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Perhaps, however, he would have derived the greatest satisfaction from the narrative of Dictys of Crete, which, even if it should not be thought highly probable, is nevertheless free from the startling and marvellous circumstances, which, in his judgment, deform the narrative of Virgil. According to this account, the Trojans, after the death of Memnon, are sorely pressed by the Greeks, a sedition arises against Priam, and the leaders of it decide that Helen and the property shall be restored to Menelaus29. Upon this it is agreed that Antenor shall be sent to negotiate with the Greeks. Antenor goes, but is false to his trust, and arranges to betray the city to them*7. A treaty is however apparently made that the Greeks shall raise the siege upon the payment of 2000 talents of gold and silver" by the Trojans. In the mean time, the Greeks construct a large wooden horse, being told by Helenus that this will be a fatal gift to the Trojans, and wheel it up to the walls, informing them that they are to receive it with respect, as being dedicated to Minerva. Upon this a large multitude of persons come out of the city, and with much joy begin to drag it home; but. finding it too large to enter by the gate, they destroy a portion of the walls in order to admit it. But when the wall is nearly demolished, the Greeks interpose, and require the payment of the 2000 talents to be made, before the horse is admitted. The money is then paid, and the horse is dragged in, amidst the rejoicings of the Trojans. Hereupon the Greeks burn their tents and leave Troy; but only sail to Sigeum, where they wait until nightfall to return. Havino- relanded their army, they enter the town through the breach made in the walls for the admission of the horseTM. We have given this narrative at the greater length, in order to enable the reader to judge whether or no Virgil would have improved the second iEneid by treating his subject in this manner. It is true there is nothing in it about the deceit of Sinon, or the slaughter of Laocoon by the sea-serpents, or the concealment of the heroes in the
26 iv. 22.
27 v. 4.
28 Dictys, in his zeal for the probable, seems to have forgotten that no such stipulation as this could ever have been agreed upon by sane persons; to say nothing of the consummate diplomatists whom he puts in motion in his narrative.
It is as if a person were to promise to pay
horse. But we could, if it was necessary, point out marks of prodigious folly in the conduct of the Trojans, as it is described in the creeping narrative of Dictys; and however much we esteem truth in historical works intended for instruction, and not for amusement, we certainly think that the tale of Troy divine would never have been heard of by posterity, and that Agamemnon would have shared the fate of the brave men who lived before him, if the war had been celebrated after the fashion of this compiler, who seems to reverse the science of the alchemists, and to be occupied only with transmuting precious into base metal.
The remaining remarks (which are highly characteristic of the penetrating and practical mind of their author) relate principally to the too rapid succession of the events, and the ignorance of war shewn by Virgil, in crowding his incidents into too short a period. "The warriors enclosed in the wooden horse (the door of which was opened by Sinon) do not come out until the Grecian fleet, which leaves Tenedos when every body is asleep, and the night is dark, has landed the army30: this, therefore, cannot be before one o'clock in the morning; moreover, before this hour the soldiers on guard would not have been asleep, so as to enable Sinon to open the door of the horse. The entire destruction of Troy, therefore, as described in this book, takes place between one o'clock in the morning and sunrise, that is to say, in three or four hours; which is absurd. Troy could not have been taken, burnt, and destroyed, in less than a fortnight. Troy contained an army; this army did not go away, it must therefore have defended itself in all the palaces. iEneas, residing in his father's palace, in a wood at a distance of half a league from Troy31, only learns the capture and conflagration of the town through Hector's ghost. Even if the house of Anchises had been at two leagues distance, the noise of the tumult caused by the taking of the town, and the heat of the burning of the first houses, would have awaked men and animals. Troy did not fall in a single night, especially so short a one; and even if the army which was there to defend it had evacuated it, the Greek army could not have taken possession of the town and destroyed it in less than several days. ^Eneas was not the only warrior in Troy, and yet the poet speaks of no other. The many heroes who play so brilliant a part in the
M See Mn. n. 254-GO.
31 This appears to be founded upon Mn. n. 299-304. 634.
Iliad must each have been able to defend his own quarter of the town."
"A tower whose summit reached to the heavens, must doubtless have been built of stones; it does not appear how iEneas, in a few instants, and with the help of some iron levers, could have made it fall on the head of the Greeks "V
"If Homer had described the taking of Troy, he would not have treated it as the taking of a fort, but would have employed the necessary time; that is, at least eight days and eight nights. In reading the Iliad one feels throughout that Homer had been engaged in war; and that he did not, as his commentators say, pass his life in the schools of Chios: in reading the ^Eneid, one feels that it is the work of a college-tutor who never knew active life. It is impossible to understand what could have induced Virgil to begin and finish the taking, burning, and pillage of Troy in a few hours: in this short time he even represents all the wealth of the town as having been collected into central magazines (magasins centraux)33. The house of Anchises must have been very near the town; for within these few hours, and notwithstanding the fighting, ^Eneas goes there several times **. Scipio took seventeen days in burning Carthage, though it was abandoned by its inhabitants": eleven days were required for burning Moscow, although it was in threat part built of wood36; and for a town of this size several days are required to enable the conquering army to take possession of it. Now Troy was a large town; for the Greeks, who had a hundred thousand37 men, never attempted to surround it. When JEneas returns during that very night into the town, he finds Ulysses guarding the accumulated treasures of Troy. For that single operation more than a fortnight was necessary: it is not in the midst of the disorder of a town taken by assault that people amuse themselves with heaping up treasures in central magazines. "At the break of day, says the poet, ./Eneas rejoins his companions38. Consequently, between one o'clock in the morning and
31 See /En. n. 458-67. The words 'qua gumma labantes junctures tabulata dabant' appear however to indicate that the part thrown down is not of stone, but of wood. Heyne's remark on this incident is, 'Egregia autem cum arte hsec inserta sunt a poeta ad rerum faciem variandam, quod etiam Wartono observatura.*
33 The following is the passage refer-
It is to be observed that the women and children were a part of the booty, and were, equally with the rest, to be divided by lot amongst the victors. See Eurip. Troad. 240-97, and compare Dictys, v. 13. Probably the collection of the women and children into the 'magasins centraux'
would have occupied quite as much time as that of the gold and silver.
34 Napoleon here exaggerates a little the inconsistencies of the narrative; for it seems that jEneas is only represented to have returned once in the course of the night to the house of Anchises. Shortly after he hears that the town is taken, he sallies from his father's house with a band of Trojans, v. 359; after much fighting, and having witnessed Priam's death, he is warned by Venus to return home, v. 620. He accordingly returns, v. 634, with the intention of taking his father into the mountains. Anchises prefers to die in Troy, v. 654. yEneas then determines to sally forth a second time; but is restrained by a prodigy, which likewise induces Anchises to leave the town, v. 704. He sets out with his family and companions, but when he has reached the temple of Ceres, discovers that he has lost Creusa. He conceals them outside the walls, 748, and returns to the town to search for Creusa. After having seen her ghost, he rejoins his
companions, v. 795. At all events, Virgil did not invent the legend that Troy was taken in one night, (see Heyne's Excursus 8 ad JEn. n. 'de node Trojanis funesta;') though he may have multiplied the incidents, and thus increased the improbability of the poetical fable. The ancient chronologists not only knew the year in which Troy was taken, but undertook to define the month, and even the day. About the latter there was some divergence of opinion; but it was generally agreed to have been during the full moon. Heyne, Exc. 2. adMn. in. Clinton, F. H. Vol. I. p. 127, note d.
85 According to Appian, Pun. c. 128-33, the Roman army, under Scipio, were six days and nights fighting and burning their way through the town of Carthage up to the citadel, into which the population was driven. On the 7th day, Scipio received their submission, and permitted all the inhabitants to go out of the citadel, except the deserters. These defended themselves for some days in a temple, after the town had been destroyed. Scipio allowed his army to plunder it for some days (ctti Tiva ii>upCm> dpiQpov, c. 133), but not to take gold, silver, or saraed offerings. The precise number of days cannot be determined from this narrative.
38 That Napoleon should have been misled by some inaccurate authority with respect to the burning of Carthage, is not to be wondered; but it is singular that he should be in error as to an event
so remarkable in his history as the burning of Moscow. The fire of Moscow began on the night of the 14th of September, and, with a slight pause at first, lasted till the 20th, but not longer. Se"gur, in his Histoire de Napoleon et de la Grande Armee pendant Vannee 1812, Tom. II. p. 76) says: "L'incendie commence dans la nuit du 14 au 15 Septembre, suspendu par nos efforts dans la journee du 15, raiiimci des la nuit suivante, et dans sa plus grande violence les 16, 17 et 18, s'e"tait ralenti |le 19. II avait cesse' le 20." See likewise the accounts from the original bulletins in the Annual Register for 1812, p. 174. The great fire of London began in the night of Sunday the 2nd of September, and lasted till Friday the 7th.
87 Thucydides (who knew better than Napoleon how small was the size of the ancient cities in Greece and the coast of Asia Minor) perceives that Troy could not have held out for ten years against the vast army which the Homeric catalogue supposes. lie accordingly (by a mere arbitrary conjecture) sends one portion of the army to cultivate the Chersonese, and another portion to plunder the neighbouring country, in order to supply the remainder with food. If (he says) they could have continued the siege with their entire forces, they would have soon taken the town, (i. 11.)
38 Sic demum socios consumpta nocte reviso. v. 795.
four o'clock, that is, in three hours, iEneas has been to Troy, has been engaged in all the combats which he describes, has defended Priam's palace, has returned to see Creusa in the town, and found it completely subdued, making no more resistance, occupied in all parts by the enemy, entirely burnt, and the magazines of plunder already closed. It is not in this manner that an epic poem ought to proceed, nor is it thus that the events advance in the Iliad. The journal of Agamemnon would not be more precise for distances and times, and for the verisimilitude of military operations, than is this epic masterpiece39."
It is curious to see the JEneid thus criticised by a great practical master of the art of war, as if it was an authentic military history, and to find the experience of Moscow brought to bear on the burning of Troy. But if it is once admitted that poetry is intended to teach and not to delight, and is amenable to the rules of historical criticism, it will be impossible to deny the applicability of Napoleon's remarks; for that he has proved the second iEneid to be a military absurdity, cannot be disputed. The triumph which his military experience enables him to achieve over these graceful creations of ancient poetry and mythology, is indeed complete; but he would probably not have thought the victory worth gaining, if it had occurred to him to consider that the legends of the Trojan war are scarcely more fitted to endure the analysis of serious strategical criticism, than the exploits of Orlando or Amadis. A subject such as this was not congenial to his thoughts, even in the forced inaction of St. Helena. His practical mind was more suitably occupied in the contemplation and discussion of the realities of warfare; at the times when he passed in review the events of his former greatness;
E ripens6 le mobili
Tende, e i percossi valli,
E il lampo dei manipoli,
E V onda dei cavalli,
E il concitato imperio, ,
E il celere obbedir.
Before we close this article, we may mention that many similar defects and incoherencies in the plan of the iEneid are pointed out in an ingenious critique published not long ago in
"Heyne reckons 52 or 53 days for the action of the Iliad. See his Etc. 1 ad II. Xviii. Vol. Vii. p. 671.