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F I should be asked who I should prefer, of all the
Men that have come to my Knowledge, I should anfwer, " That I think three more excellent Homer prefera " than all the rest : One of them Homer; not red to the greatbut Aristotle and Varro, for Example, were eft Geniuses. peradventure as learned as he ; and possibly Virgil might compare with him, even in his own Art; I leave this to be determined by such as know them both; I, who, for my Part, understand but one of them, can only say this, according to my poor Talent, That I do not believe thé Muses themselves ever surpassed the Roman. Tale facit carmen doftâ testudine, quale
Cynthius impofitis temperat articulis *.
His Lute and Verse with Harmony as sweet conspire,
As when Apollo sings in Concert with his Lyre. And yet in this Judgment we are not to forget, that it is chiefly from Homer that Virgil derives his Excellence ; thao he is his Guide and Teacher; and that the Iliad only has supplied him with Body and Matter, out of which to compose his great and divine Æneis. I do not reckon upon that alone, but take in several other Circumstances that render this Poet admirable to me, even as it were above human Condition : And, in Truth, I often wonder, that he who has erected, and by his Authority given so many Deities Reputation in the World, was not deified himself, being both blind and poor, and so well acquainted with the Sciences, before they were reduced into Rule and certain Observations, that all those who have since taken upon them to establish Governments, to carry on Wars, and to write either of Philosophy or Religion, of what Sect foever, or of the Arts, have made use of him, as of
a moft • Propert. lib. ü. Eleg ult. v. 79, 85.
a most perfect Instructor, in the Knowledge of all Things; and of his Books as a Nursery of all Sorts of Learning:
Qui quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non,
i. e. Who hath what's brave, what's base, what's hurtful, and
what's good, Clearer than Crantor or Chryfippus lhew'd. and as this other says,
a quo ceu fonte perenni Vatum Pieriis Tabra rigantur aquis
At that clear Spring the Poets take their swill,
Which ever flows from the Pierian Hill. and another,
Adde Heliconiadum Comites, quorum unus Homerus
Of all the Poets, Homer is alone
cujusque ex ore profufo
'Tis contrary to the Order of Nature that he has made the moft excellent Production that can posfibly be ; for
the Hor. lib. i. Epift. 2. v. 3.
i Ovid. Amor. lib. ii. Eleg. 9. V. 2; u Lucret. lib. iii. v. 1050. ,
w Manil, Altron, lib. ii. v, 8, &c
the ordinary Birth of Things is imperfect; they thrive and gather Strength by growing: Whereas he has rendered even the Infancy of Poefy, and of several other Sciences, mature, perfect, and complete. And for this Reas font hei.may be called the first and the laft of the Poets, according to the fair Testimony Antiquity has left us of him, «* That, as there was none before him whom he « could imitate, fo there has been none since that could B imitate him. His Words, according to Ariftotle', are the only Words that have Motion and Action, and are the only fübftantial Words. Alexander the Great, having found a rich little Coffer amongst Darius's Spoils", gave Order it should be reserved for him to keep his 'Homer • in;' saying, " That he was the best and most faithful « Counsellor he had in his military Affairs *. For the same Reason it was that Cleomenes, the Son of Anaxandridas; said, “That he was the Lacedæmorian Poet, because he ( was the best Master for the Discipline of War. This fingular and particular Commendation is also left of him in the Judgment of Plutarch, 'That he is the only Aus thor in the World that never glutted nor disgusted' his < Readers, presenting himself always in different Lights, • and always flourishing in some new Grace' That merry Droll Alcibiades, having asked one who pretended to Learn ing for a Book of Homer, gave him a Box on the Ear be. cause he had none, which he thought as scandalous as we should for one of our Priests to be without a Breviary. Xenophanes complained one Day to Hiero, the Tyrant of Syracuse, ' That he was so poor he had not wherewithal i to maintain two Servants:' The Tyrant replied, “ Homer, « who was much poorer than you are., keeps above ten 6 thousand now he is dead.' What did Panatius leave unfaid' when he called Plato the Homer of Philosophers ? Besides, what Glory can be compered to his ? Nothing is so frequent in Men's Mouths as his Name and Works;
nothing * Velleži Paterculi Hiß. lib. i. c. 5.
y Arift. de Politica, c. 24, 2 Plin. Nat. Hift. lib. vii. c. 29. Plutarch, in the Life of Alexander, • In the Notable Sayings of the Lacedæmonians.
( Plutarcho in his Treatise of Loquacity, c. 5. Idem, in the Life of Alcibiades,
• Idem, in the Notable Sayings of the ancient Kings, &c. at the Word Hiero, Lic. Tuss. Quæit. lib. i. c. 32,
nothing to known and received as Troy, Helen, and the War about her, when perhaps there was never any such Thing. Our Children are still called by Names that he feigned above three thousand Years ago. Who is ignorang of the Story of Hector and Achilles ? Not only fome! par. ticular Families, but most Nations seek their Original in his Inventions. Mabomet, the second of that Name, Em. peror of the Turks, writing to our Pope Pius the Second;
I am astonished, says he, that the Italians should appear
against me, considering that we have our common De« scent from the Trojans; and that it concerns me, as well & as it does them, to revenge the Blood of Heftor upon ļ the Greeks, whom they Countenance against me.' Is it not a noble Farce wherein Kings, Republics, and Emperors have so many Ages played their Parts, and to which all this vast Universe serves for a Theatre? Seven Grecian Cities contended for his Birth, so much Honour did he de: şive even from his Obscurity.
Smyrna, Rbodys, Colophon, Salamis, Chios, Argos, Atbens 5. The second of my Three Personages is Alexander the
Great: For who ever will consider the Age Alexander the Great, the fe- at which he began his Enterprises; the small cond of these Means by which he effected to glorious a Deexcellent Per fign; the Authority he obtained, at fo fenJonages,
der an Age, with the greatest and most experienced Captains of the World, by whom he was followed; and the extraordinary Favour wherewith Fortune embraced him, and favoured so many hazardous, I had almost said rash Designs of his !
impellens quicquid fibi fumma petenti, Obftaret, gaudensque viam fecisse ruină,
i. e. Whose high Designs' no hostile Force could stay,
And who by Ruin lov'd to clear his Way. That Grandeur, to have, at the Age of thirty-three Years, passed victorious through the whole habitable Earth, and in half a Life to have attained to the utmost Effore
of & Aul. Gell. lib. iii. c. 11. Lucan, lib. i. v. 149, 150,
of human Nature ; so that you cannot imagine its Dura-
tune". As to his being a little given to Boasting, and
solution, i Plutarch in the Life of Alexander, c. 18. * Idem, ibid. c. 22. Q. Curtius, lib. ii. fect. 4. Plutarch, c, 18. 12 Idem, ib. eo 32 Qe Curtius, lib. x. fect, s,