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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    Iliad, ix. 445. 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    Iliad, ii. 204. 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.


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