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Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/177

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their free ancestors of the ages which preceded the reign of Islam. As the writers of the age of fallen Greece employed their talents in writing scholia on the pure writers of past times, so the learned Saracens could only recite and explain the works of the illiterate writers who preceded them, without possessing the power to imitate them. The poets of Arabia, like the bards of the west, were not shackled by minute and crippling rules of composition, their works were the spontaneous productions of their imagination, and perhaps they might disdain the servile task of perpetuating their effusions by the use of writing. At least we may suppose that skill in writing was no proof of a liberal education, as among their descendants it has generally been the business of more servile minds.[1] The genius of Muhammed might equal that of any of his contemporaries,[2] and it would be quite sufficient to produce the Koran, although he were unable to write at all.

The poet Lebid, the last of the seven authors of the Moallakat, pretended to be converted to the religion

  1. An illustration of this may be found in the travels of D'Arvieux in Arabia.
  2. Muhammed war ein Genie, er fühlte das Schöne, doch misglückte ihm aus grosser Unkunde das Nachamen, und nur von selbst brachen bisweilen durch seine ungelehrte Erziehung eigenthümliche Funchen des Schönen hervor. Michaelis, Review of Boysen's Koran, in the Orientalische Bibliothek, band viii. p. 75.