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world, and at every touch and turn gave “Father Jove, no god more baleful than thyself my evidence of their intimate connection and plans hath marred.
Now, indeed, I looked to punish Alexander for his sympathy with men, who recognized their
sin, kind offices in every piece of good fortune, But, instead, my sword hath shivered in my hands, but blamed them without reserve for
my spear hath been every disaster and annoyance. Good and Hurled in vain," etc. bad qualities of body or mind were regarded as direct gifts from the gods. And presently, when he had seized Paris
by the helmet, and was triumphantly “If thou art exceding valiant, God, I ween, hath dragging him along to the Greek host, given thee this,"
Venus came to the rescue of her favorite,
snapping the thong which bound the helm says Agamemnon to Achilles, in the course beneath his chin, and (such things being, of that dispute which was the occasion of as Homer interjects, mere bagatelle to the “ woes unnumbered” to the Greeks. And gods) hiding and carrying him away in a Paris, when Hector tells him,
cloud, thus again confounding the at all.
points-thwarted Menelaus. After the en“Vainly in thy harp and presents Venus-given wilt counter, when Paris was safely reclining thou trusi,
in his perfumed chamber, Venus compelled When thy flowing locks and beauteous form are min. the reluctant Helen to visit him, and gled with the dust,"
caused her reproaches to sink abruptly
into tenderness. When a person was warns his stern brother not to depreciate born, married, or slain ; sick or in health, the gifts of the gods, let them be what weak or strong, the gods were intimately they may
and directly connected with these events
or accidents. It was in virtue of their "The lovely gifts of golden Venus should thy soul kindly interference that a man enjoyed a
respect, For the gods illustrious presents no one lightly may jest or a laugh, or sneezed with security; reject,
and it was equally by their unpropitious Since they give as is their pleasure, and no man may offices, that the mariner was driven out of clioose his own.”
his course; the wind, which was the me.
chanical agency, being regarded merely When men were distinguished egre- as the breath of a hostile deity. These giously by any favorable token, they were direct and powerful operations of the called god-like or divine : Agamemnon gods reached also to the thoughts, and was so named in virtue of the power and desires, and judgment. If Jove wished the scepter he held from Jove; Ulysses, to avenge the dishonor put upon Achilles, for the wisdom which he shared in equal he sent a hostile and lying dream (itself a measure with the same god; Paris and deity) to Agamemnon; that it might, Helen, for the exceeding favor of Venus, standing by the king's bed in the guise of who granted them an extraordinary share the sage and friendly Nestor, the better of beauty—the last of these, even on the prevail upon him to commit himself to confession of the Trojan elders and peers destructive or injurious measures. If a of Priam, being “wondrously like to the hero was deceived, a god had perverted goddesses immortal.”
bis judgment, and befooled him; if injured, Let us see the Homeric faith as to the a god, not so much the human instrument, influence of the gods in bringing misfor- had wrought the ill. It will be seen that tune and annoyance. If sun-stroke and the Greeks afforded no exception to the pestilence decimated the Greeks, it was universality of the theocratic element in Phæbus the Far-darter, angry on account the first stages of all peoples. Even at of insults offered to his priest, who was the period at which we contemplate them, shooting at them with his pointed shafts, the principle of direct god-government in and feeding the ever-burning funeral pyres political matters is only formally invalidatwith heaps of dead. If the spear of Mene- ed. Though Agamemnon is the appar. laus failed of its mark, when aimed at the ent and human king, he is so only in vir“prime sinner” Paris, the disappointed tue of his inheritance of the identical hero reproached Jove with loud groaning scepter, which Vulcan had formerly fashand heaven-turned glances in such words ioned for the great king of gods and as these:
Homer enables us to identify the scep- far, the awkwardness of the Greek theoloter, by reciting its various holders during gy, arising from the want of a spirit of the interval between its manufacture and evil, some being analogous to the Ahriits possession by Agamemnon:
man of the Persians or the Devil of the
Christians, who should, either in his own “ Vulcan first this staff had given to King Jove, old person, or by a counter-constitution of Saturn's heir;
evil spirits of which he was the head, arJove to his messenger presented it, him who great Argus killed;
ray himself against Jove and all the inMercury gave it up to Pelops, in the hippodrome habitants of heaven, not as individuals, well-skilled';
but as a class; working against each and Pelops yielded it to Atreus, king and shepherd of all, not from pique or caprice, but from
the flock; Atreus, dying, to Thyestes left it, rich in pastoral deep-set, unwavering hate. If the divine stock;
superiority had been so proudly sufficient And at length Thyestes yielded it to Agamemnon's as to have allowed the Titans, or any hand.”
other anti-theic powers, to range the What weight this scepter carried, and world, and endeavor to controvert the bewith what dignity it invested its possessor, to thwart their designs for man's happi
nificence and good-will of the gods, and may be gathered from the words of Ulysses, when engaged in chiding the Greeks, ness, instead of keeping them basely both princes and soldiers, for their too growling beneath volcanoes, (where, at
localized them,) the
age great eagerness to return to Greece. He least, a later
puwhich he made a point of administering to would not then have been tempted to evil thus concluded the “gentle reproof," rity, and unanimity, and peace of heaven
had been wonderfully enhanced. Men the kings and chiefs; whilst further on, in the same quotation, will be seen the more
by the gods, and they would have had in uncompromising manner in which he re
all doubtful cases—of morals, at least—an proached the common people. We pre- final safety, instead of finding themselves
alternative of honor, moral right, and mise that Ulysses had, for the occasion, borrowed this “indestructible” scepter to obliged, on every debatable point, to se
, enforce his personal authority
lect for their proper patron one out of
two or more deities of conflicting inter"Most dreadful is the vengeance that a Jove-bred ests. This is a remark extremely likely sovereign wreaks,
of suggestion, when the warm sensuous Since from Jove be holds his honor—Jove, the all- Polytheism of Homer is looked at com
counseling, loves him well. When he heard a base-born fellow with loud fac- paratively with a more abstract Panthetious shouts rebel,
ism ; or from the locus of any monotheisHe would beat him with the scepter, and thus give tic system. But the Greek himself was him reprimand:
not likely to be very acutely sensible of *Wretch, keep quiet, and obedient, do what other such a defect. His problem was to manu
men command, Who io station are thy betters. Thou, unwarlike, facture gods (as the ingenious harmonic imbecile,
artist a base-viol “out of his own head”) Neither in the field nor council art accounted aught from the depths of his moral consciousness: but vile.
what could he do but transfer to the divine Nowise may all we Achæans here the part of sovereign play,
an indefinite multiple of the good and evil For mob-rule is but confusion, to one chief let all of his own nature ? obey,
Keeping this well in view, we may, as One king oply, to whom wily Saturn's son hath judg. we proceed to unvail the attributes of the
ment given, And a scepter
, awful symbol of the power he holds gods, come to a tolerably correct estimate from heaven.''
of the moral qualities of their worshipers.
“ Tell me with whom you go, and I'll you In this place, intermediate between you what you are,” is, as it stands, a very treating of the divine class, or the nature respectable proverb; but it would lose of the gods in general, and of the divine nothing of its weight or verity if the first hierarchy, or the nature of the Olympian moiety ran, “Tell me whom you worship.” constitution, it may not be amiss to make Nay, we incline rather to the emendation a remark that will be perhaps of useful than to the original; for the fear of conseapplication both to what precedes and quences, and a whole host of little conto what is yet to follow. This remark ventional arguments, may keep a man turns upon the incompleteness, and, so within the limits of what he calls the beVOL. XLIV.-NO. III.
coming; but, if once he exposes the deity ed even severally, or all combined, to or the quality that he enshrines within the essay their powers against him. Thus: temple of his heart, then, indeed, may con- “Come, gods, and try me: hang a golden fidently be declared what he is, or what chain from heaven, and all ye gods and he resembles.
goddesses suspend yourselves therefrom ; Two simple mental processes will give yet would you not draw from heaven to us, as we prosecute our inquiry into the po- earth your supreme counselor Jove, even litical, social, domestic, and moral life of with your utmost labor : but whenever I the gods, the same results as applied to willed to do so, I could draw it up, tomortals. We have first to consider what gether with earth and ocean, and you all, was the state of morals and manners which and binding the chain around the top of could coëxist and consort with the dei- Olympus, suspend all these dangling in fication of certain qualities that were reck- the air.” And the submission of the oned divine; and secondly to estimate the awed assembly asserted that this was no reciprocal and reactionary influence of the idle boast. Yet was not Jove almighty, creed which recognized these upon the in a strict, defined sense of the term; his lives and habits of its believers.
title being rather most, and very, not all Jove was the supreme ruler both of powerful. He had known difficulties, and gods and men, and stood to the former i been driven to straits by far less formidexactly in the same relation that an abso- able combinations than the whole united lute monarch does to the aristocracy of strength of heaven. The following passwhich he is the head. His will was the age from the appeal which Achilles made grand originating center of all great in his sorrow to his mother Thetis, shows movements in the physical and moral how that silver-footed goddess had once world; and besides the peculiar func- relieved him from great dishonor and extions which he exercised as god of the tremity. For when upper air, he had a general superintendence over the conduct of all the other “Juno, Neptune, and Minerva would have closely
fettered him, gods, and over all the thoughts, purposes, Thou then coming didst, 0 goddess ! from the chains and actions of men.” He seems even to release his limb; have enjoyed a kind of suzerainty over Calling up the Hundred-handed quickly to the Olymhis co-heirs, Neptune and Pluto; to whom pian height, had fallen, at the division of
Surnamed by the gods Briareus, by all men Ægeon power conse
hight." quent upon the dethronement of “wily Saturn,” the empire of the Sea and the And the liberator of Jove was thereupon Infernal Regions, respectively. Vulcan, advanced to a seat of honor and distincthe cunning artist of the gods, bore wit- tion by the side of the grateful god. For ness to this supremacy, when, counseling the want of consistency and homogeneity his mother Juno to make peace with Jove, in the myths which have their place in he rather ludicrously reminded her of his Homer, we can only plead that it was not own mis-adventure, which had arisen from his province to systematize or articulate former opposition to Jove in her behalf : his religious creed, so much as to embel“Once, in former time, assistance when to thee I the most effective and dramatic episodes.
lish his account of the main action, by would have given, Having seized my foot, he hurled me from the thresh- Whatever the traditional temporary weakold high of heaven.
nesses of Jove may have been, he does not All day was I hurried headlong, and with the de- appear in Homer to suffer any diminution
clining day Fell on Lemnos, with but little life left in me, as I of power or dignity from the remembrance lay."
of them; the gods, upon pain of his dis
pleasure, dared not receive him otherwise The unfortunate god was, however, than standing; and they followed meekly kindly tended by the Sentians, but never in his train to and from the celestial banrecovered a lameness which, in conse- quets. Juno alone would venture directquence of his fall, seized both his legs. ly and in his presence to oppose him, and Jove also, with a proud consciousness of take him to task for his supposed delinhis individual superiority to all the rest quencies : but even this more in the chaof the gods, on one occasion threatened racter of an injured and petulant wife, that he would hurl any offending or dis- than a god in persistent opposition to his obedient deity to Tartarus; and challeng. i measures. And though it was common for the gods to take various sides in the which Jove had arranged and held, clanHomeric contests, yet in all, according to destinely, as he flattered himself, with the poet, “ the purpose of Jove was being Thetis. These attempts at secresy, whe. fulfilled ;” his will overriding and overrul- ther successful or not, show sufficiently ing, whilst conniving at, their active ex- that the planners of them hoped to remain pressions of partisanship. This was the undiscovered, and demonstrate, therefore, crown of Jove; the will, namely, that their belief in the limited knowledge of would and must finally bend every thing those whom they wished to deceive. No to itself, and out of every contradictory monotheist would avow in theory, or proand opposing influence assert itself in ul- ceed upon in practice, the hope of deceivtimate and grand fulfillment. The pecu- ing God; full well knowing that a hope liar moral functions of Jove were to be entertained in contravention of absolute friend and protect those who were other- divine omniscience must necessarily prove wise friendless; to avenge all infractions abortive. of the laws of hospitality and kindness; The friendship of the gods, whom we to give rewards to those who deserved may, after having entered this caveat, rewell, and, conversely, to punish the doers gard generally as omniscient and omnipoof evil. “Whatsoever, in short, rendered tent, was, of course, a thing to be coveted, man an object of interest and love to man, and when gained, to be highly prized and came from Jove. He was god in a sense anxiously preserved. But the winning that belonged to no other deity. With. and the preservation of this favor was a out him men were wild beasts, life an un- task of no slight difficulty. An answer interrupted war, and Olympus a mere was often long withheld, even from a bedlam.”
worshiper who for the moment enjoyed The doctrine of a fortune or fate, which their protection and patronage, until the came afterwards to be so elaborated by gods supplicated had opportunity to rethe tragedians of Greece, is found in Ho- volve the petition in their minds, and demer only in a very elementary and un- cide how far it were expedient, from their formed state. The “ essay of the human own co-working or antagonistic relations mind to satisfy its innate longing for a with other deities, to reply favorably or monotheistic view of the universe,” had otherwise. Thus Thetis was obliged to not become, in the days of Homer, so es- urge Jove to cut short her dubiety by a sential to man as to necessitate the con- word, which should at once either grant ception of a power before which even the or refuse her application. Jove having divine power and will must bow, and with been thus urged, although with some dein the limits of which these must revolve. gree of misgiving and gloomy anticipaThis longing, in his time only rudiment- tions of a curtain-lecture, promised to ary, easily found its correlate in the inde signify his approval of her petition by finite supremacy of the one Jove over the nodding his head, the pledge subordinate forces of earth and heaven.
“The gods know all things,” is the Ho- " That most binding is; whatever I have by a nod meric epitome of the doctrine of divine
Firm shall stand irrevocably, both by guile and fato omniscience; which, however, no more
unmoved." than the like assertion as to their power, ("the gods can do all things,') is to be But this divine favor once gained, was taken as of strict and literal application. by no means therefore perpetual. It was For we are supplied with instances which not the glory of the Homeric gods that must operate against the reception of this they were slow to anger; on the contrary, as an all-embracing or universal proposi- they were easily irascible, jealous of slights tion. Here is an example. The “ wind- and petty insults, and relentless in their footed” Iris, running down from Olym- persecutions of the luckless wight who pus, came with a message to Achilles, the had the misfortune to offend them. Over purport of which
that he should arm an:1 above these drawbacks, their proverhimself “ unknown to Jove and the other bial guile and deceit rendered it politic in gods.” Iris did this at the command of the man who had so far succeeded in winJuno ; who, however, with the sharpened ning the good graces of the gods, to exeye and ear of a jealous wife, and withal act an oath as security for their performa slightly shrewish one, had on a for- ance of the good he craved. Ulysses, the mer occasion easily discovered a meeting crafty suspector of craft, demanded from
Calypso and Circe an oath in confirmation general eye, they were capable of being of what he hesitated to take upon their seen and recognized in their divine characunsupported words. It was not against ter by the opened eye of their pious the nature and practice of the gods to se- worshipers.” Thus, Venus manifested duce nen, not only into misfortunes and herself to Helen at first in the guise of calamities, but even into crimes; that of an old dame who had formerly been a perjury not excepted—although it was a wool-carder in her husband's palace at sin for which they reserved in a future Lacedæmon; till, at length, her all-radiant state the most severe punishments. On neck, the other hand, since the gods were the dispensers of good to men, they were to “And her love-inflaming bosom, and her fiery flashbe reckoned of a beneficent disposition,
ing eyes,” and their placability was implicitly asserted by the attempts made to propitiate them. revealed and confessed the goddess. Iris, It was to be presumed that the cases in again, visited Helen in the semblance of which they inflicted evil on particular in- Laodice, “the fairest of all Priam's dividuals were exceptional ; and notable daughters.” Minerva, in propria perinstances of their accessibility and readi- sond, and yet in human form, prevented ness to oblige those whose lives were Achilles from taking a deadly vengeance '
a mainly good and devoted to their service, upon Agamemnon, even whilst he was in are recorded in the pages of Homer. the act of unsheathing his sword to slay Here is the form of the very first prayer haustless of the gods indulging in this
that “king of men.” Instances are exin the “Iliad,” which Chryses offered up method of effecting their purposes, and of
” to Apollo, supplicating vengeance upon the Greeks, for the wrong he had suffered working upon the passions and plans of at their hands by the unjust detention of the objects of their visitations by articuhis daughter:
late and vivâ voce injunctions. It was
the custom of all the gods, with Jove at “God of the silver bow,
their head, to spend annually a period of List to my prayer;
twelve days in banqueting amongst the Thou who of old, as now,
“blameless Ethiops,” a people whose corMakest thy care
rectness of life and manners seems to have Chrysa and Cilla divine;
recommended them, in spite of any preWho dost in Tenedus Mighty reign;
judice which might attach to the color of If ever, Sminthius,
their epidermis, to the divine inhabitants Roofs for thy graceful fane
These theophanic revelations marked If e'er I burned to thee (Offering the fatted thigh)
the highest and closest degree of intimacy; He-goats and kine,
but there were other methods known to Favor my upward cry,
the Greeks by which the gods were acHonor thy shrine:
customed to reveal their will to mankind. May the Greeks feel thy darts
When the Greeks met in council to delib.
erate upon the means to be employed
for getting rid of the pestilential visitaTo which prayer Phæbus promptly and tion sent by Apollo, Achilles advised
them to cordially responded, by sending the pestilence, or, Homericé, shooting the pointed
"Seek the counsel of some priest or prophet true, shafts which we have before had occasion Or of one by dreams enlightened, for dreams also to notice.
are from Jove." The relations which the gods bore to men, and the close and constant intimacy The italicized portion of the abore with them and their affairs, suggest the quotation embodies shortly the article of questions, How was this intimacy affected, faith under cover of which it was reasonand these relations made manifest ? First, able for Agamemnon to act upon the of the first : “ The gods visited the earth, message and advice of the * hostile and often appeared in a visible shape to Oneiros, or lying dream-god, which Jove mortals; generally, however, under some sent purposely to mislead him; whilst the human mask, in such a manner that, other part indicates a belief in the inspir. while their godhead was vailed to the ation of certain men to unravel and fore
Have been a care to me: