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characterized the images constituting your visions; a vividness truly very great; so great as to give them a seeming reality, even while you retained a general knowledge (except for brief periods of time too small to be remembered by the mind itself,) that they had no actual reality. And I have no hesitation in stating my belief, that your “hallucinations” were occasioned in this way; the morbid irritations of your nervous system occasioned a peculiar activity of the mind; successive conceptions were excited, not in any extraordinary manner, but in accordance with what are called the laws of simple suggestion, the primary and the secondary ; these mere conceptions were followed by a correspondent action of the optic nerve, which in its morbid sensitiveness assumed more or less exactly the condition ordinarily caused only by the actual presence of the objects conceived; this action of the optic nerve produced more or less exactly the sensations ordinarily existing when such objects are seen; and these sensations as a matter of course produced that instantaneous reference of them to outward causes which ordinarily accompanies sensation ; thus mere conceptions become as vivid nearly as actual perceptions; or in other words, mere conceptions were converted into seeming perceptions; or you seemed to see what in truth you only imagined. I have only to advert to the circumstance to which I just alluded as belonging to the secondary laws of suggestion, viz. that morbid irritations of the optic nerve might greatly modify the conceptions successively awakened, by forming the reason why one set or combination of mere conceptions should arise rather than another under the same primary laws. If disease or any phy
sical influence whatever produce irritations in the optic nerve, and these irritations cause a few very slight sensations similar to the sensations once produced by the actual sight of an object, it would be entirely according to the established principles of suggestion, that these few slight sensations should awaken a conception of the object itself, whether a human face, or anything else. W. Finally, let me remark, that if we suppose the conceptions constituting your visions were originated thus from slight sensation, we shall have a reason for their being vivid, without adopting the conjecture that conception operates reflexly upon the nerves and so tends to convert itself into false perception, and also without admitting the principle that mere conception tends to awaken a belief of the reality of what is conceived ; since the case would be an instance of conceptions awakened in harmony with perception; the perception being indeed but false perception, yet having the essential nature of perception as a mental act, viz. a reference of actual sensations to some outward cause ; so that the belief, which, as all know, invariably accompanies the perception, would be extended over all the associated conceptions. But if we suppose the conceptions to have been first suggested by certain actual sensations, and also admit the principle respecting the tendency of conception to awaken belief, and especially if we admit the conjecture respecting the tendency of conception to act reflexly upon the nerves, we shall find ample reasons for the vividness of your visions; as then we may consider them as resulting partly from false perception and partly from disordered conception. Very sincerely, your friend and servant, N. W. Fiske.
It is a circumstance which we think augurs well for the cause of Greek learning in our country, that many of its most distinguished scholars are expending their labors on the works of Homer. It was but recently we saw announced as in the press, or already published, new editions of the old bard from Prof. Elton, Prof. Crosby, and the Rev. J. J. Owen, all of whom have become favorably known to the public by their labors in the department of classical learning. Here again, besides a complete Lexicon of the Homeric Poems, translated from Crusius by Prof. Smith, we have another edition of the Iliad, or rather of a part of it, from that indefatigable scholar, Prof. Anthon—marked by the same general features which have so strongly characterized his other works in the same department—accuracy and ripeness of scholarship, united with a copiousness of explanation and illustration, which leaves the student nothing to desire, and we had almost said, in the way of original investigations, nothing to do. Our object in the present article, is not to discuss the question respecting the best mode of preparing text-books for the use of students in the earlier stages of their classical course. We may however be permitted to suggest the inquiry, whether the utility of Prof. Anthon's criticisms of the classics is not impaired by the very
* A complete Greek and English Lexicon of the Poems of Homer and the Homeridae, from the German of G. Ch. Crusius: translated by Henry Smith, Professor of Languages in Marietta College. Hartford, H. Huntington. The first three books of Homer's Iliad, with English notes, critical and explanatory, a metrical Index and Homeric Glossary, by Charles Anthon, LL.D., Jay Professor of the Greek and Latin Lanuages in Columbia College. New York, arper & Brothers.
copiousness of explanation of which we have spoken. Would not the student earlier become an independent scholar, and be prepared sooner, sine cortice, to launch out fearless and alone into the broad current of classical learning, if, in his incipient efforts, he were not so entirely sustained by supports derived from the Professor's hand 2 Be this as it may, in common with all who are interested in the progress of sound learning, we feel under obligations for this new contribution to our means of study, in a department which has already been so greatly enriched by his critical labors. Among the Greeks, the author of the Homeric poems was known as 6 tour tiss, the poet, while other nations have united in designating him as the father of song—a dis. tinction awarded to him, not more because of the early period at which he lived, than on account of the intrinsic merit of his productions. In every age since they were collected, they have been studied not only as monuments of genius venerable for their antiquity, but admired as rich and exhaustless repositories of whatever is noble in sentiment and beautiful in diction. To the Greek philologist they are invaluable, because they present the simple and early forms of his favorite language. To the lover of classic lore, they are commended as the original fountains from which have sprung many of the streams of Grecian and Roman literature. The poet recognizes in them some of the most perfect models of the poetic art, while all who are able to discern and appreciate their excellences, unite in giving them the highest place in that department of literature to which they belong. It is hence not without reason, that
these poems occupy so prominent a place in our courses of academic and collegiate education; and the fact, though remarkable, is yet one in which we think all have occasion to rejoice, that the ablest scholars of our own times are finding for themselves a profitable employment in preparing new editions of an author, whose age transcends the limits of recorded history, and whose very place on the records of the world can not with certainty be assigned. Had the several books of the Iliad and Odyssey, as they have descended to modern times, a common author 2 What are their leading characteristics as poems ? And what has been their influence on Grecian literature ?—are questions interesting to every classical student, and yet in general, questions foreign from the plan and aims of those who prepare editions of Homer for common use in schools and colleges. Without aiming at a full discussion of these questions, it is our purpose briefly to notice each of them in the present article. It was not until the latter part of the seventeenth century, that the first of these questions was seriously raised. A theory appears then to have been suggested in France, which has since been developed and defended with great learning in Germany, wholly at variance with what had previously been the universally received opinion of the learned on this subject. The history of this theory we shall quote from Prof. Fisk’s translation of Eschenburg’s Manual, where is found a concise view of the leading points in dispute, as well as the names of those scholars who have most distinguished themselves in the controversy. “The first doubts, whether Homer was the sole author of the Iliad and Odyssey, seem to have been expressed by Perrault in his Parallele des Anciens et des Moderns, (Paris, 1688,) in which it is sugVol. III. 28
gested that they are but a collection of many little poems of different authors. This suggestion was enforced by F. Hedelin, who went so far as to deny the personal existence of Homer, (1715.) Dr. Bentley expressed an opinion, that these poems originally consisted of several distinct songs and rhapsodies composed by Homer, but not united in an epic form until five hundred years afterwards. The same idea was more fully developed by an Italian author, G. B. Vico, (Naples, 1744.) A bolder position was taken by Robert Wood in his essay upon the original genius of Homer, published in London, (1770,) viz. that Homer could not have committed his poems to writing. In 1795, Wolf published his Prolegomena ad Homerum, in which he maintained that the Iliad and Odyssey are not the production of Homer or of any other single author, but a collection of rhapsodies composed at different times and by different persons, and subsequently and gradually wrought up into the form in which they now exist. At the close of the year, (1795,) Heyne, who then had the reputation of the first Hellenist in Germany, while Wolf was acquiring that of a rival to him, published a review of Wolf's Prolegomena. In this review Heyne stated or insinuated, that he had always himself taught the same general doctrine respecting the Homeric poems. This was resented by Wolf, and occasioned a controversy between these champions— not as has often been supposed concerning the genuineness of these poems, but concerning the merit of priority in starting the new theory of their gradual formation. This contest for the honors of originating the doctrine had great influence in deciding general opinion in favor of it in Germany. In 1802, Heyne fully avowed and supported the theory in the excursuses in his edition of the Iliad. The theory was attacked in France by St. Croix. In England also a powerful opposer of it has appeared in Granvelle Pen. (1821.) Schöll gives a glance at the history of this question, and plainly intimates that he does not embrace the Wolfian doctrines. “Posterity,” says he, “will judge of their solidity,” and we will only add that while in Germany the views of Wolf are generally received, they are almost as generally rejected in England, Holland, France, and Italy. It is known that they were firmly resisted by Ruhnken, one of the greatest critics of the last century, and by the celebrated Willoison.” From this statement it will be seen, that the question under consideration is not to be settled by an appeal to mere authority; because the highest authorities have been divided. It may indeed appear to savor of presumption, to argue against the opinions of Heyne and Wolf. And yet we should regard their opinions as of more weight, if they had not been propounded at a time when skepticism was the prevailing tendency of the German mind; and when it was the fashion of the most distinguished German scholars to rest their claims to distinction, not so much upon the profound learning which they possessed, as the startling and paradoxical theories which they should themselves be able to defend. It should not indeed excite our surprise, that Heyne and Wolf were inclined to question the authenticity of the Homeric poems, while men of equal distinction were denying that of almost every book of the sacred volume, and were priding themselves on their disregard of all established opinions. Nor, in estimating the opinions of such men, should the fact escape our notice as one of which the records of literature afford many illustrations, that the habits of mind induced by long-continued and exclusive attention to mere verbal criticism, do not always prove most
favorable to soundness and comprehensiveness of general views. The acute and learned Bentley, it is known, proposed to find interpolated passages in Paradise Lost, and under the absurd assumption, that Milton had been imposed upon in his blindness by his amanuensis, actually made some hundreds of emendations in the application of his own canons of criticism. Barnes too, the learned commentator upon the works of Homer, ascribed to them a Jewish origin, and gravely taught that they were the productions of King Solomon. It surely can be no demand of reason that we should respect such opinions, because Bentley and Barnes were the highest authority of their times in matters pertaining to verbal criticism. We can conceive that even Heyne and Wolf, with all their skill as commentators upon the text of Homer, may have been poorly prepared to judge of his productions when contemplated as complete works ; and this for the same reason that an artist often shows himself capable of executing with exquisite taste, the minute ornaments which adorn the various parts of some magnificent temple, who is yet utterly incapable of appreciating the relation of those parts to each other and to the entire structure. Respecting the origin of the Iliad and Odyssey, no doubts appear to have been entertained among the ancients themselves—or none which prevented their general ascription to the same author. Thus Longinus, who may be regarded as speaking the prevailing opinion of the ancients, supposes the Iliad to have been the production of Homer's earlier years, while the Odyssey was that of his old age, and accordingly, he beautifully compares the one to the mid-day—the other to the setting sun, and remarks that in the Odyssey, though in some degree divested of its heat, the genius of Homer appears to have lost none of its original splendor and majesty. Thus too, Horace in his second epistle, after speaking of the author of the Iliad, alludes to the other poem.
“Rursus, quid virtus, et quid sapientia possit Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulixen,” etc.
In opposition to authorities like these, we deem it of little avail to assert that “while the similes and topographical allusions of the Iliad mostly relate to Asia Minor, those of the Odyssey are characteristic of the Peloponnesus, that the differences of language in the two poems are not inconsiderable, and that they appear more like a regular development of some of its forms than the admission of provincial idioms—that the manners and customs and arts, show the same gradual progressiveness, and not the mere casual usages of various tribes in a more backward or mature state of advancement, and that the differences in the mythology of the two poems are still greater.” On the ground of even such objections, admitting them to be well founded, we do not feel prepared to set aside the opinion, respecting the authorship of these works, derived from antiquity, in which the great mass of modern scholars have been accustomed to acquiesce. If, as af. firmed by Longinus, the two poems were composed at widely different periods of life, it can not be difficult to account for the differences which have been alluded to. During the wanderings of a long life, it would seem natural, that from the Ionian cities and islands upon the coast of Asia Minor, the bard should extend his journeyings into various parts of Greece. If so, the differences in question, so far from being inexplicable, are what we should expect, as the result of his more extended observation, and his greater intercourse with men. It is not to be supposed, that in all parts of Greece, there existed but one version of the
many fables of her romantic mythology; nor that in all places among that most versatile people, there was to be found a stereotyped language, or manners of one unvarying mould. The very opposite of all this is known to have been true ; and that a mind so observing, and so susceptible, as was obviously that of the author of these poems, should furnish evidence of this fact, accords with what reason and common sense would lead us to expect. Had the darkness of antiquity cast its shadows upon the history of the great epic poet of our own language, as it has upon that of Homer, we doubt not questions, as to identity of authorship, might have arisen respecting Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Still more do we believe, that under similar circumstances, such questions might have arisen, respecting the origin of Childe Harold and Don Juan. With the progress of life and experience, the minds of poets, as of other men, are subject to change, and it is but natural that we should meet traces of this, in the habits of thinking, and in the modes of expression, presented in their successive productions. But the same theory which denies the Iliad and Odyssey to have had a common origin, requires us also to regard the different parts of the Iliad itself, as the productions of different authors. Its advocates af. firm, that “whether any such person as Homer ever lived or not, the Iliad was not composed entirely by him, or by any other single individual ; but is a compilation, methodized indeed, and arranged by successive editions, but still a compilation of minstrelsies, all having one common theme and direction.” To this we might again reply, by referring to the authority of the ancients themselves. To the acutest minds among the Greeks—to say nothing of the Romans—the supposition seems never to have occurred, that in the Iliad they possessed the