That the story of the Trojan War, embellished as it is with mythical details, reflects historical facts—actual conflicts between the Achæan and Æolian immigrants on the one hand, and the Dardanian inhabitants of the Troad, on the other, is now no longer doubted. The “Iliad,” which in its present form is the work of a single genius, is the result of complicated processes which include the borrowing, adaptation, and enlargement of old material and the invention of new.

It is not free from inconsistencies in detail and occasional lapses in interest. “Even the good Homer nods,” says Horace. But though he nods now and then, he never goes to sleep.

The “Odyssey”〖H. C., xxii, 9.〗 probably belongs to a somewhat later era than that in which the “Iliad” took final shape. The wanderings of Odysseus reflect newer experiences of the same Achæan stock which had won success in stirring conflicts in Asia, and was now pushing out in ships over the Mediterranean to compete with the Phœnician trader. The “Odyssey” presupposes the events described in the “Iliad”; unlike the “Iliad,” it is not a story of battles and sieges, but of adventure and intrigue which center about a bold sailor.

It is full of the wonder of a new world; of strange escapes; of shipwreck and the terrifying power of winds and waves; of monsters and witches and giants; of encounters with pirates, and exploration into wild countries, even to the borders of the earth and to the under-world. It has furnished the model of some of Sindbad’s〖H. C., xvi, 231–295.〗 adventurers, and is the precursor of Gulliver and Munchausen. It has given to later poetry the lotus-eaters〖Cf. Tennyson’s poem in H. C., xlii, 993.〗 and the Sirens, and to the language of proverb Scylla and Charybdis, and has enriched our nursery books with some of their most entrancing characters. As a relief to the stir and trial of the hero, it pictures the happiness and beauty of rural life, and presents the noblest portrait of a faithful wife in all literature.

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