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And throughout the whole of the narrative, especially in those parts which are essential to the story, there is a peculiarity of cadence, very pleasing in itself, and strikingly distinct from the dramatic rhythm of the speeches.
But before we close the subject, or enter into a new one which is much too wide for me, we must return once more to good old Phoenix. He introduces the narrative by saying, (v. 523.)
Μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον ἐγὼ πάλαι, οὔτι νέον γε,
I remember the thing as it was at the time, not lately, but a long while ago.”
but if we
τόδε ἔργον must relate to some antecedent; translate it ́fact' or event', we find that no fact or event has been mentioned: if we understand it prospectively, besides the drawling tone which it gives to the construction, it leaves two lines wholly destitute of that characteristic colloquial spirit, which belongs to the whole of this scene of the conference with Achilles. The sense, (if sense it could be called) would then stand thus: "I remember the following fact as it happened a long 66 while ago, not of late years; and here among my friends I "will mention it." The recollection of an event can have only one date, that of the event itself: if therefore Phoenix's recollection of the fact was of old date, it seems somewhat superAluous to say, that it was not recent; and I am not aware of any great propriety in his prefacing his narrative by saying, that he would relate it among friends: such a confidential intimation appears hardly necessary, if we suppose it simply intended to introduce a narrative of events, which had past in the time of their fathers and grandfathers. If, on the other hand, we suppose Phoenix to be speaking of an old piece of poetry, we see what is perfectly consonant to the mixture of gravity and garrulity which is characteristic of old age; the old gentleman refers his recollection of poetry to his early years, and disclaims any later acquaintance with it.
Let us venture this safe assumption, that the character of the human race is invariable; and let us, by referring them to modern and familiar illustration, subject the two modes of interpretation to our natural and familiar sense of what is rational and consistent with character. Let us suppose an old gentle
man, (a very old one, if you please, one old enough to remember the times of Sir Robert Walpole)-Let us suppose him talking in company to this effect: "There was a circumstance wh "I remember as it happened a long while ago, and not lately; "and since we are among friends, I will mention it. About "the time that Sir Robert Walpole went out of administration, ' &c. &c. &c." If the story thus introduced was one of public notoriety, and one of which the communication neither required secrecy, nor implied confidence, the auditors would, I apprehend, conclude that the worthy gentleman's faculties were considerably impaired. But let us suppose, that in the course of conversation he quotes a couple of lines from Akenside's Epistle to Sir W. Pulteney, and then goes on: "I remember "the thing at the time it is a long while ago, and I have "never thought of it since; but as we are all among friends, I'll try if I cannot recollect some more of it." Here we have, in my opinion, a much finer and heartier personage than the former; and we are obliged to him moreover for having given us a solution of our difficulty respecting τόδε ἔργον, which, as we now see, refers to lines that he has been quoting. If we recollect that most of our old Romances begin with a mention of other Romances (a peculiarity which is noticed in Chamers's burlesque imitation of them,
"Men talken of Romans of price,")
and that the oldest Romance in existence, that of the Niebelungen, begins with a reference to some older Romances, we must surely admit that there is no reason a priori, why the ancient popular heroic poetry of the Greeks should not have done so too. Phoenix, I apprehend, has already quoted some lines of the poem, which were introductory of the narrative: (v. 520.) κλέα ἀνδρῶν
Οὕτω καὶ ] τῶν πρόσθεν
The phrase Tode epyov is used then by Phoenix in reference to the introductory lines which he had been quoting. He then goes on, "I remember the old ditty a long while ago; and, "since we are among friends, I will repeat it." If this paraphrase appears below the dignity of the speaker or the gravity of the subject, we must bear in mind, that in Homer's time
verse was the only record of past events, and that there is no more absurdity in Phoenix's reference to an old tale in verse, than in the appeals made by Shakespeare's Heroes to the authority of Chronicles and public Acts.
If you are disposed to obelize the last of these lines as an interpolation introduced by Phoenix and not originally belonging to a real genuine old Kλéos, I shall willingly give it up; and will only beg of you in that case to include the last part of the preceding line (v. 519.)
| νεμεσσητὸν | κεχολῶσθαι.
and to attribute the preservation of such a degree of parallelism through four lines, to a design on the part of the composer to mark the reference to another species of poetry, by an impressive uniformity of metre.
With respect to this last supposed instance of a quotation not formally announced, but introduced casually and rapidly in the current of discourse, it does not appear to me to stand alone; there are, if I mistake not, two others in this dramatic scene of the tent of Achilles; one in the speech of Ulysses, and another in that of Achilles himself; both of them, if .considered in that light, admirably consonant to the character of the Speakers. But I have fatigued myself, and shall, I am afraid, have wearied your readers: I will therefore only remark, that the character and spirit of Ulysses's speech is poisoned by the interpolation of the line 231. Νῆας ἐϋσσέλμους, εἰ μὴ σύ δύσεαι ἀλκήν.
If you feel as much as I do, how totally it destroys the
with great respect
Roydon, Septr. 26. 1815.
VOL. II. NO. 6.
J. H. FRERE.
ON perusing the proof sheet of my Reverees, which you have been so obliging as to forward to me, I find them so much shrunk in bulk under the hands of your Printer, that the apprehension of inordinate length, which induced me to conclude rather abruptly, is done away, and I am inclined (instead of leaving your Readers to look for the solution of the Conundrum in our next) to give the lines in the speeches of Ulysses and Achilles, which appear to me to have the character of quotation.
In the first place I beg leave to premise, that the whole of the scene which takes place in the tent of Achilles, is remarkably free from interpolation, and exempt from those absurdities and incongruities, which are in general so conveniently accounted for as Nutations of the great Bard. The application therefore of tests drawn from nature, and the truth of character, is admissible for the detection of the few interpolations which are evidently inconsistent with the intention of the Author; an intention which, from the general integrity. of the context, is sufficiently manifest. The speech of Ulysses may be considered as a kind of model, exhibiting the utmost degree of artifice and address, which is consistent with perfect manliness of character. It was not the intention of the Poet to represent Ulysses as descending from the heroic elevation of mind, which belonged to him in common with Ajax and Diomede; but as combining with it a degree of prudence and management which was peculiar to himself. Accordingly, if we expunge that single line of silly and premature importunity, the general tone of Ulysses's speech will run thus; "You
must excuse us, if we do not partake of the banquet which you have set before us; but the dangers and difficulties "which we are exposed to at this moment, leave us neither “ leisure nor inclination to enjoy ourselves.". He then describes these dangers, taking care at the same time to make Hector the prominent figure; but disguising this artifice by a general air of desperate unconcern. He then adds, "But if it was "originally your intention to reserve yourself for the last "6 extremity, and to interfere ultimately to prevent your country
men from being overwhelmed and trampled down by the uproar of these Trojans, remember the old lines.
Repentance and Regret will wring your mind;
The ills accomplish'd, while it lagg'd behind :
"If you ever entertained any such designs, it is become necessary for you to interfere for the preservation of the Greeks." The lines of the original will then stand thus; (Il. I. 247.)
Ἀλλ ̓ ἄνα, εἰ μέμονάς γε, καὶ ὀψέ περ, υἷας ̓Αχαιῶν
τι μῆχος ἀλλὰ πολὺ πρίν.
The lines which are marked as a quotation, are inserted parenthetically, as is commonly the case with quotations introduced in rapid and earnest discourse; and the word opálev follows in the same construction which would belong to it, if the parenthetical passage were omitted. If we connect φράζευ with the preceding words πολὺ πρὶν, the result gives a sense inconsistent with the character of the speaker, and offensive to the temper of the person whom he is addressing: the tone becomes that of an impertinent assumption of a general right to admonish and advise. It is moreover in direct contradiction to the whole of Ulysses's argument; for if Achilles still had it in his power to interpose long before the apprehended catastrophe, it is obvious, that the danger could not be so imminent or immediate as it had been represented.
The construction which is here conceived to be the correct one, is that by which Ulysses, after appealing simply to the supposed intentions of Achilles, instead of importuning him on his own behalf, or on the part of those who had sent him, alledges as a general maxim two proverbial lines upon the mortification and disappointment attendant, upon the delay of an intended benefit, and applies them to the case in point. He does not venture in his own person to threaten Achilles with the future visitations of remorse. After this reference to Achilles's supposed intentions, he proceeds to cite the opinion which of all others (next to those proceeding from his own!