Myths and Myth-Makers - Old Tales and Superstitions Interpreted by Comparative Mythology
by John Fiske
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One of the most widely famous of these culture-heroes was Manabozho or Michabo, the Great Hare. With entire unanimity, says Dr. Brinton, the various branches of the Algonquin race, "the Powhatans of Virginia, the Lenni Lenape of the Delaware, the warlike hordes of New England, the Ottawas of the far North, and the Western tribes, perhaps without exception, spoke of this chimerical beast,' as one of the old missionaries calls it, as their common ancestor. The totem, or clan, which bore his name was looked up to with peculiar respect." Not only was Michabo the ruler and guardian of these numerous tribes,—he was the founder of their religious rites, the inventor of picture-writing, the ruler of the weather, the creator and preserver of earth and heaven. "From a grain of sand brought from the bottom of the primeval ocean he fashioned the habitable land, and set it floating on the waters till it grew to such a size that a strong young wolf, running constantly, died of old age ere he reached its limits." He was also, like Nimrod, a mighty hunter. "One of his footsteps measured eight leagues, the Great Lakes were the beaver-dams he built, and when the cataracts impeded his progress he tore them away with his hands." "Sometimes he was said to dwell in the skies with his brother, the Snow, or, like many great spirits, to have built his wigwam in the far North on some floe of ice in the Arctic Ocean..... But in the oldest accounts of the missionaries he was alleged to reside toward the East; and in the holy formulae of the meda craft, when the winds are invoked to the medicine lodge, the East is summoned in his name, the door opens in that direction, and there, at the edge of the earth where the sun rises, on the shore of the infinite ocean that surrounds the land, he has his house, and sends the luminaries forth on their daily journeys." [134] From such accounts as this we see that Michabo was no more a wise instructor and legislator than Minos or Kadmos. Like these heroes, he is a personification of the solar life-giving power, which daily comes forth from its home in the east, making the earth to rejoice. The etymology of his name confirms the otherwise clear indications of the legend itself. It is compounded of michi, "great," and wabos, which means alike "hare" and "white." "Dialectic forms in Algonquin for white are wabi, wape, wampi, etc.; for morning, wapan, wapanch, opah; for east, wapa, wanbun, etc.; for day, wompan, oppan; for light, oppung." So that Michabo is the Great White One, the God of the Dawn and the East. And the etymological confusion, by virtue of which he acquired his soubriquet of the Great Hare, affords a curious parallel to what has often happened in Aryan and Semitic mythology, as we saw when discussing the subject of werewolves.

Keeping in mind this solar character of Michabo, let us note how full of meaning are the myths concerning him. In the first cycle of these legends, "he is grandson of the Moon, his father is the West Wind, and his mother, a maiden, dies in giving him birth at the moment of conception. For the Moon is the goddess of night; the Dawn is her daughter, who brings forth the Morning, and perishes herself in the act; and the West, the spirit of darkness, as the East is of light, precedes, and as it were begets the latter, as the evening does the morning. Straightway, however, continues the legend, the son sought the unnatural father to revenge the death of his mother, and then commenced a long and desperate struggle. It began on the mountains. The West was forced to give ground. Manabozho drove him across rivers and over mountains and lakes, and at last he came to the brink of this world. 'Hold,' cried he, 'my son, you know my power, and that it is impossible to kill me.' What is this but the diurnal combat of light and darkness, carried on from what time 'the jocund morn stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops,' across the wide world to the sunset, the struggle that knows no end, for both the opponents are immortal?" [135]

Even the Veda nowhere affords a more transparent narrative than this. The Iroquois tradition is very similar. In it appear twin brothers, [136] born of a virgin mother, daughter of the Moon, who died in giving them life. Their names, Ioskeha and Tawiskara, signify in the Oneida dialect the White One and the Dark One. Under the influence of Christian ideas the contest between the brothers has been made to assume a moral character, like the strife between Ormuzd and Ahriman. But no such intention appears in the original myth, and Dr. Brinton has shown that none of the American tribes had any conception of a Devil. When the quarrel came to blows, the dark brother was signally discomfited; and the victorious Ioskeha, returning to his grandmother, "established his lodge in the far East, on the horders of the Great Ocean, whence the sun comes. In time he became the father of mankind, and special guardian of the Iroquois." He caused the earth to bring forth, he stocked the woods with game, and taught his children the use of fire. "He it was who watched and watered their crops; 'and, indeed, without his aid,' says the old missionary, quite out of patience with their puerilities, 'they think they could not boil a pot.'" There was more in it than poor Brebouf thought, as we are forcibly reminded by recent discoveries in physical science. Even civilized men would find it difficult to boil a pot without the aid of solar energy. Call him what we will,—Ioskeha, Michabo, or Phoibos,—the beneficent Sun is the master and sustainer of us all; and if we were to relapse into heathenism, like Erckmann-Chatrian's innkeeper, we could not do better than to select him as our chief object of worship.

The same principles by which these simple cases are explained furnish also the key to the more complicated mythology of Mexico and Peru. Like the deities just discussed, Viracocha, the supreme god of the Quichuas, rises from the bosom of Lake Titicaca and journeys westward, slaying with his lightnings the creatures who oppose him, until he finally disappears in the Western Ocean. Like Aphrodite, he bears in his name the evidence of his origin, Viracocha signifying "foam of the sea"; and hence the "White One" (l'aube), the god of light rising white on the horizon, like the foam on the surface of the waves. The Aymaras spoke of their original ancestors as white; and to this day, as Dr. Brinton informs us, the Peruvians call a white man Viracocha. The myth of Quetzalcoatl is of precisely the same character. All these solar heroes present in most of their qualities and achievements a striking likeness to those of the Old World. They combine the attributes of Apollo, Herakles, and Hermes. Like Herakles, they journey from east to west, smiting the powers of darkness, storm, and winter with the thunderbolts of Zeus or the unerring arrows of Phoibos, and sinking in a blaze of glory on the western verge of the world, where the waves meet the firmament. Or like Hermes, in a second cycle of legends, they rise with the soft breezes of a summer morning, driving before them the bright celestial cattle whose udders are heavy with refreshing rain, fanning the flames which devour the forests, blustering at the doors of wigwams, and escaping with weird laughter through vents and crevices. The white skins and flowing beards of these American heroes may be aptly compared to the fair faces and long golden locks of their Hellenic compeers. Yellow hair was in all probability as rare in Greece as a full beard in Peru or Mexico; but in each case the description suits the solar character of the hero. One important class of incidents, however is apparently quite absent from the American legends. We frequently see the Dawn described as a virgin mother who dies in giving birth to the Day; but nowhere do we remember seeing her pictured as a lovely or valiant or crafty maiden, ardently wooed, but speedily forsaken by her solar lover. Perhaps in no respect is the superior richness and beauty of the Aryan myths more manifest than in this. Brynhild, Urvasi, Medeia, Ariadne, Oinone, and countless other kindred heroines, with their brilliant legends, could not be spared from the mythology of our ancestors without, leaving it meagre indeed. These were the materials which Kalidasa, the Attic dramatists, and the bards of the Nibelungen found ready, awaiting their artistic treatment. But the mythology of the New World, with all its pretty and agreeable naivete, affords hardly enough, either of variety in situation or of complexity in motive, for a grand epic or a genuine tragedy.

But little reflection is needed to assure us that the imagination of the barbarian, who either carries away his wife by brute force or buys her from her relatives as he would buy a cow, could never have originated legends in which maidens are lovingly solicited, or in which their favour is won by the performance of deeds of valour. These stories owe their existence to the romantic turn of mind which has always characterized the Aryan, whose civilization, even in the times before the dispersion of his race, was sufficiently advanced to allow of his entertaining such comparatively exalted conceptions of the relations between men and women. The absence of these myths from barbaric folk-lore is, therefore, just what might be expected; but it is a fact which militates against any possible hypothesis of the common origin of Aryan and barbaric mythology. If there were any genetic relationship between Sigurd and Ioskeha, between Herakles and Michabo, it would be hard to tell why Brynhild and Iole should have disappeared entirely from one whole group of legends, while retained, in some form or other, throughout the whole of the other group. On the other hand, the resemblances above noticed between Aryan and American mythology fall very far short of the resemblances between the stories told in different parts of the Aryan domain. No barbaric legend, of genuine barbaric growth, has yet been cited which resembles any Aryan legend as the story of Punchkin resembles the story of the Heartless Giant. The myths of Michabo and Viracocha are direct copies, so to speak, of natural phenomena, just as imitative words are direct copies of natural sounds. Neither the Redskin nor the Indo-European had any choice as to the main features of the career of his solar divinity. He must be born of the Night,—or of the Dawn,—must travel westward, must slay harassing demons. Eliminating these points of likeness, the resemblance between the Aryan and barbaric legends is at once at an end. Such an identity in point of details as that between the wooden horse which enters Ilion, and the horse which bears Sigurd into the place where Brynhild is imprisoned, and the Druidic steed which leaps with Sculloge over the walls of Fiach's enchanted castle, is, I believe, nowhere to be found after we leave Indo-European territory.

Our conclusion, therefore, must be, that while the legends of the Aryan and the non-Aryan worlds contain common mythical elements, the legends themselves are not of common origin. The fact that certain mythical ideas are possessed alike by different races, shows that in each case a similar human intelligence has been at work explaining similar phenomena; but in order to prove a family relationship between the culture of these different races, we need something more than this. We need to prove not only a community of mythical ideas, but also a community between the stories based upon these ideas. We must show not only that Michabo is like Herakles in those striking features which the contemplation of solar phenomena would necessarily suggest to the imagination of the primitive myth-maker, but also that the two characters are similarly conceived, and that the two careers agree in seemingly arbitrary points of detail, as is the case in the stories of Punchkin and the Heartless Giant. The mere fact that solar heroes, all over the world, travel in a certain path and slay imps of darkness is of great value as throwing light upon primeval habits of thought, but it is of no value as evidence for or against an alleged community of civilization between different races. The same is true of the sacredness universally attached to certain numbers. Dr. Blinton's opinion that the sanctity of the number four in nearly all systems of mythology is due to a primitive worship of the cardinal points, becomes very probable when we recollect that the similar pre-eminence of seven is almost demonstrably connected with the adoration of the sun, moon, and five visible planets, which has left its record in the structure and nomenclature of the Aryan and Semitic week. [137]

In view of these considerations, the comparison of barbaric myths with each other and with the legends of the Aryan world becomes doubly interesting, as illustrating the similarity in the workings of the untrained intelligence the world over. In our first paper we saw how the moon-spots have been variously explained by Indo-Europeans, as a man with a thorn-bush or as two children bearing a bucket of water on a pole. In Ceylon it is said that as Sakyamuni was one day wandering half starved in the forest, a pious hare met him, and offered itself to him to be slain and cooked for dinner; whereupon the holy Buddha set it on high in the moon, that future generations of men might see it and marvel at its piety. In the Samoan Islands these dark patches are supposed to be portions of a woman's figure. A certain woman was once hammering something with a mallet, when the moon arose, looking so much like a bread-fruit that the woman asked it to come down and let her child eat off a piece of it; but the moon, enraged at the insult, gobbled up woman, mallet, and child, and there, in the moon's belly, you may still behold them. According to the Hottentots, the Moon once sent the Hare to inform men that as she died away and rose again, so should men die and again come to life. But the stupid Hare forgot the purport of the message, and, coming down to the earth, proclaimed it far and wide that though the Moon was invariably resuscitated whenever she died, mankind, on the other hand, should die and go to the Devil. When the silly brute returned to the lunar country and told what he had done, the Moon was so angry that she took up an axe and aimed a blow at his head to split it. But the axe missed and only cut his lip open; and that was the origin of the "hare-lip." Maddened by the pain and the insult, the Hare flew at the Moon and almost scratched her eyes out; and to this day she bears on her face the marks of the Hare's claws. [138]

Again, every reader of the classics knows how Selene cast Endymion into a profound slumber because he refused her love, and how at sundown she used to come and stand above him on the Latmian hill, and watch him as he lay asleep on the marble steps of a temple half hidden among drooping elm-trees, over which clambered vines heavy with dark blue grapes. This represents the rising moon looking down on the setting sun; in Labrador a similar phenomenon has suggested a somewhat different story. Among the Esquimaux the Sun is a maiden and the Moon is her brother, who is overcome by a wicked passion for her. Once, as this girl was at a dancing-party in a friend's hut, some one came up and took hold of her by the shoulders and shook her, which is (according to the legend) the Esquimaux manner of declaring one's love. She could not tell who it was in the dark, and so she dipped her hand in some soot and smeared one of his cheeks with it. When a light was struck in the hut, she saw, to her dismay, that it was her brother, and, without waiting to learn any more, she took to her heels. He started in hot pursuit, and so they ran till they got to the end of the world,—the jumping-off place,—when they both jumped into the sky. There the Moon still chases his sister, the Sun; and every now and then he turns his sooty cheek toward the earth, when he becomes so dark that you cannot see him. [139]

Another story, which I cite from Mr. Tylor, shows that Malays, as well as Indo-Europeans, have conceived of the clouds as swan-maidens. In the island of Celebes it is said that "seven heavenly nymphs came down from the sky to bathe, and they were seen by Kasimbaha, who thought first that they were white doves, but in the bath he saw that they were women. Then he stole one of the thin robes that gave the nymphs their power of flying, and so he caught Utahagi, the one whose robe he had stolen, and took her for his wife, and she bore him a son. Now she was called Utahagi from a single white hair she had, which was endowed with magic power, and this hair her husband pulled out. As soon as he had done it, there arose a great storm, and Utahagi went up to heaven. The child cried for its mother, and Kasimbaha was in great grief, and cast about how he should follow Utahagi up into the sky." Here we pass to the myth of Jack and the Beanstalk. "A rat gnawed the thorns off the rattans, and Kasimbaha clambered up by them with his son upon his back, till he came to heaven. There a little bird showed him the house of Utahagi, and after various adventures he took up his abode among the gods." [140]

In Siberia we find a legend of swan-maidens, which also reminds us of the story of the Heartless Giant. A certain Samojed once went out to catch foxes, and found seven maidens swimming in a lake surrounded by gloomy pine-trees, while their feather dresses lay on the shore. He crept up and stole one of these dresses, and by and by the swan-maiden came to him shivering with cold and promising to become his wife if he would only give her back her garment of feathers. The ungallant fellow, however, did not care for a wife, but a little revenge was not unsuited to his way of thinking. There were seven robbers who used to prowl about the neighbourhood, and who, when they got home, finding their hearts in the way, used to hang them up on some pegs in the tent. One of these robbers had killed the Samojed's mother; and so he promised to return the swan-maiden's dress after she should have procured for him these seven hearts. So she stole the hearts, and the Samojed smashed six of them, and then woke up the seventh robber, and told him to restore his mother to life, on pain of instant death, Then the robber produced a purse containing the old woman's soul, and going to the graveyard shook it over her bones, and she revived at once. Then the Samojed smashed the seventh heart, and the robber died; and so the swan-maiden got back her plumage and flew away rejoicing. [141]

Swan-maidens are also, according to Mr. Baring-Gould, found among the Minussinian Tartars. But there they appear as foul demons, like the Greek Harpies, who delight in drinking the blood of men slain in battle. There are forty of them, who darken the whole firmament in their flight; but sometimes they all coalesce into one great black storm-fiend, who rages for blood, like a werewolf.

In South Africa we find the werewolf himself. [142] A certain Hottentot was once travelling with a Bushwoman and her child, when they perceived at a distance a troop of wild horses. The man, being hungry, asked the woman to turn herself into a lioness and catch one of these horses, that they might eat of it; whereupon the woman set down her child, and taking off a sort of petticoat made of human skin became instantly transformed into a lioness, which rushed across the plain, struck down a wild horse and lapped its blood. The man climbed a tree in terror, and conjured his companion to resume her natural shape. Then the lioness came back, and putting on the skirt made of human skin reappeared as a woman, and took up her child, and the two friends resumed their journey after making a meal of the horse's flesh. [143]

The werewolf also appears in North America, duly furnished with his wolf-skin sack; but neither in America nor in Africa is he the genuine European werewolf, inspired by a diabolic frenzy, and ravening for human flesh. The barbaric myths testify to the belief that men can be changed into beasts or have in some cases descended from beast ancestors, but the application of this belief to the explanation of abnormal cannibal cravings seems to have been confined to Europe. The werewolf of the Middle Ages was not merely a transformed man,—he was an insane cannibal, whose monstrous appetite, due to the machinations of the Devil, showed its power over his physical organism by changing the shape of it. The barbaric werewolf is the product of a lower and simpler kind of thinking. There is no diabolism about him; for barbaric races, while believing in the existence of hurtful and malicious fiends, have not a sufficiently vivid sense of moral abnormity to form the conception of diabolism. And the cannibal craving, which to the mediaeval European was a phenomenon so strange as to demand a mythological explanation, would not impress the barbarian as either very exceptional or very blameworthy.

In the folk-lore of the Zulus, one of the most quick-witted and intelligent of African races, the cannibal possesses many features in common with the Scandinavian Troll, who also has a liking for human flesh. As we saw in the preceding paper, the Troll has very likely derived some of his characteristics from reminiscences of the barbarous races who preceded the Aryans in Central and Northern Europe. In like manner the long-haired cannibal of Zulu nursery literature, who is always represented as belonging to a distinct race, has been supposed to be explained by the existence of inferior races conquered and displaced by the Zulus. Nevertheless, as Dr. Callaway observes, neither the long-haired mountain cannibals of Western Africa, nor the Fulahs, nor the tribes of Eghedal described by Barth, "can be considered as answering to the description of long-haired as given in the Zulu legends of cannibals; neither could they possibly have formed their historical basis..... It is perfectly clear that the cannibals of the Zulu legends are not common men; they are magnified into giants and magicians; they are remarkably swift and enduring; fierce and terrible warriors." Very probably they may have a mythical origin in modes of thought akin to those which begot the Panis of the Veda and the Northern Trolls. The parallelism is perhaps the most remarkable one which can be found in comparing barbaric with Aryan folk-lore. Like the Panis and Trolls, the cannibals are represented as the foes of the solar hero Uthlakanyana, who is almost as great a traveller as Odysseus, and whose presence of mind amid trying circumstances is not to be surpassed by that of the incomparable Boots. Uthlakanyana is as precocious as Herakles or Hermes. He speaks before he is born, and no sooner has he entered the world than he begins to outwit other people and get possession of their property. He works bitter ruin for the cannibals, who, with all their strength and fleetness, are no better endowed with quick wit than the Trolls, whom Boots invariably victimizes. On one of his journeys, Uthlakanyana fell in with a cannibal. Their greetings were cordial enough, and they ate a bit of leopard together, and began to build a house, and killed a couple of cows, but the cannibal's cow was lean, while Uthlakanyana's was fat. Then the crafty traveller, fearing that his companion might insist upon having the fat cow, turned and said, "'Let the house be thatched now then we can eat our meat. You see the sky, that we shall get wet.' The cannibal said, 'You are right, child of my sister; you are a man indeed in saying, let us thatch the house, for we shall get wet.' Uthlakanyana said, 'Do you do it then; I will go inside, and push the thatching-needle for you, in the house.' The cannibal went up. His hair was very, very long. Uthlakanyana went inside and pushed the needle for him. He thatched in the hair of the cannibal, tying it very tightly; he knotted it into the thatch constantly, taking it by separate locks and fastening it firmly, that it might be tightly fastened to the house." Then the rogue went outside and began to eat of the cow which was roasted. "The cannibal said, 'What are you about, child of my sister? Let us just finish the house; afterwards we can do that; we will do it together.' Uthlakanyana replied, 'Come down then. I cannot go into the house any more. The thatching is finished.' The cannibal assented. When he thought he was going to quit the house, he was unable to quit it. He cried out saying, 'Child of my sister, how have you managed your thatching?' Uthlakanyana said, 'See to it yourself. I have thatched well, for I shall not have any dispute. Now I am about to eat in peace; I no longer dispute with anybody, for I am now alone with my cow.'" So the cannibal cried and raved and appealed in vain to Uthlakanyana's sense of justice, until by and by "the sky came with hailstones and lightning Uthlakanyana took all the meat into the house; he stayed in the house and lit a fire. It hailed and rained. The cannibal cried on the top of the house; he was struck with the hailstones, and died there on the house. It cleared. Uthlakanyana went out and said, 'Uncle, just come down, and come to me. It has become clear. It no longer rains, and there is no more hail, neither is there any more lightning. Why are you silent?' So Uthlakanyana ate his cow alone, until he had finished it. He then went on his way." [144]

In another Zulu legend, a girl is stolen by cannibals, and shut up in the rock Itshe-likantunjambili, which, like the rock of the Forty Thieves, opens and shuts at the command of those who understand its secret. She gets possession of the secret and escapes, and when the monsters pursue her she throws on the ground a calabash full of sesame, which they stop to eat. At last, getting tired of running, she climbs a tree, and there she finds her brother, who, warned by a dream, has come out to look for her. They ascend the tree together until they come to a beautiful country well stocked with fat oxen. They kill an ox, and while its flesh is roasting they amuse themselves by making a stout thong of its hide. By and by one of the cannibals, smelling the cooking meat, comes to the foot of the tree, and looking up discovers the boy and girl in the sky-country! They invite him up there; to share in their feast, and throw him an end of the thong by which to climb up. When the cannibal is dangling midway between earth and heaven, they let go the rope, and down he falls with a terrible crash. [145]

In this story the enchanted rock opened by a talismanic formula brings us again into contact with Indo-European folk-lore. And that the conception has in both cases been suggested by the same natural phenomenon is rendered probable by another Zulu tale, in which the cannibal's cave is opened by a swallow which flies in the air. Here we have the elements of a genuine lightning-myth. We see that among these African barbarians, as well as among our own forefathers, the clouds have been conceived as birds carrying the lightning which can cleave the rocks. In America we find the same notion prevalent. The Dakotahs explain the thunder as "the sound of the cloud-bird flapping his wings," and the Caribs describe the lightning as a poisoned dart which the bird blows through a hollow reed, after the Carib style of shooting. [146] On the other hand, the Kamtchatkans know nothing of a cloud-bird, but explain the lightning as something analogous to the flames of a volcano. The Kamtchatkans say that when the mountain goblins have got their stoves well heated up, they throw overboard, with true barbaric shiftlessness, all the brands not needed for immediate use, which makes a volcanic eruption. So when it is summer on earth, it is winter in heaven; and the gods, after heating up their stoves, throw away their spare kindlingwood, which makes the lightning. [147]

When treating of Indo-European solar myths, we saw the unvarying, unresting course of the sun variously explained as due to the subjection of Herakles to Eurystheus, to the anger of Poseidon at Odysseus, or to the curse laid upon the Wandering Jew. The barbaric mind has worked at the same problem; but the explanations which it has given are more childlike and more grotesque. A Polynesian myth tells how the Sun used to race through the sky so fast that men could not get enough daylight to hunt game for their subsistence. By and by an inventive genius, named Maui, conceived the idea of catching the Sun in a noose and making him go more deliberately. He plaited ropes and made a strong net, and, arming himself with the jawbone of his ancestress, Muri-ranga-whenua, called together all his brethren, and they journeyed to the place where the Sun rises, and there spread the net. When the Sun came up, he stuck his head and fore-paws into the net, and while the brothers tightened the ropes so that they cut him and made him scream for mercy, Maui beat him with the jawbone until he became so weak that ever since he has only been able to crawl through the sky. According to another Polynesian myth, there was once a grumbling Radical, who never could be satisfied with the way in which things are managed on this earth. This bold Radical set out to build a stone house which should last forever; but the days were so short and the stones so heavy that he despaired of ever accomplishing his project. One night, as he lay awake thinking the matter over, it occurred to him that if he could catch the Sun in a net, he could have as much daylight as was needful in order to finish his house. So he borrowed a noose from the god Itu, and, it being autumn, when the Sun gets sleepy and stupid, he easily caught the luminary. The Sun cried till his tears made a great freshet which nearly drowned the island; but it was of no use; there he is tethered to this day.

Similar stories are met with in North America. A Dog-Rib Indian once chased a squirrel up a tree until he reached the sky. There he set a snare for the squirrel and climbed down again. Next day the Sun was caught in the snare, and night came on at once. That is to say, the sun was eclipsed. "Something wrong up there," thought the Indian, "I must have caught the Sun"; and so he sent up ever so many animals to release the captive. They were all burned to ashes, but at last the mole, going up and burrowing out through the GROUND OF THE SKY, (!) succeeded in gnawing asunder the cords of the snare. Just as it thrust its head out through the opening made in the sky-ground, it received a flash of light which put its eyes out, and that is why the mole is blind. The Sun got away, but has ever since travelled more deliberately. [148]

These sun-myths, many more of which are to be found collected in Mr. Tylor's excellent treatise on "The Early History of Mankind," well illustrate both the similarity and the diversity of the results obtained by the primitive mind, in different times and countries, when engaged upon similar problems. No one would think of referring these stories to a common traditional origin with the myths of Herakles and Odysseus; yet both classes of tales were devised to explain the same phenomenon. Both to the Aryan and to the Polynesian the steadfast but deliberate journey of the sun through the firmament was a strange circumstance which called for explanation; but while the meagre intelligence of the barbarian could only attain to the quaint conception of a man throwing a noose over the sun's head, the rich imagination of the Indo-European created the noble picture of Herakles doomed to serve the son of Sthenelos, in accordance with the resistless decree of fate.

Another world-wide myth, which shows how similar are the mental habits of uncivilized men, is the myth of the tortoise. The Hindu notion of a great tortoise that lies beneath the earth and keeps it from falling is familiar to every reader. According to one account, this tortoise, swimming in the primeval ocean, bears the earth on his back; but by and by, when the gods get ready to destroy mankind, the tortoise will grow weary and sink under his load, and then the earth will be overwhelmed by a deluge. Another legend tells us that when the gods and demons took Mount Mandara for a churning-stick and churned the ocean to make ambrosia, the god Vishnu took on the form of a tortoise and lay at the bottom of the sea, as a pivot for the whirling mountain to rest upon. But these versions of the myth are not primitive. In the original conception the world is itself a gigantic tortoise swimming in a boundless ocean; the flat surface of the earth is the lower plate which covers the reptile's belly; the rounded shell which covers his back is the sky; and the human race lives and moves and has its being inside of the tortoise. Now, as Mr. Tylor has pointed out, many tribes of Redskins hold substantially the same theory of the universe. They regard the tortoise as the symbol of the world, and address it as the mother of mankind. Once, before the earth was made, the king of heaven quarrelled with his wife, and gave her such a terrible kick that she fell down into the sea. Fortunately a tortoise received her on his back, and proceeded to raise up the earth, upon which the heavenly woman became the mother of mankind. These first men had white faces, and they used to dig in the ground to catch badgers. One day a zealous burrower thrust his knife too far and stabbed the tortoise, which immediately sank into the sea and drowned all the human race save one man. [149] In Finnish mythology the world is not a tortoise, but it is an egg, of which the white part is the ocean, the yolk is the earth, and the arched shell is the sky. In India this is the mundane egg of Brahma; and it reappears among the Yorubas as a pair of calabashes put together like oyster-shells, one making a dome over the other. In Zulu-land the earth is a huge beast called Usilosimapundu, whose face is a rock, and whose mouth is very large and broad and red: "in some countries which were on his body it was winter, and in others it was early harvest." Many broad rivers flow over his back, and he is covered with forests and hills, as is indicated in his name, which means "the rugose or knotty-backed beast." In this group of conceptions may be seen the origin of Sindbad's great fish, which lay still so long that sand and clay gradually accumulated upon its back, and at last it became covered with trees. And lastly, passing from barbaric folk-lore and from the Arabian Nights to the highest level of Indo-European intelligence, do we not find both Plato and Kepler amusing themselves with speculations in which the earth figures as a stupendous animal?


TWELVE years ago, when, in concluding his "Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age," Mr. Gladstone applied to himself the warning addressed by Agamemnon to the priest of Apollo,

"Let not Nemesis catch me by the swift ships."

he would seem to have intended it as a last farewell to classical studies. Yet, whatever his intentions may have been, they have yielded to the sweet desire of revisiting familiar ground,—a desire as strong in the breast of the classical scholar as was the yearning which led Odysseus to reject the proffered gift of immortality, so that he might but once more behold the wreathed smoke curling about the roofs of his native Ithaka. In this new treatise, on the "Youth of the World," Mr. Gladstone discusses the same questions which were treated in his earlier work; and the main conclusions reached in the "Studies on Homer" are here so little modified with reference to the recent progress of archaeological inquiries, that the book can hardly be said to have had any other reason for appearing, save the desire of loitering by the ships of the Argives, and of returning thither as often as possible.

The title selected by Mr. Gladstone for his new work is either a very appropriate one or a strange misnomer, according to the point of view from which it is regarded. Such being the case, we might readily acquiesce in its use, and pass it by without comment, trusting that the author understood himself when he adopted it, were it not that by incidental references, and especially by his allusions to the legendary literature of the Jews, Mr. Gladstone shows that he means more by the title than it can fairly be made to express. An author who seeks to determine prehistoric events by references to Kadmos, and Danaos, and Abraham, is at once liable to the suspicion of holding very inadequate views as to the character of the epoch which may properly be termed the "youth of the world." Often in reading Mr. Gladstone we are reminded of Renan's strange suggestion that an exploration of the Hindu Kush territory, whence probably came the primitive Aryans, might throw some new light on the origin of language. Nothing could well be more futile. The primitive Aryan language has already been partly reconstructed for us; its grammatical forms and syntactic devices are becoming familiar to scholars; one great philologist has even composed a tale in it; yet in studying this long-buried dialect we are not much nearer the first beginnings of human speech than in studying the Greek of Homer, the Sanskrit of the Vedas, or the Umbrian of the Igovine Inscriptions. The Aryan mother-tongue had passed into the last of the three stages of linguistic growth long before the break-up of the tribal communities in Aryana-vaedjo, and at that early date presented a less primitive structure than is to be seen in the Chinese or the Mongolian of our own times. So the state of society depicted in the Homeric poems, and well illustrated by Mr. Gladstone, is many degrees less primitive than that which is revealed to us by the archaeological researches either of Pictet and Windischmann, or of Tylor, Lubbock, and M'Lennan. We shall gather evidences of this as we proceed. Meanwhile let us remember that at least eleven thousand years before the Homeric age men lived in communities, and manufactured pottery on the banks of the Nile; and let us not leave wholly out of sight that more distant period, perhaps a million years ago, when sparse tribes of savage men, contemporaneous with the mammoths of Siberia and the cave-tigers of Britain, struggled against the intense cold of the glacial winters.

Nevertheless, though the Homeric age appears to be a late one when considered with reference to the whole career of the human race, there is a point of view from which it may be justly regarded as the "youth of the world." However long man may have existed upon the earth, he becomes thoroughly and distinctly human in the eyes of the historian only at the epoch at which he began to create for himself a literature. As far back as we can trace the progress of the human race continuously by means of the written word, so far do we feel a true historical interest in its fortunes, and pursue our studies with a sympathy which the mere lapse of time is powerless to impair. But the primeval man, whose history never has been and never will be written, whose career on the earth, dateless and chartless, can be dimly revealed to us only by palaeontology, excites in us a very different feeling. Though with the keenest interest we ransack every nook and corner of the earth's surface for information about him, we are all the while aware that what we are studying is human zoology and not history. Our Neanderthal man is a specimen, not a character. We cannot ask him the Homeric question, what is his name, who were his parents, and how did he get where we found him. His language has died with him, and he can render no account of himself. We can only regard him specifically as Homo Anthropos, a creature of bigger brain than his congener Homo Pithekos, and of vastly greater promise. But this, we say, is physical science, and not history.

For the historian, therefore, who studies man in his various social relations, the youth of the world is the period at which literature begins. We regard the history of the western world as beginning about the tenth century before the Christian era, because at that date we find literature, in Greece and Palestine, beginning to throw direct light upon the social and intellectual condition of a portion of mankind. That great empires, rich in historical interest and in materials for sociological generalizations, had existed for centuries before that date, in Egypt and Assyria, we do not doubt, since they appear at the dawn of history with all the marks of great antiquity; but the only steady historical light thrown upon them shines from the pages of Greek and Hebrew authors, and these know them only in their latest period. For information concerning their early careers we must look, not to history, but to linguistic archaeology, a science which can help us to general results, but cannot enable us to fix dates, save in the crudest manner.

We mention the tenth century before Christ as the earliest period at which we can begin to study human society in general and Greek society in particular, through the medium of literature. But, strictly speaking, the epoch in question is one which cannot be fixed with accuracy. The earliest ascertainable date in Greek history is that of the Olympiad of Koroibos, B. C. 776. There is no doubt that the Homeric poems were written before this date, and that Homer is therefore strictly prehistoric. Had this fact been duly realized by those scholars who have not attempted to deny it, a vast amount of profitless discussion might have been avoided. Sooner or later, as Grote says, "the lesson must be learnt, hard and painful though it be, that no imaginable reach of critical acumen will of itself enable us to discriminate fancy from reality, in the absence of a tolerable stock of evidence." We do not know who Homer was; we do not know where or when he lived; and in all probability we shall never know. The data for settling the question are not now accessible, and it is not likely that they will ever be discovered. Even in early antiquity the question was wrapped in an obscurity as deep as that which shrouds it to-day. The case between the seven or eight cities which claimed to be the birthplace of the poet, and which Welcker has so ably discussed, cannot be decided. The feebleness of the evidence brought into court may be judged from the fact that the claims of Chios and the story of the poet's blindness rest alike upon a doubtful allusion in the Hymn to Apollo, which Thukydides (III. 104) accepted as authentic. The majority of modern critics have consoled themselves with the vague conclusion that, as between the two great divisions of the early Greek world, Homer at least belonged to the Asiatic. But Mr. Gladstone has shown good reasons for doubting this opinion. He has pointed out several instances in which the poems seem to betray a closer topographical acquaintance with European than with Asiatic Greece, and concludes that Athens and Argos have at least as good a claim to Homer as Chios or Smyrna.

It is far more desirable that we should form an approximate opinion as to the date of the Homeric poems, than that we should seek to determine the exact locality in which they originated. Yet the one question is hardly less obscure than the other. Different writers of antiquity assigned eight different epochs to Homer, of which the earliest is separated from the most recent by an interval of four hundred and sixty years,—a period as long as that which separates the Black Prince from the Duke of Wellington, or the age of Perikles from the Christian era. While Theopompos quite preposterously brings him down as late as the twenty-third Olympiad, Krates removes him to the twelfth century B. C. The date ordinarily accepted by modern critics is the one assigned by Herodotos, 880 B. C. Yet Mr. Gladstone shows reasons, which appear to me convincing, for doubting or rejecting this date.

I refer to the much-abused legend of the Children of Herakles, which seems capable of yielding an item of trustworthy testimony, provided it be circumspectly dealt with. I differ from Mr. Gladstone in not regarding the legend as historical in its present shape. In my apprehension, Hyllos and Oxylos, as historical personages, have no value whatever; and I faithfully follow Mr. Grote, in refusing to accept any date earlier than the Olympiad of Koroibos. The tale of the "Return of the Herakleids" is undoubtedly as unworthy of credit as the legend of Hengst and Horsa; yet, like the latter, it doubtless embodies a historical occurrence. One cannot approve, as scholarlike or philosophical, the scepticism of Mr. Cox, who can see in the whole narrative nothing but a solar myth. There certainly was a time when the Dorian tribes—described in the legend as the allies of the Children of Herakles—conquered Peloponnesos; and that time was certainly subsequent to the composition of the Homeric poems. It is incredible that the Iliad and the Odyssey should ignore the existence of Dorians in Peloponnesos, if there were Dorians not only dwelling but ruling there at the time when the poems were written. The poems are very accurate and rigorously consistent in their use of ethnical appellatives; and their author, in speaking of Achaians and Argives, is as evidently alluding to peoples directly known to him, as is Shakespeare when he mentions Danes and Scotchmen. Now Homer knows Achaians, Argives, and Pelasgians dwelling in Peloponnesos; and he knows Dorians also, but only as a people inhabiting Crete. (Odyss. XIX. 175.) With Homer, moreover, the Hellenes are not the Greeks in general but only a people dwelling in the north, in Thessaly. When these poems were written, Greece was not known as Hellas, but as Achaia,—the whole country taking its name from the Achaians, the dominant race in Peloponnesos. Now at the beginning of the truly historical period, in the eighth century B. C., all this is changed. The Greeks as a people are called Hellenes; the Dorians rule in Peloponnesos, while their lands are tilled by Argive Helots; and the Achaians appear only as an insignificant people occupying the southern shore of the Corinthian Gulf. How this change took place we cannot tell. The explanation of it can never be obtained from history, though some light may perhaps be thrown upon it by linguistic archaeology. But at all events it was a great change, and could not have taken place in a moment. It is fair to suppose that the Helleno-Dorian conquest must have begun at least a century before the first Olympiad; for otherwise the geographical limits of the various Greek races would not have been so completely established as we find them to have been at that date. The Greeks, indeed, supposed it to have begun at least three centuries earlier, but it is impossible to collect evidence which will either refute or establish that opinion. For our purposes it is enough to know that the conquest could not have taken place later than 900 B. C.; and if this be the case, the MINIMUM DATE for the composition of the Homeric poems must be the tenth century before Christ; which is, in fact, the date assigned by Aristotle. Thus far, and no farther, I believe it possible to go with safety. Whether the poems were composed in the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth century cannot be determined. We are justified only in placing them far enough back to allow the Helleno-Dorian conquest to intervene between their composition and the beginning of recorded history. The tenth century B. C. is the latest date which will account for all the phenomena involved in the case, and with this result we must be satisfied. Even on this showing, the Iliad and Odyssey appear as the oldest existing specimens of Aryan literature, save perhaps the hymns of the Rig-Veda and the sacred books of the Avesta.

The apparent difficulty of preserving such long poems for three or four centuries without the aid of writing may seem at first sight to justify the hypothesis of Wolf, that they are mere collections of ancient ballads, like those which make up the Mahabharata, preserved in the memories of a dozen or twenty bards, and first arranged under the orders of Peisistratos. But on a careful examination this hypothesis is seen to raise more difficulties than it solves. What was there in the position of Peisistratos, or of Athens itself in the sixth century B. C., so authoritative as to compel all Greeks to recognize the recension then and there made of their revered poet? Besides which the celebrated ordinance of Solon respecting the rhapsodes at the Panathenaia obliges us to infer the existence of written manuscripts of Homer previous to 550 B. C. As Mr. Grote well observes, the interference of Peisistratos "presupposes a certain foreknown and ancient aggregate, the main lineaments of which were familiar to the Grecian public, although many of the rhapsodes in their practice may have deviated from it both by omission and interpolation. In correcting the Athenian recitations conformably with such understood general type, Peisistratos might hope both to procure respect for Athens and to constitute a fashion for the rest of Greece. But this step of 'collecting the torn body of sacred Homer' is something generically different from the composition of a new Iliad out of pre-existing songs: the former is as easy, suitable, and promising as the latter is violent and gratuitous." [151]

As for Wolf's objection, that the Iliad and Odyssey are too long to have been preserved by memory, it may be met by a simple denial. It is a strange objection indeed, coming from a man of Wolf's retentive memory. I do not see how the acquisition of the two poems can be regarded as such a very arduous task; and if literature were as scanty now as in Greek antiquity, there are doubtless many scholars who would long since have had them at their tongues' end. Sir G. C. Lewis, with but little conscious effort, managed to carry in his head a very considerable portion of Greek and Latin classic literature; and Niebuhr (who once restored from recollection a book of accounts which had been accidentally destroyed) was in the habit of referring to book and chapter of an ancient author without consulting his notes. Nay, there is Professor Sophocles, of Harvard University, who, if you suddenly stop and interrogate him in the street, will tell you just how many times any given Greek word occurs in Thukydides, or in AEschylos, or in Plato, and will obligingly rehearse for you the context. If all extant copies of the Homeric poems were to be gathered together and burnt up to-day, like Don Quixote's library, or like those Arabic manuscripts of which Cardinal Ximenes made a bonfire in the streets of Granada, the poems could very likely be reproduced and orally transmitted for several generations; and much easier must it have been for the Greeks to preserve these books, which their imagination invested with a quasi-sanctity, and which constituted the greater part of the literary furniture of their minds. In Xenophon's time there were educated gentlemen at Athens who could repeat both Iliad and Odyssey verbatim. (Xenoph. Sympos., III. 5.) Besides this, we know that at Chios there was a company of bards, known as Homerids, whose business it was to recite these poems from memory; and from the edicts of Solon and the Sikyonian Kleisthenes (Herod., V. 67), we may infer that the case was the same in other parts of Greece. Passages from the Iliad used to be sung at the Pythian festivals, to the accompaniment of the harp (Athenaeus, XIV. 638), and in at least two of the Ionic islands of the AEgaean there were regular competitive exhibitions by trained young men, at which prizes were given to the best reciter. The difficulty of preserving the poems, under such circumstances, becomes very insignificant; and the Wolfian argument quite vanishes when we reflect that it would have been no easier to preserve a dozen or twenty short poems than two long ones. Nay, the coherent, orderly arrangement of the Iliad and Odyssey would make them even easier to remember than a group of short rhapsodies not consecutively arranged.

When we come to interrogate the poems themselves, we find in them quite convincing evidence that they were originally composed for the ear alone, and without reference to manuscript assistance. They abound in catchwords, and in verbal repetitions. The "Catalogue of Ships," as Mr. Gladstone has acutely observed, is arranged in well-defined sections, in such a way that the end of each section suggests the beginning of the next one. It resembles the versus memoriales found in old-fashioned grammars. But the most convincing proof of all is to be found in the changes which Greek pronunciation went through between the ages of Homer and Peisistratos. "At the time when these poems were composed, the digamma (or w) was an effective consonant, and figured as such in the structure of the verse; at the time when they were committed to writing, it had ceased to be pronounced, and therefore never found a place in any of the manuscripts,—insomuch that the Alexandrian critics, though they knew of its existence in the much later poems of Alkaios and Sappho, never recognized it in Homer. The hiatus, and the various perplexities of metre, occasioned by the loss of the digamma, were corrected by different grammatical stratagems. But the whole history of this lost letter is very curious, and is rendered intelligible only by the supposition that the Iliad and Odyssey belonged for a wide space of time to the memory, the voice, and the ear exclusively." [152]

Many of these facts are of course fully recognized by the Wolfians; but the inference drawn from them, that the Homeric poems began to exist in a piecemeal condition, is, as we have seen, unnecessary. These poems may indeed be compared, in a certain sense, with the early sacred and epic literature of the Jews, Indians, and Teutons. But if we assign a plurality of composers to the Psalms and Pentateuch, the Mahabharata, the Vedas, and the Edda, we do so because of internal evidence furnished by the books themselves, and not because these books could not have been preserved by oral tradition. Is there, then, in the Homeric poems any such internal evidence of dual or plural origin as is furnished by the interlaced Elohistic and Jehovistic documents of the Pentateuch? A careful investigation will show that there is not. Any scholar who has given some attention to the subject can readily distinguish the Elohistic from the Jehovistic portions of the Pentateuch; and, save in the case of a few sporadic verses, most Biblical critics coincide in the separation which they make between the two. But the attempts which have been made to break up the Iliad and Odyssey have resulted in no such harmonious agreement. There are as many systems as there are critics, and naturally enough. For the Iliad and the Odyssey are as much alike as two peas, and the resemblance which holds between the two holds also between the different parts of each poem. From the appearance of the injured Chryses in the Grecian camp down to the intervention of Athene on the field of contest at Ithaka, we find in each book and in each paragraph the same style, the same peculiarities of expression, the same habits of thought, the same quite unique manifestations of the faculty of observation. Now if the style were commonplace, the observation slovenly, or the thought trivial, as is wont to be the case in ballad-literature, this argument from similarity might not carry with it much conviction. But when we reflect that throughout the whole course of human history no other works, save the best tragedies of Shakespeare, have ever been written which for combined keenness of observation, elevation of thought, and sublimity of style can compare with the Homeric poems, we must admit that the argument has very great weight indeed. Let us take, for example, the sixth and twenty-fourth books of the Iliad. According to the theory of Lachmann, the most eminent champion of the Wolfian hypothesis, these are by different authors. Human speech has perhaps never been brought so near to the limit of its capacity of expressing deep emotion as in the scene between Priam and Achilleus in the twenty-fourth book; while the interview between Hektor and Andromache in the sixth similarly wellnigh exhausts the power of language. Now, the literary critic has a right to ask whether it is probable that two such passages, agreeing perfectly in turn of expression, and alike exhibiting the same unapproachable degree of excellence, could have been produced by two different authors. And the physiologist—with some inward misgivings suggested by Mr. Galton's theory that the Greeks surpassed us in genius even as we surpass the negroes—has a right to ask whether it is in the natural course of things for two such wonderful poets, strangely agreeing in their minutest psychological characteristics, to be produced at the same time. And the difficulty thus raised becomes overwhelming when we reflect that it is the coexistence of not two only, but at least twenty such geniuses which the Wolfian hypothesis requires us to account for. That theory worked very well as long as scholars thoughtlessly assumed that the Iliad and Odyssey were analogous to ballad poetry. But, except in the simplicity of the primitive diction, there is no such analogy. The power and beauty of the Iliad are never so hopelessly lost as when it is rendered into the style of a modern ballad. One might as well attempt to preserve the grandeur of the triumphant close of Milton's Lycidas by turning it into the light Anacreontics of the ode to "Eros stung by a Bee." The peculiarity of the Homeric poetry, which defies translation, is its union of the simplicity characteristic of an early age with a sustained elevation of style, which can be explained only as due to individual genius.

The same conclusion is forced upon us when we examine the artistic structure of these poems. With regard to the Odyssey in particular, Mr. Grote has elaborately shown that its structure is so thoroughly integral, that no considerable portion could be subtracted without converting the poem into a more or less admirable fragment. The Iliad stands in a somewhat different position. There are unmistakable peculiarities in its structure, which have led even Mr. Grote, who utterly rejects the Wolfian hypothesis, to regard it as made up of two poems; although he inclines to the belief that the later poem was grafted upon the earlier by its own author, by way of further elucidation and expansion; just as Goethe, in his old age, added a new part to "Faust." According to Mr. Grote, the Iliad, as originally conceived, was properly an Achilleis; its design being, as indicated in the opening lines of the poem, to depict the wrath of Achilleus and the unutterable woes which it entailed upon the Greeks The plot of this primitive Achilleis is entirely contained in Books I., VIII., and XI.-XXII.; and, in Mr. Grote's opinion, the remaining books injure the symmetry of this plot by unnecessarily prolonging the duration of the Wrath, while the embassy to Achilleus, in the ninth book, unduly anticipates the conduct of Agamemnon in the nineteenth, and is therefore, as a piece of bungling work, to be referred to the hands of an inferior interpolator. Mr. Grote thinks it probable that these books, with the exception of the ninth, were subsequently added by the poet, with a view to enlarging the original Achilleis into a real Iliad, describing the war of the Greeks against Troy. With reference to this hypothesis, I gladly admit that Mr. Grote is, of all men now living, the one best entitled to a reverential hearing on almost any point connected with Greek antiquity. Nevertheless it seems to me that his theory rests solely upon imagined difficulties which have no real existence. I doubt if any scholar, reading the Iliad ever so much, would ever be struck by these alleged inconsistencies of structure, unless they were suggested by some a priori theory. And I fear that the Wolfian theory, in spite of Mr. Grote's emphatic rejection of it, is responsible for some of these over-refined criticisms. Even as it stands, the Iliad is not an account of the war against Troy. It begins in the tenth year of the siege, and it does not continue to the capture of the city. It is simply occupied with an episode in the war,—with the wrath of Achilleus and its consequences, according to the plan marked out in the opening lines. The supposed additions, therefore, though they may have given to the poem a somewhat wider scope, have not at any rate changed its primitive character of an Achilleis. To my mind they seem even called for by the original conception of the consequences of the wrath. To have inserted the battle at the ships, in which Sarpedon breaks down the wall of the Greeks, immediately after the occurrences of the first book, would have been too abrupt altogether. Zeus, after his reluctant promise to Thetis, must not be expected so suddenly to exhibit such fell determination. And after the long series of books describing the valorous deeds of Aias, Diomedes, Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Menelaos, the powerful intervention of Achilleus appears in far grander proportions than would otherwise be possible. As for the embassy to Achilleus, in the ninth book, I am unable to see how the final reconciliation with Agamemnon would be complete without it. As Mr. Gladstone well observes, what Achilleus wants is not restitution, but apology; and Agamemnon offers no apology until the nineteenth book. In his answer to the ambassadors, Achilleus scornfully rejects the proposals which imply that the mere return of Briseis will satisfy his righteous resentment, unless it be accompanied with that public humiliation to which circumstances have not yet compelled the leader of the Greeks to subject himself. Achilleus is not to be bought or cajoled. Even the extreme distress of the Greeks in the thirteenth book does not prevail upon him; nor is there anything in the poem to show that he ever would have laid aside his wrath, had not the death of Patroklos supplied him with a new and wholly unforeseen motive. It seems to me that his entrance into the battle after the death of his friend would lose half its poetic effect, were it not preceded by some such scene as that in the ninth book, in which he is represented as deaf to all ordinary inducements. As for the two concluding books, which Mr. Grote is inclined to regard as a subsequent addition, not necessitated by the plan of the poem, I am at a loss to see how the poem can be considered complete without them. To leave the bodies of Patroklos and Hektor unburied would be in the highest degree shocking to Greek religious feelings. Remembering the sentence incurred, in far less superstitious times, by the generals at Arginusai, it is impossible to believe that any conclusion which left Patroklos's manes unpropitiated, and the mutilated corpse of Hektor unransomed, could have satisfied either the poet or his hearers. For further particulars I must refer the reader to the excellent criticisms of Mr. Gladstone, and also to the article on "Greek History and Legend" in the second volume of Mr. Mill's "Dissertations and Discussions." A careful study of the arguments of these writers, and, above all, a thorough and independent examination of the Iliad itself, will, I believe, convince the student that this great poem is from beginning to end the consistent production of a single author.

The arguments of those who would attribute the Iliad and Odyssey, taken as wholes, to two different authors, rest chiefly upon some apparent discrepancies in the mythology of the two poems; but many of these difficulties have been completely solved by the recent progress of the science of comparative mythology. Thus, for example, the fact that, in the Iliad, Hephaistos is called the husband of Charis, while in the Odyssey he is called the husband of Aphrodite, has been cited even by Mr. Grote as evidence that the two poems are not by the same author. It seems to me that one such discrepancy, in the midst of complete general agreement, would be much better explained as Cervantes explained his own inconsistency with reference to the stealing of Sancho's mule, in the twenty-second chapter of "Don Quixote." But there is no discrepancy. Aphrodite, though originally the moon-goddess, like the German Horsel, had before Homer's time acquired many of the attributes of the dawn-goddess Athene, while her lunar characteristics had been to a great extent transferred to Artemis and Persephone. In her renovated character, as goddess of the dawn, Aphrodite became identified with Charis, who appears in the Rig-Veda as dawn-goddess. In the post-Homeric mythology, the two were again separated, and Charis, becoming divided in personality, appears as the Charites, or Graces, who were supposed to be constant attendants of Aphrodite. But in the Homeric poems the two are still identical, and either Charis or Aphrodite may be called the wife of the fire-god, without inconsistency.

Thus to sum up, I believe that Mr. Gladstone is quite right in maintaining that both the Iliad and Odyssey are, from beginning to end, with the exception of a few insignificant interpolations, the work of a single author, whom we have no ground for calling by any other name than that of Homer. I believe, moreover, that this author lived before the beginning of authentic history, and that we can determine neither his age nor his country with precision. We can only decide that he was a Greek who lived at some time previous to the year 900 B.C.

Here, however, I must begin to part company with Mr. Gladstone, and shall henceforth unfortunately have frequent occasion to differ from him on points of fundamental importance. For Mr. Gladstone not only regards the Homeric age as strictly within the limits of authentic history, but he even goes much further than this. He would not only fix the date of Homer positively in the twelfth century B. C., but he regards the Trojan war as a purely historical event, of which Homer is the authentic historian and the probable eye-witness. Nay, he even takes the word of the poet as proof conclusive of the historical character of events happening several generations before the Troika, according to the legendary chronology. He not only regards Agamemnon, Achilleus, and Paris as actual personages, but he ascribes the same reality to characters like Danaos, Kadmos, and Perseus, and talks of the Pelopid and Aiolid dynasties, and the empire of Minos, with as much confidence as if he were dealing with Karlings or Capetians, or with the epoch of the Crusades.

It is disheartening, at the present day, and after so much has been finally settled by writers like Grote, Mommsen, and Sir G. C. Lewis, to come upon such views in the work of a man of scholarship and intelligence. One begins to wonder how many more times it will be necessary to prove that dates and events are of no historical value, unless attested by nearly contemporary evidence. Pausanias and Plutarch were able men no doubt, and Thukydides was a profound historian; but what these writers thought of the Herakleid invasion, the age of Homer, and the war of Troy, can have no great weight with the critical historian, since even in the time of Thukydides these events were as completely obscured by lapse of time as they are now. There is no literary Greek history before the age of Hekataios and Herodotos, three centuries subsequent to the first recorded Olympiad. A portion of this period is satisfactorily covered by inscriptions, but even these fail us before we get within a century of this earliest ascertainable date. Even the career of the lawgiver Lykourgos, which seems to belong to the commencement of the eighth century B. C., presents us, from lack of anything like contemporary records, with many insoluble problems. The Helleno-Dorian conquest, as we have seen, must have occurred at some time or other; but it evidently did not occur within two centuries of the earliest known inscription, and it is therefore folly to imagine that we can determine its date or ascertain the circumstances which attended it. Anterior to this event there is but one fact in Greek antiquity directly known to us,—the existence of the Homeric poems. The belief that there was a Trojan war rests exclusively upon the contents of those poems: there is no other independent testimony to it whatever. But the Homeric poems are of no value as testimony to the truth of the statements contained in them, unless it can be proved that their author was either contemporary with the Troika, or else derived his information from contemporary witnesses. This can never be proved. To assume, as Mr. Gladstone does, that Homer lived within fifty years after the Troika, is to make a purely gratuitous assumption. For aught the wisest historian can tell, the interval may have been five hundred years, or a thousand. Indeed the Iliad itself expressly declares that it is dealing with an ancient state of things which no longer exists. It is difficult to see what else can be meant by the statement that the heroes of the Troika belong to an order of men no longer seen upon the earth. (Iliad, V. 304.) Most assuredly Achilleus the son of Thetis, and Sarpedon the son of Zeus, and Helena the daughter of Zeus, are no ordinary mortals, such as might have been seen and conversed with by the poet's grandfather. They belong to an inferior order of gods, according to the peculiar anthropomorphism of the Greeks, in which deity and humanity are so closely mingled that it is difficult to tell where the one begins and the other ends. Diomedes, single-handed, vanquishes not only the gentle Aphrodite, but even the god of battles himself, the terrible Ares. Nestor quaffs lightly from a goblet which, we are told, not two men among the poet's contemporaries could by their united exertions raise and place upon a table. Aias and Hektor and Aineias hurl enormous masses of rock as easily as an ordinary man would throw a pebble. All this shows that the poet, in his naive way, conceiving of these heroes as personages of a remote past, was endeavouring as far as possible to ascribe to them the attributes of superior beings. If all that were divine, marvellous, or superhuman were to be left out of the poems, the supposed historical residue would hardly be worth the trouble of saving. As Mr. Cox well observes, "It is of the very essence of the narrative that Paris, who has deserted Oinone, the child of the stream Kebren, and before whom Here, Athene, and Aphrodite had appeared as claimants for the golden apple, steals from Sparta the beautiful sister of the Dioskouroi; that the chiefs are summoned together for no other purpose than to avenge her woes and wrongs; that Achilleus, the son of the sea-nymph Thetis, the wielder of invincible weapons and the lord of undying horses, goes to fight in a quarrel which is not his own; that his wrath is roused because he is robbed of the maiden Briseis, and that henceforth he takes no part in the strife until his friend Patroklos has been slain; that then he puts on the new armour which Thetis brings to him from the anvil of Hephaistos, and goes forth to win the victory. The details are throughout of the same nature. Achilleus sees and converses with Athene; Aphrodite is wounded by Diomedes, and Sleep and Death bear away the lifeless Sarpedon on their noiseless wings to the far-off land of light." In view of all this it is evident that Homer was not describing, like a salaried historiographer, the state of things which existed in the time of his father or grandfather. To his mind the occurrences which he described were those of a remote, a wonderful, a semi-divine past.

This conclusion, which I have thus far supported merely by reference to the Iliad itself, becomes irresistible as soon as we take into account the results obtained during the past thirty years by the science of comparative mythology. As long as our view was restricted to Greece, it was perhaps excusable that Achilleus and Paris should be taken for exaggerated copies of actual persons. Since the day when Grimm laid the foundations of the science of mythology, all this has been changed. It is now held that Achilleus and Paris and Helena are to be found, not only in the Iliad, but also in the Rig-Veda, and therefore, as mythical conceptions, date, not from Homer, but from a period preceding the dispersion of the Aryan nations. The tale of the Wrath of Achilleus, far from originating with Homer, far from being recorded by the author of the Iliad as by an eyewitness, must have been known in its essential features in Aryana-vaedjo, at that remote epoch when the Indian, the Greek, and the Teuton were as yet one and the same. For the story has been retained by the three races alike, in all its principal features; though the Veda has left it in the sky where it originally belonged, while the Iliad and the Nibelungenlied have brought it down to earth, the one locating it in Asia Minor, and the other in Northwestern Europe. [153]

In the Rig-Veda the Panis are the genii of night and winter, corresponding to the Nibelungs, or "Children of the Mist," in the Teutonic legend, and to the children of Nephele (cloud) in the Greek myth of the Golden Fleece. The Panis steal the cattle of the Sun (Indra, Helios, Herakles), and carry them by an unknown route to a dark cave eastward. Sarama, the creeping Dawn, is sent by Indra to find and recover them. The Panis then tamper with Sarama, and try their best to induce her to betray her solar lord. For a while she is prevailed upon to dally with them; yet she ultimately returns to give Indra the information needful in order that he might conquer the Panis, just as Helena, in the slightly altered version, ultimately returns to her western home, carrying with her the treasures (ktemata, Iliad, II. 285) of which Paris had robbed Menelaos. But, before the bright Indra and his solar heroes can reconquer their treasures they must take captive the offspring of Brisaya, the violet light of morning. Thus Achilleus, answering to the solar champion Aharyu, takes captive the daughter of Brises. But as the sun must always be parted from the morning-light, to return to it again just before setting, so Achilleus loses Briseis, and regains her only just before his final struggle. In similar wise Herakles is parted from Iole ("the violet one"), and Sigurd from Brynhild. In sullen wrath the hero retires from the conflict, and his Myrmidons are no longer seen on the battle-field, as the sun hides behind the dark cloud and his rays no longer appear about him. Yet toward the evening, as Briseis returns, he appears in his might, clothed in the dazzling armour wrought for him by the fire-god Hephaistos, and with his invincible spear slays the great storm-cloud, which during his absence had wellnigh prevailed over the champions of the daylight. But his triumph is short-lived; for having trampled on the clouds that had opposed him, while yet crimsoned with the fierce carnage, the sharp arrow of the night-demon Paris slays him at the Western Gates. We have not space to go into further details. In Mr. Cox's "Mythology of the Aryan Nations," and "Tales of Ancient Greece," the reader will find the entire contents of the Iliad and Odyssey thus minutely illustrated by comparison with the Veda, the Edda, and the Lay of the Nibelungs.

Ancient as the Homeric poems undoubtedly are, they are modern in comparison with the tale of Achilleus and Helena, as here unfolded. The date of the entrance of the Greeks into Europe will perhaps never be determined; but I do not see how any competent scholar can well place it at less than eight hundred or a thousand years before the time of Homer. Between the two epochs the Greek, Latin, Umbrian, and Keltic lauguages had time to acquire distinct individualities. Far earlier, therefore, than the Homeric "juventus mundi" was that "youth of the world," in which the Aryan forefathers, knowing no abstract terms, and possessing no philosophy but fetichism, deliberately spoke of the Sun, and the Dawn, and the Clouds, as persons or as animals. The Veda, though composed much later than this,—perhaps as late as the Iliad,—nevertheless preserves the record of the mental life of this period. The Vedic poet is still dimly aware that Sarama is the fickle twilight, and the Panis the night-demons who strive to coax her from her allegiance to the day-god. He keeps the scene of action in the sky. But the Homeric Greek had long since forgotten that Helena and Paris were anything more than semi-divine mortals, the daughter of Zeus and the son of the Zeus-descended Priam. The Hindu understood that Dyaus ("the bright one") meant the sky, and Sarama ("the creeping one") the dawn, and spoke significantly when he called the latter the daughter of the former. But the Greek could not know that Zeus was derived from a root div, "to shine," or that Helena belonged to a root sar, "to creep." Phonetic change thus helped him to rise from fetichism to polytheism. His nature-gods became thoroughly anthropomorphic; and he probably no more remembered that Achilleus originally signified the sun, than we remember that the word God, which we use to denote the most vast of conceptions, originally meant simply the Storm-wind. Indeed, when the fetichistic tendency led the Greek again to personify the powers of nature, he had recourse to new names formed from his own language. Thus, beside Apollo we have Helios; Selene beside Artemis and Persephone; Eos beside Athene; Gaia beside Demeter. As a further consequence of this decomposition and new development of the old Aryan mythology, we find, as might be expected, that the Homeric poems are not always consistent in their use of their mythic materials. Thus, Paris, the night-demon, is—to Max Muller's perplexity—invested with many of the attributes of the bright solar heroes. "Like Perseus, Oidipous, Romulus, and Cyrus, he is doomed to bring ruin on his parents; like them he is exposed in his infancy on the hillside, and rescued by a shepherd." All the solar heroes begin life in this way. Whether, like Apollo, born of the dark night (Leto), or like Oidipous, of the violet dawn (Iokaste), they are alike destined to bring destruction on their parents, as the night and the dawn are both destroyed by the sun. The exposure of the child in infancy represents the long rays of the morning-sun resting on the hillside. Then Paris forsakes Oinone ("the wine-coloured one"), but meets her again at the gloaming when she lays herself by his side amid the crimson flames of the funeral pyre. Sarpedon also, a solar hero, is made to fight on the side of the Niblungs or Trojans, attended by his friend Glaukos ("the brilliant one"). They command the Lykians, or "children of light"; and with them comes also Memnon, son of the Dawn, from the fiery land of the Aithiopes, the favourite haunt of Zeus and the gods of Olympos.

The Iliad-myth must therefore have been current many ages before the Greeks inhabited Greece, long before there was any Ilion to be conquered. Nevertheless, this does not forbid the supposition that the legend, as we have it, may have been formed by the crystallization of mythical conceptions about a nucleus of genuine tradition. In this view I am upheld by a most sagacious and accurate scholar, Mr. E. A. Freeman, who finds in Carlovingian romance an excellent illustration of the problem before us.

The Charlemagne of romance is a mythical personage. He is supposed to have been a Frenchman, at a time when neither the French nation nor the French language can properly be said to have existed; and he is represented as a doughty crusader, although crusading was not thought of until long after the Karolingian era. The legendary deeds of Charlemagne are not conformed to the ordinary rules of geography and chronology. He is a myth, and, what is more, he is a solar myth,—an avatar, or at least a representative, of Odin in his solar capacity. If in his case legend were not controlled and rectified by history, he would be for us as unreal as Agamemnon.

History, however, tells us that there was an Emperor Karl, German in race, name, and language, who was one of the two or three greatest men of action that the world has ever seen, and who in the ninth century ruled over all Western Europe. To the historic Karl corresponds in many particulars the mythical Charlemagne. The legend has preserved the fact, which without the information supplied by history we might perhaps set down as a fiction, that there was a time when Germany, Gaul, Italy, and part of Spain formed a single empire. And, as Mr. Freeman has well observed, the mythical crusades of Charlemagne are good evidence that there were crusades, although the real Karl had nothing whatever to do with one.

Now the case of Agamemnon may be much like that of Charlemagne, except that we no longer have history to help us in rectifying the legend. The Iliad preserves the tradition of a time when a large portion of the islands and mainland of Greece were at least partially subject to a common suzerain; and, as Mr. Freeman has again shrewdly suggested, the assignment of a place like Mykenai, instead of Athens or Sparta or Argos, as the seat of the suzerainty, is strong evidence of the trustworthiness of the tradition. It appears to show that the legend was constrained by some remembered fact, instead of being guided by general probability. Charlemagne's seat of government has been transferred in romance from Aachen to Paris; had it really been at Paris, says Mr. Freeman, no one would have thought of transferring it to Aachen. Moreover, the story of Agamemnon, though uncontrolled by historic records, is here at least supported by archaeologic remains, which prove Mykenai to have been at some time or other a place of great consequence. Then, as to the Trojan war, we know that the Greeks several times crossed the AEgaean and colonized a large part of the seacoast of Asia Minor. In order to do this it was necessary to oust from their homes many warlike communities of Lydians and Bithynians, and we may be sure that this was not done without prolonged fighting. There may very probably have been now and then a levy en masse in prehistoric Greece, as there was in mediaeval Europe; and whether the great suzerain at Mykenai ever attended one or not, legend would be sure to send him on such an expedition, as it afterwards sent Charlemagne on a crusade.

It is therefore quite possible that Agamemnon and Menelaos may represent dimly remembered sovereigns or heroes, with their characters and actions distorted to suit the exigencies of a narrative founded upon a solar myth. The character of the Nibelungenlied here well illustrates that of the Iliad. Siegfried and Brunhild, Hagen and Gunther, seem to be mere personifications of physical phenomena; but Etzel and Dietrich are none other than Attila and Theodoric surrounded with mythical attributes; and even the conception of Brunhild has been supposed to contain elements derived from the traditional recollection of the historical Brunehault. When, therefore, Achilleus is said, like a true sun-god, to have died by a wound from a sharp instrument in the only vulnerable part of his body, we may reply that the legendary Charlemagne conducts himself in many respects like a solar deity. If Odysseus detained by Kalypso represents the sun ensnared and held captive by the pale goddess of night, the legend of Frederic Barbarossa asleep in a Thuringian mountain embodies a portion of a kindred conception. We know that Charlemagne and Frederic have been substituted for Odin; we may suspect that with the mythical impersonations of Achilleus and Odysseus some traditional figures may be blended. We should remember that in early times the solar-myth was a sort of type after which all wonderful stories would be patterned, and that to such a type tradition also would be made to conform.

In suggesting this view, we are not opening the door to Euhemerism. If there is any one conclusion concerning the Homeric poems which the labours of a whole generation of scholars may be said to have satisfactorily established, it is this, that no trustworthy history can be obtained from either the Iliad or the Odyssey merely by sifting out the mythical element. Even if the poems contain the faint reminiscence of an actual event, that event is inextricably wrapped up in mythical phraseology, so that by no cunning of the scholar can it be construed into history. In view of this it is quite useless for Mr. Gladstone to attempt to base historical conclusions upon the fact that Helena is always called "Argive Helen," or to draw ethnological inferences from the circumstances that Menelaos, Achilleus, and the rest of the Greek heroes, have yellow hair, while the Trojans are never so described. The Argos of the myth is not the city of Peloponnesos, though doubtless so construed even in Homer's time. It is "the bright land" where Zeus resides, and the epithet is applied to his wife Here and his daughter Helena, as well as to the dog of Odysseus, who reappears with Sarameyas in the Veda. As for yellow hair, there is no evidence that Greeks have ever commonly possessed it; but no other colour would do for a solar hero, and it accordingly characterizes the entire company of them, wherever found, while for the Trojans, or children of night, it is not required.

A wider acquaintance with the results which have been obtained during the past thirty years by the comparative study of languages and mythologies would have led Mr. Gladstone to reconsider many of his views concerning the Homeric poems, and might perhaps have led him to cut out half or two thirds of his book as hopelessly antiquated. The chapter on the divinities of Olympos would certainly have had to be rewritten, and the ridiculous theory of a primeval revelation abandoned. One can hardly preserve one's gravity when Mr. Gladstone derives Apollo from the Hebrew Messiah, and Athene from the Logos. To accredit Homer with an acquaintance with the doctrine of the Logos, which did not exist until the time of Philo, and did not receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second century after Christ, is certainly a strange proceeding. We shall next perhaps be invited to believe that the authors of the Volsunga Saga obtained the conception of Sigurd from the "Thirty-Nine Articles." It is true that these deities, Athene and Apollo, are wiser, purer, and more dignified, on the whole, than any of the other divinities of the Homeric Olympos. They alone, as Mr. Gladstone truly observes, are never deceived or frustrated. For all Hellas, Apollo was the interpreter of futurity, and in the maid Athene we have perhaps the highest conception of deity to which the Greek mind had attained in the early times. In the Veda, Athene is nothing but the dawn; but in the Greek mythology, while the merely sensuous glories of daybreak are assigned to Eos, Athene becomes the impersonation of the illuminating and knowledge-giving light of the sky. As the dawn, she is daughter of Zeus, the sky, and in mythic language springs from his forehead; but, according to the Greek conception, this imagery signifies that she shares, more than any other deity, in the boundless wisdom of Zeus. The knowledge of Apollo, on the other hand, is the peculiar privilege of the sun, who, from his lofty position, sees everything that takes place upon the earth. Even the secondary divinity Helios possesses this prerogative to a certain extent.

Next to a Hebrew, Mr. Gladstone prefers a Phoenician ancestry for the Greek divinities. But the same lack of acquaintance with the old Aryan mythology vitiates all his conclusions. No doubt the Greek mythology is in some particulars tinged with Phoenician conceptions. Aphrodite was originally a purely Greek divinity, but in course of time she acquired some of the attributes of the Semitic Astarte, and was hardly improved by the change. Adonis is simply a Semitic divinity, imported into Greece. But the same cannot be proved of Poseidon; [154] far less of Hermes, who is identical with the Vedic Sarameyas, the rising wind, the son of Sarama the dawn, the lying, tricksome wind-god, who invented music, and conducts the souls of dead men to the house of Hades, even as his counterpart the Norse Odin rushes over the tree-tops leading the host of the departed. When one sees Iris, the messenger of Zeus, referred to a Hebrew original, because of Jehovah's promise to Noah, one is at a loss to understand the relationship between the two conceptions. Nothing could be more natural to the Greeks than to call the rainbow the messenger of the sky-god to earth-dwelling men; to call it a token set in the sky by Jehovah, as the Hebrews did, was a very different thing. We may admit the very close resemblance between the myth of Bellerophon and Anteia, and that of Joseph and Zuleikha; but the fact that the Greek story is explicable from Aryan antecedents, while the Hebrew story is isolated, might perhaps suggest the inference that the Hebrews were the borrowers, as they undoubtedly were in the case of the myth of Eden. Lastly, to conclude that Helios is an Eastern deity, because he reigns in the East over Thrinakia, is wholly unwarranted. Is not Helios pure Greek for the sun? and where should his sacred island be placed, if not in the East? As for his oxen, which wrought such dire destruction to the comrades of Odysseus, and which seem to Mr. Gladstone so anomalous, they are those very same unhappy cattle, the clouds, which were stolen by the storm-demon Cacus and the wind-deity Hermes, and which furnished endless material for legends to the poets of the Veda.

But the whole subject of comparative mythology seems to be terra incognita to Mr. Gladstone. He pursues the even tenour of his way in utter disregard of Grimm, and Kuhn, and Breal, and Dasent, and Burnouf. He takes no note of the Rig-Veda, nor does he seem to realize that there was ever a time when the ancestors of the Greeks and Hindus worshipped the same gods. Two or three times he cites Max Muller, but makes no use of the copious data which might be gathered from him. The only work which seems really to have attracted his attention is M. Jacolliot's very discreditable performance called "The Bible in India." Mr. Gladstone does not, indeed, unreservedly approve of this book; but neither does he appear to suspect that it is a disgraceful piece of charlatanry, written by a man ignorant of the very rudiments of the subject which he professes to handle.

Mr. Gladstone is equally out of his depth when he comes to treat purely philological questions. Of the science of philology, as based upon established laws of phonetic change, he seems to have no knowledge whatever. He seems to think that two words are sufficiently proved to be connected when they are seen to resemble each other in spelling or in sound. Thus he quotes approvingly a derivation of the name Themis from an assumed verb them, "to speak," whereas it is notoriously derived from tiqhmi, as statute comes ultimately from stare. His reference of hieros, "a priest," and geron, "an old man," to the same root, is utterly baseless; the one is the Sanskrit ishiras, "a powerful man," the other is the Sanskrit jaran, "an old man." The lists of words on pages 96-100 are disfigured by many such errors; and indeed the whole purpose for which they are given shows how sadly Mr. Gladstone's philology is in arrears. The theory of Niebuhr—that the words common to Greek and Latin, mostly descriptive of peaceful occupations, are Pelasgian—was serviceable enough in its day, but is now rendered wholly antiquated by the discovery that such words are Aryan, in the widest sense. The Pelasgian theory works very smoothly so long as we only compare the Greek with the Latin words,—as, for instance, sugon with jugum; but when we add the English yoke and the Sanskrit yugam, it is evident that we have got far out of the range of the Pelasgoi. But what shall we say when we find Mr. Gladstone citing the Latin thalamus in support of this antiquated theory? Doubtless the word thalamus is, or should be, significative of peaceful occupations; but it is not a Latin word at all, except by adoption. One might as well cite the word ensemble to prove the original identity or kinship between English and French.

When Mr. Gladstone, leaving the dangerous ground of pure and applied philology, confines himself to illustrating the contents of the Homeric poems, he is always excellent. His chapter on the "Outer Geography" of the Odyssey is exceedingly interesting; showing as it does how much may be obtained from the patient and attentive study of even a single author. Mr. Gladstone's knowledge of the SURFACE of the Iliad and Odyssey, so to speak, is extensive and accurate. It is when he attempts to penetrate beneath the surface and survey the treasures hidden in the bowels of the earth, that he shows himself unprovided with the talisman of the wise dervise, which alone can unlock those mysteries. But modern philology is an exacting science: to approach its higher problems requires an amount of preparation sufficient to terrify at the outset all but the boldest; and a man who has had to regulate taxation, and make out financial statements, and lead a political party in a great nation, may well be excused for ignorance of philology. It is difficult enough for those who have little else to do but to pore over treatises on phonetics, and thumb their lexicons, to keep fully abreast with the latest views in linguistics. In matters of detail one can hardly ever broach a new hypothesis without misgivings lest somebody, in some weekly journal published in Germany, may just have anticipated and refuted it. Yet while Mr. Gladstone may be excused for being unsound in philology, it is far less excusable that he should sit down to write a book about Homer, abounding in philological statements, without the slightest knowledge of what has been achieved in that science for several years past. In spite of all drawbacks, however, his book shows an abiding taste for scholarly pursuits, and therefore deserves a certain kind of praise. I hope,—though just now the idea savours of the ludicrous,—that the day may some time arrive when OUR Congressmen and Secretaries of the Treasury will spend their vacations in writing books about Greek antiquities, or in illustrating the meaning of Homeric phrases.

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