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And much in fear the Trojans. We would wail

Nine days for him within our halls, and on

The tenth would bury him, and the folk would feast.

Later Additions to the Iliad 29

The eleventh we could rear a mound for him,

And on the twelfth will fight, if needs must be."

Then great Achilles, fleet of foot, replied:

** These things shall be for thee as thou dost bid.

And even for so long a time will I

Put off the war as thou commandest me."

This princely promise of Achilles was fulfilled, and
with a curt account of Hector's funeral the *'IHad" ends.
Of course the final downfall of Troy has been often fore-
shadowed. The famous wooden horse is first mentioned
in the * 'Odyssey." A number of early epics, now lost,
were composed expressly to complete the tale of Troy.
Later poets, down to Tennyson and Andrew Lang, have
felt the same impulse.

As to the authors of the '4Had" we know nothing.
They may have sung to princes somewhat as the *' Iliad"
describes. But our first historical view of Hellas, about
600 B.C. — as outHned in Herodotus, — shows us, on both
sides the ^gean, trading towns, generally held by free
communities. Some such a picture we get, also, in one
very late addition to the ** Iliad" itself: the account of the
decorations on Achilles' shield. The feudal Homeric life
had already vanished, if it ever had existed.

Courtly minstrels are described in both the ** Iliad"
and the **Odyssey." Professional reciters or rhapsodes,
not themselves creative poets, existed, singly or in fami-
nes and guilds, down to a late date. The best description
of a Homeric recitation is in Plato's "Ion":

*'l often envy the profession of a rhapsode," says
Socrates. *'He has always to wear fine clothes, and to

look as beautiful as possible is a part of his art

He has a golden crown upon his head

JO Ideals in Greek Literature

**When you produce the greatest effect upon the
audience in the recitation of some striking passage, such
as the apparition of Odysseus leaping forth on the floor,
recognized by the suitors and casting his arrows at his
feet, .... are you in your right mind? Are you not
carried out of yourself, and does not your soul in an
ecstasy seem to be among the persons or places of which
you are speaking, whether they are in Ithaca or in Troy
or whatever may be the scene of the poem?'*

These reciters were clearly almost actors. Whether
the player is absorbed in his part, is a question still
debated. The answer is both yes and no. The imitative
artist has two selves, one critical, one sympathetic.

But the questions, When, By whom. To whom, was
the ''Iliad" jirst recited, cannot be answered. In its
present gigantic form, of course, it could not be recited
at one time at all. Between its ideal scenes, and the real
life of him who gave the poem essentially its present
shape, there may have been as wide a gulf as, for example,
between Arthur's Camelot and the age of Alfred Tenny-

The tradition of a blind Homer, born on the island of
Chios, starts with the ''Homeric Hymn" to Delian
Apollo. That poem is at least a century or two later
than the "Iliad," and the passage referred to seems per-
fectly realistic, but most un-Homeric. This free and
happy folk are nowise Hke the despised commons of the
"Iliad." Still less could the poet, who has so carefully
effaced himself from every page of the great epic, have
made any such self-conscious plea for personal attention
as is here set forth:

Later Additions to the Iliad 31

Greeting unto you all : and be ye of me hereafter
Mindful', when some other of men that on earth have

Hither may come, an outworn stranger, and ask you the

question :
**Oh, ye maidens, and who for you is the sweetest of

Whoso hither doth come, in whom ye most are delighted?"
Then do ye all, I pray, with one voice answer and tell him,
** Blind is the man, and in Chios abounding in crags is his

He it is whose songs shall all be supreme in the future.'*

So this anonymous hymn only confirms the regretful
confession, that, as to the poet or poets of the ''IHad,"
nothing can ever be known.


The translations from the "Iliad" in this chapter are taken,
by permission of the Macmillan Company, from Lawton's "Art
and Humanity in Homer," where other experiments in hexameter
may be found. For the "Homeric Hymns" there are complete
translations in prose by Edgar and Andrew Lang. On the hymns
see also Lawton's "Successors of Homer." The "Ion" should
be read entire in Jowett's translation of Plato. See also the note
at the end of the previous chapter.



Home Love. The Return of Odysseus,

The '* Odyssey" is an epic of 12,000 lines, resembling
the ''Iliad" in language, metre, and general tone. As a
whole it seems more refined and humane, and is probably
a few decades younger. It describes the adventures of the
crafty Odysseus, — the real victor over Troy, through the
stratagem of the wooden horse, — on his ten-year long
homeward voyage. Best-known, doubtless, are such
scenes as his escape from the gigantic Cyclops' cave, by
making the monster drunk and then boring out his single
eye. This exploit is, however, a world-wide myth of
many peoples, told of each national hero, and probably
older far than the whole tale of Troy. The dominant
chord of the great song is not love of adventure, but love
of home. The very invocation is the best illustration:

*'Tell me, O Muse, of that sagacious man
Who, having overthrown the sacred town
Of Ilium, wandered far and visited
The capitals of many nations, learned
The customs of their dwellers, and endured
Great suffering on the deep; his life was oft
In peril, as he labored to bring back

His comrades to their homes "

**Now all the rest, as many as escaped

The cruel doom of death, were at their homes,

Safe from the perils of the war and sea,


The Odyssey 33

While him alone, who pined to see his home
And wife again, Calypso, queenly nymph.
Great among goddesses, detained within
Her spacious grot . * *

Pallas Athene, his chief patron, begins her plea to the
gods for him thus:

**I am grieved
For sage Ulysses, that most wretched man,
So long detained, repining, and afar
From those he loves, upon a distant isle.**

.... "Impatient to behold the smokes
That rise from hearths in his own land, he pines.
And willingly would die.*'

The first four books describe chiefly young Telemachus*
wanderings in quest of his father.

In Book V. we see the hero himself. Calypso, by
command of Zeus, is forced to speed him on his home-
ward way.

Him she found beside the deep.
Seated alone, with eyes from which the tears
Were never dried, for now no more the nymph
Delighted him. He wasted his sweet Hfe
In yearning for his home. Night after night
He slept constrained within the hdllow cave,
The unwilling by the fond : and day by day
He sat upon the rocks that edged the shore.
And in continual weeping, and in sighs,
And vain repinings, wore the hours away.
Gazing through tears upon the barren deep.

The reply of Odysseus to the gentle nymph's last
loving plea has a certain resemblance to the ancient myth
of Marpessa, as recently retold by Stephen Philhps.
Calypso had said:

34 Ideals in Greek Literature

"Farewell: —
But, couldst thou know the sufferings Fate ordains
For thee ere yet thou landest on thy shore,
Thou wouldst remain to keep this home with me.
And be immortal, strong as is thy wish
To see thy wife, — a wish that day by day
Possesses thee. I cannot deem myself
In face or form less beautiful than she;
For never with immortals can the race
Of mortal dames in form or face compare. "

Ulysses, the sagacious, answered her
**Bear with me, gracious goddess; well I know
All thou couldst say. The sage Penelope
In feature and in stature comes not nigh
To thee, for she is mortal — deathless thou.
And ever young; yet day by day I long
To be at home once more, and pine to see
The hour of my return. Even though some god
Smite me on the black ocean, I shall bear
The stroke, for in my bosom dwells a mind
Patient of suffering; much have I endured,
And much survived, in tempests on the deep
And in the battle; let this happen too. "

Like Marpessa, the hero turns away from an immortal,
preferring the love of a fitter though less glorious human
mate. The wanderer is not, indeed, so austerely faithful
as is the loyal wife Penelope at home. Not only the
gentle Calypso, but even the cruel enchantress Circe, who
turns men into swine, had for a time shared his affections.
Yet after his last shipwreck, when appealing humbly for
help to the brave little princess Nausicaa, who had rescued
him, he rises to a lofty key.

''May the gods vouchsafe
To thee whatever blessings thou canst wish;
Husband, and home, and w^edded harmony.

The Odyssey 35

There is no better, no more blessed state,
Than when the wife and husband in accord
Order their household lovingly. Then those
Repine who hate them; those who wish them well
Rejoice, and they themselves the most of all. ' *

Nausicaa herself furnishes him, in roguish fashion, a
ghmpse of her own happy home.

**When thou art once within our court and hall,
Go quickly through the palace till thou find
My mother where she sits beside the hearth.
Leaning against a column in its blaze.
And twisting threads, a marvel to behold.
Of bright sea-purple, while her maidens sit
Behind her. Near her is my father's throne.
On which he sits at feasts, and drinks the wine
Like one of the immortals. Pass it by,
And clasp my mother's knees; so mayst thou see
Soon and with joy the day of thy return,
Although thy home be far. For if her mood
Be kindly toward thee, thou mayst hope to greet
Thy friends once more, and enter yet again
Thy own fair palace in thy native land."

The farthest voyage of Odysseus is to the land of the
dead. Here he meets, among many besides, his own
mother's lonely ghost. In her surprise at his arrival
there, a living man, she exclaims:

'*Hast thou come hither on thy way from Troy,
A weary wanderer with thy ship and friends?
And hast thou not yet been at Ithaca,
Nor in thine island palace seen thy wife?"

Even before mentioning his boyish son, or his distracted
kingdom, his mother tells him of Penelope's faithfulness:

36 Ideals in Greek Literature

**Most certain is it that she sadly dwells

Still in thy palace. Weary days and nights

And tears are hers. No man has taken yet

Thy place as ruler, but Telemachus

Still has the charge of thy domain, and gives

The liberal feasts, which it befits a prince

To give, for all invite him. In the fields

Thy father dwells, and never in the town

Is seen; nor beds nor cloaks has he, nor mats

Of rich device, but, all the winter through

He sleeps where sleep the laborers, on the hearth.

Amid the dust, and wears a wretched garb;

And when the summer comes, or autumn days

Ripen the fruit, his bed is on the ground.

And made of leaves, that everywhere are shed

In the rich vineyards. There he lies and grieves.

And, cherishing his sorrow, mourns thy fate.

And keenly feels the miseries of age."

The Homeric preference for city luxury over rustic
discomfort seems here plainly intimated, but especially
striking is the simple strong appeal to filial love, to the
tender memories of home and kin.

When Odysseus first lands on the loneliest shore of
Ithaca, alone, disguised as a beggar, from the vessel of
Nausicaa's kindly people, he is near to being torn in
pieces by the watchdogs of his faithful swineherd. The
latter, rescuing him, cries out :

**0 aged man, the mastiff's of the lodge

Had almost torn thee, and thou wouldst have cast

Bitter reproach upon me. Other griefs

And miseries the gods have made my lot.

Here sorrowfully sitting I lament

A godlike master, and for others tend

His fatling swine, while, haply hungering

For bread, he wanders among alien men

The Odyssey 37

In other kingdoms, if indeed he lives
And looks upon the sun."

**The gods themselves
Prevent, no doubt, the safe return of him
Who loved me much, and would ere this have given
What a kind lord is wont to give his hind —
A house, a croft, the wife whom he has wooed,
Rewarding faithful services which God
Hath prospered, as he here hath prospered mine.
Thus would my master, had he here grown old.
Have recompensed my toils, — but he is dead.
O that the house of Helen, for whose sake
So many fell, had perished utterly!
For he went forth at Agamemnon's call.
Honoring the summons, and on Ilium's coast,
Famed for its coursers, fought the sons of Troy." *

The bondsman's humbler ideal of bHss is like his mas-
ter's. In hut or palace it is home, wife, rest from wander-
ing, that make up happiness; though, as the swineherd
himself says, the past wanderings may heighten the joy of
present peace.

**For in the aftertime
One who has suffered much and wandered far
May take a pleasure even in his griefs."

A yet homelier and still more powerful bit of realism
should not be omitted. When Odysseus, in the guise of
an aged and wretched beggar, reenters his own gate, he
is first recognized by his old hound.

There lay
Argus, devoured with vermin. As he saw
Ulysses drawing near, he wagged his tail
And dropped his ears, but found that he could come

1 These echoes of the "Iliad" seem to be in the tones of a later age, less
fond of war and violence.

3 8 Ideals in Greek Literature

No nearer to his master. Seeing this,

Ulysses wiped away a tear, unmarked

By the good swineherd, whom he questioned thus:

'*Eumaeus, this I marvel at, — this dog.

That lies upon the dunghill, beautiful

In form, but whether in the chase as fleet

As he is fairly shaped I cannot tell.

Worthless, perchance, as housedogs often are,

Whose masters keep them for the sake of show. * '

And thus, Eumaeus, thou didst make reply:
**This dog belongs to one who died afar.
Had he the power of limb which once he had
For feats of hunting, when Ulysses sailed
For Troy and left him, thou wouldst be amazed
Both at his swiftness and his strength. No beast
In the thick forest depths, which once he saw.
Or even tracked by footprints, could escape.
And now he is a sufferer, since his lord
Has perished far from his own land. No more
The careless women heed the creature's wants '*

He spake, and entering that fair dwelling-place,
Passed through to where the illustrious suitors sat.
While over Argus the black night of death
Came suddenly, as soon as he had seen
Ulysses, absent now for twenty years.

The first words uttered by the hero, still incognito^ to
his wife, are noble and pathetic:

**0 lady, none in all the boundless earth

Can speak of thee with blame. Thy fame has reached

To the great heavens. It is like the renown

Of some most excellent king, of godHke sway

O'er many men and mighty, who upholds

Justice in all his realm

But of my race and home
Inquire not, lest thou waken in my mind
Unhappy memories. I am a man
Of sorrows "

The Odyssey 39

His old nurse, the faithful Eurycleia, is required to
wash his feet, and recognizes her fosterchild by the great
scar of a wound received many years before from a wild
boar's tusk.

At once a rush
Of gladness and of grief o'ercame her heart.
Tears filled her eyes, and her clear voice was choked.
She touched Ulysses on the chin, and said:- —
**Dear child! Thou art Ulysses, of a truth.
I knew thee not till I had touched the scar.**
So speaking, toward Penelope she turned
Her eyes, about to tell her that her lord
Was in the palace; but the queen saw not,
And all that passed was unperceived by her,
For Pallas turned her thoughts another way.
Meantime, Ulysses on the nurse's throat
Laid his right hand, and with the other drew
The aged woman nearer him, and said: —
"Nurse, wouldst thou ruin me, who drew long since
Milk from thy bosom, and who now return,
After much suffering borne for twenty years
To mine own land? Now then, since thou hast learned
The truth, by prompting of some god, no doubt, —
Keep silence, lest some others in the house
Should learn it also "

Amid the terrible scene of vengeance, when all the
hundred suitors are slain in the great hall, the herald Medon,
fosterfather of the boy Telemachus, is one of the two
men that are spared. The other is the sweet-voiced court
minstrel, who

went and clasped
The hero's knees, and said in winged words: —
**I come, Ulysses, to thy knees. Respect
And spare me. It will be a grief to thee.
Hereafter, shouldst thou slay a bard who sings
For gods and men alike. I taught myself

40 Ideals in Greek Literature

This art: some god has breathed into my mind
Songs of all kinds, and I could sing to thee
As to a god. O seek not, then, to take
My life ! Thy own dear son, Telemachus,
Will bear me witness that not willingly,
Nor for the sake of lucre, did I come
To sing before the suitors at their feasts
And in thy palace, but was forced to come
By numbers, and by mightier men than I."
He ceased; Telemachus, the mighty, heard
And thus bespake his father at his side: —
''Refrain, smite not the guiltless with the sword;
And be the herald, Medon, also spared.
Who in our palace had the care of me
Through all my childhood "

Here too is the appeal to the familiar home-feehng.
These were really weaklings, who had not, like Eumaeus,
been steadfast to the absent overlord: — but the child of
the house loved them of old, and pleads for them now.

The final scene of reunion shows that the crafty Odys-
seus had indeed chosen a wife after his own heart. She
still doubts if some god may not have come down to slay
the suitors and deceive her. She puts her truant lord to
a cunning test, bidding the old Eurycleia draw his bed out
from the chamber into the hall for him to He at ease. But
Odysseus and Penelope, with one trusted servant, alone
know that this is impossible. The bed was built about
the great trunk of a living tree. When he rather sternly
reminds her of this, her last doubt is effaced.

He spake, and her knees fainted, and her heart
Was melted, as she heard her lord recount
The tokens all so truly; and she wept.
And rose, and ran to him, and flung her arms
About his neckj and kissed his brow, and said: —

The Odyssey 41

"Ulysses, look not on me angrily,

Thou who in other things art wise above

All other men. The gods have made our lot

A hard one, jealous lest we should have passed

Our youth together happily, and thus

Have reached old age. I pray, be not incensed,

Nor take it ill that I embraced thee not

As soon as I beheld thee, for my heart

Has ever trembled lest some one who comes

Into this isle should cozen me with words;

And they who practice fraud are numberless.

The Argive Helen, child of Jupiter,

Would ne'er have listened to a stranger's suit

And loved him, had she known that in the years

To come the warlike Greeks would bring her back

To her own land. It was a deity

Who prompted her to that foul wrong. Her thought

Was never of the great calamity

Which followed, and which brought such woe on us.

**But now, since thou by tokens clear and true.
Hast spoken of our bed, which human eye
Has never seen save mine and thine, and those
Of one my handmaid only, Actoris, —
Her whom my father gave me when I came
To this thy palace, and who kept the door
To our close chamber, — thou hast won my mind
To full belief, though hard it was to win."

She spake, and he was moved to tears; he wept
As in his arms he held his dearly loved
And faithful wife. As welcome as the land
To those who swim the deep, of whose stout bark
Neptune has made a wreck amid the waves.
Tossed by the billow and the blast, and few
Are those who from the hoary ocean reach
The shore, their limbs all crested with the brine.
These gladly climb the sea-beach and are safe, —
So welcome was her husband to her eyes.

These passages, and others like them, set forth what

42 Ideals in Greek Literature

is really the central motive of the "Odyssey." But both
the great epics should be diligently and repeatedly studied
entire. Whether realistic, or, as the writer believes,
purely ideal, the picture they portray is the first large
view of European life we can descry. It is especially
gratifying to see the honorable place held by women in
the Homeric home. The later Greeks restricted her to a
life more like that of an Oriental harem. For this and other
reasons many students draw a fuller enjoyment from the
** Odyssey" than from any masterpiece of the later Greek
literature. Certainly no apology will be needed for the
relatively large space here given to this humane, beautiful,
and ennobling story: the long tale of Helen's sin and
Troy's beleaguering: of the many heroes that perished
and the few that came safe home. For compared with
other literature, even in Greek lands and speech, Homeric
epic is one and indivisible.


There are rhymed translations of the '*Odyssey" by Chap-
man, Pope (only a few books by his own hand), William Morris,
Way, etc., and especially by Worsley in the nine-line Spenserean
stanza. The last-named is closer than would seem possible, and
has a romantic charm not quite Homeric. Bryant's blank verse
is better suited to this poem than to the battle-scenes of the
"Iliad." The Macmillan prose version by Butcher and Lang is
excellent. Still easier, and more entrancing for a young reader,
is Professor Palmer's rendering in "rhythmical prose."



Rustic Thrift.

Many early epics, now lost save a few lines, were
ascribed by the Greeks to Homer. Some thirty '* Homeric
Hymns** are still extant. Though they often preserve an
early and interesting form of important myths, these
hymns are centuries younger than the * 'Odyssey."
Many of their lines are borrowed verbatim from the two
great epics. One of these hymns, probably the oldest,
was cited on an earlier page.

The name most frequently set beside Homer is Hesiod.
Of the two extant poems credited to him, the '^Theogony, "
a crudely philosophic attempt to set forth the origin of
the universe and the complicated kinship of the many
gods, is less interesting than the *' Works and Days.'*
This poem has for its chief lesson '*In the sweat of thy
brow shalt thou earn thy bread." The poet and his
brother, whom he addresses, are farmers in a poor Boeo-
tian village, A sera. Much of the advice given is as
homely as Poor Richard's or Thomas Tusser's.

Yet a poetic strain is also present. The dialect and
metre are essentially Homeric. When he rises to loftiest
subjects, however, such as the far-off golden age of the
past, Hesiod is still always pessimistic. Even the cham-
pionship of Prometheus has but hastened the swift degen-
eracy of man. The Pandora story, as told both here


44 Ideals in Greek Literature

and, somewhat differently, in the **Theogony,*' shows
Hesiod to be a bitter woman-hater.

Some scholars regard the character of Hesiod as an
imaginative creation; but he is more generally felt to be
not merely realistic, but an actual person. Though lines
and couplets could very easily be, and probably were,
inserted from other poexus, or even composed, much
later, the ** Works and Days" as a whole may well date
back to the eighth century B.C. Its maxims often bring
us very close to the common Greek life and feeling.

The poem exercised much influence on the later
Greeks, and was the chief source for Virgil in his
*'Georgics.'* Here again, as with the '*IHad,*' how-
ever, we know little of the circumstances which created
this mass of poetry, of the men who composed or first
listened to it. Such a philosophic episode as the tale of
Pandora, the *' All-gifted," with its imaginative satire on
feminine curiosity, can hardly come from the same hands
as the homely maxims for rustic guidance. Many critics
say the poem has no real unity or plan.

From ''Works and Days"
Zeus in the wrath of his heart hath hidden the means of

Wrathful because he once was deceived by the wily

Therefore it was he devised most grievous trouble for

Fire he hid: yet that, for men, did the gallant Prometheus
Steal, in a hollow reed, from the dwelling of Zeus the

Nor was he seen by the ruler of gods, who delights in the


Hesiod's Works and Days 45

Then, in his rage at the deed, cloud-gathering Zeus did
address him:

"lapetionides, in cunning greater than any,

Thou in the theft of fire, and deceit of me art exulting —

Source of grief for thyself, and for men who shall be here-

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