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Such were the games by azure Thetis given,
And such thy honours, oh beloved of heaven!
Dear to mankind thy fame survives, nor fades
its bloom eternal in the Stygian shades.
But what to me avail my honours gone,
Successful toils, and battles bravely won?
Doom'd by stern Jove at home to end my life,
By curst Ægysthus, and a faithless wife!

1:5 First bleeds Antinous: thick the shafts resound:
And heaps on heaps the wretches strew the ground.
This way, and that, we turn, we fly, we fall;
Some god assisted, and unmann'd us all:
Ignoble cries precede the dying groans;


120 And batter'd brains and blood besmear the stones.
Thus, great Atrides: thus Ulysses drove
The shades thou seest, from yon fair realms above
Our mangled bodies now deform'd with gore,
Cold and neglected, spread the marble floor.
125 No friend to bathe our wounds! or tears to shed'
O'er the pale corse! the honours of the dead.
Oh blest Ulysses! (thus the king express'd
His sudden rapture) in thy consort bless'd!
Not more thy wisdom than her virtue shined



130 Not more thy patience than her constant mind.
Icarius' daughter, glory of the past,


And model to the future age, shall last:
The gods, to honour her fair fame shall raise
(Their great reward) a poet in her praise.
Not such, oh Tyndarus; thy daughter's deed,
By whose dire hand her king and husband bled;
Her shall the Muse to infamy prolong,
Example dread, and theme of tragic song!
The general sex shall suffer in her shame,



Thus they while Hermes o'er the dreary plain
Led the sad numbers by Ulysses slain.
On each majestic form they cast a view,
And timorous pass'd, and awfully withdrew.
But Agamemnon, through the gloomy shade,
His ancient host Amphimedon survey'd;
Son of Melanthius! (he began) O say!
What cause compell'd so many. and so gay,
To tread the downward, melancholy way?
Say, could one city yield a troop so fair?
Were all these partners of one native air?
Or did the rage of stormy Neptune sweep
Your lives at once, and whelm beneath the deep?
Did nightly thieves, or pirate's cruel bands,
Drench with your blood your pillaged country's sands?
Or well defending some beleaguer'd wall,
Say, for the public did ye greatly fall?
Inform thy guest: for such I was of yore

When our triumphant navies touch'd your shore;
Forced a long month the wintry seas to bear,
To move the great Ulysses to the war.

O king of men! I faithful shall relate
Replied Amphimedon) our hapless fate.
Ulysses absent, our ambitious aim
With rival loves pursued his royal dame;
Her coy reserve, and prudence mix'd with pride,
Our common suit nor granted, nor denied;
But close with inward hate our deaths design'd;
Versed in all arts of wily womankind.
Her hand, laborious, in delusion spread
A spacious loom, and mix'd the various thread.
Ye peers (she cried) who press to gain my heart,
Where dead Ulysses claims no more a part,
Yet a short space your rival suit suspend,
Till this funereal web my labours end:
Cease, till to good Laërtes I bequeathe
A task of grief, his ornaments of death:
Lest, when the Fates his royal ashes claim,
The Grecian matrous taint my spotless fame:
Should he, long honour'd with supreme command,
Want the last duties of a daughter's hand.

The fiction pleased, our generous train complies,
Nor fraud inistrusts in virtue's fair disguise.
The work she plied, but studious of delay,
Each following night reversed the toils of day.
Unheard, unseen, three years her arts prevail;
The fourth, her maid reveal'd the amazing tale,
And show'd, as unperceived we took our stand,
The back ward labours of her faithless hand.
Forced, she completes it; and before us lay
The mingled web, whose gold and silver ray
Display'd the radiance of the night and day.
Just as she finish'd her illustrious toil,
Ill fortune led Ulysses to our isle.
For in a lonely nook, beside the sea,
At an old swine-herd's rural louge helay:
Thither his son from sandy Pyle repairs,
And speedy lands, and secretly confers.
They plan our future ruin, and resort
Confederate to the city and the court.
First came the son; the father next succeeds,
Clad like a beggar, whom Eumæus leads;
Propp'd on a staff, deform'd with age and care,
And hung with rags that flutter'd in the air.
Who could Ulysses in that form behold?
Scorn'd by the young, forgotten by the old,
Ill-used by all! to every wrong resign'd,
Patient he suffer'd with a constant mind.
But when, arising in his wrath to obey
The will of Jove, he gave the vengeance way:
The scatter'd arms that hung around the dome
Careful he treasured in a private room:
Then to her suitors bade his queen propose
The archer's strife, the source of future woes,
And omen of our death! In vain we drew
The twanging string, and tried the stubborn yew:
To none it yields, but great Ulysses' hands;
In vain we threat; Telemachus commands:
The bow he snatch'd and in an instant bent;
Through every ring the victor arrow went.
Fierce on the threshold then in arms he stood;
Pour'd forth the darts that thirsted for our blood,
And frown'd before us, dreadful as a god!

140 And even the best that bears a woman's name.
Thus in the regions of eternal shade
Conferr'd the mournful phantoms of the dead;
While from the town, Ulysses and his band
Pass'd to Laërtes' cultivated land.

145 The ground himself had purchased with his pain,
And labour made the rugged soil a plain.
There stood his mansion of the rural sort,
With useful buildings round the lowly court;
Where the few servants that divide his care
150 Took their laborious rest, find homely fare;
And one Sicilian matron, old and sage,
With constant duty tends his drooping age.
Here now arriving to his rustic band
And martialson, Ulysses gave command.
155 Enter the house, and of the bristly swine
Select the largest to the powers divine.
Alone, and unattended, let me try

If yet I share the old man's memory:
If those dim eyes can yet Ulysses know

160 (Their light and dearest object long ago),

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Now changed with time, with absence and with woe.
Then to his train he gives his spear and shield;
The house they enter; and he seeks the field,



Thro' rows of shade, with various fruitage crown'd, 255
The labour'd scenes of richest verdure round.
Nor aged Dolius, nor his sons were there,
Nor servants, absent on another care;
To search the woods for sets of flowery thorn.
Their orchard bounds to strengthen and adorn.
But all alone the hoary king he found;
His habit coarse, but warmly wrapp'd around;
His head, that bow'd with many a pensive care,
Fenced with a double cap of goatskin hair:
His buskins old, in former service torn,



175 But well repair'd; and gloves against the thorn.
In this array the kingly gardenerstood,

| And clear'd a plant, encumber'd with its wood.
Beneath a neighbouring tree, the chief divine
Gazed o'er his sire, retracing every line,

180 The ruins of himself! now worn away
With age, yet still majestic in decay!
Sudden his eyes released their watery store;
The much-enduring man could bear no more.
Doubtful he stood, if instant to embrace
185 His aged limbs, to kiss his reverend face,

With eager transport to declare the whole,
And pour at once the torrent of his soul-
Not so: his judgment takes the winding way
Of question distant, and of soft essay:

190 More gentle methods on weak age employs:
And moves the sorrows to enhance the joys.
Then, to his sire with beating heart he moves,
And with a tender pleasantry reproves:
Who digging round the plant still hangs his head,
195 Nor aught remits the work, while thus he said.



Great is thy skill, ob father! great thy toil,
Thy careful hand is stamp'd on all the soil,
The squadron'd vineyards well thy art declare,
The olive green, blue fig, and pendant pear;
And not one empty spot escapes thy care.
On every plant and tree thy cares are shown,
Nothing neglected, but thyself alone.
Forgive me, father, if this fault I blame;
Age so advanced may some indulgence claim.
Not for thy sloth I deem thy lord unkind:
Nor speaks thy form a mean or servile mind;;

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I read a monarch in that princely air,
The same thy aspect, if the same thy care;
Soft sleep, fair garments, and the joys of wine,
These are the rights of age, and should be thine.
Who then thy master, say? and whose the land
So dress'd and managed by thy skilful hand?
But chief, oh tell me! (what I question most)
Is this the far-famed Ithacensian coast?
For so reported the first man I view'd
(Some surly islander of manners rude),
Nor further conference vouchsafed to stay;
Heedless he whistled, and pursued his way.
But thou, whom years have taught to understand,
Humanely hear, and answer my demand:
A friend I seek, a wise one and a brave:
Say, lives he yet, or moulders in the grave?
Time was (my fortunes then were at the best)
When at my house I lodged this foreign guest;
He said, from Ithaca's fair isle he came,
And old Laërtes was his father's name.
To him, whatever to a guest is owed

I paid, and hospitable gifts bestow'd:
To him seven talents of pure ore I told,

Yet by another sign thy offspring know;
The several trees you gave me long ago,

300 While, yet a child, these fields I loved to trace,
And trod thy footsteps with unequal pace;
To every plant in order as we came,
Well-pleased, you told its nature and its name,
Whate'er my childish fancy ask'd, bestow'd;


305 Twelve pear-trees, bowing with their pendant load, 395
And ten, that red with blushing apples glow'd;
Full fifty purple figs; and many a row
Of various vines that then began to blow.
A future vintage! when the Hours produce

310 Their latent buds, and Sol exalts the juice.

Smit with the signs which all his doubts explain,
His heart within him melts: his knees sustain
Their feeble weight no more: his arms alone
Support him, round the loved Ulysses thrown ;
315 He faints, he sinks, with mighty joys oppress'd:
Ulysses clasps him to his eager breast.
Soon as returning life regains its seat,
And his breath lengthens, and his pulses beat;
Yes, I believe (he cries) almighty Jove!
Heaven rules as yet, and gods there are above.
"Tis so-the suitors for their wrongs have paid-
But what shall guard us, if the town invade?
If, while the news through every city flies,
All Ithaca and Cephalenia rise?



To this Ulysses: As the gods shall please
Be all the rest; and set thy soul at ease.
Haste to the cottage by the orchard's side,
And take the banquet which our cares provide:
There wait thy faithful band of rural friends,
330 And there the young Telemachus attends.


Twelve cloaks, twelve vests, twelve tunics stiff with gold;
A bowl, that rich with polish'd silver flames,
And, skill'd in female works, four lovely dames.
At this the father, with a father's fears
(His venerable eyes bedimm'd with tears).
This is the land; but ah! thy gifts are lost,
For godless men, and rude, possess the coast:
Sunk is the glory of this once famed shore!
Thy ancient friend, oh stranger, is no more!
Full recompense thy bounty else had borne;
For every good man yields a just return:
So civil rights demand; and who begins
The track of friendship, not pursuing, sins.
But tell me, stranger, be the truth confess'd,
What years have circled since thou saw'st that guest?
That hapless guest, alas! for ever gone!
Wretch that he was! and that I am! my son !
If ever man to misery was born,
"Twas his to suffer and 'tis mine to mourn!
Far from his friends, and from his native reign,
He lies a prey to monsters of the main;
Or savage beasts his mangled relics tear,
Or screaming vultures scatter through the air:
Nor could his mother funeral unguents shed;
Nor wail'd his father o'er the untimely dead:
Nor his sad consort, on the mournful bier,
Seal'd his cold eyes, or dropp'd a tender tear!

But, tell me who thou art? and what thy race?
Thy town, thy parents, and thy native place?
Or, if a merchant in pursuit of gain,

What port received thy vessel from the main?
Or camest thou single, or attend thy train?

Then thus the son. From Alybas I came,
My palace there: Eperitus my name.
Not vulgar born; from Aphidas, the king
Of Polyphemon's royal line, I spring,
Some adverse dæmon from Sicania bore

Thus having said, they traced the garden o'er,
And stooping enter'd at the lowly door.
The swains and young Telemachus they found,
The victim portion'd, and the goblet crown'd..
The hoary king, his old Sicilian maid
Perfumed and wash'd, and gorgeously array'd.
Pallas attending gives his frame to shine
With awful port, and majesty divine;
His gazing son admires the godlike grace

340 And air celestial dawning o'er his face.
What god, he cried, my father's form improves?
How high he treads, and how enlarged he moves?
Oh! would to all the deathless powers on high,
Pallas and Jove, and him who rules the sky!
345 (Replied the king elated with his praise)

My strength were still, as once in better days:
When the bold Cephalens the leaguer form'd,
And proud Nericus trembled as I storm'd.
Such were I now, not absent from your deed
350 When the last sun beheld the suitors bleed,




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This arm had aided yours, this hand bestrown
Our shores with death and push'd the slaughter on;
Nor had the sire been separate from the son.
They communed thus; while homeward bent their way

355 The swains, fatigued with labours of the day:
Dolius the first, the venerable man;


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Quick through the father's heart these accents ran;
Grief seized at once, and wrapp'd up all the man :
Deep from his soul he sigh'd, and sorrowing spread
A cloud of ashes on his hoary head.
Trembling with agonies of strong delight
Stood the great son, heart-wounded with the sight:
He ran, he seized him with a strict embrace,
With thousand kisses wander'd o'er his face,
I, I am he; oh father, rise! behold

Thy son, with twenty winters now grown old;
Thy son, so long desired, so long detain'd,
Restored, and breathing in his native land:
These floods of sorrow, oh my sire, restrain!
The vengeance is complete; the suitor-train,
Stretch'd in our palace, by these hands lie slain.
Amazed, Laërtes. Give some certain sign
(If such thou art) to manifest thee mine,
Lo here the wound (he cries) received of yore,
The scar indented by the tusky boar,
When, by thyself, and by Anticlea sent,
To old Autolycus's realms I went.

375 Who knows thy bless'd, thy wish'd return? oh say,
To the chaste queen shall we the news convey?
Or hears she, and with blessings loads the day?
Dismiss that care, for to the royal bride
Already is it known, (the king replied,


380 And straight resumed his seat); while round him bows
Each faithful youth, and breathes out ardent vows: 471
Then all beneath their father take their place,
Rank'd by their ages, and the banquet grace.
Now flying Fame the swift report had spread

385 Through all the city, of the suitors dead.
In throngs they rise, and to the palace crowd;
Their sighs are many, and the tumult loud.


And next his sons, a long succeeding train.
For due refection to the bower they came,
Call'd by the careful old Sicilian dame,
Who nursed the children, and now tends the sire;
They see their lord, they gaze, and they admire.
On chairs and beds in order seated round,
They share the gladsome board; the roofs resound,
While thus Ulysses to his ancient friend :
Forbear your wonder, and the feast attend:
The rites have waited long. The chief commands
Their loves in vain; old Dolius spreads his bands,
Springs to his master with a warm embrace,
And fastens kisses on his hands and face;
Then thus broke out: Oh long, oh daily mourn'd!
Beyond our hopes, and to our wish return'd!
Conducted sure by Heaven! for Heaven alone
Could work this wonder: welcome to thy own!
And joys and happiness attend thy throne!




Weeping they bear the mangled heaps of slain,
Inhume the natives in their native plain,
The rest in ships are wafted o'er the main.
Then sad in council all the seniors sate,
Frequent and full, assembled to debate:
Amid the circle first Eupithes rose,

Big was his eye with tears, his heart with woes:
The bold Antinous was his age's pride,
The first who by Ulysses' arrow died.

Down his wan cheek the trickling torrent ran,
As mixing words with sighs he thus began:

Each future day increase of wealth shall bring,
And o'er the past Oblivion stretch her wing.
480 Long shall Ulysses in his empire rest,

His people blessing, by his people bless'd.
Let all be peace-He said, and gave the nod
That binds the Fates; the sanction of the god :
And prompt to execute the eternal will,

485 Descended Pallas from the Olympian hill.
Now sat Ulysses at the rural feast,
The rage of hunger and of thirst repress'd;
To watch the foe a trusty spy he sent :
A son of Dolius on the message went,
Stood in the way, and at a glance beheld
The foe approach, embattled on the field.
With backward step he hastens to the bower,


Great deeds, oh friends! this wondrous man has wrought,
And mighty blessings to his country brought!
With ships he parted, and a numerous train,
Those, and their ships, he buried in the main.
Now he returns, and first essays his hand
In the best blood of all his native land.
Haste then, and ere to neighbouring Pyle he flies,
Or sacred Elis, to procure supplies;
Arise (or ye for ever fall) arise!

Shame to this age, and all that shall succeed!
If unrevenged your sons and brothers bleed.
Prove that we live, by vengeance on his head,
Or sink at once forgotten with the dead.




And tells the news. They arm with all their power.
Four friends alone Ulysses' cause embrace,

495 And six were all the sons of Dolius' race:
Old Dolius too his rusted arms put on;
And, still more old, in arms Laërtes shone,
Trembling with warmth, the hoary heroes stand,
And brazen panoply invests the band.


500 The opening gates at once their war display:
Fierce they rush forth: Ulysses leads the way.
That moment joins them with celestial aid,
In Mentor's form, the Jove-descended maid:
The suffering hero felt his patient breast
Swell with new joy, and thus his son address'd.
Behold, Telemachus! (nor fear the sight),
The brave embattled, the grim front of fight!
The valiant with the valiant must contend:
Shame not the line whence glorious you descend.


Here ceased he, but indignant tears let fall
Spoke when he ceased: dumb sorrow touch'd them all.
When from the palace to the wondering throng
Sage Medon came, and Phemius came along
(Restless and early sleep's soft bands they broke);
And Medon first the assembled chiefs bespoke:
Hear me, ye peers and elders of the land,
Who deem this act the work of mortal hand;
As o'er the heaps of death Ulysses strode,
These eyes, these eyes beheld a present god,
Who now before him, now beside him stood,
Fought as he fought, and mark'd his way with blood:
In vain old Mentor's form the god belied;



510 Wide o'er the world their martial fame was spread; Regard thyself, the living, and the dead.



"Twas Heaven that struck, and Heaven was on his side.
A sudden horror all the assembly shook,
When slowly rising, Halitherses spoke
(Reverend and wise, whose comprehensive view
At once the present and the future knew):
Me too, ye fathers, hear! from you proceed
The ills ye mourn; your own the guilty deed.
Ye gave your sons, your lawless sous, the rein
(Oft warn'd by Mentor and myself in vain);
An absent hero's bed they sought to soil,
An absent hero's wealth they made their spoil;
Immoderate riot, and intemperate lust!
The offence was great, the punishment was just.
Weigh then my counsels in an equal scale,
Nor rush to ruin. Justice will prevail.

His moderate words some better minds persuade:
They part, and join him; but the number stay'd.
They storm, they shout, with hasty phrenzy fired,
And second all Eupithes' rage inspired.

They case their limbs in brass; to arms they run;
The broad effulgence blazes in the sun.
Before the city, and in ample plain,
They meet: Eupithes heads the frantic train.
Fierce for his son, he breathes his threats in air;
Fate hears them not, and Death attends him there.
This pass'd on earth, while in the realms above
linerva thus to cloud-compelling Jove:
May I presume to search thy secret soul?
Oh Power supreme, oh Ruler of the whole!
Say, hast thou doom'd to this divided state
Or peaceful amity, or stern debate?
Declare thy purpose, for thy will is fate.

Is not thy thought my own? (the god replies
Who rules the thunder o'er the vaulted skies);
Hath not long since thy knowing soul decreed,
The chief's return should make the guilty bleed?
"Tis done, and at thy will the Fates succeed.
Yet hear the issue; since Ulysses' hand
Has slain the suitors, Heaven shall bless the land.
None now the kindred of the unjust shall own;
Forgot the slaughter'd brother and the son:

Thy eyes, great father! on this battle cast,
Shall learn from me Penelope was chaste,


So spoke Telemachus! the gallant boy
Good old Laërtes heard with panting joy;
And bless'd! thrice bless'd this happy day he cries,
The day that shews me, ere I close my eyes,
A son and grandson of the Arcesian naine
Strive for fair virtue, and contest for fame!
Then thus Minerva in Laërtes' ear:
Son of Arcesius, reverend warrior, hear!
Jove and Jove's daughter first implore in prayer,
Then, whirling high, discharge thy lance in air.
She said, infusing courage with the word.




525 Jove and Jove's daughter then the chief implored,
And, whirling high, dismiss'd the lance in air.
Full at Eupithes drove the deathful spear:
The brass-cheek'd helmet opens to the wound;
He falls, earth thunders, and his arms resound.
Before the father and the conquering son
Heaps rush on heaps, they fight, they drop, they run.
Now by the sword, and now the javelin fall
The rebel race, and death had swallow'd all;
But from on high the blue-eyed virgin cried;
535 Her awful voice detain'd the headlong tide:



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CANNOT dismiss this work without a few observations on the character and style of it. Whoever reads the Odyssey with an eye to the Iliad, expecting to find it of the same character or of the same sort of spirit, will he grievously deceived, and err against the first principles of criticism, which is, to consider the nature of the piece, and the intent of its author. The Odyssey is a moral and political work, instructive to all degrees of men, and filled with images, examples, and precepts of civil and domestic life. Homer is here a person,

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Upon the whole, he affirms the Odyssey to have less sublimity and fire than the Iliad, but he does not say it wants the sublime or wants fire. He affirms it to be a narrative, but not that the narration is defective. He affirms it to abound in fictions, not that those fictions are ill invented, or ill executed. He affirms it to be nice and particular in painting the manners, but not that those manners are ill painted. If Homer has fully in these points accomplished his own design, and done all that the nature of his poem demanded or allowed, it still remained perfect in its kind, and as much a master-piece as the Iliad.

The amount of the passage is this: that in his own particular taste, and with respect to the sublime, Longinus preferred the Iliad: and because the Odyssey was less active and lofty, he judged it the work of the old age of Homer.

If this opinion be true, it will only prove, that Homer's age might determine him in the choice of his subject, not that it affected him in the execution of it; and that which would be a very wrong instance to prove the decay of his imagination, is a very good one to evince the strength of his judgment. For had he (as Madam Dacier observes) composed the Odyssey in his youth, and the Iliad in his age, both must in reason have been exactly the same as they now stand. To blame Homer for his choice of such a subject, as did not admit the same incidents and the same pomp of style as his former, is to take offence at too much variety, and to imagine, that when a man has written one good thing, he must ever after only copy himself.

The Odyssey is the reverse of the Iliad, in moral, subject, manner, and style; to which it has no sort of relation, but as the story happens to follow in order of time, and as some of the same persons are actors in it. Yet from this incidental connection many have been misled to regard it as a continuation or second part, and thence to expect a purity of character inconsistent with its nature. It is no wonder that the common reader should fall The Battle of Constantine, and the School of Athens, into this mistake, when so great a critic as Longinus are both pieces of Raphael: shall we censure the School seems not wholly free from it; although what he has of Athens as faulty, because it has not the fury and fire said has been generally understood to import a severer of the other? or shall we say that Raphael was grown censure of the Odyssey than it really does, if we consider grave and old, because he chose to represent the manthe occasion on which it is introduced, and the circum-ners of old men and philosophers? There is all the stances to which it is confined.

The Odyssey (says he) is an instance how natural it is to a great genius, when it begins to grow old and decline, to delight itself in narrations and fables. For that Homer composed the Odyssey after the Iliad, many proofs may be given,' &c. From hence, in my judgment, it proceeds, that as the Iliad was written while his spirit was in its greatest vigour, the whole structure of that work is dramatic and full of action; whereas the greater part of the Odyssey is employed in narration, which is the taste of old age: so that in this latter piece we may compare him to the setting sun, which has still the same greatness, but not the same ardour or force. He speaks not in the same strain; we see no more that sublime of the Iliad, which marches on with a constant pace, without ever being stopped or retarded: there appears no more that hurry, and that strong tide of motions and passions, pouring one after another: there is no more the same fury, or the same volubility of diction, so suitable to action, and all along drawing in such innumerable images of nature. But Homer, like the ocean, is always great, even when he ebbs and retires; even when he is lowest, and loses himself most in narrations and incredible fictions: as instances of this, we cannot forget the descriptions of tempests, the adventures of Ulysses with the Cyclops, and many others. But though all this be age, it is the age of Homer. And it may be said for the credit of these fictions, that they are beautiful dreams, or if you will, the dreams of Jupiter himself. I spoke of the Odyssey, only to shew, that the greatest poets, when their genius wants strength and warmth for the pathetic, for the most part employ themselves in painting the manners. This Homer has done in characterising the suitors, and describing their way of life; which is properly a branch of comedy, whose particular business it is to represent the manners of men.'

silence, tranquillity, and composure in the one, and all the warmth, hurry, and tumult in the other, which the subject of either required: both of them had been imperfect, if they had not been as they are. And let the painter or poet be young or old, who designs or performs in this manner, it proves him to have made the piece at a time of life when he was master not only of his art, but of his discretion.

Aristotle makes no such distinction between the two poems: he constantly cites them with equal praise, and draws the rules and examples of epic writing equally from both. But it is rather to the Odyssey that Horace gives the preference, in the Epistle to Lollius, and in the Art of Poetry. It is remarkable how opposite his opinion is to that of Longinus: and that the particulars he chooses to extol, are those very fictions, and pictures of the manners, which the other seems least to approve. Those fables and manners are of the very essence of the work: but even without that regard, the fables themselves have both more invention and more instruction, and the manners more moral and example than those of the Iliad.

In some points (and those the most essential to the epic poem) the Odyssey is confessed to excel the Iliad; and principally in the great end of it, the moral. The conduct, turn, and disposition of the fable is also what the critics allow to be the better model for epic writers to follow; accordingly we find much more of the cast of this poem than of the other in the Eneid, and (what next to that is perhaps the greatest example) in the Telemachus. In the manners it is no way inferior: Longinus is so far from finding any defect in these, that he rather taxes Homer with painting them too minutely. As to the narrations, although they are more numerous as the occasions are more frequent. yet they carry no more the marks of old age, and are neither more prolix, nor more circumstantial, than the We must first observe, it is the sublime of which Lon-conversations and dialogues of the Iliad. Not to menginus is writing: that, and not the nature of Homer's tion the length of those of Phoenix in the ninth book, poem, is his subject. After having highly extolled the and of Nestor in the eleventh (which may be thought in sublimity and fire of the Iliad, he justly observes the compliance to their characters), those of Glaucus in the Odyssey to have less of those qualities, and to turn more sixth, of Æneas in the twentieth, and some others, must on the side of moral, and reflections on human life. Nor be allowed to exceed any in the whole Odyssey. And is it his business here to determine, whether the elevated that the propriety of style, and the numbers, in the spirit of the one, or the just moral of the other, be the narrations of each are equal, will appear to any who greater excellence in itself. compare them.

Secondly, the fire and fury of which he is speaking, cannot well be meant of the general spirit and inspiration which is to run through a whole epic poem, but of that particular warmth and impetuosity necessary in some parts, to image or represent actions or passions, of haste; tumult and violence. It is on occasion of citing some such particular passages in Homer, that Longinus breaks into this reflection; which seems to determine his meaning chiefly to that sense.

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To form a right judgment, whether the genius of Homer had suffered any decay; we must consider, in both his poems, such parts as are of a similar nature, and will bear comparison. And it is certain we shall find in each the same vivacity and fecundity of invention, the same life and strength of imagining and colouring, the particular descriptions as highly painted, the figures as bold, the metaphors as animated, and the numbers as harmonious, and as various.

The Odyssey is a perpetual source of poetry: the stream is not the less full for being gentle; though it is true (when we speak only with regard to the sublime) that a river, foaming and thundering in cataracts from rocks and precipices, is what more strikes, amazes, and fills the mind, than the same body of water, flowing afterwards through peaceful vales and agreeable scenes of pasturage.

The Odyssey (as I have before said) ought to be considered according to its own nature and design, not with an eye to the Iliad. To censure Homer, because it is unlike what it was never meant to resemble, is as if a gardener, who had purposely cultivated two beautiful trees of contrary natures, as a specimen of his skill in the several kinds, should be blamed for not bringing them into pairs: when in root, stem, leaf, and flower, each was so entirely different, that one must have been spoiled in the endeavour to match the other.

Longinus, who saw this poem was partly of the nature of comedy,' ought not, for that very reason, to have considered it with a view to the Iliad. How little any such resemblance was the intention of Homer, may ap pear from hence, that, although the character of Ulysses was there already drawn, yet here he purposely turns to another side of it, and shows him not in that full light of glory, but in the shade of common life, with a mixture of such qualities as are requisite for all the lowest accidents of it, struggling with misfortunes, and on a level with the meanest of mankind. As for the other persons, none of them are above what we call the higher comedy: Calypso, though a goddess, is a character of intrigue; the suitors yet more approaching to it; the Phæacians are of the same cast: the Cyclops, Melanthius, and Irus, descend even to droll characters; and the scenes that appear throughout are generally of the comic kind; banquets, revels, sports, loves, and the pursuit of a


From the nature of the poem, we shall form an idea of the style. The diction is to follow the images, and to take its colour from the complexion of the thoughts. Accordingly the Odyssey is not always clothed in the majesty of verse proper to tragedy, but sometimes descends into the plainer narrative, and sometimes even to that familiar dialogue essential to comedy. However, where it cannot support a sublimity, it always preserves a dignity, or at least a propriety.

There is a real beauty in an easy, pure, perspicuous description, even of a low action. There are numerous instances of this both in Homer and Virgil: and perhaps those natural passages are not the least pleasing of their works. It is often the same in history, where the representations of common, or even domestic things, in clear, plain, and natural words, are frequently found to make the liveliest impression on the reader.

The question is, how far a poet, in pursuing the description or image of an action, can attach himself to little circumstances which contribute to form a full, and yet not a confused, idea of a thing.

Epithets are of vast service to this effect, and the right use of these is often the only expedient to render the narration poetical.

The great point of judgment is to distinguish when to speak simply, and when figuratively: but whenever the poet is obliged by the nature of his subject to descend to the lower manner of writing, an elevated style would be affected, and therefore ridiculous; and the more he was forced upon figures and letters to avoid that lowness, the more the image would be broken, and consequently


One may add, that the use of the grand style on little subjects, is not only ludicrous, but a sort of transgression against the rules of proportion and mechanics: it is using a vast force to lift a feather.

I believe, now I am upon this head, it will be found a just observation, that the low actions of life cannot be put into a figurative style, without being ridiculous; but things natural can. Metaphors raise the latter into dignity, as we see in the Georgics: but throw the former into ridicule, as in the Lutrin. I think this may very well be accounted for: laughter implies censure; inanimate and irrational beings are not objects of censure; therefore they may be elevated as much as you please, and no ridicule follows: but when rational beings are represented above their real character, it becomes ridiculous in art, because it is vicious in morality. The bees in Virgil, were they rational beings, would be ridiculous by having their actions and manners represented on a level with creatures so superior as men; since it would imply folly or pride, which are the proper objects of ridicule.

The use of pompous expressions for low actions or

thoughts, is the true sublime of Don Quixote. How far unfit it is for epic poetry, appears in its being the perfection of the mock epic. It is so far from being the sublime of tragedy, that it is the cause of all bombast: when poets, instead of being (as they imagine) con. stantly lofty, only preserve throughout a painful equality of fustian: that continued swell of language (which runs indiscriminately even through their lowest characters, aud rattles like some mightiness of meaning in the most indifferent subjects) is of a piece with that perpetual elevation of tone which the players have learnt from it; and which is not speaking, but vociferating.

There is still more reason for a variation of style in epic poetry than in tragic, to distinguish between that language of the gods proper to the muse who sings, and is inspired; and that of men, who are introduced speak ing only according to nature. Farther, there ought to be a difference of style observed in the speeches of hu man persons, and those of deities; and again, in those which may be called set harangues or orations, and those which are only conversation or dialogue. Homer has more of the latter than any other poet; what Virgil does by two or three words of narration, Homer still performs by speeches: not only replies, but even rejoinders are frequent in him, a practice almost unknown to Virgil. This renders his poems more animated, but less grave and majestic and consequently necessitates the frequent use of a lower style. The writers of tragedy lie under the same necessity if they would copy nature; whereas that painted and poetical diction which they perpetually use, would be improper even in orations designed to move with all the arts of rhetoric: this is plain from the practice of Demosthenes and Cicero; and Virgil in those of Drances and Turnus, gives an eminent example, how far removed the style of them ought to be from such an excess of figures and ornaments; which indeed fits only that language of the gods we have been speaking of, or that of a muse under inspiration.

To read through a whole work in this strain, is like travelling all along the ridge of a bill; which is not half so agreeable as sometimes gradually to rise, and sometimes gently to descend, as the way leads, and as the end of the journey directs.

Indeed the true reason that so few poets have imitated Homer in these lower parts, has been the extreme diffi culty of preserving that mixture of ease and dignity essential to them. For it is as hard for an epic poem to stoop to the narrative with success, as for a prince to descend to be familiar, without diminution to his greatness.

The sublime style is more easily counterfeited than the natural: something that passes for it, or sounds like it, is common to all false writers: but nature, purity, perspicuity, and simplicity, never walk in the clouds; they are obvious to all capacities; and when they are not evident, they do not exist.

The most plain narration not only admits of these, and of harmony (which are all the qualities of style), but it requires every one of them to render it pleasing. On the contrary, whatever pretends to a share of the sublime, may pass, notwithstanding any defects in the rest; nay, sometimes without any of them, and gain the admiration of all ordinary readers.


Homer, in his lowest narrations or speeches, is ever easy, flowing, copious, clear, and harmonious. shows not less invention in assembling the humbler, than the greater, thoughts and images: nor less judg ment in proportioning the style and the versification to these, than to the other. Let it be remembered, that the same genius that soared the highest, and from whom the greatest models of the sublime are derived, was also he who stooped the lowest, and gave to the simple narrative its utmost perfection. Which of these was the harder task to Homer himself, I cannot pretend to determine; but to his translator I can affirm (however unequal all his translations must be) that of the latter has been much more difficult.

Whoever expects here the same pomp of verse, and the same ornaments of diction, as in the Iliad, he will, and he ought to be disappointed. Were the original otherwise, it had been an offence against nature; and were the translation so, it were an offence against Homer, which is the same thing.

It must be allowed that there is a majesty and har mony in the Greek language, which greatly contribute to elevate and support the narration. But I must also observe that this is an advantage grown upon the language since Homer's time: for things are removed from vulgarity by being out of use; and if the words we could find in any present language were equally sono

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