The poet today, notwithstanding all the discoveries of science, and the accumulated learning of mankind, enjoys no advantage over Homer
Why, look here - Shakespeare walked backwards before that tailor from Tennessee, and scattered flowers for him to walk on, and Homer
stood behind his chair and waited on him at the banquet.
Hence it is evident that a city is a natural production, and that man is naturally a political animal, and that whosoever is naturally and not accidentally unfit for society, must be either inferior or superior to man: thus the man in Homer
, who is reviled for being "without society, without law, without family.
Plutarch and Shakspeare were in the yellow leaf, and Homer no more should be heard of.
Milton is too literary, and Homer too literal and historical.
And therefore the rich poets, as Homer, Chaucer, Shakspeare, and Raphael, have obviously no limits to their works except the limits of their lifetime, and resemble a mirror carried through the street, ready to render an image of every created thing.
Pope, but you must not call it Homer," said a friend** when he read it, and his judgment is still for the most part the judgment of to-day.
But his translations of Homer and the Rape of the Lock are those you will like best in the meantime.
As an introduction to Pope's Homer the following books may be read:--
Moreover, the noble but direct and simple spirit and language of Homer were as different as possible from the spirit and language of the London drawing-rooms for which Pope wrote; hence he not only expands, as every author of a verse-translation must do in filling out his lines, but inserts new ideas of his own and continually substitutes for Homer's expressions the periphrastic and, as he held, elegant ones of the pseudo-classic diction.
The publication of Pope's Homer marks an important stage in the development of authorship.
It was a mirror in a drawing-room, but it gave back a faithful image of society, powdered and rouged, to be sure, and intent on trifles, yet still as human in its own way as the heroes of Homer in theirs, though not broadly human.
The student may read Homer or AEschylus in the Greek without danger of dissipation or luxuriousness, for it implies that he in some measure emulate their heroes, and consecrate morning hours to their pages.
Homer has never yet been printed in English, nor AEschylus, nor Virgil even -- works as refined, as solidly done, and as beautiful almost as the morning itself; for later writers, say what we will of their genius, have rarely, if ever, equalled the elaborate beauty and finish and the lifelong and heroic literary labors of the ancients.
And so, you and Homer
and Simonides are agreed that justice is an art of theft; to be practised however `for the good of friends and for the harm of enemies,'--that was what you were saying?