« PreviousContinue »
THE ORIENTAL HERALD.
No. 40.—APRIL 1827. – Vol. 13.
ON THE PERSONAL EXISTENCE OF HOMER.
It is one characteristic of men possessing more learning than wisdom, to raise, from mere wantonness, controversies respecting matters admitting not of certainty. On such fields, contentious erudition may play the gladiator for ever, aiming and eluding blows, brandishing its unwieldy weapons, amazing the vulgar, entertaining the idle, and affording the witty a pretext for turning learning into ridicule. Whether the Iliad' and the Odyssey were the compositions of one man; whether Lycurgus, or Pisistratus, or whoever was Homer's first editor in Greece, received those poems orally or in writing; when and how writing itself was first introduced into Greece, and numerous other questions of the same kind, appear to ordinary judgments matters of much less importance than learned scholars are willing to believe. Besides, the fact is, however such persons may desire to disguise it, there really are no grounds at all worth mentioning, upon which to reason about Homer's individuality as a question of learning. Viewed in another light, as an affair cognizable to reason and common sense, there are such arguments against the notion that those great poems were the work of different persons, as make it an undertaking of humility to contend against men who could overlook them, or not perceive their cogency.
The persons who, we suspect, are fondest of maintaining paradoxes on these debateable lands are those who feast most sparingly at the poetical board about which they wrangle. To them Homer is nothing, except as he is the apple of discord. They care nothing for his poetry. As such they never read it. All their investigations, all their thoughts have for object a very different species of enjoyment; and this, in plain language, is nothing more than the gratification of inordinate vanity. Understanding most precisely the words of the Greek language, but clearly unacquainted with Oriental Herald, Vol. 13.