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xv
PREFACE.

than it deserves. It is this; that though he dwells much and often on Homeric themes and characters, it is only occasionally that he touches on scenes in our Iliad or Odyssey.[1] The fact is extremely suggestive, and raises grave doubts if Pindar could have known the Homeric poems in the form under which we now have them. As that form bears the clearest indications, both in diction and allusions, of an Asiatic hand, it is by no means improbable that, if they then existed at all in their present form (which appears to me far from certain, since it is not till the time of Plato, or very little before it, that we are able to identify them with certainty by quotations from them), they were unknown to a Doric poet of European extraction. Even if he did know them, it seems likely that he would be content to follow the local stories about Achilles which then prevailed at Aegina and Phthiotis, near his own native town of Thebes. And these stories, relating mainly to the early education of the hero by Chiron, and his more youthful exploits, are, as might be expected, in many, though not in all, respects different from his adventures as described in the Iliad, at an advanced period of the war.[2]

  1. I have pointed out this fact elsewhere, in the Preface to Vol. i. of the Iliad, p. xxvii., and in a paper on the date of those poems, published in the Transactions of the Camb. Phil. Soc. (vol. ix. part ii.)
  2. Among many other passages I may refer the student to Ol. ii. 81–3; ix. 71–9; Pyth. vi. 28 seqq.; Nem. iii. 43; vi. 52; vii. 34; x. 7; Isth. iv. 39; vii. 50.