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There is a great beauty in the versification in the original:
Συν δε δυω μαρψας, ωστε σκύλακας ποτι γαιη

Κοπ' εκ δ' εγκεφαλο χαμαδις ρε:, δευε δε γαιαν.

Dionysius Halicarn. takes notice of it, in his Dissertation upon placing words: when the companions of Ulysses, says that author, are dashed against the rock, to express the horror of the action, Homer dwells upon the most inharmonious harsh letters and syllables: he no where uses any softness, or any run of verses to please the ear. Scaliger injudiciously condemns this description. Homer,' says he, 'makes use of the most offensive and loathsome expressions, more fit for a butcher's shambles than the majesty of heroic poetry.' Macrobius, lib. v. cap. 13. of his Saturnalia, commends these lines of Homer, and even prefers them before the same description in Virgil; his words are, Narrationem facti nudam Maro posuit, Homerus wabo, miscuit, et dolore narrandi invidiam crudelitatis æquavit.' And indeed he must be a strange critic that expects soft verses upon a horrible occasion; whereas the verses ought, if possible, to represent the thought they are intended to convey; and every person's ear will inform him that Homer has not in this passage executed this rule unsuccessfully.

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V. 394. The lots were cast ..... ..] Ulysses bids his friends to cast lots; this is done to shew that he would not voluntarily expose them to so imminent danger. If he had made the choice himself, they whom he had chosen might have thought he had given them up to destruction, and they whom he had rejected might have judged it a stain upon them as a want of merit, and so have complained of injustice; but by this method he avoids these inconveniencies.

V. 399. Or so some god design'd.] Ulysses ascribes it to the influence of the gods that Polypheme drives the whole flock into his den, and does not separate the females from the males, as he had before done; for by this accident Ulysses makes his escape, as appears from the following part of the story. Homer here uses

the word couevos, to shew the suspicion which Polypherne might entertain that Ulysses had other companions abroad who might plunder his flocks; and this gives another reason why he drove them all into his cave, namely, for the greater security.


V. 432. Noman is my name.] I will not trouble the reader with a long account of Ts to be found in Eustathius, who seems delighted with this piece of pleasantry; nor with what Dacier observes, who declares she approves of it extremely, and calls it a very happy imagination. If it were modesty in me to dissent from Homer, and two commentators, I would own my opinion of it, and acknowledge the whole to be nothing but a collusion of words, and fitter to have place in a farce or comedy, than in epic poetry. Lucian has thus used it, and applied it to raise laughter in one of his facetious dialogues. The whole wit or jest lies in the ambiguity of is, which Ulysses imposes upon Polypheme as his own name, which in reality signifies, No man.' I doubt not but Homer was well pleased with it, for afterwards he plays upon the word, and calls Ulysses &τidavos TIC. But the faults of Homer have a kind of veneration, perhaps like old age, from their antiquity.


V. 458. Who ply the whimble.] This and the following comparison are drawn from low life, but ennobled with a dignity of expression. Instead of ɛλoleç, Aristarchus reads exole, as Eustathius informs us. The similitudes are natural and lively; we are made spectators of what they represent. Sophocles has imitated this, in the tragedy where Oedipus tears out his own eyes; and Euripides has transferred this whole adventure into his Cyclops with very little alteration, and in particular the former comparison. But to instance all that Euripides has imitated, would be to transcribe a great part of that tragedy. In short, this episode in general is very noble; but if the interlude about Ovriç be at all allowable in so grave and majestic a poem, it is only allowable because it is here related before a light and injudicious assembly; I mean the Phæacians, to whom any thing more great or serious would have been less pleasing; so that the poet writes to his audience. I wonder this has never been offered in defence of this low entertainment.

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V. 495....... The stone removing from the gate.] This conduct of Polypheme may seem very absurd, and it looks to be improbable that he should not call the other giants to assist him, in the detection of the persons who had taken his sight from him; especially when it was now day-light, and they at hand. Eustathius was aware of the objection, and imputes it to his folly and dullness. Tully, 5 Tuscul. gives the same character of Polypheme; and because it vindicates Homer for introducing a speech of Polypheme to his ram, I will beg leave to transcribe it. Tiresiam, quem sapientem fingunt poetæ, nunquam inducunt deplorantem Cæcitatem suam; at verò folyphemum Homerus, cum immanem ferumque finxisset, cum ariete etiam colloquentem facit, ejusque laudare fortunas, quod quà vellet, ingredi posset, et quæ vellet attingere: recte hic equidem; nihilo enim erat ipse Cyclops quam aries ille prudentior.' This is a full defence of Homer: but Tully has mistaken the words of Polypheme to the ram, for there is no resemblance to ejus laudare fortunas, quod quà vellet ingredi posset,' &c. I suppose Tully quoted by memory.

V. 511. One ram remain'd, the leader of the flock.] This passage has been misunderstood, to imply that Ulysses took more care of himself than of his companions, in choosing the largest ram for his own convenience; an imputation unworthy of the character of an hero. But there is no ground for it; he takes more care of his friends than of his own person, for he allots them three sheep, and lets them escape before him. Besides, this conduct was necessary; for all his friends were bound, and by choosing this ram, he keeps himself at liberty to unbind the rest after their escape. Neither was there any other method practicable; for he, being the last, there was no person to bind him. EUSTA


The care Ulysses takes of his companions agrees with the character of Horace:

'Dum sibi, dum sociis reditum parat, aspera multa

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But it may seem improbable that a ram should be able to carry so

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great a burden as Ulysses; the generation of sheep, as well as men, may appear to have decreased since the days of Ulysses. Homer himself seems to have guarded against this objection; he describes these sheep as ευτρεφέες, καλοί, μεγαλοι; the ram is spoken of as manga Bilas (an expression applied to Ajax, as Eusta thius observes, in the Iliad). History informs us of sheep of a very large size in other countries, and a poet is at liberty to choose the largest, if by that method he gives his story a greater appearance of probability.

V. 569. It almost brush'd the helm, &c.] The ancients, remarks Eustathius, placed an obelisk and asterism before this verse; the former, to note that they thought it misplaced; the latter, to shew that they looked upon it as a beauty. Apparently it is not agreeable to the description; for how is it possible that this huge rock falling before the vessel should endanger the rudder, which is in the stern? Can a ship sail with the stern foremost? Some ancient critics, to take away the contradiction, have asserted that Ulysses turned his ship to speak to Polypheme; but this is absurd, for why could not Ulysses speak from the stern as well as from the prow? it therefore seems that the verse ought to be entirely omitted, as undoubtedly it may without any chasm in the author. We find it inserted a little lower, and there it corresponds with the description, and stands with propriety.

But if we suppose that the ship of Ulysses lay at such a distance from the cave of Polypheme, as to make it necessary to bring it nearer, to be heard distinctly; then indeed we may solve the difficulty, and let the verse stand: for if we suppose Ulysses approaching towards Polypheme, then the rock may be said to be thrown before the vessel, that is, beyond it, and endanger the rudder, and this bears some appearance of probability.

V. 595. This, Telemus Eurymedes foretold.] This incident sufficiently shews the use of that dissimulation which enters into the character of Ulysses: if he had discovered his name, the Cyclops had destroyed him as his most dangerous enemy. Plutarch, in his discourse upon garrulity, commends the fidelity of the companions of Ulysses, who, when they were dragged by this giant and dashed against the rock, confessed not a word concern

ing their lord, and scorned to purchase their lives at the expence of their honesty. Ulysses himself, adds he, was the most eloquent and silent of men; he knew that a word spoken never wrought so much good, as a word concealed: men teach us to speak, but the gods teach us silence; for silence is the first thing that is taught us at our initiation into sacred mysteries; and we find these companions had profited under so great a master in silence as Ulysses.

.] This is spoken in

V. 603. Not this weak pigmy-wretch compliance with the character of a giant; the Phæacians wondered at the manly stature of Ulysse;; Polypheme speaks of him as a dwarf; his rage undoubtedly made him treat him with so much contempt. Nothing in nature can be better imagined than this story of the Cyclops, if we consider the assembly before which it was spoken; I mean the Phæacians, who had been driven from their habitation by the Cyclopeans, as appears from the sixth of the Odyssey, and compelled to make a new settlement in their present country: Ulysses gratifies them by shewing what revenge he took upon one of their ancient enemies, and they could not decently refuse assistance to a person who had punished those who had insulted their forefathers.

V. 617. The prayer of the Cyclops.] This is a masterpiece of art in Ulysses; he shews Neptune to be his enemy, which might deter the Phæacians from assisting in his transportation, yet brings this very circumstance as an argument to induce them to it. " 'O Neptune,' says the Cyclops, destroy Ulysses, or if he be fated to return, may it be in a vessel not of his own!' Here he plainly tells the Phæacians that the prayer of the Cyclops was almost accomplished, for his own ships were destroyed by Neptune, and now he was ready to sail in a foreign vessel; by which the whole prayer would be completed. By this he persuades them, that they were the people ordained by the fates to land him in his own country.

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