Sivut kuvina
PDF

NOTES ON THE THEOGONY.

Ver. I. I shall refer the reader to what I have said in the second and fourth sections of my Discourse on the writings us Hcsiod, concerning the genuineness of the beginning of this poem, and tiie explanation of the Theogony. Our author lure takes an occasion to celebrate the offices and power of the muses, and to give a short repetition of the greater deities. To what end is this grand assembly of divine-personages introduced? To inspire the poet with thoughts suitable to the dignity os their characters; and by railing his imagination to such a height, as to believe they ( reside over his labours, he becomes the amanuensis ot the gods. The muses, fays the Earl of ohafteshury, ill his letter concerning enthusiasm, were so many divine persons in the heathen creed. The fame noble writer has in that discourse elegantly showed the necessity aud beauty of enthusiasm in pot try.

Ver. 2. A mountain in Eccotia, so called from the Phœnician word, hbalii, or bbaliien, which signifies a high mounuiu. Bochart, in bis Chan, hook I. chap. 16, shows that Bceotia was full of Phœnician names and colonies. Le Clerc. Paufanias, in his ficcotics, fays Helicon excclls all the mountains in Greece, in the abundance and virtues of the trees which grow on it: he likewise tells us it produces no letiferous herbs or roots.

Ver. 5. Grxvius and X.e Clerc both agree in this reading, and derive iudr,i from stio: «tf, having the dusky colour of iron; they likewise bring instances from Homer, and other poets, of the fame word being used to the sea, rivers and fountains; by which epichet, fay they, they expressed the depih and plenty of the water.

Ver. 8. Fausanias, and Tzetzes after him, reads it Ttrmrjsui; but this may proceed from their ignorance of the radix, which, fays Le CIcrc, is the Phœnician word fbeer-metso; the interpretation of which is 3 pure fountain. The river is at the foot of Helicon.

Ver. 9. The Phœnician word, fays Bochart, is bapskigran, which signifies the eruption of a fountain: the word,being corrupted into Hifsccrcur, pave rife to the story of the Luntain of the horse. Le Clcrc.

Ver. 10. The Phœnician word U Ibcl-mai; sweet water. Le Clerc.

Ver. Is. i he historical and physical interpretation of the deities here mentioned, f shall defer tiP 1 come to them in the course of the Theogony.

Ver. 22. Some translate (hit passagenigrh oculis, and Le Cleic ihocscs Uaudit: 1 would correct thrm, and have it arched or bending. Tzetzes entirely favours my interpretation of iyc-brovfs arched into a circle, a mctapln r taken, laye he, ix rut Tit; i^tai?.* tXuur, from the curli::g of the % iue.

Ver. 33. This extravagance in our poet has been the subject of satire to 1< me; bat Lucian ha' been the most severe in his dialogue betwixt himself and Hesiod. Ovid has an allusion to this passrtge in the beginning of his Art of Love; which Drydcn has thus translated:

Nor Ciio, nor her sisters, have I seen*.

As Heliodsaw them in the shady green.

This fi ght, however extravagant it may seem to some, certainly adds a grace to the poem; and whoever consult! the nineteenth ode of the second book, and the fourth os the third book of Horace, will find this fort of enthusiasm carried to a great height.

Ver. 46. The poet here, from the mouth cf thu muse, prepares (he reader for what he is to expect. Though tie proposes to give an historical and physical relation of the generation of the gods, according to tke received opinion, yet supplies from invention are necessary 10 make the work agreeable as a poem.

Ver. «o. Lc Cere has a long note on this verse, from Claud. Salmasius, proving the that's.dista lo be so called «-*•» Tv from singing with a

bough in their hancii, in imitation of the ancient poets; which bough was of laurel: but why of laurel before any other? The Scholiast* Tsetzes gave two very good reasons: first, fays he, the poet makes the sceptre, which he received from the mute«, of laurel, because Helicon, the place on which they presented it, abounds with that tree; secondly, as the laurel is ever green, it is the most proper emblem of works of genius, which never fade.

Ver. .59. Exactly the fame is the flight in the fourth ode of the third book of Horace:

■ an me fudit amabilii
Inlania? Audire et vidtor pios .
Errare per lucos, amcci:æ
Quosct aquæ fubeunt, et aura:!

The si-rife of which, in short, is this:
u agre«ably deluded, while I seem to
M through poetic scenes!" And again,

Q^o me, Bacche, rapis tui

Plenum! 3 in nemora, aut quos, agor, in specus,

Velox niente nova! Lib. 3 Od. aj.

It is worth observing, that the best poets are generally mi si poetical in their invocations, or in other part', where a deity is introduced; si r then they seem to te overpowered with the inspiration; but here the sire imagination, and exalted genius, are most required, that while fancy takes her full stietch in si&icn, it tuay seem the real " numijii* "afflatus."

Am I wander

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

** The wide earth laugh'd, and the deep sea re"joie'd."

TK rident srquora pontL Lucret.

"To thee the waters of the eccan smile-"

I give these three quotations to show as the Latin were followers of the Greek poets, it is not unlikely the Greek might imitate the style os the tilt era writer^ in many places.

Ver. Si. Mnemosyne, the same with memory, it here made a person, and the mother of the muses; which, with the etymology us the wotdpieria, which Le Clerc tells us, is, in the Phœnician tsegae, fruitiulnefs, and the note to the first verse of tie Works and Days, will let us clearly into the poetical meaning of the parents and birthplace of the srafes. The fame critic derives the word muse {rem the Phœnician word awts.i, the feminine for ■nvenfr. See farther in the Discourse, &C.

k will now be proper to> inquire into the reason of the poet making Mnemosyne empress of Lie other. Eleuther is a part of Brcutu, so called from a prince of that name: here, says Tzetses, the poet endeavours to add a glory to his country; f>c though the muses themselves were born on iSerta, he makes their mother a Bœotian. Pieria of a mouDtain, and a country lying 1 it, bounded on the north with Thcssaly, aadoo the south with Mactdon. Le Clerc derive the word hleuther from the Phœnician word Halethir, a high place from which we fee afar ctf, which word ia a compound of bi/ab, to ascend, and ilw, to see asar off. The reader must here oatcTve, that great part of the art of this poem depends on the etymology of the words, and on the prosopopœias. Plutarch, in his rules for the education of children, has observed, that the mytholojeis have judiciously made Mnemosyne the mother of the muses, intimating that nothing so much cherishes learning as the memory.

Ver. 96. A mountain in stuffily, which, for tre extraordinary height, is often used for heaves.

Ver. 99. The god of love and the graces are freper companions for the mules; for the gifts of the mates are of little value without grace and st«e: and at banquets, love and good manners, wt'-caare implied by the graces, compose the har

Ver. 109. Le Gere here raises a difficulty, and I think without reason; he says the poet so con" found* the man Jupiter with the god, that he knows not how to account for it. The poet coul^ here design no other but the Supreme Being; sirst for the honour of poetry, as appears from some following verses; and secondly,because God i*the source of all wisdom, he is the father of the n-.ufei, who preside over the principal arts.

Ver. 119. The names of the muses, and their derivations. Clio, from *>!<*», to celebrate, to render glorious. Melpomene, from /Ai\«9fx<ttt to sing or wurble. Euterpe, from tv and s-sps-w, to delight well. Terpsichore, from Tijrw to delight, and a choir. Erato, from i(iir, to love. Thalia, from SaXixi banquets, or .Viiu, t>> flourish. Po. lymnia, ztoXvs many, and uftm a song or hymn. Urania, from Ufuns heaven. Calliope,from xaXs; beautiful, and r]> a voice. Our poet attributes no particular art to each rouse; but, according to him, poetry is the province of all. Calliope, indeed, is distinguished from the rest, as prefidvag over the greater fort of poetry. See the Discourse: on the Theology os the ancients, &c.

Ver. 134. Le Clerc tells us, from Dk>nyfki9 Halicarnaffeus, that, at first, all the cities in Greece luoked on their kings as their judges to determine all controverted points; and he was esteemed the best king who was the best judge, and the strictest observer of the laws : for the certainty of this, we need no better authority than our own poet, and particularly in his Works and Days: it is worrit observing how very careful he ia to inspire his readers with sentiments of respect and dignity towards their rulers; and to increase our reverence fnr them, he derives them from the great Ruler of the universe; and from the same origin are the muses; all which must be thus understood, the prince owes all his regal honours and power to the Supreme Being, and no less than Almighty aid is necessary to make a good poet. I can add nothing more proper to what I have said concerning princes, their office, and derivation of their pdwer. than the first three verses of the sixth chaster of the Wisdom of Salomon. " Heir, therefore, O ye "kings, and unrirrstand; learn ye that be judges "of the ends of The earth, give ear, you that rule *' the people, and glory in the multitude of nau fions; for power is given you of the Lord, and "sovereignty from the highest; who shall try your "works, and search out your tfYmnsels."

Ver. 156. Thi«,"and the nine following verses, are by some attributed to Honicr, among the fragments of that poet; where the' mistake lies, I cannot tell; but I shall here take an.occasion to account, in general, fer several verses in the Iliad, Oily+Ls, the Works and Days, and the Theogoriy, being alike; they arc either such as where they mention the Pleiades, HyaJes, and Orion, constellations which were most takrn notice of by the old -poets, and the names of which naturally rOn into au hexameter verse; or such as were common or proverbial sayings of the times . which circumstances render it very possible for divers to have wrote the sctne lines without one over feeing the worts of the other. I am persuaded that all or most of the similar passages in these two poets are of this nature. If, therefore, some of the old lcholiasts and commentators had thoroughly considered this, they would not have had so many impertinenciea in their remarks as they have.

Ver. 172. I know not how this is to be taken but physically; if we suppose all things to be the offsprings of Chaos, which are all natural beings, they may property be said to be nourished by the main, that is by prolific humour. In this sense Milton, in the seventh book of his Paradise Lost, judiciously uses the word, speaking of the creation.

Over all she face of the earth Main ocean flow'd, n>>t idle, but with warm Prolific humour, soft'mng all her glebe, fermenting the great mother to conceive.

Ver. 190. In my interpretation of the generation os the deities I (hall chiefly have regard to the physical meanings; such passages as 1 leave unobserved are what any reader with little trouble may clear to himself, after he has seen my explanations cf the most material.

This fable, fays Lord Bacoo,in hit Wisdom of the Ancient*, speaking os Heaven,seenu to contain an enigma of the origin of things, not much different from the truth of the divine word, which tells ui of a deformed matter before the works of the six days. To this eternity of confused matter Milton alludes in the seventh book of hi. Paradise Lost.

Far into Chaos, and the world unborn.

Ver. 191. Plato, in his Phcdo, fays the earth vras the ieat and foundation of the gods, a^«»rwi he cajls them, to show that the gods were once preserved with pious men. 'sz.-'.z. This is strange philosophy, to imagine any beings to have a beginning, and yet immutable and immortal from their first rise; but it is apparent that the poet makes matter precede all things, even the gods. Quietus judges the next verse to be supposititious.

Ver. 194. Tartarus, or hell, is said to be brought forth with the earth, because it is feigned to be in the inmost recesses of the earth. The word Tartarus is derived from the Phœnician (araitfrait, the radix of which is the Hebrew and Arabic tmrsli, which signifies, he created trouble. Le Citrc.

Ver. 196. This fable alludes to, and enters into the cradle of nature. Love seems to be the appetite, or stimulation, of the first matter, or, to s,eak more intelligible, the natural motion of the atom.

Lord JUccn.

Ver. 202.. It is rightly observed that darkness wis over all till the sky was illumined by the fun and the stars; Chaos therefore brought forth darkness and night. Tzetm Before any thing appeared all was itni or er 0, darkness or night; the fame is the account which Moses givea us. Le Clerc.

Ver. 204. I believe the word aulu; does not mean the chief, or material, part ol the air, but '■* tte facie with tragic serenity. Le Cler:. i>o

night and darkness are properly said to be the parents of day aud serenity.

Ver. 206. All that the poet means, is, that earth appeared before the firmament-vvhich surrounds it. Similar to this is the description Milton gives of the offsprings of earth.

God said,

Bo gather'd now ye waters under heav'o,
Into one place, and let dry land appear,

Immediately the mountains huge appear
Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave
Into the cloud*. -/

Boel ( .

Let us now consider the difference betwixt wi\*ye or tenrtt and mxiam, which I render the sea and the ocean, and why the sea is said to be from earth only, and the ocean from earth and heaven. That part of the ocean is generally agreed to be called sea which takes a name from any country or particular circumstance; the ocean, Diodorus Siculus tells us, in his first book, comprehends, according to the opinion of the ancients, all moisture which nourishes the universe; and Henry Stephens quotes many authorities to show it was always used in that sense; I shall content myself with one front Homer, and another from Pliny.

E£ smng wmvlie weja/eu, xeu treiret dsrXswvss,
Kai xeteean xgqysw, &.C

From which are derived all rivers, every sea, and all fountains.

The ocean, fays Pliny, is the receptacle of all waters, and from which all waters flow; it is that which seeds the cloudB and the very stars.

Ver. 214. Le Clerc is inclined to think that these names are some of real persons, and some only poetical, as Themis aud Mnemosyne which are justice and memory. The same critic might have quoted Plutarch to countenance this opinion, who names for real persons Cceus, Crcus, Hyperion, and Japhet: nor is it unreasonable to believe that the poet designed some as persons. for, without such to measure time, Saturn, or Imw, which signifies time, would be introduced with impropriety.

The etymology of the names of the Cyclops arc literally expressive of their nature. The general name to all is from snaAf a circle, and m)> an eye, Brontes from (IpnTti thunder; Steropes from at-tfuen brightness ; Argesfrom «{>»( white,splendid, swift. Apollodorus varies scorn our poet in one of the names of the Cyclops; instead of A^yn be enlist him Arrn- It has been often remarked that Homer, Hesiod, Apollodorus, and other mythologisls, frequently differ in names: I here give one instance,from many observations which 1 have made, of their not differing in sense though in name; for as swift, or splendid, is a proper epithet for lightning ; nfsrn.a fork, is as significant a name for one of the Cyclops as a(yn.

Cottus, Gyges, and Briareus. Grzvius will have these three to be men, and robber*; he *»y« tit ancients intended, by the terrible description d their marry heads and hands, to express then" violence, ferocity, and injustice. The Scholiast Txetxes lays, they are turbulent winds; which physical interpretation seems most agreeable to me; their heads and hand* well express their rage; the; being imprisoned by their father in the bowels of the earth, and relieved by their mother in process of time, which is the meaning of Saturn releasing them, is all pertinent to the winds. I am not insensible of an objection that may be started in tbk explication, from the manner in which they are made part of the war with the godt; but we are to consider that the poet does not confine himself to direct physical truth: for which reason be prepared his readers for a mixture of Action, from the month of the muse, in the beginning of the poem.

Let Gs tome to the explanation of the conspiracy as Earth and Saturn against Heaven. Tzetzes, Gsiens, and Le Clerc, have this conjecture likewise of the children which were confined by Heaven in the recesses us the earth; they were the corn-fruits of the earth, which, in time, some person found to he of benefit to human kind: He discovered the metal of which he made a sickle: the posture of reaping is designed by his left hand applied to the members of his father, and his tight to the instrument. The giants and nymph*, which are said to spring from the blood os Heaven, are those wfao had the advantages of the invention. The wari^te grams and furies are wars and tumults, which were the consequences of plenty and riches. Sarsra throwing; the members into the sea, deoorej traffic with foreign countries.

Venus, iays Lord Bacon, is designed to express the concord of things.

Heaves called his sons Titans, from Tirxita, to revenge: his prophecy may allude to the disturbances in the world which were the effects of sleety and luxury.

Haw monstrous does this story seem in the text! Ccretary the author must have some physical mea-x; in view; and what more probable than the W which we have offered? This allegorical ■*y <i writing will cease to be a wonder, when we csfder the custom of the times, and the love that the ancients bore to fables; and we mull •-hei ourselves happy that we can attain such !j|fct into them as we have, since we are divided fey sees length of time from the first inventors, and feeing the poetical embellishments since added ts t\^rn have rendered them more obscure j hat of this I shall speak more largely in my discœrfe at the end.

Ver. 315. The distinction which Tzetzes makes betwixt mod Unfa, which I translate Destiny aad rate, it this ; one confirms the decree concern lag oer death, and the other the punishment atevil works. Le Clerc infers, from the ikiog even the gods subject to the Fates, t they most be mere men which were immora&d ay human adoration; but the passage in his inquiry after God, quotes ■ reconcile this; Fate, fays

he, is the eternal reason and law implanted in the nature of every being.

Momus is called a deity, because he animadverts on the vice* both of men and gods: but why is he called the son of Night ? Because censure aud backbiting* are generally spread privately, and as in the dark. His name is from Mourn or Me.v>, the Phœnician word for vice. Lucian, in his Assembly of the Gods, makes Momus speak thus of himself : " All know me to be free of my tongue, and "that I conceal nothing ill done: I blab out eve"ry thing," &c. Lt Cltrt.

The Hesperides are nymphs which are said ts» watch the golden fruit in the western parts of the world Tzetzes thus interprets this story: The Hesperides arc the nocturnal hours in which the stars are in their lustre; by Hercules who is feigned to have plucked the golden fruit, is meant thet fun, at whose appearance the stars cease to shine.

Nemesis is called the goddess of Revenge, and the etymology of her name speaks her office, which is from nuiTau," to resent." Our poet, in his Workt and .Day?, ranks her with Modesty.

Ver. 357. Nereut, which in the Phœnician tongue is nelcn," a river," is said to be the son of the Sea, becanse all rivers take their rise from thence, according to the opinion of the poet. The reason, perhaps, for which he has this extraordinary character in the Theog^ony, is because he was esteemed a prophetic deity. /..- Clerc.

Thaumat is here made the son ot the Sea and Earth, and the father of Iris: Le Clerc fays he is thus allied to the Sea and Iris; he is the deity that presides over clouds and vapours, which arise from the sea and the earth, and cause Itis, or the rainbow. He is called Thaunias, from Savp**» "to "wonder at, or admire," or from the Phœnician, word of the fame signification, thamoh, because all meteors excite wonder or admiration.

Phorcys, fays Le Clerc, seems to have been on* who employed himself in navigation; but his derivation of the word is too far fetched from the Syrian pbrak, " he departed, or travelled." The lame critic is surprised, and, indeed, not without reason, that Ceto should be called fair, and have such horrid children; he derives her name from "to be contentious to lothe." Eurybia is from ujm, " wide," and 0.*. " force," one of extensive power.

Ver. 367. Tzetzes thinks the poet, by the name* of the Nereids, designed to express several part 1 and qualities of the sea; but Le Clerc believe* them only the arbitrary invention of the poets. Spenser, in the eleventh canto of the fourth books of his Faery Queene, has introduced a beautiful assemblage of the Nereids, and other sea and riverdeities, at the marriage of Thames and Medway: and he has imitated and paraphrased many verses together out of our poet, and translated many more; and most, in my judgment, superior to the Greek; whose manner of imitating the ancients will appear by a quotation of one stanza.

Stanza utitb. And after these the sea-nymphs marched all, All goodly damsels, deck'd with long green hair. Whom of their fire Nereides men call,

Al) which the Ocean's daughter to him bare,
The grayVy'd Doris; all which fifty are;

All which she there on her attending had;
Swiit I'roto, mild hucrate, Thetis fair,

Soft Spio, sweet Eudorr, Sao sad,

Tight Doto, wanton GUi.ce, and Galene glad.

Ver. 418. The Harpies are violent storms; the etymologies of their names are significant <>f their nature. The worn Harpies is from «jt«:> to tear, to destroy; Aello from aiXXoc a storm; Ocypetc from *i«y* swift, and srtro^a* to fly.

Ver. 413. I shall give the story of the Gorgons, and the Graiæ, as related by Tord Bacon, with reflection* 011 the fame.

Perseus is said to have been sent by Pallas to flay Medusa, v. ho was very pernicious to many of the inhabitants of the western parts of Hibcria; for she was so dire and horrid a monster, that by her aspect only, she a nverted men into stones. Of the Gorgons Medusa only was mortal: Pcrfcus, preparing himself to kill her, received arms and other gifts from three deities; from Mercury he had wings for his heels, fiom Pluto, a helmet, and from Pallas a , shield and a looking-glass He went not immediately towards Medusa, though he was so well instructed; but first to the Graiæ, who were gray and like old women from their birth. They had all hut one eye and one tooth, which she who went abroad used, and laid down when she returned. This eye and tooth they lent to Perseus, who finding himself thus completely furnished for his design, flew without delay to Medusa, whom he found sleeping: if she stiould awake he dared not look in her lace; therefore, turning his head aside, he beheld her in the glass of Pallas, and in that manner taking his aim he cot off her head : from her blood instantly sprung Pegasus with wings. Perseus fixed her head in the shield of Pallas, which retained this power, that all who beheld it became stupid as if thunderstruck.

This fable seem- invented to show the prudence required in waging war; in which three weighty pricept9 are to be considered as from the counsel of Pallas. First, In the enlarging dominions, the occasion, facility, and profits of a war, arc to be thought of before vicinity of territories; therefore Perseus, though an oriental, did not decline an expedition to the extreroest parts of the west. Secondly, Regard ought to be had to the motives of a war, which should he just and honourable; for a war on ft'ch terms adds alacrity both to the j soldiers and thole who bear the expence of the | war; it obtains and secure" aid', and has many | other advantages. No cause of a war i« more proas than the quelling tyranny, which so subdues the people as to deprive them of all foul and vigour, which is signified by the aspect of Medusa. Thirdly, The Gurgona were three, by which wars are represented, and Perseus is judiciously made to encounter her only who was mortal; that is, he would not rursue vast and endless hopes, hut undertook a war that might be brought to a period, 'she instruction which Pcrfcus received is that

which conduces to the success or fortune of the war : he received swiftness from Mercury, secrecy of counsels from Orcus, and providence from Pallas. Though Pcrfcus wanted not age nor courage, that he should consult the Graiæ w(w necessary. The Graiæ are treasons, and elegantly said to be gray, and like old omen, from their birth, because of the perpetual fears and tremblings with which traitors arc attended. All their scree, before they appear in open rebellion, is an eye, or a tooth; for every faction alienated from a state contemplates and bites 1 this eye and tooth is in common, for what they learn and know passes through the hards of faction from one to the other; the meaning of the tooth is, they all bite alike . Perseus therefore was to make friends of the Graiæ, that they might lend him the eye and the tooth. Two effects follow the conclusion of the war; first, the generation of Pegasus, which plainly denotes fame, that flies abroad and proclaims the victory ; the second is the bearing the head of Medusa in the shield; for one glorious and memorable act happily accomplished, restrains all the motions of enemies, and makes even malice amazed and dumb. Thus far Lord Bacon. 1 he following physical exp Tzetzes:

Phorcys signifies the vehemence of the' Ceto the depth; yfwat the Scholiast interprets rsr ap£» the foam, Pephredo and Enyo the desire of marine expeditions. The poet calls the Hefpcrides murmuring, because the stars in those parts, according to Aristotle, move to a musical harmony: by Stheno and Euryale, which are immortal, he means the immense and inexhaustible parts of the ocean; by Medusa the waters which the fun, or Perseus dries tip by his beams. Chryfaor and Pegasus are those parts of matter which are exalted on high, and break in thunder and lightning. Pegasus, fays Grrevius, is so called, because he was born near vn^yets, the fountains of the main ; Chryfaor, from his having m his hand r^ur*** s>(, a golden sword. Le Clerc tells us that this fable is originally Phœnician; he derives the name of Pei feus from pbarsebe a horicman, and Chryfaor from the Phœnician word ctrisaor the keeper of fire.

Ver. 456. Some, fays the Scholiast, will have Geryon to signify time . his three heads mean the prclent, past, and the future; Erythea is an island in the ocean where he kept his herds. Tzttx

Ijc Clerc tells us that when Hercules invaded the island which Geryon possessed, he was opposed by three parties which were inhabitants, and conquered them; which explains his cutting off his three heads.

The fame critic afterwards seems to doubt this interpretation; he quotes Bochart to prove that no oxen were in Krythea, and that the island was not productive of grafs; but 1 think if heads are figuratively meant for parties, the herds may aa well be took for- the men who composed those panics.

Ver. 461. Orthus is the dog of Geryon that watched the herds, which may be some chief officer; and bit being murdered in. a gloomy stall,

« EdellinenJatka »