Ogygia in the farther north. The rest in the course of his
long seventeen days’ voyage from the north, which is propelled, as it
would appear, by Boreas, and therefore includes also a slight westerly

All these arguments converge towards the same conclusions, and all of
them are mainly founded, not on Homer’s outer-world representations,
but upon indications drawn from his knowledge of nature, or else from
his experimental or otherwise familiar acquaintance with the Inner
world: that is, they are built not on the figures of his fancy, but on
the facts of his own and his countrymen’s every-day experience.

And now let us consider the adverse construction put upon the text of
the Odyssey; particularly with regard to the island of Ææa.

~_Why Ææa cannot lie North-westward._~

It is quite plain, from the accounts given of the route both ways, that
the Ocean-mouth is meant by Homer to be near the island of Ææa; that
is, within a day’s sail[620] of that island. How is this reconcilable
with the doctrine, which places the island in the far north-west? In
the north-east we have an Ocean-mouth, the situation of which the Poet,
guided up to a certain point by his inner-world knowledge, has not very
inaccurately conceived. In the north-west there is no Ocean-mouth. The
Straits of Gibraltar, though they lie rather to the south of west from
Ithaca, must be carried far into the north for the purpose; in what
form, or with what accompaniments, it is hard to conceive. To attempt
such a transposition would involve the complete abandonment of all
actual geography, and would after all leave us involved in hopeless
confusion in the effort to construct any tolerable scheme from the text
of Homer.

[620] Od. xi. 11.

~_Construction of_ Od. xii. 3, 4.~

At the mere transportation, indeed, we need not scruple overmuch, if
we could justify the proceeding by other clear indications of Homer’s
intention. But there is no such justification. It is hardly possible
to exaggerate the violence done to the text of Od. xii. 3, 4, by the
interpretation which Nitzsch (following, as I admit, Eustathius), puts
upon it. The ship, leaving the stream of Ocean, reaches the sea and the

[621] Od. xii. 3.

  νῆσόν τ’ Αἰαίην, ὅθι τ’ Ἠοῦς ἠριγενείης
  οἰκία καὶ χοροί εἰσι, καὶ ἀντολαὶ Ἠελίοιο.

The ἀντολαὶ, the rising, or rising-point of the sun, does not, he says,
mean the east, but only the first appearance of the sun on their return
from darkness, which is a kind of dawning on them. And the dwelling of
the early-born Dawn, and the place (such appears to be the meaning of
χόροι) of the Dances of her kindred or attendant Nymphs--who in later
mythology became the virgin train of Hours, that now delight us in the
frescoes of Guido and Guercino--not only do not mean anything eastern,
but apparently in this place are conceived to have no meaning whatever,
and to be an idle, indeed a most inconvenient and bewildering,
pleonasm. And thus the magic poetry of this passage and all the curious
traditions it involves, are destroyed, in order to make room--for what?
For the hypothesis that Homer places the dwelling of Morning and the
chamber of the rising Sun far to the westward of the country that he
himself inhabited[622]!

[622] In the well known case of a noble description in the Antiquary,
Walter Scott has made the sun set on the east coast of Great Britain:
but _this_ was unawares and not on purpose. Had he recited instead of
writing, the error could not have escaped correction.

There is, I confess, something almost of _naïveté_ in the confession
of Nitzsch, that ‘it sounds rather strange to interpret ἀνατολαὶ
without any reference to sunrise, since it is the customary counterpart
to δύσις, the sunset.’ But fortunately there is no Homeric evidence
against it: as indeed there cannot well be, since the word occurs in
no other passage. With respect to Ἠὼς, Nitzsch contends that it means
not dawn, but light: and he quotes the passages which say, ‘your glory
shall reach as far as Ἠὼς,’ and ‘horses, the best to be found beneath
the Sun and Ἠώς.’ Certainly it is most allowable, (though I by no means
think the sense of dawn inadmissible in these two passages,) especially
as day goes nowhere except preceded by dawn, to generalize the word
Ἠὼς so as to make it equivalent to light. But the fatal flaw in the
interpretation is this, that when Ἠὼς is thus used, it is invariably
apart from any circumstances which can give a local colour to its
meaning. But wherever there is any thing local implied, as is admitted
to be in the case before us, the ἠὼς uniformly means the east, though
with a certain indefiniteness perhaps as to northward and southward
inclination. For instance, when Homer speaks of omen-birds flying
eastwards, he describes them as flying πρὸς ἠώ τ’ ἠέλιόν τε, and the
opposite movement as ποτὶ ζόφον, which here evidently means north-west,
although it too may signify darkness in general. The whole aim of the
passage (Od. xii. 1-5) is, to fix locality; and it is in the teeth of
all Homeric usage to deprive ἠὼς in such a passage of local force,
while it confessedly can have no local meaning but an eastern one.

To me, I confess, it appears that Homer has nowhere done more,
and rarely so much, in a single passage, as in this, with a view
of declaring his intention. The island Ææa, irrespective of all
geographical argument, is, as we have seen, directly bound and fastened
to an eastern site by four separate cords. First, as the rising point
of the Sun. Secondly, as the residence of Dawn. Thirdly, because
Circe, its mistress, has the Sun, the most eastern of all mythological
conceptions except the Dawn, for her father. Fourthly, because she has
also Perse, whose name indicates a trans-Phœnician origin, for her
mother. And further, I am convinced we cannot alter the place of Ææa
without uprooting the whole Phœnician scheme of the Outer Geography.

The scope and range thus given to the adventures of Ulysses confines
them without doubt to the northern semi-circle, but allows them to
reach, within that semi-circle, to its eastern and to its western
extremities, as they are imagined by the Poet. Æolus and the
Læstrygonians are evidently placed by him in the north-west. The
hypothesis, which has here been maintained for Ææa and Calypso,
supplies an effectual counterpart, and properly fills up the eastern
corner. But, independently of all other objections, the north-western
hypothesis for these islands jumbles them, if I may so speak, in one
heap with the others, and leaves the eastern quarter towards the North
wholly unoccupied. And yet that East was, for a Greek, the source and
the scene of the richest legendary and mythological representations.
Such an incongruous view of the question would not, I think, be at all
in keeping with Homer’s ordinary modes of conceiving, handling, and
presenting his materials.

~_Construction of_ Od. v. 276, 7.~

But I am aware that, up to this time, we have left out of view a
passage, of which I freely admit that the prevailing, and in so far
the most obvious, interpretation is against me. Ulysses sails over
the sea from Ogygia, governing the rudder of his raft with art, and
watching the stars, especially the Great Bear; which at that period, I
believe, was nearer the Pole, and was a more conspicuous and splendid
astronomical object, than it now is. It was with respect to this
constellation that he had received a particular order from Calypso[623]:

[623] Od. v. 276.

  τὴν γὰρ δή μιν ἄνωγε Καλυψὼ, δῖα θεάων,
  ποντοπορευέμεναι ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς ἔχοντα.

Or, according to the common construction of the words, he was to keep
that constellation on the left during his voyage. But if his course lay
in the direction of a right line drawn from St. Petersburgh to Corfu,
it appears that Arctus, when visible to him, would be visible on the
right, and not on the left.

I could not, however, accommodate myself to this passage at such a
cost as that of oversetting an interpretation of the general scheme,
which is so deeply rooted both in the letter and spirit of the poem,
as is the eastern, and likewise somewhat north-eastern, hypothesis
for Ææa, together with a northern site for Ogygia. These two, it may
be observed, stand together. It is plain, from the times occupied by
the several stages between Ææa and Ogygia, and from the language used
where no precise time is stated, that the Poet conceived the distance
between them to be limited, though very considerable. And indeed the
north-western hypothesis for Ææa would do nothing for the passage I
have quoted, unless we also carry Ogygia into the north-west, in order
that Ulysses, on his way home from it, may have Arctus on his left.
Inasmuch, however, as the admission of the received sense for the lines
would involve us in a new series of the most complicated and hopeless
contradictions, we must look for relief in some other direction.

~_On the genuineness of the passage._~

I desire to eschew, as a general rule, the dangerous and seductive
practice of questioning the genuineness of the text because it seems to
stand in conflict with a favoured interpretation. I may however state,
without unduly relying on them, one or two particulars which, drawn
from the poem itself, may show that these two lines are not unjustly
open to the suspicion of interpolation.

1. The two lines are wholly void of any necessary connection with what
precedes and follows them, and the text is complete without them.
We should not break up the passage generally by removing them. This
argument, however, is one purely negative.

2. These lines tell us, that Calypso had bid Ulysses keep Arctus on his
left. Now Homer has given us a speech of Calypso[624] on the subject of
this voyage, in which she promises to send, from behind him, a breeze
which shall carry him home. But there is in this speech no order to
him whatever about observing the stars; and the promise of the wind in
some degree, though not perhaps quite conclusively, tends to show that
no such injunction was needed. For it is plain that, if the wind blew
fair across the open sea, he did not depend at all upon the helm, and
noticing the stars would be of no assistance to him. I rely, however,
more upon this, that there is here a sort of patchwork, very unlike
Homer’s usual method, in the mode in which the injunction is recorded.
Clearly, if Calypso gave a direction respecting the stars, the proper
place for it was in the speech where she delivered to Ulysses what may
be called his general instruction for the voyage. And I am not sure
whether another instance can be found in the whole of the poems, where
an omission of something relevant and material in one of the speeches
is supplied by a recital in the subsequent narrative. It is wholly
contrary to the manner of Homer, who so uniformly throws into speech
and the dramatic form whatever is susceptible of being thus handled.

[624] Od. v. 160-70.

3. The expression ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς is found nowhere else in Homer,
though the phrase ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ occurs many times.

4. There is no other passage in the Wanderings, or elsewhere in the
poems, which describes the conduct of navigation by means of the
stars. In the Iliad we have the mention of a star in connection with
sea-travelling; but it is simply as a portent, (ναύτῃσι τέρας, Il. iv.
76). On this, however, if it stood alone, I should place no commanding
stress: and it should also be observed that the objection is one which,
if admitted, would displace eight lines.

So much for the genuineness of the passage.

As respects the grammatical meaning of the phrase, I have endeavoured
to discuss it at large in a separate paper; and to show that its real
sense is in fact the reverse of that which is ordinarily assumed. It
means, I believe, a star looking _towards_ the left, and therefore a
star looking _from_ and situated _on_ the right hand in the sky.

In no case, however, can I admit it to be the true meaning of Homer,
that Ulysses is to follow a south-westward course from Ogygia to
Scheria; because this is at variance with all the trustworthy, I must
add with the consentient, indications of Homer’s intention in the whole
arrangement of the tour, as well as in the particular description of
Circe’s island. It is also in contradiction to those indications, drawn
from his inner or experimental geography, which determine at certain
points the bearings applicable to the Outer or Phœnician sphere.

Before proceeding to draw up in propositions the whole outline of the
interpretation which I venture to give to the route of Ulysses, I would
call attention to the means, which the Poet has adopted to signify to
us his own doubt and incertitude respecting its actual bearings at
several important points.

By means of the wind Boreas he indicates to us the direction, not
however the distance, of the Lotophagi. After leaving them, he tells
us nothing either of distance or direction between their country and
that of the Cyclopes. From this point he provides us with certain aids
until we reach Æolia. When in Æolia, Ulysses is to the north-west of
Ithaca: for the Zephyr given by Æolus, he says, would have carried
him home. From this isle, six days of rowing take him to Læstrygonia.
Another passage of indefinite length next carries him to Ææa; and,
arriving here, he is entirely out of his bearings; he cannot tell where
is east or west[625], the point of dusk or the point of dawn, until he
has been duly instructed by Circe: but he sees an unbounded sea (πόντος
ἀπείριτος) on every side of him.

[625] Od. x. 190.

~_Homer’s geographical misgivings._~

This expression of ignorance, put into the mouth of Ulysses, probably
conveys the true sense of the Poet; who, more or less puzzled
with even his own method of harmonizing the Phœnician reports, and
suspecting that it might not bear the test of application to actual
nature, shielded himself by anticipation, through giving us to
understand that he did not mean to submit Circe’s isle to the strict
rules of geographical measurement.

And indeed it was no wonder that he felt some diffidence, when we
recollect that he had to concentrate in a single point facts or
traditions that embraced east, north, and west. Eastern his site must
be to allow of the rising of the sun, and the accompanying legends:
he may have had misgivings, lest his Thrinacie, and also other
traditions of which he had to work up the materials, should in reality
lie westward from Greece: lastly, an appreciable northern element
was involved in the general direction of the navigation through the
Bosphorus, which in fact supplies a kind of meeting-point for the two
former. The remedy is, thus to hang the island of Circe in a vague and
shadowy distance, which gives the nearest practicable approach to an
exemption from the laws imposed by any determinate configuration of the

Nor are these the only cases, in which Homer has afforded us tokens
of his own want of clear knowledge and confidence in regard to the
scenes through which he has carried his hero. On the contrary, he has
indicated the haziness of his views, and the insecurity of the ground
he trod, by forbearing in several other instances to fix with precision
the particular winds which favoured or opposed the voyage of Ulysses,
or to particularize the distances he travelled.

~_Homeward route of Ulysses._~

We are now at liberty to approach the last portion of our subject. We
have, I trust, fixed the distinction of the Inner and Outer Geography;
ascertained the keys of the outer system, and fixed its governing
points. It remains to inquire what, according to the data ascertained,
did the Poet intend to be the route of Ulysses over the face of his
ideal map; and then, finally, to show its relation to that of Menelaus,
and to Homer’s general conception of the configuration and distribution
of the surface of the earth.

I. His first halting-place, after quitting Troy, is with the Cicones,
in Thrace. This visit was paid with scarcely a deviation from his
homeward route: and therefore it does not belong to the Outer
Geography. The Cicones of the Odyssey were probably placed near the
northernmost point of the Ægæan sea (Od. ix. 39).

II. From the country of the Cicones, he sails southward, under a
heavy north-north-east gale (Od. ix. 67), which lasts for three days.
He has then fair weather, till he gets to Cape Malea. But, as he is
rounding Cape Malea, the north-north-easter returns, and drives him
down the west coast of Cythera (now Cerigo), and so out to sea (79-81).
After nine days’ sail, with ὀλοοὶ ἄνεμοι, he reaches the land of the
Lotophagi (82-4). Now, as it took five days of the best possible wind
to sail from Crete to Egypt (Od. xiv. 253), we may perhaps assume that,
in the ten days of veering gales, about an equal distance was made
in the general direction of south-south-east indicated for us by the
Boreas of v. 82. This will place the Lotophagi on the Syrtis Major, now
the Gulf of Sidra. Here the region of the marvel-world begins: and the
mention of the ὀλοοὶ ἄνεμοι, in lieu of the pure Boreas, may be taken
as fair notice from the Poet, that he had no precise knowledge on what
portion of the coast of Africa Ulysses was to set his foot.

The Lotophagi are full of Egyptian resemblances: and it appears that,
as Egypt and Phœnicia were for Homer the two greatest border-lands
between the real and the imagined worlds, therefore Ulysses makes his
first step into the Outer world through a quasi-Egyptian people, and
his last step out of it among a quasi-Phœnician people.

III. The voyage from the land of the Lotophagi to the next stage, the
country of the Cyclopes, is without the smallest indication either
of distance or direction (103-5). But as, within the Outer sphere,
northern winds are always homeward, and southern ones carry Ulysses
outward, we may assume that Homer here intended some southern wind;
though, as he breaks at this juncture the last link with the known
world, he could not venture to state any thing like the precise point
of the compass.

Shall we place the Cyclopes of Homer on any point of _terra firma_, or
must we imagine a country for them?

Tradition has answered this question by commonly placing them in
Sicily. But a vague tradition, as we have seen, is of little authority
in regard to Homeric questions; and in this instance, I think, it may
be shown to be in error, for the following reasons:

1. The country of the Cyclopes is not an island: it is mainland (γαίη
Κυκλώπων, 106), with an island near to it, 105. By the expression γαίη,
Homer sometimes means a great island such as Crete: but we have no
authority for supposing he would apply it to Sicily.

2. It can hardly be doubted that the little which Homer probably did
know of Sicily is represented to us by his Thrinacie. And all this
consists in two points: the first, that it was an island (Od. xii.
127): the second, that it was triangular, and derived its name from
its form. But his Thrinacie he has given to the oxen of the Sun: and
therefore he certainly does not mean it to be the land of the Cyclopes,
or he would have given it the same name on both occasions. Indeed, on
the contrary, he has actually given another name to the land of the
Cyclopes: it is the εὐρύχορος Ὑπέρεια of Od. vi. 4. I may add, that
the epithet εὐρύχορος is not generally applicable to Sicily, which is
channelled all through with hill and dale, and which nowhere, unless
perhaps between Syracuse and Catania, seems to present any great
breadth of plain.

3. Besides this, Ulysses traverses very long distances[626], in order
to reach Ææa from Hypereia: but Thrinacie, on the other hand, is very
near Ææa, so that he has not retraced his distance, and therefore
cannot be in Sicily.

[626] See Od. x. 28 and 80.

Where then were situated these Cyclopes, to whose country Ulysses came
after quitting the Lotophagi? It is plain that they were not within the
Greek maritime world, or Homer would, we may be sure, have indicated
their position by the time of the voyage, or by the quarter from which
the wind blew to take him there.

I submit that Homer meant to place the Cyclopes in Iapygia, the heel of
Italy; a region nearly corresponding, on the west of the Ionian sea,
with the position of Scheria on the east. This hypothesis is consistent
with the whole evidence in the case, and might well stand on that
ground only. But it is, I think, also sustained by a separate argument
from the migration of the Phæacians[627].

[627] Od. vi. 4.

The Phæacians, descended like the Cyclopes from Neptune, were recent
inhabitants of Scheria; they formerly dwelt near the Cyclopes in
Hypereia, and were dislodged from thence by the violence of their
brutal neighbours. They removed under Nausithous, and settled in

They were flying from a race who had no ships with which to follow
them. If Hypereia in which they lived was Iapygia, any place in the
situation of Scheria, or near it, would be a natural place of refuge
for them. But if they had been in Sicily, Homer in all likelihood would
not have carried them beyond the neighbouring coast of Italy, which
would have afforded them the security they desired.

IV. From Iapygia or Hypereia, the country of the Cyclopes, Ulysses
proceeds to pay his double visit to Æolia. We are not assisted in
the first instance (Od. ix. 565. x. 1.) by any indication of wind or
distance. It is not unfair to presume that Stromboli, with its active
volcano, was the prototype of this gusty island. But, like other
places, it is not on the site of its prototype. For Æolus gives Ulysses
a Zephyr or north-west wind, which would have carried him home, had it
not been for the folly of his comrades (Od. x. 25, 46). The Æolia of
Homer then must conform to these two conditions:

1. It must lie north-west of Ithaca.

2. There must be a continuous open sea between them; and one
uninterrupted by land, so that one and the same wind may carry a ship
all the way.

To meet these conditions, we have only to move Æolia northward. For the
northern part of Italy has no existence in the Outer Geography. It is
swept away, along with the great mass of the European continent, and
the θάλασσα covers all.

After the opening of the bag (x. 48, 54) the ship is driven back by a
θύελλα upon Æolia. But here we have had another valuable indication.
They had enjoyed the Zephyr nine full days, and they were in sight of
home on the tenth (v. 28, 9), when the folly was committed. Therefore
Æolia is between nine and ten days’ sail to the north-west of Ithaca:
or, with an allowance of fifty miles for the distance to the horizon,
there will be about one thousand miles between them.

V. The fifth stage is Læstrygonia: and it is reached after seven days’
rowing (x. 80). There is no indication of direction in the voyage: but
we have a sure proof that the prototype of this place was far north;
namely, that there is here perpetual day;

                            ποιμένα ποιμὴν
  ἠπύει εἰσελάων, ὁ δέ τ’ ἐξελάων ὑπακούει.

It cannot, I think, be doubted that Homer obtained information of a
region displaying this natural peculiarity from Phœnician mariners,
who had penetrated into the German Ocean to the northward of the
British Isles. His retentive mind has, then, made an early record of
this, along with so many other singular reports, out of which a large
proportion have been verified.

There is another proof that we are here nearly, or rather quite, at
the furthest bound of distance ever reached by Ulysses. For the united
distances (1) from within sight of Ithaca to Æolia, and (2) from Æolia
to Læstrygonia, make seventeen days, the same number occupied in a much
slower craft on the voyage from Ogygia to Scheria.

It will be found, under the rules of calculation which have been
adopted, that we may place Læstrygonia at near seventeen hundred miles
from Iapygia. If we are to suppose that by the name Artacie, given to
the fountain in Læstrygonia, he means an allusion to a place of that
name in the Euxine, I take this as a new sign of his dim and confused
extension of that sea to the westward.

The name Læstrygonia appears to belong to a city, not to a country.
It is τηλέπυλος, and it is also Λάμου αἰπὺ πτολίεθρον. Homer avoids
calling it either a land (γαίη) or an island (νῆσος). By the former
term he sometimes designates large islands as well as portions of a
continent. The epithet αἰπὺ points to a steep and rocky site: but
his forbearing to fix it as continent or island seems to show, that
he was himself in doubt upon the point. The trait of perpetual day,
however, speaks most explicitly for the _bona fides_ of the tradition
on which the Poet proceeds, and for the latitude from whence it came:
and it seems far from improbable that Iceland may have been the dimly
perceived original of Læstrygonia; of which the site in the Odyssey is
near the actual site of Denmark.

VI. The sixth stage is Ææa. This could only be reached by a long
passage from Læstrygonia. The Poet has not ventured to define its
extent or direction. But he leaves himself an ample margin by the
declaration from the mouth of Ulysses, that he knew nothing on his
arrival of the latitude or longitude (Od. x. 190-2): and he is content
with planting it immovably near the point of sunrise, though with a
great vagueness of conception (Od. x. 135-9; xii. 1-4).

There is indeed something near a verbal contradiction between the
declaration of Ulysses in Od. x., that he, being then at Ææa, did not
know where to look for sunrise or for sunset, and his narrative in
xii. 3, 4, where he so directly associates the island with the land of
sunrise. But he had remained there a full year in friendly company with
Circe (x. 466-9), and he was instructed by her as to his movements,
so that we may, I presume, fairly consider that during that time he
learned what on his first arrival was strange to him.

The course from Læstrygonia to Ææa is _primâ facie_ conjectural: but
it is not really so, for Læstrygonia is fixed by the times and winds
from Hypereia; and Ææa is practically determined by its local relations
to Ocean-mouth, Thrinacie, and the Bosphorus.

The Euxine does not abound in islands, such as we might appropriate to
Circe and the Sirens: for it is little likely that a rock like the Isle
of Serpents, which on a recent occasion acquired a momentary notoriety,
should have been noticed particularly in the navigation of the heroic
age. It is much more likely, that Homer brought his islands for the
Euxine from among the materials provided by his western traditions. We
may however reasonably presume that Homer meant to place Ææa at the
east end of the Euxine, not far perhaps from the Colchis of Æetes: and
in that neighbourhood I shall venture to deposit three islands, vaguely
corresponding with the Baleares, which may have been transplanted
into this vicinity together with the other traditions of the western

(1) From hence, under the directions of Circe, they sail for one day
with a toward breeze, to the Ocean-mouth, hard by that abode of the
Cimmerians, which is wrapt in perpetual mist and night (Od. xi. 1-19).
Circe promised them the aid of Boreas, when Ulysses, alarmed at the
unusual journey he was to make, asked who would guide him. I therefore
infer that Boreas was to blow not before, but after, they had entered
the Ocean-mouth, and was to carry them up the stream. Before reaching
it, we may assume that, as usual on his way outwards, he was sailing
with a wind from some southern quarter.

(2) In the Ocean-river, they haul their vessel high and dry, and
proceed by land up the stream to the mouth of the Shades or under-world
(Od. xi. 20-2).

(3) From the mouth of the Shades they return to their ship, and in it
down (κατὰ) the Ocean stream, and to the Ææan island. They go first by
rowing, and then by a favourable breeze, of which the direction is not
mentioned (Od. xi. 638-40; xii. 1-3: also xxiii. 322-5.)

VII. Σειρήνων νῆσος. This island is reached with an ἴκμενος οὖρος; the
quarter is not named, nor is the distance, but from the terms of the
passages it would appear to have been very short. (Od. xii. 149-54,
165-7; also 39, and xxiii. 326.)

VIII. Avoiding the Πλαγκταὶ, the hero passes between Scylla and
Charybdis, to Thrinacie, the island of the Sun. The strait is reached
forthwith, αὐτίκα (Od. xii. 201), after leaving the island, and
Thrinacie is reached forthwith in like manner (αὐτίκα v. 261) after
leaving the strait (Od. xi. 106, 7; xii. 262; xxiii. 327-9. The last
passage appears to place the Πλαγκταὶ and the Scylla passage close
together, as it says that he came to them both, though he passed only
through Scylla).

In Thrinacie he is detained by Notus, blowing for a month, and by
the total absence of any wind but Notus and Eurus. The common point
of these winds is, that they are chiefly in the southern hemisphere.
Also it would seem from this part of the Fourth Book that Boreas was
evidently the wind that Ulysses required to help him forward on his way
home, rather than Zephyrus: for it was the latter wind that caught them
when they were already on their passage, and brought the hurricane in
which the ship went to pieces (Od. xii. 408).

Accordingly, as the Bosphorus is geographically fixed, I place
Thrinacie beside it, and Scylla beside Thrinacie.

It will be observed that, after allowance is made for too much northing
in the north coast of the Propontis, the mouth of Scylla will be at
the point, from which a N. N. E. wind would have brought Ulysses to the
Dardanelles, and would thus have placed him, by the shortest cut, at
the very gate of the Ægæan, and of the known route to his home.

The Crimea has so much the character of an island, and its
south-eastern face appears to be both in scenery and climate so
delightful, while again its proximity to the Ocean-mouth of the Odyssey
is so suitable, that we might be tempted to consider it as representing
the abode of the Sirens. But it is too large for one of Homer’s νῆσοι.
Probably, too, the isle of Sirens should lie on the direct route from
Ææa to the Straits.

IX. When out of sight of the island (403), the ship encounters a
violent Ζέφυρος, and founders. Ulysses mounts on a couple of spars
(424). In one night Notus drifts him upon the passage of Scylla and
Charybdis, which he traverses in safety (427-30, 442-6), and then
drifting on, apparently with the same wind, he reaches, on the tenth
day, the island of Calypso, Ὠγυγίη νῆσος (xii. 447, 8; xxiii. 333),
which is the ὄμφαλος or central point of the θάλασσα (Od. i. 50): that
is to say which, as nearly due north from Greece, not only is conceived
to be alike removed from the supposed eastern and western Ocean, but
also if not equidistant, yet very distant, at all points from main land.

X. The next stage to Ogygia is Scheria, Σχερίη (Od. vi. 8), or the γαίη
Φαιήκων (Od. v. 345). Leaving Ogygia on his raft (v. 263 and seqq.),
he keeps Arctos set on his right, and looking towards his left hand,
till on the eighteenth day (v. 278), he arrives in sight of Scheria.
Neptune, coming up from among the Ethiopians, discerns him afar, from
the Solyman mountains (282). The storm rises, and the raft is tossed in
a hurricane of all the winds (293 and 331, 2). At length it founders
(370): Minerva sends a brisk Boreas, and the hero drifts to Scheria,
arriving on the third day (382-98). Homer gives to Scheria the name
of ἤπειρος (Od. v. 348, 50); and it does not appear clear that he
considered it as an island. At the same time, the term ἤπειρος may mean
the shore: and the word γαίη may be used, like Κρήτη τις γαί’ ἐστιν, for
an island, if it be presumed to be of extraordinary size.

XI. Ἰθάκη. The living ship of the Phæacians leaves somewhat early
in the day, after the proper rites; the goods having been stowed at
daybreak (Od. xiii. 18, and seqq.) No wind is named: but, with a speed
more rapid than that of a hawk, the vessel, propelled by oars, reaches
Ithaca before the next dawn. Od. xiii. 78, 86, 93-5.

~_Directions and distances from Ææa._~

We have however still to consider the directions and distances of the
tour, from Ææa onwards, on the way home.

Homer plainly intends to describe very short passages, first to the
island of the Sirens, next from that island to Scylla, and then from
Scylla to the landing on the coast of Thrinacie. They are not defined:
but they by no means correspond with the very considerable eastward
stretch of the Euxine from the Bosphorus.

It has already been observed that Homer shortens the eastern recess of
the Mediterranean, and brings Egypt nearly to the southward of Crete:
and that this is part of a system of compression which abbreviates
all the distances of his Outer geography eastward from Lycia. We have
now come to another example of the working of this idea in his mind:
placing Ææa and the Sirens so near the Bosphorus, he plainly curtails
the eastward Euxine, like the eastward Mediterranean.

Ten days floatage northwards from Scylla would give us a distance of
nearly five hundred miles in that direction, up to the point where we
should fix the island of Calypso.

But from Ogygia to within sight of Scheria, Ulysses occupies eighteen
days in sailing by raft: which will give us for the whole distance
at sixty miles _per diem_, with an allowance of fifty miles, as the
distance from which Ithaca had become visible, about eleven hundred and
thirty miles. We have also to consider the further question, how far
Scheria is to be placed from Ithaca. We must reckon the time occupied
by the hawk-like ship at not less than sixteen hours; and we cannot
reckon the distance below one hundred and eighty or ninety miles.
Thus Ogygia ought to be reckoned at fully thirteen hundred miles from
Ithaca. Læstrygonia is, as we have found, nearly seventeen hundred from
Ithaca. And the site of Ogygia will be upon the point which is both
at the distance of five hundred miles from the Homeric or transposed
Scylla, and of eleven hundred and thirty miles from the Homeric
Scheria. This point will, I think, lie a little to the west of the real
site of Kieff.

The actual distance from Ithaca to the middle point of Corfu may be
about eighty miles. Corfu is said to resemble in its natural features
the Scheria of Homer. But if this be admitted, we must remove the site
of the island in the direction of Dalmatia to more than double its real
distance from Ithaca, so as to satisfy the conditions of the Phæacian
voyage. It will then be near the point where we may, consistently with
all the representations of Homer, cut off the Greek peninsula, and
substitute for the northward land the great spaces of his sea.

The island of Calypso, thus determined, will satisfy in a great degree
the conditions of the ὄμφαλος θαλάσσης. It may be nearly equidistant
from Ææa and the Cimmerian country in the south-east, from Scylla in
the south, and from the possible extension of the Cimmerian country
to the north. Towards Æolia and Læstrygonia on the west the distances
will indeed be greater; but as among very great distances Homer may
naturally fail to maintain the close measurements of small ones.

~_Tours of Menelaus and Ulysses compared._~

Thus, then, we have brought Ulysses home; and now let us proceed to
examine the undeveloped, but still rather curious, relation between the
tours of the two chieftains, Ulysses and Menelaus.

The readers of Dante will recollect with what complex precision, as
a poetical Architect, he has actually, for the purposes of his work,
built an Universe of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Every line of his
poem has a determinate relation to a certain point in space, fixed in
his own mind; but whether every such point be fixed or not in nature
is no more material, than if it were simply one to be determined by
axes of coordinates. Intricate as the fabric is, this great brother
of Homer in his art never for a moment lets drop the thread of his
labyrinth, but holds it steadily from the beginning of the first canto
to the end of the hundredth. Homer, composing for a younger world, had
to deal with all ideas whatsoever in simpler forms; but, I think, it is
discernible that in his way he, too, made a systematic distribution of
the Outer Earth, as he had rather vaguely conceived it in his teeming

We are apt to forget, from the comparatively summary manner in which
the subject is dismissed by the Poet, that the voyages and travels of
Menelaus occupy a time almost as long as those of Ulysses. He has but
recently returned, says Nestor to Telemachus, in the last year of his
father’s wanderings[628]: and Menelaus himself states, that he came
home only in the eighth year after the capture of Troy[629]. And as in
point of time, so likewise they are geographically in correspondence.
To Menelaus Homer has given, in outline, the southern world from east
to west, and to Ulysses, in detail, the northern world from west to
east. It is true that he made Ulysses begin his Wanderings, properly
so called, with the Lotophagi in Africa: but this is because it was
necessary to throw him at Malea, by some wide and irrecoverable
deviation, off his route to Ithaca. So Menelaus loses his course at
the very same critical point, the Malean Promontory[630]. Then the two
strike off to the opposite ends of the diameter: Menelaus to Crete,
for Cyprus, Phœnicia, and Egypt, in the south-east; Ulysses to Africa,
for the Cyclopes, Æolia, and Læstrygonia, in the north-west. Again,
Menelaus visits Libya to the westward, where, it will be remembered, he
is to find his home after death in the Elysian fields. The counterpart
of this is in the eastward movement of Ulysses along a northern zone
to the isle of Circe, and in his visit to the Shades. Again, it is
Phœnicia, which in the south-east forms a kind of boundary line between
the known and the unknown world. Accordingly Homer has given us an
idealized Phœnicia on the north-western line. Perhaps only partial,
but still perfectly real, resemblances of character establish a
poetical relation between the Φοίνικες and the Φαίηκες. Other parts
of the Phæacian character might seem to have been borrowed from the
Egyptians. No one, I think, can doubt that Homer had the Phœnicians
to some extent in his mind, when he invented the Phæacians. But he has
given us another etymological sign of the connection. The Φοίνικες
stand in evident connection with Συρίη[631]. Who but they could give
that name to the island where Eumæus was born? an island with which
we see them to have been in relations by a double token; the first, a
Phœnician slave carried thither by the Taphians; and the second, Eumæus
as a boy carried off thence by the Phœnicians, who had paid it a visit
with a cargo of fine goods. The island of Ψυρίη, lying north-west from
Chios, probably owed its title to the same source: if not also Σκῦρος,
corrupted from Συρός. Surely then, like Φαίηκες from Φοίνικες, so Homer
made Σχερίη from Συρίη. It being always remembered that Scheria is for
Homer, like Phœnicia, a maritime land. It is nowhere called an island;
from which we know, that Homer either believed it to be attached to the
continent, or to form, like Crete[632], a continent of itself.

[628] Od. iii. 318.

[629] Od. iv. 82.

[630] Od. iii. 286-90.

[631] Od. xv. 402. Much difficulty has been raised about this Συρίη:
see Wood on Homer, pp. 9-16; but surely without need. We have
no occasion to translate καθύπερθε into _trans_, πέρην, or
_beyond_. The Συρίη νῆσος, or Syros, has the same bearing in respect
to Delos, as Ψυρίη in respect to Chios, which is called καθύπερθε
Χίοιο, Od. iii. 170. It may perhaps mean _to windward_, and this would
correspond with the idea of Ζέφυρος as the prevailing wind
of the Ægæan. Another difficulty is made about the phrase ὅθι τροπαὶ
ἠελίοιο, which is interpreted as describing the position relatively
to Delos. I know not why this should constitute a difficulty at all,
if Syros is to the west and north of Delos. But there would be no
difficulty, even if Delos were west of Syros: for the words ὅθι τροπαὶ
ἠελίοιο may apply grammatically to either of the two islands as viewed
from the other.

[632] Od. xix. 172.

The Erembi of Menelaus are generally understood to be the Arabians.
The Æthiopes, whom he also visits, extend from the extreme east to
the furthest west of the surface of the earth; and they possibly may
have a counterpart in the Cimmerians of the north. In the same zone
with the Æthiopes, on the borders of Ocean to the south, a passage of
the Iliad places the ἄνδρες Πυγμαῖοι[633]. Herodotus supports Homer
in this, as in most other particulars. And the researches of the most
recent travellers sustain the assertion of these two old ethnologists
of Greece, that there are dwarfed races in the interior of Africa,
accessible from Egypt.

[633] Il. iii. 2-6.

Thus, then, it would appear in general that the voyage and travels of
Menelaus, together with those of Ulysses, including in the former his
final passage to Elysium, cover the entire surface of the earth, such
as Homer had conceived it. This, however, can only be taken generally,
and tells us little of what Homer thought concerning the actual form
of the earth’s surface, while it leaves untouched various questions
regarding its distribution in detail. With some of these let us now
endeavour to deal.

And first, what was Homer’s belief concerning the form of the earth?

~_Earth of Homer probably oval._~

The passage of the poems which bears most directly upon the solution of
this question is that which describes the Shield of Achilles. We here
learn that, in finishing his work, Vulcan gave it the great River Ocean
for a border[634]. From this it follows conclusively, that the form of
the Shield was that which Homer also conceived to be nearest to the
form of the surface of the Earth.

[634] Il. xviii. 607.

The question then arises, what was the form of the Shields treated of
by Homer? And it is one not easy to answer. Homer compares the light of
this very Shield of Achilles in a subsequent passage to that of the
moon[635]: but he does not say the full moon, and the moon in certain
stages might suggest the oval, although when full it would require the
circular shape. The epithets which he uses do not solve the question:
for some of them appear to agree better with the one supposition, and
some with the other. The ἄσπις ἀμφιβρότη, for instance, in Il. xi.
32, suggests a shape adapted in a great degree to that of the human
form. The ποδηνεκὴς of Il. xv. 646 appears absolutely to require it.
No circular shield, which reached down to the feet, could have been
carried on the arm. But, on the other hand, Homer calls the shield
εὔκυκλος[636] and παντόσε ἴση, which certainly at first sight favour
the idea of a circular form. Shall we then suppose that both forms
prevailed? And if so, which of the two shall we assign to the Shield of

[635] Il. xix. 374.

[638] Plut. Lacon. Instit. (Opp. vi. 898.) ed. Reiske; Potter’s Greek.
Antiq. B. iii. ch. iv.

[636] Il. v. 433.

It appears that in the military system of historic Greece the round
shield chiefly prevailed; but for the time of Homer I cannot help
leaning to the supposition that the Shield was oval. For I do not know
any explicit testimony, with respect to its primitive form, that can
weigh against the lines of Tyrtæus[637];

[637] Tyrt. ii. 24. Also Anthol. Græc.

  μήρους τε, κνήμας τε κάτω, καὶ στέρνα, καὶ ὤμους
      ἀσπίδος εὐρείης γαστρὶ καλυψάμενος.

Another strong testimony to the same effect is borne by the ancient
custom of bearing the dead warrior upon his shield, whence came the
old formula of the Spartan mothers, ἢ τὰν, ἢ ἐπὶ τάν; Bring it, or be
brought upon it[638].

With respect to the Homeric epithets, it is impossible to reconcile
those which favour the oblong form with the rival sense: but the
παντόσε ἴση might apply to any regular figure, and the εὔκυκλος is
hardly strained if we understand it of an oval pretty regularly formed.

To a certain extent, the natural form of the hides of animals affords
an indication; they were worn as cloaks coming down to the heels,
and they would properly cut into the oblong form[639]. Again, in the
expression σάκος σακέϊ προθελύμνῳ[640], I understand the epithet to
mean that the shields were rested on the ground in front of the bearers
of them. The meaning common to it, in the three places where Homer uses
it, seems to be ‘from the ground,’ or ‘from the base.’

[639] Il. x. 24, 178.

[640] Il. xiii. 130. ix. 537. x. 15.

It would not be satisfactory to assume that the two forms prevailed,
but that they had, though different, been confounded by Homer; and on
the whole we shall perhaps do best to consider the σάκος as an oval.

It follows that such was, in Homer’s estimation, the form of the world.
And this interpretation agrees with the other Homeric indications on
the subject.

We must, I think, take Homer to have supposed something like an equal
extension of the earth northward and southward from Greece. But,
whether we judge from the Tours of the Odyssey or from the general
indications of the poems, we have, I think, no sign of an extension
correspondingly great either eastward or westward. The flights of
migratory birds, and the prevailing winds, are both evidently from
the poles or from the quarters near them. The only great positive
developments of distance in the Odyssey are those towards Læstrygonia
and Ogygia, both of which lie in the north; the latter, as an ὄμφαλος,
with a sea stretching far beyond it. All appearances, too, go to show
that the Eastern Ocean was in Homer’s view at no great distance; and I
apprehend we should consider the Western one as being on his map about
equally remote from Greece. Now the oval figure will give us what we
thus appear to want, namely a shorter diameter of the earth from east
to west, than the diameter from north to south. Some other particulars
of evidence will appear as we proceed.

~_Points of contact with Oceanus._~

In conformity with his declaration, that the Ocean-River surrounds the
earth, he as it were realizes his belief in it, by giving us instances
of actual contact with it at very many points of the compass. Thus the
Pigmies in the South are visited by the cranes, on their way to the
Ocean in the South[641]. The gods feast with the Ethiopians by the
Ocean, and this must be in the S. E., as Neptune takes the Solyman
mountains (which are in immediate association with Lycia, a point of
the inner world) on his way back to the _Thalassa_[642]. Ulysses visits
Ocean, as we have seen, in the East. The Great Bear escapes dipping
into its waters in the North[643]. Menelaus is destined to the Elysian
plain beside the Ocean, at the point from which Zephyr blows, therefore
between West and North[644].

[641] Il. iii. 5.

[642] Il. xxiii. 205. i. 423. Od. v. 282, 3.

[643] Od. v. 275. Il. xviii. 489.

[644] Od. iv. 561-9.

~_The Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf._~

This noble conception of a great circumfluent River was doubtless
founded upon reports of two classes which had reached Homer. One
class would be reports of streams flowing from some great outer water
into the _Thalassa_, and seeming to feed it. The other class might be
formed by reports of waters outside the _Thalassa_, and not known to
communicate with it, which Homer would at once very naturally reckon
as portions of his great world-embracing Stream. With the former
class we have already dealt largely in discussing the Ocean-mouth.
To the latter one, Phœnician sailors might contribute reports of the
Atlantic and German Oceans. And particularly in the east, I think, we
cannot doubt that, along with the rumours and traditions of Arabians,
Ethiopians, Persians, and Cimmerians, Homer cannot but have received
other vague rumours of waters as well as lands; of waters exterior
to his _Thalassa_ (which included the Mediterranean and the Euxine),
waters of which two would clearly be the Caspian Sea, and the Persian
Gulf. On these two I wish to fix attention; and indeed the only other
water he was likely to have heard of would probably be the Red Sea.
Now it will be observed upon any map, 1. that the Caspian lies north
and south; 2. that a line prolonged from N. to S. down the Caspian
will strike the Persian Gulf. In conjunction with this, let the reader
observe the course of Ulysses. Quitting the Euxine at the Ocean-mouth,
or Straits of Yenikalè, he turns round to the right by the Sea of Azof,
enlarged so as to join the Caspian. In the interval between them there
is still a low salt valley, which may in Homer’s time have been a
water-way[645]. He is thus in a condition to proceed southward towards
the dwelling of Persephone, which I have already shown some cause for
placing in the east and to the south. Now the provision of wind, which
Homer has made for his hero, is precisely that which this hypothesis

[645] Voyages de Pallas, vol. i. p. 320, Paris 1805.

[646] Od. x. 507.

  τὴν δέ κέ τοι πνοιὴ Βορέαο φέρῃσιν.

In other words, from Homer’s use of Boreas in this place it appears
that he meant to describe the course of his Ocean-stream at this
quarter as from south to north, or thereabouts; and this is the line
actually formed by the junction of the Persian gulf and the Caspian,
which I submit that we may accordingly with propriety consider as
genuine fragments of geography, incorporated into his fabulous
conception of the Ocean-stream.

It is indeed true that the vague accounts, which had probably reached
Homer of these two waters, must be supposed not to have included the
indispensable element of a current. The same remark, however, will
apply to whatever he may have heard of the German or Atlantic Oceans.
But in dealing with these shadowy distances, his inference would be
amply warranted, without the means of complete identification, if he
had heard of any waters in positions agreeing with that of his ideal
Ocean, capable of communicating easily with its mouth, and, above all,
independent of the _Thalassa_.

One word before we finally quit the subject of the enchanted River; in
order to complete the chain of connection between the Persephone of
Homer and the waters of the Persian gulf, in the character of a part of
Ocean, at that point upon the beach, which so well balances the Elysian
plain in the west.

I have already endeavoured to make use of the names Perseus, Perse,
and Persephone, as evidences which attach the Persians to the eastern
extremity of Homer’s ideal world, and which connect the Greek race
with a Persian origin. But here we have a geographical trait, which
deserves further consideration. The groves of Persephone are on the
shore of Ocean, in the east, and to the south of the sunrise. What is
the meaning of these groves? We are compelled, by unvarying analogies
of signification, to understand them as both the symbols and the sites
of a certain organized worship, which was paid to Persephone. But if
paid, then paid by whom? Certainly not by the nations of the dead: for
the place, where these groves were, was not within the kingdom of the
goddess, but it was on the shore of Ocean. Ulysses, too, was to haul up
his ship there, and only then to enter into the abode of king Aidoneus.
It therefore seems to follow, that the Poet meant us to understand this
as a place where Persephone was habitually worshipped by a portion of
the human race, which could only be his Persians or his Ethiopians. I
do not say that the two were sharply severed in his mind; but here the
race to which he chiefly points appears to be the Persian race[647].

[647] Od. x. 508-12.

There are even etymological signs, independent of Homer, which deepen
the association between the East and the Under-world. Some writers
have compared the name Cimmeria with the Arabic word _kahm_, black,
and _ra_, the mark of the oblique case in Persian: Mæotis with the
Hebrew Maweth, meaning death: and have treated the ancient Tartarus as
equivalent to the modern Tartary, and as formed by the reduplication of
Tar, in Tarik, the Persic word for darkness[648].

[648] Welsford on Engl. Language, pp. 75, 76, 88. Bleek’s Persian
Vocabulary, (Grammar, p. 170.)

~_Contraction of the Homeric East._~

Next let me wind up what relates to the contraction and compression of
the Homeric East.

Homer’s experience did not supply him with any example of a great
expanse of land: but the detail and configuration of the countries,
with which he was acquainted, was minute. This probably was the reason
why he so readily assumed the existence of that sea to the northward
of Thrace, in which he has placed the adventures of Ulysses. To that
sea, as we perceive from the terms of days which he has assigned to
the passages of Ulysses, he attached his ideas and his epithets for
vastness; epithets, which he never bestowed on regions of land; and
ideas, which were sure, indeed, to form a prominent feature in the
Phœnician reports, that must have supplied him with material. Acting on
the same principle, it would appear that he greatly shortens the range
of Asia Minor eastwards. Through the medium of the Solymi (Il. vi.
184, 204) he appears to bring the Solyman mountains close upon Lycia.
A chain now bearing that name skirts the right bank of the Indus: but
it is probable that Homer identified, or rather confounded, them with
the great chain of the Caucasus between the Euxine and the Caspian,
and with the Taurus joining it, and bordering upon Lycia: for, on the
one hand, we cannot but connect them with the Solymi, the warlike
neighbours of the Lycians: and on the other, since Neptune, from these
mountains, sees Ulysses making his homeward voyage from Ogygia, it
follows that they must have been conceived by Homer to command a clear
view of the Euxine, and of its westward extension. Thus he at once
brings Egypt nearer to Crete (helping us to explain the Boreas of Od.
xiv. 253), and Phœnicia nearer to Lycia: and it is in all likelihood
immediately behind Phœnicia that he imagined to lie the country of the
Persians and the ἄλσεα Περσεφονείης (Od. x. 507), on the shore of that
eastern portion of Oceanus, for which the reports both of the Caspian
and of the Red Sea, probably, as we have seen, have formed parts of his
materials. Thus we find much and varied evidence converging to support
the hypothesis, that Homer greatly compressed his East, and brought
Persia within moderate distance of the Mediterranean.

In the obscure perspectives of Grecian legend, we seem to find various
points of contact between Egypt, Phœnicia, and Persia; and each of
these points of contact favours the idea that Persia and Phœnicia were
closely associated in Homer’s mind.

Proteus, a Phœnician sea-god, is placed only at a short distance from
the Egyptian coast. Helios, strongly associated with Egypt through his
oxen, is associated with Phœnicia and with the remoter east by his
relationship to Circe, and by his residence, the ἀντολαὶ Ἠελίοιο. And
again, from the family of Danaus, a reputed Egyptian, descends Perseus,
in whose name we find a note of relationship between the Persians and
the Greeks. Lycia, too, is near the Solymi, and the Solyman hills are
really Persian. Here is a new ray of light cast on Homer’s passion for
the Lycians of the War[649].

[649] See Achæis, sect. iii.

A few words more will suffice to complete a probable view of the
terrestrial system of Homer.

The Ocean surrounds the earth. On its south-eastern beach are
the groves of Persephone, and the descent to the Shades: on its
north-western, the Elysian plain. The whole southern range between is
occupied by the Αἰθίοπες, who stretch from the rising to the setting
sun[650]. The natural counterpart in the cold north to their sun-burnt
swarthy faces is to be found in the Cimmerians, Homer’s Children of
the Mist[651]. Accordingly, they are placed by the Ocean mouth, hard
by the island of Circe and the Dawn; nearly in contact, therefore,
with the Ethiopians of the extreme east. Two hypotheses seem to be
suggested by Homer’s treatment of the north. Perhaps Homer imagined
that the Cimmerians occupied the northern portion of the earth
from east to west, as the Ethiopians occupied the southern: a very
appropriate conjecture for the disposal of the country from the Crimea
to the Cwmri. On the other hand, it seems plain that Homer must have
received from his Phœnician informants two reports, both ascribed to
the North, yet apparently contradictory: the one of countries without
day, the other of countries without night. The true solution, could
he have known it, was by time; each being true of the same place, but
at different seasons of the year. Not aware of the facts, Homer has
adopted another method. While preserving the northern locality for both
traditions, he has planted the one in the north-west, at the craggy
city of Lamus; and the other in the north-east, together with his

[650] Od. i. 24.

[651] Od. xi. 15.

~_Outline of his terrestrial system._~

On the foundation of the conclusions and inferences at which we have
thus arrived, I have endeavoured to construct a map of the Homeric
World. The materials of this map are of necessity very different.
First, there is the inner or Greek world of geography proper, of which
the surface is coloured in red.

Next, there are certain forms of sea and land, genuine, but wholly or
partially misplaced, which may be recognised by their general likeness
to their originals in Nature.

Thirdly, there is the great mass of fabulous and imaginative
skiagraphy, which, for the sake of distinction, is drawn in smooth
instead of indented outline.

The Map represents, without any very important variation, the Homeric
World drawn according to the foregoing argument. To facilitate
verification, or the detection of error, I have made it carry, as far
as possible, its own evidences, in the inscriptions and references upon

    of the
    Outer Geography of the Odyssey
    Form of the Earth



In former portions of this work, I have argued from the name and
the Phœnician extraction of Minos, both to illustrate the dependent
position of the Pelasgian race in the Greek countries[652], and
also to demonstrate the Phœnician origin of the Outer Geography
of the Odyssey[653]. But I have too summarily disposed of the
important question, whether Minos was of Phœnician origin, and of
the construction of the verse Il. xiv. 321. This verse is capable
grammatically of being so construed as to contain an assertion of it;
but upon further consideration I am not prepared to maintain that it
ought to be so interpreted.

[652] Achæis or Ethnology, sect. iii.

[653] Ibid. sect. iv.

~_Genuineness of Il._ xiv. 317-27.~

The Alexandrian critics summarily condemned the whole passage (Il.
xiv. 317-27), in which Jupiter details to Juno his various affairs
with goddesses and women. ‘This enumeration,’ says the Scholiast (A)
on verse 327, ‘is inopportune, for it rather repels Juno than attracts
her: and Jupiter, when greedy, through the influence of the Cestus, for
the satisfaction of his passion, makes a long harangue.’ Heyne follows
up the censure with a yet more sweeping condemnation. _Sanè absurdiora,
quam hos decem versus, vix unquam ullus commentus est rhapsodus_[654].
And yet he adds a consideration, which might have served to
arrest judgment until after further hearing. For he says, that the
commentators upon them ought to have taken notice that the description
belongs to a period, when the relations of man and wife were not such,
as to prevent the open introduction and parading of concubines; and
that Juno might be flattered and allured by a declaration, proceeding
from Jupiter, of the superiority of her charms to those of so many
beautiful persons.

[654] Obss. _in loc._

Heyne’s reason appears to me so good, as even to outweigh his
authority: but there are other grounds also, on which I decline to bow
to the proposed excision. The objections taken seem to me invalid on
the following grounds;

1. For the reason stated by Heyne.

2. Because, in the whole character of the Homeric Juno, and in the
whole of this proceeding, it is the political spirit, and not the
animal tendency, that predominates. Of this Homer has given us distinct
warning, where he tells us that Juno just before had looked on Jupiter
from afar, and that he was disgusting to her; (v. 158) στυγερὸς δέ
οἱ ἔπλετο θυμῷ. It is therefore futile to argue about her, as if she
had been under the paramount sway either of animal desire, or even of
the feminine love of admiration, when she was really and exclusively
governed by another master-passion.

3. As she has artfully persuaded Jupiter, that he has an obstacle
to overcome in diverting her from her intention of travelling to a
distance, it is not at all unnatural that Jupiter should use what he
thinks, and what, as Heyne has shown, he may justly think, to be proper
and special means of persuasion.

4. The passage is carefully and skilfully composed; and it ends with a
climax, so as to give the greatest force to the compliment of which it
is susceptible.

5. All the representations in it harmonize with the manner of handling
the same personages elsewhere in Homer.

6. The passage has that strong vein of nationality, which is so
eminently characteristic of Homer. No intrigues are mentioned, except
such as issued in the birth of children of recognised Hellenic fame.
The gross animalism of Jupiter, displayed in the Speech, is in the
strictest keeping with the entire context; for it is the basis of the
transaction, and gives Juno the opportunity she so adroitly turns to

7. Those, who reject the passage as spurious, because the action
ought not at this point to be loaded with a speech, do not, I think,
bear in mind that a deviation of this kind from the strict poetical
order is really in keeping with Homer’s practice on other occasions,
particularly in the disquisitions of Nestor and of Phœnix. Such
a deviation appears to be accounted for by his historic aims. To
comprehend him in a case of this kind, we must set out from his point
of departure, according to which, verse was not a mere exercise for
pleasure, but was to be the one great vehicle of all knowledge: and a
potent instrument in constructing a nationality. Thus, then, what the
first aim rejected, the second might in given cases accept and even
require. Now in this short passage there is a great deal of important
historical information conveyed to us.

We may therefore with considerable confidence employ such evidence as
the speech may be found to afford.

Let us, then, observe the forms of expression as they run in series,

  οὐδ’ ὁπότ’ ἠρασάμην Ἰξιονίης ἀλόχοιο[655].
  οὐδ’ ὅτε περ Δανάης καλλισφύρου Ἀκρισιώνης[656].
  οὐδ’ ὅτε Φοίνικος κούρης τηλεκλείτοιο[657].

[655] Ver. 317.

[656] Ver. 319.

[657] Ver. 321.

~_Sense of Il._ xiv. 321.~

Taken grammatically, I presume the last verse may mean, (1) The
daughter of the distinguished Phœnix: or (2) The daughter of a
distinguished Phœnician: or (3) A distinguished Phœnician damsel.

_a._ Against the first it may be urged, that we have no other account
from Homer, or from any early tradition, of this Phœnix, here described
as famous.

_b._ Against the second and third, that Homer nowhere directly declares
the foreign origin of any great Greek personage.

_c._ Also, that in each of the previous cases, Homer has used the
proper name of a person nearly connected in order to indicate and
identity the woman, whom therefore it is not likely that he would in
this single case denote only by her nation, or the nation of her father.

_d._ Against the third, that, in the only other passage where he has
to speak of a Phœnician woman, he uses a feminine form, Φοίνισσα:
ἔσκε δὲ πατρὸς ἐμοῖο γυνὴ Φοίνισσ’ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ (Od. xv. 417). But Φοίνιξ
is grammatically capable of the feminine, as is shown by Herod. i.

[658] See Jelf’s Gr. Gramm. 103.

_e._ Also that Homer, in the few instances where he uses the word
τηλεκλειτὸς, confines it to men. He, however, gives the epithet
ἐρικυδὴς to Latona.

The arguments from the structure of the passage, and from the uniform
reticence of Homer respecting the foreign origin of Greek personages,
convince me that it is not on the whole warrantable to interpret Φοίνιξ
in this place in any other manner, than as the name of the father of

The name Φοίνιξ, however, taken in connection with the period to
which it applies--nearly three generations before the _Troica_--still
continues to supply of itself no trifling presumption of the Phœnician
origin of Minos.

It cannot, I suppose, be doubted that the original meaning of Φοίνιξ,
when first used as a proper name in Greece, probably was ‘of Phœnician
birth, or origin.’ But, if we are to judge by the testimony of Homer,
the time, when Minos lived, was but very shortly after the first
Phœnician arrivals in Greece; and his grandfather Phœnix, living four
and a half generations before the _Troica_, was in all likelihood
contemporary with, or anterior to, Cadmus. At a period when the
intercourse of the two countries was in its infancy, we may, I think,
with some degree of confidence construe this proper name as indicating
the country of origin.

~_Collateral evidence._~

The other marks connected with Minos and his history give such support
to this presumption as to bring the supposition up to reasonable
certainty. Such are,

1. The connection with Dædalus.

2. The tradition of the nautical power of Minos.

3. The characteristic epithet ὀλοόφρων; as also its relation to the
other Homeric personages with whose name it is joined.

4. The fact that Minos brought a more advanced form of laws and polity
among a people of lower social organization; the proof thus given that
he belonged to a superior race: the probability that, if this race
had been Hellenic, Homer would have distinctly marked the connection
of so distinguished a person with the Hellenic stem: and the apparent
certainty that, if not Hellenic, it could only be Phœnician.

The positive Homeric grounds for believing Minos to be Phœnician are
much stronger, than any that sustain the same belief in the case of
Cadmus: and the negative objection, that Homer does not call him by
the name of the country from which he sprang, is in fact an indication
of the Poet’s uniform practice of drawing the curtain over history or
legend, at the point where a longer perspective would have the effect
of exhibiting any Greek hero as derived from a foreign source, and thus
of confuting that claim to autochthonism which, though it is not much
his way to proclaim such matters in the abstract, yet appears to have
operated with Homer as a practical principle of considerable weight.



I have the less scruple in making the verse Od. v. 277 the subject of
a particular inquiry, because the chief elements of the discussion
are important with reference to the laws of Homeric Greek, as well as
with regard to that adjustment of the Outer Geography, which I have
supported by a detailed application to every part of the narrative of
the Odyssey, and which I at once admit is in irreconcilable conflict
with the popular construction of the account of the voyage from Ogygia
to Scheria, as far as it depends upon this particular verse.

The passage is[659] (the τὴν referring to Ἄρκτον in v. 273)

[659] Od. v. 276, 7.

  τὴν γὰρ δή μιν ἄνωγε Καλυψὼ, δῖα θεάων,
  ποντοπορευέμεναι ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς ἔχοντα.

The points upon which the signification of the last line must depend,
seem to be as follows:

1. The meaning of the important Homeric word ἀριστερός.

2. The form of the phrase ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς, which is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον
in Homer.

3. The force of the preposition ἐπὶ, particularly with the accusative.

The second of these points may be speedily dismissed. For (1) the only
question that can arise upon it would be, whether (assuming for the
moment the sense of ἀριστερὸς) ‘the left of his hand’ means the left of
the line described by the onward movement of his body, or the left of
the direction in which his hand, that is, his right or steering hand,
points while upon the helm; which would be the exact reverse of the
former. But, though the latter interpretation would be grammatically
accurate, it is too minute and subtle, as respects the sense, to agree
with Homer’s methods of expression. And (2) some of the Scholiasts
report another reading, νηὸς, instead of χειρὸς, which would present no
point of doubt or suspicion under this head.

We have then two questions to consider; of which the first is the
general use and treatment by Homer of the word ἀριστερός.

~_Senses of δεξιὸς and ἀριστερός._~

It appears to me well worth consideration whether the δεξιὸς and
ἀριστερὸς of Homer ought not, besides the senses of right and left, to
be acknowledged capable of the senses of east and west respectively.

The word ἀριστερὸς takes the sense of _left_ by way of derivation and
second intention only.

The word σκαιὸς is that, which etymologically and primarily expresses
the function of the left hand. The use of this as the principal hand
is abnormal, and places the body as it were _askew_ (compare σκάζω,
_scævus_, _schief_)[660]. In Homer the only word used singly, i. e.
without a substantive, to express the left hand is σκαιός. At the same
time, we cannot draw positive conclusions from this fact, because
ἀριστερὸς could not stand in the hexameter to represent a feminine noun
singular, on account of the laws of metre, which in this point are

[660] Liddell and Scott.

Σκαιῇ means the left hand in Il. i. 501. xvi. 734. xxi. 490. This
adjective is but once used in Homer except for the hand: viz., in Od.
iii. 295 we have σκαιὸν ῥίον for ‘the foreland on the left.’ But Σκαιαὶ
πύλαι may have meant originally the left hand gates of Troy.

The application of δεξιὸς to the right hand (from which we may
consider δεξιτερὸς as an adaptation for metrical purposes), is to be
sufficiently accounted for, because it was the hand by which greetings
were exchanged, and engagements contracted[661]. But it is not so with
ἀριστερός: and while we contemplate the subject in regard only to the
uses of the member, the word σκαιὸς remains perfectly unexceptionable,
and even highly expressive and convenient, in its function of
expressing the left hand.

[661] Il. ii. 341. x. 542.

It appears that the Greek augurs, in estimating the signification of
omens, were accustomed to stand with their faces northwards; or rather,
I presume, with their faces set towards a point midway between sunset
and sunrise. The most common descriptions of omen in the time of Homer
appear to have been (1) the flight of birds, and (2) the apparition
of thunder and lightning. The test of a good moving omen was, that it
should proceed from the west, and move to the east; and of a bad moving
omen, that it should proceed from the east, and move to the west.
Possibly we may trace in this conception the cosmogonical arrangement,
which planted in the West the Elysian plain, and in the East the
dismal and semi-penal domain of Aidoneus and Persephone. Possibly
the brightness of the sun, which caused the East to be regarded as
the fountain of light, may be the foundation of it: together, on the
other hand, with that close visible association between the West and
darkness, which the sunset of each day brought before the eyes of men;
so that to lie πρὸς ζόφον meant to lie towards the West, and was the
regular opposite of lying towards the sun[662].

[662] Od. ix. 25, 6.

Whatever may have been the basis of the doctrine of the augurs, there
grew up an established association (1) between the west and what was
ill-omened or evil, and through this (2) between what was ill-omened
or evil and the left side of a man. The west was unlucky, because the
science of augury made it so. The left hand was unlucky, because in
the inspection of omens it was western. One half of the objects in
the world, and of the actions of the human body, thus lay, from their
position relatively to omens, under an incubus of ill-fortune. It was
retrieved from this threatening condition, by an euphemism; by the
application of a word not merely innocent[663], but preeminently good.
Everything covered by the blight of evil omen was to be, not only not
harmful, but ἀριστερὸς, better than the best. Consequently it would
appear that the word ἀριστερὸς probably meant westerly, before it could
mean on the left hand: because not the left hand only, but everything
westerly, was within the range of the evil to which it was intended to
apply a remedy.

[663] Compare the use of the word εὐώνυμος.

In a passage like Il. vii. 238, the meaning of δεξιὸς and ἀριστερὸς
is, plainly, right and left. But what is it in the speech of Hector,
where he tells Polydamas that he cares not for omens[664],

[664] Il. xii. 238-40.

  εἴτ’ ἐπὶ δεξί’ ἴωσι πρὸς Ἠῶ τ’ Ἠέλιόν τε,
  εἴτ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοίγε ποτὶ ζόφον ἠερόεντα.

In the first place, it is a more appropriate, because more direct,
method of description with respect to birds of omen to say, they fly
eastward or westward, than that they fly to the right or the left
hand: since the sense of right and left has no determinate standard
of reference, but requires the aid of an assumption that the person
is actually looking to the north, so that the words may thus become
equivalent to east and west. But in this case, which is one of warriors
on the battle-field, would there not be something rather incongruous
in interpolating the suggestion of their turning northwards as they
spoke, in order to give the proper meaning to these two words? We must
surely conceive of Hector standing on the battle-field with his face
towards the enemy, if we are to take his posture into view at all. If
he stood thus, he would look, as far as we can judge, to the west of
north. Now the ζόφος was the north-west with Homer, and not the west:
and, conversely, the Ἠὼς inclined to the south of east. In this way he
would nearly have his face to the former, and his back to the latter;
and if so the meaning of right and left would be not only farfetched,
but wholly improper, while the meaning of east and west would be no
less correct than natural.

I must add, that there are other places in Homer where difficulty
arises, if we are only permitted to construe δεξιὸς and ἀριστερὸς by
right and left. I will even venture to say, that there are passages in
the Thirteenth Book which render the topography of the battle that it
describes, not only obscure, but even contradictory, if ἀριστερὸς in
them means _left_; and which become perfectly harmonious if we allowed
to understand it as signifying _west_.

~_Illustrated from Il._ xiii.~

These are respectively Il. xiii. 675 and 765.

In order to apprehend the case, it will be necessary to follow closely
the movement of the battle through most of the Book.

1. Il. xiii. 126-9: The Ajaxes are opposed to Hector, νηυσὶν ἐν
μέσσῃσιν, 312, 16.

2. The centre being thus provided for, Idomeneus proceeds to the left,
στρατοῦ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ (326), which is the station of Deiphobus; and
makes havock in this quarter.

3. Deiphobus, instead of fighting Idomeneus, thinks it prudent to fetch
Æneas, who is standing aloof, 458 and seqq.

4. Summoned by Deiphobus, Æneas comes with him, attended also by Paris
and Agenor, 490.

5. They conjointly carry on the fight at that point, with indifferent
success (495-673), but no decisive issue.

6. Hector, in the centre, remains ignorant that the Trojans were being
worsted νηῶν ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ by the Greeks, 675.

7. By the advice of Polydamas he goes in search of other chiefs to
consider what is to be done; of Paris among the rest, whom he finds,
μάχης ἐπ’ ἀριστερά (765). With them he returns to the centre, 753, 802,

Now the following propositions are, I think, sound:

1. When Homer thus speaks of ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ in Il. xiii. 326, 675, and
765, respectively, he evidently means to describe in all of them the
same side of the battle-field. Where Idomeneus is, in 329, thither he
brings Æneas in 469, who is attended at the time by Paris, 490; and
there Paris evidently remains until summoned to the centre in 765.

2. If Homer speaks with reference to any particular combatant, of his
being on the left or the right of the battle, he ought to mean the
Greek left or right if the person be Greek, and the Trojan left or
right if the person be Trojan.

3. This is actually the rule by which he proceeds elsewhere. For in
the Fifth Book, when Mars is in the field on the Trojan side, he says,
Minerva found him μάχης ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ, Il. v. 355. What is the point
thus described, and how came he there? The answer is supplied by an
earlier part of the same Book. In v. 35, Minerva led him out of the
battle. In v. 36, she placed him by the shore of the Scamander; that
is to say, on the Trojan left, and in a position to which, he being a
Trojan combatant, the Poet gives the name of μάχης ἐπ’ ἀριστερά.

Now ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ is commonly interpreted ‘on the left.’ But if it means
on the left in Il. xiii., then the passages are contradictory: because
this would place Paris on both wings, whereas he obviously is described
as on the same wing of the battle throughout.

But if we construe ἀριστερὸς as meaning the west in all the three
passages, then we have the same meaning at once made available for all
the three places, so that the account becomes self-consistent again;
and if the meaning be ‘on the west,’ then we may understand that
Idomeneus most naturally betakes himself to the west, because that
was the quarter of the Myrmidons, where the Greek line was deprived
of support. If, however, it be said, that the Greek left is meant
throughout, then the expression in v. 765 is both contrary to what
would seem reasonable, and at variance with Homer’s own precedent in
the Fifth Book.

Thus there is considerable reason to suppose that, in Homer, ἀριστερὸς
may sometimes mean ‘west.’ So that _if_ ἐπὶ in Od. v. 277 really means
‘upon,’ the phrase will signify, that Ulysses was to have Arctus on the
west side of him, which would place Ogygia in the required position to
the east of north.

~_The force of ἐπὶ in Homer._~

The point remaining for discussion is at once the most difficult and
the most important. What _is_ the true force of the Homeric ἐπί?

I find the senses of this preposition clearly and comprehensively
treated in Jelf’s Greek Grammar, where the leading points of its
various significations are laid down as follows[665]:

[665] Jelf’s Gr. Gr. Nos. 633-5.

1. Its original force is _upon_, or _on_.

2. It is applied to place, time, or causation. Of these three, when
treating of a geographical question, we need only consider the first
with any minuteness.

3. Ἐπὶ, when used locally, means with the genitive (_a_) _on_ or _at_,
and (_b_) motion _towards_ a place or thing. With the dative (_a_) _on_
or _at_, and (_b_) _by_ or _near_. With the accusative (_a_) _towards_,
and (_b_) ‘extension in space over an object, as well with verbs of
rest as of motion.’ Of this sense examples are quoted in πλεῖν ἐπὶ
οἴνοπα πόντον for verbs of motion, and ἐπ’ ἐννέα κεῖτο πέλεθρα for
verbs of rest. Both are from Homer, in Il. vii. 83, and Od. xi. 577.

The Homeric ἐπὶ δεξιὰ and ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ are also quoted as examples of
this last-named sense. But in Od. v. 277, if the meaning be _on_ the
left, it is plainly quite beyond these definitions: for so far from
being an object extended over space, the star is, as it appears on the
left, a luminous point, and nothing more. It was an extension over
space, such as the eye has from a window over a prospect; but then
that space is the space which lies over-against the star; so that if
the space be on the left, the star must be looking towards the left
indeed, but for that very reason set on the right. The difference here
is most important in connection with the sense of the preposition. If
ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ means _on_ the left, it is only on a single point of the
left; if it means towards or over-against the right, it means towards
or over-against the whole right. Now, the former of these senses is, I
contend, utterly out of keeping with the whole Homeric use of ἐπὶ as
a preposition governing the accusative: while the latter is quite in
keeping with it.

~_Force of ἐπὶ with ἀριστερά._~

The idea of motion, physical or metaphysical, in some one or other of
its modifications, appears to inhere essentially in the Homeric use
of ἐπὶ with the accusative. In the great majority of instances, it is
used with a verb of motion, which places the matter beyond all doubt.
In almost all other instances, either the motion of a body, or some
covering of space where there is no motion, are obviously involved.
Thus the Zephyr (κελάδει[666]) whistles ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον. A hero, or
a bevy of maidens, may shout ἐπὶ μακρόν[667]. The rim of a basket is
covered with a plating of gold, χρυσῷ δ’ ἐπὶ χείλεα κεκράαντο: that
is, the gold is drawn over it[668]. Achilles looks[669] ἐπὶ οἴνοπα
πόντον. The sun appears to mortals ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν[670]. Here we
should apparently understand ‘spread,’ or some equivalent word. We have
‘animals as many as are born’ ἐπὶ γαῖαν[671]. Or, again, we have ‘may
his glory be’ (spread) ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν[672]. Again: ἐπὶ δηρὸν δέ
μοι αἰὼν ἔσσεται is, ‘I shall live long[673].’ And Achilles seated
himself θῖν’ ἐφ’ ἁλὸς πολιῆς[674]. A dragon with a purple back is[675]
ἐπὶ νῶτα δάφοινος. The shoulders of Thersites, compressed against his
chest, are, ἐπὶ στῆθος συνοχωκότε[676]. The horses of Admetus stand
even with the rod across their backs[677], σταφύλῃ ἐπὶ νῶτον ἐΐσας. I
have not confined these examples to merely local cases, because a more
varied illustration, I think, here enlarges our means of judgment.
In every case, it appears, we may assert that extension, whether in
time or space, is implied; and the proper word to construe ἐπὶ (except
with certain verbs of motion, as, ‘he fell on,’ and the like) will be
over, along, across, or over-against. Further, we have in Il. vi. 400,
according to one reading, the preposition ἐπὶ combined with the verb
ἔχειν, and governing the accusative. Andromache appears,

[666] Od. ii. 421.

[667] Od. vi. 117. Il. v. 101.

[668] Od. iv. 132.

[669] Il. i. 350.

[670] Od. iii. 3.

[671] Od. iv. 417.

[672] Od. vii. 332.

[673] Il. ix. 415.

[674] Il. i. 350.

[675] Il. ii. 308.

[676] Ibid. 318.

[677] Ibid. 765.

  παῖδ’ ἐπὶ κόλπον ἔχουσ’ ἀταλάφρονα.

The recent editions read κόλπῳ: I suppose because the accusative cannot
properly give the meaning _upon_ her breast. But we do not require that
meaning. The sense seems to be, that Andromache was holding her infant
_against_ her breast; that is, the infant was held to it by her hands
from the opposite side. The idea of an infant _on_ her breast is quite
unsuited to a figure declared to be in motion. But the sense may also
be, stretched over or across her breast. Thus we always have extension
involved in ἐπὶ with the accusative, whether in range of view or sound,
steps of a gradual process, actual motion, pressure towards a point
which is initial motion, or extension over space. But the Homeric use
of ἐπὶ with the accusative will nowhere, I think, be found applicable
to the inactive, motionless position of a luminous point simply as
perceived in space. And if so, it cannot be allowable to construe ἐπ’
ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς ἔχων, having (Arctus) _on_ his left hand.

The nearest parallel that I have found to the phrase in Od. v. 277, is
the direction given by Idomeneus to Meriones, who had asked him (Il.
xiii. 307) at what point he would like to enter the line of battle.
Idomeneus, after giving his reasons, concludes with this injunction:

  νῶϊν δ’ ὧδ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστέρ’ ἔχε στρατοῦ.

In the Odyssey, the order is to keep Arctus ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρός. Here
it is to keep Idomeneus (and Meriones himself, who preceded him), ἐπ’
ἀριστερὰ στρατοῦ. The parallel is not complete, because in the latter
case the object of the verb moves; in the former it does not move.
Let us, however, consider the meaning of the latter passage, which is
indisputable. It is ‘hold or keep us,’ not on the left, but ‘towards,
looking and moving towards, the left of the army.’ Probably then they
were coming from its right. Therefore, if for the moment we waive the
question of motion, the order of Calypso was to keep Arctus looking
towards the left of the ship: and accordingly Arctus was to look from
its right.

We must, I apprehend, seek the key to the general meaning of this
phrase from considering that idea of motion involved in the ordinary
manifestation of omens, which appears to be the basis of the
phrase itself. Now, it seems to be the essential and very peculiar
characteristic of this phrase in Homer, and of the sister phrases
ἐπιδέξια (whether written in one word or in two) and ἐνδέξια, that they
very commonly imply a position different from that which they seem
at first sight to suggest. For that which goes towards the left is
naturally understood to go from the right, and _vice versâ_.

‘To’ and not ‘on’ is the essential characteristic of the Homeric ἐπὶ
with the accusative. Accordingly, where ἐπὶ is so used with the words
δεξιὰ or ἀριστερὰ, we may often understand an original position of the
person or thing intended, generally opposite to the point or quarter
expressed. In such a case as εὗρεν ... μάχης ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ we should
join ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ with the subject of εὗρεν, and not with its object.
Not A found B on the left, but A (coming) towards the left found B
(there). Again, in Il. xiii. 675, νηῶν ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ should, I submit,
be construed _towards_ the left, or in the direction of the left.

Now, while there is not a single passage in Homer that refuses to bear
a construction founded on these principles, an examination of a variety
of passages will, I believe, supply us with instances to show, that
there is no other consistent mode of rendering the phrases ἀστράπτειν
ἐπιδέξια; ἐέργειν ἐπ’ ἀριστερά; οἰνοχόειν, αἰτεῖν, δεικνύναι, ἐνδέξια;
ἀριστερὸς ὄρνις, δεξιὸν ἐρώδιον, and others.

And although in some of these phrases the idea of motion is actually
included, while the motion of omens was the original groundwork of them
all, yet, as frequently happens, the effect remains when the cause has
disappeared. A bird called δεξιὸς is one moving ἐπὶ δεξιά; and this,
according to the law of omens, is _usually_ a bird from the left moving
towards the right. And thus, by analogy, a star ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ is a star
on the right not moving but looking towards the left. Once more, when
we recollect that ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ habitually or very frequently means on
the right as well as moving towards the left, it is not difficult to
conceive so easy and simple a modification of this sense as brings it
to being on the right, while also looking, instead of moving, towards
the left. Lightning, which had appeared on the right, would I apprehend
be ἀστραπὴ ἐπ’ ἀριστερά: Ἀρκτὸς ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ would be ‘Arctus on the
right;’ and the introduction of the word ἔχειν cannot surely reverse
the signification.

In later Greek, the expressions ἐνδέξια and ἐπιδέξια, with ἐπαριστερὰ,
which seems to be the counterpart of both, the preposition ἐπὶ
sometimes being divided from and sometimes united with its case, appear
to be equivalent to our English phrases ‘on the right,’ and ‘on the
left.’ But not so in Homer.

~_Illustrated from Il._ ii. 353. _Od._ xxi. 141.~

Let us now examine various places of the poems, where ἐνδέξια and
ἐπὶ δεξιὰ (single or combined) cannot mean on the right, but may be
rendered either (1) from the left, or (2) towards the right. Thus we
have, Il. ii. 353,

  ἀστράπτων ἐπιδέξι’, ἐναίσιμα σήματα φαίνων.

This means lightning on and from the left, so that the lightning
passes, or seems to pass, towards the right. The analogy of this
case to that of the star is very close; because it is rarely that
lightning gives the semblance of motion: and this expression precisely
exemplifies the observation, that these phrases often really imply a
position of the subject exactly opposite to that which at first sight
would be supposed.

Again, when Antinous bids the Suitors rise in turn for the trial of the
bow, he says, Od. xxi. 141,

  ὄρνυσθ’ ἑξείης ἐπιδέξια, πάντες ἑταῖροι·

and he goes to explain himself beyond dispute, by referring to the
order observed by the cupbearer at the feast;

  ἀρξάμενοι τοῦ χώρου, ὅθεν τέ περ οἰνοχοεύει. (142)

His meaning evidently is, Rise up, beginning on or from the left.

~_From Il._ i. 597. vii. 238. xii. 239, 249.~

The practice of the cupbearer is stated with respect to Vulcan, Il. i.

  αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖς ἄλλοισι θεοῖς ἐνδέξια πᾶσιν

So the κήρυξ (Il. vii. 183) goes round ἐνδέξια with the lots for the
chieftains to draw. The beggar[678] in making his round follows the
supreme law of luck, and goes ἐνδέξια. And as this meaning seems to be
established, we must give the same sense, in Il. ix. 236, to ἐνδέξια
σήματα φαίνων ἀστράπτει, as to the ἐνδέξια in Il. ii. 353, namely, that
Jupiter displayed celestial signs on the left.

[678] Od. xvii. 365.

Again, Hector boasts of his proficiency in moving his shield so as to
cover his person, Il. vii. 238,

  οἶδ’ ἐπὶ δεξιὰ, οἶδ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ νωμῆσαι βῶν.

We should translate this probably without much thought ‘to the right
and to the left.’ But when we consider what sense is required by the
idea to be conveyed, it is evident that ἐπὶ δεξιὰ means, from the left
side of his person towards the right, and ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ from the right
side of his person towards the left. That is to say, the first position
before and during the motion, in each case, is at the side opposite to
that indicated by the adjectives respectively.

Again, in a well known passage (Il. xii. 239.) Hector tells Polydamas
that he cares not for omens, be they good or bad;

  εἴτ’ ἐπὶ δεξί’ ἴωσι πρὸς Ἠῶ τ’ Ἠέλιόν τε,
  εἴτ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοίγε, ποτὶ ζόφον ἠερόεντα.

Apart from the question, whether the sense of right and left is
suitable to this passage at all, and assuming it to be so, the meaning
is _from the left_ for ἐπὶ δεξιὰ and _from the right_ for ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ,
on their way in each case to the opposite quarter.

Again, the portent which had drawn forth the observation of Hector was,
(Il. xii. 219,)

  αἰετὸς ὑψιπέτης, ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ λαὸν ἐέργων,

namely, an eagle appearing on the right and then moving towards the
left. Now ἐέργω is not properly a verb of motion; and yet we see that
ἐέργειν ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ means to close the army in from the right; that is
to say, the eagle, which does the act ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ, is itself on the

There were in fact three things, which originally might, and commonly
would, be included in each of these phrases. For example, in ἐπ’

  1. Appearance at a particular point on the right;
  2. Motion from that point towards the left;
  3. Rest at another point on the left.

Of these the second named indicates the first and principal intention
of the word; but when it passes to a second intention or derivative
sense, it may include either the first point, or the third, or both.
In the later Greek it appears rather to indicate the point of rest;
but in the Homeric phrases of the corresponding word δεξιὸς, οἰνοχοεῖν
ἐνδέξια, δεικνύναι ἐνδέξια, αἰτεῖν ἐνδέξια, ἀστραπτεῖν ἐπὶ δεξιὰ,
ἐέργειν ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ, the starting-point, and not the resting-point,
is the one brought into view. It is the commencement of the motion, in
every one of these cases, which is indicated by the phrase, and not its

Being engaged upon this subject, I shall not scruple to examine one
or two remaining passages, which may assist in its more thorough

~_From Il._ xxiii. 335-7.~

I therefore ask particular attention to the passage in the Twenty-third
Book of the Iliad, where Nestor instructs his son concerning his
management in the chariot-race. On either side of a dry trunk upon the
plain, there lay two white stones (xxiii. 329). They formed the goal,
round which the chariots were to be driven, the charioteer keeping them
on his left hand. The pith of the advice of Nestor is, that his son
is to make a short and close turn round them, so as to have a chance
of winning, in spite of the slowness of his team. The directions are

  αὐτὸς δὲ κλινθῆναι ἐϋπλέκτῳ ἐνὶ δίφρῳ
  ἦκ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοῖϊν· ἀτὰρ τὸν δεξιὸν ἵππον
  κένσαι ὁμοκλήσας, εἶξαί τέ οἱ ἡνία χερσίν.

It is clear from the last line and a half that the goal was to be on
his left hand. But what is the meaning of κλινθῆναι ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοῖϊν?
Nothing can be more scientific than the precept. The horses are to make
a sharp turn: the impetus in the driver’s body might throw him forward
if he were not prepared: he is to do what every rider in a circus now
does, to lean inwards; and that is expressed by leaning ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ,
of the goal--for τοῖϊν must, I apprehend, be understood to agree with
the dual λᾶε (329), and not the plural ἵππους (334); particularly
because the word ἵππος is repeated immediately after it. The meaning
then is, that he is desired to lean to the left of the goal, while all
the time he keeps on its right. We should under the same circumstances
say, ‘Lean gently towards the right side of the goal, as you are about
to turn round it.’ He, meaning the same thing, says, ‘Lean towards the
left; that is, lean _from the right_, or while keeping on the right,
of the object named. Now this I take to be exactly the sense of Od.
v. 277. Ulysses was bid to sail, having the Great Bear placed on his
right, but looking from his right, and towards his left, as every star
looks towards the quarter opposite to that in which it is itself seen.
He is to have the star _e dextrâ_, because from that point it looks _ad
sinistram_. It looks across him towards his left, just as Antilochus
was to lean in the direction across the goal towards its left.

The whole of this interpretation without doubt depends upon the word
τοῖϊν; and I do not presume to say that it is necessarily, under
grammatical rules, to be understood of the goal, and not of the horses.
But it is the more natural construction: and Homer often reverts merely
by this demonstrative pronoun, without further indication, to a subject
which he has only named some time back[679].

[679] So τήν δε, Il. i. 127, and particularly τὴν in Il. i. 389,
meaning Chryseis, who has not been named since v. 372.

But if grammar leave that question in any degree open, I apprehend
that physical considerations must decide it. It is impossible for the
driver to lean to the left of his horses as they are rounding the goal.
To the left of his chariot he may lean, as he stands upon it: but to
their left he cannot, for they are considerably in advance of him;
and in order to make the turn at all, they must, at each point of the
curve, which is a curve to the left, be much further along the curve,
and consequently much further to the left, than he can possibly be. It
would be a parallel case, if there were two riders round a circus, one
following the other, and the rider of the after horse were told to lean
to the right of the fore horse. Therefore the word τοῖϊν can, I submit,
only refer to the two stones, which form the goal.

~_From Il._ ii. 526.~

A line in the Greek Catalogue will enable us to carry the question
still further. In Il. ii. 517, after the two Bœotian contingents, come
the Phocians: and the Poet says, ver. 526,

  Βοιωτῶν δ’ ἔμπλην ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ θωρήσσοντο.

I see that this is translated even by Voss ‘on the left.’ Now is not
this contrary to all likelihood? Was not all propitious movement with
Homer from left to right? Has not this been proved by the cases of the
Immortals, the Omens, the Cupbearer, the Beggar, and the Herald? Is it
likely, or is it even conceivable, that Homer should depart from this
principle in his order of the army? Surely the meaning is this: Having
fixed for himself geographically the order of his contingents, he has
likewise to state their order of array upon the field; and accordingly
by this line he informs us, that the Phocians, who were the second
of the races he mentions, stood ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ of the Bœotians: he of
course means us to understand that the Abantes, the third race, were
ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ of the Locrians, and so on through the whole: or in other
words, that he informs us he does not forget to follow, amidst the
multitudinous detail of the Catalogue, the established, the religious,
and the propitious order of enumeration, namely, the order which begins
from the left, and moves towards the right.

Thus we must in this place translate ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ ‘towards, that is,
looking towards the left of the Bœotians;’ or ‘looking to the Bœotians
on their left,’ i. e. of the Phocians; the Phocians being, whichever
construction we adopt, on the right, actually on the right, not the
left of the Bœotians. The real force of the expression probably is
this: that the Bœotians, having taken their ground, the Phocians came
up and took theirs next to them on their right.

~_Application to Od._ v. 277.~

Now this case is precisely in point for Od. v. 277: because θωρήσσεσθαι
is not properly a verb of motion: and in all likelihood it may be
relied on independently of further details from Homer, because it
brings the matter to an easy test, through the certainty which we may
well entertain, that Homer would have the order of his army begin from
left to right, like every other duly and auspiciously constituted order.

There is, however, another interpretation proposed as follows: they,
the Phocians, took ground next (ἔμπλην) to the Bœotians on the left, i.
e. of the army; the two together, as it were, forming its left wing. To
this construction there seem to be conclusive objections:

1. Why should Homer tell us that the Bœotians and Phocians together
constituted a division of the army, when he tells us nothing similar
respecting any of the twenty-six contingents that remain? Neither of
these races were particularly distinguished either politically or in

2. It appears clear that the Bœotians and Phocians did not together
form a division of the army: for, in the Thirteenth Book, the Bœotians
fight in company with the Athenians or Ionians, the Locrians, Phthians,
and Epeans, but not with the Phocians. Il. xiii. 685, 6.

3. Neither did the Bœotians belong to the left wing of the army at all:
for they are found defending the centre of the ships against Hector
and the Trojans, with the two Ajaxes in their front. Il. xiii. 314-16,
674-84, 685, 700; 701, 2; 719, 20.

4. There is nowhere the smallest sign, that the Greek army was divided
into wings and centre at all.

5. The order of the Catalogue is a geographical order, and not that
of a military arrangement. Therefore it was requisite for Homer to
tell us how the troops were arranged in the Review. This he has
effected by telling us that the Phocians, the second of his tribes,
drew up on the right of the Bœotians: which we have only to consider
tacitly repeated all through, and the order is thus both complete and
propitious. But, according to the other construction, the Poet begins
with an arrangement by wings, of which we hear nowhere else: and then
he forthwith forgets and abandons it.

6. I do not think ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ can be construed to the left of the
army. The army has nowhere been named. The phrases ἐπὶ δεξιὰ and ἐπ’
ἀριστερὰ require us to have a subject clearly in view. It is frequently
named, as in ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ μάχης. When it is connected with omens, it
means to the west, and ἐπιδέξια the reverse. Again, οἰνοχοεῖν ἐπιδέξια
is to begin pouring wine from the left, and towards the right end of
the rank whom the cupbearer may be serving. The ‘army’ has not been
mentioned since the reassembling in v. 207.

These objections appear to me fatal to the construction now under our
view. They do not indeed touch the question whether ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ should
be interpreted on the left, or (on the right and) towards the left.
That must, I think, be decided by the general principles of augury duly
applied to order and enumeration.

On the whole, then, I contend that it is wrong to construe Od. v.
277, ‘to sail with Arctus _on_ his left hand.’ It would be much more
nearly right, and would, in fact, convey the meaning, though not in
a grammatical manner, if we construed it ‘to sail with Arctus on
his right hand.’ But the manner of construing it, grammatically and
accurately, as I submit, is this: ‘to sail with Arctus looking towards
the left (of his hand, or his left hand);’ that is to say, looking
_from his right_. And generally, that the proper mode of construing ἐπ’
ἀριστερὰ and ἐπὶ δεξιὰ in Homer is, _towards_ the left, _towards_ the
right; or, conversely, _from_ the right, _from_ the left.

This meaning is in exact accordance with the North-eastern, and is
entirely opposed to the North-western, hypothesis. And I venture to
believe that, itself established by sufficient evidence from other
passages in the poems, it enables us to give a meaning substantially,
though perhaps not minutely self-consistent, though of course one not
based upon the true configuration of the earth’s surface as it is now
ascertained, to every passage in Homer which relates to the Outer
Geography of the Odyssey.

Both ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ and ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς are used repeatedly in the
Hymn to Mercury[680]. One of the passages resembles in its form that
of the eagle, Il. xii. 219. It is this:

[680] Hymn. Merc. 153. Cf. 418, 424, 499.

  κεῖτο, χέλυν ἐρατὴν ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ χειρὸς ἐέργων.

And probably the basis of the idea is the same. The really correct
Greek expression for ‘on the left hand’ I take to be χειρὸς ἐξ
ἀριστερᾶς, which is used by Euripides[681].

[681] Hecuba 1127.

~_Sense altered in later Greek._~

But in the later Greek the idea of the point of arrival prevailed over
that of the point of departure: and, conventionally at least, the
ἐπιδέξια, with its equivalent ἐνδέξια, came to mean simply ‘on the
right,’ and ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ, ‘on the left.’ It is worth notice, that we
have a like ambiguous use in English of the word _towards_. Sometimes
towards the left means being on the left: sometimes it means moving
from the right in the direction of the left: and a room ‘towards the
south’ means one with its windows on the north, looking out over
the south, like as the star Arctus looks out towards the left of

[682] I have observed that δεξιὸς ὄρνις means a bird flying from the
left towards the right, and ἀριστερὸς ὄρνις, the reverse. Here however
the force of the epithet is derived from immediate connection with the
motion implied, and with the doctrine of omens: δεξιὸς ὦμος would of
course be the right shoulder, and δεξιή, as we have seen, may stand
alone to signify the right hand. And so in general with these words,
when used as epithets, apart from a preposition implying motion, and
from any relation to omens.



_On the Plot of the Iliad._

~_Theory of Grote on the Iliad._~

Although the hope has already been expressed at the commencement of
this work, that for England at least, the main questions as to the
Homeric poems have well nigh been settled in the affirmative sense;
yet I must not pass by without notice the recently propounded theory
of Grote. I refer to it, partly on account of the general authority of
his work; for this authority may give a currency greater than is really
due to a portion of it, which, as lying outside the domain of history
proper, has perhaps been less maturely considered than his conclusions
in general. But it is partly also because I do not know that it has yet
been treated of elsewhere; and most of all because the discussion takes
a positive form; for the answer to his argument, which perhaps may be
found to render itself into a gratuitous hypothesis, depends entirely
upon a comprehensive view of the general structure of the poem, and the
reciprocal relation and adaptation of its parts.

Grote believes, that the poem called the Iliad is divisible into two
great portions: one of them he conceives to be an Achilleis, or a poem
having for its subject the wrath of Achilles, which comprises the First
Book, the Eighth, and all from the Eleventh to the Twenty-second Books
inclusive; that the Books from the Second to the Seventh inclusive,
with the Ninth and Tenth, and the two last Books, are portions of what
may be called an Ilias, or general description of the War of Troy,
which have been introduced into the original Achilleis, most probably
by another hand; or, if by the original Poet, yet to the destruction,
or great detriment, of the poetic unity of his work.

In support of this doctrine he urges,

1. That the Books from the Second to the Seventh inclusive in no
way contribute to the main action, and are ‘brought out in a spirit
altogether indifferent to Achilles and his anger[683].’

[683] Grote’s Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 258 n.

2. That the Ninth Book, containing a full accomplishment of the wishes
of Achilles in the First, by ‘atonement and restitution[684],’ is
really the termination of the whole poem, and renders the continuance
of his Wrath absurd: therefore, and also from the language of
particular passages, it is plain that ‘the Books from the Eleventh
downwards are composed by a Poet, who has no knowledge of that Ninth
Book, (or, as I presume he would add, who takes no cognizance of

[684] Ibid. p. 241 n.

[685] Ibid. p. 244 n.

3. The Jupiter of the Fourth Book is inconsistent with the Jupiter of
the First and Eighth.

4. The abject prostration of Agamemnon in the Ninth Book is
inconsistent with his spirit and gallantry in the Eleventh.

5. The junction of these Books to the First Book is bad; as the Dream
of Agamemnon ‘produces no effect,’ and the Greeks are victorious, not

[686] Ibid. p. 247.

6. For the latter of these reasons, the construction of the wall and
fosse round the camp landwards is out of place.

7. The tenth Book, though it refers sufficiently to what precedes, has
no bearing on what follows in the poem.

Grote has argued conclusively against the supposition that we owe the
continuous Iliad[687] to the labours of Pisistratus, and shows that it
must have been known in its continuity long before. He places the poems
between 850 and 776 B. C.[688]; admits the splendour of much of the
poetry which he thus tears from its context[689]; yet he apparently is
not startled by the supposition, that the man, or the men, capable of
composing poetry of the superlative kind that makes up his Achilleis,
should be so blind to the primary exigencies of such a work for its
effect as a whole, that he or they could also be capable of thus
spoiling its unity by adding eight books, which do not belong to the
subject, to fifteen others in which it was already completely handled
and disposed of. And though our historian leans to the belief of a
plurality of authors for the Iliad, he does not absolutely reject the
supposition that it may be the work of one[690].

[687] Grote’s History of Greece, vol. ii. p. 210.

[688] Ibid. p. 178.

[689] Ibid. p. 260, 236, 267.

[690] Ibid. p. 269.

~_Offer of Il._ ix. _and its rejection_.~

As to the Ninth Book[691], he refers it more decisively to a separate
hand; and he makes no difficulty about presuming that the Homerids
could furnish men capable of composing (for example) the wonderful
speech of Achilles from the 307th to the 429th line. Happy Homerids!
and _felix prole virûm_, happy land that could produce them!

[691] Ibid.

It appears to me that these are wild suppositions. Against no
supposition can there be stronger presumptions than against those
which, by dissevering the prime parts of the poem, produce a
multiplication of Homers; and however Grote may himself think that
enlargements such as he describes, do not imply of necessity at least
a double authorship, few indeed, I apprehend, will be found, while
admitting his criticisms on the poem, to contend that it can still be
the production of a single mind. Still less can I think that any one
would now be satisfied with the sequence of Books proposed, or with the
mutilated proportions, any more than with the reduced dimensions, of
the work as a whole.

I will say not that the propounder of such a theory, but that such
a propounder of any theory, is well entitled to have the question
discussed, whether those proportions are indeed mutilated by the
change, or whether they are, on the contrary, restored. Let me observe,
however, at the outset, that it is the general argument with which
only I shall be careful to deal. I do not admit the discrepancies[692]
alleged; but neither is it requisite to examine each case in detail,
since Grote concedes, that his own theory does not relieve him from
conflict with particular passages of the poem.

[692] Note, pp. 240-4.

As respects the Ninth Book, this theory seems to proceed on a
misconception of the nature of the offence taken by Achilles; as
respects the others, upon a similar misconception of the measure which
the Poet intends us to take of his hero’s greatness, and of the modes
by which he means us to arrive at our estimate.

It takes time to sound the depths of Homer. Possibly, or even probably,
many may share the idea that what Achilles resents is the mere loss of
a captive woman, and that restitution would at once undo the wrong. But
they misconceive the act, and the man also, to whom the wrong was done.
The soul of Achilles is stirred from its depths by an outrage, which
seems to him to comprehend all vices within itself. He is wounded in
an attachment that had become a tender one; for he gives to Briseis the
name of wife (ἄλοχον θυμάρεα), and avows his care and protection of her
in that character. A proud and sensitive warrior, he is[693] insulted
in the face of the army; and to the Greeks, whose governing sentiment
was αἴδως, or honour, insult was the deadliest of all inflictions.
Further, he is defrauded by the withdrawal of that which, by the public
authority, presiding over the distribution of spoil, he had been taught
to call his own; and he keenly feels the combination of deceit with
insolence[694]. Justice is outraged in his person, when he alone among
the warriors is to have no share of the booty. In this he rightly sees
an ingratitude of threefold blackness; it is done by the man, for whose
sake[695] he had come to Troy without an interest of his own; it is
done to the man, whose hand, almost unaided, had earned the spoil which
the Greeks divided[696]: lastly, it is done to him, on whose valour the
fortunes of their host with the hopes of their enterprise principally
depended, and whose mere presence on the field of itself drives and
holds aloof the principal champions of Troy[697]. And, lastly, while
the whole army is responsible by acquiescence and is so declared by
him, (ἐπεί μ’ ἀφέλεσθέ γε δόντες, Il. i. 299,) the insult and wrong
proceed from one, whose avarice and irresolution made him in the eyes
of Achilles at once hateful and contemptible[698].

[693] ὕβρις, Il. i. 203, 214. ἐφυβρίζων, Il. ix. 368, also 646-8.

[694] Il. ix. 370-6: when he returns again and again to the word:
ἐξαπατήσειν, 371; ἀπάτησε, 375; ἐξαπάφοιτο, 376.

[695] Il. i. 152.

[696] Ibid. 165-8.

[697] Il. v. 789.

[698] Il. i. 225-8.

Such is the deadly wrong, that lights up the wrath of Achilles. And,
as he broods over his injuries, according to the law of an honourable
but therefore susceptible, and likewise a fierce and haughty nature,
the flame waxes hotter and hotter, and requires more and more to quench
it. Thus there is a terrible progression and expansion in his revenge:
and by degrees he arrives at a height of fierce vindictiveness, that
minutely calculates the modes in which the suffering of its object
can be carried to a _maximum_, yet so as to leave his own renown
untouched, and open the widest field for the exercise of his valour.
It is not vice, nor is it virtue, which Homer is describing in his
Achilles; it is that strange and wayward mixture of regard for right
and justice with self-love on the one side, and wrath on the other,
which are so common among us men of meaner scale. The difference is,
that in Achilles all the parts of the compound are at once deepened to
a superhuman intensity, and raised to a scale of magnificence which
almost transcends our powers of vision. We must, indeed, no more look
for a didactic and pedantic consistency in the movement of his mind,
than in shocks from an earthquake, or bursts of flame from a volcano.
But a real consistency there is; and doubtless it could be measured by
the rules of every day, if only every day produced an Achilles.

Let us now follow his course with close attention.

~_Restitution not the object of Achilles._~

It can hardly fail to draw remark, that the spirit of Achilles never
from the first moment fastens on mere restitution, or on restitution
at all, as its object. With his knowledge of his own might, which was
enough to prompt him, had he not been restrained from heaven, to assail
and slay Agamemnon on the spot, he nevertheless does not so much as
entertain the thought of fighting to keep Briseis. His thought is far
other than this: ‘I will not lift a finger against one of you for the
girl, since you choose to take from me what you gave (298, 9). I will
not hold what you think fit to grudge.’ While he adds, that they shall
not touch an article of what is properly his own[699]. Not that he
cares for mere possession or dispossession. Were that his thought, he
would have lifted up the invincible arm for the retention of Briseis.
But his thought is this, ‘One outrage you have done to justice and
to me, and, encouraged as well as commanded by great deities, I bear
it; but not even under their promises and injunctions will I endure
that you shall sin again.’ The loss he had suffered now became quite
a subordinate image in his mind; punishment of the offenders, and
not restitution, was ever before his view. His first threat is that
of withdrawal (Il. i. 169): which, he conceives, will put a stop to
Agamemnon’s rapacious accumulations. Next (233) he swears the mighty
oath that every Greek shall rue the day of his wrong, and look in vain
to Agamemnon for protection against the sword of Hector. Again, in his
prayer to Thetis, he intreats that she will induce Jupiter to drive the
Greeks in rout and slaughter back upon the ships and the sea. He never
dreams of the mere reparation of his wrong: when he refers to Briseis
in the great oration of the Ninth Book, it is for the purpose of a
slaying sarcasm against the Atreidæ; his soul utterly refuses to treat
the affair in the manner of an action at law for damages; he looks for
nothing less than the prostration of the Grecian host and its being
brought to the very door of utter and final ruin, with the compound
view of avenging wrong, glorifying justice, enhancing the sufferings
of his foe, and magnifying the occasion and achievements of his own
might, to be put forth when the proper time shall come.

[699] The ἄλλα, v. 300, must mean what he had not acquired by gift of
the army; since in Il. 9. 335, as well as in i. 167, 356, he apparently
speaks of Briseis as the only prize he had received.

~_The offer radically defective._~

The hero withdraws, and remains aloof. The Greeks, after a panic
and a recovery, determine to carry on the war without him. But the
hostile deities, less under restraint than the friendly ones, give
active encouragement to the Trojan chiefs and army in the fight. They
are discerned by the Greeks, who accordingly recede[700]. Finding
that, instead of driving the Trojans to the city, on the contrary,
even before the single fight of Hector and Ajax, they themselves had
suffered loss, they supply their camp with the defences, which it
had never needed while the name of Achilles and his prowess kept the
enemy either within their walls, or in the immediate vicinity of the
city. This happens in the Seventh Book, and it is the first note of
the consequences of the Wrath. In the Eighth, they are more decidedly
worsted under a divine influence, and are driven back upon their
works, while the Trojans bivouac on the place of battle. The army had
suffered no heavy loss: yet the infirm will of Agamemnon gives way:
and, portending greater evils, he a second time counsels flight[701].
The advice is warmly repudiated by Diomed and the other chiefs. Still
the course of their affairs is now by undeniable signs altered for the
worse. Hereupon, Nestor advises an attempt to conciliate Achilles by
offers of restitution and of gifts, with close union and incorporation
into the family of Agamemnon. Now it is most important that we should
observe, that gifts and kind words were the beginning and the end
of this mission. There was no confession of wrong authorized by
Agamemnon, or made by the Envoys, to Achilles. The woes of the Greeks
are described: Achilles is exhorted to lay aside his Wrath: he is
told of all the fine things he will receive upon his compliance: but
not one word in the speech of Ulysses conveys the admission at length
gained from Agamemnon in the Nineteenth Book, that he has offended.
Therefore Achilles is not appeased: but, I must add, neither is justice
satisfied, nor right re-established.

[700] Il. v. 605, 702.

[701] Il. ix. 26.

~_Apology needed also._~

Presents and promises were not what Achilles wanted. On the contrary,
to his inflamed and inexorable spirit, being less than and different
from the thing he sought, the very offer of them was matter of new
exasperation. The very offer of them thus made seemed, and in some
degree rightly seemed, to imply that they who tendered it must take him
for a man, whose mind was cast in the same sordid mould as that of the
king, who had given the offence. Gifts indeed Achilles must have, and
abundance of them, when he is at last to be appeased: but it is not in
order to swell an inventory of possessions: it is that the memory of
them may dwell in his mind, and stand upon the record of his life, like
the golden ornaments that he wore upon his manly person, namely, to
exhibit and to make felt his glory.

I do not indeed presume to say we have evidence to show that Achilles
would have relented at the period of the mission, if a frank confession
of wrong, and apology for insult, had been made together with the
proffer of the gifts. On the contrary, with his higher sentiments there
mingled a towering passion of a vindictive order. It was as it were
the corruption or abuse, not the basis, of the mood of the estranged
Achilles: but it was there, and there, like everything Achillean,
in colossal proportions. Still I think it has not been sufficiently
observed that, as matter of fact, the proceeding of the Ninth Book was
radically defective, because it treated the affair as (so to call
it) one of mere merchandize, to be disposed of like the balance of an

When Achilles finds that the desire to avenge the death of Patroclus
has become paramount within him, and in consequence renounces the
Wrath[702], it is true that he does not stipulate for an apology. But
neither does he stipulate for the gifts. Both however are given, and
the apology comes first in the faltering speech of Agamemnon[703], who
distinguishes between two kinds of atonement;

[702] Il. xix. 67.

[703] Ibid. 134-8.

  ἂψ ἐθέλω ἀρέσαι, δόμεναί τ’ ἀπερείσι’ ἄποινα.

Were there any doubt about the reality of this distinction, it might
be removed by evidence which the Odyssey supplies. Eurualus, who
appears to have been one of the secondary kings in Scheria, had not yet
atoned for his insult to Ulysses, when Alcinous recommended that all
the twelve, who belonged to that order, should make a present to the
departing stranger. But from Eurualus, he observes, something more is
requisite; he must offer an apology as well as a gift[704];

[704] Od. viii. 390-415.

  Εὐρύαλος δέ ἑ αὐτὸν ἀρεσσάσθω ἐπέεσσιν
  καὶ δώρῳ· ἐπεὶ οὔτι ἔπος κατὰ μοῖραν ἔειπεν.

And this is done accordingly, in the amplest and frankest manner.

All this should be borne in mind, when we estimate the consistency of
the Poet through the medium of the conduct of Achilles.

It was not a moment’s light apprehension, suffered by Agamemnon and the
army, that could avail to obliterate his resentment. They had scarcely
tasted of the cup of bitterness; he required that they should drain it
to the dregs. He will not hear of the return of Briseis: τῇ παριαύων
τερπέσθω[705]. With a mixture of close argument, terrible denunciation,
and withering sarcasm, he overpowers and silences the Envoys. Only
Phœnix can address him, and that after a long pause and in tears.

[705] Il. ix. 336.

Yet the mighty spirit of Achilles sways to and fro in the tempest of
its own emotions. Again he has threatened to depart: bidding them, with
a bitterness that mounts far away into the region of the sublime, come
the next day and see, if they think such a sight can be worth their
seeing, his fleet speeding homeward across the broad Hellespont; or
north Ægean. But this course of action would have balked his appetite
for glory; which, as he knew[706], he could only buy, and that with
his life, at Troy. Perhaps, too, he was softened by the respect of the
Envoys, who were personally agreeable to him; perhaps grimly pleased
with the awe that his Titanic passion had inspired; perhaps affected
with a sympathetic feeling of regard by the straightforward bluntness
of Ajax. At any rate it is plain that there followed upon the speech
of the Telamoniad chief[707] a greater sign of yielding, than any
which the paternal exhortations of Phœnix, or those most artfully
drawn pictures by Ulysses[708] of the rage and fury of Hector, had
sufficed to produce. In answer to Ulysses, to the bottom of whose
astuteness his clear eye had pierced, he says, ‘I shall go[709].’ In
answer to Phœnix[710], ‘To-morrow we will decide, whether to go or
stay.’ In answer to Ajax, he makes a more sensible advance. He now so
far relents as to tell them, he will bethink himself of battle; yet it
shall only be when the hand of Hector, dealing death to Greeks, and
flame to their vessels, shall have reached the tents and ships of the
Myrmidons. Then it will be time enough: for then, at _his_ encampment
and by _his_ dark ship, he trows that he will stay the course of
Hector, however keen for fight[711].

[706] Il. i. 352-4.

[707] Il. ix. 624-42. Sup. Agorè, p. 111.

[708] Ibid. 237-43, and 304-6.

[709] Ibid. 357.

[710] Ibid. 617.

[711] Il. ix. 649-55.

~_Consistency maintained in and after Il._ ix.~

Thus far, then, we surely have no pretext for saying that Homer has
departed from the purpose of his poem, of which the man Achilles is the
centre and animating principle, and his Wrath with its terrible effects
the theme. These effects are now developed up to a certain point: not
such a point as really to endanger the army, or excite strong sympathy
or apprehension on its behalf, but yet such a point as entirely to tame
the irresolute egotism of Agamemnon, and drive his but half-masculine
character into efforts again to lay hold upon the prop, which he had so
rashly and lightly, as well as selfishly and unjustly, put away.

If we were to consider Achilles as engaged in a mere personal quarrel,
we must condemn him, without any qualification whatever, for not
accepting the reparation now tendered by Agamemnon. But if we bear in
mind that the wrong done was a public wrong, that no confession of this
wrong was made, that the other kings and leaders, and the whole army,
became in some degree parties to it by their acquiescence, and that he
was thus as much or more the vindicator of great public rights than
the mere avenger of a personal offence, it is not so clear that the
conduct of Achilles after the mission of the Ninth Book is incapable
in principle of justification, according to the moral code of Greece.
It must, however, undoubtedly remain amenable to severe censure on the
score of excess: a culpability, for the penal notice of which Homer has
made abundant provision in the sequel of the poem.

But this question is by the way: the main issue raised is as to the
poetical consistency and effect of the structure, which Homer has
chosen for his work. Upon this there is surely little room for doubt.

From the Ninth Book we commence afresh: Achilles in his moody
seclusion, the Greeks in a manful determination to do their best; even
Agamemnon is now roused to feel what he has brought upon the army,
thrown back from his moral irresolution as a chief upon his personal
courage as a soldier, and resolved to appear in the field, that he too
may earn his laurels there.

And these intentions are gallantly fulfilled. The night foray of Diomed
and Ulysses stands well, as one of the minor but safe measures, by
which a skilful generalship often makes its first efforts to raise the
spirits of a downcast army. Agamemnon then appears, and shows himself
to be a warrior of a high, nay of the highest order of strength and
valour. The other kings exert themselves with their wonted chivalry.
But the decree of Jove, working through the accidents of war, drives
three of the four great champions from the field, and leaves only
Ajax; who, invincible wherever he is found, yet cannot be everywhere,
nor, single handed, govern the result of battle along the whole extent
of the line. And now come the great exertions and successes of the
Trojans, especially Sarpedon and his Lycian contingent, Hector playing
rather a conventional than a real part. Now it goes hard indeed with
the Greeks; the fire touches the ships; Patroclus must go forth and
die; and the Wrath is at an end, for it is drowned in the bitterness of
the tears of Achilles.

With reference, then, to the main purpose of the poem, it proceeds
regularly to its climax, and there is no limb of the Iliad separable
from the body without destroying the symmetrical, masculine, and broad
development of its general plan. I speak now of the principal fabric
of the poem. Few who are not prepared to pull that in pieces will, I
apprehend, accede to the proposal to shear it of the two last Books,
which therefore hardly require a separate defence.

~_Skilful adjustment of conflicting aims._~

To me it appears well worthy of remark, with what extraordinary skill
Homer has contrived to adjust his poem to the several aims which he had
to keep in view. The grand one doubtless was the glory of his country
in the person of Achilles[712]. Still he was bound not to sacrifice
poetically the martial fame of the rest of Greece even to the first
among them, whatever calamities he might make the army suffer on his
account. To avoid this sacrifice, he was obliged to uphold the military
character and power of the Greeks in their struggle with the Trojans,
even when deprived of the prowess of their great champion Achilles.
And yet he could not degrade Hector and the Trojans, or he would have
reached the lame conclusion of adorning his own country’s heroes with
a poor and unworthy triumph. Thus his course was to be steered among a
variety of difficulties, all pressing upon him from opposite quarters.

[712] On the character of Achilles, I recommend reference to Colonel
Mure, Lit. Greece, i. 273-91, and 304-14. In no part of his treatment
of the poems has that excellent Homerist (if I may presume to say so)
done better service. See likewise Professor Wilson’s Essays, Critique
iv: and the Prælections of the Rev. J. Keble, i. 90-104. This refined
work, which criticizes the poems in the spirit of a Bard, set an early
example, at least to England, of elevating the tone of Homeric study.

We see at once how steadily he kept in view his pole-star; how he
handled the events and characters of his poem so as to give the most
powerful, or rather it may be said the most overpowering, impression
of the greatness of his hero, which is lifted higher and higher by
the whole movement of the work as it proceeds. Let us now examine
whether, in giving full scope to his main purpose, he has been obliged
to sacrifice others which were also important, nay, if the highest
excellence was his aim, even indispensable.

The paramount glory of Achilles is established by this: first, that in
the Ninth Book the whole army, as it were, lies at his feet, and is
spurned from thence: secondly, that when he finally comes forth, it
is not in deference to those who have insulted him, but it is under
the burning impulses of his own heart. Let us now proceed to inquire
whether the Poet has or has not satisfied two other great demands. Has
he, as a Greek, done all that was required to glorify Greece, and is
Achilles its crown only, or is he its substitute? Has he, as a man,
vindicated the principles of the moral order, and of that retributive
justice which, even in this world, visibly maintains at least a partial
balance between human action and its consequences to the agent?

~_Glory given to Greece._~

We should look in vain, I think, for a finer and subtler exercise of
poetic art, than in the mode in which Homer has contrived to convey to
us, both the general, and in particular the military inferiority of
the Trojans, as compared with the Greeks. Hardly any reader can be so
superficial in his observation of the poem, as not to rise from it with
this inferiority sufficiently impressed upon his mind. Yet there is
not a passage or a word throughout, in which it is asserted. And why?
Because every direct assertion that the Trojans were less valiant or
less strong than their antagonists, would have been so much detracted
from the glory of overcoming them. It was essential to the work of the
Poet, that he should represent the contest as an arduous one. He might
have done this in the coarse method, for which his theurgy would have
afforded the materials: that is, by converting his Trojans into mere
puppets, whose arm, at every turn of the narrative, merely represented
the impelling force of some deity or other, and, independently of
such extraneous aid, was powerless. But this would have destroyed the
full-flushed humanity of Homer’s poem.

As it is, he has availed himself of the divine element to make up by
its assistance for the comparative weakness of the Trojan chiefs: but
it is only a subdued and occasional assistance, so that there is no
glaring difference in point of free agency between the two parties. Nor
can it be without a purpose, that the two deities, who appear in the
field on behalf of the Trojans, namely, Venus and Mars, are sent off it
both wounded, the one whining, and the other howling, by the prowess
of Diomed. If the Greeks are to suffer by the gods, he takes care that
it shall not be by those gods who are the mere national partisans of
Troy, but by a higher agency; by the decree of Jupiter, now temporarily
indeed, but effectively, set against them.

It is by an indefinitely great number of strokes and touches each
indefinitely small, that Homer has gained his object. The Trojan
successes are always effected with the concurrence of supernatural
power; the Greeks not unfrequently without, and sometimes even against

[713] Il. xvi. 780.

He as it were sets up the Trojans, so to speak, by generalities; but
he gives to the Greeks, with certain occasional exceptions, the whole
detail of solid achievement. Sometimes he allows a panic of doubt and
fear to seize their host, but he takes care to make the sentiment only
flit like a momentary shade over the sun. Thus, when the assembled
chieftains of the Greek army hesitate to accept the challenge of

[714] Il. vii. 93.

  αἴδεσθεν μὲν ἀνήνασθαι, δεῖσαν δ’ ὑποδέχθαι.

But after a short interval, and a proper appeal, nine champions appear,
each and all burning to meet Hector in single combat. Sometimes he
contrives to direct his praises to martial appearance and exterior,
but carefully avoids the real touches of heroic character; as when
he bestows on Paris the noble simile of the στάτος ἵππος. Generally
he pays off, as it were, the Trojans with high-sounding words, and
reserves nearly all the true qualities of heroes, as well as their
exploits, for the Achæans. With them are the sagacity, consistency,
firmness, promptitude, enterprise, power of adapting means to ends,
comprehensiveness of view, as well as main strength of hand. But by
the expedients I have mentioned, the Trojans are raised to, and kept
at and no more than at, the level necessary to make them worthy and
creditable antagonists. One other engine for the purpose has been
employed by him, namely, the real valour and manhood of the Lycian
kings and forces[715], with whom he had evidently a strong and peculiar
sympathy; whose chief, Sarpedon, is really a better man in war than
Hector, though much less pretentious; and who, under this prince,
achieve the only real, great, and independent success that is to be
found on that side throughout the whole course of the poems, namely,
the first forcing of the Greek entrenchments[716].

[715] Since the first portion of this work went to press, I have found
from the recent and still unfinished work of Welcher, _Griechische
Götterlehre_, i. 2. n., that philological evidence appears to have been
recently obtained of a close relationship between the Lycians and the

[716] Il. xii. 397-9.

The Trojan inferiority indeed lies very much more palpably in the
chiefs, than in the common soldiers. Between the bulk of the army on
the one side and on the other, Homer represents no great--at least no
glaring difference. Sometimes the fight is carried on upon terms purely
equal[717], as during the forenoon of the day in the Eleventh Book:
where there is superiority, it is assigned to the Greeks[718] or to
the Trojans[719], according as the exigencies of the poem may require.
Still he contrives some note of difference so as to draw a line between
the merit of the respective successes; thus, when the Trojans turn the
Greeks to flight, there is commonly an intimation, in more or less
general terms, of a divine agency stimulating them. Hostile weapons
are indeed often turned aside on behalf of Greeks: but only in one
instance, I think, do the Greeks derive decided advantage from a panic
divinely inspired: it is when, in the Sixteenth Book, Jupiter instils
into Hector the spirit of fear[720].

[717] Il. xi. 67-83.

[718] Ibid. 90.

[719] Il. viii. 336. xvi. 569. xvii. 596.

[720] Il. xvi. 656.

This absence of broad contrast between the two soldieries is in entire
accordance with what we have seen reason to presume as to their
composition; namely, that the rank and file on both sides was in all
likelihood composed from kindred and Pelasgian races.

Yet a strong jealousy on behalf of his country is ever the predominant
sentiment in the Poet’s mind; and accordingly he insinuates, with
much art, suggestions which keep even the Trojan soldiery somewhat
below the Greeks; while to the chieftains of the Greek army, though
his laudatory epithets are nearly as high on the one side as on the
other, he assigns in action an enormous superiority, both military
and intellectual. Accordingly, when we come to cast up the results
of the actual encounters, we are astounded at the littleness, the
almost nothingness, of the Trojan achievements, and at the large havock
wrought by their opponents, even during the period when Achilles was in

[721] This would be best shown by a list of the considerable personages
slain on the two sides respectively.

As regards the armies at large, observe the similes used in the Fourth
Book[722]. The Greeks move in silence and discipline, like the swelling
waves when the tempest is just beginning to gather: the Trojans, like
innumerable sheep, who stand bleating in the fold while they are being
milked[723]. In the Fifth Book, while it is mentioned, as if casually,
that Apollo, Mars, and Eris, were stirring and keeping up the Trojans,
it is subjoined, without ostensible reference to this intimation, but
plainly in artful contrast with it, that the Greeks found sufficient
incentives in the exhortations of the two Ajaxes, of Ulysses, and
of Diomed[724]. Again, when Hector returns, after his battle with
Ajax[725], to his comrades, we are told that they rejoiced in finding
him restored to them in safety, contrary to their expectation,
ἀέλπτοντες σόον εἶναι. On the other hand, it is added, the Greeks led
Ajax to Agamemnon, exulting in his victory over Hector (κεχαρηότα
νίκῃ). The Greeks feel no thankfulness, because they had, we are
evidently to understand, felt no fear. And the chief rejoices in his
victory, which it really was. It was, indeed, ended as a drawn battle,
though Ajax had had the best of it at every stage; but not so much for
the honour of Hector, as for the purposes of the poem, since Hector
had to meet Achilles in the field, and he would have been degraded by
encountering an antagonist that anybody else had palpably worsted. To
state the paradox as Homer had to confront it, the problem was to make
Ajax conqueror, without letting Hector be conquered.

[722] Ver. 421-38.

[723] Ver. 517-20.

[724] Il. v. 517-21.

[725] Il. vii. 307-12.

~_Inferiority glaring in the Chiefs._~

When we look to the case of the chieftains as a whole, the contrast is
glaring. No first rate, or even second rate, Greek chieftain is ever
killed in fair field: Tlepolemus, slain by Sarpedon, comes the nearest
to that rank, but is not in it. Patroclus is only slain after being
disarmed by Apollo: and here it seems to me as if for once the Poet had
a little overshot his mark; for the artifice is gross, and covers the
pretended exploit of Hector with indelible disgrace. In fact, Hector
never once achieves a considerable success in the field: though only
Achilles, the first Greek warrior, is allowed completely to overcome
him[726], yet he is decidedly inferior in fight to both Diomed and
Ajax, who jointly occupy the two next places, but as between whom Homer
has not decisively marked the claim to precedence. In general terms,
he gives it to Ajax more emphatically[727], but he details more and
greater acts of prowess in favour of Diomed.

[726] Compare Il. ii. 768, with Il. v. 414.

[727] Il. xi. 185-209.

Even with Agamemnon Hector is admonished, on the part of Jupiter,
not to contend: and he follows the advice. Of the Trojan chiefs who
really fight, a large proportion are slain; Glaucus, Æneas, Deiphobus,
and Polydamas are the most considerable who survive. No eminent
Trojan in fact is ever allowed to display real heroism, except under
circumstances where the issue is quite hopeless: accordingly Homer has
never surrounded Hector with true heroic grandeur, in deed as well
as word, until his final battle against Achilles, when he is at last
brought to bay, and when his doom is certain. All the considerable
injuries inflicted upon great Greek chieftains are from causes not
implying personal prowess in their rivals: from the arrows of Pandarus
or of Paris, or by the chance hit of some insignificant, or at the
least secondary, but desperate Trojan, such as Socus, or such as Coon,
struck even as he is himself receiving or about to receive his own
death-blow[728]. But for these ignoble wounds, which were inflicted
on many chiefs, including three prime heroes, Agamemnon, Diomed, and
Ulysses, the Greeks, according to the agency of the poem as it stands,
never would have been driven back upon their ships at all.

[728] Il. xi. 252, 437.

~_Conflicting exigencies of the plan._~

Now Homer’s difficulty in this matter was not simply that which has
been heretofore pointed out, or which has been commonly supposed. His
aim, says Heyne[729], in representing the disasters of the Greeks is,
_ut per eas Achillis virtus insigniatur, quippe quâ destituti Achivi
succumbunt, eâdem redditâ vincunt_. But this is surely a misstatement
of the case. Homer has not represented the Greeks _plus_ Achilles as
superior to the Trojans, and the Greeks _minus_ Achilles as inferior
to them. This was what a vulgar artist, whose mind could only hold
one idea at a time, would have done; nay, what it was difficult to
avoid doing, for it was vital to Homer’s purpose that the vengeance of
Achilles should be completely satiated: it was not to be thought of
that this transcendent character, this ideal hero, should be balked by
man of woman born; the whole web of the Poet’s thought would have been
rent across, had there been failure in such a point. What was needful
in this view could only be accomplished by the extremest calamities of
the Greeks. These calamities he had to bring about, and yet to give to
the Greeks a real superiority of military virtue. We have seen already
how he effected the latter: how did he manage the former? Partly by
giving Achilles, in right of his mother Thetis, such an interest in
the courts of heaven, as to throw a preponderating divine agency for
the time on the side of the Trojans; partly by a skilful use of the
chances of war, in assigning to Troy a superiority in the comparatively
ignoble skill (as it was then used) of the bow. Thus he causes the
Greeks to be worsted, notwithstanding their superiority: by their being
worsted, he satisfies the exigencies of his plot; by exhibiting their
superiority, he fulfils the conditions of his own office as a national
poet. To speak of the ingenuity of Homer may sound strange, for we are
accustomed to associate his name with ideas of greater nobleness; but
still his ingenuity, in this adjustment of conflicting demands upon
him, appears to be such as has never been surpassed.

[729] Exc. ii. ad Il. xxiv. s. iv. vol. viii. p. 801. See, however,
also p. 802.

~_Greeks superior even without Achilles._~

And here I, for one, cannot but admire the way in which Homer has
made purposes, which others would have found conflicting, to serve
as reciprocal auxiliaries. The Embassy of the Ninth Book certainly
glorifies Achilles: but let us ask, does it not help also to glorify
Greece? Let us consider what had happened. The withdrawal of Achilles
was at once felt as a great blow; and it acted on the whole tone of
the army. This appears in various ways. We read it in the home-sick
impulses of the Second Assembly (b. ii.); in the advice of Nestor to
take measures for securing the responsibility of officers and men
(ii. 360-8); in the slackness of various chiefs during the Circuit
of Agamemnon (b. iv.); in its being recorded to the honour of that
leader (iv. 223) that he did not flinch from his duty; lastly, in the
momentary reluctance of the Greek heroes to encounter Hector (vii.
93). All this is thoroughly natural. Having leant upon a prop, they
were not at once aware of their remaining and intrinsic strength. They,
like all persons who have not learned the habit of self-reliance,
required to learn it with pain. Hence, after the very first touch
of comparative weakness in the field, they conceive the idea of the
rampart. They had not really been worsted: but their enemies had
learned to face them; their position was now no longer what it had used
to be, when Hector did not venture out in front of the Dardanian Gate.
But the building of the rampart produced, as was natural, an increased
weakness. Besides this, Jupiter, seeing that the tendency of events
was not to give a sufficiently rapid and decisive triumph to Achilles,
now inhibited those deities, who were friendly to Greece, from taking
part, while he himself (viii. 75) alarmed and abashed the Greeks
with his thunder. They thus feel themselves thrown one full stage
further into weakness. What more natural, than that they should turn
to Achilles, and try his disposition towards them? This is effected
in the Ninth Book. They then become acquainted practically, for the
first time, with the fierceness of the seven times heated furnace of
the Wrath. This experience teaches them, that they must do or die. So
at last, the bridge behind them being broken, Greece is put upon her
mettle. The gallant Diomed becomes the spokesman at once of chivalry
and of common sense. ‘You should not have asked him. By asking, you
have emboldened and hardened him. Let him alone. Rely upon yourselves.
Refresh yourselves with sleep and a good meal, and then, order out the
troops, and have at them: I for my part will be found in the van[730].’
Then it is that the Greeks understand their position, and, casting
off hope from Achilles, place it in themselves. Hence that great
development of valorous energies in the Eleventh Book, which proves
that in equal fight, even though Achilles were absent, Troy had not a
hope: so that the expedient of chance-wounds, disabling all the prime
warriors but Ajax, is absolutely necessary in order to bring about the
required amount of disaster. It appears to me, I confess, that this is
a masterly adjustment, alike true in nature, and high in art.

[730] Il. ix. 697-709.

But first, after the great repulse, comes the pilot-balloon, the
tentative effort, of the Doloneia.

Next to the skill and power with which the Poet has discriminated the
characters of his greater Greek heroes, I am tempted to admire the
circumspection and precision, with which he has assigned their relative
degrees of prominence in the action. To those who complain of the
Doloneia for want of a purpose, I would reply that, in the first place,
besides its merits as an operation with reference to the circumstances
of the moment, (for it feeds the army, as it were, with milk, when they
were not yet ready for strong meat,) it remarkably varies the tenour of
the action, which without it would have fallen into something of sleepy
sameness, by substituting stratagem for force, and night-adventure for
the conflicts of the day. Let those who doubt this strike out the Tenth
Book, and then consider how the course of the military transactions of
the poem would stand without it: how much more justly the first moiety
of the military action of the poem would stand liable to the imputation
of monotony, which even now is of necessity the besetting danger of
the whole poem. But more; I contend that the Doloneia constitutes,
in the main, the ἀριστεῖα of Ulysses. His distinguished part in the
Second Book is political only, and has no concern with his military
qualifications. His ordinary military exploits elsewhere are secondary,
and also scattered. To assign to him a great share in the field
operations would have been a much less fine preparation, than the Iliad
now affords, for his appearance in the Odyssey; and it would also have
hazarded sameness as between his achievements and the other ἀριστεῖα
of the great chiefs. Besides, there was little room in the field, as
the martial art was then understood, for his distinctive qualities,
self-reliance, presence of mind, fertility in resource. But military
distinction, even in the time of Homer, lay in two great departments,
one known as the fight (μάχη), the other as ambush (λόχος). The latter
was of fully equal, nay, on account of its sharper trial of moral
courage[731], it was even of still greater honour. To this class the
night adventure essentially belonged. Here Ulysses is thoroughly at
home. In the Doloneia, Diomed is merely the sword in the hand of
Ulysses; who directs the operation, and overrules his brave companion
when he thinks fit, as, for example, in the matter of the slaughter
of Dolon. In what other way could Homer have given us an equally
characteristic illustration of the military qualities of Ulysses?

[731] See Il. i. 226-8. xviii. 509-13. and especially xiii. 275-86: and
Sup. Agorè, p. 92.

~_Harmony in relative prominence of the Chiefs._~

Now this view of the Doloneia fills up, I think, what must otherwise
be admitted to be a gap in the poem. It being thus filled up, let us
observe the accuracy with which shares in the action of the poem are
assigned to the respective chiefs. Nestor has his own place apart as
universal counsellor. Ulysses also, who, as the great twin conception
to Achilles, must never be allowed to appear in a light of inferiority
to any one, is so managed as not to eclipse the might of Ajax or the
bravery of Diomed; and yet he has all his attributes kept entire for
the great part he had to play in the Odyssey, and is never beaten,
never baffled, never excelled. Then Ajax, Diomed, Agamemnon, Menelaus,
even elderly Idomeneus, have each the stage made clear for them at
different times, and with scope proportioned to their several claims
upon us. The very intervals between their several appearances are
made as wide as possible: for Diomed is in the Fifth and Eleventh
Books, Ajax in the Seventh, Agamemnon in the Eleventh, Idomeneus in
the Thirteenth[732], Menelaus in the Seventeenth. Ajax excels in sheer
might, Diomed in pure gallantry of soul, and what is called _dash_;
Agamemnon’s dignity as a warrior is most skilfully maintained, yet
without his being brought into rivalry with those two still greater
heroes, by Hector’s being counselled to avoid him. Menelaus, secondary
in mere force, though with a spirit no less brave than gentle, is
carried well through by the care taken that he shall only meet with
appropriate adversaries, and the same pains are employed on behalf of
Idomeneus. For Patroclus, as the friend and second self of Achilles,
Homer’s fertile invention has secured a kind of distinction, which
does not displace that of others, and which, notwithstanding, is
eclipsed by none of them. He turns the Trojan host; he slays the great
Sarpedon; he is himself slain only by foul play. I cannot vindicate
the clumsy intervention of Apollo, and the meanness of the part
played by Hector in this cardinal passage of his career; still I find
it curious and instructive to observe in all this a new instance of
the intense care, with which the Poet watches over the character
especially of his Achilles. He exalts him, by exalting first those
secondary eminences, far above which he keeps him towering. Therefore
he would have Patroclus slain indeed, but not defeated, by Hector; and
to this capital object he appears to have made, perhaps unavoidably,
considerable sacrifices.

[732] He bears the chief part from 206. to 488.

Upon the whole, then, it would seem that Homer had to maintain a
complex regard to a variety of objects. First of all there was the
relation to observe between Achilles and all the other personages of
his poem on both sides of the quarrel. Then in distributing his minor
Alps, the other prime or distinguished Greek warriors, about this
great Alp, he had to keep in mind and provide for their relations to
one another, as well as to him. Lastly, he had to carry Hector and the
Trojans so high, that to overcome their chief should be his crowning
exploit, and yet so low, that they should not stand inconveniently
between the Greeks and the view of such national heroes as Ulysses,
Diomed, Ajax, and Agamemnon. Like Jupiter on Ida[733], from none of
these objects has he ever removed his bright and watchful eye; for all
of them he has made a provision alike deliberate and skilful.

[733] Il. xvi. 644.

It only remains to consider the outline of the plot in reference to
the Providential Government of the world, and the administration of
retributive justice; a subject which has been ably handled by Mr.
Granville Penn[734].

[734] In his ‘Examination of the Primary Argument of the Iliad.’
Dedicated to Lord Grenville. 1821.

I am not able to admit that broad distinction, which is frequently
drawn between the provision made for satisfying this great poetical and
moral purpose in the Iliad and in the Odyssey respectively. In each I
find it not only remarkable, but even elaborate. In each poem, Homer
exhibits, above all things else, one chosen human character with the
amplest development. But diversity is the key-note of the development
in the Odyssey, grandeur or magnitude in the Iliad. The hurricane-like
forces, that abound in the character of Achilles, entail a greater
amount of aberration from the path of wisdom. But there is not wanting
a proportionate retributive provision. Ulysses, after a long course
of severe discipline patiently endured, has awarded to him a peaceful
old age, and a calm death, in his Ithaca barren but beloved, with
his people prospering around him. Achilles, on the other hand, is so
loaded with gorgeous gifts that, wonderful as is their harmony in all
points but one, that one is the centre. He has not the same unfailing
and central solidity of moral equipoise. In himself gallant, just,
generous, refined, still indignity can drive him into an extremity of
pride and fierceness, which call for stern correction. Hence it comes
about that, while the adversity of Ulysses is the way to peace, the
transcendent glory of Achilles is attended by a series of devouring
agonies; the rival excitements of fierce pain and fiercer pleasure
accompany him along a path, which soon and suddenly descends into the
night of dismal death. Alike in the one case and in the other, the
balance of the moral order is preserved; and that Erinūs, who, in so
many particular passages of the poems, makes miniature appearances in
order to vindicate the eternal laws, such as the heroic age apprehended
them, likewise presides in full development over the general action of
each of these extraordinary poems.

~_Retributive justice in the two poems._~

Retributive justice, inseparably interwoven with human destiny (for
thus much the Erinūs signified) tracks and dogs Achilles at every
stage. Take him, for instance, as the Ninth Book shows him, at the very
summit of his pride. It is in no light or joyous mood, that he repels
the Envoys. Who among readers does not seem to _see_ his spirit writhe,
when he describes the hot and bursting resentment in his breast, the
stinging recollection of the outrages he has undergone[735]. Even by
the irrepressible curiosity, which compels him to mount upon his ship
for view, and to send out Patroclus to learn the course of the battle,
Homer has shown us how false was any semblance of peace, that he could
even now enjoy in his giddy elevation.

[735] Il. ix. 646-8.

The rampart is pierced, the ships are reached, the firebrand is hurled,
and the first Greek ship burns. Achilles must not depart from his word:
but his restlessness now conceives an expedient, the sending forth of
Patroclus to the fight. At the same time, he takes every precaution
that sagacity can suggest: he clothes his friend in his own armour,
exhorts the Myrmidons to support him, above all enjoins him to confine
himself to defensive warfare, and not to follow the Trojans, when
repulsed, to the city. What then happens to him? That which often
befalls ourselves: that when we have turned our back upon wisdom,
wisdom turns her back upon us. Achilles insisted upon the disaster
of his countrymen. When it came, it constrained him to send out his
friend: and the calamity he had himself invoked was death to the man
that he loved better than his own soul.

And why did Patroclus die? It was not that Achilles imprudently exposed
him to risks beyond his strength. He was abundantly able to encounter
Hector. Hector had no care, so long as the battle was by the ships,
to encounter this chief. And Achilles had enjoined him to fight by
the ships only, lest, if he attempted the city, a deity should take
part against him[736]. Patroclus disobeyed, and perished accordingly.
As Achilles had refused to follow the laws of wisdom for himself, so,
when he carefully obeyed them, they were not to avail him for the
saving of his friend. Heaven fought against Patroclus; Jupiter, after
deliberation, tempted him from the ships, by causing Hector to fly
towards the city; and the counsel of Achilles was now baffled as he
had baffled the counsels of others, the dart was launched that was to
pierce his soul to the quick.

[736] Il. xvi. 93.

~_Double conquest over Achilles._~

Thus his proud will was doomed to suffer. The suffering is followed by
the reconciliation, and by the climax of his glory and revenge in the
death of Hector. How in these Books we see him moving in might almost
preternatural, with the whole world as it were, and all its forces,
in subjection to his arm! But he has only passed from one excess of
feeling into another: from a vindictive excess of feeling against
the Greeks, to another vindictive excess of feeling against Hector.
The mutilation and dishonour of the body of his slain antagonist now
become a second idol, stirring the great deep of his passions, and
bewildering his mind. Thus, in paying off his old debt to the eternal
laws, he has already contracted a new one. Again, then, his proud
will must be taught to bow. Hence, as Mr. Penn has well shown, the
necessity of the Twenty-fourth Book with its beautiful machinery[737].
Achilles must surrender the darling object of his desire, the wreaking
of his vengeance on an inanimate corpse. On this occasion, as before,
he is subdued: and both times it is through the medium of his tender
affections. But in both cases his evil gratification is cut short: and
the authority of the providential order is reestablished. The Greeks
pursue their righteous war: the respect which nature enjoins is duly
paid to the remains of Hector, and the poem closes with the verse which
assures us that this obligation was duly and peacefully discharged.

[737] See the ‘Primary Argument of the Iliad,’ pp. 241-73.

With these views, I find in the plot of the Iliad enough of beauty,
order, and structure, not merely to sustain the supposition of its own
unity, but to bear an independent testimony, should it be still needed,
to the existence of a personal and individual Homer as its author.


_The sense of Beauty in Homer; human, animal, and inanimate._

The idea of Beauty, especially as it is connected with its most
signal known manifestation in the human form, and again the φθορὰ, or
corruption of that idea, have each their separate course and history
in the religion and manners, as well as in the arts, of Greece. By the
idea of Beauty, I mean here the conception of it in the human mind as
a pure and wonderful essence, nearly akin to the Divine; derived from
heaven, and both continually and spontaneously tending to revert to its
source. By the corruption of that idea, I mean the conception of it
either mainly or wholly with reference to animal enjoyment; sometimes
within, and sometimes beyond, the laws of Nature.

In the works of Homer, we find the first of these conceptions
exceedingly prominent and powerful. It approaches almost to a worship:
and yet is scarcely at all tainted with the second, scarcely presents
the smallest deflection from the very loftiest type. In Homer, that
is to say, in the Homeric descriptions of human characters and life,
we never find Beauty and Vice pleasurably associated: he seems to
have felt in the sanctuary of his mind as much at least as this, if
not more; that a derogation from purity involved of itself a descent
from the highest to a lower form of beauty: and therefore he never
associates his highest descriptions of beauty with vice: differing
in this not only from so many heathen, but even from many Christian

~_The Dardanid traditions._~

But yet it is most remarkable that, even in Homer’s time, the level
of popular tradition on the subject of beauty had begun to descend,
and though he had escaped the taint, yet it had touched his age.
Let us, for example, take that most striking series of traditions
in the Dardanian royal family, which are recorded in the poems of
Homer. That family appears to have had personal beauty for an almost
entailed inheritance. Not only Hector, Deiphobus, Æneas, as well as
Paris, possessed it, but Priam, even in his old age and affliction,
was divinely beautiful as he entered the apartment of Achilles; and,
as they sat at meat, and he admired Achilles, Achilles returned his

[738] Il. xxiv. 483, 631. Sup. Ilios, p. 216.

The line of traditions in this family, to which I now refer, affords
the best illustration of the idea of beauty as ever striving, by
an inner law, to rise to a heavenly life. There are four of these
traditions: and as we pass from the older to the more recent, at
each step that we make, we lose some grain of the first ethereal
purity. The earliest of them all is the translation, since coarsely
and without ground called the rape, of Ganymede: consistently indeed
so called, according to the idea of the fable which has prevailed in
later ages, but most absurdly, if it be applied to the tradition in
the shape in which it stands with Homer. With him the tale of Ganymede
is the most simple and perfect assertion of the principle that beauty,
heavenly in its origin, is heavenly also in its destiny; and that
the heaven-born and heaven-bound should contract no taint upon its
intermediate passage. There were three sons, says Homer, born to Tros;
Ilus was one, Assaracus another: and the third was Ganymede, a match
for gods. Ganymede, the most beauteous of men, whom, for his beauty,
and seemingly before he had come to maturity for succession, the gods
snatched up and made the cupbearer of Jupiter, that he might dwell for
ever among the Immortals[739]:

[739] Il. xx. 233-5.

  ὃς δὴ κάλλιστος γένετο θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων·
  τὸν καὶ ἀνηρείψαντο θεοὶ Διὶ οἰνοχοεύειν
  κάλλεος εἵνεκα οἷο, ἵν’ ἀθανάτοισι μετείη.

The idea of sanctity, indeed, is not to be discovered here; its traces
can only be found among the inspired records; the resemblance to the
deity does not reach beyond the flesh and mind; yet the sum of the tale
is full of interest. The other sons grew up, and became kings; he,
that he might not linger, might not suffer, might not contract taint
or undergo decay on earth, was taken up to that sphere, which is the
proper home of all things beautiful and good.

The thought is somewhat related to that of the following remarkable
lines by Emerson:

  Perchance not he, but nature ailed;
  The world, and not the infant, failed.
  It was not ripe yet to sustain
  A genius of so fine a strain,
  Who gazed upon the sun and moon
  As if he came unto his own:
  And pregnant with his grander thought,
  Brought the old order into doubt.
  _His beauty once their beauty tried;
  They could not feed him, and he died,_
  And wandered backward, as in scorn,
  To wait an Æon to be born.

Far as the tradition of Ganymede, according to Homer, is below that
of Enoch, it is set by a yet wider distance above the later version
of the same tale. Thus, in Euripides, we find him the Διὸς λέκτρων
τρύφημα φίλον (Iph. Aul. 1037): and what is more sad is to find, that
this utterly debased and depressed idea prevailed over the original and
pure one, even to its extinction, and was adopted and propagated by the
highest and the lowest poets of the Italian romance[740].

[740] For example, we might quote the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto; and
the very vulgar poet, Forteguerra, in the Ricciardetto, vi. 23:

  Il nettar beve, e Ganimede il mesce,
  Che tanto a Giuno sua spiace e rincresce.

Next in order to the tradition of Ganymede comes that of Tithonus,
who, on account of his beauty, was carried up, not by the gods at
large, to be as one of them, but by Aurora to become her husband, in
which capacity he remained in the upper regions[741]. This is a step
downwards; but the next is a stride. In the third tradition, so far as
is known from the authentic works of Homer, Æneas is the son of Venus
and Anchises, but without their standing in the relation of husband and
wife. The particulars of the narrative are supplied in the early Hymn,
which perhaps was the more readily ascribed to Homer, because it was
believed to embody a primitive form of the tradition. Jupiter inspired
Venus with a passion for Anchises, and, after having arrayed herself in
fine vestments and golden ornaments, she presented herself to him as he
was playing the lyre in solitude on Ida; when the connection was formed
that gave birth to Æneas[742].

[741] Il. xi. 1. Od. v. 1.

[742] Hymn. ad Ven. 45-80.

The next fall is the greatest of all: according to the later tradition,
Venus, to obtain a favourable judgment from Paris (of the next
generation to Anchises), promised him a wife of splendid beauty and
divine extraction, whom he was to obtain by treachery and robbery, as
well as adultery; and filled him with what Homer pronounces an evil

[743] Il. xxiv. 30.

The Poet, indeed, tells us nothing of this promise, which appears to
imply powers far greater than any that the Homeric Aphrodite possessed.
But he mentions the contest, informs us that Venus was the winner,
makes Paris boast of her partiality, and introduces her as mentioning
her own favours to Helen[744].

[744] Il. iii. 64, 440, 415.

Such was the downward course of all in the nature of man that belonged
to the moral sphere, apart from the cherishing power of Divine
Revelation; for the chronological order of these legends is also that
of their descent, step by step, from innocence to vice.

Homer, as we have already seen, represents a very early and chaste
condition of human thought. We have now to observe how strong and
genuine, as well as pure, was his appetite for beauty.

Since here, as elsewhere, it is not the Poet’s usage to declare himself
by express statements and elaborate descriptions, we must resort in the
usual manner to secondary evidence; which, however, converging from
many different and opposite quarters upon a single point, is perhaps
more conclusive than mere statement, because it shows that we are not
dealing with a simple opinion, but with a sentiment, a passion, and a
habit, which penetrated through the Poet’s whole nature.

I shall notice Homer’s sense of beauty with reference, first and
chiefly, to the human countenance and form; next, with respect to
animals; and thirdly, with respect to inanimate objects and to
combinations of them.

As regards the first and chief branch of this inquiry, we must notice
to what persons, and in what degrees, Homer assigns beauty, from whom
he withholds it; and how far he considers it to give a title to special
notice, in cases where no other claim to such a distinction can be made

We may then observe that Homer does not commonly assign personal
beauty to any human person, who is morally odious. In any questionable
instance where he does so assign it, he seems to follow an historical
tradition, or to be constrained by his subject. He has covered
Thersites with every sort of deformity; and in the description of the
persons and of the twelve dissolute women among the fifty domestic
servants of Ulysses, there is barely a word that implies beauty[745].

[745] Od. xxii. 424-73.

Melantho indeed, the most conspicuous offender, is called in the
Eighteenth Odyssey[746] καλλιπάρῃος. But it seems probable, that he
followed a local tradition concerning her; for, if she had been simply
a creation of his own, he certainly would not have represented her as
the daughter of the old and faithful Dolius[747], who, with his six
sons, bore arms for Ulysses.

[746] Od. xviii. 321-5.

[747] Od. xxiv. 496.

~_Treatment of the beauty of Paris._~

So also the beauty of Paris was an inseparable incident of the Trojan
tale. Yet it is remarkable how little it is brought into relief. Where
he is called beautiful, it is by way of sarcasm and reproach[748],

[748] Il. iii. 39.

  Δύσπαρι, εἶδος ἄριστε.

The only passage, in which his beautiful appearance is described at
all, is from the mouth of Venus[749], to whom Homer never intrusts
anything, to be either said or done, that he wishes us to regard with

[749] Ibid. 391.

Compelled, however, to set off the imposing exterior of this prince,
if only for the purpose of heightening the contrast with his cowardice
in action, he introduces him flourishing his pair of spears at the
commencement of the Third Iliad; and what is more, when he again goes
forth in his newly burnished arms at the close of the Sixth, bestows
upon him one of the very noblest of his similes, that of the stall-kept
horse, high fed and sleek in coat, who having broken away from his
manger rushes neighing over the plain[750].

[750] Il. iii. 18. and vi. 506.

It was necessary, in order to make up the true portrait of Paris, that
his exterior should be thus splendid, and his movements imposing; and
it was also a part of the subtle plan, by which Homer made use of words
and appearances to bring up the Trojan chieftains and people to some
kind of level with the Greek. Yet there is something singular in the
fact that Homer, who does not, I think, repeat his similes in any other
remarkable case, reproduces the whole of this splendid passage in the
Fifteenth Iliad for Hector[751]. There is here, we may rely upon it,
some peculiar meaning. Possibly he grudged the exclusive appropriation
of so splendid a passage to so despicable a person. There is also
another singularity in his mode of proceeding. The simile is given to
Hector without addition, and the poem proceeds

[751] Il. xv. 263.

  ὣς Ἕκτωρ λαιψηρὰ πόδας καὶ γούνατ’ ἐνώμα.

But where he applies it to Paris, immediately after the conclusion of
the noble passage he subjoins (Il. vi. 512.),

  ὣς υἱὸς Πριάμοιο Πάρις κατὰ Περγάμου ἄκρης
  τεύχεσι παμφαίνων, ὥστ’ ἠλέκτωρ, ἐβεβήκει.

What is the meaning of ἠλέκτωρ? It is commonly taken as equivalent to
ἠλέκτωρ Ὑπερίων, which means the Sun. I cannot but believe that Homer
means by it to signify the cock, called in Greek ἀλέκτωρ. The ἠλέκτωρ
Ὑπερίων, is used as a simile for Achilles; and it would be much against
the manner of Homer to use the same simile for a Trojan, and that
Trojan Paris. Whereas by the strut of the cock he may mean to reduce
and modify the effect of the noble figure of the stall-horse.

~_Beauty of the Greek chiefs and nation._~

Achilles, who is not only the bravest but by far the most powerful man
of the host, is also by far the most beautiful; and the very strongest
terms are used to describe the impression which his appearance produced
on Priam amidst the profoundest sorrow[752];

[752] Il. xxiv. 629.

                                θαύμαζ’ Ἀχιλῆα,
  ὅσσος ἔην, οἷός τε· θεοῖσι γὰρ ἄντα ἐῴκει.

It may be doubted, whether any other Poet would have ventured to
combine the highest and most delicate beauty, with a strength and size
approaching the superhuman. It was requisite for Achilles, as the
ideal man, not only to want no great human gift, but also to have in
unmatched degrees whatever gifts he possessed. The beauty of Achilles
is the true counterpart to the ugliness and deformity of Thersites.

It appertains to the character of Ulysses, who comes next to Achilles,
that he too should not be wanting in any thing that pertains to the
excellence of human nature; while completeness and manifoldness is
the specific character of his endowments, as unparalleled splendour
is of those possessed by Achilles. Ulysses[753], therefore, is also
beautiful. Again, the office and function of Agamemnon require him
to be an object capable of attracting admiration and reverence. He,
accordingly, is of remarkable beauty, but of the kind of beauty that
has in it most of dignity[754];

[753] Od. xiii. 430-3.

[754] Il. iii. 169.

  καλὸν δ’ οὕτω ἐγὼν οὔπω ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσιν,
  οὐδ’ οὕτω γεραρόν.

Homer never absolutely withholds beauty from any of his Greek heroes,
yet he does not always expressly state that they possessed it. This
endowment is, for instance, never given to Diomed, but it is ascribed
to Ajax in the Eleventh Odyssey[755];

[755] Od. xi. 469.

            ὃς ἄριστος ἔην εἶδός τε, δέμας τε,
  τῶν ἄλλων Δαναῶν, μετ’ ἀμύμονα Πηλείωνα.

It is probably because Diomed equals Ajax in chivalry, and very far
excels him in mental gifts, that Homer has thrown weight into the scale
of Ajax by assigning to him expressly, while he is silent about Diomed,
the gift of a beautiful person.

As with individuals, so does Homer deal with masses. It may be observed
that he has a lower class of epithets for the Trojans than the Greeks,
and never allows them the benefit of the same national designations.
Individual beauty in men is confined on both sides to the higher ranks;
but no Trojan, however beautiful, is ever honoured with the title
of ξανθός. Again, while he never gives to the Trojans as a body any
epithet which describes them as possessed of beauty, he has assigned
several expressions of this order to the Greek race. Such are the
epithets καρηκομόωντες and ἑλίκωπες, and the phrase εἶδος ἀγητοὶ, (Il.
v. 787. viii. 228.)

~_Beauty of Nireus and others._~

We have yet to examine how far Homer makes beauty a title to
distinguished notice on behalf of those who have no other claim. The
passage in the Catalogue, where Nireus is named[756], is highly curious
with reference to this part of the subject. It is as follows:

[756] Il. ii. 671-5.

  Νιρεὺς αὖ Σύμηθεν ἄγε τρεῖς νῆας ἐΐσας,
  Νιρεὺς, Ἀγλαΐης υἱὸς Χαρόποιό τ’ ἄνακτος,
  Νιρεὺς, ὃς κάλλιστος ἀνὴρ ὑπὸ Ἴλιον ἦλθεν
  τῶν ἄλλων Δαναῶν, μετ’ ἀμύμονα Πηλείωνα·
  ἀλλ’ ἀλαπαδνὸς ἔην, παῦρος δέ οἱ εἵπετο λαός.

These five lines form the largest of the merely personal descriptions
contained in the Catalogue. Yet they are given to a man, of whom we are
frankly told that he was a poor creature, and that he had but a small
following. Even this does not show the whole strength of the case.

1. His ships were only three: no other commander, having so few, is
named at all. The next smallest number is seven: these were the vessels
of Philoctetes, and they seem to be named on account of his peculiar
history and great merit.

2. This is the only instance, in which the contingent supplied by a
single and wholly insignificant place is named by itself.

3. This is also one among very few cases of an ordinary birth, where
the mother (Aglaïe) is named as well as the father (Charopos): the
others are usually cases of reputed descent from deities or heroes.

4. The names given to both parents are taken from their personal
beauty. They thus enhance the title of the son; and, as we cannot well
suppose them connected with history, they were probably invented by the
Poet for that purpose.

5. The repetition of the name of Nireus thrice, and in each case at
the beginning of the verse, the most prominent and emphatic part of it
according to the genius of the Greek hexameter, is plainly intentional.

6. All this care is taken in the most ingenious manner to mark a man,
who did nothing to enable Homer to name him in any other part of the

One and one only key is to be found, which will lay open the cause of
these singular provisions: it is Homer’s intense love of beauty, which
made it in his eyes of itself a title to celebrity. So he determined,
apparently, that the paragon of form should be immortal; and he has
given effect to his determination, for no reader of the Iliad can pass
by the place without remembering Nireus.

In a less marked manner, he has given a kindred emphasis to the case
of Nastes, who wore golden ornaments, and therefore was presumably of
strikingly handsome person. With his brother Amphimachus he commanded
the Carians, and his name is mentioned thrice (but that of his brother
twice only), together with the fact that he wore gold like a girl[757].

[757] Il. ii. 867.

There is something, as it appears to me, most tender and refined, in
this mode used by Homer of fastening attention through repetition of
the word, which he wishes gently but firmly to stamp upon the memory.
We have another instance of it in Il. xxii. 127,

                    ἅτε παρθένος ἠΐθεός τε,
  παρθένος ἠΐθεός τ’ ὀαρίζετον ἀλλήλοιϊν.

There is yet another passage which affords a striking proof of what
may be called the worship of beauty in Homer. In the Seventeenth
Iliad, Euphorbus, the son of Panthoos, falls by the hand of Menelaus.
Homer gives him great credit for charioteering, the use of the spear,
and other accomplishments; but he performs no other feat in the poem
than that of wounding in the back the disarmed, and astounded, and
heaven-deserted Patroclus. At best, we must call him a very secondary
personage. Though his personal comeliness was not defaced like that
of Paris by cowardice or vice, still he was of the same race that in
Italy has taken its name from Zerbino. Yet Homer adorns his death with
a notice, perhaps more conspicuous than any which he has attached to
the death of any warriors of the Iliad, with the exceptions of Hector,
Sarpedon, and Patroclus. Ten of the most beautiful lines of the poem
are bestowed in lamenting him, chiefly by an unsurpassed simile, which
compares the youth to a tender olive shoot, the victim, when its
blossoms are overcharged with moisture, of a sudden hurricane. The Poet
was moved to this tenderness by the remembrance of his beauty, of his
hair, like the hair of the Graces, in its tresses bound with golden and
silver clasps[758].

[758] Il. xvii. 50-60. Compare the sympathizing account of the death of
the _young_ bridegroom Iphidamas (Il. xi. 241-3).

~_Beauty placed among the prime gifts._~

Although it is true that Homer eschews with respect to beauty, as well
as in other matters, the didactic mode of conveying his impressions,
yet he has placed them distinctly on record in the answer of Ulysses to
Euryalus. Speaking not at all of women, but of men, he places the gift
of personal beauty among the prime endowments that can be received from
the providence of the gods, in a rank to which only two other gifts are
admitted, namely, the power of thought (νόος or φρένες), and the power
of speech (ἀγορητύς). In the idea of personal beauty, conveyed under
the names εἶδος, μορφὴ, and χάρις, evidently included vigour and power,
for it is to his supposed incapacity for athletic exercises[759], that
the discourse has reference. Nor can it be said, that this full and
large appreciation by Homer of the value of bodily excellence, was
simply a worldly or a pagan, as opposed to a Christian, view.

[759] Od. viii. 167-77.

It is not true, on the one hand, that when we cease to entertain
sufficiently elevated views of the destiny and prerogatives of the
soul, our standard for the body rises either in proportion or at all.
Nor is it true, on the other, that when we think highly of the soul,
we ought in consequence to think meanly of the body, which is both its
tabernacle and its helpmate. In truth, a somewhat sickly cast seems
to have come over our tone of thought now for some generations back,
the product, perhaps, in part of careless or emasculated teaching
in the highest matters, and due also in part to the overcrowding of
the several functions of our life. But Homer distinctly realized to
himself what we know faintly or scarce at all, though nothing is more
emphatically or conspicuously taught by our religion, namely, that the
body is part and parcel of the integer denominated man.

But the quality of measure ran in rare proportion through all the
conceptions of the Poet. Stature was a great element of beauty in the
view of the ancients for women as well as for men: and their admiration
of tallness, even in women, is hardly restrained by a limit. But
Homer, who frequently touches the point, has provided a limit. Among
the Læstrygonians, the women are of enormous size. Two of the crew of
Ulysses, sent forward to make inquiries, are introduced to the queen.
They find her ‘as big as a mountain,’ and are disgusted at her[760]:

[760] Od. x. 112.

                      τὴν δὲ γυναῖκα
  εὗρον ὅσην τ’ ὄρεος κορυφὴν, κατὰ δ’ ἔστυγον αὐτήν.

The large humanity of Homer is also manifested, among other signs, by
his sympathy with high qualities in the animal creation. There is no
passage of deeper pathos in all his works, not Andromache with her
child, not Priam before Achilles, than that which recounts the death
of the dog Argus[761]. The words too are so calm and still, they seem
to grow faint and fainter, each foot of the verse falls as if it were
counting out the last respirations, and, in effect, we witness that
last slight and scarcely fluttering breath, with which life is yielded

[761] Od. xvii. 327.

  Ἄργον δ’ αὖ κατὰ Μοῖρ’ ἔλαβεν μέλανος θανάτοιο,
  αὐτίκ’ ἰδόντ’ Ὀδυσῆα, ἐεικοστῷ ἐνιαυτῷ.

We may also trace the same sympathy in minor forms. As, for
instance, where he says Telemachus went to the Ithacan assembly not

[762] Od. ii. 10.

  βῆ ῥ’ ἴμεν εἰς ἀγορὴν, παλάμῃ δ’ ἔχε χάλκεον ἔγχος,
  οὐκ οἶος.

We are certainly prepared to hear that some adviser, either divine or
at the least human, some friend or faithful servant, was by his side:
but no--it is simply that some dogs went with him:

  ἅμα τῷγε κύνες πόδας ἀργοὶ ἕποντο.

There is no sign, however, that Homer attached the peculiar idea of
beauty to the race of dogs in any remarkable degree. Indeed, it is only
in certain breeds that the dog can be called by comparison a beautiful
animal. What he always commends is their swiftness; and Homer’s ideas
of beauty were nowhere more lively than in regard to motion. But we see
the Poet’s feeling for form much more characteristically displayed in
the case to which we shall now proceed.

~_Beauty in animals, especially horses._~

Among other inferences which the poems raise in respect to Homer
himself, it can hardly be doubted that he was a great lover of horses,
and felt their beauty, partially in colour, much more in form, and in
movement most of all.

This was quite in keeping with the habits of his country and his race.
Both the Trojans and the Greeks appear not only to have employed horses
in such uses as war, journeys, races, and agricultural labour, but to
have given attention to developing the breeds and points of the animal.
In his Catalogue, Homer, at the close, invokes the Muse to inform him
which were the best of the horses, as well as of the heroes, on the
Greek side. He constantly uses epithets both for Trojans and Greeks
connected with their successful care and training of the animal:
εὔιππος, εὔπωλος, ταχύπωλος, ἱππόδαμος.

He not only treasures the traditions connected with the animal, but
treats them as a part of history. Accordingly, when Diomed desires
Sthenelus to make sure of the horses of Æneas he carefully proceeds to
state, that it is because their sires were of the race that Jupiter
gave to Tros. To them Anchises, without the knowledge of their owner
Laomedon, brought his own mares, and so obtained a progeny of six:
of whom he kept four himself, and gave two to his son Æneas (Il. v.
265-73) that he might take them to Troy.

Nay he goes back further yet: where, except in Homer, should we find a
tradition like that of the mares of Erichthonius, fetched from a time
five generations before his subject? Their children had Boreas for
their sire. Three thousand mothers ranged over the plains of the Troad,
and made their lord the wealthiest of men. So light was their footstep,
that if they skimmed the sea it touched the tips only of the curling
foam; and if they raced over the cornfield, the ripe ears sustained
their tread without one being broken[763].

[763] Il. xx. 220-9.

~_As to movement, form, and colour._~

In other places Homer describes with no less of sympathetic emotion the
vivid and fiery movements of the animal. The most remarkable of all is
the noble simile of the stall-kept horse, whom every reader seems to
see as with proud head and flowing mane, when he feels his liberty, he
scours the boundless pastures.

That adaptation, or effort at adaptation, of sound to sense, which with
poets in general (always excepting especially Dante and Shakespeare,)
is a sign that they have applied their whole force to careful
elaboration, is with Homer only a proof of a fuller and deeper flow
of his sympathies: wherever we find it, we may be sure that his whole
heart is in the passage. In this very simile how admirable is the
transition from the fine stationary verse that describes the charger’s
customary bathe,

  εἰωθὼς λούεσθαι ἐϋρρεῖος ποταμοῖο,

to his rapid and easy bounding over the plain, when every dactyl marks
a spring[764];

[764] Il. vi. 511.

  ῥίμφα ἑ γοῦνα φέρει μετά τ’ ἤθεα καὶ νόμον ἵππων.

For this adaptation of metre to sense in connection with the movement
of horses, we may take another example. To describe Agamemnon dealing
destruction among the routed Trojans on foot, we have a line and a half
of somewhat accelerated but by no means very rapid movement[765];

[765] Il. xi. 158.

  ὣς ἄρ’ ὑπ’ Ἀτρείδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονι πῖπτε κάρηνα
  Τρώων φευγόντων.

But when he comes to the Trojan horses in their flight, we have two
lines, dactylic to the utmost extent that the metre will allow, except
in one half-foot;

              πολλοὶ δ’ ἐριαύχενες ἵπποι
  κείν’ ὄχεα κροτάλιζον ἀνὰ πτολέμοιο γεφύρας,
  ἡνιόχους ποθέοντες ἀμύμονας.

Then, coming back to the dead charioteers, he visibly slackens again;

                                οἱ δ’ ἐπὶ γαίῃ
  κείατο, γύπεσσιν πολὺ φίλτεροι ἢ ἀλόχοισιν.

To exhibit numerically the relative distribution of times in these
members of the sentence, we have these three very different proportions;

  In the first, 13 long syllables to 8 short.

  In the second, 16 long syllables to 22 short.

  In the third, 11 long syllables to 10 short.

He has imparted much of the same glowing movement to the speech,
which in the Nineteenth Iliad is assigned to the Immortal horses of
Achilles; though the subject includes a reference to the death of their
master[766]. In nearly every line, throughout the passage, that relates
to their own motion, the number of dactyls is at the maximum, and in
the ten lines there are eighty-six short syllables to sixty long ones;
a proportion, which I doubt our finding elsewhere in Homer, except it
be among the similes, to which Homer seems in many cases to give a
peculiarly elastic prosodial movement.

[766] Il. xix. 408-17.

Rhesus, king of the Thracians, who arrives at Troy after the
commencement of the Wrath, becomes sufficiently distinguished for the
central point of interest in the Doloneia, by virtue chiefly of his
horses. They are the most beautiful, says Dolon, and the largest that
I have ever seen[767];

[767] Il. x. 437.

  λευκότεροι χιόνος, θείειν δ’ ἀνέμοισιν ὁμοῖοι.

The justice of this panegyric is corroborated by the emphatic
expression of Nestor, who pronounces them,

  αἰνῶς ἀκτίνεσσιν ἐοικότες ἠελίοιο·

and their unparalleled excellence forms the subject of the speech of
the old king, on the return of Ulysses and Diomed to the camp[768].

[768] Il. x. 544-53.

It is not only, however, in elaborate pictures that Homer shows his
feeling for horses, but also, and not less markedly, in minor touches.
Does he not speak with the manifest feeling of a skilled admirer of the
animal, when he describes the pair driven by Eumelus, rapid as birds,
the same in shade of colour, the same in years, the same to a hair’s
breadth in height across their backs[769]?

[769] Il. ii. 764.

                      ποδώκεας, ὄρνιθας ὣς,
  ὄτριχας, οἰέτεας, σταφύλῃ ἐπὶ νῶτον ἐΐσας.

Again, we are met by the same feeling which, in a bolder flight, made
the horses of Rhesus weep, when Pandarus falls headlong from the
chariot of Æneas, and his arms rattle over him in death. The horses,
instead of plunging or starting off, with a finer feeling tremble by
the corpse[770];

[770] Il. v. 295.

                  παρέτρεσσαν δέ οἱ ἵπποι

We may trace the same disposition, under a lighter and more amusing
form, in what had already passed between Æneas and Pandarus. Pandarus
had excused himself for not having brought a chariot and horses to
Troy, on account of his fears about finding forage for them where
such crowds were to be gathered into a small space; at the same time
describing, rather boastfully, his father Lycaon’s eleven carriages
with a pair for each. (Il. v. 192-203.) Æneas replies by inviting him
into his chariot when he will see what Trojan horses are like. Then, he
continues, do you fight, and I will drive; or, as you may choose, do
you drive, and I will fight. Pandarus immediately replies, that Æneas
had better by all means be the driver of his own horses.

Then again, Homer will have the utmost care taken of them; and, so to
speak, he looks to it himself. When he describes them as unemployed, he
specifies their food; those of Achilles during the Wrath stand[771],

[771] Il. ii. 776.

  λωτὸν ἐρεπτόμενοι ἐλεόθρεπτόν τε σέλινον.

But those of Lycaon, which had remained at home, were[772]

[772] Il. v. 196.

  κρῖ λευκὸν ἐρεπτόμενοι καὶ ὀλύρας.

To each he gives the appropriate provender: to the former, in an
encampment, what the grassy marsh by its side afforded: to the latter,
in a king’s palace, the grain, or hard food, of their proper home.

And so in the night-adventure of the Tenth Book, when Ulysses drags
away the bodies of those Thracians whom Diomed has slain, it is to make
a clear path for the horses of Rhesus which were to be carried off,
that they may not take fright from treading on corpses[773];

[773] Il. x. 489-93.

  νεκροῖς ἀμβαίνοντες· ἀήθεσσον γὰρ ἔτ’ αὐτῶν.

Throughout the chariot-race, in the Twenty-third Book, we find them
uppermost in the Poet’s mind, though the drivers, being his prime
heroes, are not wholly forgotten.

Even as to colour, of which Homer’s perceptions appear to have been
so vague, it may be remarked, that he employs it somewhat more freely
with reference to horses, than to other objects having definite form or
powers of locomotion.

But his liveliest conceptions of them are with respect to motion,
form, and feelings: and I suppose there is no poem like the Iliad for
characteristic touches in respect to any of the three.

~_Beauty in inanimate nature._~

It has been much debated whether the ancients generally, and whether
Homer in particular, had any distinct idea of beauty in landscape.

It may be admitted, even in respect to Homer, that his similes, to
which one would naturally look for proof, less commonly refer to the
eye than to other faculties. They commonly turn upon sound, motion,
force, or multitude: rarely, in comparison, upon colour, or even upon
form; still more rarely upon colour or form in such combinations as to
constitute what we call the picturesque.

It seems to me, that we may draw the best materials of a demonstration
in this case from comparing his descriptions of the form of scenery
by means of the outlines of countries, with his use of other epithets
which he employs to denote beauty.

The country of Lacedæmon was mountainous, and it is hence termed by
Homer in the Odyssey and in the Catalogue, κοιλή. (Il. ii. 581, Od. iv.

But it is also termed by him ἐρατεινὴ (Il. iii. 239), and this, it may
be observed, in a speech of Helen’s; to whom, while she was at Troy,
the image of it in memory could hardly, perhaps, be agreeable from any
moral association. We are, therefore, led to refer it to the physical
conformation or beauty of the district.

Next, we have pretty clear proof that in Homer’s mind the epithet
ἐρατεινὴ was one proper to describe beauty in the strictest sense. For
he says of Helen, with regard to her daughter Hermione[774]:

[774] Od. iv. 13.

                      ἐγείνατο παῖδ’ ἐρατεινὴν,
  Ἑρμιόνην, ἣ εἶδος ἔχε χρυσῆς Ἀφροδίτης.

‘She had a lovely (ἐρατεινὴν) daughter, endowed with the beauty of
golden Aphrodite.’ And I observe but few passages in Homer, perhaps
only one (Od. xxiii. 300), when ἐρατεινὸς does not naturally and
properly bear this sense. A sense etymologically analogous to our own
use of the word _lovely_, which we employ to indicate not only beauty,
but a high degree of it.

It therefore appears to be clear that Homer called Lacedæmon ἐρατεινὴ,
because it was shaped in mountain and valley, and because countries
so formed present a beautiful appearance to the eye, as compared with
countries of other forms less marked. It is applied to Emathia (Il.
xiv. 225) and to Scheria (Od. vii. 79), both mountainous; to the city
Ilios, (Il. v. 210), which stood on ground high and partially abrupt
near the roots of Ida; and I do not find it in any place of the poems
associated with flat lands.

The other instance which I shall cite seems to present the argument in
a complete form, within the compass of a single line.

When describing Ithaca in the Odyssey, Telemachus says it is[775],

[775] Od. iv. 606.

  αἰγίβοτος, καὶ μᾶλλον ἐπήρατος ἱπποβότοιο.

Here we may assume that by αἰγίβοτος, goat-feeding, he means
mountainous, and even sharp and rocky; moreover consequently, in
comparison, barren, so that it could not be agreeable in the sense of
being profitable. On the other hand, the horse is an animal ill-suited
to range among rocks; and by ἱππόβοτος Homer always means a district or
country sufficiently open and plain to be suitable for feeding horses
in numbers. Now, in saying that Arran is more ἐπήρατος than southern
Lancashire, we should leave no doubt upon the mind of any reader as
to the meaning; which must surely be that it offers more beauty to the
eye. Just such a comparison does Homer make of the scenery of Ithaca as
it was with what it would have been, if the island had been flat.

I ought however to notice the very forced interpretation of Damm, which
is this: _μᾶλλον ἐπήρατος, sc. ἐμοὶ, nam est patria mea; et ad μᾶλλον
subintelligit τοῦ σοῦ Ἄργεος φίλη μοι ἔστι_.

Homer was better versed in the art of wedding words to thought, than
such an interpretation supposes. For, according to it, the thought
of Homer was this; ‘Though you rule over broad and open Argos, my
mountainous Ithaca is dearer to me, _because it is my country_.’ So
that he has left out the point of the sentence, without the faintest
trace to guide his reader. The idea of the sentence, which is prolonged
through many verses, turns entirely on the difference between an
open and a steep rocky country as such, and not in the least on
native attachments. And Telemachus, who is lauding the richness and
fertility of Argos, and apologizing for the barrenness of Ithaca,
not ungracefully, in passing, throws in, by way of compensation, the
element of beauty, as one possessed by Ithaca, and as one which it must
miss if it were flat.

Indeed, we here trace the usual refinement of Homer in this, that
Telemachus does not say, True, your Argos is rich, but my Ithaca is
picturesque: but, after commending the fertility of broad Argos, he
says, ‘In Ithaca we have no broad runs[776], and nothing like a meadow:
it will feed nothing but goats, yet it is more picturesque than if
_it_, a little speck of that kind, were flat and open.’

[776] He uses the phrase δρόμοι εὐρέες. It is curious to find the word
_runs_, so recently re-established as the classical word for the large
open spaces of pasturage in the regions of Australasia.

The word ἐπήρατος is less frequently used in Homer than ἐρατεινός;
but we have it in six places besides this. There is only one of them
where it is capable of meaning dear, in connection with the idea of
country[777]. In another it means enjoyable or splendid, being applied
to the banquet[778]. In the other places it is applied to a town on the
Shield, a cavern in Ithaca (twice), and the garments put upon Venus in
Cyprus; and in those four places it can only mean fair or beautiful.

[777] Il. xxii. 121.

[778] Il. ix. 228.

We are not, then, justified in limiting Homer’s sense of natural beauty
to what was associated with utility[779]. On the contrary, it appears
plainly to extend to beauty proper, and even to that kind of beauty in
nature which we of the present day most love.

[779] See Mr. Cope’s Essay on the Picturesque among the Greeks;
Cambridge Essays, 1856. p. 126.

I have dealt thus far with the most doubtful part of the question, and
have ventured to dissent from Mr. Ruskin, whose authority I admit, and
of whose superior insight, as well as of his extraordinary powers of
expression, I am fully conscious.

~_Germ of feeling for the picturesque._~

Mr. Ruskin thinks[780] that ‘Homer has no trace of feeling for what we
call the picturesque’; that Telemachus apologizes for the scenery of
Ithaca; and that rocks are never loved but as caves. I think that the
expressions I have produced from the text show that these propositions
cannot be sustained. At the same time I admit that the feeling with
Homer is one in the bud only: as, indeed, until within a very few
generations, it has lain undeveloped among ourselves. Homer may have
been the father of this sentiment for his nation, as he was of so much
besides. But the plant did not grow up kindly among those who followed

[780] Ruskin’s Modern Painters, part iv. chap. xiii. pp. 189-92.

I assent entirely, on the other hand, to what Mr. Ruskin has said
respecting his sense of orderly beauty in common nature. The garden
of Alcinous is truly Dutch in its quadrangular conceptions; but it is
plain that the Poet means us to regard it as truly beautiful[781].
Symmetry, serenity, regularity, adopted from the forms of living beauty
which were before him, enter largely into Homer’s conceptions of one
form, at least, of inanimate beauty.

[781] Od. vii. 112-32.

The scenery of the cave of Calypso[782] is less restrained in its cast,
than is the garden in Scheria; but even here Homer introduces four
fountains, which compose a regular figure, and are evidently meant
to supply an element of form which was required by the fashionable

[782] Od. v. 63-75.

Another element of landscape, as we understand it, is, that the natural
objects which it represents should be in rather extensive combination;
and our established traditions would also require that the view of them
should be modified by the rendering of the atmosphere, especially with
reference to the scale of distances.

It is very difficult to find instances of extended landscape in Homer.
But I think that we have at least one, in the famed simile, where he
compares the Trojan watchfires on the plain to the calm night, which
by the light of moon and stars exhibits a breadth of prospect to the
rejoicing shepherd’s eye. Here are certainly tranquillity and order;
but with them we seem also to have both extent and atmosphere; to which
even bold and even broken outline must be added by those who, like
myself, are not prepared to surrender to the destroying ὄβελος the

[783] Il. viii. 557.

  ἔκ τ’ ἔφανεν πᾶσαι σκοπιαὶ, καὶ πρώονες ἄκροι.

Upon the whole, considering Homer’s early date, and the very late
development among the moderns of a taste for scenery of the picturesque
and romantic order, I do not know that we are entitled even at first
sight to challenge him as inferior to any modern of analogous date
in this province. Yet we may fairly pronounce that he is inferior to
himself; that is to say, he appears to have a sense of beauty, in the
region of inanimate nature, certainly less keen in proportion than
that, with which he looked upon the animated creation.

What is deficient in him with respect to landscape may however, in all
likelihood, be more justly referred to positive than to negative causes.

~_Causes adverse to a more developed feeling._~

It may be questioned whether the disposition to appreciate still
nature, especially in large and elaborated combinations, may not in
part depend upon conditions that were not to be found in the age of
Homer. I should say, if the expression may be allowed, that we of this
generation take landscape medicinally. Human life grows with the course
of ages; and, especially in our age, it has grown to be excited and
hurried. But nature has a reacting tendency towards repose; and, even
in the case of the grosser stimulants, it seems to be their soothing
power which most helps to recommend them. Besides the fact, however,
that we have wants which the Greeks had not, this subject may be
regarded in a broader view.

The mind of Homer and the mind of his age were not addicted even to
contemplation, far less to introspection. Of ideas properly subjective
there are very few indeed to be found in the poems. We have one such
furnished by the passage where he equates thought to a wing, in a
simile for the swift ships of the Phæacians,

  ὡσεὶ πτέρον ἠὲ νόημα.

And another, the most remarkable that he supplies, when in more detail
he uses the motion of a thought for an illustration of the rapid flight
of Juno[784].

[784] Il. xv. 80.

Even when it became speculative, the Greek mind did not give a
subjective turn to its speculations. It was probably Christianity
which, by the stimulus it applied to the general conscience, first gave
mankind the introspective habit on a large scale; and mixed causes
may often render the tendency excessive and morbid. But the tendency
of the heroic age, standing at its maximum in Homer, was to pour life
outward, nay almost to force it into every thing. The fountain from
within overflowed; and its surplus went to make inanimate nature
breathe. The profuse and easy fertility of Homer in simile surely of
itself demonstrates a wonderful observation and appreciation of nature;
but, as has been remarked, these similes are very rarely indeed _still_
similes. They delight in sound, in multitude, above all in motion.
The automatic chairs of Vulcan, the living theatre of the Shield of
Achilles, that oldest mirror of our world, the bounding armour of the
same hero, what are all these but the proofs of that redundant energy
of life, whose first resistless impulse it was to carry the vital fire
of Prometheus into every object that it encountered, and which, not yet
having felt the palsying touch of exhaustion, lay under no necessity of
curative provisions for repose? Therefore, while admitting the defect
of Homer with respect to colour, and admitting also that landscape (if
we are to understand by it the elaborate combination of natural objects
reaching over considerable distances) is a great addition to the
enjoyment and wealth of mankind, I think the capital explanation of the
question raised is to be found, not in the want of any space, or of any
faculty, in the mind of Homer, but in the fact that the space and the
faculties were all occupied with more active and vivifying functions;
that the beautiful forms in nature, which we see as beautiful forms
only, were to him the hem of the garments, as it were, of that life
with which all nature teemed. Accordingly, the general rule of the
poems is, that where we should be passive, he is active; that which we
think it much to contemplate with satisfaction, he is ever at work,
with a bolder energy and a keener pleasure, to vivify. We deal with
external nature, as it were unrifled; he saw in it only the residue
which remained to it, after it had at every point thrown off its cream
in supernatural formations. His uplifting and vitalizing process is
everywhere at work. Animate nature is raised even to divinity; and
inanimate nature is borne upward into life.

If, then, Homer sees less in the mere sensible forms of natural objects
than we do, it probably is in a great degree because the genius of his
people and his own genius had taught him to invest them with a soul,
which drew up into itself the best of their attractions. Mr. Ruskin
most justly tells us, with reference to the sea, that he cuts off
from the material object the sense of something living, and fashions
it into a great abstract image of a sea-power[785]. Yet it is not, I
think, quite true, that the Poet leaves in the watery mass no element
of life. On the contrary, I should say the key to his whole treatment
of external nature is to be found in this one proposition: wheresoever
we look for figure, he looks for life. His waves (as well as his fire)
when they are stirred[786], shout, in the very word (ἰάχειν) that
he gives to the Assembly of Achæans: when they break in foam, they
put on the plume of the warrior’s helmet[787] (κορύσσεσθαι): when
their lord drives over them, they open wide for joy[788]: and when he
strides upon the field of battle, they, too, boil upon the shore, in an
irrepressible sympathy with his effort and emotion[789].

[785] Modern Painters, part iv. ch. xiii. p. 174.

[786] Il. xxiii. 216. i. 482.

[787] Il. iv. 424.

[788] Γηθοσύνῃ δὲ θάλασσα διΐστατο, Il. xiii. 29.

[789] Il. xiv. 392.


_Homer’s perceptions and use of Number._

While the faculties of Homer were in many respects both intense and
refined in their action, beyond all ordinary, perhaps we might say
beyond all modern, examples, there were other points in which they
bear the marks of having been less developed than is now common even
among the mass of many civilized nations. In the power of abstraction
and distinct introspective contemplation, it is not improbable that he
was inferior to the generality of educated men in the present day. In
some other lower faculties, he is probably excelled by the majority
of the population of this country, nay even by many of the children
in its schools. I venture to specify, as examples of the last-named
proposition, the faculties of number, and of colour. It may be true of
one or both of these, that a certain indistinctness in the perception
of them is incidental everywhere to the early stages of society. But
yet it is surprising to find it where, as with Homer, it accompanies a
remarkable quickness and maturity not only of great mental powers, but
of certain other perceptions more akin to number and colour, such as
those of motion, of sound, and of form. But let us proceed to examine,
in the first place, the former of these two subjects.

It may be observed at the outset, that probably none of us are aware
to how great an extent our aptitudes with respect to these matters are
traditionary, and dependent therefore not upon ourselves, but upon
the acquisitions made by the human race before our birth, and upon
the degree in which those acquisitions have circulated, and have been
as it were filtered through and through the community, so as to take
their place among the elementary ideas, impressions, and habits of
the population. For such parts of human knowledge, as have attained
to this position, are usually gained by each successive generation
through the medium of that insensible training, which begins from the
very earliest infancy, and which precedes by a great interval all the
systematic, and even all the conscious, processes of education. Nor am
I for one prepared by any means to deny that there may be an actual
‘traducianism’ in the case: on the contrary, in full consistency with
the teaching of experience, we may believe that the acquired aptitudes
of one generation may become, in a greater or a less degree, the
inherited and inborn aptitudes of another.

We must, therefore, reckon upon finding a set of marked differences in
the relative degrees of advancement among different human faculties in
different stages of society, which shall be simply referable to the
source now pointed out, and distinct altogether from such variations
as are referable to other causes. It is not difficult to admit this to
be true in general: but the question, whether in the case before us
it applies to number and colour, can of course only be decided by an
examination of the Homeric text.

Yet, before we enter upon this examination, let us endeavour to throw
some further light upon the general aspect of the proposition, which
has just been laid down.

Of all visible things, colour is to our English eye the most striking.
Of all ideas, as conceived by the English mind, number appears to be
the most rigidly definite, so that we adopt it as a standard for
reducing all other things to definiteness; as when we say that this
field or this house is five, ten, or twenty times as large as that.
Our merchants, and even our schoolchildren, are good calculators. So
that there is a sense of something strikingly paradoxical, to us in
particular, when we speak of Homer as having had only indeterminate
ideas of these subjects.

~_Conceptions of Number not always definite._~

There are however two practical instances, which may be cited to
illustrate the position, that number is not a thing to be as matter
of course definitely conceived in the mind. One of these is the case
of very young children. To them the very lowest numbers are soon
intelligible, but all beyond the lowest are not so, and only present
a vague sense of multitude, that cannot be severed into its component
parts. The distinctive mark of a clear arithmetical conception is, that
the mind at one and the same time embraces the two ideas, first of the
aggregate, secondly of each one of the units which make it up. This
double operation of the brain becomes more arduous, as we ascend higher
in the scale. I have heard a child, put to count beads or something of
the sort, reckon them thus: ‘One, two, three, four, a hundred.’ The
first words express his ideas, the last one his despair. Up to four,
his mind could contain the joint ideas of unity and of severalty, but
not beyond; so he then passed to an expression wholly general, and
meant to express a sense like that of the word multitude.

But though the transition from number definitely conceived to number
without bounds is like launching into a sea, yet the conception of
multitude itself is in one sense susceptible of degree. We may have
the idea of a limited, or of an unbounded, multitude. The essential
distinction of the first is, that it might possibly be counted;
the notion of the second is, that it is wholly beyond the power of
numeration to overtake. Probably even the child, to whom the word
‘hundred’ expressed an indefinite idea, would have been faintly
sensible of a difference in degree between ‘hundred’ and ‘million,’
and would have known that the latter expressed something larger
than the former. The circumscribing outline of the idea apprehended
is loose, but still there is such an outline. The clearness of the
double conception is indeed effaced; the whole only, and not the whole
together with each part, is contemplated by the mind; but still there
is a certain clouded sense of a real difference in magnitude, as
between one such whole and another.

And this leads me to the second of the two illustrations, to which
reference has been made. That loss of definiteness in the conception of
number, which the child in our day suffers before he has counted over
his fingers, the grown man suffers also, though at a point commonly
much higher in the scale. What point that may be, depends very much
upon the particular habits and aptitudes of the individual. A student
in a library of a thousand volumes, an officer before his regiment of a
thousand men upon parade, may have a pretty clear idea of the units as
well as of the totals; but when we come to a thousand times a thousand,
or a thousand times a million, all view of the units, for most men,
probably for every man, is lost: the million for the grown man is in
a great degree like the hundred for the child. The numerical term has
now become essentially a symbol; not only as every word is by its
essence a symbol in reference to the idea it immediately denotes; but,
in a further sense, it is a symbol of a symbol, for that idea which
it denotes, is itself symbolical: it is a conventional representation
of a certain vast number of units, far too great to be individually
contemplated and apprehended. As we rise higher still from millions,
say for example, into the class of billions, the vagueness increases.
The million is now become a sort of new unit, and the relation of two
millions to one million, is thus pretty clearly apprehended as being
double; but this too becomes obscured as we mount, and even (for
example) the relation of quantity between ten billions of wheat-corns,
and an hundred billions of the same, is far less determinately conveyed
to the mind, than the relation between ten wheat-corns and one. At this
high level, the nouns of number approximate to the indefinite character
of the class of algebraic symbols called known quantities.

In proportion as our conception of numbers is definite, the idea of
them, instead of being suited for an address to the imagination,
remains unsuited for poetic handling, and thrives within the sphere
of the understanding only. But when we pass beyond the scale of
determinate into that of practically indeterminate amounts, then the
use of numbers becomes highly poetical. I would quote, as a very noble
example of this use of number, a verse in the Revelations of St. John.
‘And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the
throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten
thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands[790].’ As a
proof of the power of this fine passage, I would observe, that the
descent from ten thousand times ten thousand to thousands of thousands,
though it is in fact numerically very great, has none of the chilling
effect of anticlimax, because these numbers are not arithmetically
conceived, and the last member of the sentence is simply, so to speak,
the trail of light which the former draws behind it.

[790] Rev. v. 11.

Now we must keep clearly before our minds the idea, that this poetical
and figurative use of number among the Greeks at least preceded what
I may call its calculative use. We shall find in Homer nothing that
can strictly be called calculation. He repeatedly gives us what may
be termed the factors of a sum in multiplication; but he never even
partially combines them, even as they are combined for example in
Cowper’s ballad,

  John Gilpin’s spouse said to her dear,
    Though wedded we have been
  These _twice ten_ tedious years, yet we
    No holiday have seen.

Reference has been made to the convenience which we find in using
number as a measure of quantity, and as a means of comparing things
of every species in their own kind. But we never meet with this use
of it in Homer. He has not even the words necessary to enable him to
say, ‘This house is five times as large as that.’ If he had the idea
to express, he would say, Five houses, each as large as that, would
hardly be equal to this. The word τρὶς may be called an adverb of
multiplication; but it is never used for these comparisons. Indeed,
Damm observes, that in a large majority of instances it signifies an
indefinite number, not a precise one. Τετράκις is found only once, and
in a sense wholly indeterminate: the passage is[791] τρισμάκαρες Δαναοὶ
καὶ τετράκις. Πεντάκις does not even exist. Ajax lifts a stone, not
‘twice as large as a mortal of to-day could raise’, but so large that
it would require two such mortals to raise it. All Homer’s numerical
expressions are in the most elementary forms; such forms, as are
without composition, and refuse all further analysis.

[791] Od. v. 306.

~_Greek estimate of the discovery of Number._~

His use of number appears to have been confined to simple addition: and
it is probable that all the higher numbers which we find in the poems,
were figurative and most vaguely conceived. If we are able to make
good the proof of these propositions from the Homeric text, we shall
then be well able to understand the manner in which Numeration, or
the science of number, is spoken of by the Greeks of the historic age
as a marvellous invention. It appears in Æschylus, as among the very
greatest of the discoveries of Prometheus[792]:

[792] Æsch. Prom. V. 468. see also Soph. Naupl. Fragm. v.

  καὶ μὴν ἀριθμὸν, ἔξοχον σοφισμάτων,
  ἐξεῦρον αὐτοῖς·

he goes on to add,

  γραμμάτων τε συνθέσεις.

So that the use of numbers by rule was to the Greek mind as much a
discovery as the letters of the alphabet, and is even described here
as a greater one: much as in later times men have viewed the use of
logarithms, or of the method of fluxions or the calculus. In full
conformity with this are the superlative terms, in which Plato speaks
of number. Number, in fact, seems to be exhibited in great part of the
Greek philosophy, as if it had actually been the guide of the human
mind in its progress towards realizing all the great and cardinal ideas
of order, measure, proportion, and relation.

Up to what point human intelligence, in the time of Homer, was able to
push the process of simple addition, we do not precisely know. It is
not, however, hastily to be assumed that, in any one of his faculties,
Homer was behind his age; and it is safer to believe that the poems,
even in these points, represent it advantageously. Now, in one place
at least, we have a primitive account of a process of addition. The
passage is in the Fourth Odyssey, where Menelaus relates, how Proteus
counted upon his fingers the number of his seals[793]. That it was
a certain particular number is obvious, because when four of them
had been killed by Eidothee, their skins were put upon Menelaus and
his three comrades, and the four Greeks were then counted into the
herd, so that the word ἀριθμὸς here evidently means a definite total.
This addition by Proteus, however, was not addition in the proper
arithmetical sense, and would be more properly called enumeration: it
was probably effected simply by adding each unit singly, in succession,
to the others, with the aid of the fingers, (proved through the word
πεμπάσσεται,) but not by the aid of any scale or combination of units,
either decimal or quinal. In the word δεκὰς we have, indeed, the first
step towards a decimal scale; but we have not even that in the case
of the number five, there being no πεντὰς or πεμπτάς. The meaning of
πεμπάσσεται evidently is, not that he arranged the numeration in fives,
but that, by means of the fingers of one hand, employed upon those of
the other, he assisted the process of simple enumeration.

[793] Od. iv. 412, 451.

~_Highest numerals of the poems._~

Homer’s highest numeral is μύριοι. He describes the Myrmidons as being
μύριοι[794], though, if we assume a mean strength of about eighty-five
for their crews, the force would but little have exceeded four
thousand: and at the _maximum_ of one hundred and twenty for each ship,
it would only come to six thousand. Again, Homer uses the expression
μύρια ᾔδη, to denote a person of instructed and accomplished mind[795].

[794] Il. xxiii. 29.

[795] Od. ii. 16.

Next to the μύρια, the highest numerals employed in the poems are
those contained in the passage where the Poet says that the howl of
Mars, on being wounded by Diomed, was as loud as the shout of an army
of nine thousand or ten thousand men[796]:

[796] Il. v. 860.

  ὅσσον τ’ ἐννεάχιλοι ἐπίαχον ἢ δεκάχιλοι
  ἀνέρες ἐν πολέμῳ.

But it is clear that the expressions are purely poetical and
figurative. For he never comes near the use of such high numbers
elsewhere; and yet it obviously lay in his path to use these, and
higher numbers still, when he was describing the strength of the Greek
and Trojan armies.

The highest Homeric number, after those which have been named, is
found in the three thousand horses of Erichthonius. This we must also
consider poetical, because it is so far beyond the ordinary range
of the poems, and in some degree likewise because of the obvious
unlikelihood of his having possessed that particular number of

[797] Il. xxi. 251.

Only thrice, besides the instances already quoted, does Homer use the
fourth power of numbers; it is in the case of the single thousand. A
thousand measures of wine were sent by Euneos as a present to Agamemnon
and Menelaus. A thousand watch-fires were kindled by the Trojans on the
plain. Iphidamas, having given an hundred oxen in order to obtain his
wife, then promised a thousand goats and sheep out of his countless
herds[798]. In all these three cases, it is more than doubtful whether
the word thousand is not roughly and loosely used as a round number.
The combination of the thousand sheep and goats with the hundred oxen,
immediately awakens the recollection that even the Homeric hecatomb,
though meaning etymologically an hundred oxen, practically meant
nothing of the kind, but only what we should call a lot or batch of
oxen. Again, it is so obviously improbable that the Trojans should
in an hurried bivouac have lighted just a thousand fires, and placed
just fifty men by each, that we may take this passage as plainly
figurative, and as conveying no more than a very rude approximation, of
such a kind as would be inadmissible where the practice of calculation
is familiar. It is then most likely, that in the remaining one of
the three passages, the Poet means only to convey that a large and
liberal present of wine was sent by Euneus, as the consideration for
his being allowed to trade with the army. There is certainly more of
approximation to a definite use of the single thousand, than of the
three, the nine, or the ten: but this difference in definiteness is
in reality a main point in the evidence. Most of all does this become
palpable, when we consider how strange is in itself the omission to
state the numbers of the combatants on either side of this great
struggle: an omission so strange, of what would be to ourselves a fact
of such elementary and primary interest, that we can hardly account for
it otherwise than by the admission, that to the Greeks of the Homeric
age the totals of the armies, even if the Poet himself could have
reckoned them, would have been unintelligible.

[798] Il. vii. 571. viii. 562. xi. 244.

Among all the numbers found in Homer, the highest which he appears to
use with a clearly determinate meaning, is that of the three hundred
and sixty fat hogs under the care of Eumæus in Ithaca[799];

[799] Od. xiv. 20.

  οἱ δὲ τριηκόσιοί τε καὶ ἑξήκοντα πέλοντο.

The reason for considering this number as having a pretty definite sense
in the Poet’s mind (quite a different matter, let it be borne in mind,
from the question whether the circumstance is meant to be taken as
historical) is, that it stands in evident association with the number
of days, as it was probably then reckoned, in the year. It seems plain
that he meant to describe the whole circle of the year, where he says,
that for each of the days and nights which Jupiter has given, or, in
his own words[800],

[800] Od. xiv. 93.

  ὅσσαι γὰρ νύκτες τε καὶ ἡμέραι ἐκ Διός εἰσιν,

the greedy Suitors are not contented with the slaughter of one animal,
or even of two. Eumæus then gives an account of the wealth of Ulysses
in live stock, both within the isle and on the mainland, from whence
the animals were supplied: and adds, that from the Ithacan store a
goatherd took down daily a fat goat, while he himself as often sent
down a fat hog. I have dwelt thus particularly on the detail of this
case, because it may fairly be inferred from the correspondence between
the number of the hogs and the days of the year, that for once, at all
events, the Poet intended to speak, though somewhat at random, yet in
a degree arithmetically, and that of so high a number as 360.

There are other cases of lower numbers in different parts of the poems,
where it may be argued, with varying measures of probability, that
Homer had a similar intention.

~_The ἑκατομβὴ and numerals of value._~

The word ἑκατομβὴ, without doubt, affords a striking proof of vagueness
in the ideas of the heroic age with respect to number: and this
vagueness extends, yet apparently in varying degrees, to the adjective
ἑκατομβοῖος. I have elsewhere[801] referred to adjectives of this
formation as indicative of the fact, that for those generations of
mankind oxen may be said to have constituted a measure of value; and
this fact certainly involves an aim at numerical exactitude. It seems,
indeed, on general grounds far from improbable, that the business of
exchange may have been the original guide of our race into the art, and
thus into the science, of arithmetic.

[801] Agorè, p. 82.

In the description of the Shield of Minerva, which had an hundred
golden drops or tassels, we are told that each of them was ἑκατομβοῖος,
or worth an hundred oxen. This use of the word must be regarded as
strongly charged with figure. Minerva was arming to mingle among men
upon the plain of Troy[802], and it is not likely, therefore, that
the Poet would represent her in dimensions utterly inordinate. He
judiciously reserves this license of exaggeration without bounds for
scenes where he is beyond the sphere of relations properly human, as
for example, the Theomachy and the Under-world. Now we may venture
to take the Homeric value of an ox before Troy at half an ounce of
gold. In the prizes of the wrestling match, where a tripod was worth
twelve oxen, a highly skilled woman (πολλὰ δ’ ἐπίστατο ἔργα) was worth
four[803]. Two ounces of gold would be a low price for such a person in
almost any age. According to this computation, each drop on the Ægis of
Minerva would weigh fifty ounces: the whole would weigh above 300 lbs.
_avoirdupois_, and if we were to assume the purely ornamental fringe
in a work of this kind to weigh one tenth part of the whole, the Ægis
itself would weigh nearly a ton and a half. _Primâ facie_, this is
susceptible of explanation in either of two ways: the one, that the
numbers are used poetically and not arithmetically; the other, that of
sheer intentional exaggeration in bulk. The rules of the Poet, as they
are elsewhere applied, oblige us to reject the latter solution, and
consequently throw us back upon the former.

[802] Il. ii. 450.

[803] Il. xxiii. 703, 5.

~_The numerals of value._~

Again, we are told that, when Diomed obtained the exchange of arms from
Glaucus, he gave a suit of copper, and obtained in return a suit of

[804] Il. vi. 236.

  χρύσεα χαλκείων, ἑκατόμβοι’ ἐννεαβοίων.

Here there seems to be a mixture of the metaphorical and the
arithmetical use. For, on the one hand, it is singular that he should
have chosen numbers which require the aid of a fraction to express
their relation to one another. He could certainly not have meant to say
that the values of the two suits were precisely as 100:9, or as 11⅑:1.
And yet, on the one hand, he could scarcely use the term ἐννεαβοῖα,
except with reference to the known and usual value of a suit of armour,
while the ἑκατομβοῖα, from its use in other places, must be suspected
of having no more than a merely indeterminate force.

With this fractional relation of 100:9, may be compared the arrangement
at the feast in Pylos, where each division of five hundred persons
was supplied with nine oxen. These numbers, however, are probably
less vague than in some other cases: for the provision stated, though
large, is not beyond what a rude plenty might suggest on a great public

Again, Lycaon, when captured for the second time by Achilles, reminds
that hero of what he had fetched or been worth to him on the former
occasion[805]: ἑκατόμβοιον δέ τοι ἦλφον. Here we have a decisive proof
of the figurative use of number. Had the young prince been ransomed
by Priam, a great price, no doubt, would have been given. But Achilles
sold him into Lemnos, ἄνευθεν ἄγων πατρός τε φίλων τε: and to the
Lemnians he could hardly have value but as a labourer, although indeed
it chanced that he was afterwards redeemed, by a ξεῖνος of Priam[806],
at a high price. We cannot, then, suppose that he had brought any such
return as would be represented by a full hundred of oxen.

[805] Il. xxi. 79.

[806] Il. xxi. 42.

The evidence thus far, I think, tends powerfully to support the
hypothesis, that there is an amount of vagueness in Homer’s general
use of numbers, unless indeed as to very low ones, which cannot be
explained otherwise than as metaphorical or purely poetical: and that
his mind never had before it any of those processes, simple as they are
to all who are familiar with them, of multiplication, subtraction, or

I admit it to be possible, that his manner of treating number may have
been owing to his determination to be intelligible, and to the state of
the faculties of his hearers, as much as, or even more than, his own.
But to me the supposition of the infant condition even of his faculties
with respect to number, though at first sight startling, approves
itself on reflection as one thoroughly in conformity with analogy and
nature. Indeed the experience of life may convince us that to this
hour we should be mistaken, if we supposed arithmetical conceptions
to be uniform in different minds; that the relations of number are
faintly and imperfectly apprehended, except by either practised or else
peculiarly gifted persons; and that, in short, there is nothing more
mysterious than arithmetic to those who do not understand it. As one
illustration of this opinion, I will cite the difficulty which most
educated persons, when studying history, certainly feel in mastering
its chronology; while to those who are apt at figures it is not only
acquired with ease, but it even serves as the _nexus_ and support of
the whole chain of events.

There were several occasions, upon which it would have been most
natural and appropriate for Homer to use the faculty of multiplication;
yet on no one of these has he used it. He constantly supplies us with
the materials of a sum, but never once performs the process.

~_Silence as to the numbers of the armies._~

The first example in the Iliad is supplied by that passage of the
unhappy speech of Agamemnon to the Assembly in the Second Book, which
causes the fever-fit of home-sickness. He compares the strength of
the Greek army with that of the Trojans; and he only effects the
purpose by this feeble but elaborate contrivance. ‘Should the Greeks
and Trojans agree to be numbered respectively, and should the Trojans
properly so called be placed one by one, but the Greeks in tens, and
every Trojan made cupbearer to a Greek ten, many of our tens would be
without a cupbearer[807].’ In the first place, the fact that he calls
this ascertaining of comparative force numbering ἀριθμηθημέναι is
remarkable; for it would not have shown the numbers of either army; nor
even the difference, by which the Greeks exceeded a tenfold ratio to
the Trojans; but simply, by leaving an unexhausted residue, the fact
that they were more, whether by much or by little, than ten times as
many as the besieged. Secondly, it seems plain that, if Homer had known
what was meant by multiplication, he would have used the process in
this instance, in lieu of the elaborate (yet poetical) circumlocution
which he has adopted; and would have said the Greeks were ten times,
or fifteen times, or twenty times, as many as the inhabitants of Troy.

[807] Il. ii. 123-8.

After this, Ulysses reminds the Assembly of the apparition of the
dragon they had seen at Aulis. The phrase χθιζά τε καὶ πρώιζα, which he
employs, may grammatically either belong to the epoch of the gathering
at Aulis, or to the time of the plague, which had carried off a part of
the force a fortnight or three weeks before. In whichever connection of
the two we place it, it affords an instance of extreme indefiniteness
in the use of two adverbs which are at once expressive of time and
of number; for on one supposition he must use them to express whole
years, and on the other they must mean near a fortnight, and therefore
a certain number of days.

The next case is remarkable. It is that of the Catalogue.

The resolution, which introduces it, was not a resolution to number the
host; but simply to make a careful division and distribution of the men
under their leaders, with a view to a more effective responsibility,
both of officers and men[808]. But when the Poet comes to enumerate the
divisions, it is evidently a great object with him to make known the
relative forces, and thus the relative prominence and power, of the
different States of Greece. Yet nothing can be more imperfect than the
manner in which the enumerating portion of his task is executed. In the
first place, we trace again the old habit of the loose and figurative
use of numbers. For Homer could hardly mean us to take literally all
the numbers of ships, which he has stated in the Catalogue: since,
in every case where they come up to or exceed twenty, they run in
complete decades without odd numbers; subject to the single exception
of the twenty-two ships of Gouneus. Podalirius and Machaon have thirty,
the Phocians forty, Achilles fifty, Menelaus sixty, Diomed eighty,
Nestor ninety, Agamemnon an hundred: the only full multiple of ten
omitted being the utterly intractable ἑβδομήκοντα. But again, he gives
us no effectual clue to the numbers of the crews. Each of the fifty
ships of the Bœotians had one hundred and twenty men, and each of the
seven ships of Philoctetes had fifty[809]. Thus he supplies us with the
two factors of the sum, which would find the number of men, in each
of these two cases; but in neither case does he perform the sum; and
such is the uniform practice throughout the poems. For the Greek force
generally, he has not even given us the factors. It has indeed been
conjectured, that fifty may have been the smallest ship’s company, and
one hundred and twenty the largest: but this is mere conjecture; and
even if it be well founded, still we do not know whether the generality
of the ships were about the mean, or nearer one or the other of the
extremes. Again, it would appear probable from the Odyssey, that these
numbers, of fifty and one hundred and twenty, are exclusive at least
of pilots and commanders, if not also of the stewards[810] and the
minor officers[811]; for the number mentioned by Alcinous[812] is
fifty-two; and although he says that all were to sit down to row, the
texts when compared cannot but suggest, that the number fifty was an
usual complement of oars, and that the two were the captain and pilot

[808] Il. ii. 362-8.

[809] Il. ii. 509, 719.

[810] Il. xix. 44.

[811] Il. ii. 362, 5.

[812] Od. viii. 35.

[813] Sup. Agorè, p. 135.

Plainly, there must have been very great inequalities in the crews
of the Greek armament; or Homer could not have said, after giving
Agamemnon an hundred ships, that he had by far the largest force of all
the chiefs[814];

[814] Il. ii. 577.

          ἅμα τῷγε πολὺ πλεῖστοι καὶ ἄριστοι
  λαοὶ ἕποντ’.

For Diomed and Idomeneus have each eighty ships, and Nestor has ninety,
so that their numbers would come very near Agamemnon’s, unless their
ships were smaller. But to sum up this discussion. It is evident that,
if only we suppose the Greeks of Homer’s time to have had a definite
and well developed sense of number, the mention by Homer of the amount
of force in the Trojan expedition would have been a fact of the highest
national interest and importance. Yet he has left us nothing, which can
be said even definitely to approximate to a record of it, though the
enumeration of the Catalogue appears almost to force the subject upon
him. The fair inferences seem to be, that he did not understand the
calculative use of numbers at all, or beyond some very limited range;
and that, even within that range, he for the most part employed them
poetically and ornamentally; they were decorative and effective, like
epithets to his song, but they were not statistical; as expressions of
force they were no more than (as it were) tentative, and that but very

I am further confirmed in the belief of Homer’s indeterminate
conception of number, from the strange result to which the contrary
opinion would lead. He tells us of the Trojan bivouac[815];

[815] Il. viii. 562.

  χίλι’ ἄρ’ ἐν πεδίῳ πυρὰ καίετο· πὰρ δὲ ἑκάστῳ
  εἵατο πεντήκοντα.

In this case he has given us again the factors of a sum in
multiplication, though not the product. Did he mean them to be taken
literally? If he did, then it is indeed strange that, although he says
nothing whatever on the subject of number in the Trojan Catalogue,
yet he has here supplied us with all the particulars necessary for
estimating the Trojan force, while as to the Greek army, we remain
unable to say whether it amounted to fifty thousand, or to half, or
to twice or thrice that number. But it is quite plain from the total
absence of specified numbers in the Trojan Catalogue, that he had no
desire, as indeed he had no occasion, to give an accurate account of
the Trojan force. On the other hand it appears, from the details of
the Greek Catalogue, that he did wish to describe the amount of the
force on that side, as far as he could conceive or convey it. If all
this be so, then nothing can show more clearly than the thousand Trojan
watch-fires, with their fifty men at each, Homer’s figurative manner of
employing numerical aggregations. If however we admit the figurative
use, we at once find everything harmonious. He describes the Trojans by
the method of bold enhancement, at a juncture of the poem where it is
his purpose to make them terrible to the Greek imagination.

The instance of Proteus in the Odyssey has already been referred to:
but one more marked is afforded by the description that Eumæus gives of
the herds and flocks of Ulysses. This, again, is one of the instances
where the spirit and gist of the passage almost required that a total
should be stated. For the object is to give a telling account. The
wealth of this prince, says the Poet, was boundless; none of the
heroes, whether of Ithaca or of the fertile continent, had so much; no,
nor had any twenty of them. Then he mentions how many herds of cattle,
goats, and swine, and flocks of sheep there were, but gives no numbers
of any of the herds, nor any total: though, shortly before, the poem
had mentioned the three hundred and sixty fat hogs under the care of
Eumæus, and had also given us the sows in the usual manner, stating
that there were twelve sties with fifty in each; but not specifying
anywhere the total of six hundred which these figures yield when
multiplied together[816].

[816] Od. xiv. 13-20.

Again, then the result of all these passages, as well as of more
which might be quoted, is, I think, to show that Homer’s conceptions
of number, and his use of number, especially when beyond a very low
limit, were so indeterminate, that they may not improperly be called

~_Hesiod’s age of the Nymphs._~

In support and in illustration of this belief with respect to Homer,
I would once more refer to the curious fragment ascribed to Hesiod
respecting the age of the Nymphs with beauteous locks, which begins,

  ἐννέα τοι ζώει γενεὰς λακέρυζα κορώνη
  ἀνδρῶν ἡβώντων.

In the Etymol. Magn. 13. 36, the reading is γερώντων; and Ausonius,
following this authority in his Eighteenth Idyll, makes the γενεὴ no
less than 96 years. But the sense of γενεὴ is fixed by Homer’s account
of Nestor, and otherwise, in such a way as greatly to favour the
reading ἡβώντων. The word therefore means the term between birth and
the prime of life, which may well be taken at thirty years. Then comes
a table as follows.

  The age of the daw = 9 ages of men.

  The age of the stag = 4 of daws = 36 of men.

  The age of the crow = 3 of stags = twelve of daws = 108 of men.

  The age of the palm = 9 of crows = 27 of stags = 108 of daws = 972 of

  The age of the Nymph = 10 of palms = 90 of crows = 270 of stags =
  1080 of daws = 9720 of men.

And if the γενεὴ be 30 years, the age of the Nymphs = 30 × 9720 =
291,600 years. But the point most remarkable for us is, that while
Hesiod, if Hesiod it be, supplies us with the whole of the first
factors after the γενεὴ, for this long sum, he does not actually
perform one single multiplication; nor does he even define the γενεὴ,
which is the first and most vital element of all.

He has thus given us at once a very pretty poetical invention for
expressing approximately the age of Nymphs, who are Jove-born indeed,
yet are not immortal, and a remarkable proof of the indefiniteness of
numerical conceptions, and of total unacquaintance with the rules of

[817] I subjoin the rest of this curious fragment;

                          ἔλαφος δέ τε τετρακόρωνος·
  τρεῖς δ’ ἐλάφους ὁ κόραξ γηράσκεται· αὐτὰρ ὁ φοίνιξ
  ἐννέα τοὺς κόρακας· δέκαδ’ ἡμεῖς τοὺς φοίνικας
  νύμφαι ἐϋπλόκαμοι, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο.

It is noticed by Pliny, (Nat. Hist. vii. 48.) who terms it fabulous;
but it is with more propriety, I think, to be called poetical.

One consequence of the proposition I have advanced with respect to
Homer is, to destroy altogether a supposed discrepancy between the
Iliad and the Odyssey, which has often been paraded as a reason, among
others, for assigning them to different authors. It is truly alleged
that, in the Catalogue[818], Crete is called ἑκατόμπολις; and that in
the Nineteenth Odyssey[819] we are told of it,

[818] Il. ii. 649.

[819] Od. xix. 173.

                                ἐν δ’ ἄνθρωποι
  πολλοὶ, ἀπειρέσιοι, καὶ ἐννήκοντα πόληες.

Each of these words appears to be interpreted as strictly, as it
would be if caught by an auditor in the accounts of some delinquent
Joint-Stock Company; and thus, forsooth, a diversity of authors for
the two poems is to be made good. Now it is not a little odd, if both
these poets looked at the subject with the eye of statisticians, that
while each found a different number of cities in Crete, yet each found
an even, and more or less a round number. But why is ἑκατόμπολις to
be more strictly interpreted than ἑκατομβή? And again, if we are to
construe ἐννήκοντα statistically, what are we to do with the very
word that precedes it, namely, ἀπειρέσιοι? The simple fact of the
juxtaposition of that word with the ἐννήκοντα πόληες should surely have
sufficed to show, that the whole manner of speech was (what we now
call) poetical. So regarding it, I venture even to say that the effect
of a comparison with the epithet in the Catalogue is to establish, not
a discrepancy in point of fact, but rather a similarity in the measure
of figurative conception and expression: so that in consequence, as far
as it is worth any thing, it rather tends to prove the identity, than
the diversity, of authorship between the two poems.

A second consequence, which must be drawn from the foregoing
conclusions, is this; that we shall do wrong to search the poems of
Homer for any scheme of chronology. The minute enumerations of the
Mosaic books have perhaps given the tone to our ordinary historical
inquiries: but, at least with respect to Homer, it must appear an
erroneous course to use his numerical statements as literal, when
they are applied to time, after we have had so much evidence of their
generally ornamental and figurative character.

When Homer has occasion to define distance, he does not attempt to
do it by a fixed measure, but by reference always to human or other
action: it is as far as a man can throw a spear, (δουρὸς ἐρώη); or as
far as a man’s cry can be heard (ὅσον τε γέγωνε βόησας); or as far,
when we come to larger spaces, as we can sail within a certain time; if
I make a good passage, says Achilles[820], I may get to Phthia on the
third day: and again, we hear of the distance that a ship can perform
within the day[821]. The horses of the gods in Homer clear, at each
bound, a space as large as the eye can cover along the surface of the
sea. As he comes to speak of points more remote and less known, he
becomes greatly more vague, and says of Egypt, that even the birds do
not get back from it within the year[822]: without doubt drawing his
idea from those birds which periodically migrate.

[820] Il. ix. 362.

[821] ὅσσον τε πανημερίη νηῦς ἤνυσε, Od. iv. 356.

[822] Od. iii. 322. With this compare the Tempest, Act ii. Sc. 1;
where, be it observed, Shakespeare is treating his subject as one of

  _Ant._ Who’s the next heir of Naples?

  _Seb._                                Claribel.

  _Ant._ She that is queen of Tunis: she, that dwells
         Ten leagues beyond man’s life; she that from Naples
         Can have no note, unless the sun were post,
         (The man i’ th’ moon ’s too slow,) till new-born chins
         Be rough and razorable.

~_No scheme of Chronology in Homer._~

As with spaces, so with times. The year indeed by its revolution forms
itself into a natural whole, and is thus in a manner self-defined. So
the waxing and waning moon defines the month. But even with these
well marked terms Homer deals loosely; for the birth of infants is
promised to take place after the revolution of a year from the time of

[823] Od. xi. 248.

~_Case of the three decades of years._~

I do not remember that he ever mentions a very high number of days or
of years, but his use of both days and years, when it does not embrace
terms defined by custom, has the marks of being highly poetical. Take
for instance the principal and almost only statements of the poem, that
can claim to be called chronological. They are those which represent
the period of the siege as a decade of years, preceded by a decade
of preparation, and followed by a third decade for the vicissitudes
of the Return. Here are three terms of years, all found in a Poet,
who does not elsewhere deal in terms of years at all. Of history,
or what purports to be such, Homer has given us a great deal, and
he has placed it in the exactest and clearest order. But in no one
instance, out of all his prior history, does he found himself on any
numerical definitions of time. Moreover, these three terms of years
are all exactly equal, which heightens the unlikelihood of their being
historical. Lastly, the three terms are just of the number of years
required to make up what was, according to all appearances, the Homeric
term of a γενεὴ, or generation of men.

The passage, on which the proof of this last assertion must principally
be founded, is that in the First Book[824], which describes the age of

[824] Il. i. 250-2.

  τῷ δ’ ἤδη δύο μὲν γενεαὶ μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
  ἐφθίαθ’, οἵ οἱ πρόσθεν ἅμα τράφεν ἠδ’ ἐγένοντο
  ἐν Πύλῳ ἠγαθέῃ, μετὰ δὲ τριτάτοισιν ἄνασσεν.

I take the word γενεὴ to mean here, ‘the term of thirty years,’ but
with the necessary qualification of ‘_or_ thereabouts;’ and for the
following reasons:

Nestor is represented in the Iliad as the oldest of the Greek
chieftains of the first order. Yet Ulysses[825] was elderly, ὠμογέρων.
Idomeneus, again, was older than Ulysses, as is plain from the
more marked manner in which his advance in years is described. He
is μεσαιπόλιος[826], and not fully ablebodied, as appears from his
somewhat limited share in military operations; but Nestor is evidently
older than Idomeneus, as he always addresses the whole body with the
authority that belongs to the most extended experience, and as he
never takes an active part, either in battle or in the games. We must,
accordingly, suppose Nestor to be represented as at this time an old
man of seventy, or from that to seventy-five.

[825] Il. xxiii. 791.

[826] Il. xiii. 361.

Now the passage implies that he was in the third γενεὴ, and in the
midst, i. e. not at either extremity, of it: the words are μετὰ
τριτάτοισιν. No lower number than thirty years will place Nestor fairly
among, or in the midst of, the third generation from his birth. If, for
example, we take five and twenty years as the term, he would have been
not so much among the third as on the eve of arriving within the fourth
generation. But neither can we assign to γενεὴ any meaning, which shall
make it sensibly exceed thirty years. For as we may say with confidence
that the Nestor of the Iliad is over seventy, so, on the other hand,
we may fairly compute that he is under eighty; inasmuch as, though
he takes no part in exertions actually athletic, he spares himself
nothing else. He is found by Agamemnon, when the commander in chief
goes his rounds, on the field and at the head of his division: he is
wakeful for the night council, and he goes about awaking others[827].
Retaining so large a share of bodily activity, he is still not
represented as possessed of strength in such a degree as to border upon
the marvellous; he is simply, in regard to corporal qualities, what
would now be called a remarkably fine old gentleman. But if instead of
thirty we were to take forty years, then, in order to have well entered
into the third term he must have been already much beyond eighty,
indeed, probably beyond ninety, in the Iliad, and above an hundred in
the Odyssey; an age, which, as he retains in that poem all his mental
powers, we may be quite sure Homer did not mean to assign to him. If,
then, γενεὴ meant any term of years, it must, in all likelihood, have
been somewhere about thirty years.

[827] Il. x. 157.

Homer has been careful, in the case of Nestor, to mark, by an
appropriate change of expressions, the difference between his age in
the two poems respectively. In the Iliad he is exercising the kingly
office _among_ the third generation since his birth. In the Odyssey he
is said to have exhausted the three terms[828];

[828] Od. iii. 245. The meaning may be that he had _reigned_ for above
two generations: but in the Iliad no more is implied than that he had
_lived_ well into a third.

  τρὶς γὰρ δή μίν φασιν ἀνάξασθαι γενε’ ἀνδρῶν.

That lucidity and accuracy in Homer’s expressions, to which we are so
often beholden, may stand us yet further in good stead. Two γενεαὶ
had passed, not of men at large, but of _the_ men οἵ οἱ πρόσθεν ἅμα
τράφεν ἠδ’ ἐγένοντο, of those who were bred and born with him, of his
contemporaries. Now this proves that by γενεὴ Homer does not mean the
full duration of human life, but that average interval between the
successions of men, which general experience places at about thirty
years. For if Homer had meant by γενεὴ the whole time required for
the dying out of a generation, Nestor could not have outlived two
generations of contemporaries. In this sense, his contemporaries were
manifestly not two generations, but one, or little more. But if the
Poet meant the usual interval at which child succeeds to, or rather
follows upon, father, the expression is clear; for the meaning is, that
he had seen two of these terms of years, or successions, pass over
those who were born at the same time with himself. And in fact this
sense of the term γενεὴ is much closer to its etymology than any other.
We may, then, on the whole, pretty safely assume it to be a term of
years, having the number thirty, so to speak, for its pivot. And thus
the three decades of the war become yet more inadmissible as historical
expressions, because they are under the strongest suspicion of being
poetically employed in order to make up the γενεὴ, so far at least as
they and it can be considered to approximate to an actual number at all.

In full conformity with this reasoning, it has been shown by Mure,
that the events of the third decade, with their times, instead of ten
years only, make up eight years and seven months[829]: and he proceeds
in the same direction with the foregoing argument so far, at least, as
to observe, that the decades and their arrangement are conceived ‘in a
mixed spirit of hyperbole and method,’ which commonly marks the genius
of heroic romance[830].

[829] Lit. Greece, i. 460. ii. 139.

[830] Ibid. ii. 138.

That, however, which enables me with great confidence at once to urge
Homer’s historical authority, and yet to decline recognising him as a
chronologist at all, is the fact, that he nowhere founds his history at
all in chronology, or in the numbering of events by years, more than
he numbers distances by miles, but that he arranges the succession
of occurrences by the γενεαὶ or succession of human generations. On
these generations we must look as the real time-keeping organism of his
works: and the time with its elastic periods, although indeterminate in
its details, is kept by him most accurately and effectually as a whole;
so that his generations, which are dispersedly recorded in various
parts of the poems, always tally when they meet. This is not the place
for the proof of the assertion: I only refer to it, because it may help
to dispel the illusion apt to possess the mind with respect to Homer’s
decades. We, with our definite numerical ideas, may naturally consider
that if an author of our own day had said a war lasted in preparation,
action, and return, each ten years, and if it was afterwards found
perhaps to have lasted (say) only for ten years altogether or little
more, such an author would have proved himself unworthy of belief: he
would have broken faith with us. But Homer does not break faith with
us in using numbers poetically; they belong to his pictorial and not
to his historical apparatus, and in connection with this pictorial
apparatus it is that he constantly employs them. I doubt if there is
any exception to be made to the broad assertion, that, unless in the
single case of the war, with the preceding and following decades,
Homer never applies number to narrative. And yet the poems are full of
independent narratives. Of all these, very few indeed are left unfixed
in date; and in every case the date, when found, is found, of course
with a certain margin, by means of the order of generations.

~_Difficulties of the literal interpretation._~

Now this view of Homer’s mode of chronology will serve, I think, to
explain some difficulties that have heretofore led to much of needless
perplexity. If I am right, it will follow that we must not adopt
these decades as a guide to determine arithmetically the order of
events, because Homer has never conceived them arithmetically, but
has conceived them rather as we conceive millions or billions. Hence
they are more justly to be viewed as a drapery thrown loosely over
his action, than as a rigid framework into which it must at all costs
be made to fit. Let us apply this to various cases; and among them
to those of Telemachus and Neoptolemus respectively. Ulysses left
Telemachus a mere child, νέον γεγαῶτ’ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ[831]. He comes back and
finds him not a full man, for if he had been a full man, he would have
been guilty of a rooted cowardice beyond excuse, which there is no sign
that Homer meant to impute to him; but yet he was approaching manhood.
Still he is contemptuously called νέος παῖς[832] by Antinous. Upon the
whole, the case of Telemachus would perhaps, according to the analogy
of the poems, best fall in with an absence of not more than fifteen
years, though it does not absolutely exclude nineteen. Here there may
be a slight, yet there is not a glaring, discrepancy. But in another
case, that of the number of the days for which Telemachus was absent,
Mure has shown how little Homer cares to follow the lapse of time, in
a case where it does not essentially touch the general order of the
poem, with the precision that he observes in everything that he treats
historically[833]. I cannot treat this as a difficulty with respect to
the question of authorship, or admit it to be one: it is his childlike
and indeterminate but poetical habit of handling numbers for effect,
just as a painter handles colour. On the other hand, in the case of
Argus, on whom dark death laid hold[834],

[831] Od. xii. 112, 144.

[832] Od. iv. 665.

[833] Mure, Hist. Lit. Greece, vol. i. p. 437.

[834] Od. xvii. 327.

  αὐτίκ’ ἰδόντ’ Ὀδυσῆα ἐεικοστῷ ἐνιαυτῷ,

he precisely coincides with his own decades. Yet I believe he does
this not from any sense of the necessity of such coincidence, but
because in that incomparable passage he had the extreme old age of a
dog to represent, and to this the expression of the twentieth year
was suited. When, however, we come to the case of Neoptolemus, we
find this to be one extremely difficult of adjustment for any critic,
who would insist upon a merely numerical precision in Homer. We must
indeed dismiss from our minds the tales about the concealment of a
beardless Achilles at Scyros, under a female disguise; from which he
was extracted by the art of Ulysses. Of these stories Homer knows
nothing; though it seems probable that the grace and beauty of the
great warrior, as he stands in Homer, may have been connected with,
or may have suggested, them. But what the Poet does represent is,
that Achilles went to Troy when without experience in war, that he
was put under a certain tutelage of Phœnix his original teacher, and
now one of his lieutenants, that Patroclus as his senior was desired
by Peleus to give him good advice, and that he is called νήπιος[835].
Yet his son Neoptolemus succeeds him in command before the close of
the war, and attains to very high distinction. It is yet more needful
to be observed, that his distinction is in council, as well as in
the field[836]. The age of Achilles is, indeed, presumably somewhat
raised by the fact, that Phœnix seems to represent himself as a good
deal younger than Peleus, who, he says, treated him as a father might
have done[837]. And again, Achilles is never represented as a young
man in the Iliad, while Diomed is so represented. Still there is a
decided incompatibility in the statements as to Achilles and his son,
if we suppose that Homer carried in his mind the effect of his three
decades, as determining precisely the growth of Neoptolemus in years
and strength; for Neoptolemus is more advanced at the end of the war,
than his illustrious father had been at its beginning. Mure has been
at the pains[838] to arrange all these matters which depend on the
decades chronologically, without, I think, removing the impression that
mere chronology is considerably strained by them, and that if strictly
judged, the narrative is, to all appearance, chargeable with some few
years of maladjustment. It seems to me more near the truth to consider
the three decades, together making up a γενεὴ, as a distribution of
time which the Poet adopted for its symmetry and grandeur, since it
represented the war as absorbing an age or generation of men: but not
to hold him bound to adjust the relations of all the events he narrates
with reference to a minute regularity of progression, which he seems
not to have taken into account, and which his hearers were probably
quite incapable of appreciating. If we wish to test his historical
credit, we may try him by his own scheme of chronology, namely, his
genealogies. His legends embrace some seven generations. The same
characters are produced and reproduced in many of them; but they are
nowhere presented in such a way as to be inconsistent with their order
of succession according to the ordinary laws of human nature.

[835] Il. ix. 438. and xi. 783.

[836] Od. xi. 510-12.

[837] Il. ix. 481.

[838] Lit. Greece, ii. 141.

~_Uses of the proposed interpretation._~

The application of these considerations to the poems will assist in
explaining difficulties, which it has been thought worth while by
learned men to raise.

For instance; while we take the three decades of years historically,
we are perplexed by such questions as, How it came about that the
Greeks[839] never had been mustered till nine years had passed.
Secondly, how it was that the Trojans had never until then seen them
in such force[840]; whereas we know that multitudes of the Greek army
had died[841]; and there is no sign that any such communication with
their native country took place during the course of the war, as might
have sufficed to replenish their ranks. Thirdly, why the Trojans had
remained so closely shut within the walls, and yet at the same time
the Greeks had so seldom come near them, that Priam should not have
learnt to know Agamemnon and his compeers by sight during so long a
period; and this although Achilles may probably have been absent, for
considerable intervals, on his predatory expeditions. Fourthly, how it
came about that the great number of allies speaking various tongues,
who had gathered round Priam to assist him, should, like the Greek
army, not have been marshalled at an earlier time.

[839] Il. ii. 360.

[840] Il. ii. 799.

[841] Il. i. 52. ii. 302.

But if we suppose the term of ten years to be in the main a figurative
expression for conveying the idea of effort lengthened in duration, as
well as extraordinary in intensity, difficulties like these, which at
the worst are perhaps not very serious, either wholly vanish, or are
reduced to insignificant proportions. We are then at liberty to suppose
that, without at all departing from the general truth of history, Homer
felt himself authorized to compress, to expand, or to group the events
of the war, in such a manner as he thought best for the concentration
of interest, and for the production of adequate poetical and national


_Homer’s Perceptions and Use of Colour._

The subject of the Homeric numbers has been discussed at considerable
length, on account of its connection with important questions of
history. That of colours may, even on its own merits, deserve a
careful examination. This inquiry will resemble, however, the former
discussion in the appearance of paradox, which the argument may seem
to present. Next to the idea of number, there is none perhaps more
definite to the modern mind generally, as well as in particular to
the English mind, than that of colour. That our own country has some
special aptitude in this respect, we may judge from the comparatively
advantageous position, which the British painters have always held
as colourists among other contemporary schools. Nothing seems more
readily understood and retained by very young children among us, than
the distinctions between the principal colours. In regard to one point,
the case of numbers is here reversed. There the idea becomes indefinite
as we ascend in the scale, here it is as we descend. Colour becomes
doubtful as it becomes faint, more and more clear as it is accumulated
and heightened. But the facility with which we discriminate colour in
all its marked forms, is probably the result of traditional aptitude,
since we seem to find, as we go far backward in human history, that the
faculty is less and less mature.

I am conscious that the subject, which is now before us, in reality
deserves a scientific investigation, which I am not capable of
affording to it: and also that we are, as yet, far from being able
to render the language of the ancients for colour into our own with
the confidence, which we can feel in almost every other department of
interpretation. My endeavours will be limited, firstly, to a collection
of ‘_realien_,’ or facts of the poems, in the case of Colour: and,
secondly, to pointing out what appears to be the basis of the ideas and
perceptions of Homer respecting it, and the relation of that basis to
the ideas of the later Greeks.

Among the signs of the immaturity which I have mentioned, the following
are found in the poems of Homer:

I. The paucity of his colours.

II. The use of the same word to denote not only different hues or tints
of the same colour, but colours which, according to us, are essentially

III. The description of the same object under epithets of colour
fundamentally disagreeing one from the other.

IV. The vast predominance of the most crude and elemental forms of
colour, black and white, over every other, and the decided tendency to
treat other colours as simply intermediate modes between these extremes.

V. The slight use of colour in Homer, as compared with other elements
of beauty, for the purpose of poetic effect, and its absence in certain
cases where we might confidently expect to find it.

Each of these topics will deserve a distinct notice.

~_Homeric adjectives of Colour._~

I. First, then, with respect to the paucity of his colours. We find, I
think, scarcely more than the following words which can with certainty
be described as adjectives of colour properly so called:

  1. λευκός.
  2. μέλας.
  3. ξανθός.
  4. ἐρυθρός.
  5. πορφύρεος.
  6. κυάνεος.
  7. φοίνιξ.
  8. πόλιος.

There are other words which are taken from objects that have colour,
and to most of which I shall hereafter refer: but which can hardly, in
consistency with the whole evidence from the text of Homer, be classed
as adjectives of definite colour.

Now we must at once be struck with the poverty of the list which
has just been given, upon comparing it with our own list of primary
colours, which has been determined for us by Nature, and which is as

  1. Red.
  2. Orange.
  3. Yellow.
  4. Green.
  5. Blue.
  6. Indigo.
  7. Violet.

To these we are to add--

  8. White, the compound of all colours;
  9. Black, the negative or absence of them all.

Out of these nine, three at least stand unrepresented. For πόλιος
can mean none of them: and φοίνιξ can do no more than double either
πορφύρεος, or ξανθὸς, or ἐρυθρός. The most favourable presumptions
would perhaps arrange the Homeric list as follows:

  1. λευκὸς, white.
  2. μέλας, black.
  3. ξανθὸς, yellow.
  4. ἐρυθρὸς, red.
  5. πορφύρεος, violet.
  6. κυάνεος, indigo.

And thus orange, green, and blue would remain without any corresponding
terms. But, in truth, when we examine further into Homer’s mode of
employing his adjectives of colour in detail, we shall perceive that he
is by no means so rich as this classification would allow.

The other words which will presently be considered, but which have
very slight claims indeed to be treated as adjectives of definite
colour, are as follows:

  1. χλωρός.
  2. αἰθαλόεις.
  3. ῥοδόεις.
  4. ἰόεις.
  5. οἴνοψ.
  6. μιλτοπάρηος.
  7. αἴθων.
  8. ἀργός.
  9. αἴολος.
  10. γλαυκός.
  11. χάροπος.
  12. σιγαλόεις.
  13. μαρμάρεος.

Along with each of these adjectives, which are the chief though not
quite the only ones of their class in Homer, I shall take the cognate
words, such as verbs or compounds, which may belong to them.

~_Applications of them._~

II. Let us now review the particular applications which Homer has
made of these words respectively. Among them, however, it will not be
necessary to include λευκὸς and μέλας, because those epithets indicate
ideas which have at all times been used, to a considerable extent, by
way of approximation only.

1. ξανθὸς is applied by Homer to the following objects:

_a._ horses, ἵππων ξανθὰ κάρηνα, Il. ix. 407.

_b._ hair of men, ξανθὸς Μενέλαος, _passim_: Achilles, Il. i. 197.

_c._ hair of women, ξανθὴ Ἀγαμήδη, Il. xi. 739; Δημήτηρ, Il. v. 500.

2. ἐρυθρὸς is evidently the same word with the Latin _ruber_, and with
our own ‘ruddy,’ as well as probably the German _roth_.

It is used by Homer for

  _a._ Copper in Il. ix. 365.
  _b._ Nectar, Il. xix. 38.
  _c._ Wine, Od. v. 93.
  _d._ Blood: in ἐρυθαίνω, Il. x. 484.

3. πορφύρεος again is the Latin _purpura_, and our ‘purple,’ as well as
our ‘porphyry.’ In the uses of this word we shall find for the first
time a startling amount of obvious discrepancy: and it will require to
be considered in the proper place, whether this discrepancy is to be
referred to a bold exercise of the Poet’s art, or to an undeveloped
knowledge and a consequently defective standard of colour.

The word πορφύρεος is employed as follows for objects of sense:

_a._ Blood, Il. xvii. 361.

_b._ Dark cloud, ibid. 551.

_c._ Wave of a river when disturbed, Il. xxi. 326.

_d._ Wave of the sea, Il. i. 482; and the disturbed sea, Il. xvi. 391.

_e._ The ball with which the Phæacian dancers played, Od. viii. 373.

_f._ Garments, as Il. viii. 221; Od. iv. 115.

_g._ Carpets, as Od. xxi. 151; Il. xxiv. 645.

_h._ The rainbow, Il. xvii. 547.

_i._ Metaphorically it is applied to Death, Il. v. 83: and, as it would
appear, to bloody death only.

Further, the verb πορφύρω is applied

  _a._ to the sea darkening, Il. xiv. 16.
  _b._ to the mind brooding, Il. xx. 551.

Again, the compound ἁλιπόρφυρος is applied

  _a._ to wool, Od. vi. 53.
  _b._ to garments woven of it, Od. xiii. 108.

In this epithet we have the additional idea of the sea introduced; and
it literally means ‘sea-purple.’ But I postpone any remark with respect
to Homer’s particular intention in the use of the word, until we come
to the epithets derived from ἴον, a violet.

Three forms of colour at least seem to be comprehended under this group
of words;

1. The redness of blood.

2. The purple proper, as of the sea in Il. i. 482. To this also
probably belongs the rainbow, of whose seven colours three may be
said to belong to the family of blue: and which is termed blue by

3. The grey and leaden colour of a dark cloud when about to burst in
storm, and of a river when disturbed.

We shall hereafter see reason to suppose that the word may also and
often mean what is tawny or brown.

~_Of κύανος and κυάνεος._~

4. The word κυάνεος is very important in this inquiry; and
unfortunately it is not less obscure.

It at once throws us back on the prior question, what was κύανος? But
this question remains almost wholly undetermined[842]; so that we must
follow, as well as we can, the Homeric applications of the word itself,
together with its adjective and its compounds. These are very numerous.
First we have the substantive κύανος introduced in three places: in
each of which it evidently belongs to a combination of colours as well
as of substances.

[842] See note at the end of the Section.

_a._ Once it is κύανος simply. The interior wall of the hall of
Alcinous is covered with sheets of copper[843]; and round the top is a
θριγκὸς or fringe of κύανος. Od. vii. 87.

[843] Ibid.

_b._ Twice it is μέλας κύανος. On the breast-plate of Agamemnon there
are twenty stripes or layers of tin, twelve of gold, and ten μέλανος
κυάνοιο. Il. xi. 24, Also;

_c._ Upon his shield there were ten rounds of copper; and then,
apparently on the face of the shield within these, twenty white bosses
(ὄμφαλοι λευκοὶ) made of tin, if such be the meaning of κασσίτερος: in
the centre of all, there was one boss μέλανος κυάνοιο. Il. xi. 35.

Passing now to κυάνεος, we come next to three passages where it may
be questioned whether they describe colour only, or substance only, or

_d._ Upon the breastplate of Agamemnon, which has ten layers of black
κύανος, there are on either side three κυάνεοι δράκοντες (Il. xi. 26).
These are compared to the rainbow, which, as we have already seen, is
described elsewhere as πορφυρεή.

_e._ On the silver-plated belt of Agamemnon there is a κυάνεος δράκων.
Il. xi. 38, 9.

_f._ Around the golden vineyard on the shield of Achilles, with its
silver stakes, there is a fence of κασσίτερος and a trench (κάπετος)
described as κυανέη. Il. xviii. 564.

The other applications at once appear to have reference to colour only.

_g._ To the eyebrows of Jupiter and Juno. Il. i. 528. xv. 102. xvii.

_h._ To a dark cloud of vapour; but not to a storm-cloud. Il. xxiii.
188. v. 345. xx. 418.

_i._ To the hair of Hector, Il. xxii. 402; and to the beard of Ulysses,
when he is restored to beauty by Minerva. Od. xvi. 176. With this we
may compare the hyacinthine hair of Ulysses in Od. vi. 231.

_j._ To the serried masses of the Greeks: πυκιναὶ κίνυντο φάλαγγες
κυάνεαι. Il. iv. 281. Now this epithet must have been derived from
their arms, and these would probably be composed in the main of two
elements, not easy to combine in a common idea of colour; firstly,
copper, which is ruddy; and secondly, the hides of oxen upon the
shields and elsewhere. Homer never (except in Il. xiii. 703, and Od.
xiii. 32) describes these animals by any epithet of colour. In those
two passages they are βόε οἴνοπε. This epithet will be considered
presently. In the meantime, we may assume it as probable, that a dark
colour would predominate, and that accordingly we should so understand
κυάνεαι: but the leaning towards _blue_, which so often characterizes
the epithet, thus entirely escapes. The word is also applied to the
Trojan host, in Il. xvi. 66.

_k._ Thetis puts on mourning garments for Patroclus, when about to
appear to Achilles, Il. xxiv. 93.

                    κάλυμμ’ ἕλε δῖα θεάων
  κυάνεον· τοῦ δ’ οὔτι μελάντερον ἔπλετο ἔσθος.

Here Homer is careful to inform us that the κάλυμμα, or hood and
mantle, was the blackest garment possible; and, since in Il. iv. 287 we
find that he was acquainted with pitch, we need not scruple to assume
that here he speaks literally, and either means a real black, which,
nevertheless, he also calls κυάνεον, or sees no difference between the
genuine black and the colour of κύανος.

_l._ When the wave of Charybdis retires, the shore appears ψάμμῳ
κυανέῃ. Now the colour of sea-sand, when it has just been left by the
wave, is a dull but also rather a light brown.

We take now the compounds.

1. κυανοχαίτης is applied

_a._ To Neptune, e. g. Il. xv. 174.

_b._ To a mare, Il. xx. 224.

2. κυανῶπις is applied to Amphitrite, or the sea, beating on rocks, Od.
xii. 60.

3. κυανόπεζα is used for the foot of a beautiful table (Il. xi. 628).
Here possibly substance may be designated rather than colour. Metal at
the foot would give steadiness to a table.

4. We have κυανόπρωρος and κυανοπρώρειος for the prow of a ship.
Evidently it is the coloured prow: for otherwise the prow would be of
the same hue with the rest of the ship. (Il. xv. 693, _et alibi_.) So
the prows of ships are called μιλτοπάρηοι, in Il. ii. 637, and Od. ix.
125. Now μίλτος was red earth or ochre; and yet it seems that Homer
uses μιλτοπάρηος as equivalent to κυανόπρωρος. For the first epithet is
applied in the Catalogue to the ships led by Ulysses; and the second in
Od. x. 127 to the vessel in which he sailed.

The uses of this group of words thus appear to exhibit a degree of
indefiniteness, hardly reconcilable with the supposition that Homer
possessed accurate ideas of colour. There is no one colour that can
cover them all. The hood of Thetis is closely akin to black; the prow
of a ship to at least a dull red; the sand is of russet or a lightish
brown; the cloud a leaden grey; the hair and eyebrows are of a deep
but not a dull colour; the cornice in the hall of Alcinous must have
been in relief and contrast as compared with the copper wall, and
sufficiently light or clear to strike the eye at a distance, in an
interior lighted at night only from the ground. With perhaps this
exception, the word ‘dark’ will cover all the uses of κυάνεος: but dark
derives its force from a relation to light, and not to colour.

~_Of φοίνιξ, πόλιος._~

5. Φοίνιξ in Homer is clearly a word descriptive of colour: but it as
clearly partakes of the indefinite character attaching to the other
words of the class.

_a._ The blood drawn by Pandarus from Menelaus is compared to the
colour φοίνιξ, used for staining ivory. In this simile, the sense leans
to red, especially as the hue of ivory is so near to that of flesh
(Il. iv. 141). It is mentioned in other places, probably with the same
sense, as an ornamental dye.

_b._ In Il. xxiii. 454, we learn that one of the horses of Diomed was
φοίνιξ, with a round white mark on his forehead. Whether we render this
bay or chestnut, it is materially different from the red colour of

_c._ Φοίνιος is used for blood, Od. xviii. 96.

_d._ As is φοινὸς in Il. xvi. 159.

_e._ And φοινικόεις in Il. xxiii. 716. This word is also applied to a
cloak, Il. x. 133.

_f._ A dragon or serpent, borne by an eagle, is φοινήεις, apparently
because dappled or streaked with his own blood, Il. xii. 200-6, 218-21.

_g._ Ships are φοινικοπάρηοι, Od. xi. 123, and xxiii. 272: this word is
apparently synonymous with μιλτοπάρηοι.

_h._ The serpent is δάφοινος ἐπὶ νῶτα, Il. ii. 308. And we have the
δάφοινον δέρμα λέοντος, Il. x. 23.

On the whole, we trace here not less than three senses: that in which
φοίνιξ is applied to the horse, which appears to be the equivalent
of ξανθὸς, the more prevailing word: next, that of the tawny and
dull-coloured lion’s hide: then that of the brighter but yet deep
colour of blood, which is freely called πορφύρεος. So that φοίνιξ
merely renders other words, and does not at all assist to make up
deficiencies in the Homeric vocabulary for the expression of colour.

Considered as an epithet of colour, the word δάφοινος, meaning
blood-red, is inappropriate to the dragon or serpent, and further
serves to illustrate that vagueness, of which the signs multiply as we

6. πόλιος is applied in Homer as follows:

_a._ To human hair in connection with old age, Il. xxii. 74 _et alibi_.

_b._ To the sea, Il. i. 350 _et passim_. It remains to inquire, whether
this refers to the sea, or to the foam upon it.

_c._ To iron, Il. ix. 366. xx. 261. Od. xxi. 3, 81. xxiv. 167.

_d._ To the hide of a wolf, which Dolon put on for his nocturnal
expedition, Il. x. 334. The meaning of the word here appears to be not
‘gray’ but ‘white.’ It is Homer’s evident intention to exhibit Dolon as
a sort of simpleton[844] (x. 316, 17); and accordingly he takes a white
covering, which makes him visible to the eye by night, so that Ulysses
saw him (φράσατο, 339).

[844] The celebrated Hunter noticed that Homer had made Dolon an
only son with five sisters, as a proof of the Poet’s sagacity in
observation: having himself found, that youths under such circumstances
are generally more or less effeminate. I owe this information to one of
the most distinguished living members of the profession, which Hunter
himself adorned. It was also a favourite remark, I believe, with Mr.

The last, then, of these four uses is _white_. The first clearly
inclines to the same idea. The second might bear either of two senses.
But iron cannot be brought nearer to white, even if we assume it to
be always polished, than a bluish grey; which, in truth, is somewhat
distant from white. It will, moreover, be seen, that Homer also
describes iron as αἴθων, and as ἰόεις.

~_The quasi-adjectives of colour._~

I now come to the class of words, in dealing with which it will be
shown that they have not in general even the pretensions of those that
have preceded to be treated as adjectives of definite colour.

7. χλωρὸς is used in Homer,

_a._ Chiefly in a metaphorical sense, as directly descriptive of fear.

_b._ For the paleness of the face derived from fear, as in χλωροὶ ὑπαὶ
δείους, Il. x. 376 and xv. 4. This use discloses to us the basis of the
last-named metaphor.

_c._ For twigs, apparently when fresh-pulled by Eumæus to make a bed
for Ulysses, who was an unexpected guest; Od. xvi. 47.

_d._ For honey, Il. xi. 630: where it must mean either pale, or fresh.

_e._ For the olive-wood club of the Cyclops in Od. ix. 320, 379. Here,
for the first time, we find the word applied to an object that might
perhaps be called green. But still there are two observations to be
made. First, even the leaf of the olive is rather grey than green:
and this is the bark, not the leaf, which is yet more grey, and yet
less green. Secondly, the governing idea is not the greenness, but the
newness: for Ulysses says that he heated it in the ashes until it was
about to take fire, χλωρός περ ἐών; although freshly cut, and still
seething with the sap.

_f._ The derivative χλωρηῒς is applied to the nightingale in Od. xix.
518, as a lover of the woods: and here the idea of greenness seems to
be rather less faintly indicated.

Upon the whole, then, χλωρὸς indicates rather the absence than the
presence of definite colour, although it is derived from χλοὴ, meaning
young herbage. If regarded as an epithet of colour, it involves at
once an hopeless contradiction between the colour of honey on the one
side, and greenness on the other. Again, the more we assume it to mean
green, the more startling it becomes that it could have taken paleness,
as is manifestly the case, for its governing idea. Next to paleness,
it serves chiefly for freshness, i. e. as opposed to what is stale or
withered: a singular combination with the former sense. The idea of
green we scarcely find, unless once, connected with this word in the
poems of Homer: and yet it is a remarkable fact that there is no other
word in the poems that can even be supposed to represent a colour,
which, not the rainbow only, but every day nature, presents so largely
to the eye.

8. I take next the word αἰθαλόεις. The Homeric sense of this word seems
somewhat to resemble that of κυάνεος; although there is the difference
between them, that the derivation here is from αἰθάλη, soot.

This epithet is applied by Homer, in sufficient conformity, as is
contended, with the idea of soot,

_a._ To the interior of the palace of Ulysses, Od. xxii. 239, and to
that of Priam, Il. ii. 415. In the latter case the word will, as it
appears from the context, bear to be construed with reference to the
state of a house blackened by a conflagration.

_b._ To the dark ash κόνις αἰθαλόεσσα, which Achilles poured over his
head, Il. xviii. 23, and which, in ver. 25, is called μέλαινα τέφρη:
this material Laertes also used for the same purpose in Od. xxiv. 315.
Yet the propriety of the second of these two applications depends,
first, upon the rather hardy supposition, that both Achilles and
Laertes had by them, at the moment of their sorrow, the remains of a
wood-fire; and, secondly, upon the assumption that the word κόνις may
mean fire-ashes as well as dust in general. But we may doubt both of
these assumptions; while, if κόνις means ‘dust,’ and αἰθαλόεις ‘sooty,’
it becomes plain that this epithet is used, like others, with very
great latitude.

9. It may be admitted that, at a first view, the words ῥοδόεις and
ῥοδοδάκτυλος would appear to be in the strictest sense epithets of
colour. But it still would seem that they add nothing to Homer’s
defective means of expressing it: and not only so, but, in fact, scanty
as is their use, it is so little congruous, that we are driven to
suppose he must have employed these words in a sense not only elastic,
but altogether indeterminate and purely figurative.

Ῥοδοδάκτυλος, or rosy-fingered, has become, through Homer’s example and
authority, a classical epithet for the morning. It is, however, more
open to criticism than is usually the case with the Homeric epithets.
There is nothing strange in personifying Morn, in order to embellish
her with an epithet belonging to personal beauty; but redness, applied
to the fingers, and not merely to their tips, is more than equivocal in
this respect, since that colour is only even admissible in the interior
of the hand, which is the part not seen, and therefore presumably the
part not intended in ῥοδοδάκτυλος.

There are certain very fugitive tints of the sky, which approach to the
hue of the rose: but if Homer had the colour of that flower definitely
in his view, it is most singular that he should never use it, either
for the human form or otherwise, except on this and one other occasion

The nature of that other occasion is yet more strange. Hector’s corpse
is anointed, in Il. xxiii. 186, with rosy oil, ῥοδόεντι ἐλαίῳ. It does
not appear allowable to follow Damm in rendering this as oil _made
from_ roses: for we have no such thing as ἔλαιον in Homer, except from
the olive-tree. It therefore applies to the hue of olive oil: and no
conceivable use of an epithet could be more conclusive to show an
extreme vagueness in the Poet’s ideas of colour, as well as probably in
those of his age.

10. The violet, no less than the rose, has supplied Homer with
epithets, which he has used in such a manner as to deprive them of all
specific force as vehicles for the expression of a peculiar colour.

There is certainly a great temptation, when we find in Homer the
ἰοειδέα πόντον, to give him credit for the full meaning of this very
beautiful epithet, which he uses thrice for the sea (Il. ix. 298, Od.
v. 55, xi. 106), and never in any other connection. But when we examine
his employment of cognate words, it is obvious that he can mean little
more by the epithet, than to convey a rather vague idea of darkness.

For he uses ἰόεις as an epithet for iron (Il. xxiii. 850): and
ἰοδνεφὴς, first for the wool (Od. iv. 135) with which Helen is
spinning. Here we might be tempted to presume a purple dye. Yet it
would be a somewhat strained supposition: for what title have we to say
that dyeing was in use among the Greeks of the Homeric age? Do we hear
of any dye except that of the φοίνιξ, a name which tends to indicate
a foreign character? And does not the introduction of the Mæonian
or Carian woman in the simile of Il. iv. 141, to stain the ivory--a
most simple example of the art, or scarcely an example at all--afford
a strong presumption, that the art was foreign to Greece? Such is
apparently the true inference: but, if it be the true one, then we at
once lose the specific force of purple for all the mantles, carpets,
and the like, in the poems; and we are only entitled to presume them to
have been woven of a dark wool.

This construction is supported by the second and only other passage,
in which Homer has used the word ἰοδνεφής. For here (Od. ix. 426) he
speaks of the living sheep of Polyphemus as

  καλοί τε μεγάλοι τε, ἰοδνεφὲς εἶρος ἔχοντες.

This passage appears evidently to apply to what we term black sheep,
which are more strictly of a dark brown. So viewed, it affords another
most striking token of the indeterminateness of Homeric colours, that
the name of the violet can be employed with such a signification. And
it also seems to carry forward the proof that the πορφύρεαι χλαῖναι,
the ῥήγεα, and all other woven objects with that epithet annexed, were
in reality either black or brown.

11. Homer employs the word οἴνοψ with evident relation to colour; but
it is for two objects only, viz.

  _a._ For oxen, in Il. xiii. 703, and Od. xiii. 32.

  _b._ For the sea, without reference to any peculiar state of it, in
  Il. i. 350, _et alibi_.

There is no small difficulty in combining these two uses by reference
to the idea of a common colour. The sea is blue, grey, or green. Oxen
are black, bay, or brown. I do not refer to their lighter colours,
which are excluded by the nature of the epithet. It is remarkable that,
among colours properly so called, Homer has none whatever, derived from
the name of an object, that are light, unless it be in the case of
the rose. The violet, the unknown κύανος, the φοίνιξ, the αἰθαλὴ, the
ἁλιπόρφυρος, the πορφύρη, whatever else they may be, are all dark. And
to this class οἴνοψ evidently belongs.

Wine is mentioned by Homer in nearly one hundred and forty places:
in the majority of them it has an epithet: but only ten times is it
described by an epithet of colour. Of these two are used for it,
ἐρυθρὸς and μέλας; so that he plainly conceived of it as dark, but
probably without a determinate hue. He more frequently calls it αἴθοψ:
but this word, which fluctuates between the ideas of flame and smoke,
either means tawny, or else refers to light, and not to colour, and
bears the sense of sparkling.

Thus then οἴνοψ, like so many other words that we have gone through,
vaguely indicates a dark hue, but cannot be referred to any one of the
known principal colours.

12. The word μιλτοπάρηος has already been disposed of in connection
with κυάνεος and φοίνιξ.

13. αἴθων is applied in Homer

  _a._ to horses, as in Il. ii. 839; viii. 185.

  _b._ to iron, as in Od. i. 184.

  _c._ to a lion, as in Il. x. 23.

  _d._ to copper utensils, as in Il. ix. 123; xxiv. 233.

  _e._ to a bull, Il. xvi. 488; and to oxen, Od. xviii. 371.

  _f._ to an eagle, Il. xv. 690.

With this word we may take its compound αἴθοψ. It is used

  _a._ for wine, as we have seen.

  _b._ for copper, Il. iv. 495 _et alibi_.

  _c._ for smoke, Od. x. 152.

We have also the Αἰθίοπες, men of the tawny or swarthy countenance,
beneath the Southern sun.

In what manner are we to find a common thread upon which to hang the
colours of iron, copper, horses, lions, bulls, eagles, wine, swarthy
men, and smoke? We must here again adopt the vague word ‘dark,’ a word
of light and not of colour, for the purpose. But as the idea of αἴθω
includes flame struggling with smoke, so there may be a flash of light
upon the dark object. Ψολόεις, sooty or smutty, belongs to the same
group with αἰθαλόεις and αἴθων, and need not, therefore, be separately

All the remainder of the words noted for examination are to be dealt
with in two groups, each referable to a single idea: the first that of
motion, and the second that of light.

14, 15. Among adjectives of motion, which have sometimes been
improperly treated as adjectives of colour, are ἄργος and αἴολος.
The former acquires an affinity to _white_, because it may signify
an object which, from being rapidly moved, assumes in the light the
appearance of whiteness[845], and along with it may be placed its
derivatives ἀργεννὸς, ἀργεστὴς, ἀργὴς, ἀργινόεις, ἀργιόδους, ἀργίπους,
and ἀργικέραυνος. The latter, as in αἴολος ὄφις, αἴολος ἵππος,
κορυθαίολος, πόδας αἴολος, seems to mean whatever from the same cause
appears to shift its hues.

[845] See Achæis, or Ethnology, p. 383.

16. Of those adjectives of light in Homer, which have also been taken
for adjectives of colour, the most important is γλαυκός. Its uses,
however, are only as follows:

_a._ γλαυκὴ θάλασσα, Il. xvi. 34.

_b._ Γλαυκῶπις, the standing epithet, and even a proper name, of
Minerva, Il. viii. 406.

_c._ γλαυκιόων; applied to the eye of a lion, when, reaching the height
of his wrath, he makes his rush at the hunters, Il. xx. 172.

The last of these passages seems effectually to fix the sense of the
term. The word γλαυκιόων describes a progression. The lion does not
enhance the colour of his eye as he waxes angry. If, for example,
γλαυκὸς can be taken as blue, it certainly does not become more blue:
on the contrary, rage, when kindling fire in the eye, rather subdues
its peculiar tint by flooding it with a vivid light. So the word
seems clearly to refer to the brightening flash of the eye under the
influence of passion. Of light and its movement, as also of sound,
and of beautiful form, Homer’s conceptions are even more distinct
and lively, than those of colour are, if not dull, yet at least

Γλαυκὸς is derived from γλαύσσω; and has for its root λάω, to see. The
meaning of bright or flashing will suit the sea, as well as the epithet
blue. And it suits Minerva far better. ‘Blue-eyed’ would be for her but
a tame epithet. The luminous eye, on the contrary, entirely accords
with her character, and belongs to a marked trait of those primitive
traditions, which she appears to represent[846].

[846] See Olympus, sect. ii. p. 53. Welcker (_Griechische Götterlehre_,
vi. 63, p. 300) treats the name Ἀθήνη as immediately akin to αἰθὴρ and
the idea of light.

17. Χάροπος is applied to the lion in Od. xi. 611; and it is the
proper name of the father of Nireus in the Catalogue, while his mother
is Ἀγλαΐη. From this latter use we see that χάροπος is not in Homer
an epithet of colour; since he never describes the face by means of
colour. Its etymology refers us to gladsomeness; and this is much more
connected, in the Poet’s mind, with light than with colour.

18, 19. Besides these we have

  σιγαλόεις, glossy, like σίαλος, or fat; and μαρμάρεος, applied

      _a._ to a web, Il. iii. 126.

      _b._ to the Ægis, Il. xvii. 594.

      _c._ to the sea, Il. xiv. 273.

      _d._ to the rim of the Shield, Il. xviii. 480.

We have also the μαρμαρυγαὶ ποδῶν (Od. viii. 265), or twinkling of the
feet in the dance: and the verb μαρμαίρω is applied to the eyes of
Venus (Il. iii. 397), to arms (Il. xii. 195 _et alibi_), and to the
golden palace of Neptune (Il. xiii. 22). The marble, from which the
words are derived, was white: but that signification would not suit any
of the uses of the words, except the web of Helen. The sense, that will
suit them, is one derived from the idea of light, that of glittering or

Lastly: ἠεροειδὴς (Il. v. 770; Od. xiii. 103) is so evidently an
atmospheric epithet only, that it requires no detailed discussion. It
is worthy of note, as it indicates the idea of atmospheric transparency.

~_Conflict of colours in the same object._~

III. We might have attained to some nearly similar results, by taking
the names of substantives in Homer, and considering the differences in
the epithets of colour by which he describes them.

Thus, for example, iron is violet, grey, and αἴθων or tawny. There is
a certain opposition between the first and second: a very marked one
between the second and third. When considered as names of colour, they
cannot be reconciled, but they may perhaps be made in some degree to
harmonize by introducing the element of light. Iron is dark or tawny if
in the shade: while under light it may appear grey.

Again, the dragon, or serpent, which is δάφοινος in Il. ii. 308, is
also κυάνεος in Il. xi. 26; and is compared to the rainbow, which is
πορφυρέη in Il. xvii. Δάφοινος, being applied to the lion’s hide in
Il. x. 23, is essentially of a dull colour, but the rainbow is as
essentially bright. Here, again, the only mode of harmonizing is by
the supposition that Homer really regulates the use of those epithets
according to light; and thus the same object may be dull and bright in
different positions.

Again, κέραυνος is in composition white (ἀργικέραυνος): but it is also
ψολοεὶς, smutty. In truth it is neither: but its near connection both
with light and with darkness will admit of its being referred to either.

~_Great predominance of white and black._~

IV. I have next to notice the vast predominance in Homer of the two
simple opposites, white and black, which may be called, perhaps, the
elemental forms of colour: white being the compound of the seven
prismatic colours in their natural proportions, and black the absence,
or simple negative, of them all.

The adjective μέλας, or ‘black,’ is used, in its different degrees,
cases, and numbers, about one hundred and seventy times. Besides this,
we have the verb μελαίνω, and several compounds from the adjective. It
also forms a very frequent element in proper names.

The word λευκὸς, or ‘white,’ is used nearly sixty times: its compound
λευκώλενος forty more, but almost all of these as the stock-epithet
of Juno, which should not be taken into the account. We have also
λευκαίνω, λεύκασπις, and some proper names. But this by no means
exhausts Homer’s means of expressing whiteness. For that purpose he
also uses μαρμάρεος, σιγαλόεις, perhaps πόλιος, and an extensive group
of words having ἀργὸς for its centre. In all, whiteness, or something
intended for it, may perhaps be thus expressed one hundred times or

Now assuming for the moment that adjectives of colour, in the prismatic
sense of the word, are found in Homer, still it is remarkable how
rarely they are found, in comparison with whiteness and blackness.

For example: except as a proper name, and as the stock-epithet of
Menelaus, ξανθὸς is, I think, hardly found ten times in Homer.
Ἰόεις, and its cognate words, come but six times: ῥοδόεις is an ἅπαξ
λεγόμενον: μίλτος is only introduced in its compound twice; yet it
is probably the best _red_ in Homer: ἐρυθρὸς and ἐρυθαίνω come but
thirteen times: πορφύρεος and the kindred words are found in all
twenty-three times; but it has, I think, been shown that this word was
wanting, with Homer, in the ingredient of specific colour, and only
implied what was dark, whether brown, crimson, purple, or even black.

~_Omissions to specify colour._~

V. It remains to complete this circle of evidence, by adducing cases
where Homer’s omission to name colour, or to describe by means of it,
is deserving of remark.

1. Homer’s similes are so rich in the use of all sensible imagery,
that we might have expected to find colour a frequent and prominent
ingredient in them. But it is not so. They turn chiefly, I think, upon
the following ideas:

  1. Motion.
  2. Force.
  3. Form.
  4. Sound.
  5. Symmetry.
  6. Number.
  7. Light and Darkness.
  8. Very rarely, upon Colour.

In the greater part of them colour is not even mentioned. I have seen
the similes of the poems reckoned at two hundred: and I have found it
difficult to note more than three which turn upon colour, even when it
is vaguely conceived.

The first is the blood of Menelaus, compared to a crimson dye, on the
cheek-piece of a horse, Il. iv. 141.

The second, the meditations of Nestor, likened to the darkening of the
sea before a storm, Il. xiv. 16-22.

Thirdly, the cloud in which Minerva is wrapped is compared to the
rainbow, Il. xvii. 547-52.

Of these the second is very indefinite: the idea of the first, as we
have seen, was inaccurately and loosely conceived: and the third is one
of the most striking proofs of the want of a close discrimination of
colours in Homer.

Yet here again we may find life and beauty in the passage, if only
we construe it of a cloud illuminated by the rays falling on it.
Indeed, generally the element of light brings us back to Homer’s usual
definiteness, when his use of colour makes him obscure.

2. Again, in the numerous and very exact epithets by which the Poet has
described the form and appearance of different countries, we scarcely
find any epithet of colour. Out of about sixty of these epithets in the
Greek Catalogue, there are but three that refer to colour, and these
all mention whiteness only (ἀργινόεις, Il. ii. 647, 656, and λευκός,
ibid. 735).

~_In the case of the horse._~

3. It is most singular that, though Homer so loved the horse that he
is never weary of using him with his whole heart for the purposes of
poetry, yet in all his animated and beautiful descriptions of this
animal, colour should be so little prominent. It is said, indeed, that
Homer tells us the horses of Eumelus corresponded in colour (ὅτριχες
Il. ii. 765); but what the colour was we know not; and the question may
also be raised, whether the epithet employed does not more properly
indicate similarity in the fineness of their coat. Perhaps the only
cases, where colour is distinctly assigned to horses, are the following

First, that of the horses of Rhesus. There the colour is the negative
one of whiteness, which seems, with its counterpart blackness, to have
been so much more present to the mind of Homer than any intermediate
colour. These horses were (Il. x. 437) λευκότεροι χιόνος. And
afterwards Nestor in a noble line declares them like, not to anything
having colour, but to the rays of the sun (Il. x. 547). Thus reappears
the old identification in Homer’s mind of light and colour. There is,
however, another reason to which it may be suspected that we owe the
mention of colour in this instance: namely, that the whiteness is
intended to make them visible in the gloom, and thus to assist the
capture by night.

The second case is, that of the horse of Diomed in the chariot-race.
Here Idomeneus mentions the bay or chestnut colour (Il. xxiii. 454)
with the white mark, but then it is the only means of identifying the
master, which is essential to his purpose in the speech. Apart from
these special reasons, Homer speaks indeed twice of the ξανθὰ κάρηνα
of horses; this, however, is of horses in the abstract. Nestor (Il. xi.
680) mentions a set of one hundred and fifty mares all with colour,
that is to say, ξανθαί: a new proof of the lax use of the word, as they
would hardly be all alike.

Among the four horses of Hector (Il. viii. 185), the two of the Atreidæ
(Il. xxiii. 295), and the three of Achilles (xvi. 475) we find only the
name Xanthus which is clearly referable to colour: and this is in truth
the only colour which, besides white, he ever gives to his horses. For
it is more probable that by the name Βάλιος he meant to refer to the
effect of light from rapidity of motion: while Αἴθη in Il. xxiii. 409,
Αἴθων and Λάμπος (Il. viii. 485) may signify brightness or darkness
indeed, but neither of these is colour.

Again, in the magnificent simile of the στάτος ἵππος there is no
colour. The three thousand horses of Erichthonius (Il. x. 221) have
no colour. The horses of Diomed (Il. v. 257) have none. Nor have the
heaven-born horses of Tros, nor those which Anchises bred from them
(Il. v. 265. _et seqq._). None of the teams for the race in Il. xxiii.
have colour. Lastly; Homer abounds in characteristic and set epithets
for horses, such as ὠκὺς, ὠκύπους, ποδώκης, μώνυξ, ἐριαύχην, ἀερσίπους,
ἐΰσκαρθμος, ὑψήχης, καλλίθριξ, ταχὺς, and others; but none of them are
taken from colour.

Yet colour is in horses a thing so prominent that it seems, wherever
they are at all individualized, almost to force itself into the
description. Let us take two examples allied in their beauty, although
separated in birth by twenty-two hundred years. The first is from
Euripides, where the Chorus in _Iphigenia in Aulide_ describes the
Grecian host before embarcation[847].

[847] Eurip. Iph. in Aul. 213-22.

  ὁ δὲ διφρηλάτας βοᾶτ’
  Εὔμηλος Φερητιάδας,
  ᾧ καλλίστους εἰδόμαν
  χρυσοδαιδάλτους στομίοισι πώλους
  κέντρῳ θεινομένους, τοὺς μὲν μέσ-
  σους ζυγίους, λευκοστίκτῳ τριχὶ
  βαλιοὺς, τοὺς δ’ ἐξὼ σειραφόρους,
  ἀντήρεις καμπαῖσι δρόμων
  πυῤῥότριχας, μονόχαλα δ’ ὑπὸ σφυρὰ

The second, also eminently beautiful, is from Macaulay, where in the
‘Battle of the Lake Regillus’, after the deadly conflict of Mamilius
and Herminius, he describes what then happened to their steeds.

  Fast, fast, with heels wild spurning,
    The _dark-grey_ charger fled;
  He burst through ranks of fighting men,
    He sprang o’er heaps of dead....

  But like a graven image
    _Black_ Auster kept his place,
  And ever wistfully he looked
    Into his master’s face.

How characteristically the element of colour enters into these
admirable descriptions.

4. It is not, however, the case of the horse alone, on which an
argument may be founded. Homer abounds with notices of other animals,
both domesticated and wild. We have oxen, dogs, goats, hogs, and sheep.
None of his stock epithets for them are drawn from colour; and we have
seen that by his wine-coloured oxen, and his violet-coloured sheep, he,
in all likelihood, means no more than dark or tawny. His epithets for
wild animals are of the same character when they occur, and similarly
depend on the scale of degrees between light and darkness, not upon
colour. Once he mentions a white goose (Od. xv. 161); but it is borne
on high in the talons of an eagle, and the object evidently is to
create a clear visual image.

5. I would not lay overmuch stress on the fact, that Homer never refers
to colour in connection with the human frame, unless as regards the
hair, which is either ξανθὸς or κυάνεος: expressions which, as we
shall see, are apparent exceptions, and not real ones. The olive hue
of the Mediterranean latitudes makes colour a less prominent element
in human beauty for a Greek climate, than it is for ours. Still its
almost entire exclusion is an element in the case. One instance that
I have noticed, which introduces it, adds to the general mass of
testimony. When Minerva (Od. xvi. 175) restores the beauty of Ulysses,
the expression is ἂψ δὲ μελαγχροιὴς γένετο. Now this certainly does not
mean that his flesh became black again. It can only signify that he
resumed the olive tint, which was associated with personal vigour and
beauty. So that even the μέλας of Homer means dark, and is indefinite:
as might indeed be shown by many other instances.

6. Lastly, it seems to deserve remark, that there is not one single
epithet of Iris taken from colour. She is once, and only once,
χρυσόπτερος (Il. viii. 398); but this is in virtue of her office, and
has no relation to the rainbow; as, indeed, gold with Homer always
belongs to light rather than to colour. All her other epithets, without
exception, are taken from motion only. She is swift (ὠκέα and τάχεια),
swift of foot (πόδας ὠκέα), swift as the wind (ποδήνεμος), storm-footed
(ἀελλόπους[848]), but from colour she derives no part whatever of her
Homeric costume. Now though the chain of traditions which identified
Iris with the rainbow was broken[849], yet the traces of it were not
wholly lost. For Homer treated the rainbow, physically, as a prophet
of storm (Il. xvii. 548): and again, we find that she was still
tempest-footed. This epithet can only be derived from her original
relation to the rainbow. It is therefore highly instructive, that none
of her traits of colour should have been preserved.

[848] Il. xviii. 409. xxiv. 159.

[849] See Olympus, sect. ii. p. 157.

Lastly, let us take the case of the sky, or the heavens. Here Homer
had before him the most perfect example of blue. Yet he never once so
describes the sky. His οὐρανὸς is starry (Il. i. 317), or broad (Il.
iii. 364), or great (Il. i. 497), or iron (Od. xv. 328), or copper (Od.
iii. 2. Il. xvii. 425); but it is never blue. This is an important
piece of negative testimony.

We have now before us a pretty large, though I by no means venture to
suppose it a complete, collection of the facts of the case.

~_Causes of this peculiar treatment._~

I submit that they warrant the two following propositions:

1. That Homer’s perceptions of the prismatic colours, or colours of the
rainbow, which depend on the decomposition of light by refraction, and
_a fortiori_ of their compounds, were, as a general rule, vague and

2. That we must therefore seek another basis for his system of colour.

But a few words may be permitted on the cause which has led to his
treatment of the subject in a manner so different from that of the

Are we justified in referring it to his reputed blindness?

Are we to suppose a defect in his organization, or in that of his

Or are we to reject altogether the idea of defect, and to treat his
use of colour as one conceived in the spirit which, with even the most
perfect knowledge, would properly belong to his art?

The mere tradition of Homer’s blindness is hardly relevant. The
presumption of it drawn from the poems, because they make Demodocus
blind, is inappreciably minute. The testimony of the Hymn to Apollo is
ancient[850]; but, as his blindness (if he really was blind) allowed
of the most vivid conceptions of light, it will not account for
defectiveness in his conceptions of colour. The vigorous apprehension
and accurate description of sensible objects in the poems demonstrate,
that we cannot seek in this hypothesis for an explanation of what may
be either singular, crude, or irregular.

[850] Hymn. ad Apoll. v. 172.

Neither can we resort to the supposition of anything, that is to be
properly called a defect in his organization; when we bear in mind
his intense feeling for form, and when we observe his effective and
powerful handling of the ideas of light and dark.

~_License of Poetry as to colour._~

Our answer to the third question must also, I think, be in the
negative. It is true, indeed, that much of merely literal discrepancy
as to colour might be understood to appertain to the license of poetry.
There is high poetical effect in what may be called straining epithets
of colour. But it seems essential to that effect,

(1.) That the straining should be the exception, and not the rule.

(2.) That there should be a fixed standard of the colour itself, so
that the departures from it may be measured. Otherwise the result is
not license, but confusion. Shakespeare with high effect says[851],

[851] Macbeth ii. 3.

                        Here lay Duncan,
  His silver skin laced with his golden blood.

Here the idea is not that silver is of the same colour as skin, nor
gold as blood; but that the relation of colour between silver and gold
may be compared with that between skin and blood: the skin throws the
blood into relief, as a ground of silver would throw out a projection
of gold. In license of this kind we can always trace both a rule and an
aim. The rule is relaxed only for the particular occasion. The effect
produced is that of tenderness, dignity, and purity. Had Shakespeare
been describing the horrible carnage of a battlefield, he probably
would have spoken of black or foul gore instead of using a brightening

Now this purpose is not traceable in Homer’s use of certain words, if
we are required to treat them as adjectives of colour. There is no
Poet, whose _rationale_ is commonly more accessible; but these cases,
upon such a principle, do not admit of a _rationale_ at all.

Take for instance his use of the rainbow. It is (1) πορφυρέη, and (2)
like a δράκων, which is κυάνεος. Of these, the first may be construed
dark with a hue of crimson; the second, dark with a hue of deep blue or
indigo. Surely we have here, viewing it as a whole, a most inadequate
treatment of the colours of the rainbow. Shakespeare indeed says[852],

[852] Troilus and Cressida, i. 3, _sub_ fin.

  His crest, that prouder than blue Iris bends;

and again, in the Tempest, Ceres addresses Iris thus[853];

[853] Tempest, iv. 1. The rainbow is mentioned as of many colours, in
Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 5, Winter’s Tale, iv. 3, and King John, iv.

  And with each end of thy blue bow dost crown
  My bosky acres....

But (1) blue differs from πορφύρεος, which is essentially dark, and
is not blue. (2) Blue, taken largely, represents three of the seven
prismatic colours: i. e. indigo and purple along with itself. (3) In
the last quoted passage, Iris is also called ‘many-coloured messenger,’
and with ‘saffron wings.’ How different an effect do these words
give, as they form a whole, from that of the simile in Il. xvii. In
what manner then are we to understand Homer? I answer, in the way
of metaphor; and with reference to light and dark, not to prismatic
colour. The δράκοντες on the buckler and belt are dark and terrible:
so is the storm of which Iris is the type, and it is in viewing the
rainbow as a type of what is awful, that we are to find the reason of
Homer’s simply treating it as dark, and not as a series and system of
colours. Perhaps we ought not to overlook the possibility that Homer
may also mean to compare the shifting hues of the serpent with the
varied appearance of the rainbow.

Again, let us take his use of μελαγχροίης. Now the question is, did
Homer mean by this simply to express darkness, that is to say was
_dark_ his idea of μέλας, or did he, with the specific idea of black
in his mind, use the term which denoted it poetically for the olive
complexion of Ulysses? Surely the former: for the latter use of it
would have been bad. It would have been straining the figure in the
wrong direction. For blackness would be a fitting trope only where the
object was to describe something awful or repulsive.

But beauty of form in Homer always leans to light hues and not to dark
ones, whence the Greeks are ξανθοὶ, and the Trojan Hector, though
beautiful, is κυάνεος only. Therefore it was not Homer’s object to give
an enhanced idea of darkness in the tints of Ulysses. And yet, if μέλας
for him meant specifically black, then μελαγχροίης was the height of
exaggeration in the wrong sense. But if by μέλας he only understood
dark, that was a fair description of the olive tint, as compared with
the withered and shrivelled skin of old age.

We have other proofs from the poems that Homer conceived of μέλας as
dark, and not specifically as black. The former idea accords best with
his calling earth μέλας, when it is fresh behind the plough (Il. xviii.
548): and his calling blood μέλας, not stagnant gore, but blood fresh
as it comes spurting from the wound (Il. i. 303),

  αἶψά τοι αἷμα κελαινὸν ἐρωήσει περὶ δουρί·

and again, the fresh blood of Venus herself: μελαίνετο δὲ χρόα καλόν
(Il. v. 354). It would be bad poetry to call the blood of Venus
_black_, for the same reasons which make it good poetry in Shakespeare
to call the blood of Duncan golden. So the μέλας πόντος of Il. xxiv. 79
is evidently no more than dark; though in vii. 64 we may properly say
the sea blackens.

So again with wine-coloured oxen, smutty thunder-bolts, violet-coloured
sheep, and many more, it is surely conclusive against taking them for
descriptions of prismatic colours or their compounds, that they would
be bad descriptions in their several kinds.

~_Homer’s means of training in colour._~

We must then seek for the basis of Homer’s system with respect to
colour in something outside our own. And it may prepare us the more
readily to acknowledge such a basis elsewhere, if we bear in mind,
that many of the great elements and sources of colour for us presented
themselves differently to him. The olive hue of the skin kept down the
play of white and red. The hair tended much more uniformly, than with
us, to darkness. The sense of colour was less exercised by the culture
of flowers. The sun sooner changed the spring-greens of the earth into
brown. Glass, one of our instruments of instruction, did not exist. The
rainbow would much more rarely meet the view. The art of painting was
wholly, and that of dyeing was almost, unknown; and we may estimate
the importance of this element of the case by recollecting how much,
with the advance of chemistry, the taste of this country in colour has
improved within the last twenty years. The artificial colours, with
which the human eye was conversant, were chiefly the ill-defined, and
anything but full-bodied, tints of metals. The materials, therefore,
for a system of colour did not offer themselves to Homer’s vision as
they do to ours. Particular colours were indeed exhibited in rare
beauty, as the blue of the sea and of the sky. Yet these colours were,
so to speak, isolated fragments; and, not entering into a general
scheme, they were apparently not conceived with the precision necessary
to master them. It seems easy to comprehend that the eye may require a
familiarity with an ordered system of colours, as the condition of its
being able closely to appreciate any one among them.

I conclude, then, that the organ of colour and its impressions were but
partially developed among the Greeks of the heroic age.

In lieu of this, Homer seems to have had, firstly some crude
conceptions of colour derived from the elements; secondly and
principally, a system in lieu of colour, founded upon light and upon
darkness, its opposite or negative. We have seen that the μέλας of
Homer, which is applied to fine olive tints in the skin, and which
joins hands with κυάνεος and πορφύρεος, means dark, the absence of
light. On the other hand, the basis of whiteness is clearly indicated
to us in the etymology of λευκὸς, which is the same as that of λεύσσω
to see, and of λύκη light in λυκαβὰς the year, the walk or course of
light; as well as in the cognate words, which appear to have their
root in the Sanscrit _loch_, from whence _lochan_, an eye[854].

[854] Pritchard’s Celtic Nations, p. 219.

~_His system one of light and dark._~

As a general proposition, then, I should say that the Homeric colours
are really the modes and forms of light[855], and of its opposite or
rather negative, darkness: partially affected perhaps by ideas drawn
from the metals, like the ruddiness of copper, or the sombre and dead
blue of κύανος, whatever the substance may have been; and here and
there with an inceptive effort, as it were, to get hold of other ideas
of colour.

[855] Vid. Göthe, _Geschichte der Farbenlehre_, Works, vol. 53, p. 21.
(Stuttgart, 1833.)

Under the application of this principle, I believe that all, or nearly
all, the Homeric words will fall into their places: and that we shall
find that the Poet used them, from his own standing-ground, with great
vigour and effect. We can now see why λευκὸς and μέλας with their
kindred words have such an immense predominance: though white and black
are the limiting ratios of colour, rather than colour itself.

Of the transparent and opaque, or _chiaroscuro_, we cannot expect to
hear from Homer: yet, as has been observed, a rudiment of it may be
contained in the highly poetical ἠεροειδὲς of the cave or sea; and
again in the δνοφερὴ νὺξ (Od. xiii. 269), since νέφος is the basis of
the epithet.

When we speak of colour proper, we speak of an effect which is produced
by the decomposition of light, and which, so long as the eye can
discharge its function, is complete, whatever the quantity, or the
incidence, of light upon the object said to have colour may happen to

When we speak of light, shade, and darkness, we refer to the quantity
of light, not decomposed, which falls upon that object, and to the mode
of its incidence.

Of light, shadow, and darkness thus regarded, Homer had lively and
most poetical conceptions. This description of objects by light and its
absence tax his materials to the uttermost. His iron-grey, his ruddy,
his starry heaven, are so many modes of light. His wine-coloured oxen
and sea, his violet sheep, his things tawny, purple, sooty, and the
rest, give us in fact a rich vocabulary of words for describing what
is dark so far as it has colour, but what also varies between dull and
bright, according to the quantity of light playing upon it. Here (for
example) is the link between his αἴθοψ κάπνος and his αἴθοψ οἶνος.

As these words all follow in the train, so to speak, of μέλας, even so
λευκὸς is attended by its own family, all falling under the meaning of
the English adjective _light_. On the one hand χλωρὸς and πόλιος; on
the other μαρμάρεος, ἀργὸς, and σιγαλόεις, all mean _light_; but the
first two are dull, and represent the twilight of colour, or debateable
ground between it and its negative, while the last three are bright and

Nothing can be more poetical than Homer’s ideas of dark and light. It
was a redundancy of life in these ideas, that made him associate light
with motion; as in those fine lines (Il. ii. 437),

  ὣς τῶν ἐρχομένων ἀπὸ χαλκοῦ θεσπεσίοιο
  αἴγλη παμφανόωσα δι’ αἰθέρος οὐρανὸν ἷκεν.

And, again, in the Arming of Achilles (Il. xix. 362),

  αἴγλη δ’ οὐρανὸν ἷκε, γέλασσε δὲ πᾶσα περὶ χθών.

So, on the other hand, the idea of darkness went to animate
metaphysical conceptions, as in black fate, black death, black clouds
of death, black pains (Il. ii. 859, 834. xvi. 350. iv. 117).

Naturalists tell us, that there exist kinds of creatures respecting
which it is known, that their organs are sensitive to light and
darkness, but with no perception whatever either of colour or of
form[856]. So far as respects form, Homer perceived keenly such forms
as were beautiful: but of mere geometrical form he may have had very
indistinct ideas, if we are to judge from his epithets for the form of
a shield. The parallel is nearer in the case of colour; for even his
perceptions were as yet undigested; as if they were novel, not aided by
tradition, acquired very much by himself, and fixed as yet neither by
custom nor nomenclature.

[856] Wilson’s Five Gateways of Knowledge, p. 4.

From the remains which have reached us of the colours of the ancients,
it has been found practicable to treat of them in precise detail[857].
But, in examining the question from the works of Homer, we must bear
in mind, first, their very early date, and, secondly, the likelihood
that heroic Greece may probably have been far behind some countries of
the east in the use and in the idea of colour, which has always had a
privileged home there.

[857] See, for instance, ‘Ancient and Modern Colours, by William
Linton.’ London 1852.

~_Colour in the later Greek language._~

The tendency, however, to a mixture of the two questions of light and
colour appears to be traceable more or less in the popular language,
and likewise in the philosophy, of the later Greeks.

In the classical period, the hues of the eye were divided, as μέλας the
darkest, χάροπος the intermediate, and γλαυκὸς the lightest.

The word πράσινος, leek-green, appears to be quite adequate to the
expression of the colour. It is used by Aristotle; but I do not know
that it is found in the poets or writers of the best age. For the
classical Greek the idea of greenness is expressed by χλωρὸς, as
far as it is expressed at all. Now this word seems inadequate on two
grounds. First, its predominant idea is that of ‘fresh’ or ‘recent;’
which is but accidentally, and not invariably, the property of those
objects in nature that are green.

When we find the word χλωρὸς applied alike to objects of a green
colour, and to others that have no colour, (or else not in respect of
their colour,) but yet which are fresh or newly sprung, we are led to
conclude that it was for freshness, and not for greenness, that the
word was generally used. This idea is confirmed by two circumstances.
First, that when χλωρὸς does signify colour, as in the case of
paleness, (where it cannot mean what is fresh,) it signifies the most
indefinite and feeble colour, little more indeed than a negative.

The meaning of χλωρὸν δεός is probably ashy-pale fear. In the green of
the olive we see the point of connection between this use of the term
on the one hand, and natural verdure on the other. So that the image of
the colour green, to the Greeks, was neither lively and bright on the
one hand, nor was it strong and deep on the other.

The second circumstance is this: that the word χλωρὸς is applied by the
later Greeks to objects that have a colour, but a colour which is _not_
green: and this by authors who had the full use of sight. Thus, in
Euripides, (Hecuba 124,) we have αἵματι χλωρῷ for blood freshly shed.
It seems plain that, when the epithet could be thus used, colour could
only be very carelessly and faintly conceived in the minds either of
those who used the expression, or of those to whom it was addressed.

I shall not open the general subject of the treatment of colour by the
later Greeks, or by the Latin poets. But that it continued to be both
faint and indefinite down to a very late period, and in a degree which
would now be deemed very surprising, we may judge both from the general
tenour of the Æneid, and from the remarkable verse of Albinovanus, an
Augustan poet, which applied the epithet ‘purpureus’ to snow;

  Brachia purpureâ candidiora nive.

Neither do I enter into the question, whether the shadows of white
may afford any ground for this epithet: because an answer, drawn from
the secrets as it were of science or art, could not avail for the
interpretation of the works of a poet, who must describe for the common

So we may note the ‘cervix rosea’ of Horace[858], and of Virgil[859].

[858] Hor. Od. I. 13. 2.

[859] Virg. Æn. i. 402.

~_Greek philosophy of colour._~

Such examination as I have been able to make would lead me to suppose
whatever of this kind was crude or defective in the common ideas of
Greece was not without points of correspondence in its philosophy.

The treatise Περὶ χρωμάτων, popularly ascribed to Aristotle, would
appear to belong to some other author. It, however, in conformity with
Greek ideas[860], bases the system of colour not, as we do, upon the
prismatic decomposition of light, but upon the four elements; of which
it declares air, water, and even earth when dry, to be white, fire
to be ξανθὸς or yellow; from the mixtures of these arise all other
colours, and σκότος, or black, is the absence of light.

[860] Vid. Göthe, _Farbenlehre_, Works, vol. 53. p. 23.

Dr. Prantl, a recent editor of this Treatise, has, in a learned Essay
of his own, gathered together the systems of the various Greek writers
upon colour; and especially that of Aristotle, from the testimony
afforded by his _Meteorologica_ and other works. It exhibits a curious
combination of the aim at scientific exactness, with the want of the
physical knowledge which is, in such matters, its necessary basis. Its
leading ideas appear to be as follows.

If we pass by the mere metaphysical portion of the subject, the basis
of colour is laid theoretically in transparency and motion. With the
idea of whiteness are associated dryness and heat; and with blackness
their counterparts, wet and cold[861]. The air is white, fire the
highest form of white; water is black[862], earth the highest negation
of colour, and blackest of all. All other colours are treated as
intermediate between white and black[863]. An analogy prevails between
the intervals of the principal colours, and those of sound, taste
(χυμὸς), and other sensible objects. There are seven colours[864]:

[861] Prantl’s Aristoteles über die Farben, pp. 101, 3.

[862] Ibid. pp. 104, 6.

[863] Ibid. p. 109. Ar. Metaph. I. 7. 1057 a. 23.

[864] Ibid. p. 116. Ar. de Sens. 4. 442 a. 12.

  1. μέλαν black.
  2. ξανθὸν gold.
  3. λευκὸν white.
  4. φοινικοῦν red.
  5. ἁλουργὸν violet.
  6. πράσινον green.
  7. κυανοῦν blue.

The φαιὸν or grey is a mode of black (μέλαν τι); and the ξανθὸν is
ingeniously described as having the same relation to light, which
richness (λιπαρὸν) has to sweetness (γλυκύ). Red, φοινικοῦν or
πορφυροῦν, is light seen through black. This is the most positive
colour after ξανθόν; then comes green, and then (ἁλουργὸν) violet[865].
He proceeds, ἔτι δὲ τὸ πλεῖον οὔκετι φαίνεται; meaning, I suppose, that
the κυανοῦν (the same thing is said by Prantl of ὄρφνιον, which he
translates brown) is so closely akin to the negative, or blackness, as
to be indistinguishable from it. Thus Aristotle appears to treat grey
as outside his scale altogether; he gives πορφυροῦν sometimes to red
and sometimes to blue[866]; and ὄρφνιον or brown is wholly omitted.
His order likewise varies: for, in different passages, ἁλουργὸν and
πράσινον change places.

[865] Ibid. p. 118. Met. III. 4. 374 b. 31.

[866] Comp. Met. I. 5. 342 b. 4. with III. 4. 374 a. 27.

~_Nature of our advantage over Homer._~

This condition of the philosophy of colour, so many centuries after
Homer, and in the mind of such a man as Aristotle, may assist in
explaining to us the undeveloped state of Homer’s perceptions in this
particular department.

There appears to be a remarkable contrast between such undigested
ideas, and the solidity, truth, and firmness of the remains of colour
that have come down to us from the ancients. The explanation, I
suppose, is, that those, who had to make practical use of colour, did
not wait for the construction of a philosophy, but added to their
apparatus from time to time all substances which, having come within
their knowledge, were found to produce results satisfactory and
improving to the eye. And even so Homer, though his organ was little
trained in the discrimination of colours, and though he founded himself
mainly upon mere modifications of light apart from its decomposition,
yet has made very bold and effective use of these limited materials.
His figures in no case jar, while they never fail to strike. Nor are
we to suppose that we see in this department an exception to that
comparative profusion of power which marked his endowments in general,
and that he bore, in the particular point, a crippled nature; but
rather we are to learn that the perceptions so easy and familiar to
us are the results of a slow traditionary growth in knowledge and in
the training of the human organ, which commenced long before we took
our place in the succession of mankind. We exemplify, even in this
apparently simple matter, the old proverbial saying: ‘The dwarf sees
further than the giant, for he is lifted on the giant’s shoulders.’

  _Note on the meaning of κύανος and χαλκός._

  The first impression from the Homeric text is likely to be that
  κύανος is a metal. For the substantive is mentioned but thrice in
  Homer; and always in immediate connection with metals.

  1. Il. xi. 24. Upon the buckler of Agamemnon there are, with twelve
  οἶμοι, folds, rims, or plies, of gold, and twenty of tin, ten of
  κύανος (μέλανος κυάνοιο).

  2. Il. xi. 34. On the shield of the king, there were twenty white
  bosses of tin, and, in the middle, one of κύανος (μέλανος κυάνοιο).

  3. Od. vii. 86. The walls of the palace of Alcinous were coated with
  χαλκὸς within, and round about them there was a cornice or fringe
  (θριγκὸς) of κύανος.

  There is no doubt that, in later Greek at least, the word acquired
  other significations: such as _lapis lazuli_, the blue cornflower,
  the rockbird (also as being blue), and, lastly, a blue dye or
  lacquer[867]. But, moreover, it seems impossible to identify the
  κύανος of Homer with any metal in particular.

  [867] Liddell and Scott _in voc._ Millin, Minéralogie Homérique, p.

  Some have asserted the κύανος of Homer to be steel[868]. But to this
  there seem to be conclusive objections. It appears very doubtful,
  whether the Greeks were acquainted with the process of making steel
  in masses by the immersion of iron in water. The English translation
  of Beckmann’s History of Inventions ascribes the knowledge of the
  process to Homer; but apparently in error[869]. There is no allusion
  whatever to it: for it is not at all implied by the elementary
  process of the manufacture of a tool in Od ix. 391-3. It was only
  by fire that iron could be made malleable at all: and no doubt it
  was known that by its immersion in water hardness was restored or
  increased (τὸ γὰρ αὖτε σιδήρου γε κράτος ἐστίν). But we have no
  trace either of the repetition of the process on the same piece of
  metal, or of its application to unmanufactured iron, or of a new
  denomination for iron when thus heated and cooled. On the contrary,
  in this passage the metal when fully hardened is still declared to be
  σίδηρος: and we have nowhere in Homer any trace of a relation between
  κύανος and σίδηρος, except the merely negative one, that neither of
  them is cast into the furnace for making the Shield of Achilles.

  [868] Friedreich, Realien, § 21. p. 86.

  [869] Vol. ii. p. 325.

  Again, the hardness of iron was such as apparently met all their
  wishes, and almost of itself constituted a difficulty. Hence it is
  used along with stones as a symbol of hardness; ἐπεὶ οὔ σφι λίθος
  χρὼς ἠὲ σίδηρος[870]. Again, we do not find it worked up with other
  metals; for example, on the buckler or shield of Agamemnon. As we
  have seen, it is not used by Vulcan in making the shield of Achilles.
  The god casts into the fire gold and silver, copper and tin; lead
  being apparently excluded as too soft, and iron as too hard for
  working in masses with the other metals. But the idea of hardness
  is never associated with κύανος; and, if it had been hard like
  steel, certainly it would not have been a suitable material for the
  intricate forms of dragons.

  [870] Il. iv. 510.

  Again, the adjective κυάνεος means in colour what is blue and what
  is deep; and by no means corresponds with the ordinary colour of
  steel. All this, besides the strength of the negative evidence, seems
  inconsistent with the idea that κύανος can have been steel.

  The Compiler of the Index to Eustathius makes κύανος (_in voc._)
  simply a dark metal. But Millin argues that κύανος without an epithet
  is tin, and that with the epithet μέλας it is lead. He observes that
  Pliny[871] appears to call tin by the name of _plumbum_ simply, and
  lead by the name of _plumbum nigrum_: so that the double use of
  κύανος and κασσίτερος for tin would be like that of _plumbum_ and
  _stannum_ for the same metal in Latin. This idea treats the substance
  as taking its name from the colour: and is so far sustained by the
  use of the German _blei_, which I presume is the same word as _blau_,
  for lead. But it would be singular that Homer should thus have double
  names for two metals, which of all classes of objects have perhaps
  been most commonly designated by single ones. And this hypothesis
  is not in accordance with the evident meaning of κυάνεος in Homer;
  since the word indicates a dark and deep hue very far from that of
  tin, which Homer describes as white. The after use of κύανος is
  equally adverse to the interpretation suggested.

  [871] H. N. xxxiv. 16. s. 47.

  The most probable interpretation for this difficult word appears
  to be that which is also in accordance with its subsequent use and
  description as a colour. From Linton’s ‘Ancient and Modern Colours,’
  (p. 21,) it appears that there was a κύανος αὐτοφυὴς, which was a
  _native_ blue carbonate of copper: and that, according to the express
  testimony of Dioscorides, this was obtained by the ancients from
  the copper-mines: κύανος δὲ γεννᾶται μὲν ἐν Κύπρῳ ἐκ τῶν χαλκουργῶν
  μετάλλων, v. 106. This interpretation would account for our finding
  κύανος in Homer: for the rarity of its use: for the dark colour and
  the affinity to πορφύρεος. Such a substance would make a good relief
  for the cornice in the palace of Alcinous, against the copper-plated
  walls: and would stand well in the rest of the passages where it
  appears to be placed in relief with other metals, Il. xviii. 564,
  xi. 39, and even on the buckler of Agamemnon, xi. 24. For on this
  buckler, though the serpents, called κυάνεοι, are evidently placed
  in contrast with the οἶμοι, and though among the οἶμοι there are ten
  of κύανος, yet, as they are combined with twelve of gold and twenty
  of tin, the general effect would be one such as we need not suppose
  Homer to have rejected. This blue carbonate is still found among
  other copper-ores, but less in our deep mines, than in the shallow
  ones worked by the ancients. I understand from a gentleman versed
  in metallurgy, that in its purest form it is crystalline, rarely
  massive or earthy, of a deep azure, brittle, easily powdered, and
  thus readily converted to use as a pigment.

  I should therefore suppose that the κύανος is not a metal: that the
  οἶμοι on the buckler mean lines or bands coloured in pigment: and
  that the boss on the shield is probably a nodule of the substance
  in its native state. We can thus understand why κύανος is not used
  either with the gold, silver, χαλκὸς, and tin, in the forge of
  Vulcan, or with the gold, silver, iron, and χαλκὸς of the chariot
  of Juno[872]. We can also understand why, though κύανος is not used
  in the forge, yet the trench round the vineyard on the shield of
  Achilles is κυανεή[873]. This interpretation is also in conformity
  with the Homeric employment of the adjective κυάνεος.

  [872] Il. xviii. 474. v. 722.

  [873] Ibid. 564.

  I understand that there is, in the _Museo Borbonico_ at Naples, a
  spoon or ladle, with a boss on the end of the handle, which is formed
  of this native blue carbonate of copper bored through for the purpose.

  Of the four significations given to χαλκὸς in Homer (copper, brass,
  bronze, and iron[874]), I adhere to the first. It cannot be iron,
  (1) because it is never mentioned as hard in the same way with it,
  (2) because it is so much more common, (3) because these metals are
  expressly distinguished one from the other, as in Il. v. 723.

  [874] Eustath. Il. i. p. 93.

  Neither can the χαλκὸς of Homer be bronze. Not, however, from
  absolute want of hardness: for I learn from competent authority that
  very good cutting instruments (not, of course, equal to steel) may be
  made in a bronze composed of 87½ parts copper, and 12½ parts tin. But
  for the following reasons:

  1. Homer always speaks of it as a pure metal along with other pure
  metals, even where Vulcan casts it into the furnace to be wrought;
  Il. xviii. 474.

  2. Again, because, although we must not argue too confidently from
  Homer’s epithets of colour, yet in this case we may lay considerable
  stress not only on his χαλκὸς ἐρυθρὸς (since the ἐρυθρὸς of Homer
  leans to brightness), but upon the ἤνοψ and νώροψ, which mean bright
  and gleaming. These epithets of light would not apply to bronze: nor
  would Homer plate with bronze the walls of the palace of Alcinous.
  Neither does it appear likely that he would give us a heaven of
  bronze among the imposing imagery of battle, Il. xvii. 424.

  3. It does not appear that Homer knew anything at all of the fusion
  or alloying of metals.

  We have, then, to conclude that χαλκὸς was copper, hardened by some
  method; as some think by the agency of water: or else, and more
  probably, according to a very simple process, by cooling slowly in
  the air. (See Millin, Minéralogie Homérique, pp. 126-32.)

SECT. V.[875]

[875] The substance of this and the two following Sections formed two
Articles in the Quarterly Review, Nos. 201 and 203, for January and
July respectively, 1857. They are reprinted with the obliging approval
of Mr. Murray.

_Homer and some of his Successors in Epic Poetry: in particular, Virgil
and Tasso._

~_Milton and Dante in relation to Homer._~

The great Epic poets of the world are members of a brotherhood still
extremely limited, and, as far as appears, not likely to be enlarged.
It may indeed well be disputed, with respect to some of the existing
claimants, whether they are or are not entitled to stand upon the
Golden Book. There will also be differences of opinion as to the
precedence among those, whose right to appear there is universally
confessed. Pretensions are sometimes advanced under the influence of
temporary or national partialities, which the silent action of the
civilized mind of the world after a time effectually puts down. Among
these there could be none more obviously untenable, than that set up on
behalf of Milton in the celebrated Epigram of Dryden, which seemed to
place him at the head of the poets of the world, and made him combine
all the great qualities of Homer and of Virgil. Somewhat similar ideas
were broached by Cowper in his Table Talk. The lines, as they are less
familiarly remembered, may be quoted here:

  Ages elapsed ere Homer’s lamp appeared,
  And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard;
  To carry Nature lengths unknown before,
  To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.

But this great master is also subject to undue depreciation, as well
as flattered by extravagant worship. I myself have been assured in a
company composed of Professors of a German University, who were ardent
admirers of Shakespeare, that within the sphere of their knowledge
Milton was only regarded as of equal rank with Klopstock. It is not,
I trust, either national vanity or religious prejudice, nor is it
the mere wonder inspired by the wide range of his attainments and
performances, which makes England claim that he should be numbered in
the first class of epic poets; in that class of which Homer is the
head, distinguished before all competitors by a clear and even a vast

It would be difficult to institute any satisfactory comparison between
Milton and Homer; so different, so wanting in points of contact, are
the characters partly of the men, and even much more of their works.
Perhaps the greatest and the most pervading merit of the Iliad is, its
fidelity and vividness as a mirror of man and of the visible sphere
in which he lived, with its infinitely varied imagery both actual and
ideal. But that which most excites our admiration in Milton is the
elasticity and force of genius, by which he has travelled beyond the
human sphere, and bodied forth to us new worlds in the unknown, peopled
with inhabitants who must be so immeasurably different from our own
race. Homer’s task was one, which admitted of and received what we may
call a perfect accomplishment; Milton’s was an undertaking beyond the
strength of man, incapable of anything more than faint adumbration,
and one of which, the more elevated the spectator’s point of view, the
more keenly he must find certain defects glare upon him. The poems of
Milton give us reason to think that his conceptions of character were
masculine and powerful; but the subject did not admit of their being
effectually tested. For his nearest approaches to perfection in his
art, we must look beyond his epics.

A comparison between Milton and Dante would be somewhat more
practicable, but it would not accord with the composition of the group,
which I shall here attempt to present, and which has Homer for its
centre. On the other hand, Dante might, far better than Milton, be
compared with Homer; for while he is in the Purgatorio and Paradiso
far more heavenly than Milton, he is also throughout the _Divina
Commedia_ truly and profoundly human. He is incessantly conversant with
the nature and the life of man; and though for the most part he draws
us, as Flaxman has drawn him, in outline only, yet by the strength and
depth of his touch he has produced figures, for example, Francesca and
Ugolino, that have as largely become the common property of mankind,
if not as Achilles and Ulysses, yet as Lear and Hamlet. Still the
theological basis, and the extra-terrene theatre, of Dante’s poem
remove him to a great distance from Homer, from whom he seems to have
derived little, and with whom we may therefore feel assured he could
have been but little acquainted.

The poets, whom it is most natural to compare with Homer, are those
who have supplied us in the greatest abundance with points of contact
between their own orbits and his, and who at the same time are such
manifest children of genius as to entitle them to the honour of being
worsted in such a conflict. These conditions I presume to be most
clearly fulfilled by Virgil and Tasso; and we may begin with the elder
of the pair.

Perhaps Chapman has gone too far when he says ‘Virgil hath nothing of
his own, but only elocution; his invention, matter, and form, being
all Homer’s[876].’ Yet no small part of this sweeping proposition can
undoubtedly be made good.

[876] Commentary on Il. ii.

With an extraordinary amount of admitted imitation and of obvious
similarity on the surface, the Æneid stands, as to almost every
fundamental particular, in the strongest contrast with the Iliad. As
to metre, figures, names, places, persons and times, the two works,
where they do not actually concur, stand in as near relations one to
another, as seem to be attainable without absolute identity of subject;
yet it may be doubted whether any two great poems can be named, which
are so profoundly discordant upon almost every point that touches
their interior spirit; upon everything that relates to the truth of
our nature, to the laws of thought and action, and to veracity in the
management of the higher subjects, such as history, morality, polity,
and religion.

~_Contrast between form and spirit in the Æneid._~

The immense powers of Virgil as a poet had been demonstrated before he
wrote the Æneid. He had shown their full splendour in the Georgics;
though the ἦθος, or (so to speak) the heart, even of that great
work was touched with paralysis by his Epicurean and self-centring
philosophy. The Æneid does not bear a fainter impression of his genius.
The wonderfully sustained beauty and majesty of its verse, the imposing
splendour of its most elaborate delineations, the power of the author
in unfolding, when he strives to do it, the resources of passion, and
even perhaps the skill which he has shown in the general construction
of his plot, cannot be too highly praised. But while its general nature
as an epic (for the epic poem is preeminently ethical) brought its
defects into fuller view, the particular object he proposed to himself
was fatal to the attainment of the very highest excellence. While
Homer sang for national glory, the poem of Virgil is toned throughout
to a spirit of courtierlike adulation. No muse, however vigorous, can
maintain an upright gait under so base a burden.

~_Catalogue in the Iliad and in the Æneid._~

And yet, in regard to its external form, the Æneid is perhaps, as a
whole, the most majestic poem that the European mind has in any age
produced. We often hear of the lofty march of the Iliad; but though
its versification is always appropriate and therefore never mean,
it only rises into stateliness, or into a high-pitched sublimity,
when Homer has occasion to brace his energies for an effort. He is
invariably true to his own conception of the bard[877], as one who
should win and delight the soul of the hearer; and so, when he has
strung himself, like a bow, for some great passage of his action,
‘has brought the string to the breast, the iron to the wood,’ and
has hit his mark, straightway he unbends himself again. Thus he
ushers in with true grandeur the marshalling of the Greek army in the
Second Book, partly by the invocation of the Muses, and partly by an
assemblage of no less than six consecutive similes, which describe
respectively the flash of the Greek arms, the resounding tramp, the
swarming numbers, the settling down of the ranks as they form the
line, the busy marshalling by the commanders, the majesty of Agamemnon
preeminent among them[878]. Having done this, he sets himself about
the Catalogue, with no contempt indeed of poetical embellishment by
epithets, and with an occasional relief by short legends, but still
in the main as a matter of business, historical, geographical, and
topographical. And thus he proceeds, with perfect tranquillity, for
near three hundred lines, until his work is done. We then find that
he has given us, together with a most minute account of the forces,
a living map of the territories occupied by the Greek races of the
age. But Virgil, in his imitation of the Homeric Catalogue (upon
which there will be further occasion to comment hereafter, with
reference to other matters), has pursued a course quite different.
Waiving Homer’s gorgeous introduction, which pours from a single
point a broad stream of splendour over the whole, Virgil with vast,
and indeed rather painful, effort, carries us through his long-drawn
list at a laboriously-sustained elevation. To vary the wearisome
task, he uses every diversity of turn that language and grammar can
supply[879]. He passes from nominative to vocative, and from vocative
to nominative. Somebody was present, and then somebody was not absent.
Arms and accoutrements are got up as minutely, as if he had been a
careful master of costumes dressing a new drama for the stage. That
we may never be let down for a moment, he distributes here and there
the similes, which Homer accumulated at the opening, and introduces,
between the accounts of military contingents, legends of twenty or more
lines. Upon the whole, the level of his verse through the Catalogue,
instead of being, like Homer’s, decidedly lower, is even higher than is
usual with him. There is not in it, I think, a single verse approaching
to the _sermo pedestris_. His reader misses that tranquillizing relief
so agreeable in Homer, which varies as it were the play of the muscles,
and freshens the faculties for a return to higher efforts. Virgil seems
to treat us, as horses at a certain stage of their decline are treated
by experienced drivers, who keep them going from fear that, if they
once let them stop or slacken, they will be unable to get up their pace
again. He never unbends his bow. But a table-land may be as flat, and
even wearisome, as a plain; and the ornaments in the Æneid frequently
are not, and indeed could hardly be, more ornamental than the passages
which they purport to embellish.

[877] Od. xvii. 385.

[878] Il. ii. 455-83.

[879] See also Lessing’s Laocoon, c. xviii. respecting the Shield in
the Æneid.

The difference of the two Catalogues cannot be more clearly exhibited
than by comparing Homer’s description of the very first contingent,
that from Bœotia[880], with Virgil’s opening paragraph about Mezentius;
or Homer’s last and nearly simplest, on the Magnesians[881], with the
description of Camilla, (certainly a description of remarkable beauty,)
with which is closed the glittering procession of the Italian army in
the Æneid.

[880] Il. ii. 494-510. Æn. vii. 647-54.

[881] Il. ii. 756-9. Æn. vii. 803-17.

The sustained stateliness of diction, metre, and rhythm in the Æneid
is a feat, and an astounding feat; but it is more like the performance
of a trained athlete, between trick and strength, than the grandeur
of free and simple Nature, such as it is seen in the ancient warrior,
in Diomed or Achilles; or in Homer, the ancient warrior’s only bard.
Different persons will, according to their temperaments, be apt to
treat this augustness of diction as a merit or a fault: all, however,
must acknowledge it to be a wonder. In this respect Virgil has been
followed with no ordinary power, but yet not equalled, by Tasso. And
the impression, created in this respect by the Æneid as it stands, must
be heightened when we remember that it is still an unfinished poem,
and that the author had at his decease by no means brought it, and the
later books of it in particular, up to what he considered the proper

The immense and untold amount of imitation in Virgil has perhaps tended
to make us less than duly sensible of his vast original powers; and
the mean and feeble effects produced by the character, if we can call
it a character, of his Æneas, cheat us into an untrue supposition that
he could not have possessed a real power of this the highest kind of

~_Character of Æneas._~

It is perhaps hardly possible to exhaust the topics of censure which
may be justly used against the Æneas of Virgil. His moral deficiencies
are not (so to speak) hidden amidst the accomplishments of a manly
intellect, nor his intellectual mediocrity redeemed by any fresh and
genuine virtues. He is not, to our knowledge, a statesman; nay more,
he is not a warrior; for we feel that his battles and feats of war are
the poet’s, and not his: and when he appears in arms we are tempted
to ask, ‘Son of Venus, what business have you here?’ The violent
exaggerations, by which Virgil attempts to vamp up his hero’s martial
character, only produce the ψυχρὸν of Longinus; a cold reaction,
approaching to a shudder, through the reader’s mind. As, for instance,
when in the Shades below, the poet represents the Greek chieftains[882]
as trembling and flying at the sight of him, the nobleness of the
verses cannot excuse either the tasteless solecism of the thought,
or the profanation offered to the memory of Homer in the person of
his heroes, who indeed often made Æneas tremble, but never trembled
at him themselves. But Virgil goes further yet, when he makes Diomed
assert[883] that, having been engaged in single combat with Æneas, he
knows by experience how terrible a warrior he will prove; and that, had
there been two more such men, Troy would have conquered Greece, and
not Greece Troy. Now, Æneas never in the Iliad even once executes a
real feat of war; and as to the single combat between the two chiefs,
Diomed first knocked him down with a stone[884], and then, after he had
been carried off and apparently set to rights by his mother, he was
thrice saved from the deadly charge of the same warrior by the single
intervention of Apollo, who by divine force arrested the attack. In
passing, it may be observed that, since Virgil could, with impunity, as
it appears, so far as his popularity was concerned, thus mutilate and
falsify the author from whose wealth he so largely borrowed, either the
knowledge of Greek literature in its head and father, Homer, must have
been very low among even the educated Romans, or else their standard of
taste must have been seriously debased before they could accept such

[882] At Danaûm proceres, etc.--Æn. vi. 489.

[883] Æn. xi. 282-7.

[884] Il. v. 302-10.

It is common to find fault with Æneas for his vile conduct to Dido, and
for the wretched excuse he offers in his own behalf, when he encounters
her offended spirit in the regions of Aidoneus and Persephone. But the
truth is, that this fairly exhibits and illustrates not only the total
unreality of this particular character, but, as will be further noticed
presently, the feeble and deteriorated conception of human nature at
large, which Virgil seems to have formed. Man has been treated by him
as, on the whole, but a shallow being: he had not sounded the depths of
the heart, nor measured either the strength of good or the strength of
evil that may abide in it. The Virgilian Æneas is a made up thing, far
fitter to stand among the νεκύων ἀμένηνα κάρηνα, than among men of true
flesh and blood.

  Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
  Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
  Which thou dost glare with[885].

[885] Macbeth iii. 3.

Nor can we draw an apology for the defects of this primary character
in Virgil from the Æneas of Homer. The Dardanian Prince is indeed
in the Iliad, as to everything essential, a taciturn and background
figure. He is placed very high in station and authority, and, as we
have seen[886], he may probably have been, by the dignity of lineal
descent, the head of the whole Trojan race. But Homer pays him off
with generalities; for, as no Poet is greater in the really creative
work of character, so none better understands how, where the purpose
of his poem requires it, to take a lay figure, and stuff him out with
straw. In what may be called the vital action of the Iliad, Æneas has
no considerable share, either martial or political. He is very far
indeed behind the noble Sarpedon in the first capacity, and Polydamas
in the second, as well as Hector in both. Still, if there is in the
Homeric Æneas nothing grand, nothing vigorous, nothing profound,
there is on the other hand nothing over-prominent or pretentious, and
therefore nothing mean, nothing inconsistent, nothing untrue. All the
Homeric characters, down to Thersites, are drawn each in its way with
a master’s hand; Æneas forms no exception: on the contrary, we have
to admire the skill with which, in a kind of middle distance, his
outline is filled up, and he is kept entirely clear of any confusion
with either those greater characters on the Trojan side, who have been
named, or with the effeminate Paris. This is the more worthy of note,
because, as the favourite child of Venus, he bore a qualified and dim
resemblance to her chief minion; as we may see by certain traits of his
very negative bearing in the field, and by Apollo’s putting him (if
the phrase may be allowed) to bed in Pergamus[887], when he had been
rescued from Diomed, just as Venus had done with Paris, after she had
saved him in the Third Book from Menelaus[888].

[886] Achæis, or Ethnology, sect. ix. p. 491.

[887] Il. v. 445.

[888] Il. iii. 382.

Neither did Virgil fail in the delineation of his hero, or
‘protagonist,’ from simple want of power to portray human character. No
such want can be ascribed to the poet of the Fourth Book of the Æneid.
And if it be true that, amidst all the stormy wildness and intensity of
the passion of Dido, there is something not quite natural--something
that recalls the very remarkable imitation of it in the ‘Duchesse de
la Vallière’ of Madame de Genlis, and leaves us almost at a loss to
say which of the two has most the character of a copy, and which of
an original--what are we to say of the genuine and manly character of
Turnus? The whole of that sketch is as good and true as we can desire;
and the noble speech in particular, in which he rebukes the trim
cowardice of Drances, is a work of such extraordinary power and merit,
that it is fit (and this I take for the summit of all eulogies) even to
have been spoken by the Achilles of Homer. In vigorous reasoning, in
biting sarcasm, in chivalrous sentiment, and in indignant passion, it
presents a combination not easily to be matched; and it is, as a whole,
admirably adapted to the oratorical purpose, for which it is presumed
to have been delivered. But, indeed, from our first view of Turnus to
our last, we do not find in him a single trait feeble in itself, or
unworthy of the masculine idea and intention of the portrait, except
where, in the very last passage of his life, his free agency seems to
be taken, as it were by force, out of his hands.

~_The false position of Virgil._~

The failure in the Æneas of Virgil cannot be compared with the case of
any modern romance, such as the Waverley or Old Mortality of Scott,
where the hero may be an insipid person. All the greater modern
inventors have been compelled to lay their foundations in the palpable
breadth of some historic event: it was the prouder distinction of the
Homeric epic, that it had a living centre; it hung upon a man; there
was enough of vital power in Homer for this end: his Achilles and his
Ulysses were each an Atlas, that sustained the world in which they
also moved. Virgil made his poem an Æneid, instead of following the
example of the Cyclic poets; he thus pledged himself to his readers,
that Æneas should be its centre, its pole, its inward light and life.
But he did not keep his word: he had drawn the bow of Homer without
Homer’s force. He marks perhaps the final transition from the old epic
of the first class to the new. After him we have the epics of fact, the
Pharsalia, the Thebaid, and so forth. But Æneas stands before us with
the pretensions of Achilles and Ulysses; and the failure is great in
proportion to the gigantic scale of the attempt. When, in the Italian
romance, the character of the ideal man, as shown in Orlando, again
became the basis of new epic poems, we again find in the protagonist
great weakness indeed, as compared with Achilles and Ulysses; but
strength and success as compared with the Æneas of Virgil.

Upon the whole we are thrown back on the supposition that this crying
vice of the Æneid, the feebleness and untruth of the character of
Æneas, was due to the false position of Virgil, who was obliged to
discharge his functions as a poet in subjection to his dominant
obligations and liabilities as a courtly parasite of Augustus. As
the entire poem, so the character of its hero, was, before all other
things, an instrument for glorifying the Emperor of Rome. It at once
followed, that in all respects must that character be such as to avoid
suggesting a comparison disadvantageous to the person whose dignity,
for political ends, had already been elevated even into the unseen
world; nay, whose forestalled divinity was to be kept in a relation
of absolute and broad superiority to the image of his human ancestor.
Æneas is himself addressed in the action of the Æneid, as

  Dîs genite, et geniture deos.

In order to arrive at the disastrous effects of this mental servitude,
take, first, the measure of the cold and unheroic character of
Augustus; then estimate the degree of relative superiority, which it
was essential to Virgil’s position that he should preserve for him
throughout; and thus we may come to some practical conception of the
straitness of the space within which Virgil had to develop his Æneas,
or, in other words, to run his match against Homer. All the faults, and
all the faultiness, of his poem may be really owing, in a degree none
can say how great, to this original falseness of position.

On account of the personal principle on which the ancient epic was
constructed, failure in the character of the hero must almost of
necessity have entailed failure in the poem. Most of all would this
follow in a case where, as in the Æneid, the hero is never out of view,
and where the action does not, as in the Iliad, travel away from his
person, in order then to enhance the splendour and effectiveness of his
reappearance. Thus the falseness of Virgil’s position was not confined
to an individual character, but extended to his entire work. Living,
too, in an age less natural and more critical than that of Homer, he
provided against criticism, so far as regarded its merely technical
functions, more, and he studied nature less. He had to construct his
epic for a court, and a corrupt court, not for mankind at large; it
followed, that he could not take his stand upon those deep and broad
foundations in human nature itself, which gave Homer a position of
universal command. Hence as a general rule he does not sing from the
heart, nor to the heart. His touches of genuine nature are rare. Such
of them as occur have been carefully noted and applauded, for he is
always studious to set them off by choice and melodious diction. For my
own part, I find scarcely any among them so true as the simile of the
mother labouring with her maidens at night, which he owes to Homer[889]:

[889] Hom. Il. xii. 433.

  Castum ut servare cubile
  Conjugis, et possit parvos educere natos[890].

[890] Æn. viii. 407-13.

~_As to religion, liberty, and nationality._~

With rare exceptions, the reader of Virgil finds himself utterly at a
loss to see at any point the soul of the poet reflected in his work. We
cannot tell, amidst the splendid phantasmagoria, where is his heart,
where lie his sympathies. In Homer a genial spirit, breathed from the
Poet himself, is translucent through the whole; in the Æneid we look in
vain almost for a single ray of it. Again, Virgil lived at a time when
the prevailing religion had lost whatever elements of real influence
that of Homer’s era either possessed in its own right, or inherited
from pristine tradition. It was undermined at once by philosophy and
by licentiousness; and it subsisted only as a machinery, a machinery,
too, already terribly discredited, for civil ends. Thus he lost one
great element of truth and nature, as well as of sublimity and pathos.
The extinction of liberty utterly deprived him of another. Homer saw
before him both a religion and a polity young, fresh, and vigorous; for
Virgil both were practically dead: and whatever this world has of true
greatness is so closely dependent upon them, that it was not his fault
if his poem felt and bears cogent witness to the loss. Even the sphere
of personal morality was not open to him; for what principle of truth
or righteousness could he worthily have glorified, without passing
severe condemnation on some capital act of the man, whom it was his
chief obligation to exalt?

And once more. Homer sang to his own people of the glorious deeds of
their sires, to whom they were united by fond recollection, and by
near historic and local ties. This was at once a stimulus and a check;
it cheered his labour, and at the same time it absolutely required
him to study moral harmony and consistency. Virgil sang to Romans of
the deeds of those who were not Romans, and whom only a most hollow
fiction connected with his hearers, through the dim vista of a thousand
years, and under circumstances which made the pretence to historical
continuity little better than ridiculous. Or rather, he sang thus, not
to Romans, but to their Emperor; he had to bear in mind, not the great
fountains of emotion in the human heart, but his town-house on the
Esquiline, and his country-house on the road from Naples to Pozzuoli.
In dealing with Greeks, with Trojans, with Carthaginians, he again lost
Homer’s double advantage: he had nothing to give a healthy stimulus
to his imagination, and nothing to bring him or to keep him to the
standard of truth and nature. And here, perhaps, we hit upon some clue
to the superior character and attractions of Turnus. The Poet was now
for once upon true national ground: he was an Italian minstrel, singing
to Italians, whether truly or mythically is of less consequence, about
an Italian hero. Thus he had something like the proper materials to
work with; and the result is one worthy of his noble powers, though
it has the strange consequence of setting all the best sympathies of
his readers, and of implying that his own were already set, in direct
opposition to the ostensible purpose of his poem.

It appears, however, as if this great and splendid Poet, being
thrown out of his true bearings in regard to all the deeper sources
of interest on which an epic writer must depend, such as religion,
patriotism, and liberty, became consequently reckless, alike in major
and in minor matters, as to all the inner harmonies of his work, and
contented himself with the most unwearied and fastidious labours in its
outward elaboration, where he could give scope to his extraordinary
powers of versification and of diction without fear of stumbling upon
anything unfit for the artificial atmosphere of the Roman court. The
consequence is, that a vein of untruthfulness runs throughout the whole
Æneid, as strong and as remarkable as is the genuineness of thought and
feeling in the Homeric poems. Homer walks in the open day, Virgil by
lamplight. Homer gives us figures that breathe and move, Virgil usually
treats us to waxwork. Homer has the full force and play of the drama,
Virgil is essentially operatic. From Virgil back to Homer is a greater
distance, than from Homer back to life.

~_Homer is misapprehended through Virgil._~

But more. Virgil is at once the copyist of Homer, and, for the
generality of educated men, his interpreter[891]. In all modern Europe
taken together, Virgil has had ten who read him, and ten who remember
him, for one that Homer could show. Taking this in conjunction with the
great extent of the ground they occupy in common, we may find reason to
think that the traditional and public idea of Homer’s works, throughout
the entire sphere of the Western civilization, has been formed, to a
much greater degree than could at first be supposed, by the Virgilian
copies from him. This is only to say, in other words, that it has been
sadly impaired, not to say seriously falsified; for there is scarcely
a point of vital moment, in which Virgil follows Homer faithfully, or
represents him either fairly or completely. Now this traditional idea
is not only the stock idea that governs the indifferent public, but
it is likewise the idea with which the individual student starts, and
which governs him until he has reached such a point in his progress as
to discover the necessity, and be conscious moreover of the strength,
to throw it off. This, however, is a point that, from the nature of
human life and its pursuits, very few students indeed can reach at
all. Elsewhere we shall see, with what evil and untrue effect Virgil
has handled some of the Homeric characters. It is the same in every
minor trait; and it seems strange that so great a Poet should not have
had enough of reverence for another Poet, greater still and enshrined
in almost the worship of all ages, to have restrained him from such
constant and wanton, as well as wilful, mutilations of the Homeric
tradition. It would, however, appear that Virgil’s miscarriages are not
all due to carelessness, in the common sense of it. In many instances,
unless so far as they can be referred to the necessities that press
upon a courtier, it would seem as if they must be ascribable to torpor
in the faculties, or defect in the habit of mind, by which Homer should
have been appreciated. Nay, sometimes he appears to have been moved
simply by metrical convenience to alter the traditions of Homer. Let us
take first a minor instance to test this assertion.

[891] In Dibdin’s ‘Editions of the Greek and Latin Classics,’ we find
nineteen editions of Virgil between 1469 and 1478. The _Princeps_
of Homer was only printed in 1488. Panzer, according to Dibdin,
enumerates ninety editions of Virgil in the 15th century (ii. 540.).
Mr. Hallam says (Lit. Eur., i. 420.), ‘Ariosto has been _after Homer_
the favourite poet of Europe.’ I presume this distinguished writer does
not mean to imply that Homer has been more read than any other poet.
Can his words mean that Homer has been more approved? It is worth while
to ask the question: for the judgments of Mr. Hallam are like those of
Minos, and reach into the future.

Nothing can be more marked than the prominence of the Scamander as
compared with the Simois in Homer. The Simois is named by him only six
times, and none of the passages show it to have been a considerable
stream. In the Twenty-first Book[892], Scamander invites Simois to join
him in pouring forth the flood which was to bear away Achilles, but
his ‘brother’ neither replies, nor takes part in the action. It would
appear, indeed, from geographical considerations, which belong to the
topography of the Troad, that in the summer Simois was probably dry.
This entirely accords with the passage in which this river supplies
ἀμβροσίη[893], a figure, as may be presumed, of grass, for the horses
of Juno. At any rate, that passage is at variance with the idea of the
river as a tearing torrent. Again, Homer mentions[894] that many heroes
fell, he does not say in, but about, the stream: above all, he does not
say they fell into its waters, but in the dust of it, or near it:

[892] Il. xxi. 307, et seqq.

[893] Il. v. 777.

[894] Il. xii. 22.

  καὶ Σιμόεις, ὅθι πολλὰ βοάγρια καὶ τρυφάλειαι
  κάππεσον ἐν κονίῃσι.

Again, Scamander is personified as the god Xanthus, and plays a great
part in the action: Simois is not personified at all. Scamander is
δῖος, διοτρεφὴς and much besides: Simois has no epithets. Simoeisius is
the son of Anthemion, a person of secondary account; but Scamandrius is
the name given by Hector to his boy. Simois, for all we know, may have
been either a dry bed, or little better than a rivulet; but armed men
are thrown into Scamander, and whirled by him to the sea. Lastly, the
plain where the Greek army was reviewed is λειμὼν Σκαμάνδριος, πέδιον
Σκαμάνδριον. Now a right conception of these rivers is not altogether
an insignificant affair, but is material to the clearness of our ideas
upon the military action of the poem. What then has Virgil done with
them? He has simply reversed the Homeric representation. Xanthus is
with him the unmarked river, Simois is the mighty torrent. Witness
these passages:

  Mitto ea, quæ muris bellando exhausta sub altis,
  Quos Simois premat ille viros. (Æn. xi. 256.)


  Victor apud rapidum Simoenta sub Ilio alto. (Æn. v. 261.)

And most of all, the passage which he has directly carried off from
Homer, and corrupted it on his way (Æn. i. 104):

            Ubi tot Simois correpta sub undis
  Scuta virûm galeasque et fortia corpora volvit.

And why all this? Plainly, I apprehend, because, while Scamander was
a word disqualified from entering into the Latin hexameter, Xanthus
also was somewhat less convenient than Simois for the march of his
resounding verse. Now this is a sample in small things of what Virgil
has done in nearly all things, both small and great.

~_Νεκυΐα of Homer and Virgil._~

There are instances in which Virgil is popularly thought to profit
by the comparison with Homer, and where, notwithstanding, a full
consideration may lead to a reversal of the sentence. The νεκυΐα of
the Eleventh Odyssey, for example, is thought inferior to that of the
Sixth Æneid. To bring them fairly together, we should perhaps put out
of view the philosophical and prophetical part of the latter[895]; but
whether we do it or not is little material in the comparison. In either
way, the _Inferno_ of Virgil is, upon the whole, a stage procession of
stately and gorgeous figures; but it has no consistent or veracious
relation to any idea of the future or unseen state actually operative
among mankind. Yet there existed such an idea, at least in the times
of which Virgil was treating, if not at the period when he lived. It
was surely a subject of the deepest interest, and of the most solemn
pathos. What we are as men here depends very much on our conception
of what we are hereafter to be. There is nothing more touching in all
the history of the race of Adam, than its blind and painful feeling
after a future still invisible. There is no witness to the comparative
degradation of a race or age, so sure as its having ceased to yearn
towards any thing beyond the grave. Homer has shown us in the Eleventh
Odyssey[896], that, together with his keen sense of the present and
visible, he felt the full force of this mysterious drawing towards the
unseen. He is plainly as much in earnest here, as in any part of the
poems. Virgil, on the other hand, succeeds in investing his hell with
almost unequalled pomp, approximating at times to splendour. Homer
attempts nothing of the kind; but he produces a perfect and profound
impression of those regions, according to the idea in his own mind:
they are shadowy, gloomy, cold, above all, and in one word, dismal.
Virgil contrives to leave the reader convinced that _he_ is a very
great artist: Homer lets all such matters take care of themselves.
But while Virgil creates no impression at all on the mind as to the
World of Shades, no image of the timid, vague, and dim belief that
was entertained respecting it, Homer has set it all before us with a
truthfulness never equalled or approached. And yet Virgil abounds in
details and measurements which Homer avoids. Tartarus is twice as deep
as the distance from earth to sky[897], and the Hydra has fifty mouths.
Yet the details of the one give no impression of reality, while the
utter local vagueness and dreaminess of the other is far more definite
in its effect, because it is made to minister to the appropriate
ideas of sadness, sympathy, and awe. As to particular passages, the
appearance of Dido is full of grandeur; but her silence, the basis of
it, is borrowed from that of Ajax; while in the Odyssey the striding of
Achilles in silence over the meadow of asphodel, when he swells with
exultation upon hearing that his son excelled in council and in war, is
perhaps one of the most sublime pieces of human representation, which
Homer himself ever has produced.

[895] Æn. vi. 724-893.

[896] We cannot safely assume the second Νεκυΐα of Od. xxiv. to be free
from interpolations.

[897] Homer has used this figure; but in an entirely different
connection, Il. viii. 13-16.

~_Ethnological dislocations._~

Let us now give an instance of Virgil’s utter indifference to historic
truth and consistency. It is the more remarkable, because as he was
pretending to derive the Julian family from the stock of Æneas, there
would apparently have been some advantage in adhering strictly to the
Homeric distinctions as to races on both sides in the Trojan war. But
this appears to be entirely beneath his attention. For instance, he
calls the Homeric Greeks Pelasgi[898]. It may be said he was guided by
the Italian traditions, which connected the Greek and Pelasgian names
as early colonists of that country. But first, some regard should be
paid to Homer in matters which concern Troy; and it is rather violent
to call the Greeks Pelasgi, when the only Pelasgi named in the war by
the Poet are placed on the side of their enemies. Secondly, as it was
his purpose throughout to depress the Greeks, why should he thus thrust
them into view as one with an Italian race? Above all, why do this
in a case, where Homer had himself supplied a link between Italy and
Troy? Again, Virgil calls the Greek camp _Dorica_ castra[899]. But the
Dorians at the period of the Trojan war were utterly insignificant, and
are never once named by Homer in connection with the contest. Again,
Virgil calls Diomed, and the city of Arpi founded by him, Ætolian, and
makes him complain that he was not allowed to go back to Calydon[900],
simply because his father Tydeus, as a son of Œneus, had been of
Ætolian extraction; though he commanded the Argives, and had nothing
whatever to do with the Ætolians of Homer. Again, following a late and
purposeless tradition, he calls Ulysses Æolides[901], though Homer
has given the descent of Ulysses[902] without in any manner attaching
it to the line of the Æolids, a collection of families whose descent,
on account probably of their historical importance, he is more than
ordinarily careful to mark.

[898] Æn. vi. 503.

[899] Æn. ii. 27. vi. 88.

[900] Æn. xi. 239-270.

[901] Æn. vi. 529.

[902] Od. xvi. 118.

With cases of simple inaccuracy, to which I do not seek to attach undue
weight, we may connect the manner in which he confounds, on the other
side, the distinctions of the Trojan races, so accurately marked by
Homer. In the Twentieth Iliad, the genealogy of the reigning families
of Troy and of Dardania is given with great precision. The distinction
between Trojans and Dardanians is preserved through the Iliad, though
the Trojan name is sometimes, but rarely, used to include the whole
indigenous army, and sometimes it even signifies the entire force,
including the allies, which opposed the Greek army. We might here,
however, suppose that it would have been in the interest of Virgil’s
aim to maintain, or even sharpen, the distinction between the Dardanian
line, which was at most but indirectly worsted by the Greeks, and the
line of Ilus, which fatally both sinned and suffered in the conflict of
the _Troica_. But, on the contrary, he is still less discriminating in
the use of names here, than he has been for the Greeks. The companions
of Æneas are sometimes Teucri, Trojani, or Trojugenæ--sometimes
Æneadæ, sometimes Dardanidæ. In the first of these names he entirely
contravenes Homer, who produces a Teucer eminent among the Greeks,
but nowhere connects the name with Troy, while Virgil makes a Cretan
Teucer[903] the founder of the Trojan race. I grant that he here
founds himself upon what may be called a separate tradition, though
it is vague and slender, of a Teucrian race in Troas. In the two last
appellations, without any authority, he wholly alters the effect of
the Greek patronymic, and changes the mere family-name into a national
appellation. Then again they appear as the Pergamea gens[904]. But
Pergamus in Homer was simply the citadel of Troy, and is a correlative
to πύργος[905]: the English might almost as well be called the people
of the Tower. Not content yet, he will also have the Trojans to be

[903] Æn. iii. 104.

[904] Æn. vi. 63.

[905] Scott and Liddell, in voc.

  Phrygibusque adsis pede, diva, secundo[906];

[906] Æn. x. 255. Cf. i. 618, Phrygius Simois; vii. 597, _et alibi_.

though in Homer the Phrygians are a people both ethnologically and
politically separate[907] from the Trojan races. Again as to Æneas
himself. He is called Rhæteius heros[908]; but if Virgil chose thus
to designate his hero by reference to a single point of the Trojan
territory, it should have been one with which he was locally connected,
whereas the dominions of his family were not near the promontory
or upon the coast, but among the hills at the other extreme of the
country. Then again Æneas is Laomedontius heros[909]; but Laomedon was
of the branch of Ilus, while Æneas belonged to that of Assaracus; and
was moreover perjured, while the line of Assaracus was marked with no
such taint. So we have again--

[907] Il. iii. 184.

[908] Il. xii. 436.

[909] Il. viii. 18.

  Dardanus, Iliacæ primus pater urbis et auctor[910];

[910] Ibid. 134. Cf. vi. 650.

but Dardanus founded Dardania, while Ilium did not exist until the time
of his great grandson Ilus. And here Virgil seems wholly to forget that
he had himself made Teucer the head of the race[911]. In describing the
migration of this hero from Crete to Troas, he says:

[911] Æn. iii. 104.

                  Nondum Ilium et arces
  Pergameæ steterant; habitabant vallibus imis[912].

[912] Æn. iii. 109.

Here he not only rejects Homer, who places Dardanus and the original
settlement among the mountains, but likewise represents what is in
itself improbable, since eminences, and not bottoms, were commonly
sought by the first colonists with a view to security. Choosing to
depart from Homer, he does not even agree with Apollodorus[913].
Lastly, he is not less neglectful of the actual topography; for he
implies that Ilium is among the hills, while it was, according to
Homer’s express words and according to universal opinion, on the plain
as opposed to the hills. Again we have from Virgil the allusion--

[913] Apollod. III. xii. 1.

            quibus obstitit Ilium, et ingens
  Gloria Dardaniæ[914].

[914] Æn. vi. 63.

Here is another case of metre against history, and in all such
cases history must go (as is said) to the wall. _Ilium_ would not
satisfactorily admit the genitive case; there could therefore be no
glory of Ilium, and on this account Virgil liberally assigns vast
renown to Dardania, which was a place of no renown whatever. But he is
quite as ready, it must be admitted, to contradict himself as he is to
contradict Homer. In Æn. ii. 540, he gives it to be understood that the
city of Troy alone was the kingdom of Priam, and that the Greek camp
was beyond it, for he makes Priam say of his return from the camp,

  meque in mea regna remisit.

But a very little further on he calls Priam (v. 556),

      tot quondam populis regnisque superbum
  Regnatorem Asiæ.

Each account is alike inaccurate: Priam had more than a city, but his
dominions were confined to a mere nook of Asia Minor. And again, before
quitting this part of the subject, let us observe how, in the case of
Anchises, he departs from Homer, even where it would have served the
purpose of his story to follow him closely. The Anchises of Homer is
an ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν; he does not appear at Troy among the δημογέροντες of
the city, or of Priam’s court, which would have made him a secondary
figure; he resides at Dardania as an independent sovereign, and it
seems not unlikely that in lineal dignity, at least, he was even before
Priam. But the Anchises of Virgil is resident in Troy[915]; and is
therefore, of course, to be taken for a subject of Priam. Here the
alteration very much lowers the rank of Æneas, and so far, therefore,
of Augustus.

[915] Æn. ii. 634.

The effect of all this is, without any real gain either moral or
poetical, entirely to bewilder the mind of the reader of the Æneid, in
regard to a subject of real interest both historical and ethnological,
with respect to which Homer has left on record a most careful and
clear representation. It must indeed be admitted, that the intervening
poets had set many examples of similar license; indeed they had made
irregularity a rule; but they had no such powerful reasons as Virgil
had for imitating, in some points at least, the precision of Homer, and
besides, he has perhaps exceeded them all in the multitude and variety
of his departures from it. On the other hand, some allowance, I admit,
should be made for the less flexible character of the Latin tongue,
which might have made the peculiar accuracy of Homer a real difficulty
to Virgil.

I have thus minutely traced out this course of inconsistency and
contradiction in particular instances, because they are highly
illustrative of the character of Virgil’s work, if not of his mind.
After the political and courtly idea of the poem, he seems to have
abandoned all solicitude except for its form and sound, and to have
been totally indifferent as to presenting any veracious, or if that
word imply too much credulity, any self-consistent pattern, of manners,
places, events, or characters.

Virgil must, materially at least, have saturated himself with the Iliad
before he planned the Æneid, for his borrowing is alike incessant
and diversified; and this it is which renders it so singular that he
should at once have exposed himself to the double charge of servilely
imitating and of gratuitously disfiguring his original.

If we look to the action of the Twelfth Book of the Æneid, it is all
made up from Homer cut in pieces and recast. It begins with the idea of
the single combat, borrowed from the Third and Seventh Iliads. Then
come the pact and the breach of it by Juturna, under Juno’s influence,
which are borrowed from the treachery of Pandarus, prompted by Minerva,
under the same instigation. Next, the flight of Turnus before Æneas is
borrowed from that of Hector before Achilles. After this, Turnus is
disabled by a divine agency, like Patroclus before Hector; a downfall
brought about in the one case, as in the other, without peril and
without honour, so that here we have a copy even of one among the
few points where the Iliad was little worthy to be imitated. Lastly,
the thought of Pallas in the mind of Æneas (more highly wrought,
however, and very effective), plays the part of the recollection of
Patroclus[916] in the mind of Achilles.

[916] Il. xxii. 331-47.

~_Unfaithful imitations of detail._~

Both here and elsewhere, the imitations in detail are too numerous to
be noted. Some of them even descend to a character which, independently
of their minuteness, approaches the ludicrous. The very dung, in which
the Oilean Ajax loses his footing[917], in the Twenty-third Iliad,
is reproduced in the Fifth Æneid, that Nisus may flounder in it. But
even here we may note two characteristic differences. Homer trips up a
personage, whom he has no particular occasion to set off favourably.
Virgil chooses for the object of derision Nisus, on whom, in the
beautiful episode which soon after follows, he is about to concentrate
all the tenderest sympathies of his hearers. And again, Homer makes
Ajax slip where, as he says, the oxen had just been slain over
Patroclus: Virgil has no such probable cause to allege for the presence
of the obnoxious material[918], but says _cæsis forte juvencis_. Now
the Trojans had in fact left the tomb of Anchises, and had gone to a
chosen spot to celebrate the foot-races[919]; so that even his gore and
ordure are quite out of place.

[917] Il. xxiii. 775-81. Æn. v. 333, 356.

[918] Ibid. 329.

[919] Ibid. 286-90.

So again, of all the _formulæ_ in Homer, it is not very clear why
Virgil should have chosen to recall the rather commonplace line

  αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ πόσιος καὶ ἐδήτυος ἐξ ἔρον ἕντο

in his own more ambitious and resounding verse,

  Postquam exemta fames, et amor compressus edendi[920];

[920] Æn. viii. 185.

but it is still more singular that, instead of saying that hunger and
thirst were satisfied, he should leave out thirst altogether, and fill
up his hexameter by mentioning hunger twice over.

Still it seems not a little strange, notwithstanding the power of the
disabling causes which have been enumerated, that, with so vast an
amount of material imitation, Virgil should not have acquired, even by
accident or by sheer force of use, some traits of nearer resemblance in
feeling, and in ethical handling, to his great original.

His maltreatment of the Homeric characters is most conspicuous,
perhaps, in the instance of Helen. This case, indeed, deserves a
separate consideration of the causes which have reduced a beautiful,
touching, and remarkably original portrait to a gross and most common
caricature. But Ulysses, as the prince of policy, had perhaps a better
claim to be comprehended by a Roman at the court of Augustus. Yet
the Ulysses of Virgil simply represents the naked ideas of hardness,
cunning, and cruelty. He is never named but to be abused; and, though
the mention of him is not very frequent, it is easy to construct from
the poem a pretty large catalogue of vituperative epithets, unmitigated
by any single one of an opposite character. He is _durus_, _dirus_,
_sævus_, _pellax_, _fandi fictor_, _artifex_, _inventor scelerum_, and
_scelerum hortator_. Even physical circumstances, however, and those
too of the broadest notoriety, Virgil entirely overlooks. Nothing can
be more at variance with the effeminate character of the Homeric Paris,
his impotence in fight, and his distinction limited to the bow, which
was then the coward’s weapon, than to represent him as possessed of
vast physical force. Yet even on this Virgil has ventured. In the games
of the Fifth Book, when Æneas invites candidates for the pugilistic
encounter, the huge Dares immediately presents himself, and he is
described as the only person who could box with Paris[921]!

[921] Æn. v. 370.

  Solus qui Paridem solitus contendere contra.

Heyne urges by way of apology the authority of Hyginus, who was no
more than the contemporary of Virgil himself; and presumes that
Virgil followed authorities now lost: a sorry defence, because the
representation is inconsistent not merely with the facts, but with the
essential idea of the Paris of Homer, and therefore proves that Virgil
did not try or care to understand the character, or to be faithful to
his master.

~_Maltreatment of Mythology and Ethics._~

But it is time to give some instances, which show an utter disregard of
either mythological or moral consistency.

In the Eighth Æneid, Æneas and Anchises are much troubled in mind; and
so it appears they must have continued,

  Nî signum cœlo Cytherea dedisset aperto;
  Namque improviso vibratus ab æthere fulgor
  Cum sonitu venit[922].

[922] Æn. viii. 523.

This idea of a _Cytherea tonans_ is as incongruous as it is novel.
To preserve the characteristic attributes of the several deities of
the Pagan mythology contributes to beauty, and was therefore at least
an obligation imposed by the poetic art; but Virgil is not content
with simply departing from it by taking the management of thunder
and lightning out of the hands of Jupiter and the highest deities;
he cannot be satisfied without giving it to Venus. With her Homeric
character, and with any consistent conception of her attributes, it is
utterly irreconcilable.

But again, in the Second Æneid, Virgil makes Venus address to her son
the following majestic lines, when he was about to slay Helen amidst
the conflagration of Troy:

  Non tibi Tyndaridis facies invisa Lacænæ
  Culpatusve Paris: Divûm inclementia, Divûm
  Has evertit opes, sternitque a culmine Trojam[923].

[923] Æn. ii. 601.

In which he plainly imitates the words of Priam,

  οὔτι μοι αἰτίη ἐσσὶ, θεοί νύ μοι αἴτιοί εἰσιν,
  οἵ μοι ἐφώρμησαν πόλεμον πολύδακρυν Ἀχαιῶν[924].

[924] Il. iii. 164.

Now, even with reference to the acquittal of Helen, the cases are
quite dissimilar. What Homer puts into the mouth of Priam, Virgil
stamps with the authority of a deity: what Priam says of the Homeric
Helen, who had been carried off by Paris, and whose general character
was very far from depraved, the Venus of Virgil says of a hardened
traitress as well as adulteress. Again, what Priam says relative to
himself, ‘_I_ do not blame thee,’ seems in the Æneid to resemble the
unlimited enunciation of an abstract proposition. But, above all, let
us notice how lamentably Virgil has mauled the sentiment by introducing
Paris into the passage, of whose moral guilt, if there be such a thing
as moral guilt upon earth, there could be no doubt, and whom Homer,
with true poetic justice, has taken care to punish by making him the
object of the general reprobation and hatred of his countrymen[925].
In acquitting such an offender, and throwing the charge of his crimes
upon the Immortals, by the mouth, too, of one belonging to their
number, Virgil has given into the worst form of fatalism, that namely
which annihilates all moral sanctions and ideas as applicable to human

[925] Il. iii. 453, and elsewhere.

And this he has done with no plea whatever which might have been
drawn, _valeat quantum_, from the exigencies of his poem. Paris was
not before the eye of Æneas: Venus was not dissuading her son from
taking vengeance upon Paris; he is forced into our sight; the allusion
is as irrelevant with reference to the purpose of the passage, as it
is blameworthy in an ethical point of view; and in all probability the
mention of him is introduced for no other reason than that it supplied
Virgil with a hemistich to fill up a gap in an extremely fine passage,
and to secure its prosodial equilibrium, to which the balance of moral
sanctions is sacrificed without remorse.

As it is with the management of his gods, so with his conception
of human nature; Virgil seems to have lost the sight of its higher
prerogatives, and especially of the great and noble truth, that it
is susceptible of divine influences without the loss of its free
agency. The poems of Homer, notwithstanding their copious theurgy, are
throughout eminently and entirely human. Their human agency is adorned
and elevated (as well as unhappily lowered and darkened), it is even
modified and controlled, but never inwardly mutilated, curtailed or
superseded, by the interference of the Immortals. But, in regard to his
relations with the deities, Æneas is a mere puppet; and the gallant
spirit of Turnus on his last battlefield is, as it were, put down
within him by main force from heaven.

~_Æneas and Dido in the Shades._~

Thus for example, Virgil is not ashamed to introduce to us Æneas in
the shades below apologizing to Dido for his black desertion of her by
saying, ‘he could not help it, the gods compelled him; and really he
never thought she would take it so much to heart.’

  Invitus, regina, tuo de litore cessi;
  Sed me jussa deûm ...
  Imperiis egere suis; nec credere quivi
  Hunc tantum tibi me discessu ferre dolorem[926].

[926] Æn. vi. 460.

Compare with this the extraordinary truth, beauty, and manfulness of
the speech, in which Ulysses takes his farewell of Calypso[927]. This
is its tenour: ‘Be not incensed; I know Penelope is less beautiful
than thou; yet is my desire, from day by day, towards my home; and
if I be wrecked upon my way, this too I will endure, even as I have
endured much before.’ In Virgil’s hands, the chief would probably
have shuffled off the responsibility from himself upon the shoulders
of the gods. Never shall we find one of Homer’s heroes doing this,
either beforehand, as by saying, ‘I do not wish to do it, but I am
ordered,’ or retrospectively. There is one exception; it is when
Agamemnon says that Ἄτη, the goddess of Mischief, with Jupiter, had
misled him[928], and that he was not himself to blame. But Agamemnon,
alone among the Greek heroes, had in his character a strong element
of what we call shabbiness; and what is more, he uses this plea only
after making reparation, and not, as Æneas does, in lieu of any. To
resume, however, the thread. Sometimes the Homeric heroes are pious,
sometimes disobedient; sometimes bold, and sometimes fearful; sometimes
they submit to overpowering force, sometimes they struggle even against
destiny; but they never appear before us shorn of the first attribute
of manhood, its free will.

[927] Od. v. 215-24.

[928] Il. xix. 86. When Achilles (270) as it were countersigns this, it
is evidently in his character of a high-bred gentleman; a character, of
which he gives so many proofs in the poem.

It seems then that Virgil really did not care to form the habit, and
thus commonly failed in the power, of working the higher springs of
our nature. He puts the clay into the fire, but the pitcher does not
always come out such as he intended it; not even when, instead of
trusting, like Homer, to simple action as the vehicle of his meaning,
he uses the precautionary measure of describing it.

Thus he prepares us to expect in Mezentius a monster of impiety,
cruelty, and brutality, from the account and the epithets by which
he is introduced to us[929]. In words scattered here and there, this
‘contemptor divûm’ is made to sustain his impious character. _Dextra
mihi deus_, he says; and again _nec divûm parcimus ulli_[930]. But
these are really mere black patches, set upon a character with which
they do not accord; they remain patches still, and not parts of it.
Practically, Mezentius proceeds in the poem only as an affectionate
father, and as a gallant warrior, should do; and there is no more of
real impiety in him, than there is of real piety in Æneas. Nay, here
again Virgil shows his contempt of consistency. For, when Mezentius
slays Orodes, who prophesied that his conqueror would meet with a
similar fate upon the field of battle, Mezentius replies in the most
decorous manner (copying the very language of Achilles to the dying

[929] Æn. vii. 648; viii. 7, 482.

[930] Æn. x. 773, 880.

[931] Il. xxii. 365.

  Nunc morere. Ast de me divûm pater atque hominum rex

[932] Æn. x. 743.

~_Woman characters of Homer and Virgil._~

Though Virgil is esteemed a woman-hater, he has availed himself of
the use of female characters to a degree only exceeded, so far as I
recollect, by the highly susceptible Tasso. His celestial machinery is
principally worked by Juno and by Venus: we miss altogether in him that
jovial might of the Homeric Jupiter, which is recalled in the historic
portraits of king Henry the Eighth of England. Of mortals we have,
besides the mute Lavinia, and minor or transitory personages, Dido,
Juturna, Amata, Camilla. All these play very marked parts in the poem;
indeed, they supply the mainsprings of the action; and the characters
of all are drawn with great spirit and success, while the Passion of
Dido will probably always be quoted as the most magnificent witness,
which the whole range of the poem affords, to the original power and
genius of its author. Yet even in these, his signal successes, it is
curious to notice the dissimilarity between Virgil and Homer. Homer,
too, has been eminently successful in his women. His greater studies of
Helen, Andromache, and Penelope are fully sustained by the truth and
force of all the less conspicuous delineations: Hecuba, Briseis, the
incomparable Nausicaa, the faithful Euryclea, the pert and heartless
Melantho. But how different are the works of the two poets! In all
Virgil’s women (as on the other hand his men are apt to be effeminate)
there is a tinge of the masculine. Many a woman would stab herself for
love like Dido; but none, not even in France, with her pomp, apparatus,
and self-consciousness. Their fates, too, are all of a violent
character. Amata, as well as Dido, commits suicide; Camilla is slain;
Juturna is immortal indeed, but is dismissed from earth with what for
her comes nearest to an image of death; with defeat, mortification,
shame. But on the contrary, the feminineness of Homer’s women has never
been surpassed. In Hecuba alone, at one single point in the story,
there is an apparent exception; yet it is no great violence done to
nature, if we find in her after Hector’s death the wild ferocity of
the dam deprived of her offspring, and if revenge then drives her for
a moment into the temper of a cannibal. Elsewhere beyond doubt, even
in Melantho, the feminine character is not wholly obliterated, but is
left at the point where in actual life licentiousness and vanity might
leave it. In Helen, Andromache, Nausicaa, it reaches a perfection which
has never been surpassed, unless by Shakespeare, in human song. There
is, however, something to be observed, which is more striking and
characteristic. The Virgilian delineations of women tell us absolutely
nothing, or next to nothing, of the social position of womankind either
at the epoch of Æneas or at any other; a matter which has stood so
differently in different ages and states of mankind, yet which has at
all times been one of the surest tests for distinguishing a true and
healthy from a hollow civilization. But the Homeric poems furnish a
picture of this interesting subject not a whit less complete than any
other picture they contain. The Woman of the heroic age of Greece
stands before us in that immortal verse no less clear, no less truly
drawn, no less carefully shaded, than the Warrior, the Statesman, and
the King.

These are great matters: but Virgil is also as careless, as Homer is
careful, of minor proprieties. For instance, he describes the Italian
smiths engaged in preparing suits of armour upon the invasion of Æneas.
Some, he says, make breastplates of brass; and he continues,

  Aut leves ocreas lento ducunt argento[933].

[933] Æn. vii. 633.

Here, we presume, his purpose was to represent the hammering process by
a heavy spondaic line--in evident imitation of Homer, who has done it
still more completely in the

  θώρηκας ῥήξειν δηΐων ἀμφὶ στήθεσσιν[934].

[934] Il. ii. 544.

But Homer always gains his metrical objects without injuring the sense;
Virgil, on the contrary, has committed an error, by representing silver
(a most rare and valuable metal, especially in the Trojan times)
as used in large masses for making armour; and a grosser solecism,
by representing the greaves as made of far finer material than the
breastplates. Perhaps he was helped into this error by a careless
reminiscence, that Homer had in some way connected silver with the
greaves. This is not, however, in armour as generally used, but in the
case of some of the greatest chiefs, including Paris, whose dandyism,
we know, extended particularly to his arms. Nor are even his greaves
made of, or even plated with, silver, but only the clasps of them:

  κνημῖδας μὲν πρῶτα περὶ κνήμῃσιν ἔθηκεν
  καλὰς, ἀργυρέοισιν ἐπισφυρίοις ἀραρυίας[935].

[935] Il. iii. 330.

Virgil is careful enough as to geography, when he deals with countries
under the eye of his hearers. But he can scarcely be excused for
inverting the Homeric order of the mountains piled up by the giants.
Homer places Mount Pelion on Ossa, and Ossa on Olympus:

  Ὄσσαν ἐπ’ Οὐλύμπῳ μέμασαν θέμεν, αὐτὰρ ἐπ’ Ὄσσῃ
  Πήλιον εἰνοσίφυλλον[936].

[936] Od. xi. 315.

This description is in conformity with the proportionate heights of
the mountains, among which Olympus is the highest, Ossa the next,
Pelion the least. But Virgil makes Pelion the base, and Olympus the

  Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam
  Scilicet, atque Ossæ frondosum involvere Olympum[937].

[937] Georg. i. 281.

It is not simply that Homer is here geographically accurate, and Virgil
the reverse. Homer has adopted the pyramidal structure, which satisfies
the eye, and lays a firm and obvious road, so to speak, to the skies.
Virgil does not. He subjoins to his description the verse,

  Ter pater extructos disjecit fulmine montes.

But Jupiter might have spared himself the trouble: the mountains would
have tumbled of themselves.

~_Confusion of natural Phenomena._~

Before parting from the subject, it may be well to give another example
of the indifference of Virgil to the association between poetry, and
the order of external nature as such. In the Fourth Æneid, he speaks of
Mercury as passing over Mount Atlas on his way to Carthage; from what
point I do not now inquire. The lines are these[938];

[938] Æn. iv. 248-51.

  Atlantis, cinctum assidue cui nubibus atris
  Piniferum caput et vento pulsatur et imbri;
  Nix humeros infusa tegit: tum flumina mento
  Præcipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba.

His pine-bearing head, girt with clouds, is beaten by wind and rain.
So far so good. But while such is the temperature of the air at the
summit, it grows colder, not warmer, as we descend: for snow covers his
shoulders. This is the second image. Next, we mount again to his mouth,
which discharges rivers over his chin: and not even here have we done
with incongruity, for his beard, although thus watered from above, is
rough and stiff with ice. Now such a confusion, as is here exhibited,
of images which nature always exhibits in a fixed and very imposing
order, is, we may be assured, no mere casual error, but indicates a
rooted indifference about matters which the poets of nature study, not
only with accuracy, but with an accuracy which is the fruit of their
reverence and love.

The Dolopes of Homer are a part of the Myrmidons, for they are the
subjects of Phœnix[939], and Phœnix commands the fifth division of
the Myrmidons: they are named by Virgil as a separate race[940]. The
Rhadamanthus of Homer appears to have been conceived by the Poet as a
mild and benevolent character, for he is placed in the Plains of the
Blest, while Minos administers severer justice in the under-world. But
the Rhadamanthus of Virgil is the judge of the infernal regions, and is
the image of rigour; while his Minos[941] has the very mild and also
secondary function of dealing, in the vestibule of the Shades, with the
cases of such persons as had been unjustly condemned on earth[942].
Again, where Homer uses exaggeration to enhance effect, Virgil carries
it far into caricature. In the Iliad, Diomed[943] heaves a stone, of
a weight that ‘two men such as are nowadays (οἷοι νῦν βροτοί εἰσι)
could scarcely lift.’ He allows for a short interval since the Trojan
war, and says that two ordinary men of his day could scarcely lift
what warriors of extraordinary strength, by an extraordinary effort,
then raised and hurled. In another place, Ajax flings a stone, such as
even a man in the fullest vigour could now scarcely hold[944]. Again,
Hector discharges against the Greek rampart one which two strong men
could hardly raise with a lever; but then he is specially aided by
Jupiter[945]. Now in the Fifth Æneid, Æneas gives to Mnestheus, as a
prize, a breastplate which he himself had won, the spoil of Demoleos.
This Demoleos[946] was no hero, for he is never named by Homer; again,
the Demoleos of Virgil wore the breastplate when he chased the Trojans
flying in all directions (‘palantes,’ Æn. v. 265), so that it must
have been light to him: there was no time at all for human degeneracy,
since they are still his contemporaries that are on the stage; and yet
such was the weight of this breastplate, that two men together could
scarcely carry it on their shoulders.

[939] Il. ix. 484, and xvi. 196.

[940] Æn. ii. 7.

[941] Æn. vi. 432.

[942] Although it may be a deviation from the direct path, yet, having
noticed in so much detail the unfaithfulness of Virgil to his original,
I will also give an instance of the accuracy of Horace. In the Seventh
Ode of the First Book, he has occasion to refer to the places made
famous in Homeric song; and Athens with him is Palladis urbs; so Argos
(ἱππόβοτον) is _aptum equis_, Mycænæ (πολύχρυσος) _dites_, Larissa
(ἐριβώλαξ) _opima_. Lacedæmon is _patiens_, an epithet corresponding
with no particular word in Homer, but not contradicted by any; it had
acquired the character since his time.

[943] Il. v. 303. See also Il. xx. 285.

[944] Il. xii. 382.

[945] Ibid. 445-50.

[946] Homer names a Demoleon, son of Agenor; but he is slain fighting
for the Trojans. Il. xx. 395.

  ‘Vix illam famuli Phegeus Sagarisque ferebant
  Multiplicem, connixi humeris[947].’

[947] Æn. vi. 233.

Let it not be thought that the varied examples, which have here been
quoted, are either irrelevant or without serious significance. There
cannot, surely, be a more decided error than to treat accuracy in
matters of this kind as a matter of sheer indifference. It is not only
inseparable from the function of the primitive Poet as the historian
of his subject, but it appertains also to the perfection of his
poetic nature, that he should have a nice sense of proportion even in
figurative language. I have dwelt, however, upon minor points, not for
their own sake, but because the manner in which Virgil handles them
appears to throw no unimportant light upon the frame and temper of his
work at large, and of the later as compared with the earliest poetry.

~_Contrast of principal aims._~

In diction, Virgil is ornate and Homer simple; in metre, Virgil is
uniform and sustained, Homer free and varied; in the faculty of
invention, for which the historical office of early poetry still
leaves ample room, Homer is inexhaustible, while, from the needless
accumulation of imitations in every sort and size, Virgil gives ground
to suspect that he was poor, at least by comparison. The first thought
of Homer was his subject, and the second his nation; the first thought
of Virgil was his Emperor and the court around the throne, the second
the elaboration of his verse. Characters, feelings, facts, were used by
Virgil for producing on the mind the effect of scenic representation;
the end of Homer, on the contrary, was to give adequate vent,
in and through these things poetically conceived and handled, to
his own yearnings, and to the sympathies of his hearers[948]. The
intercommunion of spirit between the poet and those to whom he sang,
was not in him a sordid quest of popularity; it was only an expression
of the truth that he founded both his composition and his hopes upon
the basis of a great effort to be the organ of the general heart of
mankind. All this we may discern in his notices, informal as they are,
of the profession of the minstrel:

[948] The aim of the poet as such is finely, but somewhat too
exclusively, expressed in the Sonnet of Filicaja, _Dietro a questi
ancor io_.

  ἢ καὶ θέσπιν ἀοιδὸν, ὅ κεν τέρπῃσιν ἀείδων[949]·

[949] Od. xvii. 385.

in the names he assigns to them, where they were not historical
characters, Δημόδοκος, and Φήμιος Τερπιάδης; in the moral uprightness
with which he invests them; for, though it was the office of Phemius to
delight, his heart was never with the licentious and guilty band that
held the palace of Ulysses:

  ὅς ῥ’ ἤειδε μετὰ μνηστῆρσιν ἀνάγκῃ[950].

[950] Od. xxii. 331.

And again, in the offices of guardianship which they exercised; for
Agamemnon, when he left his home for Troy, carefully enjoined upon the
bard of his palace the care of Clytemnestra; and his advice, with her
own right sense, for a time stood her in good stead[951]. Such was the
bard in the living description of Homer; such he was represented in
the Poet himself, never thrust into view, but ever understood, ever
perceived, through his works. On the other hand, the character of the
bard, as exhibited in Virgil, is what may be termed professional: the
fire and power of genius may be in him, but they must work only under
conventional forms, and for ends prescribed according to the spirit of
that lower and narrower utility which is, not logically perhaps, but
yet very effectively, denominated utilitarianism. A remarkably high
form of exterior art, with a radical inattention to substance, both
of facts and laws, has been the result in the case of Virgil. And it
is rather significant, that this great Poet has nowhere placed upon
his canvass the figure of the bard amidst the abodes of man; as if the
very type had perished from the earth in those degenerate days, and
the memory of him could not be recalled. An effete and corrupted age
could no longer conceive a mind like the mind of Homer; an Æolian harp
so finely strung, that it answers to the faintest movement of the air
by a proportionate vibration: with every stronger current its music
rises, along an almost immeasurable scale, which begins with the lowest
and softest whisper, and ends in the full swell of the organ.

[951] Od. iii. 267.

~_Change in the idea of the Poet’s office._~

By a false association of ideas, we have come to place accuracy and
genius in antagonism to one another. It is Homer who may best undeceive
us: except indeed that most complete solution which the mind gladly
perceives when, ascending to the Author of all being, it finds in Him
alone the source and the perfection, alike of Order and of Light; alike
of the most minute, and of the most gigantic operations. But among men
Homer best exemplifies this union. It is not indeed the precision of
dry facts, terminating upon itself: it is the precision of sympathies,
of sympathies with nature and with man, to which the minute and
scrupulous adjustments of Homer are to be referred; and this precision
is probably due by no means to conscious effort, but to the spontaneous
operations of the soul. In this view his far-famed, but not even yet
fully fathomed, accuracy is no deduction from his greatness, but is in
truth a proof of the near approach to perfection in the organization
of his faculties. The later poets have too often torn asunder, what in
him was harmoniously combined. They have conferred upon their art a
deadly gift, in claiming first an exemption _ad libitum_ from the laws,
not only of dry fact, but of Truth in its higher sense, of harmony and
self-consistency, and of all, except a merely external beauty, which
was meant to be the vehicle and not the substitute for all those great
and discarded qualities. In this work of laceration, Virgil has borne
no secondary share.

Upon the whole, though it is doubtless natural that Virgil should
be compared with Homer, the mind is astonished at finding that he
should so often even have gained a preference. We may account for his
being chosen as Dante’s guide, by their being countrymen, and by the
almost universal ignorance of Greek when Dante wrote. It is far more
staggering to find Saint Augustine emphatically call him[952] _Poeta
magnus omniumque præclarissimus atque optimus_; for he was no stranger
to Greek influences, inasmuch as the philosophy of Plato had a very
high place in his estimation[953]. Nor can this be readily accounted
for, except by the advantage which Virgil had through writing in the
Latin tongue, and by the very great decay of poetical tastes and

[952] De Civ. Dei, i. 3.

[953] Ibid. viii. 4-11.

Still let us not do wrong to the memory of him, who thrilled with an
immeasurable love, as he bore the sacred vessels of the Muses; and who
has received so unequivocally the seal of that approbation of mankind,
prolonged through ages, which comes near to an infallible award. It is
but fair to admit, that we must not measure the relative rank of Homer
and Virgil simply by the comparative merits of their epic works. Homer
lived in the genial and joyous youth of a poetic nation and a poetic
religion, and amid the influences of the soul of freedom: Virgil among
a people always matter-of-fact rather than poetical, in an age and a
court where the heart and its emotions were chilled, where liberty
was dead, where religion was a mockery, and the whole higher material
of his art had passed from freshness into the sear and yellow leaf.
Whether Virgil, if he had lived the life of Homer in Homer’s country
and Homer’s time, could have composed the Iliad and the Odyssey, may be
more than doubtful; but it is indisputably clear that Homer could not
have produced them, if it had been his misfortune to live at the date
and in the sphere of Virgil.

I pass on now to make some attempt at comparison between the work of
Tasso and the Iliad of Homer. But although the relation between the
subjects appears to recommend the choice of Tasso for this purpose
rather than any other Italian poet, I have to confess, that as far as
the qualities of the men are concerned, both Bojardo and Ariosto are in
my estimation more Homeric than Tasso; as being nearer to nature in its
truest sense, as not conveying the same impression of perpetual effort
and elaboration, as exempt from the temptation to the conceits so
unhappily frequent in the _Gerusalemme_, and generally as working with
a freer and broader touch, and exhibiting a more vigorous and elastic

~_The War of Troy and the Crusades._~

There is, however, a striking resemblance between the relation in
which the Trojan war stood to Greece, and that of the Crusades to
Western Europe. The political unity and collective existence of Greece
was greatly due to the first, that of Christendom to the second.
The combination of races and of chiefs, the arduous character and
extraordinary prolongation of the effort, the chivalry displayed, the
disorganizing effects upon the countries which supplied the invading
army, the representation in each of Europe against Asia, of Western
mankind meeting Eastern mankind in arms, and the proof of superior
prowess in the former, establish many broad and deep analogies between
the subjects of these poems. In both struggles, too, the object
purported to be the recovery of that which the East had unrighteously
acquired: and into both what is called sentiment far more largely
entered, than is common in the history of the wars which have laid
desolate our earth.

~_Exaggeration as used by Homer and by Tasso._~

As Godfrey is Tasso’s version of Agamemnon, so the Rinaldo of Tasso
occupies a place in the Jerusalem, similar to that of Achilles in the
Iliad. Now the whole character of Achilles, mental and corporeal, which
ranks at least among the most wonderful of all the works of Homer, is
colossal and vast, but is not unduly exaggerated. Although the son of
Peleus evidently was of great bodily size, yet Homer never calls him by
the epithets μέγας and πελώριος, bu