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1:20y, with so visible and suprising a variety, or given us such lively and affecting impressions of them. Every one has something so singularly his own, that no painter could have distinguished them more by their features, than the poet has by their manners. Nothing can be more exact than the distinctions he has observed in the different degrees of virtues and vices. The single quality of courage is wonderfully diversified in the several characters of the Iliad. That of Achilles is furious and intractable; that of Diomede forward, yet listening to advice, and subject to command; that of Ajax is heavy, and self-confiding : of Hector, active and vigilant; the courage of Agamemnon is inspirited by love of empire and ambition; that of Menelaus mixed with softness and tenderness for his people : be find in Idomeneus a plain direct soldier, in Sarpedon a gallant and generous one. Nor is this judicious and astonishing diversity to be found only in the principal quality which constitutes the main of each character, but even in the under parts of it, to which he takes care to give a tincture of that principal one. For example, the main characters of Ulysses and Nestor consist in wisdom: and they are distinct in this, that the wisdom of one is artificial and various, of the other natural, open and regular. But they have, besides, characters of courage; and this quality also takes a different turn in each from the difference of his prudence; for one in the war depends still upon caution, the other tipna experience. It would be endless to produce instances of these kinds. The characters of Virgil are far from striking us in this open manner; they lie in a great degree hidden and undistinguished, and where they are marked most evidently, affect us not in proportion to those of Homer. His eñaracters of valour are much alike ; even that of Turnus seems no way peculiar but as it is in a superior degree; and we see nothing that differences the courage of Mnestheus from that of Sergesthus, Cloanthus, or the rest. In like manner it may be remarked of Statius's heroes, that an air of impetuosity runs through them all: the same horrid and savage courage appears in his Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippomedon, ke. They have a parity of character, which makes them seen brothers of one family. I believe when the reader is led into this track of reflection, if he will pursue it through the epic and tragic writers, he will be convinced how infinitely superiour in this point the invention of Homer was to that of alldlhers.
The speeches are to be considered as they flow from the characters, being perfect or defective as they agree or disagree with the manners of those who utter them. As there is more varicty of characters in the Iliad, so there is of speeches, than in any other poem. Every thing in it has manners (as Aristotle expresses it) that is, every thing is acted or spoken. It is hardly credible in a work of such length, how small a number of lines are employed in narration. In Virgil the dramatic part is less in proportion to the narrative; and the speeches often consist of general reflections or thoughts, which might be equally just in any person's mouth upon the same occasion. As many of his persons bave no apparent characters, so many of his speeches escape being applied and judged by the rule of propriety. We oftner think of the author himself when we read Virgil, than when we are engaged in Homer: all which are the effects of a colder invention, that interests us less in the action described : Honer makes us hearers, and Virgil leaves us readers.
If in the next place we take a view of the sentiinents, the same presiding faculty is eminent in the sublimity and spirit of bis thoughts. Longinus has given his opinion, that it was in this part Homer principally excelled. What were alone sufficient to prove the grandeur and excellence of his scntiments in general, is, that they have so remarkable a parity with those of the scripture; Duport, in bis Gnottologia Homerica, has collected innumerable instances of this sort. And it is with justice an Excellent modern writer allows, that if Virgil has not so many thoughts that are low and vulgar, he bas not so many that are sublime and noble; and that the Roman author seldom rises into very astonishing sentiments, where he is not fired by the Iliad.
If we observe his descriptions, images, and similes, we shall find the invention still predominant. To what else can we ascribe that vast comprehension of images of every sort, where we see each cis. cunstance of art, and individual of nature summoned together by the extent and fecundity of his imagination ; to wbich all things in their various views presented themselves in an instant, and had ter impressions taken off to perfection at a heat? Nay, he not only gives us the full prospects of things, but several unexpected peculiarities and side views, unobserved by any painter but Homer. Korbing is so surprising as the descriptions of his battles, which take up no less than half the Iliad, and are supplied with so vast a variety of incidents, that no one bears a likeness to another'; such äfferent kinds of deaths, that no two heroes are wounded in the same manner; and such a profusion á boble ideas, that every battle rises above the last in greatness, horrour, and confusion. It is certain there is not near that number of images and descriptions in any epic poet ; though every one has assisted himself with a great quantity out of him : and it is evident of Virgil especially, that he has Kance any comparisons which are not drawn from his master,
If we descend from hence to the expression, we see the bright imagination of Homer, shining out in the most enlivened forms of it. We acknowledge him the father of poetical diction, the first who taught that language of the gods to men. His expression is like the colouring of some great masters, which discovers itself to be laid on boldly, and executed with rapidity. It is indeed the strongest and most glowing imaginable, and touched with the greatest spirit. Aristotle had reason to say, He was the only poet who had found out living words: there are in him more daring figures and metaphors than in any good author whatever. An arrow is impatient to be on the wing, and a weapon thirsts to drink the blood of an enemy, and the like; yet his expression is never too big for the sense, but justly great in proportion to it. It is the sentiment that swells and fills out the diction, which rises with it, and forms itself about it: for in the same degree that a thought is warmer, an expression will be brighter; as that is more strong, this will become more perspicious: like glass in the furnace, which grows to a greater magnitude, and refines to a greater clearness, only as the breath within is more powerful, and the heat more intense.
To throw his language more out of prose, Homer seems to have affected the compound epithets. This was a sort of composition peculiarly proper to poetry, not only as it heightened the diction, but as it assisted and filled the numbers with greater sound and pomp, and likewise conduced in some measnre to thicken the images. On this last consideration I cannot but attribute these also to the fruitfulness of his invention, since, (as be has managed them) they are a sort of supernumerary pictures of the persons or things to which they are joined. We see the motion of Hector's plumes in the epithet xapulaiolos, the landscape of Mount Neritus in that of sivaciduados, and so of others; which particular images could not have been insisted upon so long as to express them in a description (though but of a single line) without diverting the reader too much from the principal action or figure. As a metaphor is a short simile, one of these epithets is a short description.
Lastly, if we consider his versification, we shall be sensible what a share of praise is due to his invention in that. He was not satisfied with his language as he found it settled in any one part of Greece, but searched through its differing dialects with this particular view, to beautify and perfect his numbers : he considered thesc as they had a greater mixture of vowels and consonants, and accordingly employed them as the verse required either a grcater smoothness or strength. What he most affected was the Ionic, which has a peculiar sweetness from its never using contractions, and from its custom of resolving the diphthongs into two syllables : so as to make the words open themselves with a more spreading and songrous Quency. With this he mingled the Attic contractions, the broailer Doric, and the feebler Eolic, which often rejects its aspirate, or takes off its accent ; and completed this variety by altering some letters with the licence of poetry. Thus his measures, instead of being fetters to his sense, were always in readiness to run along with the warmth of his rapture, and even to give a farther representation of his notions, in the correspondence of their sounds to what they signified. Out of all these he has derived that harmony, which makes us confess he had not only the richest head, but the finest ear in the world. This is so great a truth, that whoever will but consult the tune of his resses, even without understanding them (with the same sort of diligence as we daily see practisce in the case of Italian operas) will find more sweetness, rariety, and majesty of sound), than in any other language or portry. The beauty of his numbers is allowed by tħe critics to be copied but faintly by Virgil himself, though they are so just to ascribe it to the nature of the Latin tongue; indeed the Greek has some advantages both from the natural sound of its words, and the turn and cadence of its verse, which agree with the genius of no other lanzuge: Virgil was very sensible of this, and used the utmost diligence in working up a more intractable language to whatsoever graces it was capable of : and in particular never failed to bring the sound of bis line to a beautiful agreement with its sense. If the Grecian poet has not been so frequently celebrated on this account as the Roman, the only reason is that fewer critics have understood one language than the other. Dionysius of Halicarnassus las pointed out many of our author's beauties in this kind, in his treatise of the Composition of Words. It suffices at present to observe of his numbers, that they flow with so much case, as to make one imagine Plomer had no other care than to transkribe as fast as the Muses dictated: and at the same time with so much force and inspired vigo:ir, that they awaken and raise us like the sound of a trumpct. They roll along as a plentiful river, always in motion, and always full: while we are borne away by a tide of rerse, the most rapid, and yet the most smooth imaginable. Thus, on whatever side we contemplate Homer, what principally strikes ns is his invention.
It is that which forms the character of cach part of his work; and accordingly we find it to have made his fabic more extensive and copious than any other, his manners more lively and strongly marked, his spreches more affecting and transported, his sentiments more warm and sublinie, his images and descriptions are full and animated, his expression more raised and daring, and his numbers more rapid and various. I hope in what has been said of Virgil with regard to any of these heads, I have no ways derogated from his character. Nothing is more absurd or endless, than the common method of comparing eminent writers by an opposition of particular passages in them, and forming a judgment from thence of their merit upon the whole. We ought to have a certain knowledge of the principal character and distinguished excellence of each : it is in that we are to consider him, and in proportion to his degree in that we are to admire himn. No author or man ever excelled all the world in more than one faculty; and as Homer has done this in invention, Virgil has in judgment. Not that we are to think Homer wanted judgment, because Virgil had it in a more eminent degree; or that Virgil wanted invention, because Homer possessed a larger share of it: each of these great authors had more of both than perhaps any man besides, and are only said to have less in comparison with one another. Homer was the greater genius, Virgil the better artist. In one we most admire the man, in the other the work: Homer hurries and transports us with a commanding impetuosity, Virgil leads us with attractive majesty: Homer scatters with a generous profusion, Virgil bestows with a careful magnificence: Homer, like the Nile, pours out his riches with a boundless overflow; Virgil like a river in its banks, with a gentle and constant stream. When we behold their battles, methinks the two poets resemble the heroes they celebrate : Homer, houndless and irresistible as Achilles, bears all before him, and shines more and more as the tumult increases ; Virgil, calmly daring like Æneas, appears undisturbed in the midst of the action ; disposes all about him, and conquers with tranquillity. And when we look upon their machines, Homer seems like his own Jupiter in his terpours, shaking Olympus, scattering the lightnings, and firing the heavens ; Virgil, like the same power in his benevolence, counselling with the gods, laying plans for empires, and regularly ordering his whole creation.
But, after all, it is with great parts, as with great virtues : they naturally border on some imperfection ; and it is often hard to distinguish exactly where the virtue ends, or the fault begins. As prudence may sometimes sink to suspicion, so may a great judginent decline to coldness ; and as magnanimity may run up to profusion or extravagance, so may a great invention to redundancy or wildness. If we look upon Homer in this view, we shall perceive the chief objections against him to proceed from so noble a cause as the excess of this faculty.
Among these we may reckon some of his marvellous fictions, upon which so inuch criticism has been spent, as surpassing all the bounds of probability. Perhaps it inay be with great and superior souls, as with gigantic bodies, which exerting themselves with unusual strength, exceed what is commonly thought the due proportion of parts, to becomo miracles in the whole; and like the old heroes of that make, commit something near extravagance, amidst a series of glories and inimitable performances. Thus Homer has his speaking horses, and Virgil his myrtles distilling blood, where the latter has not so much as contrived the easy intervention of a deity to save the probability.
It is owing to the same vast invention, that his similies have been thought too exuberant and full of circumstances. The force of this faculty is seen in nothing more, than in its inability to confine itself to that single circumstance upon which the comparison is grounded : it runs out into embellishments of additional images, which however are so managed as not to overpower the main one. His similies are like pictures, where the principal figure has not only its proportion given agreeably to the original, but is also set off with occasional ornaments and prospects. The same will account for bis manner of heaping a number of comparisons together in one breath, when his fancy suggested to him at once so many various and correspondent images. The reader will easily extend this observation
more objections of the same kind.
If there are others which seem rather to charge him with a defect or narrowness of genius, than an ricess of it, those seeming defects will be found upon exainination to proceed wholly from the nature of the times he lived in. Such are his grosser representations of the gods, and the vicious and imper. fect manners of his heroes; but I must here speak a woril of the latter, as it is a point generally carried into extremes, both by the censuters and defenders of Homer. It must be a strange partiality to antiquity, to think with Madam Dacier', “ that those times and manners are so much the more “excellent, as they are more contrary to ours." Who can be so prejudiced in their favour as to magnify the felicity of those ages, when a spirit of revenge and cruelty, joined with the practice of rapine and robbery, reigned through the world ; when no mercy was shown but for the sake of lucre. shen the greatest princes were put to the sword, and their wives and daughters made slaves and concubines ? On the other side, I would not be su delicate as those modern critics, who are shocked it the servile offices and mean employnients in which we sometimes see the lervis oi!loms engagu.-
! Preface to hire Homer.
There is a pleasure in taking a view of that sinplicity, in opposition to the luxury of succeeding ages; in beholding monarchs without their guards, princes tending their flocks, and princesses drawing water from the springs. When we read Homer, we ought to reflect that we are reading the most ancient author in the heathen world; and those who consider him in this light, will double their pleasure in the perusal of him. Let them think they are growing acquainted with nations and people that are now no more ; that they are stepping alınost three thousand years back into the remotest antiquity, and entertaining themselves with a clear and surprising vision of things no where else to be found, the only true mirror of that ancient world. By this means alone their greatest obstacles will vanish; and what nsually creates their dislike, will become a satisfaction,
This consideration may farther serve to answer for the constant use of the same epithets to his gods and heroes, such as the far-darting Phrebus, the blue-eyed Pallas, the swift-footed Achilles, &c. which some have censured as impertinent and tediously repeated. Those of the gods depended upon the powers and offices then believed to belong to thein, and had contructed a weight and veneration froin the rites and solemn devotions in which they were used: they were, a sort of attributes, with which it was a matter of religion to salute them on all occasions, and which it was an irreverence to omit. As for the epithets of great men, Mons. Boileau is of opinion, that they were in the nature of sumames, and repeated as such; for the Greeks having no names derived from their fathers, were obliged to add some other distinction of each person ; either naming his parents expressly, or his place of birth, profession, or the like: as Alexander the son of Philip, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Diogenes the Cynic, &c. Homer therefore, complying with the custom of his country, used such distinctive additions as better agreed with poetry. And indeed we have something parallel to these in modern times, such as the names of Harold Harefoot, Edmond Ironside, Edward Long-shanks, Edward the Black Prince, &c. If yet this be thought to account better for the propriety than for the repetition, I shall add a farther conjecture. Hesiod, dividing the world into its different ages, has placed a fourth age between the brazen and the iron one, of “ heroes distinct from other men: a divine race, who fought at Thebes and Troy, are called demi-gods. iad live by the care of Jupiter in the islands of the blessed?" Now among the divine honours which were paid them, they might have this also in common with the gods, not to be mentioned without the solemnuity of an epithet, and such as might be acceptable to thein by its celebrating their families, actions, or qualities.
. What other cavils hare been raised against Homer, are such as hardly deserve a reply, but will yet he taken notice of as they occur in the course of the work. Many have been occasioned by an injudicious endeavour to exalt Virgil; which is much the saine, as if one should think to raise the superstructure by underinining the foundation : one would imagine, by the whole course of their parallels, that these critics never so much as heard of Homer's having written first: a consideration which, whoever compares these two poets, ought to have always in his eye. Some accuse him for the same things which they overlook or praise in the other; as when they prefer the fable and moral of the neis to those of the Iliad, for the same reasons which might set the Odysses above the Eneis: as that the hero is a wiser man: and the action of the one more beneficial to his country than that of the other; or else they blame him for not doing what he never designed ; as because Achilles is not as good and perfect a prince as Æneas, when the very moral of bis poem required a contrary character: it is thus that Rapin judges in his comparison of Homer and Virgil. Others select those particular passages of Homer, which are not so laboured as some that Virgil drew out of them; this is the whole management of Scaliger in his Poetics. Others quarrel with what they take for low and mcan expressions, sometimes through a false delicacy and relineinevt, oftner an ignorance of the graces of the original; and then triumph in the awkwardness of their own translations; this is the conduct of Perault in his Parallels. Lastly, there are others, who, pretending to a fairer proceeding, distinguish between the personal merit of Homer, and that of his work; but when they come to assign the causes of the great reputation of the lliad, they found it upon the ignorance of his times and the prejudice of those that followed : and in pursuance of this principle, they make those accidents (such as the contention of the cities, &c.) to be the causes of his fame, which were in reality the consequences of his merit. The same might as well be said of Virgil, or any great author, whose general character will infallibly raise many casual additions to their reputation. This is the method of Mons. de la Motte ; who yet confesses upon the whole, that in whatever age Homer bad lived, he must have been the greatest poct of his nation, and that he may be said in this sense to be the master even of those who surpassed him.
In all these objections we see nothing that contradicts his title to the honour of the chief invention ; and as long as this (which is indeed the characteristic of poetry itself) remains unequalled by his
followers, he still continues superior to them. A cooler judgment may commit fewer faults, and be more approved in the eyes of one sort of critics; but that warmth of fancy will carry the loud and most universal applauses, which holds the heart of a reader under the strongest enchantment.Honner not only appears the inventor of poetry, but excels all the inventors of other arts in this, that he has swallowed up the honour of those who succeeded him. What he has done admitted no increase, it only left room for contraction or regulation. He showed all the stretch of fancy at once ; and if he has failed in some of his flights, it was but because he attempted every thing. A work of this kind seems like a mighty tree which rises from the most vigorous seed, is improved with industry, flourishes, and produces the finest fruit; nature and art conspire to raise it; pleasure and profit join to make it valuable : and they who find the justest faults, have only sajd, that a few branches (which run luxuriant through a richness of nature) might be lopped into form to give it a more regular appearance.
Having now spoken of the beauties and defects of the original, it remains to treat of the translation, with the same view to the chief characteristic. As far as that is seen in the main parts of the poem, such as the fable, manners, and sentiments, no translator can prejudice it but by wilful omissions or contractions. As it also breaks out in every particular image, description, and simile; whoever lessens or too much softens those, takes off from this chief character. It is the first grand duty of an jaterpreter to give his author entire and unmaimed; and for the rest, the diction and versification only are his proper province; since these inust be his own; but the others he is to take as he finds them.
It should then be considered what methods may afford some equivalent in our language for the graces of these in the Greek. It is certain no literal translation can be just to an excellent original in a superior language: but it is a great mistake to imagine (as many have done) that a rash paraphrase can make amends for this general defect; which is no less in danger to lose the spirit of an ancient, by deviating into the modern manners of expression. If there be sometimes a darkness, there is often a light in antiquity, which nothing better preserves than a version almost literal. I kaos no liberties one ought to take, but those which are necessary for transfusing the spirit of the original, and supporting the poetical style of the translation : and I will venture to say, there have not been more men misled in former times by a servile dull adherence to the latter, than have been deluded in ours by a chimerical insolent hope of raising and improving their author. It is not to be doubted that the fire of the poem is what a translator should principally regard, as it is most likely to expire in his managing: however it is the safest way to be content with preserving this to the utmost in the whole, without endeavouring to be more than be finds his author is in any particular place. It is a great secret in writing, to know when to be plain, and when poetical and figurative; and it is what Homer will teach us, if we will but follow inodestly in his footsteps. Where his diction is bold and lofty, let us raise ours as high as we can; but where his is plain and humble, we ought not to be deterred from imitating him by the fear of incurring the censure of a mere English critic. Nothing that belongs to Homer seems to have been more commonly inistaken than the just pitch of his style ; some of his translators having swelled into fustian, in a proud confidence of the sublime; others sank into fatness, in a cold and timorous notion of siinplicity. Methinks I see these different followers of Homer, some sweating and straining after him by violent leaps and bounds (the certain signs of false mettle); others slowly and servilely creeping in his train, while the poet himself is all the tiine proceeding with an unaffected and equal majesty before them. However, of the two extremes, one would sooner pardon frenzy than frigidity; no author is to be envied for such commendations as he may gain by that character of style, which his friends must agree together to call simplicity, and the Best of the world will call dulness. There is a graceful and dignified simplicity, as well as a bold and sordid one, which differ as much from each other as the air of a plain man from that of a sloven : it is one thing to be tricked up, and another not to be dressed at all. Simplicity is the mean between ostentation and rusticity.
This pure and noble simplicity is no where in such perfection as in the scripture and our author : One may affirm, with all respect to the inspired writings, that the Divine Spirit made use of no other Fords but what were intelligible and common to rnen at that time, and in that part of the world; and as Homer is the author nearest to those, his style must of course bear a greater resemblance to the sacred books than that of any other writer. This consideration (together with what has been observed of the purity of some of his thoughts) may methinks induce a translator on the one hand to give into segeral of those general phrases and manners of expression, which have attained a veneration even in our language from being used in the Old Testament; as on the other, to avoid those which have been appropriated to the Divinity, and in a manner consigned to mystery and religion.
For a farther preservation of this air of siinplicity, a particular care should be taken to express With all plainness those moral sentences and proverbial speeches which are so numerous in this poets