But Homer seems to indicate a particular praise to
himself, when he brings in Achilles speaking thus to
Priam, who was come forth to ransom the body of
Rise then; let reason mitigate our care:
To mourn avails not: man is born to bear.
Such is, alas! the Gods' severe decree:
They, only they, are blest, and only free.
Two urns by Jove's high throne have ever stood,
The source of evil one, and one of good;
From thence the cup of mortal man he fills,
Blessings to these, to these distributes ills;
To most he mingles both; the wretch decreed
To taste the bad unmix'd is cursed indeed;
Pursued by wrongs, by meagre famine driven,
He wanders, outcast both of earth and heaven.Il. XXIV. 522.
Hesiod, who was the next to Homer both in respect of
time and reputation, and who professed to be a disciple of
the Muses, fancied that all evils were shut up in a box,
and that Pandora opening it scattered all sorts of mischiefs
through both the earth and seas:—
The cover of the box she did remove,
And to fly out the crowding mischief strove;
But slender hope upon the brims did stay,
Ready to vanish into air away;
She with retrieve the haggard in did put,
And on the prisoner close the box did shut;
But plagues innumerable abroad did fly,
Infecting all the earth, the seas, and sky,
Diseases now with silent feet do creep,
Torment us waking, and afflict our sleep.
These midnight evils steal without a noise,
For Jupiter deprived them of their voice.1