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 © COPYRIGHT 2013 International Education Institute, ATTN: Ken Harvey, 2027 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick WA 99336, USA


By Andrew Lang


In _Homer and the Epic_, ten or twelve years ago, I examined the
literary objections to Homeric unity. These objections are chiefly based
on alleged discrepancies in the narrative, of which no one poet, it
is supposed, could have been guilty. The critics repose, I venture
to think, mainly on a fallacy. We may style it the fallacy of "the
analytical reader." The poet is expected to satisfy a minutely critical
reader, a personage whom he could not foresee, and whom he did not
address. Nor are "contradictory instances" examined--that is, as Blass
has recently reminded his countrymen, Homer is put to a test which
Goethe could not endure. No long fictitious narrative can satisfy "the
analytical reader."

The fallacy is that of disregarding the Homeric poet's audience. He
did not sing for Aristotle or for Aristarchus, or for modern minute
and reflective inquirers, but for warriors and ladies. He certainly
satisfied them; but if he does not satisfy microscopic professors, he is
described as a syndicate of many minstrels, living in many ages.

In the present volume little is said in defence of the poet's
consistency. Several chapters on that point have been excised. The way
of living which Homer describes is examined, and an effort is made to
prove that he depicts the life of a single brief age of culture. The
investigation is compelled to a tedious minuteness, because the points
of attack--the alleged discrepancies in descriptions of the various
details of existence--are so minute as to be all but invisible.

The unity of the Epics is not so important a topic as the methods of
criticism. They ought to be sober, logical, and self-consistent. When
these qualities are absent, Homeric criticism may be described, in the
recent words of Blass, as "a swamp haunted by wandering fires, will o'
the wisps."

In our country many of the most eminent scholars are no believers in
separatist criticism. Justly admiring the industry and erudition of the
separatists, they are unmoved by their arguments, to which they do
not reply, being convinced in their own minds. But the number and
perseverance of the separatists make on "the general reader" the
impression that Homeric unity is chose _jugée_, that _scientia locuta
est_, and has condemned Homer. This is far from being the case: the
question is still open; "science" herself is subject to criticism; and
new materials, accruing yearly, forbid a tame acquiescence in hasty

May I say a word to the lovers of poetry who, in reading Homer, feel no
more doubt than in reading Milton that, on the whole, they are studying
a work of one age, by one author? Do not let them be driven from their
natural impression by the statement that Science has decided against
them. The certainties of the exact sciences are one thing: the opinions
of Homeric commentators are other and very different things. Among all
the branches of knowledge which the Homeric critic should have at his
command, only philology, archaeology, and anthropology can be called
"sciences"; and they are not exact sciences: they are but skirmishing
advances towards the true solution of problems prehistoric and

Our knowledge shifts from day to day; on every hand, in regard to almost
every topic discussed, we find conflict of opinions. There is no certain
scientific decision, but there is the possibility of working in the
scientific spirit, with breadth of comparison; consistency of logic;
economy of conjecture; abstinence from the piling of hypothesis on

Nothing can be more hurtful to science than the dogmatic assumption that
the hypothesis most in fashion is scientific.

Twenty years ago, the philological theory of the Solar Myth was preached
as "scientific" in the books, primers, and lectures of popular science.
To-day its place knows it no more. The separatist theories of the
Homeric poems are not more secure than the Solar Myth, "like a wave
shall they pass and be passed."

When writing on "The Homeric House" (Chapter X.) I was unacquainted with
Mr. Percy Gardner's essay, "The Palaces of Homer" (_Journal of Hellenic
Studies_, vol. iii. pp. 264-282). Mr. Gardner says that Dasent's plan
of the Scandinavian Hall "offers in most respects not likeness, but a
striking contrast to the early Greek hall." Mr. Monro, who was not aware
of the parallel which I had drawn between the Homeric and Icelandic
houses, accepted it on evidence more recent than that of Sir George
Dasent. Cf. his _Odyssey_, vol. ii. pp. 490-494.

Mr. R. W. Raper, of Trinity College, Oxford, has read the proof sheets
of this work with his habitual kindness, but is in no way responsible
for the arguments. Mr. Walter Leaf has also obliged me by mentioning
some points as to which I had not completely understood his position,
and I have tried as far as possible to represent his ideas correctly. I
have also received assistance from the wide and minute Homeric lore of
Mr. A. Shewan, of St. Andrews, and have been allowed to consult other
scholars on various points.

The first portion of the chapter on "Bronze and Iron" appeared in the
Revue _Archéologique_ for April 1905, and the editor, Monsieur Salomon
Reinach, obliged me with a note on the bad iron swords of the Celts as
described by Polybius.

The design of men in three shields of different shapes, from a Dipylon
vase, is reproduced, with permission, from the British Museum _Guide
to the Antiquities of the Iron Age_; and the shielded chessmen from
Catalogue of Scottish Society of Antiquaries. Thanks for the two ships
with men under shield are offered to the Rev. Mr. Browne, S.J., author
of _Handbook of Homeric Studies_ (Longmans). For the Mycenaean gold
corslet I thank Mr. John Murray (Schliemann's Mycenae and Tiryns), and
for all the other Mycenaean illustrations Messrs. Macmillan and Mr.
Leaf, publishers and author of Mr. Leaf's edition of the _Iliad_.






























The aim of this book is to prove that the Homeric Epics, as wholes, and
apart from passages gravely suspected in antiquity, present a perfectly
harmonious picture of the entire life and civilisation of one single
age. The faint variations in the design are not greater than such as
mark every moment of culture, for in all there is some movement; in all,
cases are modified by circumstances. If our contention be true, it will
follow that the poems themselves, as wholes, are the product of a single
age, not a mosaic of the work of several changeful centuries.

This must be the case--if the life drawn is harmonious, the picture
must be the work of a single epoch--for it is not in the nature of early
uncritical times that later poets should adhere, or even try to adhere,
to the minute details of law, custom, opinion, dress, weapons, houses,
and so on, as presented in earlier lays or sagas on the same set
of subjects. Even less are poets in uncritical times inclined to
"archaise," either by attempting to draw fancy pictures of the manners
of the past, or by making researches in graves, or among old votive
offerings in temples, for the purpose of "preserving local colour." The
idea of such archaising is peculiar to modern times. To take an instance
much to the point, Virgil was a learned poet, famous for his antiquarian
erudition, and professedly imitating and borrowing from Homer. Now, had
Virgil worked as a man of to-day would work on a poem of Trojan times,
he would have represented his heroes as using weapons of bronze.
[Footnote: Looking back at my own poem, _Helen of Troy_ (1883), I find
that when the metal of a weapon is mentioned the metal is bronze.] No
such idea of archaising occurred to the learned Virgil. It is "the iron"
that pierces the head of Remulus (_Aeneid_, IX. 633); it is "the iron"
that waxes warm in the breast of Antiphates (IX. 701). Virgil's men,
again, do not wear the great Homeric shield, suspended by a baldric:
AEneas holds up his buckler (_clipeus_), borne "on his left arm" (X. 26
i). Homer, familiar with no buckler worn on the left arm, has no such
description. When the hostile ranks are to be broken, in the _Aeneid_ it
is "with the iron" (X. 372), and so throughout.

The most erudite ancient poet, in a critical age of iron, does not
archaise in our modern fashion. He does not follow his model, Homer, in
his descriptions of shields, swords, and spears. But, according to
most Homeric critics, the later continuators of the Greek Epics, about
800-540 B.C., are men living in an age of iron weapons, and of round
bucklers worn on the left arm. Yet, unlike Virgil, they always give
their heroes arms of bronze, and, unlike Virgil (as we shall see),
they do not introduce the buckler worn on the left arm. They adhere
conscientiously to the use of the vast Mycenaean shield, in their time
obsolete. Yet, by the theory, in many other respects they innovate
at will, introducing corslets and greaves, said to be unknown to the
beginners of the Greek Epics, just as Virgil innovates in bucklers and
iron weapons. All this theory seems inconsistent, and no ancient poet,
not even Virgil, is an archaiser of the modern sort.

All attempts to prove that the Homeric poems are the work of several
centuries appear to rest on a double hypothesis: first, that the later
contributors to the _ILIAD_ kept a steady eye on the traditions of the
remote Achaean age of bronze; next, that they innovated as much as they

Poets of an uncritical age do not archaise. This rule is overlooked by
the critics who represent the Homeric poems as a complex of the work of
many singers in many ages. For example, Professor Percy Gardner, in his
very interesting _New chapters in Greek History_ (1892), carries neglect
of the rule so far as to suppose that the late Homeric poets, being
aware that the ancient heroes could not ride, or write, or eat boiled
meat, consciously and purposefully represented them as doing none of
these things. This they did "on the same principle on which a writer of
pastoral idylls in our own day would avoid the mention of the telegraph
or telephone." [Footnote: _Op. cit._, p. 142.] "A writer of our own
day,"--there is the pervading fallacy! It is only writers of the last
century who practise this archaeological refinement. The authors of
_Beowulf_ and the _Nibelungenlied_, of the Chansons de _Geste_ and of
the Arthurian romances, always describe their antique heroes and the
details of their life in conformity with the customs, costume, and
armour of their own much later ages.

But Mr. Leaf, to take another instance, remarks as to the lack of the
metal lead in the Epics, that it is mentioned in similes only, as though
the poet were aware the metal was unknown in the heroic age. [Footnote:
_Iliad_, Note on, xi. 237.] Here the poet is assumed to be a careful
but ill-informed archaeologist, who wishes to give an accurate
representation of the past. Lead, in fact, was perfectly familiar to the
Mycenaean prime. [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, p. 73.] The critical
usage of supposing that the ancients were like the most recent
moderns--in their archaeological preoccupations--is a survival of the
uncritical habit which invariably beset old poets and artists. Ancient
poets, of the uncritical ages, never worked "on the same principle as a
writer in our day," as regards archaeological precision; at least we are
acquainted with no example of such accuracy.

Let us take another instance of the critical fallacy. The age of the
Achaean warriors, who dwelt in the glorious halls of Mycenae, was
followed, at an interval, by the age represented in the relics found in
the older tombs outside the Dipylon gate of Athens, an age beginning,
probably, about 900-850 B.C. The culture of this "Dipylon age," a
time of geometrical ornaments on vases, and of human figures drawn in
geometrical forms, lines, and triangles, was quite unlike that of the
Achaean age in many ways, for example, in mode of burial and in the use
of iron for weapons. Mr. H. R. Hall, in his learned book, _The Oldest
Civilisation of Greece_ (1901), supposes the culture described in the
Homeric poems to be contemporary in Asia with that of this Dipylon
period in Greece. [Footnote: Op. cit., pp. 49, 222.] He says, "The
Homeric culture is evidently the culture of the poet's own days; there
is no attempt to archaise here...." They do not archaise as to the
details of life, but "the Homeric poets consciously and consistently
archaised, in regard to the political conditions of continental Greece,"
in the Achaean times. They give "in all probability a pretty accurate
description" of the loose feudalism of Mycenaean Greece. [Footnote: Op.
cit., pp. 223, 225.]

We shall later show that this Homeric picture of a past political and
social condition of Greece is of vivid and delicate accuracy, that it
is drawn from the life, not constructed out of historical materials. Mr.
Hall explains the fact by "the conscious and consistent" archaeological
precision of the Asiatic poets of the ninth century. Now to any one
who knows early national poetry, early uncritical art of any kind,
this theory seems not easily tenable. The difficulty of the theory is
increased, if we suppose that the Achaeans were the recent conquerors
of the Mycenaeans. Whether we regard the Achaeans as "Celts," with Mr.
Ridgeway, victors over an Aryan people, the Pelasgic Mycenaeans; or
whether, with Mr. Hall, we think that the Achaeans were the Aryan
conquerors of a non-Aryan people, the makers of the Mycenaean
civilisation; in the stress of a conquest, followed at no long interval
by an expulsion at the hands of Dorian invaders, there would be little
thought of archaising among Achaean poets. [Footnote: Mr. Hall informs
me that he no longer holds the opinion that the poets archaised.]

A distinction has been made, it is true, between the poet and other
artists in this respect. Monsieur Perrot says, "The vase-painter
reproduces what he sees; while the epic poets endeavoured to represent
a distant past. If Homer gives swords of bronze to his heroes of times
gone by, it is because he knows that such were the weapons of these
heroes of long ago. In arming them with bronze he makes use, in his
way, of what we call 'local colour....' Thus the Homeric poet is a more
conscientious historian than Virgil!" [Footnote: La _Grète de l'Epopée_,
Perrot et Chipiez, p. 230.]

Now we contend that old uncritical poets no more sought for antique
"local colour" than any other artists did. M. Perrot himself says with
truth, "the _CHANSON DE ROLAND_, and all the _Gestes_ of the same cycle
explain for us the Iliad and the Odyssey." [Footnote: op. cit., p. 5.]
But the poet of the _CHANSON DE ROLAND_ accoutres his heroes of old time
in the costume and armour of his own age, and the later poets of the
same cycle introduce the innovations of their time; they do not hunt for
"local colour" in the _CHANSON DE ROLAND_. The very words "local colour"
are a modern phrase for an idea that never occurred to the artists of
ancient uncritical ages. The Homeric poets, like the painters of the
Dipylon period, describe the details of life as they see them with their
own eyes. Such poets and artists never have the fear of "anachronisms"
before them. This, indeed, is plain to the critics themselves, for
they, detect anachronisms as to land tenure, burial, the construction
of houses, marriage customs, weapons, and armour in the _Iliad_ and
_Odyssey_. These supposed anachronisms we examine later: if they really
exist they show that the poets were indifferent to local colour
and archaeological precision, or were incapable of attaining to
archaeological accuracy. In fact, such artistic revival of the past in
its habit as it lived is a purely modern ideal.

We are to show, then, that the Epics, being, as wholes, free from such
inevitable modifications in the picture of changing details of life as
uncritical authors always introduce, are the work of the one age which
they represent. This is the reverse of what has long been, and still is,
the current theory of Homeric criticism, according to which the Homeric
poems are, and bear manifest marks of being, a mosaic of the poetry of
several ages of change.

Till Wolf published his _Prolegomena_ to [blank space] (1795) there was
little opposition to the old belief that the _ILIAD_ and Odyssey were,
allowing for interpolations, the work of one, or at most of two, poets.
After the appearance of Wolfs celebrated book, Homeric critics have
maintained, generally speaking, that the _ILIAD_ is either a collection
of short lays disposed in sequence in a late age, or that it contains an
ancient original "kernel" round which "expansions," made throughout
some centuries of changeful life, have accrued, and have been at last
arranged by a literary redactor or editor.

The latter theory is now dominant. It is maintained that the _Iliad_ is
a work of at least four centuries. Some of the objections to this theory
were obvious to Wolf himself--more obvious to him than to his followers.
He was aware, and some of them are not, of the distinction between
reading the _ILIAD_ as all poetic literature is naturally read, and by
all authors is meant to be read, for human pleasure, and studying it in
the spirit of "the analytical reader." As often as he read for pleasure,
he says, disregarding the purely fanciful "historical conditions" which
he invented for Homer; as often as he yielded himself to that running
stream of action and narration; as often as he considered the _harmony_
of _colour_ and of characters in the Epic, no man could be more angry
with his own destructive criticism than himself. Wolf ceased to be a
Wolfian whenever he placed himself at the point of view of the reader or
the listener, to whom alone every poet makes his appeal.

But he deemed it his duty to place himself at another point of view,
that of the scientific literary historian, the historian of a period
concerning whose history he could know nothing. "How could the thing
be possible?" he asked himself. "How could a long poem like the _Iliad_
come into existence in the historical circumstances?" [Footnote, exact
place in paragraph unknown: Preface to Homer, p, xxii., 1794.]. Wolf was
unaware that he did not know what the historical circumstances were. We
know how little we know, but we do know more than Wolf. He invented the
historical circumstances of the supposed poet. They were, he said, like
those of a man who should build a large ship in an inland place, with no
sea to launch it upon. The _Iliad_ was the large ship; the sea was the
public. Homer could have no _readers_, Wolf said, in an age that, like
the old hermit of Prague, "never saw pen and ink," had no knowledge
of letters; or, if letters were dimly known, had never applied them
to literature. In such circumstances no man could have a motive for
composing a long poem. [Footnote: _Prolegomena to the Iliad_, p. xxvi.]

Yet if the original poet, "Homer," could make "the greater part of the
songs," as Wolf admitted, what physical impossibility stood in the way
of his making the whole? Meanwhile, the historical circumstances, as
conceived of by Wolf, were imaginary. He did not take the circumstances
of the poet as described in the Odyssey. Here a king or prince has a
minstrel, honoured as were the minstrels described in the ancient Irish
books of law. His duty is to entertain the prince and his family and
guests by singing epic chants after supper, and there is no reason why
his poetic narratives should be brief, but rather he has an opportunity
that never occurred again till the literary age of Greece for producing
a long poem, continued from night to night. In the later age, in the
Asiatic colonies and in Greece, the rhapsodists, competing for prizes at
feasts, or reciting to a civic crowd, were limited in time and gave but
snatches of poetry. It is in this later civic age that a poet without
readers would have little motive for building Wolfs great ship of song,
and scant chance of launching it to any profitable purpose. To this
point we return; but when once critics, following Wolf, had convinced
themselves that a long early poem was impossible, they soon found
abundant evidence that it had never existed.

They have discovered discrepancies of which, they say, no one sane poet
could have been guilty. They have also discovered that the poems had
not, as Wolf declared, "one 'harmony of colour" (_unus color_). Each
age, they say, during which the poems were continued, lent its own
colour. The poets, by their theory, now preserved the genuine tradition
of things old; cremation, cairn and urn burial; the use of the chariot
in war; the use of bronze for weapons; a peculiar stage of customary
law; a peculiar form of semi-feudal society; a peculiar kind of house.
But again, by a change in the theory, the poets introduced later
novelties; later forms of defensive armour; later modes of burial; later
religious and speculative beliefs; a later style of house; an advanced
stage of law; modernisms in grammar and language.

The usual position of critics in this matter is stated by Helbig; and
we are to contend that the theory is contradicted by all experience of
ancient literatures, and is in itself the reverse of consistent. "The
_artists_ of antiquity," says Helbig, with perfect truth, "had no idea
of archaeological studies.... They represented legendary scenes in
conformity with the spirit of their own age, and reproduced the arms and
implements and costume that they saw around them." [Footnote: _L'Épopée
Homerique_, p. 5; _Homerische Epos_, p. 4.]

Now a poet is an _artist_, like another, and he, too--no less than the
vase painter or engraver of gems--in dealing with legends of times past,
represents (in an uncritical age) the arms, utensils, costume, and the
religious, geographical, legal, social, and political ideas of his own
period. We shall later prove that this is true by examples from the
early mediaeval epic poetry of Europe.

It follows that if the _Iliad_ is absolutely consistent and harmonious
in its picture of life, and of all the accessories of life, the _Iliad_
is the work of a single age, of a single stage of culture, the poet
describing his own environment. But Helbig, on the other hand, citing
Wilamowitz Moellendorff, declares that the _Iliad_--the work of four
centuries, he says--maintains its unity of colour by virtue of
an uninterrupted poetical tradition. [Footnote: _Homerische
Untersuchungen_, p. 292; _Homerische Epos_, p. I.] If so, the poets must
have archaeologised, must have kept asking themselves, "Is this or that
detail true to the past?" which artists in uncritical ages never do,
as we have been told by Helbig. They must have carefully pondered the
surviving old Achaean lays, which "were born when the heroes could
not read, or boil flesh, or back a steed." By carefully observing the
earliest lays the late poets, in times of changed manners, "could avoid
anachronisms by the aid of tradition, which gave them a very exact idea
of the epic heroes." Such is the opinion of Wilamowitz Moellendorff. He
appears to regard the tradition as keeping the later poets in the old
way automatically, not consciously, but this, we also learn from Helbig,
did not occur. The poets often wandered from the way. [Footnote: Helbig,
_Homerische Epos,_ pp. 2, 3.] Thus old Mycenaean lays, if any existed,
would describe the old Mycenaean mode of burial. The Homeric poet
describes something radically different. We vainly ask for proof that
in any early national literature known to us poets have been true to the
colour and manners of the remote times in which their heroes moved,
and of which old minstrels sang. The thing is without example: of this
proofs shall be offered in abundance.

Meanwhile, the whole theory which regards the _Iliad_ as the work of
four or five centuries rests on the postulate that poets throughout
these centuries did what such poets never do, kept true to the details
of a life remote from their own, and also did not.

For Helbig does not, after all, cleave to his opinion. On the other
hand, he says that the later poets of the _Iliad_ did not cling to
tradition. "They allowed themselves to be influenced by their own
environment: _this influence betrays ITSELF IN THE descriptions of
DETAILS_.... The rhapsodists," (reciters, supposed to have altered the
poems at will), "did not fail to interpolate relatively recent elements
into the oldest parts of the Epic." [Footnote: _Homerische Epos,_ p. 2.]

At this point comes in a complex inconsistency. The Tenth Book of the
_Iliad_, thinks Helbig--in common with almost all critics--"is one of
the most recent lays of the _Iliad_." But in this recent lay (say of
the eighth or seventh century) the poet describes the Thracians as on
a level of civilisation with the Achaeans, and, indeed, as even more
luxurious, wealthy, and refined in the matter of good horses, glorious
armour, and splendid chariots. But, by the time of the Persian
wars, says Helbig, the Thracians were regarded by the Greeks as rude
barbarians, and their military equipment was totally un-Greek. They did
not wear helmets, but caps of fox-skin. They had no body armour; their
shields were small round bucklers; their weapons were bows and daggers.
These customs could not, at the time of the Persian wars, be recent
innovations in Thrace. [Footnote: Herodotus, vii. 75.]

Had the poet of _ILIAD_, Book X., known the Thracians in _this_
condition, says Helbig, as he was fond of details of costume and arms,
he would have certainly described their fox-skin caps, bows, bucklers,
and so forth. He would not here have followed the Epic tradition, which
represented the Thracians as makers of great swords and as splendidly
armed charioteers. His audience had met the Thracians in peace and war,
and would contradict the poet's description of them as heavily armed
charioteers. It follows, therefore, that the latest poets, such as the
author of Book X., did not introduce recent details, those of their
own time, but we have just previously been told that to do so was their
custom in the description of details.

Now Studniczka [Footnote: _Homerische Epos, pp. 7-11, cf._ Note I;
_Zeitschrift fur die Oestern Gymnasien_, 1886, p. 195.] explains the
picture of the Thracians in _Iliad_, Book X., on Helbig's _other_
principle, namely, that the very late author of the Tenth Book merely
conforms to the conventional tradition of the Epic, adheres to the model
set in ancient Achaean, or rather ancient Ionian times, and scrupulously
preserved by the latest poets--that is, when the latest poets do not
bring in the new details of their own age. But Helbig will not accept
his own theory in this case, whence does it follow that the author of
the Tenth Book must, in his opinion, have lived in Achaean times, and
described the Thracians as they then were, charioteers, heavily armed,
not light-clad archers? If this is so, we ask how Helbig can aver that
the Tenth Book is one of the latest parts of the _Iliad?_

In studying the critics who hold that the _Iliad_ is the growth of
four centuries--say from the eleventh to the seventh century B.C.--no
consistency is to be discovered; the earth is never solid beneath our
feet. We find now that the poets are true to tradition in the details of
ancient life--now that the poets introduce whatever modern details they
please. The late poets have now a very exact knowledge of the past; now,
the late poets know nothing about the past, or, again, some of the poets
are fond of actual and very minute archaeological research! The theory
shifts its position as may suit the point to be made at the moment by
the critic. All is arbitrary, and it is certain that logic demands a
very different method of inquiry. If Helbig and other critics of his
way of thinking mean that in the _Iliad_ (1) there are parts of genuine
antiquity; other parts (2) by poets who, with stern accuracy, copied the
old modes; other parts (3) by poets who tried to copy but failed; with
passages (4) by poets who deliberately innovated; and passages (5)
by poets who drew fanciful pictures of the past "from their inner
consciousness," while, finally (6), some poets made minute antiquarian
researches; and if the argument be that the critics can detect these six
elements, then we are asked to repose unlimited confidence in critical
powers of discrimination. The critical standard becomes arbitrary and

It is our effort, then, in the following pages to show that the _unus_
color of Wolf does pervade the Epics, that recent details are not often,
if ever, interpolated, that the poems harmoniously represent one
age, and that a brief age, of culture; that this effect cannot, in
a thoroughly uncritical period, have been deliberately aimed at and
produced by archaeological learning, or by sedulous copying of poetic
tradition, or by the scientific labours of an editor of the sixth
century B.C. We shall endeavour to prove, what we have already
indicated, that the hypotheses of expansion are not self-consistent,
or in accordance with what is known of the evolution of early national
poetry. The strongest part, perhaps, of our argument is to rest on our
interpretation of archaeological evidence, though we shall not
neglect the more disputable or less convincing contentions of literary



A theorist who believes that the Homeric poems are the growth of four
changeful centuries, must present a definite working hypothesis as to
how they escaped from certain influences of the late age in which much
of them is said to have been composed. We must first ask to what manner
of audiences did the poets sing, in the alleged four centuries of the
evolution of the Epics. Mr. Leaf, as a champion of the theory of ages
of "expansion," answers that "the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ are essentially,
and above all, Court poems. They were composed to be sung in the palaces
of a ruling aristocracy ... the poems are aristocratic and courtly, not
popular." [Footnote: Companion to the _Iliad_, pp. 2,8. 1892.] They are
not _Volkspoesie_; they are not ballads. "It is now generally recognised
that this conception is radically false."

These opinions, in which we heartily agree--there never was such a
thing as a "popular" Epic--were published fourteen years ago. Mr.
Leaf, however, would not express them with regard to "our" _Iliad_ and
Odyssey, because, in his view, a considerable part of the _Iliad_, as
it stands, was made, not by Court bards in the Achaean courts of Europe,
not for an audience of noble warriors and dames, but by wandering
minstrels in the later Ionian colonies of Asia. They did not chant for a
military aristocracy, but for the enjoyment of town and country folk at
popular festivals. [Footnote: Iliad, vol. i. p. xvi. 1900.] The poems
were _begun_, indeed, he thinks, for "a wealthy aristocracy living
on the product of their lands," in European Greece; were begun by
contemporary court minstrels, but were continued, vastly expanded, and
altered to taste by wandering singers and reciting rhapsodists, who
amused the holidays of a commercial, expansive, and bustling Ionian
democracy. [Footnote: _Companion to the Iliad_, p. II.]

 We must suppose that, on this theory, the later poets pleased a
commercial democracy by keeping up the tone that had delighted an old
land-owning military aristocracy. It is not difficult, however, to admit
this as possible, for the poems continued to be admired in all ages of
Greece and under every form of society. The real question is, would the
modern poets be the men to keep up a tone some four or five centuries
old, and to be true, if they were true, to the details of the heroic
age? "It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some part of the
most primitive _Iliad_ may have been actually sung by the court minstrel
in the palace whose ruins can still be seen in Mycenae." [Footnote:
Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. xv.] But, by the expansionist theory, even
the oldest parts of our _Iliad_ are now full of what we may call quite
recent Ionian additions, full of late retouches, and full, so to speak,
of omissions of old parts.

Through four or five centuries, by the hypothesis, every singer who
could find an audience was treating as much as he knew of a vast body of
ancient lays exactly as he pleased, adding here, lopping there, altering
everywhere. Moreover, these were centuries full of change. The ancient
Achaean palaces were becoming the ruins which we still behold. The
old art had faded, and then fallen under the disaster of the Dorian
conquest. A new art, or a recrudescence of earlier art, very crude and
barbaric, had succeeded, and was beginning to acquire form and vitality.
The very scene of life was altered: the new singers and listeners dwelt
on the Eastern side of the Aegean. Knights no longer, as in Europe,
fought from chariots: war was conducted by infantry, for the most part,
with mounted auxiliaries. With the disappearance of the war chariot the
huge Mycenaean shields had vanished or were very rarely used. The early
vase painters do not, to my knowledge, represent heroes as fighting from
war chariots. They had lost touch with that method. Fighting men now
carried relatively small round bucklers, and iron was the metal chiefly
employed for swords, spears, and arrow points. Would the new poets,
in deference to tradition, abstain from mentioning cavalry, or small
bucklers, or iron swords and spears? or would they avoid puzzling their
hearers by speaking of obsolete and unfamiliar forms of tactics and of
military equipment? Would they therefore sing of things familiar--of
iron weapons, small round shields, hoplites, and cavalry? We shall see
that confused and self-contradictory answers are given by criticism
to all these questions by scholars who hold that the Epics are not the
product of one, but of many ages.

There were other changes between the ages of the original minstrel and
of the late successors who are said to have busied themselves in adding
to, mutilating, and altering his old poem. Kings and courts had passed
away; old Ionian myths and religious usages, unknown to the Homeric
poets, had come out into the light; commerce and pleasure and early
philosophies were the chief concerns of life. Yet the poems continued to
be aristocratic in manners; and, in religion and ritual, to be pure from
recrudescences of savage poetry and superstition, though the Ionians
"did not drop the more primitive phases of belief which had clung to
them; these rose to the surface with the rest of the marvellous Ionic
genius, and many an ancient survival was enshrined in the literature
or mythology of Athens which had long passed out of all remembrance at
Mycenas." [Footnote: _Companion to the Iliad_, p. 7.]

Amazing to say, none of these "more primitive phases of belief," none
of the recrudescent savage magic, was intruded by the late Ionian poets
into the Iliad which they continued, by the theory. Such phases of
belief were, indeed, by their time popular, and frequently appeared in
the Cyclic poems on the Trojan war; continuations of the _ILIAD_, which
were composed by Ionian authors at the same time as much of the _ILIAD_
itself (by the theory) was composed. The authors of these Cyclic
poems--authors contemporary with the makers of much of the
_ILIAD_--_were_ eminently "un-Homeric" in many respects. [Footnote:
_Cf_. Monro, _The Cyclic Poets; Odyssey_, vol. ii, pp. 342-384.] They
had ideas very different from those of the authors of the _Iliad_ and
_ODYSSEY_, as these ideas have reached us.

Helbig states this curious fact, that the Homeric poems are free from
many recent or recrudescent ideas common in other Epics composed during
the later centuries of the supposed four hundred years of Epic growth.
[Footnote: _Homerische Epos_, p. 3.] Thus a signet ring was mentioned
in the _Ilias Puma_, and there are no rings in _Iliad_ or _Odyssey_.
But Helbig does not perceive the insuperable difficulty which here
encounters his hypothesis. He remarks: "In certain poems which were
grouping themselves around the _Iliad and _Odyssey, we meet data
absolutely opposed to the conventional style of the Epic." He gives
three or four examples of perfectly un-Homeric ideas occurring in Epics
of the eighth to seventh centuries, B.C., and a large supply of such
cases can be adduced. But Helbig does not ask how it happened that, if
poets of these centuries had lost touch with the Epic tradition, and had
wandered into a new region of thought, as they had, examples of their
notions do not occur in the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_. By his theory these
poems were being added to and altered, even in their oldest portions,
at the very period when strange fresh, or old and newly revived fancies
were flourishing. If so, how were the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, unlike the
Cyclic poems, kept uncontaminated, as they confessedly were, by the new
romantic ideas?

Here is the real difficulty. Cyclic poets of the eighth and seventh
centuries had certainly lost touch with the Epic tradition; their poems
make that an admitted fact. Yet poets of the eighth to seventh centuries
were, by the theory, busily adding to and altering the ancient lays of
the _Iliad_. How did _they_ abstain from the new or revived ideas, and
from the new _genre_ of romance? Are we to believe that one set of late
Ionian poets--they who added to and altered the Iliad--were true
to tradition, while another contemporary set of Ionian poets, the
Cyclics--authors of new Epics on Homeric themes--are known to have quite
lost touch with the Homeric taste, religion, and ritual? The reply will
perhaps be a Cyclic poet said, "Here I am going to compose quite a new
poem about the old heroes. I shall make them do and think and believe as
I please, without reference to the evidence of the old poems." But, it
will have to be added, the rhapsodists of 800-540 B.C., and the general
editor of the latter date, thought, _we_ are continuing an old set of
lays, and we must be very careful in adhering to manners, customs, and
beliefs as described by our predecessors. For instance, the old heroes
had only bronze, no iron,--and then the rhapsodists forgot, and made
iron a common commodity in the _Iliad_. Again, the rhapsodists knew that
the ancient heroes had no corslets--the old lays, we learn, never
spoke of corslets--but they made them wear corslets of much splendour.
[Footnote: The reader must remember that the view of the late poets
as careful adherents of tradition in usages and ideas only obtains
_sometimes_; at others the critics declare that archaeological precision
is _not_ preserved, and that the Ionic continuators introduced, for
example, the military gear of their own period into a poem which
represents much older weapons and equipments.] This theory does not help
us. In an uncritical age poets could not discern that their genre of
romance and religion was alien from that of Homer.

To return to the puzzle about the careful and precise continuators
of the _Iliad_, as contrasted with their heedless contemporaries, the
authors of the Cyclic poems. How "non-Homeric" the authors of these
Cyclic poems were, before and after 660 B.C., we illustrate from
examples of their left hand backslidings and right hand fallings
off. They introduced (1) The Apotheosis of the Dioscuri, who in Homer
(_Iliad_, III. 243) are merely dead men (_Cypria_). (2) Story of
Iphigenia _Cypria_. (3) Story of Palamedes, who is killed when angling
by Odysseus and Diomede (Cypria).

Homer's heroes never fish, except in stress of dire necessity, in the
Odyssey, and Homer's own Diomede and Odysseus would never stoop
to assassinate a companion when engaged in the contemplative man's
recreation. We here see the heroes in late degraded form as on the
Attic stage. (4) The Cyclics introduce Helen as daughter of Nemesis,
and describe the flight of Nemesis from Zeus in various animal forms,
a Märchen of a sort not popular with Homer; an Ionic Märchen, Mr. Leaf
would say. There is nothing like this in the Iliad and Odyssey. (5) They
call the son of Achilles, not Neoptolemus, as Homer does, but Pyrrhus.
(6) They represent the Achaean army as obtaining supplies through three
magically gifted maidens, who produce corn, wine, and oil at will, as in
fairy tales. Another Ionic non-Achaean Märchen! They bring in ghosts of
heroes dead and buried. Such ghosts, in Homer's opinion, were impossible
if the dead had been cremated. All these non-Homeric absurdities, save
the last, are from the Cypria, dated by Sir Richard Jebb about 776 B.C.,
long before the Odyssey was put into shape, namely, after 660 B. C.
in his opinion. Yet the alleged late compiler of the Odyssey, in the
seventh century, never wanders thus from the Homeric standard in taste.
What a skilled archaeologist he must have been! The author of the Cypria
knew the Iliad, [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. p. 354.] but his
knowledge could not keep him true to tradition. (7) In the AEthiopis
(about 776 B.C.) men are made immortal after death, and are worshipped
as heroes, an idea foreign to Iliad and Odyssey. (8) There is a savage
ritual of purification from blood shed by a homicide (compare Eumenides,
line 273). This is unheard of in Iliad and Odyssey, though familiar to
Aeschylus. (9) Achilles, after death, is carried to the isle of Leuke.
(10) The fate of Ilium, in the Cyclic Little _Iliad_, hangs on the
Palladium, of which nothing is known in _Iliad_ or _Odyssey_. The
_Little Iliad_ is dated about 700 B.C. (11) The _Nostoi_ mentions
Molossians, not named by Homer (which is a trifle); it also mentions
the Asiatic city of Colophon, an Ionian colony, which is not a trivial
self-betrayal on the part of the poet. He is dated about 750 B.C.

Thus, more than a century before the _Odyssey_ received its final form,
after 660 B.C., from the hands of one man (according to the theory),
the other Ionian poets who attempted Epic were betraying themselves as
non-Homeric on every hand. [Footnote: Monro, _Odyssey_, vol. ii. pp.

Our examples are but a few derived from the brief notices of the Cyclic
poets' works, as mentioned in ancient literature; these poets probably,
in fact, betrayed themselves constantly. But their contemporaries, the
makers of late additions to the _Odyssey_, and the later mosaic worker
who put it together, never betrayed themselves to anything like the
fatal extent of anachronism exhibited by the Cyclic poets. How, if the
true ancient tone, taste, manners, and religion were lost, as the
Cyclic poets show that they were, did the contemporary Ionian poets or
rhapsodists know and preserve the old manner?

The best face we can put on the matter is to say that all the Cyclic
poets were recklessly independent of tradition, while all men who
botched at the _Iliad_ were very learned, and very careful to maintain
harmony in their pictures of life and manners, except when they
introduced changes in burial, bride-price, houses, iron, greaves, and
corslets, all of them things, by the theory, modern, and when they sang
in modern grammar.

Yet despite this conscientiousness of theirs, most of the many
authors of our _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ were, by the theory, strolling
irresponsible rhapsodists, like the later _jongleurs_ of the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries in mediaeval France. How could these strollers
keep their modern Ionian ideas, or their primitive, recrudescent phases
of belief, out of their lays, as far as they _did_ keep them out, while
the contemporary authors of the _Cypria_, _The Sack of Ilios_, and other
Cyclic poets were full of new ideas, legends, and beliefs, or primitive
notions revived, and, save when revived, quite obviously late and quite
un-Homeric in any case?

The difficulty is the greater if the Cyclic poems were long poems, with
one author to each Epic. Such authors were obviously men of ambition;
they produced serious works _de longue haleine_. It is from them that
we should naturally expect conservative and studious adhesion to the
traditional models. From casual strollers like the rhapsodists and
chanters at festivals, we look for nothing of the sort. _They_ might be
expected to introduce great feats done by sergeants and privates, so to
speak--men of the nameless [Greek: laos], the host, the foot men--who
in Homer are occasionally said to perish of disease or to fall under the
rain of arrows, but are never distinguished by name. The strollers, it
might be thought, would also be the very men to introduce fairy tales,
freaks of primitive Ionian myth, discreditable anecdotes of the princely
heroes, and references to the Ionian colonies.

But it is not so; the serious, laborious authors of the long Cyclic
poems do such un-Homeric things as these; the gay, irresponsible
strolling singers of a lay here and a lay there--lays now incorporated
in the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_--scrupulously avoid such faults. They never
even introduce a signet ring. These are difficulties in the theory of
the _Iliad_ as a patchwork by many hands, in many ages, which nobody
explains; which, indeed, nobody seems to find difficult. Yet the
difficulty is insuperable. Even if we take refuge with Wilamowitz in the
idea that the Cyclic and Homeric poems were at first mere protoplasm
of lays of many ages, and that they were all compiled, say in the sixth
century, into so many narratives, we come no nearer to explaining
why the tone, taste, and ideas of two such narratives--Illiad and
Odyssey--are confessedly distinct from the tone, taste, and ideas of all
the others. The Cyclic poems are certainly the production of a late and
changed age? [Footnote: For what manner of audience, if not for readers,
the Cyclic poems were composed is a mysterious question.] The _Iliad_ is
not in any degree--save perhaps in a few interpolated passages--touched
by the influences of that late age. It is not a complex of the work
of four incompatible centuries, as far as this point is concerned--the
point of legend, religion, ritual, and conception of heroic character.



Whosoever holds that the Homeric poems were evolved out of the lays of
many men, in many places, during many periods of culture, must present a
consistent and logical hypothesis as to how they attained their present
plots and forms. These could not come by accident, even if the plots
are not good--as all the world held that they were, till after Wolf's
day--but very bad, as some critics now assert. Still plot and form,
beyond the power of chance to produce, the poems do possess. Nobody goes
so far as to deny that; and critics make hypotheses explanatory of
the fact that a single ancient "kernel" of some 2500 lines, a "kernel"
altered at will by any one who pleased during four centuries, became a
constructive whole. If the hypotheses fail to account for the fact, we
have the more reason to believe that the poems are the work of one age,
and, mainly, of one man.

In criticising Homeric criticism as it is to-day, we cannot do better
than begin by examining the theories of Mr. Leaf which are offered by
him merely as "a working hypothesis." His most erudite work is based on
a wide knowledge of German Homeric speculation, of the exact science of
Grammar, of archaeological discoveries, and of manuscripts. [Footnote:
The Iliad. Macmillan & Co. 1900, 1902.] His volumes are, I doubt not, as
they certainly deserve to be, on the shelves of every Homeric student,
old or young, and doubtless their contents reach the higher forms in
schools, though there is reason to suppose that, about the unity of
Homer, schoolboys remain conservative.

In this book of more than 1200 pages Mr. Leaf's space is mainly
devoted to textual criticism, philology, and pure scholarship, but his
Introductions, Notes, and Appendices also set forth his mature ideas
about the Homeric problem in general. He has altered some of his
opinions since the publication of his _Companion to the Iliad_(1892),
but the main lines of his old system are, except on one crucial point,
unchanged. His theory we shall try to state and criticise; in general
outline it is the current theory of separatist critics, and it may
fairly be treated as a good example of such theories.

The system is to the following effect: Greek tradition, in the classical
period, regarded the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ as the work of one man,
Homer, a native of one or other of the Ionian colonies of Asia Minor.
But the poems show few obvious signs of origin in Asia. They deal with
dwellers, before the Dorian invasion (which the poet never alludes to),
on the continent of Europe and in Crete. [Footnote: If the poet sang
after the tempest of war that came down with the Dorians from the
north, he would probably have sought a topic in the Achaean exploits and
sorrows of that period. The Dorians, not the Trojans, would have been
the foes. The epics of France of the eleventh and twelfth centuries
dwell, not on the real victories of the remote Charlemagne so much as
on the disasters of Aliscans and Roncesvaux--defeats at Saracen hands,
Saracens being the enemies of the twelfth-century poets. No Saracens,
in fact, fought at Roncesvaux.] The lays are concerned with "good old
times"; presumably between 1500 and 1100 B.C. Their pictures of the
details of life harmonise more with what we know of the society of that
period from the evidence of buildings and recent excavations, than with
what we know of the life and the much more rude and barbaric art of the
so-called "Dipylon" period of "geometrical" ornament considerably later.
In the Dipylon age though the use of iron, even for swords (made on the
lines of the old bronze sword), was familiar, art was on a most barbaric
level, not much above the Bed Indian type, as far, at least, as painted
vases bear witness. The human figure is designed as in Tommy Traddles's
skeletons; there is, however, some crude but promising idea of

The picture of life in the Homeric poems, then, is more like that of,
say, 1500-1100 B.C. than of, say, 1000-850 B.C. in Mr. Leaf's opinion.
Certainly Homer describes a wealthy aristocracy, subject to an
Over-Lord, who rules, by right divine, from "golden Mycenae." We hear of
no such potentate in Ionia. Homer's accounts of contemporary art seem to
be inspired by the rich art generally dated about 1500-1200. Yet there
are "many traces of apparent anachronism," of divergence from the more
antique picture of life. In these divergences are we to recognise the
picture of a later development of the ancient existence of 1500-1200
B.C.? Or have elements of the life of a much later age of Greece (say,
800-550 B.C.) been consciously or unconsciously introduced by the late
poets? Here Mr. Leaf recognises a point on which we have insisted,
and must keep insisting, for it is of the first importance. "It is _a
priori_ the most probable" supposition that, "in an uncritical age,"
poets do _not_ "reproduce the circumstances of the old time," but
"only clothe the old tale in the garb of their own days." Poets in an
uncritical age always, in our experience, "clothe old tales with the
garb of their own time," but Mr. Leaf thinks that, in the case of the
Homeric poems, this idea "is not wholly borne out by the facts."

In fact, Mr. Leaf's hypothesis, like Helbig's, exhibits a come-and-go
between the theory that his late poets clung close to tradition and so
kept true to ancient details of life, and the theory that they did quite
the reverse in many cases. Of this frequent examples will occur. He
writes, "The Homeric period is certainly later than the shaft tombs"
(discovered at Mycenae by Dr. Schliemann), "but it does not necessarily
follow that it is post-Mycenaean. It is quite possible that certain
notable differences between the poems and the monuments" (of Mycenae)
"in burial, for instance, and in women's dress may be due to changes
which arose within the Mycenaean age itself, in that later part of it
of which our knowledge is defective--almost as defective as it is of
the subsequent 'Dipylon' period. On the whole, the resemblance to
the typical Mycenaean culture is more striking than the difference."
[Footnote: Leaf, Iliad, vol. i. pp. xiii.-xv. 1900.]

So far Mr. Leaf states precisely the opinion for which we argue. The
Homeric poems describe an age later than that of the famous tombs--so
rich in relics--of the Mycenaean acropolis, and earlier than the tombs
of the Dipylon of Athens. The poems thus spring out of an age of which,
except from the poems themselves, we know little or nothing, because,
as is shown later, no cairn burials answering to the frequent Homeric
descriptions have ever been discovered--so relics corroborating Homeric
descriptions are to seek. But the age attaches itself in many ways to
the age of the Mycenaean tombs, while, in our opinion, it stands quite
apart from the post-Dorian culture.

Where we differ from Mr. Leaf is in believing that the poems, as wholes,
were composed in that late Mycenaean period of which, from material
remains, we know very little; that "much new" was not added, as he
thinks, in "the Ionian development" which lasted perhaps "from the ninth
century B.C. to the seventh." We cannot agree with Mr. Leaf, when he,
like Helbig, thinks that much of the detail of the ancient life in the
poems had early become so "stereotyped" that no continuator, however
late, dared "intentionally to sap" the type, "though he slipped from
time to time into involuntary anachronism." Some poets are also asserted
to indulge in _voluntary_ anachronism when, as Mr. Leaf supposes, they
equip the ancient warriors with corslets and greaves and other body
armour of bronze such as, in his opinion, the old heroes never knew,
such as never were mentioned in the oldest parts or "kernel" of the
poems. Thus the traditional details of Mycenaean life sometimes are
regarded as "stereotyped" in poetic tradition; sometimes as subject to
modern alterations of a sweeping and revolutionary kind.

As to deliberate adherence to tradition by the poets, we have proved
that the Cyclic epic poets of 800-660 B.C. wandered widely from the
ancient models. If, then, every minstrel or rhapsodist who, anywhere,
added at will to the old "kernel" of the _Achilles_ was, so far as he
was able, as conscientiously precise in his stereotyped archaeological
details as Mr. Leaf sometimes supposes, the fact is contrary to general
custom in such cases. When later poets in an uncritical age take up and
rehandle the poetic themes of their predecessors, they always give to
the stories "a new costume," as M. Gaston Paris remarks in reference to
thirteenth century dealings with French epics of the eleventh century.
But, in the critics' opinion, the late rehandlers of old Achaean lays
preserved the archaic modes of life, war, costume, weapons, and
so forth, with conscientious care, except in certain matters to be
considered later, when they deliberately did the very reverse. Sometimes
the late poets devoutly follow tradition. Sometimes they deliberately
innovate. Sometimes they pedantically "archaise," bringing in genuine,
but by their time forgotten, Mycenaean things, and criticism can detect
their doings in each case.

Though the late continuators of the _Iliad_ were able, despite
certain inadvertencies, to keep up for some four centuries in Asia
the harmonious picture of ancient Achaean life and society in Europe,
critics can distinguish four separate strata, the work of many different
ages, in the _Iliad_. Of the first stratum composed in Europe, say about
1300-1150 B.C. (I give a conjectural date under all reserves), the topic
was _THE Wrath of ACHILLES_. Of this poem, in Mr. Leaf's opinion, (a)
the First Book and fifty lines of the Second Book remain intact or,
perhaps, are a blend of two versions. (b) The _Valour of Agamemnon_ and
_Defeat of THE Achaeans_. Of this there are portions in Book XI., but
they were meddled with, altered, and generally doctored, "down to the
latest period," namely, the age of Pisistratus in Athens, the middle of
the sixth century B.C. (c) The fight in which, after their defeat, the
Achaeans try to save the ships from the torch of Hector, and the _Valour
of Patroclus_ (but some critics do not accept this), with his death
(XV., XVI. in parts). (d) Some eighty lines on the _ARMING OF ACHILLES_
(XIX.). (e) Perhaps an incident or two in Books XX., XXI. (f) The
_Slaying HECTOR_ by Achilles, in Books XXI., XXII. (but some of the learned
will not admit this, and we shall, unhappily, have to prove that, if Mr.
Leaf's principles be correct, we really know nothing about the _SLAYING
OF HECTOR_ in its original form).

Of these six elements only did the original poem consist, Mr. Leaf
thinks; a rigid critic will reject as original even the _Valour of
Patroclus_ and the _DEATH OF HECTOR_, but Mr. Leaf refuses to go so far
as that. The original poem, as detected by him, is really "the work of
a single poet, perhaps the greatest in all the world's history." If the
original poet did no more than is here allotted to him, especially if he
left out the purpose of Zeus and the person of Thetis in Book I., we
do not quite understand his unapproachable greatness. He must certainly
have drawn a rather commonplace Achilles, as we shall see, and we
confess to preferring the _Iliad_ as it stands.

The brief narrative cut out of the mass by Mr. Leaf, then, was the
genuine old original poem or "kernel." What we commonly call the
_ILIAD_, on the other hand, is, by his theory, a thing of shreds and
patches, combined in a manner to be later described. The blend,
we learn, has none of the masterly unity of the old original poem.
Meanwhile, as criticism of literary composition is a purely literary
question, critics who differ from Mr. Leaf have a right to hold that
the _Iliad_ as it stands contains, and always did contain, a plot of
masterly perfection. We need not attend here so closely to Mr. Leaf's
theory in the matter of the First Expansions, (2) and the Second
Expansions, (3) but the latest Expansions (4) give the account of _The
EMBASSY_ to _Achilles_ with his refusal of _Agamemnon's APOLOGY_(Book
IX.), the [blank space] (Book XXIV.), the _RECONCILIATION OF ACHILLES
AND Agamemnon, AND the FUNERAL Games_ of _Patroclus_ (XXIII.). In all
these parts of the poem there are, we learn, countless alterations,
additions, and expansions, with, last of all, many transitional
passages, "the work of the editor inspired by the statesman," that is,
of an hypothetical editor who really by the theory made our _ILIAD_,
being employed to that end by Pistratus about 540 B.C. [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. pp. x., xiv. 1900.].

Mr. Leaf and critics who take his general view are enabled to detect
the patches and tatters of many ages by various tests, for example, by
discovering discrepancies in the narrative, such as in their opinion
no one sane poet could make. Other proofs of multiplex authorship are
discovered by the critic's private sense of what the poem ought to
be, by his instinctive knowledge of style, by detection of the poet's
supposed errors in geography, by modernisms and false archaisms in words
and grammar, and by the presence of many objects, especially weapons and
armour, which the critic believes to have been unknown to the original

Thus criticism can pick out the things old, fairly old, late, and quite
recent, from the mass, evolved through many centuries, which is called
the _Iliad_.

If the existing _ILIAD_ is a mass of "expansions," added at all sorts of
dates, in any number of places, during very different stages of culture,
to a single short old poem of the Mycenaean age, science needs an
hypothesis which will account for the _ILIAD_ "as it stands." Everybody
sees the need of the hypothesis, How was the medley of new songs by many
generations of irresponsible hands codified into a plot which used to
be reckoned fine? How were the manners, customs, and characters, _unus
color_, preserved in a fairly coherent and uniform aspect? How was the
whole Greek world, throughout which all manner of discrepant versions
and incongruous lays must, by the theory, have been current, induced to
accept the version which has been bequeathed to us? Why, and for what
audience or what readers, did somebody, in a late age of brief lyrics
and of philosophic poems, take the trouble to harmonise the body of
discrepant wandering lays, and codify them in the _Iliad_?

An hypothesis which will answer all these questions is the first thing
needful, and hypotheses are produced.

Believers like Mr. Leaf in the development of the _Iliad_ through
the changing revolutionary centuries, between say 1200 and 600 B.C.,
consciously stand in need of a working hypothesis which will account,
above all, for two facts: first, the relatively correct preservation of
the harmony of the picture of life, of ideas political and religious,
of the characters of the heroes, of the customary law (such as the
bride-price in marriage), and of the details as to weapons, implements,
dress, art, houses, and so forth, when these are not (according to the
theory) deliberately altered by late poets.

Next, the hypothesis must explain, in Mr. Leafs own words, how a single
version of the _Iliad_ came to be accepted, "where many rival versions
must, from the necessity of the case, have once existed side by side."
[Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. xviii. 1900.]

Three hypotheses have, in fact, been imagined: the first suggests the
preservation of the original poems in very early written texts; not,
of course, in "Homer's autograph." This view Mr. Leaf, we shall see,
discards. The second presents the notion of one old sacred college for
the maintenance of poetic uniformity. Mr. Leaf rejects this theory,
while supposing that there were schools for professional reciters.

Last, there is the old hypothesis of Wolf: "Pisistratus" (about 540
B.C.) "was the first who had the Homeric poems committed to writing, and
brought into that order in which we now possess them."

This hypothesis, now more than a century old, would, if it rested on
good evidence, explain how a single version of the various lays came to
be accepted and received as authorised. The Greek world, by the theory,
had only in various places various sets of incoherent chants _orally_
current on the Wrath of The public was everywhere a public of listeners,
who heard the lays sung on rare occasions at feasts and fairs, or
whenever a strolling rhapsodist took up his pitch, for a day or two,
at a street corner. There was, by the theory, no reading public for the
Homeric poetry. But, by the time of Pisistratus, a reading public was
coming into existence. The tyrant had the poems collected, edited,
arranged into a continuous narrative, primarily for the purpose of
regulating the recitals at the Panathenaic festival. When once they
were written, copies were made, and the rest of Hellas adopted these for
their public purposes.

On a small scale we have a case analogous. The old songs of Scotland
existed, with the airs, partly in human memory, partly in scattered
broadsheets. The airs were good, but the words were often silly, more
often they were Fescennine--"more dirt than wit." Burns rewrote the
words, which were published in handsome volumes, with the old airs, or
with these airs altered, and his became the authorised versions, while
the ancient anonymous chants were almost entirely forgotten.

The parallel is fairly close, but there are points of difference. Burns
was a great lyric poet, whereas we hear of no great epic poet in the
age of Pisistratus. The old words which Burns's songs superseded were
wretched doggerel; not such were the ancient Greek heroic lays. The old
Scottish songs had no sacred historic character; they did not contain
the history of the various towns and districts of Scotland. The heroic
lays of Greece were believed, on the other hand, to be a kind of
Domesday book of ancient principalities, and cities, and worshipped
heroes. Thus it was much easier for a great poet like Burns to supersede
with his songs a mass of unconsidered "sculdudery" old lays, in which no
man or set of men had any interest, than for a mere editor, in the age
of Pisistratus, to supersede a set of lays cherished, in one shape or
another, by every State in Greece. This holds good, even if, prior to
Pisistratus, there existed in Greece no written texts of Homer, and no
reading public, a point which we shall show reasons for declining to

The theory of the edition of Pisistratus, if it rested on valid
evidence, would explain "how a single version of the poems came to be
accepted," namely, because the poem was now _written_ for the first
time, and oral versions fell out of memory. But it would not, of course,
explain how, before Pisistratus, during four or five centuries of
change, the new poets and reciters, throughout the Greek world, each
adding such fresh verses as he pleased, and often introducing such
modern details of life as he pleased, kept up the harmony of the Homeric
picture of life, and character, and law, as far as it confessedly

To take a single instance: the poems never allude to the personal
armorial bearings of the heroes. They are unknown to or unnamed by
Homer, but are very familiar on the shields in seventh century and sixth
century vases, and AEschylus introduces them with great poetic effect
in [blank space]. How did late continuators, familiar with the serpents,
lions, bulls' heads, crabs, doves, and so forth, on the contemporary
shields, keep such picturesque and attractive details out of their new
rhapsodies? In mediaeval France, we shall show, the epics (eleventh to
thirteenth centuries) deal with Charlemagne and his peers of the eighth
century A.D. But they provide these heroes with the armorial bearings
which came in during the eleventh to twelfth century A.D. The late
Homeric rhapsodists avoided such tempting anachronisms.

Wolf's theory, then, explains "how a single version came to be
accepted." It was the first _WRITTEN_ version; the others died out, like
the old Scots orally repeated songs, when Burns published new words to
the airs. But Wolf's theory does not explain the harmony of the picture
of life, the absence of post-Homeric ideas and ways of living, in the
first written version, which, practically, is our own version.

In 1892 (_COMPANION TO THE Iliad_) Mr. Leaf adopted a different theory,
the hypothesis of a Homeric "school" "which busied itself with the
tradition of the Homeric poetry," for there must have been some central
authority to preserve the text intact when it could not be preserved in
writing. Were there no such body to maintain a fixed standard, the poems
must have ended by varying indefinitely, according to the caprice of
their various reciters. This is perfectly obvious.

Such a school could keep an eye on anachronisms and excise them; in
fact, the Maori priests, in an infinitely more barbarous state of
society, had such schools for the preservation of their ancient hymns in
purity. The older priests "insisted on a critical and verbatim
rehearsal of all the ancient lore." Proceedings were sanctioned by human
sacrifices and many mystic rites. We are not told that new poems were
produced and criticised; it does not appear that this was the case.
Pupils attended from three to five years, and then qualified as priests
or _tohunga_ [Footnote: White, _THE Ancient HISTORY OF THE Maori, VOL._
i. pp. 8-13.]. Suppose that the Asiatic Greeks, like the Maoris and
Zuñis, had Poetic Colleges of a sacred kind, admitting new poets, and
keeping them up to the antique standard in all respects. If this were
so, the relative rarity of "anachronisms" and of modernisms in language
in the Homeric poems is explained. But Mr. Leaf has now entirely
and with a light heart abandoned his theory of a school, which is
unsupported by evidence, he says.'

"The great problem," he writes, "for those who maintain the gradual
growth of the poems by a process of crystallisation has been to
understand how a single version came to be accepted, where many rival
versions must, from the necessity of the case, have once existed side by
side. The assumption of a school or guild of singers has been made," and
Mr. Leaf, in 1892, made the assumption himself: "as some such hypothesis
we are bound to make in order to explain the possibility of any theory"
(1892). [Footnote: _COMPANION TO THE Iliad, pp. 20, 21._]

But now (1900) he says, after mentioning "the assumption of a school or
guild of singers," that "the rare mention of [Greek: Homeridai] in
Chios gives no support to this hypothesis, which lacks any other
confirmation." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. xviii. p. xix.] He therefore
now adopts the Wolfian hypothesis that "an official copy of Homer was
made in Athens at the time of Solon or Pisistratus," from the rhapsodies
existing in the memory of reciters. [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. xix.]
But Mr. Leaf had previously said [Footnote: _COMPANION TO THE Iliad_,
p. 190.] that "the legend which connects his" (Pisistratus's) "name
with the Homeric poems is itself probably only conjectural, and of
late date." Now the evidence for Pisistratus which, in 1892, he thought
"conjectural and of late date," seems to him a sufficient basis for an
hypothesis of a Pisistratean editor of the Iliad, while the evidence for
an Homeric school which appeared to him good enough for an hypothesis in
1892 is rejected as worthless, though, in each case, the evidence itself
remains just what it used to be.

This is not very satisfactory, and the Pisistratean hypothesis is much
less useful to a theorist than the former hypothesis of an Homeric
school, for the Pisistratean hypothesis cannot explain the harmony of
the characters and the details in the _Iliad_, nor the absence of
such glaring anachronisms as the Cyclic poets made, nor the general
"pre-Odyssean" character of the language and grammar. By the
Pisistratean hypothesis there was not, what Mr. Leaf in 1892 justly
deemed essential, a school "to maintain a fixed standard," throughout
the changes of four centuries, and against the caprice of many
generations of fresh reciters and irresponsible poets. The hypothesis of
a school _was_ really that which, of the two, best explained the facts,
and there is no more valid evidence for the first making and writing
out of our _Iliad_ under Pisistratus than for the existence of a Homeric

The evidence for the _Iliad_ edited for Pisistratus is examined in a
Note at the close of this chapter. Meanwhile Mr. Leaf now revives Wolf's
old theory to account for the fact that somehow "a single version"
(of the Homeric poems) "came to be accepted." His present theory, if
admitted, does account for the acceptation of a single version of the
poems, the first standard _written_ version, but fails to explain how
"the caprice of the different reciters" (as he says) did not wander into
every variety of anachronism in detail and in diction, thus producing
a chaos which no editor of about 540 A.D. could force into its present

Such an editor is now postulated by Mr. Leaf. If his editor's edition,
as being _written_, was accepted by Greece, then we "understand how a
single version came to be accepted." But we do not understand how
the editor could possibly introduce a harmony which could only have
characterised his materials, as Mr. Leaf has justly remarked, if there
was an Homeric school "to maintain a fixed standard." But now such
harmony in the picture of life as exists in the poems is left without
any explanation. We have now, by the theory, a crowd of rhapsodists,
many generations of uncontrolled wandering men, who, for several

     "Rave, recite, and madden through the land,"

with no written texts, and with no "fixed body to maintain a standard."
Such men would certainly not adhere strictly to a stereotyped early
tradition: _that_ we cannot expect from them.

Again, no editor of about 540 B.C. could possibly bring harmony of
manners, customs, and diction into such of their recitals as he took
down in writing.

Let us think out the supposed editor's situation. During three centuries
nine generations of strollers have worked their will on one ancient
short poem, _The Wrath_ of _Achilles_. This is, in itself, an unexampled
fact. Poets turn to new topics; they do not, as a rule, for centuries
embroider one single situation out of the myriads which heroic legend
affords. Strolling reciters are the least careful of men, each would
recite in the language and grammar of his day, and introduce the newly
evolved words and idioms, the new and fashionable manners, costume, and
weapons of his time. When war chariots became obsolete, he would bring
in cavalry; when there was no Over-Lord, he would not trouble himself
to maintain correctly the character and situation of Agamemnon. He would
speak of coined money, in cases of buying and selling; his European
geography would often be wrong; he would not ignore the Ionian cities
of Asia; most weapons would be of iron, not bronze, in his lays. Ionian
religious ideas could not possibly be excluded, nor changes in customary
law, civil and criminal. Yet, we think, none of these things occurs in

The editor of the theory had to correct all these anachronisms and
discrepancies. What a task in an uncritical age! The editor's materials
would be the lays known to such strollers as happened to be gathered,
in Athens, perhaps at the Panathenaic festival. The _répertoire_ of each
stroller would vary indefinitely from those of all the others. One man
knew this chant, as modified or made by himself; other men knew others,
equally unsatisfactory.

The editor must first have written down from recitation all the passages
that he could collect. Then he was obliged to construct a narrative
sequence containing a plot, which he fashioned by a process of selection
and rejection; and then he had to combine passages, alter them, add
as much as he thought fit, remove anachronisms, remove discrepancies,
accidentally bring in fresh discrepancies (as always happens), weave
transitional passages, look with an antiquarian eye after the too
manifest modernisms in language and manners, and so produce the [blank
space]. That, in the sixth century B.C., any man undertook such a task,
and succeeded so well as to impose on Aristotle and all the later Greek
critics, appears to be a theory that could only occur to a modern man of
letters, who is thinking of the literary conditions of his own time.
The editor was doing, and doing infinitely better, what Lönnrot, in the
nineteenth century, tried in vain to achieve for the Finnish _Kalewala_.
[Footnote: See Comparetti, _The Kalewala_.]

Centuries later than Pisistratus, in a critical age, Apollonius Rhodius
set about writing an epic of the Homeric times. We know how entirely he
failed, on all hands, to restore the manner of Homer. The editor of 540
B.C. was a more scientific man. Can any one who sets before himself the
nature of the editor's task believe in him and it? To the master-less
floating jellyfish of old poems and new, Mr. Leaf supposes that "but
small and unimportant additions were made after the end of the eighth
century or thereabouts," especially as "the creative and imaginative
forces of the Ionian race turned to other forms of expression," to
lyrics and to philosophic poems. But the able Pisistratean editor, after
all, we find, introduced quantities of new matter into the poems--in the
middle of the sixth century; that kind of industry, then, did not cease
towards the end of the eighth century, as we have been told. On the
other hand, as we shall learn, the editor contributed to the _Iliad_,
among other things, Nestor's descriptions of his youthful adventures,
for the purpose of flattering Nestor's descendant, the tyrant
Pisistratus of Athens.

One hypothesis, the theory of an Homeric school--which would answer our
question, "How was the harmony of the picture of life in remote ages
preserved in poems composed in several succeeding ages, and in totally
altered conditions of life?"--Mr. Leaf, as we know, rejects. We might
suggest, again, that there were written texts handed down from an early
period, and preserved in new copies from generation to generation. Mr.
Leaf states his doubt that there were any such texts. "The poems were
all this time handed down orally only by tradition among the singers
(_sic_), who used to wander over Greece reciting them at popular
festivals. Writing was indeed known through the whole period of epic
development" (some four centuries at least), "but it is in the highest
degree unlikely that it was ever employed to form a standard text of the
Epic or _ANY_ part of it. There can hardly have been any standard text;
at best there was a continuous tradition of those parts of the poems
which were especially popular, and the knowledge of which was a valuable
asset to the professional reciter."

Now we would not contend for the existence of any [blank space] text
much before 600 B.C., and I understand Mr. Leaf not to deny, now, that
there may have been texts of the _ODYSSEY_ and _Iliad_ before, say,
600-540 B.C. If cities and reciters had any ancient texts, then texts
existed, though not "standard" texts: and by this means the harmony of
thought, character, and detail in the poems might be preserved. We do
not think that it is "in the highest degree unlikely" that there were no
texts. Is this one of the many points on which every savant must rely on
his own sense of what is "likely"? To this essential point, the almost
certain existence of written texts, we return in our conclusion.

What we have to account for is not only the relative lack of
anachronisms in poems supposed to have been made through a period of at
least four hundred years, but also the harmony of the _CHARACTERS_
in subtle details. Some of the characters will be dealt with later;
meanwhile it is plain that Mr. Leaf, when he rejects both the idea
of written texts prior to 600-540 B.C., and also the idea of a school
charged with the duty of "maintaining a fixed standard," leaves a
terrible task to his supposed editor of orally transmitted poems which,
he says--if unpreserved by text or school--"must have ended by varying
infinitely according to the caprice of their various reciters."
[Footnote: _Companion to the Iliad, p. 21._]

On that head there can be no doubt; in the supposed circumstances no
harmony, no _unus_ color, could have survived in the poems till the days
of the sixth century editor.

Here, then, is another difficulty in the path of the theory that the
_Iliad_ is the work of four centuries. If it was, we are not enabled to
understand how it came to be what it is. No editor could possibly tinker
it into the whole which we possess; none could steer clear of many
absurd anachronisms. These are found by critics, but it is our hope to
prove that they do not exist.



It has been shown in the text that in 1892 Mr. Leaf thought the story
about the making of the _Iliad_ under Pisistratus, a legend without
authority, while he regarded the traditions concerning an Homeric school
as sufficient basis for an hypothesis, "which we are bound to make in
order to explain the possibility of any theory." In 1900 he entirely
reversed his position, the school was abandoned, and the story of
Pisistratus was accepted. One objection to accepting any of the various
legends about the composing and writing out, for the first time, of the
_Iliad_, in the sixth century, the age of Pisistratus, was the silence
of Aristarchus on the subject. He discussed the authenticity of lines
in the _Iliad_ which, according to the legend, were interpolated for a
political purpose by Solon or Pisistratus, but, as far as his comments
have reached us in the scholia, he never said a word about the tradition
of Athenian interpolation. Now Aristarchus must, at least, have known
the tradition of the political use of a disputed line, for Aristotle
writes (_Rhetoric_, i. 15) that the Athenians, early in the sixth
century, quoted _Iliad_, II. 558, to prove their right to Salamis.
Aristarchus also discussed _Iliad_, II. 553, 555, to which the Spartans
appealed on the question of supreme command against Persia (Herodotus,
vii. 159). Again Aristarchus said nothing, or nothing that has reached
us, about Athenian interpolation. Once more, Odyssey, II. 631, was said
by Hereas, a Megarian writer, to have been interpolated by Pisistratus
(Plutarch.) But "the scholia that represent the teaching of Aristarchus"
never make any reference to the alleged dealings of Pisistratus with the
_Iliad_. The silence of Aristarchus, however, affords no safe ground of
argument to believers or disbelievers in the original edition written
out by order of Pisistratus.

It can never be proved that the scholiasts did not omit what Aristarchus
said, though we do not know why they should have done so; and it can
never be proved that Aristarchus was ignorant of the traditions about
Pisistratus, or that he thought them unworthy of notice. All is matter
of conjecture on these points. Mr. Leaf's conversion to belief in the
story that our _Iliad_ was practically edited and first committed to
writing under Pisistratus appears to be due to the probability that
Aristarchus must have known the tradition. But if he did, there is no
proof that he accepted it as historically authentic. There is not, in
fact, any proof even that Aristarchus must have known the tradition. He
had probably read Dieuchidas of Megara, for "Wilamowitz has shown that
Dieuchidas wrote in the fourth century." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i.
p. xix.] But, unluckily, we do not know that Dieuchidas stated that the
_Iliad_ was made and first committed to writing in the sixth century
B.C. No mortal knows what Dieuchidas said: and, again, what Dieuchidas
said is not evidence. He wrote as a partisan in a historical dispute.

The story about Pisistratus and his editor, the practical maker of
the _Iliad_, is interwoven with a legend about an early appeal, in
the beginning of the sixth century B.C., to Homer as an historical
authority. The Athenians and Megarians, contending for the possession of
the island of Salamis, the home of the hero Aias, are said to have laid
their differences before the Spartans (_cir._ 600-580 B.C.). Each party
quoted Homer as evidence. Aristotle, who, as we saw, mentions the tale
(Rhetoric, i. 15), merely says that the Athenians cited _Iliad_,
II. 558: "Aias led and stationed his men where the phalanxes of the
Athenians were posted." Aristarchus condemned this line, not (as far
as evidence goes) because there was a tradition that the Athenians
had interpolated it to prove their point, but because he thought it
inconsistent with _Iliad_, III. 230; IV. 251, which, if I may differ
from so great a critic, it is not; these two passages deal, not with
the position of the camps, but of the men in the field on a certain
occasion. But if Aristarchus had thought the tradition of Athenian
interpolation of II. 558 worthy of notice, he might have mentioned it in
support of his opinion. Perhaps he did. No reference to his notice has
reached us. However this may be, Mr. Leaf mainly bases his faith in
the Pisistratean editor (apparently, we shall see, an Asiatic Greek,
residing in Athens), on a fragmentary passage of Diogenes Laertius
(third century A.D.), concerned with the tale of Homer's being cited
about 600-580 B.C. as an authority for the early ownership of Salamis.
In this text Diogenes quotes Dieuchidas as saying something about
Pisistratus in relation to the Homeric poems, but what Dieuchidas really
said is unknown, for a part has dropped out of the text.

The text of Diogenes Laertius runs thus (Solon, i. 57): "He (Solon)
decreed that the Homeric poems should be recited by rhapsodists [Greek
text: ex hypobolaes]" (words of disputed sense), so that where the first
reciter left off thence should begin his successor. It was rather
Solon, then, than Pisistratus who brought Homer to light ([Greek text:
ephotisen]), as Diogenes says in the Fifth Book of his _Megarica_.
And _the lines_ were _especially these_: "They who held Athens," &c.
(_Iliad_, II. 546-558), the passage on which the Athenians rested in
their dispute with the Megarians.

And _what_ "lines were especially these"? Mr. Leaf fills up the gap
in the sense, after "Pisistratus" thus, "for it was he" (Solon) "who
interpolated lines in the _Catalogue_, and not Pisistratus." He says:
"The natural sense of the passage as it stands" (in Diogenes Laertius)
"is this: It was not Peisistratos, as is generally supposed, but Solon
_who collected the scattered Homer_ of _his_ day, for he it was who
interpolated the lines in the _Catalogue of the Ships_".... But Diogenes
neither says for himself nor quotes from Dieuchidas anything about
"collecting the scattered Homer of his day." That Pisistratus did so
is Mr. Leafs theory, but there is not a hint about anybody collecting
anything in the Greek. Ritschl, indeed, conjecturally supplying the
gap in the text of Diogenes, invented the words, "Who _collected_ the
Homeric poems, and inserted some things to please the Athenians." But
Mr. Leaf rejects that conjecture as "clearly wrong." Then why does he
adopt, as "the natural sense of the passage," "it was not Peisistratos
but Solon who _collected_ the scattered Homer of his day?" [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. xviii.] The testimony of Dieuchidas, as far as we
can see in the state of the text, "refers," as Mr. Monro says, "to
the _interpolation_ that has just been mentioned, and need not extend
further back." "Interpolation is a process that postulates a text in
which the additional verses can be inserted," whereas, if I understand
Mr. Leaf, the very first text, in his opinion, was that compiled by the
editor for Pisistratus. [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. pp. 400 410,
especially pp. 408-409.] Mr. Leaf himself dismisses the story of the
Athenian appeal to Homer for proof of their claim as "a fiction." If,
so, it does not appear that ancient commentaries on a fiction are of
any value as proof that Pisistratus produced the earliest edition of
the _Iliad_. [Footnote: Mr. Leaf adds that, except in one disputed
line (_Iliad_, II. 558) Aias "is not, in the _Iliad_, encamped next
the Athenians." His proofs of this odd oversight of the fraudulent
interpolator, who should have altered the line, are _Iliad_, IV. 327 ff,
and XII. 681 ff. In the former passage we find Odysseus stationed next
to the Athenians. But Odysseus would have neighbours on either hand. In
the second passage we find the Athenians stationed next to the Boeotians
and Ionians, but the Athenians, too, had neighbours on either side. The
arrangement was, on the Achaean extreme left, Protesilaus's command (he
was dead), and that of Aias; then the Boeotians and Ionians, with
"the picked men of the Athenians"; and then Odysseus, on the
Boeotolono-Athenian right; or so the Athenians would read the passage.
The texts must have seemed favourable to the fraudulent Athenian
interpolator denounced by the Megarians, or he would have altered them.
Mr. Leaf, however, argues that line 558 of Book II. "cannot be original,
as is patent from the fact that Aias in the rest of the _Iliad_ is not
encamped next the Athenians" (see IV. 327; XIII. 681). The Megarians do
not seem to have seen it, or they would have cited these passages. But
why argue at all about the Megarian story if it be a fiction? Mr. Leaf
takes the brief bald mention of Aias in _Iliad_, II. 558 as "a mocking
cry from Athens over the conquest of the island of the Aiakidai."
But as, in this same _Catalogue_, Aias is styled "by far the best of
warriors" after Achilles (II. 768), while there is no more honourable
mention made of Diomede than that he had "a loud war cry" (II. 568),
or of Menelaus but that he was also sonorous, and while Nestor, the
ancestor of Pisistratus, receives not even that amount of praise (line
601), "the mocking cry from Athens" appears a vain imagination.]

The lines disputed by the Megarians occur in the _Catalogue_, and, as
to the date and original purpose of the _Catalogue_, the most various
opinions prevail. In Mr. Leaf's earlier edition of the _Iliad_ (vol. i.
p. 37), he says that "nothing convincing has been urged to show" that
the _Catalogue_ is "of late origin." We know, from the story of Solon
and the Megarians, that the _Catalogue_ "was considered a classical
work--the Domesday Book of Greece, at a very early date"--say 600-580
B.C. "It agrees with the poems in being pre-Dorian" (except in lines

"There seems therefore to be no valid reason for doubting that it, like
the bulk of the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, was composed in Achaean times,
and carried with the emigrants to the coast of Asia Minor...."

In his new edition (vol. ii. p. 86), Mr. Leaf concludes that the
_Catalogue_ "originally formed an introduction to the whole Cycle," the
compiling of "the whole Cycle" being of uncertain date, but very late
indeed, on any theory. The author "studiously preserves an ante-Dorian
standpoint. It is admitted that there can be little doubt that some of
the material, at least, is old."

These opinions are very different from those expressed by Mr. Leaf in
1886. He cannot now give "even an approximate date for the composition
of the _Catalogue_" which, we conceive, must be the latest thing in
Homer, if it was composed "for that portion of the whole Cycle which, as
worked up in a separate poem, was called the _Kypria_" for the _Kypria_
is obviously a very late performance, done as a prelude to the _Iliad_.

I am unable to imagine how this mutilated passage of Diogenes, even if
rightly restored, proves that Dieuchidas, a writer of the fourth century
B.C., alleged that Pisistratus made a collection of scattered Homeric
poems--in fact, made "a standard text."

The Pisistratean hypothesis "was not so long ago unfashionable, but
in the last few years a clear reaction has set in," says Mr. Leaf.
[Footnote: _Iliad_, i. p. XIX.]

The reaction has not affected that celebrated scholar, Dr. Blass, who,
with Teutonic frankness, calls the Pisistratean edition "an absurd
legend." [Footnote: Blass, Die _Interpolationen_ in der _Odyssee_,
pp. I, 2. Halle, 1904.] Meyer says that the Alexandrians rejected the
Pisistratean story "as a worthless fable," differing here from Mr. Leaf
and Wilamowitz; and he spurns the legend, saying that it is incredible
that the whole Greek world would allow the tyrants of Athens to palm off
a Homer on them. [Footnote: Meyer, _Geschichte des Alterthums_, ii. 390,
391. 1893.]

Mr. T. W. Allen, an eminent textual scholar, treats the Pisistratean
editor with no higher respect. In an Egyptian papyrus containing a
fragment of Julius Africanus, a Christian chronologer, Mr. Allen finds
him talking confidently of the Pisistratidae. They "stitched together
the rest of the epic," but excised some magical formulae which
Julius Africanus preserves. Mr. Allen remarks: "The statements about
Pisistratus belong to a well-established category, that of Homeric
mythology.... The anecdotes about Pisistratus and the poet himself are
on a par with Dares, who 'wrote the _Iliad_ before Homer.'" [Footnote:
_Classical Review_ xviii. 148.]

The editor of Pisistratus is hardly in fashion, though that is of no
importance. Of importance is the want of evidence for the editor, and,
as we have shown, the impossible character of the task allotted to him
by the theory.

As I suppose Mr. Leaf to insinuate, "fashion" has really nothing to do
with the question. People who disbelieve in written texts must, and
do, oscillate between the theory of an Homeric "school" and the Wolfian
theory that Pisistratus, or Solon, or somebody procured the making of
the first written text at Athens in the sixth century--a theory which
fails to account for the harmony of the picture of life in the poems,
and, as Mr. Monro, Grote, Nutzhorn, and many others argue, lacks

As Mr. Monro reasons, and as Blass states the case bluntly, "Solon, or
Pisistratus, or whoever it was, put a stop, at least as far as Athens
was concerned, to the mangling of Homer" by the rhapsodists or reciters,
each anxious to choose a pet passage, and not going through the whole
_Iliad_ in due sequence. "But the unity existed before the mangling.
That this has been so long and so stubbornly misunderstood is no credit
to German scholarship: blind uncritical credulity on one side, limitless
and arbitrary theorising on the other!" We are not solitary sceptics
when we decline to accept the theory of Mr. Leaf. It is neither bottomed
on evidence nor does it account for the facts in the case. That is to
say, the evidence appeals to Mr. Leaf as valid, but is thought worse
than inadequate by other great scholars, such as Monro and Blass; while
the fact of the harmony of the picture of life, preserved through four
or five centuries, appears to be left without explanation.

Mr. Leaf holds that, in order to organise recitations in due sequence,
the making of a text, presenting, for the first time, a due sequence,
was necessary. His opponents hold that the sequence already existed, but
was endangered by the desultory habits of the rhapsodists. We must here
judge each for himself; there is no court of final appeal.

I confess to feeling some uncertainty about the correctness of my
statement of Mr. Leaf's opinions. He and I both think an early Attic
"recension" probable, or almost certain. But (see' "Conclusion") I
regard such recension as distinct from the traditional "edition" of
Pisistratus. Mr. Leaf, I learn, does not regard the "edition" as having
"made" the _Iliad_; yet his descriptions of the processes and methods
of his Pisistratean editor correspond to my idea of the "making" of
our _Iliad_ as it stands. See, for example, Mr. Leaf's Introduction
to _Iliad_, Book II. He will not even insist on the early Attic as the
first _written_ text; if it was not, its general acceptance seems
to remain a puzzle. He discards the idea of one Homeric "school" of
paramount authority, but presumes that, as recitation was a profession,
there must have been schools. We do not hear of them or know the
nature of their teaching. The Beauvais "school" of _jongleurs_ in Lent
(fourteenth century A.D.) seems to have been a holiday conference of



We now try to show that the Epics present an historical unity, a
complete and harmonious picture of an age, in its political, social,
legal, and religious aspects; in its customs, and in its military
equipment. A long epic can only present an unity of historical ideas
if it be the work of one age. Wandering minstrels, living through a
succession of incompatible ages, civic, commercial, democratic, could
not preserve, without flaw or failure, the attitude, in the first place,
of the poet of feudal princes towards an Over-Lord who rules them by
undisputed right divine, but rules weakly, violently, unjustly, being
subject to gusts of arrogance, and avarice, and repentance. Late poets
not living in feudal society, and unfamiliar alike with its customary
law, its jealousy of the Over-Lord, its conservative respect for his
consecrated function, would inevitably miss the proper tone, and fail in
some of the many [blank space] of the feudal situation. This is all the
more certain, if we accept Mr. Leaf's theory that each poet-rhapsodist's
_répertoire_ varied from the _répertoires_ of the rest. There could be
no unity of treatment in their handling of the character and position of
the Over-Lord and of the customary law that regulates his relations with
his peers. Again, no editor of 540 B.C. could construct an harmonious
picture of the Over-Lord in relation to the princes out of the
fragmentary _répertoires_ of strolling rhapsodists, which now lay before
him in written versions. If the editor could do this, he was a man of
Shakespearian genius, and had minute knowledge of a dead society.
This becomes evident when, in place of examining the _Iliad_ through
microscopes, looking out for discrepancies, we study it in its large
lines as a literary whole. The question being, Is the _Iliad_ a
literary whole or a mere literary mosaic? we must ask "What, taking it
provisionally as a literary whole, are the qualities of the poet as a
painter of what we may call feudal society?"

Choosing the part of the Over-Lord Agamemnon, we must not forget that he
is one of several analogous figures in the national poetry and romance
of other feudal ages. Of that great analogous figure, Charlemagne,
and of his relations with his peers in the earlier and later French
mediaeval epics we shall later speak. Another example is Arthur, in some
romances "the blameless king," in others _un roi fainéant_.

The parallel Irish case is found in the Irish saga of Diarmaid and
Grainne. We read Mr. O'Grady's introduction on the position of Eionn Mac
Cumhail, the legendary Over-Lord of Ireland, the Agamemnon of the Celts.
"Fionn, like many men in power, is variable; he is at times magnanimous,
at other times tyrannical and petty. Diarmaid, Oisin, Oscar, and Caoilte
Mac Rohain are everywhere the [Greek: kaloi kachotoi] of the Fenians;
of them we never hear anything bad." [Footnote: _Transactions of the
Ossianic_ Society, vol. iii. p. 39.]

Human nature eternally repeats itself in similar conditions of society,
French, Norse, Celtic, and Achaean. "We never hear anything bad" of
Diomede, Odysseus, or Aias, and the evil in Achilles's resentment up to
a certain point is legal, and not beyond what the poet thinks natural
and pardonable in his circumstances.

The poet's view of Agamemnon is expressed in the speeches and conduct
of the peers. In Book I. we see the bullying truculence of Agamemnon,
wreaked first on the priest of Apollo, Chryses, then in threats against
the prophet Chalcas, then in menaces against any prince on whom he
chooses to avenge his loss of fair Chryseis, and, finally, in the
Seizure of Briseis from Achilles.

This part of the First Book of the _Iliad_ is confessedly original, and
there is no varying, throughout the Epic, from the strong and delicate
drawing of an historical situation, and of a complex character.
Agamemnon is truculent, and eager to assert his authority, but he is
also possessed of a heavy sense of his responsibilities, which often
unmans him. He has a legal right to a separate "prize of honour" (geras)
after each capture of spoil. Considering the wrath of Apollo for the
wrong done in refusing his priest's offered ransom for his daughter,
Agamemnon will give her back, "if that is better; rather would I see my
folks whole than perishing." [Footnote: _Iliad_, I. 115-117.]

Here we note points of feudal law and of kingly character. The giving
and taking of ransom exists as it did in the Middle Ages; ransom is
refused, death is dealt, as the war becomes more fierce towards its
close. Agamemnon has sense enough to waive his right to the girlish
prize, for the sake of his people, but is not so generous as to demand
no compensation. But there are no fresh spoils to apportion, and the
Over-Lord threatens to take the prize of one of his peers, even of

Thereon Achilles does what was frequently done in the feudal age of
western Europe, he "renounces his fealty," and will return to Phthia. He
adds insult, "thou dog-face!" The whole situation, we shall show, recurs
again and again in the epics of feudal France, the later epics of feudal
discontent. Agamemnon replies that Achilles may do as he pleases. "I
have others by my side that shall do me honour, and, above all, Zeus,
Lord of Counsel" (I. 175). He rules, literally, by divine right, and we
shall see that, in the French feudal epics, as in Homer, this claim of
divine right is granted, even in the case of an insolent and cowardly
Over-Lord. Achilles half draws "his great sword," one of the long,
ponderous cut-and-thrust bronze swords of which we have actual examples
from Mycenae and elsewhere. He is restrained by Athene, visible only to
him. "With words, indeed," she says, "revile him .... hereafter shall
goodly gifts come to thee, yea, in threefold measure...."

Gifts of atonement for "surquedry," like that of Agamemnon, are given
and received in the French epics, for example, in the [blank space].
The _Iliad_ throughout exhibits much interest in such gifts, and in the
customary law as to their acceptance, and other ritual or etiquette
of reconciliation. This fact, it will be shown, accounts for a passage
which critics reject, and which is tedious to our taste, as it probably
was tedious to the age of the supposed late poets themselves. (Book
XIX.). But the taste of a feudal audience, as of the audience of the
Saga men, delighted in "realistic" descriptions of their own customs
and customary law, as in descriptions of costume and armour. This is
fortunate for students of customary law and costume, but wearies hearers
and readers who desire the action to advance. Passages of this kind
would never be inserted by late poets, who had neither the knowledge of,
nor any interest in, the subjects.

To return to Achilles, he is now within his right; the moral goddess
assures him of that, and he is allowed to give the reins to his
tongue, as he does in passages to which the mediaeval epics offer many
parallels. In the mediaeval epics, as in Homer, there is no idea of
recourse to a duel between the Over-Lord and his peer. Achilles accuses
Agamemnon of drunkenness, greed, and poltroonery. He does not
return home, but swears by the sceptre that Agamemnon shall rue his
_outrecuidance_ when Hector slays the host. By the law of the age
Achilles remains within his right. His violent words are not resented by
the other peers. They tacitly admit, as Athene admits, that Achilles has
the right, being so grievously injured, to "renounce his fealty," till
Agamemnon makes apology and gives gifts of atonement. Such, plainly, is
the unwritten feudal law, which gives to the Over-Lord the lion's share
of booty, the initiative in war and council, and the right to command;
but limits him by the privilege of the peers to renounce their fealty
under insufferable provocation. In no Book is Agamemnon so direfully
insulted as in the First, which is admitted to be of the original
"kernel." Elsewhere the sympathy of the poet occasionally enables him to
feel the elements of pathos in the position of the over-tasked King of

As concerns the apology and the gifts of atonement, the poet has feudal
customary law and usage clearly before his eyes. He knows exactly what
is due, and the limits of the rights of Over-Lord and prince, matters
about which the late Ionian poets could only pick up information by
a course of study in constitutional history--the last thing they were
likely to attempt--unless we suppose that they all kept their eyes
on the "kernel," and that steadily, through centuries, generations of
strollers worked on the lines laid down in that brief poem.

Thus the poet of Book IX.--one of "the latest expansions,"--thoroughly
understands the legal and constitutional situation, as between Agamemnon
and Achilles. Or rather all the poets who collaborated in Book IX.,
which "had grown by a process of accretion," [Footnote: Leaf, Iliad,
vol. i. p. 371.] understood the legal situation.

Returning to the poet's conception of Agamemnon, we find in the
character of Agamemnon himself the key to the difficulties which critics
discover in the Second Book. The difficulty is that when Zeus, won over
to the cause of Achilles by Thetis, sends a false Dream to Agamemnon,
the Dream tells the prince that he shall at once take Troy, and bids him
summon the host to arms. But Agamemnon, far from doing that, summons
the host to a peaceful assembly, with the well-known results of

Mr. Leaf explains the circumstances on his own theory of expansions
compiled into a confused whole by a late editor. He thinks that probably
there were two varying versions even of this earliest Book of the poem.
In one (A), the story went on from the quarrel between Agamemnon and
Achilles, to the holding of a general assembly "to consider the altered
state of affairs." This is the Assembly of Book H, but debate, in
version A, was opened by Thersites, not by Agamemnon, and Thersites
proposed instant flight! That was probably the earlier version.

In the other early version (B), after the quarrel between the chiefs,
the story did not, as in A, go on straight to the Assembly, but Achilles
appealed to his mother, the fair sea-goddess, as in our Iliad, and she
obtained from Zeus, as in the actual _Iliad_, his promise to honour
Achilles by giving victory, in his absence, to the Trojans. The poet of
version B, in fact, created the beautiful figure of Thetis, so essential
to the development of the tenderness that underlies the ferocity of
Achilles. The other and earliest poet, who treated of the Wrath of
the author of version A, neglected that opportunity with all that it
involved, and omitted the purpose of Zeus, which is mentioned in the
fifth line of the Epic. The editor of 540 B.C., seeing good in both
versions, A and B, "combined his information," and produced Books I. and
II. of the _ILIAD_ as they stand. [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p.

Mr. Leaf suggests that "there is some ground for supposing that the
oldest version of the Wrath of Achilles did not contain the promise of
Zeus to Thetis; it was a tale played exclusively on the earthly stage."
[Footnote: _Ibid_, vol. i. p. xxiii.] In that case the author of the
oldest form (A) must have been a poet very inferior indeed to the later
author of B who took up and altered his work. In _his_ version, Book
I. does not end with the quarrel of the princes, but Achilles receives,
with all the courtesy of his character, the unwelcome heralds of
Agamemnon, and sends Briseis with them to the Over-Lord. He then with
tears appeals to his goddess-mother, Thetis of the Sea, who rose from
the grey mere like a mist, leaving the sea deeps where she dwelt beside
her father, the ancient one of the waters. Then sat she face to face
with her son as he let the tears down fall, and caressed him, saying,
"Child, wherefore weepest thou, for what sorrow of heart? Hide it
not, tell it to me; that I may know it as well as thou." Here the poet
strikes the keynote of the character of Achilles, the deadly in war, the
fierce in council, who weeps for his lost lady and his wounded honour,
and cries for help to his mother, as little children cry.

Such is the Achilles of the _Iliad_ throughout and consistently, but
such he was not to the mind of Mr. Leaf's probably elder poet, the
author of version A. Thetis, in version B, promises to persuade Zeus to
honour Achilles by making Agamemnon rue his absence, and, twelve days
after the quarrel, wins the god's consent.

In Book II. Zeus reflects on his promise, and sends a false Dream to
beguile Agamemnon, promising that now he shall take Troy. Agamemnon,
while asleep, is full of hope; but when he wakens he dresses in mufti,
in a soft doublet, a cloak, and sandals; takes his sword (swords were
then worn as part of civil costume), and the ancestral sceptre, which he
wields in peaceful assemblies. Day dawns, and "he bids the heralds...."
A break here occurs, according to the theory.

Here (_Iliad_, Book II., line 50) the kernel ceases, Mr. Leaf says, and
the editor of 540 B.C. plays his pranks for a while.

The kernel (or one of the _two_ kernels), we are to take up again at
Book II., 443-483, and thence "skip" to XI. 56, and now "we have a
narrative masterly in conception and smooth in execution," [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. 47.] says Mr. Leaf. This kernel is kernel B,
probably the later kernel of the pair, that in which Achilles appeals to
his lady mother, who wins from Zeus the promise to cause Achaean defeat,
till Achilles is duly honoured. The whole Epic turns on this promise of
Zeus, as announced in the fifth, sixth, and seventh lines of the very
first Book. If kernel A is the first kernel, the poet left out the
essence of the plot he had announced. However, let us first examine
probable kernel B, reading, as advised, Book II. 1-50, [blank space];
XI. 56 ff.

We left Agamemnon (though the Dream bade him summon the host to arms)
dressed in _civil costume_. His ancestral sceptre in his hand, he is
going to hold a deliberative assembly of the unarmed host. His attire
proves that fact ([Greek: _prepodaes de ae stolae to epi Boulaen
exionti_], says the scholiast). Then if we skip, as advised, to II.
443-483 he bids the heralds call the host not to peaceful council, for
which his costume is appropriate, but to _war_! The host gathers, "and
in their midst the lord Agamemnon,"--still in civil costume, with his
sceptre (he has not changed his attire as far as we are told)--"in face
and eyes like Zeus; in waist like Ares" (god of war); "in breast like
Poseidon,"--yet, for all that we are told, entirely unarmed! The host,
however, were dressed "in innumerable bronze," "war was sweeter to them
than to depart in their ships to their dear native land,"--so much did
Athene encourage them.

But nobody had been speaking of flight, in THE KERNEL B: THAT proposal
was originally made by Thersites, in kernel A, and was attributed to
Agamemnon in the part of Book II. where the editor blends A and B.
This part, at present, Mr. Leaf throws aside as a very late piece of
compilation. Turning next, as directed, to XI. 56, we find the Trojans
deploying in arms, and the hosts encounter with fury--Agamemnon still,
for all that appears, in the raiment of peace, and with the sceptre of
constitutional monarchy. "In he rushed, first of all, and slew Bienor,"
and many other gentlemen of Troy, not with his sceptre!

Clearly all this is the reverse of "a narrative masterly in conception
and smooth in execution:" it is an impossible narrative.

Mr. Leaf has attempted to disengage one of two forms of the old original
poem from the parasitic later growths; he has promised to show us a
smooth and masterly narrative, and the result is a narrative on which
no Achasan poet could have ventured. In II. 50 the heralds are bidden
[Greek: _kurussein_], that is to summon the host--to _what_? To a
peaceful assembly, as Agamemnon's costume proves, says the next line
(II. 51), but that is excised by Mr. Leaf, and we go on to II. 443, and
the reunited passage now reads, "Agamemnon bade the loud heralds" (II.
50) "call the Achaeans to battle" (II. 443), and they came, in harness,
but their leader--when did he exchange chiton, cloak, and sceptre for
helmet, shield, and spear? A host appears in arms; a king who set out
with sceptre and doublet is found with a spear, in bronze armour: and
not another word is said about the Dream of Agamemnon.

It is perfectly obvious and certain that the two pieces of the broken
kernel B do not fit together at all. Nor is this strange, if the kernel
was really broken and endured the insertion of matter enough to fill
nine Books (IL-XL). If kernel B really contained Book II., line 50,
as Mr. Leaf avers, if Agamemnon, as in that line (50) "bade the
clear-voiced heralds do...." something--what he bade them do was,
necessarily, as his peaceful costume proves, to summon the peaceful
assembly which he was to moderate with his sceptre. At such an assembly,
or at a preliminary council of Chiefs, he would assuredly speak of his
Dream, as he does in the part excised. Mr. Leaf, if he will not have a
peaceful assembly as part of kernel B, must begin his excision at the
middle of line 42, in II., where Agamemnon wakens; and must make him
dress not in mufti but in armour, and call the host of the Achaeans to
arm, as the Dream bade him do, and as he does in II. 443. Perhaps we
should then excise II. 45 2, 45 3, with the reference to the plan of
retreat, for _THAT_ is part of kernel A where there was no promise of
Zeus, and no Dream sent to Agamemnon. Then from II. 483, the description
of the glorious armed aspect of Agamemnon, Mr. Leaf may pass to XI. 56,
the account of the Trojans under Hector, of the battle, of the prowess
of Agamemnon, inspired by the Dream which he, contrary to Homeric and
French epic custom, has very wisely mentioned to nobody--that is, in the
part not excised.

This appears to be the only method by which Mr. Leaf can restore the
continuity of his kernel B.

Though Mr. Leaf has failed to fit Book XI. to any point in Book II., of
course it does not follow that Book XI. cannot be a continuation of the
original _Wrath_ of _Achilles_ (version B). If so, we understand why
Agamemnon plucks up heart, in Book XI., and is the chief cause of a
temporary Trojan reverse. He relies on the Dream sent from Zeus in the
opening lines of Book II., the Dream which was not in kernel A; the
Dream which he communicated to nobody; the Dream conveying the promise
that he should at once take Troy. This is perhaps a tenable theory,
though Agamemnon had much reason to doubt whether the host would obey
his command to arm, but an alternative theory of why and wherefore
Agamemnon does great feats of valour, in Book XI., will later be
propounded. Note that the events of Books XL.-XVIII., by Mr. Leaf's
theory, all occur on the very day after Thetis (according to kernel
B)' [79] obtains from Zeus his promise to honour Achilles by the
discomfiture of the Achaeans; they have suffered nothing till that
moment, as far as we learn, from the absence of Achilles and his 2500
men: allowing for casualties, say 2000.

So far we have traced--from Books I. and II. to Book XI.--the fortunes
of kernel B, of the supposed later of two versions of the opening of the
_Iliad_. But there may have been a version (A) probably earlier, we have
been told, in which Achilles did not appeal to his mother, nor she to
Zeus, and Zeus did not promise victory to the Trojans, and sent no false
Dream of success to Agamemnon. What were the fortunes of that oldest
of all old kernels? In this version (A) Agamemnon, having had no Dream,
summoned a peaceful assembly to discuss the awkwardness caused by the
mutiny of Achilles. The host met (_Iliad,_ II. 87-99). Here we pass from
line 99 to 212-242: Thersites it is who opens the debate, (in version A)
insults Agamemnon, and advises flight. The army rushed off to launch the
ships, as in II. 142-210, and were brought back by Odysseus, who made a
stirring speech, and was well backed by Agamemnon, urging to battle.

Version A appears to us to have been a version that no heroic audience
would endure. A low person like Thersites opens a debate in an assembly
called by the Over-Lord; this could not possibly pass unchallenged among
listeners living in the feudal age. When a prince called an assembly,
he himself opened the debate, as Achilles does in Book I. 54-67. That
a lewd fellow, the buffoon and grumbler of the host, of "the people,"
nameless and silent throughout the Epic, should rush in and open debate
in an assembly convoked by the Over-Lord, would have been regarded
by feudal hearers, or by any hearers with feudal traditions, as an
intolerable poetical license. Thersites would have been at once pulled
down and beaten; the host would not have rushed to the ships on _his_
motion. Any feudal audience would know better than to endure such
an impossibility; they would have asked, "How could Thersites
speak--without the sceptre?"

As the poem stands, and ought to stand, nobody less than the Over-Lord,
acting within his right, ([Greek: ae themis esti] II. 73), could suggest
the flight of the host, and be obeyed.

It is the absolute demoralisation of the host, in consequence of the
strange test of their Lord, Agamemnon, making a feigned proposal to fly,
and it is their confused, bewildered return to the assembly under the
persuasions of Odysseus, urged by Athene, that alone, in the poem, give
Thersites his unique opportunity to harangue. When the Over-Lord had
called an assembly the first word, of course, was for to speak, as
he does in the poem as it stands. That Thersifes should rise in the
arrogance bred by the recent disorderly and demoralised proceedings is
one thing; that he should open the debate when excitement was eager to
hear Agamemnon, and before demoralisation set in, is quite another. We
never hear again of Thersites, or of any one of the commonalty, daring
to open his mouth in an assembly. Thersites sees his one chance, the
chance of a life time, and takes it; because Agamemnon, by means of the
test--a proposal to flee homewards--which succeeded, it is said, in the
case of Cortès,--has reduced the host, already discontented, to a mob.

Before Agamemnon thus displayed his ineptitude, as he often does later,
Thersites had no chance. All this appears sufficiently obvious, if we
put ourselves at the point of view of the original listeners. Thersites
merely continues, in full assembly, the mutinous babble which he has
been pouring out to his neighbours during the confused rush to launch
the ships and during the return produced by the influence of Odysseus.
The poet says so himself (_Iliad_, II. 212). "The rest sat down ...
only Thersites still chattered on." No original poet could manage the
situation in any other way.

We have now examined Mr. Leaf's two supposed earliest versions of the
beginning of the _Iliad_. His presumed earlier version (A), with no
Thetis, no promise of Zeus, and no Dream, and with Thersites opening
debate, is jejune, unpoetical, and omits the gentler and most winning
aspect of the character of Achilles, while it could not possibly have
been accepted by a feudal audience for the reasons already given. His
presumed later version (B), with Thetis, Zeus, and the false Dream,
cannot be, or certainly has not been, brought by Mr. Leaf into congruous
connection with Book XI., and it results in the fighting of the
_unarmed_ Agamemnon, which no poet could have been so careless as to
invent. Agamemnon could not go into battle without helmet, shield, and
spears (the other armour we need not dwell upon here), and Thersites
could not have opened a debate when the Over-Lord had called the
Assembly, nor could he have moved the chiefs to prepare for flight,
unless, as in the actual _Iliad_, they had already been demoralised
by the result of the feigned proposal of flight by Agamemnon, and its
effect upon the host. Probably every reader who understands heroic
society, temper, and manners will, so far, agree with us.

Our own opinion is that the difficulties in the poem are caused partly
by the poet's conception of the violent, wavering, excitable,
and unstable character of Agamemnon; partly by some accident, now
indiscoverable, save by conjecture, which has happened to the text.

The story in the actual _Iliad_ is that Zeus, planning disaster for the
Achaeans, in accordance with his promise to Thetis, sends a false Dream,
to tell Agamemnon that he will take Troy instantly. He is bidden by the
Dream to summon the host to arms. Agamemnon, _still asleep_, "has in his
mind things not to be fulfilled: Him seemeth that he shall take Priam's
town that very day" (II. 36, 37). "Then he awoke" (II. 41), and,
obviously, was no longer so sanguine, once awake!

Being a man crushed by his responsibility, and, as commander-in-chief,
extremely timid, though personally brave, he disobeys the Dream, dresses
in civil costume, and summons the host to a _peaceful_ assembly, not
to war, as the Dream bade him do. Probably he thought that the host was
disaffected, and wanted to argue with them, in place of commanding.

Here it is that the difficulty comes in, and our perplexity is increased
by our ignorance of the regular procedure in Homeric times. Was the host
not in arms and fighting every day, when there was no truce? There seems
to have been no armistice after the mutiny of Achilles, for we are
told that, in the period between his mutiny and the day of the Dream of
Agamemnon, Achilles "was neither going to the Assembly, nor into battle,
but wasted his heart, abiding there, longing for war and the slogan"
(I. 489, 492). Thus it seems that war went on, and that assemblies were
being held, in the absence of Achilles. It appears, however, that the
fighting was mere skirmishing and raiding, no general onslaught was
attempted; and from Book II. _73_, 83 it seems to have been a matter
of doubt, with Agamemnon and Nestor, whether the army would venture a
pitched battle.

It also appears, from the passage cited (I. 489, 492) that assemblies
were being regularly held; we are told that Achilles did not attend
them. Yet, when we come to the assembly (II. 86-100) it seems to have
been a special and exciting affair, to judge by the brilliant picture
of the crowds, the confusion, and the cries. Nothing of the sort is
indicated in the meeting of the assembly in I. _54-5_ 8. Why is there
so much excitement at the assembly of Book II.? Partly because it was
summoned _at_ dawn, whereas the usual thing was for the host to meet
in arms before fighting on the plain or going on raids; assemblies were
held when the day's work was over. The host, therefore, when summoned
to an assembly _at dawn_, expects to hear of something out of the
common--as the mutiny of Achilles suggests--and is excited.

We must ask, then, why does Agamemnon, after the Dream has told him
merely to summon the host to arm--a thing of daily routine--call a
deliberative morning assembly, a thing clearly not of routine? If
Agamemnon is really full of confidence, inspired by the Dream, why does
he determine, not to do what is customary, call the men to arms, but
as Jeanne d'Arc said to the Dauphin, to "hold such long and weary
councils"? Mr. Jevons speaks of Agamemnon's "confidence in the delusive
dream" as at variance with his proceedings, and would excise II. 35-41,
"the only lines which represent Agamemnon as confidently believing in
the Dream." [Footnote: _Journal_ of _Hellenic_ Studies, vol. vii. pp.
306, 307.] But the poet never once says that Agamemnon, awake, did
believe confidently in the Dream! Agamemnon dwelt with hope _while_
asleep; when he wakened--he went and called a peaceful morning assembly,
though the Dream bade him call to arms. He did not dare to risk his
authority. This was exactly in keeping with his character. The poet
should have said, "When he woke, the Dream appeared to him rather poor
security for success" (saying so in poetic language, of course), and
then there would be no difficulty in the summoning of an assembly at
dawn. But either the poet expected us to understand the difference
between the hopes of Agamemnon sleeping, and the doubts of Agamemnon
waking to chill realities--an experience common to all of us who
dream--or some explanatory lines have been dropped out--one or two would
have cleared up the matter.

If I am right, the poet has not been understood. People have not
observed that Agamemnon hopes while asleep, and doubts, and acts on his
doubt, when awake. Thus Mr. Leaf writes: "Elated by the dream, as we are
led to suppose, Agamemnon summons the army--to lead them into battle?
Nothing of the sort; he calls them to assembly." [Footnote: _Iliad_,
vol. ii. p. 46.] But we ought not to have been led to suppose that
the waking Agamemnon was so elated as the sleeping Agamemnon. He was
"disillusioned" on waking; his conduct proves it; he did not know what
to think about the Dream; he did not know how the host would take the
Dream; he doubted whether they would fight at his command, so he called
an assembly.

Mr. Jevons very justly cites a parallel case. Grote has remarked that in
Book VII. of Herodotus, "The dream sent by the Gods to frighten Xerxes
when about to recede from his project," has "a marked parallel in the
_Iliad_." Thus Xerxes, after the defection of Artabanus, was despondent,
like Agamemnon after the mutiny of Achilles, and was about to recede
from his project. To both a delusive dream is sent urging them to
proceed. Xerxes calls an assembly, however, and says that he will
not proceed. Why? Because, says Herodotus, "when day came, he thought
nothing of his dream." Agamemnon, once awake, thought doubtfully of
_his_ dream; he called a Privy Council, told the princes about his
dream--of which Nestor had a very dubious opinion--and said that he
would try the temper of the army by proposing instant flight: the chiefs
should restrain the men if they were eager to run away.

Now the epic prose narrative of Herodotus is here clearly based on
_Iliad_, II., which Herodotus must have understood as I do. But in
Homer there is no line to say--and one line or two would have been
enough--that Agamemnon, when awake, doubted, like Xerxes, though
Agamemnon, when asleep, had been confident. The necessary line, for all
that we know, still existed in the text used by Herodotus. Homer
may lose a line as well as Dieuchidas of Megara, or rather Diogenes
Laertius. Juvenal lost a whole passage, re-discovered by Mr. Winstedt
in a Bodleian manuscript. If Homer expected modern critics to note the
delicate distinction between Agamemnon asleep and Agamemnon awake, or to
understand Agamemnon's character, he expected too much. [Footnote: Cf.
Jevons, _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, vol. vii. pp. 306, 307.] The poet
then treats the situation on these lines: Agamemnon, awake and free from
illusion, does not obey the dream, does _not_ call the army to war; he
takes a middle course.

In the whole passage the poet's main motive, as Mr. Monro remarks with
obvious truth, is "to let his audience become acquainted with the temper
and spirit of the army as it was affected by the long siege ... and by
the events of the First Book." [Footnote: Monro, _Iliad_, vol. i. p.
261.] The poet could not obtain his object if Agamemnon merely gave the
summons to battle; and he thinks Agamemnon precisely the kind of waverer
who will call, first the Privy Council of the Chiefs, and then an
assembly. Herein the homesick host will display its humours, as it does
with a vengeance. Agamemnon next tells his Dream to the chiefs (if he
had a dream of this kind he would most certainly tell it), and adds (as
has been already stated) that he will first test the spirit of the
army by a feigned proposal of return to Greece, while the chiefs are to
restrain them if they rush to launch the ships. Nestor hints that there
is not much good in attending to dreams; however, this is the dream of
the Over-Lord, who is the favoured of Zeus.

Agamemnon next, addressing the assembly, says that posterity will think
it a shameful thing that the Achaeans raised the siege of a town with a
population much smaller than their own army; but allies from many
cities help the Trojans, and are too strong for him, whether posterity
understands that or not. "Let us flee with our ships!"

On this the host break up, in a splendid passage of poetry, and rush
to launch the ships, the passion of _nostalgie_ carrying away even
the chiefs, it appears--a thing most natural in the circumstances.
But Athene finds Odysseus in grief: "neither laid he any hand upon his
ship," as the others did, and she encouraged him to stop the flight.
This he does, taking the sceptre of Agamemnon from his unnerved hand.

He goes about reminding the princes "have we not heard Agamemnon's real
intention in council?" (II. 188-197), and rating the common sort. The
assembly meets again in great confusion; Thersites seizes the chance to
be insolent, and is beaten by Odysseus. The host then arms for battle.

The poet has thus shown Agamemnon in the colours which he wears
consistently all through the _Iliad_. He has, as usual, contrasted with
him Odysseus, the type of a wise and resolute man. This contrast the
poet maintains without fail throughout. He has shown us the temper of
the weary, home-sick army, and he has persuaded us that he knows how
subtle, dangerous, and contagious a thing is military panic. Thus, at
least, I venture to read the passage, which, thus read, is perfectly
intelligible. Agamemnon is no personal coward, but the burden of the
safety of the host overcomes him later, and he keeps suggesting flight
in the ships, as we shall see. Suppose, then, we read on from II. 40
thus: "The Dream left him thinking of things not to be, even that on
this day he shall take the town of Priam.... But he awoke from sleep
with the divine voice ringing in his ears. (_Then it seemed him that
some dreams are true and_ some _false, for all do_ not _come through the
Gate of_ Horn.) So he arose and sat up and did on his soft tunic, and
his great cloak, and grasped his ancestral sceptre ... and bade the
clear-voiced heralds summon the Achaeans of the long locks to the
deliberative assembly." He then, as in II. 53-75 told his Dream to the
preliminary council, and proposed that he should try the temper of
the host by proposing flight--which, if it began, the chiefs were to
restrain--before giving orders to arm. The test of the temper of the
host acted as it might be expected to act; all rushed to launch the
ships, and the princes were swept away in the tide of flight, Agamemnon
himself merely looking on helpless. The panic was contagious; only
Odysseus escaped its influence, and redeemed the honour of the Achaeans,
as he did again on a later day.

The passage certainly has its difficulties. But Erhardt expresses the
proper state of the case, after giving his analysis. "The hearer's
imagination is so captured, first by the dream, then by the brawling
assembly, by the rush to the ships, by the intervention of Odysseus, by
the punishment of Thersites--all these living pictures follow each
other so fleetly before the eyes that we have scarcely time to make
objections." [Footnote: _Die Enstehung der Homerische Gedichte_, p.
29.]. The poet aimed at no more and no less effect than he has
produced, and no more should be required by any one, except by
that anachronism--"the analytical reader." _He_ has "time to make
objections": the poet's audience had none; and he must be criticised
from their point of view. Homer did not sing for analytical readers,
for the modern professor; he could not possibly conceive that Time would
bring such a being into existence.

To return to the character of Agamemnon. In moments of encouragement
Agamemnon is a valiant fighter, few better spearmen, yet "he attains not
to the first Three," Achilles, Aias, Diomede. But Agamemnon is unstable
as water; again and again, as in Book II., the lives and honour of the
Achaeans are saved in the Over-Lord's despite by one or other of the
peers. The whole _Iliad_, with consistent uniformity, pursues the scheme
of character and conduct laid down in the two first Books. It is guided
at once by feudal allegiance and feudal jealousy, like the _Chansons de
Geste_ and the early sagas or romances of Ireland. A measure of respect
for Agamemnon, even of sympathy, is preserved; he is not degraded as the
kings and princes are often degraded on the Attic stage, and even in the
Cyclic poems. Would wandering Ionian reciters at fairs have maintained
this uniformity? Would the tyrant Pisistratus have made his literary man
take this view?



In the Third Book, Agamemnon receives the compliments due to his
supremacy, aspect, and valour from the lips of Helen and Priam. There
are other warriors taller by a head, and Odysseus was shorter than he by
a head, so Agamemnon was a man of middle stature. He is "beautiful and
royal" of aspect; "a good king and a mighty spearman," says Helen.

The interrupted duel between Menelaus and Paris follows, and then the
treacherous wounding of Menelaus by Pandarus. One of Agamemnon's most
sympathetic characteristics is his intense love of his brother, for
whose sake he has made the war. He shudders on seeing the arrow wound,
but consoles Menelaus by the certainty that Troy will fall, for the
Trojans have broken the solemn oath of truce. Zeus "doth fulfil at last,
and men make dear amends." But with characteristic inconsistency he
discourages Menelaus by a picture of many a proud Trojan leaping on
his tomb, while the host will return home-an idea constantly present to
Agamemnon's mind. He is always the first to propose flight, though he
will "return with shame" to Mycenae. Menelaus is of much better cheer:
"Be of good courage, [blank space] ALL THE HOST OF THE [misprint]"--a
thing which Agamemnon does habitually, though he is not a personal
poltroon. As Menelaus has only a slight flesh wound after all, and
as the Trojans are doomed men, Agamemnon is now "eager for glorious
battle." He encourages the princes, but, of all men, rebukes Odysseus as
"last at a fray and first at a feast": such is his insolence, for which
men detest him.

This is highly characteristic in Agamemnon, who has just been redeemed
from ruin by Odysseus. Rebuked by Odysseus, he "takes back his word" as
usual, and goes on to chide Diomede as better at making speeches than at
fighting! But Diomede made no answer, "having respect to the chiding
of the revered King." He even rebukes the son of Capaneus for answering
Agamemnon haughtily. Diomede, however, does not forget; he bides his
time. He now does the great deeds of his day of valour (Book V.).
Agamemnon meanwhile encourages the host.

During Books V., VI. Agamemnon's business is "to bid the rest keep
fighting." When Hector, in Book VII., challenges any Achaean, nobody
volunteers except Menelaus, who has a strong sense of honour. Agamemnon
restrains him, and lots are cast: the host pray that the lot may fall
on Aias, Diomede, or Agamemnon (VII. 179-180). Thus the Over-Lord is
acknowledged to be a man of his hands, especially good at hurling the
spear, as we see again in Book XXIII.

A truce is proposed for the burial of the dead, and Paris offers to give
up the wealth that he brought to Troy, and more, if the Achaeans will
go home, but Helen he will not give up. We expect Agamemnon to answer as
becomes him. But no! All are silent, till Diomede rises. They will not
return, he says, even if Helen be restored, for even a fool knows that
Troy is doomed, because of the broken oath. The rest shout acquiescence,
and Agamemnon refuses the compromise. Apparently he would not have
disdained it, but for Diomede's reply.

On the following day the Trojans have the better in the battle, and
Agamemnon "has no heart to stand," nor have some of his peers. But
Diomede has more courage, and finally Agamemnon begins to call to
the host to fight, but breaks down, weeps, and prays to Zeus "that
we ourselves at least flee and escape;" he is not an encouraging
commander-in-chief! Zeus, in pity, sends a favourable omen; Aias fights
well; night falls, and the Trojans camp on the open plain.

Agamemnon, in floods of tears, calls an assembly, and proposes to
"return to Argos with dishonour." "Let us flee with our ships to our
dear native land, for now shall we never take wide-wayed Troy," All are
silent, till Diomede rises and reminds Agamemnon that "thou saidst I was
no man of war, but a coward." (In Book V.; we are now in Book IX.) "Zeus
gave thee the honour of the sceptre above all men, but valour he gave
thee not.... Go thy way; thy way is before thee, and thy ships stand
beside the sea. But all the other flowing-haired Achaeans will tarry
here until we waste Troy."

Nestor advises Agamemnon to set an advanced guard, which that martialist
had never thought of doing, and to discuss matters over supper. A force
of 700 men, under Meriones and the son of Nestor, was posted between the
foss and the wall round the camp; the council met, and Nestor advised
Agamemnon to approach Achilles with gentle words and gifts of atonement.
Agamemnon, full of repentance, acknowledges his folly and offers
enormous atonement. Heralds and three ambassadors are sent; and how
Achilles received them, with perfect courtesy, but with absolute
distrust of Agamemnon and refusal of his gifts, sending the message that
he will fight only when fire comes to his own ships, we know.

Achilles is now entirely in the wrong, and the Over-Lord is once more
within his right. He has done all, or more than all, that customary
law demands. In Book IX. Phoenix states the case plainly. "If Agamemnon
brought thee not gifts, and promised thee more hereafter, ... then
were I not he that should bid thee cast aside thine anger, and save the
Argives...." (IX. 515-517). The case so stands that, if Achilles later
relents and fights, the gifts of atonement will no longer be due to him,
and he "will not be held in like honour" (IX. 604).

The poet knows intimately, and, like his audience, is keenly interested
in the details of the customary law. We cannot easily suppose this
frame of mind and this knowledge in a late poet addressing a late Ionian

The ambassadors return to Agamemnon; their evil tidings are received in
despairing silence. But Diomede bids Agamemnon take heart and fight next
day, with his host arrayed "before the ships" (IX. 708). This appears to
counsel defensive war; but, in fact, and for reasons, when it comes to
fighting they do battle in the open.

The next Book (X.) is almost universally thought a late interpolation;
an opinion elsewhere discussed (see [blank space]). Let us, then, say
with Mr. Leaf that the Book begins with "exaggerated despondency" and
ends with "hasty exultation," in consequence of a brilliant camisade,
wherein Odysseus and Diomede massacre a Thracian contingent. Our point
is that the poet carefully (see _The Doloneia_) continues the study of
Agamemnon in despondency, and later, by his "hasty exultation," preludes
to the valour which the Over-Lord displays in Book XI.

The poet knows that something in the way of personal valour is due to
Agamemnon's position; he fights brilliantly, receives a flesh wound,
retires, and is soon proposing a general flight in his accustomed way.
When the Trojans, in Book XIV., are attacking the ships, Agamemnon
remarks that he fears the disaffection of his whole army (XIV. 49, 51),
and, as for the coming defeat, that he "knew it," even when Zeus helped
the Greeks. They are all to perish far from Argos. Let them drag the
ships to the sea, moor them with stones, and fly, "For there is no shame
in fleeing from ruin, even in the night. Better doth he fare who flees
from trouble than he that is overtaken." It is now the turn of Odysseus
again to save the honour of the army. "Be silent, lest some other of the
Achaeans hear this word, that no man should so much as suffer to pass
through his mouth.... And now I wholly scorn thy thoughts, such a word
hast thou uttered." On this Agamemnon instantly repents. "Right sharply
hast thou touched my heart with thy stern reproof:" he has not even the
courage of his nervousness.

The combat is now in the hands of Aias and Patroclus, who is slain.
Agamemnon, who is wounded, does not reappear till Book XIX., when
Achilles, anxious to fight and avenge Patroclus at once, without
formalities of reconciliation, professes his desire to let bygones be
bygones. Agamemnon excuses his insolence to Achilles as an inspiration
of Ate: a predestined fault--"Not I am the cause, but Zeus and Destiny."

Odysseus, to clinch the reunion and fulfil customary law, advises
Agamemnon to bring out the gifts of atonement (the gifts prepared in
Book IX.), after which the right thing is for him to give a feast of
reconciliation, "that Achilles may have nothing lacking of his right."
[Footnote: Book XIX. 179, 180.] The case is one which has been provided
for by customary law in every detail. Mr. Leaf argues that all this part
must be late, because of the allusion to the gifts offered in Book IX.
But we reply, with Mr. Monro, that the Ninth Book is "almost necessary
to any Achilleis." The question is, would a late editor or poet know
all the details of customary law in such a case as a quarrel between
Over-Lord and peer? would a feudal audience have been satisfied with
a poem which did not wind the quarrel up in accordance with usage? and
would a late poet, in a society no longer feudal, know how to wind it
up? Would he find any demand on the part of his audience for a long
series of statements, which to a modern seem to interrupt the story?
To ourselves it appears that a feudal audience desired the customary
details; to such an audience they were most interesting.

This is a taste which, as has been said, we find in all early poetry
and in the sagas; hence the long "runs" of the Celtic sagas, minutely
repeated descriptions of customary things. The Icelandic saga-men never
weary, though modern readers do, of legal details. For these reasons we
reckon the passages in Book XIX. about the reconciliation as original,
and think they can be nothing else. It is quite natural that, in a
feudal society of men who were sticklers for custom, the hearers should
insist on having all things done duly and in order--the giving of the
gifts and the feast of reconciliation--though the passionate Achilles
himself desires to fight at once. Odysseus insists that what we may call
the regular routine shall be gone through. It is tedious to the modern
reader, but it is surely much more probable that a feudal poet thus
gratified his peculiar audience (he looked for no other) than that a
late poet, with a different kind of audience, thrust the Reconciliation
in as an "after-thought." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 317.]
The right thing must be done, Odysseus assures Achilles, "for I was
born first, and know more things." It is not the right thing to fight
at once, unfed, and before the solemn sacrifice by the Over-Lord,
the prayer, the Oath of Agamemnon, and the reception of the gifts by
Achilles; only after these formalities, and after the army has fed, can
the host go forth. "I know more than you do; you are a younger man,"
says Odysseus, speaking in accordance with feudal character, at the risk
of wearying later unforeseen generations.

This is not criticism inspired by mere "literary feeling," for "literary
feeling" is on the side of Achilles, and wishes the story to hurry to
his revenge. But ours is [blank space] criticism; we must think of the
poet in relation to his audience and of their demands, which we can
estimate by similar demands, vouched for by the supply, in the early
national poetry of other peoples and in the Icelandic sagas.

We hear no more of Agamemnon till, in Book XXIII, 35-38, after the
slaying of Hector, Achilles "was brought to noble Agamemnon" (for that,
as Odysseus said, was the regular procedure) "by the Achaean chiefs,
hardly persuading him thereto, for his heart was wroth for his comrade."
Here they feast, Achilles still full of grief and resentment. He merely
goes through the set forms, much against his will. It does appear to us
that the later the poet the less he would have known or cared about
the forms. An early society is always much interested in forms and in
funerals and funeral games, so the poet indulges their taste with the
last rites of Patroclus. The last view of Agamemnon is given when,
at the end of the games, Achilles courteously presents him with the
flowered _lebes_, the prize for hurling the spear, without asking him to
compete, since his superior skill is notorious. This act of courtesy is
the real reconciliation; previously Achilles had but gone reluctantly
through the set forms in such cases provided. Even when Agamemnon
offered the gifts of atonement, Achilles said, "Give them, as is
customary, or keep them, as you please" (XIX. 146, 148). Achilles, young
and passionate, cares nothing for the feudal procedure.

This rapid survey seems to justify the conclusion that the poet presents
an uniform and historically correct picture of the Over-Lord and of
his relations with his peers, a picture which no late editor could
have pieced together out of the widely varying _repertoires_ of late
strolling reciters. Such reciters would gladly have forgotten, and such
an editor would gladly have "cut" the "business" of the reconciliation.
They would also, in a democratic spirit, have degraded the Over-Lord
into the tyrant, but throughout, however low Agamemnon may fall, the
poet is guided by the knowledge that his right to rule is _jure divino_,
that he has qualities, that his responsibilities are crushing, "I, whom
among all men Zeus hath planted for ever among labours, while my
breath abides within me, and my limbs move," says the Over-Lord (X.
Sg, go.[sic]). In short, the poet's conception of the Over-Lord is
throughout harmonious, is a contemporary conception entertained by a
singer who lives among peers that own, and are jealous of, and obey an
Over-Lord. The character and situation of Agamemnon are a poetic work of
one age, one moment of culture.



In archaeological discoveries we find the most convincing proofs that
the _Iliad_, on the whole, is the production of a single age, not the
patchwork of several changeful centuries. This may seem an audacious
statement, as archaeology has been interpreted of late in such a manner
as to demand precisely the opposite verdict. But if we can show, as we
think we can, that many recent interpretations of the archaeological
evidence are not valid, because they are not consistent, our contention,
though unexpected, will be possible. It is that the combined testimony
of archaeology and of the Epic proves the _Iliad_ to represent, as
regards customs, weapons, and armour, a definite moment of evolution; a
period between the age recorded in the art of the Mycenaean shaft graves
and the age of early iron swords and the "Dipylon" period.

Before the discoveries of the material remains of the "Mycenzean"
times, the evidence of archaeology was seldom appropriately invoked
in discussions of the Homeric question. But in the thirty years since
Schliemann explored the buried relics of the Mycenzean Acropolis,
his "Grave of Agamemnon," a series of excavations has laid bare the
interments, the works of art, and the weapons and ornaments of years
long prior to the revolution commonly associated with the "Dorian
Invasion" of about 1100-1000 B.C. The objects of all sorts which have
been found in many sites of Greece and the isles, especially of Cyprus
and Crete, in some respects tally closely with Homeric descriptions,
in others vary from them widely. Nothing can be less surprising, if the
heroes whose legendary feats inspired the poet lived centuries before
his time, as Charlemagne and his Paladins lived some three centuries
before the composition of the earliest extant _Chansons de Geste_ on
their adventures. There was, in such a case, time for much change in the
details of life, art, weapons and implements. Taking the relics in the
graves of the Mycenaean Acropolis as a starting-point, some things would
endure into the age of the poet, some would be modified, some would

We cannot tell how long previous to his own date the poet supposes the
Achaean heroes to have existed. He frequently ascribes to them feats of
strength which "no man of such as now are" could perform. This gives
no definite period for the interval; he might be speaking of the great
grandfathers of his own generation. But when he regards the heroes as
closely connected by descent of one or two generations with the gods,
and as in frequent and familiar intercourse with gods and goddesses, we
must suppose that he did not think their period recent. The singers
of the _Chansons de Geste_ knew that angels' visits were few and far
between at the period, say, of the Norman Conquest; but they allowed
angels to appear in epics dealing with the earlier time, almost as
freely as gods intervene in Homer. In short, the Homeric poet undeniably
treats the age of his heroes as having already, in the phrase of
Thucydides, "won its way to the mythical," and therefore as indefinitely

It is impossible here to discuss in detail the complex problems of
Mycenaean chronology. If we place the Mycenaean "bloom-time" from
"the seventeenth or sixteenth to the twelfth century B.C.," [Footnote:
Tsountas and Manatt, p. 322.] it is plain that there is space to spare,
between the poet's age and that of his heroes, for the rise of changes
in war, weapons, and costume. Indeed, there are traces enough of change
even in the objects and art discovered in the bloom-time, as represented
by the Mycenaean acropolis itself and by other "Mycenaean" sites. The
art of the fragment of a silver vase in a grave, on which a siege is
represented, is not the art, the costumes are not the costumes, of
the inlaid bronze dagger-blade. The men shown on the vase and the
lion-hunters on the dagger both have their hair close cropped, but on
the vase they are naked, on the dagger they wear short drawers. On the
Vaphio cups, found in a _tholos_ chamber-tomb near Amyclae, the men are
"long-haired Achaeans," with heavy, pendent locks, like the man on a
pyxis from Knossos, published by Mr. Evans; they are of another period
than the close-cropped men of the vase and dagger. [Footnote: _Journal
of Hellenic Studies_, vol. xvi. p. 102.] Two of the men on the silver
vase are covered either with shields of a shape and size elsewhere
unknown in Mycenaean art, or with cloaks of an unexampled form. The
masonry of the city wall, shown on the vase in the Mycenaean grave,
is not the ordinary masonry of Mycenae itself. On the vase the wall is
"isodomic," built of cut stones in regular layers. Most of the Mycenaean
walls, on the other hand, are of "Cyclopean" style, in large irregular

Art, good and very bad, exists in many various stages in Mycenaean
relics. The drawing of a god, with a typical Mycenaean shield in the
form of a figure 8, on a painted sarcophagus from Milato in Crete,
is more crude and savage than many productions of the Australian
aboriginals, [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. xvi. _p._
174, fig. 50._ Grosse. _Les Debuts de l'Art,_ pp. 124-176.] the thing is
on the level of Red Indian work. Meanwhile at Vaphio, Enkomi, Knossos,
and elsewhere the art is often excellent.

In one essential point the poet describes a custom without parallel
among the discovered relics of the Mycenaean age--namely, the disposal
of the bodies of the dead. They are neither buried with their arms, in
stately _tholos_ tombs nor in shaft graves, as at Mycenae: whether
they be princes or simple oarsmen, they are cremated. A pyre of wood is
built; on this the warrior's body is laid, the pyre is lighted, the body
is reduced to ashes, the ashes are placed in a vessel or box of gold,
wrapped round with precious cloths (no arms are buried, as a general
rule), and a mound, howe, barrow, or tumulus is raised over all. Usually
a _stele_ or pillar crowns the edifice. This method is almost uniform,
and, as far as cremation and the cairn go, is universal in the _Iliad_
and _Odyssey_ whenever a burial is described. Now this mode of
interment must be the mode of a single age in Greek civilisation. It is
confessedly not the method of the Mycenaeans of the shaft grave, or of
the latter _tholos_ or stone beehive-shaped grave; again, the Mycenaeans
did not burn the dead; they buried. Once more, the Homeric method is not
that of the Dipylon period (say 900-750 B.C.) represented by the tombs
outside the Dipylon gate of Athens. The people of that age now buried,
now burned, their dead, and did not build cairns over them. Thus the
Homeric custom comes between the shaft graves and the latter _tholos_
graves, on the one hand, and the Dipylon custom of burning or burying,
with sunk or rock-hewn graves, on the other.

The Homeric poets describe the method of their own period. They
assuredly do not adhere to an older epic tradition of shaft graves or
_tholos_ graves, though these must have been described in lays of the
period when such methods of disposal of the dead were in vogue. The
altar above the shaft-graves in Mycenae proves the cult of ancestors in
Mycenae; of this cult in the _Iliad_ there is no trace, or only a
dim trace of survival in the slaughter of animals at the funeral. The
Homeric way of thinking about the state of the dead, weak, shadowy
things beyond the river Oceanus, did not permit them to be worshipped
as potent beings. Only in a passage, possibly interpolated, of the
_Odyssey_, do we hear that Castor and Polydeuces, brothers of Helen,
and sons of Tyndareus, through the favour of Zeus have immortality, and
receive divine honours. [Footnote: Odyssey, XI. 298-304.]

These facts are so familiar that we are apt to overlook the strangeness
of them in the history of religious evolution. The cult of ancestral
spirits begins in the lowest barbarism, just above the level of the
Australian tribes, who, among the Dieri, show some traces of the
practice, at least, of ghost feeding. [Footnote: Howitt, _Native
Tribes of South-Eastern Australia,_ p. 448. There are also traces of
propitiation in Western Australia (MS. of Mrs. Bates).] Sometimes, as in
many African tribes, ancestor worship is almost the whole of practical
cult. Usually it accompanies polytheism, existing beside it on a lower
plane. It was prevalent in the Mycenae of the shaft graves; in Attica
it was uninterrupted; it is conspicuous in Greece from the ninth century
onwards. But it is unknown to or ignored by the Homeric poets, though it
can hardly have died out of folk custom. Consequently, the poems are
of one age, an age of cremation and of burial in barrows, with no ghost
worship. Apparently some revolution as regards burial occurred between
the age of the graves of the Mycenaean acropolis and the age of Homer.
That age, coming with its form of burning and its absence of the cult
of the dead, between two epochs of inhumation, ancestor worship, and
absence of cairns, is as certainly and definitely an age apart, a
peculiar period, as any epoch can be.

Cremation, with cairn burial of the ashes, is, then, the only form of
burial mentioned by Homer, and, as far as the poet tells us, the period
was not one in which iron was used for swords and spears. At Assarlik
(Asia Minor) and in Thera early graves, prove the use of cremation,
but also, unlike Homer, of iron weapons. [Footnote: Paton, Journal _of
Hellenic Studies,_ viii. 64_ff_. For other references, cf. Poulsen, _Die
Dipylongräben_, p. 2, Notes. Leipzig 1905.] In these graves the ashes
are inurned. There are examples of the same usage in Salamis, without
iron. In Crete, in graves of the period of geometrical ornament
("Dipylon"), burning is more common than inhumation. Cremation is
attested in a _tholos_ or beehive-shaped grave in Argos, where the vases
were late Mycenaean. Below this stratum was an older shaft grave, as is
usual in _tholos_ interments; it had been plundered? [Footnote: Poulsen,

The cause of the marked change from Mycenaean inhumation to Homeric
cremation is matter of conjecture. It has been suggested that burning
was introduced during the migrations after the Dorian invasion. Men
could carry the ashes of their friends to the place where they finally
settled. [Footnote: Helbig, _Homerische Epos,_ p.83] The question may,
perhaps, be elucidated by excavation, especially in Asia Minor, on
the sites of the earliest Greek colonies. At Colophon are many cairns
unexplored by science. Mr. Ridgeway, as is well known, attributes the
introduction of cremation to a conquering northern people, the Achaeans,
his "Celts." It is certain that cremation and urn burial of the ashes
prevailed in Britain during the Age of Bronze, and co-existed with
inhumation in the great cemetery of Hallstatt, surviving into the Age of
Iron. [Footnote: Cf. _Guide to Antiquities of Early Iron Age,_ British
Museum, 1905, by Mr. Reginald A. Smith, under direction of Mr. Charles
H. Read, for a brief account of Hallstatt culture.] Others suppose a
change in Achaean ideas about the soul; it was no longer believed to
haunt the grave and grave goods and be capable of haunting the living,
but to be wholly set free by burning, and to depart for ever to the
House of Hades, powerless and incapable of hauntings.

It is never easy to decide as to whether a given mode of burial is the
result of a definite opinion about the condition of the dead, or
whether the explanation offered by those who practise the method is an
afterthought. In Tasmania among the lowest savages, now extinct,
were found monuments over cremated human remains, accompanied with
"characters crudely marked, similar to those which the aborigines
tattooed on their forearms." In one such grave was a spear, "for the
dead man to fight with when he is asleep," as a native explained. Some
Tasmanian tribes burned the dead and carried the ashes about in amulets;
others buried in hollow trees; others simply inhumed. Some placed the
dead in a hollow tree, and cremated the body after lapse of time. Some
tied the dead up tightly (a common practice with inhumation), and
then burned him. Some buried the dead in an erect 'posture. The common
explanation of burning was that it prevented the dead from returning,
thus it has always been usual to burn the bodies of vampires. Did a race
so backward hit on an idea unknown to the Mycenaean Greeks?
[Footnote: Ling Roth., _The Tasmanians_, pp. 128-134. Reports of Early
Discoverers.] If the usual explanation be correct--burning prevents
the return of the dead--how did the Homeric Greeks come to substitute
burning for the worship and feeding of the dead, which had certainly
prevailed? How did the ancient method return, overlapping and blent with
the method of cremation, as in the early Dipylon interments? We can
only say that the Homeric custom is definite and isolated, and that but
slight variations occur in the methods of Homeric burial.

(1)In _Iliad_, VI, 4 I 6 _ff_, Andromache _SAYS_ that Achilles slew her
father, "yet he despoiled him not, for his soul had shame of that; but
he burnt him in his inlaid armour, and raised a barrow over him." We are
not told that the armour was interred with the ashes of Eetion. This is
a peculiar case. We always hear in the that the dead are burned, and
the ashes of princes are placed in a vessel of gold within an artificial
hillock; but we do not hear, except in this passage, that they are
burned in their armour, or that it is burned, or that it is buried with
the ashes of the dead. The invariable practice is for the victor, if he
can, to despoil the body of the fallen foe; but Achilles for some reason
spared that indignity in the case of Eetion. [Footnote: German examples
of burning the amis of the cremated dead and then burying them are given
by Mr. Ridgeway, _Early Age of Greece,_ vol. i. pp. 498, 499.]

(2) _ILIAD,_ VII. 85. Hector, in his challenge to a single combat, makes
the conditions that the victor shall keep the arms and armour of the
vanquished, but shall restore his body to his friends. The Trojans
will burn him, if he falls; if the Achaean falls, the others will do
something expressed by the word [Greek: tarchuchosi] probably a word
surviving from an age of embalment. [Footnote: Helbig, _Homerische
Epos,_ pp. 55, 56.] It has come to mean, generally, to do the funeral
rites. The hero is to have a barrow or artificial howe or hillock built
over him, "beside wide Hellespont," a memorial of him, and of Hector's

On the River Helmsdale, near Kildonan, on the left bank, there is such
a hillock which has never, it is believed, been excavated. It preserves
the memory of its occupant, an early Celtic saint; whether he was
cremated or not it is impossible to say. But his memory is not lost,
and the howe, cairn, or hillock, in Homer is desired by the heroes as a

On the terms proposed by Hector the arms of the dead could not be either
burned or buried with him.

(3) Iliad, IX. 546. Phoenix says that the Calydonian boar "brought many
to the mournful pyre." All were cremated.

(4) _Iliad_, XXII 50-55. Andromache in her dirge (the _regret_ of the
French mediaeval epics) says that Hector lies unburied by the ships and
naked, but she will burn raiment of his, "delicate and fair, the work of
women ... to thee no profit, since thou wilt never lie therein, yet this
shall be honour to thee from the men and women of Troy." Her meaning
is not very clear, but she seems to imply that if Hector's body were in
Troy it would be clad in garments before cremation.

Helbig appears to think that to clothe the dead in _garments_ was an
Ionian, not an ancient epic custom. But in Homer the dead always wear at
least one garment, the [Greek: pharos], a large mantle, either white or
purple, such as Agamemnon wears in peace (Iliad, II 43), except when,
like Eetion and Elpenor in the Odyssey, they are burned in their armour.
In _Iliad,_ XXIII. 69 _ff_., the shadow of the dead unburned Patroclus
appears to Achilles in his sleep asking for "his dues of fire." The
whole passage, with the account of the funeral of Patroclus, must be
read carefully, and compared with the funeral rites of Hector at the
end of Book XXIV. Helbig, in an essay of great erudition, though perhaps
rather fantastic in its generalisations, has contrasted the burials of
the two heroes. Patroclus is buried, he says, in a true portion of the
old Aeolic epic (Sir Richard Jebb thought the whole passage "Ionic"),
though even into this the late Ionian _bearbeiter_ (a spectral figure),
has introduced his Ionian notions. But the Twenty-fourth Book itself
is late and Ionian, Helbig says, not genuine early Aeolian epic poetry.
[Footnote: Helbig, _Zu den Homerischen Bestattungsgebraüchen_. Aus den
Sitzungsberichten der philos. philol. und histor. Classe der Kgl. bayer.
Academie der Wissenschaften. 1900. Heft. ii. pp. 199-299.] The burial of
Patroclus, then, save for Ionian late interpolations, easily detected by
Helbig, is, he assures us, genuine "kernel," [Footnote: 2 Op. _laud._,
p. 208.] while Hector's burial "is partly Ionian, and describes the
destiny of the dead heroes otherwise than as in the old Aeolic epos."

Here Helbig uses that one of his two alternate theories according to
which the late Ionian poets do not cling to old epic tradition, but
bring in details of the life of their own date. By Helbig's other
alternate theory, the late poets cling to the model set in old epic
tradition in their pictures of details of life.

Disintegrationists differ: far from thinking that the late Ionian poet
who buried Hector varied from the AEolic minstrel who buried Patroclus
(in Book XXIII.), Mr. Leaf says that Hector's burial is "almost an
abstract" of that of Patroclus. [Footnote: Leaf, Iliad, XXII Note to
791.] He adds that Helbig's attempts "to distinguish the older AEolic
from the newer and more sceptical 'Ionic' faith seem to me visionary."
[Footnote: Iliad, vol. ii. p. 619. Note 2] Visionary, indeed, they do
seem, but they are examples of the efforts made to prove that the Iliad
bears marks of composition continued through several centuries. We must
remember that, according to Helbig, the Ionians, colonists in a new
country, "had no use for ghosts." A fresh colony does not produce
ghosts. "There is hardly an English or Scottish castle without its spook
(_spuck_). On the other hand, you look in vain for such a thing in the
United States"--spiritualism apart. [Footnote: Op. _laud._, p. 204.]

This is a hasty generalisation! Helbig will, if he looks, find ghosts
enough in the literature of North America while still colonial, and in
Australia, a still more newly settled country, sixty years ago Fisher's
ghost gave evidence of Fisher's murder, evidence which, as in another
Australian case, served the ends of justice. [Footnote: See, in _The_
Valet's Tragedy (A. L.): "Fisher's Ghost."] More recent Australian
ghosts are familiar to psychical research.

This colonial theory is one of Helbig's too venturous generalisations.
He studies the ghost, or rather dream-apparition, of Patroclus after
examining the funeral of Hector; but we shall begin with Patroclus.
Achilles (XXIII. 4-16) first hails his friend "even in the House of
Hades" (so he believes that spirits are in Hades), and says that he
has brought Hector "raw for dogs to devour," and twelve Trojans of good
family "to slaughter before thy pyre." That night, when Achilles is
asleep (XXIII. 65) the spirit ([Greek: psyche]) of Patroclus appears to
him, says that he is forgotten, and begs to be burned at once, that he
may pass the gates of Hades, for the other spirits drive him off and
will not let him associate with them "beyond the River," and he wanders
vaguely along the wide-gated dwelling of Hades. "Give me thy hand, for
never more again shall I come back from Hades, when ye have given me my
due of fire." Patroclus, being newly discarnate, does not yet know
that a spirit cannot take a living man's hand, though, in fact, tactile
hallucinations are not uncommon in the presence of phantasms of the
dead. "Lay not my bones apart from thine ... let one coffer" ([Greek:
soros]) "hide our bones."

 [Greek: Soros], like _larnax_, is a coffin (_Sarg_), or
what the Americans call a "casket," in the opinion of Helbig: [Footnote:
OP. _laud_., p.217.] it is an oblong receptacle of the bones and dust.
Hector was buried in a _larnax_; SO will Achilles and Patroclus be
when Achilles falls, but the dust of Patroclus is kept, meanwhile, in a
golden covered cup (phialae) in the quarters of Achilles; it is not laid
in howe after his cremation (XXIII. 243).

Achilles tries to embrace Patroclus, but fails, like Odysseus with the
shade of his mother in Hades, in the _ODYSSEY_. He exclaims that "there
remaineth then even in the House of Hades a spirit and phantom of the
dead, albeit the life" (or the wits) "be not anywise therein, for all
night hath the spirit of hapless Patroclus stood over me...."

In this speech Helbig detects the hand of the late Ionian poet. What
goes before is part of the genuine old Epic, the kernel, done at a time
when men believed that spooks could take part in the affairs of the
upper world. Achilles therefore (in his dream), thought that he
could embrace his friend. It was the sceptical Ionian, in a fresh and
spookless colony, who knew that he could not; he thinks the ghost a mere
dream, and introduces his scepticism in XXIII. 99-107. He brought
in "the ruling ideas of his own period." The ghost, says the Ionian
_bearbeiter_, is intangible, though in the genuine old epic the ghost
himself thought otherwise--he being new to the situation and without
experience. This is the first sample of the critical Ionian spirit,
later so remarkable in philosophy and natural science, says Helbig.
[Footnote: Op. laud., pp. 233,234.]

We need not discuss this acute critical theory. The natural
interpretation of the words of Achilles is obvious; as Mr. Leaf remarks,
the words are "the cry of sudden personal conviction in a matter which
has hitherto been lazily accepted as an orthodox dogma." [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 620.] Already, as we have seen, Achilles has made
promises to Patroclus in the House of Hades, now he exclaims "there
really is something in the doctrine of a feeble future life."

It is vain to try to discriminate between an old epic belief in
able-bodied ghosts and an Ionian belief in mere futile _shades_, in
the Homeric poems. Everywhere the dead are too feeble to be worth
worshipping after they are burned; but, as Mr. Leaf says with obvious
truth, and with modern instances, "men are never so inconsistent as in
their beliefs about the other world." We ourselves hold various beliefs
simultaneously. The natives of Australia and of Tasmania practise, or
did practise, every conceivable way of disposing of the dead--burying,
burning, exposure in trees, carrying about the bodies or parts of them,
eating the bodies, and so forth. If each such practice corresponded, as
archaeologists believe, to a different opinion about the soul, then
all beliefs were held together at once, and this, in fact, is the case.
There is not now one and now another hard and fast orthodoxy of belief
about the dead, though now we find ancestor worship prominent and now in
the shade.

After gifts of hair and the setting up of jars full of oil and honey,
Achilles has the body laid on the top of the pyre in the centre. Bodies
of sheep and oxen, two dogs and four horses, are strewed around: why, we
know not, for the dead is not supposed to need food: the rite may be
a survival, for there were sacrifices at the burials of the Mycenaean
shaft graves. Achilles slays also the twelve Trojans, "because of mine
anger at thy slaying," he says (XXIII. 23). This was his reason, as far
as he consciously had any reason, not that his friend might have twelve
thralls in Hades. After the pyre is alit Achilles drenches it all night
with wine, and, when the flame dies down, the dead hero's bones are
collected and placed in the covered cup of gold. The circle of the
barrow is then marked out, stones are set up round it (we see them round
Highland tumuli), and earth is heaped up; no more is done; the tomb is
empty; the covered cup holding the ashes is in the hut of Achilles.

We must note another trait. After the body of Patroclus was recovered,
it was washed, anointed, laid on a bier, and covered from head to foot
[Greek: heano liti], translated by Helbig, "with a linen sheet" (cf.
XXIII. 254). The golden cup with the ashes is next wrapped [Greek: heano
liti]; here Mr. Myers renders the words "with a linen veil." Scottish
cremation burials of the Bronze Age retain traces of linen wrappings
of the urn. [Footnote: _Proceedings of the Scottish society of
Antiquaries_, 1905, p. 552. For other cases, _cf._ Leaf, _Iliad_, XXIV.
796. Note.] Over all a white [Greek: pharos] (mantle) was spread. In
_Iliad_, XXIV. 231, twelve [Greek: pharea] with chitons, single cloaks,
and other articles of dress, are taken to Achilles by Priam as part of
the ransom of Hector's body. Such is the death-garb of Patroclus; but
Helbig, looking for Ionian innovations in Book XXIV., finds that the
death-garb of Hector is not the same as that of Patroclus in Book XXIII.
One difference is that when the squires of Achilles took the ransom of
Hector from the waggon of Priam, they left in it two [Greek: pharea] and
a well-spun chiton. The women washed and anointed Hector's body; they
clad him in the chiton, and threw one [Greek: pharos] over it; we are
not told what they did with the other. Perhaps, as Mr. Leaf says, it was
used as a cover for the bier, perhaps it was not, but was laid under the
body (Helbig). All we know is that Hector's body was restored to Priam
in a chiton and a [Greek: pharos], which do not seem to have been
removed before he was burned; while Patroclus had no chiton in death,
but a [Greek: pharos] and, apparently, a linen sheet.

To the ordinary reader this does not seem, in the circumstances, a
strong mark of different ages and different burial customs. Priam did
not bring any linen sheet--or whatever [Greek: heanos lis] may be--in
the waggon as part of Hector's ransom; and it neither became Achilles
to give nor Priam to receive any of Achilles's stuff as death-garb for
Hector. The squires, therefore, gave back to Priam, to clothe his dead
son, part of what he had brought; nothing can be more natural, and
there, we may say, is an end on't. They did what they could in the
circumstances. But Helbig has observed that, in a Cean inscription of
the fifth century B.C., there is a sumptuary law, forbidding a corpse to
wear more than three white garments, a sheet under him, a chiton, and a
mantle cast over him. [Footnote: op. _laud_., p. 209.] He supposes that
Hector wore the chiton, and had one [Greek: pharos] over him and the
other under him, though Homer does not say that. The Laws of Solon also
confined the dead man to three articles of dress. [Footnote: Plutarch,
Solon, 21.] In doing so Solon sanctioned an old custom, and that Ionian
custom, described by the author of Book XXIV., bewrays him, says Helbig,
for a late Ionian _bearbeiter_, deserting true epic usages and inserting
those of his own day. But in some Attic Dipylon vases, in the pictures
of funerals, we see no garments or sheets over the corpses.

Penelope also wove a [Greek: charos] against the burial of old Laertes,
but surely she ought to have woven for him; on Helbig's showing Hector
had _two_, Patroclus had only one; Patroclus is in the old epic, Hector
and Laertes are in the Ionian epics; therefore, Laertes should have had
two [Greek: charea] but we only hear of one. Penelope had to finish the
[Greek: charos] and show it; [Footnote: Odyssey, XXIV. 147.] now if she
wanted to delay her marriage, she should have begun the second [Greek:
charos] just as necessary as the first, if Hector, with a pair of
[Greek: charea] represents Ionian usage. But Penelope never thought of
what, had she read Helbig, she would have seen to be so obvious. She
thought of no funeral garments for the old man but one shroud [Greek:
speiron] (Odyssey, II. 102; XIX. 147); yet, being, by the theory, a
character of late Ionian, not of genuine old AEolic epic, she should
have known better. It is manifest that if even the acuteness and vast
erudition of Helbig can only find such invisible differences as
these between the manners of the genuine old epic and the late Ionian
innovations, there is really no difference, beyond such trifles as
diversify custom in any age.

Hector, when burned and when his ashes have been placed in the casket,
is laid in a [Greek: kapetos], a ditch or trench (_Iliad_, XV. 356;
XVIII. 564); but here (XXIV. 797) [Greek: kapetos] is a chamber covered
with great stones, within the howe, the casket being swathed with purple
robes, and this was the end. The ghost of Hector would not revisit the
sun, as ghosts do freely in the Cyclic poems, a proof that the Cyclics
are later than the Homeric poems. [Footnote: Helbig, op. _laud_., pp.
240, 241.]

If the burning of the weapons of Eetion and Elpenor are traces of
another than the _old_ AEolic epic faith, [Footnote: Ibid., p. 253.]
they are also traces of another than the late _Ionic_ epic faith, for no
weapons are burned with Hector. In the _Odyssey_ the weapons of Achilles
are not burned; in the _Iliad_ the armour of Patroclus is not burned.
No victims of any kind are burned with Hector: possibly the poet was not
anxious to repeat what he had just described (his last book is already
a very long book); possibly the Trojans did not slay victims at the

The howes or barrows built over the Homeric dead were hillocks high
enough to be good points of outlook for scouts, as in the case of the
barrow of AEsyetes (_Iliad_, II. 793) and "the steep mound," the howe of
lithe Myrine (II. 814). We do not know that women were usually buried
in howe, but Myrine was a warrior maiden of the Amazons. We know, then,
minutely what the Homeric mode of burial was, with such variations as
have been noted. We have burning and howe even in the case of an obscure
oarsman like Elpenor. It is not probable, however, that every peaceful
mechanic had a howe all to himself; he may have had a small family
cairn; he may not have had an expensive cremation.

The interesting fact is that no barrow burial precisely of the Homeric
kind has ever been discovered in Greek sites. The old Mycenaeans buried
either in shaft graves or in a stately _tholos_; and in rock chambers,
later, in the town cemetery: they did not burn the bodies. The people of
the Dipylon period sometimes cremated, sometimes inhumed, but they built
no barrow over the dead. [Footnote: _Annal. de l'Inst.,_ 1872, pp. 135,
147, 167. Plausen, _ut supra_.] The Dipylon was a period of early iron
swords, made on the lines of not the best type of bronze sword. Now, in
Mr. Leaf's opinion, our Homeric accounts of burial "are all late; the
oldest parts of the poems tell us nothing." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii.
p. 619. Note 2. While Mr. Leaf says that "the oldest parts of the poems
tell us nothing" of burial, he accepts XXII. 342, 343 as of the oldest
part. These lines describe cremation, and Mr. Leaf does not think them
borrowed from the "later" VII. 79, 80, but that VII. 79, 80 are "perhaps
borrowed" from XXII. 342, 343. It follows that "the oldest parts of the
poems" do tell us of cremation.] We shall show, however, that Mr. Leaf's
"kernel" alludes to cremation. What is "late"? In this case it is not
the Dipylon period, say 900-750 B.C. It is not any later period; one or
two late barrow burials do not answer to the Homeric descriptions. The
"late" parts of the poems, therefore, dealing with burials, in Books
VI., VII., XIX., XXIII., XXIV., and the Odyssey, are of an age not
in "the Mycenaean prime," not in the Dipylon period, not in any later
period, say the seventh or sixth centuries B.C., and, necessarily, not
of any subsequent period. Yet nobody dreams of saying that the poets
describe a purely fanciful form of interment. They speak of what they
know in daily life. If it be argued that the late poets preserve, by
sheer force of epic tradition, a form of burial unknown in their own
age, we ask, "Why did epic tradition not preserve the burial methods
of the Mycenaean prime, the shaft grave, or the _tholos_, without

Mr. Leaf's own conclusion is that the people of Mycenae were "spirit
worshippers, practising inhumation, and partial mummification;" the
second fact is dubious. "In the post-Mycenaean 'Dipylon' period, we
find cremation and sepulture practised side by side. In the interval,
therefore, two beliefs have come into conflict. [Footnote: All
conceivable beliefs, we have said, about the dead are apt to coexist.
For every conceivable and some rather inconceivable contemporary
Australian modes of dealing with the dead, see Howitt, _Native Tribes of
South-East Australia_; Spencer and Gillen, _Northern Tribes of Central
Australia_.] It seems that the Homeric poems mark this intermediate
point...." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 622.] In that case
the Homeric poems are of one age, or, at least, all of them save "the
original kernel" are of one age, namely, a period subsequent to the
Mycenaean prime, but considerably prior to the Dipylon period, which
exhibits a mixture of custom; cremation and inhumation coexisting,
without barrows or howes.

We welcome this conclusion, and note that (whatever may be the case
with the oldest parts of the poems which say nothing about funerals) the
latest expansions must be of about 1100-1000 B.C. (?). The poem is so
early that it is prior to hero worship and ancestor worship; or it
might be more judicious to say that the poem is of an age that did not,
officially, practise ancestor worship, whatever may have occurred in
folk-custom. The Homeric age is one which had outgrown ancestor and hero
worship, and had not, like the age of the Cyclics, relapsed into it.
_Enfin_, unless we agree with Helbig as to essential variations of
custom, the poems are the work of one age, and that a brief age, and an
age of peculiar customs, cremation and barrow burial; and of a religion
that stood, without spirit worship, between the Mycenzean period and the
ninth century. That seems as certain as anything in prehistoric times
can be, unless we are to say, that after the age of shaft graves and
spirit worship came an age of cremation and of no spirit worship; and
that late poets consciously and conscientiously preserved the tradition
of _this_ period into their own ages of hero worship and inhumation,
though they did not preserve the tradition of the shaft-grave period.
We cannot accept this theory of adherence to stereotyped poetical
descriptions, nor can any one consistently adopt it in this case.

The reason is obvious. Mr. Leaf, with many other critics, distinguishes
several successive periods of "expansion." In the first stratum we have
the remains of "the original kernel." Among these remains is The Slaying
of Hector (XXII. 1-404), "with but slight additions." [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p. xi.] In the Slaying of Hector that hero indicates
cremation as the mode of burial. "Give them my body back again, that
the Trojans and Trojans' wives grant me my due of fire after my death."
Perhaps this allusion to cremation, in the "original kernel" in the
Slaying of Hector, may be dismissed as a late borrowing from Book VII.
79, 80, where Hector makes conditions that the fallen hero shall be
restored to his friends when he challenges the Achaeans to a duel. But
whoever knows the curious economy by way of repetition that marks early
national epics has a right to regard the allusion to cremation (XXII,
342,343) as an example of this practice. Compare _La Chancun de
Williame_, lines 1041-1058 with lines 1140-1134. In both the dinner of
a knight who has been long deprived of food is described in passages
containing many identical lines. The poet, having found his formula,
uses it whenever occasion serves. There are several other examples in
the same epic. [Footnote: _Romania_, xxxiv. PP. 245, 246.] Repetitions
in Homer need not indicate late additions; the artifice is part of the
epic as it is of the ballad manner. If we are right, cremation is the
mode of burial even in "the original kernel." Hector, moreover, in the
kernel (XXII. 256-259) makes, before his final fight with Achilles,
the same proposal as he makes in his challenge to a duel (VII. 85 et
_seqq_.). The victor shall give back the body of the vanquished to his
friends, but how the friends are to bury it Hector does not say--in this
place. When dying, he does say (XXII. 342, 343).

In the kernel and all periods of expansion, funeral rites are described,
and in all the method is cremation, with a howe or a barrow. Thus the
method of cremation had come in as early as the "kernel," The Slaying
of Hector, and as early as the first expansions, and it lasted till the
period of the latest expansions, such as Books XXIII., XXIV.

But what is the approximate date of the various expansions of the
original poem? On that point Mr. Leaf gives his opinion. The Making of
the Arms of Achilles (Books XVIII., XIX. 1-39) is, with the Funeral of
Patroclus (XXIII. 1-256), in the second set of expansions, and is thus
two removes later than the original "kernel." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_,
vol. ii. p. xii.] Now this is the period--the Making of the Shield for
Achilles is, at least, in touch with the period--of "the eminently free
and naturalistic treatment which we find in the best Mycenaean work,
in the dagger blades, in the siege fragment, and notably in the Vaphio
cups," (which show long-haired men, not men close-cropped, as in the
daggers and siege fragment). [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p, 606.]
The poet of the age of the second expansions, then,' is at least
in touch with the work of the shaft grave and ages. He need not be
contemporary with that epoch, but "may well have had in his mind the
work of artists older than himself." It is vaguely possible that he may
have seen an ancient shield of the Mycenaean prime, and may be inspired
by that. [Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii. pp. 606, 607.]

Moreover, and still more remarkable, the ordinary Homeric form of
cremation and howe-burial is even older than the period which, if not
contemporary with, is clearly reminiscent of, the art of the shaft
graves. For, in the period of the first expansions (VII. 1-3 I 2),
the form of burial is cremation, with a barrow or tumulus. [Footnote:
_Ibid_., vol. ii. p. xi. and pp. 606, 607.] Thus Mr. Leaf's opinion
might lead us to the conclusion that the usual Homeric form of burial
occurs in a period _PRIOR_ to an age in which the poet is apparently
reminiscent of the work of two early epochs--the epoch of shaft graves
and that of _THOLOS_ graves. If this be so, cremation and urn burial in
cairns may be nearly as old as the Mycenaean shaft graves, or as old
as the _THOLOS_ graves, and they endure into the age of the latest

We must not press, however, opinions founded on the apparent technical
resemblance of the free style and coloured metal work on the shield of
Achilles, to the coloured metal work and free design on the daggers
of the Mycenaean shaft graves. It is enough for us to note that the
passages concerning burial, from the "kernel" itself, and also from the
earliest to the latest expansions, are all perfectly harmonious, and of
a single age--unless we are convinced by Helbig's objections. That age
must have been brief, indeed, for, before it arrives, the period of
_tholos_ graves, as at Vaphio, must expire, on one hand, while the
blending of cremation with inhumation, in the Dipylon age, must have
been evolved after the cremation age passed, on the other. That brief
intervening age, however, was the age of the _ILIAD_ and Odyssey. This
conclusion can only be avoided by alleging that late poets, however
recent and revolutionary, carefully copied the oldest epic model of
burial, while they innovated in almost every other point, so we are
told. We can go no further till we find an unrifled cairn burial
answering to Homeric descriptions. We have, indeed, in Thessaly, "a
large tumulus which contained a silver urn with burned remains." But
the accompanying pottery dated it in the second century B.C. [Footnote:
Ridgeway, _Early Age Of Greece_, vol. i. p. 491; _Journal of Hellenic
Studies, vol. xx_. pp. 20-25.] It is possible enough that all tumuli of
the Homeric period have been robbed by grave plunderers in the course
of the ages, as the Vikings are said to have robbed the cairns of
Sutherlandshire, in which they were not likely to find a rich reward
for their labours. A conspicuous howe invites robbery--the heroes of the
Saga, like Grettir, occasionally rob a howe--and the fact is unlucky for
the Homeric archaeologist.

We have now tried to show that, as regards (1) to the absence from
Homer of new religious and ritual ideas, or of very old ideas revived
in Ionia, (2) as concerns the clear conception of a loose form of
feudalism, with an Over-Lord, and (3) in the matter of burial, the
_Iliad_ and Odyssey are self-consistent, and bear the impress of a
single and peculiar moment of culture.

The fact, if accepted, is incompatible with the theory that the poets
both introduced the peculiar conditions of their own later ages and
also, on other occasions, consciously and consistently "archaised." Not
only is such archaising inconsistent with the art of an uncritical age,
but a careful archaiser, with all the resources of Alexandrian criticism
at his command, could not archaise successfully. We refer to Quintus
Smyrnaeus, author of the _Post Homerica_, in fourteen books. Quintus
does his best; but we never observe in him that _naïf_ delight in
describing weapons and works of art, and details of law and custom which
are so conspicuous in Homer and in other early poets. He does give us
Penthesilea's great sword, with a hilt of ivory and silver; but of what
metal was the blade? We are not told, and the reader of Quintus will
observe that, though he knows [Greek: chalkos], bronze, as a synonym
for weapons, he scarcely ever, if ever, says that a sword or spear or
arrow-head was of bronze--a point on which Homer constantly insists.
When he names the military metal Quintus usually speaks of iron. He has
no interest in the constitutional and legal sides of heroic life, so
attractive to Homer.

Yet Quintus consciously archaises, in a critical age, with Homer as
his model. Any one who believes that in an uncritical age rhapsodists
archaised, with such success as the presumed late poets of the _ILIAD_
must have done, may try his hand in our critical age, at a ballad in the
style of the Border ballads. If he succeeds in producing nothing that
will at once mark his work as modern, he will be more successful than
any poet who has made the experiment, and more successful than the most
ingenious modern forgers of gems, jewels, and terra-cottas. They seldom
deceive experts, and, when they do, other experts detect the deceit.



Tested by their ideas, their picture of political society, and their
descriptions of burial rites, the presumed authors of the alleged
expansions of the _Iliad_ all lived in one and the same period of
culture. But, according to the prevalent critical theory, we read in
the _Iliad_ not only large "expansions" of many dates, but also briefer
interpolations inserted by the strolling reciters or rhapsodists. "Until
the final literary redaction had come," says Mr. Leaf--that is about 540
B.C.--"we cannot feel sure that any details, even of the oldest work,
were secure from the touch of the latest poet." [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p. ix.]

Here we are far from Mr. Leaf's own opinion that "the whole scenery of
the poems, the details of armour, palaces, dress, decoration ... had
become stereotyped, and formed a foundation which the Epic poet dared
not intentionally sap...." [Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. i. p. xv.] We now
find [Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii. p. ix.] that "the latest poet" saps
as much as he pleases down to the middle of the sixth century B.C.
Moreover, in the middle of the sixth century B.C., the supposed
editor employed by Hsistratus made "constant additions of transitional
passages," and added many speeches by Nestor, an ancestor of

Did these very late interlopers, down to the sixth century, introduce
modern details into the picture of life? did they blur the _unus_ color?
We hope to prove that, if they did so at all, it was but slightly. That
the poems, however, with a Mycenaean or sub-Mycenaean basis of actual
custom and usage, contain numerous contaminations from the usage of
centuries as late as the seventh, is the view of Mr. Leaf, and Reichel
and his followers. [Footnote: Homerische Waffen. Von Wolfgang Reichel.
Wien, 1901.]

Reichel's hypothesis is that the heroes of the original poet had no
defensive armour except the great Mycenaean shields; that the ponderous
shield made the use of chariots imperatively necessary; that, after the
Mycenaean age, a small buckler and a corslet superseded the unwieldy
shield; that chariots were no longer used; that, by the seventh century
B.C., a warrior could not be thought of without a breastplate; and that
new poets thrust corslets and greaves into songs both new and old.

How the new poets could conceive of warriors as always in chariots,
whereas in practice they knew no war chariots, and yet could not
conceive of them without corslets which the original poet never saw, is
Reichel's secret. The new poets had in the old lays a plain example to
follow. They did follow it as to chariots and shields; as to corslets
and greaves they reversed it. Such is the Reichelian theory.


As regards armour, controversy is waged over the shield, corslet, and
bronze greaves. In Homer the shield is of leather, plated with bronze,
and of bronze is the corslet. No shields of bronze plating and no bronze
corslets have been found in Mycenaean excavations.

We have to ask, do the Homeric descriptions of shields tally with the
representations of shields in works of art, discovered in the graves
of Mycenae, Spata in Attica, Vaphio in Sparta, and elsewhere? If the
descriptions in Homer vary from these relics, to what extent do they
vary? and do the differences arise from the fact that the poet describes
consistently what he sees in his own age, or are the variations caused
by late rhapsodists in the Iron Age, who keep the great obsolete shields
and bronze weapons, yet introduce the other military gear of their day,
say 800-600 B.C.--gear unknown to the early singers?

It may be best to inquire, first, what does the poet, or what do
the poets, say about shields? and, next, to examine the evidence of
representations of shields in Mycenaean art; always remembering that the
poet does not pretend to live, and beyond all doubt does not live, in
the Mycenaean prime, and that the testimony of the tombs is liable to be
altered by fresh discoveries.

In _Iliad_, II. 388, the shield (_aspis_) is spoken of as "covering a
man about" ([Greek: _amphibrotae_]), while, in the heat of battle, the
baldric (_telamon_), or belt of the shield, "shall be wet with sweat."
The shield, then, is not an Ionian buckler worn on the left arm, but is
suspended by a belt, and covers a man, or most of him, just as Mycenaean
shields are suspended by belts shown in works of art, and cover the
body and legs. This (II. 388) is a general description applying to the
shields of all men who fight from chariots. Their great shield answers
to the great mediaeval shield of the knights of the twelfth century, the
"double targe," worn suspended from the neck by a belt. Such a shield
covers a mounted knight's body from mouth to stirrup in an ivory
chessman of the eleventh to twelfth century A.D., [Footnote: _Catalogue
of Scottish National Antiquities_, p. 375.] so also in the Bayeux
tapestry, [Footnote: Gautier, _Chanson de Roland_. Seventh edition, pp.
393, 394.] and on seals. Dismounted men have the same shield (p. 132).

The shield of Menelaus (III. 348) is "equal in all directions," which we
might conceive to mean, mathematically "circular," as the words do mean
that. A shield is said to have "circles," and a spear which grazes
a shield--a shield which was _[Greek: panton eesae]_, "every way
equal"--rends both circles, the outer circle of bronze, and the inner
circle of leather (_Iliad_, XX. 273-281). But the passage is not
unjustly believed to be late; and we cannot rely on it as proof
that Homer knew circular shields among others. The epithet _[Greek:
eukuklykos]_, "of good circle," is commonly given to the shields, but
does not mean that the shield was circular, we are told, but merely that
it was "made of circular plates." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p.
573.] As for the shield of Menelaus, and other shields described in the
same words, "every way equal," the epithet is not now allowed to mean
"circular." Mr. Leaf, annotating _Iliad_, I. 306, says that this sense
is "intolerably mathematical and prosaic," and translates _[Greek:
panton eesae]_ as "well balanced on every side." Helbig renders the
epithets in the natural sense, as "circular." [Footnote: Helbig,
_Homerische Epos_, p. 315; cf., on the other hand, p. 317, Note I.]

To the rendering "circular" it is objected that a circular shield of,
say, four feet and a half in diameter, would be intolerably heavy and
superfluously wide, while the shields represented in Mycenaean art are
not circles, but rather resemble a figure of eight, in some cases, or a
section of a cylinder, in others, or, again, a door (Fig. 5, p. 130).

What Homer really meant by such epithets as "equal every way," "very
circular," "of a good circle," cannot be ascertained, since Homeric
epithets of the shield, which were previously rendered "circular," "of
good circle," and so on, are now translated in quite other senses, in
order that Homeric descriptions may be made to tally with Mycenaean
representations of shields, which are never circular as represented in
works of art. In this position of affairs we are unable to determine the
shape, or shapes, of the shields known to Homer.

A scholar's rendering of Homer's epithets applied to the shield is
obliged to vary with the variations of his theory about the shield.
Thus, in 1883, Mr. Leaf wrote, "The poet often calls the shield by names
which seem to imply that it was round, and yet indicates that it was
large enough to cover the whole body of a man.... In descriptions the
round shape is always implied." The words which indicated that the
shield (or one shield) "really looked like a tower, and really reached
from neck to ankles" (in two or three cases), were "received by the poet
from the earlier Achaean lays." "But to Homer the warriors appeared as
using the later small round shield. His belief in the heroic strength of
the men of old time made it quite natural to speak of them as bearing
a shield which at once combined the later circular shape and the old
heroic expanse...." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies, iv. pp._

Here the Homeric words which naturally mean "circular" or "round" are
accepted as meaning "round" or "circular." Homer, it is supposed, in
practice only knows the round shields of the later age, 700 B.C., so he
calls shields "round," but, obedient to tradition, he conceives of them
as very large.

But, after the appearance of Reichel's speculations, the Homeric words
for "round" and "circular" have been explained as meaning something
else, and Mr. Leaf, in place of maintaining that Homer knew no shields
but round shields, now writes (1900), "The small circular shield of
later equally unknown to Homer, with a very few curious
exceptions," which Reichel discovered--erroneously, as we shall later
try to show. [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 575.]

Thus does science fluctuate! Now Homer knows in practice none but light
round bucklers, dating from about 700 B.C.; again, he does not know
them at all, though they were habitually used in the period at which
the later parts of his Epic were composed. We shall have to ask, how
did small round bucklers come to be unknown to late poets who saw them

Some scholars, then, believe that the old original poet always described
Mycenaean shields, which are of various shapes, but never circular in
Mycenaean art. If there are any circular shields in the poems, these,
they say, must have been introduced by poets accustomed, in a much later
age, to seeing circular bucklers. Therefore Homeric words, hitherto
understood as meaning "circular," must now mean something else--even if
the reasoning seems circular.

Other scholars believe that the poet in real life saw various types of
shields in use, and that some of them were survivals of the Mycenaean
shields, semi-cylindrical, or shaped like figures of 8, or like a
door; others were circular; and these scholars presume that Homer meant
"circular" when he said "circular." Neither school will convert the
other, and we cannot decide between them. We do not pretend to be
certain as to whether the original poet saw shields of various types,
including the round shape, in use, though that is possible, or whether
he saw only the Mycenaean types.

As regards size, Homer certainly describes, in several cases, shields
very much larger than most which we know for certain to have been common
after, say, 700 B.C. He speaks of shields reaching from neck to ankles,
and "covering the body of a man about." Whether he was also familiar
with smaller shields of various types is uncertain; he does not
explicitly say that any small bucklers were used by the chiefs, nor
does he explicitly say that all shields were of the largest type. It is
possible that at the time when the Epic was composed various types of
shield were being tried, while the vast ancient shield was far from

To return to the _size_ of the shield. In a feigned tale of Odysseus
(Odyssey, XIV. 474-477), men in a wintry ambush place their shields over
their shoulders, as they lie on the ground, to be a protection against
snow. But any sort of shield, large or small, would protect the
shoulders of men in a recumbent position. Quite a large shield may seem
to be indicated in _Iliad_, XIII. 400-405, where Idomeneus curls up his
whole person behind his shield; he was "hidden" by it. Yet, as any
one can see by experiment, a man who crouched low would be protected
entirely by a Highland targe of less than thirty inches in diameter, so
nothing about the size of the shield is ascertained in this passage. On
a black-figured vase in the British Museum (B, 325) the entire body of
a crouching warrior is defended by a large Boeotian buckler, oval, and
with _échancrures_ in the sides. The same remark applies to _Z&ad_[sic],
XXII. 273-275. Hector watches the spear of Achilles as it flies; he
crouches, and the spear flies over him. Robert takes this as an "old
Mycenaean" dodge--to duck down to the bottom of the shield. [Footnote:
_Studien zur Ilias_, p. 21.] The avoidance by ducking can be managed
with no shield, or with a common Highland targe, which would cover a
man in a crouching posture, as when Glenbucket's targe was peppered by
bullets at Clifton (746), and Cluny shouted "What the devil is this?"
the assailants firing unexpectedly from a ditch. A few moments of
experiment, we repeat, prove that a round targe can protect a man in
Hector's attitude, and that the Homeric texts here throw no light on the
_size_ of the shield.

The shield of Hector was of black bull's-hide, and as large and long as
any represented in Mycenaean art, so that, as he walked, the rim knocked
against his neck and ankles. The shape is not mentioned. Despite its
size, he _walked_ under it from the plain and field of battle into Troy
(_Iliad_, VI. 116-118). This must be remembered, as Reichel [Footnote:
Reichel, 38, 39. Father Browne (_Handbook_, p. 230) writes, "In
_Odyssey_, XIV 475, Odysseus says he slept within the shield." He says
"under arms" (_Odyssey_, XIV. 474, but _cf_. XIV. 479).] maintains that
a man could not walk under shield, or only for a short way; wherefore
the war chariot was invented, he says, to carry the fighting man from
point to point (Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 573). Mr. Leaf elaborates
these points: "Why did not the Homeric heroes ride? Because no man could
carry such a shield on horseback." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 573.]
We reply that men could and did carry such shields on horseback, as
we know on the evidence of works of art and poetry of the eleventh to
twelfth centuries A.D. Mr. Ridgeway has explained the introduction
of chariots as the result of horses too small to carry a heavy and
heavily-armed man as a cavalier.

The shield ([Greek: aspis]), we are told by followers of Reichel, was
only worn by princes who could afford to keep chariots, charioteers,
and squires of the body to arm and disarm them. But this can scarcely
be true, for all the comrades of Diomede had the shield ([Greek: aspis],
_Iliad_, X. 152), and the whole host of Pandarus of Troy, a noted
bowman, were shield-bearers ([Greek: aspistaon laon], _Iliad_, IV.
90), and some of them held their shields ([Greek: sakae]) in front of
Pandarus when he took a treacherous shot at Menelaus (IV. 113). The
whole host could not have chariots and squires, we may presume, so the
chariot was not indispensable to the _écuyer_ or shield-bearing man.

The objections to this conjecture of Reichel are conspicuous, as we now

No Mycenaean work of art shows us a shielded man in a chariot; the men
with the monstrous shields are always depicted on foot. The only modern
peoples who, to our knowledge, used a leather shield of the Mycenaean
size and even of a Mycenaean shape had no horses and chariots, as
we shall show. The ancient Eastern peoples, such as the Khita and
Egyptians, who fought from chariots, carried _small_ shields of various
forms, as in the well-known picture of a battle between the Khita, armed
with spears, and the bowmen of Rameses II, who kill horse and man with
arrows from their chariots, and carry no spears; while the Khita, who
have no bows, merely spears, are shot down as they advance. [Footnote:
Maspero, _Hist. Ancienne_, ii. p. 225.]. Egyptians and Khita, who fight
from chariots, use _small_ bucklers, whence it follows that war chariots
were not invented, or, at least, were not retained in use, for the
purpose of giving mobility to men wearing gigantic shields, under which
they could not hurry from point to point. War chariots did not cease to
be used in Egypt, when men used small shields.

Moreover, Homeric warriors can make marches under shield, while there is
no mention of chariots to carry them to the point where they are to
lie in ambush (Odyssey, XIV. 470-510). If the shield was so heavy as
to render a chariot necessary, would Homer make Hector trudge a
considerable distance under shield, while Achilles, under shield,
sprints thrice round the whole circumference of Troy? Helbig notices
several other cases of long runs under shield. Either Reichel is wrong,
when he said that the huge shield made the use of the war chariot
necessary, or the poet is "late"; he is a man who never saw a large
shield like Hector's, and, though he speaks of such shields, he thinks
that men could walk and run under them. When men did walk or run under
shield, or ride, if they ever rode, they would hang it over the left
side, like the lion-hunters on the famous inlaid dagger of Mycenae,
[Footnote: For the chariots, _cf_. Reichel, _Homerische Waffen_,
120_ff_. Wien, 1901.] or the warrior on the chessman referred to above
(p. 111).

Aias, again, the big, brave, stupid Porthos of the _Iliad_, has the
largest shield of all, "like a tower" (this shield cannot have been
circular), and is recognised by his shield. But he never enters a
chariot, and, like Odysseus, has none of his own, because both men come
from rugged islands, unfit for chariot driving. Odysseus has plenty
of shields in his house in Ithaca, as we learn from the account of the
battle with the Wooers in the _Odyssey;_ yet, in Ithaca, as at Troy, he
kept no chariot. Here, then, we have nations who fight from chariots,
yet use small shields, and heroes who wear enormous shields, yet never
own a chariot. Clearly, the great shield cannot have been the cause of
the use of the war chariot, as in the theory of Reichel.

Aias and his shield we meet in _Iliad_, VII. 206-220. "He clothed
himself upon his flesh in _all_ his armour" ([Greek: teuchea]), to quote
Mr. Leaf's translation; but the poet only _describes_ his shield:
his "towerlike shield of bronze, with sevenfold ox-hide, that Tychius
wrought him cunningly; Tychius, the best of curriers, that had his home
in Hyle, who made for him his glancing shield of sevenfold hides of
stalwart bulls, and overlaid the seven with bronze."

The shield known to Homer then is, in this case, so tall as to resemble
a tower, and has bronze plating over bull's hide. By tradition from an
age of leather shields the Currier is still the shield-maker, though now
the shield has metal plating. It is fairly clear that Greek tradition
regarded the shield of Aias as of the kind which covered the body from
chin to ankles, and resembled a bellying sail, or an umbrella unfurled,
and drawn in at the sides in the middle, so as to offer the semblance
of two bellies, or of one, pinched in at or near the centre. This is
probable, because the coins of Salamis, where Aias was worshipped as a
local hero of great influence, display this shield as the badge of the
AEginetan dynasty, claiming descent from Aias. The shield is bossed,
or bellied out, with two half-moons cut in the centre, representing the
_waist_, or pinched--in part, of the ancient Mycenaean shield; the same
device occurs on a Mycenaean ring from AEgina in the British Museum.
[Footnote: Evans, _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, xiii. 213-216.]

In a duel with Aias the spear of Hector pierced the bronze and six
layers of hide on his shield, but stuck in the seventh. The spear of
Aias went through the circular (or "every way balanced") huge shield
of Hector, and through his corslet and _chiton_, but Hector had doubled
himself up laterally ([Greek: eklinthae], VII. 254), and was not
wounded. The next stroke of Aias pierced his shield, and wounded his
neck; Hector replied with a boulder that lighted on the centre of the
shield of Aias, "on the boss," whether that means a mere ornament or
knob, or whether it was the genuine boss--which is disputed. Aias broke
in the shield of Hector with another stone; and the gentle and joyous
passage of arms was stopped.

The shield of Agamemnon was of the kind that "cover all the body of
a man," and was "every way equal," or "circular." It was plated
with twelve circles of bronze, and had twenty [Greek: omphaloi], or
ornamental knobs of tin, and the centre was of black cyanus (XI.
31-34). There was also a head of the Gorgon, with Fear and Panic. The
description is not intelligible, and I do not discuss it.

A man could be stabbed in the middle of the belly, "under his shield"
(XI. 424-425), not an easy thing to do, if shields covered the whole
body to the feet; but, when a hero was leaping from his chariot (as in
this case), no doubt a spear could be pushed up under the shield.
The ancient Irish romances tell of a _gae bulg_, a spear held in the
warrior's toes, and jerked up under the shield of his enemy! Shields
could be held up on high, in an attack on a wall garrisoned by archers
(XII. 139), the great Norman shield, also, could be thus lifted.

The Locrians, light armed infantry, had no shields, nor bronze helmets,
nor spears, but slings and bows (XIII. 714). Mr. Leaf suspects that this
is a piece of "false archaism," but we do not think that early poets
in an uncritical age are ever archaeologists, good or bad. The poet is
aware that some men have larger, some smaller shields, just as some have
longer and some shorter spears (XIV. 370-377); but this does not prove
that the shields were of different types. A tall man might inherit the
shield of a short father, or _versa_.

A man in turning to fly might trip on the rim of his shield, which
proves how large it was: "it reached to his feet." This accident of
tripping occurred to Periphetes of Mycenae, but it might have happened
to Hector, whose shield reached from neck to ankles. [Footnote: _Iliad_,
XV. 645-646.]

Achilles must have been a large man, for he knew nobody whose armour
would fit him when he lost his own (though his armour fitted Patroclus),
he could, however, make shift with the tower-like shield of Aias, he

[Illustration 1: "THE VASE OF ARISTONOTHOS"]

The evidence of the Iliad, then, is mainly to the effect that the heroes
carried huge shields, suspended by belts, covering the body and legs. If
Homer means, by the epithets already cited, "of good circle" and "every
way equal," that some shields of these vast dimensions were circular, we
have one example in early Greek art which corroborates his description.
This is "the vase of Aristonothos," signed by that painter, and supposed
to be of the seventh century (Fig. 1). On one side, the companions of
Odysseus are boring out the eye of the Cyclops; on the other, a galley
is being rowed to the attack of a ship. On the raised deck of the
galley stand three warriors, helmeted and bearing spears. The artist has
represented their shields as covering their right sides, probably for
the purpose of showing their devices or blazons. _Their_ shields are
small round bucklers. On the ship are three warriors whose shields,
though circular, _cover THE BODY from CHIN TO ANKLES_, as in Homer. One
shield bears a bull's head; the next has three crosses; the third blazon
is a crab. [Footnote: Mon. _dell_. Inst., is. pl. 4.]

Such personal armorial bearings are never mentioned by Homer. It is
not usually safe to argue, from his silence, that he is ignorant of
anything. He never mentions seals or signet rings, yet they cannot but
have been familiar to his time. Odysseus does not seal the chest with
the Phaeacian presents; he ties it up with a cunning knot; there are
no rings named among the things wrought by Hephaestus, nor among the
offerings of the Wooers of Penelope. [Footnote: Helbig citing Odyssey,
VIII. 445-448; _Iliad_, XVIII. 401; Odyssey, xviii. 292-301.]

But, if we are to admit that Homer knew not rings and seals, which
lasted to the latest Mycenaean times, through the Dipylon age, to the
very late AEginetan treasure (800 B.C.) in the British Museum, and
appear again in the earliest dawn of the classical age and in a Cyclic
poem, it is plain that all the expansionists lived in one, and that a
most peculiar _ringless_ age. This view suits our argument to a wish,
but it is not credible that rings and seals and engraved stones, so very
common in Mycenaean and later times, should have vanished wholly in the
Homeric time. The poet never mentions them, just as Shakespeare never
mentions a thing so familiar to him as tobacco. How often are finger
rings mentioned in the whole mass of Attic tragic poetry? We remember no
example, and instances are certainly rare: Liddell and Scott give none.
Yet the tragedians were, of course, familiar with rings and seals.

Manifestly, we cannot say that Homer knew no seals, because he mentions
none; but armorial blazons on shields could be ignored by no poet of
war, if they existed.

Meanwhile, the shields of the warriors on the vase, being circular and
covering body and legs, answer most closely to Homer's descriptions.
Helbig is reduced to suggest, first, that these shields are worn by men
aboard ship, as if warriors had one sort of shield when aboard ship and
another when fighting on land, and as if the men in the other vessel
were not equally engaged in a sea fight. No evidence in favour of such
difference of practice, by sea and land, is offered. Again, Helbig does
not trust the artist, in this case, though the artist is usually trusted
to draw what he sees; and why should he give the men in the other ship
or boat small bucklers, genuine, while bedecking the warriors in the
adverse vessel with large, purely imaginary shields? [Footnote:
Helbig, _Das Homerische Epos_, ii. pp. 313-314.] It is not in the least
"probable," as Helbig suggests, that the artist is shirking the trouble
of drawing the figure.

Reichel supposes that round bucklers were novelties when the vase was
painted (seventh century), and that the artist did not understand how
to depict them. [Footnote: _Homerische Waffen_, p. 47.] But he depicted
them very well as regards the men in the galley, save that, for obvious
aesthetic reasons, he chose to assume that the men in the galley were
left-handed and wore their shields on their right arms, his desire
being to display the blazons of both parties. [Footnote: See the same
arrangement in a Dipylon vase. Baumeister, _Denkmaler_, iii. p. 1945.]
We thus see, if the artist may be trusted, that shields, which both
"reached to the feet" and were circular, existed in his time (the
seventh century), so that possibly they may have existed in Homer's
time and survived into the age of small bucklers. Tyrtaeus (late seventh
century), as Helbig remarks, speaks of "a _wide_ shield, covering
thighs, shins, breast, and shoulders." [Footnote: _Tyrtaeus_, xi. 23;
Helbig, _Das Homerische Epos_, ii. p. 315, Note 2.]

Nothing can be more like the large shields of the vase of Aristonothos.
Thus the huge circular shield seems to have been a practicable shield
in actual use. If so, when Homer spoke of large circular shields he may
have meant large circular shields. On the Dodwell pyxis of 650 to 620
B.C., a man wears an oval shield, covering him from the base of the neck
to the ankles. He wears it on his left arm. [Footnote: Walters, _Ancient
Pottery_, p. 316.]

Of shields certainly small and light, worn by the chiefs, there is not
a notice in the _Iliad_, unless there be a hint to that effect in
the accounts of heroes running, walking considerable distances, and
"stepping lightly" under shields, supposed, by the critics, to be of
crushing weight. In such passages the poet may be carried away by his
own _verve_, or the heroes of ancient times may be deemed capable of
exertions beyond those of the poet's contemporaries, as he often tells
us that, in fact, the old heroes were. A poet is not a scientific
military writer; and in the epic poetry of all other early races very
gross exaggeration is permitted, as in the [blank space] the old Celtic
romances, and, of course, the huge epics of India. In Homer "the skill
of the poet makes things impossible convincing," Aristotle says; and it
is a critical error to insist on taking Homer absolutely and always _au
pied de la lettre_. He seems, undeniably, to have large body-covering
shields present to his mind as in common use.

Small shields of the Greek historic period are "unknown to Homer," Mr.
Leaf says, "with a very few curious exceptions," [Footnote: _Iliad_,
vol. i. p. 575.] detected by Reichel in Book X. 15 [Footnote: _Ibid,_
vol. i. p. 569, fig. 2.], where Diomede's men sleep with their heads
resting on their shields, whereas a big-bellied Mycenaean shield
rises, he says, too high for a pillow. But some Mycenzean shields were
perfectly flat; while, again, nothing could be more comfortable, as a
head-rest, than the hollow between the upper and lower bulges of
the Mycenzean huge shield. The Zulu wooden head-rest is of the same
character. Thus this passage in Book X. does not prove that small
circular shields were known to Homer, nor does X. 5 13. 526-530, an
obscure text in which it is uncertain whether Diomede and Odysseus ride
or drive the horses of Rhesus. They _could_ ride, as every one must
see, even though equipped with great body-covering shields. True, the
shielded hero could neither put his shield at his back nor in front of
him when he rode; but he could hang it sidewise, when it would cover his
left side, as in the early Middle Ages (1060-1160 A.D.).

The taking of the shield from a man's shoulders (XI. 374) does not prove
the shield to be small; the shield hung by the belt (_telamon_) from
the shoulder. [Footnote: On the other side, see Reichel, _Homerische
Waffen_, pp. 40-44. Wien, 1901. We have replied to his arguments above.]

So far we have the results that Homer seems most familiar with vast
body-covering shields; that such shields were suspended by a baldric,
not worn on the left arm; that they were made of layers of hide, plated
with bronze, and that such a shield as Aias wore must have been tall,
doubtless oblong, "like a tower," possibly it was semi-cylindrical.
Whether the epithets denoting roundness refer to circular shields or to
the double _targe_, g-shaped, of Mycenaean times is uncertain.

We thus come to a puzzle of unusual magnitude. If Homer does not know
small circular shields, but refers always to huge shields, whereas,
from the eighth century B.C. onwards, such shields were not in use
(disregarding Tyrtaeus, and the vase of Aristonothos on which they
appear conspicuously, and the Dodwell pyxis), where are we? Either
we have a harmonious picture of war from a very ancient date of large
shields, or late poets did not introduce the light round buckler of
their own period. Meanwhile they are accused of introducing the bronze
corslets and other defensive armour of their own period. Defensive
armour was unknown, we are told, in the Mycenaean prime, which, if true,
does not affect the question. Homer did not live in or describe the
Mycenaean prime, with its stone arrow-tips. Why did the late poets act
so inconsistently? Why were they ignorant of small circular shields,
which they saw every day? Or why, if they knew them, did they not
introduce them in the poems, which, we are told, they were filling with
non-Mycenaean greaves and corslets?

This is one of the dilemmas which constantly arise to confront the
advocates of the theory that the _Iliad_ is a patchwork of many
generations. "Late" poets, if really late, certainly in every-day
life knew small parrying bucklers worn on the left arm, and huge
body-covering shields perhaps they rarely saw in use. They also knew,
and the original poet, we are told, did not know bronze corslets and
greaves. The theory of critics is that late poets introduced the bronze
corslets and greaves with which they were familiar into the poems,
but scrupulously abstained from alluding to the equally familiar small
shields. Why are they so recklessly anachronistic and "up-to-date"
with the corslets and greaves, and so staunchly but inconsistently
conservative about keeping the huge shields?

Mr. Leaf explains thus: "The groundwork of the Epos is Mycenaean, in the
arrangement of the house, in the prevalence of copper" (as compared with
iron), "and, as Reichel has shown, in armour. Yet in many points the
poems are certainly later than the prime, at least, of the Mycenaean
age"--which we are the last to deny. "Is it that the poets are
deliberately trying to present the conditions of an age anterior to
their own? or are they depicting the circumstances by which they are
surrounded--circumstances which slowly change during the period of the
development of the Epos? Cauer decides for the latter alternative, _the
only one which is really conceivable_ [Footnote: Then how is the alleged
archaeology of the poet of Book X. conceivable?] in an age whose views
are in many ways so naïve as the poems themselves prove them to have
been." [Footnote: _Classical Review, ix. pp. 463, 464._]

Here we entirely side with Mr. Leaf. No poet, no painter, no sculptor,
in a naïf, uncritical age, ever represents in art anything but what he
sees daily in costume, customs, weapons, armour, and ways of life.
Mr. Leaf, however, on the other hand, occasionally chides pieces of
deliberate archaeological pedantry in the poets, in spite of his opinion
that they are always "depicting the circumstances by which they are
surrounded." But as huge man-covering shields are _not_ among the
circumstances by which the supposed late poets were surrounded, why
do they depict them? Here Mr. Leaf corrects himself, and his argument
departs from the statement that only one theory is "conceivable,"
namely, that the poets depict their own surroundings, and we are
introduced to a new proposition. "Or rather we must recognise everywhere
a compromise between two opposing principles: the singer, on the one
hand, has to be conservatively tenacious of the old material which
serves as the substance of his song; on the other hand, he has to be
vivid and actual in the contributions which he himself makes to the
common stock." [Footnote: _Ibid._, ix. pp. 463, 464.]

The conduct of such singers is so weirdly inconsistent as not to be
easily credible. But probably they went further, for "it is possible
that the allusions" to the corslet "may have been introduced in the
course of successive modernisation such as the oldest parts of the
_Iliad_ seem in many cases to have passed through. But, in fact,
_Iliad_, XI. 234 is the only mention of a corslet in any of the oldest
strata, so far as we can distinguish them, and here Reichel translates
_thorex_ 'shield.'" [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 578.] Mr.
Leaf's statement we understand to mean that, when the singer or reciter
was delivering an ANCIENT lay he did not introduce any of the military
gear--light round bucklers, greaves, and corslets--with which his
audience were familiar. But when the singer delivers a new lay, which
he himself has added to "the kernel," then he is "vivid and actual," and
speaks of greaves and corslets, though he still cleaves in his new lay
to the obsolete chariot, the enormous shield, and, in an age of iron, to
weapons of bronze. He is a sadly inconsistent new poet!

Meanwhile, sixteen allusions to the corslet "can be cut out," as
probably "some or all these are additions to the text made at a time
when it seemed absurd to think of a man in full armour without a
corslet." [Footnote: _Ibid_, vol. i. p. 577.] Thus the reciters, after
all, did not spare "the old material" in the matter of corslets. The
late singers have thus been "conservatively tenacious" in clinging to
chariots, weapons of bronze, and obsolete enormous shields, while
they have also been "vivid and actual" and "up to date" in the way
of introducing everywhere bronze corslets, greaves, and other armour
unknown, by the theory, in "the old material which is the substance of
their song." By the way, they have not even spared the shield of the
old material, for it was of leather or wood (we have no trace of metal
plating on the old Mycenaean shields), and the singer, while retaining
the size of it, has added a plating of bronze, which we have every
reason to suppose that Mycenaean shields of the prime did not present to
the stone-headed arrow.

This theory of singers, who are at once "conservatively tenacious" of
the old and impudently radical in pushing in the new, appears to us
to be logically untenable. We have, in Chapter I, observed the same
inconsistency in Helbig, and shall have occasion to remark again on its
presence in the work of that great archaeologist. The inconsistency is
inseparable from theories of expansion through several centuries. "Many
a method," says Mr. Leaf, "has been proposed which, up to a certain
point, seemed irresistible, but there has always been a residuum which
returned to plague the inventor." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. X.]
This is very true, and our explanation is that no method which starts
from the hypothesis that the poems are the product of several centuries
will work. The "residuum" is the element which cannot be fitted into any
such hypothesis. But try the hypothesis that the poems are the product
of a single age, and all is harmonious. There is no baffling "residuum."
The poet describes the details of a definite age, not that of the
Mycenaean bloom, not that of 900-600 A.D.

We cannot, then, suppose that many generations of irresponsible reciters
at fairs and public festivals conservatively adhered to the huge size of
the shield, while altering its material; and also that the same men, for
the sake of being "actual" and up to date, dragged bronze corslets and
greaves not only into new lays, but into passages of lays by old
poets who had never heard of such things. Consequently, the poetic
descriptions of arms and armour must be explained on some other theory.
If the poet, again, as others suppose--Mr. Ridgeway for one--knew such
bronze-covered circular shields as are common in central and western
Europe of the Bronze Age, why did he sometimes represent them as
extending from neck to ankles, whereas the known bronze circular shields
are not of more than 2 feet 2 inches to 2 feet 6 inches in diameter?
[Footnote: Ridgeway, _Early Age of Greece, vol. i pp. 453, 471._] Such
a shield, without the wood or leather, weighed 5 lbs. 2 ozs., [Footnote:
_Ibid., vol._ i. p. 462.] and a strong man might walk or run under it.
Homer's shields would be twice as heavy, at least, though, even then,
not too heavy for a Hector, or an Aias, or Achilles. I do not see that
the round bronze shields of Limerick, Yetholm, Beith, Lincolnshire, and
Tarquinii, cited by Mr. Ridgeway, answer to Homer's descriptions of huge
shields. They are too small. But it is perfectly possible, or rather
highly probable, that in the poet's day shields of various sizes and
patterns coexisted.


Turning to archaeological evidence, we find no remains in the graves of
the Mycenaean prime of the bronze which covered the ox-hides of Homeric
shields, though we do find gold ornaments supposed to have been attached
to shields. There is no evidence that the Mycenaean shield was plated
with bronze. But if we judge from their shape, as represented in works
of Mycenaean art, some of the Mycenaean shields were not of wood, but of
hide. In works of art, such as engraved rings and a bronze dagger (Fig.
2) with pictures inlaid in other metals, the shield, covering the whole
body, is of the form of a bellying sail, or a huge umbrella "up," and
pinched at both sides near the centre: or is like a door, or a section
of a cylinder; only one sort of shield resembles a big-bellied figure
of 8. Ivory models of shields indicate the same figure. [Footnote:
Schuchardt, _Schliemann's Excavations_, p. 192.] A gold necklet found
at Enkomi, in Cyprus, consists of a line of models of this Mycenaean
shield. [Footnote: _Excavations in Cyprus_, pl. vii. fig. 604. A. S.
Murray, 1900.]


[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

There also exists a set of small Mycenaean relics called Palladia, found
at Mycenae, Spata and in the earliest strata of the Acropolis at Athens.
They resemble "two circles joined together so as to intersect one
another slightly," or "a long oval pinched in at the middle." They vary
in size from six inches to half an inch, and are of ivory, glazed ware,
or glass. Several such shields are engraved on Mycenaean gems; one,
in gold, is attached to a silver vase. The ornamentation shown on them
occurs, too, on Mycenaean shields in works of art; in short,
these little objects are representations in miniature of the big
double-bellied Mycenaean shield. Mr. Ernest Gardner concludes that these
objects are the "schematised" reductions of an armed human figure, only
the shield which covered the whole body is left. They are talismans
symbolising an armed divinity, Pallas or another. A Dipylon vase (Fig.
3) shows a man with a shield, possibly evolved out of this kind, much
scooped out at the waist, and reaching from neck to knees. The shield
covers his side, not his back or front. [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic
Studies_, vol. xiii. pp. 21-24.]

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

One may guess that the original pinch at the waist of the Mycenaean
shield was evolved later into the two deep scoops to enable the warrior
to use his arms more freely, while the shield, hanging from his neck by
a belt, covered the front of his body. Fig. 4 shows shields of 1060-1160
A.D. equally designed to cover body and legs. Men wore shields, if we
believe the artists of Mycenae, when lion-hunting, a sport in which
speed of foot is desirable; so they cannot have been very weighty.
The shield then was hung over one side, and running was not so very
difficult as if it hung over back or front (_cf._ Fig. 5). The shields
sometimes reach only from the shoulders to the calf of the leg.
[Footnote: Reichel, p. 3, fig. 5, Grave III. at Mycenae.] The wearer of
the largest kind could only be got at by a sword-stab over the rim into
the throat [Footnote: _Ibid_., p. 2, fig. 2.] (Fig. 5). Some shields of
this shape were quite small, if an engraved rock-crystal is evidence;
here the shield is not half so high as an adjacent goat, but it may be a
mere decoration to fill the field of the gem. [Footnote: Reichel, p. 3,
fig. 7.]


Other shields, covering the body from neck to feet, were sections of
cylinders; several of these are represented on engraved Mycenaean ring
stones or on the gold; the wearer was protected in front and flank
[Footnote: _Ibid._, p. 4, fig II, 12; p. I, fig I.] (Fig. 5).

In a "maze of buildings" outside the precincts of the graves of Mycenae,
Dr. Schliemann found fragments of vases much less ancient than the
contents of the sepulchres. There was a large amphora, the "Warrior
Vase" (Fig. 6). The men wear apparently a close-fitting coat of mail
over a chiton, which reaches with its fringes half down the thigh. The
shield is circular, with a half-moon cut out at the bottom. The art is
infantile. Other warriors carry long oval shields reaching, at least,
from neck to shin. [Footnote: Schuchardt, _Schliemann's_ Excavations,
pp. 279-285.] They wear round leather caps, their enemies have helmets.
On a Mycenaean painted _stele_, apparently of the same relatively late
period, the costume is similar, and the shield--oval--reaches from neck
to knee. [Footnote: Ridgeway, vol. i. p. 314.] The Homeric shields do
not answer to the smaller of these late and ugly representations, while,
in their bronze plating, Homeric shields seem to differ from the leather
shields of the Mycenaean prime.

Finally, at Enkomi, near Salamis, in Cyprus, an ivory carving (in the
British Museum) shows a fighting man whose perfectly circular shield
reaches from neck to knee; this is one of several figures in which Mr.
Arthur Evans finds "a most valuable illustration of the typical Homeric
armour." [Footnote: _Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. xxx.
pp. 209-214, figs. 5, 6, 9._] The shield, however, is not so huge as
those of Aias, Hector, and Periphetes.

I can only conclude that Homer describes intermediate types of shield,
as large as the Mycenaean but plated with bronze, for a reason to be
given later. This kind of shield, the kind known to Homer, was not the
invention of late poets living in an age of circular bucklers, worn on
the left arm, and these supposed late poets never introduce into the
epics such bucklers.

What manner of military needs prompted the invention of the great
Mycenaean shields which, by Homer's time, were differentiated by the
addition of metal plating?


The process of evolution of the huge Mycenaean shields, and of the
Homeric shields covering the body from chin to ankles, can easily be
traced. The nature of the attack expected may be inferred from the
nature of the defence employed. Body-covering shields were, obviously,
at first, _defences against showers of arrows_ tipped with stone. "In
the earlier Mycenaean times the arrow-head of obsidian alone appears,"
as in Mycenaean Grave IV. In the upper strata of Mycenae and in the
later tombs the arrow-head is usually of bronze. [Footnote: Tsountas and
Manatt, p. 206.] No man going into battle naked, without body armour,
like the Mycenaeans (if they had none), could protect himself with
a small shield, or even with a round buckler of twenty-six inches in
diameter, against the rain of shafts. In a fight, on the other hand,
where man singled out man, and spears were the missiles, and when the
warriors had body armour, or even when they had not, a small
shield sufficed; as we see among the spear-throwing Zulus and the
spear-throwing aborigines of Australia (unacquainted with bows and
arrows), who mainly use shields scarcely broader than a bat. On the
other hand, the archers of the Algonquins in their wars with the
Iroquois, about 1610, used clubs and tomahawks but no spears, no
missiles but arrows, and their leather shield was precisely the [Greek:
amphibrotae aspis] of Homer, "covering the whole of a man." It is
curious to see, in contemporary drawings (1620), Mycenaean shields on
Red Indian shoulders!

In Champlain's sketches of fights between French and Algonquins against
Iroquois (1610-1620), we see the Algonquins outside the Iroquois
stockade, which is defended by archers, sheltering under huge shields
shaped like the Mycenaean "tower" shield, though less cylindrical; in
fact, more like the shield of the fallen hunter depicted on the dagger
of Mycenae. These Algonquin shields partially cover the sides as well as
the front of the warrior, who stoops behind them, resting the lower rim
of the shield on the ground. The shields are oblong and rounded at the
top, much like that of Achilles [Footnote: Iliad, vol. ii p. 605] in
Mr. Leaf's restoration? The sides curve inward. Another shield, oval in
shape and flat, appears to have been suspended from the neck, and covers
an Iroquois brave from chin to feet. The Red Indian shields, like those
of Mycenae, were made of leather; usually of buffalo hide, [Footnote:
_Les Voyages de Sr. de Champlain_, Paris, 1620, f. 22: "rondache de
cuir bouili, qui est d'un animal, comme le boufle."] good against
stone-tipped arrows. The braves are naked, like the unshielded archers
on the Mycenaean silver vase fragment representing a siege (Fig. 7). The
description of the Algonquin shields by Champlain, when compared
with his drawings, suggests that we cannot always take artistic
representations as exact. In his designs only a few Algonquins and one
Iroquois carry the huge shields; the unshielded men are stark naked, as
on the Mycenaean silver vase. But in his text Champlain says that the
Iroquois, like the Algonquins, "carried arrow-proof shields" and "a
sort of armour woven of cotton thread"--Homer's [Greek: linothoraex]
(_Iliad_, II. 259, 850). These facts appear in only one of Champlain's
drawings [Footnote: Dix's _Champlain_, p. 113. Appleton, New York, 1903.
Laverdière's _Champlain_, vol. iv., plate opposite p. 85 (1870).] (Fig.

These Iroquois and Algonquin shields are the armour of men exposed, not
to spears, but to a hail of flint-tipped arrows. As spears came in for
missiles in Greek warfare, arrows did not wholly go out, but the noble
warriors preferred spear and sword. [Footnote: Cf. Archilochus, 3.] Mr.
Ridgeway erroneously says that "no Achaean warrior employs the bow for
war." [Footnote: _Early Age of Greece_, i. 301.] Teucer, frequently, and
Meriones use the bow; like Pandarus and Paris, on the Trojan side, they
resort to bow or spear, as occasion serves. Odysseus, in _Iliad_, Book
X., is armed with the bow and arrows of Meriones when acting as a spy;
in the _Odyssey_ his skill as an archer is notorious, but he would not
pretend to equal famous bowmen of an older generation, such as Heracles
and Eurytus of OEchalia, whose bow he possessed but did not take to
Troy. Philoctetes is his master in archery. [Footnote: Odyssey, VIII.

[Illustration: FIG. 7. FRAGMENT OF SIEGE VASE]

The bow, however, was little esteemed by Greek warriors who desired to
come to handstrokes, just as it was despised, to their frequent ruin, by
the Scots in the old wars with England. Dupplin, Falkirk, Halidon Hill
and many another field proved the error.

There was much need in Homeric warfare for protection against heavy
showers of arrows. Mr. Monro is hardly correct when he says that, in
Homer, "we do not hear of _BODIES_ of archers, of arrows darkening the
air, as in descriptions of oriental warfare." [Footnote: _Ibid._,
vol. ii. 305.] These precise phrases are not used by Homer; but,
nevertheless, arrows are flying thick in his battle pieces. The effects
are not often noticed, because, in Homer, helmet, shield, corslet,
_zoster_, and greaves, as a rule prevent the shafts from harming
the well-born, well-armed chiefs; the nameless host, however, fall
frequently. When Hector came forward for a parley (_Iliad_, III.
79), the Achaens "kept shooting at him with arrows," which he took
unconcernedly. Teucer shoots nine men in _Iliad_, VIII. 297-304. In
XI. _85_ the shafts ([Greek: belea]) showered and the common soldiers
fell--[misprint] being arrows as well as thrown spears. [Footnote:
_Iliad_, IV. 465; XVI. 668, 678.] Agamemnon and Achilles are as likely,
they say, to be hit by arrow as by spear (XI. 191; XXI. 13). Machaon is
wounded by an arrow. Patroclus meets Eurypylus limping, with an arrow in
his thigh--archer unknown. [Footnote: _Iliad_, XI. 809, 810.] Meriones,
though an Achaean paladin, sends a bronze-headed arrow through the body
of Harpalion (XIII. _650_). The light-armed Locrians are all bowmen and
slingers (XIII. 716). Acamas taunts the Argives as "bowmen" (XIV.
479). "The war-cry rose on both sides, and the arrows leaped from the
bowstrings" (XV. 313). Manifestly the arrows are always on the wing,
hence the need for the huge Homeric and Mycenaean shields. Therefore,
as the Achaeans in Homer wore but flimsy corslets (this we are going to
prove), the great body-covering shield of the Mycenaean prime did not
go out of vogue in Homer's time, when bronze had superseded stone
arrow-heads, but was strengthened by bronze plating over the leather.
In a later age the bow was more and more neglected in Greek warfare, and
consequently large shields went out, after the close of the Mycenaean
age, and round parrying bucklers came into use.

The Greeks appear never to have been great archers, for some vases show
even the old heroes employing the "primary release," the arrow nock
is held between the thumb and forefinger--an ineffectual release.
[Footnote: C. J. Longman, _Archery_. Badminton Series.] The archers in
early Greek art often stoop or kneel, unlike the erect archers of old
England; the bow is usually small--a child's weapon; the string is often
drawn only to the breast, as by Pandarus in the _Iliad_ (IV. i 23). By
730 B.C. the release with three fingers, our western release, had become
known. [Footnote: Leaf _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 585.]

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--ALGONQUIN CORSLET. From Laverdiere, _Oeuvres de
Champlain_, vol. iv. fol. 4. Quebec, 1870.]

The course of evolution seems to be: (1) the Mycenaean prime of much
archery, no body armour (?); huge leather "man-covering" shields are
used, like those of the Algonquins; (2) the same shields strengthened
with metal, light body armour-thin corslets--and archery is frequent,
but somewhat despised (the Homeric age); (3) the parrying shield of
the latest Mycenaean age (infantry with body armour); (4) the Ionian
hoplites, with body armour and small circular bucklers.

It appears, then, that the monstrous Mycenaean shield is a survival of
an age when bows and arrows played the same great part as they did in
the wars of the Algonquins and Iroquois. The celebrated picture of a
siege on a silver vase, of which fragments were found in Grave IV.,
shows archers skirmishing; there is an archer in the lion hunt on the
dagger blade; thirty-five obsidian arrow-heads were discovered in Grave
IV., while "in the upper strata of Mycenae and in the later tombs the
arrow-head is usually of bronze, though instances of obsidian still
occur." In 1895 Dr. Tsountas found twenty arrow-heads of bronze, ten in
each bundle, in a Mycenaean chamber tomb. Messrs. Tsountas and Manatt
say, "In the Acropolis graves at Mycenae... the spear-heads were but
few... arrow-heads, on the contrary, are comparatively abundant."
They infer that "picked men used shield and spear; the rank and file
doubtless fought simply with bow and sling." [Footnote: Tsountas and
Manatt, zog. [sic]]. The great Mycenaean shield was obviously evolved
as a defence against arrows and sling-stones flying too freely to be
parried with a small buckler. What other purpose could it have served?
But other defensive armour was needed, and was evolved, by Homer's men,
as also, we shall see, by the Algonquins and Iroquois. The Algonquins
and Iroquois thus prove that men who thought their huge shields very
efficient, yet felt the desirableness of the protection afforded by
corslets, for they wore, in addition to their shields, such corslets as
they were able to manufacture, made of cotton, and corresponding to
the Homeric [Greek: linothoraex]. [Footnote: In the interior of some
shields, perhaps of all, were two [Greek: kanones] (VIII 193; XIII.
407). These have been understood as meaning a brace through which the
left arm went, and another brace which the left hand grasped. Herodotus
says that the Carians first used shield grips, and that previously
shields were suspended by belts from the neck and left shoulder
(Herodotus, i. 171). It would be interesting to know how he learned
these facts-perhaps from Homer; but certainly the Homeric shield is
often described as suspended by a belt. Mr. Leaf used to explain the
[Greek: kanones] (XIII. 407) as "serving to attach the two ends of the
baldrick to the shield" (_Hellenic_ Society's _Journal_, iv. 291), as
does Mr. Ridgeway. But now he thinks that they were two pieces of wood,
crossing each other, and making the framework on which the leather of
the shield was stretched. The hero could grasp the cross-bar, at the
centre of gravity, in his left hand, rest the lower rim of the shield on
the ground, and crouch behind it (XI. 593; XIII 157). In neither passage
cited is anything said about resting the lower rim "on the ground,"
and in the second passage the warrior is actually advancing. In this
attitude, however-grounding the lower rim of the great body-covering
shield, and crouching behind it--we see Algonquin warriors of about 1610
in Champlain's drawings of Red Indian warfare.]

Mr. Leaf, indeed, when reviewing Reichel, says that "the use of the
Mycenaean shield is inconsistent with that of the metal breastplate;
'the shield' covers the wearer in a way which makes a breastplate an
useless encumbrance; or rather, it is ignorance of the breastplate which
alone can explain the use of such frightfully cumbrous gear as the huge
shield." [Footnote: _Classical Review_, ix. p. 55. 1895.]

But the Algonquins and Iroquois wore such breastplates as they could
manufacture, though they also used shields of great size, suspended, in
Mycenaean fashion, from the neck and shoulder by a _telamon_ or belt.
The knights of the eleventh century A.D., in addition to very large
shields, wore ponderous hauberks or byrnies, as we shall prove
presently. As this combination of great shield with corslet was common
and natural, we cannot agree with Mr. Leaf when he says, "it follows
that the Homeric warriors wore no metal breastplate, and that all
the passages where the [Greek: thoraes] is mentioned are either later
interpolations or refer to some other sort of armour," which, _ex
hypothesi_, would itself be superfluous, given the body-covering shield.

Shields never make corslets superfluous when men can manufacture

The facts speak for themselves: the largest shields are not exclusive,
so to speak, of corslets; the Homeric warriors used both, just as did
Red Indians and the mediaeval chivalry of Europe. The use of the aspis
in Homer, therefore, throws no suspicion on the concomitant use of the
corslet. The really surprising fact would be if late poets, who knew
only small round bucklers, never introduced them into the poems, but
always spoke of enormous shields, while they at the same time did
introduce corslets, unknown to the early poems which they continued.
Clearly Reichel's theory is ill inspired and inconsistent. This becomes
plain as soon as we trace the evolution of shields and corslets in
ages when the bow played a great part in war. The Homeric bronze-plated
shield and bronze corslet are defences of a given moment in military
evolution; they are improvements on the large leather shield of
Mycenaean art, but, as the arrows still fly in clouds, the time for the
small parrying buckler has not yet come.

By the age of the Dipylon vases with human figures, the shield had been
developed into forms unknown to Homer. In Fig. 3 (p. 131) we see one
warrior with a fantastic shield, slim at the waist, with horns, as
it were, above and below; the greater part of the shield is expended
uselessly, covering nothing in particular. In form this targe seems to
be a burlesque parody of the figure of a Mycenaean shield. The next
man has a short oblong shield, rather broad for its length--perhaps a
reduction of the Mycenaean door-shaped shield. The third warrior has a
round buckler. All these shields are manifestly post-Homeric; the first
type is the most common in the Dipylon art; the third survived in the
eighth-century buckler.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.-GOLD CORSLET]



No "practicable" breastplates, hauberks, corslets, or any things of the
kind have so far been discovered in graves of the Mycenaean prime. A
corpse in Grave V. at Mycenae had, however, a golden breastplate,
with oval bosses representing the nipples and with prettily interlaced
spirals all over the remainder of the gold (Fig. 9). Another corpse
had a plain gold breastplate with the nipples indicated. [Footnote:
Schuchardt, _Schliemann's_ Excavations, pp. 254-257, fig. 256.]
These decorative corslets of gold were probably funereal symbols of
practicable breastplates of bronze, but no such pieces of armour are
worn by the fighting-men on the gems and other works of art of Mycenae,
and none are found in Mycenaean graves. But does this prove anything?
Leg-guards, broad metal bands clasping the leg below the knee, are found
in the Mycenaean shaft graves, but are never represented in Mycenaean
art. [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 575.] Meanwhile, bronze
corslets are very frequently mentioned in the "rarely alluded to," says
Mr. Leaf, [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 576.] but this must be a
slip of the pen. Connected with the breastplate or _thorex_ ([Greek:
thoraex]) is the verb [Greek: thoraesso, thoraessethai], which means "to
arm," or "equip" in general.

The Achaeans are constantly styled in the _ILIAD_ and in the _ODYSSEY_
"_chalkochitones_," "with bronze chitons." epics have therefore boldly
argued that by "bronze chitons" the poet pleasantly alludes to shields.
But as the Mycenaeans seem scarcely to have worn any _CHITONS_ in
battle, as far as we are aware from their art, and are not known to have
had any bronze shields, the argument evaporates, as Mr. Ridgeway has
pointed out. Nothing can be less like a _chiton_ or smock, loose or
tight, than either the double-bellied huge shield, the tower-shaped
cylindrical shield, or the flat, doorlike shield, covering body and legs
in Mycenaean art. "The bronze _chiton_," says Helbig, "is only a poetic
phrase for the corslet."

Reichel and Mr. Leaf, however, think that "bronze chitoned" is probably
"a picturesque expression... and refers to the bronze-covered shield."
[Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, i. 578.] The breastplate covered the upper
part of the _chiton_, and so might be called a "bronze _chiton_," above
all, if it had been evolved, as corselets usually have been, out of
a real _chiton_, interwoven with small plates or rings of bronze. The
process of evolution might be from a padded linen _chiton_ ([Greek:
linothooraes]) worn by Teucer, and on the Trojan side by Amphius (as
by nervous Protestants during Oates's "Popish Plot"), to a leathern
_chiton_, strengthened by rings, or studs, or scales of bronze, and
thence to plates. [Footnote: Ridgeway, _Early Age of Greece_, vol. i.
pp. 309, 310.] Here, in this armoured _chiton_, would be an object that
a poet might readily call "a _chiton_ of bronze." But that, if he lived
in the Mycenaean age, when, so far as art shows, _CHITONS_ were not worn
at all, or very little, and scarcely ever in battle, and when we know
nothing of bronze-plating on shields, the poet should constantly call a
monstrous double-bellied leather shield, or any other Mycemean type of
shield, "a _bronze chiton_," seems almost unthinkable. "A leather cloak"
would be a better term for such shields, if cloaks were in fashion.

According to Mr. Myres (1899) the "stock line" in the _Iliad_, about
piercing a [Greek: poludaidalos thoraex] or corslet, was inserted "to
satisfy the practical criticisms of a corslet-wearing age," the age of
the later poets, the Age of Iron. But why did not such practical critics
object to the constant presence in the poems of bronze weapons, in their
age out of date, if they objected to the absence from the poems of the
corslets with which they were familiar? Mr. Myres supposes that the line
about the [Greek: poludaidalos] corslet was already old, but had merely
meant "many-glittering body clothing"--garments set with the golden
discs and other ornaments found in Mycemean graves. The bronze corslet,
he says, would not be "many glittering," but would reflect "a single
star of light." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies._ 1899] Now,
first, even if the star were a single star, it would be as "many
glittering" when the warrior was in rapid and changeful motion as the
star that danced when Beatrix was born. Secondly, if the contemporary
corslets of the Iron Age were NOT "many glittering," practical
corslet-wearing critics would ask the poet, "why do you call corslets
'many glittering'?" Thirdly, [Greek: poludaidalos] may surely be
translated "a thing of much art," and Greek corslets were incised with
ornamental designs. Thus Messrs. Hogarth and Bosanquet report "a very
remarkable 'Mycemean' bronze breastplate" from Crete, which "shows four
female draped figures, the two central ones holding a wreath over a
bird, below which is a sacred tree. The two outer figures are apparently
dancing. It is probably a ritual scene, and may help to elucidate the
nature of early AEgean cults." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies,
vol. xx_. p. 322. 1899.] Here, [Greek: poludaidalos]--if that word means
"artistically wrought." Helbig thinks the Epics silent about the gold
spangles on dresses. [Footnote: Helbig, p. 71.]

Mr. Myres applauds Reichel's theory that [blank space] first meant
a man's chest. If _thorex_ means a man's breast, then _THOREX_ in a
secondary sense, one thinks, would mean "breastplate," as waist of a
woman means, first, her waist; next, her blouse (American). But Mr.
Myres and Reichel say that the secondary sense of _THOREX_ is not
breastplate but "body clothing," as if a man were all breast, or wore
only a breast covering, whereas Mycenaean art shows men wearing nothing
on their breasts, merely drawers or loin-cloths, which could not be
called _THOREX_, as they cover the antipodes of the breast.

The verb [Greek: thoraesestai], the theory runs on, merely meant "to
put on body clothing," which Mycenaeans in works of art, if correctly
represented, do not usually put on; they fought naked or in bathing
drawers. Surely we might as well argue that a "waistcoat" might come
to mean "body clothing in general," as that a word for the male breast
became, first, a synonym for the covering of the male buttocks and for
apparel in general, and, next, for a bronze breastplate. These arguments
appear rather unconvincing, [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies_,
vol. xx. pp. 149, 150.] nor does Mycenaean art instruct us that men went
into battle dressed in body clothing which was thickly set with many
glittering gold ornaments, and was called "a many-glittering _thorex_."

Further, if we follow Reichel and Mr. Leaf, the Mycenaeans wore
_chitons_ and called them _chitons_. They also used bronze-plated
shields, though of this we have no evidence. Taking the bronze-plated
(?) shield to stand poetically for the _chiton_, the poet spoke of "_the
bronze-chitoned Achaeans_" But, if we follow Mr. Myres, the Mycenaeans
also applied the word _thorex_ to body clothing at large, in place of
the word _chiton_; and when a warrior was transfixed by a spear, they
said that his "many-glittering, gold-studded _thorex_," that is, his
body clothing in general, was pierced. It does seem simpler to hold
that _chiton_ meant _chiton_; that _thorex_ meant, first, "breast," then
"breastplate," whether of linen, or plaited leather, or bronze, and
that to pierce a man through his [Greek: poludaidalos thoraex] meant to
pierce him through his handsome corslet. No mortal ever dreamt that this
was so till Reichel tried to make out that the original poet describes
no armour except the large Mycenaean shield and the _mitrê_, and that
all corslets in the poems were of much later introduction. Possibly they
were, but they had plenty of time wherein to be evolved long before the
eighth century, Reichel's date for corslets.

The argument is that a man with a large shield needs no body armour, or
uses the shield because he has no body armour.

But the possession and use of a large shield did not in the Middle Ages,
or among the Iroquois and Algonquins, make men dispense with corslets,
even when the shield was worn, as in Homer, slung round the neck by a
_telamon_ (_guige_ in Old French), belt, or baldric.

We turn to a French _Chanson de Geste--La Chancun de Willem_--of the
twelfth century A.D., to judge by the handwriting. One of the heroes,
Girard, having failed to rescue Vivien in battle, throws down his
weapons and armour, blaming each piece for having failed him. Down
goes the heavy lance; down goes the ponderous shield, suspended by a
_telamon: "Ohitarge grant cume peises al col_!" down goes the plated
byrnie, "_Ohi grant broine cum me vas apesant_" [Footnote: _La Chancun
de Willame_, lines 716-726.]

The mediaeval warrior has a heavy byrnie as well as a great shield
suspended from his neck. It will be remarked also that the Algonquins
and Iroquois of the beginning of the seventeenth century, as described
by Champlain, give us the whole line of Mycenaean evolution of armour up
to a certain point. Not only had they arrow-proof, body-covering shields
of buffalo hide, but, when Champlain used his arquebus against the
Iroquois in battle, "they were struck amazed that two of their number
should have been killed so promptly, seeing that they wore a sort of
armour, woven of cotton thread, and carried arrow-proof shields."
We have already alluded to this passage, but must add that Parkman,
describing from French archives a battle of Illinois against Iroquois
in 1680, speaks of "corslets of tough twigs interwoven with cordage."
[Footnote: _Discovery of the Great IV_, [misprint] 1869.] Golden, in his
_Five Nations_, writes of the Red Indians as wearing "a kind of cuirass
made of pieces of wood joined together." [Footnote: Dix, _Champlion_

To the kindness of Mr. Hill Tout I also owe a description of the armour
of the Indian tribes of north-west America, from a work of his own.
He says: "For protective purposes in warfare they employed shields
and coat-armour. The shields varied in form and material from tribe to
tribe. Among the Interior Salish they were commonly made of wood, which
was afterwards covered with hide. Sometimes they consisted of several
thicknesses of hide only. The hides most commonly used were those of the
elk, buffalo, or bear. After the advent of the Hudson's Bay Co. some of
the Indians used to beat out the large copper kettles they obtained from
the traders and make polished circular shields of these. In some centres
long rectangular shields, made from a single or double hide, were
employed. These were often from 4 to 5 feet in length and from 3 to
4 feet in width--large enough to cover the whole body. Among the
Déné tribes (Sikanis) the shield was generally made of closely-woven
wicker-work, and was of an ovaloid form (exact size not given).

"The coat armour was _everywhere used_, and varied in form and style in
almost every centre. There were two ways in which this was most commonly
made. One of these was the slatted cuirass or corslet, which was formed
of a series of narrow slats of wood set side by side vertically and
fastened in place by interfacings of raw hide. It went all round the
body, being hung from the shoulders with straps. The other was a kind
of shirt of double or treble elk hide, fastened at the side with thongs.
Another kind of armour, less common than that just described, was the
long elk-hide tunic, which reached to and even _below the knees and was
sleeved to the elbow."_

Mr. Hill Tout's minute description, with the other facts cited, leaves
no doubt that even in an early stage, as in later stages of culture, the
use of the great shield does not exclude the use of such body armour
as the means of the warriors enable them to construct. To take another
instance, Pausanias describes the corslets of the neolithic Sarmatae,
which he saw dedicated in the temple of Asclepius at Athens. Corslets
these bowmen and users of the lasso possessed, though they did not use
the metals. They fashioned very elegant corslets out of horses' hoofs,
cutting them into scales like those of a pine cone, and sewing them on
to cloth. [Footnote: Pausanias, i. 211. [misprint] 6.]

Certain small, thin, perforated discs of stone found in Scotland have
been ingeniously explained as plates to be strung together on a garment
of cloth, a neolithic _chiton_. However this may be, since Iroquois and
Algonquins and Déné had some sort of woven, or plaited, or wooden, or
buff corslet, in addition to their great shields, we may suppose that
the Achaeans would not be less inventive. They would pass from the
[Greek: linothoraex] (answering to the cotton corslet of the Iroquois)
to a sort of jack or _jaseran_ with rings, scales, or plates, and thence
to bronze-plate corslets, represented only by the golden breastplates of
the Mycenaean grave. Even if the Mycenaeans did not evolve the corslet,
there is no reason why, in the Homeric times, it should not have been

For linen corslets, such as Homer mentions, in actual use and
represented in works of art we consult Mr. Leaf on _The Armour_
of _Homeric_ Heroes.' He finds Memnon in a white corslet, on a
black-figured vase in the British Museum. There is another white
corsleted [Footnote: _Journal_ of _Hellenic_ Studies, vol. iv. pp.
82, 83, 85.] Memnon figured in the _Vases Peints_ of the Duc de Luynes
(plate xii.). Mr. Leaf suggests that the white colour represents "a
corslet not of metal but of linen," and cites _Iliad_, II. 529, 5
30. "Xenophon mentions linen corslets as being worn by the Chalybes"
(_Anabasis_, iv. 15). Two linen corslets, sent from Egypt to Sparta by
King Amasis, are recorded by Herodotus (ii. 182; iii. 47). The corslets
were of linen, embroidered in cotton and gold. Such a piece of armour
or attire might easily develop into the [Greek: streptos chitoon] of
_Iliad_, V. 113, in which Aristarchus appears to have recognised chain
or scale armour; but we find no such object represented in Mycenaean
art, which, of course, does not depict Homeric armour or costume, and
it seems probable that the bronze corslets mentioned by Homer were plate
armour. The linen corslet lasted into the early sixth century B.C. In
the poem called _Stasiotica_, Alcaeus (_No_. 5) speaks of his helmets,
bronze greaves and corslets of linen ([Choorakes te neoi linoo]) as a
defence against arrows.

Meanwhile a "bronze _chiton_" or corslet would turn spent arrows and
spent spears, and be very useful to a warrior whose shield left him
exposed to shafts shot or spears thrown from a distance. Again, such
a bronze _chiton_ might stop a spear of which the impetus was spent in
penetrating the shield. But Homeric corslets did not, as a rule, avail
to keep out a spear driven by the hand at close quarters, or powerfully
thrown from a short distance. Even the later Greek corslets do not look
as if they could resist a heavy spear wielded by a strong hand.

I proceed to show that the Homeric corslet did not avail against a
spear at close quarters, but could turn an arrow point (once), and could
sometimes turn a spear which had perforated a shield. So far, and not
further, the Homeric corslet was serviceable. But if a warrior's breast
or back was not covered by the shield, and received a thrust at close
quarters, the corslet was pierced more easily than the pad of paper
which was said to have been used as secret armour in a duel by the
Master of Sinclair (1708). [Footnote: _Proceedings in Court Marshal held
upon John, Master of Sinclair_. Sir Walter Scott. Roxburghe Club.
(Date of event, 1708.)] It is desirable to prove this feebleness of the
corslet, because the poet often says that a man was smitten with
the spear in breast or back when unprotected by the shield, without
mentioning the corslet, whence it is argued by the critics that corslets
were not worn when the original lays were fashioned, and that they have
only been sporadically introduced, in an after age when the corslet was
universal, by "modernising" later rhapsodists aiming at the up-to-date.

A weak point is the argument that Homer says back or breast was pierced,
without mentioning the corslet, whence it follows that he knew no
corslets. Quintus Smyrnaeus does the same thing. Of course, Quintus
knew all about corslets, yet (Book I. 248, 256, 257) he makes his heroes
drive spear or sword through breast or belly without mentioning the
resistance of the corslet, even when (I. 144, 594) he has assured
us that the victim was wearing a corslet. These facts are not due
to inconsistent interpolation of corslets into the work of this
post-Christian poet Quintus. [Footnote: I find a similar omission in the
_Chanson de Roland_.]

Corslets, in Homer, are flimsy; that of Lycaon, worn by Paris, is
pierced by a spear which has also perforated his shield, though the
spear came only from the weak hand of Menelaus (_Iliad_, III. 357, 358).
The arrow of Pandarus whistles through the corslet of Menelaus (IV.
136). The same archer pierces with an arrow the corslet of Diomede (V.
99, 100). The corslet of Diomede, however, avails to stop a spear which
has traversed his shield (V. 281). The spear of Idomeneus pierces
the corslet of Othryoneus, and the spear of Antilochus perforates the
corslet of a charioteer (XIII. 371, 397). A few lines later Diomede's
spear reaches the midriff of Hypsenor. No corslet is here mentioned, but
neither is the shield mentioned (this constantly occurs), and we cannot
argue that Hypsenor wore no corslet, unless we are also to contend that
he wore no shield, or a small shield. Idomeneus drives his spear through
the "_bronze chiton_" of Alcathöus (XIII. 439, 440). Mr. Leaf reckons
these lines "probably an interpolation to turn the linen _chiton_, the
rending of which is the sign of triumph, into a bronze corslet." But we
ask why, if an editor or rhapsodist went through the _Iliad_ introducing
corslets, he so often left them out, where the critics detect their
absence because they are not mentioned?

The spear of Idomeneus pierces another feeble corslet over the victim's
belly (XIII. 506-508). It is quite a surprise when a corslet does for
once avail to turn an arrow (XIII. 586-587). But Aias drives his spear
through the corslet of Phorcys, into his belly (XVII 311-312). Thus the
corslet scarcely ever, by itself, protects a hero; it never protects
him against an unspent spear; even when his shield stands between his
corslet and the spear both are sometimes perforated. Yet occasionally
the corslet saves a man when the spear has gone through the shield. The
poet, therefore, sometimes gives us a man pierced in a part which the
corslet covers, without mentioning the flimsy article that could not
keep out a spear.

Reichel himself came to see, before his regretted death, that he could
not explain away the _thorex_ or corslet, on his original lines, as a
mere general name for "a piece of armour"; and he inclined to think that
jacks, with metal plates sewn on, did exist before the Ionian corslet.
[Footnote: _Homerische Waffen_, pp. 93-94. 1901.] The gold breastplates
of the Mycenaean graves pointed in this direction. But his general
argument is that corslets were interpolated into the old lays by poets
of a corslet-wearing age; and Mr. Leaf holds that corslets may have
filtered in, "during the course of successive modernisation, such as the
oldest parts of the _Iliad_ seem in many cases to have passed through,"
[Footnote: Leaf, Iliad, i. p. 578.] though the new poets were, for all
that, "conservatively tenacious of the old material." We have already
pointed out the difficulty.

The poets who did not introduce the new small bucklers with which they
were familiar, did stuff the _Iliad_ full of corslets unknown, by
the theory, to the original poet, but familiar to rhapsodists living
centuries later. Why, if they were bent on modernising, did they not
modernise the shields? and how, if they modernised unconsciously, as all
uncritical poets do, did the shield fail to be unconsciously "brought up
to date"? It seems probable that Homer lived at a period when both huge
shield and rather feeble corslet were in vogue.

We shall now examine some of the passages in which Mr. Leaf, mainly
following Reichel, raises difficulties about corslets. We do not know
their mechanism; they were composed of [Greek: guala], presumed to be a
backplate and a breastplate. The word _gualon_ appears to mean a hollow,
or the converse, something convex. We cannot understand the mechanism
(see a young man putting on a corslet, on an amphora by Euthymides.
Walter, vol. ii. p. 176); but, if late poets, familiar with such
corslets, did not understand how they worked, they were very dull men.
When their descriptions puzzle us, that is more probably because we are
not at the point of view than because poets interpolated mentions of
pieces of armour which they did not understand, and therefore cannot
have been familiar with, and, in that case, would not introduce.

Mr. Leaf starts with a passage in the _Iliad_ (III. 357-360)--it recurs
in another case: "Through the bright shield went the ponderous
spear, and through the inwrought" (very artfully wrought), [Greek:
poludaidalou] "breastplate it pressed on, and straight beside his flank
it rent the tunic, but he swerved and escaped black death." Mr.
Leaf says, "It is obvious that, after a spear has passed through a
breastplate, there is no longer any possibility for the wearer to bend
aside and so to avoid the point...." But I suppose that the wearer, by a
motion very natural, doubled up sideways, so to speak, and so the spear
merely grazed his flesh. That is what I suppose the poet to intend.
The more he knew of corslets, the less would he mention an impossible
circumstance in connection with a corslet.

Again, in many cases the late poets, by the theory--though it is they
who bring the corslets in--leave the corslets out! A man without shield,
helmet, and spear calls himself "naked." Why did not these late poets,
it is asked, make him take off his corslet, if he had one, as well as
his shield? The case occurs in XXII. 111-113,124-125. Hector thinks of
laying aside helmet, spear, and shield, and of parleying with Achilles.
"But then he will slay me naked," that is, unarmed. "He still had his
corslet," the critics say, "so how could he be naked? or, if he had
no corslet, this is a passage uncontaminated by the late poets of the
corslet age." Now certainly Hector _was_ wearing a corslet, which he
had taken from Patroclus: that is the essence of the story. He would,
however, be "naked" or unprotected if he laid aside helmet, spear, and
shield, because Achilles could hit him in the head or neck (as he did),
or lightly drive the spear through the corslet, which, we have proved,
was no sound defence against a spear at close quarters, though useful
against chance arrows, and occasionally against spears spent by
traversing the shield.

We next learn that no corslet occurs in the _Odyssey_, or in _Iliad_,
Book X., called "very late": Mr. Leaf suggests that it is of the seventh
century B.C. But if the Odyssey and Iliad, Book X., are really very
late, their authors and interpolators were perfectly familiar
with Ionian corslets. Why did they leave corslets out, while their
predecessors and contemporaries were introducing them all up and down
the _Iliad_? In fact, in Book X, no prince is regularly equipped; they
have been called up to deliberate in the dead of night, and when two go
as spies they wear casual borrowed gear. It is more important that no
corslet is mentioned in Nestor's arms in his tent. But are we to explain
this, and the absence of mention of corslets in the Odyssey (where there
is little about regular fighting), on the ground that the author of
_Iliad_, Book X., and all the many authors and editors of the
_Odyssey_ happened to be profound archaeologists, and, unlike their
contemporaries, the later poets and interpolators of the _Iliad_, had
formed the theory that corslets were not known at the time of the siege
of Troy and therefore must not be mentioned? This is quite incredible.
No hypothesis can be more improbable. We cannot imagine late Ionian
rhapsodists listening to the _Iliad_, and saying, "These poets of the
_Iliad_ are all wrong: at the date of the Mycenaean prime, as every
educated man knows, corslets were not yet in fashion. So we must have no
corslets in the _Odyssey_?"

A modern critic, who thinks this possible, is bringing the practice
of archaising poets of the late nineteenth century into the minds of
rhapsodists of the eighth century before Christ. Artists of the middle
of the sixteenth century always depict Jeanne d'Arc in the armour and
costume of their own time, wholly unlike those of 1430. This is the
regular rule. Late rhapsodists would not delve in the archaeology of the
Mycenaean prime. Indeed, one does not see how they could discover, in
Asia, that corslets were not worn, five centuries earlier, on the other
side of the sea.

We are told that Aias and some other heroes are never spoken of as
wearing corslets. But Aias certainly did put on a set of pieces of
armour, and did not trust to his shield alone, tower-like as it was. The
description runs thus: The Achaeans have disarmed, before the duel of
Aias and Hector. Aias draws the lucky lot; he is to 'meet Hector, and
bids the others pray to Zeus "while I clothe me in my armour of battle."
While they prayed, Aias "arrayed himself in flashing bronze. And when
he had now clothed upon his flesh _all_ his pieces of armour" ([Greek:
panta teuchae]) "he went forth to fight." If Aias wore only a shield, as
on Mr. Leaf's hypothesis, he could sling it on before the Achaeans could
breathe a _pater noster_. His sword he would not have taken off; swords
were always worn. What, then, are "all his pieces of armour"? (VII. 193,

Carl Robert cites passages in which the [Greek: teuchea], taken from
the shoulders, include corslets, and are late and Ionian, with other
passages which are Mycenaean, with no corslet involved. He adds about
twenty more passages in which [Greek: teuchea] include corslets. Among
these references two are from the _Doloneia_ (X. 254, 272), where
Reichel finds no mention of corslets. How Robert can tell [Greek:
teuchea], which mean corslets, from [Greek: teuchea], which exclude
corslets, is not obvious. But, at all events, he does see corslets, as
in VII. 122, where Reichel sees none, [Footnote: Robert, _Studien zur
Ilias_, pp. 20-21.] and he is obviously right.

It is a strong point with Mr. Leaf that "we never hear of the corslet in
the case of Aias...." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 576.] Robert,
however, like ourselves, detects the corslet among "_al_ the [Greek:
teuchea]" which Aias puts on for his duel with Hector (Iliad, VII. 193,

In the same Book (VII. 101-103, 122) the same difficulty occurs.
Menelaus offers to fight Hector, and says, "I will put on my harness"
[Greek: thooraxomai], and does "put on his fair pieces of armour"
[Greek: teuchea kala], Agamemnon forbids him to fight, and his friends
"joyfully take his pieces of armour" [Greek: teuchea] "from his
shoulders" (_Iliad_, VII. 206-207). They take off pieces of armour, in
the plural, and a shield cannot be spoken of in the plural; while the
sword would not be taken off--it was worn even in peaceful costume.

Idomeneus is never named as wearing a corslet, but he remarks that he
has plenty of corslets (XIII. 264); and in this and many cases opponents
of corslets prove their case by cutting out the lines which disprove it.
Anything may be demonstrated if we may excise whatever passage does
not suit our hypothesis. It is impossible to argue against this logical
device, especially when the critic, not satisfied with a clean cut,
supposes that some late enthusiast for corslets altered the prayer of
Thetis to Hephaestus for the very purpose of dragging in a corslet.
[Footnote: Leaf, Note to _Iliad_, xviii. 460, 461.] If there is no
objection to a line except that a corslet occurs in it, where is the
logic in excising the line because one happens to think that corslets
are later than the oldest parts of the _Iliad_?

Another plan is to maintain that if the poet does not in any case
mention a corslet, there was no corslet. Thus in V. 99, an arrow strikes
Diomede "hard by the right shoulder, the plate of the corslet." Thirteen
lines later (V. 112, 113) "Sthenelus drew the swift shaft right through
out of Diomede's shoulder, and the blood darted up through the pliant
_chiton_." We do not know what the word here translated "pliant" [Greek:
streptos] means, and Aristarchus seems to have thought it was "a coat of
mail, chain, or scale armour." If so, here is the corslet, but in this
case, if a corslet or jack with intertwisted small plates or scales or
rings of bronze be meant, _gualon_ cannot mean a large "plate," as
it does. Mr. Ridgeway says, "It seems certain that [Greek: streptos
chitoon] means, as Aristarchus held, a shirt of mail." [Footnote: _Early
Age of Greece_, vol. i. p, 306.] Mr. Leaf says just the reverse. As
usual, we come to a deadlock; a clash of learned opinion. But any one
can see that, in the space of thirteen lines, no poet or interpolator
who wrote V. i 12, i 13 could forget that Diomede was said to be wearing
a corslet in V. 99; and even if the poet could forget, which is out of
the question, the editor of 540 B.C. was simply defrauding his employer,
Piaistratus, if he did not bring a remedy for the stupid fault of the
poet. When this or that hero is not specifically said to be wearing a
corslet, it is usually because the poet has no occasion to mention it,
though, as we have seen, a man is occasionally smitten, in the midriff,
say, without any remark on the flimsy piece of mail.

That corslets are usually taken for granted as present by the poet,
even when they are not explicitly named, seems certain. He constantly
represents the heroes as "stripping the pieces of mail" [Greek:
teuchea], when they have time and opportunity, from fallen foes. If only
the shield is taken, if there is nothing else in the way of bronze body
armour to take, why have we the plural, [Greek: teuchea]? The corslet,
as well as the shield, must be intended. The stripping is usually "from
the shoulders," and it is "from his shoulders" that Hector hopes to
strip the corslet of Diomede (Iliad, VIII. 195) in a passage, to be
sure, which the critics think interpolated. However this may be, the
stripping of the (same Greek characters), cannot be the mere seizure of
the shield, but must refer to other pieces of armour: "all the pieces
of armour." So other pieces of defensive armour besides the shield are
throughout taken for granted. If they were not there they could not be
stripped. It is the chitons that Agamemnon does something to, in the
case of two fallen foes (_Iliad_, XI. 100), and Aristarchus thought that
these _chitons_ were corslets. But the passage is obscure. In _Iliad_,
XI. 373, when Diomede strips helmet from head, shield from shoulder,
corslet from breast of Agastrophus, Reichel was for excising the
corslet, because it was not mentioned when the hero was struck on the
hip joint. I do not see that an inefficient corslet would protect the
hip joint. To do that, in our eighteenth century cavalry armour, was the
business of a _zoster_, as may be seen in a portrait of the Chevalier de
St. George in youth. It is a thick ribbed _zoster_ that protects the hip
joints of the king.

Finally, Mr. Evans observes that the western invaders of Egypt, under
Rameses III, are armed, on the monuments, with cuirasses formed of a
succession of plates, "horizontal, or rising in a double curve," while
the Enkomi ivories, already referred to, corroborate the existence
of corslet, _zoster_, and _zoma_ as articles of defensive armour.
[Footnote: _Journal of Anthropological Institute_, xxx. p. 213.] "Recent
discoveries," says Mr. Evans, "thus supply a double corroboration of the
Homeric tradition which carries back the use of the round shield and the
cuirass or [Greek: thoraex] to the earlier epic period... With such
a representation before us, a series of Homeric passages on which Dr.
Reichel... has exhausted his powers of destructive criticism, becomes
readily intelligible." [Footnote: Ibid., p. 214.]

Homer, then, describes armour _later_ than that of the Mycenaean prime,
when, as far as works of art show, only a huge leathern shield was
carried, though the gold breastplates of the corpses in the grave
suggest that corslets existed. Homer's men, on the other hand, have,
at least in certain cases quoted above, large bronze-plated shields and
bronze cuirasses of no great resisting power, perhaps in various stages
of evolution, from the byrnie with scales or small plates of bronze to
the breastplate and backplate, though the plates for breast and back
certainly appear to be usually worn.

It seems that some critics cannot divest themselves of the idea that
"the original poet" of the "kernel" was contemporary with them who slept
in the shaft graves of Mycenae, covered with golden ornaments, and that
for body armour he only knew their monstrous shields. Mr. Leaf writes:
"The armour of Homeric heroes corresponds closely to that of the
Mykenaean age as we learn it from the monuments. The heroes wore no
breastplate; their only defensive armour was the enormous Mykenaean

This is only true if we excise all the passages which contradict the
statement, and go on with Mr. Leaf to say, "by the seventh century B.C.,
or thereabouts, the idea of a panoply without a breastplate had become
absurd. By that time the epic poems had almost ceased to grow; but they
still admitted a few minor episodes in which the round shield" (where
(?) "and corslet played a part, as well as the interpolation of a certain
number of lines and couplets in which the new armament was mechanically
introduced into narratives which originally knew nothing of it."
[Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 568.]

On the other hand, Mr. Leaf says that "the small circular shield of
later times is unknown to Homer," with "a very few curious exceptions,"
in which the shields are not said to be small or circular. [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. i. p, 575.]

Surely this is rather arbitrary dealing! We start from our theory that
the original poet described the armour of "the monuments" though
_they_ are "of the prime," while he professedly lived long after the
prime--lived in an age when there must have been changes in military
equipment. We then cut out, as of the seventh century, whatever passages
do not suit our theory. Anybody can prove anything by this method. We
might say that the siege scene on the Mycenaean silver vase represents
the Mycenaean prime, and that, as there is but one jersey among
eight men otherwise stark naked, we must cut out seven-eighths of the
_chitons_ in the _Iliad_, these having been interpolated by late poets
who did not run about with nothing on. We might call the whole poem
late, because the authors know nothing of the Mycenaean bathing-drawers
so common on the "monuments." The argument compels Mr. Leaf to assume
that a shield can be called [Greek: teuchea] in the plural, so, in
_Iliad_, VII. 122, when the squires of Menelaus "take the [Greek:
teuchea] from his shoulders," we are assured that "the shield (aspis)
was for the chiefs alone" (we have seen that all the host of Pandarus
wore shields), "for those who could keep a chariot to carry them, and
squires to assist them in taking off this ponderous defence" (see VII
122). [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 583.]

We do "see VII. 122," and find that not a _single_ shield, but pieces of
gear in the plural number were taken off Menelaus. The feeblest warrior
without any assistance could stoop his head and put it through the belt
of his shield, as an angler takes off his fishing creel, and there he
was, totally disarmed. No squire was needed to disarm him, any more
than to disarm Girard in the _Chancun de Willame_. Nobody explains why
a shield is spoken of as a number of things, in the plural, and that
constantly, and in lines where, if the poet means a shield, prosody
permits him to _say_ a shield, [Greek: therapontes ap oopoon aspid

It really does appear that Reichel's logic, his power of visualising
simple things and processes, and his knowledge of the evolution
of defensive armour everywhere, were not equal to his industry and
classical erudition. Homer seems to describe what he saw: shields, often
of great size, made of leather, plated with bronze, and suspended by
belts; and, for body armour, feeble bronze corslets and _zosters_. There
is nothing inconsistent in all this: there was no more reason why an
Homeric warrior should not wear a corslet as well as a shield than there
was reason why a mediaeval knight who carried a _targe_ should not also
wear a hauberk, or why an Iroquois with a shield should not also
wear his cotton or wicker-work armour. Defensive gear kept pace with
offensive weapons. A big leather shield could keep out stone-tipped
arrows; but as bronze-tipped arrows came in and also heavy
bronze-pointed spears, defensive armour was necessarily strengthened;
the shield was plated with bronze, and, if it did not exist before, the
bronze corslet was developed.

To keep out stone-tipped arrows was the business of the Mycenaean wooden
or leather shield. "Bronze arrow-heads, so common in the _Iliad_,
are never found," says Schuchardt, speaking of Schliemann's Mycenaean
excavations. [Footnote: Schuchardt, p. 237.]

There was thus, as far as arrows went, no reason why Mycenaean shields
should be plated with bronze. If the piece of wood in Grave V. was a
shield, as seems probable, what has become of its bronze plates, if it
had any? [Footnote: Schuchardt, p. 269] Gold ornaments, which could only
belong to shields, [Footnote: _Ibid_., p. 237.] were found, but bronze
shield plates never. The inference is certain. The Mycenaean shields
of the prime were originally wooden or leather defences against
stone-headed arrows. Homer's shields are bronze-plated shields to keep
out bronze-headed or even, perhaps, iron-pointed arrows of primitive
construction (IV. 123). Homer describes armour based on Mycenaean lines
but developed and advanced as the means of attack improved.

Where everything is so natural it seems fantastic to explain the
circumstances by the theory that poets in a late age sometimes did
and sometimes did not interpolate the military gear of four centuries
posterior to the things known by the original singer. These rhapsodists,
we reiterate, are now said to be anxiously conservative of Mycenaean
detail and even to be deeply learned archaeologists. [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 629.] At other times they are said to introduce
recklessly part of the military gear of their own age, the corslets,
while sternly excluding the bucklers. All depends on what the theory of
very late developments of the Epic may happen to demand at this or that

Again, Mr. Leaf informs us that "the first rhapsodies were born in the
bronze age, in the day of the ponderous Mycenaean shield; the last in
the iron age, when men armed themselves with breastplate and light round
buckler." [Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii. p. x.] We cannot guess how he
found these things out, for corslets are as common in one "rhapsody" as
in another when circumstances call for the mention of corslets, and
are entirely unnamed in the Odyssey (save that the Achaeans are
"bronze-chitoned"), while the Odyssey is alleged to be much later than
the _Iliad_. As for "the iron age," no "rhapsodist" introduces so
much as one iron spear point. It is argued that he speaks of bronze in
deference to tradition. Then why does he scout tradition in the matter
of greaves and corslets, while he sometimes actually goes behind
tradition to find Mycenaean things unknown to the original poets?

These theories appear too strangely inconsistent; really these theories
cannot possibly be accepted. The late poets, of the theory, are in
the iron age, and are, of course, familiar with iron weapons; yet, in
conservative deference to tradition, they keep them absolutely out of
their rhapsodies. They are equally familiar with bronze corslets, so,
reckless this time of tradition, they thrust them even into rhapsodies
which are centuries older than their own day. They are no less familiar
with small bucklers, yet they say nothing about them and cling to
the traditional body-covering shield. The source of the inconsistent
theories which we have been examining is easily discovered. The scholars
who hold these opinions see that several things in the Homeric picture
of life are based on Mycenaean facts; for example, the size of the
shields and their suspension by baldrics. But the scholars also do
steadfastly believe, following the Wolfian tradition, that there could
be no _long_ epic in the early period. Therefore the greater part, much
the greater part of the _Iliad_, must necessarily, they say, be the work
of continuators through several centuries. Critics are fortified in
this belief by the discovery of inconsistencies in the Epic, which,
they assume, can only be explained as the result of a compilation of the
patchwork of ages. But as, on this theory, many men in many lands and
ages made the Epic, their contributions cannot but be marked by the
inevitable changes in manners, customs, beliefs, implements, laws,
weapons, and so on, which could not but arise in the long process of
time. Yet traces of change in law, religion, manners, and customs are
scarcely, if at all, to be detected; whence it logically follows that a
dozen generations of irresponsible minstrels and vagrant reciters were
learned, conscientious, and staunchly conservative of the archaic tone.
Their erudite conservatism, for example, induced them, in deference to
the traditions of the bronze age, to describe all weapons as of bronze,
though many of the poets were living in an age of weapons of iron. It
also prompted them to describe all shields as made on the far-away old
Mycenaean model, though they were themselves used to small circular
bucklers, with a bracer and a grip, worn on the left arm.

But at this point the learning and conservatism of the late poets
deserted them, and into their new lays, also into the old lays, they
eagerly introduced many unwarrantable corslets and greaves--things of
the ninth to seventh centuries. We shall find Helbig stating, on the
same page, that in the matter of usages "the epic poets shunned, as far
as possible, all that was recent," and also that for fear of puzzling
their military audiences they did the reverse: "they probably kept
account of the arms and armour of their own day." [Footnote: La
_Question Mycénienne_, p. 50. _Cf_. Note I.] Now the late poets, on
this showing, must have puzzled warriors who used iron weapons by always
speaking of bronze weapons. They pleased the critical warriors, on the
other hand, by introducing the corslets and greaves which every military
man of their late age possessed. But, again, the poets startled an
audience which used light bucklers, worn on the left arm, by talking of
enormous _targes_, slung round the neck.

All these inconsistencies of theory follow from the assumption that the
_Iliad_ _must_ be a hotch-potch of many ages. If we assume that, on the
whole, it is the work of one age, we see that the poet describes the
usages which obtained in his own day. The dead are cremated, not, as in
the Mycenaean prime, inhumed. The shield has been strengthened to meet
bronze, not stone-tipped, arrows by bronze plates. Corslets and greaves
have been elaborated. Bronze, however, is still the metal for swords and
spears, and even occasionally for tools and implements, though these are
often of iron. In short, we have in Homer a picture of a transitional
age of culture; we have not a medley of old and new, of obsolete and
modern. The poets do not describe inhumation, as they should do, if they
are conservative archaeologists. In that case, though they burn, they
would have made their heroes bury their dead, as they did at Mycenas.
They do not introduce iron swords and spears, as they must do, if, being
late poets, they keep in touch with the armament of their time. If they
speak of huge shields only because they are conservative archaeologists,
then, on the other hand, they speak of corslets and greaves because they
are also reckless innovators.

They cannot be both at once. They are depicting a single age, a single
"moment in culture." That age is certainly sundered from the Mycenaean
prime by the century or two in which changing ideas led to the
superseding of burial by burning, or it is sundered from the Mycenaean
prime by a foreign conquest, a revolution, and the years in which the
foreign conquerors acquired the language of their subjects.

In either alternative, and one or other must be actual, there was time
enough for many changes in the culture of the Mycenaean prime to be
evolved. These changes, we say, are represented by the descriptions of
culture in the Iliad. That hypothesis explains, simply and readily, all
the facts. The other hypothesis, that the _Iliad_ was begun near the
Mycenaean prime and was continued throughout four or five centuries,
cannot, first, explain how the _Iliad_ was _composed_, and, next,
it wanders among apparent contradictories and through a maze of


 We are far from contending that it is always possible to
understand Homer's descriptions of defensive armour. But as we have
never seen the actual objects, perhaps the poet's phrases were clear
enough to his audience and are only difficult to us. I do not, for
example, profess to be sure of what happened when Pandarus shot at
Menelaus. The arrow lighted "where the golden buckles of the _zoster_
were clasped, and the doubled breastplate met them. So the bitter arrow
alighted upon the firm _zoster_; through the wrought _zoster_ it sped,
and through the curiously wrought breastplate it pressed on, and through
the _mitre_ he wore to shield his flesh, a barrier against darts; and
this best shielded him, yet it passed on even through this," and grazed
the hero's flesh (_Iliad_, IV. I 32 seq.). Menelaus next says that "the
glistering _zoster_ in front stayed the dart, and the _zoma_ beneath,
and the _mitrê_ that the coppersmiths fashioned" (IV. 185-187). Then the
surgeon, Machaon, "loosed the glistering _zoster_ and the _zoma_, and
the _mitrê_ beneath that the coppersmiths fashioned" (IV. 215, 216).

Reading as a mere student of poetry I take this to mean that the corslet
was of two pieces, fastening in the middle of the back and the middle of
the front of a man (though Mr. Monro thinks that the plates met and the
_zoster_ was buckled at the side); that the _zoster_, a mailed belt,
buckled just above the place where the plates of the corslet met; that
the arrow went through the meeting-place of the belt buckles, through
the place where the plates of the corslet met, and then through the
_mitrê_, a piece of bronze armour worn under the corslet, though the
nature of this _mitrê_ and of the _zoma_ I do not know. Was the _mitrê_
a separate article or a continuation of the breastplate, lower down,
struck by a dropping arrow?

In 1883 Mr. Leaf wrote: "I take it that the _zoma_ means the waist of
the cuirass which is covered by the _zoster_, and has the upper edge
of the _mitrê_ or plated apron beneath it fastened round the warrior's
body. ... This view is strongly supported by all the archaic vase
paintings I have been able to find." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic
studies, vol. iv. pp. 74,75_.] We see a "corslet with a projecting rim";
that rim is called zoma and holds the _zoster_. "The hips and upper
part of the thighs were protected either by a belt of leather, sometimes
plated, called the _mitrê_, or else only by the lower part of the
_chiton_, and this corresponds exactly with Homeric description."
[Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic_ Studies, _pp. 76, 77_.]

At this time, in days before Reichel, Mr. Leaf believed in bronze
corslets, whether of plates or plated jacks; he also believed, we have
seen, that the huge shields, as of Aias, were survivals in poetry;
that "Homer" saw small round bucklers in use, and supposed that the old
warriors were muscular enough to wear circular shields as great as those
in the vase of Aristonothos, already described. [Footnote: _Ibid., vol.
iv p. 285_.]

On the corslet, as we have seen, Mr. Leaf now writes as a disciple of
Reichel. But as to the _mitrê_, he rejects Helbig's and Mr. Ridgeway's
opinion that it was a band of metal a foot wide in front and very narrow
behind. Such things have been found in Euboea and in Italy. Mr. Ridgeway
mentions examples from Bologna, Corneto, Este, Hallstatt, and Hungary.
[Footnote: _Early Age of Greece, p. 31 I_.] The _zoster_ is now, in
Mr. Leaf's opinion, a "girdle" "holding up the waist-cloth (_zoma_), so
characteristic of Mycenaean dress!" Reichel's arguments against corslets
"militate just as strongly against the presence of such a _mitrê_, which
is, in fact, just the lower half of a corslet.... The conclusion is that
the metallic _mitrê_ is just as much an intruder into the armament
of the _Epos_ as the corslet." The process of evolution was, Mr.
Leaf suggests, first, the abandonment of the huge shield, with the
introduction of small round bucklers in its place. Then, second, a man
naturally felt very unprotected, and put on "the metallic _mitrê_" of
Helbig (which covered a foot of him in front and three inches behind).
"Only as technical skill improved could the final stage, that of the
elaborate cuirass, be attained."

This appears to us an improbable sequence of processes. While arrows
were flying thick, as they do fly in the _Iliad_, men would not reject
body-covering shields for small bucklers while they were still wholly
destitute of body armour. Nor would men arm only their stomachs when,
if they had skill enough to make a metallic _mitrê_, they could not have
been so unskilled as to be unable to make corslets of some more or
less serviceable type. Probably they began with huge shields, added the
_linothorex_ (like the Iroquois cotton _thorex_), and next, as a rule,
superseded that with the bronze _thorex_, while retaining the huge
shield, because the bronze _thorex_ was so inadequate to its purpose of
defence. Then, when archery ceased to be of so much importance as coming
to the shock with heavy spears, and as the bronze _thorex_ really could
sometimes keep out an arrow, they reduced the size of their shields, and
retained surface enough for parrying spears and meeting point and edge
of the sword. That appears to be a natural set of sequences, but I
cannot pretend to guess how the corslet fastened or what the _mitrê_ and
_zoster_ really were, beyond being guards of the stomach and lower part
of the trunk.


 No helmets of metal, such as Homer mentions, have been found in
Mycenaean graves. A quantity of boars' teeth, sixty in all, were
discovered in Grave V. and may have adorned and strengthened leather
caps, now mouldered into dust. An ivory head from Mycenae shows a
conical cap set with what may be boars' tusks, with a band of the same
round the chin, and an earpiece which was perhaps of bronze? Spata and
the graves of the lower town of Mycenae and the Enkomi ivories show
similar headgear. [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, pp. 196, 197.]

This kind of cap set with boars' tusks is described in _Iliad_, Book X.,
in the account of the hasty arraying of two spies in the night of terror
after the defeat and retreat to the ships. The Trojan spy, Dolon, also
wears a leather cap. The three spies put on no corslets, as far as we
can affirm, their object being to remain inconspicuous and unburdened
with glittering bronze greaves and corslets. The Trojan camp was
brilliantly lit up with fires, and there may have been a moon, so the
less bronze the better. In these circumstances alone the heroes of the
Iliad are unequipped, certainly, with bronze helmets, corslets,
and bronze greaves. [Dislocated Footnote: Evans, _Journal of the
Anthropological Institute, xxx. pp._ 209-215.] [Footnote: _Iliad, X._

The author of Book X. is now regarded as a precise archaeologist, who
knew that corslets and bronze helmets were not used in Agamemnon's time,
but that leather caps with boars' tusks were in fashion; while again, as
we shall see, he is said to know nothing about heroic costume (cf. The
_Doloneia_). As a fact, he has to describe an incident which occurs
nowhere else in Homer, though it may often have occurred in practice--a
hurried council during a demoralised night, and the hasty arraying of
two spies, who wish to be lightfooted and inconspicuous. The author's
evidence as to the leather cap and its garnishing of boars' tusks
testifies to a survival of such gear in an age of bronze battle-helmets,
not to his own minute antiquarian research.


 Bronze greaves are not found, so far, in Mycenaean tombs in
Greece, and Reichel argued that the original Homer knew none. The
greaves, [Greek: kunmides] "were gaiters of stuff or leather"; the one
mention of bronze greaves is stuff and nonsense interpolated (VII. 41).
But why did men who were interpolating bronze corslets freely introduce
bronze so seldom, if at all, as the material of greaves?

Bronze greaves, however, have been found in a Cypro-Mycenaean grave at
Enkomi (Tomb XV.), _accompanied_ by _an early type_ of _bronze_ dagger,
while bronze greaves adorned with Mycenaean ornament are discovered in
the Balkan peninsula at Glassinavç. [Footnote: Evans, _Journal of the
Anthropological Institute,_ pp. 214, 215, figs. 10, 11.] Thus all Homer's
description of arms is here corroborated by archaeology, and cannot be
cut out by what Mr. Evans calls "the Procrustean method" of Dr. Reichel.

A curious feature about the spear may be noticed. In Book X. while the
men of Diomede slept, "their spears were driven into the ground erect
on the spikes of the butts" (X. 153). Aristotle mentions that this was
still the usage of the Illyrians in his day. [Footnote: _Poctica_,
25.] Though the word for the spike in the butt (_sauroter_) does not
elsewhere occur in the _Iliad_, the practice of sticking the spears
erect in the ground during a truce is mentioned in III. 135: "They lean
upon their shields" (clearly large high shields), "and the tall spears
are planted by their sides." No butt-spikes have been found in graves of
the Mycenaean prime. The _sauroter_ was still used, or still existed, in
the days of Herodotus. [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, p. 205; Ridgeway,
vol. i. pp. 306, 307.]

On the whole, Homer does not offer a medley of the military gear of
four centuries--that view we hope to have shown to be a mass of
inconsistencies--but describes a state of military equipment in advance
of that of the most famous Mycenaean graves, but other than that of the
late "warrior vase." He is also very familiar with some uses of iron, of
which, as we shall see, scarcely any has been found in Mycenaean graves
of the central period, save in the shape of rings. Homer never mentions
rings of any metal.



Taking the Iliad and Odyssey just as they have reached us they give,
with the exception of one line, an entirely harmonious account of the
contemporary uses of bronze and iron. Bronze is employed in the making
of weapons and armour (with cups, ornaments, &c.); iron is employed
(and bronze is also used) in the making of tools and implements, such
as knives, axes, adzes, axles of a chariot (that of Hera; mortals use
an axle tree of oak), and the various implements of agricultural and
pastoral life. Meanwhile, iron is a substance perfectly familiar to the
poets; it is far indeed from being a priceless rarity (it is impossible
to trace Homeric stages of advance in knowledge of iron), and it yields
epithets indicating strength, permanence, and stubborn endurance. These
epithets are more frequent in the Odyssey and the "later" Books of the
Iliad than in the "earlier" Books of the Iliad; but, as articles made
of iron, the Odyssey happens to mention only one set of axes, which is
spoken of ten times--axes and adzes as a class--and "iron bonds," where
"iron" probably means "strong," "not to be broken." [Footnote: In these
circumstances, it is curious that Mr. Monro should have written thus:
"In Homer, as is well known, iron is rarely mentioned in comparison
with bronze, but the proportion is greater in the Odyssey (25 iron, 80
bronze) than in the Iliad" (23 iron, 279 bronze).--Monro, Odyssey, vol.
ii. p. 339. These statistics obviously do not prove that, at the date
of the composition of the Odyssey, the use of iron was becoming more
common, or that the use of bronze was becoming more rare, than when the
_Iliad_ was put together. Bronze is, in the poems, the military metal:
the _Iliad_ is a military poem, while the _Odyssey_ is an epic of peace;
consequently the _Iliad_ is much more copious in references to bronze
than the _Odyssey_ has any occasion to be. Wives are far more frequently
mentioned in the Odyssey than in the _Iliad_, but nobody will argue that
therefore marriage had recently come more into vogue. Again, the method
of counting up references to iron in the Odyssey is quite misleading,
when we remember that ten out of the twenty references are only _one_
reference to one and the same set of iron tools-axes. Mr. Monro also
proposed to leave six references to iron in the _Iliad_ out of the
reckoning, "as all of them are in lines which can be omitted without
detriment to the sense." Most of the six are in a recurrent epic formula
descriptive of a wealthy man, who possesses iron, as well as bronze,
gold, and women. The existence of the formula proves familiarity with
iron, and to excise it merely because it contradicts a theory is purely
arbitrary.--Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. p. 339.]. The statement of facts
given here is much akin to Helbig's account of the uses of bronze and
iron in Homer. [Footnote: Helbig, _Das Homerischi Epos_, pp. 330, 331.
_1887_.] Helbig writes: "It is notable that in the Epic there is much
more frequent mention of iron _implements_ than of iron _weapons of
war_." He then gives examples, which we produce later, and especially
remarks on what Achilles says when he offers a mass of iron as a prize
in the funeral games of Patroclus. The iron, says Achilles, will serve
for the purposes of the ploughman and shepherd, "a surprising speech
from the son of Peleus, from whom we rather expect an allusion to the
military uses of the metal." Of course, if iron weapons were not in
vogue while iron was the metal for tools and implements, the words of
Achilles are appropriate and intelligible.

The facts being as we and Helbig agree in stating them, we suppose that
the Homeric poets sing of the usages of their own time. It is an age
when iron, though quite familiar, is not yet employed for armour, or
for swords or spears, which must be of excellent temper, without great
weight in proportion to their length and size. Iron is only employed in
Homer for some knives, which are never said to be used in battle
(not even for dealing the final stab, like the mediaeval poniard, the
_miséricorde_), for axes, which have a short cutting edge, and may be
thick and weighty behind the edge, and for the rough implements of the
shepherd and ploughman, such as tips of ploughshares, of goads, and so

As far as archaeological excavations and discoveries enlighten us, these
relative uses of bronze and iron did not exist in the ages of Mycenaean
culture which are represented in the _tholos_ of Vaphio and the graves,
earlier and later, of Mycenae. Even in the later Mycenaean graves iron
is found only in the form of finger rings (iron rings were common in
late Greece). [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, pp. 72, 146, 165.] Iron
was scarce in the Cypro-Mycenaean graves of Enkomi. A small knife with
a carved handle had left traces of an iron blade. A couple of lumps
of iron, one of them apparently the head of a club, were found
in Schliemann's "Burned City" at Hissarlik; for the rest, swords,
spear-heads, knives, and axes are all of bronze in the age called
"Mycenaean." But we do not know whether iron _implements_ may not yet
be found in the sepulchres of _Thetes_, and other poor and landless
men. The latest discoveries in Minoan graves in Crete exhibit tools of

Iron, we repeat, is in the poems a perfectly familiar metal. Ownership
of "bronze, gold, and iron, which requires much labour" (in the
smithying or smelting), appears regularly in the recurrent epic formula
for describing a man of wealth. [Footnote: _Iliad_, VI. 48; IX. 365-366;
X. 379; XI. 133; _Odyssey_, XIV. 324; XXI. 10.] Iron, bronze, slaves,
and hides are bartered for sea-borne wine at the siege of Troy?
[Footnote: _Iliad_, VII. 472-475.] Athene, disguised as Mentes, is
carrying a cargo of iron to Temesa (Tamasus in Cyprus?), to barter for
copper. The poets are certainly not describing an age in which only a
man of wealth might indulge in the rare and extravagant luxury of an
iron ring: iron was a common commodity, like cattle, hides, slaves,
bronze, and other such matters. Common as it was, Homer never once
mentions its use for defensive armour, or for swords and spears.

Only in two cases does Homer describe any weapon as of iron. There is to
be sure the "iron," the knife with which Antilochus fears Achilles will
cut his own throat. [Footnote: _Iliad_ XVIII. 34.] But no knife is ever
used as a weapon of war: knives are employed in cutting the throats of
victims (see _Iliad_, III. 271 and XXIII. 30); the knife is said to be
of iron, in this last passage; also Patroclus uses the knife to cut the
arrow-head out of the flesh of a wounded friend. [Footnote: _Iliad_, XI.
844.] It is the _knife_ of Achilles that is called "the iron," and on
"the iron" perish the cattle in _Iliad_, XXIII. 30. Mr. Leaf says that
by "the usual use, the metal" (iron) "is confined to tools of small
size." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, xxiii. 30, Note.] This is incorrect;
the Odyssey speaks of _great axes_ habitually made of iron. [Footnote:
Odyssey, IX. 391.] But we do find a knife of bronze, that of Agamemnon,
used in sacrificing victims; at least so I infer from Iliad, III.

The only two specimens of _weapons_ named by Homer as of iron are one
arrow-head, used by Pandarus, [Footnote: _Iliad_, IV. 123.] and one
mace, borne, before Nestor's time, by Areithöus. To fight with an iron
mace was an amiable and apparently unique eccentricity of Areithbus, and
caused his death. On account of his peculiar practice he was named "The
Mace man." [Footnote: Iliad, VII. 141.] The case is mentioned by Nestor
as curious and unusual.

 Mr. Leaf gets rid of this solitary iron _casse tête_ in a
pleasant way. Since he wrote his _Companion to the Iliad_, 1902, he has
become converted, as we saw, to the theory, demolished by Mr. Monro,
Nutzhorn, and Grote, and denounced by Blass, that the origin of our
Homer is a text edited by some literary retainer of Pisistratus of
Athens (about 560-540 B.C.). The editor arranged current lays, "altered"
freely, and "wrote in" as much as he pleased. Probably he wrote this
passage in which Nestor describes the man of the iron mace, for "the
tales of Nestor's youthful exploits, all of which bear the mark of late
work, are introduced with no special applicability to the context, but
rather with the intention of glorifying the ancestor of Pisistratus."
[Footnote: Iliad (1900), VII. 149, Note.] If Pisistratus was pleased
with the ancestral portrait, nobody has a right to interfere, but we
need hardly linger over this hypothesis (cf. pp. 281-288).

 Iron axes are offered as prizes by Achilles, [Footnote: Iliad,
XXIII. 850.] and we have the iron axes of Odysseus, who shot an arrow
through the apertures in the blades, at the close of the Odyssey.
But all these axes, as we shall show, were not weapons, but _peaceful

 As a matter of certain fact the swords and spears of Homer's
warriors are invariably said by the poet to be of bronze, not of iron,
in cases where the metal of the weapons is specified.

Except for an arrow-head (to which we shall return) and the one iron
mace, noted as an eccentricity, no weapon in Homer is ever said to be of

The richest men use swords of bronze. Not one chooses to indulge in a
sword said to be of iron. The god, Hephaestus, makes a bronze sword for
Achilles, whose own bronze sword was lent to Patroclus, and lost by
him to Hector. [Footnote: _Iliad_ XVI. 136; XIX. 372-373.] This bronze
sword, at least, Achilles uses, after receiving the divine armour of the
god. The sword of Paris is of bronze, as is the sword of Odysseus in the
Odyssey. [Footnote: _Iliad_, III. 334-335] Bronze is the sword which he
brought from Troy, and bronze is the sword presented to him by Euryalus
in Phaeacia, and bronze is the spear with which he fought under the
walls of Ilios. [Footnote: _Odyssey_, X. 162, 261-262] There are other
examples of bronze swords, while spears are invariably said to be of
bronze, when the metal of the spear is specified.

Here we are on the ground of solid certainty: we see that the Homeric
warrior has regularly spear and sword of bronze. If any man used a spear
or sword of iron, Homer never once mentions the fact. If the poets,
in an age of iron weapons, always spoke of bronze, out of deference to
tradition, they must have puzzled their iron-using military patrons.

Thus, as regards weapons, the Homeric heroes are in the age of bronze,
like them who slept in the tombs of the Mycenaean age. When Homer speaks
of the use of cutting instruments of iron, he is always concerned,
except in the two cases given, not with [blank space] but with
_implements_, which really were of iron. The wheelwright fells a tree
"with the iron," that is, with an axe; Antilochus fears that Achilles
"will cut his own throat with the iron," that is, with his knife, a
thing never used in battle; the cattle struggle when slain with "the
iron," that is, the butcher's knife; and Odysseus shoots "through
the iron," that is, through the holes in the blade of the iron axes.
[Footnote: For this peculiar kind of Mycenaean axe with holes in the
blade, see the design of a bronze example from Vaphio in Tsountas and
Manatt, _The Mycenaean Age_, p. 207, fig. 94.] Thus Homer never says
that this or that was done "with the iron" in the case of any but one
weapon of war. Pandarus "drew the bow-string to his breast and to the
bow." [Footnote: Iliad, W. 123.] Whoever wrote that line was writing
in an age, we may think, when arrow-heads were commonly of iron; but in
Homer, when the metal of the arrow-head is mentioned, except, in this
one case, it is always bronze. The iron arrow-tip of Pandarus was of an
early type, the shaft did not run into the socket of the arrow-head; the
tang of the arrow-head, on the other hand, entered the shaft, and was
whipped on with sinew. [_Iliad_, IV. 151.] Pretty primitive this method,
still the iron is an advance on the uniform bronze of Homer. The line
about Pandarus and the iron arrow-head may really be early enough, for
the arrow-head is of a primitive kind--socketless--and primitive is
the attitude of the archer: he "drew the arrow to his breast." On the
Mycenaean silver bowl, representing a siege, the archers draw to the
breast, in the primitive style, as does the archer on the bronze dagger
with a representation of a lion hunt. The Assyrians and Khita drew
to the ear, as the monuments prove, and so does the "Cypro-Mycenaean"
archer of the ivory draught-box from Enkomi. [Footnote: Evans,
Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. xxx. p. 210.] In
these circumstances we cannot deny that the poet may have known iron

We now take the case of axes. We never hear from Homer of the use of
an iron axe in battle, and warlike use of an axe only occurs twice. In
_Iliad_, XV. 711, in a battle at and on the ships, "they were fighting
with sharp axes and battle-axes" ([Greek text: axinai]) "and with great
swords, and spears armed at butt and tip." At and on the ships, men
would set hand to whatever tool of cutting edge was accessible. Seiler
thinks that only the Trojans used the battle-axe; perhaps for damaging
the ships: he follows the scholiast. [Greek text: Axinae], however,
[Footnote: _Iliad_, XIII. 611.] may perhaps be rendered "battle-axe," as
a Trojan, Peisandros, fights with an [Greek text: Axinae], and this is
the only place in the _Iliad_, except XV. 711, where the thing is said
to be used as a weapon. But it is not an _iron_ axe; it is "of fine
bronze." Only one bronze _battle-axe_, according to Dr. Joseph Anderson,
is known to have been found in Scotland, though there are many bronze
heads of axes which were tools.

Axes ([Greek text: pelekeis]) were _implements_, tools of the carpenter,
woodcutter, shipwright, and so on; they were not weapons of war of the

As implements they are, with very rare exceptions, of iron. The
wheelwright fells trees "with the gleaming iron," iron being a synonym
for axe and for knife. [Footnote: _Iliad_, IV. 485] In _Iliad_, XIII.
391, the shipwrights cut timber with axes. In _Iliad_, XXIII. 114,
woodcutters' axes are employed in tree-felling, but the results are
said to be produced [Greek text: tanaaekei chalcho], "by the long-edged
bronze," where the word [Greek text: tanaaekaes] is borrowed from the
usual epithet of swords; "the long edge" is quite inappropriate to a
woodcutter's axe. On Calypso's isle Calypso gives to Odysseus a bronze
axe for his raft-making. Butcher's work is done with an axe. [Footnote:
_Iliad_, XVII. 520; Odyssey, III. 442-449.] The axes offered by Achilles
as a prize for archers and the axes through which Odysseus shot are
_implements_ of iron. [Footnote: _Iliad_, XXIII. 850; Odyssey, XXI. 3,
81, 97.]

In the Odyssey, when the poet describes the process of tempering iron,
we read, "as when a smith dips a great axe or an adze in chill water,
for thus men temper iron." [Footnote: Odyssey, IX. 391-393.] He is not
using iron to make a sword or spear, but a tool-adze or axe. The poet is
perfectly consistent. There are also examples both of bronze axes
and, apparently, of bronze knives. Thus, though the woodcutter's or
carpenter's axe is of bronze in two passages cited, iron is the usual
material of the axe or adze. Again we saw, when Achilles gives a mass of
iron as a prize in the games, he does not mean the armourer to fashion
it into sword or spear, but says that it will serve the shepherd or
ploughman for domestic implements, [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_ (1902),
XXIII. line 30, Note.] so that the men need not, on an upland farm, go
to the city for iron implements. In commenting upon this Mr. Leaf is
scarcely at the proper point of view. He says, [Footnote: _Iliad_,
XXIII. 835, Note.] "the idea of a state of things when the ploughman and
shepherd forge their own tools from a lump of raw iron has a suspicious
appearance of a deliberate attempt to represent from the inner
consciousness an archaic state of civilisation. In Homeric times the
[Greek: chalceus] is already specialised as a worker in metals...."
However, Homer does not say that the ploughman and shepherd "forge their
own tools." A Homeric chief, far from a town, would have his own smithy,
just as the laird of Runraurie (now Urrard) had his smithy at the
time of the battle of Killicrankie (1689). Mackay's forces left their
_impedimenta_ "at the laird's smithy," says an eye-witness. [Footnote:
Napier's _Life_ Of _Dundee_, iii. p. 724.]

The idea of a late Homeric poet trying to reconstruct from his fancy
a prehistoric state of civilisation is out of the question. Even
historical novelists of the eighteenth century A.D. scarcely attempted
such an effort.

This was the regular state of things in the Highlands during the
eighteenth century, when many chiefs, and most of the clans, lived far
from any town. But these rural smiths did not make sword-blades, which
Prince Charles, as late as 1750, bought on the Continent. The
Andrea Ferrara-marked broadsword blades of the clans were of foreign
manufacture. The Highland smiths did such rough iron work as was needed
for rural purposes. Perhaps the Homeric chief may have sometimes been
a craftsman like the heroes of the Sagas, great sword-smiths. Odysseus
himself, notably an excellent carpenter, may have been as good a
sword-smith, but every hero was not so accomplished.

In searching with microscopes for Homeric discrepancies and
interpolations, critics are apt to forget the ways of old rural society.

The Homeric poems, whether composed in one age or throughout five
centuries, are thus entirely uniform in allotting bronze as the
material for all sorts of warlike gear, down to the solitary battle-axe
mentioned; and iron as the usual metal for heavy tools, knives,
carpenters' axes, adzes, and agricultural implements, with the rare
exceptions which we have cited in the case of bronze knives and axes.
Either this distinction--iron for tools and implements; bronze for
armour, swords, and spears--prevailed throughout the period of the
Homeric poets or poet; or the poets invented such a stage of culture; or
poets, some centuries later, deliberately kept bronze for weapons only,
while introducing iron for implements. In that case they were showing
archaeological conscientiousness in following the presumed earlier poets
of the bronze age, the age of the Mycenaean graves.

Now early poets are never studious archaeologists. Examining the [blank
space] certainly based on old lays and legends which survive in
the Edda, we find that the poets of the _Nibelungenlied_ introduce
chivalrous and Christian manners. They do not archaeologise. The poets
of the French _Chansons de Geste_ (eleventh to thirteenth centuries)
bring their own weapons, and even armorial bearings, into the 'remote
age of Charlemagne, which they know from legends and _cantilènes_.
Again, the later _remanieurs_ of the earliest _Chansons de Geste_
modernise the details of these poems. But, _per impossibile_, and
for the sake of argument, suppose that the later interpolators and
continuators of the Homeric lays were antiquarian precisians, or, on
the other hand, "deliberately attempted to reproduce from their inner
consciousness an archaic state of civilisation." Suppose that, though
they lived in an age of iron weapons, they knew, as Hesiod knew, that
the old heroes "had warlike gear of bronze, and ploughed with bronze,
and there was no black iron." [Footnote: Hesiod, _Works and Days_, pp.
250, 251.] In that case, why did the later interpolating poets introduce
iron as the special material of tools and implements, knives and axes,
in an age when they knew that there was no iron? Savants such as, by
this theory, the later poets of the full-blown age of iron were, they
must have known that the knives and axes of the old heroes were made of
bronze. In old votive offerings in temples and in any Mycenaean graves
which might be opened, the learned poets of 800-600 B.C. saw with their
eyes knives and axes of bronze. [Footnote: _Early Age of Greece_, i.
413-416.] The knife of Agamemnon ([Greek: machaira]), which hangs from
his girdle, beside his sword, [Footnote: _Iliad_, III. 271; XIX. 252.]
corresponds to the knives found in Grave IV. at Mycenae; the handles of
these dirks have a ring for suspension. [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt,
p. 204.] But these knives, in Mycenaean graves, are of bronze, and of
bronze are the axes in the Mycenaean deposits and the dagger of Enkomi.
[Footnote: _Ibid._, pp. 145, 207, 208, 256. _Evans, Journal of the
Anthropological Institute_, vol xxx. p, 214.]

Why, then, did the late poetic interpolators, who knew that the spears
and swords of the old warriors were of bronze, and who describe them as
of bronze, not know that their knives and axes were also of bronze? Why
did they describe the old knives and axes as of iron, while Hesiod knew,
and could have told them--did tell them, in fact--that they were of
bronze? Clearly the theory that Homeric poets were archaeological
precisians is impossible. They describe arms as of bronze, tools usually
as of iron, because they see them to be such in practice.

The poems, in fact, depict a very extraordinary condition of affairs,
such as no poets could invent and adhere to with uniformity. We are
accustomed in archaeology to seeing the bronze sword pass by a gradual
transition into the iron sword; but, in Homer, people with abundance of
iron never, in any one specified case, use iron sword blades or spears.
The greatest chiefs, men said to be rich in gold and iron, always use
swords and spears of _bronze_ in _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_.

The usual process of transition from bronze to iron swords, in a
prehistoric European age, is traced by Mr. Ridgeway at Hallstatt, "in
the heart of the Austrian Alps," where a thousand old graves have been
explored. The swords pass from bronze to iron with bronze hilts, and,
finally, are wholly of iron. Weapons of bronze are fitted with
iron edges. Axes of iron were much more common than axes of bronze.
[Footnote: _Early Age of Greece_, i. 413-416.] The axes were fashioned
in the old shapes of the age of bronze, were not of the _bipennis_
Mycenaean model--the double axe--nor of the shape of the letter D, very
thick, with two round apertures in the blade, like the bronze axe of
Vaphio. [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. 176.] Probably the axes
through which Odysseus shot an arrow were of this kind, as Mr. Monro,
and, much earlier, Mr. Butcher and I have argued. [Footnote: _Ibid_.
(1901), vol. ii. Book XIX. line 572. Note. Butcher and Lang, Odyssey,
Appendix (1891).]

At Hallstatt there was the _normal_ evolution from bronze swords and
axes to iron swords and axes. Why, then, had Homer's men in his time not
made this step, seeing that they were familiar with the use of iron? Why
do they use bronze for swords and spears, iron for tools? The obvious
answer is that they could temper bronze for military purposes much
better than they could temper iron. Now Mr. Ridgeway quotes Polybius
(ii. 30; ii. 33) for the truly execrable quality of the iron of the
Celtic invaders of Italy as late as 225 B.C. Their swords were as bad
as, or worse than, British bayonets; they _always_ "doubled up." "Their
long iron swords were easily bent, and could only give one downward
stroke with any effect; but after this the edges got so turned and the
blades so bent that, unless they had time to straighten them with
the foot against the ground, they could not deliver a second blow."
[Footnote: _Early Age of Greece_, vol. i. 408.] If the heroes in Homer's
time possessed iron as badly tempered as that of the Celts of 225 B.C.,
they had every reason to prefer, as they did, excellent bronze for all
their military weapons, while reserving iron for pacific purposes. A
woodcutter's axe might have any amount of weight and thickness of iron
behind the edge; not so a sword blade or a spear point. [Footnote:
Monsieur Salomon Reinach suggests to me that the story of Polybius may
be a myth. Swords and spear-heads in graves are often found doubled up;
possibly they are thus made dead, like the owner, and their spirits are
thus set free to be of use to his spirit. Finding doubled up iron swords
in Celtic graves, the Romans, M. Beinach suggests, may have explained
their useless condition by the theory that they doubled up in battle,
leaving their owners easy victims, and this myth was accepted as fact
by Polybius. But he was not addicted to myth, nor very remote from the
events which he chronicles. Again, though bronze grave-weapons in our
Museum are often doubled up, the myth is not told of the warriors of the
age of bronze. We later give examples of the doubling up, in battle, of
Scandinavian iron swords as late as 1000 A.D.]

In the _Iliad_ we hear of swords breaking at the hilt in dealing a
stroke at shield or helmet, a thing most incident to bronze swords,
especially of the early type, with a thin bronze tang inserted in a
hilt of wood, ivory, or amber, or with a slight shelf of the bronze hilt
riveted with three nails on to the bronze blade.

Lycaon struck Peneleos on the socket of his helmet crest, "and his sword
brake at the hilt." [Footnote: _Iliad_, XVI. 339.] The sword of Menelaus
broke into three or four pieces when he smote the helmet ridge of Paris.
[Footnote: _Iliad_, III. 349, 380.] Iron of the Celtic sort described by
Polybius would have bent, not broken. There is no doubt on that head:
if Polybius is not romancing, the Celtic sword of 225 B.C. doubled up at
every stroke, like a piece of hoop iron. But Mr. Leaf tells us that, "by
primitive modes of smelting," iron is made "hard and brittle, like cast
iron." If so, it would be even less trustworthy for a sword than bronze.
[Footnote: _Iliad_ (1900), Book VI, line 48, Note.] Perhaps the Celts
of 225 B.C. did not smelt iron by primitive methods, but discovered some
process for making it not hard and brittle, but flabby.

The swords of the Mycenaean graves, we know, were all of bronze, and,
in three intaglios on rings from the graves, the point, not the edge, is
used, [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, p. 199.] once against a lion, once
over the rim of a shield which covers the whole body of an enemy, and
once at too close quarters to permit the use of the edge. It does not
follow from these three cases (as critics argue) that no bronze sword
could be used for a swashing blow, and there are just half as many
thrusts as strokes with the bronze sword in the _Iliad_. [Footnote:
Twenty-four cuts to eleven lunges, in the _Iliad_.] As the poet
constantly dwells on the "long edge" of the _bronze_ swords and makes
heroes use both point and edge, how can we argue that Homeric swords
were of iron and ill fitted to give point? The Highlanders at Clifton
(1746) were obliged, contrary to their common practice, to use the point
against Cumberland's dragoons. They, like the Achaeans, had heavy cut
and thrust swords, but theirs were of steel.

If the Achaeans had thoroughly excellent bronze, and had iron as bad as
that of the Celts a thousand years later, their preference for bronze
over iron for weapons is explained. In Homer the fighters do not very
often come to sword strokes; they fight mainly with the spear, except
in pursuit, now and then. But when they do strike, they cleave heads and
cut off arms. They could not do this with bronze rapiers, such as those
with which men give point over the rim of the shield on two Mycenaean
gems. But Mr. Myres writes, "From the shaft graves (of Mycenae) onwards
there are two types of swords in the Mycenaean world--one an exaggerated
dagger riveted into the front end of the hilt, the other with a flat
flanged tang running the whole length of the hilt, and covered on either
face by ornamental grip plates riveted on. This sword, though still of
bronze, can deal a very effective cut; and, as the Mycenaeans had no
armour for body or head," (?) "the danger of breaking or bending the
sword on a cuirass or helmet did not arise." [Footnote: _Classical
Review_, xvi. 72.] The danger did exist in Homer's time, as we have
seen. But a bronze sword, published by Tsountas and Manatt (_Mycenaean
Age_, p. 199, fig. 88), is emphatically meant to give both point and
edge, having a solid handle--a continuation of the blade--and a very
broad blade, coming to a very fine point. Even in Grave V. at Mycenae,
we have a sword blade so massive at the top that it was certainly
capable of a swashing blow. [Footnote: Schuchardt, _Schliemann's
Excavations_, p. _265, fig._ 269.] The sword of the charioteer on the
_stêlê_ of Grave V. is equally good for cut and thrust. A pleasanter cut
and thrust bronze sword than the one found at Ialysus no gentleman could
wish to handle. [Footnote: Furtwängler und Loeschke, _Myk. Va._ Taf.
D.] Homer, in any case, says that his heroes used bronze swords, well
adapted to strike. If his age had really good bronze, and iron as bad as
that of the Celts of Polybius, a thousand years later, their preference
of bronze over iron for weapons needs no explanation. If their iron
was not so bad as that of the Celts, their military conservatism might
retain bronze for weapons, while in civil life they often used iron for

The uniform evidence of the Homeric poems can only be explained on the
supposition that men had plenty of iron; but, while they used it for
implements, did not yet, with a natural conservatism, trust life and
victory to iron spears and swords. Unluckily, we cannot test the
temper of the earliest known iron swords found in Greece, for rust hath
consumed them, and I know not that the temper of the Mycenaean bronze
swords has been tested against helmets of bronze. I can thus give no
evidence from experiment.

There is just one line in Homer which disregards the distinction--iron
for implements, bronze for weapons; it is in _Odyssey_, XVI. 294; XIX.
13. Telemachus is told to remove the warlike harness of Odysseus from
the hall, lest the wooers use it in the coming fray. He is to explain
the removal by saying that it has been done, "Lest you fall to strife in
your cups, and harm each other, and shame the feast, and _this_ wooing;
_for iron of himself draweth a man to him_." The proverb is manifestly
of an age when iron was almost universally used for weapons, and thus
was, as in Thucydides, synonymous with all warlike gear; but throughout
the poems no single article of warlike gear is of iron except one
eccentric mace and one arrow-head of primitive type. The line in the
Odyssey must therefore be a very late addition; it may be removed
without injuring the sense of the passage in which it occurs. [Footnote:
This fact, in itself, is of course no proof of interpolation. _Cf._
Helbig, _op_. cit., p. 331. He thinks the line very late.] If, on the
other hand, the line be as old as the oldest parts of the poem, the
author for once forgets his usual antiquarian precision.

We are thus led to the conclusion that either there was in early Greece
an age when weapons were all of bronze while implements were often
of iron, or that the poet, or crowd of poets, invented that state of
things. Now early poets never invent in this way; singing to an audience
of warriors, critical on such a point, they speak of what the warriors
know to be actual, except when, in a recognised form of decorative
exaggeration, they introduce

     "Masts of the beaten gold
      And sails of taffetie."

Our theory is, then, that in the age when the Homeric poems were
composed, iron, though well known, was on its probation. Men of the
sword preferred bronze for all their military purposes, just as
fifteenth-century soldiers found the long-bow and cross-bow much more
effective than guns, or as the Duke of Wellington forbade the arming of
all our men with rifles in place of muskets ... for reasons not devoid
of plausibility.

Sir John Evans supposes that, in the seventh century, the Carian and
Ionian invaders of Egypt were still using offensive arms of bronze, not
of iron. [Footnote: Ancient _Bronze Implements_, p. 8 (1881), citing
Herodotus, ii. c. 112. Sir John is not sure that Achaean spear-heads
were not of copper, for they twice double up against a shield. _Iliad_,
III. 348; VII. 259; Evans, p. 13.] Sir John remarks that "for a
considerable time after the Homeric period, bronze remained in use for
offensive weapons," especially for "spears, lances, and arrows."
Hesiod, quite unlike his contemporaries, the "later" poets of Iliad
and _Odyssey_, gives to Heracles an iron helmet and sword. [Footnote:
_Scutum Herculis_, pp. 122-138.] Hesiod knew better, but was not a
consistent archaiser. Sir John thinks that as early as 500 or even 600
B.C. iron and steel were in common use for weapons in Greece, but
not yet had they altogether superseded bronze battle-axes and spears.
[Footnote: Evans, p. 18.] By Sir John's showing, iron for offensive
weapons superseded bronze very slowly indeed in Greece; and, if my
argument be correct, it had not done so when the Homeric poems were
composed. Iron merely served for utensils, and the poems reflect that
stage of transition which no poet could dream of inventing.

These pages had been written before my attention was directed to M.
Bérard's book, _Les Pheniciens et l'Odyssée_ (Paris, 1902). M. Bérard
has anticipated and rather outrun my ideas. "I might almost say," he
remarks, "that iron is the popular metal, native and rustic... the
shepherd and ploughman can extract and work it without going to the
town." The chief's smith could work iron, if he had iron to work, and
this iron Achilles gave as a prize. "With rustic methods of working it
iron is always impure; it has 'straws' in it, and is brittle. It may be
the metal for peace and for implements. In our fields we see the reaper
sit down and repair his sickle. In war is needed a metal less hard,
perhaps, but more tough and not so easily broken. You cannot sit down
in the field of battle, as in a field of barley, to beat your sword
straight...." [Footnote: Bérard, i. 435.]

So the Celts found, if we believe Polybius.

On the other hand, iron swords did supersede bronze swords in the long
run. Apparently they had not done so in the age of the poet, but iron
had certainly ceased to be "a precious metal"; knives and woodcutters'
axes are never made of a metal that is precious and rare. I am thus led,
on a general view, to suppose that the poems took shape when iron was
very well known, but was not yet, as in the "Dipylon" period in Crete,
commonly used by sword-smiths.

The ideas here stated are not unlike those of Paul Cauer. [Footnote:
_Grundfrager des Homerkritik,_ pp. 183-187. Leipsic, 1895.] I do not,
however, find the mentions of iron useful as a test of "early" and
"late" lays, which it is his theory that they are. Thus he says:--

(1) Iron is often mentioned as part of a man's personal property, while
we are not told how he means to use it. It is named with bronze, gold,
and girls. The poet has no definite picture before his eyes; he is vague
about iron. But, we reply, his picture of iron in these passages is
neither more nor less definite than his mental picture of the other
commodities. He calls iron "hard to smithy," "grey," "dark-hued"; he
knows, in fact, all about it. He does not tell us what the owner is
going to do with the gold and the bronze and the girls, any more than he
tells us what is to be done with the iron. Such information was rather
in the nature of a luxury than a necessity. Every hearer knew the uses
of all four commodities. This does not seem to have occurred to Cauer.

(2) Iron is spoken of as an emblem of hard things, as, to take a modern
example, in Mr. Swinburne's "armed and iron maidenhood "--said of
Atalanta. Hearts are "iron," strength is "iron," flesh is not "iron," an
"iron" noise goes up to the heaven of bronze. It may not follow, Cauer
thinks, from these phrases that iron was used in any way. Men are
supposed to marvel at its strange properties; it was "new and rare." I
see no ground for this inference.

(3) We have the "iron gates" of Tartarus, and the "iron bonds" in which
Odysseus was possibly lying; it does not follow that chains or gates
were made of iron any more than that gates were of chrysoprase in the
days of St. John.

(4) Next, we have mention of implements, not weapons, of iron--a
remarkable trait of culture. Greek ploughs and axes were made of iron
before spears and swords were of iron.

(5) We have mention of iron weapons, namely, the unique iron mace of
Areithous and the solitary iron arrow-head of Pandarus, and what Cauer
calls the iron swords (more probably knives) of Achilles and others. It
is objected to the "iron" of Achilles that Antilochus fears he will cut
his throat with it on hearing of the death of Patroclus, while there
is no other mention of suicide in the _Iliad_. It does not follow that
suicide was unheard of; indeed, Achilles may be thinking of suicide
presently, in XIII. 98, when he says to his mother: "Let me die at once,
since it was not my lot to succour my comrade."

(6) We have the iron-making spoken of in Book IX. 393 of the _Odyssey_.

It does not appear to us that the use of iron as an epithet bespeaks
an age when iron was a mysterious thing, known mainly by reputation,
"a costly possession." The epithets "iron strength," and so on, may as
readily be used in our own age or any other. If iron were at first a
"precious" metal, it is odd that Homeric men first used it, as Cauer
sees that they did, to make points to ploughshares and "tools of
agriculture and handiwork." "Then people took to working iron for
weapons." Just so, but we cannot divide the _Iliad_ into earlier and
later portions in proportion to the various mentions of iron in various
Books. These statistics are of no value for separatist purposes. It is
impossible to believe that men when they spoke of "iron strength," "iron
hearts," "grey iron," "iron hard to smithy," did so because iron was,
first, an almost unknown legendary mineral, next, "a precious metal,"
then the metal of drudgery, and finally the metal of weapons.

The real point of interest is, as Cauer sees, that domestic preceded
military uses of iron among the Achaeans. He seems, however, to think
that the confinement of the use of bronze to weapons is a matter of
traditional style. [Footnote: "Nur die Sprache der Dichter hielt an dem
Gebrauch der Bronze fest, die in den Jahrhunderten, während deren der
Epische Stil erwachsen war, allein geherrscht hatte."] But, in the early
days of the waxing epics, tools as well as weapons were, as in Homer
they occasionally are, of bronze. Why, then, do the supposed late
continuators represent tools, not weapons, as of iron? Why do they not
cleave to the traditional term--bronze--in the case of tools, as the
same men do in the case of weapons?

Helbig offers an apparently untenable explanation of this fact. He has
proposed an interpretation of the uses of bronze and iron in the poems
entirely different from that which I offer. [Footnote: _Sur la Question
Mycénienne_. 1896.] Unfortunately, one can scarcely criticise his theory
without entering again into the whole question of the construction
of the Epics. He thinks that the origin of the poems dates from "the
Mycenaean period," and that the later continuators of the poems retained
the traditions of that remote age. Thus they thrice call Mycenae
"golden," though, in the changed economic conditions of their own
period, Mycenae could no longer be "golden"; and I presume that, if
possible, the city would have issued a papyrus currency without a
metallic basis. However this may be, "in the description of customs
the epic poets did their best to avoid everything modern." Here we
have again that unprecedented phenomenon--early poets who are
archaeologically precise.

We have first to suppose that the kernel of the _Iliad_ originated in
the Mycenaean age, the age of bronze. We are next to believe that this
kernel was expanded into the actual Epic in later and changed times,
but that the later poets adhered in their descriptions to the Mycenaean
standard, avoiding "everything modern." That poets of an uncritical
period, when treating of the themes of ancient legend or song, carefully
avoid everything modern is an opinion not warranted by the usage of
the authors of the _Chansons de Geste_, of _Beowulf_, and of the
_Nibelungenlied_. These poets, we must repeat, invariably introduce
in their chants concerning ancient days the customs, costume, armour,
religion, and weapons of their own time. Dr. Helbig supposes that the
late Greek poets, however, who added to the _Iliad_, carefully avoided
doing what other poets of uncritical ages have always done. [Footnote:
_La Question Mycénienne_, p. 50.]

This is his position in his text (p. 50). In his note 1 to page 50,
however, he occupies the precisely contrary position. "The epic poems
were chanted, as a rule, in the houses of more or less warlike chiefs.
It is, then, _à priori_ probable that the later poets took into account
the _contemporary_ military state of things. Their audience would have
been much perturbed (_bien chequés_) if they had heard the poet mention
nothing but arms and forms of attack and defence to which they were
unaccustomed." If so, when iron weapons came in the poets would
substitute iron for bronze, in lays new and old, but they never do.
However, this is Helbig's opinion in his note. But in his text he says
that the poets, carefully avoiding the contemporary, "the modern," make
the heroes fight, not on horseback, but from chariots. Their listeners,
according to his note, must have been _bien chequés_, for there came a
time when _they_ were not accustomed to war chariots.

Thus the poets who, in Dr. Helbig's text, "avoid as far as possible all
that is modern," in his note, on the same page, "take account of the
contemporary state of things," and are as modern as possible where
weapons _are_ concerned. Their audience would be sadly put out (_bien
chequés_) "if they heard talk only of arms ... to which they were
unaccustomed"; talk of large suspended shields, of uncorsleted heroes,
and of bronze weapons. They had to endure it, whether they liked it or
not, _teste_ Reichel. Dr. Helbig seems to speak correctly in his note;
in his text his contradictory opinion appears to be wrong. Experience
teaches us that the poets of an uncritical age--Shakespeare, for
example--introduce the weapons of their own period into works dealing
with remote ages. Hamlet uses the Elizabethan rapier.

In his argument on bronze and iron, unluckily, Dr. Helbig deserts the
judicious opinions of his note for the opposite theory of his text.
His late poets, in the age of iron, always say that the weapons of the
heroes are made of bronze. [Footnote: _Op. laud_., p. 51.] They thus,
"as far as possible avoid what is modern." But, of course, warriors
of the age of iron, when they heard the poet talk only of weapons of
bronze, "_aurient été bien choqués_" (as Dr. Helbig truly says in his
note), on hearing of nothing but "_armes auxquels ils n'étaient pas
habitués,_"--arms always of bronze.

Though Dr. Helbig in his text is of the opposite opinion, I must agree
entirely with the view which he states so clearly in his note. It
follows that if a poet speaks invariably of weapons of bronze, he is
living in an age when weapons are made of no other material. In his
text, however, Dr. Helbig maintains that the poets of later ages "as far
as possible avoid everything modern," and, therefore, mention none but
bronze weapons. But, as he has pointed out, they do mention iron tools
and implements. Why do they desert the traditional bronze? Because "it
occasionally happened that a poet, when thinking of an entirely new
subject, wholly emancipated himself from traditional forms," [Footnote:
_Op. laud_., pp. 51, 52]

The examples given in proof are the offer by Achilles of a lump of iron
as the prize for archery--the iron, as we saw, being destined for the
manufacture of pastoral and agricultural implements, in which Dr. Helbig
includes the lances of shepherds and ploughmen, though the poet never
says that they were of iron. [Footnote: _Iliad_, XXIII. 826, 835;
Odyssey, XIV. 531; XIII. 225.] There are also the axes through which
Odysseus shoots his arrow. [Footnote: _Odyssey_, XIX. 587; XXI. 3, X,
97, 114, 127, 138; XXIV. 168, 177; cf. XXI. 61.] "The poet here treated
an entirely new subject, in the development of which he had perfect
liberty." So he speaks freely of iron. "But," we exclaim, "tools and
implements, axes and knives, are not a perfectly new subject!" They were
extremely familiar to the age of bronze, the Mycenaean age. Examples of
bronze tools, arrow-heads, and implements are discovered in excavations
on Mycenaean sites. There was nothing new about bronze tools and
implements. Men had bronze tips to their ploughshares, bronze knives,
bronze axes, bronze arrow-heads before they used iron.

Perhaps we are to understand that feats of archery, non-military
contests in bowmanship, are _un sujet à fait nouveau_: a theme so very
modern that a poet, in singing of it, could let himself go, and dare to
speak of iron implements. But where was the novelty? All peoples who use
the bow in war practise archery in time of peace. The poet, moreover,
speaks of bronze tools, axes and knives, in other parts of the _Iliad_;
neither tools nor bronze tools constitute _un sujet tout à fait
nouveau_. There was nothing new in shooting with a bow and nothing new
in the existence of axes. Bows and axes were as familiar to the age
of stone and to the age of bronze as to the age of iron. Dr. Helbig's
explanation, therefore, explains nothing, and, unless a better
explanation is offered, we return to the theory, rejected by Dr. Helbig,
that implements and tools were often, not always, of iron, while weapons
were of bronze in the age of the poet. Dr. Helbig rejects this opinion.
He writes: "We cannot in any way admit that, at a period when the socks
of the plough, the lance points of shepherds" (which the poet never
describes as of iron), "and axe-heads were of iron, warriors still used
weapons of bronze." [Footnote: op. _laud._, p. 53.] But it is logically
possible to admit that this was the real state of affairs, while it is
logically impossible to admit that bows and tools were "new subjects";
and that late poets, when they sang of military gear, "_tenaient
compte de l'armement contemporain,_" carefully avoiding the peril of
bewildering their hearers by speaking of antiquated arms, and, at the
same time, spoke of nothing but antiquated arms--weapons of bronze--and
of war chariots, to fighting men who did not use war chariots and did
use weapons of iron.

These logical contradictions beset all arguments in which it is
maintained that "the late poets" are anxious archaisers, and at the same
time are eagerly introducing the armour and equipment of their own age.
The critics are in the same quandary as to iron and bronze as traps them
in the case of large shields, small bucklers, greaves, and corslets.
They are obliged to assign contradictory attitudes to their "late
poets." It does not seem possible to admit that a poet, who often
describes axes as of iron in various passages, does so in his account of
a peaceful contest in bowmanship, because contests in bowmanship are _UN
sujet TOUT à FAIT NOUVEAU;_ and so he feels at liberty to describe axes
as of iron, while he adheres to bronze as the metal for weapons. He, or
one of the Odyssean poets, had already asserted (Odyssey, IX. 391) that
iron _was_ the metal for adzes and axes.

Dr. Helbig's argument [Footnote: _La Question Mycénienne_, p. 54.] does
not explain the facts. The bow of Eurytus and the uses to which Odysseus
is to put it have been in the poet's mind all through the conduct of his
plot, and there is nothing to suggest that the exploit of bowmanship is
a very new lay, tacked on to the Odyssey.

After writing this chapter, I observed that my opinion had been
anticipated by S. H. Naber. [Footnote: _Quaestiones Homericae_, p.
60. Amsterdam. Van der Post, 1897.] "Quod Herodoti diserto testimonio
novimus, Homeri restate ferruminatio nondum inventa erat necdum bene
noverant mortales, uti opinor, _acuere_ ferrum. Hinc pauperes homines
ubi possunt, ferro utuntur; sed in plerisque rebus turn domi turn
militiae imprimis coguntur uti aere...."

The theory of Mr. Ridgeway as to the relative uses of iron and bronze is
not, by myself, very easily to be understood. "The Homeric warrior ...
has regularly, as we have seen, spear and sword of iron." [Footnote:
_Early Age of Greece_, vol. i. p. 301.] As no spear or sword of iron is
ever mentioned in the _Iliad_ or Odyssey, as both weapons are always
of bronze when the metal is specified, I have not "seen" that they are
"regularly," or ever, of iron. In proof, Mr. Ridgeway cites the axes
and knives already mentioned--which are not spears or swords, and are
sometimes of bronze. He also quotes the line in the Odyssey, "Iron of
itself doth attract a man." But if this line is genuine and original,
it does not apply to the state of things in the _Iliad_, while it
contradicts the whole Odyssey, in which swords and spears are _ALWAYS_
of bronze when their metal is mentioned. If the line reveals the true
state of things, then throughout the Odyssey, if not throughout the
_Iliad_, the poets when they invariably speak of bronze swords and
spears invariably say what they do not mean. If they do this, how are
we to know when they mean what they say, and of what value can their
evidence on points of culture be reckoned? They may always be retaining
traditional terms as to usages and customs in an age when these are

If the Achaeans were, as in Mr. Ridgeway's theory, a northern
people--"Celts"--who conquered with iron weapons a Pelasgian
bronze-using Mycenaean people, it is not credible to me that Achaean or
Pelasgian poets habitually used the traditional Pelasgian term for the
metal of weapons, namely, bronze, in songs chanted before victors who
had won their triumph with iron. The traditional phrase of a conquered
bronze-using race could not thus survive and flourish in the poetry of
an outlandish iron-using race of conquerors.

Mr. Ridgeway cites the Odyssey, wherein we are told that "Euryalus,
the Phaeacian, presented to Odysseus a bronze sword, though, as we have
seen" (Mr. Ridgeway has seen), "the usual material for all such weapons
is iron. But the Phoeacians both belonged to the older race and lived in
a remote island, and therefore swords of bronze may well have continued
in use in such out-of-the-world places long after iron swords were in
use everywhere else in Greece. The man who could not afford iron had to
be satisfied with bronze." [Footnote: _Early Age of Greece_, p. 305.]
Here the poet is allowed to mean what he says. The Phaeacian sword is
really of bronze, with silver studs, probably on the hilt (Odyssey,
VIII. 401-407), which was of ivory. The "out-of-the-world" islanders
could afford ivory, not iron. But when the same poet tells us that
the sword which Odysseus brought from Troy was "a great silver-studded
bronze sword" (Odyssey, X. 261, 262), then Mr. Ridgeway does not allow
the poet to mean what he says. The poet is now using an epic formula
older than the age of iron swords.

That Mr. Ridgeway adopts Helbig's theory--the poet says "bronze," by a
survival of the diction of the bronze age, when he means iron--I infer
from the following passage: "_Chalkos_ is the name for the older metal,
of which cutting weapons were made, and it thus lingered in many phrases
of the Epic dialect; 'to smite with the _chalkos_' was equivalent to our
phrase 'to smite with the steel.'" [Footnote: _Early Age of Greece_, i.
295.] But we certainly do smite with the steel, while the question is,
"_DID_ Homer's men smite with the iron?" Homer says not; he does not
merely use "an epic phrase" "to smite with the _CHALKOS_," but he
carefully describes swords, spears, and usually arrow-heads as being
of bronze (_CHALKOS_), while axes, adzes, and knives are frequently
described by him as of iron.

Mr. Ridgeway has an illustrative argument with some one, who says: "The
dress and weapons of the Saxons given in the lay of _Beowulf_ fitted
exactly the bronze weapons in England, for they had shields, and spears,
and battle-axes, and swords." If you pointed out to him that the Saxon
poem spoke of these weapons as made of iron, he would say, "I admit
that it is a difficulty, but the resemblances are so many that the
discrepancies may be jettisoned." [Footnote: _Ridgeway,_ i. 83, 84.]

Now, if the supposed controversialist were a Homeric critic, he would
not admit any difficulty. He would say, "Yes; in _Beowulf_ the
weapons are said to be of iron, but that is the work of the Christian
_remanieur,_ or _bearbeiter,_ who introduced all the Christian morality
into the old heathen lay, and who also, not to puzzle his iron-using
audience, changed the bronze into iron weapons."

We may prove anything if we argue, now that the poets retain the
tradition of obsolete things, now that they modernise as much as they
please. Into this method of reasoning, after duly considering it, I
am unable to come with enthusiasm, being wedded to the belief that the
poets say what they mean. Were it otherwise, did they not mean what
they say, their evidence would be of no value; they might be dealing
throughout in terms for things which were unrepresented in their own
age. To prove this possible, it would be necessary to adduce convincing
and sufficient examples of early national poets who habitually use
the terminology of an age long prior to their own in descriptions of
objects, customs, and usages. Meanwhile, it is obvious that my whole
argument has no archaeological support. We may find "Mycenaean" corslets
and greaves, but they are not in cremation burials. No Homeric cairn
with Homeric contents has ever been discovered; and if we did find
examples of Homeric cairns, it appears, from the poems, that they would
very seldom contain the arms of the dead.

Nowhere, again, do we find graves containing bronze swords and iron axes
and adzes. I know nothing nearer in discoveries to my supposed age
of bronze weapons and iron tools than a grave of the early iron and
geometrical ornament age of Crete--a _tholos_ tomb, with a bronze
spear-head and a set of iron tools, among others a double axe and a
pick of iron. But these were in company with iron swords? To myself the
crowning mystery is, what has become of the Homeric tumuli with their
contents? One can but say that only within the last thirty years have we
found, or, finding, have recognised Mycenaean burial records. As to the
badness of the iron of the North for military purposes, and the probable
badness of all early iron weapons, we have testimony two thousand years
later than Homer and some twelve hundred years later than Polybius.
In the Eyrbyggja Saga (Morris and Maguússon, chap, xxiv.) we read that
Steinthor "was girt with a sword that was cunningly wrought; the hilts
were white with silver, and the grip wrapped round with the same, but
the strings thereof were gilded." This was a splendid sword, described
with the Homeric delight in such things; but the battle-cry arises, and
then "the fair-wrought sword bit not when it smote armour, and Steinthor
must _straighten it under_ his _foot._" Messrs. Morris and Maguússon add
in a note: "This is a very common experience in Scandinavian weapons,
and for the first time heard of at the battle of Aquae Sextiae between
Marius and the Teutons." [Footnote: The reference is erroneous.] "In the
North weapon-smiths who knew how to forge tempered or steel-laminated
weapons were, if not unknown, at least very rare." When such skill was
unknown or rare in Homer's time, nothing was more natural than that
bronze should hold its own, as the metal for swords and spears, after
iron was commonly used for axes and ploughshares.



If the Homeric poems be, as we maintain, the work of a peculiar age, the
Homeric house will also, in all likelihood, be peculiar. It will not
be the Hellenic house of classical times. Manifestly the dwelling of a
military-prince in the heroic age would be evolved to meet his needs,
which were not the needs of later Hellenic citizens. In time of peace
the later Greeks are weaponless men, not surrounded by and entertaining
throngs of armed retainers, like the Homeric chief. The women of later
Greece, moreover, are in the background of life, dwelling in the women's
chambers, behind those of the men, in seclusion. The Homeric women also,
at least in the house of Odysseus, have their separate chambers, which
the men seem not to enter except on invitation, though the ladies freely
honour by their presence the hall of the warriors. The circumstances,
however, were peculiar--Penelope being unprotected in the absence of her

The whole domestic situation in the Homeric poems--the free equality
of the women, the military conditions, the life of the chiefs and
retainers--closely resembles, allowing for differences of climate, that
of the rich landowners of early Iceland as described in the sagas. There
can be no doubt that the house of the Icelandic chief was analogous to
the house of the Homeric prince. Societies remarkably similar in mode
of life were accommodated in dwellings similarly arranged. Though
the Icelanders owned no Over-Lord, and, indeed, left their native
Scandinavia to escape the sway of Harold Fairhair, yet each wealthy and
powerful chief lived in the manner of a Homeric "king." His lands and
thralls, horses and cattle, occupied his attention when he did not
chance to be on Viking adventure--"bearing bane to alien men." He
always carried sword and spear, and often had occasion to use them.
He entertained many guests, and needed a large hall and ample sleeping
accommodation for strangers and servants. His women were as free and as
much respected as the ladies in Homer; and for a husband to slap a wife
was to run the risk of her deadly feud. Thus, far away in the frosts of
the north, the life of the chief was like that of the Homeric prince,
and their houses were alike.

It is our intention to use this parallel in the discussion of the
Homeric house. All Icelandic chiefs' houses in the tenth and eleventh
centuries were not precisely uniform in structure and accommodation,
and saga writers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, living
more comfortably than their forefathers, sometimes confuse matters by
introducing the arrangements of their own into the tale of past times.
But, in any case, one Icelandic house of the tenth or eleventh century
might differ from another in certain details. It is not safe, therefore,
to argue that difference of detail in Homer's accounts of various houses
means that the varying descriptions were composed in different ages. In
the _Odyssey_ the plot demands that the poet must enter into domestic
details much more freely than he ever has occasion to do in the Iliad.
He may mention upper chambers freely, for example; it will not follow
that in the _Iliad_ upper chambers do not exist because they are only
mentioned twice in that Epic.

It is even more important to note that in the house of Odysseus we have
an unparalleled domestic situation. The lady of the house is beset by
more than a hundred wooers--"sorning" on her, in the old Scots legal
phrase--making it impossible for her to inhabit her own hall, and
desirable to keep the women as much as possible apart from the men. Thus
the Homeric house of which we know most, that of Odysseus, is a house in
a most abnormal condition.

For the sake of brevity we omit the old theory that the Homeric
house was practically that of historical Greece, with the men's hall
approached by a door from the courtyard; while a door at the upper end
of the men's hall yields direct access to the quarters where the women
dwelt apart, at the rear of the men's hall.

That opinion has not survived the essay by Mr. J. L. Myres on the "Plan
of the Homeric House." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, vol.
XX, 128-150.] Quite apart from arguments that rest on the ground plans
of palaces at Mycenae and Tiryns, Mr. Myres has proved, by an exact
reading of the poet's words, that the descriptions in the _Odyssey_
cannot be made intelligible on the theory that the poet has in his mind
a house of the Hellenic pattern. But in his essay he hardly touches on
any Homeric house except that of Odysseus, in which the circumstances
were unusual. A later critic, Ferdinand Noack, has demonstrated that
we must take other Homeric houses into consideration. [Footnote:
_Homerische Paläste_. Teubner. Leipzig, 1903.] The prae-Mycenaean
house is, according to Mr. Myres, on the whole of the same plan as the
Hellenic house of historic days; between these comes the Mycenaean and
Homeric house; "so that the Mycenaean house stands out _as an intrusive
phenomenon_, of comparatively late arrival _and short of duration_..."
[Footnote: Myres, _Journal_ of _Hellenic_ Studies, vol. xx. p. 149.]
Noack goes further; he draws a line between the Mycenaean houses on one
hand and the houses described by Homer on the other; while he thinks
that the "_late_ Homeric house," that of the closing Books of the
Odyssey, is widely sundered from the Homeric house of the _Iliad_
and from the houses of Menelaus and Alcinous in earlier Books of the
_Odyssey._ [Footnote: Noack, p. 73.]

In this case the Iliadic and earlier Odyssean houses are those of a
single definite age, neither Mycenaean of the prime, nor Hellenic--a
fact which entirely suits our argument. But it is not so certain, that
the house of Odysseus is severed from the other Homeric houses by the
later addition of an upper storey, as Noack supposes, and of women's
quarters, and of separate sleeping chambers for the heads of the family.

The _Iliad,_ save in two passages, and earlier Books of the _Odyssey_
may not mention upper storeys because they have no occasion, or only
rare occasion, to do so; and some houses may have had upper sleeping
chambers while others of the same period had not, as we shall prove from
the Icelandic parallel.

Mr. Myres's idea of the Homeric house, or, at least, of the house of
Odysseus, is that the women had a _meguron,_ or common hall, apart from
that of the men, with other chambers. These did not lie to the direct
rear of the men's hall, nor were they entered by a door that opened in
the back wall of the men's hall. Penelope has a chamber, in which
she sleeps and does woman's work, upstairs; her connubial chamber,
unoccupied during her lord's absence, is certainly on the ground floor.
The women's rooms are severed from the men's hall by a courtyard; in
the courtyard are chambers. Telemachus has his [Greek: Thalamos], or
chamber, in the men's courtyard. All this appears plain from the poet's
words; and Mr. Myres corroborates, by the ground plans of the palaces
of Tiryns and Mycenae, a point on which Mr. Monro had doubts, as regards
Tiryns, while he accepted it for Mycenae. [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, ii.
497; _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, xx. 136.]

Noack [Footnote: Noack, p. 39.] does not, however, agree.

There appears to be no doubt that in the centre of the great halls of
Tiryns and of Mycenae, as of the houses in Homer, was the hearth, with
two tall pillars on each side, supporting a _louvre_ higher than the
rest of the roof, and permitting some, at least, of the smoke of
the fire to escape. Beside the fire were the seats of the master and
mistress of the house, of the minstrel, and of honoured guests. The
place of honour was not on a dais at the inmost end of the hall, like
the high table in college halls. Mr. Myres holds that in the Homeric
house the [Greek: prodomos], or "forehouse," was a chamber, and was not
identical with the [Greek: aethousa], or portico, though he admits that
the two words "are used indifferently to describe the sleeping place of
a guest." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, xx. 144, 155.] This
was the case at Tiryns; and in the house of the father of Phoenix,
in the _Iliad_, the _prodomos_, or forehouse, and the _aethousa_, or
portico, are certainly separate things (Iliad, IX. 473). Noack does not
accept the Tiryns evidence for the Homeric house.

On Mr. Myres's showing, the women in the house of Odysseus had distinct
and separate quarters into which no man goes uninvited. Odysseus when at
home has, with his wife, a separate bedroom; and in his absence Penelope
sleeps upstairs, where there are several chambers for various purposes.

Granting that all this is so, how do the pictures of the house given in
the final part of the _Odyssey_ compare with those in the [Blank space]
and with the accounts of the dwellings of Menelaus and Alcinous in the
Odyssey? Noack argues that the house of Odysseus is unlike the other
Homeric houses, because in these, he reasons, the women have no separate
quarters, and the lord and lady of the house sleep in the great hall,
and have no other bedroom, while there are no upper chambers in the
houses of the _Iliad_, except in two passages dismissed as "late."

If all this be so, then the Homeric period, as regards houses and
domestic life, belongs to an age apart, not truly Mycenaean, and still
less later Hellenic.

It must be remembered that Noack regards the Odyssey as a composite and
in parts very late mosaic (a view on which I have said what I think
in _Homer and the Epic_). According to this theory (Kirchhoff is the
exponent of a popular form thereof) the first Book of the Odyssey
belongs to "the latest stratum," and is the "copy" of the general
"worker-up," whether he was the editor employed by Pisistratus or a
laborious amateur. This theory is opposed by Sittl, who makes his point
by cutting out, as interpolations, whatever passages do not suit his
ideas, and do suit Kirchhoff's--this is the regular method of Homeric
criticism. The whole cruise of Telemachus (Book IV.) is also regarded
as a late addition: on this point English scholars hitherto have been
of the opposite opinion. [Footnote: Cf. Monro, _Odyssey_, vol. ii.

The method of all parties is to regard repetitions of phrases as
examples of borrowing, except, of course, in the case of the earliest
poet from whom the others pilfer, and in other cases of prae-Homeric
surviving epic formulae. Critics then dispute as to which recurrent
passage is the earlier, deciding, of course, as may happen to suit
their own general theory. In our opinion these passages are traditional
formulae, as in our own old ballads and in the _Chansons de Geste_, and
Noack also takes this view every now and then. They may well be older,
in many cases, than _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_; or the poet, having found
his own formula, economically used it wherever similar circumstances
occurred. Such passages, so considered, are no tests of earlier
composition in one place, of later composition in another.

We now look into Noack's theory of the Homeric house. Where do the
lord and lady sleep? _Not_, he says, as Odysseus and Penelope do (when
Odysseus is at home), in a separate chamber (_thalamos_) on the ground
floor, nor, like Gunnar and Halgerda (Njal's Saga), in an upper chamber.
They sleep _mucho domou_; that is, not in a separate recess in the
_house_, but in a recess of the great hall or _megaron_. Thus, in
the hall of Alcinous, the whole space runs from the threshold to the
_muchos_, the innermost part (_Odyssey_, VII. 87-96). In the hall of
Odysseus, the Wooers retreat to the _muchos_, "the innermost part of the
hall" (_Odyssey_, XXII. 270). "The _muchos_, in Homer, never denotes
a separate chamber." [Footnote: Noack, p. 45. _Cf_. Monro, Note to
Odyssey, XXII. 270.]

In Odyssey, XI. 373, Alcinous says it is not yet time to sleep _ev
megaro_, "in the hall." Alcinous and Arete, his wife, sleep "in the
recess of the lofty _domos_," that is, in the recess of the _hall_, not
of "the house" (Odyssey, VII. 346). The same words are used of Helen and
Menelaus (Odyssey, IV. 304). But when Menelaus goes forth next morning,
he goes _ek thalamoio_, "out of his _chamber_" (_Odyssey_, IV. 310). But
this, says Noack, is a mere borrowing of Odyssey, II 2-5, where the same
words are used of Telemachus, leaving his chamber, which undeniably was
a separate chamber in the court: Eurycleia lighted him thither at night
(Odyssey, I. 428). In Odyssey, IV. 121, Helen enters the hall "from her
fragrant, lofty chamber," so she _had_ a chamber, not in the hall. But,
says Noack, this verse "is not original." The late poet of _Odyssey_,
IV. has cribbed it from the early poet who composed _Odyssey, XIX. 53._
In that passage Penelope "comes from her chamber, like Artemis or golden
Aphrodite." Penelope _had_ a chamber--being "a lone lorn woman," who
could not sleep in a hall where the Wooers sat up late drinking--and
the latest poet transfers this chamber to Helen. But however late and
larcenous he may have been, the poet of IV. 121 certainly did not crib
the words of the poet of XIX. 53, for he says, "Helen came out of
her _fragrant, high-roofed_ chamber." The _hall_ was not precisely
"fragrant"! However, Noack supposes that the late poet of Book IV. let
Helen have a chamber apart, to lead up to the striking scene of her
entry to the hall where her guests are sitting. May Helen not even have
a boudoir? In _Odyssey_, IV. 263, Helen speaks remorsefully of having
abandoned her "chamber," and husband, and child, with Paris; but the
late poet says this, according to Noack, because he finds that he is
in for a chamber, so to speak, at all events, as a result of his having
previously cribbed the word "chamber" from Odyssey, XIX. 53. Otherwise,
we presume Helen would have said that she regretted having left "the
recess of the lofty hall" where she really did sleep. [Footnote: Noack,
pp. 47-48]

The merit of this method of arguing may be left to the judgment of the
reader, who will remark that wedded pairs are not described as leaving
the hall when they go to bed; they sleep in "a recess of the lofty
house," the innermost part. Is this the same as the "recess of the
_hall_" or is it an innermost part of the _house?_ Who can be certain?

The bridal chamber, built so cunningly, with the trunk of a tree for the
support of the bed, by Odysseus (odyssey, XXIII. 177-204), is, according
to Noack, an exception, a solitary freak of Odysseus. But we may reply
that the _thalamos_, the separate chamber, is no freak; the freak, by
knowledge of which Odysseus proves his identity, is the use of the tree
in the construction of the bed. [blank space] was highly original.

That separate chambers are needed for grown-up children, _BECAUSE_ the
parents sleep in the hall, is no strong argument. If the parents had a
separate chamber, the young people, unless they slept in the hall, would
still need their own. The girls, of course, could not sleep in the hall;
and, in the absence of both Penelope and Odysseus from the hall, ever
since Telemachus was a baby, Telemachus could have slept there. But it
will be replied that the Wooers did not beset the hall, and Penelope
did not retire to a separate chamber, till Telemachus was a big boy of
sixteen. Noack argues that he had a separate chamber, though the hall
was free, _tradition_. [Footnote: Noack, p. 49.]

Where does Noack think that, in a normal Homeric house, the girls of
the family slept? _They_ could not sleep in the hall, and on the two
occasions when the _Iliad_ has to mention the chambers of the young
ladies they are "upper chambers," as is natural. But as Noack wants
to prove the house of Odysseus, with its upper chambers, to be a late
peculiar house, he, of course, expunges the two mentions of girls' upper
chambers in the _Odyssey_. The process is simple and easy.

We find (_Iliad_, XVII. 36) that a son, wedding in his father's and
mother's life-time, has a _thalamos_ built for him, and a _muchos_
in the _THALAMOS_, where he leaves his wife when he goes to war. This
dwelling of grown-up married children, as in the case of the sons of
Priam, has a _thalamos_, or _doma_, and a courtyard--is a house, in fact
(_Iliad_, VI. 3 16). Here we seem to distinguish the bed-chamber
from the _doma_, which is the hall. Noack objects that when Odysseus
fumigates his house, after slaying the Wooers, he thus treats the
_megaron_, _AND_ the _doma_, _AND_ the courtyard. Therefore, Noack
argues, the _megaron_, or hall, is one thing; the _doma_ is another. Mr.
Monro writes, "_doma_ usually means _megaron_," and he supposes a
slip from another reading, _thalamon_ for _megaron_, which is not
satisfactory. But if _doma_ here be not equivalent to _megaron_, what
room can it possibly be? Who was killed in another place? what place
therefore needed purification except the hall and courtyard? No other
places needed purifying; there is therefore clearly a defect in the
lines which cannot be used in the argument.

Noack, in any case, maintains that Paris has but one place to live in
by day and to sleep in by night--his [Greek: talamos]. There he sleeps,
eats, and polishes his weapons and armour. There Hector finds him
looking to his gear; Helen and the maids are all there (_Iliad,_ VI.
321-323). Is this quite certain? Are Helen and the maids in the [Greek:
talamos], where Paris is polishing his corslet and looking to his bow,
or in an adjacent room? If not in another room, why, when Hector is in
the room talking to Paris, does Helen ask him to "come in"? (_Iliad,_
VI. 354). He is in, is there another room whence she can hear him?

The minuteness of these inquiries is tedious!

In _Iliad,_ III. 125, Iris finds Helen "in the hall" weaving. She
summons her to come to Priam on the gate. Helen dresses in outdoor
costume, and goes forth "from the chamber," [Greek: talamos] (III.
141-142). Are hall and chamber the same room, or did not Helen dress "in
the chamber"? In the same Book (III. 174) she repents having left
the [Greek: talamos] of Menelaus, not his hall: the passage is not a
repetition in words of her speech in the Odyssey.

The gods, of course, are lodged like men. When we find that Zeus has
really a separate sleeping chamber, built by Hephaestus, as Odysseus has
(_Iliad,_ XIV. 166-167), we are told that this is a late interpolation.
Mr. Leaf, who has a high opinion of this scene, "the Beguiling of
Zeus," places it in the "second expansions"; he finds no "late Odyssean"
elements in the language. In _Iliad,_ I. 608-611, Zeus "departed to his
couch"; he seems not to have stayed and slept in the hall.

Here a quaint problem occurs. Of all late things in the Odyssey the
latest is said to be the song of Demodocus about the loves of Ares
and Aphrodite in the house of Hephaestus. [Footnote: Odyssey, VIII.
266-300.] We shall show that this opinion is far from certainly correct.
Hephaestus sets a snare round the bed in his [Greek: talamos] and
catches the guilty lovers. _Now_, was his [Greek: talamos] or bedroom,
also his dining-room? If so, the author of the song, though so "late,"
knows what Noack knows, and what the poets who assign sleeping chambers
to wedded folks do not know, namely, that neither married gods nor
married men have separate bedrooms. This is plain, for he makes
Hephaestus stand at the front door of his house, and shout to the gods
to come and see the sinful lovers. [Footnote: Ibid., VI. 304-305] They
all come and look on _from the front door_ (_Odyssey_, VII. 325), which
leads into the [Greek: megaron], the hall. If the lovers are in bed in
the hall, then hall and bedroom are all one, and the terribly late poet
who made this lay knows it, though the late poets of the _Odyssey_ and
_Iliad_ do not.

It would appear that the author of the lay is not "late," as we shall
prove in another case.

Noack, then, will not allow man or god to have a separate wedding
chamber, nor women, before the late parts of the _Odyssey_, to have
separate quarters, except in the house of Odysseus. Women's chambers
do not exist in the Homeric house. [Footnote: Noack, p. 50.] If so, how
remote is the true Homeric house from the house of historical Greece!

As for upper chambers, those of the daughter of the house (_Iliad,_ II.
514; XVI. 184), both passages are "late," as we saw (Noack, p.[blank
space]). In the _Odyssey_ Penelope both sleeps and works at the shroud
in an upper chamber. But the whole arrangement of upper chambers as
women's apartments is as late, says Noack, as the time of the poets and
"redactors" (whoever they may have been) of the Odyssey, XXI., XXII.,
XXIII. [Footnote: Noack, p. 68.] At the earliest these Books are said to
be of the eighth century B.C. Here the late poets have their innings at
last, and do modernise the Homeric house.

To prove the absence of upper rooms in the _Iliad_ we have to abolish
II. 514, where Astyoche meets her divine lover in her upper chamber, and
XVI. 184, where Polymêlê celebrates her amour with Hermes "in the upper
chambers." The places where these two passages occur, _Catalogue_ (Book
II.) and the _Catalogue_ of the _Myrmidons_ (Book XVI.) are, indeed,
both called "late," but the author of the latter knows the early law of
bride-price, which is supposed to be unknown to the authors of "late"
passages in the Odyssey (XVI. 190).

Stated briefly, such are the ideas of Noack. They leave us, at least,
with permission to hold that the whole of the Epics, except Books XXI.,
XXII., and XXIII. of the Odyssey, bear, as regards the house, the marks
of a distinct peculiar age, coming between the period of Mycenae and
Tiryns on one hand and the eighth century B.C. on the other.

This is the point for which we have contended, and this suits our
argument very well, though we are sorry to see that Odyssey, Books XXI.,
XXII., and XXIII., are no older than the eighth century B.C. But we have
not been quite convinced that Helen had not her separate chamber, that
Zeus had not his separate chamber, and that the upper chambers of the
daughters of the house in the Iliad are "late." Where, if not in upper
chambers, did the young princesses repose? Again, the marked separation
of the women in the house of Odysseus may be the result of Penelope's
care in unusual circumstances, though she certainly would not build
a separate hall for them. There are over a hundred handsome young
scoundrels in her house all day long and deep into the night; she would,
vainly, do her best to keep her girls apart.

It stands to reason that young girls of princely families would have
bedrooms in the house, not in the courtyard-bedrooms out of the way of
enterprising young men. What safer place could be found for them than in
upper chambers, as in the Iliad? But, if their lovers were gods, we
know that none "can see a god coming or going against his will." The
arrangements of houses may and do vary in different cases in the same

As examples we turn to the parallel afforded by the Icelandic sagas and
their pictures of houses of the eleventh century B.C. The present author
long ago pointed out the parallel of the houses in the sagas and in
Homer. [Footnote: _The_ House. Butcher and Lang. Translation of the
Odyssey.] He took his facts from Dasent's translation of the Njal Saga
(1861, vol. i. pp. xcviii., ciii., with diagrams). As far as he is
aware, no critic looked into the matter till Mr. Monro (1901), being
apparently unacquainted with Dasent's researches, found similar lore in
works by Dr. Valtyr Gudmundsson [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii.
pp. 491-495; _cf_. Gudmundsson, _Der Islandske Bottg i Fristats Tiden_,
1894; _cf_. Dasent, _Oxford_ Essays, 1858.] The roof of the hall is
supported by four rows of columns, the two inner rows are taller, and
between them is the hearth, with seats of honour for the chief guests
and the lord. The fire was in a kind of trench down the hall; and in
very cold weather, we learn from Dasent, long fires could be lit through
the extent of the hall. The chief had a raised seat; the guests sat on
benches. The high seats were at the centre; not till later times on the
dais, as in a college hall. The tables were relatively small, and, as in
Homer, could be removed after a meal. The part of the hall with the
dais in later days was partitioned off as a _stofa_ or parlour. In early
times cooking was done in the hall.

Dr. Gudmundsson, if I understand him, varies from Dasent in some
respects. I quote an abstract of his statement.

"About the year 1000 houses generally consisted of, at least, four
rooms; often a fifth was added, the so-called bath-room. The oldest form
for houses was that of one long line or row of separate rooms united by
wooden or clay corridors or partitions, and each covered with a roof.
Later, this was considered unpractical, and they began building some of
the houses or rooms behind the others, which facilitated the access from
one to another, and diminished the number of outer doors and corridors."

"Towards the latter part of the tenth century the _skaal_ was used as
common sleeping-room for the whole family, including servants and serfs;
it was fitted up in the same way as the hall. Like this, it was divided
in three naves by rows of wooden pillars; the middle floor was lower
than that of the two side naves. In these were placed the so-called
_saet_ or bed-places, not running the whole length of the [blank space]
from gable to gable, but sideways, filling about a third part. Each
_saet_ was enclosed by broad, strong planks joined into the pillars, but
not nailed on, so they might easily be taken out. These planks, called
_SATTESTOKKE_, could also be turned sideways and used as benches during
the day; they were often beautifully carved, and consequently highly

"When settling abroad the people took away with them these planks, and
put them up in their new home as a symbol of domestic happiness. The
_saet_ was occupied by the servants of the farm as sleeping-rooms;
generally it was screened by hangings and low panels, which partitioned
it off like huge separate boxes, used as beds."

"All beds were filled with hay or straw; servants and serfs slept on
this without any bedclothes, sometimes a sleeping-bag was used, or
they covered themselves with deerskins or a mantle. The family had
bed-clothes, but only in very wealthy houses were they also provided
for the servants. Moveable beds were extremely rare, but are sometimes
mentioned. Generally two people slept in each bed."

"In the further end of the _skaal_, facing the door, opened out one or
several small bedrooms, destined for the husband with wife and children,
besides other members of the family, including guests of a higher
standing. These small dormitories were separated by partitions of planks
into bedrooms with one or several beds, and shut away from the outer
_SKAAL_ either by a sliding-door in the wall or by an ordinary door
shutting with a hasp. Sometimes only a hanging covered the opening."

"In some farms were found underground passages, leading from the
master's bedside to an outside house, or even as far as a wood or
another sheltered place in the neighbourhood, to enable the inhabitants
to save themselves during a night attack. For the same reason each man
had his arms suspended over his bed."

"_Ildhus_ or fire-house was the kitchen, often used besides as a
sleeping-room when the farms were very small. This was quite abolished
after the year 1000."

"_Buret_ was the provision house."

"The bathroom was heated from a stone oven; the stones were heated
red-hot and cold water thrown upon them, which developed a quantity
of vapour. As the heat and the steam mounted, the people--men and
women--crawled up to a shelf under the roof and remained there as in a
Turkish bath."

"In large and wealthy houses there was also a women's room, with a
fireplace built low down in the middle, as in the hall, where the women
used to sit with their handiwork all day. The men were allowed to come
in and talk to them, also beggar-women and other vagabonds, who brought
them the news from other places. Towards evening and for meals all
assembled together in the hall."

On this showing, people did not sleep in cabins partitioned off the
dining-hall, but in the _skaale_; and two similar and similarly situated
rooms, one the common dining-hall, the other the common sleeping-hall,
have been confused by writers on the sagas. [Footnote: Gudmundsson, p,
14, Note I.] Can there be a similar confusion in the uses of _megaron_,
_doma_, and _domos_?

In the Eyrbyggja Saga we have descriptions of the "fire-hall," _skáli_
or _eldhús_. "The fire-hall was the common sleeping-room in Icelandic
homesteads." Guests and strangers slept there; not in the portico, as in
Homer. "Here were the lock-beds." There were butteries; one of these
was reached by a ladder. The walls were panelled. [Footnote: _The Ere
Dwellers_, p. 145.] Thorgunna had a "berth," apparently partitioned
off, in the hall. [Footnote: _Ibid_., 137-140.] As in Homer the hall was
entered from the courtyard, in which were separate rooms for stores
and other purposes. In the courtyard also, in the houses of Gunnar of
Lithend and Gisli at Hawkdale, and doubtless in other cases, were the
_dyngfur_, or ladies' chambers, their "bowers" (_Thalamos_, like that of
Telemachus in the courtyard), where they sat spinning and gossiping. The
_dyngja_ was originally called _búr_, our "bower"; the ballads say "in
bower and hall." In the ballad of _MARGARET_, her parents are said to
put her in the way of deadly sin by building her a bower, apparently
separate from the main building; she would have been safer in an upper
chamber, though, even there, not safe--at least, if a god wooed her! It
does not appear that all houses had these chambers for ladies apart from
the main building. You did not enter the main hall in Iceland from
the court directly in front, but by the "man's door" at the west
side, whence you walked through the porch or outer hall (_prodomos_,
_aithonsa_), in the centre of which, to the right, were the doors of the
hall. The women entered by the women's door, at the eastern extremity.

Guests did not sleep, as in Homer, in the _prodomos_, or the
portico--the climate did not permit it--but in one or other hall. The
hall was wainscotted; the walls were hung with shields and weapons,
like the hall of Odysseus. The heads of the family usually slept in the
aisles, in chambers entered through the wainscot of the hall. Such a
chamber might be called _muchos_; it was private from the hall though
under the same roof. It appears not improbable that some Homeric halls
had sleeping places of this kind; such a _muchos_ in Iceland seems to
have had windows. [Footnote: Story of Burnt _Njal_, i. 242.]

 Gunnar himself, however, slept with his wife, Halegerda, in an
upper chamber; his mother, who lived with him, also had a room upstairs.

In Njal's house, too, there was an upper chamber, wherein the foes of
Njal threw fire. [Footnote:_Ibid_., ii. 173.] But Njal and Bergthora,
his wife, when all hope was ended, went into their own bride-chamber
in the separate aisle of the hall "and gave over their souls into God's
hand." Under a hide they lay; and when men raised up the hide, after the
fire had done its work, "they were unburnt under it. All praised God for
that, and thought it was a _GREAT_ token." In this house was a weaving
room for the women. [Footnote:_Ibid_, ii. 195.]

It thus appears that Icelandic houses of the heroic age, as regards
structural arrangements, were practically identical with the house of
Odysseus, allowing for a separate sleeping-hall, while the differences
between that and other Homeric houses may be no more than the
differences between various Icelandic dwellings. The parents might sleep
in bedchambers off the hall or in upper chambers. Ladies might have
bowers in the courtyard or might have none. The [Greek: laurae]--each
passage outside the hall--yielded sleeping rooms for servants; and there
were store-rooms behind the passage at the top end of the hall, as well
as separate chambers for stores in the courtyard. Mr. Leaf judiciously
reconstructs the Homeric house in its "public rooms," of which we hear
most, while he leaves the residential portion with "details and limits
probably very variable." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. pp. 586-589, with
diagram based on the palace of Tiryns.]

Given variability, which is natural and to be expected, and given the
absence of detail about the "residential portion" of other houses than
that of Odysseus in the poems, it does not seem to us that this house
is conspicuously "late," still less that it is the house of historical
Greece. Manifestly, in all respects it more resembles the houses of Njal
and Gunnar of Lithend in the heroic age of Iceland.

In the house, as in the uses of iron and bronze, the weapons, armour,
relations of the sexes, customary laws, and everything else, Homer
gives us an harmonious picture of a single and peculiar age. We find no
stronger mark of change than in the Odyssean house, if that be changed,
which we show reason to doubt.



If the Homeric descriptions of details of life contain anachronisms,
points of detail inserted in later progressive ages, these must be
peculiarly conspicuous in the Odyssey. Longinus regarded it as the work
of Homer's advanced life, the sunset of his genius, and nobody denies
that it assumes the existence of the _Iliad_ and is posterior to that
epic. In the Odyssey, then, we are to look, if anywhere, for indications
of a changed society. That the language of the _Odyssey_, and of four
Books of the _Iliad_ (IX., X., XXIII., XXIV.), exhibits signs of change
is a critical commonplace, but the language is matter for a separate
discussion; we are here concerned with the ideas, manners, customary
laws, weapons, implements, and so forth of the Epics.

Taking as a text Mr. Monro's essay, _The Relation of the Odyssey to the
Iliad_, [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. pp. 324, _seqq_.] we examine
the notes of difference which he finds between the twin Epics. As to
the passages in which he discovers "borrowing or close imitation of
passages" in the _Iliad_ by the poet of the _Odyssey_, we shall not
dwell on the matter, because we know so little about the laws regulating
the repetition of epic formulae. It is tempting, indeed, to criticise
Mr. Monro's list of twenty-four Odyssean "borrowings," and we might
arrive at some curious results. For example, we could show that the
_Klôthes_, the spinning women who "spae" the fate of each new-born
child, are not later, but, as less abstract, are if anything earlier
than "the simple _Aisa_ of the _Iliad_." [Footnote: _Odyssey_, VII. 197;
_Iliad_, xx. 127.] But our proof would require an excursion into
the beliefs of savage and barbaric peoples who have their _Klôthes_,
spae-women attending each birth, but who are not known to have developed
the idea of _Aisa_ or Fate.

We might also urge that "to send a spear through the back of a stag" is
not, as Mr. Monro thought, "an improbable feat," and that a man wounded
to death as Leiocritus was wounded, would not, as Mr. Monro argued,
fall backwards. He supposes that the poet of the _Odyssey_ borrowed
the forward fall from a passage in the _Iliad_, where the fall is in
keeping. But, to make good our proof, it might be necessary to spear a
human being in the same way as Leiocritus was speared. [Footnote: Monro,
odyssey, vol. ii. pp. 239, 230.]

The repetitions of the Epic, at all events, are not the result of the
weakness of a poet who had to steal his expressions like a schoolboy.
They have some other cause than the indolence or inefficiency of a
_cento_--making undergraduate. Indeed, a poet who used the many terms in
the _Odyssey_ which do not occur in the _Iliad_ was not constrained to
borrow from any predecessor.

It is needless to dwell on the Odyssean novelties in vocabulary, which
were naturally employed by a poet who had to sing of peace, not of
war, and whose epic, as Aristotle says, is "ethical," not military. The
poet's rich vocabulary is appropriate to his novel subject, that is all.

Coming to Religion (I) we find Mr. Leaf assigning to his original
_Achilleis_--"the kernel"--the very same religious ideas as Mr. Monro
takes to be marks of "lateness" and of advance when he finds them in the

In the original oldest part of the _Iliad_, says Mr. Leaf, "the gods
show themselves just so much as to let us know what are the powers which
control mankind from heaven.... Their interference is such as becomes
the rulers of the world, not partisans in the battle." [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. pp. xii., xiii.] It is the later poets of the _Iliad_,
in Mr. Leaf's view, who introduce the meddlesome, undignified, and
extremely unsportsmanlike gods. The original early poet of the _Iliad_
had the nobler religious conceptions.

In that case--the _Odyssey_ being later than the original kernel of the
Iliad--the _Odyssey_ ought to give us gods as undignified and unworthy
as those exhibited by the later continuators of the _Iliad_.

But the reverse is the case. The gods behave fairly well in Book XXIV.
of the _Iliad_, which, we are to believe, is the latest, or nearly the
latest, portion. They are all wroth with the abominable behaviour of
Achilles to dead Hector (XXIV. 134). They console and protect Priam. As
for the _Odyssey_, Mr. Monro finds that in this late Epic the gods
are just what Mr. Leaf proclaims them to have been in his old original
kernel. "There is now an Olympian concert that carries on something like
a moral government of the world. It is very different in the _Iliad_...."
[Footnote: Monro, _Odyssey_, ii. 335.]

But it was not very different; it was just the same, in Mr. Leaf's
genuine old original germ of the _Iliad_. In fact, the gods are "very
much like you and me." When their _ichor_ is up, they misbehave as we
do when our blood is up, during the fury of war. When Hector is dead and
when the war is over, the gods give play to their higher nature, as
men do. There is no difference of religious conception to sever the
_Odyssey_ from the later but not from the original parts of the _Iliad_.
It is all an affair of the circumstances in each case.

The _Odyssey_ is calmer, more reflective, more _religious_ than the
_Iliad_, being a poem of peace. The _Iliad_, a poem of war, is more
_mythological_ than the _Odyssey_: the gods in the _Iliad_ are excited,
like the men, by the great war and behave accordingly. That neither
gods nor men show any real sense of the moral weakness of Agamemnon
or Achilles, or of the moral superiority of Hector, is an unacceptable
statement. [Footnote: Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. p. 336.] Even Achilles
and Agamemnon are judged by men and by the poet according to their own
standard of ethics and of customary law. There is really no doubt on
this point. Too much (2) is made of the supposed different views of
Olympus--a mountain in Thessaly in the _Iliad_; a snowless, windless,
supra-mundane place in _Odyssey_, V. 41-47. [Footnote: _Ibid_., ii.
396.] Of the Odyssean passage Mr. Merry justly says, "the actual
description is not irreconcilable with the general Homeric picture of
Olympus." It is "an idealised mountain," and conceptions of it vary,
with the variations which are essential to and inseparable from all
mythological ideas. As Mr. Leaf says, [Footnote: Note to _Iliad_, V.
750.] "heaven, _ouranos_ and Olympus, if not identical, are at least
closely connected." In V. 753, the poet "regarded the summit of Olympus
as a half-way stage between heaven and earth," thus "departing from the
oldest Homeric tradition, which made the earthly mountain Olympus, and
not any aerial region, the dwelling of the gods." But precisely the same
confusion of mythical ideas occurs among a people so backward as the
Australian south-eastern tribes, whose All Father is now seated on a
hill-top and now "above the sky." In _ILIAD_, VIII. 25, 26, the poet is
again said to have "entirely lost the real Epic conception of Olympus
as a mountain in Thessaly," and to "follow the later conception, which
removed it from earth to heaven." In _Iliad_, XI. 184, "from heaven"
means "from the summit of Olympus, which, though Homer does not identify
it with _oupavos_, still, as a mountain, reached into heaven" (Leaf).
The poet of Iliad, XI. 184, says plainly that Zeus descended "_from_
heaven" to Mount Ida. In fact, all that is said of Olympus, of heaven,
of the home of the gods, is poetical, is mythical, and so is necessarily
subject to the variations of conception inseparable from mythology. This
is certain if there be any certainty in mythological science, and here
no hard and fast line can be drawn between _ODYSSEY_ and _Iliad_.

(3) The next point of difference is that, "we hear no more of Iris as
the messenger of Zeus;" in the Odyssey, "the agent of the will of Zeus
is now Hermes, as in the Twenty-fourth Book of the _Iliad_," a late
"Odyssean" Book. But what does that matter, seeing that _ILIAD_, Book
VIII, is declared to be one of the latest additions; yet in Book VIII.
Iris, not Hermes, is the messenger (VIII. 409-425). If in late times
Hermes, not Iris, is the messenger, why, in a very "late" Book (VIII.)
is Iris the messenger, not Hermes? _Iliad_, Book XXIII., is also a late
"Odyssean" Book, but here Iris goes on her messages (XXIII. 199) moved
merely by the prayers of Achilles. In the late Odyssean Book (XXIV.)
of the _Iliad_, Iris runs on messages from Zeus both to Priam and to
Achilles. If Iris, in "Odyssean" times, had resigned office and been
succeeded by Hermes, why did Achilles pray, not to Hermes, but to Iris?
There is nothing in the argument about Hermes and Iris. There is nothing
in the facts but the variability of mythical and poetical conceptions.
Moreover, the conception of Iris as the messenger certainly existed
through the age of the Odyssey, and later. In the Odyssey the beggar
man is called "Irus," a male Iris, because he carries messages; and Iris
does her usual duty as messenger in the Homeric Hymns, as well as in the
so-called late Odyssean Books of the _Iliad_. The poet of the Odyssey
knew all about Iris; there had arisen no change of belief; he merely
employed Hermes as messenger, not of the one god, but of the divine

(4) Another difference is that in the _Iliad_ the wife of Hephaestus is
one of the Graces; in the Odyssey she is Aphrodite. [Footnote: Monro,
_Odyssey_, vol. ii. p. 336.] This is one of the inconsistencies which
are the essence of mythology. Mr. Leaf points out that when Hephaestus
is about exercising his craft, in making arms for Achilles, Charis "is
made wife of Hephaestus by a more transparent allegory than we find
elsewhere in Homer," whereas, when Aphrodite appears in a comic song
by Demodocus (Odyssey, VIII. 266-366), "that passage is later and
un-Homeric." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 246.]

Of this we do not accept the doctrine that the lay is un-Homeric. The
difference comes to no more than _that;_ the accustomed discrepancy
of mythology, of story-telling about the gods. But as to the lay of
Demodocus being un-Homeric and late, the poet at least knows the regular
Homeric practice of the bride-price, and its return by the bride's
father to the husband of an adulterous wife (Odyssey, VIII. 318, 319).
The poet of this lay, which Mr. Merry defends as Homeric, was intimately
familiar with Homeric customary law. Now, according to Paul Cauer, as we
shall see, other "Odyssean" poets were living in an age of changed
law, later than that of the author of the lay of Demodocus. All these
so-called differences between _Iliad_ and Odyssey do not point to the
fact that the _Odyssey_ belongs to a late and changed period of culture,
of belief and customs. There is nothing in the evidence to prove that

There (5) are two references to local oracles in the _Odyssey,_ that of
Dodona (XIV. 327; XIX. 296) and that of Pytho (VIII. 80). This is the
old name of Delphi. Pytho occurs in _Iliad,_ IX. 404, as a very rich
temple of Apollo--the oracle is not named, but the oracle brought in the
treasures. Achilles (XVI. 233) prays to Pelasgian Zeus of Dodona, whose
priests were thickly tabued, but says nothing of the oracle of Dodona.
Neither when in leaguer round Troy, nor when wandering in fairy lands
forlorn, had the Achaeans or Odysseus much to do with the local oracles
of Greece; perhaps not, in Homer's time, so important as they were
later, and little indeed is said about them in either Epic.

(6) "The geographical knowledge shown in the Odyssey goes beyond that of
the _Iliad_ ... especially in regard to Egypt and Sicily." But a poet
of a widely wandering hero of Western Greece has naturally more occasion
than the poet of a fixed army in Asia to show geographical knowledge.
Egyptian Thebes is named, in _ILIAD_, IX., as a city very rich,
especially in chariots; while in the _ODYSSEY_ the poet has occasion
to show more knowledge of the way to Egypt and of Viking descents from
Crete on the coast (Odyssey, III. 300; IV. 351; XIV. 257; XVII. 426).
Archaeology shows that the Mycenaean age was in close commercial
relation with Egypt, and that the Mycenaean civilisation extended
to most Mediterranean lands and islands, and to Italy and Sicily.
[Footnote: Ridgeway, _Early Age of Greece_, i. 69.] There is nothing
suspicious, as "late," in the mention of Sicily by Odysseus in Ithaca
(Odyssey, XX. 383; XXIV. 307). In the same way, if the poet of a western
poem does not dilate on the Troad and the people of Asia Minor as
the poet of the _ILIAD_ does, that is simply because the scene of the
_ILIAD_ is in Asia and the scene of the Odyssey is in the west, when it
is not in No Man's land. From the same cause the poet of sea-faring has
more occasion to speak of the Phoenicians, great sea-farers, than the
poet of the Trojan leaguer.

(7) We know so little about land tenure in Homeric times--and, indeed,
early land tenure is a subject so complex and obscure that it is not
easy to prove advance towards separate property in the _Odyssey_--beyond
what was the rule in the time of the _ILIAD_. In the Making of the Arms
(XVIII. 541-549) we find many men ploughing a field, and this may have
been a common field. But in what sense? Many ploughs were at work at
once on a Scottish runrig field, and each farmer had his own strip on
several common fields, but each farmer held by rent, or by rent and
services, from the laird. These common fields were not common property.
In XII. 422 we have "a common field," and men measuring a strip and
quarrelling about the marking-stones, across the "baulk," but it does
not follow that they are owners; they may be tenants. Such quarrels were
common in Scotland when the runrig system of common fields, each man
with his strip, prevailed. [Footnote: Grey Graham, _Social Life in
Scotland in the Eighteenth Century_, i. 157.]

A man had a [Greek: klaeros] or lot (_ILIAD_, XV. 448), but what was
a "lot"? At first, probably, a share in land periodically shifted-&
_partage noir_ of the Russian peasants. Kings and men who deserve
public gratitude receive a [Greek: temenos] a piece of public land, as
Bellerophon did from the Lycians (VI. 194). In the case of Melager such
an estate is offered to him, but by whom? Not by the people at large,
but by the [Greek: gerontes] (IX. 574).

Who are the [Greek: gerontes]? They are not ordinary men of the people;
they are, in fact, the gentry. In an age so advanced from tribal
conditions as is the Homeric time--far advanced beyond ancient tribal
Scotland or Ireland--we conceive that, as in these countries during the
tribal period, the [Greek: gerontes] (in Celtic, the _Flaith_) held
in POSSESSION, if not in accordance with the letter of the law, as
property, much more land than a single "lot." The Irish tribal freeman
had a right to a "lot," redistributed by rotation. Wealth consisted of
cattle; and a _bogire_, a man of many kine, let _them_ out to tenants.
Such a rich man, a _flatha_, would, in accordance with human nature, use
his influence with kineless dependents to acquire in possession several
lots, avoid the partition, and keep the lots in possession though not
legally in property. Such men were the Irish _flaith_, gentry under the
_RI_, or king, his [Greek: gerontes], each with his _ciniod_, or near
kinsmen, to back his cause.

"_Flaith_ seems clearly to mean land-owners," or squires, says Sir James
Ramsay. [Footnote: _Foundations of England_, i. 16, Note 4.] If land,
contrary to the tribal ideal, came into private hands in early Ireland,
we can hardly suppose that, in the more advanced and settled Homeric
society, no man but the king held land equivalent in extent to a
number of "lots." The [Greek: gerontes], the gentry, the chariot-owning
warriors, of whom there are hundreds not of kingly rank in Homer (as in
Ireland there were many _flaith_ to one _Ri_) probably, in an informal
but tight grip, held considerable lands. When we note their position in
the _Iliad_, high above the nameless host, can we imagine that they
did not hold more land than the simple, perhaps periodically shifting,
"lot"? There were "lotless" men (Odyssey, XL 490), lotless _freemen_,
and what had become of their lots? Had they not fallen into the hands of
the [Greek: gerontes] or the _flaith_?

Mr. Ridgeway in a very able essay [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic
Studies_, vi. 319-339.] holds different opinions. He points out that
among a man's possessions, in the _Iliad_, we hear only of personal
property and live stock. It is in one passage only in the Odyssey (XIV.
211) that we meet with men holding several lots of land; but _they_, we
remark, occur in Cretean isle, as we know, of very advanced civilisation
from of old.

Mr. Ridgeway also asks whether the lotless men may not be "outsiders,"
such as are attached to certain villages of Central and Southern India;
[Footnote: Maine, _Village Communities_, P. 127.] or they may answer to
the _Fuidhir_, or "broken men," of early Ireland, fugitives from one
to another tribe. They would be "settled on the waste lands of a
community." If so, they would not be lotless; they would have new lots.
[Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, vi. 322, 323.]

Laertes, though a king, is supposed to have won his farm by his own
labours from the waste (Odyssey, XXIV. 207). Mr. Monro says, "the land
having thus been won from the wastes (the [Greek: gae aklaeros te
kai aktitos] of _H., Ven._ 123), was a [Greek: temenos] or separate
possession of Laertes." The passage is in the rejected conclusion of the
Odyssey; and if any man might go and squat in the waste, any man might
have a lot, or better than one lot. In _Iliad_, XXIII. 832-835, Achilles
says that his offered prize of iron will be useful to a man "whose rich
fields are very remote from any town," Teucer and Meriones compete for
the prize: probably they had such rich remote fields, not each a mere
lot in a common field. These remote fields they are supposed to hold in
perpetuity, apart from the _temenos_, which, in Mr. Ridgeway's opinion,
reverted, on the death of each holder, to the community, save where
kingship was hereditary. Now, if [Greek: klaeros] had come to mean "a
lot of land," as we say "a building lot," obviously men like Teucer and
Meriones had many lots, rich fields, which at death might sometimes pass
to their heirs. Thus there was separate landed property in the _Iliad_;
but the passage is denounced, though not by Mr. Ridgeway, as "late."

The absence of enclosures ([Greek: herkos arouraes]) proves nothing
about absence of several property in land. In Scotland the laird's lands
were unenclosed till deep in the eighteenth century.

My own case for land in private possession, in Homeric times, rests
mainly on human nature in such an advanced society. Such possession as
I plead for is in accordance with human nature, in a society so
distinguished by degrees of wealth as is the Homeric.

Unless we are able to suppose that all the gentry of the _Iliad_ held
no "rich fields remote from towns," each having but one rotatory lot
apiece, there is no difference in Iliadic and Odyssean land tenure,
though we get clearer lights on it in the _Odyssey_.

The position of the man of several lots may have been indefensible,
if the ideal of tribal law were ever made real, but wealth in growing
societies universally tends to override such law. Mr. Keller [Footnote:
Homeric Society, p. 192. 1902.] justly warns us against the attempt
"to apply universally certain fixed rules of property development. The
passages in Homer upon which opinions diverge most are isolated ones,
occurring in similes and fragmentary descriptions. Under such conditions
the formulation of theories or the attempt rigorously to classify can be
little more than an intellectual exercise."

We have not the materials for a scientific knowledge of Homeric real
property; and, with all our materials in Irish law books, how hard it
is for us to understand the early state of such affairs in Ireland! But
does any one seriously suppose that the knightly class of the _Iliad_,
the chariot-driving gentlemen, held no more land--legally or by
permitted custom--than the two Homeric swains who vituperate each other
across a baulk about the right to a few feet of a strip of a runrig
field? Whosoever can believe that may also believe that the practice
of adding "lot" to "lot" began in the period between the finished
composition of the _Iliad_ (or of the parts of it which allude to land
tenure) and the beginning of the _Odyssey_ (or of the parts of it which
refer to land tenure). The inference is that, though the fact is not
explicitly stated in the _Iliad_, there were men who held more "lots"
than one in Iliadic times as well as in the Odyssean times, when, in a
solitary passage of the Odyssey, we do hear of such men in Crete. But
whosoever has pored over early European land tenures knows how dim our
knowledge is, and will not rush to employ his lore in discriminating
between the date of the _Iliad_ and the date of the Odyssey.

Not much proof of change in institutions between Iliadic and Odyssean
times can be extracted from two passages about the ethna, or bride-price
of Penelope. The rule in both _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ is that the wooer
gives a bride-price to the father of the bride, ethna. This was the rule
known even to that painfully late and un-Homeric poet who made the Song
of Demodocus about the loves of Ares and Aphrodite. In that song the
injured husband, Hephaestus, claims back the bride-price which he had
paid to the father of his wife, Zeus. [Footnote: Odyssey, VIII. 318.]
This is the accepted custom throughout the _Odyssey_ (VI. 159; XVI. 77;
XX. 335; XXI. 162; XV. 17, &c.). So far there is no change of manners,
no introduction of the later practice, a dowry given with the bride,
in place of a bride-price given to the father by the bridegroom. But
Penelope was neither maid, wife, nor widow; her husband's fate, alive
or dead, was uncertain, and her son was so anxious to get her out of the
house that he says he offered gifts _with_ her (XX. 342). In the same
way, to buy back the goodwill of Achilles, Agamemnon offers to give him
his daughter without bride-price, and to add great gifts (_Iliad_, IX.
l47)--the term for the gifts is [Greek: mailia]. People, of course,
could make their own bargain; take as much for their daughter as they
could get, or let the gifts go from husband to bride, and then return
to the husband's home with her (as in Germany in the time of Tacitus,
_Germania_, 18), or do that, and throw in more gifts. But in Odyssey,
II. 53, Telemachus says that the Wooers shrink from going to the house
of Penelope's father, Icarius, who would endow (?) his daughter ([Greek:
eednoosaito]) And again (_Odyssey_, I. 277; II. 196), her father's folk
will furnish a bridal feast, and "array the [Greek: heedna], many, such
as should accompany a dear daughter." Some critics think that the gifts
here are _dowry_, a later institution than bride-price; others, that the
father of the dear daughter merely chose to be generous, and returned
the bride-price, or its equivalent, in whole or part. [Footnote: Merry,
Odyssey, vol. i. p. 50. Note to Book I 277.] If the former view
be correct, these passages in Odyssey, I., II. are later than the
exceedingly "late" song of Demodocus. If the latter theory be correct
the father is merely showing goodwill, and doing as the Germans did when
they were in a stage of culture much earlier than the Homeric.

The position of Penelope is very unstable and legally perplexing. Has
her father her marriage? has her son her marriage? is she not perhaps
still a married woman with a living husband? Telemachus would give much
to have her off his hands, but he refuses to send her to her father's
house, where the old man might be ready enough to return the bride-price
to her new husband, and get rid of her with honour. For if Telemachus
sends his mother away against her will he will have to pay a heavy fine
to her father, and to thole his mother's curse, and lose his character
among men (odyssey, II. 130-138). The Icelanders of the saga period gave
dowries with their daughters. But when Njal wanted Hildigunna for his
foster-son, Hauskuld, he offered to give [Greek: hedna]. "I will lay
down as much money as will seem fitting to thy niece and thyself," he
says to Flosi, "if thou wilt think of making this match." [Footnote:
Story of _Burnt Njal_, ii. p. 81.]

Circumstances alter cases, and we must be hard pressed to discover signs
of change of manners in the Odyssey as compared with the _Iliad_ if we
have to rely on a solitary mention of "men of many lots" in Crete,
and on the perplexed proposals for the second marriage of Penelope.
[Footnote: For the alleged "alteration of old customs" see Cauer,
_Grundfragen der Homerkritik_, pp. 193-194.] We must not be told that
the many other supposed signs of change, Iris, Olympus, and the rest,
have "cumulative weight." If we have disposed of each individual
supposed note of change in beliefs and manners in its turn, then these
proofs have, in each case, no individual weight and, cumulatively, are
not more ponderous than a feather.



The great strength of the theory that the poems are the work of several
ages is the existence in them of various strata of languages, earlier
and later.

Not to speak of differences of vocabulary, Mr. Monro and Mr. Leaf, with
many scholars, detect two strata of earlier and later _grammar_ in Iliad
and Odyssey. In the _Iliad_ four or five Books are infected by "the
later grammar," while the Odyssey in general seems to be contaminated.
Mr. Leafs words are: "When we regard the Epos in large masses, we see
that we can roughly arrange the inconsistent elements towards one end or
the other of a line of development both linguistic and historical. The
main division, that of _Iliad_ and Odyssey, shows a distinct advance
along this line; and the distinction is still more marked if we group
with the _Odyssey_ four Books of the _Iliad_ whose Odyssean physiognomy
is well marked. Taking as our main guide the dissection of the plot as
shown in its episodes, we find that marks of lateness, though nowhere
entirely absent, group themselves most numerously in the later additions
..." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. X.] We are here concerned with
_linguistic_ examples of "lateness." The "four Books whose Odyssean
physiognomy" and language seem "well marked," are IX., X., XXIII., XXIV.
Here Mr. Leaf, Mr. Monro, and many authorities are agreed. But to these
four Odyssean Books of the _Iliad_ Mr. Leaf adds _Iliad_, XI. 664-772:
"probably a later addition," says Mr. Monro. "It is notably Odyssean in
character," says Mr. Leaf; and the author "is ignorant of the geography
of the Western Peloponnesus. No doubt the author was an Asiatic Greek."
[Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. pp. 465-466. Note on Book XI. 756.] The
value of this discovery is elsewhere discussed (see _The Interpolations
of Nestor_).

The Odyssean notes in this passage of a hundred lines (_Iliad_, XI.
670-762) are the occurrence of "a purely Odyssean word" (677), an Attic
form of an epic word, and a "forbidden trochaic caesura in the fourth
foot"; an Odyssean word for carving meat, applied in a _non_-Odyssean
sense (688), a verb for "insulting," not elsewhere found in the _Iliad_
(though the noun is in the _Iliad_) (695), an Odyssean epithet of the
sun, "four times in the _Odyssey_" (735). It is also possible that there
is an allusion to a four-horse chariot (699).

These are the proofs of Odyssean lateness.

The real difficulty about Odyssean words and grammar in the _Iliad_
is that, if they were in vigorous poetic existence down to the time of
Pisistratus (as the Odysseanism of the Asiatic editor proves that they
were), and if every rhapsodist could add to and alter the materials at
the disposal of the Pisistratean editor at will, we are not told how the
fashionable Odysseanisms were kept, on the whole, out of twenty Books of
the Iliad.

This is a point on which we cannot insist too strongly, as an argument
against the theory that, till the middle of the sixth century B.C., the
_Iliad_ scarcely survived save in the memory of strolling rhapsodists.
If that were so, all the Books of the _Iliad_ would, in the course
of recitation of old and composition of new passages, be equally
contaminated with late Odyssean linguistic style. It could not be
otherwise; all the Books would be equally modified in passing through
the lips of modern reciters and composers. Therefore, if twenty out
of twenty-four Books are pure, or pure in the main, from Odysseanisms,
while four are deeply stained with them, the twenty must not only be
earlier than the four, but must have been specially preserved, and kept
uncontaminated, in some manner inconsistent with the theory that all
alike scarcely existed save in the memory or invention of late strolling

How the twenty Books relatively pure "in grammatical forms, in syntax,
and in vocabulary," could be kept thus clean without the aid of written
texts, I am unable to imagine. If left merely to human memory and at
the mercy of reciters and new poets, they would have become stained with
"the defining article"--and, indeed, an employment of the article which
startles grammarians, appears even in the eleventh line of the First
Book of the _Iliad_? [Footnote (exact placing uncertain): Cf. Monro and
Leaf, on Iliad, I. 11-12.]

 Left merely to human memory and the human voice, the twenty more
or less innocent Books would have abounded, like the Odyssey, in
[Greek: amphi] with the dative meaning "about," and with [Greek: ex] "in
consequence of," and "the extension of the use of [Greek: ei] clauses
as final and objective clauses," and similar marks of lateness, so
interesting to grammarians. [Footnote: Monro, _Odyssey_, ii. pp.
331-333.] But the twenty Books are almost, or quite, inoffensive in
these respects.

Now, even in ages of writing, it has been found difficult or impossible
to keep linguistic novelties and novelties of metre out of old epics. We
later refer (_Archaeology of the Epic_) to the _Chancun de Willame_,
of which an unknown benefactor printed two hundred copies in 1903.
Mr. Raymond Weeks, in _Romania_, describes _Willame_ as taking a place
beside the _Chanson de Roland_ in the earliest rank of _Chansons de
Geste_. If the text can be entirely restored, the poem will appear
as "the most primitive" of French epics of the eleventh and twelfth
centuries. But it has passed from copy to copy in the course of
generations. The methods of versification change, and, after line 2647,
"there are traces of change in the language. The word _ço_, followed
by a vowel, hitherto frequent, never again reappears. The vowel _i_,
of _li_, nominative masculine of the article" (_li Reis_, "the king"),
"never occurs in the text after line 2647. Up to that point it is elided
or not at pleasure.... There is a progressive tendency towards hiatus.
After line 1980 the system of assonance changes. _An_ and en have
been kept distinct hitherto; this ceases to be the case." [Footnote:
_Romania_, xxxiv. pp. 240-246.]

The poem is also notable, like the _Iliad_, for textual repetition of
passages, but that is common to all early poetry, which many Homeric
critics appear not to understand. In this example we see how apt
novelties in grammar and metre are to steal into even written copies of
epics, composed in and handed down through uncritical ages; and we are
confirmed in the opinion that the relatively pure and orthodox grammar
and metre of the twenty Books must have been preserved by written texts
carefully 'executed. The other four Books, if equally old, were less
fortunate. Their grammar and metre, we learn, belong to a later stratum
of language.

These opinions of grammarians are not compatible with the hypothesis
that _all_ of the _Iliad_, even the "earliest" parts, are loaded with
interpolations, forced in at different places and in any age from 1000
B.C. to 540 B.C.; for if that theory were true, the whole of the _Iliad_
would equally be infected with the later Odyssean grammar. According to
Mr. Monro and Sir Richard Jebb, it is not.

But suppose, on the other hand, that the later Odyssean grammar abounds
all through the whole _Iliad_, then that grammar is not more Odyssean
than it is Iliadic. The alleged distinction of early Iliadic grammar,
late Odyssean grammar, in that case vanishes. Mr. Leaf is more keen than
Mr. Monro and Sir Richard Jebb in detecting late grammar in the _Iliad_
beyond the bounds of Books IX., X., XXIII., XXIV. But he does not carry
these discoveries so far as to make the late grammar no less Iliadic
than Odyssean. In Book VIII. of the _Iliad_, which he thinks was only
made for the purpose of introducing Book IX., [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol.
i. p. 332. 1900.] we ought to find the late Odyssean grammar just as
much as we do in Book IX., for it is of the very same date, and probably
by one or more of the same authors as Book IX. But we do not find the
Odyssean grammar in Book VIII.

Mr. Leaf says, "The peculiar character" of Book VIII. "is easily
understood, when we recognise the fact that Book VIII. is intended to
serve only as a means for the introduction of Book IX...." which is
"late" and "Odyssean." Then Book VIII., intended to introduce Book IX.,
must be at least as late as Book IX. and might be expected to be at
least as Odyssean, indeed one would think it could not be otherwise. Yet
it is not so.

Mr. Leaf's theory has thus to face the difficulty that while the whole
_Iliad_, by his view, for more than four centuries, was stuffed with
late interpolations, in the course of oral recital through all
Greek lands, and was crammed with original "copy" by a sycophant of
Pisistratus about 540 B.C., the late grammar concentrated itself in
only some four Books. Till some reasonable answer is given to this
question--how did twenty Books of the Iliad preserve so creditably
the ancient grammar through centuries of change, and of recitation by
rhapsodists who used the Odyssean grammar, which infected the four other
Books, and the whole of the _Odyssey?_--it seems hardly worth while to
discuss this linguistic test.

Any scholar who looks at these pages knows all about the proofs of
grammar of a late date in the _Odyssey_ and the four contaminated Books
of the _Iliad_. But it may be well to give a few specimens, for the
enlightenment of less learned readers of Homer.

The use of [Greek: amfi], with the dative, meaning "about," when
_thinking_ or _speaking_ "about" Odysseus or anything else, is peculiar
to the _Odyssey_. But how has it not crept into the four Odyssean
contaminated Books of the _Iliad_?

 [Greek: peri], with the genitive, "follows verbs meaning to speak
or know _about_ a person," but only in the _Odyssey_. What preposition
follows such verbs in the _Iliad_?

Here, again, we ask: how did the contaminated Books of the _Iliad_
escape the stain of [Greek: peri], with the genitive, after verbs
meaning to speak or know? What phrase do they use in the _Iliad_ for
speaking or asking _about_ anybody? [Footnote (exact placing uncertain):
Monro, Homeric _Grammar_. See Index, under _Iliad_, p. 339.]

 [Greek: meta], with the genitive, meaning "among" or "with,"
comes twice in the Odyssey (X. 320; XVI. 140) and thrice in the _Iliad_
(XIII. 700; XXI. 458; XXIV. 400); but all these passages in the _Iliad_
are disposed of as "late" parts of the poem.

 [Greek: epi], with the accusative, meaning _towards_ a
person, comes often in the _Iliad_; once in the Odyssey. But it comes
four times in _Iliad_, Book X., which almost every critic scouts as very
"late" indeed. If so, why does the "late" _Odyssey_ not deal in this
grammatical usage so common in the "late" Book X. of the _Iliad_?

 [Greek: epi], with the accusative, "meaning _extent_
(without _motion_)," is chiefly found in the _Odyssey_, and in the
Iliad, IX., X., XXIV. On consulting grammarians one thinks that there is
not much in this.

 [Greek: proti] with the dative, meaning "in addition to," occurs
only once (_Odyssey, X. 68_). If it occurs only once, there is little to
be learned from the circumstance.

 [Greek: ana] with the genitive, is only in _Odyssey_, only
thrice, always of going on board a ship. There are not many ship-farings
in the _Iliad_. Odysseus and his men are not described as going on board
their ship, in so many words, in _Iliad_, Book I. The usage occurs in
the poem where the incidents of seafaring occur frequently, as is to be
expected? It is not worth while to persevere with these tithes of mint
and cummin. If "Neglect of Position" be commoner--like "Hiatus in the
Bucolic Diaeresis"--in the _Odyssey_ and in _Iliad_, XXIII., XXIV., why
do the failings not beset _Iliad_, IX., X., these being such extremely
"late" books? As to the later use of the Article in the _Odyssey_ and
the Odyssean Books of the _Iliad_, it appears to us that Book I. of the
_Iliad_ uses the article as it is used in Book X.; but on this topic we
must refer to a special treatise on the language of _Iliad_, Book X.,
which is promised.

Turning to the vocabulary: "words expressive of civilisation" are bound
to be more frequent, as they are, in the Odyssey, a poem of peaceful
life, than in a poem about an army in action, like the _Iliad_. Out of
all this no clue to the distance of years dividing the two poems can be
found. As to words concerning religion, the same holds good. The Odyssey
is more frequently _religious_ (see the case of Eumaeus) than the

In morals the term [Greek: dikaios] is more used in the _Odyssey_, also
[Greek: atemistos] ("just" and "lawless"). But that is partly because
the Odyssey has to contrast civilised ("just") with wild outlandish
people--Cyclopes and Laestrygons, who are "lawless." The _Iliad_ has no
occasion to touch on savages; but, as the [Greek: hybris] of the Wooers
is a standing topic in the Odyssey (an ethical poem, says Aristotle),
the word [Greek: hybris] is of frequent occurrence in the _Odyssey_,
in just the same sense as it bears in _Iliad_, I 214--the insolence
of Agamemnon. Yet when Achilles has occasion to speak of Agamemnon's
insolence in _Iliad_, Book IX., he does not use the _word_ [Greek:
hybris], though Book IX. is so very "late" and "Odyssean." It would be
easy to go through the words for moral ideas in the _Odyssey_, and
to show that they occur in the numerous moral situations which do not
arise, or arise much less frequently, in the _Iliad_. There is not
difference enough in the moral standard of the two poems to justify us
in assuming that centuries of ethical progress had intervened between
their dates of composition. If the _Iliad_, again, were really, like the
_Odyssey_, a thing of growth through several centuries, which overlapped
the centuries in which the _Odyssey_ grew, the moral ideas of the
_Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ would necessarily be much the same, would be
indistinguishable. But, as a matter of fact, it would be easy to show
that the moral standard of the _Iliad_ is higher, in many places,
than the moral standard of the _Odyssey_; and that, therefore, by the
critical hypothesis, the _Iliad_ is the later poem of the twain. For
example, the behaviour of Achilles is most obnoxious to the moralist in
_Iliad_, Book IX., where he refuses gifts of conciliation. But by the
critical hypothesis this is not the fault of the _Iliad_, for Book IX.
is declared to be "late," and of the same date as late parts of the
_Odyssey_. Achilles is not less open to moral reproach in his abominable
cruelty and impiety, as shown in his sacrifice of prisoners of war and
his treatment of dead Hector, in _Iliad_, XXIII., XXIV. But these Books
also are said to be as late as the _Odyssey_.

The solitary "realistic" or "naturalistic" passage in Homer, with which
a lover of modern "problem novels" feels happy and at home, is the story
of Phoenix, about his seduction of his father's mistress at the
request of his mother. What a charming situation! But that occurs in an
"Odyssean" Book of the _Iliad_, Book IX.; and thus Odyssean seems lower,
not more advanced, than Iliadic taste in morals. To be sure, the poet
disapproves of all these immoralities.

In the Odyssey the hero, to the delight of Athene, lies often and freely
and with glee. The Achilles of the _Iliad_ hates a liar "like the gates
of Hades"; but he says so in an "Odyssean" Book (Book IX.), so there
were obviously different standards in Odyssean ethics.

As to the Odyssey being the work of "a milder age," consider the hanging
of Penelope's maids and the abominable torture of Melanthius. There is
no torturing in the [blank space] for the _Iliad_ happens not to deal
with treacherous thralls.

_Enfin_, there is no appreciable moral advance in the _ODYSSEY_ on the
moral standard of the _ILIAD_. It is rather the other way. Odysseus, in
the _ODYSSEY_, tries to procure poison for his arrow-heads. The person
to whom he applies is too moral to oblige him. We never learn that
a hero of the _Iliad_ would use poisoned arrows. The poet himself
obviously disapproves; in both poems the poet is always on the side of
morality and of the highest ethical standard of his age. The standard in
both Epics is the same; in both some heroes fall short of the standard.

To return to linguistic tests, it is hard indeed to discover what Mr.
Leaf's opinion of the value of linguistic tests of lateness really is.
"It is on such fundamental discrepancies"--as he has found in Books IX.,
XVI.--"that we can depend, _AND ON THESE ALONE_, when we come to dissect
the _ILIAD_ ... Some critics have attempted to base their analysis on
evidences from language, but I do not think they are sufficient to
bear the super-structure which has been raised on them." [Footnote:
_Companion,_ p. 25.]

He goes on, still placing a low value on linguistic tests alone, to say:
"It is on the broad grounds of the construction and motives of the poem,
_AND NOT ON ANY MERELY linguistic CONSIDERATIONS_, that a decision must
be sought." [Footnote: _Ibid_., p. x.]

But he contradicts these comfortable words when he comes to "the latest
expansions," such as Books XXIII., XXIV. "The latest expansions are
thoroughly in the spirit of those which precede, _them ON ACCOUNT OF
linguistic EVIDENCE,_ which definitely classes them with the _ODYSSEY_
rather than the rest of the _ILIAD_." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p.

Now as Mr. Leaf has told us that we must depend on "fundamental
discrepancies," "on these alone," when we want to dissect the _ILIAD;_
as he has told us that linguistic tests alone are "not sufficient to
bear the superstructure," &c., how can we lop off two Books "only on
account of linguistic evidence"? It would appear that on this point,
as on others, Mr. Leaf has entirely changed his mind. But, even in the
_Companion_ (p. 388), he had amputated Book XXIV. for no "fundamental
discrepancy," but because of "its close kinship to the _ODYSSEY_, as in
the whole language of the Book."

Here, as in many other passages, if we are to account for discrepancies
by the theory of multiplex authorship, we must decide that Mr. Leaf's
books are the work of several critics, not of one critic only. But there
is excellent evidence to prove that here we would be mistaken.

Confessedly and regretfully no grammarian, I remain unable, in face of
what seem contradictory assertions about the value of linguistic tests,
to ascertain what they are really worth, and what, if anything, they
really prove.

Mr. Monro allows much for "the long insensible influence of Attic
recitation upon the Homeric text;" ... "many Attic peculiarities may
be noted" (so much so that Aristarchus thought Homer must have been
an Athenian!). "The poems suffered a gradual and unsystematic because
generally unconscious process of modernising, the chief agents in
which were the rhapsodists" (reciters in a later democratic age), "who
wandered over all parts of Greece, and were likely to be influenced by
all the chief forms of literature." [Footnote: Monro, _Homeric Grammar_,
pp 394-396. 1891]

Then, wherefore insist so much on tests of language?

Mr. Monro was not only a great grammarian; he had a keen appreciation
of poetry. Thus he was conspicuously uneasy in his hypothesis, based on
words and grammar, that the two last Books of the _Iliad_ are by a late
hand. After quoting Shelley's remark that, in these two Books, "Homer
truly begins to be himself," Mr. Monro writes, "in face of such
testimony can we say that the Book in which the climax is reached, in
which the last discords of the _Iliad_ are dissolved in chivalrous pity
and regret, is not the work of the original poet, but of some Homerid or

Mr. Monro, with a struggle, finally voted for grammar, and other
indications of lateness, against Shelley and against his own sense of
poetry. In a letter to me of May 1905, Mr. Monro sketched a theory that
Book IX. (without which he said that he deemed an _Achilleis_ hardly
possible) might be a _remanié_ representative of an earlier lay to the
same general effect. Some Greek Shakespeare, then, treated an older poem
on the theme of Book IX. as Shakespeare treated old plays, namely, as a
canvas to work over with a master's hand. Probably Mr. Monro would
not have gone _so_ far in the case of Book XXIV., _The Repentance_ of
Achilles. He thought it in too keen contrast with the brutality of Book
XXII. (obviously forgetting that in Book XXIV. Achilles is infinitely
more brutal than in Book XXII.), and thought it inconsistent with the
refusal of Achilles to grant burial at the prayer of the dying Hector,
and with his criminal treatment of the dead body of his chivalrous
enemy. But in Book XXIV. his ferocity is increased. Mr. Leaf shares
Mr. Monro's view; but Mr. Leaf thinks that a Greek audience forgave
Achilles, because he was doing "the will of heaven," and "fighting the
great fight of Hellenism against barbarism." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad,_
vol.-ii. p. 429. 1902.] But the Achzeans were not Puritans of the
sixteenth century! Moreover, the Trojans are as "Hellenic" as the
Achzeans. They converse, clearly, in the same language. They worship
the same gods. The Achzeans cannot regard them (unless on account of the
breach of truce, by no Trojan, but an ally) as the Covenanters regarded
"malignants," their name for loyal cavaliers, whom they also styled
"Amalekites," and treated as Samuel treated Agag. The Achaeans to whom
Homer sang had none of this sanguinary Pharisaism.

Others must decide on the exact value and import of Odyssean grammar
as a test of lateness, and must estimate the probable amount of time
required for the development of such linguistic differences as they find
in the _Odyssey_ and _Iliad_. In undertaking this task they may compare
the literary language of America as it was before 1860 and as it is now.
The language of English literature has also been greatly modified in
the last forty years, but our times are actively progressive in many
directions; linguistic variations might arise more slowly in the Greece
of the Epics. We have already shown, in the more appropriate instance
of the _Chancun de Willame_, that considerable varieties in diction and
metre occur in a single MS. of that poem, a MS. written probably within
less than a century of the date of the poem's composition.

We can also trace, in _remaniements_ of the _Chanson DE ROLAND_,
comparatively rapid and quite revolutionary variations from the
oldest--the Oxford--manuscript. Rhyme is substituted for assonance;
the process entails frequent modernisations, and yet the basis of
thirteenth-century texts continues to be the version of the eleventh
century. It may be worth the while of scholars to consider these
parallels carefully, as regards the language and prosody of the Odyssean
Books of the _Iliad_, and to ask themselves whether the processes of
alteration in the course of transmission, which we know to have occurred
in the history of the Old French, may not also have affected the
_ILIAD_, though why the effect is mainly confined to four Books remains
a puzzle. It is enough for us to have shown that if Odyssean varies from
Iliadic language, in all other respects the two poems bear the marks
of the same age. Meanwhile, a Homeric scholar so eminent as Mr. T. W.
Allen, says that "the linguistic attack upon their age" (that of the
Homeric poems) "may be said to have at last definitely failed, and
archaeology has erected an apparently indestructible buttress for their
defence." [Footnote: _Classical Review, May_ 1906, p. 194.]




Of all Books in the [blank space] Book X., called the _Doloneia_,
is most generally scouted and rejected. The Book, in fact, could be
omitted, and only a minutely analytic reader would perceive the lacuna.
He would remark that in Iliad, IX. 65-84, certain military preparations
are made which, if we suppress Book X., lead up to nothing, and that
in _Iliad_, XIV. 9-11, we find Nestor with the shield of his son,
Thrasymedes, while Thrasymedes has his father's shield, a fact not
explained, though the poet certainly meant something by it. The
explanation in both cases is found in Book X., which may also be thought
to explain why the Achaeans, so disconsolate in Book IX., and why
Agamemnon, so demoralised, so gaily assume the offensive in Book
XI. Some ancient critics, Scholiast T and Eustathius, attributed the
_DOLONEIA_ to Homer, but supposed it to have been a separate composition
of his added to the _Iliad_ by Pisistratus. This merely proves that
they did not find any necessity for the existence of the _DOLONEIA_. Mr.
Allen, who thinks that "it always held its present place," says, "the
_DOLONEIA_ is persistently written down." [Footnote: _Classical Review_,
May 1906, p. 194]

To understand the problem of the _DOLONEIA_, we must make a summary of
its contents. In Book IX. 65-84, at the end of the disastrous fighting
of Book VIII, the Achaeans, by Nestor's advice, station an advanced
guard of "_the young men_" between the fosse and wall; 700 youths are
posted there, under Meriones, the squire of Idomeneus, and Thrasymedes,
the son of Nestor. All this is preparation for Book X., as Mr. Leaf
remarks, [Footnote: _Companion_, p. 174.] though in any case an advanced
guard was needed. Their business is to remain awake, under arms, in case
the Trojans, who are encamped on the plain, attempt a night attack. At
their station the young men will be under arms till dawn; they light
fires and cook their provisions; the Trojans also surround their own

The Achaean chiefs then hold council, and Agamemnon sends the embassy
to Achilles. The envoys bring back his bitter answer; and all men go to
sleep in their huts, deeply discouraged, as even Odysseus avowed.

Here the Tenth Book begins, and it is manifest that the poet is
thoroughly well acquainted with the Ninth Book. Without the arrangements
made in the Ninth Book, and without the despairing situation of that
Book, his lay is impossible. It will be seen that critics suppose him,
alternately, to have "quite failed to realise the conditions of life of
the heroes of whom he sang" (that is, if certain lines are genuine), and
also to be a peculiarly learned archaeologist and a valuable authority
on weapons. He is addicted to introducing fanciful "touches of heroic
simplicity," says Mr. Leaf, and is altogether a puzzling personage to
the critics.

The Book opens with the picture of Agamemnon, sleepless from anxiety,
while the other chiefs, save Menelaus, are sleeping. He "hears the music
of the joyous Trojan pipes and flutes" and sees the reflected glow
of their camp-fires, we must suppose, for he could not see the fires
themselves through the new wall of his own camp, as critics very wisely
remark. He tears out his hair before Zeus; no one else does so, in the
_Iliad_, but no one else is Agamemnon, alone and in despair.

He rises to consult Nestor, throwing a lion's skin over his _chiton_,
and grasping a spear. Much noise is made about the furs, such as this
lion's pelt, which the heroes, in Book X., throw about their shoulders
when suddenly aroused. That sportsmen like the heroes should keep the
pelts of animals slain by them for use as coverlets, and should throw on
one of the pelts when aroused in a hurry, is a marvellous thing to the
critics. They know that fleeces were used for coverlets of beds (IX.
661), and pelts of wild animals, slain by Anchises, cover his bed in the
Hymn to Aphrodite.

But the facts do not enlighten critics. Yet no facts could be more
natural. A scientific critic, moreover, never reflects that the poet is
dealing with an unexampled situation--heroes wakened and called into
the cold air in a night of dread, but not called to battle. Thus Reichel
says: "The poet knows so little about true heroic costume that he drapes
the princes in skins of lions and panthers, like giants.... But about a
corslet he never thinks." [Footnote: Reichel, p.70.]

The simple explanation is that the poet has not hitherto had to tell
us about men who are called up, not to fight, on a night that must have
been chilly. In war they do not wear skins, though Paris, in archer's
equipment, wears a pard's skin (III. 17). Naturally, the men throw over
themselves their fur coverlets; but Nestor, a chilly veteran, prefers a
_chiton_ and a wide, double-folded, fleecy purple cloak. The cloak lay
ready to his hand, for such cloaks were used as blankets (XXIV.
646; Odyssey, III. 349, 351; IV. 299; II. 189). We hear more of such
bed-coverings in the Odyssey than in the merely because in the _ODYSSEY_
we have more references to beds and to people in bed. That a sportsman
may have (as many folk have now) a fur coverlet, and may throw it over
him as a kind of dressing-gown or "bed-gown," is a simple circumstance
which bewilders the critical mind and perplexed Reichel.

If the poet knew so little as Reichel supposed his omission of corslets
is explained. Living in an age of corslets (seventh century), he, being
a literary man, knew nothing about corslets, or, as he is also an acute
archaeologist, he knew too much; he knew that they were not worn in
the Mycenaean prime, so he did not introduce them. The science of this
remarkable ignoramus, in _this_ view, accounts for his being aware that
pelts of animals were in vogue as coverlets, just as fur dressing-gowns
were worn in the sixteenth century, and he introduces them precisely as
he leaves corslets out, because he knows that pelts of fur were in use,
and that, in the Mycenaean prime, corslets were not worn.

In speaking to Nestor, Agamemnon awakens sympathy: "Me, of all the
Achaeans, Zeus has set in toil and labour ceaselessly." They are almost
the very words of Charlemagne in the _Chanson de Roland: "Deus, Dist li
Reis, si peneuse est ma vie."_ The author of the _Doloneia_ consistently
conforms to the character of Agamemnon as drawn in the rest of the
_Iliad_. He is over-anxious; he is demoralising in his fits of gloom,
but all the burden of the host hangs on him--sipeneuse _est ma via_.

To turn to higher things. Menelaus, too, was awake, anxious about the
Argives, who risked their lives in his cause alone. He got up, put on a
pard's skin and a bronze helmet (here the poet forgets, what he ought
to have known, that no bronze helmets have been found in the Mycenaean
graves). Menelaus takes a spear, and goes to look for Agamemnon, whom he
finds arming himself beside his ship. He discovers that Agamemnon means
to get Nestor to go and speak to the advanced guard, as his son is their
commander, and they will obey Nestor. Agamemnon's pride has fallen very
low! He tells Menelaus to waken the other chief with all possible formal
courtesy, for, brutally rude when in high heart, at present Agamemnon
cowers to everybody. He himself finds Nestor in bed, his _shield_, two
spears, and helmet beside him, also his glittering _zoster_. His corslet
is not named; perhaps the poet knew that the _zoster_, or broad metallic
belt, had been evolved, but that the corslet had not been invented; or
perhaps he "knows so little about the costume of the heroes" that he
is unaware of the existence of corslets. Nestor asks Agamemnon what he
wants; and Agamemnon says that his is a toilsome life, that he cannot
sleep, that his knees tremble, and that he wants Nestor to come and
visit the outposts.

There is really nothing absurd in this. Napoleon often visited his
outposts in the night before Waterloo, and Cromwell rode along his lines
all through the night before Dunbar, biting his lips till the blood
dropped on his linen bands. In all three cases hostile armies were
arrayed within striking distance of each other, and the generals were

Nestor admits that it is an anxious night, and rather blames Menelaus
for not rousing the other chiefs; but Agamemnon explains and defends his
brother. Nestor then puts on the comfortable cloak already described,
and picks up a spear, [blank space] _in HIS QUARTERS_.

As for Odysseus, he merely throws a shield over his shoulders. The
company of Diomede are sleeping with their heads on their shields.
Thence Reichel (see "The Shield") infers that the late poet of Book X.
gave them small Ionian round bucklers; but it has been shown that no
such inference is legitimate. Their spears were erect by their sides,
fixed in the ground by the _sauroter_, or butt-spike, used by the men of
the late "warrior vase" found at Mycenae. To arrange the spears thus,
we have seen, was a point of drill that, in Aristotle's time, survived
among the Illyrians. [Footnote: _Poetics_, XXV.] The practice is also
alluded to in _Iliad_, III 135. During a truce "the tall spears are
planted by their sides." The poet, whether ignorant or learned, knew
that point of war, later obsolete in Greece, but still extant in

Nestor aroused Diomede, whose night apparel was the pelt of a lion; he
took his spear, and they came to the outposts, where the men were awake,
and kept a keen watch on all movements among the Trojans. Nestor praised
them, and the princes, taking Nestor's son, Thrasymedes, and Meriones
with them, went out into the open in view of the Trojan camp, sat down,
and held a consultation.

Nestor asked if any one would volunteer to go as a spy among the Trojans
and pick up intelligence. His reward will be "a black ewe with her lamb
at her foot," from their chiefs--"nothing like her for value"--and he
will be remembered in songs at feasts, _or_ will be admitted to feasts
and wine parties of the chiefs. [Footnote: Leaf, Note on X. 215.] The
proposal is very odd; what do the princes want with black ewes, while
at feasts they always have honoured places? Can Nestor be thinking of
sending out any brave swift-footed young member of the outpost party, to
whom the reward would be appropriate?

After silence, Diomede volunteers to go, with a comrade, though this
kind of work is very seldom undertaken in any army of any age by a
chief, and by his remark about admission to wine parties it is clear
that Nestor was not thinking of a princely spy. Many others volunteer,
but Agamemnon bids Diomede choose his own companion, with a very broad
hint not to take Menelaus. _HIS_ death, Agamemnon knows, would mean the
disgraceful return of the host to Greece; besides he is, throughout the
_ILIAD_, deeply attached to his brother.

The poet of Book X., however late, knows the _ILIAD_ well, for he keeps
up the uniform treatment of the character of the Over-Lord. As he knows
the _ILIAD_ well, how can he be ignorant of the conditions of life
of the heroes? How can he dream of "introducing a note of heroic
simplicity" (Mr. Leaf's phrase), when he must be as well aware as we are
of the way in which the heroes lived? We cannot explain the black ewes,
if meant as a princely reward, but we do not know everything about
Homeric life.

Diomede chooses Odysseus, "whom Pallas Athene loveth"; she was also the
patroness of Diomede himself, in Books V., VI.

As they are unarmed--all of the chiefs hastily aroused were unarmed,
save for a spear there or a sword here--Thrasymedes gives to Diomede his
two-edged sword, _his_ shield, and "a helm of bull's hide, without horns
or crest, that is called a skull-cap (knap-skull), and keeps the heads
of strong young men." All the advanced guard were young men, as we saw
in Book IX. 77. Obviously, Thrasymedes must then send back to camp,
though we are not told it, for another shield, sword, and helmet, as he
is to lie all night under arms. We shall hear of the shield later.

Meriones, who is an archer (XIII. 650), lends to Odysseus his bow and
quiver and a sword. He also gives him "a helm made of leather; and with
many a thong it was stiffly wrought within, while without the white
teeth of a boar of flashing tusks were arrayed, thick set on either side
well and cunningly... ." Here Reichel perceives that the ignorant poet
is describing a piece of ancient headgear represented in Mycenaean art,
while the boars' teeth were found by Schliemann, to the number of
sixty, in Grave IV. at Mycenae. Each of them had "the reverse side
cut perfectly flat, and with the borings to attach them to some other
object." They were "in a veritable funereal armoury." The manner of
setting the tusks on the cap is shown on an ivory head of a warrior from
Mycenae. [Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, 196-197.]

Reichel recognises that the poet's description in Book X. is excellent,
"_ebenso klar als eingehend_." He publishes another ivory head from
Spata, with the same helmet set with boars' tusks. [Footnote: Reichel,
pp. 102-104] Mr. Leaf decides that this description by the poet, wholly
ignorant of heroic costume, as Reichel thinks him, must be "another
instance of the archaic and archaeologising tendency so notable in Book
X." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 629.]

At the same time, according to Reichel and Mr. Leaf, the poet of Book
X. introduces the small round Ionian buckler, thus showing his utter
ignorance of the great Mycenaean shield. The ignorance was most unusual
and quite inexcusable, for any one who reads the rest of the _Iliad_
(which the poet of Book X. knew well) is aware that the Homeric shields
were huge, often covering body and legs. This fact the poet of Book X.
did not know, in Reichel's opinion. [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p.

How are we to understand this poet? He is such an erudite archaeologist
that, in the seventh century, he knows and carefully describes a helmet
of the Mycenaean prime. Did he excavate it? and had the leather interior
lasted with the felt cap through seven centuries? Or did he see a sample
in an old temple of the Mycenaean prime, or in a museum of his own
period? Or had he heard of it in a lost Mycenaean poem? Yet, careful
as he was, so pedantic that he must have puzzled his seventh-century
audience, who never saw such caps, the poet knew nothing of the shields
and costumes of the heroes, though he might have found out all that is
known about them in the then existing Iliadic lays with which he was
perfectly familiar--see his portrait of Agamemnon. He was well aware
that corslets were, in Homeric poetry, anachronisms, for he gave
Nestor none; yet he fully believed, in his ignorance, that small Ionian
bucklers loveth; (which need the aid of corslets badly) were the only
wear among the heroes!

Criticism has, as we often observe, no right to throw the first stone
at the inconsistencies of Homer. As we cannot possibly believe that one
poet knew so much which his contemporaries did not know (and how, in the
seventh century, could he know it?), and that he also knew so little,
knew nothing in fact, we take our own view. The poet of Book X. sings
of _a_ fresh topic, a confused night of dread; of young men wearing the
headgear which, he says, young men _do_ wear; of pelts of fur such as
suddenly wakened men, roused, but not roused for battle, would be likely
to throw over their bodies against the chill air. He describes things of
his own day; things with which he is familiar. He is said to "take quite
a peculiar delight in the minute description of dress and weapons."
[Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 423.] We do not observe that he
does describe weapons or shields minutely; but Homer always loves to
describe weapons and costume--scores of examples prove it--and here he
happens to be describing such costume as he nowhere else has occasion to
mention. By an accident of archaeological discovery, we find that
there were such caps set with boars' tusks as he introduces. They had
survived, for young men on night duty, into the poet's age. We really
cannot believe that a poet of the seventh century had made excavations
in Mycenaean graves. If he did and put the results into his lay, his
audience--not wearing boars' tusks--would have asked, "What nonsense is
the man talking?"

Erhardt, remarking on the furs which the heroes throw over their
shoulders when aroused, says that this kind of wrap is very late. It
was Peisander who, in the second half of the seventh century, clothed
Herakles in a lion's skin. Peisander brought this costume into
poetry, and the author of the _Doloneia_ knew no better than to follow
Peisander. [Footnote: _Die Enstehung der Homerischen Gedichte_, pp.
163-164.] The poet of the _Doloneia_ was thus much better acquainted
with Peisander than with the Homeric lays, which could have taught
him that a hero would never wear a fur coverlet when aroused--not to
fight--from slumber. Yet he knew about leathern caps set with boars'
tusks. He must have been an erudite excavator, but, in literature, a
reader only of recent minor poetry.

Having procured arms, without corslets (_with_ corslets, according to
Carl Robert)--whether, if they had none, because the poet knew that
corslets were anachronisms, or because spies usually go as lightly
burdened as possible--Odysseus and Diomede approach the Trojan camp. The
hour is the darkest hour before dawn. They hear, but do not see, a heron
sent by Athene as an omen, and pray to the goddess, with promise of

In the Trojan camp Hector has called a council, and asked for a
volunteer spy to seek intelligence among the Achaeans. He offers no
black ewes as a reward, but the best horses of the enemy. This allures
Dolon, son of a rich Trojan, "an only son among five sisters," a
poltroon, a weak lad, ugly, but swift of foot, and an enthusiastic lover
of horses. He asks for the steeds of Achilles, which Hector swears to
give him; and to be lightly clad he takes merely spear and bow and a cap
of ferret skin, with the pelt of a wolf for covering. Odysseus sees him
approach; he and Diomede lie down among the dead till Dolon passes, then
they chase him towards the Achaean camp and catch him. He offers ransom,
which before these last days of the war was often accepted. Odysseus
replies evasively, and asks for information. Dolon, thinking that
the bitterness of death is past, explains that only the Trojans have
watch-fires; the allies, more careless, have none. At the extreme flank
of the host sleep the newly arrived Thracians, under their king, Rhesus,
who has golden armour, and "the fairest horses that ever I beheld" (the
ruling passion for horses is strong in Dolon), "and the greatest, whiter
than snow, and for speed like the winds."

Having learned all that he needs to know, Diomede ruthlessly slays
Dolon. Odysseus thanks Athene, and hides the poor spoils of the dead,
marking the place. They then creep into the dark camp of the sleeping
Thracians, and as Diomede slays them Odysseus drags each body aside, to
leave a clear path for the horses, that they may not plunge and tremble
when they are led forth, "for they were not yet used to dead men." No
line in Homer shows more intimate knowledge and realisation of horses
and of war. Odysseus drives the horses of Rhesus out of the camp with
the bow of Meriones; he has forgotten to take the whip from the chariot.
Diomede, having slain King Rhesus asleep, thinks whether he shall lift
out the chariot (war chariots were very light) or drag it by the pole;
but Athene warns him to be going. He "springs upon the steeds," and they
make for their camp. It is not clearly indicated whether they ride or
drive (X., 5 I 3, 527-528, 541); but, suppose that they ride, are we
to conclude that the fact proves "lateness"? The heroes always drive
in Homer, but it is inconceivable that they could not ride in cases of
necessity, as here, if Diomede has thought it wiser not to bring out the
chariot and harness the horses. Riding is mentioned in _Iliad_, XV.
679, in a simile; again, in a simile, _Odyssey_, V. 37 I. It is not the
custom for heroes to ride; the chariot is used in war and in travelling,
but, when there are horses and no chariot, men could not be so imbecile
as not to mount the horses, nor could the poet be so pedantic as not to
make them do so.

The shields would cause no difficulty; they would be slung sideways,
like the shields of knights in the early Middle Ages. The pair, picking
up Dolon's spoils as they pass, hurry back to the chiefs, where Nestor
welcomes them. The others laugh and are encouraged (to encourage them
and his audience is the aim of the poet); while the pair go to Diomede's
quarters, wash off the blood and sweat from their limbs in the sea, and
then "enter the polished baths," common in the _Odyssey_, unnamed in
the Iliad. But on no other occasion in the Iliad are we admitted to view
this part of heroic toilette. Nowhere else, in fact, do we accompany a
hero to his quarters and his tub after the day's work is over. Achilles,
however, refuses to wash, after fighting, in his grief for Patroclus,
though plenty of water was being heated for the purpose, and it is to be
presumed that a bath was ready for the water (_Iliad_, XXIII. 40). See,
too, for Hector's bath, XXII. 444.

The two heroes then refresh themselves; breakfast, in fact, and drink,
as is natural. By this time the dawn must have been in the sky, and in
Book XI. men are stirring with the dawn. Such is the story of Book X.
The reader may decide as to whether it is "_Very_ late; barely
Homeric," or a late and deliberate piece of burlesque, [Footnote: Henry,
_Classical Review_. March 1906.] or whether it is very Homeric, though
the whole set of situations--a night of terror, an anxious chief, a
nocturnal adventure--are unexampled in the poem.

The poet's audience of warriors must have been familiar with such
situations, and must have appreciated the humorous, ruthless treatment
of Dolon, the spoiled only brother of five sisters. Mr. Monro admitted
that Dolon is Shakespearian, but added, "too Shakespearian for Homer."
One may as well say that Agincourt, in Henry V., is "too Homeric for

Mr. Monro argued that "the Tenth Book comes in awkwardly after the
Ninth." Nitzsche thinks just the reverse. The patriotic warrior audience
would delight in the _Doloneia_ after the anguish of Book IX.; would
laugh with Odysseus at the close of his adventure, and rejoice with the
other Achaeans (X. 505).

"The introductory part of the Book is cumbrous," says Mr. Monro. To
us it is, if we wish to get straight to the adventure, just as the
customary delays in Book XIX., before Achilles is allowed to fight, are
tedious to us. But the poet's audience did not necessarily share our
tastes, and might take pleasure (as I do) in the curious details of the
opening of Book X. The poet was thinking of his audience, not of modern

"We hear no more of Rhesus and his Thracians." Of Rhesus there was
no more to hear, and his people probably went home, like Glenbuckie's
Stewarts after the mysterious death of their chief in Amprior's house of
Leny before Prestonpans (1745). Glenbuckie was mysteriously pistolled
in the night. "The style and tone is unlike that of the Iliad ... It
is rather akin to comedy of a rough farcical kind." But it was time for
"comic relief." If the story of Dolon be comic, it is comic with the
practical humour of the sagas. In an isolated nocturnal adventure
and massacre we cannot expect the style of an heroic battle under the
sunlight. Is the poet not to be allowed to be various, and is the scene
of the Porter in _Macbeth_, "in style and tone," like the rest of the
drama? (_Macbeth_, Act ii. sc. 3). Here, of course, Shakespeare indulges
infinitely more in "comedy of a rough practical kind" than does the
author of the _Doloneia_.

The humour and the cruelty do not exceed what is exhibited in many of
the _gabes_, or insulting boasts of heroes over dead foes in other parts
of the _Iliad_; such as the taunting comparison of a warrior falling
from his chariot to a diver after oysters, or as "one of the Argives
hath caught the spear in his flesh, and leaning thereon for a staff,
methinks that he will go down within the house of Hades" (XIV. 455-457).
The _Iliad_, like the sagas, is rich in this extremely practical humour.

Mr. Leaf says that the Book "must have been composed before the _Iliad_
had reached its present form, for it cannot have been meant to follow
on Book IX. It is rather another case of a parallel rival to that Book,
coupled with it only in the final literary redaction," which Mr. Leaf
dates in the middle of the sixth century. "The Book must have been
composed before the _Iliad_ had reached its present form," [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. 424.] It is not easy to understand this decision;
for, as Mr. Leaf had previously written, about Book IX. 60-68, "the
posting of the watch is at least not necessary to the story, and it has
a suspicious air of being merely a preparation for the next Book, which
is much later, and which turns entirely upon a visit to the sentinels."
[Footnote: _Companion,_ p.174.]

Now a military audience would not have pardoned the poet of Book IX. if,
in the circumstances of defeat, with a confident enemy encamped within
striking distance, he had not made the Achaeans throw forth their
outposts. The thing was inevitable and is not suspicious; but the poet
purposely makes the advanced guard consist of young men under Nestor's
son and Meriones. He needs them for Book X. Therefore the poet of Book
IX. is the poet of Book X. preparing his effect in advance; or the poet
of Book X. is a man who cleverly takes advantage of Book IX., or he
composed his poem of "a night of terror and adventure," "in the air,"
and the editor of 540 B.C., having heard it recited and copied it out,
went back to Book IX. and inserted the advanced guard, under Thrasymedes
and Meriones, to lead up to Book X.

On Mr. Leafs present theory, [Footnote: Iliad, vol. i. p.424.] Book X.,
we presume, was meant, not to follow Book IX., but to follow the end of
Book VII, being an alternative to Book VIII. (composed, he says, to
lead up to Book IX.) and Book IX. But Book VII. closes with the Achaean
refusal of the compromise offered by Paris--the restoration of the
property but not of the wife of Menelaus. The Trojans and Achaeans feast
all night; the Trojans feast in the city. There is therefore no place
here for Book X. after Book VII, and the Achaeans cannot roam about
all night, as they are feasting; nor can Agamemnon be in the state of
anxiety exhibited by him in Book X.

Book X. could not exist without Book IX., and _must_ have been "meant
to follow on it." Mr. Leaf sees that, in his preface to Book IX.,
[Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 371.] "The placing of sentinels" (in Book
IX. 80, 84) "is needed as an introduction to Book X. but has nothing to
do with this Book" (IX.). But, we have said, it was inevitable, given
the new situation in Book IX. (an Achaean repulse, and the enemy camped
in front), that an advanced guard must be placed, even if there proved
to be no need of their services. We presume that Mr. Leaf's literary
editor, finding that Book X. existed and that the advanced guard was
a necessity of its action, went back to Book IX. and introduced
an advanced guard of young men, with its captains, Thrasymedes and
Meriones. Even after this the editor had much to do, if Book IX.
originally exhibited Agamemnon as not in terror and despair, as it now

We need not throw the burden of all this work on the editor. As Mr.
Leaf elsewhere writes, in a different mind, the Tenth Book "is obviously
adapted to its present place in the _Iliad_, for it assumes a moment
when Achilles is absent from the field, and when the Greeks are in deep
dejection from a recent defeat. These conditions are exactly fulfilled
by the situation at the end of Book IX." [Footnote: _Companion_, p.

This is certainly the case. The Tenth Book could not exist without the
Ninth; yet Mr. Leaf's new opinion is that it "cannot have been meant to
follow on Book IX." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 424.] He was better
inspired when he held the precisely opposite opinion.

Dr. Adolf Kiene [Footnote: Die _Epen des Homer, Zweiter Theil,_ pp.
90-94. Hanover, 1884.] accepts Book XI. as originally composed to fill
its present place in the _Iliad._ He points out the despondency of the
chiefs after receiving the reply of Achilles, and supposes that even
Diomede (IX. 708) only urges Agamemnon to "array before the ships thy
folk and horsemen," for defensive battle. But, encouraged by the success
of the night adventure, Agamemnon next day assumes the offensive. To
consider thus is perhaps to consider too curiously. But it is clear
that the Achaeans have been much encouraged by the events of Book X.,
especially Agamemnon, whose character, as Kiene observes, is very subtly
and consistently treated, and "lies near the poet's heart." This is the
point which we keep urging. Agamemnon's care for Menelaus is strictly
preserved in Book X.

Nitzsche (I 897) writes, "Between Book IX. and Book XI there is a gap;
that gap the _Doloneia_ fills: it must have been composed to be part of
the _ILIAD_." But he thinks that the _Doloneia_ has taken the place
of an earlier lay which filled the gap. [Footnote: Die _Echtheit der
Doloneia,_ p. 32. Programme des K. K. Staats Gymnasium zu Marburg,
1877.] That the Book is never referred to later in the _Iliad_, even
if it be true, is no great argument against its authenticity. For when
later references are made to Book IX., they are dismissed as clever late
interpolations. If the horses of Rhesus took part, as they do not, in
the sports at the funeral of Patroclus, the passage would be called a
clever interpolation: in fact, Diomede had better horses, divine horses
to run. However, it is certainly remarkable that the interpolation was
not made by one of the interpolators of critical theory.

Meanwhile there is, we think, a reference to Book X. in Book XIV.
[Footnote: This was pointed out to me by Mr. Shewan, to whose great
knowledge of Homer I am here much indebted.]

In _Iliad_, XIV. 9-11, we read that Nestor, in his quarters with the
wounded Machaon, on the day following the night of Dolon's death, hears
the cry of battle and goes out to see what is happening. "He took the
well-wrought shield of his son, horse-taming Thrasymedes, which was
lying in the hut, all glistening with bronze, but _the son had the
shield of his father_."

Why had Thrasymedes the shield of his father? At about 3 A.M. before
dawn the shield of Nestor was lying beside him in his own bedroom (Book
X. 76), and at the same moment his son Thrasymedes _was_ on outpost
duty, and had his own shield with him (Book IX. 81).

When, then, did father and son exchange shields, and why? Mr. Leaf says,
"It is useless to inquire why father and son had thus changed shields,
as the scholiasts of course do."

The scholiasts merely babble. Homer, of course, meant _something_ by
this exchange of shields, which occurred late in the night of Book IX.
or very early in the following day, that of Books XI-XVI.

Let us follow again the sequence of events. On the night before the
day when Nestor had Thrasymedes' shield and Thrasymedes had Nestor's,
Thrasymedes was sent out, with shield and all, in command of one of the
seven companies of an advanced guard, posted between fosse and wall, in
case of a camisade by the Trojans, who were encamped on the plain (IX.
81). With him in command were Meriones and five other young men less
notable. They had supplies with them and whatever was needed: they
cooked supper in bivouac.

In the _Doloneia_ the wakeful princes, after inspecting the advanced
guard, go forward within view of the Trojan ranks and consult. With
them they take Nestor's son, Thrasymedes, and Meriones (X. 196). The
two young men, being on active service, are armed; the princes are not.
Diomede, having been suddenly roused out of sleep, with no intention to
fight, merely threw on his dressing-gown, a lion's skin. Nestor wore a
thick, double, purple dressing-gown. Odysseus had cast his shield about
his shoulders. It was decided that Odysseus and Diomede should enter the
Trojan camp and "prove a jeopardy." Diomede had no weapon but his spear;
so Thrasymedes, who is armed as we saw, lends him his bull's-hide
cap, "that keeps the heads of stalwart youths," his sword (for that of
Diomede "was left at the ships"), and his shield.

Diomede and Odysseus successfully achieve their adventure and return to
the chiefs, where they talk with Nestor; and then they go to Diomede's
hut and drink. The outposts remain, of course, at their stations.

Meanwhile, Thrasymedes, having lent his shield to Diomede, has none of
his own. Naturally, as he was to pass the night under arms, he would
send to his father's quarters for the old man's shield, a sword, and a
helmet. He would remain at his post (his men had provisions) till the
general _reveillez_ at dawn, and would then breakfast at his post and go
into the fray. Nestor, therefore, missing his shield, would send round
to Diomede's quarters for the shield of Thrasymedes, which had been lent
overnight to Diomede, would take it into the fight, and would bring it
back to his own hut when he carried the wounded Machaon thither out of
the battle. When he arms to go out and seek for information, he picks up
the shield of Thrasymedes.

Nothing can be more obvious; the poet, being a man of imagination, not
a professor, sees it all, and casually mentions that the son had the
father's and the father had the son's shield. His audience, men of the
sword, see the case as clearly as the poet does: only we moderns and the
scholiasts, almost as modern as ourselves, are puzzled.

It may also be argued, though we lay no stress on it, that in Book XI.
312, when Agamemnon has been wounded, we find Odysseus and Diomede alone
together, without their contingents, because they have not separated
since they breakfasted together, after returning from the adventure of
Book X., and thus they have come rather late to the field. They find
the Achaeans demoralised by the wounding of Agamemnon, and they make
a stand. "What ails us," asks Odysseus, "that we forget our impetuous
valour?" The passage appears to take up the companionship of Odysseus
and Diomede, who were left breakfasting together at the end of Book X.
and are not mentioned till we meet them again in this scene of Book XI.,
as if they had just come on the field.

As to the linguistic tests of lateness "there are exceptionally
numerous traces of later formation," says Mr. Monro; while Fick, tout
_contraire,_ writes, "clumsy Ionisms are not common, and, as a rule,
occur in these parts which on older grounds show themselves to be late
interpolations." "The cases of agreement" (between Fick and Mr. Monro),
"are few, and the passages thus condemned are not more numerous in the
_Doloneia_ than in any average book." [Footnote: Jevons, _Journal of
Hellenic Studies_, vii. p. 302.] The six examples of "a post-Homeric
use of the article" do not seem so very post-Homeric to an ordinary
intelligence--parallels occur in Book I.--and "Perfects in [Greek: ka]
from derivative verbs" do not destroy the impression of antiquity and
unity which is left by the treatment of character; by the celebrated
cap with boars' tusks, which no human being could archaeologically
reconstruct in the seventh century; and by the Homeric vigour in such
touches as the horses unused to dead men. As the _Iliad_ certainly
passed through centuries in which its language could not but be affected
by linguistic changes, as it could not escape from _remaniements_,
consciously or unconsciously introduced by reciters and copyists, the
linguistic objections are not strongly felt by us. An unphilological
reader of Homer notes that Duntzer thinks the _Doloneia_ "older than the
oldest portion of the Odyssey," while Gemoll thinks that the author of
the _Doloneia_. was familiar with the _Odyssey_. [Footnote: Duntzer,
_Homer. Abhanglungen_, p. 324. Gemoll, _Hermes_, xv. 557 ff.]

Meanwhile, one thing seems plain to us: when the author of Book IX.
posted the guards under Thrasymedes, he was deliberately leading up
to Book X.; while the casual remark in Book XIV. about the exchange of
shields between father and son, Nestor and Thrasymedes, glances back at
Book X. and possibly refers to some lost and more explicit statement.

It is not always remembered that, if things could drop into the
interpolations, things could also drop out of the _ILIAD,_ causing
_lacunae_, during the dark backward of its early existence.

If the _Doloneia_ be "barely Homeric," as Father Browne holds, this
opinion was not shared by the listeners or readers of the sixth century.
The vase painters often illustrate the _Doloneia;_ but it does not
follow that "the story was fresh" because it was "popular," as Mr.
Leaf suggests, and "was treated as public property in a different way"
(namely, in a comic way) "from the consecrated early legends" (_Iliad,_
II 424, 425). The sixth century vase painters illustrated many passages
in Homer, not the _Doloneia_ alone. The "comic way" was the ruthless
humour of two strong warriors capturing one weak coward. Much later,
wild caricature was applied in vase painting to the most romantic scenes
in the Odyssey, which were "consecrated" enough.



That several of the passages in which Nestor speaks are very late
interpolations, meant to glorify Pisistratus, himself of Nestor's line,
is a critical opinion to which we have more than once alluded. The first
example is in _Iliad,_ II. 530-568. This passage "is meant at once
to present Nestor as the leading counsellor of the Greek army, and to
introduce the coming _Catalogue_." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad,_ vol. i. p.
70.] Now the _Catalogue_ "originally formed an introduction to the whole
Cycle." [Footnote: Ibid., vol. i. p. 87.] But, to repeat an earlier
observation, surely the whole Cycle was much later than the period of
Pisistratus and his sons; that is, the compilation of the Homeric and
Cyclic poems into one body of verse, named "The Cycle," is believed to
have been much later.

It is objected that Nestor's advice in this passage, "Separate thy
warriors by tribes and clans" ([Greek: phyla, phraetras]), "is out of
place in the last year of the war"; but this suggestion for military
reorganisation may be admitted as a mere piece of poetical perspective,
like Helen's description of the Achaean chiefs in Book III, or Nestor
may wish to return to an obsolete system of clan regiments. The
Athenians had "tribes" and "clans," political institutions, and Nestor's
advice is noted as a touch of late Attic influence; but about the nature
and origin of these social divisions we know so little that it is vain
to argue about them. The advice of Nestor is an appeal to the clan
spirit--a very serviceable military spirit, as the Highlanders have
often proved--but we have no information as to whether it existed in
Achaean times. Nestor speaks as the aged Lochiel spoke to Claverhouse
before Killiecrankie. Did the Athenian army of the sixth century
fight in clan regiments? The device seems to belong to an earlier
civilisation, whether it survived in sixth century Athens or not. It is,
of course, notorious that tribes and clans are most flourishing among
the most backward people, though they were welded into the constitution
of Athens. The passage, therefore, cannot with any certainty be
dismissed as very late, for the words for "tribe" and "clan" could
not be novel Athenian inventions, the institutions designated being of
prehistoric origin.

Nestor shows his tactics again in IV. 303-309, offers his "inopportune
tactical lucubrations, doubtless under Athenian (Pisistratean)
influence." The poet is here denied a sense of humour. That a veteran
military Polonius should talk as inopportunely about tactics as Dugald
Dalgetty does about the sconce of Drumsnab is an essential part of the
humour of the character of Nestor. This is what Nestor's critics do
not see; the inopportune nature of his tactical remarks is the point
of them, just as in the case of the laird of Drumthwacket, "that should
be." Scott knew little of Homer, but coincided in the Nestorian humour
by mere congruity of genius. The Pisistratidze must have been humourless
if they did not see that the poet smiled as he composed Nestor's
speeches, glorifying old deeds of his own and old ways of fighting. He
arrays his Pylians with chariots in front, footmen in the rear. In the
[blank space] the princely heroes dismounted to fight, the chariots
following close behind them. [Footnote: _Iliad_, XI. 48-56.] In the same
way during the Hundred Years' War the English knights dismounted and
defeated the French chivalry till, under Jeanne d'Arc and La Hire, the
French learned the lesson, and imitated the English practice. On
the other hand, Egyptian wall-paintings show the Egyptian chariotry
advancing in neat lines and serried squadrons. According to Nestor
these had of old been the Achaean tactics, and he preferred the old way.
Nestor's advice in Book IV. is _not_ to dismount or break the line of
chariots; these, he says, were the old tactics: "Even so is the far
better way; thus, moreover, did men of old time lay low cities and
walls." There was to be no rushing of individuals from the ranks, no
dismounting. Nestor's were not the tactics of the heroes--they usually
dismount and do single valiances; but Nestor, commanding his local
contingent, recommends the methods of the old school, [Greek: hoi
pretoroi]. What can be more natural and characteristic?

The poet's meaning seems quite clear. He is not flattering Pisistratus,
but, with quiet humour, offers the portrait of a vain, worthy veteran.
It is difficult to see how this point can be missed; it never was missed
before Nestor's speeches seemed serviceable to the Pisistratean theory
of the composition of the _ILIAD_. In his first edition Mr. Leaf
regarded the interpolations as intended "to glorify Nestor" without
reference to Pisistratus, whom Mr. Leaf did not then recognise as the
master of a sycophantic editor. The passages are really meant to display
the old man's habit of glorifying himself and past times. Pisistratus
could not feel flattered by passages intended to exhibit his ancestor as
a conceited and inopportune old babbler. I ventured in 1896 to suggest
that the interpolator was trying to please Pisistratus, but this was
said in a spirit of mockery.

Of all the characters in Homer that of Nestor is most familiar to the
unlearned world, merely because Nestor's is a "character part," very
broadly drawn.

The third interpolation of flattery to Pisistratus in the person of
Nestor is found in VII. 125-160. The Achaean chiefs are loath to accept
the challenge of Hector to single combat. Only Menelaus rises and arms
himself, moved by the strong sense of honour which distinguishes a
warrior notoriously deficient in bodily strength. Agamemnon refuses
to let him fight; the other peers make no movement, and Nestor rebukes
them. It is entirely in nature that he should fall back on his memory
of a similar situation in his youth; when the Arcadian champion,
Ereuthalion, challenged any prince of the Pylians, and when "no man
plucked up heart" to meet him except Nestor himself. Had there never
been any Pisistratus, any poet who created the part of a worthy and
wordy veteran must have made Nestor speak just as he does speak.
Ereuthalion "was the tallest and strongest of men that I have slain!"
and Nestor, being what he is, offers copious and interesting details
about the armour of Ereuthalion and about its former owners. The passage
is like those in which the Icelandic sagamen dwelt lovingly on the
history of a good sword, or the Maoris on the old possessors of an
ancient jade _patu_. An objection is now taken to Nestor's geography: he
is said not to know the towns and burns of his own country. He speaks
of the swift stream Keladon, the streams of Iardanus, and the walls of
Pheia. Pheia "is no doubt the same as Pheai" [Footnote: Monro, Note on
Odyssey, XV. 297.] (Odyssey, XV. 297), "but that was a maritime town not
near Arkadia. There is nothing known of a Keladon or Iardanus anywhere
near it." Now Didymus (Schol. A) "is said to have read [Greek: Phaeraes]
for [Greek: Pheias]," following Pherekydes. [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_,
vol. i. 308.] M. Victor Bérard, who has made an elaborate study of Elian
topography, says that "Pheia is a cape, not a town," and adopts the
reading "Phera," the [Greek: Pherae] of the journey of Telemachus,
in the Odyssey. He thinks that the [Greek: Pherae] of Nestor is the
Aliphera of Polybius, and believes that the topography of Nestor and of
the journey of Telemachus is correct. The Keladon is now the river or
burn of Saint Isidore; the Iardanus is at the foot of Mount Kaiapha.
Keladon has obviously the same sense as the Gaelic Altgarbh, "the rough
and brawling stream." Iardanus is also a stream in Crete, and Mr. Leaf
thinks it Semitic--"_Yarden_, from yarad to flow"; but the Semites did
not give the _Yar_ to the _Yarrow_ nor to the Australian _Yarra Yarra_.

The country, says M. Bérard, is a network of rivers, burns, and
rivulets; and we cannot have any certainty, we may add, as the same
river and burn names recur in many parts of the same country; [Footnote:
Bérard, _Les Phéniciens et L'Odyssée,_ 108-113, 1902] many of them, in
England, are plainly prae-Celtic.

While the correct geography may, on this showing, be that of Homer, we
cannot give up Homer's claim to Nestor's speech. As to Nestor's tale
about the armour of Ereuthalion, it is manifest that the first owner of
the armour of Ereuthalion, namely Are'ithous, "the Maceman," so called
because he had the singularity of fighting with an iron _casse-tête,_
as Nestor explains (VII. 138-140), was a famous character in legendary
history. He appears "as Prince Areithous, the Maceman," father (or
grand-father?) of an Areithous slain by Hector (VII. 8-10). In Greece,
it was not unusual for the grandson to bear the grandfather's name,
and, if the Maceman was grand-father of Hector's victim, there is no
chronological difficulty. The chronological difficulty, in any case, if
Hector's victim is the son of the Maceman, is not at all beyond a poetic
narrator's possibility of error in genealogy. If Nestor's speech is a
late interpolation, if its late author borrowed his vivid account of the
Maceman and his _casse-tête_ from the mere word "maceman" in VII. 9, he
must be credited with a lively poetic imagination.

Few or none of these reminiscences of Nestor are really "inapplicable to
the context." Here the context demands encouragement for heroes who shun
a challenge. Nestor mentions an "applicable" and apposite instance of
similar want of courage, and, as his character demands, he is the hero
of his own story. His brag, or _gabe,_ about "he was the tallest and
strongest of all the men I ever slew," is deliciously in keeping, and
reminds us of the college don who said of the Czar, "he is the nicest
emperor I ever met." The poet is sketching an innocent vanity; he is not
flattering Pisistratus.

The next case is the long narrative of Nestor to the hurried Patroclus,
who has been sent by Achilles to bring news of the wounded Machaon (XI.
604-702). Nestor on this occasion has useful advice to give, namely,
that Achilles, if he will not fight, should send his men, under
Patroclus, to turn the tide of Trojan victory. But the poet wishes to
provide an interval of time and of yet more dire disaster before the
return of Patroclus to Achilles. By an obvious literary artifice he
makes Nestor detain the reluctant Patroclus with a long story of his own
early feats of arms. It is a story of a "hot-trod," so called in Border
law; the Eleians had driven a _creagh_ of cattle from the Pylians, who
pursued, and Nestor killed the Eleian leader, Itymoneus. The speech is
an Achaean parallel to the Border ballad of "Jamie Telfer of the Fair
Dodhead," in editing which Scott has been accused of making a singular
and most obvious and puzzling blunder in the topography of his own
sheriffdom of the Forest. On Scott's showing the scene of the raid is in
upper Ettrickdale, not, as critics aver, in upper Teviotdale; thus the
narrative of the ballad would be impossible. [Footnote: In fact both
sites on the two Dodburns are impossible; the fault lay with the
ballad-maker, not with Scott.]

The Pisistratean editor is accused of a similar error. "No doubt he was
an Asiatic Greek, completely ignorant of the Peloponnesus." [Footnote:
_Iliad_. Note to XI. 756, and to the _Catalogue_, II. 615-617.] It
is something to know that Pisistratus employed an editor, or that his
editor employed a collaborator who was an Asiatic Greek!

Meanwhile, nothing is less secure than arguments based on the
_Catalogue_. We have already shown how Mr. Leaf's opinions as to the
date and historical merits of the _Catalogue_ have widely varied, while
M. Bérard appears to have vindicated the topography of Nestor. Of the
_Catalogue_ Mr. Allen writes, "As a table, according to regions, of
Agamemnon's forces it bears every mark of venerable antiquity," showing
"a state of things which never recurred in later history, and which no
one had any interest to invent, or even the means for inventing." He
makes a vigorous defence of the _Catalogue,_ as regards the dominion of
Achilles, against Mr. Leaf. [Footnote: _Classical Review,_ May 1906, pp.
x94-201.] Into the details we need not go, but it is not questions of
Homeric topography, obscure as they are, that can shake our faith in the
humorous portrait of old Nestor, or make us suppose that the sympathetic
mockery of the poet is the sycophantic adulation of the editor to his
statesman employer, Pisistratus. If any question may be left to literary
discrimination it is the authentic originality of the portrayal of



Though comparison is the method of Science, the comparative study of the
national poetry of warlike aristocracies, its conditions of growth and
decadence, has been much neglected by Homeric critics. Sir Richard Jebb
touched on the theme, and, after devoting four pages to a sketch of
Sanskrit, Finnish, Persian, and early Teutonic heroic poetry and _SAGA,_
decided that "in our country, as in others, we fail to find any true
parallel to the case of the Homeric poems. These poems must be
studied in themselves, without looking for aid, in this sense, to
the comparative method." [Footnote: _Homer_, p. 135.] Part of this
conclusion seems to us rather hasty. In a brief manual Sir Richard
had not space for a thorough comparative study of old heroic poetry
at large. His quoted sources are: for India, Lassen; for France, Mr.
Saintsbury's Short History of _FRENCH LITERATURE_ (sixteen pages on
this topic), and a work unknown to me, by "M. Paul"; for Iceland he only
quoted _THE Encyclopedia BRITANNICA_ (Mr. Edmund Gosse); for Germany,
Lachmann and Bartsch; for the Finnish _Kalewala,_ the _ENCYCLOPEDIA
BRITANNICA_ (Mr. Sime and Mr. Keltie); and for England, a _PRIMER OF
ENGLISH LITERATURE_ by Mr. Stopford Brooke.

These sources appear less than adequate, and Celtic heroic romance is
entirely omitted. A much deeper and wider comparative criticism of early
heroic national poetry is needed, before any one has a right to say that
the study cannot aid our critical examination of the Homeric problem.
Many peoples have passed through a stage of culture closely analogous to
that of Achaean society as described in the _Iliad_ and Odyssey. Every
society of this kind has had its ruling military class, its ancient
legends, and its minstrels who on these legends have based their songs.
The similarity of human nature under similar conditions makes it certain
that comparison will discover useful parallels between the poetry of
societies separated in time and space but practically identical in
culture. It is not much to the credit of modern criticism that a topic
so rich and interesting has been, at least in England, almost entirely
neglected by Homeric scholars.

Meanwhile, it is perfectly correct to say, as Sir Richard observes, that
"we fail to find any true parallel to the case of the Homeric poems,"
for we nowhere find the legends of an heroic age handled by a very great
poet--the greatest of all poets--except in the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_.
But, on the other hand, the critics refuse to believe that, in the
_Iliad_ and _Odyssey,_ we possess the heroic Achaean legends handled by
one great poet. They find a composite by many hands, good and bad, and
of many ages, they say; sometimes the whole composition and part of the
poems are ascribed to a late _littérateur_. Now to that supposed state
of things we do find several "true parallels," in Germany, in Finland,
in Ireland. But the results of work by these many hands in many ages are
anything but "a true parallel" to the results which lie before us in
the _Iliad_ and _ODYSSEY_. Where the processes of composite authorship
throughout many _AGES_ certainly occur, as in Germany and Ireland, there
we find no true parallel to the Homeric poems. It follows that, in all
probability, no such processes as the critics postulate produced the
_Iliad_ and Odyssey, for where the processes existed, beyond doubt they
failed egregiously to produce the results.

Sir Richard's argument would have been logical if many efforts by many
hands, in many ages, in England, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, and Germany
did actually produce true parallels to the Achaean epics. They did not,
and why not? Simply because these other races had no Homer. All the
other necessary conditions were present, the legendary material, the
heroic society, the Court minstrels, all--except the great poet. In
all the countries mentioned, except Finland, there existed military
aristocracies with their courts, castles, and minstrels, while the
minstrels had rich material in legendary history and in myth, and
_Märchen_, and old songs. But none of the minstrels was adequate to the
production of an English, German, or Irish _ILIAD_ or _ODYSSEY_, or even
of a true artistic equivalent in France.

We have tried to show that the critics, rejecting a Homer, have been
unable to advance any adequate hypothesis to account for the existence
of the _ILIAD_ and _ODYSSEY_. Now we see that, where such conditions of
production as they postulate existed but where there was no great epic
genius, they can find no true parallels to the Epics. Their logic thus
breaks down at both ends.

It may be replied that in non-Greek lands one condition found in Greek
society failed: the succession of a reading age to an age of heroic
listeners. But this is not so. In France and Germany an age of readers
duly began, but they did not mainly read copies of the old heroic poems.
They turned to lyric poetry, as in Greece, and they recast the heroic
songs into modern and popular forms in verse and prose, when they took
any notice of the old heroic poems at all.

One merit of the Greek epics is a picture of "a certain phase of early
civilisation," and that picture is "a naturally harmonious whole," with
"unity of impression," says Sir Richard Jebb. [Footnote: Homer, p. 37.]
Certainly we can find no true parallel, on an Homeric scale, to this
"harmonious picture" in the epics of Germany and England or in the
early literature of Ireland. Sir Richard, for England, omits notice of
_Beowulf_; but we know that _Beowulf_, a long heroic poem, is a mass of
anachronisms--a heathen legend in a Christian setting. The hero, that
great heathen champion, has his epic filled full of Christian allusions
and Christian morals, because the clerical redactor, in Christian
England, could not but intrude these things into old pagan legends
evolved by the continental ancestors of our race. He had no "painful
anxiety," like the supposed Ionic continuators of the Achaean poems
(when they are not said to have done precisely the reverse), to preserve
harmony of ancient ideas. Such archaeological anxieties are purely

If we take the _Nibelungenlied_, [Footnote: See chapter on the
_Nibelungenlied_ in Homer _AND the Epic_, pp. 382-404.] we find that
it is a thing of many rehandlings, even in existing manuscripts. For
example, the Greeks clung to the hexameter in Homer. Not so did the
Germans adhere to old metres. The poem that, in the oldest MS., is
written in assonances, in later MSS. is reduced to regular rhymes and is
retouched in many essential respects. The matter of the _Nibelungenlied_
is of heathen origin. We see the real state of heathen affairs in the
Icelandic versions of the same tale, for the Icelanders were peculiar in
preserving ancient lays; and, when these were woven into a prose saga,
the archaic and heathen features were retained. Had the post-Christian
prose author of the _Volsunga_ been a great poet, we might find in
his work a true parallel to the _Iliad_. But, though he preserves the
harmony of his picture of pre-Christian princely life (save in the
savage beginnings of his story), he is not a poet; so the true parallel
to the Greek epic fails, noble as is the saga in many passages. In the
German _Nibelungenlied_ all is modernised; the characters are Christian,
the manners are chivalrous, and _Märchen_ older than Homer are forced
into a wandering mediaeval chronicle-poem. The Germans, in short, had no
early poet of genius, and therefore could not produce a true parallel
to _ILIAD_ or Odyssey. The mediaeval poets, of course, never dreamed
of archaeological anxiety, as the supposed Ionian continuators are
sometimes said to have done, any more than did the French and late Welsh
handlers of the ancient Celtic Arthurian materials. The late
German _bearbeiter_ of the _Nibelungenlied_ has no idea of unity of
plot--_enfin_, Germany, having excellent and ancient legendary material
for an epic, but producing no parallel to _ILIAD_ and Odyssey, only
proves how absolutely essential a Homer was to the Greek epics.

"If any inference could properly be drawn from the Edda" (the Icelandic
collection of heroic lays), says Sir Richard Jebb, "it would be that
short separate poems on cognate subjects can long exist as a collection
_without_ coalescing into such an artistic whole as the Iliad or the
Odyssey." [Footnote: Homer, p. 33.]

It is our own argument that Sir Richard states. "Short separate poems
on cognate subjects" can certainly co-exist for long anywhere, but they
cannot automatically and they cannot by aid of an editor become a long
epic. Nobody can stitch and vamp them into a poem like the _ILIAD_ or
Odyssey. To produce a poem like either of these a great poetic genius
must arise, and fuse the ancient materials, as Hephaestus fused copper
and tin, and then cast the mass into a mould of his own making. A small
poet may reduce the legends and lays into a very inartistic whole, a
very inharmonious whole, as in the _Nibelungenlied_, but a controlling
poet, not a mere redactor or editor, is needed to perform even that

Where a man who is not a poet undertakes to produce the coalescence,
as Dr. Lönnrot (1835-1849) did in the case of the peasant, not courtly,
lays of Finland, he "fails to prove that mere combining and editing can
form an artistic whole out of originally distinct songs, even though
concerned with closely related themes," says Sir Richard Jebb.
[Footnote: Homer, p. 134-135.]

This is perfectly true; much as Lönnrot botched and vamped the Finnish
lays he made no epic out of them. But, as it is true, how did the late
Athenian drudge of Pisistratus succeed where Lönnrot failed? "In the
dovetailing of the _ODYSSEY_ we see the work of one mind," says Sir
Richard. [Footnote: Homer, p. 129.] This mind cannot have been the
property of any one but a great poet, obviously, as the _Odyssey_ is
confessedly "an artistic whole." Consequently the disintegrators of the
Odyssey, when they are logical, are reduced to averring that the poem is
an exceedingly inartistic whole, a whole not artistic at all. While Mr.
Leaf calls it "a model of skilful construction," Wilamowitz Mollendorff
denounces it as the work of "a slenderly-gifted botcher," of about 650
B.C., a century previous to Mr. Leaf's Athenian editor.

Thus we come, after all, to a crisis in which mere literary appreciation
is the only test of the truth about a work of literature. The Odyssey is
an admirable piece of artistic composition, or it is the very reverse.
Blass, Mr. Leaf, Sir Richard Jebb, and the opinion of the ages declare
that the composition is excellent. A crowd of German critics and Father
Browne, S.J., hold that the composition is feeble. The criterion is the
literary taste of each party to the dispute. Kirchhoff and Wilamowitz
Möllendorff see a late bad patchwork, where Mr. Leaf, Sir Richard
Jebb, Blass, Wolf, and the verdict of all mankind see a masterpiece of
excellent construction. The world has judged: the _Odyssey_ is a
marvel of construction: therefore is not the work of a late botcher of
disparate materials, but of a great early poet. Yet Sir Richard Jebb,
while recognising the _Odyssey_ as "an artistic whole" and an harmonious
picture, and recognising Lönnrot's failure "to prove that mere combining
and editing can form an artistic whole out of originally distinct
songs, even though concerned with closely related themes," thinks that
Kirchhoff has made the essence of his theory of late combination of
distinct strata of poetical material from different sources and periods,
in the _Odyssey_, "in the highest degree probable." [Footnote: Homer, p.

It is, of course, possible that Mr. Leaf, who has not edited the
_Odyssey,_ may now, in deference to his belief in the Pisistratean
editor, have changed his opinion of the merits of the poem. If the
_Odyssey,_ like the _Iliad_, was, till about 540 B.C., a chaos of
lays of all ages, variously known in various _répertoires_ of the
rhapsodists, and patched up by the Pisistratean editor, then of two
things one--either Mr. Leaf abides by his enthusiastic belief in the
excellency of the composition, or he does not. If he does still believe
that the composition of the _Odyssey_ is a masterpiece, then the
Pisistratean editor was a great master of construction. If he now, on
the other hand, agrees with Wilamowitz Möllendorff that the _Odyssey_ is
cobbler's work, then his literary opinions are unstable.



Sir Richard Jebb remarks, with truth, that "before any definite solution
of the Homeric problem could derive scientific support from such
analogies" (with epics of other peoples), "it would be necessary to show
that the particular conditions under which the Homeric poems appear in
early Greece had been reproduced with sufficient closeness elsewhere."
[Footnote: Homer, pp. 131, 132.] Now we can show that the particular
conditions under which the Homeric poems confessedly arose were
"reproduced with sufficient closeness elsewhere," except that no really
great poet was elsewhere present.

This occurred among the Germanic aristocracy, "the Franks of France,"
in the eleventh, twelfth, and early thirteenth centuries of our era. The
closeness of the whole parallel, allowing for the admitted absence in
France of a very great and truly artistic poet, is astonishing.

We have first, in France, answering to the Achaean aristocracy, the
Frankish noblesse of warriors dwelling in princely courts and strong
castles, dominating an older population, owing a practically doubtful
fealty to an Over-Lord, the King, passing their days in the chace, in
private war, or in revolt against the Over-Lord, and, for all
literary entertainment, depending on the recitations of epic poems by
_jongleurs_, who in some cases are of gentle birth, and are the authors
of the poems which they recite.

"This national poetry," says M. Gaston Paris, "was born and mainly
developed among the warlike class, princes, lords, and their courts....
At first, no doubt, some of these men of the sword themselves composed
and chanted lays" (like Achilles), "but soon there arose a special class
of poets ... They went from court to court, from castle ... Later,
when the townsfolk began to be interested in their chants, they sank
a degree, and took their stand in public open places ..." [Footnote:
_Literature Française au Moyen Age_, pp. 36, 37. 1898.]

In the _Iliad_ we hear of no minstrels in camp: in the _Odyssey_ a
prince has a minstrel among his retainers--Demodocus, at the court of
Phaeacia; Phemius, in the house of Odysseus. In Ionia, when princes had
passed away, rhapsodists recited for gain in marketplaces and at fairs.
The parallel with France is so far complete.

The French national epics, like those of the Achaeans, deal mainly
with legends of a long past legendary age. To the French authors the
greatness and the fortunes of the Emperor Charles and other heroic heads
of great Houses provide a theme. The topics of song are his wars, and
the prowess and the quarrels of his peers with the Emperor and among
themselves. These are seen magnified through a mist of legend; Saracens
are substituted for Gascon foes, and the great Charles, so nobly
venerable a figure in the oldest French epic (the _Chanson de Roland,
circ._ 1050-1070 in its earliest extant form), is more degraded, in
the later epics, than Agamemnon himself. The "machinery" of the gods
in Homer is replaced by the machinery of angels, but the machinery
of dreams is in vogue, as in the Iliad and _Odyssey_. The sources are
traditional and legendary.

We know that brief early lays of Charles and other heroes had existed,
and they may have been familiar to the French epic poets, but they were
not merely patched into the epics. The form of verse is not ballad-like,
but a series of _laisses_ of decasyllabic lines, each _laisse_
presenting one assonance, not rhyme. As time went on, rhyme and
Alexandrine lines were introduced, and the old epics were expanded,
altered, condensed, _remaniés_, with progressive changes in taste,
metre, language, manners, and ways of life.

Finally, an age of Cyclic poems began; authors took new characters, whom
they attached by false genealogies to the older heroes, and they chanted
the adventures of the sons of the former heroes, like the Cyclic poet
who sang of the son of Odysseus by Circe. All these conditions are
undeniably "true parallels" to "the conditions under which the Homeric
poems appeared." The only obvious point of difference vanishes if we
admit, with Sir Richard Jebb and M. Salomon Reinach, the possibility of
the existence of written texts in the Greece of the early iron age.

We do not mean texts prepared for a _reading_ public. In France such a
public, demanding texts for reading, did not arise till the decadence of
the epic. The oldest French texts of their epics are small volumes,
each page containing some thirty lines in one column. Such volumes were
carried about by the _jongleurs_, who chanted their own or other men's
verses. They were not in the hands of readers. [Footnote: _Épopées
Françaises_, Léon Gautier, vol. i. pp. 226-228. 1878.]

An example of an author-reciter, Jendeus de Brie (he was the maker
of the first version of the _Bataille Loquifer_, twelfth century) is
instructive. Of Jendeus de Brie it is said that "he wrote the poem,
kept it very carefully, taught it to no man, made much gain out of it in
Sicily where he sojourned, and left it to his son when he died." Similar
statements are made in _Renaus de Montauban_ (the existing late version
is of the thirteenth century) about Huon de Villeneuve, who would not
part with his poem for horses or furs, or for any price, and about other
poets. [Footnote: _Épopées Françaises, Léon Gautier_, vol. i. p. 215,
Note I.]

These early _jongleurs_ were men of position and distinction; their
theme was the _gestes_ of princes; they were not under the ban
with which the Church pursued vulgar strollers, men like the Greek
rhapsodists. Pindar's story that Homer wrote the _Cypria_ [Footnote:
_Pindari Opera_, vol. iii. p. 654. Boeckh.] and gave the copy, as the
dowry of his daughter, to Stasinus who married her, could only have
arisen in Greece in circumstances exactly like those of Jendeus de Brie.
Jendeus lived on his poem by reciting it, and left it to his son when he
died. The story of Homer and Stasinus could only have been invented in
an age when the possession of the solitary text of a poem was a source
of maintenance to the poet. This condition of things could not exist,
either when there were no written texts or when such texts were
multiplied to serve the wants of a reading public.

Again, a poet in the fortunate position of Jendeus would not teach his
Epic in a "school" of reciters unless he were extremely well paid. In
later years, after his death, his poem came, through copies good or bad,
into circulation.

Late, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, we hear of a "school"
of _jongleurs_ at Beauvais. In Lent they might not ply their profession,
so they gathered at Beauvais, where they could learn _cantilenae_, new
lays. [Footnote: _Épopées Françaises_, Léon Gautier, vol. ii. pp. 174,
175.] But by that time the epic was decadent and dying?

The audiences of the _jongleurs_, too, were no longer, by that time,
what they had been. The rich and great, now, had library copies of the
epics; not small _jongleurs'_ copies, but folios, richly illuminated
and bound, with two or three columns of matter on each page. [Footnote:
Ibid., vol. i. p. 228. See, too, photographs of an illuminated,
double-columned library copy in _La Chancun de Willame_., London, 1903.]

The age of recitations from a text in princely halls was ending or
ended; the age of a reading public was begun. The earlier condition of
the _jongleur_ who was his own poet, and carefully guarded his copyright
in spite of all temptations to permit the copying of his MS., is
regarded by Sir Richard Jebb as quite a possible feature of early
Greece. He thinks that there was "no wide circulation of writings
by numerous copies for a reading public" before the end of the fifth
century B.C. As Greek mercenaries could write, and write well, in the
seventh to sixth centuries, I incline to think that there may then, and
earlier, have been a reading public. However, long before that a man
might commit his poems to writing. "Wolf allows that some men did, as
early at least as 776 B.C. The verses might never be read by anybody
except himself" (the author) "or those to whom he privately bequeathed
them" (as Jendeus de Brie bequeathed his poem to his son), "but his end
would have been gained." [Footnote: _Homer_, p. 113.]

Recent discoveries as to the very early date of linear non-Phoenician
writing in Crete of course increase the probability of this opinion,
which is corroborated by the story of the _Cypria_, given as a dowry
with the author's daughter. Thus "the particular conditions under which
the Homeric poems appeared" "been reproduced with sufficient closeness"
in every respect, with surprising closeness, in the France of the
eleventh to thirteenth centuries. The social conditions are the same;
the legendary materials are of identical character; the method of
publication by recitation is identical; the cyclic decadence occurs in
both cases, the _monomanie cyclique_. In the Greece of Homer we have the
four necessary conditions of the epic, as found by M. Léon Gautier in
mediaeval France. We have:--

(1) An uncritical age confusing history by legend.

(2) We have a national _milieu_ with religious uniformity.

(3) We have poems dealing with--

 "Old unhappy far-off things
 And battles long ago."

(4) We have representative heroes, the Over-Lord, and his peers or
paladins. [Footnote: _Épopées Françaises_, Léon Gautier, vol. i. pp.

It may be added that in Greece, as in France, some poets adapt into the
adventures of their heroes world-old _Märchen_, as in the Odyssey, and
in the cycle of the parents of Charles.

In the French, as in the Greek epics, we have such early traits
of poetry as the textual repetition of speeches, and the recurring
epithets, "swift-footed Achilles," "Charles of the white beard,"
"blameless heroes" (however blamable). Ladies, however old, are always
"of the clear face." Thus the technical manners of the French and Greek
epics are closely parallel; they only differ in the exquisite art of
Homer, to which no approach is made by the French poets.

The French authors of epic, even more than Homer, abound in episodes
much more distracting than those of the _Iliad_. Of blood and wounds, of
course, both the French and the Greek are profuse: they were writing for
men of the sword, not for modern critics. Indeed, the battle pieces of
France almost translate those of Homer. The Achaean "does on his goodly
corslet"; the French knight "_sur ses espalles son halberc li colad_."
The Achaean, with his great sword, shears off an arm at the shoulder.
The French knight--

"_Trenchad le braz, Parmi leschine sun grant espee li passe_."

The huge shield of Aias becomes _cele grant targe duble_ in France, and
the warriors boast over their slain in France, as in the _Iliad_. In
France, as in Greece, a favourite epic theme was "The Wrath" of a hero,
of Achilles, of Roland, of Ganelon, of Odysseus and Achilles wrangling
at a feast to the joy of Agamemnon, "glad that the bravest of his peers
were at strife." [Footnote: Odyssey, VIII. 75-7s [sic].]

Of all the many parallels between the Greek and French epics, the most
extraordinary is the coincidence between Charles with his peers and
Agamemnon with his princes. The same historical conditions occurred, at
an interval of more than two thousand years. Agamemnon is the Bretwalda,
the Over-Lord, as Mr. Freeman used to say, of the Achaeans: he is the
suzerain. Charles in the French epics holds the same position, but the
French poets regard him in different lights. In the earliest epic, the
_Chanson_ de Roland, a divinity doth hedge the famous Emperor, whom
Jeanne d'Arc styled "St. Charlemagne." He was, in fact, a man of
thirty-seven at the date of the disaster of Roncesvaux, where Roland
fell (778 A.D.). But in the tradition that has reached the poet of the
_chanson_ he is a white-bearded warrior, as vigorous as he is venerable.
As he rules by advice of his council, he bids them deliberate on the
proposals of the Paynim King, Marsile--to accept or refuse them. Roland,
the counterpart of Achilles in all respects (Oliver is his Patroclus),
is for refusing: Ganelon appears to have the rest with him when he
speaks in favour of peace and return to France out of Spain. So, in
the _Iliad_ (II.), the Achaeans lend a ready ear to Agamemnon when he
proposes the abandonment of the siege of Troy. Each host, French and
Achaean, is heartily homesick.

Ganelon's advice prevailing, it is necessary to send an envoy to the
Saracen court. It is a dangerous mission; other envoys have been sent
and been murdered. The Peers, however, volunteer, beginning with the
aged Naismes, the Nestor of the Franks. His offer is not accepted,
nor are those of Oliver, Roland, and Turpin. Roland then proposes that
Ganelon shall be sent; and hence arises the Wrath of Ganelon, which was
the ruin of Roland and the peers who stood by him. The warriors attack
each other in speeches of Homeric fury. Charles preserves his dignity,
and Ganelon departs on his mission. He deliberately sells himself,
and seals the fate of the peers whom he detests: the surprise of the
rearguard under Roland, the deadly battle, and the revenge of Charles
make up the rest of the poem. Not even in victory is Charles allowed
repose; the trumpet again summons him to war. He is of those whom Heaven
has called to endless combat--

     "Their whole lives long to be winding
      Skeins of grievous wars, till every soul of them perish,"

in the words of Diomede.

Such is the picture of the imperial Charles in one of the oldest of the
French epics. The heart of the poet is with the aged, but unbroken and
truly imperial, figure of St. Charlemagne--wise, just, and brave, a true
"shepherd of the people," regarded as the conqueror of all the known
kingdoms of the world. He is, among his fierce paladins, like "the
conscience of a knight among his warring members." "The greatness of
Charlemagne has entered even into his name;" but as time went on and
the feudal princes began the long struggle against the French king, the
poets gratified their patrons by degrading the character of the Emperor.
They created a second type of Charles, and it is the second type that on
the whole most resembles the Agamemnon of the _Iliad._

We ask why the widely ruling lord of golden Mycenae is so skilfully
and persistently represented as respectable, indeed, by reason of his
office, but detestable, on the whole, in character?

The answer is that just as the second type of Charles is the result of
feudal jealousies of the king, so the character of Agamemnon reflects
the princely hatreds of what we may call the feudal age of Greece. The
masterly portrait of Agamemnon could only have been designed to win
the sympathies of feudal listeners, princes with an Over-Lord whom they
cannot repudiate, for whose office they have a traditional reverence,
but whose power they submit to with no good will, and whose person and
character some of them can barely tolerate.

 [blank space] _an historical unity._ The poem deals with
what may be called a feudal society, and the attitudes of the Achaean
Bretwalda and of his peers are, from beginning to end of the _Iliad_ and
in every Book of it, those of the peers and king in the later _Chansons
de Geste_.

Returning to the decadent Charles of the French epics, we lay no stress
on the story of his incest with his sister, Gilain, "whence sprang
Roland." The House of Thyestes, whence Agamemnon sprang, is marked by
even blacker legends. The scandal is mythical, like the same scandal
about the King Arthur, who in romance is so much inferior to his
knights, a reflection of feudal jealousies and hatreds. In places the
reproaches hurled by the peers at Charles read like paraphrases of those
which the Achaean princes cast at Agamemnon. Even Naismes, the Nestor of
the French epics, cries: "It is for you that we have left our lands and
fiefs, our fair wives and our children ... But, by the Apostle to whom
they pray in Rome, were it not that we should be guilty before God we
would go back to sweet France, and thin would be your host." [Footnote:
_Chevalerie Ogier_, 1510-1529. _Épopées Françaises_, Léon Gautier, vol.
iii. pp. 156-157.] In the lines quoted we seem to hear the voice of the
angered Achilles: "We came not hither in our own quarrel, thou shameless
one, but to please thee! But now go I back to Phthia with my ships--the
better part." [Footnote: _Iliad_, I. 158-169.]

Agamemnon answers that Zeus is on his side, just as even the angry
Naismes admits that duty to God demands obedience to Charles. There
cannot be parallels more close and true than these, between poems born
at a distance from each other of more than two thousand years, but born
in similar historical conditions.

In Guide _Bourgogne,_ a poem of the twelfth century, Ogier cries, "They
say that Charlemagne is the conqueror of kingdoms: they lie, it is
Roland who conquers them with Oliver, Naismes of the long beard, and
myself. As to Charles, he eats." Compare Achilles to Agamemnon, "Thou,
heavy with wine, with dog's eyes and heart of deer, never hast thou
dared to arm thee for war with the host ..." [Footnote: _Iliad_, I. 227,
228. _Gui de Bourgogne_, pp. 37-41.] It is Achilles or Roland who stakes
his life in war and captures cities; it is Agamemnon or Charles who
camps by the wine. Charles, in the _Chanson de Saisnes_, abases himself
before Herapois, even more abjectly than Agamemnon in his offer of
atonement to Achilles. [Footnote: _Épopées Françaises_, Léon Gautier,
vol. iii. p. 158.] Charles is as arrogant as Agamemnon: he strikes
Roland with his glove, for an uncommanded victory, and then he loses
heart and weeps as copiously as the penitent Agamemnon often does when
he rues his arrogance. [Footnote: _Entrée en Espagne_.]

The poet of the _Iliad_ is a great and sober artist. He does not make
Agamemnon endure the lowest disgraces which the latest French epic poets
heap on Charles. But we see how close is the parallel between Agamemnon
and the Charles of the decadent type. Both characters are reflections of
feudal jealousy of the Over-Lord; both reflect real antique historical
conditions, and these were the conditions of the Achaeans in Europe, not
of the Ionians in Asia.

The treatment of Agamemnon's character is harmonious throughout. It
is not as if in "the original poem" Agamemnon were revered like St.
Charlemagne in the _Chanson de Roland_, and in the "later" parts of the
_Iliad_ were reduced to the contemptible estate of the Charles of the
decadent _Chanson de Geste_. In the _Iliad_ Agamemnon's character is
consistently presented from beginning to end, presented, I think, as it
could only be by a great poet of the feudal Achaean society in Europe.
The Ionians--"democratic to the core," says Mr. Leaf--would either have
taken no interest in the figure of the Over-Lord, or would have utterly
degraded him below the level of the Charles of the latest _Chansons_. Or
the late rhapsodists, in their irresponsible lays, would have presented
a wavering and worthless portrait.

The conditions under which the _Chansons_ arose were truly parallel
to the conditions under which the Homeric poems arose, and the poems,
French and Achaean, are also true parallels, except in genius. The
French have no Homer: _cared vate sacro_. It follows that a Homer was
necessary to the evolution of the Greek epics.

It may, perhaps, be replied to this argument that our _Iliad_ is only
a very late _remaniement_, like the fourteenth century _Chansons de
Geste_, of something much earlier and nobler. But in France, in the age
of _remaniement_, even the versification had changed from assonance to
rhyme, from the decasyllabic line to the Alexandrine in the decadence,
while a plentiful lack of seriousness and a love of purely fanciful
adventures in fairyland take the place of the austere spirit of war.
Ladies "in a coming on humour" abound, and Charles is involved with his
Paladins in _gauloiseries_ of a Rabelaisian cast. The French language
has become a new thing through and through, and manners and weapons are
of a new sort; but the high seriousness of the _Iliad_ is maintained
throughout, except in the burlesque battle of the gods: the
versification is the stately hexameter, linguistic alterations are
present, extant, but inconspicuous. That the armour and weapons are
uniform in character throughout we have tried to prove, while the state
of society and of religion is certainly throughout harmonious. Our
parallel, then, between the French and the Greek national epics appears
as perfect as such a thing can be, surprisingly perfect, while the great
point of difference in degree of art is accounted for by the existence
of an Achaean poet of supreme genius. Not such, certainly, were the
composers of the Cyclic poems, men contemporary with the supposed later
poets of the _Iliad_.



The conclusion at which we arrive is that the _Iliad_, as a whole, is
the work of one age. That it has reached us without interpolations and
_lacunae_ and _remaniements_ perhaps no person of ordinary sense will
allege. But that the mass of the Epic is of one age appears to be a
natural inference from the breakdown of the hypotheses which attempt to
explain it as a late mosaic. We have also endeavoured to prove, quite
apart from the failure of theories of expansion and compilation, that
the _Iliad_ presents an historical unity, unity of character, unity of
customary law, and unity in its archaeology. If we are right, we must
have an opinion as to how the Epic was preserved.

If we had evidence for an Homeric school, we might imagine that the Epic
was composed by dint of memory, and preserved, like the Sanskrit Hymns
of the Rig Veda, and the Hymns of the Maoris, the Zuñis, and other
peoples in the lower or middle stage of barbarism, by the exertions and
teaching of schools. But religious hymns and mythical hymns--the care
of a priesthood--are one thing; a great secular epic is another. Priests
will not devote themselves from age to age to its conservation. It
cannot be conserved, with its unity of tone and character, and, on the
whole, even of language, by generations of paid strollers, who recite
new lays of their own, as well as any old lays that they may remember,
which they alter at pleasure.

We are thus driven back to the theory of early written texts, not
intended to meet the wants of a reading public, but for the use of the
poet himself and of those to whom he may bequeath his work. That this
has been a method in which orally published epics were composed and
preserved in a non-reading age we have proved in our chapter on the
French Chansons _de Geste_. Unhappily, the argument that what was done
in mediaeval France might be done in sub-Mycenaean Greece, is based
on probabilities, and these are differently estimated by critics of
different schools. All seems to depend on each individual's sense
of what is "likely." In that case science has nothing to make in the
matter. Nitzsche thought that writing might go back to the time of
Homer. Mr. Monro thought it "probable enough that writing, even if known
at the time of Homer, was not used for literary purposes." [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. xxxv.] Sir Richard Jebb, as we saw, took a much more
favourable view of the probability of early written texts. M. Salomon
Reinach, arguing from the linear written clay tablets of Knossos and
from a Knossian cup with writing on it in ink, thinks that there
may have existed whole "Minoan" libraries--manuscripts executed on
perishable materials, palm leaves, papyrus, or parchment. [Footnote:
_L'Anthropologie_, vol. xv, pp. 292, 293.] Mr. Leaf, while admitting
that "writing was known in some form through the whole period of epic
development," holds that "it is in the highest degree unlikely that it
was ever employed to form a standard text of the Epic or any portion of
it.... At best there was a continuous tradition of those portions of the
poems which were especially popular ..." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i.
pp. xvi., xvii.] Father Browne dates the employment of writing for the
preservation of the Epic "from the sixth century onwards." [Footnote:
_Handbook of Homeric Study_, p. 134.] He also says that "it is difficult
to suppose that the Mycenaeans, who were certainly in contact with this
form of writing" (the Cretan linear), "should not have used it much
more freely than our direct evidence warrants us in asserting." He then
mentions the Knossian cup "with writing inscribed on it apparently in
pen and ink ... The conclusion is that ordinary writing was in use, but
that the materials, probably palm leaves, have disappeared." [Footnote:
_Ibid_., pp. 258, 259.]

Why it should be unlikely that a people confessedly familiar with
writing used it for the preservation of literature, when we know that
even the Red Indians preserve their songs by means of pictographs, while
West African tribes use incised characters, is certainly not obvious.
Many sorts of prae-Phoenician writing were current during the Mycenaean
age in Asia, Egypt, Assyria, and in Cyprus. As these other peoples used
writing of their own sort for literary purposes, it is not easy to
see why the Cretans, for example, should not have done the same thing.
Indeed, Father Browne supposes that the Mycenaeans used "ordinary
writing," and used it freely. Nevertheless, the Epic was not written,
he says, till the sixth century B.C. Cauer, indeed, remarks that "the
Finnish epic" existed unwritten till Lbnnrot, its Pisistratus,
first collected it from oral recitation. [Footnote: _Grundfragen der
Homerkritik_, p. 94.] But there is not, and never was, any "Finnish
epic." There were cosmogonic songs, as among the Maoris and Zuñis--songs
of the beginnings of things; there were magical songs, songs of
weddings, a song based on the same popular tale that underlies the
legend of the Argonauts. There were songs of the Culture Hero, songs of
burial and feast, and of labour. Lönnrot collected these, and tried by
interpolations to make an epic out of them; but the point, as Comparetti
has proved, is that he failed. There is no Finnish epic, only a mass of
_Volkslieder._ Cauer's other argument, that the German popular tales,
Grimm's tales, were unwritten till 1812, is as remote from the point at
issue. Nothing can be less like an epic than a volume of _Märchen._

As usual we are driven back upon a literary judgment. Is the _Iliad_ a
patchwork of metrical _Märchen_ or is it an epic nobly constructed? If
it is the former, writing was not needed; if it is the latter, in the
absence of Homeric guilds or colleges, only writing can account for its

It is impossible to argue against a critic's subjective sense of what
is likely. Possibly that sense is born of the feeling that the Cretan
linear script, for example, or the Cyprian syllabary, looks very odd
and outlandish. The critic's imagination boggles at the idea of an
epic written in such scripts. In that case his is not the scientific
imagination; he is checked merely by the unfamiliar. Or his sense of
unlikelihood may be a subconscious survival of Wolf's opinion, formed
by him at a time when the existence of the many scripts of the old world
was unknown.

Our own sense of probability leads us to the conclusion that, in an age
when people could write, people wrote down the Epic. If they applied
their art to literature, then the preservation of the Epic is explained.
Written first in a prae-Phoenician script, it continued to be written
in the Greek adaptation of the Phoenician alphabet. There was not yet,
probably, a reading public, but there were a few clerkly men.

That the Cretans, at least, could write long before the age of Homer,
Mr. Arthur Evans has demonstrated by his discoveries. Prom my remote
undergraduate days I was of the opinion which he has proved to be
correct, starting, like him, from what I knew about savage pictographs.
[Footnote: Cretan _Pictographs_ and _Prae-Phoenician_ Script. London,
1905. Annual of British _School_ of Athens, 1900-1901, p. 10. Journal of
_Hellenic Studies,_ 1897, pp. 327-395.]

M. Reinach and Mr. Evans have pointed out that in this matter tradition
joins hands with discovery. Diodorus Siculus, speaking of the Cretan
Zeus and probably on Cretan authority, says: "As to those who hold that
the Syrians invented letters, from whom the Phoenicians received them
and handed them on to the Greeks, ... and that for this reason the
Greeks call letters 'Phoenician,' some reply that the Phoenicians did
not [blank space] letters, but merely modified (transposed 3) the forms
of the letters, and that most men use this form of script, and thus
letters came to be styled 'Phoenician.'" [Footnote: Diodorus Siculus, v.
74. _L'Anthropologie,_ vol. xi. pp. 497-502.] In fact, the alphabet is
a collection of signs of palaeolithic antiquity and of vast diffusion.
[Footnote: Origins of the Alphabet. A. L. Fortnightly Review, 1904, pp.

Thus the use of writing for the conservation of the Epic cannot seem
to me to be unlikely, but rather probable; and here one must leave the
question, as the subjective element plays so great a part in every man's
sense of what is likely or unlikely. That writing cannot have been used
for this literary purpose, that the thing is impossible, nobody will now

My supposition is, then, that the text of the Epic existed in AEgean
script till Greece adapted to her own tongue the "Phoenician letters,"
which I think she did not later than the ninth to eighth centuries; "at
the beginning of the ninth century," says Professor Bury. [Footnote:
_History of Greece_, vol. i. p. 78. 1902.] This may seem an audaciously
early date, but when we find vases of the eighth to seventh centuries
bearing inscriptions, we may infer that a knowledge of reading and
writing was reasonably common. When such a humble class of hirelings
or slaves as the pot-painters can sign their work, expecting their
signatures to be read, reading and writing must be very common
accomplishments among the more fortunate classes.

If Mr. Gardner is right in dating a number of incised inscriptions on
early pottery at Naucratis before the middle of the seventh century,
we reach the same conclusion. In fact, if these inscriptions be of a
century earlier than the Abu Simbel inscriptions, of date 590 B.C., we
reach 690 B.C. Wherefore, as writing does not become common in a moment,
it must have existed in the eighth century B.C. We are not dealing here
with a special learned class, but with ordinary persons who could write.
[Footnote: _The Early Ionic Alphabet: Journal of Hellenic Studies_, vol.
vii. pp. 220-239. Roberts, _Introduction to Greek Epigraphy_, pp. 31,
151, 159, 164, 165-167]

Interesting for our purpose is the verse incised on a Dipylon vase,
found at Athens in 1880. It is of an ordinary cream-jug shape, with a
neck, a handle, a spout, and a round belly. On the neck, within a zigzag
"geometrical" pattern, is a doe, feeding, and a tall water-fowl. On the
shoulder is scratched with a point, in very antique Attic characters
running from right to left, [Greek: os nun orchaeston panton hatalotata
pais ei, tou tode]. "This is the jug of him who is the most delicately
sportive of all dancers of our time." The jug is attributed to the
eighth century. [Footnote: Walters, _History of Ancient Pottery_, vol.
ii. p, 243; Kretschmer, _Griechischen Vasen inschriften_, p. 110, 1894,
of the seventh century. H. von Rohden, _Denkmaler_, iii. pp. 1945, 1946:
"Probably dating from the seventh century." Roberts, op. cit., vol. i.
p. 74, "at least as far back as the seventh century," p. 75.]

Taking the vase, with Mr. Walters, as of the eighth century, I do not
suppose that the amateur who gave it to a dancer and scratched the
hexameter was of a later generation than the jug itself. The vase may
have cost him sixpence: he would give his friend a _new_ vase; it is
improbable that old jugs were sold at curiosity shops in these days, and
given by amateurs to artists. The inscription proves that, in the eighth
to seventh centuries, at a time of very archaic characters (the Alpha is
lying down on its side, the aspirate is an oblong with closed ends and
a stroke across the middle, and the Iota is curved at each end), people
could write with ease, and would put verse into writing. The general
accomplishment of reading is taken for granted.

Reading is also taken for granted by the Gortyn (Cretan) inscription of
twelve columns long, _boustro-phedon_ (running alternately from left to
right, and from right to left). In this inscribed code of laws, incised
on stone, money is not mentioned in the more ancient part, but fines and
prices are calculated in "chalders" and "bolls" ([Greek: lebaetes] and
[Greek: tripodes]), as in Scotland when coin was scarce indeed. Whether
the law contemplated the value of the vessels themselves, or, as in
Scotland, of their contents in grain, I know not. The later inscriptions
deal with coined money. If coin came in about 650 B.C., the older parts
of the inscription may easily be of 700 B.C.

The Gortyn inscription implies the power of writing out a long code
of laws, and it implies that persons about to go to law could read the
public inscription, as we can read a proclamation posted up on a wall,
or could have it read to them. [Footnote: Roberts, vol. i. pp. 52-55.]

The alphabets inscribed on vases of the seventh century (Abecedaria),
with "the archaic Greek forms of every one of the twenty-two Phoenician
letters arranged precisely in the received Semitic order," were, one
supposes, gifts for boys and girls who were learning to read, just like
our English alphabets on gingerbread. [Footnote: For Abecedaria, cf.
Roberts, vol. i. pp. 16-21.]

Among inscriptions on tombstones of the end of the seventh century,
there is the epitaph of a daughter of a potter. [Footnote: Roberts, vol.
i. p. 76.] These writings testify to the general knowledge of reading,
just as much as our epitaphs testify to the same state of education. The
Athenian potter's daughter of the seventh century B.C. had her epitaph,
but the grave-stones of highlanders, chiefs or commoners, were usually
uninscribed till about the end of the eighteenth century, in deference
to custom, itself arising from the illiteracy of the highlanders in
times past. [Footnote: Ramsay, _Scotland and Scotsmen_, ii. p. 426.
1888.] I find no difficulty, therefore, in supposing that there were
some Greek readers and writers in the eighth century, and that primary
education was common in the seventh. In these circumstances my sense of
the probable is not revolted by the idea of a written epic, in [blank
space] characters, even in the eighth century, but the notion that there
was no such thing till the middle of the sixth century seems highly
improbable. All the conditions were present which make for the
composition and preservation of literary works in written texts. That
there were many early written copies of Homer in the eighth century I am
not inclined to believe. The Greeks were early a people who could read,
but were not a reading people. Setting newspapers aside, there is no
such thing as a reading _people_.

The Greeks preferred to listen to recitations, but my hypothesis is that
the rhapsodists who recited had texts, like the _jongleurs_' books
of their epics in France, and that they occasionally, for definite
purposes, interpolated matter into their texts. There were also texts,
known in later times as "city texts" ([Greek: ai kata poleis]), which
Aristarchus knew, but he did not adopt the various readings. [Footnote:
Monro, Odyssey, vol. ii. p, 435.]

Athens had a text in Solon's time, if he entered the decree that the
whole Epic should be recited in due order, every five years, at the
Panathenaic festival. [Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii. p. 395.] "This
implies the possession of a complete text." [Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii.
p. 403.]

Cauer remarks that the possibility of "interpolation" "began only after
the fixing of the text by Pisistratus." [Footnote: _Grundfragen_, p.
205.] But surely if every poet and reciter could thrust any new lines
which he chose to make into any old lays which he happened to know, that
was interpolation, whether he had a book of the words or had none. Such
interpolations would fill the orally recited lays which the supposed
Pisistratean editor must have written down from recitation before he
began his colossal task of making the _Iliad_ out of them. If, on the
other hand, reciters had books of the words, they could interpolate at
pleasure into _them_, and such books may have been among the materials
used in the construction of a text for the Athenian book market. But if
our theory be right, there must always have been a few copies of better
texts than those of the late reciters' books, and the effort of the
editors for the book market would be to keep the parts in which most
manuscripts were agreed.

But how did Athens, or any other city, come to possess a text? One
can only conjecture; but my conjecture is that there had always been
texts--copied out in successive generations--in the hands of the
curious; for example, in the hands of the Cyclic poets, who knew our
_Iliad_ as the late French Cyclic poets knew the earlier _Chansons de
Geste_. They certainly knew it, for they avoided interference with
it; they worked at epics which led up to it, as in the _Cypria;_ they
borrowed _motifs_ from hints and references in the _Iliad_, [Footnote:
Monro, _Odyssey_, vol. ii. pp. 350, 351.] and they carried on the story
from the death of Hector, in the _AEthiopis_ of Arctinus of Miletus.
This epic ended with the death of Achilles, when _The Little Iliad_
produced the tale to the bringing in of the wooden horse. Arctinus goes
on with his _Sack_ of _Ilios_, others wrote of _The Return_ of _the
Heroes,_ and the _Telegonia_ is a sequel to the Odyssey. The authors of
these poems knew the _Iliad_, then, as a whole, and how could they have
known it thus if it only existed in the casual _repertoire_ of strolling
reciters? The Cyclic poets more probably had texts of Homer, and
themselves wrote their own poems--how it paid, whether they recited them
and collected rewards or not, is, of course, unknown.

The Cyclic poems, to quote Sir Richard Jebb, "help to fix the lowest
limit for the age of the Homeric poems. [Footnote: _Homer_, pp. 151,
154.] The earliest Cyclic poems, dating from about 776 B.C., presuppose
the _Iliad_, being planned to introduce or continue it.... It would
appear, then, that the _Iliad_ must have existed in something like its
present compass as early as 800 B.C.; indeed a considerably earlier date
will seem probable, if due time is allowed for the poem to have grown
into such fame as would incite the effort to continue it and to prelude
to it."

Sir Richard then takes the point on which we have already insisted,
namely, that the Cyclic poets of the eighth century B.C. live in an
age of ideas, religions, ritual, and so forth which are absent from the
_Iliad_ [Footnote: Homer, pp. 154, 155.]

Thus the _Iliad_ existed with its characteristics that are prior to 800
B.C., and in its present compass, and was renowned before 800 B.C. As
it could not possibly have thus existed in the _repertoire_ of
irresponsible strolling minstrels and reciters, and as there is no
evidence for a college, school, or guild which preserved the Epic by
a system of mnemonic teaching, while no one can deny at least the
possibility of written texts, we are driven to the hypothesis that
written texts there were, whence descended, for example, the text of

We can scarcely suppose, however, that such texts were perfect in all
respects, for we know how, several centuries later, in a reading age,
papyrus fragments of the _Iliad_ display unwarrantable interpolation.
[Footnote: Monro, _Odyssey_, vol. ii. pp. 422-426.] But Plato's frequent
quotations, of course made at an earlier date, show that "whatever
interpolated texts of Homer were then current, the copy from which
Plato quoted was not one of them." [Footnote: _Ibid_., p. 429] Plato had
something much better.

When a reading public for Homer arose--and, from the evidences of the
widespread early knowledge of reading, such a small public may have come
into existence sooner than is commonly supposed--Athens was the centre
of the book trade. To Athens must be due the prae-Alexandrian Vulgate,
or prevalent text, practically the same as our own. Some person or
persons must have made that text--not by taking down from recitation
all the lays which they could collect, as Herd, Scott, Mrs. Brown,
and others collected much of the _Border Minstrelsy_, and not by then
tacking the lays into a newly-composed whole. They must have done their
best with such texts as were accessible to them, and among these were
probably the copies used by reciters and rhapsodists, answering to the
MS. books of the mediaeval _jongleurs._

Mr. Jevons has justly and acutely remarked that "we do not know, and
there is no external evidence of any description which leads us to
suppose, that the _Iliad_ was ever expanded" (_J. H. S_, vii. 291-308).

That it was expanded is a mere hypothesis based on the idea that "if
there was an _Iliad_ at all in the ninth century, its length must
have been such as was compatible with the conditions of an oral
delivery,"--"a poem or poems short enough to be recited at a single

But we have proved, with Mr. Jevons and Blass, and by the analogy of the
Chansons that, given a court audience (and a court audience is granted),
there were no such narrow limits imposed on the length of a poem orally
recited from night to night.

The length of the _Iliad_ yields, therefore, no argument for expansions
throughout several centuries. That theory, suggested by the notion
that the original poem _MUST_ have been short, is next supposed to be
warranted by the inconsistencies and discrepancies. But we argue that
these are only visible, as a rule, to "the analytical reader," for whom
the poet certainly was not composing; that they occur in all long
works of fictitious narrative; that the discrepancies often are not
discrepancies; and, finally, that they are not nearly so glaring as the
inconsistencies in the theories of each separatist critic. A theory,
in such matter as this, is itself an explanatory myth, or the plot of
a story which the critic invents to account for the facts in the case.
These critical plots, we have shown, do not account for the facts of the
case, for the critics do not excel in constructing plots. They wander
into unperceived self-contradictions which they would not pardon in the
poet. These contradictions are visible to "the analytical reader," who
concludes that a very early poet may have been, though Homer seldom is,
as inconsistent as a modern critic.

Meanwhile, though we have no external evidence that the _Iliad_ was
ever expanded--that it was expanded is an explanatory myth of the
critics--"we do know, on good evidence," says Mr. Jevons, "that the
_Iliad_ was rhapsodised." The rhapsodists were men, as a rule, of one
day recitations, though at a prolonged festival at Athens there was time
for the whole _Iliad_ to be recited. "They chose for recitation such
incidents as could be readily detached, were interesting in themselves,
and did not take too long to recite." Mr. Jevons suggests that the many
brief poems collected in the Homeric hymns are invocations which the
rhapsodists preluded to their recitals. The practice seems to have been
for the rhapsodist first to pay his reverence to the god, "to begin from
the god," at whose festival the recitation was being given (the short
proems collected in the Hymns pay this reverence), "and then proceed
with his rhapsody"--with his selected passage from the _Iliad_,
"Beginning with thee" (the god of the festival), "I will go on
to another lay," that is, to his selection from the Epic. Another
conclusion of the proem often is, "I will be mindful both of thee and
of another lay," meaning, says Mr. Jevons, that "the local deity will
figure in the recitation from Homer which the rhapsodist is about to

These explanations, at all events, yield good sense. The invocation of
Athene (Hymns, XI., XXVIII.) would serve as the proem of invocation to
the recital of _Iliad_, V., VI. 1-311, the day of valour of Diomede,
spurred on by the wanton rebuke of Agamemnon, and aided by Athene. The
invocation of Hephaestus (Hymn XX.), would prelude to a recital of the
_Making of the Awns of Achilles_, and so on.

But the rhapsodist may be reciting at a festival of Dionysus, about whom
there is practically nothing said in the _Iliad_; for it is a proof of
the antiquity of the _Iliad_ that, when it was composed, Dionysus had
not been raised to the Olympian peerage, being still a folk-god only.
The rhapsodist, at a feast of Dionysus in later times, has to introduce
the god into his recitation. The god is not in his text, but he adds
him. [Footnote:_Ibid_., VI. 130-141]

Why should any mortal have made this interpolation? Mr. Jevons's theory
supplies the answer. The rhapsodist added the passages to suit the
Dionysus feast, at which he was reciting.

The same explanation is offered for the long story of the _Birth_
of [blank space] which Agamemnon tells in his speech of apology and
reconciliation. [Footnote:_Ibid_., XIX. 136.] There is an invocation to
Heracles (Hymns, XV.), and the author may have added this speech to his
rhapsody of the Reconciliation, recited at a feast of Heracles. Perhaps
the remark of Mr. Leaf offers the real explanation of the presence of
this long story in the speech of Agamemnon: "Many speakers with a bad
case take refuge in telling stories." Agamemnon shows, says Mr. Leaf,
"the peevish nervousness of a man who feels that he has been in the
wrong," and who follows a frank speaker like Achilles, only eager for
Agamemnon to give the word to form and charge. So Agamemnon takes refuge
in a long story, throwing the blame of his conduct on Destiny.

We do not need, then, the theory of a rhapsodist's interpolation, but it
is quite plausible in itself.

Local heroes, as well as gods, had their feasts in post-Homeric times,
and a reciter at a feast of AEneas, or of his mother, Aphrodite, may
have foisted in the very futile discourse of Achilles and AEneas,
[Footnote:_Ibid_., XX. 213-250.] with its reference to Erichthonius, an
Athenian hero.

In other cases the rhapsodist rounded off his selected passage by a few
lines, as in _Iliad_, XIII. 656-659, where a hero is brought to follow
his son's dead body to the grave, though the father had been killed
in _V. 576_. "It is really such a slip as is often made by authors who
write," says Mr. Leaf; and, in _Esmond_, Thackeray makes similar
errors. The passage in XVI. 69-80, about which so much is said, as if it
contradicted Book IX. (_The Embassy to Achilles_), is also, Mr. Jevons
thinks, to be explained as "inserted by a rhapsodist wishing to make
his extract complete in itself." Another example--the confusion in the
beginning of Book II.--we have already discussed (see Chapter IV.), and
do not think that any explanation is needed, when we understand that
Agamemnon, once wide-awake, had no confidence in his dream. However, Mr.
Jevons thinks that rhapsodists, anxious to recite straight on from the
dream to the battle, added II. 35-41, "the only lines which represent
Agamemnon as believing confidently in his dream." We have argued that he
only believed _till he awoke_, and then, as always, wavered.

Thus, in our way of looking at these things, interpolations by
rhapsodists are not often needed as explanations of difficulties. Still,
granted that the rhapsodists, like the _jongleurs_, had texts, and that
these were studied by the makers of the Vulgate, interpolations and
errors might creep in by this way. As to changes in language, "a
poetical dialect... is liable to be gradually modified by the influence
of the ever-changing colloquial speech. And, in the early times, when
writing was little used, this influence would be especially operative."
[Footnote: Monro, _Odyssey_, vol. ii. p. 461.]

To conclude, the hypothesis of a school of mnemonic teaching of the
_Iliad_ would account for the preservation of so long a poem in an age
destitute of writing, when memory would be well cultivated. There may
have been such schools. We only lack evidence for their existence. But
against the hypothesis of the existence of early texts, there is nothing
except the feeling of some critics that it is not likely. "They are
dangerous guides, the feelings."

In any case the opinion that the _Iliad_ was a whole, centuries before
Pisistratus, is the hypothesis which is by far the least fertile in
difficulties, and, consequently, in inconsistent solutions of the
problems which the theory of expansion first raises, and then, like an
unskilled magician, fails to lay.