I deny this altogether. "The improbability" might be "grosser" if the Iliad had been composed in a day! But if, as any man of common sense would acknowledge, it was composed in parts or "fyttes" of moderate length at a time, no extraordinary power of memory, or tension of thought, would have been required by the poet. Such parts, once recited and admired, became known and learned by a hundred professional bards, and were thus orally published, as it were, in detached sections, years perhaps before the work was completed. All that is said, therefore, about the difficulty of composing so long a poem without writing materials is but a jargon of words. Suppose no writing materials existed, yet, as soon as portions of a few hundred lines at a time were committed to the memory of other minstrels, the author would, in those minstrels, have living books whereby to refresh his memory, and could even, by their help, polish and amend what was already composed. It would not then have been necessary for the poet himself perfectly and verbally to remember the whole work. He had his tablets of reference in the hearts and lips of others, and even, if it were necessary that he himself should retain the entire composition, the constant habit of recital, the constant exercise of memory, would render such a task by no means impracticable or unprecedented. As for the unity of the poem, thus composed, it would have been, as it is, the unity, not of technical rules and pedantic criticism, but the unity of interest, character, imagery, and thought - a unity which required no written references to maintain it, but which was the essential quality of one master-mind, and ought to be, to all plain men, an irrefragable proof that one mind alone conceived and executed the work.
IV. So much for the alleged improbability of one author for the Iliad. But with what face can these critics talk of "probability," when, in order to get rid of one Homer, they ask us to believe in twenty! Can our wildest imagination form more monstrous hypotheses than these, viz. - that several poets, all possessed of the very highest order of genius (never before or since surpassed), lived in the same age - that that genius was so exactly similar in each, that we cannot detect in the thoughts, the imagery, the conception and treatment of character, human and divine, as manifest in each, the least variety in these wonderful minds - that out of the immense store of their national legends, they all agreed in selecting one subject, the war of Troy - that of that subject they all agreed in selecting only one portion of time, from the insult of Achilles to the redemption of the body of Hector - that their different mosaics so nicely fitted one into the other, that by the mere skill of an able editor they were joined into a whole, so symmetrical that the acutest ingenuity of ancient Greece could never discover the imposture  - and that, of all these poets, so miraculous in their genius, no single name, save that of Homer, was recorded by the general people to whom they sung, or claimed by the peculiar tribe whose literature they ought to have immortalized? If everything else were wanting to prove the unity of Homer, this prodigious extravagance of assumption, into which a denial of that unity has driven men of no common learning and intellect, would be sufficient to establish it.
3d. "That if the Odyssey be counted, the improbability is doubled; that if we add, upon the authority of Thucydides and Aristotle, the Hymns and Margites, not to say the Batrachomyomachia, that which was improbable becomes morally impossible."
Were these last-mentioned poems Homer's, there would yet be nothing improbable in the invention and composition of minor poems without writing materials; and the fact of his having composed one long poem, throws no difficulty in the way of his composing short ones. We have already seen that the author need not himself have remembered them all his life. But this argument is not honest, for the critics who have produced it agree in the same breath, when it suits their purpose, that the Hymns, etc., are not Homer's - and in this I concur with their, and the almost universal, opinion.
The remaining part of the analysis of the hostile argument has already been disposed of in connexion with the first proposition.
It now remains to say a few words upon the authorship of the Odyssey.