« السابقةمتابعة »
features veiled or personified, as Humboldt points out,1 under mythical names, when he enumerates the Nereid sea-nymphs -Kymodoké and Kymatolegé-goddess-spirits of the bays which receive and calm the restless waves; Ferousa, she that carries the ship; Actaea, the nymph of the shore; Eulimené, she of the fair haven. In this way the whole sea aspect seems set before us in distinct images. And by such images it should be always remembered that the sense of the Divine in Nature expressed itself to the Hellenic mind.
In this early time, or earlier, may also probably be placed those unhappily lost songs lamenting Linus or Daphnis or Adonis, with which the country folk deplored the fading of spring foliage and beauty under the southern sun heat; if, indeed, this was their only primitive meaning.
1 Cosmos, vol. ii, ch. i.
2 Theogony, 233.
LANDSCAPE IN GREEK LYRICAL, IDYLLIC, AND
LYRICAL poetry, whether in its first natural use as the expression of personal feeling, or in the solemn, national, and religious ode, has offered small space for landscape until modern days. Yet that "Tenth Muse, Sappho fair" (Fl. c. 500 B.C.), as Plato named her, shows her exquisite Aeolian art and tenderness, "very woman" in everything, in certain little descriptive fragments, "more golden than gold," surviving still amongst the lamentable wreck of that consummate genius. Such is the garden vignette, where the rivulet murmurs cold among the apple-tree boughs, and sleep streams down on the trembling leaves.1 Or take another, unsurpassable in its utter simplicity: Set are moon and Pleiades, and it is midnight, and the hour is already passing, but I sleep alone.2 Last, the lovely bridal song, which I once tried to render thus
1 ἀμφὶ δὲ ψῦχρον κελάδει δι ̓ ὕσδων
I have sometimes thought that we might render the words, "the rivulet murmurs through troughs of apple-tree branches." But the text here is sadly uncertain.
2 δέδυκε μὲν ἁ σελάννα
O fair-O sweet! 1
As the sweet apple blooms high on the bough,
Yet not so: nor forgot of the gatherers ;
A more complete night scene remains for us, written about a century earlier by Alkman of Sardis (Fl. 670 B.C.)
Sleep mountain-tops and ravines,
Sleep headland and torrent ;
Sleep what dark earth bears on her bosom,
Green leaves and insects;
Beasts in the den and bees in their families;
Monsters in depths of the violet sea:
Sleeps every bird,
Folding the long wings to slumber.2
Upon this we might perhaps justly remark that the personal note of Sappho is absent. And a fragment may be added, partly because the last words call to mind Tennyson's "Sea“ blue bird of March,” which he noticed in north-east Lincolnshire then coming up inland
Would O would I were the kingfisher, as he flies with his mates in his feeble age between wind and water, the sea-bright bird of spring.3
ὦ κάλα ὦ χαρίεσσα.
οἷον τὸ γλυκύμαλον ἐρεύθεται ἄκρῳ ἐπ ̓ ὕσδῳ,
φύλλα τε ἑρπετά θ ̓ ὅσσα τρέφει μέλαινα γαῖα,
καὶ κνώδαλ ̓ ἐν βένθεσσι πορφυρέης ἁλός·
εὕδουσιν δ' οἰωνῶν φῦλα τανυπτερύγων.
βάλε δὴ βάλε, κηρύλος εἴην,
ὅς τ ̓ ἐπὶ κύματος ἄνθος ἅμ ̓ ἀλκυόνεσσι ποτῆται
νηλεγὲς ἦτορ ἔχων, ἁλιπόρφυρος εἴαρος ὄρνις.
G. S. Farnell, in his interesting Greek Lyric Poetry (1891), in a note on
The belief was that the female birds carried the male on their wings, as the poet here longs that the maidens would favour him in their dances.
Pindar the Dorian (522-442 B.C.) in a few lines paints what might be called a supernatural landscape, describing the souls in Elysium
For them shines the sun in power all our night long, and the red rose meadows about their city are heavy with the shadowy incense-tree and golden fruits, . . . and happiness about them puts forth all her blossoms.1
Not less characteristic of Pindar's sharply touched descriptive power-and of his deep religious feeling, with varied tints colouring the pictures of Nature—is the mountain landscape which he gives in his first Pythian ode, speaking of
Aetna, the snowy pillar of heaven, that nurses the sharp, cold, never-melting snow; from whose depths are vomited forth the pure sulphur fountains of unapproachable fire; whilst by day those rivers pour forth a stream of dark-glowing smoke, but during the dark hours the ruddy blaze, rolling, carries crashing rocks to the deep-lying ocean plain.2
κύματος ἄνθος, literally “ the flower of the wave,” quotes (from Buchholz) the French phrase à fleur d'eau, which my paraphrase has tried to render.
1 τοῖσι λάμπει μὲν μένος ἀελίου τὰν ἐνθάδε νύκτα κάτω,
παρὰ δέ σφισιν εὐανθὴς ἅπας τέθαλεν ὄλβος.
ἐκ μυχῶν παγαί· ποταμοὶ δ ̓ ἁμέραισιν μὲν προχέοντι ῥόον καπνοῦ
φοίνισσα κυλινδομένα φλὸξ ἐς βαθεῖαν φέρει πόντου πλάκα σὺν πατάγῳ.
Compare Pindar's contemporary Aeschylus, speaking also of Etna"Whence hereafter shall burst forth streams of fire with fierce jaws devouring "the level fields of fertile Sicily:"
ἔνθεν ἐκραγήσονταί ποτε
Prom. Vinct. 367.
And then the Greek personifying manner comes in, and he tells how it is Typhos, the crawling monster, who sends forth these dread torrents, which even passers-by hear with wondering awe. This picture has a power hitherto not found in Greek song; a passionate Dantesque reality:-It is, in fact, the record of a great eruption three years earlier.
Somewhat earlier also the deeply feeling Ibykus of Rhegium sings how Spring-time sets free all Nature, whilst Love brings him no release
Truly in Spring the apple-trees of Kydon draw moisture from the river streams, there where is the pure unmown garden of the Maiden nymphs, and the vine-shoots swell and flourish beneath their overshadowing leafy branches: but with me Love for no one hour finds his rest.1
The contrast here drawn between Nature and human feeling, joy and sadness, it has been well observed by Mr. Farnell, is very rare in Hellenic poetry.
This Master has indeed a special love for the wild birds and flowers. Thus he describes a tree
About whose topmost leaves are the gold-striped duck and the sea-purpled birds with changeful coloured neck, and the swift-flying halcyons.2
Perhaps the greatest losses in pure literature which we have sustained are that of the Roman historians from Livy to Tacitus (and even these fragmentary), and that of the Greek lyric poets. Amongst these the disappearance of Ibycus may, his meagre relics suggests, be placed in the first rank of perished charm and beauty.
Drama, in all ages, by its very nature so strictly confined to