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The ARGU M E N T.
The Acts of Diomed.
afifted by Pallas, perfornis wonders in this day's battle. Pandarus wounds him with an arrow, but the Goddess cures him, enables him to discern Gods from mortals, and prohibits him from contending with any of the former, excepting Venus. Æneas joins Pandarus to oppose him ; Pandarus is killed, and Æneas in great danger but for the alifance of Venus; who, as the is removing her fon from the fight, is wounded on the hand by Diomed. Apollo feconds her in his rescue, and at length carries off Æneas to 'Troy, where he is healed in the temple of Pergamus. Mars rallies the Trojans, and alifts Hector to make a fiand. In the mean time Æneas is restored to the field, and they overthrow Jeveral of the Greeks ; among the rest Tlepolemus is pain by Sarpedon. Juno and Minerva descend to refift Mars; the latter incites Diomed to go against that God; he wounds him, and fends him groaning to heaven.
The first battle continues through this book. The scene is the same as in the former.
Bu'r Palias now Tyelides" foul inspires,
V. 1, But Pallas now, &c.] As in every just history, picture there is one principal figure, to which all the rest refer and are subfervient; fo in each battle of the Iliad there is one principal person that may properly be called the Hero of that day or action. This conduct préserves the unity of the piece, and ke: ps the imagination from being distracted and confused with a wild number of independent figures, which have no subordination to each other. To make this probable, Homer, supposes these extraordinary measures of courage to be the immediate gift of the Gods; who bestow them fometimes upon one, sometimes upon another, as they thjuk fir to make them the inftruments of their designs ; an opinion confornable to true theology. Whoever reflects upon this, will not blame our Author for repréfenting the same heroes brave at one time, and dis
High on his helm celestial lightnings play,
pirited at another ; juft as the Gods affift, or abandon'tlien, on different occasions.
V. 1. Tydides ) That we nay enter into the spirit and beauiy of this book, it will be proper to fettle the Die character of Diomed, who is the hero of it. Achilles is no lourer retired, but Homer rai'es his other Grecks to supply his absence ; libe stars that shine each in bis due revolution, till the principal hero rises again, and walipses all oihers. As Dionied is the firn in this office, for leems to have more of ihe character of Achilles than any besides. He has naturally an excess of boldness, and too iruch fury in his temper, forward and intrepid like the other, and running after Gods or men promif. cuously as they offer themselves. But what differences . his character is, that he is foon reclaimed by advice, hears those that are more experienced, and in a word, obeys Minerva in all thing. He is assisted by the patroness of wisdom and arms, as he is eminent both for prudence and valour. That which characterizes his prucence, is a quick fagacity and presence of mind in all emergencies, and an undiliurbed readiness in the very arucle of danger. And what is particular in his valour, is agreeable to these qualities, his actions being alvays performed with remarkable dexterity, activity, and dispatch. As the gentle and manageable turn of his mind seems drawn with an opposition io the Lorderous lemper of Achilles, fo his bodily excellencies seen designed as in contrast to those of Ajax, who appears with great ftrength, but heavy and wieldy. As he is forward to act in the field, fo is he ready to speak in the council : but 'us observable thai, his councils fill incline to war, an i are bvass'd rather on the side of bravery than caution. Thus he advises 10 reject the proposals of the Trojans in the seventh : book, and not to accept of Heben herself, though Paris should offer her. In the ninth he opposes Agamemnon's proposition to returu to Greece, in so trong a manner, as to declare he will stay and continue the siege himself, if the General thould depart. And thus he hears without concern Achilles's refusal of a reconciliation), and doubts not to be able to carry on the war without
Th' unweary'd blaze inceffant streams fupplies,
him. As for his private character he appears a gallant lover of hospitality in his behaviour to Glaucus in the fixth book ; a lover of wifdom in his affisance of Neftor in the eighth, and his choice of Clifles to accompany him in the tenth; upon the whole, au open fincere friend, and a generous enemy.
The wonderful actions he performs in this battle, feem to be the effect of a noble resentment at the to, proach he had received from Agamemnon in the foreguing book, to which these deeds are the answer. He becomes immediately the second hero of Greece,and dreaded equally with Achilles by the Trojans. At the first light of him his enemies make a question whether he is a man or a God ? Fereas and Pardarus go against him, whose approach terrifies Sthenelus, and the apprehension of so great a warrior marvellously exalts the intrepidity of Diomed. Æneas himself is vol faved but by the interposing of a Deity: He pursues and wounds that Deity, and En as again escapes only by the help of a fironger po.iér, špollo. He attempts Apollo tão, retreats vot till the God threatens him in his own voice, and even then retreals but a few steps. When he sees Hector aird Mars himself in open arms against him, he had not retired though he was wounded, but in obedience to Minerva, and then retires with his face toward them. But as soon as me permits him to engage with that God, he conquers and sends him groaning to heaven. What invention and what conduct appears in this whole episode? What boldness in raising a character to such a pitch, and what judgment in railing it by such degrees? While the most daring flights of poetry are employed to move our admiration, and at the same time the justes and clofelt allegory, to reconcile those flights to moral truth and probability ? It may be farther remarked, that the high degree to which Homer elevates this character, enters into the principal: design of his whole puem ; which is to Thew, that the greatest personal qualities and forces are of no effect, when union is wanting among the chief rulers, and that nothing can avail till they are reconciled so as to act in. concert.
V. 5. High
When fresh he rears his radiant orb to fight,
V. s. High on his helm celestial lightnings play.] This beautiful pallige "gave occafion to Zoilus for an insipid piece of raillery, who asked how it happened that the hero escaped burning by the fe fires that continually bioke fion his armour ? Eufiathius a:swers, that there are several examples in history, of fires being seen to break forth from human bodies, as presages of greatness and glory. - Among the reit, Plutarch, in the life of Alexander, describes his helmet much in this man
This is enough to warrant the fiction ; and were there no such example, the same author says very well, that the imagination of a poet is not to be confined to firict physical tiuths. But all objections may easily be removed, if we consider it as done by Minerva, who had cetermined this day to raise Diomed above all the herues, and c": ufed luis apparition to render him formidable. The power of a God makes it not only allowable, but highly noble, and greatly imagined by Homer; as well as correspondent to a miracle in holy. fcripture, where Moses is described with a glory shining on his face at his descent from mount Sinai; a parallel which Spondanus has taken notice of.
Virgil was too sensible of the beauty of this passage not !o imitate it, and it must be owned he has surpated his original.
Ardet apex capiti, crisisque ac uertice fiamma
Æu. X. y. 270. In Homer's comparison there is no other circumstance alluded to but ihat of a remarkable brightness : Where. as Virgil's comparison, beside this, seems to forerel the immeile slaughter his hero was to make, by comparing him fort! ro a comet, which is vulgarly iniagined a proga moltic, if nor the real cause, of such misery to mankind ; and again to the dog-ftar, which appearing with the greatest brightness in the latter end of suniner, is fup