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It was thought improper to omit this Poftfcript to the Odyffey, as it is apparently one of our Author's most elegant and finished compofitions in profe. It were to be wifhed he had enlarged on the subject; for a Critical Treatife on the Nature and Conduct of the Odyffey, is as yet wanting in our language; the Discourse prefixed to Pope's Tranflation, by Broome, being but a meagre and defective Extract from Boffu. More than forty years ago, three Effays were printed in the third volume of the Adventurer, on the excellence of the Odyssey. They were defigned to fhew this excellence in the manner of conducting the fable, which is of the complex kind; in the extensive utility of its moral; in the vast and entertaining variety of scenes, objects, and events, which it contains; in the strokes of nature, and pathos; in the true and accurate delineation of ancient manners customs, and habits; and the lively pictures of civil and domeftic life, more calculated to keep our attention alive and active, than the martial uniformity of the Iliad; and in its exhibiting the most perfect pattern of a legitimate Epopée. But the Author of these Essays confined himfelf to too short a compass for a subject of such utility and importance; and may perhaps, in fome future day, lengthen them into a more formal Treatife. WARTON.
These Essays were written by the late Editor of this work. Perhaps in formal treatises the work he mentions, would have been less pleasing, than it is in the Effays. But the fubject is deserving critical investigation, and the causes of the poetical excellence of the Odyssey are accurately enumerated by Dr. Warton.
CANNOT difmifs this Work without a few obfervations on the true Character and Style of it. Whoever reads the Odyffey with an eye to the Iliad, expecting to find it of the fame character, or of the fame fort of spirit, will be grievously deceived, and err against the first principle of Criticism, which is to confider the nature of the piece, and the intent of its Author. The Odyssey is a moral and political work, instructive to all degrees of men, and filled with images, examples and precepts, of civil and domeftic life. Homer is here a perfon
Qui didicit, patriæ quid debeat, et quid amicis,
Quo fit amore parens, quo frater amandus, & hofpes :
The Odyffey is the reverse of the Iliad, in Moral, Subject, Manner, and Style; to which it has no fort of relation, but as the ftory happens to follow in
order of time, and as fome of the fame perfons are actors in it. Yet from this incidental connection many have been misled to regard it as a continuation or fe cond part, and thence to expect a parity of character inconfiftent with its nature.
It is no wonder that the common reader fhould fall into this mistake, when fo great a Critic as Longinus feems not wholly free from it. Although what he has faid has been generally understood to import a feverer censure of the Odyffey than it really does; if we confider the occafion on which it is introduced, and the circumstances to which it is confined.
"The Odyffey (fays he) is an instance, how na"tural it is to a great Genius, when it begins to "grow old and decline, to delight itself in Narra "tions and Fables. For, that Homer compofed the
Odyssey after the Iliad, many proofs may be given, "&c. From hence in my judgment it proceeds, "that as the Iliad was written while his Spirit was " in its greatest vigour, the whole ftructure of that "work is dramatic and full of action; whereas the
greater part of the Odyffey is employed in Narra"tion, which is the tafte of Old Age: fo that in this "latter piece we may compare him to the fetting "fun, which has still the fame greatness but not the "fame ardor or force. He fpeaks not in the fame "ftrain; we fee no more that Sublime of the Iliad " which marches on with a constant pace, without "ever being stopped, or retarded there appears no
"more that hurry and that ftrong tide of motions and "paffions, pouring one after another; there is no LO more the fame fury, or the fame volubility of dic"tion, fo fuitable to action, and all along drawing " in fuch innumerable images of nature. But Ho
mer, like the Ocean, is always great, even when "he ebbs and retires; even when he is lowest and "lofes himfelf moft in Narrations and incredible "Fictions: as inftances of this, we cannot forget the
defcriptions of tempefts, the adventures of Ulyffes "with the Cyclops, and many others. But though "all this be Age, it is the Age of Homer-And it
may be faid for the credit of these fictions, that "they are beautiful Dreams, or if you will, the Dreams "of Jupiter himself. I fpoke of the Odyffey only to
fhow, that the greatest Poets when their genius ઃઃ wants ftrength and warmth for the Pathetic, for "the most part employ themselves in painting the "Manners. This Homer has done in characterising "the Suitors, and defcribing their way of life; "which is properly a branch of Comedy, whofe "peculiar business it is to represent the manners of "men."
We must first observe *, it is the Sublime of which Longinus is writing: that, and not the nature of Homer's Poem, is his fubject. After having highly extolled the fublimity and fire of the Iliad, he justly ob.
* These observations are very just and excellent.
serves the Odyssey to have lefs of those qualities, and to turn more on the fide of moral, and reflections on human life. Nor is it his bufinefs here to determine, whether the elevated fpirit of the one, or the just moral of the other, be the greater excellence in itself.
Secondly, that fire and fury of which he is fpeaking, cannot well be meant of the general spirit and infpiration which is to run through a whole Epic Poem, but of that particular warmth and impetuosity neceffary in fome parts, to image or reprefent actions or passions, of hafte, tumult, and violence. It is on occafion of citing fome fuch particular paffages in Homer, that Longinus breaks into this reflection; which feems to determine his meaning chiefly to that sense.
Upon the whole, he affirms the Odyssey to have less sublimity and fire than the Iliad, but he does not fay it wants the fublime or wants fire. He affirms it to be narrative, but not that the narration is defective. He affirms it to abound in fictions, not that those fictions are ill invented, or ill executed. He affirms it to be nice and particular in painting the manners, but not that those manners are ill painted. If Homer has fully in these points accomplished his own defign, and done all that the nature of his Poem demanded or allowed, it ftill remains perfect in its kind, and as much a mafter-piece as the Iliad.
The amount of the paffage is this; that in his own particular taste, and with respect to the Sublime, Lon