Imágenes de página

with blood. The Goddess had expressed her indignation ; Calcbas directed them to return to Argos, to renew their former sacrifices, and appear again before Troy with fresh forces. To propitiate the Goddess however in this interval, the Greeks erect the figure of the horse. Since the Palladium, on the preservation of which the safety of the city depended, had been removed froin the citadel, it was essential to the ultimate safety of Troy that another image should be placed there. If this horse be taken within the walls, the city never could be captured; but to prevent the possibility of its removal, the Greeks had framed it of this enormous size. The most incredulous are convinced of the truth of this story by the fate of Laocoon, and the borse is received into the city. The doors are opened by Sinon in the night, and Troy is taken.

Such is the narrative. Omitting the beautiful episode of Laocoon, which is evidently fictitious, I think it may be shown that there is nothing improbable in the incidents : but on the contrary that they are so consistent with the manners and state of society in the early postdiluvian ages, that they confirm the general opinion of the reality of the Trojan War.

Though the chronology of this ancient period, even after the most accurate researches, is very uncertain, we may affirm that Troy could not have been captured subsequently to the time at which Jephthah was Judge in Israel : it is most probable that Priam, if he had any existence, Tived much earlier. Assuming this latter date, and taking into consideration the several scattered notices respecting these times, we are warranted in the following conclusions.

Priain was a patriarchal king, ruling over the children and descendants of one family, to which some few strangers bad become attachied, as was usual in the patriarchal age. He is said to have been lineally descended from Dardanus, who introduced among his subjects the worship of Minerva, and tirst established the celebrated Palladium. As idolatry had originated chiefly at Shinar, though it is most probable that there were some corruptions of the worship of the true God prior to that event, it may naturally be supposed that the several beads of tribes or families would take with them to their respective settlements the insignia, the Penates, and other emblems of their idolatrous rites. Dardanus conducted one branch of the Apostates, who took refuge in Samothrace, froin whence he came to Asia Minor, and founded Troy. Samothrace is well known to have been the spot, where the mysteries were celebrated with great splendor; it was the centre and university of the surrounding idolatrous na ions; aud Dardanus, with the colouy under his guidance, planted in Troy the superstitious common to Shinar, Egypt, Sanoihrace, ind all the

Cuthite settlements. Priam was the lineal descendant of Dardanus, and succeeded, according to the custom of that age, to the sacerdotal and kingly power.

But the patriarchal forın of government could not have continued in a large community. We may justly conclude that Troy was similar to the cities conquered by Joshua ; and Priam possessed therefore the same command as the kings of Ziklag, &c.; that is, he could raise and send to war a few thousands only of the inhabitants of Troy, and the natives of the territory immediately adjacent : whatever was done beyond this, must have been accomplished by means of the confederacies, of which we read so much. Thus Asius brought to the assistance of Troy the troops of the neighbouring cities. All the chieftains of Greece and Troy seem to have been independent of each other, though they might have associated for the common good. Their cities therefore must have been small, and their people few in number.

The ancients supposed that the images of their Gods possessed a protecting or talismanic power. They were anxious on all occasions to take with them their Penates, and Lares, and the sacred fire. Laban was more desirous of recovering his images, than of taking revenge. Æneas would not leave Troy without bis Gods. The statues in moments of danger were fastened to their pedestals. Before war was declared, the Gods of the country were invoked by the invading armies to leave the invaded territory. The Trojans believed their city to be in safety so long as they possessed the celebrated Palladium, which their ancestor placed in their citadel, when their original settlement was made. This Palladium had been stolen, and they considered themselves in danger. If a talisman was removed, the believers in such absurdities would naturally be anxious to obtain it again, or to find a substitute which would be equally efficacious. On this very natural principle Sinon acted. “ The Greeks,” he says, “ wished to destroy you; they therefore took away the image which saved you : when they return with their reinforcements, you must fall, unless another talismau is provided. The Palladium preserved you in many dangers, but you have now lost its protection. The horse will again save you, and the Greeks know it, and have endeavoured to prevent you from profiting by its presence in your citadel, by building it of the magnitude you see.”

We now come to the main question, why did the Greeks build a horse, and how was it possible that it should be built of the size represented ?

It is well known that the horse was venerated from the earliest ages by the postdiluvian idolaters. The origin of this singular custom is not known. The religion of Japan is essentially the

same with that of the ancient Scythians ; they each professed Buddhism, which preceded Brahmanism; the worship of the White Horse is a characteristic of each religion. In the reign of Syn Mu, Budo, (or Buddha) otherwise called Cobotus, came over from the Indies into Japan, and brought with him, upon a white horse, his religion and doctrine. (vide Kæmpfer's Japan, quoted by Bryant.) White horses in Persia were dedicated to the sun. The Hindoos still venerate horses. The white horse of Germany, of Hanover and Saxony, was the same as that of the eastern nations; the common origin of these tribes has been proved by Faber. The figure of a horse was impressed on the old British coins of a Cassivelaunus (vide Leake's British coins), and many other instances might be quoted. These are sufficient to show that the horse was most probably venerated in this part of Asia. The superstitions of the Greeks and Trojans were the same ; and it would excite no surprise therefore among the crowd, when Sinon informed them that the horse could afford protection. They expressed their wonder that the image should be there at all, and that it should be so large, but not a word was uttered against the power of the horse. This was an object of worship as well as the Palladium. We read of no hesitation ; his story was implicitly believed, because it offered no violence to their opinions or customs.

These considerations will sufficiently answer the question, “why should the image of a horse be built ?" It was equally venerated by both, and was as sacred as the lost Palladium. Another question suggests itself: How was it possible that a fabric so immense could be built ?

The answer is easy. The people who professed this religion were of the very same family with those who built the pyramids, excavated mountains, began the tower of Babel, erected large masses in remembrance of the mountain on which the ark rested, (the original Meru and Ida,) and every where excelled in constructing works, which to this day are celebrated for their stupendous magnitude. Some surprise was undoubtedly expressed at the bulk of the statue, but by no means so much as might have been expected, had they been entirely unaccustomed to such vast undertakings. They believe the first part of Sinon's story, because it was not improbable; the reason he assigned why the Greeks had made it of this great bulk was equally credible. He assures them that the Greeks were anxious to prevent their new Palladium from entering into the citadel, and therefore they had attempted to defeat the object of the command of Minerva, who instructed them to build it, by constructing it in such

a manner, that the Trojans should not be able to receive it. The superstitious Trojans believe the story, and lose their city.

Unless there be some meaning of this kind, the Poet has lost sight of poetical probability. No nation could be so absurd as to break down their walls, and listen, as the Trojans are represented, to the tale of a captive, unless that tale be probable, consistent, and apparently true. Why should the figure of a horse, rather than of any other animal, have been built? why should the horse possess the talismanic powers of the Palladium, unless the strange story of Sinon were at least plausible, and suited to the preconceived notions of the people he addressed ?

An additional argument in favor of some such hypothesis as the present, may be adduced from the manner in which the horse was received into the city. I refer your readers to the description in Buchanan's travels of the manner in which the immense Car of Jaghernaut was drawn by the people : it is parallel to the account in Virgil of the joy of the Trojaus when their new Palladium was received among them. All apply themselves to the work : they assist at the ropes : the boys and the virgins sing round it their sacred hymns, and rejoice to touch the rope with their finger. Why was this rejoicing? Their religion had instructed them to venerate the horse, as well as the image of Minerva ; and they exulted in the protection of the new representative of the Deity.

These remarks are undoubtedly theoretical, but they are probable. Perhaps it would not be difficult to collect many similar coincidences, to illustrate the manners, customs, religion, commerce, opinions, and general history of the first postdiluvian ages. It certainly might be proved that Troy was a small town, Priam a patriarchal prince; that a war actually took place, which was rendered of importance by the several confederacies which it originated; and that the magniticent poem of Homer, from a proper appreciation of which so much remains to be collected, was as certainly founded on fact, as the “Jerusalem delivered" of Tasso, or the Lusiad of Camoens.


R. M. College,




No. VI.

1. Cic. Tusc. Disp. 1. 2." An censemus, si Fabio nobilissimo homini laudi datum esset quod pingeret, non multos etiam apud nos futuros Polycletos et Parrhasios fuisse?" Davies observes on this passage, .“ Immo vero artem pictoriam Fabio fuisse laudi satis indicat cognomen ex ea tractum;" and quotes St. Jerom in confirmation of his opinion. Might not, however, the mere singularity of the circumstance, as in many other cases, give rise to the epithet? Cicero himself does not appear to have drawn this conclusion.

II, Malcolm's History of Persia, (quoted in the British Review, vii. p. 514.) “ Darab” (Darius Codomannus)“ sent another ambassador to the court of the Grecian monarch, whom he charged to deliver to him a bat, a ball, and a bag of very small seed, called gunjud. The bat and ball were intended to throw a ridicule on Alexander's youth, being fit amusements for his age : the bag of seed being intended as an emblem of the Persian army being innumerable.”. Compare with this the following passage from Rapin's Hist. of England, Vol. v. p. 115, 1729. We find in the English History, that after Henry had sent the first time to demand the crown of France, the Dauphin, in derision of his youth, sent him for a present a tun of tennis-balls. His intent, no doubt, was to let him know, that he thought him fitter to play at tennis, than to manage arms.” For the same message, and Henry's reply, see Shakspeare's Hen. V.; also Rapin's note on the above passage.

111. Liv. xli. 3. “ Simul ex omnibus locis ad castra recipienda demendamque ignominiam” (prioris sc. pugnæ) "rediri cæptum est." Quære, “ delendamque"

IV. Thucydides (1. 23,) speaking of the natural calamities which occurred contemporaneously with the Peloponnesian war, says, τε πρότερον ακοή μεν λεγόμενα, έργο δε σπανιώτερον βεβαιούμενα, ουκ άπιστα κατέστη, σεισμών τε πέρι, οι επί πλείστον άμα μέρος γης και ισχυρότατοι οι αυτοί επέσχον ηλίου τε εκλείψεις, αι πυκνότεραι παρά τα εκ του πριν χρόνου μνημονευόμενα ξυνέβησαν αυχμοί τε έστι παρ' οίς μεγάλοι, και απ' αυτών και λιμοί και η ουχ ήκιστα βλάψασα, και uspos to pleigara, ý dogjúons vóoos." Baver renders the last clause, " et pestilens morbus, qui Graciam non minimo detrimento affecit, quiu etiam quandam ejus partem absumsit.” I doubt, however, whether the historian meant to refer to Greece alone; especially

« AnteriorContinuar »