terça-feira, 21 de maio de 2013

Vergil and Homer

Perhaps Homer gives all that mankind should need, but it was left to Vergil to give much that mankind does in fact need. Vergil reaches, as Homer does not, into the organization and the complexities of the later and the modern world. He thought through politics to mystic perception, and passed beyond pure epic tragedy. Perhaps he could succeed because he also reached farther back in time than Homer. He remembers the old Aegean world and its oriental pre-history more clearly, and often he restores something which in Homer is a broken tale. A safe and sufficient example is provided by the city-sanctities at Troy; on such matters it is proper to wait until evidence is arrayed for a full statement, but fragments of support are always occurring. Vergil's emphasis on Buthrotum, where as Leaf humorously noted he made no attempt at topographical accuracy, fits the distant truth concerning the passage of the Philistines indicated by Giuliano Bonfante. Johm Garstang has reported from Syria a Hittite statue of the eighteenth century B.C. with a face of stern, responsible lineaments, representing some governor, clearly a man under authority living as by law of European duty. Such a man is not Homeric. He is Vergilian. But most important is Vergil's progress towards the Divine. For him the human is not enough. Vergil won the conviction that, in words used by Father E. Watts, and quoted by Murray Hickey Lee, 'God is not niggardly in his revelations' and that 'in every moment is an eternity'. Or perhaps that too is to misunderstand Homer. At least Alexander Pope was right to say, with a Vergilian depth of meaning yet to be explored, that Vergil found that 'Homer and nature were the same'.

W. F. Jackson Knight. Vergil and Homer. Basil Blackwell Oxford (1950).

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