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As*****on the Opinions entertained by different Commentator^
with tefpedl to the Situation of the Hell of Homer.
[From the Firft Volume of Count Stolbekg's Travels.]
"TJEit granted that Virgil was -*-* right in following ancient ^tradition, and profiting by the natural, gloom of the.places, and the difmal ideas of the religion of the people concerning thefe places, the ■re/igtoiod,as ho elfewheie terms it: let it be proved, and nothing more can be proved, that the entrance to his hell was at Avernus: it yet ap"pears to me, however great the authorities may be to the contrary, that the opinions of thofe are unfounded who fuppnfe the hell of Homer to have the fame fituaiion. There is fcarcely any hypothesis which acutenefs may not render probable: as this teems to have been rendered. Cluverius himfelf, a very intelligent reader and commentator of the ancients, encoucourages this dream.
44 ' Homer,' fays he, 'makes 'Ulyffes fail from the country of 'Circe, to that of Cimmeria in one
* day; and lilcewife with a north 'wind. Put thefe circumftances 'together, and he could only fail 'to thefe parts. The grove orl'ro'ferpine and the gloomy palace of
* Pluto, as mentioned by Homer,.
4 were at the lake of Avemus ; and 'the narrow fliore was what wa« 4 called the dam of Hercules: that 4 leads from the Tyrrhene fea to 4 the Lucrine lake.'
"In his treatife on the wanderings of Ulyffes, he fays, 4 By the 4 ocean, Homer here underftands 4 the Lucrine lake and that of 4 Avemus.'
44 Various circumftances are thus brought together; and in a certain Tenfe, it would give me great pleafure naw to be perfonally prefent on the places where thefe fcenes have paffed. How interefting would it be, for a paflionate admirer and lover of Homer, to vifit thofe countries that have been honoured by his boldeft flights! But the moll interefting of all things is truth.
44 By the ocean of Homer, we now generally understand the ocean properly fo called. Our learned Vols has taught us that Homer, and other poets, who lived long after Homer, by the word oceanus, underftood the great ftream: which, according to their opinion, flowed round the earth. Now, in whichever fenfe we underftand it, we fiiall find how impofuble it was that the poet, in the above paflagr, could defcribe the Lucnne lake and the lake of Averntis by the term ocean us.
"He was unacquainted with the Avernus, for he did not go up the country; and before Agrippa had levelled the high (bore of this lake, on the fide next the fea, and had united it with the Lucnne lake, it was not vifible from the fea.
"And even if Homer had amended this high fliore, he would have been convinced of the fmal 1 circumference of the lake, and certainly would not have called it the ocean.
"That in later ages, though long before the time of Virgil, the refidence of the dead was fought for in this country, I very well know. It was later ages, that dedicated to Proferpine her grove, and to Pluto his gloomy palace. Livy tells us that Hannibal led a part of bis army to Avernus, under the pretext of iacrificing there; but in reality to make an attempt upon Puteoli, and the Roman garrifon that it contained.
"1 believe it is a very ancient opinion that Homer led his Ulyfles to this place. The idea was flattering to the Greeks, who inhabited thefe coafts;and very flight grounds would make it credited by the people of Cuina;, Puteoli, Baia;, and Parthenope : the prefent Naples.— They were likewife interested in a political view: it made them relpefred. Befide, offerings no doubt were brought to their temples; and the nature of the country favoured the prejudice. The inundating, noxious-vapour-exhaling, water of the (ca and the rivers, the at that time fiery Epomeus of the ifland of llchia, the cavernso haling fulphur, the volcanic traces of the country, where the inhabitants Humbled as it
were over the ruins of nature, the frequent earthquakes, and add to thefe the vicinity of all the delights of nature contrafted with all her horrors, thefe circumftances, taken collectively, gave rife to, and food for, the imaginary fables and terrors of the empire of death: an empire in which, according to the relation of Homer, the abodes of the bleffed border on the confines of the damned.
"As an attentive reading of the JLneid has long vindicated Virgil from the abfurdity of having placed his entire hell in regions well known upon earth; fo likewife, had the travels of Ulyfles been attended to in the fame l'pirit, they would not have led the reader to difcover the (hades of death in this place. Without having recourfe to the ftrangc confufion 01 the lake of Avernus with the ocean, this hypothefis is felf-deftru£tive.
"What reafon could Ulyfles have to return from the (hades of hell to Circe? Had he paned the Averno?, his navigating back to the goddefs was unneceflary. His route led him fouthward to the ifland of the Sirens: Why did he fail back to the north, when he muft a fecond time have neceflarily failed paft the Avernus? Why did Circe tell him, when he entreated her to fend him back to Ithaca, that he muft previoufly go another way, d\\n i$m, to the abode of Pluto, Aidaes,; and to the terrible Proferpine, Perfephoneia; to queftion the foul of the prophet Tirefias? Ulyfles informed his companions of this other voyage. The intelligence grieved them to the heart; fo that they wept and tore their hair. And why? The danger of the defcent into hell was the talk only of Ulyffes: but this unknown voyage over leas which none of them had yet navigated, was equally terrible to them all.
"Neither did thefe clamours in the leaft agree with a voyage te the ihores of Avernus, which lay in their way: and the fecond viut to Circe was ftill more abfurd. Should it be anfwered that Ulyfles returned to inter Elpenor, who had broken his neck in the palace of the goddefs, and whom, opprefled by other cares, he had left unburied, his meeting with the foul of Elpenor in the lower regions will (hew the error of this opinion. He enrreated Ulyires to remember hiin, and to fee him buried : ' for I know,' faid he, ' that thou wilt land on the * TEaian ifland.'
*' Ulyfles promifes a ready compliance, as a tiling eafily to be performed. Had he been excited by other cares, which had induced him to leave him unburied the firft time, a ceremony that at the utmoft would have required only the delay of a few days in order to afford him this token of his affeftion. what could now induce him to perform fiich a voyage for his fake? Elpenor well knew that Ulyfles would not unneceflarily wander over an unknown fea: but would more willingly return by a route that he had already navigated, and afterward continue a coafting voyage.
"Where then was the hell of Homer fituated? In anfwer to this I muft refer you to the map of Vofs, which contains the countries defcribed by Homer ; and to his own inquiries concerning ancient geography. The empire of death may be concealed in that terrific and difmal gloom in which the poet Found it, among the records of tradition: or he might have purpofely enveloped it in the darknefs of amazement, and of horror. As fagacious in the conduit of his poena at he was rich
in imagination, he might welcome this holy horror as the proper element for the creation or his boldeft imagery. The characleriftic marks of melancholy and gloom predominate through the whole of the eleventh book of the Odyfley.
"Whether the people of Cimmerium and their city, as defchbed by the poet—
"There in a lonely land and gloomy cell* The rtufky nation of Cimmeria dwells'. Thefun ne'er views th'uncomfbrtable feats, When radiant he advances, or retreats. Unhappy race! whom endlefs night invades, • Clouds the dull air, and wraps them rcund in (hades.
whether the dark kingdom of this b-jnighted people was the creation of Homer, or, which to me is much more probable, the picture of more early fable, I cannot determine: but it does not appear to me that this paflage is applicable to the Cimmerii of Italy; who lived under ground* The latter, whether they actually buried themfelves in fubterranean caverns or not, were probably fo called from the Cimmerii defcribed by Homer.
"I fliall again have occafion to fpeak of the Cimmerii of Italy, and of the light under which they have been confidered by the lad commentators on the ancients; particularly the Italians.
"Whoever has a juft notion of the ftate of geography among the Greeks in much later times than, thofe of Homer, whoever is familiarized with occanus, in the 'Prometheus of jEfchylus, with the Arimafpi, and with the daughter of Phorcus—he, I fay, who is but flightly acquainted with the ancient Ionic bards, the contemporaries of Homer, will know that they might K imaging imagine thofe places, though tliey were but a day's fell beyond the promontory of Circe, that is, a day's fail to which the goddefs lent favourable winds, to be the limits of the earth. Later times have thrown back Cimmerian darknels farther to the north. Hence the inhabitants of Jutland, and the Danifli itlands, have at length been called the
"The fables of the ancients have frequently wandered from place to place; and the motley multitudes of fyftem-makers have been eager to wander in their company.
"Great fliads of the greateft of poets, out of whofe ever youthful imagination the Iliad and OdyfTey fprang, blooming, wouldft thou not, from thy real not'fabulous Elyfrom, look down, and laugh, didft thou ihree thoufand years after the exiftence of thy Cimmerii, who were thy own offspring, behold a tribe of learned infers, induftrious bookworms, point out thy empire of hell on the mapofHomaur An empire which thou, with all the caution of wifdom, haft placed beyond the ken of cold curkjfity, in the necromantic darknefs of legend; whofe non-extfting phantoms, embodied by thee, are pointed to as realities, and as the traces of geographical truth 1
"During the whole peregrinations of Ulyfles from people to people, we can follow him without difficulty. How greatly is the poetical truth of the Odyffey realized by this circumftance! The wonderful phenomena of Scylla and Charybdis, which deterred the companions of the hero from near inquiry,contribute to the poetical fiction of their being living monfters. The Laeftrygons, a wild people inhabiting the northern fliore of Sici ly, 'were probably by the contemporaries qi the poet fuppofed to
be giants: and was it a poet's b > find's to reprefent them as cosnmon men?
"How fill)lime was the, (ball I call it poetical fiction, or, tradition of the illand, which was governed by the prince and lord of the winds, .tolus! Homer took good care* that we might have no trace of any fuch iflanci, to leave it floating in the fea. Both modern and ancient commentators fuppofe the largefit of the Lipai i iflands, near Sicily, to be the place. What I have faid of the Litlrygons is equally applicable to the Cyclops. Homer might well, three thoufand years ago, with apparent probability people an ifland with giants in which only two hundred yeais ago Fazello, a valuable' Sicilian author, was perfuaded of the truth of the (keletons of giants having been found nearTrapani, in the year 1342; and that one of them was the giant Eryx, flab by Hercules.
"The cautious poet like wife left" the filtration of the ifland of Ogygia, the refidence of the goddefs Calyp. fo, foundetenr.ined, that fome have fuppofed it to be Malta, others Gozo near Malta, others again a little ifland below the bay of Taranto, and others an ifland near Albania, the ancient Epirus.
"Yet who fo determinate and circumftantia! as Homer, when be can by that means promote poetical effect? Who fo lively, in debribing and producing the fceuery, when he can thus give greater animation and reality to his characters? who knows like him to favour pee. tical illufion by light clouds, or by dark, that now conceal, now magnify and render objects dreadful, and now glimmer round them; while they communicate thole tender trembling lights, which enchant the curiojity that they excite?
"Children cry for the rainbow; and the childilh in unclerftanding are diflatisfied with the poet, whole
narrative is nor as circumftantinlly barren as a gazette, or as talkative as the tales of old women.'"
Investigation on the Site of Troy. [From Dallaway's ConstantinotLb, Ancient and Modern.]
"HPHE diftnnce from theGreci-I- an camp to the flte of Troy, has fupplied thole who contend againft its exiftence with many plaufible objections. It is, however, certain that the prefent village of Koum-kalch is fltuate on a fandbank of more than a mile in extent, which will reduce the diflance, flippofing it to be an accretion from the Hellefpont, to lefs than eight Englifh miles from Bouniir-bafhi, whete the Scsean gate once flood. The advanced works both of Greeks aud Trojans lefiened the intermediate fpace. If the Grecian camp was between the fhore and the junction of theShnoeis and Scamander, then knon-n only by the latter name, the United river will anfwer to all the epithets given to it by Homer.
** We began Out furvey of the plain of Troy. Crofting the Simocis over a long wooden bridge near its embouchure, we palled over an extenfive level of ploughed fields, and Goulu-fui, a brook which empties itfelf into the fea near In-tepe, or the tomb of Ajax Telamonius. This tumulus is now irregularly fhaped. Near the top is a final! arched way almoft choked up with earth, which was the entrance into the vault, and over it a broken wall, where was once a fmall fepulchral fane, called the Aianteum. The whole feems to be of a much more modern date than the death of Ajax.
Marc Antony removed his urn, and afhesinto ./Egypt, which were afterward reftored with funeral honours by Auguftus, when it is probable that the prefent vault was made, and thefuperftruc'ture eredted. This compliment was paid to his manes to gratify the Ilian citizens, who confidered him as their tutelar. The city of Ilium was about two miles diftant, near the junction of the Scamander and S'aioeis, and owed its origin to Alexander and Lyfimachus, who repaired the temple of Minerva, and lurrounded it with a wall. It is not improbable that when Alexander was enthufiaftically investigating the fire of ancient Troy, thai trie pricfb of Minerva fliould attach him, from policy, to this fpot tor the foundation of a city which had like wife lupeiior maritime advantages. M.enietus, governor of Ilium, went out to> meet Alexander in his Perfic expedition, and prefented him with a. golden crown. It was firft taken by Charidemus Orites; and fubfequently befieged by Fimbria, the general engaged in thecaufeofMarius, and levelled with the ground; this injury was afterwards feverely revenged by Sylla. They enjoyed the patronage of Julius Csefar. It excites no wonder, that after fo long poffeffion of it by the Turks, not a (lone fliould remain, yet foine contend againft the exiftence of Kz Troy,