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the future stand to each other has been in some measure discerned."
We find, consequently, that in the Iliad and Odysee, ascribed to Homer, the true and false are indistinguishably blended, whilst in the “Works and Days” of Hesiod, the mythic is the prevailing element. The fact that the earliest writers of all nations descant largely on the origin and history of the gods, affords a good negative proof that they had as yet no records of mere human heroes--no staid, consistent narratives of men's deeds and thinkings.
Indebted as our young readers may be to the writings of Herodotus, which form the basis of most ancient histories, they probably know little or nothing of the man himself. He appears to have been born 484 years B. C., at Halicarnassus, a Grecian colony in lower Asia, of noble family; his uncle Panyasis, having also distinguished himself by his poetical writings, which caused him to be ranked by some as next to Homer himself. So little is known of his personal history, that it is still matter of disputation whether his great work was written in his early manhood, or old age. Lucian records an incident connected with the public reading of his History at Olympia, from which it is inferred that he had completed it before his twenty-eighth year. Some of the facts, however, recorded by Herodotus, did not take place till he had reached his seventy-seventh year, from which others have conjectured that he did not compose the work until very late in life. The probability is, that it was mainly composed before his fortieth year, the later events being added as they occurred. His History is divided into nine books, named after the Muses, and comprehends the annals of Lydia, Ionia, Lycia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Macedonia, during about two centuries and a half.
In order to collect materials, Herodotus travelled through many of the countries described. The extent, and in some measure the order of these travels, may be gathered from the work itself. Asia Minor, at least its coasts and islands, would be known to him. He seems also to have visited the southern shores of the Euxine, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Babylon; he describes Ecbatana with minuteness, but there is something romantic in the account of the gilding, silvering, and painting of its walls. As maps were already in existence, his knowledge of the distances and posts between Sardes and Susa does not prove that he had travelled this road. That he had not seen the shores of the Caspian is evident from his extraordinary mistakes about the Araxes. It is evident that he had been in Colchis, and that he came to Egypt by sea. In Egypt he appears to have remained chiefly at Memphis and Heliopolis. He went however to Thebes and Elephantine, and must have stopped at Chemmis, but probably saw this part of Egypt only hastily, or he could hardly have failed to describe some of the wonders of Thebes. His graphic description of the inundation shows that he was in this country during the season of its prevalence. Westward of Egypt, Cyrene was probably the limit of his travels. He sailed from Egypt to Tyre, and probably from thence to Thasos. Macedonia, Byzantium, and the Pontus, there can be no question that he had personally visited; and Scythia, on the north side of the Euxine. The Gerrhus seems to have limited his eastern travels, and though he sailed around, he did not traverse by land, the Tauric Chersonesus.”
From observations made, and information obtained, during these
voyages and travels, the History of Herodotus was mainly compiled. It was believed, until quite recently, that the work was recited at the Olympic games, when high honors were awarded to its author. But Professor Dahlmann has called this circumstance in question, simply on the ground that some of the incidents connected with it are improbable. These doubts, however, do not embrace the whole argument. “A recitation at Olympia seems, therefore, in itself not incredible. But was it the whole history, as we now have it, or only a part; and if a part, what part? That the whole of the nine books, as they stand, should have been read there is impossible, for they contain marks of time of a much later date” as has already been remarked.
But it is by no means improbable that the germ of the work may have been thus submitted; and if so, the act of such a distinction being conceded to it, is much enhanced by the consideration that it must have been at that period in a comparatively imperfect state. The best judges among the ancients unanimously allow Herodotus to have excelled all other writers in the elegance, fluency, and sweetness of his style; but the judgment of the moderns is less favorable. The work is rather of a popular than of a philosophic cast, although pervaded by two elements, at least, which give it something of the latter character-Vicissitude and Vengeance. The author evidently believes that Providence exercises an equalizing power ; and that signal violations of her order are visited with sudden and condign punishment.
In many respects this old Greek affords a worthy pattern even to our own age. Superstitious and ignorant of natural philosophy, he was nevertheless an accurate observer; and though possessing an intelligent inquisitiveness, seldom equalled, he was not over-credulous. His descriptions are neat and graphic, but he seldom rises to eloquence, seeking rather the reputation of “an honest chronicler," than of an orator or poet. “His veracity in recording what he saw, is now very generally admitted ; but to be an intelligent recorder of the appearances of nature, requires some knowledge of nature, as the most accurate draughtsman seldom makes a correct copy of an inscription in a language which he does not understand.”
But amongst the admirable traits of his character, none are more praiseworthy than his candour. As the greatest traveller of his day, his information was almost entirely exclusive; but he never dogmatises, or stands upon the vantage ground of having seen the world.” His readers, so far from being required to take things upon his mere ipse dixit are scrupulously cautioned whenever he treads upon suspicious ground. “These things were related to me, but if any man doubt them, he is at liberty to do so"--are intimations interjected here and there throughout his work; and though he records much that in our own day would be at once detected as improbable, the researches of modern travellers have confirmed in a very striking manner the substance of his narrative.
On the whole his testimony is considered as trustworthy ; and great use has been made of it in all histories of modern date-a fact which should endear his memory to every student. Besides possessing in an eminent degree the faculty of observation, an average judgment, and great felicity of expression, he enjoyed the means of acquainting himself by travel with a vast
fund of knowledge inaccessible to others. We know, therefore, that in relying upon his statements, we are not trusting, as in the case of many of the so-called historians of old time, to a fabulist or a visionary.
A great lesson is involved in the biography of Herodotus. He was the first of his school, and had consequently everything to learn, without any of the customary appliances for learning anything. Yet what a splendid foundation he has laid for his successors--working out and thinking out for himself the amazing results developed in his nine books of History. He was, in his sphere, a master and an original. Let us in this at least imitate his example.
JONATHAN AND HIS ARMOUR-BEARER.*
ABOUT seven miles north by east from Jerusalem is a steep precipitous valley extending east and west. North of this valley, which is called in 1 Samuel xü. 23, the “
passage of Michmash” (now Wady es-Suweinit), lay the Philistine host, which had established a garrison, or advanced post, upon the high promontory or angle formed by the intersection of another valley extending north and south. Upon the heights, about a mile on the southern side of the same passage of Michmash, stood Geba, from which Jonathan had lately expelled the Philistine garrison, and which Saul and Jonathan now occupied with not more than six hundred men. Michmash (now Mukhmas), which gave name to the passage, and where the Philistine outpost was stationed, and Geba (now Jeba), therefore, were separated by this valley, and were then, as now, in sight of each other. In this “ passage,” near by the point where the other valley intersects it, are two hills of a conical, or rather spherical shape, having steep rocky sides, with small wadys running up behind each, so as almost to isolate them. One is on the side towards Jeba, and the other on the side towards Mukhmas. These are apparently the two mentioned in connection with the circumstances to which our attention
From the third volume of Kitto's Daily Bible Mustrations. lished. See our Vol. for 1850. pp. 64. 193, 247.
is now directed, and which these particulars will better enable the reader to understand.
We may be sure that the movements of the Philistine force, stationed on the height at Michmash, were watched with much attention and solicitude from Saul's head-quarters at Geba. This attention may have been reciprocal. One morning an extraordinary commotion was discovered among the Philistines. Its nature could not well be discovered in the grey of the morning, and in the want of telescopes. It is clear there is a conflict of some kind going on; and see, the host gradually melts away, as if the men were beating down one another. What could it be? The Philistines had no enemies but the Israelites. Was it some broil among themselves, or had some of the garrison undertaken, without orders, a wild and desperate enterprise. When the latter thought crossed the mind of Saul, he hastened to muster his small army, or rather troop, to see if any were absent, and then he found that all were there except Jonathan and his armour-bearer, and knowing the chivalrous and daring character of his son, he had no doubt but that his hand was in this affair. It was so, indeed. That heroic young prince, strong in the true old Gideonic faith-that, as he said, “ There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few,” had privately prevailed upon his armour-bearer to scale the rock and penetrate to the Philistine garrison. Now, it is stated, in conformity with the above description, that “ between the passages by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Senez. The forefront of the one was situate northward, over against Michmash, and the other southward, over against Geba.” It seems to us that Jonathan chose to make the attempt here, by the hill Bozez, not only because of some facility afforded, but because the projection of the hill would conceal his advance till a good part of the ascent had
When at length the two men were discovered by the sentinels scrambling up the rock, it was supposed that they were of those who had hid themselves in caverns, and who had no doubt come as deserters to the Philistines. This seems to us