Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THREE EPISTLES TO G. LLOYD ON A PASSAGE FROM HOMER'S ILIAD: 2, by JOHN BYROM



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THREE EPISTLES TO G. LLOYD ON A PASSAGE FROM HOMER'S ILIAD: 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Your consent I made bold to suppose, in my last
Last Line: If it will not make sense in their own mother tongue.
Subject(s): Animal Rights; Animals; Apollo; Dogs; Mythology - Classical; Wilderness; Animal Abuse; Vivisection


YOUR consent I made bold to suppose, in my last,
To a fair postulatum had readily past,—
That a mulish distemper, or that a canine,
Neither suited Apollo's, nor Homer's design,—
Like making the subjects, who felt its first shock,
To be men like their masters, tho' baser of stock.
Now, proof at the present comes under the pen
That ουρηας and χυνες may
signify "men."

You'll draw the conclusion so fair and so just,
That if they may do it, they certainly must;
It would look with an unphilosophical face,
And anti-Rawthmelian, to question the case.
Tho' the proofs of this point, which I formerly noted,
Have slipt my remembrance, and cannot be quoted,
From Homer himself it may chance to appear,
As I promis'd to make it, no whistle more clear.

That ουρηας are "guards" in Iliadal lore
You may see in book Kappa, line eighty and four;
Where the wise commentators confess in their rules
That—"Here it is guards, not ημιονοι
mules:"
Being join'd with εταιροι companions,
they knew
As εταιροι were men, that
ουρηας were too.
Now let us illustrate the combated place
As near as we can by a parallel case.

Plain sense, as I take it, (if once it is shewn
That Homer opposes to "being alone,"
"Having two χυνες αργοι along
with a Hero")—
Will call them "companions," not "dogs" in Homero.
Turn, then, to his Odyssey, Beta, line ten,
Where dogs, as they call them, are certainly men,
Attended by whom (he will second, who seeks)
Telemachus went to a council of Greeks.

With his sword buckled on, and a spear in his hand,
He went (having summon'd) to meet the whole band,
So bravely set forth, so equipp'd, and so shod,
That, as Homer has phras'd it, "he look'd like a God;
"Not alone"—to enchance the description of song,—
"But he took with him two χυνες
αργους along:"
Two swift-footed dogs!—Yes, two puppies, no doubt,
That Apollo had sav'd from the general rout!

One can but reflect how we live in an age
That scruples the sense of all sensible page,
Any kind of old nonsense more pleas'd to admit,
If in Homer, or Virgil, or Horace 'tis writ;
But yet, to do justice to these and the rest
Of the poor Pagan poets, it must be confess'd
That time, and transcribing, and critical note
Have father'd much on them which they never wrote.

This place is a proof how the critics made bold
To foist their own sense into verses of old;
For instead of two Greeks, here, attending their master,
And footing a pace neither slower nor faster,
They have made, in some places, to follow his track
Of their swift-footed dogs an indefinite pack,
The son of Ulysses unskilfully forcing
To go to a council, as men go a coursing.

Ουχ οιος, ουχ
οιη, for "master and dame
"Not alone"—to interpret by Homer's true aim,
There are places enow to evince, that attendants
Were men or were maidens, were friends or dependants.
Thus Achilles ουχ οιος, Omega rehearses,
Had two Therapontes; both nam'd in the verses,—
"Automedon, Alcimus,"—whom, it is said,
"He valued the most, for Patroclus was dead."

Penelope thus, in first Odyssey strain,
Two αμφιπολοι follow'd, two women,
'tis plain,
When the dame was ουχ οιη, and mention'd anon,
How they stood to attend her, on either side one.
Had αμφιπολοι signify'd "cats" in
the Greek,
Would not sense have oblig'd us new meaning to seek?
And two dogs as unfit as two cats you will own
To describe man or woman "not being alone."

To close the plain reasons that rise in one's mind,
Take an instance from Virgil of similar kind,
Where, in fair imitation of Homer, no doubt,
He describes King Evander to dress and march out;
And discern, by the help of his Mantuan pen,
How custodes and canes were both the same men,
Where canes are "dogs," as all custom opines;
See Virgil's eighth book;—come. I'll copy the lines—
Necnon et gemini custodes limine ab alto
Procedunt, gressumque canes comitantur herilem—

Κυνες αργοι in Homer were
then in his view,
When Virgil in Latin thus painted the two;
And the canes in him are the very custodes,
Most aptly repeated, dignissime sodes.
Did ever verse yet, or Prose ever record
Any literal dogs that kept pace with their lord?
"Proceeding, attending"—how plain the suggestion
That dogs in the case are quite out of the question!

And now I appeal to all critical candour,
If Homer's young hero and senior Evander
Had dogs for companions, to honour their gressus,
As translators in verse and in prose would possess us.
The moderns, I think,—though a lover of metre,—
Should manage with judgment a little discreeter,
Than to gape and admire what old poets have sung,
If it will not make sense in their own mother tongue.





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