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problem of Mycenæan into the problem of Ægean civilisation. But they were a new proof that Greek tradition could not be lightly set aside as devoid of historical foundation. Thucydides, in his brief and masterly survey of early Greek history, had spoken of a Cretan thalassocracy as a well-known fact. The Cretan discoveries showed that he was right.
Thus the work of archæologists corroborated in three capital points the tradition of the Greeks. The Argolid - Mycenæ and Tiryns—had been the seat of a strong and rich civilisation in prehistoric times; contemporaneously there had been a great fortress at Troy; and the ancient sea-power of Crete was not a mere legend. Moreover, successive explorations in various parts of Greece were accumulating evidence that the range of Mycenæan civilisation closely corresponded to the extent of the Greek world as it was represented in the Homeric poems. Further, the prehistoric chronology which it was possible to construct, partly with the help of objects which had been imported from Egypt to the Ægean, indicated that Mycenæ and Mycenæan Troy flourished at a time which could not be very far from the dates which Greek chronologists had assigned to the Trojan War.
It is much to know that Troy existed and that Troy was razed to the ground; but a problem which interests the historian as much as the literary student now imposes itself with more insistency than before. Are there reasons for supposing that Homer's general picture of the war rested on genuine tradition? May it not be that, although a historical fact—the destruction of Troy in a war with the Achæans—was the motif of the epic, yet all the circumstances were imaginary, the creation partly of the mythopaic instinct of the Greeks, partly of the genius of the poet? Is it a tenable view that the fundamental groundwork of the story was myth, and that legends about gods had been woven round the bare fact of a war for Troy, when the causes and circumstances of the war had long been entirely forgotten? Or can we prove that the groundwork was history, and that, however embellished by myth and transformed by the art of minstrels, there is in the epic story a real core of fact which we may reasonably endeavour to discover? Mr Leaf has addressed himself to the solution of this problem,
which is as fascinating as it is important, and in two brilliant volumes he has, in our opinion, successfully vindicated the view that the theme of the Iliad had its basis in history and not in myth.
There is one available test of what may be called the actuality of a poem like the Iliad. Does it conform to the fixed facts of nature? Is the poet generally accurate in his topography and geography? If we find that the natural features of the Trojan plain and the geography of the Troad correspond with remarkable completeness to the details of the poet's picture, this affords a strong presumption that he was concerned with things, not with fancies.
Had his story been a purely imaginative invention or an artistic combination of baseless legends, we should have to assume that, in order to create an illusion of realism, he made a special and careful study of the
That is such an improbable hypothesis that it can hardly be entertained. The alternative is that the local circumstances came down to Homer implicit in a story of events.
Mr Leaf has systematically applied this test as it never was applied before. The results of his careful exploration of the Troad from the Ægean to the river Æsepus, from the Hellespont to the Gulf of Adramyttium, have established triumphantly the veracity of Homer, so far as the scene of the war and its neighbourhood are concerned. The landscape viewed from the hillock of Hissarlik is in its general features identical with the landscape in Homer.
Over the low range of hills fringing the sea to the west rises the conical peak of Tenedos “notissima fama.” The “ broad Hellespont " flows to the north. Samothrace and Ida, farther away, display themselves as seats worthy of gods' (* Troy,'
The distance of Hissarlik from the sea, about three miles, is that required by the conditions Homer contemplates. The lesser place which the Simois holds in the Iliad compared with the Scamander corresponds to reality. The Scamander flows from south to north through the plain and
'is a considerable stream throughout the year; in winter it often brings down heavy floods which overflow the whole plain, and leave it covered with silt and tree trunks. The description of the fight between Achilles and the River in Iliad xxi, is a magnificent picture, transfigured by the highest art, of such a flood; the very trees and shrubs so minutely named in it are those which line the course of the Mendere to-day. Here at least we feel we are in the very presence of the poet' (Ib. pp. 30, 31). The Simois, now the Dümbrek-su, which flows down a valley north of Hissarlik, is only a small brook which runs dry in summer; 'but it marks one of the natural limits of the battle-field, and it is as such that it is generally named.'
To satisfy completely the conditions of the Iliad, we shall have indeed to suppose that three thousand years ago the course of the Scamander was somewhat different and lay farther east than it lies to-day. It is clear from the Homeric descriptions that the scene of fighting was entirely to the east of the river, and that the combatants were not compelled to cross by the ford. But, however this may be, the general features of the landscape were conceived by the poet with wonderful faithfulness. The rise in the ground (Opwonos medioco) to the north of the city can be identified; and to the south-west a spring has been discovered which suits the position required by the springs that are mentioned as a landmark in the description of Hector's flight round the walls. The tomb of Ilos near the Scamander ford must have long since been washed away, but some broken columns may possibly mean that a Roman shrine “continued the old tradition of the tomb of a hero. Characteristic flora of the plain to-day are not unnoticed in Homer. When Hephaistos sends fire to stay the onrush of the river god, elms and willows and tamarisks are consumed. To-day the river channel through the plain is marked by the line of low willows and elm bushes . . . and the tamarisks spread from the banks in thick copses, making with their young shoots at the end of April conspicuous patches of dull crimson. It is to be observed that these features are mentioned incidentally by the poet and assumed to be well known. There is just one conspicuous case of discrepancy with fact.
with fact. There is no trace in the Trojan
plain of a hot and a cold spring close together, such as are described in Iliad XXII; and the evidence seems to show that it is highly unlikely that there ever was such a double fountain in the neighbourhood of the fortress. We have to go to the top of many-fountained Ida to find a pair of springs which might have suggested the picture. But Mr Leaf well points out that this case of discrepancy is just the one case in which, contrary to his wont, the poet furnishes an elaborate description; and we have no doubt that he is right in concluding that the sources of different temperatures were a poetical invention. A cold spring, as we have already said, exists in the place where we should look for them.
When we turn from the scenery to the ruins of the fortress, the conclusion that the Iliad was based on intimate local knowledge is remarkably confirmed. The wall was built of squared blocks of masonry of such excellent workmanship that it was difficult at first to attribute it to so early an age as the Mycenæan.' But the work is not equal in all parts. It is excellent on the east; it is still better on the south; but on the west side *the masonry is altogether inferior: the wall is built of very imperfectly worked stones, their gaping joints being only roughly filled with splinters and clay. The wall itself is thinner, too: it shows a thickness of only 10 feet as compared with 15 feet, the average on the eastern side' (Ib. p. 88). This inequality is doubtless to be explained by supposing that the western portion was built first and the southern last; but the remarkable thing is that the comparative weakness on the western side is noticed in the Iliad. When Andromache (in Book vi) beseeches Hector not to go forth, she says, “Stay thy folk beside the fig-tree, where best the city may be scaled and the wall is assailable.' The fig-tree was near the Scean Gate in the western wall. A legend known to Homer said that the walls had been built by Poseidon and Apollo, assisted by Æacus, and the participation of a mortal explained the vulnerability of one section. But the truth to fact in the location of this weaker part is a convincing proof that the material on which the poet of the Iliad worked was derived from the knowledge of eye-witnesses.
It is unfortunate that the Scæan gate and tower,
which play such a prominent part in the siege, should not have been discovered. The excavations have revealed three gates, situated on the east, south-east, and southWest; and the last of these was blocked up. It is highly improbable that all the gates lay on the southern side of a line drawn from east to south-west. We may assume with virtual certainty that there was at least one other gate, and we may confidently place it on the north-west, where the evidence of the poem would lead us to locate the Scæan Gate. Over the spot where it is reasonable to look for it 'stand great mounds of débris, the spoil of Schliemann's earlier excavations; and until these are removed no certainty can be attained.'
It is an interesting question whether any other gate is indicated by Homer. In three passages * we read of the Dardanian Gates'; and the meaning was discussed in antiquity. Aristarchus contended that this was only another name for the Scæan Gates. It does not appear why this gate should have been called Dardanian, even supposing that it had an alternative name. Another view is that Dardanian simply means Trojan, and that the phrase means all or any of the gates. This would suit the sense, but is rightly rejected by Mr Leaf, for Dardanian is never equivalent to Trojan in Homer. Dr Dörpfeld holds that the south-eastern gate is meant, as that which led to Dardania. This interpretation, which is obviously in itself satisfactory, suits one of the passages admirably. When Hera says, 'So long as Achilles came forth to war, the Trojans never ventured even outside the Dardanian Gates,' a reference to the issue which lay furthest from the side of the Greek camp would clearly give most point to her rhetoric. But the other passages are not so easily amenable to this interpretation. When we read that, so often as Hector set himself to dart under the well-built walls under the Dardanian Gates, if haply from above they might succour him with darts, so oft will Achilles gain upon him and turn him towards the plain,' Mr Leaf thinks that the meaning 'imperatively required' is “any of the gates.' But on his own showing Dardanian cannot mean this; therefore, unless we make the unlikely assumption that
* Iliad, v, 189; XXII, 194 and 413.