RECENT EDITIONS OF HOMER.*
WE gladly turn from translations to editions of Homer. Trans- lations are but indifferently received by the unlearned public, for whom they are ostensibly intended ; scholars look into them with a languid curiosity ; the only readers, we suspect, who regard them with genuine interest, are the multitude of persons who have made or are meditating translations of their own. A good edition, on the contrary, will be thankfully received and fully appreciated by a class, restricted indeed, but only by the limits of classical cultivation, a cultivation which, if not very profound, is certainly very widely extended in this country. It would be strange, if the same could not have been said till very recently of almost every classical author, that so little should have been done for Homer by English scholars ; the more strange, considering the even excessive use that is made of the Iliad as a class-book. The two volumes which we are about to notice will do something to remedy this defect.
Mr. Paley, though he has not produced anything like a com- plete edition, ha* done part of his work excellently well. It is the first, and doubtless the most important, duty of a commentator to bring out the meaning of his author's text. In this respect Mr. Paley's notes leave little or nothing to be desired. Few editors, it is probable, wilfully evade difficulties, but to deal with them successfully requires a combination of gifts which, to judge from results, seldom exists. The first necessity is obviously the faculty of perceiving them, a faculty which can hardly be acquired without practical experience, and which consequently is often • The Iliad of Honer, with English Notes. By F. A. Pal.-y, M.A., Editor of Eesiod,..iffiehylal, do. V.J. I,, Books 1.-X11. Loadou Whinske, and Co., Ave Maria Lase ; Ceorge Bell, Met Street. 1855.
The Odyssey -of Homer. Edited, with margia,l references, various rooting', notes, and sppeudiees, by lleury Hapese, Fellow of St. Jobse4 C0:14,0, Ositordt Vol 1, Books 1.-1'L LoLdou: David Nutt. sod Co. 1856.
wanting in men of the profoundest learning. Mr. Paley must have had abundant opportunities of discovering what, in point of fact, are the passages and expressions which seem obscure to the young student. His scholarship seems always large and accurate enough to give him a complete insight into them ; where there are conflicting interpretation he generally selects with good sense ; and he has the gift of setting forth his views tersely and lucidly. The notes occupy but a very moderate amount of space. They are not burdened with the trite information which can be wanted only by the beginners whom the perverse conservatism of school- masters still condemns to stumble over the Iliad ; but they omit little, as far as our observation has gone, which a sixth-form boy of average attainments should need to be told. We are not disposed to object to their being enlivened by occasional illustrations from recent translations, but, if space was an object, and there was not room for both, we would gladly have exchanged these for more frequent renderings by Mr. Paley himself into the elegant prose with which even advancel students find it so difficult to represent poetical idiom. Professor Coniugton's Virgil is in this respect a model worthy of imitation.
The labour of farming a text seems to have been assigned by common consent to the Germans. The toil involved in the under- taking is so enormous, that the scholars of no other nation are intellectually or even physically robust enough to encounter it. Mr. Paley has adopted, with some few alterations, Bekker's later recension. He would have done well, we think, to follow the ex- ample of that editor in printing the digamma. There cannot surely be a better way of impressing upon students the fact of its substantive existence, a fact which, even when they are toler- ably familiar with Homer, they are very apt to forget. Let any one who doubts this try the experiment of seeing how many mis- takes of this kind even a fair scholar will make in a copy of epic hexameters. We are glad to see the lines which Bekker relegated to the bottom of the page on suspicion of their being spurious restored to the text, the suspicion being expressed by means of brackets. It must not, however, be supposed that Mr. Paley uses less freedom than the German editor in obelizing sup- posed interpolations. On the contrary, he goes beyond him in the boldness and, we must add, the bad taste of his judgments. This is a matter on which the guidance of the German scholars is anything but trustworthy. When they condemn a passage on philological grounds, their opinion is indeed entitled to great respect. Even then we are bound to proceed with caution. Critics who take upon themselves to pro- nounce decidedly whether such or such an usage is or is not Homeric, might learn something from a controversy which was carried on in the pages of this journal about the authorship of a recent novel. Who is to speak with authority about the language used by an Asiatic Greek some twenty-six centuries ago, when we are left in doubt as to whether some of the dialectical peculiari- ties of Marian Roolce are, or are not, genuine New-Englandisms. But when the Germans pronounce that this or that passage is frigid, or unnecessary, or weak, or modern in sentiment, we are not inclined to attach much weight to their judgments. The taste which would make them authoritative is the very quality in which they are generally most deficient. Two instances from the first fifty lines of the first book will illustrate what Mr. Paley is capable of in this way. Of the two lines,—
'EeXa7Erxy ap' 1;,,thco xwojaivoso, 'Aura; xiu4divrog. i 5' ;Vie nom' some:). r.
—he rejects the second, one of the most famous in Homer, and containing one of the poet's finest images. He tells us that lora; mr4eivro; is "rather weak." To us, on the contrary, it seems perfectly in harmony with Homeric simplicity thus to distinguish the motion of the god as the cause of the rattling of his arms. In this case Mr. Paley has, it is true, the opinions of older authorities to fortify him, but it is intolerable to find him, entirely, it would seem, on his own judgment, declaring that our old favourite, gij 5' lixian, Tap& O2a •;roXu9Xologoto OaX4ertx, with the line preceding, is "possibly an addition." "All that is neces- sary is said in v. 35." What a test to apply to anything but a mathematical demonstration ! Fancy a poem or an oration cut down to what a critic may be pleased to consider necessary !
Following the course of the poem, we find that there is hardly one of the more famous passages of which Mr. Paley does not express a more or less decided suspicion. Of the scene on the walls we are told, " that Priam should ask the names of the Grecian heroes only in the tenth year of the war is, as the ancient critics perceived, an anomaly." (p. 106.) "The episode about Tlepolemus and Sarpedon was probably introduced from a different and later poem." (p. 190.) "In the famous episode of the meeting of Hector and Paris there are many peculiarities, not to call them indications of a later style." (p. 226.) All this, how- ever, is only consistent with the views set forth at length in the introduction. In this Mr. Paley gives in his unreserved adherence to the Wolfian hypothesis. Homer is the name not of a single star, but of a nebula. The Iliad is a collection of ballads of various antiquity and authorship ; its present form is but little older than the time of Plato. Mr. Paley has written upon this theme an able essay which is well worth reading, but which will not, we imagine, convince any one. It is unnecessary, even if it were possible within our present limits, to discuss a question which we cannot but regard as practically settled by the general consent of the learned, and by an unanimity on the part of the- unlearned which is not without its weight. It is significant that there is no attempt to deal with what is, after all, the great argument in favour of the " Unity." Could there have been a number of men capable of producing poems each of which must be ranked among the greatest productions of human genius ?
Mr. Hayman's volume is the first instalment of a much more elaborate work. It displays a most praiseworthy industry, great familiarity in the writer with his subject, and a genuine and even, enthusiastic love of Homer. Something, perhaps, of the very copious discussions with which the text is illustrated might have been omitted with advantage. We observe little in the account of the ancient editors and commentators that cannot be found in the
ordinary books of reference, and, as Mr. Hayman very wisely has not attempted an original recension of the text, he need not have given us an account of the MSS. Some of the matter contained in the appendices might well be spared. The " Essay on Menelaus," for instance, would be more in place in an edition of the Iliad, from which the materials for it have been almost wholly drawn.
We should be sorry to speak ungraciously of labours so zealous, and for the most part so useful, but we cannot help wishing that Mr. Hayman had compressed his three purposed volumes into two- The annotations are the weakest part of the book. Occupying about the same space as Mr. Paley's, they are decidedly in- ferior in value. They have little variety of illustration, an they do not exhibit a complete mastery over the language.
They are loaded, on the other hand, with much trite infor- mation which the student might well be left to seek, if he needs it, in lexicons and grammars. Here are examples from a page taken at random (p. 20):—" ocipp,u,z0v, includes wholesome as well as baneful drugs—here the latter are meant," an unnecessary remark surely, seeing that the epithet dApo9ovoy follows the word ;
" cax:ipopoe is also found active, 'swiftly slaying ;' " so the lexicons tell us, nor is there anything remarkable in the fact ; " frEomiaevos- takes a genitive (see Donaldson's Grammar)--it also takes an accusative ;" and so on, for ten or twelve lines. Surely it is not a commentator's business to give these syntax rules, which every schoolboy must be supposed to have learnt ; yet we have the same thing repeated on the same page, " ezzoLtrps-
takes a construction similar to crevOcivotear." One most useful form of comment, however, Mr. Hayman gives us, in a
very complete and carefully prepared set of marginal refer- ences. The ethical and aesthetic remarks have more value than the purely critical. Thus it is ingeniously remarked of Nausicaa (p. 217), "Perhaps the self-possessed firmness which, under all its feminine grace, lies at the core of her character, has a subtle relation to her being reared so largely in male society among five brothers ; just as, conversely, the weakness of Dolon has been
connected with the fact &wrap o thoihoe ihEra, zaurrisrper." Mr. Hayman is in his element when he discusses in a series of readable essays the principal characters of the Odyssey. His style is occasionally somewhat inflated and turgid, but he always writes with ability, and he is often original, even to the verge of paradox. The essay on " Odysseus" is perhaps the ablest, that
on "Pallas Athene " is certainly the most eccentric. Mr. Ruskin lately discovered that this personage was the goddess of the air, and now Mr. Hayman thinks that she is rather like Mephistopheles in Faust. Here is the summary of his views about her :—
" We note, he says, her indignation at wrong and her championship of the right, but she has little hearty sense of sympathy with right as such. Her character is without tenderness or tie of any sort ; it never owns obligation, it never feels pain or privation ; it is pitiless, with no gross appetites—even that of sacrifice, conventionally necessary to a god, is minimized in it—its activity is busy and restless, its partizanship unscrupulous, its policy astute, and dissimulation profound. It is keenly satirical, crafty, bantering, whispering base motives of the good, nor afraid to speak evil of dignities ; ' beating down the strong, mocking the weak, and exulting in her own easy superiority over them ; heart- less as regards deep and tender affection, yet staunch to a comrade ; touched by a sense of liking for its like, of admiration for its own faculties reflected, of truth to its party, ready to prompt and back its friend through every hazard,—the divinity of human society, in short a
closer impersonation of 'the world' than any Christian (not to mention heathen) poet has ever produced" (p. lxxiii.).
This is rather overwhelming, but it would not be difficult to argue many of these points in a contrary sense. Let us take the first, which is repeated further on (p. lxxv.). " She is marked as strongly by the absence of high-minded moral sense." To our minds there is a hearty condemnation of wrong, not easily matched elsewhere in Homer, in her exclamation about /Egisthus
XiM xs7v65 7E ?onaz, xsircu ‘11; itgraorre xai axxoc, errs ro,E6.7,-6,. 7E Kyr!
In the same spirit she expresses, in the character of Mentes, her indignation at the profligate waste of the suitors in the palace of Ithaca :—
NEAGE66/26CCITO ZEE 'Saw, Aitixsa trOXX' opocov, 6s ric anumit. ye ittradoi.
She displays, again, something of tenderness when she sends sleep to Penelope weeping for her lost husband ; and she seems to appreciate sacrifice, for the diligent performance of this duty is the sole merit she alleges to Zeus on behalf of Odysseus (A., 60-2). Mr. Hayman, however, it must be allowed, defends his thesis with ingenuity, and certainly, whatever may be the merit of any one particular view, there can be no doubt about the great interest and value of this sort of criticism. He is a firm believer in the Unity of the Homeric poems, and will not even tolerate the heresy of the xcdpiCovres., the critics who attribute the Odyssey to a distinct authorship. The reader may profitably compare the preface in which he sets forth these views with Mr. Paley's essay. Mr. Hayman's is, on the whole, a meritorious book, and it has the advantage of very elegant typography and general appearance.