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most probable, he was an Asiatic Greek, he may have been familiar with manythings which were very little known among his European countrymen before the Trojan war. The palace of Menelaus is all glittering with gold and silver, with ivory and amber; but its splendour excites astonishment in Telemachus: though his father's house is described as a princely mansion, and though he had just left Nestor's royal residence, he can only compare it with what he has been accustomed to conceive of Jove's palace in Olympus. We learn, however, that these sumptuous ornaments have for the most part been brought by Menelaus from foreign lands. So the breastplate of Agamemnon, which is not only singularly rich in its materials, but adorned with elegant figures, was a present which he had received from Cyprus. Indeed, it is clear that the poet attributes such a superiority to several Eastern nations, more especially to the Phoenicians, not only in wealth, but in knowledge and skill, that, compared with their progress, the arts of Greece seem to be in their infancy. The description of a Phoenician vessel which comes to a Greek island freighted with trinkets, and of the manner in which a lady of the highest rank, and her servants, handle and gaze on one of the foreign ornaments, present the image of such a commerce as Europeans carry on with the islanders of the South Sea. It looks as if articles of this kind at least were eagerly coveted, and that there were no means of procuring them at home. Such an inferiority may, however, be admitted, without supposing that the Greeks were altogether dependant on foreigners even for works which demanded a high degree of skill. It is possible that Homer's pictures of the heroic style of living may be too highly coloured, but there is reason to believe that they were drawn from the life. He may have been somewhat too lavish of the precious metals; but some of the others, particularly copper, were perhaps more abundant than in later times: besides copper and iron, we find steel and tin, which the Phoenicians appear already to have brought from the west of Europe, frequently mentioned. There can be no doubt that the industry of the Greeks had long been employed on these materials. There is no ground for supposing that the commerce which Homer represents them as carrying on with the Phoenicians was of very recent origin, and it could scarcely fail soon to rouse their native ingenuity to imitate and rival Phoenician art. We may, therefore, readily believe that, even in the heroic times, the works of Greek artisans already bore the stamp of the national genius. In some important points, the truth of Homer's descriptions has been confirmed by monuments, brought to light within our own memory, of an architecture which was most probably contemporary with the events which he celebrated. The remains of Mycenae and other ancient cities seem sufficiently to attest the fidelity with which he has represented the general character of that magnificence which the herutc chieftains loved to display. They seem to show that spacious buildings of a peculiar construction, lined within with plates of metal, and without richly adorned with marble, were fre
quently erected for the reception of the treasures amassed by the great;” and they were probably filled with chariots, vessels, and other works of art, worthy of such costly receptacles, which must have been in great part productions of native industry. On the other hand, the same poems afford several strong indications that though, in the age which they describe, such arts were perhaps rapidly advancing, they cannot then have been so long familiar to the Greeks as to be very commonly practised; and that a skilful artificer was rarely found, and was consequently viewed with great admiration, and occupied a high rank in society. Thus the craft of the carpenter appears to be exceedingly honourable. He is classed with the soothsayer, the physician, and the bard, and, like them, is frequently sent for from a distance.* The son of a person eminent in this craft is not mixed with the crowd on the field of battle, but comes forward among the most distinguished warriors;t and as in itself it seems to confer a sort of nobility, so it is practised by the most illustrious chiefs. Ulysses is represented as a very skilful carpenter. He not only builds the boat in which he leaves the Island of Calypso, but in his own palace carves a singular bedstead out of the trunk of a tree, which he inlays with gold, silver, and ivory. Another chief, Epeus, was celebrated as the builder of the wooden horse in which the heroes were concealed at the taking of Troy. The goddess Athené was held to preside over this, as over all manual arts, and to favour those who excelled in it with her inspiring counsels. Though war was the chief business and delight of the heroic ages, it appears to have been very far from being reduced to any form deserving the name of an art. This is nearly all that we can collect from Homer's descriptions of battles and sieges, though military affairs compose the whole subject of the Iliad. We learn much as to the combats of the chiefs, but little or nothing as to the engagements of the armies. Sometimes, indeed, the poet seems to attach great importance to the compact array of the troops; and he contrasts the silent and steady advance of the Greeks with the noisy march of the Trojans. But the issue of the conflict is always decided either by the immediate interposition of the gods, or by the personal valour of the heroes. The common warriors serve only as figures in the background, to fill up the picture. A single hero of eminent prowess can put a whole army to flight. Nestor, as the most experienced general, takes lead in the councils; and in the tenth year of the war he proposes a new order of battle, according to the natural or political divisions of the army; but no result appears to follow from the adoption of this plan. The strength and dexterity displayed by the chieftains in wielding their ponderous weapons are almost supernatural, yet they are probably not much exaggerated, and may be conceived as the effect of a long appli
* This opinion as to the destination of the Treasury, as it is commonly called, of Atreus, at Mycenae, and of other similar structures, which is maintained by Mueller in his Archäologie der Kunst and other works, has been strongly controverted by Welcker in a late review of the Archäologie in the Rh. Mus. Yet he admits that, as graves, they may have served to contain treasures.
f Od., xvii., 386. # Il., v., 60.
cation to chivalrous exercises; and they serve to explain the terror with which a whole host might be inspired by the presence of a single enemy. The principal heroes are still more distinguished from the throng by their chariots or cars, the use of which is the most striking feature in the heroic warfare: on the field of Troy, horses are not employed for any other purpose. It does not appear that they were used, like those of the ancient Britons, to throw the enemy's ranks into disorder. The warrior stood in his car by the side of his charioteer, and sometimes fought in that position; but he commonly alighted at the approach of a formidable antagonist, and then mounted again for pursuit or flight. But it is not easy to conceive how these operations were conducted so as to avoid extreme confusion and continual disasters. It is still more surprising to find that the Trojans, on one occasion, think of urging their horses, which naturally shrink from the danger, over a deep and broad ditch, with palisades, and a wall on the opposite side." No mention occurs of any artificial means for the attack of fortified towns. If the walls were too strong, or too well defended to be scaled, the besiegers were compelled to wait for an opportunity of effecting an entrance by surprise or stratagem. The walls of Troy are of extraordinary strength, and for years defy the assaults of the Greeks, though at first greatly superior in numbers. Patroclus, however, thrice attempts to mount by one of the outer buttresses, but is repulsed by the arm of the tutelary god. When the whole of the Trojan army is about to pass the night without the city, Hector directs the boys and old men to keep guard on the walls, to prevent a surprise which they had cause to apprehend from a detachment of the enemy; but he does not take a similar precaution for the protection of his troops, who have no security but their own vigilance against a hostile attack. The art of a general seems to have consisted more in concerting ambuscades and other stratagems and surprises, than in providing against them. The chances of war give occasion as might be expected, for frequent allusions to the healing art. The Greek army contains two chiefs who have inherited consummate skill in this art from their father Esculapius; and Achilles has been so well instructed in it by Chiron, that Patroclus, to whom he has imparted his knowledge, is able to supply their place. But the processes described in this and other cases show that there might often be the least danger from the treatment of the most unpractised hands. The operation of extracting a weapon from the wound with a knife seems not to have been considered as one which demanded peculiar skill; the science of the physician was chiefly displayed in the application of medicinal herbs, by which he stanched the blood and eased the pain. When Ulysses has been gored by a wild boar, his friends first bind up the hurt, and then use a charm for stopping the flow of blood. As the popular credulity, excessively exaggerated the virtue of medicinal herbs, so certain regions were supposed to be particularly favourable to their growth, and the same lands were celebrated for their deadly poisons. So the south
* Il., xii. 50.
of Thessaly, where Chiron collected the potent drugs with which he furnished Esculapius.” The name of Ephyra, which anciently belonged to several parts of Greece, as well as to a town or district in Epirus, was especially associated with this belief. The Thesprotian Ephyra, indeed, is only mentioned as a land of poisons; but the Elean Ephyra was in the kingdom of Augeas, whose daughter Agamedé—like Medea, who belongs as well to the Corinthian Ephyra as to the south of Thessaly—knew every medicine on the face of the earth.t The same property was attributed, as we have seen, to the soil of Egypt, where Helen received many excellent drugs from Polydamna; and among them one, the description of which seems to prove that the Greeks, in the time of Homer, were acquainted with the virtues of opium. These instances also indicate that, if in Greece every man was not a physician, as in Egypt, the art, such as it was, was as frequently and successfully practised by the women.
We have already seen that several of the arts which originally ministered only to physical wants had been so far refined before the time of Homer, that their productions gratified the sense of beauty, and served for ornament as well as for use. Hence our curiosity is awakened to inquire to what extent those arts, which became in later times the highest glory of Greece, in which she yet stands unrivalled, were cultivated in the same period. Unfortunately, the information which the poet affords on this subject is so scanty and obscure, as to leave room on many points for a wide difference of opinion. If we begin with his own art, of which his own poetry is the most ancient specimen extant, we find several hints of its earlier condition. It was held in the highest honour among the heroes. The bard is one of those persons whom men send for to very distant parts; his presence is welcome at every feast; it seems as if one was attached to the service of every great family, and treated with an alInost religious respect; Agamemnon, when he sets out on the expedition to Troy, reposes the most important of all trusts in the bard whom he leaves at home. It would even seen as if poetry and music were thought fit to form part of a princely education, for Achilles is sound amusing himself with singing, while he touches the same instrument with which the bards constantly accompany their strains. The general character of this heroic poetry is also distinctly marked; it is of the narrative kind, and its subjects are drawn from the exploits or adventures of renowned men. Each song is described as a short extemporaneous effusion—the newest is said to be the most extolled—but yet seems to have been rounded into a little whole, such as to satisfy the hearer's immediate curiosity. There was, however, another kind of poetry existing at the same period, though probably of much earlier origin, and recognised by Homer, though he notices it much more sparingly, the sacred poetry, which had, perhaps, been transmitted from the ancient bards, who were celebrated in the Greek traditions as founders of
* See Pindar, Pyth., iii., and the fragment of Dicoearchus *** ** end of Creuzer's Meletemata.
religious rites, and devoted to the service of the gods. It was probably with hymns drawn from this source that the anger of Apollo was to be soothed by the Greeks who were sent with a hecatomb to his temple at Chryse. The Odyssey affords a very interesting example of a third kind of poetry, in a little poem with which Demodocus entertains the Phaeacians, and which is given as if in the very words of the bard. It describes not any actions of mortals, but a scene in Olympus; the narrative is conducted in a strain of licentious levity, and the principal persons are placed in ludicrous situations. It is not improbable that this specimen illustrates the manner in which subjects properly belonging to the sacred poetry were
adapted, by a different mode of treatment, to
profane occasions and to a mixed company. Poetry and music are, in this period, as they long continued to be, almost inseparably united: the latter art commonly appears only as an humble attendant on the former, which serves to prepare the audience and to heighten the inspiration of the bard. It is uncertain whether the sound of flutes and pipes, which reaches the ear of Agamemnon from the Trojan station, ought to be considered as an exception. In the description of a wedding feast in the Iliad, instruments of different kinds are combined to accompany a dance and a choral song. Dancing was very frequently thus united with music and poetry; and the art appears to have been very carefully cultivated, as that which, on public occasions, formed the youth of both sexes into regular groups, and exhibited their agility in ceful and harmonious movements. The early f. of the Greeks for such spectacles was undoubtedly connected with that peculiar perception of beauty, which subsequently unfolded itself in their statuary, and had no slight influence on its development. It would not be equally clear, if we had no other source of information than Homer's descriptions, whether in his time architecture had arrived at such a stage as to deserve a place among the fine arts. There are two kinds of buildings which he frequently mentions, and which afforded the amplest room for the display of architectural skill—the palaces of the chiefs, and the temples of the gods. But even with respect to the private dwellings, which are oftenest described, the poet's language barely enables us to form a general notion of their ordinary plan, and affords no conception of the style which prevailed in them, or of their effect on the eye. It seems, indeed, probable, from the manner in which he dwells on their metallic ornaments, that the higher beauty of proportion was but little required or understood; and it is, perhaps, strength and convenience, rather than elegance, that he means to commend in speaking of the fair house which Paris had built for himself with the aid of the most skilful masons of Troy.” As to the temples—the dwellings or houses of the gods, as they are frequently called?—the precise nature of their construction is even still more obscure; though it seems robable that they did not very materially differ in their exterior from the princely mansions, * Il. vi., 314; compare 242, foll. * ***, door. The temples were probably intended to resemble the dwellings of the gods in Olyupus, which were considered as so many royal palaces (Od., iv., 74, foll). Wol. I.-O.
and that they resembled them in several points of their internal distribution.* The principal features which may be collected from Homer's allusions are, that they were, in general, at least partially roofed :f some, as that of Apollo at Delphi, contained great treasures; and that of the same god at Troy had an innermost sanctuary.f. The doors of the temple of Athené, at Troy, are opened by the priestess when an of fering is to be made to the goddess; and, in gen eral, the idea of a temple is constantly associated, not only with that of sacrifices, but with that of permanent votive offerings, consisting of robes, vessels, and other valuable productions of art, which must have required both safe custody and shelter, and would consequently contribute to determine the form of the building. All this, however, though it may serve to illustrate the general progress of refinement, does not much assist in fixing the station which architecture held among the arts. But if the remains, which we have already noticed, of the buildings known under the name of Treasuries are, rightly referred to the heroic ages, they seem to justify the belief that elegance of design and architectural decorations could not have been wholly wanting in the sacred edifices of the same period.| An equally interesting and difficult question presents itself as to the degree in which Homer and his contemporaries were conversant with the imitative arts, and particularly with representations of the human form. We find such representations on a small scale frequently described. The garment woven by Helen contained a number of battle scenes; as one presented by Penelope to Ulysses was embroidered with a picture of a chase, wrought with gold threads. The shield of Achilles was divided into compartments, exhibiting many complicated groups of figures; and though this was a masterpiece of Hephaestus, it would lead us to believe that the poet must have seen many less elaborate and difficult works of a like nature. But throughout the Homeric poems there occurs only one distinct allusion to a statue as a work of human art. The robe which the Trojan queen offers to Athené in her temple is placed by the priestess on the knees of the goddess, who was therefore represented in a sitting posture." Even this, it may be said, proves
* Besides the remark in the last note, this may be inferred from the word piyapoy being common to the temple and the house, in the sense of the inner or most private part. t This has been questioned on very insufficient grounds; as when it is observed that Pausanias, viii., 44, mentions a temple of Cybele in Arcadia, which remained to his time without a roof. Pausanias, in the same chapter, mentions a temple of Artemis which was in the same state, and probably from the same cause, the ravages of time and fortune. The assertion in the text seems to be clearly proved, both by the analogy which has been pointed out, and by several es in Homer. The temple of Apollo at Chryse has a roof (II., i., 39), and the dörrow in which Æneas is tended by Latona and Artemis can scarcely be imagined without one. The description of the temple at Delphi (Ill., ix.404) does not in the slightest degree mark that it was roofless; and with respect to that of Minerva at Athens, the contrary must be inferred from the poet's language, Od., xii., 81, 5ive 3. "I pixbios rvkov 86001, compared with Il. ii., 549. Even Hirt, being led by his theory to underrate the state of the arts in the time of Homer, gives a very unsatisfactor view of this subject in his Geschichte der Baukunst, i., p. 207. + il., v. 448. * Od., xii., 347. I. It was, however, not beauty, but massiveness that Pausanias admired in the treasury of Minyaa, which he says was a wonder not inferior to any in the world (ix., 36, 5). | " II., vi., 303. It seems not improbable that the phrase Taira Stow ly yovyaat kiirut may have had its origin in are entirely Greek, there is no reason for suspecting that the numerous legends which ascribed an antiquity far more remote than the Trojan war to many of the Greek idols were grounded on a totally mistaken view of the ancient religion. The golden statues of youths, erected on altars or pedestals, in the palace of Alcinous, to hold the torches which lighted the hall at night, since, like the silver dogs which guarded the doors, they must be considered as the work of Hephaestus, do not, perhaps, strictly belong to this inquiry any more than the female figures which the god had made of the same material, and had endued with motion, thought, and speech, to support his steps. They can only be admitted as additional indications that the poet was not a stranger to such objects. But as all accounts agree that the earliest productions of statuary among the Greeks, and, perhaps, among every other people, were consecrated to the service of religion, we are here only concerned with the state of this art in the Bomeric age, as applied to its noblest use, that of exhibiting the objects of divine worship. On this subject two opposite opinions are still very warmly maintained. It is admitted on both sides that the earliest objects of adoration among the inhabitants of Greece were not imitative, but symbolical; not idols, but either rude stones, or wooden staves or beams, which were not even carved into a distant likeness of the 1ıuman form. It was thus that the god of Love was worshipped at Thespiae,” the goddess of Beauty at Paphos,t the Graces at Orchomenus,t Zeus and Artemis at Sicyon,' the Twins at Sparta. Even in the time of Pausanias, the inhabitants of Chaeronea paid higher honours to a staff, which they believed to be the sceptre of Agamemnon described in the Iliad, than to any of the gods." And the same author, after relating that at Pharao, in Achaia, thirty square stones were adored, each under the name of a separate god, observes that, in ancient times, all the Greeks paid divine honours to rude stones instead of images.** The question, then, is, at what time, and through what course, this universal mode of worship was exchanged for that of the idols which afterward occupied the Grecian temples. Some writers conceive that the fact may be sufficiently explained by the natural progress of the rise and fall of art, which, on its first awakening, began to make some
nothing as to the Greeks; but, not to mention rude additions to the old symbols, for the purthat the religion and manners of the Trojans | pose of bringing them nearer to the human
form; and gradually introduced complete figures, which, under the hands of successive artists, acquired more and more of truth and grace. To others it has appeared that such a gradual change is highly improbable in itself, because hardly consistent with the veneration paid to the original symbols; and that it contradicts all the best evidence remaining on the subject, which points, not to a progressive alteration of the primitive symbols, but to an immediate substitution of new idols. This substitution, it is supposed, was effected by the foreign settlers, particularly the Egyptian; to whom, in fact, the institution of religious rites, and the dedication of certain images, is ascribed by the Greek traditions as to Danaus,” Cecrops,t and Cadmust \This view of the origin of Grecian art has also the advantage of explaining a fact in its history which it is otherwise very difficult to account for. It is universally admitted that a great revolution took place in the sixth century before our era, which, in the course of little more than a hundred years, brought Grecian sculpture to its highest stage of perfection. But that revolution was preceded by a period of many centuries, during which the art appears to have remained, in all its essential points, very nearly stationary; so that intelligent judges, who, like Pausanias, were able to compare the works of all periods, from the earliest to the latest, considered the artists of the first period as all belonging to the same school, that of the most ancient sculptor, Daedalus. This long pause is the more mysterious the higher we estimate the industry and skill with which, as we have already seen, the Greeks had begun to cultivate many branches of art, even before the time of Homer. But the enigma is solved if it be supposed that in Greece, as in Egypt, during the early ages, the influence of religion fettered the art which was originally devoted to its service, by prescribing a sacred type, which it was deemed irreverent to alter; and that the form of the old idol remained so long unchanged, because it had been suddenly introduced, and immediately acquired an inviolable sanctity in the eyes of the people, which was extended to all its parts and proportions. Thus the iegends of the Oriental colonists would receive unexpected confirmation from a new side. It may, however, be observed, that even if there is nothing improbable in the supposition that the Egyptian idols having once been dispersed over Greece, their original form was everywhere preserved during the same period, and from the same motive, with equal rigour, still it is difficult to conceive that the new worship could have gained universal admittance, unless it had been suited to the religious wants and ideas of the people; and in this case it appears very credible that it might have sprung up at home, without the intervention of foreigners. This change may have been one of those which distinguished the Hellenic from the earlier Pelasgian period, and may have corresponded to another, of which we have some more distinct intimation in the national poetry, by which the sacred song of the ancient oracular bards made way for the heroic style of celebrating the deeds of men and gods.” The mode in which the change was effected may, indeed, often, and even generally, have been the intervention of a new figure, which either at once, or in process of time, took the place of the old symbol. There were, however, probably many places where there was no visible object of worship, or where some sacred animal was honoured as the representative of a deity; and in such instances there would be no room for a conflict between old and new forms. But as all accounts agree that wood was the material of the most ancient images of the gods, it seems not at all difficult to imagine that they may sometimes have been produced by a gradual transformation. An upright beam or plank has always so much resemblance to the human shape, that a few rudely marked lines are sufficient to suggest it to the spectator's fancy. According to Plutarch's description, the Spartan Twins were anciently represented by two parallel vertical pieces of wood, joined together by two others, also parallel and horizontal. This was, perhaps, at first a mere symbol of union; but a lively imagination, without any artificial assistance, might have seen in it two persons meeting in a fraternal embrace. Much slighter hints have suggested the names of most of the constellations. Even according to this view of the subject, it may be said that the early Grecian art, after having reached a certain low stage, was long kept stationary by the influence of religion; in other words, the people and the artists were long satisfied with the expression of religious ideas, which was ef. fected partly by the human form, and partly by the symbols which, in the ancient statues, were commonly united with it. In the old idols, which appear to have been all clothed, the drapery and symbolical ornaments naturally occupied the artist's attention more than the features. The capacities of the art were gradually unfolded by the employment of new materials. The use of clay and bronze preceded that of marble; but the first bronze statue was probably much later than the age of Homer.t. The slow progress of sculpture, and the uniformity of its early productions, may perhaps be sufficiently explained by the usage according to which the art passed down from generation to generation in the same families. But this is a question which, as it depends on the precise character of the monuments which have been transmitted or described to us, can only be determined by competent judges of such subjects, To pictures, or the art of painting, properly so called, the poet, makes no allusion, though he speaks of the colouring of ivory as an art in which the Carian and Maconian women excelled. It must, however, be considered that there is only one passage in which he expressly men
the supplication addressed to a visible image. The ancients
* Callimachus, Fr., cy. Herod., ii., 182.
* Od, 1,338. f According to Pausanias (iii., 17, 6), it was the work of Learchus of giwon; therefore, not earlier than the latter
half of the eighth century R. C. Of Dipo-nus and Scyllis, Pliny says (N.H., xxxvi., 4) that they were the first artists who garned reputationly sculpture in marble, and that they flourished about the fiftieth Olympiad.
tions any kind of delineation, and there in a very obscure manner, though he has described so many works which imply a previous design. This remark naturally suggests a question the most important of any connected with the progress of knowledge and art, and which we have therefore reserved for the last place—the question whether the art of writing had been introduced, or to what extent it was practised among the Greeks in the age of Homer. To understand the real nature of the question, it is necessary to distinguish three points, which, though connected by tradition, are in themselves quite independent of each other: the origin of the Greek alphabet, the epoch of its introduction, and the period when the Greeks became familiar with its use. On the first of these points there is now no room for dispute. The names of most of the letters, their order, and the forms which they exhibit in the most ancient monuments, all confirm the truth of the tradition that the Greek alphabet was derived from Phoenicia; and every doubt on this head which a hasty view of it in its later state might suggest, has long received the most satisfactory solution. Several changes were necessary to adopt the Eastern characters to a foreign and totally different language. The powers of those which were unsuited to the Greek organs were exchanged for others which were wanting in the Phoenician alphabet; some elements were finally rejected as superfluous from the written language, though they were retained for the purpose of numeration; and, in process of time, the peculiar demands of the Greek language were satisfied by the invention of some new signs. The alterations which the figures of the Greek characters underwent may be partly traced to the inversion of their position, which took place when the Greeks instinctively dropped the Eastern practice of writing from right to left—a change the gradual progress of which is visible in several extant inscriptions. This fact, therefore, is established by evidence which could scarcely borrow any additional weight from the highest historical authority. But the epoch at which the Greeks received their alphabet from the Phoenicians is a point as to which we cannot expect to find similar proof; and the event is so remote, that the testimony even of the best historians cannot be deemed sufficient immediately to remove all doubt on the question. We need not here notice the numerous Greek legends concerning the origin of the art of writing, which are evidently for the most part poetical, or philosophical, or merely arbitrary fictions. A statement much more deserving attention, both on account of its author and of its internal marks of diligent and thoughtful inquiry, is given by Herodotus. The Phoenicians, he relates, who came with Cadmus to Thebes, introduced letters, along with other branches of knowledge, among the Greeks; the characters were at first precisely the same as those which the Phoenicians continued to use in his own day, but their powers and form were gradually changed, first by the Phoenician colonists themselves, and afterward by the Greeks of the adJacent region, who were Ionians. These, as they received their letters from Phoenician teachers, named them Phaenician letters; and the historian adds, that in his own time the