Chapter XVII.—Testimony of Homer.
And the poet Homer, using the
license of poetry, and rivalling the original opinion of Orpheus
regarding the plurality of the gods, mentions, indeed, several gods in a
mythical style, lest he should seem to sing in a different strain from
the poem of Orpheus, which he so distinctly proposed to rival, that even
in the first line of his poem he indicated the relation he held to him.
For as Orpheus in the beginning of his poem had said, “O goddess,
sing the wrath of Demeter, who brings the goodly fruit,” Homer
began thus, “O goddess, sing the wrath of Achilles, son of
Peleus,” preferring, as it seems to me, even to violate the
poetical metre in his first line, than that he should seem not to have
remembered before all else the names of the gods. But shortly after he
also clearly and explicitly presents his own opinion regarding one God
only, somewhere25432543 saying to Achilles by the mouth of
Phœnix, “Not though God Himself were to promise that He would peel
off my old age, and give me the vigour of my youth,” where he
indicates by the pronoun the real and true God. And somewhere25442544
he makes Ulysses address the host of the Greeks thus: “The
rule of many is not a good thing; let there be one ruler.” And that
the rule of many is not a good thing, but on the contrary an evil, he
proposed to evince by fact, recounting the wars which took place on
account of the multitude of rulers, and the fights and factions, and
their mutual counterplots. For monarchy is free from contention.
So far the poet Homer.