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Homer's own? But the ftory contradicts itself, of a falfe Helen impofed upon Paris, to colour the Egyptian fancy of her never being in Troy. It is borrowed from the table of Ixion, and forces them into greater improbabilities than thofe of which they accufe others.
In Sir Ifaac Newton's chronology, the Argonautic expedition is held to have been about 22 years previous to the Trojan war. We cannot fuppofe Helen was al moft any thing more than a child, when run away with by Thefeus, and brought back by her brothers Caftor and Pollux, two of the Argonauts ;--but allow fhe was 12, or 13; that he was 15, when married to Menelaus; fuppofe fhe staid two or three years, and had a daughter to him, before fhe was carried off by Paris, we may suppose her then 17; and when admired by the Trojan fenators, 20 years after, only 37; and obferve the intrinfic evidence this carries of the truth :--i The air, manner, and difcourfe of a lady at that age, was more apt to ftrike men at their age, than the blooming complexion of a timid, filent girl.
What credit is to be given to Dion Chryfoftome, who lived fo late as Trajan? Homer, who lived in the next generation, fhould rather be believed than one who lived 1200 years after, and who, like Herodotus, had his account alfo from an Egyptian priest. If, as is probable, Homer had travelled into Egypt, could not he be better informed, even from that fource, at the period he lived, than they at periods fo diftant? But how came these priests to know better than Homer or any perfon in Greece?
Paris's defign upon a woman he had never seen, can be better accounted for than by the ftory of the judge ment of Paris.--An aunt of his had been carried off by the Greeks, befides punishing them otherwife, for breach of treaty: The Trojans, with the other Afiatics, agreed to revenge the affront: Paris readily engaged to conduct the matter, and with a fufficient force
rom Afia, added to his fine appearance and address, carried off Helen: Being an affair in which the fuperiority betwixt Greece and Afia came to be tried, it was no wonder the Trojans would not give her up. The fame caufe, added to their hopes of prevailing; and thefe, ftrengthened by the death of Achilles, would make them retain her till the end of the war.
Caftor and Pollux might be alive when he was carried off to Troy, but die before the time mentioned in the Iliad; as the expedition required confiderable preparation, and feveral towns were taken previous thereto; for it is faid they took all the towns about, and fought many battles during the nine years before. At least, Achilles tells the embaffy fent to him, to perfuade him to return, after he had retired in difguft.
"I fack'd twelve ample cities on the main,
The original calls the last of these eleven, which being more explicit, fhews it was lefs a random guess ;— he speaks in another place, of beating Æneas, and driving the Trojans before him.-Hercules warred with Troy only; the Greeks under Agamemnon, with a great number of Afiatic allies. The objection, that if the Greeks were fo powerful, they might have cut off their refources; and if the walls were fo weak as Andromache represents them, they might have taken the town whenever they were masters of the field, is not very ftrong. Andromache's account of the danger of the city being taken, is founded on a woman's fears or fondness: But Polydamas fays it is impregnable.
From their little skill in furgery, there is no impoffibility of Achilles dying of a wound in the tendon of the heel, which goes by his name, occafioned by an arrow fhot from Ilus's monument, or fome other fimilar place, by Paris. It is immaterial whether Patroclus had Achilles's armour or not. His men, with Patroclus at their head, were enough to produce all the
effects that happened. This was poffibly neceffary, to obviate an objection of the inequality of Hector and Achilles's armour, and to account for Achilles not immediately joining the army;-if Homer took a poetical licence in giving Achilles divine armour, it was requifite to do the fame with Hector.
Allow that only a small number got in in the wooden horfe, by taking advantage of the Trojan superstition, they might manage matters till affiftance came. Coriolanus is a well-known inftance, how much one individual could do in a more critical fituation, in the middle of an engagement, in broad day.-Virgil might bide the Greeks in fight, (if he does not mean to lodge); it was only faying the Trojans were blind with drinking welcomes to the wooden horfe, which, they imagined, was come in place of their Palladium; but this does not invalidate Homer's teftimony.
That Homer had one critic at an early period, we learn from the fate of Zoilus, who is faid to have been torn in pieces for it.
It is not improbable, after facking Troy, the Grecks should have dispersed, as there was no longer any bond of union; as their influence depended on perfonal prowefs, perfonal attendance was neceffary in their own kingdoms; for want of which, parties were formed fuccefsfully against them, in fome places, in their ab
Æneas, who lived out of the town, fled to a different country. He reigned over his Trojans, but not in Troy and was even fufpected of felling it. Andromache and Helenus were taken captives by Pyrrhus, who married Andromache; after Pyrrhus's death, the the two captives married.-Lycophron, a Greek writer, may be brought in support of part of Homer; he has wrote the predictions of Caffandra.
However paradoxical it may appear, the current of prejudice has been very much against Homer, and his great merit only has made him ftand it. The Romans,
masters of the world, confidering themselves as descended from the Trojans, had an averfion to his account, fo far as it gave any fuperiority to the Greeks. Virgil wrote to please Auguftus, and to be popular.-The Romish clergy, among whom any remains of learning were preserved, ufed the Roman language; and as it was that in which Virgil had written, he was their favourite. This happened to both, that the Latin tongue being familiar, and the language in which Homer wrote, a foreign one, very few could bring them to a comparative trial. The English, imagining themselves descended of Brutus a Trojan, probably in imitation of the Romans, had a partiality to their fuppofed ancestors :-The Scots, believing themselves of Greek defcent, would probably have admired Homer: But a tranflation of the Æneid having early appeared in Scotland, gave that fide confiderable advantage. This prejudice got ground, and long maintained it; every performance which favoured the Trojans, was greedily fought after. Hence, that wretched play, Locrine, and the abuse thrown against the Greeks, particularly Achilles, even by Shakespeare in his Troilus and Creffida, which, though it may give a display of character, muft hurt a claffical reader, but was no doubt calculated for the taste of the times in which it was written.Thus ftood matters, till Pope, to his immortal honour, by his translation, brought Homer's merits to a fair trial.
That Homer wrote impartially, without flattering any perfon, is obvious, from this, among other reafons, he mentions actions in his heroes he could not poffibly approve of :-And though he has given Helen, his country-woman, every good quality he could, confiftent with her character, he has given Andromache one as much better as their different fituations allowed: It also appears, from his having lived and died fo poor, that no country acknowledged him: He was therefore, the only proper perfon for an impartial hif.
torian: But if he was ill rewarded in the age he lived in, posterity has made ample amends.
It would be hard indeed, not to allow him so much poetical licence as is neceffary for every Epic poem, as diftinguished from a history; and, with this allowance, he may bid defiance to every thing that can be faid against him.
On Authors by Profeffion.
Of the theoretical view which I have attempted in my laft, of the progrefs of literature as a profeffion, abundant historical illuftration may be produced. Its latter fages peculiarly claim notice; and the literary history of England will afford the first example. From the age of Elizabeth till the middle of the reign of George II, patronage, in various gradations, exifted. The gradual afcendant obtained by the public voice, and the repulfion of pa trons, by the increased multitude of literary pretenders, may be traced with confiderable precifion. Before the restoration, there will scarcely be found any English author, (except a dramatist, who neceffarily, in all ages, depends on popular favour), whofe chief remunerations did not arife from individual munificence. In the reign of Charles II, that class of men who are now called authors by profeffion, may be faid to have arifen. The public judgment then began to gain fome afcendant; popular rivals arose to the favoured authors of the nobility and the court. Settle contested the palm with Dryden; and it became neceffary for all pretenders to literature to court the public fuffrage. The ge nerál daufes which I have ftated in the laft number, rapidly accelerated the growth of authorship and the downfal' of patronage. The reign of Queen Anne fur.