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Mr. Paley's choice of Antimachus is more than unfortunate. The Thebaid of that poet was well known in antiquity as his, and was in no danger of being confounded with the old cyclic poem of the same
On the contrary, ancient critics were unanimous in considering his treatment of epic subjects as the very antipodes of Homer. Plutarch contrasts his stiff and laboured manner with Homer's ease and freedom.* Quinctilian is no less decisive: 'et affectibus et jucunditate et dispositione et omnino arte deficitur' (x. 1, 53), a verdict which denies him, precisely and exhaustively, the qualities which Mr. Paley's Antimachus ought to have. He was, in short, one of the first of the later scholastic poets, such as the scriptor cyclicus of Horace, who treated the epic legends as a body of useful instruction, and therefore versified them not for mere entertainment, but as an aid to the memory; not attempting dramatic unity or effect, but sacrificing everything to what they valued as the true succession of events.
It would lead us too far were we to notice at the same length the various forms which the question has taken in the hands of recent German writers. We shall mention only two names, those of the scholars whose works fall within the period to which we have confined the list at the beginning of this article. Of these, La Roche is a professed follower of the method of Lachmann, although he has now devoted himself to the more neglected but, as we must think, more fruitful field of textual criticism. Ameis, in his short preface, is guarded in his language, and treats the question as still far from a final settlement, but he is no less decidedly a disbeliever in the unity of Homer.
We have thus far followed the Homeric controversy through the varying phases which it has assumed, as the champions of the two great schools have come successively into the field like the heroes of Homer's own battles :
'Swaying in turn the line of even war.' The chief result of the controversy, and, it may be added, its chief value and significance in the history of criticism, is to be found in the change which the question itself has undergone. It began in the opposition of two sharply contrasted theories, between which it seemed necessary to make a choice. One Homer or many, such were the alternatives; there was no middle term, no question of degree. This absoluteness has now disappeared. There are not two, but many solutions of the problem,
forming so many intermediate links between the original two positions. No one now doubts that the Homeric poems presuppose a mass of earlier literature; the question is only how far the process of construction from the primitive materials was silent and unconscious, how far deliberate and systematic; what part was done by wandering minstrels, what part by schools of reciters, what part by individual genius. No one, again, doubts that the Iliad' has a certain unity, but that unity is felt to consist less in the relation of the successive parts to one another than in their subordination to a leading idea, and in the uniform tone and colouring of the poem. The real battleground is the question whether the elements of unity and diversity thus combined-unity of story and of general style, with diversity in the details and in the sequence of parts-may be best explained with or without the intervention, at some point or other, of a single man of surpassing genius. Is it enough that there were many poets, members of schools or families of reciters, who may have gradually extended and perfected the circle of lays, until it reached the dimensions and artistic form of the “Iliad? Or must we also suppose a single author, able not only to see in the floating songs of early times the unity of thought which pervaded and animated them, but also to carry out the task of realising this conception ?
The ultimate appeal must be to the internal evidence of the poem itself. Can the Diad,' with its sustained movement, its breadth of treatment, its greatness, be the work of a period or a school ? Or is the light which it gives, in Mr. Coleridge's words, so wide, diffused, universal,' that it must proceed from a primeval constellation or nebulous group, not from a bright particular star'? In any country except Greece, at any time except the heroic age of Greece, there would be little doubt. Homer is so much greater than the popular epics of other countries that we might be pardoned for refusing to yield to the analogies which they offer, and for taking refuge in the sentence of Wilson's: 'Some people believe in twenty Homers: I believe in one, nature is not so lavish of her great poets.' How lavish nature was to the Greeks of later times is known from the great works which still remain, and from the many fragments of no less unapproachable excellence which are the wreck of countless others now lost. How lavish she was to that Ionian race whose decaying bloom is seen in the muses of Herodotus, whose pupils and successors are the poets and historians of Athens, is a problem for which the data are wanting. We shall content ourselves with offering a few suggestions on so obscure a subject.
1. The “Iliad' represents not the beginning but the culmination of a great school of poetry. There is a period in the history of every art when the artist ceases to copy nature, and begins to copy his master or himself, when the art consequently begins to run in certain fixed grooves and to be stamped with a conventional mannerism. Early art is peculiarly liable to fall under the dominion of tradition ; and the tendency is soon perceptible in the Greek epic. Even the 'Odyssey,' with its superiority in symmetry and finish, is inferior in the force and freshness of the several parts. The 'Iliad' has all the excellences of a golden age of literature.
2. As the “cycle' grew out of the two Homeric poems by an extension of plan, and as the 'Odyssey’ improved upon the “Iliad' by a more perfect adjustment of parts, so the “Iliad' may have been formed by a process in which both these principles were at work. Successive poets may have added to an existing stock, or may have remodelled the cycle of lays which they found. Either process would be animated and controlled on the one hand by the tendency to make the poems an adequate representation of the national legends, and on the other by the artistic impressiveness of such a conception as the wrath of Achilles, and the powerful attraction which it must have exercised on the floating tales of the war.
3. It is difficult to imagine a single man, however gifted, making the prodigious advance involved in passing from short lays to a complete epic. The assumption of a Homeros, as the word has sometimes been explained, namely a compiler or arranger, is only less improbable than the theory which ascribed the same function to Pisistratus.
4. The difference between a mass of ballad literature and a poem like the “Iliad' is one of style no less than of form and dimensions. Homer belongs to an entirely different world from the common tribe of Teutonic and Romantic minstrels, and their manner, as Mr. Arnold has so happily shown, is a snare rather than a help to his translators. Along with all that is good in the ballad manner—its simplicity, its animation, its plaintive grace--Homer has much that ballads do not attempt. An even and stately harmony in every line and word; a rhythm neither rough nor jingling, neither tame nor boisterous; a style as remote from affectation as from commonplace—these qualities place a gulf between the two forms of poetry which could hardly be bridged over by a single poet. It must have been the work of a period or a school of poetic art. 5. The poetical relations of the Homeridæ to the poems
they watched over and recited cannot be accurately determined. In later times it is unlikely that they allowed themselves much licence in tampering with what had become the common property of the Hellenic race, but they were themselves for the most part the sole judges of the treatment due to their poetic heirloom; there was no sense of literary faith to restrain individuals from adding or recasting, as they were prompted by their own poetic feeling. The earliest Homerids were in a very different position, and may have been the creators of the unity of Homer. Their peculiar Ionian genius may have impelled them to combine and systematise into a new and perfect whole the short and isolated lays which they learned from Æolic bards. If other considerations lead us to assign the chief share in this process to schools of poetry and common epic type rather than to individually illustrious composers, a gens or clan, such as that of the Homerids, supplies precisely the form under which schools or traditional types of art most frequently appear in the earliest periods of Greek history.
6. Whether the 'Iliad' may be properly called the work of one poet or not, the Greek epic must be the work of many poets, stretching over a considerable period. Essentially indigenous and self-developed, it must have grown from its primeval elements, whatever these were, to its culmination in the liad' by a gradual evolution of the same kind as that which has formed the history of all the capital products of human genius. Every great style of architecture, every original school of painting or music, every great mechanical invention even, has been produced by an almost infinitesimal series of improvements
. It is only because the links in the series remain in some cases, as in that of architecture, whereas they are lost in others, that the process seems to be sometimes continuous, and sometimes not. If this is so in a manner for every creative period, it is especially characteristic of remote antiquity. The personality of early bards and minstrels, in spite of the popular tendency to attribute everything to one great name, is always obscure and indeterminate. On this point we cannot do better than translate some words from Welcker,* with the suggestive illustration which he quotes :
• There are times in which the love of art is so true-hearted, and the spirit of union so penetrating that the individual forgets himself, and not only represents the society as morally a person, but even feels it to be so. Our old builders' brotherhoods are well known, of which
Mr. Matthew Arnold's Report on French Education.
a thoughtful architect very rightly says: In the Middle Ages there was a strange inspiration, a tendency now almost unknown, to transfer all feeling of self to a corporation, which gathered into a narrow union the artistic growth of whole districts and neighbourhoods, in which all, with a complete renunciation of individual renown, offered their
powers of mind and body to a single creation of art. It is thus that things otherwise inconceivable in greatness and completeness were attained, and the heart of the guild-brother was better withal than where they spent themselves in the contest of ambition and jealousy.'
ART. VII.-1. Report on the System of Education for the Middle
and Upper Classes in France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. By M. Arnold, Esq., M.A., one of H.M. Inspectors of
Schools. Schools Inquiry Commission Reports, Vol. VI. 2. Schools and Universities on the Continent. By Matthew
Arnold, M.A. London, 1868. 3. Rapport sur l'Enseignement secondaire en Angleterre et en Écosse.
Adressé à S. E. le Ministre de l'Instruction Publique. Par
NCE and England have during the last few years taken Besides the notices of French education which we continually see in the English papers, and the somewhat interested exaltation of our English school liberty in the discussions of the French Chambers, a Commission for the purpose of inquiry has been issued by either Government. It is curious to compare the two results. M. Demogeot's Report on our Secondary Education is contained in a large volume printed at the Imprimerie Impériale ; Mr. Arnold's occupies half the sixth volume of the Appendix to the Schools Inquiry Commission Report, and is also issued in a handsomer and more expensive form. We strongly recommend every body to buy the Blue-book in preference. It costs only a trifle, and it contains, besides many pièces justificatives on which Mr. Arnold's Report is based, Mr. Fearon's Report on Scotch Schools, which will in some measure correct the gloom and despair which must follow on reading Mr. Arnold's volume. The French and English Commissioners had very different qualifications for their task. M. Demogeot, well known in France as a man of letters, has gone through the whole curriculum of the instruction publique, he has reached the rank of inspector through that of professor, he is acquainted with all the details of school teaching, and well knows the difficulties which stand in the way of any reform. His stay in England was short, but he