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of Mars, when like a child, whose finger a pin had scratched, he comes whimpering into the presence of his papa, Jupiter, and complains, that the man Diomed had, disgraced him in the field, and shed his divine ichor on the Phrygian plain!: The limping gait of Vulcan, and his form and dress and manners adapted to his profession a or the scurrilous wit and jests of Momus, such as of a court fool in the palace of jars feudal monarch, present a buffoonery, which would disgrace the banquet of men, but must sink the character of gods during their convivial intercourse into absolute contempt.: Are such the images, to which the epic muse can descend !1, Can these excité one noble passion: It is not the will of the implacable Jano, though next in rank to the sovereign of Heaven, which can raise the bosom of the yielding ocean, and threaten the destruction of the hated Æneas and his fleet, but her majesty must supplicate the aid of a savage god in some wild region, who has the winds imprisoned in a cave, and she debauches I 2
him from his duty by the promise of a beautiful mistress. How ridiculous is the personification of these winds, who, from the volume of their lungs, can emit a power sufficient to convulse all Nature -The Ice landic Edda would be disgraced by such a deification, nor is the idea of a Lapland witch imprisoning a storm in a leathern bag more contemptible. Cotton has done them ho injustice in his ludicrous exhibition of their modus operandi. What a rabble of gods and goddesses is exhibited to our view among the Dii Minores of the heathen my thology! How low in their characters ! how mean in their functions! Yet they all have a supposed being and ministration, and all occasionally have their parts assigned to them in the epopæia of the ancients. The satyrs of the woods, with their shaggy bodies, and their lustful propensities, the worthy attendants of the drunken Bacchus; the god Pan with his half-human, half-beastly form; the ugly, pot-bellied, drunken SileDus, the fit preceptor of Bacchus; the versa
tile Proteus, with his cameleon transmutations, and followed by the deified monsters of the deep; the sooty blacksmiths of the caverns of mount Ærna; the infernal gods, not less horrid in their persons than in their minds, not ill prefigured by the threeheaded porter of Hell, whom a greasy sop can debauch from his duty; with a thousand more, constitute all together a magnificent group; they form a glorious addition to the Dii Majores, whom we have contemplated ; they furnish a splendid imagery to grace the sublimer poetry of the ancients. There is, indeed, in the personification of the ideas of the mind, or of the rich scenery of nature, a real poetic beauty, which man delights in, which gives animation and power to language ; and this is a propensity common to men ; it is not peculiar to the heathen my. thology, it has been the common vehicle of human description in all ages and nations, But these have no resemblance to the rabble, whom we have noticed ; this rabble have a
being and appropriate agency, and can with no dignity, with no beauty, be introduced into the higher walks of poetry. · If we look in vain therefore for grand and splendid imagery in the celestial machinery of the epic, what is there left of worth in it, if it aid none of the rich sympathies of the heart, which are the principal feast that it looks for in the various exhibitions of the poetic muse?
But it is a further charge against the officious interposition of the heathen deities in the ancient epic, that it annihilates man, or sinks him into comparative insignificance; and thus destroys, or chills, that'sympathy, which is the attractive charm of historic poetry
The heroism of fellow-man, derived from the resources of human nature, is always an interesting object; but its impression is weakened, inasmuch as we refer it to the interposition of a supernatural agent, especially of such contemptible agents, as are
the heathen deities, in whom we behold nothing but power, stimulated by no moral or generous impulse, directed to no wise or good end. Our sympathy with the man is defeated, for the man is not in sight, he is to us no more than the vehicle; nor can we sympathize with the real agent, for he is removed beyond the field of human sympathy; nor do we behold in him that dignity of character, which renders his interposition desirable or interesting. The disgraceful character of their gods casts a dark shade over every scene in which they are introduced ; and if their power sometimes raises them above humankind, their caprices, partialities, and vices sink them much below the human level. But it is to the reproach of the ancient epic poems, that the gods are generally introduced where their agency is superfluous, and where human agency is fully sufficient. It is almost laughable to comtemplate the Queen of Heaven and the Queen of smiles, uniting their