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It seems surprising that he should have so feebly defended his idol, and that after elaborately commenting upon the influence which the Phoenicians had upon the nations inhabiting the shores of the Mediterranean, and demonstrating, as he has, the effect of the intercourse of the Achaians with that enterprising people, upon the religion, manners, and polity of the people of Greece, it should not have occurred to him that, as these Phoenicians possessed the art of recording events, they might have chronicled those of the Trojan war, which lasted so long, and extended over a large portion of Asia Minor, with which they traded.
The Egyptians, also, had the means of recording sentences as well as events. Why is it improbable that Homer became acquainted with one or other of such methods, and had a notation whereby he could transmit to the rhapsodists, who wandered about the world, reciting his poems, the language in which he expressed them, though no such notation has come down to us? Assuredly the rhapsodists had some means of aiding their memory, or they could not, as a body, have remembered entire poems, although one or two might have done so. The Greeks received their alphabet from the Phoenicians; why not the art of writing? It seems to us that Wolf's objection has been too readily allowed. The poems are so unique, so consistent in plot, so evidently the production of one man, and not of several; so commanding in genius, and so much in accordance with all we know of a half-pastoral, half-warlike, age, that they cannot have been invented, and improved upon from time to time, by the rhapsodists. It is to be regretted that Mr. Gladstone has not devoted more attention to this subject.
The author has bestowed much pains on the Pelasgi, the predecessors of the Greeks. No where have we met with so judicious and satisfactory an investigation of this obscure subject. It occupies the third chapter. The fact of the wide extension of that “mysterious people,” as Bulwer calls them,* is well established. They were found in Asia Minor and in Thessaly, and they were one of the five nations which inhabited Crete. The European Pelasgi were allies of the Greeks; the Asiatic Pelasgi were allies of the Trojans. They spoke a language analagous to that spoken by both Greeks and Trojans, who could understand each other. Some of their deities were worshipped by both, and it was upon their ancient mythology that the Hellenic superstructure was raised. The Arcadians, and the pastoral population of Hellas, were essentially Pelasgic, and pre-Hellenic. They were conquered by the Hellenes, a Caucasian race, which, emigrating from the north of Asia Minor, spread themselves over that region, and crossed the Ilellespont into Thrace, and thence into Thessaly and the Peloponnesus. Assuming the air of conquerors, they called themselves “Achaioi," by which term the dominant classes were subsequently known, and are so styled in the Homeric poems. They are also therein called “ Argeioi” and “Danaoi.” Mr. Gladstone shows that the former appellation was employed exclusively to designate those who were the warriors of the Greeks, while the latter was rather a poetic and archaic one, which had seyeral generations previously been the proper designation of the inhabitants of the ruling portion of Greece.
llistory of Athens, vol. 1. p. 9.
The religion of the Pelasgi was of the order of natureworship, but many of their old deities were thrown into obscurity, and superseded by the more anthropomorphic gods of the Hellenes ; thus Saturn was dethroned by Jupiter. Oceanus, Uranus, Japetus, Hyperion, and the other Titans, gave place to Apollo, Minerva, and their compeers. In like manner the Hellenic names of places supplanted the Pelasgian nomenclature ; and these, in their turn, became modified by the Achaians, the dominant order among the Hellenes or Helloi. Thus Hellas became converted into Achaia. But is it not going a little too far to deduce the name of Hellas, as Mr. Gladstone has done, from the word 6ANÇELV "to boast," because the Helloi (or Selloi), wherever they came, boasted of themselves as being antochthomous or aboriginal inhabitants ?
Perhaps the most interesting chapter in the work is the fifth, which treats of the relations between the Greeks and
the Phænicians and Egyptians. The Phænicians, in those early times, monopolized the commerce of the ancient world, and it was from them that the Greeks heard of the wonders of Egypt, and the East; it was from them that they derived the rudiments of civilization. The Phoenicians were the most influential race in Crete, and Mr. Gladstone, after a close examination of the traditions respecting Minos, the king and law-giver of that island, has come to the conclusion that he was a Phænician. The walls of Troy were built by Poseidon, who, as god of the sea, was the especial object of veneration among the Phoenicians. And it is in connection with Prætus, or Proitos, who was of that nation, that the first mention of writing occurs in the Iliad.* Memnon, who fought on the side of the Trojans, was an Egyptian, and Sarpedon, the bravest of their heroes, was of Phænician extraction. Mr. Gladstone attempts to prove that Æolus, (alluded to in the the tenth book of the Odyssey) was the Phænician ancestor of the Æolidæ, and he thinks that the name has reference to the brilliant colors of the dresses worn by the Phænicians. It is true that the word diólos, signifies "variagated,”, but it also signifies“ various,” “ changeable,” “swift,” "nimble,” and these may be characteristic of a man's disposition or power; the true meaning is still open to conjecture.
Much space is devoted to elucidating the phrase Αναξ ανδρών, so often applied to Agamemnon, and some half-dozen other chiefs in the Iliad. Mr. Gladstone argues that it was hereditary in certain families, and that it was an antique title of state, implying honor and sovereignty. It disappeared with the heroes of the Iliad, or with the conquest of the Peloponnesus by the Heraclide, when the old time-honored Achaian families, which had long borne sway there, succumbed to their Dorian conquerors. Whether there were any substantial prerogatives connected with this title of “King of Men,” is uncertain ; but it was enjoyed only by those who had not risen by any efforts of their own, but
* Πέμπε δέ μιν Aυκίηνδε, πoρεν δ' όγε σήματα λυγρα
Book VI., v. 168, 169.
whose sires had borne it before them for centuries, being the earliest leaders of the nation. It was the possession of this dignity which gave Agamemnon and Menelaus precedence over Achilles, although the latter was in every respect their superior. Chapter the seventh treats of the Olympian system, " that splendid hierarchy of gods and goddesses, whose empire over the life and art of Hellas was so strong and vital, and whose beautiful and fictitious majesty has survived into all times and all languages.”
It was Homer who created this system and made it the nation's creed. He took the floating faith of his day, a mixture of Pelasgic, Phænician, Egyptian and Hellenic traditions, and blended them into one harmonious whole. It became the inspiration of Greece. Mr. Gladstone maintains that Homer, in stamping, as he did, the functions and orders of human society upon the gods,-in imagining the the divine community as a human one apotheosized, yet in all respects of like passions; though boundless in power, yet beyond the reach of death or change-he crystallized the authropomorphic idea as the inmost thought of Greek eristence, and by providential commission, gave to Greece her task of working out the conception of Heaven, interpreted by earth, which Phidias subsequently expressed in his Pallas, carved in gold and ivory, and Praxiteles developed in his Aphrodité. This system was not based upon authority of any kind, or on revelation, but owed its identity, popularity, and enduring quality, simply to its beauty. It is wonderfu that it should have existed for so many ages with such slight claims to the homage of mankind.
The best writing in the "Juventus Mundi” occurs in this chapter. Mr. Gladstone thinks that he finds in Homer distinct revelations of those larger truths which the Hebrews had become possessed of. He traces, 1: A deliverer con
1 ceived under the double form, first of the seed of the woman, a being at once divine and human; and secondly of the lagos, the word, or wisdom of God. 2. The woman whose seed the Redeemer was to be. 3. The rainbow, considered as a means, or a sign, of communication between God and man. 4. The tradition of an evil being, together with his ministers, a rebel and a tempter. The first of these is prefigured in Apollo, and Pallas-brother and sister—the offspring of the woman, represented by Latona. The third is
. Iris; the fourth, Ate, and the giants, who were precipitated into Tartarus.
To us this appears rather far-fetched. Apollo was a destroyer as well as a deliverer, and it is preposterous to combine him with Minerva in order to make up a “Son of God.” The other resemblances are mere coincidences. Besides, all the gods and goddesses are guilty of wicked actions and are actuated by such purely human motives that it is difficult to detect their divinity. In the Homeric view of the future life, Mr. Gladstone finds a threefold division of the unseen world, in some kind of correspondence with the christian, and what may have been the patriarchal tradition, as in the retributive character of the future state, and the continuance of the habits and propensities acquired on earth.
It would be pleasant to follow him through his investigation into the manners and morality of the heroic age of Greece ;* the condition of women at the time of the Trojan war, and the political and civil economies of the period ;t the generic differences between the Greeks and the Trojans ;the geography of the Iliad and the Odyssey ;$ the character of the actors in the poems ;l and the arithmetic, art, æstheties, and physical science of that age.
But our space is nearly filled. We may conclude by pointing out Mr. Gladstone as an instance that men do not die of hard work, but rather of rust and stagnation. Strong minds cannot be idle; they find repose in change, not in inaction. Their very rest is active and creative; and their truest recreation is the pleasure they feel in work done well, whether it be a great measure of state policy, or a book of deep and earnest study.
Art. VIII.--1. Cosmos. A Sketch of a Physical Description of
the Universe. By ALEXANDER Von HUMBOLDT. Translated from
* chap. x.
† chap. xi. I chap. xii. & chap. xiii. | chap. xiv.