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1847.] Inadequacy of the School-boy's Appreciation of Homer. 325 and poetic imagery! He can hardly believe it to be the same lofty and pleasing conception. Thus, when the student has not yet learned enough of Greek to catch the idea from the flowing measures and the “winged words ” of the original; and while he estimates the beauty and the sense of the most exquisite passages by an extemporary translation—the most uncouth perhaps, and the most inane, falsely called " literal,"—he may surely be pardoned for say. ing that he discovers little to admire in the poetry of antiquity. It is unquestionably true that he discovers little; but it is not true that there is little to be discovered. It were as easy for the as. tronomer to discover Orion and the Pleiades through the densest mist, as for any body to discover the full and true character of Homer through an ordinary class-room translation. As the most beautiful countenance, when reflected from an irregular and broken mirror, appears distorted and ugly, so, in a similar way, the finest passages in an ancient author may be misrepresented and spoiled by the medium through which they are viewed. The truth of this statement would become more apparent, by placing almost any scene in Macaulay's exquisite “ Lays of Ancient Rome," side by side with a similar one in Homer. Should the student perchance be reading the fifth book of the Iliad, or any passage of the same kind, let him compare with it the Battle of Lake Regillus. He will thus, we think, derive a more comprehensive and just idea of the force of the Homeric descriptions.

Every intelligent scholar must have felt very keenly how inadequate, for the expression of the mere idea, regardless of the harmony, are the most labored and the best translations. It is not till the din of a barbarian tongue is hushed, and the sweet music of the Ionian words falls upon the ear, that the first conception of Homer is caught. Then, too, the charming and life-like pictures of this great master, in their due proportions, are first presented to the eye.

We may thus see how it happens that so many, in their schoolboy days, are disgusted with the finest creations of genius, and are led to rank their Homer and their Virgil among the dullest of books. Because the path seems long, and steep, and rough at the outset,

Even in the single matter of epithets, how many difficulties are encountered. How few have felt so well satisfied with their expressions for avhuuntıs, Toháμήχανος and πολύτλας, epithets of 'Οδυσσεύς, that they do not, upon every recurrence of the Greek word, labor to invent soine new phrase by which to translate it. To these instances may be added διοτρεφής, διογενής, δουρικλυτός, μέροπες άνθρωποι, καλλίσφυρος νύμφη, μειλίχιος μύθος, and a multitude of others. VOL. IV. No. 14.


they cannot be persuaded that they shall one day reach the summit, where it will become pleasant and easy. But the testimony of those who have mastered the difficulties, is uniform and deci. sive. To them, indeed, the varied scenes of Homer are most attractive. Their simplicity, their vividness, their unique character, are felt and acknowledged. The mere tyro cannot understand the venerable Frederic Jacobs, when he says, as quoted in Professor Felton's Preface: “The language of lonia resembles the smooth mirror of a broad and silent lake, from whose depth a serene sky, with its soft and sunny vault, and the varied nature along its sunny shores, are reflected in transfigured beauty." Almost exaggerated seems the following declaration of Mr. H. N. Coleridge, in his introduction to the study of Homer : “ I am not one who has grown old in literary retirement, devoted to classical studies with an exclusiveness which might lead to an overweening estimate of these two noble languages. Few, I will not say evil, were the days allowed to me for such pursuits; and I was constrained, still young and an unripe scholar, to forego them for the duties of an active and laborious profession. They are now amusements only, however delightful and improving. Far am I from assuming to understand all their riches, all their beauty or all their power; yet I can profoundly feel their immeasurable supe

riority to all we call modern; and would fain think that there are • many, even among my young readers, who can now, or will here. after, sympathize with the expression of my ardent admiration."

of the character of this new edition of the Iliad, it is scarcely necessary to speak. Felton's Homer has long ago established a repntation in our own country; and it has been favorably noticed abroad. The London Examiner in 1843 said of a former edition : we very much question whether, with all our preëminence above the Americans in the elegances of life, we could produce a school-book that should, by its beanty, vie in any degree with the Homer of Professor Felton.” We venture to predict that the reputation of the book will not suffer from the present "new and revised edition." It is adapted to the existing wants, and keeps pace with the advancing scholarship of the country. Much, indeed, has been left very judiciously for the learner himself to accomplish, with the aid of his Crusius, or his Liddell and Scott;


Της δ' άρετης ιδρώτα θεοι προπάροιθεν έθηκαν
'Αθάνατοι· μακρός δε και όρθιος οίμος επ' αυτήν,
Και τρηχυς το πρώτον: επήν δ' εις άκρον ίκηαι,
Ρηϊδίη δη έπειτα πέλει, χαλεπή περ εούσα.-Hesiod, Εργ. 289 sq.

The Notes in Mr. Felton's Homer.

327 both of them invaluable helps in the study of Homer; and both of them, we are most happy to say, now offered to American students. These works now render many notes which would have been serviceable a few years ago entirely unnecessary.! hold that it is even better to learn the form and meaning of a word from a good lexicon than from a miscellaneous commentary ; for, though the particular fact, which the student needs to know in the sentence before him, may be more readily gained by a note on the word, yet he will fail in this case to ascertain the general usage, without which the true scholar is never satisfied. Mr. Felton seems to have aimed, and we think with a good degree of success, not to burden the student with help, but to furnish such and only such as will prove useful to the industrious and intelligent learner. Upon the first book, the annotations are more frequent and more exegetical; for, the difficulties in the study of Homer are greatest at the outset. To him who is familiar only with the Greek as it was spoken at Athens in the days of Pericles, the style of Homer seems like a new language. The numerous words which he has never before met with, the strange irregularities of declension and inflection, the frequent juxtaposition of vowel sounds so repugnant to the Attic rules, impart a novel and bewildering appearance to the first page which he reads in Homer. Even to the Athenians themselves, it must have been a somewhat rugged task to become conversant with the early language of Greece, so as to understand their first great poet. He who has not made himself familiar with the style of Chaucer, may be convinced of this fact by a perusal of the Canterbury Tales; for, the interval between the father of English poetry and the writers now living, is about the same as between Homer and the perfection of the Attic dialect. Every one must have observed, however, in reading the early Greek, after he has surmounted the obstacles of the first few pages, how surprisingly similar are all the new and strange forms and idioms. Indeed, he soon ceases to notice them; and begins to think them as regular as the words of Xenophon. We see, therefore, much wisdom in placing the grammatical notes chiefly at the beginning of the work; and, in subsequent parts, making them frequent only in the more difficult passages.

' Had the commentary in the present edition of Felton's Homer been entirely written since the publication of the lexicons above mentioned, we presume a note might occasionally have been onitted which we now find; and others might have been somewhat modified. To exemplify the remark, let us examine a few of the notes at the beginning of book 10th : « 2. δεδμημένοι, odctcome with, from dayiw." This passage is referred to in Crusius, both under dedunuėvos, which occurs in alphabetical order, and under dauuw. It is also cited in Lidd. and Scott, under the latter word; and in both lexicons it is accompanied with an appropriate definition. “ 15. apodeliuvovs, by the root." The same word, in a different gender, occurs in the preceding book, v. 541. If it were understood in the former instance, it could hardly be obscure in this passage ; which, moreover, is cited and translated in both lexicons. The same may be said of ποδηνεκές, ν. 24 ; and of στεφάνην, ν. 30. - « 43. εμε και σέ. The sentence is elliptical. irúver, or some such word, must be understood.” This phrase would occasion no difficulty to the student who understands the same construction in the preceding book, v. 75, and v. 608. — "124 ééo apótepor, before me." We cannot suppose the meaning of these words would be obscure to the youngest student of Homer. It would be as unprofitable as it were easy to multiply such criticisms. We would simply say, that in Homer, notes apon the forms of words are generally rendered unnecessary by the lexicographers. In place of them, more frequent explanations of the construction might, perhaps, in the present edition, have been profitably substituted. Thus, a note upon the construction of Ekávdelav, 10. 268, might not be out of place; and an explanation of the passage, 9. 560 et sq., would be very acceptable to the young student. We will not mention other instances of the kind; since there is so much room for disagreement on this point. It is much easier to write a commentary, than to anticipate in all cases the wants of the learner; and explanations, which are very useful to some persons, seem to others wholly unnecessary. 1 We have examined the text of a considerable part of the 9th book, and a portion of the 10th; and, if we have detected the main errors, they will rather serve to show, since they are so minute, how nearly faultless the text is. Without specifying those instances in which different editors are not agreed, we find in book 9th, line 222nd, évto for évto; line 233rd, úmépoupou for u répovuol; line 373rd, śwy for táv; line 383rd, úv for iv'; line 690th, yepov for yépwv; book 10th, line 4th, opeoèv for peciv; line 37th, étaipwv for étaipwv; line 52nd, there should be a period after 'Axalous.

From a partial examination, we are led to the opinion that the typographical accuracy is such as to warrant the confidence of scholars; and, added to this, the distinctness and general neatness of the text, render the work superior, in its external form, to most editions of the ancient classics.1

The exquisite literary taste, which is everywhere displayed in Felton's Homer, must be apparent. This we apprehend is the most striking feature of the book; and in this respect we presume it may safely be compared with any edition of an ancient classic, which can be selected. Mere information is not the sole object of the notes, or of the preliminary remarks. The form in which it is presented was evidently considered ; and the student, instead of being disgusted with coarse expressions and barbarous idioms, which so disfigure and impair the value of some critical philologi

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The Authorship of the Homeric Poems.



cal works, will rather be allured by the elegance and refinement which everywhere prevail in this. We regard it as no small recommendation. The tendency of the youthful student is always to fall into loose and careless habits of expression; to give a bungling paraphrase rather than a translation. If, therefore, he have a text-book in which the most scrupulous care is exercised in every annotation to represent with the nicest accuracy in idiomatic English the expression as well as the idea of the original, it will do something towards forming the same habit in him. self. But in addition to this, it will do much towards smoothing the ascent of the hill of knowledge, and alluring him onward, and upward. It will give an inviting aspect to his labors, and rernove to some extent the false impression that everything is quaint and prosy in the ancient classics. To the same purpose are the frequent allusions to the character and habits and elegant arts of the Greeks. We are reminded now and then that wit and humor and taste almost unequalled were striking features of the Hellenic race; that the elegant arts were carried to the highest perfection among them; and that art and literature went hand in hand under the patronage and protection of the same celestial beings.

A proper place is given in the preliminary remarks to those views concerning the author or authors of the Homeric poems, and kindred subjects, which have so much interested the learned world since the days of Heyne. In a school-book, an extended account of these discussions would be unnecessary. The young student is not prepared either to decide upon the justness of different hypotheses, or to appreciate the grounds upon which they are made. His first business is, or ought to be, to become acquainted with what is in the poem itself, not with what this critic has written about it, and another critic has advanced in refutation. Still, it would not be well to read Homer in entire ignorance of all that has been said on this subject. A few of the leading facts ought to be presented distinctly to the mind. This is most happily done in the preliminary dissertation, and in the remarks which are quoted from Grote's History of Greece.

“ The first doubt,” says Professor Felton, “ of the personal existence of the individual author of the Iliad and Odyssey was expressed by Hedelin and Perrault, two Frenchmen, who maintained, that the Iliad is a compilation of minstrelsies, put together by successive editors, the work of many poets of the heroic age, who sang of the wars of Troy and the exploits of the heroes engaged in them.

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