Seven fair and illustrious cities of the dim, ancient world, Argos, Athenæ, Chios, Colophon, Salamis, Rhodos, Smyrna, fought a war of words over HOMER’S birthplace.
Each claimed the honour.
And if, indeed, such an accident of chance confers an honour upon a town, then the birthplace of the Greatest Poet of all time should be a place of pilgrimage.
For, among the weavers of Epos, Drama, and Romance, he who was called Melesegenes is first of all and wears an imperishable crown.
For 3000 years his fame has streamed down the ages.
The world has changed. Great empires have risen, flowered and passed. Christianity came, flooding mankind with light, at a time when, though Homer was a dim tradition, his work was a living force in the world. When Christ was born, Homerus was dead 900 years.
A man with such immensity of glory ceases to be a man. He becomes a Force.
Of the two imperishable monuments Homer has left us, the decision of critical scholarship has placed the Iliad first. It has been said that the Iliad is like the midday, the Odyssey like the setting sun. Both are of equal splendour, though the latter has lost its noonday heat.
But I would take that adroit simile and draw another meaning from it.
When deferred, expected night at last approaches, when the sun paints the weary west with faëry pictures of glowing seas, of golden islands hanging in the sky, of lonely magic waterways unsailed by mortal keels; then, indeed, there comes into the heart and brain another warmth,—the mysterious quickening of Romance.
For I think that the ringing sound of arms, the vibrant thriddings of bows, the clash of heroes, are far less wonderful than the long, lonely wanderings of Ulysses.