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elucidating some highly important department of Art and Science, or in developing truths closely connected with the wellbeing of man, sometimes exhausts itself in inquiries concerning subjects which, if they could be exhibited in the light of day, would have neither beauty nor excellence to recommend them to our regard. If one could be divested of the remembrance that it was a waste of time and intellect, much entertainment might be derived from watching the operation of this principle, when it takes possession of a mind not careful to distinguish pursuits which are trifling and useless from such as are dignified in their nature and beneficial in their effects. It leads many men, if we may so speak, to dive to the bottom of the ocean, for the sake of a pebble.


It appears to us to be a perversion of our natural inquisitiveness, when we pry curiously into things because they are obscure, and pass over what is clear and obvious. We have often been a little surprised at some of our literary acquaintance, who, in exploring the antiquities of an ancient cathedral, or a ruined abbey, would pay no attention to the plain and entire inscriptions of the place, but choose to fix their stand before some mouldering stone, which bore the appearance of having been once lettered, but which it is now absolutely impossible to read; and they would delight themselves in filling up broken sentences, or attempting to decypher mutilated characters, which the hand of time had converted into pure hieroglyphics. But while they have been occupied with these enchanting puzzles without the least use, one or two of the party, who could not cope with them in intellectual vigor, have acquired a tolerable knowledge of the history of the spot. Certain men seem to be in love with rust, and mutilation, and decay. They prefer a coin because it is oxydated, and a figure because it has lost a nose, and a monument because it is half crumbled into dust. They are literally fond of obscurity in their researches, like the bird of night, who would rather look out into the darkness of the nocturnal sky, from an ivy-mantled tower, than soar towards the sun. They will even search for difficulties, and indulge an unnatural exultation when truths, which were supposed to be well understood, are by some contrivance thrown into the dark. Our readers must be well aware that this perversion of an useful principle of our nature does not confine itself to coins, statues, and tomb-stones. Every topic of Art or Science which is liable to question and disputation, it pursues as lawful prey. How then could antient poesy escape, which has so many references to obsolete customs, annihilated combinations of thought, obscure individuals, and uncertain places? For many centuries,

the scene of the exploits celebrated in the Iliad was generally supposed to be known. Alexander thought he knew where to find the tomb of Achilles, and congratulated his shade on the fame which Homer had bestowed. Antigonus could without hesitation determine the site of ancient Troy, in order to erect another magnificent city as its representa tive. Horace, in dissuading Augustus from rebuilding the town to which the Romans traced their origin, would have exulted in being able to say, "Its place is not to be found." It was reserved for modern times, effectually to deprive the traveller of the pleasure of contemplating spots rendered interesting by delightful recollections, and to confine his enjoyment, even when on the shores of Asia and among the Ionian isles, as much to the unreal picture of the Muse's painting, as if he had remained in the west of Europe. We need not remind our classical readers, of the keen disputes which have lately been agitated respecting the scenes described in the Iliad. Nobody knows, now, where the Scamander and Simois flowed, or where the Grecian camp was pitched, or even where Troy itself stood. In truth, we must call this the iron age of criticism. The sceptical spirit, which began by questioning maxims of politics, and doctrines of religion, has insinuated itself into every branch of literature; and one effect of its busy interference is to rob the most interesting scenes of our earth of all their acquired and extrinsic fascination, and, as it were by a knight's disenchanting horn, to sterilize a paradise, and demolish a magnificent palace. From the Iliad, the transition is easy to the Odyssey. For some time past, inquiries have been set on foot, respecting the places described in the latter poem. And the consequence already produced is a considerable degree of doubt with regard to their situation. The final result will be a determined denial of their existence. It will soon be discovered, that there was no such island as Ithaca ; and then, by the most necessary of all inferences, that there was no port of Phorcys, no Rock Korax, or fount of Arethusa, no garden of Laertes, or palace of Ulysses. Let thus much be remarked on the spirit and result of modern researches into some branches of ancient literature. We now proceed to the work before us. Mr. Gell felt a strong disposition to believe. that the description of places, in Homer, were not the inspired originals of a creative Muse, but the correct and sober imitations of specific archetypes in nature. Hence he undertook for the purpose of examining the Troad; and produced the Topography of Troy. He has lately visited the Mediterranean again, for the purpose of exploring the antiquities of Ithaca, and proving that the author of the Odyssey

was conversant with the scenery of that island, and depicted it in his poem. It is only with the antiquities of Ithaca that we have any concern at present.

The general question, whether the island, described under this name by Homer, be any part of the material world, we consider to be interesting and important to those only who visit the East. It is allowed, the pleasures of travellers must be infinitely enhanced, when they combine, with the emotions raised by the actual beauty of the scenes themselves, a thousand glowing remembrances which restore for a moment the enthusiasm of youthful admiration and the more sober and chastened joys of riper taste. They find the scenery of nature enriched and decorated with beauties and enchantments, far beyond what colour, magnitude, form, and motion can bestow. But to the multitude of scholars, who must rest. contented with what knowledge of the Mediterranean and the shores of Asia a chart will supply, the question whether Ithaca exists or not, is almost indifferent. The pleasure which any one receives from the local descriptions of Homer, arises purely from their resemblance to general nature. If he has seen mountains, and rocks, and clear springs issuing from the sides of hills, he is qualified to hear with delight the Muse who celebrates these grand or soothing scenes. The description of the garden of Eden in Paradise Lost, or of the island of Pleasure in the Faery Queen, imparts delight, though it has no exact model in nature; and perhaps in an equal degree with those descriptions which are faithful copies of well known scenes. Nor is the present question of any import ance in elucidating ancient geography. For when we have converted the Poets into Topographers as much as we please, the relative situation of places, so far as their painting has exhibited them, will remain among the obscurest inquiries of literature. Soon after Sir Thomas More published his Utopia, a learned Frenchman found out its situation in the map of the world; and being engaged at that time in preparing a tractate on Geography, he delineated the newly discovered country about 53 degrees north latitude, and 63 west longitude. The same gentleman would probably have availed himself of the travels of Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, if they had been extant. And if he had undertaken to construct a chart of the ancient world, he might with the same felicity have chosen, for his authority and guide, the voyages of Ulysses, related in the Odyssey, and the wanderings of Io in the Prometheus Chained of Eschylus. This uncertainty as to places does not in the least invalidate the authority of Homer in his pictures of ancient manners, or his references to traditional events. The fiction of places and personages is perfectly

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reconcilable with accurate descriptions of human character and the celebration of real exploits. But although this question of the situation or existence of Ithaca is but little interesting to those who design not to visit the Ionian isles, our office compels us to weigh the evidence adduced by Mr. Gell, and to state our opinion of the cause.

It is rather a disadvantage in the inquiry, that Ithaca and its scenery are mentioned but rarely by Homer. The Bard, it seems, wished to write a poem which might comprehend most of the marvellous recitals brought home by men who had visited distant parts. And he justly imagined that the return of Ulysses from Troy, would furnish him with a convenient vehicle for the communication of this kind of entertainment and instruction to his contemporaries. The proceedings of the suitors, and the greater part of the circumstances which happened in Ithaca, may properly be considered as a subordinate appendage to assist the main purpose of the poet. As the Odyssey chiefly consists of relations concerning other parts of the world, the kingdom of Ulysses is therefore but seldom brought into notice. When it is described, however, we meet with so much apparent precision, and features so discriminative seem to be pourtrayed, that the scholar may easily be led to believe that he knows exactly where to look for it, and that he should recognize it the moment it was seen. Homer has mentioned its relative situation to other islands, described its general and characteristic appearance, and painted some singular and permanent scenes belonging to it. We will, without entering into detail more than appears absolutely necessary, beg the attention of our readers to each of those particulars; and as we go along we shall compare the descriptions of the Poet, with the communications which Mr. Gell has made respecting the Island which he affirms to be the Ithaca of Homer.

Ulysses, giving an account of himself to Alcinous, Od. ix. 21, describes the relative situation of his country as follows. Ναιεταω δ' Ιθακην ευδίκελον εν 23ος αυτη Νηριτον, εινοσίφυλλον, αριπρεπές αμφι δε νησοί Πολλαι ναιετάεσι μαλα σχεδόν αλληλης, Δελιχιον τε, Σαμη τε, και υλη στα Ζακυνθος. Αυτη δε χθαμαλη πανυπέρτατη ειν αλι κείται Προς ζόφον (αι δε τ' ανευθε προς ηω τ' ηελίοντε).

Another circumstance is mentioned, Od. iv. 844, of some importance to the present branch of the inquiry:

Vol. V.

Ετι δε τις νησος μεσση αλι πετρήεσσα

Μεσσηγυς Ιθακήςτε Σαμοιοτε παιπαλοέσσης
Αστρες, 8 μεγάλη λιμένες δ' ενι ναυλοχοι αυτή



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Now it is most mortifying to the scholar, who sails up the Mediterranean with the pleasing confidence that he shall succeed in his researches, to find no island in such a situation. A reference to the map shews that Cephallonia is the most western of the cluster of islands in that quarter. In this difficulty Mr. Gell avails himself of the easy resource of amending the passage which describes the situation of Ithaca. If his hypothesis cannot be reconciled to the Poet, the Poet: must bend to his hypothesis. If the mountain will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the mountain. The learned. Bryant leads the way in this violation of the text.. Int exchange for αι δέ τ' άνευθε προς ηω τ' ηελίοντε,” he proposes σε αυτας ανευθεί But this alteration is of no service; it is not sufficiently violent; only a part of the difficulty is removed by it. What is the use of shewing that Same was not east of Ithaca, unless the expression can be disposed of which informs us that Ithaca was west of Same? The beginning of the line Пpos opo, which relates to the island of Ulysses, requires alteration as much as the latter part, which refers to the neighbouring islands, in order to accommodate the passage to Mr. Gell's and the learned Bryant's wishes. The reader will of course remember that if this licence of emendation be allowed, any difficulty may be removed, and any hypothesis established. Sir Geo. Wheeler, who has written on this subject, affirms the rock of Aotaco to be Ithaca, without any regard to this difficulty in the poem, and only because Strabo's description of the magnitude of that island does not agree with the modern Theaki. M. Chevalier, who some time ago published an account of Ithaca, did not disturb himself with these repugnancies; but assuming the pleasant persuasion that Theaki was the disputed land, he proceeds with Francogallican gaiety and ease to the description of its towns, its delightful prospects, and interesting scenes, without ever having touched at one of its ports.

The mention of Asteris by the poet contributes to throw a thicker darkness over this part of the subject. The most indefatigable search has not succeeded in finding it. Here Mr. Gell shall be heard for himself.

There would be little difficulty in determining whether Homer took his idea of Asteris from the rock of Dascallio, or from the promontory of Chelia, did the word Nos admit of the interpretation peninsula, as well as island. This, however, though admitted in compound words, does not seem consistent with the received opinion of the best scholars- Pliny, speaking of Asteris, says that it lay off Ithaca, in the open sea; yet Homer describes it as in the channel, and there is no island off Ithaca in the open sea. In fact, all the accounts of that author, whether relating to the geography or natural curiosities of Ithaca, are entirely fa

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