Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Where round the bed whence Achelous springs, But in the porch, the king and herald rest';
The watery fairies dance in mazy rings,

Sad dreams of care yet wandering in their breast.
There high on Sipylus's shaggy brow

Now gods and men the gifts of sleep partake;
She stands, her own sad monument of woe ; Industrious Hermes only was awake,
The rock for ever lasts, the tears for ever flow. The king's return rerolving in his mind,

"Such griefs, Oking! have other parents known; To pass the ramparts, and the watch to blind.
Remember theirs, and mitigate thy own.

The power descending hover'd o'er his head :
The care of Heaven thy Hector has appear'd, “ And sleep'st thou, father!” (thus the vision said)
Nor shall he lie unwept and uninterru;

“Now dost thou sleep, when Hector is restor's ?
Soon may thy aged cheeks in tears be drown'd, Nor fear the Grecian foes, or Grecian lord?
And all the eyes of llion stream around.”

Thy presence here should stern Atrides see,
He said ; and, rising, chose the victim ewe Thy still-surviving sons may sue for thee,
With silver fleece, which his attendants slew. May offer all thy treasures yet contain,
The limbs they sever from the reeking hide, To spare thy age; and offer all in vain.”
With skill prepare them, and in parts divide: Wak'd with the word, the treinbling sire arose,
Fach on the coals the separate morsels lays, And rais'd his friend : the god before him gors;
And, hasty, snatches from the rising blaze. He joins the mules, directs them with his hand,
With bread the glittering canisters they load, And moves in silence through the hostile land.
Which found the board Automedon bestow'd: When now to Xanthus' yellow strearu they drove
The chief himself to each his portion plac'd, (Xanthus, immortal progeny of Jove)
And each indulging shar'd in sweet repast. The winged deity forsook their view
When now the rage of hunger was represt, And in a moment to Olympus flew.
The wondering hero eyes his royal guest :

Now shed Aurora round her saffron ray,
No less the royal guest the hero eyes,

Sprung thro' the gate of light, and gave the day: His godlike aspect and majestic size;

Charg'd with their mournful load, to Ilion go liere youthful grace and noble fire engage; The sage and king, majestically slow. And there, the mild benevolence of age.

Cassandra first beholds, from Ilion's spire,
Thus gazing long, the silence neither broke, The sad procèssion of her hoạry sire;
(A solemn scene!) at length the father spoke : Then, as the pensive pomp advanc'd more near,
" Permit me now, belov'd of Jove ! to steep (Her breathless brother stretch'd upon the bier)
My careful temples in the dew of sleep:

A shower of tears o'erflows her beauteous eyes,
Far, since the day that number'd with the dead Alarming thus all Ilion with her cries: [employ,
My hapless son, the dust has been my bed ;

“ Turn here your steps, and here your eyes Suft sleep, a stranger to my weeping eyes; Ye wretched daughters, and ye sons, of Troy! My only food, my sorrows and my sighs!

If e'er ye rush'd in crowds, with vast delight,
Tul aww, encourag'd by the grace you give, To hail your hero glorious from the fight;
I share thy banquet, and consent to live.” Now meet him dead, and let your sorrow's flow!
With that, Achilles bade prepare the bed, Your common triumph, and your common woe."
With purple soft, anal shaggy carpets spread ; In thronging crowds they issue to the plains ;
Forth, by the tiaming lights, they bend their Nor man, nor woman, in the walls remains :
way,

In every face the self-same grief is shown;
And place the couches, and the coverings lay. And Troy sends forth one universal groan.
Then he: “Now, father, sleep, but sleep not here; At Scæan's gates they meet the mourning wain,
Consult thy safety, and forgive my fear;

Hang on the wheels, and grovel round the slain. lat any Argive (at this hour awake,

The wife and mother, frantic with despair, To ask our counsel, or our orders take)

Kiss his pale cheek, and rend their scatter'd hair : Approaching sudden to our open'd tent,

Thus wildly wailing at the gates they lay; Perchance behold thee, and our grace prevent.

And there had sigh'd and sorrow'd out the day : Should such report thy honour'd person here,

But godlike Priam from the chariot rose;
The king of men the ransom might defer;

“Forbear,” he cry'd, “ this violence of woes!
Bat say, with speed, if aught of thy desire First to the palace let the car proceed,
Lemaios unask'd; what time the rites require Then pour your boundless sorrows o'er the dead."
To later thy Hector? For, so long we stay

The waves of people at his word divide,
Dar slaughtering arm, and bid the hosts obey.” Slow rolls the chariot throngh the following tide;
"If then thy will permit,” the monarch said, Ev'n to the palace the sad pomp they wait;
"To finish all due honours to the dead,

They weep, and place him on the bed of state. This, of thy

grace, accord: to thee are known å melancholy choir attend around, The fears of llion clos'd within her town;

With plaintive sighs, and music's solemn sound :
And at what distance from our walls aspire Alternately they sing, alternate flow
The hills of Ide, and forests for the fire.

Th' obedient tears, melodious in their woe.
Nine days to vent our sorrows I request,

While deeper sorrows groan from each full heart,
The tenth shall see the funeral and the Soast; And nature speaks at every pause of art.
The next, to raise his monument be given;

First to the corpse the wceping consort flew;
The twelfth we war, if war be doom'd by Heaven!" Around his neck her milk-white arms she threw,
* This thy request," reply'd the chief, “enjoy; and, " Oh, my Hector! oh, my lord !" she cries,
Till then, our arms suspend the fall of Troy." “ Snatch'd in thy bloom from these desiring eyes!
Then gave his hand at parting, to prevent

Thou to the dismal realus for ever gone!
The old man's fears, and turn'd within the tent ; And I abandon'd, desolate, alone!
Where fair Briseis, bright in blooming charms, An only son, once comfort of our pains,
Expacts ber hero with desiring armas

Sad product now of hapless love, remains !

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Never to manly age that son shall rise,

On all around th' infectious sorrow grows; Or with increasing graces glad my eyes;

But Priam check'd the torrent as it rose :For Ilion now (her great defender slain)

“ Perform, ye Trojans! what the rites require, Shall sink a smoking ruin on the plain.

And fell the forests for a funeral pyre; W'ho now protects her wives with guardian care? 'Twelve days, nor foes nor secret ambush dread; Who saves her infants from the rage of war? Achilles grants these honours to the dead." Now hostile fleets must waft those infants o'er He spoke ; and, at his word, the Trojan train (Those wives must wait them) to a foreign shore ! Their mules and oxen harness to the wain, 'Thou too, my son! to barbarous climes shalt go, Pour thro' the gates, and, felld from Ida's crown, The sad companions of thy mother's woe :

Roll back the gather'd forests to the town. Driven hence a slave before the victor's sword; These toils continue nine succeeding days, Condemn'd to toil for some inhuman lord :

And high in air a sylvan structure raise; Or else some Greek, whose father prest the plain, But when the tenth fair morn began to shine, Or son, or brother, by great Hector slain ; Forth to the pile was borne the man divine, In Hector's blood his vengeance shall enjoy, And plac'd aloft: while all, with streaming eyes, And hurl thee headlong from the towers of Troy. Beheld the fames and rolling smokes arise. For thy stern father never spar'd a fue:

Soon as Aurora, daughter of the dawn, Thence all these tears, and all this scene of woe! With rosy lustre streak'd the dewy lawn, 'I'hence many evils his sad parents bore,

Again the mournful crowds surround the pyre, jlis parents many, but his consort more.

And quench with wine the yet-remaining fire. Why gav'st thou not to me thy dying hand ? The snowy bones his friends and brothers place And why receiv'd not I thy lást command ? (With tears collected) in a golden vase ; Some word thou would'st have spoke, which, sadly The golden vase in purple palls they roll'd, My soul might keep, or utter with a tear; (dear, of softest texture, and inwrought with gold. Which never, never could be lost in air,

Last o'er the urn the sacred earth they spread, Fix'd in my heart, and oft repeated there!” And rais'd the tomb, memorial of the dead

Thus to her weeping maids she makes her moan: (Strong guards and spies, till all the rites were done, Her weeping handmaids echo groan for groan. Watch'd from the rising to the setting Sun).

The mournful mother next sustains her part: All Troy then moves to Priam's court again,
“ On thou, the best, the dearest to my heart! A solemn, silent, melancholy train :
Of all my race thou most by Heaven approv'd, Assembled there, from pious toil they rest,
And by th' immortals ev'n in death belov'd ! And sadly sbar'd the last sepulchral feast.
While all my other sons in barbarous bands Such honours Ilion to her hero paid,
Achilles bound, and sold to foreign lands, And peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade.
This felt no chains, but went, a glorious ghost,
Free and a hero, to the Stygian coast.
Sentenc'd, 'tis true, by his inhuman doom,
Thy noble corpse was dragg'd around the tomb
(The tomb of him thy warlike arm had slain);

HOMER'S ODYSSEY.
Ungenerous insult, impotent and vain !
Yet glow'st thou fresh with every living grace;
No mark of pain, or violence of face;
Rosy and fair, as Phæbus' silver box
Dismiss'd thee gently to the shades below!"

Thus spoke the dame, and melted into tears.
Sad Helen next, in pomp of grief, appears :

EPIC POEM,

, Past from the shining sluices of her eyes Fall the round crystal drops, while thus she cries : “ Ah, dearest friend ! in whom the gods had

THE ILIAD AND ODYSSEY.
join'd
The mildest manners with the bravest mind;
Now twice ten years (unhappy years!) are o'er
Since Paris brought me to the Trojan shore;
(0 had I perish'd ere that form divine
Seduc'd this soft, this easy heart of mine!)

SECT. I.
Yet was it ne'er my fate, from thee to find
a deed ungentle, or a word unkind :
When others curst the authoress of their woe,

The fables of poets were originally employed in Thy pity check'd my sorrows io their flow : representing the divine nature, according to the If some proud brother ey'd me with disdain, notion then conceived of it. This sublime subject Or scornful sister with her sweeping train;

occasioned the first poets to be oalled divines, and Thy gentle accents soften'd all my pain.

poetry the language of the gods. They divided For thee I mourn; and mourn myself in thee,

ibe divine attributes into so many persons ; beThe wretched source of all this misery !

cause the infirunity of a human mind cannot suffiThe fate I caus’d, for ever 1 bemoan;

ciently conceive, or explain, so much power and Sad Helen has no friend, now thou art gone ! action in a simplicity so great and indivisible as Thro' Troy's wide streets abandon'd shall I roam! that of God. And, perhaps, they were also jealous In Troy deserted, as abhorr'at home!”

of the advantages they reaped from such excellent So spoke the fair, with sorrow-streaming eye: and exalted learning, and of which they thoughs Distressful beuuty melts each standeroby, the vulgar part of inankind was not worthy.

IN TWENTY-FOUR BOOKS.

A GENERAL VIEW OF THE

AND OF

EXTRACTED FROM BOSSU.

OP TRE NATURE OF EPIC POETRY.

They could not deseribe the operations of this work, and all its parts: thus, since the end of the almighty cause, without speaking at the same epic poem is to regulate the manners, it is with this time of its effects : so that to divinity, they added first view the poet ought to begin. physiology; and treated of both, without quitting But there is a great difference between the phi. the umbrages of their allegorical expressions. losophical and the poetical doctrine of manners.

But man being the chief and the most noble of the schoolmen content theinselves with treating all that God produced, and nothing being so pro- of virtues and vices in general; the instructions per, or more useful to poets, than this subject; they give are proper for all states of people, and they added it to the former, and treated of the for all ages. But the poet has a nearer regard to doctrine of morality after the same manner as his own country, and the necessities of his own they did that of divinity and philosophy; and nation. With this design he makes choice of some from morality, thus treated, is formed that kind piece of morality, the most proper and just he of poem and fable which we call Epic.

can imagine; and in order to press this home, he The poets did the same in morality, that the makes less use of the force of reasoning, than of divines had done in divinity. But that infinite the power of insinuation ; accommodating himself tariety of the actions and operations of the divine to the particular customs and inclinations of those nature (to which our understanding bears so small who are to be the subject, or the readers, of his a proportion) did, as it were, force them upon work. dividing the single idea of the Only One God into Let us now see how Homer bas acquitted him. several persons, under the different names of Ju. self in these respects. piter, Juno, Neptune, and the rest.

He saw the Grecians, for whom he designed his And on the other hand, the nature of moral poem, were divided into as many states as they philosophy being such, as never to treat of things had capital cities. Each was a body politic apart, in particular, but in general; the epic poets were and had its form of government independent from obliged to unite in one single idea, in one and the all the rest. And yet these distinct states were very same person, and in an action which appeared often obliged to unite together in one body against singular, all that looked like it in different per their common enemies. These were two very diffesons and in various actions; which might be thus rent sorts of government, such as could not be contained as so many species under their genus. comprehended in one maxiın of morality, and in

The presence of the Deity, and the care such one single poem. an august cause is to be supposed to take about any

The poet, therefore, has made two distinct fables action, obliges the pret to represent this action as

of thein. The one is for Greece in general, united great, impurtant, and managed by kings and into one body, but composed of parts independent princes. It obliges him likewise to think and speak on each other; and the other for each particular in an elevated way above the vulgar, and in a style state, considered as they were in time of peace, withthat may in some sort keep up the character of out the former circumstances and the necessity of the divine persons he introduces. To this end being united. serve the poetical and figurative expression, and

As for the first sort of government, in the union, the majesty of the heroic verse.

or rather in the confederacy of many independent But all this, being divine and surprising, may states ; experience has always made it appear, quite ruin all probability ; therefore the poet “ That nothing so much causes success as a due should take a particular care as to that point, subordination, and a right understanding among siace his chief aim is to instruct, and without pro

the chief commanders. And on the other hand, bability any action is less likely to persuade.

the inevitable rujn of such confederacies proceeds Lastly, since precepts ought to be concise, to from the heats, jealousies, and ambition of the be the more easily conceived, and less oppress the different leaders, and the discontents of subrnitting memory; and since nuthing can be more effectual w a single general." All sorts of states, and in to this end than proposing one single idea, and particular the Grecians, had dearly experienced collecting all things so well together, as to be this truth.

So that the most useful and necessary present to our minds all at once; therefore the instruction that could be given them, was, to lay poets have reduced all to one single action, under before their eyes the luss which both the people une and the same design, and in a body whose and the princes must of necessity suffer, by the members and parts should be homogeneous.

ambition, discord, and obstinacy of the latter. What we have observed of the nature of the epic

Homer then has taken for the foundation of his poem, gists us a just idea of it, and we may de- fable this great truth: 'That a misunderstanding fine it thus :

between princes is the ruin of their own states. " The epic poem is a discourse invented by art, “ I sing,” says he, “the anger of Achilles, so perto form the manners, by such instructions as are

nicious to the Grecians, and the cau disguised under the allegories of some one im- heroes' deaths, occasioned by the discord and sepaportant action, which is related in rerse, after a ration of Agamemnon and that prince.” probable, diverting, and surprising inanner.”

But that this truth may be completely and fully known, there is need of a second to support it. It is necessary, in such a design, not only to repre

sent the conte lerate states at first disagreeing SECT. II.

of so many were united against the common enemy. The per- have been contented with this success, presses upon son whom they had elected their general, offers an Hector too boldly, and, by obliging him to fight, affront to the most valiant of all the confederates. soon discovers that it was not the true Achilles This-otiended prince is so far provoked, as to re- who was clad in his armour, but a hero of much linquish the union, and obstinately refuse to fight inferior prowess. So that Hector kills him, and for the common cause. This misunderstanding regains those advantages which the Trojans had gives the encing such an advantage, that the allies lost, on the opinion that Achilles was reconciled. are very near quitting their design with dishonour. He himself who made the separation, is not exempt from sharing the misfortune which he brought upon his party. For having permitted his intimade friend to succour them in a great necessity, this

among themselves, and from thence unfortunate; but to show the same states afterwards reconciled

and united, and of consequence victorious. Is every design which a man deliberately under- Let us now see how he has joined all these in takes, the end he proposes is the first thing in his one general action. mind, and that by which he goverus the whole " Several princes independent on one another

THE PABLE OF THE ILIAD.

SECT. III. friend is killed by the enemy's general. Thus the

THE FABRE OF THE ODYSSEY. contending princes, being both made wiser at their own cost, are reconciled, and unite again: then The Odyssey was not designed, like the Iliad, this valiant prince not only obtains the victory in for the instruction of all the states of Greece joined the peblic cause, but revenges his private wrongs, in one body, but for each state in particular. As by killing with his own hands the author of the a state is composed of two parts; the head which death of his friend."

commands, and the members which obey; there This is the first platform of the poem, and the are instructions requisite to both, to teach the fiction which reduces into one important and uni- one to govern, and the others to submit to goversal action all the particulars upon which it vernment. turns.

There are two virtues necessary to one in auIn the next place it must be rendered probable thority; prudence to order, and care to see his by the circumstances of times, places, and per orders put in execution. The prudence of a polisons : some persons must be found out, already | tician is not acquired but by a long experience in known by history or otherwise, whom we may with all sorts of business, and by an acquaintance with probability make the actors and personages of this all the different forms of governments and states. lable. Homer has made choice of the siege of The care of the administration suffers not bim that Troy, and feigned that this action happened there. has the government to rely upon others, but reTo a phantom of his brain, whom he would paint quires his own presence : and kings, who are abvaliant and choleric," he has given the name of sent from their states, are in danger of losing Achilles; that of Agamennon to his general; that ther, and give occasion to great disorders and of Hector to the enemy's commander, and so to confusion. the rest.

These two points may be easily united in one Besides, he was obliged to accommodate himself and the same inan. “A king forsakes his kingto the manners, customs, and genius of the Greeks dom to visit the courts of several princes, where his auditors, the better to make them attend to he learns the manners and customs of different nathe instruction of his poem: and to gain their ap- tions. From hence there naturally arises a vast probation by praising them; so that they might number of incidents, of dangers, and of adrenthe better forgive him the representation of their tures, very useful for a political institution. On own faults in some of his chief personages. He the other side, this absence gives way to the disadmirably discharges all these duties, by making orders which happen in his own kingdom, and these brave princes and those victorious people all which end not till his return, whose presence only Grecians, and the fathers of those he had a mind can re-establish all things." Thus the absence of to commend.

a king has the same effects in this fable, as the But not being content, in a work of such a

division of the princes had in the foriner. length, to propose only the principal point of the The subjects have scarce any need but of one moral, and to fill up the rest with useless orna- general maxim, which is, to suffer themselves to ments and foreign incidents, he extends this moral be governed, and to obey faithfully; whatever rcaby all its necessary consequences. As for instance, son they may imagine against the orders they rein the subject before us, it is not enough to knowceive. It is easy to join this instruction with the that a good understanding ought always to be other, by bestowing on this wise and industrious maintained among confederates: it is likewise of prince such subjects as, in his absence, would equal importance that, if there happens any di- rather follow their own judgment than his comvision, care must be taken to keep it secret from inands; and by demonstrating the misfortunes the enemy, that their ignorance of this advantage which this disobedience draws upon them, the evil may prevent their making use of it. And in the consequences which almost infallibly attend these second place, when their concord is but counter- particular notions, which are entirely different feit and only in appearance, one should never from the general idea of him who ought to gopress the enemy too closely ; for this would discover the weakness which we ought to conceal But as it was necessary that the princes in the from them.

Iliad should be choleric and quarrelsome, so it The episode of Patroclus most admirably fur- is necessary in the fable of the Odyssey that nishes us with these two instructions. For when the chief person should be sage and prudent. This he appeared in the arms of Achilles, the Trojans, raises a difficulty in the fiction ; because this per. who took him for that prince now reconciled and son ought to be absent for the two reasons abore united to the confederates, immediately gave mentioned, which are essential to the fable, and ground, and quitted the advantages they had be- which constitute the principal aim of it: hut he fore over the Greeks. But Patroclus, who should cannot absent himself, without offending against

.

vern.

[ocr errors]

another maxim of equal importance, viz. That a cause of great disorders : so the principal point of king should upon no accounts leave his country. the action, and the most essential one, is the

It is true, there are sometimes such necessities absence of the hero. This fills almost all the poem: as sufficiently excuse the prudence of a politician for not only this real absence lasted several years, in this point. But such a necessity is a thing im- but even when the hero returned, he does not disportant enough of itself to supply matter for ano- cover himself; and this prudent disguise, from ther poem, and this multiplication of the action whence he reaped so much advantage, lias the same would be vicious, To prevent which, in the first effect upon tho authors of the disorders, and all place, this necessity, and the departure of the others who knew him not, as his real absence had hero, must be disjoined from the poem; and in before, so that he is absent as to them, till the the second place, the hero having been obliged to very moment of their punishment. absent himself, for a reason antecedent to the After the poet had thus composed his fable, and action, and placed distinct from the fable, he joined the fiction to the truth, he then makes ought not so far to embrace this opportunity of choice of Ulysses, the king of the isle of Ithaca, instructing bimself, as to absent himself volun- to maintain the character of his chief personage, tarily from his own government. For, at this rate, and bestowed the rest upon Telemachus, Penelope, his absence would be merely voluntary, and one Antinous, and others, whom he calls by wliat might with reason lay to his charge all the dis- names he pleases. orders which might arise.

I shall not bere insist upon the many excellent Thus, in the constitution of the fable, he ought advices, which are so many parts and natural conDot to take for his action, and for the foundation of seqmencé • of the fundamental truth; and which his poem, the departure of a prince from bis own the poet very dexterously lays down in those ficcountry, nor his voluntary stay in any other place; tions which are the episodes and members of the but his return, and this return retarded against his entire action. Such for instance are these advices: will. This is the first idea Homer gives us of it! not to intrude one's self into the mysteries of goHis hero appears at first in a desolate island, sitting vernment, which the prince keeps secret ; this is upon the side of the sea, which, with tears in his represented to us by the winds shut up in a bulleges, he looks upon as the obstacle which had so bide, which the miserable companions of Ulysses long opposed his return, and detained him from would needs be so foolish as to pry into : not to resisiting his own dear country.

suffer one's self to be led away by the seeming And lastly, since this forced delay might more charms of an idle and inactive life, to which the naturally and usually happen to such as make Syrens' song invited ?: not to suffer one's self to be foyages by sea; Homer has judiciously made sensualised by pleasures, like those who were choice of a prince, whose kingdom was in an changed into brutes, by Circe: and a great many island.

other points of morality necessary for all sorts of Let us see then how he has feigned all this people. ection, making his hero a person in years, because This poem is more useful to the people than years are requisite to instruct a man in prudence the Iliad, where the subjects suffer rather by the and policy.

ill conduct of their princes, than throagh their “A prince had been obliged to forsake bis na- own miscarriages. But in the Odyssey, it is not tire country, and to head an army of his subjects the fault of Ulysses that is the ruin of his subjects. in a foreign expedition. Having gloriously per- This wise prince leaves untried no method to make formed this enterprise, he was marching home them partakers of the benefit of his return. Thus again, and conducting his subjects to his own state. the poet in the Diad says, “he sings the anger But spite of all the attempts, with which the of Achilles, which had caused the death of so agerness to return had inspired him, he was stopt many Grecians ;” and, on the contrary, in the by the way by tempests for several years, and cast Odyssey he tells his readers, “that the subjects upon several countries, differing from each other perished through their own fault.” i manners and government in these dangers, his companions, not always following his orders, perished through their own faalt. The grandees of his country strangely abuse his absence, and

SECT. IV. raise no small disorders at home. They consume bis estate, conspire to destroy his son, would constraig bis queen to accept of one of them for her ARISTOTLE bestows great encomiums upon Homer husband ; and indulge themselves in all violence, for the simplicity of his design, beca. he has so much the more, because they were persuaded included in one single part all that happened at he would never return. But at last he returns, the siege of Troy. And to this he opposes the igand discovering himself only to bis son and some norance of some poets, who imagined that the others, who had continued firm to him, he is unity of the fable or action was sufficiently prean eye-witness of the insolence of his enemies, served by the unity of the hero; and who coinpanishes them according to their deserts, and re- posed their Theseids, Heraclids, and the like, stores to his island that tranquility and repose to wherein they only heaped up in one poem every bicta they had been strangers during his ab- thing that happened to one personage. sekce.”

He finds fault with those poets who were for reAs the truth, which serves for foundation to this ducing the unity of the fable into the unity of the faction, is, that the absence of a person from his hero, because one man may have performed abome, or his neglect of his own affairs, is the several adventures, wbich it is impossible to reduce Odyssey Y.

? Improba Syren desidia.

Hor, VOL XLX

M

OF THE UNITY OF THE FABLE.

« ZurückWeiter »