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POETICAL PERIOD. 53

which at the present day nobody would dream of ascribing to their re­puted author.1

XL The time in which Greek literature flourished was not adapted for tracing out the poems which wrere spurious and interpolated. People en­joyed all that was beautiful, without caring who was the author. The task of sifting and correcting the works of literature was left to the age in which the faculties of the Greek mind had ceased to produce original works, and had turned to scrutinize and preserve former productions. Then it was not only discovered that the cyclic poems and the hymns had no title to be styled " Homeric," but the question was mooted and warm­ly discussed whether the Odyssey was to be attributed to the author of the Iliad. Of the existence of this interesting controversy we had only a slight indication in Seneca,2 before the publication of the Venetian scholia. From these we know now that there was a regular party of critics, who assigned the Iliad and Odyssey to two different authors, and were there­fore called Chorizontes (Xco/n'foj/res), " the Separators."3 The question has been again opened in modern times, and we have already considered it.

CHAPTER X.

SECOND OR POETICAL PERIOD—continued. HISTORY OF THE HOMERIC POEMS.4

I. the history of the Homeric poems may be divided conveniently into two great periods: one in which the text was transmitted by oral tradi­tion, and the other of the written text after Pisistratus. Of the former we have already spoken ; it, therefore, only remains to treat of the latter.

II. The epoch from Pisistratus down to the establishment of the first critical school at Alexandrea, that is, to Zenodotus, presents very few facts concerning the Homeric poems. Oral tradition still prevailed over writing for a long time ; though in the days of Alcibiades it was expected that every schoolmaster would have a copy of Homer with which to teach his boys.5 Homer became a sort of ground-work for a liberal education; and as his influence over the minds of the people thus became still stron­ger, the philosophers of that age were naturally led either to explain and recommend, or to oppose and refute the moral principles and religious doctrines contained in the heroic tales.6

III. It was with this practical view that Pythagoras, Xenophanes, and HeraclTtus condemned Homer as one who uttered falsehoods, and de­graded the majesty of the gods ; while Theagenes, Metrodorus, Anaxag-oras, and Stesimbrotus expounded the deep wisdom of Homer, which was disguised from the eyes of the common observer under the vail of an ap­parently insignificant tale. So old is the allegorical explanation, a folly at which the sober Socrates smiled, which Plato refuted, and Aristarchus

-1 Nitzsch, Anm. z. Odyss., vol. ii., p. 40. 2 De Brevit. Vita, 13,

3 Grauert, iiber d. Horn. Choriz. Rhein. Mus., vol. i. 4 Ihne, p. 510, seqq.

« Pint., Alcib., p. 194, D. 6 Grafenkan, Gesch. der Philologie^ vol. i., p. 20§,

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