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sense in which he is the author of the “Iliad” and “Odyssey - assuming that these various compositions emanated, as per. haps they may, from different individuals numbered among the Homerids. But this disallowance of the historical personality of Homer is quite distinct from the question, with which it has been often confounded, whether the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey are originally entire poems, and whether by one author or otherwise. To us the name of Homer means these two poems, and little else. We desire to know as much as can be learned respecting their date, their original composition, their preservation, and their mode of communication to the public. All these questions are more or less complicated one with the other.
Concerning the date of the poems, we have no other information except the various affirmations respecting the age of Homer, which differ among themselves (as I have before observed) by an interval of 460 years, and which for the most part determine the date of Homer by reference to some other event, itself fabulous and unauthenticated, -- such as the Trojan war, the return of the Herakleids, or the Ionic migration. But the oldest dictum preserved to us respecting the date of Homer - meaning thereby the date of the “Iliad" and "Odyssey - appears to me at the same time the most credible, and the most consistent with the general history of the ancient epic.
. Herodotus places Homer 400 years before himself; taking his departure, not from any fabulous event, but from a point of real and authentic time. Four centuries anterior to Herodotus would be a period commencing with 800 B. C. ; so that the composition of the Homeric poems would thus fall in a space between 850 and 800 B. C. We may gather from the language of Herodotus that this was his own judgment opposed to a current opinion which assigned the poet to an earlier epoch.
To place the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” at some period between 850 B. C. and 777 B. C. appears to me more probable than any other date anterior or posterior: more probable than the latter, because we are justified in believing these two poems to be older than Arktinus, who comes shortly after the first Olympiad ; more probable than the former, because the farther we push the poems back, the more do we enhance the wonder of their preservation — already sufficiently great — down from such an age and society to the historical times.
The mode in which these poems — and indeed all poems,
epic as well as lyric - down to the age (probably) of Pisistratus, were circulated and brought to bear upon the public, deserves particular attention. They were not read by individuals alone and apart, but sung or recited at festivals or to assembled companies. This seems to be one of the few undisputed facts with regard to the great poet; for even those who maintain that the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” were preserved by means of writing, seldom contend that they were read.
.... Those who maintain the Homeric poems to have been written from the beginning rest their case not upon positive proofs, nor yet upon the existing habits of society with regard to poetry (for they admit generally that the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” were not read, but recited and heard), but upon the supposed necessity that there must have been manuscripts to insure the preservation of the poems, — the unassisted memory of reciters being neither sufficient nor trustworthy. But here we escape a smaller difficulty by running into a greater; for the existence of trained bards, gifted with extraordinary memory, is far less astonishing than that of long manuscripts in an age essentially non-reading and non-writing, and when even suitable instruments and materials for the process are not obvious. Moreover, there is a strong positive reason for believing that the bard was under no necessity of refreshing his memory by consulting & manuscript. For if such had been the fact, blindness would have been a disqualification for the profession, which we know that it was not; as well from the example of Demodokus in the “Odyssey as from that of the blind bard of Chios in the "Hymn to the Delian Apollo," whom Thucydides, as well as the general tenor of Grecian legend, identifies with Homer himself. The author of that hymn, be he who he may, could never have described a blind man as attaining the utmost perfection in his art, if he had been conscious that the memory of the bard was only maintained by constant reference to the manuscript in his chest. ...
But what guarantee have we for the exact transmission of the text for a space of two centuries by simply oral means? It may be replied that oral transmission would hand down the text as exactly as, in point of fact, it was handed down. The great lines of each poem — the order of the parts, the vein of Homeric feeling, and the general style of locution, and, for the most part, the true words - would be maintained; for the professional training of the rhapsode, over and above the precision of his actual memory, would tend to Homerize his mind (if the expression may be permitted,) and to restrain him within the magic circle. On the other hand, in respect to the details of the text, we should expect that there would be wide differences and numerous inaccuracies; and so there really were, as the records contained in the Scholia, together with the passages cited in ancient authors, but not found in our Homeric text, abundantly show.
THE RISE OF KLEON.
(From “ History of Greece.") UNDER the great increase of trade and population in Athens and Peiræus during the last forty years, a new class of politicians seem to have grown up, men engaged in various descriptions of trade and manufacture, who began to rival more or less in importance the ancient families of Attic proprietors. This change was substantially analogous to that which took place in the cities of mediæval Europe, when the merchants and traders of the various guilds gradually came to compete with, and ultimately supplanted, the patrician families in whom the supremacy had originally resided. In Athens, persons of ancient family and station enjoyed at this time no political privilege; and since the reforms of Ephialtes and Perikles, the political constitution had become thoroughly democratical.
But they still continued to form the two highest classes in the Solonian census founded on property, — the pentakosiomedimni, and the hippeis or knights. An individual Athenian of this class, though without any legal title to preference, yet when he stood forward as candidate for political influence, continued to be decidedly preferred and welcomed by the social sentiment at Athens, which preserved in its spontaneous sympathies distinctions effaced from the political code. Besides this place ready prepared for him in the public sympathy, especially advantageous at the outset of political life, he found himself further borne up by the family connections, associations, and political clubs, etc., which exercised very great influence both on the politics and the judicature of Athens, and of which he became a member as a matter of course. Such advantages were doubtless only auxiliary, carrying a man up to a certain point of influence, but leaving him to achieve the rest by his own personal qualities and capacity. But their effect was nevertheless
very real, and those who, without possessing them, met and buffeted him in the public assembly, contended against great disadvantages. A person of such low or middling station obtained no favorable presumptions or indulgence on the part of the public to meet him half-way; nor had he established connections to encourage first successes, or help him out of early scrapes.
He found others already in possession of ascendency, and well disposed to keep down new competitors ; so that he had to win his own way unaided, from the first step to the last, by qualities personal to himself: by assiduity of attendance, by acquaintance with business, by powers of striking speech, and withal by unflinching audacity, indispensable to enable him to bear up against that opposition and enmity which he would incur from the high-born politicians and organized party clubs, as soon as he appeared to be rising up into ascendency.
The free march of political and judicial affairs raised up several such men, during the years beginning and immediately preceding the Peloponnesian War. Even during the lifetime of Perikles they appear to have arisen in greater or less numbers: but the personal ascendency of that great man - who combined an aristocratical position with a strong and genuine democratical sentiment, and an enlarged intellect rarely found attached to either — impressed a peculiar character on Athenian politics. The Athenian world was divided into his partisans and his opponents, among each of whom there were indi. viduals high-born and low-born -- though the aristocratical party properly so called, the majority of wealthy and highborn Athenians, either opposed or disliked him. It is about two years after his death that we begin to hear of a new class of politicians. . . . Among them all, the most distinguished was Kleon, son of Kleænetus.
Kleon acquired his first importance among the speakers against Perikles, so that he would thus obtain for himself, during his early political career, the countenance of the numerous and aristocratical anti-Perikleans. He is described by Thucydides in general terms as a person of the most violent temper and character in Athens, – as being dishonest in his calumnies and virulent in his invective and accusation. Aristophanes in his comedy of “The Knights” reproduces these features, with others new and distinct, as well as with exaggerated details, comic, satirical, and contemptuous. His comedy depicts Kleon in the point of view in which he would appear to the knights of Athens : a leather-dresser, smelling of the tanyard; a low-born brawler, terrifying opponents by the violence of his criminations, the loudness of his voice, the impudence of his gestures, — moreover, as venal in his politics, threatening men with accusations and then receiving money to withdraw them; a robber of the public treasury, persecuting merit as well as rank, and courting the favor of the assembly by the basest and most guilty cajolery. The general attributes set forth by Thucydides (apart from Aristophanes, who does not profess to write history), we may well accept: the powerful and violent invective of Kleon, often dishonest, together with his self-confidence and audacity in the public assembly. Men of the middling class, like Kleon and Hyperbolus, who persevered in addressing the public assembly and trying to take a leading part in it against persons of greater family pretension than themselves, were pretty sure to be men of more than usual audacity. Had they not possessed this quality, they would never have surmounted the opposition made to them; we may well believe that they had it to a displeasing excess — and even if they had not, the same measure of self-assumption which in Alkibiades would be tolerated from his rank and station, would in them pass for insupportable impudence. Unhappily, we have no specimens to enable us to appreciate the invective of Kleon. We cannot determine whether it was more virulent than that of Demosthenes and Æschines, seventy years afterwards, each of those eminent orators imputing to the other the grossest impudence, calumny, perjury, corruption, loud voice, and revolting audacity of manner, in language which Kleon can hardly have surpassed in intensity of vituperation, though he doubtless fell immeasurably short of it in classical finish. Nor can we even tell in what degree Kleon's denunciations of the veteran Perikles were fiercer than those memorable invectives against the old age of Sir Robert Walpole, with which Lord Chatham's political career opened.
His personal hold on the public assembly . . . had grown into a sort of ascendency which Thucydides describes by saying that Kleon was “at that time by far the most persuasive speaker in the eyes of the people.” The fact of Kleon's great power of speech, and his capacity of handling public business in a popular manner, is better attested than anything else respecting him, because it depends upon two witnesses both hostile to