Homer and His Age
Andrew Lang

Part 2 out of 6

his work. In _his_ version, Book I. does not end with the
quarrel of the princes, but Achilles receives, with all the
courtesy of his character, the unwelcome heralds of Agamemnon, and
sends Briseis with them to the Over-Lord. He then with tears
appeals to his goddess-mother, Thetis of the Sea, who rose from
the grey mere like a mist, leaving the sea deeps where she dwelt
beside her father, the ancient one of the waters. Then sat she
face to face with her son as he let the tears down fall, and
caressed him, saying, "Child, wherefore weepest thou, for what
sorrow of heart? Hide it not, tell it to me; that I may know it as
well as thou." Here the poet strikes the keynote of the character
of Achilles, the deadly in war, the fierce in council, who weeps
for his lost lady and his wounded honour, and cries for help to
his mother, as little children cry.

Such is the Achilles of the _Iliad_ throughout and
consistently, but such he was not to the mind of Mr. Leaf's
probably elder poet, the author of version A. Thetis, in version
B, promises to persuade Zeus to honour Achilles by making
Agamemnon rue his absence, and, twelve days after the quarrel,
wins the god's consent.

In Book II. Zeus reflects on his promise, and sends a false Dream
to beguile Agamemnon, promising that now he shall take Troy.
Agamemnon, while asleep, is full of hope; but when he wakens he
dresses in mufti, in a soft doublet, a cloak, and sandals; takes
his sword (swords were then worn as part of civil costume), and
the ancestral sceptre, which he wields in peaceful assemblies. Day
dawns, and "he bids the heralds...." A break here occurs,
according to the theory.

Here (_Iliad_, Book II., line 50) the kernel ceases, Mr. Leaf
says, and the editor of 540 B.C. plays his pranks for a while.

The kernel (or one of the _two_ kernels), we are to take up
again at Book II., 443-483, and thence "skip" to XI. 56, and now
"we have a narrative masterly in conception and smooth in
execution," [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 47.] says Mr.
Leaf. This kernel is kernel B, probably the later kernel of the
pair, that in which Achilles appeals to his lady mother, who wins
from Zeus the promise to cause Achaean defeat, till Achilles is
duly honoured. The whole Epic turns on this promise of Zeus, as
announced in the fifth, sixth, and seventh lines of the very first
Book. If kernel A is the first kernel, the poet left out the
essence of the plot he had announced. However, let us first
examine probable kernel B, reading, as advised, Book II. 1-50,
[blank space]; XI. 56 ff.

We left Agamemnon (though the Dream bade him summon the host to
arms) dressed in _civil costume_. His ancestral sceptre in
his hand, he is going to hold a deliberative assembly of the
unarmed host. His attire proves that fact ([Greek: _prepodaes de
ae stolae to epi Boulaen exionti_], says the scholiast). Then
if we skip, as advised, to II. 443-483 he bids the heralds call
the host not to peaceful council, for which his costume is
appropriate, but to _war_! The host gathers, "and in their
midst the lord Agamemnon,"--still in civil costume, with his
sceptre (he has not changed his attire as far as we are told)--
"in face and eyes like Zeus; in waist like Ares" (god of war);
"in breast like Poseidon,"--yet, for all that we are told,
entirely unarmed! The host, however, were dressed "in innumerable
bronze," "war was sweeter to them than to depart in their ships to
their dear native land,"--so much did Athene encourage them.

But nobody had been speaking of flight, in THE KERNEL B: THAT
proposal was originally made by Thersites, in kernel A, and was
attributed to Agamemnon in the part of Book II. where the editor
blends A and B. This part, at present, Mr. Leaf throws aside as a
very late piece of compilation. Turning next, as directed, to XI.
56, we find the Trojans deploying in arms, and the hosts encounter
with fury--Agamemnon still, for all that appears, in the raiment
of peace, and with the sceptre of constitutional monarchy. "In he
rushed, first of all, and slew Bienor," and many other gentlemen
of Troy, not with his sceptre!

Clearly all this is the reverse of "a narrative masterly in
conception and smooth in execution:" it is an impossible

Mr. Leaf has attempted to disengage one of two forms of the old
original poem from the parasitic later growths; he has promised to
show us a smooth and masterly narrative, and the result is a
narrative on which no Achasan poet could have ventured. In II. 50
the heralds are bidden [Greek: _kurussein_], that is to
summon the host--to _what_? To a peaceful assembly, as
Agamemnon's costume proves, says the next line (II. 51), but that
is excised by Mr. Leaf, and we go on to II. 443, and the reunited
passage now reads, "Agamemnon bade the loud heralds" (II. 50)
"call the Achaeans to battle" (II. 443), and they came, in
harness, but their leader--when did he exchange chiton, cloak, and
sceptre for helmet, shield, and spear? A host appears in arms; a
king who set out with sceptre and doublet is found with a spear,
in bronze armour: and not another word is said about the Dream of

It is perfectly obvious and certain that the two pieces of the
broken kernel B do not fit together at all. Nor is this strange,
if the kernel was really broken and endured the insertion of
matter enough to fill nine Books (IL-XL). If kernel B really
contained Book II., line 50, as Mr. Leaf avers, if Agamemnon, as
in that line (50) "bade the clear-voiced heralds do...."
something--what he bade them do was, necessarily, as his peaceful
costume proves, to summon the peaceful assembly which he was to
moderate with his sceptre. At such an assembly, or at a
preliminary council of Chiefs, he would assuredly speak of his
Dream, as he does in the part excised. Mr. Leaf, if he will not
have a peaceful assembly as part of kernel B, must begin his
excision at the middle of line 42, in II., where Agamemnon wakens;
and must make him dress not in mufti but in armour, and call the
host of the Achaeans to arm, as the Dream bade him do, and as he
does in II. 443. Perhaps we should then excise II. 45 2, 45 3,
with the reference to the plan of retreat, for _THAT_ is part
of kernel A where there was no promise of Zeus, and no Dream sent
to Agamemnon. Then from II. 483, the description of the glorious
armed aspect of Agamemnon, Mr. Leaf may pass to XI. 56, the
account of the Trojans under Hector, of the battle, of the prowess
of Agamemnon, inspired by the Dream which he, contrary to Homeric
and French epic custom, has very wisely mentioned to nobody--that
is, in the part not excised.

This appears to be the only method by which Mr. Leaf can restore
the continuity of his kernel B.

Though Mr. Leaf has failed to fit Book XI. to any point in Book
II., of course it does not follow that Book XI. cannot be a
continuation of the original _Wrath_ of _Achilles_
(version B). If so, we understand why Agamemnon plucks up heart,
in Book XI., and is the chief cause of a temporary Trojan reverse.
He relies on the Dream sent from Zeus in the opening lines of Book
II., the Dream which was not in kernel A; the Dream which he
communicated to nobody; the Dream conveying the promise that he
should at once take Troy. This is perhaps a tenable theory, though
Agamemnon had much reason to doubt whether the host would obey his
command to arm, but an alternative theory of why and wherefore
Agamemnon does great feats of valour, in Book XI., will later be
propounded. Note that the events of Books XL.-XVIII., by Mr.
Leaf's theory, all occur on the very day after Thetis (according
to kernel B)' [79] obtains from Zeus his promise to honour
Achilles by the discomfiture of the Achaeans; they have suffered
nothing till that moment, as far as we learn, from the absence of
Achilles and his 2500 men: allowing for casualties, say 2000.

So far we have traced--from Books I. and II. to Book XI.--the
fortunes of kernel B, of the supposed later of two versions of the
opening of the _Iliad_. But there may have been a version (A)
probably earlier, we have been told, in which Achilles did not
appeal to his mother, nor she to Zeus, and Zeus did not promise
victory to the Trojans, and sent no false Dream of success to
Agamemnon. What were the fortunes of that oldest of all old
kernels? In this version (A) Agamemnon, having had no Dream,
summoned a peaceful assembly to discuss the awkwardness caused by
the mutiny of Achilles. The host met (_Iliad,_ II. 87-99).
Here we pass from line 99 to 212-242: Thersites it is who opens
the debate, (in version A) insults Agamemnon, and advises flight.
The army rushed off to launch the ships, as in II. 142-210, and
were brought back by Odysseus, who made a stirring speech, and was
well backed by Agamemnon, urging to battle.

Version A appears to us to have been a version that no heroic
audience would endure. A low person like Thersites opens a debate
in an assembly called by the Over-Lord; this could not possibly
pass unchallenged among listeners living in the feudal age. When a
prince called an assembly, he himself opened the debate, as
Achilles does in Book I. 54-67. That a lewd fellow, the buffoon
and grumbler of the host, of "the people," nameless and silent
throughout the Epic, should rush in and open debate in an assembly
convoked by the Over-Lord, would have been regarded by feudal
hearers, or by any hearers with feudal traditions, as an
intolerable poetical license. Thersites would have been at once
pulled down and beaten; the host would not have rushed to the
ships on _his_ motion. Any feudal audience would know better
than to endure such an impossibility; they would have asked, "How
could Thersites speak--without the sceptre?"

As the poem stands, and ought to stand, nobody less than the Over-
Lord, acting within his right, ([Greek: ae themis esti] II. 73),
could suggest the flight of the host, and be obeyed.

It is the absolute demoralisation of the host, in consequence of
the strange test of their Lord, Agamemnon, making a feigned
proposal to fly, and it is their confused, bewildered return to
the assembly under the persuasions of Odysseus, urged by Athene,
that alone, in the poem, give Thersites his unique opportunity to
harangue. When the Over-Lord had called an assembly the first
word, of course, was for to speak, as he does in the poem as it
stands. That Thersifes should rise in the arrogance bred by the
recent disorderly and demoralised proceedings is one thing; that
he should open the debate when excitement was eager to hear
Agamemnon, and before demoralisation set in, is quite another. We
never hear again of Thersites, or of any one of the commonalty,
daring to open his mouth in an assembly. Thersites sees his one
chance, the chance of a life time, and takes it; because
Agamemnon, by means of the test--a proposal to flee homewards--
which succeeded, it is said, in the case of Cortes,--has reduced
the host, already discontented, to a mob.

Before Agamemnon thus displayed his ineptitude, as he often does
later, Thersites had no chance. All this appears sufficiently
obvious, if we put ourselves at the point of view of the original
listeners. Thersites merely continues, in full assembly, the
mutinous babble which he has been pouring out to his neighbours
during the confused rush to launch the ships and during the return
produced by the influence of Odysseus. The poet says so himself
(_Iliad_, II. 212). "The rest sat down ... only Thersites still
chattered on." No original poet could manage the situation in any
other way.

We have now examined Mr. Leaf's two supposed earliest versions of
the beginning of the _Iliad_. His presumed earlier version
(A), with no Thetis, no promise of Zeus, and no Dream, and with
Thersites opening debate, is jejune, unpoetical, and omits the
gentler and most winning aspect of the character of Achilles,
while it could not possibly have been accepted by a feudal
audience for the reasons already given. His presumed later version
(B), with Thetis, Zeus, and the false Dream, cannot be, or
certainly has not been, brought by Mr. Leaf into congruous
connection with Book XI., and it results in the fighting of the
_unarmed_ Agamemnon, which no poet could have been so
careless as to invent. Agamemnon could not go into battle without
helmet, shield, and spears (the other armour we need not dwell
upon here), and Thersites could not have opened a debate when the
Over-Lord had called the Assembly, nor could he have moved the
chiefs to prepare for flight, unless, as in the actual
_Iliad_, they had already been demoralised by the result of
the feigned proposal of flight by Agamemnon, and its effect upon
the host. Probably every reader who understands heroic society,
temper, and manners will, so far, agree with us.

Our own opinion is that the difficulties in the poem are caused
partly by the poet's conception of the violent, wavering,
excitable, and unstable character of Agamemnon; partly by some
accident, now indiscoverable, save by conjecture, which has
happened to the text.

The story in the actual _Iliad_ is that Zeus, planning
disaster for the Achaeans, in accordance with his promise to
Thetis, sends a false Dream, to tell Agamemnon that he will take
Troy instantly. He is bidden by the Dream to summon the host to
arms. Agamemnon, _still asleep_, "has in his mind things not
to be fulfilled: Him seemeth that he shall take Priam's town that
very day" (II. 36, 37). "Then he awoke" (II. 41), and, obviously,
was no longer so sanguine, once awake!

Being a man crushed by his responsibility, and, as commander-in-
chief, extremely timid, though personally brave, he disobeys the
Dream, dresses in civil costume, and summons the host to a
_peaceful_ assembly, not to war, as the Dream bade him do.
Probably he thought that the host was disaffected, and wanted to
argue with them, in place of commanding.

Here it is that the difficulty comes in, and our perplexity is
increased by our ignorance of the regular procedure in Homeric
times. Was the host not in arms and fighting every day, when there
was no truce? There seems to have been no armistice after the
mutiny of Achilles, for we are told that, in the period between
his mutiny and the day of the Dream of Agamemnon, Achilles "was
neither going to the Assembly, nor into battle, but wasted his
heart, abiding there, longing for war and the slogan" (I. 489,
492). Thus it seems that war went on, and that assemblies were
being held, in the absence of Achilles. It appears, however, that
the fighting was mere skirmishing and raiding, no general
onslaught was attempted; and from Book II. _73_, 83 it seems
to have been a matter of doubt, with Agamemnon and Nestor, whether
the army would venture a pitched battle.

It also appears, from the passage cited (I. 489, 492) that
assemblies were being regularly held; we are told that Achilles
did not attend them. Yet, when we come to the assembly (II. 86-
100) it seems to have been a special and exciting affair, to judge
by the brilliant picture of the crowds, the confusion, and the
cries. Nothing of the sort is indicated in the meeting of the
assembly in I. _54-5_ 8. Why is there so much excitement at
the assembly of Book II.? Partly because it was summoned _at_
dawn, whereas the usual thing was for the host to meet in arms
before fighting on the plain or going on raids; assemblies were
held when the day's work was over. The host, therefore, when
summoned to an assembly _at dawn_, expects to hear of
something out of the common--as the mutiny of Achilles suggests--
and is excited.

We must ask, then, why does Agamemnon, after the Dream has told
him merely to summon the host to arm--a thing of daily routine--
call a deliberative morning assembly, a thing clearly not of
routine? If Agamemnon is really full of confidence, inspired by
the Dream, why does he determine, not to do what is customary,
call the men to arms, but as Jeanne d'Arc said to the Dauphin, to
"hold such long and weary councils"? Mr. Jevons speaks of
Agamemnon's "confidence in the delusive dream" as at variance with
his proceedings, and would excise II. 35-41, "the only lines which
represent Agamemnon as confidently believing in the Dream."
[Footnote: _Journal_ of _Hellenic_ Studies, vol. vii.
pp. 306, 307.] But the poet never once says that Agamemnon, awake,
did believe confidently in the Dream! Agamemnon dwelt with hope
_while_ asleep; when he wakened--he went and called a
peaceful morning assembly, though the Dream bade him call to arms.
He did not dare to risk his authority. This was exactly in keeping
with his character. The poet should have said, "When he woke, the
Dream appeared to him rather poor security for success" (saying so
in poetic language, of course), and then there would be no
difficulty in the summoning of an assembly at dawn. But either the
poet expected us to understand the difference between the hopes of
Agamemnon sleeping, and the doubts of Agamemnon waking to chill
realities--an experience common to all of us who dream--or some
explanatory lines have been dropped out--one or two would have
cleared up the matter.

If I am right, the poet has not been understood. People have not
observed that Agamemnon hopes while asleep, and doubts, and acts
on his doubt, when awake. Thus Mr. Leaf writes: "Elated by the
dream, as we are led to suppose, Agamemnon summons the army--to
lead them into battle? Nothing of the sort; he calls them to
assembly." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 46.] But we ought
not to have been led to suppose that the waking Agamemnon was so
elated as the sleeping Agamemnon. He was "disillusioned" on waking;
his conduct proves it; he did not know what to think about the
Dream; he did not know how the host would take the Dream; he
doubted whether they would fight at his command, so he called an

Mr. Jevons very justly cites a parallel case. Grote has remarked
that in Book VII. of Herodotus, "The dream sent by the Gods to
frighten Xerxes when about to recede from his project," has "a
marked parallel in the _Iliad_." Thus Xerxes, after the
defection of Artabanus, was despondent, like Agamemnon after the
mutiny of Achilles, and was about to recede from his project. To
both a delusive dream is sent urging them to proceed. Xerxes calls
an assembly, however, and says that he will not proceed. Why?
Because, says Herodotus, "when day came, he thought nothing of his
dream." Agamemnon, once awake, thought doubtfully of _his_
dream; he called a Privy Council, told the princes about his
dream--of which Nestor had a very dubious opinion--and said that
he would try the temper of the army by proposing instant flight:
the chiefs should restrain the men if they were eager to run away.

Now the epic prose narrative of Herodotus is here clearly based on
_Iliad_, II., which Herodotus must have understood as I do.
But in Homer there is no line to say--and one line or two would
have been enough--that Agamemnon, when awake, doubted, like
Xerxes, though Agamemnon, when asleep, had been confident. The
necessary line, for all that we know, still existed in the text
used by Herodotus. Homer may lose a line as well as Dieuchidas of
Megara, or rather Diogenes Laertius. Juvenal lost a whole passage,
re-discovered by Mr. Winstedt in a Bodleian manuscript. If Homer
expected modern critics to note the delicate distinction between
Agamemnon asleep and Agamemnon awake, or to understand Agamemnon's
character, he expected too much. [Footnote: Cf. Jevons, _Journal
of Hellenic Studies_, vol. vii. pp. 306, 307.] The poet then
treats the situation on these lines: Agamemnon, awake and free
from illusion, does not obey the dream, does _not_ call the
army to war; he takes a middle course.

In the whole passage the poet's main motive, as Mr. Monro remarks
with obvious truth, is "to let his audience become acquainted with
the temper and spirit of the army as it was affected by the long
siege ... and by the events of the First Book." [Footnote: Monro,
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. 261.] The poet could not obtain his
object if Agamemnon merely gave the summons to battle; and he
thinks Agamemnon precisely the kind of waverer who will call,
first the Privy Council of the Chiefs, and then an assembly.
Herein the homesick host will display its humours, as it does with
a vengeance. Agamemnon next tells his Dream to the chiefs (if he
had a dream of this kind he would most certainly tell it), and
adds (as has been already stated) that he will first test the
spirit of the army by a feigned proposal of return to Greece,
while the chiefs are to restrain them if they rush to launch the
ships. Nestor hints that there is not much good in attending to
dreams; however, this is the dream of the Over-Lord, who is the
favoured of Zeus.

Agamemnon next, addressing the assembly, says that posterity will
think it a shameful thing that the Achaeans raised the siege of a
town with a population much smaller than their own army; but
allies from many cities help the Trojans, and are too strong for
him, whether posterity understands that or not. "Let us flee with
our ships!"

On this the host break up, in a splendid passage of poetry, and
rush to launch the ships, the passion of _nostalgie_ carrying
away even the chiefs, it appears--a thing most natural in the
circumstances. But Athene finds Odysseus in grief: "neither laid
he any hand upon his ship," as the others did, and she encouraged
him to stop the flight. This he does, taking the sceptre of
Agamemnon from his unnerved hand.

He goes about reminding the princes "have we not heard Agamemnon's
real intention in council?" (II. 188-197), and rating the common
sort. The assembly meets again in great confusion; Thersites
seizes the chance to be insolent, and is beaten by Odysseus. The
host then arms for battle.

The poet has thus shown Agamemnon in the colours which he wears
consistently all through the _Iliad_. He has, as usual,
contrasted with him Odysseus, the type of a wise and resolute man.
This contrast the poet maintains without fail throughout. He has
shown us the temper of the weary, home-sick army, and he has
persuaded us that he knows how subtle, dangerous, and contagious a
thing is military panic. Thus, at least, I venture to read the
passage, which, thus read, is perfectly intelligible. Agamemnon is
no personal coward, but the burden of the safety of the host
overcomes him later, and he keeps suggesting flight in the ships,
as we shall see. Suppose, then, we read on from II. 40 thus: "The
Dream left him thinking of things not to be, even that on this day
he shall take the town of Priam.... But he awoke from sleep with
the divine voice ringing in his ears. (_Then it seemed him that
some dreams are true and_ some _false, for all do_ not
_come through the Gate of_ Horn.) So he arose and sat up and
did on his soft tunic, and his great cloak, and grasped his
ancestral sceptre ... and bade the clear-voiced heralds summon the
Achaeans of the long locks to the deliberative assembly." He then,
as in II. 53-75 told his Dream to the preliminary council, and
proposed that he should try the temper of the host by proposing
flight--which, if it began, the chiefs were to restrain--before
giving orders to arm. The test of the temper of the host acted as
it might be expected to act; all rushed to launch the ships, and
the princes were swept away in the tide of flight, Agamemnon
himself merely looking on helpless. The panic was contagious; only
Odysseus escaped its influence, and redeemed the honour of the
Achaeans, as he did again on a later day.

The passage certainly has its difficulties. But Erhardt expresses
the proper state of the case, after giving his analysis. "The
hearer's imagination is so captured, first by the dream, then by
the brawling assembly, by the rush to the ships, by the
intervention of Odysseus, by the punishment of Thersites--all
these living pictures follow each other so fleetly before the eyes
that we have scarcely time to make objections." [Footnote: _Die
Enstehung der Homerische Gedichte_, p. 29.]. The poet aimed at
no more and no less effect than he has produced, and no more
should be required by any one, except by that anachronism--"the
analytical reader." _He_ has "time to make objections": the
poet's audience had none; and he must be criticised from their
point of view. Homer did not sing for analytical readers, for the
modern professor; he could not possibly conceive that Time would
bring such a being into existence.

To return to the character of Agamemnon. In moments of
encouragement Agamemnon is a valiant fighter, few better spearmen,
yet "he attains not to the first Three," Achilles, Aias, Diomede.
But Agamemnon is unstable as water; again and again, as in Book
II., the lives and honour of the Achaeans are saved in the Over-
Lord's despite by one or other of the peers. The whole
_Iliad_, with consistent uniformity, pursues the scheme of
character and conduct laid down in the two first Books. It is
guided at once by feudal allegiance and feudal jealousy, like the
_Chansons de Geste_ and the early sagas or romances of
Ireland. A measure of respect for Agamemnon, even of sympathy, is
preserved; he is not degraded as the kings and princes are often
degraded on the Attic stage, and even in the Cyclic poems. Would
wandering Ionian reciters at fairs have maintained this
uniformity? Would the tyrant Pisistratus have made his literary
man take this view?



In the Third Book, Agamemnon receives the compliments due to his
supremacy, aspect, and valour from the lips of Helen and Priam.
There are other warriors taller by a head, and Odysseus was
shorter than he by a head, so Agamemnon was a man of middle
stature. He is "beautiful and royal" of aspect; "a good king and a
mighty spearman," says Helen.

The interrupted duel between Menelaus and Paris follows, and then
the treacherous wounding of Menelaus by Pandarus. One of
Agamemnon's most sympathetic characteristics is his intense love
of his brother, for whose sake he has made the war. He shudders on
seeing the arrow wound, but consoles Menelaus by the certainty
that Troy will fall, for the Trojans have broken the solemn oath
of truce. Zeus "doth fulfil at last, and men make dear amends."
But with characteristic inconsistency he discourages Menelaus by a
picture of many a proud Trojan leaping on his tomb, while the host
will return home-an idea constantly present to Agamemnon's mind.
He is always the first to propose flight, though he will "return
with shame" to Mycenae. Menelaus is of much better cheer: "Be of
good courage, [blank space] ALL THE HOST OF THE [misprint]"--a
thing which Agamemnon does habitually, though he is not a personal
poltroon. As Menelaus has only a slight flesh wound after all, and
as the Trojans are doomed men, Agamemnon is now "eager for
glorious battle." He encourages the princes, but, of all men,
rebukes Odysseus as "last at a fray and first at a feast": such is
his insolence, for which men detest him.

This is highly characteristic in Agamemnon, who has just been
redeemed from ruin by Odysseus. Rebuked by Odysseus, he "takes
back his word" as usual, and goes on to chide Diomede as better at
making speeches than at fighting! But Diomede made no answer,
"having respect to the chiding of the revered King." He even
rebukes the son of Capaneus for answering Agamemnon haughtily.
Diomede, however, does not forget; he bides his time. He now does
the great deeds of his day of valour (Book V.). Agamemnon
meanwhile encourages the host.

During Books V., VI. Agamemnon's business is "to bid the rest keep
fighting." When Hector, in Book VII., challenges any Achaean,
nobody volunteers except Menelaus, who has a strong sense of
honour. Agamemnon restrains him, and lots are cast: the host pray
that the lot may fall on Aias, Diomede, or Agamemnon (VII. 179-
180). Thus the Over-Lord is acknowledged to be a man of his hands,
especially good at hurling the spear, as we see again in Book

A truce is proposed for the burial of the dead, and Paris offers
to give up the wealth that he brought to Troy, and more, if the
Achaeans will go home, but Helen he will not give up. We expect
Agamemnon to answer as becomes him. But no! All are silent, till
Diomede rises. They will not return, he says, even if Helen be
restored, for even a fool knows that Troy is doomed, because of
the broken oath. The rest shout acquiescence, and Agamemnon
refuses the compromise. Apparently he would not have disdained it,
but for Diomede's reply.

On the following day the Trojans have the better in the battle,
and Agamemnon "has no heart to stand," nor have some of his peers.
But Diomede has more courage, and finally Agamemnon begins to call
to the host to fight, but breaks down, weeps, and prays to Zeus
"that we ourselves at least flee and escape;" he is not an
encouraging commander-in-chief! Zeus, in pity, sends a favourable
omen; Aias fights well; night falls, and the Trojans camp on the
open plain.

Agamemnon, in floods of tears, calls an assembly, and proposes to
"return to Argos with dishonour." "Let us flee with our ships to
our dear native land, for now shall we never take wide-wayed
Troy," All are silent, till Diomede rises and reminds Agamemnon
that "thou saidst I was no man of war, but a coward." (In Book
V.; we are now in Book IX.) "Zeus gave thee the honour of the
sceptre above all men, but valour he gave thee not.... Go thy way;
thy way is before thee, and thy ships stand beside the sea. But
all the other flowing-haired Achaeans will tarry here until we
waste Troy."

Nestor advises Agamemnon to set an advanced guard, which that
martialist had never thought of doing, and to discuss matters over
supper. A force of 700 men, under Meriones and the son of Nestor,
was posted between the foss and the wall round the camp; the
council met, and Nestor advised Agamemnon to approach Achilles
with gentle words and gifts of atonement. Agamemnon, full of
repentance, acknowledges his folly and offers enormous atonement.
Heralds and three ambassadors are sent; and how Achilles received
them, with perfect courtesy, but with absolute distrust of
Agamemnon and refusal of his gifts, sending the message that he
will fight only when fire comes to his own ships, we know.

Achilles is now entirely in the wrong, and the Over-Lord is once
more within his right. He has done all, or more than all, that
customary law demands. In Book IX. Phoenix states the case
plainly. "If Agamemnon brought thee not gifts, and promised thee
more hereafter, ... then were I not he that should bid thee cast
aside thine anger, and save the Argives...." (IX. 515-517). The
case so stands that, if Achilles later relents and fights, the
gifts of atonement will no longer be due to him, and he "will not
be held in like honour" (IX. 604).

The poet knows intimately, and, like his audience, is keenly
interested in the details of the customary law. We cannot easily
suppose this frame of mind and this knowledge in a late poet
addressing a late Ionian audience.

The ambassadors return to Agamemnon; their evil tidings are
received in despairing silence. But Diomede bids Agamemnon take
heart and fight next day, with his host arrayed "before the ships"
(IX. 708). This appears to counsel defensive war; but, in fact,
and for reasons, when it comes to fighting they do battle in the

The next Book (X.) is almost universally thought a late
interpolation; an opinion elsewhere discussed (see [blank space]).
Let us, then, say with Mr. Leaf that the Book begins with
"exaggerated despondency" and ends with "hasty exultation," in
consequence of a brilliant camisade, wherein Odysseus and Diomede
massacre a Thracian contingent. Our point is that the poet
carefully (see _The Doloneia_) continues the study of
Agamemnon in despondency, and later, by his "hasty exultation,"
preludes to the valour which the Over-Lord displays in Book XI.

The poet knows that something in the way of personal valour is due
to Agamemnon's position; he fights brilliantly, receives a flesh
wound, retires, and is soon proposing a general flight in his
accustomed way. When the Trojans, in Book XIV., are attacking the
ships, Agamemnon remarks that he fears the disaffection of his
whole army (XIV. 49, 51), and, as for the coming defeat, that he
"knew it," even when Zeus helped the Greeks. They are all to
perish far from Argos. Let them drag the ships to the sea, moor
them with stones, and fly, "For there is no shame in fleeing from
ruin, even in the night. Better doth he fare who flees from
trouble than he that is overtaken." It is now the turn of Odysseus
again to save the honour of the army. "Be silent, lest some other
of the Achaeans hear this word, that no man should so much as
suffer to pass through his mouth.... And now I wholly scorn thy
thoughts, such a word hast thou uttered." On this Agamemnon
instantly repents. "Right sharply hast thou touched my heart with
thy stern reproof:" he has not even the courage of his

The combat is now in the hands of Aias and Patroclus, who is
slain. Agamemnon, who is wounded, does not reappear till Book
XIX., when Achilles, anxious to fight and avenge Patroclus at
once, without formalities of reconciliation, professes his desire
to let bygones be bygones. Agamemnon excuses his insolence to
Achilles as an inspiration of Ate: a predestined fault--"Not I am
the cause, but Zeus and Destiny."

Odysseus, to clinch the reunion and fulfil customary law, advises
Agamemnon to bring out the gifts of atonement (the gifts prepared
in Book IX.), after which the right thing is for him to give a
feast of reconciliation, "that Achilles may have nothing lacking
of his right." [Footnote: Book XIX. 179, 180.] The case is one
which has been provided for by customary law in every detail. Mr.
Leaf argues that all this part must be late, because of the
allusion to the gifts offered in Book IX. But we reply, with Mr.
Monro, that the Ninth Book is "almost necessary to any Achilleis."
The question is, would a late editor or poet know all the details
of customary law in such a case as a quarrel between Over-Lord and
peer? would a feudal audience have been satisfied with a poem
which did not wind the quarrel up in accordance with usage? and
would a late poet, in a society no longer feudal, know how to wind
it up? Would he find any demand on the part of his audience for a
long series of statements, which to a modern seem to interrupt the
story? To ourselves it appears that a feudal audience desired the
customary details; to such an audience they were most interesting.

This is a taste which, as has been said, we find in all early
poetry and in the sagas; hence the long "runs" of the Celtic
sagas, minutely repeated descriptions of customary things. The
Icelandic saga-men never weary, though modern readers do, of legal
details. For these reasons we reckon the passages in Book XIX.
about the reconciliation as original, and think they can be
nothing else. It is quite natural that, in a feudal society of men
who were sticklers for custom, the hearers should insist on having
all things done duly and in order--the giving of the gifts and the
feast of reconciliation--though the passionate Achilles himself
desires to fight at once. Odysseus insists that what we may call
the regular routine shall be gone through. It is tedious to the
modern reader, but it is surely much more probable that a feudal
poet thus gratified his peculiar audience (he looked for no other)
than that a late poet, with a different kind of audience, thrust
the Reconciliation in as an "after-thought." [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 317.] The right thing must be done,
Odysseus assures Achilles, "for I was born first, and know more
things." It is not the right thing to fight at once, unfed, and
before the solemn sacrifice by the Over-Lord, the prayer, the Oath
of Agamemnon, and the reception of the gifts by Achilles; only
after these formalities, and after the army has fed, can the host
go forth. "I know more than you do; you are a younger man," says
Odysseus, speaking in accordance with feudal character, at the
risk of wearying later unforeseen generations.

This is not criticism inspired by mere "literary feeling," for
"literary feeling" is on the side of Achilles, and wishes the
story to hurry to his revenge. But ours is [blank space]
criticism; we must think of the poet in relation to his audience
and of their demands, which we can estimate by similar demands,
vouched for by the supply, in the early national poetry of other
peoples and in the Icelandic sagas.

We hear no more of Agamemnon till, in Book XXIII, 35-38, after the
slaying of Hector, Achilles "was brought to noble Agamemnon" (for
that, as Odysseus said, was the regular procedure) "by the Achaean
chiefs, hardly persuading him thereto, for his heart was wroth for
his comrade." Here they feast, Achilles still full of grief and
resentment. He merely goes through the set forms, much against his
will. It does appear to us that the later the poet the less he
would have known or cared about the forms. An early society is
always much interested in forms and in funerals and funeral games,
so the poet indulges their taste with the last rites of Patroclus.
The last view of Agamemnon is given when, at the end of the games,
Achilles courteously presents him with the flowered _lebes_,
the prize for hurling the spear, without asking him to compete,
since his superior skill is notorious. This act of courtesy is the
real reconciliation; previously Achilles had but gone reluctantly
through the set forms in such cases provided. Even when Agamemnon
offered the gifts of atonement, Achilles said, "Give them, as is
customary, or keep them, as you please" (XIX. 146, 148). Achilles,
young and passionate, cares nothing for the feudal procedure.

This rapid survey seems to justify the conclusion that the poet
presents an uniform and historically correct picture of the Over-
Lord and of his relations with his peers, a picture which no late
editor could have pieced together out of the widely varying
_repertoires_ of late strolling reciters. Such reciters would
gladly have forgotten, and such an editor would gladly have "cut"
the "business" of the reconciliation. They would also, in a
democratic spirit, have degraded the Over-Lord into the tyrant,
but throughout, however low Agamemnon may fall, the poet is guided
by the knowledge that his right to rule is _jure divino_,
that he has qualities, that his responsibilities are crushing, "I,
whom among all men Zeus hath planted for ever among labours, while
my breath abides within me, and my limbs move," says the Over-Lord
(X. Sg, go.[sic]). In short, the poet's conception of the Over-Lord is
throughout harmonious, is a contemporary conception entertained by
a singer who lives among peers that own, and are jealous of, and
obey an Over-Lord. The character and situation of Agamemnon are a
poetic work of one age, one moment of culture.



In archaeological discoveries we find the most convincing proofs
that the _Iliad_, on the whole, is the production of a single
age, not the patchwork of several changeful centuries. This may
seem an audacious statement, as archaeology has been interpreted
of late in such a manner as to demand precisely the opposite
verdict. But if we can show, as we think we can, that many recent
interpretations of the archaeological evidence are not valid,
because they are not consistent, our contention, though
unexpected, will be possible. It is that the combined testimony of
archaeology and of the Epic proves the _Iliad_ to represent,
as regards customs, weapons, and armour, a definite moment of
evolution; a period between the age recorded in the art of the
Mycenaean shaft graves and the age of early iron swords and the
"Dipylon" period.

Before the discoveries of the material remains of the "Mycenzean"
times, the evidence of archaeology was seldom appropriately
invoked in discussions of the Homeric question. But in the thirty
years since Schliemann explored the buried relics of the Mycenzean
Acropolis, his "Grave of Agamemnon," a series of excavations has
laid bare the interments, the works of art, and the weapons and
ornaments of years long prior to the revolution commonly
associated with the "Dorian Invasion" of about 1100-1000 B.C. The
objects of all sorts which have been found in many sites of Greece
and the isles, especially of Cyprus and Crete, in some respects
tally closely with Homeric descriptions, in others vary from them
widely. Nothing can be less surprising, if the heroes whose
legendary feats inspired the poet lived centuries before his time,
as Charlemagne and his Paladins lived some three centuries before
the composition of the earliest extant _Chansons de Geste_ on
their adventures. There was, in such a case, time for much change
in the details of life, art, weapons and implements. Taking the
relics in the graves of the Mycenaean Acropolis as a starting-
point, some things would endure into the age of the poet, some
would be modified, some would disappear.

We cannot tell how long previous to his own date the poet supposes
the Achaean heroes to have existed. He frequently ascribes to them
feats of strength which "no man of such as now are" could perform.
This gives no definite period for the interval; he might be
speaking of the great grandfathers of his own generation. But when
he regards the heroes as closely connected by descent of one or
two generations with the gods, and as in frequent and familiar
intercourse with gods and goddesses, we must suppose that he did
not think their period recent. The singers of the _Chansons de
Geste_ knew that angels' visits were few and far between at the
period, say, of the Norman Conquest; but they allowed angels to
appear in epics dealing with the earlier time, almost as freely as
gods intervene in Homer. In short, the Homeric poet undeniably
treats the age of his heroes as having already, in the phrase of
Thucydides, "won its way to the mythical," and therefore as
indefinitely remote.

It is impossible here to discuss in detail the complex problems of
Mycenaean chronology. If we place the Mycenaean "bloom-time" from
"the seventeenth or sixteenth to the twelfth century B.C.,"
[Footnote: Tsountas and Manatt, p. 322.] it is plain that there is
space to spare, between the poet's age and that of his heroes, for
the rise of changes in war, weapons, and costume. Indeed, there
are traces enough of change even in the objects and art discovered
in the bloom-time, as represented by the Mycenaean acropolis
itself and by other "Mycenaean" sites. The art of the fragment of
a silver vase in a grave, on which a siege is represented, is not
the art, the costumes are not the costumes, of the inlaid bronze
dagger-blade. The men shown on the vase and the lion-hunters on
the dagger both have their hair close cropped, but on the vase
they are naked, on the dagger they wear short drawers. On the
Vaphio cups, found in a _tholos_ chamber-tomb near Amyclae,
the men are "long-haired Achaeans," with heavy, pendent locks,
like the man on a pyxis from Knossos, published by Mr. Evans; they
are of another period than the close-cropped men of the vase and
dagger. [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies_, vol. xvi.
p. 102.] Two of the men on the silver vase are covered either with
shields of a shape and size elsewhere unknown in Mycenaean art, or
with cloaks of an unexampled form. The masonry of the city wall,
shown on the vase in the Mycenaean grave, is not the ordinary
masonry of Mycenae itself. On the vase the wall is "isodomic,"
built of cut stones in regular layers. Most of the Mycenaean
walls, on the other hand, are of "Cyclopean" style, in large
irregular blocks.

Art, good and very bad, exists in many various stages in Mycenaean
relics. The drawing of a god, with a typical Mycenaean shield in
the form of a figure 8, on a painted sarcophagus from Milato in
Crete, is more crude and savage than many productions of the
Australian aboriginals, [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies,
vol. xvi. _p._ 174, fig. 50._ Grosse. _Les Debuts de
l'Art,_ pp. 124-176.] the thing is on the level of Red Indian
work. Meanwhile at Vaphio, Enkomi, Knossos, and elsewhere the art
is often excellent.

In one essential point the poet describes a custom without
parallel among the discovered relics of the Mycenaean age--namely,
the disposal of the bodies of the dead. They are neither buried
with their arms, in stately _tholos_ tombs nor in shaft
graves, as at Mycenae: whether they be princes or simple oarsmen,
they are cremated. A pyre of wood is built; on this the warrior's
body is laid, the pyre is lighted, the body is reduced to ashes,
the ashes are placed in a vessel or box of gold, wrapped round
with precious cloths (no arms are buried, as a general rule), and
a mound, howe, barrow, or tumulus is raised over all. Usually a
_stele_ or pillar crowns the edifice. This method is almost
uniform, and, as far as cremation and the cairn go, is universal
in the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ whenever a burial is
described. Now this mode of interment must be the mode of a single
age in Greek civilisation. It is confessedly not the method of the
Mycenaeans of the shaft grave, or of the latter _tholos_ or
stone beehive-shaped grave; again, the Mycenaeans did not burn the
dead; they buried. Once more, the Homeric method is not that of
the Dipylon period (say 900-750 B.C.) represented by the tombs
outside the Dipylon gate of Athens. The people of that age now
buried, now burned, their dead, and did not build cairns over
them. Thus the Homeric custom comes between the shaft graves and
the latter _tholos_ graves, on the one hand, and the Dipylon
custom of burning or burying, with sunk or rock-hewn graves, on
the other.

The Homeric poets describe the method of their own period. They
assuredly do not adhere to an older epic tradition of shaft graves
or _tholos_ graves, though these must have been described in
lays of the period when such methods of disposal of the dead were
in vogue. The altar above the shaft-graves in Mycenae proves the
cult of ancestors in Mycenae; of this cult in the _Iliad_
there is no trace, or only a dim trace of survival in the
slaughter of animals at the funeral. The Homeric way of thinking
about the state of the dead, weak, shadowy things beyond the river
Oceanus, did not permit them to be worshipped as potent beings.
Only in a passage, possibly interpolated, of the _Odyssey_,
do we hear that Castor and Polydeuces, brothers of Helen, and sons
of Tyndareus, through the favour of Zeus have immortality, and
receive divine honours. [Footnote: Odyssey, XI. 298-304.]

These facts are so familiar that we are apt to overlook the
strangeness of them in the history of religious evolution. The
cult of ancestral spirits begins in the lowest barbarism, just
above the level of the Australian tribes, who, among the Dieri,
show some traces of the practice, at least, of ghost feeding.
[Footnote: Howitt, _Native Tribes of South-Eastern
Australia,_ p. 448. There are also traces of propitiation in
Western Australia (MS. of Mrs. Bates).] Sometimes, as in many
African tribes, ancestor worship is almost the whole of practical
cult. Usually it accompanies polytheism, existing beside it on a
lower plane. It was prevalent in the Mycenae of the shaft graves;
in Attica it was uninterrupted; it is conspicuous in Greece from
the ninth century onwards. But it is unknown to or ignored by the
Homeric poets, though it can hardly have died out of folk custom.
Consequently, the poems are of one age, an age of cremation and of
burial in barrows, with no ghost worship. Apparently some
revolution as regards burial occurred between the age of the
graves of the Mycenaean acropolis and the age of Homer. That age,
coming with its form of burning and its absence of the cult of the
dead, between two epochs of inhumation, ancestor worship, and
absence of cairns, is as certainly and definitely an age apart, a
peculiar period, as any epoch can be.

Cremation, with cairn burial of the ashes, is, then, the only form
of burial mentioned by Homer, and, as far as the poet tells us,
the period was not one in which iron was used for swords and
spears. At Assarlik (Asia Minor) and in Thera early graves, prove
the use of cremation, but also, unlike Homer, of iron weapons.
[Footnote: Paton, Journal _of Hellenic Studies,_ viii.
64_ff_. For other references, cf. Poulsen, _Die
Dipylongraben_, p. 2, Notes. Leipzig 1905.] In these graves the
ashes are inurned. There are examples of the same usage in
Salamis, without iron. In Crete, in graves of the period of
geometrical ornament ("Dipylon"), burning is more common than
inhumation. Cremation is attested in a _tholos_ or beehive-
shaped grave in Argos, where the vases were late Mycenaean. Below
this stratum was an older shaft grave, as is usual in
_tholos_ interments; it had been plundered? [Footnote:
Poulsen, p.2.]

The cause of the marked change from Mycenaean inhumation to
Homeric cremation is matter of conjecture. It has been suggested
that burning was introduced during the migrations after the Dorian
invasion. Men could carry the ashes of their friends to the place
where they finally settled. [Footnote: Helbig, _Homerische
Epos,_ p.83] The question may, perhaps, be elucidated by
excavation, especially in Asia Minor, on the sites of the earliest
Greek colonies. At Colophon are many cairns unexplored by science.
Mr. Ridgeway, as is well known, attributes the introduction of
cremation to a conquering northern people, the Achaeans, his
"Celts." It is certain that cremation and urn burial of the ashes
prevailed in Britain during the Age of Bronze, and co-existed with
inhumation in the great cemetery of Hallstatt, surviving into the
Age of Iron. [Footnote: Cf. _Guide to Antiquities of Early Iron
Age,_ British Museum, 1905, by Mr. Reginald A. Smith, under
direction of Mr. Charles H. Read, for a brief account of Hallstatt
culture.] Others suppose a change in Achaean ideas about the soul;
it was no longer believed to haunt the grave and grave goods and
be capable of haunting the living, but to be wholly set free by
burning, and to depart for ever to the House of Hades, powerless
and incapable of hauntings.

It is never easy to decide as to whether a given mode of burial is
the result of a definite opinion about the condition of the dead,
or whether the explanation offered by those who practise the
method is an afterthought. In Tasmania among the lowest savages,
now extinct, were found monuments over cremated human remains,
accompanied with "characters crudely marked, similar to those
which the aborigines tattooed on their forearms." In one such
grave was a spear, "for the dead man to fight with when he is
asleep," as a native explained. Some Tasmanian tribes burned the
dead and carried the ashes about in amulets; others buried in
hollow trees; others simply inhumed. Some placed the dead in a
hollow tree, and cremated the body after lapse of time. Some tied
the dead up tightly (a common practice with inhumation), and then
burned him. Some buried the dead in an erect 'posture. The common
explanation of burning was that it prevented the dead from
returning, thus it has always been usual to burn the bodies of
vampires. Did a race so backward hit on an idea unknown to the
Mycenaean Greeks? [Footnote: Ling Roth., _The Tasmanians_,
pp. 128-134. Reports of Early Discoverers.] If the usual
explanation be correct--burning prevents the return of the dead--
how did the Homeric Greeks come to substitute burning for the
worship and feeding of the dead, which had certainly prevailed?
How did the ancient method return, overlapping and blent with the
method of cremation, as in the early Dipylon interments? We can
only say that the Homeric custom is definite and isolated, and
that but slight variations occur in the methods of Homeric burial.

(1)In _Iliad_, VI, 4 I 6 _ff_, Andromache _SAYS_
that Achilles slew her father, "yet he despoiled him not, for his
soul had shame of that; but he burnt him in his inlaid armour, and
raised a barrow over him." We are not told that the armour was
interred with the ashes of Eetion. This is a peculiar case. We
always hear in the that the dead are burned, and the ashes of
princes are placed in a vessel of gold within an artificial
hillock; but we do not hear, except in this passage, that they are
burned in their armour, or that it is burned, or that it is buried
with the ashes of the dead. The invariable practice is for the
victor, if he can, to despoil the body of the fallen foe; but
Achilles for some reason spared that indignity in the case of
Eetion. [Footnote: German examples of burning the amis of the
cremated dead and then burying them are given by Mr. Ridgeway,
_Early Age of Greece,_ vol. i. pp. 498, 499.]

(2) _ILIAD,_ VII. 85. Hector, in his challenge to a single
combat, makes the conditions that the victor shall keep the arms
and armour of the vanquished, but shall restore his body to his
friends. The Trojans will burn him, if he falls; if the Achaean
falls, the others will do something expressed by the word [Greek:
tarchuchosi] probably a word surviving from an age of embalment.
[Footnote: Helbig, _Homerische Epos,_ pp. 55, 56.] It has
come to mean, generally, to do the funeral rites. The hero is to
have a barrow or artificial howe or hillock built over him,
"beside wide Hellespont," a memorial of him, and of Hector's

On the River Helmsdale, near Kildonan, on the left bank, there is
such a hillock which has never, it is believed, been excavated. It
preserves the memory of its occupant, an early Celtic saint;
whether he was cremated or not it is impossible to say. But his
memory is not lost, and the howe, cairn, or hillock, in Homer is
desired by the heroes as a MEMORIAL.

On the terms proposed by Hector the arms of the dead could not be
either burned or buried with him.

(3) Iliad, IX. 546. Phoenix says that the Calydonian boar "brought
many to the mournful pyre." All were cremated.

(4) _Iliad_, XXII 50-55. Andromache in her dirge (the
_regret_ of the French mediaeval epics) says that Hector lies
unburied by the ships and naked, but she will burn raiment of his,
"delicate and fair, the work of women ... to thee no profit, since
thou wilt never lie therein, yet this shall be honour to thee from
the men and women of Troy." Her meaning is not very clear, but she
seems to imply that if Hector's body were in Troy it would be clad
in garments before cremation.

Helbig appears to think that to clothe the dead in _garments_
was an Ionian, not an ancient epic custom. But in Homer the dead
always wear at least one garment, the [Greek: pharos], a large
mantle, either white or purple, such as Agamemnon wears in peace
(Iliad, II 43), except when, like Eetion and Elpenor in the
Odyssey, they are burned in their armour. In _Iliad,_ XXIII.
69 _ff_., the shadow of the dead unburned Patroclus appears
to Achilles in his sleep asking for "his dues of fire." The whole
passage, with the account of the funeral of Patroclus, must be
read carefully, and compared with the funeral rites of Hector at
the end of Book XXIV. Helbig, in an essay of great erudition,
though perhaps rather fantastic in its generalisations, has
contrasted the burials of the two heroes. Patroclus is buried, he
says, in a true portion of the old Aeolic epic (Sir Richard Jebb
thought the whole passage "Ionic"), though even into this the late
Ionian _bearbeiter_ (a spectral figure), has introduced his
Ionian notions. But the Twenty-fourth Book itself is late and
Ionian, Helbig says, not genuine early Aeolian epic poetry.
[Footnote: Helbig, _Zu den Homerischen Bestattungsgebrauchen_.
Aus den Sitzungsberichten der philos. philol. und histor. Classe
der Kgl. bayer. Academie der Wissenschaften. 1900. Heft. ii. pp.
199-299.] The burial of Patroclus, then, save for Ionian late
interpolations, easily detected by Helbig, is, he assures us, genuine
"kernel," [Footnote: 2 Op. _laud._, p. 208.] while Hector's
burial "is partly Ionian, and describes the destiny of the dead
heroes otherwise than as in the old Aeolic epos."

Here Helbig uses that one of his two alternate theories according
to which the late Ionian poets do not cling to old epic tradition,
but bring in details of the life of their own date. By Helbig's
other alternate theory, the late poets cling to the model set in
old epic tradition in their pictures of details of life.

Disintegrationists differ: far from thinking that the late Ionian
poet who buried Hector varied from the AEolic minstrel who buried
Patroclus (in Book XXIII.), Mr. Leaf says that Hector's burial is
"almost an abstract" of that of Patroclus. [Footnote: Leaf, Iliad,
XXII Note to 791.] He adds that Helbig's attempts "to distinguish
the older AEolic from the newer and more sceptical 'Ionic' faith
seem to me visionary." [Footnote: Iliad, vol. ii. p. 619. Note 2]
Visionary, indeed, they do seem, but they are examples of the
efforts made to prove that the Iliad bears marks of composition
continued through several centuries. We must remember that,
according to Helbig, the Ionians, colonists in a new country, "had
no use for ghosts." A fresh colony does not produce ghosts. "There
is hardly an English or Scottish castle without its spook
(_spuck_). On the other hand, you look in vain for such a
thing in the United States"--spiritualism apart. [Footnote: Op.
_laud._, p. 204.]

This is a hasty generalisation! Helbig will, if he looks, find
ghosts enough in the literature of North America while still
colonial, and in Australia, a still more newly settled country,
sixty years ago Fisher's ghost gave evidence of Fisher's murder,
evidence which, as in another Australian case, served the ends of
justice. [Footnote: See, in _The_ Valet's Tragedy (A. L.):
"Fisher's Ghost."] More recent Australian ghosts are familiar to
psychical research.

This colonial theory is one of Helbig's too venturous
generalisations. He studies the ghost, or rather dream-apparition,
of Patroclus after examining the funeral of Hector; but we shall
begin with Patroclus. Achilles (XXIII. 4-16) first hails his
friend "even in the House of Hades" (so he believes that spirits
are in Hades), and says that he has brought Hector "raw for dogs
to devour," and twelve Trojans of good family "to slaughter before
thy pyre." That night, when Achilles is asleep (XXIII. 65) the
spirit ([Greek: psyche]) of Patroclus appears to him, says that he
is forgotten, and begs to be burned at once, that he may pass the
gates of Hades, for the other spirits drive him off and will not
let him associate with them "beyond the River," and he wanders
vaguely along the wide-gated dwelling of Hades. "Give me thy hand,
for never more again shall I come back from Hades, when ye have
given me my due of fire." Patroclus, being newly discarnate, does
not yet know that a spirit cannot take a living man's hand,
though, in fact, tactile hallucinations are not uncommon in the
presence of phantasms of the dead. "Lay not my bones apart from
thine ... let one coffer" ([Greek: soros]) "hide our bones."

[Greek: Soros], like _larnax_, is a coffin (_Sarg_), or
what the Americans call a "casket," in the opinion of Helbig:
[Footnote: OP. _laud_., p.217.] it is an oblong receptacle of
the bones and dust. Hector was buried in a _larnax_; SO will
Achilles and Patroclus be when Achilles falls, but the dust of
Patroclus is kept, meanwhile, in a golden covered cup (phialae) in
the quarters of Achilles; it is not laid in howe after his
cremation (XXIII. 243).

Achilles tries to embrace Patroclus, but fails, like Odysseus with
the shade of his mother in Hades, in the _ODYSSEY_. He
exclaims that "there remaineth then even in the House of Hades a
spirit and phantom of the dead, albeit the life" (or the wits) "be
not anywise therein, for all night hath the spirit of hapless
Patroclus stood over me...."

In this speech Helbig detects the hand of the late Ionian poet.
What goes before is part of the genuine old Epic, the kernel, done
at a time when men believed that spooks could take part in the
affairs of the upper world. Achilles therefore (in his dream),
thought that he could embrace his friend. It was the sceptical
Ionian, in a fresh and spookless colony, who knew that he could
not; he thinks the ghost a mere dream, and introduces his
scepticism in XXIII. 99-107. He brought in "the ruling ideas of
his own period." The ghost, says the Ionian _bearbeiter_, is
intangible, though in the genuine old epic the ghost himself
thought otherwise--he being new to the situation and without
experience. This is the first sample of the critical Ionian
spirit, later so remarkable in philosophy and natural science,
says Helbig. [Footnote: Op. laud., pp. 233,234.]

We need not discuss this acute critical theory. The natural
interpretation of the words of Achilles is obvious; as Mr. Leaf
remarks, the words are "the cry of sudden personal conviction in a
matter which has hitherto been lazily accepted as an orthodox
dogma." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 620.] Already, as we
have seen, Achilles has made promises to Patroclus in the House of
Hades, now he exclaims "there really is something in the doctrine
of a feeble future life."

It is vain to try to discriminate between an old epic belief in
able-bodied ghosts and an Ionian belief in mere futile
_shades_, in the Homeric poems. Everywhere the dead are too
feeble to be worth worshipping after they are burned; but, as Mr.
Leaf says with obvious truth, and with modern instances, "men are
never so inconsistent as in their beliefs about the other world."
We ourselves hold various beliefs simultaneously. The natives of
Australia and of Tasmania practise, or did practise, every
conceivable way of disposing of the dead--burying, burning,
exposure in trees, carrying about the bodies or parts of them,
eating the bodies, and so forth. If each such practice
corresponded, as archaeologists believe, to a different opinion
about the soul, then all beliefs were held together at once, and
this, in fact, is the case. There is not now one and now another
hard and fast orthodoxy of belief about the dead, though now we
find ancestor worship prominent and now in the shade.

After gifts of hair and the setting up of jars full of oil and
honey, Achilles has the body laid on the top of the pyre in the
centre. Bodies of sheep and oxen, two dogs and four horses, are
strewed around: why, we know not, for the dead is not supposed to
need food: the rite may be a survival, for there were sacrifices
at the burials of the Mycenaean shaft graves. Achilles slays also
the twelve Trojans, "because of mine anger at thy slaying," he
says (XXIII. 23). This was his reason, as far as he consciously
had any reason, not that his friend might have twelve thralls in
Hades. After the pyre is alit Achilles drenches it all night with
wine, and, when the flame dies down, the dead hero's bones are
collected and placed in the covered cup of gold. The circle of the
barrow is then marked out, stones are set up round it (we see them
round Highland tumuli), and earth is heaped up; no more is done;
the tomb is empty; the covered cup holding the ashes is in the hut
of Achilles.

We must note another trait. After the body of Patroclus was
recovered, it was washed, anointed, laid on a bier, and covered
from head to foot [Greek: heano liti], translated by Helbig, "with
a linen sheet" (cf. XXIII. 254). The golden cup with the ashes is
next wrapped [Greek: heano liti]; here Mr. Myers renders the
words "with a linen veil." Scottish cremation burials of the
Bronze Age retain traces of linen wrappings of the urn. [Footnote:
_Proceedings of the Scottish society of Antiquaries_, 1905,
p. 552. For other cases, _cf._ Leaf, _Iliad_, XXIV. 796.
Note.] Over all a white [Greek: pharos] (mantle) was spread. In
_Iliad_, XXIV. 231, twelve [Greek: pharea] with chitons,
single cloaks, and other articles of dress, are taken to Achilles
by Priam as part of the ransom of Hector's body. Such is the
death-garb of Patroclus; but Helbig, looking for Ionian
innovations in Book XXIV., finds that the death-garb of Hector is
not the same as that of Patroclus in Book XXIII. One difference is
that when the squires of Achilles took the ransom of Hector from
the waggon of Priam, they left in it two [Greek: pharea] and a
well-spun chiton. The women washed and anointed Hector's body;
they clad him in the chiton, and threw one [Greek: pharos] over
it; we are not told what they did with the other. Perhaps, as Mr.
Leaf says, it was used as a cover for the bier, perhaps it was
not, but was laid under the body (Helbig). All we know is that
Hector's body was restored to Priam in a chiton and a [Greek:
pharos], which do not seem to have been removed before he was
burned; while Patroclus had no chiton in death, but a [Greek:
pharos] and, apparently, a linen sheet.

To the ordinary reader this does not seem, in the circumstances, a
strong mark of different ages and different burial customs. Priam
did not bring any linen sheet--or whatever [Greek: heanos lis] may
be--in the waggon as part of Hector's ransom; and it neither
became Achilles to give nor Priam to receive any of Achilles's
stuff as death-garb for Hector. The squires, therefore, gave back
to Priam, to clothe his dead son, part of what he had brought;
nothing can be more natural, and there, we may say, is an end
on't. They did what they could in the circumstances. But Helbig
has observed that, in a Cean inscription of the fifth century
B.C., there is a sumptuary law, forbidding a corpse to wear more
than three white garments, a sheet under him, a chiton, and a
mantle cast over him. [Footnote: op. _laud_., p. 209.] He
supposes that Hector wore the chiton, and had one [Greek: pharos]
over him and the other under him, though Homer does not say that.
The Laws of Solon also confined the dead man to three articles of
dress. [Footnote: Plutarch, Solon, 21.] In doing so Solon
sanctioned an old custom, and that Ionian custom, described by the
author of Book XXIV., bewrays him, says Helbig, for a late Ionian
_bearbeiter_, deserting true epic usages and inserting those
of his own day. But in some Attic Dipylon vases, in the pictures
of funerals, we see no garments or sheets over the corpses.

Penelope also wove a [Greek: charos] against the burial of old
Laertes, but surely she ought to have woven for him; on Helbig's
showing Hector had _two_, Patroclus had only one; Patroclus
is in the old epic, Hector and Laertes are in the Ionian epics;
therefore, Laertes should have had two [Greek: charea] but we only
hear of one. Penelope had to finish the [Greek: charos] and show
it; [Footnote: Odyssey, XXIV. 147.] now if she wanted to delay her
marriage, she should have begun the second [Greek: charos] just as
necessary as the first, if Hector, with a pair of [Greek: charea]
represents Ionian usage. But Penelope never thought of what, had
she read Helbig, she would have seen to be so obvious. She thought
of no funeral garments for the old man but one shroud [Greek:
speiron] (Odyssey, II. 102; XIX. 147); yet, being, by the theory, a
character of late Ionian, not of genuine old AEolic epic, she
should have known better. It is manifest that if even the
acuteness and vast erudition of Helbig can only find such
invisible differences as these between the manners of the genuine
old epic and the late Ionian innovations, there is really no
difference, beyond such trifles as diversify custom in any age.

Hector, when burned and when his ashes have been placed in the
casket, is laid in a [Greek: kapetos], a ditch or trench
(_Iliad_, XV. 356; XVIII. 564); but here (XXIV. 797) [Greek:
kapetos] is a chamber covered with great stones, within the howe,
the casket being swathed with purple robes, and this was the end.
The ghost of Hector would not revisit the sun, as ghosts do freely
in the Cyclic poems, a proof that the Cyclics are later than the
Homeric poems. [Footnote: Helbig, op. _laud_., pp. 240, 241.]

If the burning of the weapons of Eetion and Elpenor are traces of
another than the _old_ AEolic epic faith, [Footnote: Ibid.,
p. 253.] they are also traces of another than the late
_Ionic_ epic faith, for no weapons are burned with Hector. In
the _Odyssey_ the weapons of Achilles are not burned; in the
_Iliad_ the armour of Patroclus is not burned. No victims of
any kind are burned with Hector: possibly the poet was not anxious
to repeat what he had just described (his last book is already a
very long book); possibly the Trojans did not slay victims at the

The howes or barrows built over the Homeric dead were hillocks
high enough to be good points of outlook for scouts, as in the
case of the barrow of AEsyetes (_Iliad_, II. 793) and "the
steep mound," the howe of lithe Myrine (II. 814). We do not know
that women were usually buried in howe, but Myrine was a warrior
maiden of the Amazons. We know, then, minutely what the Homeric
mode of burial was, with such variations as have been noted. We
have burning and howe even in the case of an obscure oarsman like
Elpenor. It is not probable, however, that every peaceful mechanic
had a howe all to himself; he may have had a small family cairn;
he may not have had an expensive cremation.

The interesting fact is that no barrow burial precisely of the
Homeric kind has ever been discovered in Greek sites. The old
Mycenaeans buried either in shaft graves or in a stately
_tholos_; and in rock chambers, later, in the town cemetery:
they did not burn the bodies. The people of the Dipylon period
sometimes cremated, sometimes inhumed, but they built no barrow
over the dead. [Footnote: _Annal. de l'Inst., 1872, pp. 135,
147, 167. Plausen, _ut supra_.] The Dipylon was a period of
early iron swords, made on the lines of not the best type of
bronze sword. Now, in Mr. Leaf's opinion, our Homeric accounts of
burial "are all late; the oldest parts of the poems tell us
nothing." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 619. Note 2. While
Mr. Leaf says that "the oldest parts of the poems tell us nothing"
of burial, he accepts XXII. 342, 343 as of the oldest part. These
lines describe cremation, and Mr. Leaf does not think them
borrowed from the "later" VII. 79, 80, but that VII. 79, 80 are
"perhaps borrowed" from XXII. 342, 343. It follows that "the
oldest parts of the poems" do tell us of cremation.] We shall
show, however, that Mr. Leaf's "kernel" alludes to cremation. What
is "late"? In this case it is not the Dipylon period, say 900-750
B.C. It is not any later period; one or two late barrow burials do
not answer to the Homeric descriptions. The "late" parts of the
poems, therefore, dealing with burials, in Books VI., VII., XIX.,
XXIII., XXIV., and the Odyssey, are of an age not in "the
Mycenaean prime," not in the Dipylon period, not in any later
period, say the seventh or sixth centuries B.C., and, necessarily,
not of any subsequent period. Yet nobody dreams of saying that the
poets describe a purely fanciful form of interment. They speak of
what they know in daily life. If it be argued that the late poets
preserve, by sheer force of epic tradition, a form of burial
unknown in their own age, we ask, "Why did epic tradition not
preserve the burial methods of the Mycenaean prime, the shaft
grave, or the _tholos_, without cremation?"

Mr. Leaf's own conclusion is that the people of Mycenae were
"spirit worshippers, practising inhumation, and partial
mummification;" the second fact is dubious. "In the post-Mycenaean
'Dipylon' period, we find cremation and sepulture practised side
by side. In the interval, therefore, two beliefs have come into
conflict. [Footnote: All conceivable beliefs, we have said, about
the dead are apt to coexist. For every conceivable and some rather
inconceivable contemporary Australian modes of dealing with the
dead, see Howitt, _Native Tribes of South-East Australia_;
Spencer and Gillen, _Northern Tribes of Central Australia_.]
It seems that the Homeric poems mark this intermediate point...."
[Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. 622.] In that case the
Homeric poems are of one age, or, at least, all of them save "the
original kernel" are of one age, namely, a period subsequent to
the Mycenaean prime, but considerably prior to the Dipylon period,
which exhibits a mixture of custom; cremation and inhumation
coexisting, without barrows or howes.

We welcome this conclusion, and note that (whatever may be the
case with the oldest parts of the poems which say nothing about
funerals) the latest expansions must be of about 1100-1000 B.C.
(?). The poem is so early that it is prior to hero worship and
ancestor worship; or it might be more judicious to say that the
poem is of an age that did not, officially, practise ancestor
worship, whatever may have occurred in folk-custom. The Homeric
age is one which had outgrown ancestor and hero worship, and had
not, like the age of the Cyclics, relapsed into it. _Enfin_,
unless we agree with Helbig as to essential variations of custom,
the poems are the work of one age, and that a brief age, and an
age of peculiar customs, cremation and barrow burial; and of a
religion that stood, without spirit worship, between the Mycenzean
period and the ninth century. That seems as certain as anything in
prehistoric times can be, unless we are to say, that after the age
of shaft graves and spirit worship came an age of cremation and of
no spirit worship; and that late poets consciously and
conscientiously preserved the tradition of _this_ period into
their own ages of hero worship and inhumation, though they did not
preserve the tradition of the shaft-grave period. We cannot accept
this theory of adherence to stereotyped poetical descriptions, nor
can any one consistently adopt it in this case.

The reason is obvious. Mr. Leaf, with many other critics,
distinguishes several successive periods of "expansion." In the
first stratum we have the remains of "the original kernel." Among
these remains is The Slaying of Hector (XXII. 1-404), "with but
slight additions." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. xi.]
In the Slaying of Hector that hero indicates cremation as the mode
of burial. "Give them my body back again, that the Trojans and
Trojans' wives grant me my due of fire after my death." Perhaps
this allusion to cremation, in the "original kernel" in the
Slaying of Hector, may be dismissed as a late borrowing from Book
VII. 79, 80, where Hector makes conditions that the fallen hero
shall be restored to his friends when he challenges the Achaeans
to a duel. But whoever knows the curious economy by way of
repetition that marks early national epics has a right to regard
the allusion to cremation (XXII, 342,343) as an example of this
practice. Compare _La Chancun de Williame_, lines 1041-1058
with lines 1140-1134. In both the dinner of a knight who has been
long deprived of food is described in passages containing many
identical lines. The poet, having found his formula, uses it
whenever occasion serves. There are several other examples in the
same epic. [Footnote: _Romania_, xxxiv. PP. 245, 246.]
Repetitions in Homer need not indicate late additions; the
artifice is part of the epic as it is of the ballad manner. If we
are right, cremation is the mode of burial even in "the original
kernel." Hector, moreover, in the kernel (XXII. 256-259) makes,
before his final fight with Achilles, the same proposal as he
makes in his challenge to a duel (VII. 85 et _seqq_.). The
victor shall give back the body of the vanquished to his friends,
but how the friends are to bury it Hector does not say--in this
place. When dying, he does say (XXII. 342, 343).

In the kernel and all periods of expansion, funeral rites are
described, and in all the method is cremation, with a howe or a
barrow. Thus the method of cremation had come in as early as the
"kernel," The Slaying of Hector, and as early as the first
expansions, and it lasted till the period of the latest
expansions, such as Books XXIII., XXIV.

But what is the approximate date of the various expansions of the
original poem? On that point Mr. Leaf gives his opinion. The
Making of the Arms of Achilles (Books XVIII., XIX. 1-39) is, with
the Funeral of Patroclus (XXIII. 1-256), in the second set of
expansions, and is thus two removes later than the original
"kernel." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. ii. p. xii.] Now
this is the period--the Making of the Shield for Achilles is, at
least, in touch with the period--of "the eminently free and
naturalistic treatment which we find in the best Mycenaean work,
in the dagger blades, in the siege fragment, and notably in the
Vaphio cups," (which show long-haired men, not men close-cropped,
as in the daggers and siege fragment). [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p, 606.] The poet of the age of the second
expansions, then,' is at least in touch with the work of the shaft
grave and ages. He need not be contemporary with that epoch, but
"may well have had in his mind the work of artists older than
himself." It is vaguely possible that he may have seen an ancient
shield of the Mycenaean prime, and may be inspired by that.
[Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii. pp. 606, 607.]

Moreover, and still more remarkable, the ordinary Homeric form of
cremation and howe-burial is even older than the period which, if
not contemporary with, is clearly reminiscent of, the art of the
shaft graves. For, in the period of the first expansions (VII. 1-3
I 2), the form of burial is cremation, with a barrow or tumulus.
[Footnote: _Ibid_., vol. ii. p. xi. and pp. 606, 607.] Thus
Mr. Leaf's opinion might lead us to the conclusion that the usual
Homeric form of burial occurs in a period _PRIOR_ to an age
in which the poet is apparently reminiscent of the work of two
early epochs--the epoch of shaft graves and that of _THOLOS_
graves. If this be so, cremation and urn burial in cairns may be
nearly as old as the Mycenaean shaft graves, or as old as the
_THOLOS_ graves, and they endure into the age of the latest

We must not press, however, opinions founded on the apparent
technical resemblance of the free style and coloured metal work on
the shield of Achilles, to the coloured metal work and free design
on the daggers of the Mycenaean shaft graves. It is enough for us
to note that the passages concerning burial, from the "kernel"
itself, and also from the earliest to the latest expansions, are
all perfectly harmonious, and of a single age--unless we are
convinced by Helbig's objections. That age must have been brief,
indeed, for, before it arrives, the period of _tholos_
graves, as at Vaphio, must expire, on one hand, while the blending
of cremation with inhumation, in the Dipylon age, must have been
evolved after the cremation age passed, on the other. That brief
intervening age, however, was the age of the _ILIAD_ and
Odyssey. This conclusion can only be avoided by alleging that late
poets, however recent and revolutionary, carefully copied the
oldest epic model of burial, while they innovated in almost every
other point, so we are told. We can go no further till we find an
unrifled cairn burial answering to Homeric descriptions. We have,
indeed, in Thessaly, "a large tumulus which contained a silver urn
with burned remains." But the accompanying pottery dated it in the
second century B.C. [Footnote: Ridgeway, _Early Age Of
Greece_, vol. i. p. 491; _Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol.
xx_. pp. 20-25.] It is possible enough that all tumuli of the
Homeric period have been robbed by grave plunderers in the course
of the ages, as the Vikings are said to have robbed the cairns of
Sutherlandshire, in which they were not likely to find a rich
reward for their labours. A conspicuous howe invites robbery--the
heroes of the Saga, like Grettir, occasionally rob a howe--and the
fact is unlucky for the Homeric archaeologist.

We have now tried to show that, as regards (1) to the absence from
Homer of new religious and ritual ideas, or of very old ideas
revived in Ionia, (2) as concerns the clear conception of a loose
form of feudalism, with an Over-Lord, and (3) in the matter of
burial, the _Iliad_ and Odyssey are self-consistent, and bear
the impress of a single and peculiar moment of culture.

The fact, if accepted, is incompatible with the theory that the
poets both introduced the peculiar conditions of their own later
ages and also, on other occasions, consciously and consistently
"archaised." Not only is such archaising inconsistent with the art
of an uncritical age, but a careful archaiser, with all the
resources of Alexandrian criticism at his command, could not
archaise successfully. We refer to Quintus Smyrnaeus, author of
the _Post Homerica_, in fourteen books. Quintus does his
best; but we never observe in him that _naif_ delight in
describing weapons and works of art, and details of law and custom
which are so conspicuous in Homer and in other early poets. He
does give us Penthesilea's great sword, with a hilt of ivory and
silver; but of what metal was the blade? We are not told, and the
reader of Quintus will observe that, though he knows [Greek:
chalkos], bronze, as a synonym for weapons, he scarcely ever, if
ever, says that a sword or spear or arrow-head was of bronze--a
point on which Homer constantly insists. When he names the
military metal Quintus usually speaks of iron. He has no interest
in the constitutional and legal sides of heroic life, so
attractive to Homer.

Yet Quintus consciously archaises, in a critical age, with Homer
as his model. Any one who believes that in an uncritical age
rhapsodists archaised, with such success as the presumed late
poets of the _ILIAD_ must have done, may try his hand in our
critical age, at a ballad in the style of the Border ballads. If
he succeeds in producing nothing that will at once mark his work
as modern, he will be more successful than any poet who has made
the experiment, and more successful than the most ingenious modern
forgers of gems, jewels, and terra-cottas. They seldom deceive
experts, and, when they do, other experts detect the deceit.



Tested by their ideas, their picture of political society, and
their descriptions of burial rites, the presumed authors of the
alleged expansions of the _Iliad_ all lived in one and the
same period of culture. But, according to the prevalent critical
theory, we read in the _Iliad_ not only large "expansions" of
many dates, but also briefer interpolations inserted by the
strolling reciters or rhapsodists. "Until the final literary
redaction had come," says Mr. Leaf--that is about 540 B.C.--"we
cannot feel sure that any details, even of the oldest work, were
secure from the touch of the latest poet." [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. ii. p. ix.]

Here we are far from Mr. Leaf's own opinion that "the whole
scenery of the poems, the details of armour, palaces, dress,
decoration ... had become stereotyped, and formed a foundation
which the Epic poet dared not intentionally sap...." [Footnote:
_Ibid_., vol. i. p. xv.] We now find [Footnote: _Ibid_.,
vol. ii. p. ix.] that "the latest poet" saps as much as he pleases
down to the middle of the sixth century B.C. Moreover, in the
middle of the sixth century B.C., the supposed editor employed by
Hsistratus made "constant additions of transitional passages," and
added many speeches by Nestor, an ancestor of Pisistratus.

Did these very late interlopers, down to the sixth century,
introduce modern details into the picture of life? did they blur
the _unus_ color? We hope to prove that, if they did so at
all, it was but slightly. That the poems, however, with a
Mycenaean or sub-Mycenaean basis of actual custom and usage,
contain numerous contaminations from the usage of centuries as
late as the seventh, is the view of Mr. Leaf, and Reichel and his
followers. [Footnote: Homerische Waffen. Von Wolfgang Reichel.
Wien, 1901.]

Reichel's hypothesis is that the heroes of the original poet had
no defensive armour except the great Mycenaean shields; that the
ponderous shield made the use of chariots imperatively necessary;
that, after the Mycenaean age, a small buckler and a corslet
superseded the unwieldy shield; that chariots were no longer used;
that, by the seventh century B.C., a warrior could not be
thought of without a breastplate; and that new poets thrust
corslets and greaves into songs both new and old.

How the new poets could conceive of warriors as always in
chariots, whereas in practice they knew no war chariots, and yet
could not conceive of them without corslets which the original
poet never saw, is Reichel's secret. The new poets had in the old
lays a plain example to follow. They did follow it as to chariots
and shields; as to corslets and greaves they reversed it. Such is
the Reichelian theory.


As regards armour, controversy is waged over the shield, corslet,
and bronze greaves. In Homer the shield is of leather, plated with
bronze, and of bronze is the corslet. No shields of bronze plating
and no bronze corslets have been found in Mycenaean excavations.

We have to ask, do the Homeric descriptions of shields tally with
the representations of shields in works of art, discovered in the
graves of Mycenae, Spata in Attica, Vaphio in Sparta, and
elsewhere? If the descriptions in Homer vary from these relics, to
what extent do they vary? and do the differences arise from the
fact that the poet describes consistently what he sees in his own
age, or are the variations caused by late rhapsodists in the Iron
Age, who keep the great obsolete shields and bronze weapons, yet
introduce the other military gear of their day, say 800-600 B.C.--
gear unknown to the early singers?

It may be best to inquire, first, what does the poet, or what do
the poets, say about shields? and, next, to examine the evidence
of representations of shields in Mycenaean art; always remembering
that the poet does not pretend to live, and beyond all doubt does
not live, in the Mycenaean prime, and that the testimony of the
tombs is liable to be altered by fresh discoveries.

In _Iliad_, II. 388, the shield (_aspis_) is spoken of
as "covering a man about" ([Greek: _amphibrotae_]), while, in
the heat of battle, the baldric (_telamon_), or belt of the
shield, "shall be wet with sweat." The shield, then, is not an
Ionian buckler worn on the left arm, but is suspended by a belt,
and covers a man, or most of him, just as Mycenaean shields are
suspended by belts shown in works of art, and cover the body and
legs. This (II. 388) is a general description applying to the
shields of all men who fight from chariots. Their great shield
answers to the great mediaeval shield of the knights of the
twelfth century, the "double targe," worn suspended from the neck
by a belt. Such a shield covers a mounted knight's body from mouth
to stirrup in an ivory chessman of the eleventh to twelfth century
A.D., [Footnote: _Catalogue of Scottish National
Antiquities_, p. 375.] so also in the Bayeux tapestry,
[Footnote: Gautier, _Chanson de Roland_. Seventh edition, pp.
393, 394.] and on seals. Dismounted men have the same shield (p.

The shield of Menelaus (III. 348) is "equal in all directions,"
which we might conceive to mean, mathematically "circular," as the
words do mean that. A shield is said to have "circles," and a
spear which grazes a shield--a shield which was _[Greek: panton
eesae]_, "every way equal"--rends both circles, the outer
circle of bronze, and the inner circle of leather (_Iliad_,
XX. 273-281). But the passage is not unjustly believed to be late;
and we cannot rely on it as proof that Homer knew circular shields
among others. The epithet _[Greek: eukuklykos]_, "of good
circle," is commonly given to the shields, but does not mean that
the shield was circular, we are told, but merely that it was "made
of circular plates." [Footnote: Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p.
573.] As for the shield of Menelaus, and other shields described
in the same words, "every way equal," the epithet is not now
allowed to mean "circular." Mr. Leaf, annotating _Iliad_, I.
306, says that this sense is "intolerably mathematical and
prosaic," and translates _[Greek: panton eesae]_ as "well
balanced on every side." Helbig renders the epithets in the
natural sense, as "circular." [Footnote: Helbig, _Homerische
Epos_, p. 315; cf., on the other hand, p. 317, Note I.]

To the rendering "circular" it is objected that a circular shield
of, say, four feet and a half in diameter, would be intolerably
heavy and superfluously wide, while the shields represented in
Mycenaean art are not circles, but rather resemble a figure of
eight, in some cases, or a section of a cylinder, in others, or,
again, a door (Fig. 5, p. 130).

What Homer really meant by such epithets as "equal every way,"
"very circular," "of a good circle," cannot be ascertained, since
Homeric epithets of the shield, which were previously rendered
"circular," "of good circle," and so on, are now translated in
quite other senses, in order that Homeric descriptions may be made
to tally with Mycenaean representations of shields, which are
never circular as represented in works of art. In this position of
affairs we are unable to determine the shape, or shapes, of the
shields known to Homer.

A scholar's rendering of Homer's epithets applied to the shield is
obliged to vary with the variations of his theory about the
shield. Thus, in 1883, Mr. Leaf wrote, "The poet often calls the
shield by names which seem to imply that it was round, and yet
indicates that it was large enough to cover the whole body of a
man.... In descriptions the round shape is always implied." The
words which indicated that the shield (or one shield) "really
looked like a tower, and really reached from neck to ankles" (in
two or three cases), were "received by the poet from the earlier
Achaean lays." "But to Homer the warriors appeared as using the
later small round shield. His belief in the heroic strength of the
men of old time made it quite natural to speak of them as bearing
a shield which at once combined the later circular shape and the
old heroic expanse...." [Footnote: _Journal of Hellenic Studies,
iv. pp._ 283-285.]

Here the Homeric words which naturally mean "circular" or "round"
are accepted as meaning "round" or "circular." Homer, it is
supposed, in practice only knows the round shields of the later
age, 700 B.C., so he calls shields "round," but, obedient to
tradition, he conceives of them as very large.

But, after the appearance of Reichel's speculations, the Homeric
words for "round" and "circular" have been explained as meaning
something else, and Mr. Leaf, in place of maintaining that Homer
knew no shields but round shields, now writes (1900), "The small
circular shield of later times...is equally unknown to Homer, with
a very few curious exceptions," which Reichel discovered--
erroneously, as we shall later try to show. [Footnote: Leaf,
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. 575.]

Thus does science fluctuate! Now Homer knows in practice none but
light round bucklers, dating from about 700 B.C.; again, he does
not know them at all, though they were habitually used in the
period at which the later parts of his Epic were composed. We
shall have to ask, how did small round bucklers come to be unknown
to late poets who saw them constantly?

Some scholars, then, believe that the old original poet always
described Mycenaean shields, which are of various shapes, but
never circular in Mycenaean art. If there are any circular shields
in the poems, these, they say, must have been introduced by poets
accustomed, in a much later age, to seeing circular bucklers.
Therefore Homeric words, hitherto understood as meaning
"circular," must now mean something else--even if the reasoning
seems circular.

Other scholars believe that the poet in real life saw various
types of shields in use, and that some of them were survivals of
the Mycenaean shields, semi-cylindrical, or shaped like figures
of 8, or like a door; others were circular; and these scholars
presume that Homer meant "circular" when he said "circular."
Neither school will convert the other, and we cannot decide
between them. We do not pretend to be certain as to whether the
original poet saw shields of various types, including the round
shape, in use, though that is possible, or whether he saw only the
Mycenaean types.

As regards size, Homer certainly describes, in several cases,
shields very much larger than most which we know for certain to
have been common after, say, 700 B.C. He speaks of shields
reaching from neck to ankles, and "covering the body of a man
about." Whether he was also familiar with smaller shields of
various types is uncertain; he does not explicitly say that any
small bucklers were used by the chiefs, nor does he explicitly say
that all shields were of the largest type. It is possible that at
the time when the Epic was composed various types of shield were
being tried, while the vast ancient shield was far from obsolete.

To return to the _size_ of the shield. In a feigned tale of
Odysseus (Odyssey, XIV. 474-477), men in a wintry ambush place
their shields over their shoulders, as they lie on the ground, to
be a protection against snow. But any sort of shield, large or
small, would protect the shoulders of men in a recumbent position.
Quite a large shield may seem to be indicated in _Iliad_,
XIII. 400-405, where Idomeneus curls up his whole person behind
his shield; he was "hidden" by it. Yet, as any one can see by
experiment, a man who crouched low would be protected entirely by
a Highland targe of less than thirty inches in diameter, so
nothing about the size of the shield is ascertained in this
passage. On a black-figured vase in the British Museum (B, 325)
the entire body of a crouching warrior is defended by a large
Boeotian buckler, oval, and with _echancrures_ in the sides.
The same remark applies to _Z&ad_[sic], XXII. 273-275. Hector
watches the spear of Achilles as it flies; he crouches, and the
spear flies over him. Robert takes this as an "old Mycenaean"
dodge--to duck down to the bottom of the shield. [Footnote:
_Studien zur Ilias_, p. 21.] The avoidance by ducking can be
managed with no shield, or with a common Highland targe, which
would cover a man in a crouching posture, as when Glenbucket's
targe was peppered by bullets at Clifton (746), and Cluny shouted
"What the devil is this?" the assailants firing unexpectedly from
a ditch. A few moments of experiment, we repeat, prove that a
round targe can protect a man in Hector's attitude, and that the
Homeric texts here throw no light on the _size_ of the

The shield of Hector was of black bull's-hide, and as large and
long as any represented in Mycenaean art, so that, as he walked,
the rim knocked against his neck and ankles. The shape is not
mentioned. Despite its size, he _walked_ under it from the
plain and field of battle into Troy (_Iliad_, VI. 116-118).
This must be remembered, as Reichel [Footnote: Reichel, 38, 39.
Father Browne (_Handbook_, p. 230) writes, "In
_Odyssey_, XIV 475, Odysseus says he slept within the
shield." He says "under arms" (_Odyssey_, XIV. 474, but
_cf_. XIV. 479).] maintains that a man could not walk under
shield, or only for a short way; wherefore the war chariot was
invented, he says, to carry the fighting man from point to point
(Leaf, _Iliad_, vol. i. p. 573). Mr. Leaf elaborates these
points: "Why did not the Homeric heroes ride? Because no man could
carry such a shield on horseback." [Footnote: _Iliad_, vol.
i. p. 573.] We reply that men could and did carry such shields on
horseback, as we know on the evidence of works of art and poetry
of the eleventh to twelfth centuries A.D. Mr. Ridgeway has
explained the introduction of chariots as the result of horses too
small to carry a heavy and heavily-armed man as a cavalier.

The shield ([Greek: aspis]), we are told by followers of Reichel,
was only worn by princes who could afford to keep chariots,
charioteers, and squires of the body to arm and disarm them. But
this can scarcely be true, for all the comrades of Diomede had the
shield ([Greek: aspis], _Iliad_, X. 152), and the whole host
of Pandarus of Troy, a noted bowman, were shield-bearers ([Greek:
aspistaon laon], _Iliad_, IV. 90), and some of them held
their shields ([Greek: sakae]) in front of Pandarus when he took a
treacherous shot at Menelaus (IV. 113). The whole host could not
have chariots and squires, we may presume, so the chariot was not
indispensable to the _ecuyer_ or shield-bearing man.

The objections to this conjecture of Reichel are conspicuous, as
we now prove.

No Mycenaean work of art shows us a shielded man in a chariot; the
men with the monstrous shields are always depicted on foot. The
only modern peoples who, to our knowledge, used a leather shield
of the Mycenaean size and even of a Mycenaean shape had no horses
and chariots, as we shall show. The ancient Eastern peoples, such
as the Khita and Egyptians, who fought from chariots, carried
_small_ shields of various forms, as in the well-known
picture of a battle between the Khita, armed with spears, and the
bowmen of Rameses II, who kill horse and man with arrows from
their chariots, and carry no spears; while the Khita, who have no
bows, merely spears, are shot down as they advance. [Footnote:
Maspero, _Hist. Ancienne_, ii. p. 225.]. Egyptians and Khita,
who fight from chariots, use _small_ bucklers, whence it
follows that war chariots were not invented, or, at least, were
not retained in use, for the purpose of giving mobility to men
wearing gigantic shields, under which they could not hurry from
point to point. War chariots did not cease to be used in Egypt,
when men used small shields.

Moreover, Homeric warriors can make marches under shield, while
there is no mention of chariots to carry them to the point where
they are to lie in ambush (Odyssey, XIV. 470-510). If the shield
was so heavy as to render a chariot necessary, would Homer make
Hector trudge a considerable distance under shield, while
Achilles, under shield, sprints thrice round the whole
circumference of Troy? Helbig notices several other cases of long
runs under shield. Either Reichel is wrong, when he said that the
huge shield made the use of the war chariot necessary, or the poet
is "late"; he is a man who never saw a large shield like Hector's,
and, though he speaks of such shields, he thinks that men could
walk and run under them. When men did walk or run under shield, or
ride, if they ever rode, they would hang it over the left side,
like the lion-hunters on the famous inlaid dagger of Mycenae,
[Footnote: For the chariots, _cf_. Reichel, _Homerische
Waffen_, 120_ff_. Wien, 1901.] or the warrior on the
chessman referred to above (p. 111).

Aias, again, the big, brave, stupid Porthos of the _Iliad_,
has the largest shield of all, "like a tower" (this shield cannot
have been circular), and is recognised by his shield. But he never
enters a chariot, and, like Odysseus, has none of his own, because
both men come from rugged islands, unfit for chariot driving.
Odysseus has plenty of shields in his house in Ithaca, as we learn
from the account of the battle with the Wooers in the
_Odyssey;_ yet, in Ithaca, as at Troy, he kept no chariot.
Here, then, we have nations who fight from chariots, yet use small
shields, and heroes who wear enormous shields, yet never own a
chariot. Clearly, the great shield cannot have been the cause of
the use of the war chariot, as in the theory of Reichel.

Aias and his shield we meet in _Iliad_, VII. 206-220. "He
clothed himself upon his flesh in _all_ his armour" ([Greek:
teuchea]), to quote Mr. Leaf's translation; but the poet only
_describes_ his shield: his "towerlike shield of bronze, with
sevenfold ox-hide, that Tychius wrought him cunningly; Tychius,
the best of curriers, that had his home in Hyle, who made for him
his glancing shield of sevenfold hides of stalwart bulls, and
overlaid the seven with bronze."

The shield known to Homer then is, in this case, so tall as to
resemble a tower, and has bronze plating over bull's hide. By
tradition from an age of leather shields the Currier is still the
shield-maker, though now the shield has metal plating. It is
fairly clear that Greek tradition regarded the shield of Aias as
of the kind which covered the body from chin to ankles, and
resembled a bellying sail, or an umbrella unfurled, and drawn in
at the sides in the middle, so as to offer the semblance of two
bellies, or of one, pinched in at or near the centre. This is
probable, because the coins of Salamis, where Aias was worshipped
as a local hero of great influence, display this shield as the
badge of the AEginetan dynasty, claiming descent from Aias. The
shield is bossed, or bellied out, with two half-moons cut in the
centre, representing the _waist_, or pinched--in part, of the
ancient Mycenaean shield; the same device occurs on a Mycenaean
ring from AEgina in the British Museum. [Footnote: Evans,
_Journal of Hellenic Studies_, xiii. 213-216.]

In a duel with Aias the spear of Hector pierced the bronze and six
layers of hide on his shield, but stuck in the seventh. The spear
of Aias went through the circular (or "every way balanced") huge
shield of Hector, and through his corslet and _chiton_, but
Hector had doubled himself up laterally ([Greek: eklinthae], VII.
254), and was not wounded. The next stroke of Aias pierced his
shield, and wounded his neck; Hector replied with a boulder that
lighted on the centre of the shield of Aias, "on the boss,"
whether that means a mere ornament or knob, or whether it was the
genuine boss--which is disputed. Aias broke in the shield of
Hector with another stone; and the gentle and joyous passage of
arms was stopped.

The shield of Agamemnon was of the kind that "cover all the body
of a man," and was "every way equal," or "circular." It was plated
with twelve circles of bronze, and had twenty [Greek: omphaloi],
or ornamental knobs of tin, and the centre was of black cyanus
(XI. 31-34). There was also a head of the Gorgon, with Fear and
Panic. The description is not intelligible, and I do not discuss

A man could be stabbed in the middle of the belly, "under his
shield" (XI. 424-425), not an easy thing to do, if shields covered
the whole body to the feet; but, when a hero was leaping from his
chariot (as in this case), no doubt a spear could be pushed up
under the shield. The ancient Irish romances tell of a _gae
bulg_, a spear held in the warrior's toes, and jerked up under
the shield of his enemy! Shields could be held up on high, in an
attack on a wall garrisoned by archers (XII. 139), the great
Norman shield, also, could be thus lifted.

The Locrians, light armed infantry, had no shields, nor bronze
helmets, nor spears, but slings and bows (XIII. 714). Mr. Leaf
suspects that this is a piece of "false archaism," but we do not
think that early poets in an uncritical age are ever
archaeologists, good or bad. The poet is aware that some men have
larger, some smaller shields, just as some have longer and some
shorter spears (XIV. 370-377); but this does not prove that the
shields were of different types. A tall man might inherit the
shield of a short father, or _versa_.

A man in turning to fly might trip on the rim of his shield, which
proves how large it was: "it reached to his feet." This accident
of tripping occurred to Periphetes of Mycenae, but it might have
happened to Hector, whose shield reached from neck to ankles.
[Footnote: _Iliad_, XV. 645-646.]

Achilles must have been a large man, for he knew nobody whose
armour would fit him when he lost his own (though his armour
fitted Patroclus), he could, however, make shift with the tower-
like shield of Aias, he said.

[Illustration 1: "THE VASE OF ARISTONOTHOS"]

The evidence of the Iliad, then, is mainly to the effect that the
heroes carried huge shields, suspended by belts, covering the body
and legs. If Homer means, by the epithets already cited, "of good
circle" and "every way equal," that some shields of these vast
dimensions were circular, we have one example in early Greek art
which corroborates his description. This is "the vase of
Aristonothos," signed by that painter, and supposed to be of the
seventh century (Fig. 1). On one side, the companions of Odysseus
are boring out the eye of the Cyclops; on the other, a galley is
being rowed to the attack of a ship. On the raised deck of the
galley stand three warriors, helmeted and bearing spears. The
artist has represented their shields as covering their right
sides, probably for the purpose of showing their devices or
blazons. _Their_ shields are small round bucklers. On the
ship are three warriors whose shields, though circular, _cover
THE BODY from CHIN TO ANKLES_, as in Homer. One shield bears a
bull's head; the next has three crosses; the third blazon is a
crab. [Footnote: Mon. _dell_. Inst., is. pl. 4.]

Such personal armorial bearings are never mentioned by Homer. It
is not usually safe to argue, from his silence, that he is
ignorant of anything. He never mentions seals or signet rings, yet
they cannot but have been familiar to his time. Odysseus does not
seal the chest with the Phaeacian presents; he ties it up with a
cunning knot; there are no rings named among the things wrought by
Hephaestus, nor among the offerings of the Wooers of Penelope.
[Footnote: Helbig citing Odyssey, VIII. 445-448; _Iliad_,
XVIII. 401; Odyssey, xviii. 292-301.]

But, if we are to admit that Homer knew not rings and seals, which
lasted to the latest Mycenaean times, through the Dipylon age, to
the very late AEginetan treasure (800 B.C.) in the British Museum,
and appear again in the earliest dawn of the classical age and in
a Cyclic poem, it is plain that all the expansionists lived in
one, and that a most peculiar _ringless_ age. This view suits
our argument to a wish, but it is not credible that rings and
seals and engraved stones, so very common in Mycenaean and later
times, should have vanished wholly in the Homeric time. The poet
never mentions them, just as Shakespeare never mentions a thing so
familiar to him as tobacco. How often are finger rings mentioned
in the whole mass of Attic tragic poetry? We remember no example,
and instances are certainly rare: Liddell and Scott give none. Yet
the tragedians were, of course, familiar with rings and seals.

Manifestly, we cannot say that Homer knew no seals, because he
mentions none; but armorial blazons on shields could be ignored by
no poet of war, if they existed.

Meanwhile, the shields of the warriors on the vase, being circular
and covering body and legs, answer most closely to Homer's
descriptions. Helbig is reduced to suggest, first, that these
shields are worn by men aboard ship, as if warriors had one sort
of shield when aboard ship and another when fighting on land, and
as if the men in the other vessel were not equally engaged in a
sea fight. No evidence in favour of such difference of practice,
by sea and land, is offered. Again, Helbig does not trust the
artist, in this case, though the artist is usually trusted to draw
what he sees; and why should he give the men in the other ship or
boat small bucklers, genuine, while bedecking the warriors in the
adverse vessel with large, purely imaginary shields? [Footnote:
Helbig, _Das Homerische Epos_, ii. pp. 313-314.] It is not in
the least "probable," as Helbig suggests, that the artist is
shirking the trouble of drawing the figure.

Reichel supposes that round bucklers were novelties when the vase
was painted (seventh century), and that the artist did not
understand how to depict them. [Footnote: _Homerische
Waffen_, p. 47.] But he depicted them very well as regards the
men in the galley, save that, for obvious aesthetic reasons, he
chose to assume that the men in the galley were left-handed and
wore their shields on their right arms, his desire being to
display the blazons of both parties. [Footnote: See the same
arrangement in a Dipylon vase. Baumeister, _Denkmaler_, iii.
p. 1945.] We thus see, if the artist may be trusted, that shields,
which both "reached to the feet" and were circular, existed in his
time (the seventh century), so that possibly they may have existed
in Homer's time and survived into the age of small bucklers.
Tyrtaeus (late seventh century), as Helbig remarks, speaks of "a
_wide_ shield, covering thighs, shins, breast, and
shoulders." [Footnote: _Tyrtaeus_, xi. 23; Helbig, _Das
Homerische Epos_, ii. p. 315, Note 2.]

Nothing can be more like the large shields of the vase of
Aristonothos. Thus the huge circular shield seems to have been a
practicable shield in actual use. If so, when Homer spoke of large
circular shields he may have meant large circular shields. On the
Dodwell pyxis of 650 to 620 B.C., a man wears an oval shield,
covering him from the base of the neck to the ankles. He wears it
on his left arm. [Footnote: Walters, _Ancient Pottery_, p.

Of shields certainly small and light, worn by the chiefs, there is
not a notice in the _Iliad_, unless there be a hint to that
effect in the accounts of heroes running, walking considerable
distances, and "stepping lightly" under shields, supposed, by the
critics, to be of crushing weight. In such passages the poet may
be carried away by his own _verve_, or the heroes of ancient
times may be deemed capable of exertions beyond those of the
poet's contemporaries, as he often tells us that, in fact, the old
heroes were. A poet is not a scientific military writer; and in
the epic poetry of all other early races very gross exaggeration
is permitted, as in the [blank space] the old Celtic romances,
and, of course, the huge epics of India. In Homer "the skill of
the poet makes things impossible convincing," Aristotle says; and
it is a critical error to insist on taking Homer absolutely and
always _au pied de la lettre_. He seems, undeniably, to have
large body-covering shields present to his mind as in common use.

Small shields of the Greek historic period are "unknown to Homer,"
Mr. Leaf says, "with a very few curious exceptions," [Footnote:
_Iliad_, vol. i. p. 575.] detected by Reichel in Book X. 15
[Footnote: _Ibid, vol. i. p. 569, fig. 2.], where Diomede's men
sleep with their heads resting on their shields, whereas a big-
bellied Mycenaean shield rises, he says, too high for a pillow.
But some Mycenzean shields were perfectly flat; while, again,
nothing could be more comfortable, as a head-rest, than the hollow
between the upper and lower bulges of the Mycenzean huge shield.
The Zulu wooden head-rest is of the same character. Thus this
passage in Book X. does not prove that small circular shields were
known to Homer, nor does X. 5 13. 526-530, an obscure text in
which it is uncertain whether Diomede and Odysseus ride or drive
the horses of Rhesus. They _could_ ride, as every one must
see, even though equipped with great body-covering shields. True,
the shielded hero could neither put his shield at his back nor in
front of him when he rode; but he could hang it sidewise, when it
would cover his left side, as in the early Middle Ages (1060-1160

The taking of the shield from a man's shoulders (XI. 374) does not
prove the shield to be small; the shield hung by the belt
(_telamon_) from the shoulder. [Footnote: On the other side,
see Reichel, _Homerische Waffen_, pp. 40-44. Wien, 1901. We
have replied to his arguments above.]

So far we have the results that Homer seems most familiar with
vast body-covering shields; that such shields were suspended by a
baldric, not worn on the left arm; that they were made of layers
of hide, plated with bronze, and that such a shield as Aias wore
must have been tall, doubtless oblong, "like a tower," possibly it
was semi-cylindrical. Whether the epithets denoting roundness
refer to circular shields or to the double _targe_, g-shaped,
of Mycenaean times is uncertain.

We thus come to a puzzle of unusual magnitude. If Homer does not
know small circular shields, but refers always to huge shields,


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