Slike strani

constant intercourse with human society, that intelligence which now makes certain breeds so interesting. The wonderful picture of the old broken-down hound recognising his master after twenty years, and dying of joy on the dunghill, where he lay helpless with age and neglect this affecting trait could never have been drawn except by men who themselves knew and loved dogs, and appreciated their intelligence.

I can show even more cogent proof in a phrase not observed by the commentators. When Telemachus (BII) sets out, in full state, for the public assembly in Ithaca, where he is to appear for the first time, and declare his wrongs, the poet describes him as proceeding 'not alone, for two sharp-toothed dogs accompanied him.' It is quite true that to us a dog is a real companion, and we hardly feel ourselves alone if the trusty comrade of our sports is with us, but still even we should hardly say: I met such an one walking yesterday. He was not alone, for he had his dog with him.' So the wild beasts of Circe are compared (κ 216) to 'the dogs that fawn about a chief coming from his dinner [it appears they were not allowed into the house], for he never forgets to bring them morsels that delight them.' Notwithstanding, there is a passage which describes the dogs of the swineherd Eumæus in exactly the terms in which our sporting men describe the fierce dogs of the same coast and country which they meet when shooting. The Epirot shepherds will not call them off; they are very savage, and if strangers kill them all the country rises up in arms. Eumæus, when the dogs rush out at the ragged Ulysses, is obliged to run

out and pelt them with stones to drive them off, and tells his guest that had he not been there himself the stranger would have been roughly treated. This is the low side of the Homeric dogs. The highest side is the passage where they, by their instinct, recognise Athene as present, and cower in fear, while their masters are unconscious of her presence ( 162), again reminding us strongly of the story of Balaam's ass.


This sympathy for the lower animals reaches even farther. The monster Polyphemus, who had no dogs, and who neither feared god nor regarded man, shows no trace of friendliness, or of any humane feeling, except in his pathetic address to his ram, who had been detained last by Ulysses, instead of leading out the flock from the cave of the Cyclops as usual. blinded savage pours out his griefs to the animal, which he thinks affected by his master's misfortune, and longs that the ram had a voice to tell him the hidingplace of the miscreants who had deprived him of his sight. We shall meet again this sympathy, with dogs at least, in later Greek history.

What consideration those received who lived apart from the reigning caste, or made themselves obnoxious to it, appears painfully enough in the Homeric poems and in Hesiod. If we consider the punishment of his rebellious household by Ulysses, or the fate threatened to Irus by the suitors1 if he declines to fight

1 σ 83. They threaten to send him in a ship to king Echetus, the general mutilator of men (βροτῶν δηλήμονα πάντων), who will cut off his nose and ears and other extremities. This personage is twice again mentioned with the same epithet, and in similar connection. We have

with Ulysses, we see what treatment rebellion or disobedience met at their hands. The Greeks were always a passionate people, and wreaked fierce vengeance to satisfy their wrath. So Achilles keeps insulting the dead body of his foe, and even queens desire to eat the raw flesh of their enemies, nor did men abstain altogether from mutilation of the living.

But the utterance of Achilles in the nether world is still more remarkable on the position of the poor, who were unattached to the houses of the great. 'Talk not to me,' says the hero, of honours among the dead; I would rather be a hired servant on earth, and that to a poor man, than rule as a king among the shades.' In other words, I had rather choose the most wretched existence conceivable on earth than rule beneath1. Accordingly the hired servants (0ĥtes) of poor farmers are selected for this distinction. Is not this hint thoroughly borne out by the state of things we meet in Hesiod? If the poor-farmer class, though personally free, had such a hard life as he describes, how wretched must have been the hired servant,

no farther information as to his intention, or why this brutality was
λ 489,

βουλοίμην κ' ἐπάρουρος ἐὼν θητευέμεν ἄλλῳ
ἀνδρὶ παρ' ἀκλήρῳ, ᾧ μὴ βίοτος πολὺς εἴη,
ἢ πᾶσιν νεκύεσσι καταφθιμένοισιν ἀνάσσειν.

It is worth while to suggest as a parallel picture the yuvǹ xepVĥTIS åλŋ0ǹs of M 433, who, by toiling night and day, earns an ȧeikea μíolov, miserable wages, wherewith to feed her starving orphans. She is described just as we should describe the most oppressed sempstress, striving to rival with worn-out fingers the machine which she has no means to buy.

whom the poet recommends his hearers to turn out as soon as the press of farm work was over1. There must, then, have been an abundance of such servants, since they could be again procured at pleasure, and we can conceive how miserable must have been their pay and lodging on Hesiod's farm.

But the poet Hesiod himself had no enviable days. And of all his griefs, undoubtedly the foremost was a patent fact seldom alluded to by the polite Homeric bards the gross injustice of the chiefs in deciding lawsuits, and their readiness to devour bribes. The fable he adduces ("Epy. 184) implies plainly enough that they felt a supreme contempt for the lower classes and their feelings; they openly proclaimed the law of might, and ridiculed the lamentations of the ill-used and injured husbandman. The repeated reminder to the people of Ithaca that Ulysses had not thus treated. them, but had been considerate to them as a father, almost implies that he was exceptional in his justice. And indeed what could we expect from a society. which regarded the Pallas Athene of the Iliad and

1 I adopt Grote's rendering of the words θῆτα ἄοικον ποιεῖσθαι in preference to that of Göttling and others.

2 There is only one definite allusion, that in II 384, where the onset of Hector is compared to the dreadful torrents sent in late autumn by Zeus to punish the men who by sheer might decide crookedly in the agora and banish justice, not reverencing the gods. The very phrases used are so thoroughly Hesiodic as to suggest to sceptics the rejection of the passage from the Iliad. I can see no reason for doing so, especially as the allusion is perfectly general, and could not be taken by any noble hearer as a personal reflection. But as heavy autumn rains were an ordinary phenomenon, so I believe the crime which they punished to have been ordinary also.

Odyssey as its ideal of intellect and virtue? But in Homer we see only the good side (if we except the Ithacan suitors, who are described as quite exceptional); in Hesiod we are shown only the bad side. The wretched farmer looked on the whole class of aristocrats as unjust and violent men, that cared not at all about his rights and his interests.

Perhaps if we strike an average or balance, we shall obtain a fair view of the real state of things in these old days. Possibly the aristocrats who managed the states after the abolition of monarchy in Boeotia were worse than the single kings; for we know now-adays that boards and parliaments have neither conscience nor human feeling, so that they commit injustices almost impossible to individuals, and moreover they are deaf to the appeal that touches a single heart. But it is surely a certain proof of the antiquity of Hesiod's poems, and perhaps the most hopeless feature in his difficulties, that there seems no redress possible for the injustice of the nobles, except the interference of the gods whose duty it is to punish wrong among men'. The poet insists that the gods do see

1 So again in Hom (A 142 and # 384 sq.) and Hes. "Epy. 260, the people have to suffer en masse for the kings' crimes; this is recognised far more bluntly by the kings in recovering gifts and extravagances from their people (cf. Ameis on § 81). The principle of the people paying for the waste of kings was exemplified even in English history not very long ago; and as to people suffering for their rulers, it not only appears in later Greek authors, such as Pindar, Pyth. xii. 12, but (of course) in Oriental nations such as the Jews, where plagues are openly sent on David's people because he chose to number them (2 Sam. 24). This is perhaps the most explicit example to be found in early history.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »