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sey for women, Bentley probably understood ne than that the Iliad deals with war, and the Odyssey with the trials of a true wife. There is, indeed, a further sense in which we might say that the Iliad, with its historical spirit, was masculine, and the Odyssey, with its fairy-land wonders and its tender pathos, more akin to das Ewigweibliche; but we cannot read that meaning into Bentley's words. He seems to have found no such difference between the characters of the two epics as constrained him to become a "separator.” He had not felt, what is now so generally admitted, that the Odyssey bears the marks of a later time than the Iliad. Briefly, then, we cannot properly regard Bentley as a forerunner of the Homeric controversy on its literary or historical side, pre-eminently as his critical gifts would have fitted him to take up the question. He knew the ancient sources on which Wolf afterwards worked, but he had not given his mind to sifting them. Bentley's connexion with Homeric criticism is wholly on the side of the text, and chiefly in regard to metre.
In 1726 Bentley was meditating an edition of Homer, but intended first to finish his labours on the New Testament. In 1732 he definitely committed himself to the Homeric task. At that time the House of Lords had before it the question whether the Bishop of Ely could try Bentley. As the Horace had been dedicated to Harley, so the Homer was to be dedicated to Lord Carteret, a peer who was favourable to the Master of Trinity's cause, and who encouraged the design by granting or procuring the loan of manuscripts. In 1734 we find Bentley at work on Homer. But, though he made some progress, nothing was published. Trinity College possesses the only relics of his Homeric work.
First, there is a copy of H. Estienne's folio Poetae Graeci. In this Bentley had read through the Iliad, Odyssey, and Homeric Hymns, writing very brief notes in the margin, which are either his own corrections, or readings from manuscripts or grammarians. In the Hymns the notes become rarer; and it is evident that all were written rapidly. This is the book which Trinity College sent in 1790 to Göttingen, for the use of Heyne, who warmly acknowledges the benefit in the preface to his edition of the Iliad. Secondly, a small quarto manuscript book contains somewhat fuller notes by Bentley on the first six books of the Iliad. These notes occupy 43 pages of the book, ceasing abruptly at verse 54 of Iliad vil. Lastly, there is the manuscript draft of Bentley's notes on the digamma, the substance of which has been published by J. W. Donaldson in his New Cratylus.
The distinctive feature of Bentley's Homeric work is the restoration of the digamma. Bentley's discovery was too much in advance of his age to be generally received otherwise than with ridicule or disbelief. Even F. A. Wolf, who yielded to few in his admiration of the English critic, could speak of the digamma as merely an illusion which, in old age, mocked the genius of Bentley (senile ludibrium ingenii Bentleiani). At the present day, when the philological fact has so long been seen in a clearer light, it is easy to underrate the originality and the insight which the first perception of it showed.
In reading Homer, Bentley had been struck by such things as these. The words," and Atreides the king," are in Homer, Atreides te anax. Now the e in te would naturally be cut off before the first a in anax, making tanax. But the poet cannot have meant to cut it off, since that would spoil the metre. Why, then, was he able to avoid
catting it off? Because, said Bentley, in Homer's time the word anax did not begin with a vowel : it was vanax. Many old writers mention a letter which had disappeared from the ordinary Greek alphabet. Its sound had been like the Latin V-that is, probably, like our w. Its form was like F: which, to Greek eyes, suggested their letter gamma, I, with another gamma on its shoulders: and so they called this F the “double gamma,” the digamma. Several words are specified by the old grammarians as having once begun with this digamma. Bentley tried the experiment of replacing it before such words where they occurred in Homer. Very often, he found, this explained a gap (or “ hiatus "), like that in Atreides te anax. He came to the conclusion that, when the Homeric poems were composed, this letter was still used, and that it should always be prefixed, in Homer, to those words which once had it.
The first hint of this idea occurs in Bentley's copy (now at Trinity College) of the “Discourse of Free-thinking” by Anthony Collins, which Bentley was reading and annotating in 1713. On a blank leaf at the end he has written :
“Homer's diyapua Aeolicum to be added. oivos, Foivos, vinū: a Demonstration of this, because Foivos has always preceding it a vowel: so oivototá%wv."
Bentley's view was noticed by his friend Dr. Samuel Clarke, in the second volume of his Iliad, published posthumously in 1732. In the same year came forth Bentley's edition of Paradise Lost, in which he had occasion to quote Homer. There the digamma makes its modern début in all the majesty of a capital F—for which printers now use the sign F. It was the odd look of such a word as Féros that inspired Pope with the lines in the Dunciad. Bentley speaks :
“Roman and Greek grammarians! know your better,
Bentley had thrown a true and brilliant light on the text of Homer. But, as was natural then, he pushed his conclusion too far. The Greek Foinos is the same as vinum and wine. Homer, Bentley thought, could no. more have said oinos, instead of voinos, than Romans could say inum, or Englishmen ine. Accordingly, he set to work to restore this letter all through the Homeric poems. Often it mended the metre, but not seldom it marred it; and then Bentley was for changing the text. A single instance will give some idea of his task. In Iliad 1. 202 we have the words hübrăn ădē (üßpuv iðn), (that thou mayest) " see the insolence." This word ide was originally vide: its stem vid is that of the Latin video and our wit. Homer, said Bentley, could have written nothing but vide. And so, to make the metre right, he reads a different word (opñs). Now let us see what this involves. This stem vid is the parent of several words, very frequent in Homer, for seeing, seeming, knowing, form, etc. On Bentley's view, every one of these must always, in Homer, begin with F. The number of changes required can easily be estimated by any one who will consult Prendergast's Concordance to the Iliad, Dunbar's to the Odyssey and Homeric Hymns. I do not guarantee the absolute precision of the following numbers, but they are at least approximately correct. I find that about 832 derivatives of the stem vid occur in the Iliad, Odyssey, and Hymns. By F I denote those cases in which the metre requires the digamma: by N, those in which the metre excludes it: by Q, those cases which prove nothing:
So, for this one root vid, Bentley would have been compelled to amend the text of Homer in about 191 places. The number of digammated roots in Homer is between 30 and 40; no other is so prolific as vid; but a consistent restoration of the digamma would require change in at least several hundreds of places; and often under conditions which require that the changes, if any, should be extremely bold. Bentley's error consisted in regarding the digamma as a constant element, like any other letter in the radical parts of the words to which it had once been prefixed. It was not this, but rather the ghost of a vanished letter, which, in Homeric metre, fitfully haunts its ancient seats. Nor is it the only such ghost. When Bentley found that, in Homer, the word us, “as," can be treated as if it began with a consonant, he wrote fós: but the lost initial was not the spirant v: it was y: for wc is merely the ablative of ő-s, the Sanskrit yât.
Apart from the restoration of the digarıma, the relics of Bentley's work on Homer present other attempts at emendation. These are always acute and ingenious; but the instances are rare indeed in which they would now