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ALEXANDER POPE'S PREFACE TO HIS TRANSLATION OF HOMER'S ILIAD

 

Copytext: Pope 1715.

Source: The ILIAD of HOMER, Translated by Mr. POPE. Vol. 1. London: W. Bowyer for Bernard Lintott, 1715.

Ed. (text): Ian Lancashire, Rep. Criticism On-line (1996).

Screen Design: Sian Meikle

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Poetry and prose edited by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto from 1912 to 1996

 

 

¶1

§1 HOMER is universally allow'd to have had the greatest Invention of any Writer whatever. §2 The Praise of

Judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their Pretensions as to particular excellencies;

but his Invention remains yet unrival'd. §3 Nor is it a Wonder if he has ever been acknowledg'd the greatest of

Poets, who most excell'd in That which is the very Foundation of Poetry. §4 It is the Invention that in different

degrees distinguishes all great Genius's: The utmost Stretch of hu-{{Sig. B1v}}man Study, Learning, and

Industry, which masters every thing besides, can never attain to this. §5 It furnishes Art with all her Materials, and

without it Judgment itself can at best but steal wisely: For Art is only like a prudent Steward that lives on managing

the Riches of Nature. §6 Whatever Praises may be given to Works of Judgment, there is not even a single Beauty in

them but is owing to the Invention : As in the most regular Gardens, however Art may carry the greatest

Appearance, there is not a Plant or Flower but is the Gift of Nature. §7 The first can only reduce the Beauties of the

latter into a more obvious Figure, which the common Eye may better take in, and is therefore more entertain'd with.

§8 And perhaps the reason why most Criticks are inclin'd to prefer a judicious and methodical Genius to a great and

fruitful one, is, because they find it easier for themselves to pursue their Observations through an uniform and

bounded Walk of Art, than to comprehend the vast and various Extent of Nature.

 

¶2

§9 Our Author's Work is a wild Paradise , where if we cannot see all the Beauties so distinctly as in an order'd

Garden, it is only because the Number of them is infinitely greater. §10 'Tis like a copious Nursery which contains

the Seeds and first Productions of every kind, out of which those {{Sig. B2r}} who follow'd him have but selected

some particular Plants, each according to his Fancy, to cultivate and beautify. §11 If some things are too luxuriant,

it is owing to the Richness of the Soil ; and if others are not arriv'd to Perfection or Maturity, it is only because they

are over-run and opprest by those of a stronger Nature.

 

¶3

§12 It is to the Strength of this amazing Invention we are to attribute that unequal'd Fire and Rapture, which is so

forcible in Homer, that no Man of a true Poetical Spirit is Master of himself while he reads him. §13 What he writes

is of the most animated Nature imaginable ; every thing moves , every thing lives, and is put in Action. §14 If a

Council be call'd, or a Battle fought, you are not coldly inform'd of what was said or done as from a third Person ;

the Reader is hurry'd out of himself by the Force of the Poet's Imagination, and turns in one place to a Hearer, in

another to a Spectator. §15 The Course of his Verses resembles that of the Army he describes,

 

Oi d ar isag, {o}sei te puri chth{o}n pasa gemoito.

 

§16 They pour along like a Fire that sweeps the whole Earth before it. 'Tis however remarkable that his Fancy,

which is every where vigorous, is not discover'd immediately at the beginning of his Poem in its fullest Splendor :

It grows in the {{Sig. B2v}} Progress both upon himself and others, and becomes on Fire like a Chariot-Wheel, by

its own Rapidity. §17 Exact Disposition, just Thought, correct Elocution, polish'd Numbers, may have been found

in a thousand ; but this Poetical Fire, this Vivida vis animi, in a very few. §18 Even in Works where all those are

imperfect or neglected, this can over-power Criticism, and make us admire even while we dis-approve. §19 Nay ,

where this appears, tho' attended with Absurdities, it brightens all the Rubbish about it, 'till we see nothing but its

own Splendor. §20 This Fire is discern'd in Virgil, but discern'd as through a Glass, reflected, and more shining

than warm, but every where equal and constant : In Lucan and Statius, it bursts out in sudden, short, and

interrupted Flashes : In Milton, it glows like a Furnace kept up to an uncommon Fierceness by the Force of Art : In

Shakespear, it strikes before we are aware, like an accidental Fire from Heaven : But in Homer, and in him only, it

burns every where clearly, and every where irresistibly.

 

¶4

§21 I shall here endeavour to show, how this vast Invention exerts itself in a manner superior to that of any Poet,

thro' all the main constituent Parts of his Work, as it is the great and peculiar Characteristick which distinguishes

him from all other Authors.

 

{{Sig. B3r}}

 

¶5

§22 This strong and ruling Faculty was like a powerful Planet, which in the Violence of its Course, drew all things

within its Vortex. §23 It seem'd not enough to have taken in the whole Circle of Arts, and the whole Compass of

Nature ; all the inward Passions and Affections of Mankind to supply this Characters, and all the outward Forms

and Images of Things for his Descriptions ; but wanting yet an ampler Sphere to expatiate in, he open'd a new and

boundless Walk for his Imagination, and created a World for himself in the Invention of Fable. §24 That which

Aristotle calls the Soul of Poetry, was first breath'd into it by Homer. §25 I shall begin with considering him in

this Part, as it is naturally the first, and I speak of it both as it means the Design of a Poem, and as it is taken for

Fiction.

 

¶6

§26 Fable may be divided into the Probable, the Allegorical, and the Marvelous . §27 The Probable Fable is the

Recital of such Actions as tho' they did not happen, yet might, in the common course of Nature : Or of such as tho'

they did , become Fables by the additional Episodes and manner of telling them. §28 Of this sort is the main Story

of an Epic Poem, the Return of Ulysses , the Settlement of the Trojans in Italy, or the like. §29 That of the Iliad is

{{Sig. B3v}} the Anger of Achilles, the most short and single Subject that ever was chosen by any Poet. §30 Yet

this he has supplied with a vaster Variety of Incidents and Events, and crouded with a greater Number of Councils,

Speeches, Battles, and Episodes of all kinds, than are to be found even in those Poems whose Schemes are of the

utmost Latitude and Irregularity. §31 The Action is hurry'd on with the most vehement Spirit, and its whole

Duration employs not so much as fifty Days. §32 Virgil, for want of so warm a Genius, aided himself by taking in

a more extensive Subject , as well as a greater Length of Time, and contracting the Design of both Homer's Poems

into one , which is yet but a fourth part as large as his. §33 The other Epic Poets have us'd the same Practice , but

generally carry'd it so far as to superinduce a Multiplicity of Fables, destroy the Unity of Action, and lose their

Readers in an unreasonable Length of Time. §34 Nor is it only in the main Design that they have been unable to add

to his Invention, but they have follow'd him in every Episode and Part of Story. §35 If he has given a regular

Catalogue of an Army, they all draw up their Forces in the same Order. §36 If he has funeral Games for Patroclus,

Virgil has the same for Anchises, and Statius (rather than omit them) destroys the Unity of his Action for {{Sig.

B4r}} those of Archemorus. §37 If Ulysses visit the Shades, the Æneas of Virgil and Scipio of Silius are sent

after him. §38 If he be detain'd from his Return by the Allurements of Calypso, so is Æneas by Dido, and Rinaldo

by Armida. §39 If Achilles be absent from the Army on the Score of a Quarrel thro' half the Poem , Rinaldo must

absent himself just as long , on the like account. §40 If he gives his Heroe a Suit of celestial Armour, Virgil and

Tasso make the same Present to theirs. §41 Virgil has not only observ'd this close Imitation of Homer , but where

he had not led the way, supply'd the Want from other Greek Authors. §42 Thus the Story of Sinon and the

Taking of Troy was copied ( says Macrobius ) almost word for word from Pisander , as the Loves of Dido and

Æneas are taken from those of Medæa and Jason in Apollonius , and several others in the same manner.

 

¶7

§43 To proceed to the Allegorical Fable : If we reflect upon those innumerable Knowledges, those Secrets of Nature

and Physical Philosophy which Homer is generally suppos'd to have wrapt up in his Allegories , what a new and

ample Scene of Wonder may this Consideration afford us ? §44 How fertile will that Imagination appear, which was

able to cloath all the Properties of Elements, the Qualifications of the Mind, the Virtues and Vices, {{Sig. B4v}} in

Forms and Persons ; and to introduce them into Actions agreeable to the Nature of the Things they shadow'd ? §45

This is a Field in which no succeeding Poets could dispute with Homer ; and whatever Commendations have been

allow'd them on this Head, are by no means for their Invention in having enlarg'd his Circle, but for their Judgment

in having contracted it. §46 For when the Mode of Learning chang'd in following Ages, and Science was deliver'd

in a plainer manner, it then became as reasonable in the more modern Poets to lay it aside, as it was in Homer to

make use of it. §47 And perhaps it was no unhappy Circumstance for Virgil , that there was not in his Time that

Demand upon him of so great an Invention, as might be capable of furnishing all those Allegorical Parts of a Poem.

 

¶8

§48 The Marvelous Fable includes whatever is supernatural , and especially the Machines of the Gods. §49 If

Homer was not the first who introduc'd the Deities (as Herodotus imagines) into the Religion of Greece, he seems

the first who brought them into a System of Machinery for Poetry, and such an one as makes its greatest

Importance and Dignity. §50 For we find those Authors who have been offended at the literal Notion of the Gods,

constantly laying their Accusation against Homer as the undoubted Inventor of them. §51 But {{Sig. C1r}}

whatever cause there might be to blame his Machines in a Philosophical or Religious View, they are so perfect in

the Poetick, that Mankind have been ever since contented to follow them : None have been able to enlarge the

Sphere of Poetry beyond the Limits he has set : Every Attempt of this Nature has prov'd unsuccessful ; and after all

the various Changes of Times and Religions, his Gods continue to this Day the Gods of Poetry.

 

¶9

§52 We come now to the Characters of his Persons, and here we shall find no Author has ever drawn so many with

so visible and surprizing a Variety, or given us such lively and affecting Impressions of them. §53 Every one has

something so singularly his own, that no Painter could have distinguished them more by their Features, than the

Poet has by their Manners. §54 Nothing can be more exact than the Distinctions he has observ'd in the different

degrees of Virtues and Vices. §55 The single Quality of Courage is wonderfully diversify'd in the several

Characters of the Iliad. §56 That of Achilles is furious and intractable ; that of Diomede forward , yet list'ning to

Advice and subject to Command : We see in Ajax an heavy and self-considering Valour, in Hector an active and

vigilant one : The Courage of Agamemnon is inspirited by Love of Empire and Ambition, that of {{Sig. C1v}}

Menelaus mix'd with Softness and Tenderness for his People : We find in Idomeneus a plain direct Soldier, in

Sarpedon a gallant and generous one. §57 Nor is this judicious and astonishing Diversity to be found only in the

principal Quality which constitutes the Main of each Character, but even in the Under-parts of it, to which he takes

care to give a Tincture of that principal one. §58 For Example, the main Characters of Ulysses and Nestor consist

in Wisdom, and they are distinct in this ; the Wisdom of one is artificial and various, of the other natural, open,

and regular. §59 But they have, besides, Characters of Courage ; and this Quality also takes a different Turn in

each from the difference of his Prudence : For one in the War depends still upon Caution , the other upon

Experience. §60 It would be endless to produce Instances of these Kinds. §61 The Characters of Virgil are far from

striking us in this open manner ; they lie in a great degree hidden and undistinguish'd , and where they are mark'd

most evidently, affect us not in proportion to those of Homer. §62 His Characters of Valour are much alike ; even

that of Turnus seems no way peculiar but as it is in a superior degree ; and we see nothing that differences the

Courage of Mnestheus from that of Sergesthus, Cloanthus, or the rest. §63 In like manner it may be remark'd of

Statius's Heroes, that an Air {{Sig. C2r}} of Impetuosity runs thro' them all ; the same horrid and savage Courage

appears in his Capaneus, Tydeus, Hippomedon, |&c.| They have a Parity of Character which makes them seem

Brothers of one Family. §64 I believe when the Reader is led into this Track of Reflection, if he will pursue it

through the Epic and Tragic Writers, he will be convinced how infinitely superior in this Point the Invention of

Homer was to that of all others.

 

¶10

§65 The Speeches are to be consider'd as they flow from the Characters , being perfect or defective as they agree or

disagree with the Manners of those who utter them. §66 As there is more variety of Characters in the Iliad, so there

is of Speeches, than in any other Poem. §67 Every thing in it has Manners (as Aristotle expresses it) that is, every

thing is acted or spoken. §68 It is hardly credible in a Work of such length, how small a Number of Lines are

employ'd in Narration. §69 In Virgil the Dramatic Part is less in proportion to the Narrative ; and the Speeches often

consist of general Reflections or Thoughts, which might be equally just in any Person's Mouth upon the same

Occasion. §70 As many of his Persons have no apparent Characters, so many of his Speeches escape being apply'd

and judg'd by the Rule of Propriety. §71 We oftner think of the Author himself when we read Virgil, than when we

are engag'd in Homer : {{Sig. C2v}} All which are the Effects of a colder Invention, that interests us less in the

Action describ'd : Homer makes us Hearers, and Virgil leaves us Readers.

 

¶11

§72 If in the next place we take a View of the Sentiments, the same presiding Faculty is eminent in the Sublimity

and Spirit of his Thoughts. §73 Longinus has given his Opinion, that it was in this Part Homer principally excell'd.

§74 What were alone sufficient to prove the Grandeur and Excellence of his Sentiments in general, is that they have

so remarkable a Parity with those of the Scripture: Duport, in his Gnomologia Homerica, has collected innumerable

Instances of this sort. §75 And it is with Justice an excellent modern Writer allows, that if Virgil has not so many

Thoughts that are low and vulgar, he has not so many that are sublime and noble ; and that the Roman Author

seldom rises into very astonishing Sentiments where he is not fired by the Iliad.

 

¶12

§76 If we observe his Descriptions, Images, and Similes, we shall find the Invention still predominant. §77 To

what else can we ascribe that vast Comprehension of Images of every sort , where we see each Circumstance and

Individual of Nature summon'd together by the Extent and Fecundity of his Imagination ; to which all things, in

their various Views, presented themselves in an Instant , and had their Impressions taken off {{Sig. C3r}} to

Perfection at a Heat ? §78 Nay, he not only gives us the full Prospects of Things, but several unexpected

Peculiarities and Side-Views, unobserv'd by any Painter but Homer. §79 Nothing is so surprizing as the

Descriptions of his Battels, which take up no less than half the Iliad, and are supply'd with so vast a Variety of

Incidents, that no one bears a Likeness to another ; such different Kinds of Deaths, that no two Heroes are wounded

in the same manner ; and such a Profusion of noble Ideas, that every Battel rises above the last in Greatness,

Horror, and Confusion. §80 It is certain.there is not near that Number of Images and Descriptions in any Epic Poet ;

tho' every one has assisted himself with a great Quantity out of him : And it is evident of Virgil especially, that he

has scarce any Comparisons which are not drawn from his Master.

 

¶13

§81 If we descend from hence to the Expression, we see the bright Imagination of Homer shining out in the most

enliven'd Forms of it. §82 We acknowledge him the Father of Poetical Diction , the first who taught that Language

of the Gods to Men. §83 His Expression is like the colouring of some great Masters, which discovers itself to be

laid on boldly, and executed with Rapidity. §84 It is indeed the strongest and most glowing imaginable , and

touch'd with the greatest Spirit. §85 {{Sig. C3v}} Aristotle had reason to say , He was the only Poet who had

found out Living Words ; there are in him more daring Figures and Metaphors than in any good Author whatever.

§86 An Arrow is impatient to be on the Wing, a Weapon thirsts to drink the Blood of an Enemy, and the like. §87

Yet his Expression is never too big for the Sense, but justly great in proportion to it : 'Tis the Sentiment that swells

and fills out the Diction, which rises with it, and forms itself about it. §88 For in the same degree that a Thought is

warmer, an Expression will be brighter ; and as That is more strong, This will become more perspicuous : Like

Glass in the Furnace which grows to a greater Magnitude , and refines to a greater Clearness , only as the Breath

within is more powerful, and the Heat more intense.

 

¶14

§89 To throw his Language more out of Prose, Homer seems to have affected the Compound-Epithets . §90 This

was a sort of Composition peculiarly proper to Poetry , not only as it heighten'd the Diction, but as it assisted and

fill'd the Numbers with greater Sound and Pomp, and likewise conduced in some measure to thicken the Images.

§91 On this last Consideration I cannot but attribute these to the Fruitfulness of his Invention, since (as he has

manag'd them) they are a sort of supernumerary Pictures of the Persons or Things they {{Sig. C4r}} are join'd to.

§92 We see the Motion of Hector's Plumes in the Epithet Kornthaiolos, the Landscape of Mount Neritus in that

of Einosiphullos, and so of others ; which particular Images could not have been insisted upon so long as to

express them in a Description (tho' but of a single Line) without diverting the Reader too much from the principal

Action or Figure. §93 As a Metaphor is a short Simile , one of these Epithets is a short Description.

 

¶15

§94 Lastly, if we consider his Versification, we shall be sensible what a Share of Praise is due to his Invention in

that also. §95 He was not satisfy'd with his Language as he found it settled in any one Part of Greece, but searched

thro' its differing Dialects with this particular View, to beautify and perfect his Numbers : He consider'd these as

they had a greater Mixture of Vowels or Consonants, and accordingly employ'd them as the Verse requir'd either a

greater Smoothness or Strength. §96 What he most affected was the Ionic , which has a peculiar Sweetness from its

never using Contractions, and from its Custom of resolving the Diphthongs into two Syllables ; so as to make the

Words open themselves with a more spreading and sonorous Fluency. §97 With this he mingled the Attic

Contractions, the broader Doric, and the feebler Æolic, which often rejects its {{Sig. C4v}} Aspirate, or takes off

its Accent ; and compleated this Variety by altering some Letters with the License of Poetry. §98 Thus his Measures,

instead of being Fetters to his Sense , were always in readiness to run along with the Warmth of his Rapture ; and

even to give a farther Representation of his Notions, in the Correspondence of their Sounds to what they signify'd.

§99 Out of all these he has deriv'd that Harmony, which makes us confess he had not only the richest Head, but the

finest Ear in the World. §100 This is so great a Truth , that whoever will but consult the Tune of his Verses even

without understanding them (with the same sort of Diligence as we daily see practis'd in the Case of Italian Opera's)

will find more Sweetness, Variety, and Majesty of Sound , than in any other Language or Poetry. §101 The Beauty

of his Numbers is allow'd by the Criticks to be copied but faintly by Virgil himself, tho' they are so just to ascribe it

to the Nature of the Latine Tongue. §102 Indeed the Greek has some Advantages both from the natural Sound of

its Words , and the Turn and Cadence of its Verse, which agree with the Genius of no other Language. §103

Virgil was very sensible of this, and used the utmost Diligence in working up a more intractable Language to

whatsoever Graces it was capable of, and in particular never fail'd to bring the Sound of {{Sig. D1r}} his Line to a

beautiful Agreement with its Sense. §104 If the Grecian Poet has not been so frequently celebrated on this Account

as the Roman, the only reason is, that fewer Criticks have understood one Language than the other. §105

Dionysius of Halicarnassus has pointed out many of our Author's Beauties in this kind, in his Treatise of the

Composition of Words, and others will be taken notice of in the Course of the Notes. §106 It suffices at present to

observe of his Numbers, that they flow with so much ease, as to make one imagine Homer had no other care than

to transcribe as fast as the Muses dictated ; and at the same time with so much Force and inspiriting Vigour, that

they awaken and raise us like the Sound of a Trumpet. §107 They roll along as a plentiful River, always in motion,

and always full ; while we are born away by a Tide of Verse, the most rapid and yet the most smooth imaginable.

 

¶16

§108 Thus on whatever side we contemplate Homer, what principally strikes us is his Invention. §109 It is that

which forms the Character of each Part of his Work ; and accordingly we find it to have made his Fable more

extensive and copious than any other, his Manners more lively and strongly marked, his Speeches more affecting

and transported, his Sentiments more warm and sublime, his Images and Descriptions more full and animated,

{{Sig. D1v}} his Expression more rais'd and daring, and his Numbers more rapid and various. §110 I hope in

what has been said of Virgil with regard to any of these Heads, I have no way derogated from his Character. §111

Nothing is more absurd or endless, than the common Method of comparing eminent Writers by an Opposition of

particular Passages in them , and forming a Judgment from thence of their Merit upon the whole. §112 We ought to

have a certain Knowledge of the principal Character and distinguishing Excellence of each : It is in that we are to

consider him, and in proportion to his Degree in that we are to admire him. §113 No Author or Man ever excell'd all

the World in more than one Faculty, and as Homer has done this in Invention, Virgil has in Judgment. §114 Not

that we are to think Homer wanted Judgment, because Virgil had it in a more eminent degree ; or that Virgil wanted

Invention, because Homer possest a larger share of it : Each of these great Authors had more of both than perhaps

any Man besides, and are only said to have less in Comparison with one another. §115 Homer was the greater

Genius, Virgil the better Artist. §116 In one we most admire the Man, in the other the Work . §117 Homer hurries

and transports us with a commanding Impetuosity, Virgil leads us with an attractive Majesty : Homer {{Sig. D2r}}

scatters with a generous Profusion, Virgil bestows with a careful Magnificence : Homer like the Nile, pours out his

Riches with a sudden Overflow ; Virgil like a River in its Banks , with a gentle and constant Stream. §118 When we

behold their Battels, methinks the two Poets resemble the Heroes they celebrate : Homer, boundless and irresistible

as Achilles, bears all before him, and shines more and more as the Tumult increases ; Virgil calmly daring like

Æneas, appears undisturb'd in the midst of the Action, disposes all about him, and conquers with Tranquillity :

And when we look upon their Machines, Homer seems like his own Jupiter in his Terrors, shaking Olympus,

scattering the Lightnings, and firing the Heavens ; Virgil like the same Power in his Benevolence, counselling with

the Gods, laying Plans for Empires, and regularly ordering his whole Creation.

 

¶17

§119 But after all , it is with great Parts as with great Virtues, they naturally border on some Imperfection ; and it is

often hard to distinguish exactly where the Virtue ends, or the Fault begins. §120 As Prudence may sometimes sink

to Suspicion , so may a great Judgment decline to Coldness ; and as Magnanimity may run up to Profusion or

Extravagance, so may a great Invention to Redundancy or Wildness. §121 If we look upon Homer in this View, we

shall perceive the {{Sig. D2v}} chief Objections against him to proceed from so noble a Cause as the Excess of this

Faculty.

 

¶18

§122 Among these we may reckon some of his Marvellous Fictions, upon which so much Criticism has been spent

as surpassing all the Bounds of Probability. §123 Perhaps it may be with great and superior Souls as with gigantick

Bodies, which exerting themselves with unusual Strength, exceed what is commonly thought the due Proportion of

Parts, to become Miracles in the whole ; and like the old Heroes of that Make, commit something near Extravagance

amidst a Series of glorious and inimitable Performances. §124 Thus Homer has his speaking Horses , and Virgil

his Myrtles distilling Blood , without so much as contriving the easy Intervention of a Deity to save the Probability.

 

¶19

§125 It is owing to the same vast Invention that his Similes have been thought too exuberant and full of

Circumstances. §126 The Force of this Faculty is seen in nothing more, than its Inability to confine itself to that

single Circumstance upon which the Comparison is grounded : It runs out into Embellishments of additional

Images, which however are so manag'd as not to overpower the main one. §127 His Similes are like Pictures,

where the principal Figure has not only its proportion given agreeable to the Original, {{Sig. D3r}} but is also set

off with occasional Ornaments and Prospects. §128 The same will account for his manner of heaping a Number of

Comparisons together in one Breath, when his Fancy suggested to him at once so many various and correspondent

Images. §129 The Reader will easily extend this Observation to more Objections of the same kind.

 

¶20

§130 If there are others which seem rather to charge him with a Defect or Narrowness of Genius, than an Excess of

it ; those seeming Defects will be found upon Examination to proceed wholly from the Nature of the Times he liv'd

in. §131 Such are his grosser Representations of the Gods, and the vicious and imperfect Manners of his Heroes ,

which will be treated of in the following * Essay : But I must here speak a word of the latter, as it is a Point

generally carry'd into Extreams both by the Censurers and Defenders of Homer. §132 It must be a strange Partiality

to Antiquity to think with Madam Dacier, "that Ý those Times and Manners are so much the more excellent, as they

are more contrary to ours." Who can be so prejudiced in their Favour as to magnify the Felicity of those Ages, when

a Spirit of Revenge and Cruelty reign'd thro' the World, when no Mercy was shown but for the sake of Lucre,

when the {{Sig. D3v}} greatest Princes were put to the Sword, and their Wives and Daughters made Slaves and

Concubines ? §133 On the other side I would not be so delicate as those modern Criticks, who are shock'd at the

servile Offices and mean Employments in which we sometimes see the Heroes of Homer engag'd. §134 There is a

Pleasure in taking a view of that Simplicity in Opposition to the Luxury of succeeding Ages ; in beholding Monarchs

without their Guards, Princes tending their Flocks, and Princesses drawing Water from the Springs. §135 When we

read Homer, we ought to reflect that we are reading the most ancient Author in the Heathen World ; and those who

consider him in this Light, will double their Pleasure in the Perusal of him. §136 Let them think they are growing

acquainted with Nations and People that are now no more ; that they are stepping almost three thousand Years

backward into the remotest Antiquity , and entertaining themselves with a clear and surprizing Vision of Things no

where else to be found, and the only authentick Picture of that ancient World. §137 By this means alone their

greatest Obstacles will vanish ; and what usually creates their Dislike , will become a Satisfaction.

 

* See the Articles of Theology and Morality, in the third Part of the Essay.

 

Ý Preface to her Homer.

 

¶21

§138 This Consideration may farther serve to answer for the constant Use of the same Epithets {{Sig. D4r}} to his

Gods and Heroes, such as the far-darting Ph¤bus, the blue-ey'd Pallas , the swift- footed Achilles, |&c.| which

some have censured as impertinent and tediously repeated. §139 Those of the Gods depended upon the Powers and

Offices then believ'd to belong to them, and had contracted a Weight and Veneration from the Rites and solemn

Devotions in which they were us'd : They were a sort of Attributes that it was a Matter of Religion to salute them

with on all Occasions, and an Irreverence to omit. §140 As for the Epithets of great Men, Mons. Boileau is of

Opinion ; that they were in the Nature of Sir-Names, and repeated as such ; for the Greeks having no Names

deriv'd from their Fathers , were oblig'd when they mention'd any one to add some other Distinction ; either naming

his Parents expressly, or his Place of Birth, Profession, or the like : As Alexander Son of Philip , Herodotus of

Halicarnassus, Diogenes the Cynic, |&c.| Homer therefore complying with the Custom of his Countrey , us'd such

distinctive Additions as better agreed with Poetry. §141 And indeed we have something parallel to these in modern

Times, such as the Names of Harold Harefoot , Edmund Ironside , Edward Long-shanks , Edward the black

Prince, |&c.| If yet this be thought to account better for the Propriety than for the Repetition , {{Sig. D4v}} I shall

add a farther Conjecture. §142 Hesiod dividing the World into its Ages, has plac'd a fourth Age between the

Brazen and the Iron one, of Heroes distinct from other Men, a divine Race, who fought at Thebes and Troy, are

called Demi- Gods, and live by the Care of Jupiter in the Islands of the Blessed*. §143 Now among the divine

Honours which were paid them, they might have this also in common with the Gods, not to be mention'd without

the Solemnity of an Epithet, and such as might be acceptable to them by its celebrating their Families, Actions, or

Qualities.

 

*Hesiod, lib. I. {ver}. 155, |&c.|

 

¶22

§144 What other Cavils have been rais'd against Homer are such as hardly deserve a Reply, but will yet be taken

notice of as they occur in the Course of the Work. §145 Many have been occasion'd by an injudicious Endeavour to

exalt Virgil ; which is much the same, as if one should think to praise the Superstructure by undermining the

Foundation : One would imagine by the whole Course of their Parallels, that these Criticks never so much as heard

of Homer's having written first ; a Consideration which whoever compares these two Poets ought to have always in

his Eye. §146 Some accuse him for the same things which they overlook or praise in the other ; as when they

{{Sig. E1}} prefer the Fable and Moral of the Æneis to those of the Iliad, for the same Reasons which might set

the Odysses above the Æneis: as that the Heroe is a wiser Man ; and the Action of the one more beneficial to his

Countrey than that of the other : Or else they blame him for not doing what he never design'd ; as because Achilles

is not as good and perfect a Prince as Æneas, when the very Moral of his Poem requir'd a contrary Character. §147

It is thus that Rapin judges in his Comparison of Homer and Virgil. §148 Others select those particular Passages of

Homer which are not so labour'd as some that Virgil drew out of them : This is the whole Management of Scaliger

in his Poetices. §149 Others quarrel with what they take for low and mean Expressions, sometimes thro' a false

Delicacy and Refinement , oftner from an Ignorance of the Graces of the Original ; and then triumph in the

Aukwardness of their own Translations. §150 This is the Conduct of Perault in his Parallels. §151 Lastly, there are

others, who pretending to a fairer Proceeding , distinguish between the personal Merit of Homer, and that of his

Work ; but when they come to assign the Causes of the great Reputation of the Iliad, they found it upon the

Ignorance of his Times, and the Prejudice of those that followed. §152 And in pursuance of this Principle, they

make those Accidents (such as the {{Sig. E1}} Contention of the Cities, |&c.|) to be the Causes of his Fame, which

were in Reality the Consequences of his Merit. §153 The same might as well be said of Virgil , or any great Author

, whose general Character will infallibly raise many casual Additions to their Reputation. §154 This is the Method of

Mons. de la Motte ; who yet confesses upon the whole, that in whatever Age Homer had liv'd he must have been

the greatest Poet of his Nation, and that he may be said in this Sense to be the Master even of those who surpass'd

him.

 

¶23

§155 In all these Objections we see nothing that contradicts his Title to the Honour of the chief Invention ; and as

long as this (which is indeed the Characteristic of Poetry itself) remains unequal'd by his Followers, he still

continues superior to them. §156 A cooler Judgment may commit fewer Faults, and be more approv'd in the Eyes

of One Sort of Criticks : but that Warmth of Fancy will carry the loudest and most universal Applauses which holds

the Heart of a Reader under the strongest Enchantment. §157 Homer not only appears the Inventor of Poetry, but

excells all the Inventors of other Arts in this, that he has swallow'd up the Honour of those who succeeded him.

§158 What he has done admitted no Encrease, it only left room for Contraction or Regulation. §159 He shew'd all

the Stretch of Fancy at once ; and if he {{Sig. E2}} has fail'd in some of his Flights, it was but because he

attempted every thing. §160 A Work of this kind seems like a mighty Tree which rises from the most vigorous

Seed, is improv'd with Industry, flourishes, and produces the finest Fruit ; Nature and Art have conspir'd to raise it

; Pleasure and Profit join'd to make it valuable : and they who find the justest Faults, have only said, that a few

Branches (which run luxuriant thro' a Richness of Nature) might be lopp'd into Form to give it a more regular

Appearance.

 

¶24

§161 Having now spoken of the Beauties and Defects of the Original, it remains to treat of the Translation , with the

same View to the chief Characteristic. §162 As far as that is seen in the main Parts of the Poem, such as the Fable,

Manners, and Sentiments, no Translator can prejudice it but by wilful Omissions or Contractions. §163 As it also

breaks out in every particular Image, Description, and Simile ; whoever lessens or too much softens those, takes

off from this chief Character. §164 It is the first grand Duty of an Interpreter to give his Author entire and unmaim'd

; and for the rest, the Diction and Versification only are his proper Province ; since these must be his own, but the

others he is to take as he finds them.

 

{{Sig. E2v}}

 

¶25

§165 It should then be consider'd what Methods may afford some Equivalent in our Language for the Graces of

these in the Greek. §166 It is certain no literal Translation can be just to an excellent Original in a superior Language

: but it is a great Mistake to imagine ( as many have done ) that a rash Paraphrase can make amends for this general

Defect ; which is no less in danger to lose the Spirit of an Ancient, by deviating into the modern Manners of

Expression. §167 If there be sometimes a Darkness, there is often a Light in Antiquity, which nothing better

preserves than a Version almost literal[[.]] I know no Liberties one ought to take , but those which are necessary for

transfusing the Spirit of the Original, and supporting the Poetical Style of the Translation : and I will venture to say,

there have not been more Men misled in former times by a servile dull Adherence to the Letter, than have been

deluded in ours by a chimerical insolent Hope of raising and improving their Author. §168 It is not to be doubted

that the Fire of the Poem is what a Translator should principally regard, as it is most likely to expire in his managing

: However it is his safest way to be content with preserving this to his utmost in the Whole, without endeavouring to

be more than he finds his Author is, in any particular Place. §169 'Tis a great Secret in Writing {{Sig. E3r}} to

know when to be plain, and when poetical and figurative ; and it is what Homer will teach us if we will but follow

modestly in his Footsteps. §170 Where his Diction is bold and lofty, let us raise ours as high as we can ; but where

his is plain and humble, we ought not to be deterr'd from imitating him by the fear of incurring the Censure of a

meer English Critick. §171 Nothing that belongs to Homer seems to have been more commonly mistaken than the

just Pitch of his Style : Some of his Translators having swell'd into Fustian in a proud Confidence of the Sublime ;

others sunk into Flatness in a cold and timorous Notion of Simplicity. §172 Methinks I see these different

Followers of Homer , some sweating and straining after him by violent Leaps and Bounds, (the certain Signs of

false Mettle) others slowly and servilely creeping in his Train, while the Poet himself is all the time proceeding with

an unaffected and equal Majesty before them. §173 However of the two Extreams one could sooner pardon Frenzy

than Frigidity : No Author is to be envy'd for such Commendations as he may gain by that Character of Style ,

which his Friends must agree together to call Simplicity , and the rest of the World will call Dulness. §174 There is

a graceful and dignify'd Simplicity, as well as a bald and sordid one , which differ as much from each other as

{{Sig. E3v}} the Air of a plain Man from that of a Sloven : 'Tis one thing to be tricked up, and another not to be

dress'd at all. §175 Simplicity is the Mean between Ostentation and Rusticity.

 

¶26

§176 This pure and noble Simplicity is no where in such Perfection as in the Scripture and our Author. §177 One

may affirm with all respect to the inspired Writings , that the Divine Spirit made use of no other Words but what

were intelligible and common to Men at that Time, and in that Part of the World ; and as Homer is the Author

nearest to those , his Style must of course bear a greater Resemblance to the sacred Books than that of any other

Writer. §178 This Consideration (together with what has been observ'd of the Parity of some of his Thoughts) may

methinks induce a Translator on the one hand to give into several of those general Phrases and Manners of

Expression, which have attain'd a Veneration even in our Language from their use in the Old Testament ; as on the

other, to avoid those which have been appropriated to the Divinity, and in a manner consign'd to Mystery and

Religion.

 

¶27

§179 For a farther Preservation of this Air of Simplicity , a particular Care should be taken to express with all

Plainness those Moral Sentences and Proverbial Speeches which are so numerous in this {{Sig. E4r}} Poet. §180

They have something Venerable , and as I may say Oracular, in that unadorn'd Gravity and Shortness with which

they are deliver'd : a Grace which would be utterly lost by endeavouring to give them what we call a more ingenious

( that is a more modern ) Turn in the Paraphrase.

 

¶28

§181 Perhaps the Mixture of some Græcisms and old Words after the manner of Milton , if done without too much

Affectation, might not have an ill Effect in a Version of this particular Work, which most of any other seems to

require a venerable Antique Cast. §182 But certainly the use of modern Terms of War and Government, such as

Platoon, Campagne, Junto , or the like (which some of his Translators have fallen into) cannot be allowable ; those

only excepted , without which it is impossible to treat the Subjects in any living Language.

 

¶29

§183 There are two Peculiarities in Homer's Diction that are a sort of Marks or Moles, by which every common

Eye distinguishes him at first sight : Those who are not his greatest Admirers look upon them as Defects, and those

who are seem pleased with them as Beauties. §184 I speak of his Compound-Epithets and of his Repetitions. §185

Many of the former cannot be done literally into English without destroying the Purity of our Language. §186

{{Sig. E4v}} I believe such should be retain'd as slide easily of themselves into an English- Compound, without

Violence to the Ear or to the receiv'd Rules of Composition ; as well as those which have receiv'd a Sanction from

the Authority of our best Poets, and are become familiar thro' their use of them ; such as the Cloud-compelling

Jove, |&c.| As for the rest, whenever any can be as fully and significantly exprest in a single word as in a

compounded one, the Course to be taken is obvious. §187 Some that cannot be so turn'd as to preserve their full

Image by one or two Words, may have Justice done them by Circumlocution; as the Epithet einosiphullos to a

Mountain would appear little or ridiculous translated literally Leaf-shaking , but affords a majestic Idea in the

Periphrasis : The lofty Mountains shakes his waving Woods. §188 Others that admit of differing Significations ,

may receive an Advantage by a judicious Variation according to the Occasions on which they are introduc'd. §189

For Example , the Epithet of Apollo , eknbolos, or far-shooting, is capable of two Explications ; one literal in

respect of the Darts and Bow, the Ensigns of that God ; the other allegorical with regard to the Rays of the Sun :

Therefore in such Places where Apollo is represented as a God in Person, I would use the former Interpretation ,

and where the Effects of the Sun are {{Sig. F1r}} describ'd , I would make choice of the latter. §190 Upon the

whole, it will be necessary to avoid that perpetual Repetition of the same Epithets which we find in Homer, and

which, tho' it might be accommodated (as has been already shewn) to the Ear of those Times, is by no means so to

ours : But one may wait for Opportunities of placing them , where they derive an additional Beauty from the

Occasions on which they are employed ; and in doing this properly, a Translator may at once shew his Fancy and

his Judgment.

 

¶30

§191 As for Homer's Repetitions; we may divide them into three sorts ; of whole Narrations and Speeches, of

single Sentences, and of one Verse or Hemistich. §192 I hope it is not impossible to have such a Regard to these, as

neither to lose so known a Mark of the Author on the one hand, nor to offend the Reader too much on the other.

§193 The Repetition is not ungraceful in those Speeches where the Dignity of the Speaker renders it a sort of

Insolence to alter his Words ; as in the Messages from Gods to Men, or from higher Powers to Inferiors in

Concerns of State, or where the Ceremonial of Religion seems to require it, in the solemn Forms of Prayers, Oaths,

or the like. §194 In other Cases, I believe the best Rule is to be guided by the Nearness, or Distance, at which the

Repetitions are plac'd in the Original : When they {{Sig. F1v}} follow too close one may vary the Expression , but

it is a Question whether a profess'd Translator be authorized to omit any : If they be tedious, the Author is to answer

for it.

 

¶31

§195 It only remains to speak of the Versification. §196 Homer (as has been said) is perpetually applying the

Sound to the Sense, and varying it on every new Subject. §197 This is indeed one of the most exquisite Beauties of

Poetry, and attainable by very few : I know only of Homer eminent for it in the Greek, and Virgil in Latine. §198 I

am sensible it is what may sometimes happen by Chance, when a Writer is warm, and fully possest of his Image :

however it may be reasonably believed they design'd this, in whose Verse it so manifestly appears in a superior

degree to all others. §199 Few Readers have the Ear to be Judges of it , but those who have will see I have

endeavour'd at this Beauty.

 

¶32

§200 Upon the whole, I must confess my self utterly in capable of doing Justice to Homer. §201 I attempt him in

no other Hope but that which one may entertain without much Vanity, of giving a more tolerable Copy of him than

any entire Translation in Verse has yet done. §202 We have only those of Chapman, Hobbes, and Ogilby. §203

Chapman has taken the Advantage of an immeasurable Length of Verse, notwithstanding which there is scarce any

{{Sig. F2r}} Paraphrase more loose and rambling than his. §204 He has frequent Interpolations of four or six

Lines, and I remember one in the thirteenth Book of the Odysses, ver. 312. where he has spun twenty Verses out

of two. §205 He is often mistaken in so bold a manner , that one might think he deviated on purpose, if he did not

in other Places of his Notes insist so much upon Verbal Trifles. §206 He appears to have had a strong Affectation of

extracting new Meanings out of his Author, insomuch as to promise in his Rhyming Preface, a Poem of the

Mysteries he had revealed in Homer ; and perhaps he endeavoured to strain the obvious Sense to this End. §207

His Expression is involved in Fustian , a Fault for which he was remarkable in his Original Writings, as in the

Tragedy of Bussy d' Amboise |&c.| In a word, the Nature of the Man may account for his whole Performance ; for

he appears from his Preface and Remarks to have been of an arrogant Turn, and an Enthusiast in Poetry. §208 His

own Boast of having finish'd half the Iliad in less than fifteen Weeks, shews with what Negligence his Version

was performed. §209 But that which is to be allowed him, and which very much contributed to cover his Defects, is

a daring fiery Spirit that animates his Translation, which is something like what one might imagine Homer himself

would have writ before he arriv'd to Years of Discretion. §210 {{Sig. F2v}} Hobbes has given us a correct

Explanation of the Sense in general, but for Particulars and Circumstances he continually lopps them, and often

omits the most beautiful. §211 As for its being esteem'd a close Translation , I doubt not many have been led into

that Error by the Shortness of it, which proceeds not from his following the Original Line by Line, but from the

Contractions above-mentioned. §212 He sometimes omits whole Similes and Sentences, and is now and then guilty

of Mistakes which no Writer of his Learning could have fallen into, but thro' Carelesness. §213 His Poetry, as well

as Ogilby's, is too mean for Criticism.

 

¶33

§214 It is a great Loss to the Poetical World that Mr. Dryden did not live to translate the Iliad . §215 He has left us

only the first Book and a small Part of the sixth ; in which if he has in some Places not truly interpreted the Sense,

or preserved the Antiquities, it ought to be excused on account of the Haste he was obliged to write in. §216 He

seems to have had too much Regard to Chapman, whose Words he sometimes copies, and has unhappily follow'd

him in Passages where he wanders from the Original. §217 However had he translated the whole Work, I would no

more have attempted Homer after him than Virgil, his Version of whom (notwithstanding some human Errors) is

the most noble and spirited Translation I know in any Lan-{{Sig. F3r}} guage. §218 But the Fate of great Genius's

is like that of great Ministers, tho' they are confessedly the first in the Commonwealth of Letters, they must be

envy'd and calumniated only for being at the Head of it.

 

¶34

§219 That which in my Opinion ought to be the Endeavour of any one who translates Homer, is above all things to

keep alive that Spirit and Fire which makes his chief Character. §220 In particular Places, where the Sense can bear

any Doubt, to follow the strongest and most Poetical , as most agreeing with that Character. §221 To copy him in all

the Variations of his Style, and the different Modulations of his Numbers. §222 To preserve in the more active or

descriptive Parts, a Warmth and Elevation ; in the more sedate or narrative, a Plainness and Solemnity ; in the

Speeches a Fulness and Perspicuity ; in the Sentences a Shortness and Gravity. §223 Not to neglect even the little

Figures and Turns on the Words, nor sometimes the very Cast of the Periods. §224 Neither to omit or confound

any Rites or Customs of Antiquity. §225 Perhaps too he ought to include the whole in a shorter Compass, than has

hitherto been done by any Translator who has tolerably preserved either the Sense or Poetry. §226 What I would

farther recommend to him, is to study his Author rather from his own Text than from any {{Sig. F3v}}

Commentaries, how learned soever, or whatever Figure they make in the Estimation of the World. §227 To

consider him attentively in Comparison with Virgil above all the Ancients, and with Milton above all the Moderns.

§228 Next these the Archbishop of Cambray's Telemachus may give him the truest Idea of the Spirit and Turn of

our Author, and Bossu's admirable Treatise of the Epic Poem the justest Notion of his Design and Conduct. §229

But after all, with whatever Judgment and Study a Man may proceed, or with whatever Happiness he may perform

such a Work ; he must hope to please but a few, those only who have at once a Taste of Poetry, and competent

Learning. §230 For to satisfy such as want either, is not in the Nature of this Undertaking ; since a meer Modern

Wit can like nothing that is not Modern, and a Pedant nothing that is not Greek.

 

¶35

§231 What I have done is submitted to the Publick, from whose Opinions I am prepared to learn ; tho' I fear no

Judges so little as our best Poets, who are most sensible of the Weight of this Task. §232 As for the worst,

whatever they shall please to say, they may give me some Concern as they are unhappy Men, but none as they are

malignant Writers. §233 I was guided in this Translation by Judgments very different from theirs, and by Persons

for whom they can have no Kindness, if an {{Sig. F4r}} old Observation be true, that the strongest Antipathy in

the World is that of Fools to Men of Wit. §234 |Mr.| Addison was the first whose Advice determin'd me to

undertake this Task, who was pleas'd to write to me upon that Occasion in such Terms as I cannot repeat without

Vanity. §235 I was obliged to Sir Richard Steele for a very early Recommendation of my Undertaking to the

Publick. §236 |Dr.| Swift promoted my Interest with that Warmth with which he always serves his Friend. §237

The Humanity and Frankness of Sir Samuel Garth are what I never knew wanting on any Occasion. §238 I must

also acknowledge with infinite Pleasure the many friendly Offices as well as sincere Criticisms of |Mr.| Congreve ,

who had led me the way in translating some Parts of Homer , as I wish for the sake of the World he had prevented

me in the rest. §239 I must add the Names of |Mr.| Rowe and |Dr.| Parnell, tho' I shall take a farther Opportunity of

doing Justice to the last, whose Good-nature (to give it a great Panegyrick) is no less extensive than his Learning.

§240 The Favour of these Gentlemen is not entirely undeserved by one who bears them so true an Affection. §241

But what can I say of the Honour so many of the Great have done me, while the First Names of the Age appear as

my Subscribers, and the most distinguish'd Patrons and Ornaments of Learning {{Sig. F4v}} as my chief

Encouragers. §242 Among these it is a particular Pleasure to me to find, that my highest Obligations are to such

who have done most Honour to the Name of Poet : That his Grace the Duke of Buckingham was not displeas'd I

should undertake the Author to whom he has given (in his excellent Essay) the finest Praise he ever yet receiv'd.

 

Read Homer once, and you can read no more ;

For all things else appear so mean and poor,

Verse will seem Prose : yet often on him look,

And you will hardly need another Book.

 

§243 That the Earl of Halifax was one of the first to favour me, of whom it is hard to say whether the Advancement

of the Polite Arts is more owing to his Generosity or his Example. §244 That such a Genius as my Lord

Bolingbroke, not more distinguished in the great Scenes of Business than in all the useful and entertaining Parts of

Learning , has not refus'd to be the Critick of these Sheets, and the Patron of their Writer. §245 And that so

excellent an Imitator of Homer as the noble Author of the Tragedy of Heroic Love, has continu'd his Partiality to

me from my writing Pastorals to my attempting the Iliad. §246 I cannot deny my self the Pride of confessing, that I

have {{Sig. G1r}} had the Advantage not only of their Advice for the Conduct in general, but their Correction of

several Particulars of this Translation.

 

¶36

§247 I could say a great deal of the Pleasure of being distinguish'd by the Earl of Carnarvon, but it is almost

absurd to particularize any one generous Action in a Person whose whole Life is a continued Series of them. §248

The Right Honourable Mr. Stanhope, the present Secretary of State, will pardon my Desire of having it known that

he was pleas'd to promote this Affair. §249 The particular Zeal of Mr. Harcourt (the Son of the late Lord

Chancellor) gave me a Proof how much I am honour'd in a Share of his Friendship. §250 I must attribute to the

same Motive that of several others of my Friends, to whom all Acknowledgments are render'd unnecessary by the

Privileges of a familiar Correspondence : And I am satisfy'd I can no way better oblige Men of their Turn, than by

my Silence.

 

¶37

§251 In short, I have found more Patrons than ever Homer wanted. §252 He would have thought himself happy to

have met the same Favour at Athens, that has been shewn me by its learned Rival, the University of Oxford. §253

If my Author had the Wits of After-Ages for his Defenders, his Translator has had the Beauties of the present for

his Advocates ; a Pleasure too great to be changed {{Sig. G1v}} for any Fame in Reversion. §254 And I can hardly

envy him those pompous Honours he receiv'd after Death, when I reflect on the Enjoyment of so many agreeable

Obligations, and easy Friendships which make the Satisfaction of Life. §255 This Distinction is the more to be

acknowledg'd, as it is shewn to one whose Pen has never gratify'd the Prejudices of particular Parties , or the

Vanities of particular Men. §256 Whatever the Success may prove, I shall never repent of an Undertaking in which

I have experienc'd the Candour and Friendship of so many Persons of Merit ; and in which I hope to pass some of

those Years of Youth that are generally lost in a Circle of Follies , after a manner neither wholly unuseful to others,

nor disagreeable to my self.

 

 

Editorial Conventions

 

Suggested editorial additions and emendations appear in square brackets at the start of the affected point. Suggested

editorial deletions are in triple square brackets. Text within double braces is editorial.

 

Old spelling is retained except for ligatured letters, which are normalized. Italics is retained, but not small capitals

and the text of catchwords, signatures, and running titles. Reference citations are by signatures and editorial

through-text paragraph- and sentence-numbers at the left margin.

 

Greek is transliterated according to the following scheme:

 

a : alpha

b : beta

g : gamma

d : delta

e : epsilon

z : zeta

{ee} : eta

th : theta

i : iota

k : kappa

l : lambda

m : mu

n : nu

x : ksi

o : omicron

p : pi

r : rho

s : sigma

t : tau

u : upsilon

ph : phi

ch : chi

ps : psi

{o} : omega

 

 

Indexes: [ by Poet | by First Line | by Date | by Keyword | Criticism on Poetry ]

Related Materials: [ Encoding Guidelines | Preface | UT English Library ]

 

 

...

 

462     He said, and pass'd with sad presaging heart

463   To seek his spouse, his soul's far dearer part;

464   At home he sought her, but he sought in vain:

465   She, with one maid of all her menial train,

466   Had thence retir'd; and, with her second joy,

467   The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy,

468   Pensive she stood on Ilion's tow'ry height,

469   Beheld the war, and sicken'd at the sight;

470   There her sad eyes in vain her lord explore,

471   Or weep the wounds her bleeding country bore.

 

472         But he, who found not whom his soul desir'd,

473   Whose virtue charm'd him as her beauty fir'd,

474   Stood in the gates, and ask'd what way she bent

475   Her parting steps; if to the fane she went,

476   Where late the mourning matrons made resort,

477   Or sought her sisters in the Trojan court.

478   "Not to the court" replied th' attendant train,

479   "Nor, mixed with matrons, to Minerva's fane;

480   To Ilion's steepy tow'r she bent her way,

481   To mark the fortunes of the doubtful day.

482   Troy fled, she heard, before the Grecian sword;

483   She heard, and trembled for her absent lord.

484   Distracted with surprise, she seem'd to fly,

485   Fear on her cheek and sorrow in her eye.

486   The nurse attended with her infant boy,

487   The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy."

 

488         Hector, this heard, return'd without delay;

489   Swift through the town he trod his former way

490   Through streets of palaces and walks of state,

491   And met the mourner at the Scæan gate.

492   With haste to meet him sprung the joyful fair,

493   His blameless wife, E{"e}tion's wealthy heir

494   (Cilician Thebè great E{"e}tion sway'd,

495   And Hippoplacus' wide-extended shade);

496   The nurse stood near, in whose embraces prest

497   His only hope hung smiling at her breast,

498   Whom each soft charm and early grace adorn,

499   Fair as the new-born star that gilds the morn.

500   To this lov'd infant Hector gave the name

501   Scamandrius, from Scamander's honour'd stream;

502   Astyanax the Trojans call'd the boy,

503   From his great father, the defence of Troy.

504   Silent the warrior smil'd, and pleas'd, resign'd

505   To tender passions all his mighty mind:

506   His beauteous princess cast a mournful look,

507   Hung on his hand, and then dejected spoke;

508   Her bosom labour'd with a boding sigh,

509   And the big tear stood trembling in her eye.

 

510         "Too daring prince! ah whither dost thou run?

511   Ah, too forgetful of thy wife and son!

512   And think'st thou not how wretched we shall be,

513   A widow I, a helpless orphan he!

514   For sure such courage length of life denies,

515   And thou must fall, thy virtue's sacrifice.

516   Greece in her single heroes strove in vain;

517   Now hosts oppose thee, and thou must be slain!

518   Oh, grant me, gods! e'er Hector meets his doom,

519   All I can ask of heav'n, an early tomb!

520   So shall my days in one sad tenor run,

521   And end with sorrows as they first begun.

522   No parent now remains, my griefs to share,

523   No father's aid, no mother's tender care.

524   The fierce Achilles wrapp'd our walls in fire,

525   Laid Thebè waste, and slew my warlike sire!

526   His fate compassion in the victor bred;

527   Stern as he was, he yet rever'd the dead,

528   His radiant arms preserv'd from hostile spoil,

529   And laid him decent on the fun'ral pile;

530   Then rais'd a mountain where his bones were burn'd:

531   The mountain nymphs the rural tomb adorn'd;

532   Jove's sylvan daughters bade their elms bestow

533   A barren shade, and in his honour grow.

 

534         "By the same arm my sev'n brave brothers fell;

535   In one sad day beheld the gates of hell:

536   While the fat herds and snowy flocks they fed,

537   Amid their fields the hapless heroes bled!

538   My mother liv'd to bear the victor's bands,

539   The queen of Hippoplacia's sylvan lands;

540   Redeem'd too late, she scarce beheld again

541   Her pleasing empire and her native plain,

542   When, ah! oppress'd by life-consuming woe,

543   She fell a victim to Diana's bow.

 

544         "Yet while my Hector still survives, I see

545   My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee:

546   Alas! my parents, brothers, kindred, all,

547   Once more will perish if my Hector fall.

548   Thy wife, thy infant, in thy danger share:

549   Oh, prove a husband's and a father's care!

550   That quarter most the skilful Greeks annoy,

551   Where yon wild fig-trees join the wall of Troy:

552   Thou from this tow'r defend th' important post

553   There Agamemnon points his dreadful host,

554   That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain,

555   And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train.

556   Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have giv'n,

557   Or led by hopes, or dictated from heav'n.

558   Let others in the field their arms employ,

559   But stay my Hector here, and guard his Troy."

 

560         The chief replied: "That post shall be my care,

561   Not that alone, but all the works of war.

562   How would the sons of Troy, in arms renown'd,

563   And Troy's proud dames, whose garments sweep the ground,

564   Attaint the lustre of my former name,

565   Should Hector basely quit the field of fame?

566   My early youth was bred to martial pains,

567   My soul impels me to th' embattled plains:

568   Let me be foremost to defend the throne,

569   And guard my father's glories, and my own.

570   Yet come it will, the day decreed by fates,

571   (How my heart trembles while my tongue relates!)

572   The day when thou, imperial Troy! must bend,

573   And see thy warriors fall, thy glories end.

574   And yet no dire presage so wounds my mind,

575   My mother's death, the ruin of my kind,

576   Not Priam's hoary hairs defil'd with gore,

577   Not all my brothers gasping on the shore,

578   As thine, Andromache! thy griefs I dread;

579   I see thee trembling, weeping, captive led.

580   In Argive looms our battles to design,

581   And woes, of which so large a part was thine!

582   To bear the victor's hard commands, or bring

583   The weight of waters from Hyperia's spring!

584   There, while you groan beneath the load of life,

585   They cry, 'Behold the mighty Hector's wife!'

586   Some haughty Greek, who lives thy tears to see,

587   Embitters all thy woes by naming me.

588   The thoughts of glory past and present shame,

589   A thousand griefs, shall waken at the name!

590   May I lie cold before that dreadful day,

591   Press'd with a load of monumental clay!

592   Thy Hector, wrapp'd in everlasting sleep,

593   Shall neither hear thee sigh, nor see thee weep."

 

594         Thus having spoke, th' illustrious chief of Troy

595   Stretch'd his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy.

596   The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast,

597   Scar'd at the dazzling helm and nodding crest.

598   With secret pleasure each fond parent smil'd,

599   And Hector hasted to relieve his child;

600   The glitt'ring terrors from his brows unbound,

601   And plac'd the beaming helmet on the ground.

602   Then kiss'd the child, and, lifting high in air,

603   Thus to the gods preferr'd a father's pray'r:

 

604         "O thou! whose glory fills th' ethereal throne,

605   And all ye deathless pow'rs! protect my son!

606   Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,

607   To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown,

608   Against his country's foes the war to wage,

609   And rise the Hector of the future age!

610   So when, triumphant from successful toils,

611   Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils,

612   Whole hosts may hail him with deserv'd acclaim,

613   And say, 'This chief transcends his father's fame':

614   While pleas'd, amidst the gen'ral shouts of Troy,

615   His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy."

 

616         He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms,

617   Restor'd the pleasing burthen to her arms;

618   Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid,

619   Hush'd to repose, and with a smile survey'd.

620   The troubled pleasure soon chastis'd by fear,

621   She mingled with the smile a tender tear.

622   The soften'd chief with kind compassion view'd,

623   And dried the falling drops, and thus pursu'd:

 

624         "Andromache! my soul's far better part,

625   Why with untimely sorrows heaves thy heart?

626   No hostile hand can antedate my doom,

627   Till fate condemns me to the silent tomb.

628   Fix'd is the term to all the race of earth,

629   And such the hard condition of our birth.

630   No force can then resist, no flight can save;

631   All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.

632   No more--but hasten to thy tasks at home,

633   There guide the spindle, and direct the loom;

634   Me glory summons to the martial scene,

635   The field of combat is the sphere for men.

636   Where heroes war, the foremost place I claim,

637   The first in danger as the first in fame."

 

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