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ance is in favor of the theory of her having been seduced rather than forced, notwithstanding the fact that Homer more than once applies to her case the term opunuará (rape). For example, we find in the second book of the Iliad the line
τίσασθαι δ' Ελένης ορμήματά τε στoναχας. In the third book she is called Διός εκγεγαυια (the child of Jupiter), (Il. iiia 199); in the same book (v. 171) she is called dia yuvainov (the flower of women).* Both in the Iliad and Odyssey she is frequently called EvtaTepeia (the high-born, &c.,) (II. vi., 292; Od. xxii., 227). But if we had no other evidence of the intentions of Homer, as to the character of Helen, than the fact that he gives her the third place, as mourner, beside Andromache and Hecuba over the dead body of Hector, it would be sufficient to prove that he regarded her as leading a blameless life. True, indeed, the speech she makes on this occasion shows that she had enemies among the Trojans—at least, that there were many who did not like her; but this is abundantly accounted for by her being looked upon as the cause of the war, whether the willing cause or not. At all events, there is not a passage in the whole Iliad more imbued with true pathos, or more like what a woman of sensibility and tenderness would say in similar circumstances. We quote Sotheby's translation, as nearest to the original :
“Grief fell on all around;
o Madame Dacier has well and truly said, that there never was a greater panegyric on female beauty and loveliness than that of Homer, where he represents the assembled counsellors of Troy, while deliberating on the means of putting an end to the war, as exclaiming, when they see Helen approach, où VÉJ E615 (no wonder--no matter of censure.-11. III., 136). Though all old men, they were so much struck with her wonderful beauty, that, notwithstanding all the calamities they had suffered on her account, not one could condemn her. Quintilian has a fine observation on the same subject, which we quote for the benefit of the classical student: " Quænam igitur illa forma credenda est ? Non enim hoc dicit Paris qui rapuit; non aliquis juvenis; non unus vulgo ; sed senes et prudentissimi, et Priamo assidentes. Verum et ipse rex decenni bello exhaustus, amissis tot liberis immenente summo discrimine ; cui facem illam ; et quâ tot lacrymarum origo fluxisset, invisam atque abominandam esse opportet; et audit hæc et eam filiam appellans juxta se tocat et excusat etiam, atque sibi esse malorum causum regat.”
Since left my land, and all I once held dear:
Need we say that this is not the language of a corrupt woman, though it does little justice to Homer? In the first couplet of the translation the words that show most sorrow are not rendered. There is no rendering of ulaivovoa (weeping); Homer uses yoov in one line and yóoio in the other ; which are but poorly represented by the phrases“ grief fell,” &c., and “plaintive sound.” Still, sufficient of the Homeric spirit is preserved to render the passage, as a whole, deeply affecting. The large crowd of people (8ņuos aneipov) present on the occasion are represented by Homer as having given expression to their sympathy by a sort of simultaneous sigh or wail. Priam, though overcome with grief and emotion, waits patiently until Helen has concluded, and then addresses the assembled people, calling on them to bring wood for the funeral
and have no fear of the Greeks until the truce was expired. The speech of Andromache is, indeed, more beautiful and touching, as well as of greater length, than that of Helen. But the former had more to mourn for —not only her noble husband, slain, and son in danger of assassination, but also her own fate, certain as she felt of being taken into captivity by the conquerors. Yet, surrounded as she was by her own people, she does not seem to have excited so much sympathy as Helen, since, when the former concluded, only the women (yuvalues) are said to have responded, while in the case of the latter the whole crowd (8ņuos) gave expression to their sorrow.
But harshly as Virgil has treated Helen, all the other poets have treated her still worse, not excepting the great Shakespeare, who does not scruple to degrade her, in his Troilus and Cressida, down to the position of a common courtesan. For the sake of the fame of the author of Hamlet, we have often wished to see this play omitted from his
works, especially as there is reason to believe that other
“She is bitter to her country: hear me, Paris !
A Trojan hath been slain.''-Act IV., sc. 1.
proper name; as, for example, when Paris is made to say, in the third act, “ I would fain have armed to-day, but my Nell would not have so.” To this Helen answers, “ He hangs his lip at something ; you know all, Lord Pandarus."
Nor is it Helen alone that is thus degraded in Troilus and Cressida. The treatment received by Achilles, Agamemnon, Nestor, Ulysses and Ajax, is little, if anything, better. Paris becomes a much more important personage than Ulysses ; Ajax is made a coxcomb and mere pretender to valor ; Patroclus is represented by implication, if not in express terms, as a pander to the vices of Achilles ; nay, the son of Peleus himself makes but a poor figure in Troilus and Cressida. That all this would have been the reverse, could Shakespeare have studied Homer for himself, no one who has read Hamlet, Othello, or Macbeth, will deny. We do not mean that the play of Troilus and Cressida is bad in itself; for it is not. On the contrary, there are passages in it not often surpassed, even in the Iliad. It is not of the structure or style of the play we are speaking, or of its comparative merits as a play, but of its characters. These are degraded, as we have said, though through no fault of Shakespeare's, but because they had passed through inferior hands since first taken
from the portrait gallery of the Homeric poems before they reached him.
Virgil is called a woman-hater for his treatment of levuwɛvos (the white-armed) Helen, and for some traits which he has given to the character of Dido, although his portraiture of the latter is undoubtedly his noblest effort. No one, inexperienced in love, could have imparted so much natural passion to the Tyrian queen. Nor is she the only true woman Virgil has drawn, independently of Helen. His Lavinia has, indeed, not much to say, but the impression she makes is decidedly favorable ; and her character has been deemed worthy of imitation by several of our modern poets. To Virgil also we owe Juturna, Amata, and Camilla ; portraitures which show, at least, that if the author of the Æneid has failed to render Helen amiable, or even respectable, it was not for want of genius.
Ulysses is not allowed to develope his own character in the Æneid as he is in the Iliad. In the former he has very little to do with the action of the poem. True, his name is frequently introduced, but rarely, or never, favorably; while Æneas is everywhere styled pius. Ithacus is almost invariably distinguished by some disparaging epithet—almost always introduced as engaged in an imposture of some kind. The epithets most generally applied to him are artifex, pellax, dirus, fandi fictor, &c. None acquainted with Homer need be told how differently the Prince of poets treats Ulysses.
True, he occasionally designates him the crafty (rol1jet 25), but in no disparaging sense. Ithacus is crafty, too; but his craft is seldom, if ever, of a reprehensible nature. Perhaps no fairer specimen of it could be given, in the space at our disposal, than that which he exercises on his return to Ithaca, in order to ascertain whether his father Laërtes still loved him. At all events, a more admirable passage of its kind was never written; it is one which may be read and re-read at all periods of life, without losing any of its beauty, freshness, or pathos.
Ulysses discovers his old father digging with his spade alone in the “ well-laid orchard,” in which he himself had spent so many happy days. The posture of the old man, every article he wears, his whole appearance, are described as none but Homer could have done. The whole scene possesses an all-absorbing interest, and shows that Ithacus is anything but “ durus,” or “saevus,” but we can only make room
for a brief extract, here and there, omitting most of the old man's part of the dialogue :
“When brave Ulysses, tried in sufferings, saw
Old man, no want of skill is thine to tend