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TO HIS GRACE
JOHN DUK.E OF ARGYLL AND GREENWICH, Vc.
As :hii'utie only method by which men os genius lad iearofcg, though small perhaps my claim to eftfcer, can (how their esteem for person; of extraordinary merit, in a snperior manner to the rest of mankind, I could never embrace a more favourable opportunity to express my veneration foryoar Grace, than before a tranflation of so ancient and valuable an author as Hestod. Your high descent, and the glory of your illustrious ancestors, are the weakest foundations of your praise; your own exalted worth attracts the admiration, and ( may fay the love of all vircuous and distinyvrhing fouls; and to that only I dedicate the ioLovirg work- The many circumstances which contributed to the raising you to the dignities which yon cow enjoy, and which render you deSaria* the greatest favours a prince can bestow; and, what is above all, which fix you ever dear in the affection of your country, will be no small fart of the English history, and shall make the Lime of Argyll sacre I to evey generation; nor is it the least pan of your character, that the natya entertains the highest opinion of your taste ted judgment in the polite arts.
You, my Lord, know how the works of genius Eft ap the head of a nation above her neighbours, aid give it as much honour as faccess in arms; arj..- • these we must reckon our translations of the classics; by which, when we have naturalized all Greece and Rome, we shall be so much richer than they were by so many original productions a* we shall have os our own. By tranflatinns. wten performed by able hands, our countrynn n kaie an opporrunity of discovering the beauties of the accients, without the trouble and rzpenct of .t their languages; which are of no other advirtsr*e to us than for the authors who have wri: in thrrn; among which .he poets are in the first rack of honour, whose verses are the deiightfoi channel* through which the best preempts of aao-aliry arc cjnvcyed to the mind . they have geseraUy fome'hing in them so much above the (mnon seal.' ot mankind • and '.hat delivered lath sj»ch dignity of expression, and in lueh haraooy of nuaiber", all which put together, constitute ike sr that the reader is inspired with
sentiments of honour and virtue, he thinks with abhorrence of all that is base and trifling; I may say, while he is readirg, he is exalted above himself.
You, my Lord, I fay, have a just fense of the benefits arising from works of genius, and will therefore pardon the zeal with which I express myself concerning them : and great is the blessing, that we want not persons who have hearts equal to their power to cherish them: and here I muse beg leave to pay a debt of gratitude to one, who, I dare say, is as highly thought of by all lovers o£ polite learning as by myself, I mean the Earl of Pembroke; whose notes I have used in the words in which he gave them to me, and distinguished them by a particular mark from the rest. Much would 1 fay in commendation of that great man; but 1 am checked by the fear of offending that virtue which every one admires. The fame reason makes me dwell less on the praise of your Grace than my heart inclines me to.
The many obligations which 1 have received from a lady, of whose virtues I can never fay too much, make it a duty in me to mention her in the most grateful manner; and particularly before a translation, to the perfecting which I may with propriety say she greatly conduced, by her kind solicitations in my behalf, and her earnest recommendation of me to several persons of distinction. I believe your Grace will not charge me with vanity, if I confess myself ambitious of being in the least degree of favour with so excellent a lady as the Marchioness of Annandale.
I shall conclude without troubling yonr Grace with any more circumstances relating to myself, sincerely wishing what I offer was more worthy your patronage; and at the fame time I beg it may be receiveu as proceeding from a just sense of your eminence in ail that ii great and laudable, I am,
January I,; it.
ON THE LIFE A\D WRITINGS OF HESIOD.
ON THE LIFE OF HESIOD.
Sect. I. The lntrod^aian.
The lives of few persons are confounded with so many uncertainties and fabulous relations a* those of Hesiod aud Homer; for winch reason, what may possibly be true, is sometime-: as much disputed as the romantic part of their IWk-s. The first has been more fortunate trap Hie other, in furnishing: us, from his writings, with some circumstances of himself and family, as the condition of his father, the place of his birth, and the extent of his travels; and he has put it out of dispute, though he ha' not fixed the period, that ht wasone of the earliest writers of whom we have any account.
2. Of bis nra and father's eountry,frem bis writings.
He tells us in the second book of his Works and Days, that his father was an inhabitant of Cuma, in one of the Æolian isles; from whence he removed to Ascra, a village in Bœi.tia, at the foot of mount Helicon; which was doubtless the phee of our poet's birth, though Suidas, Lilius Gyralrius, Fabricius, and others, fay he was of Cuma. Hesiod himself seems, and not undtsignedly, to have prevented any mistake about his country ; he tells ns positively, in the fame book, he never was but once at sea, and that in a voyage from Auli«, a sea port in Bccotia, to the island Euhcea. This, connected with the former passage of his father failing from Cuma to Hœ:>tia, will leave us in no doubt concerning his country.
3. Of bis quality, fram Us writings.
Of what quality his father was we are uot very certain; that he was drove from Cuma to Ascra, by misfortunes, we have the testimony of Hesiod. .Some ti il us he fled to avoid paying a sine; but what reason they have to imagine that I know not. It is remarkable that our poet, in the first book of his Works and Days, calls his brother S«o» yaes. We are told indeed that the name of his father was Dios, of which we are not allured from any of his writings now extant; but if it was, I rather believe, had he designed to call his brother of the race of Dios, he would have used tuytnt or Am y\>£;; he mud therefore by 'butt yiKt intend to call him of race divine. Le Clerc observes, on this passage, that the old poets were always proud of the epithet divine; and brings an instance from Homer, who styled the swineherd of Ulysses so. Is the same remark he says, he thinks Hesiod debases the word in his application of it, having (joke of the necessitous circumstances of his father
in the following hook. I have no doub' but Le Clerc is right in the meaning us the word Jju»; but at the fame time 1 think his observation on it trifling: because, if hi* father was reduced to poverty, we are not to infer from thence he was never rich, or, if he was always poor, that is no argument against his being of a good family; nor is the word divine in the least debased by being an epithet to the swineherd, but a proof of the dignity of that office in those times. We are supported in this reading by Tzetzes: and Valla and Frisius have took the word in the fame sense, in their Latin translations of the Works and Diys.
—Fratcr ades (fays Valla) generofo e sanguine Perse.
And Frisius calls him Perse divine.
4. A judgment us bis age and Quality from fiction.
The genealogy likewise which the author of the contention betwixt Homer and Hesiod, gives us, very much countenance this interpretation. We are told in that wi rk, that Linus was the Ion of Apollo, and of Thoofc the daughter of Neptune; King Pierus was the son os Linus Oeagrus of Pierus and the nymph Mcthone, and Orpheus of Oeagrus an J the Muse Calliope; Orpheus was the father of Othrys, Othrysof Harnionides, and Harmot ides i»f Phitoterpu?; from him sprung Euphemus the father of Epiphrades, who bigot Me; r.alops the father of Dio*; Hcse/d and Perles were the Ions of bios by Pucamede the daughter of Apollo; Perse, was the father of Mæon, whose daughter Crythris bore Homer to the river Mcles. Homer is here made the (reat grandson of Perses the brother of Hesiod. I do not give this account with a view it should be much depended on; for it is plain from the poetical etymologies of th-j minus, it is a fictitious generation; yet two useful inferences may be made from it; first, it is natural to suppose the author os this genealogy would net have forged such an honourable descent, unless it was generally believed he was of a great family; nor would he have placed him so long before Homer, had it not been the prevailing opinion he was first.
5. Of bis age,fr«m Lentromcntanus, and the Arundelian marble.
Mr. Kennet quotes the Danish astronomer Longomontanus, who undertook to settle the age of Hesiod from some lines in his Woiks and Days; and he made it agree with the Arundelian marble, which makes him. about thirty years before Homer