« PreviousContinue »
porary with Orestes son of Agamemnon; with whom yet reigning at Argos the Grecian history of Homer in the Odyssey ends.
• The poems of Homer are said to have been first introduced into Greece from Ionia by the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus; but it was Pisistratus, or rather his son Hipparchus, who was believed to have arrarged the separate cantos; and, by digesting and uniting then, to have compiled the Ilias and the Odyssey. The residence of the latter at Sigéum was likely to produce a knowledge of these compositions ; or, if he had previous acquaintance, an intimacy with them; but who will say how long they had been extant and popular in Asia Minor before Lycurgus and Pisistratus?
* In the Troia, some of the places which had been desolated by the Greeks, afterwards revived; or were removed, either through the superstition of the people or for greater convenience, to other situations, mostly near the sea. Besides those already mentioned, some will occur within our limits, of more recent foundation; and some, which might be extant in the time of Homer, though un. noticed by him; and which, from circumstances attending or connected with their remote origin, afforded antiquaries matter of disquisition. The changes undergone by the country, and the new distribution of territory, which succeeded the war, could not be suddenly completed; and in certain cases, as in the instance of the Trojans of Poliium, their commencement did not admit of being long delayed. But it does not appear that Homer had any know ledge of Poliium, of the cities which were erected on the Rhætéan and Sigéan promontories, of the settlements by Æantéon or Achilléon, or of Eleus; and his silence respecting these and other very antient places may be considered as an additional argument against the late age assigned to him by some writers.' P. 39.
These arguments are very satisfactory; yet the voice of tradi. tion opposes them; and the internal evidence of thc language is also in opposition to the facts stated. The Æolie inigration occurred about fifty, or at least within eighty, years atter the taking of Troy, This, according to the Marbles, would bring the æra of Homer to 1129 years before Christ; but, according to other chronologists, only about 1100 years. If Herodotus flourished about 450 years before Christ for that is nearly the middle period of his life---it will bring the age of Homer to 850 years before the Christian ära, since he say's that Homer lived abort 400 years before him. If this computation be allowed, it will vary thé sacking of Troy to a much lower date than chronologists have yet attempted. We must explain.
The æra of the capture of Troy is taken, we believe generally, from the Marbles--a record that we do not think absolutely to be depended on. In this case, its æra is open to great suspicion, The united voice of antiquity makes Hesiod a contemporary with Homer, perhaps a little older ; Inst the æra of Hesiod is not uncertain; for le mentions the heJiacal rising of Arcturus, the occulation of the Pleiades, and
the culminating of Sirius and Orion, when the rising of Arcturus coincides with break of day (Aprtopoy ésion podo daxTUTOS Hws). These circumstances have been considered by sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Robinson ; and the difference is about seventy-two years. Mr. Robinson, who certainly strains his calculation to approach the æra of the Marbles, fixes the period of Hesiod at 942 years before Christ; sir Isaac, at 870. For reasons too long to be adduced in this place, we adhere to the latter; though some corrections must be allowed, which will approximate the age of Hesiod to 900 years; and, from our author's very satisfactory reasons, the sacking of
Troy must be brought down to about 950 years before Christ. Hesiod himself speaks of his living in the age which succeeded that of the Trojan warriors (E. xai'H. v. 156 to 185); and of course Homer may have conversed with those who had seen Achilles, Agamemnon, and Ulysses : he might have been ignorant of the Æolic invasion, and supposed the race of Æneas to have reigned long and happily. It will also follow, as the æra now assigned is nearly that of the travels of Pisistratus, that these ballads had not been long in danger from the corruption inseparable from oral tradition.
Yet the internal evidence of the language is at variance with this well-compacted series of arguments. The state of society described is rude and primitive; the language employed such as Greece could not excel in the acmè of her civilisation. At the period of the war, the wants of the parties engaged were few, and luxuries unknown; yet, in polish, variety, and force, of the language, we are carried to an æra of high civilisation. In the 400 years interposed between Homer and Herodotus, the Greek language seems to have admitted of little improvement. Hesiod is very different. A rugged energy pervades his works; an uncourtly simplicity gives little relief to his solid good sense. Even to the Muses his address is coarse and uncivil: He expressly says that they could tell lies with a good grace, and speak truth only when they chose to do so.
Ιδμεν ψευδεα πολλα λεγειν, ετυμοισιν όμοια
Ιδμεν δή, ευτ' εθελωμεν αληθεα μυθησασθαι. The mythology, also, of Homer and Hesiod greatly differs; but such discussions would lead to a volume. However the elegance of Homer's language may be accounted for, we may probably conclude, that the taking of Troy, the poems of Homer, and their collection by Pisistratus, were not events very distant. If sixty years be allowed to elapse between the two former, thirty or forty will probably be the utmost extent of the period between the latter æras.
; The history of Ilium, after this æra, is less interesting. The Ilieans, as they are styled by our author, were always sufficiently cunning to profit by the scenes formerly acted on their stage; and, when the fancy struck the Romans to claim Æneas for their ancestor, lest, like prince Prettyman in the Rehearsal, they might be suspected of having no ancestor at all the inhabitants of the Troäd obtained numerous advantages in consequence of that supposed origin. They had also various reports, and many contrivances, to keep credulity and superstition alive. · Portents and prodigies grew so frequent, that they soon lost the name ;' but Apollonius of Tyana availed himself, with great sagacity, of the credulity of his compatriots, and forged a tale, which has its counterpart only in Don Quixote's visit to the cave of Montesinos. One of Lucian's jests our author has omitted. When it is proposed to question Homer, in the Elysian fields, respecting some event, Pythagoras observes, ' How should ho know ? he was a camel in Bactria at that time;' and, if we mistake not-for we now quote from memory after a very long interval-he makes the period between the age of Homer and the destruction of Troy to be 300 years.
Dr. Chandler follows the history of İlium under the reign of Darius, during the expedition of Xerxes, the two Peloponnesian wars; the reigns of Alexander, his successors, and king Attalus, to the establishment of the Roman empire in Asia. After the time of Julian, the history is pursued to the final settlement of the Troäd under the dominion of the Turks. These chapters offer nothing that needs detain us; for we have, in part, anticipated the detail.
We must now leave our author, to whom we would erpress our gratitude for thus bringing us back to the days of other years, to the recollection of images long since stored, and on which we little expected to be again called to meditate. We trust that his claim on our recollection will be renewed by a future publication ; and we may then be able to recall more perfectly our former ideas by a perusal of Heyne's Homer, which we have not yet been able to obtain. In the mean time, a work on the early maritime discoveries, unexpectedly and undesignedly delayed, will usher us into the same arena on a subject somewhat allied to the present the Argonautic expedition.
Art. X.-Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Reverend
Alerander Geddes, LL. D. By John Mason Good. 8vo. 10s. 6d. Boards. Kcarsley. 1803.
" TO write,' says Mr. Good, the life of a friend, is a difficult and a delicate undertaking;' and he assigns this reason for his assertion, that the public are entitled to a correct impartiality of statement, while the heart of the writer, from a sacred regard to the duties which friendship itself inculcates, is perpo. tually prone to magnify the merits, and to soften the imperfections, of the character he attempts to delineate. In this position we agree; and it was upon this ground, that, in reviewing our biographer's Translation of Solomon's Song, we thought it à duty to speak of Dr. Geddes less partially than Mr. Good appeared to have spoken. But though the Memoirs before us are written in the same friendly spirit, they will be found,
if read with proper allowance, to be as well instructive as , amusing.
The plan which Mr. Good has adopted is. both simple and judicious. The personal and literary history of Dr. Geddes are ingeniously blended; and an account is given of his seven ral publications, with the circumstances that occasioned them, and the effects they produced. Much entertaining information is interwoven, by the author, with acute criticism and judicious remarks.
Proceeding from the birth of Dr. Geddes, which happened in 1737, at Arradowl, in the parish of Ruthven, and county of Banff, in Scotland, his biographer takes occasion to observe,
from what apparently trifling incidents we sometimes derive the whole bent of the dispositions and studies of our future lives;' and exemplifies tiis observation from the instance of the doctor, whose parents were Roman-catholics, and possessed an English Bible, as the principal of the few books that composed their meagre library. His parents, though catholics, were not bigots; they taught him, therefore, to read the Bible with reverence and attention;' and his taste being thus fixed in his childhood, continued to predominate through life. After prosecuting his studies at Scalan, in the Highlands, under a student of Aberdeen, whose name was Shearer, and whom the laird of Arradowl bad engaged to educate his sons, young Geddes fenioved, at the age of twentyone, to the Scotch college at Paris, under principal Gordon; and, while there, availed himself of the lectures on rhetoric, which were delivered with so much celebrity by M. V'in caire*, professor in the college of Navarre, and those of Buré and De Saurent, who lectured on theology in the same college. Nor did these subjects entirely engross his attention. M. L'Avocat, professor of the Orléans chair in tho Sorbonne (an appointment instituted in 1751, by the son of the duke-regent, for the revival of the eastern languages, and explaining the Hebrew Scriptures), attached him to the study
Of this accomplisherl scholar there is a profound critique on the Faeis of Virgil, which, though bat a small droverimo volume, includes the result of tbirty years study employed on the subject. We mention it here, as tighly deserving attentions.
of Hebrew; and this he pursued with the rest. Of this excellent man, Dr. Geddes las presented the following cla-racter:
“ He had a penetrating genius, an astonishing memory, a correct judgment, and an exquisite taste. He was the most universal scholar, the most pleasant teacher, the most benevolent man, and the most moderate theclogian, I ever knew. Had he lived a little longer, and enjoyed more leisure to accomplish the work he meditated on the Scripture, we should now possess a treasure of great value; but a weakly constitution and too constant an application to his professional duties hurried him away in his 56th year, to the great regret of all who knew him; but of none more than of him who dedicates these lines to his memory.” P. 20.
Besides these pursuits, Mr. Good observes, that Dr. Geddes
• entered deeply into an analysis of the Greek and Latin languages, pursued with insatiable avidity those exquisite mines of precision and judgment, of taste and fancy, which are no where else to be met with in an equal degree, and laid the foundation for that elegance and facility, that fecundity and correctnes; of style, with which he afterwards engaged in Latin and Greek compositions, and which have not often been exceeded by any of his countrymen since the age of George Buchanan. To these important acquisitions he also added a study of several of the modern languages of Europe. The French was indeed become almost vernacular to him, and required no further study whatever: his first serious engagement was therefore in the Italian; and having shortly mastered ilic few difficulties which were here presented to him, he carried his pursuits successively to the Spanish, the German, and the Low Dutch. To the mathematics he never discovered much attachment: at which I have often been considerably surprised; for no man was ever a shrewder logician, or folowed with keener penetration, in a contro. versy, the bearings of an adversary's argument through all the lights and shades, not merely of every syllogistic proposition, but of almost every phrase and every individual word. The mathematics, however, which have seldom been in any high degree of faNour with our neighbours of France as a branch of general education, did not, I believe, constitute any prominent part of the course of instruction delivered at the Scotch Parisian university, and hence perhaps his distaste for a science for which he was so well qualified by nature, To many of the branches of natural and experimental philosophy he paid, nevertheless, a considerable portion of attention; devoting to them almost the whole of his intervals at home, and pursuing them rather as a relaxation from the severer duties of stated instruction, than as comprehending a necessary part of such instruction itself.? p, 22,
The panegyric which the biographer pronounces on his friend's classical attainments, we must confess ourselves un, able to assent to; for, if any thing written by Dr. Geddes be intitled to such praise, wç will henceforth renounce all pre,