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the power and wealth already centred at Argos, Mycenæ, Crete, Orchomenus, and other such favourable positions. The great Cyclopean ruins are found on the very sites indicated in Homer, as the seats of the greatest monarchs. Accordingly, I conceive Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor, and other of the richer chiefs, but especially the Atreidæ, to have rather inherited a power and wealth established originally by the enlight ened despotism of Semitic merchant princes, and not gradually acquired by the extension of a local patriarchal sway. The legends are with me, and so is Aristotle, who cannot conceive monarchies arising in Greece gradually, but rather in consequence of some special circumstance, such as some great public benefit conferred by a prominent individual. The splendour of the palaces of Menelaus and of Alcinous, who had their walls covered with a profusion of bright metal, seems to point to a kind of decoration essentially Eastern and not Hellenic. Even in late times, the only old hereditary monarchy in Greece, that of Sparta, retained, in the public mourning for the kings, features so strikingly foreign and Asiatic, that they called for special notice from Herodotus'. If therefore Agamemnon inherited his splendour from such predecessors, it will follow that the earliest form of the monarchy was not

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1 Vi. 58. The custom of the Lacedæmonians upon the death of their kings is the same as that of the barbarians in Asia, for most of the barbarians now practise the same custom when their kings die.' He describes these customs in detail. The public lament over the deceased king, affirming that the last king is always the best,' is very like the 'Irish cry' still practised in the mountainous regions of Kerry and Connemara.

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patriarchal but despotic, and that the Homeric King of men succeeded to a power with great pretensions, but practically limited in all directions by the rise of petty chieftains, more or less independent.

The general tone of the Iliad and Odyssey describes, then, not a nascent, but a decaying order of things; subordinate chiefs rebelling against their suzerains, nobles violating the rights of their absent chiefs. The fierce spirit of independence in the Greek stood already opposed to the idea of a monarchy, hallowed by precedent and tradition; and it was even then plain to thinking men (like Hesiod) that this profound antagonism could only be solved by such a change in the order of things as would give the majority an interest in maintaining the government. This majority, at first, only included the aristocracy, and so, when the Dorian invasion had dislocated Greece, aristocratical types of government resulted. But with the development of commerce, and with the depression of the nobles by the tyrants who rose up among them, the lower classes awoke to a sense of their rights, and so, upon a second dislocation of Greece (the Persian wars) democracies resulted as an equally natural development.

These later stages are beyond my present scope. I wish merely to indicate how the Homeric poems represent to me the close of an epoch-almost a state of decay preceding a newer order of things-and that I, therefore, estimate the society and the morals of the Iliad and Odyssey quite differently from those writers, who have compared them with primitive conditions in other nations. Of course, primitive

features remained, as they do in every nation; but they were combined with vices which betray the decadence of culture, and with virtues rather springing from mature reflection and long experience than from the spontaneous impulse of a generous instinct.

Mr. Grote, Mr. Gladstone, and others, have made the Homeric age more familiar than any other phase of Greek life to English readers. They have accepted the descriptions of the rhapsodists as a literal account of a real contemporaneous society; they have moreover deduced, with exceeding subtlety, all the inferences which can be extracted from the poems in favour of Homeric honour and purity. Every casual utterance is weighted with the deepest possible meaning; every ordinary piece of good nature attributed to profound and self-denying benevolence. We are told that morals in historic Greece had decayed; that a social state of real refinement and purity had passed away, to make way for cold calculation and selfish aggrandisement. How far this picture is real we shall see in the sequel. But the labours of these ingenious authors have relieved me of the task of minutely describing all the details of Homeric life. The great masterpieces themselves are accessible to all in the translations which have of late years poured from the press. I shall, therefore, confine myself to the features in which the Homeric Greek was the parent of the historical Greek, noticing incidentally such contrasts as must naturally suggest themselves in the inquiry.

The medieval knights, with whom it is fashionable to compare the princes of the Iliad and Odyssey, were

wont to sum up the moral perfection which they esteemed under one complex term-a term for which there is no equivalent in Greek-the term HONOUR. It may be easily and sufficiently analysed into four component ideas, those of courage, truth, compassion, and loyalty. No man could approach the ideal of chivalry, or rank himself among gentlemen and men of honour, who was not ready to contend, when occasion arose, against any odds, and thus to encounter death rather than yield one inch from his post. He must feel himself absolutely free from the stain of a single lie, or even of an equivocation. He must be ever ready to help the weak and the distressed, whether they be so by nature, as in the case of women and children, or by circumstances, as in the case of men overpowered by numbers. He must with his heart, and not with mere eyeservice, obey God and the king, or even such other authority as he voluntarily pledged himself to obey. A knight who violated any of these conditions, even if he escaped detection at the hands of his fellows, felt himself degraded, and untrue to the oath taken before God, and the obligation which he had bound himself to fulfil. This, I conceive, was the ideal of knighthood.

Let us now turn to the Homeric poems to obtain information on these four points, remembering that, as the real knight may have fallen short of the ideal we have just sketched, so doubtless the real Homeric Greeks were considerably worse than the ideal characters depicted by the rhapsodists.

I believe I shall run counter to an old-established


belief when I say that the courage of the Homeric chiefs-in this types of their historical descendantswas of a second-rate order. It was like the courage the French, dependent upon excitement, and vanishing quickly before depression and delay. No doubt the Greeks were a warlike nation, like the French, fond of glory, and revelling in excitement; but they did not possess that stubborn valour which was the duty of the medieval knight, and which is the physical characteristic of the English and German soldier. With the exception of Achilles and of Diomede, all the chiefs in the Iliad are subject to panics, and fly before the enemy. Of course, the flattering bard ascribes these disgraceful scenes to the special interference of the gods, but as he equally attributes special feats of valour to a like interference, we may discount the marvellous element, and regard these men, as we do a French army, to be capable of splendid acts of daring and of courage, but liable to sudden relapse into dismay and craven flight 1. Even Achilles flies in fear from the pursuit of the river Scamander, but this is rather the dread of an ignoble death, as he himself says, than proper cowardice. Ajax, who approaches nearest of the ordinary men in the poem to our notions of a stubborn soldier-even he is surprised by panic, and makes for the ships.

There are farther indications of the same thing in

1 The courtly Pindar maintains the Homeric doctrine (Nem. ix. 27) when he says: ἐν γὰρ δαιμονίοισι φόβοις φεύγοντι καὶ παῖδες θεῶν: “ in panics even sons of the gods run away'-a sentiment which no troubadour would have ventured to utter.

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