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Among so many different pursuits, and so great a variety of works and objects, who can select the palm of glory for transcendent genius? Unless perchance we should agree in opinion that no more brilliant genius ever existed than the Greek poet Homer, whether it is that we regard the happy subject of his work, or the excellence of its execution. For this reason it was that Alexander the Great—and it is only by judges of such high estate that a sentence, just and unbiassed by envy, can be pronounced in the case of such lofty claims—when he found among the spoils of Darius, the king of Persia, a casket for perfumes,1 enriched with gold, precious stones, and pearls, covered as he was with the dust of battle, deemed it beneath a warrior to make use of unguents, and, when his friends were pointing out to him its various uses, exclaimed, "Nay, but by Hercules! let the casket be used for preserving the poems of Homer;" that so the most precious work of the human mind might be placed in the keeping of the richest work of art. It was the same conqueror, too, who gave directions that the descendants and house of the poet Pindar2 should be spared, at the taking of Thebes. He likewise rebuilt the native city3 of Aristotle, uniting to the extraordinary brilliancy of his exploits this speaking testimony of his kindliness of disposition.

Apollo impeached by name the assassins of the poet Archilochus4 at Delphi. While the Lacedemonians were besieging Athens, Father Liber ordered the funeral rites to be performed for Sophocles, the very prince of the tragic buskin; repeatedly warning their king, Lysander, in his sleep, to allow of the burial of his favourite. Upon this, the king made enquiry who had lately died in Athens; and understanding without any difficulty from the Athenians to whom the god referred, he allowed the funeral rites to be performed without molestation.

1 Pliny informs us, B. xiii. c. 1, that the art of making perfumes originated with the Persians.—B.

2 The city was taken by him by assault, and all its buildings, with the exception of the house of Pindar, levelled to the ground; most of the inhabitants were slaughtered, and the rest sold as slaves.

3 Stagirus, or Stagira, a town of Macedonia, in Chalcidice, on the Strymonic Gulf. It was a colony of Andros, founded B.C. 656, and originally called Orthagoria. It was destroyed by Philip, and, according to some accounts, was rebuilt by him, as having been the native place of Aristotle.

4 Archilochus of Paros was one of the earliest Ionian lyric poets, and was the first who composed in Iambic verse according to fixed rules. He flourished about 714—676 B.C. Pliny speaks here of his murderers; but it is generally stated by historians that he was murdered by one individual, by some called Calondas, or Corax, a Naxian, by others Archias.

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