The Glory That Was Greece

“No wonder that the Greeks and Trojans should suffer pain so long for such a woman. Her countenance is wondrous like the immortal goddesses.” These traditions of the power of love and beauty must belong to the original epic story; for the whole plot of the Iliad, so far as it has a plot, turns on the beauty of Helen, as the whole plot of the Odyssey depends on the love of Odysseus for his wife and the constancy of Penelope. Thus both epics have a basis which might be the foundation of modern romantic fiction. Nevertheless, the spirit of romance is as completely absent from Homer as it is from all true Greek art and literature. Though Agamemnon is very angry at losing Chryseis he has no love for her. Odysseus simply gets tired of the lovely nymph Calypso, and parts from the charming Nausicaa without a pang. Such shocks as these are constantly in store for the modern reader, who is fed upon romance in the nursery.

← Page-162 p.163 Page-164 →