Brief Survey of Arts, Letters, and Philosophy in Greece, prior to the Legislation of Solon.
I. Before concluding this introductory portion of my work, it will be necessary to take a brief survey of the intellectual state of Greece prior to that wonderful era of Athenian greatness which commenced with the laws of Solon. At this period the continental states of Greece had produced little in that literature which is now the heirloom of the world. Whether under her monarchy, or the oligarchical constitution that succeeded it, the depressed and languid genius of Athens had given no earnest of the triumphs she was afterward destined to accomplish. Her literature began, though it cannot be said to have ceased, with her democracy. The solitary and doubtful claim of the birth - but not the song - of Tyrtaeus (fl. B. C. 683), is the highest literary honour to which the earlier age of Attica can pretend; and many of the Dorian states - even Sparta itself - appear to have been more prolific in poets than the city of Aeschylus and Sophocles. But throughout all Greece, from the earliest time, was a general passion for poetry, however fugitive the poets. The poems of Homer are the most ancient of profane writings - but the poems of Homer themselves attest that they had many, nor ignoble, precursors. Not only do they attest it in their very excellence - not only in their reference to other poets - but in the general manner of life attributed to chiefs and heroes. The lyre and the song afford the favourite entertainment at the banquet . And Achilles, in the interval of his indignant repose, exchanges the deadly sword for the "silver harp,"
The immortal deeds of heroes and of kings." 
II. Ample tradition and the internal evidence of the Homeric poems prove the Iliad at least to have been the composition of an Asiatic Greek; and though the time in which he flourished is yet warmly debated, the most plausible chronology places him about the time of the Ionic migration, or somewhat less than two hundred years after the Trojan war. The following lines in the speech of Juno in the fourth book of the Iliad are supposed by some  to allude to the return of the Heraclidae and the Dorian conquests in the Peloponnesus: -
"Three towns are Juno's on the Grecian plains,
More dear than all th' extended earth contains -
Mycenae, Argos, and the Spartan Wall -
These mayst thou raze, nor I forbid their fall;
'Tis not in me the vengeance to remove;
The crime's sufficient that they share my love." 
And it certainly does seem to me that in a reference so distinct to the three great Peloponnesian cities which the Dorians invaded and possessed, Homer makes as broad an allusion to the conquests of the Heraclidae, not only as would be consistent with the pride of an Ionic Greek in attesting the triumphs of the national Dorian foe, but as the nature of a theme cast in a distant period, and remarkably removed, in its general conduct, from the historical detail of subsequent events, would warrant to the poet . And here I may observe, that if the date thus assigned to Homer be correct, the very subject of the Iliad might have been suggested by the consequences of the Dorian irruption. Homer relates,
"Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumbered."
But Achilles is the native hero of that Thessalian district, which was the earliest settlement of the Dorian family. Agamemnon, whose injuries he resents, is the monarch of the great Achaean race, whose dynasty and dominion the Dorians are destined to overthrow. It is true that at the time of the Trojan war the Dorians had migrated from Phthiotis to Phocis - it is true that Achilles was not of Dorian extraction; still there would be an interest attached to the singular coincidence of place; as, though the English are no descendants from the Britons, we yet associate the British history with our own: hence it seems to me, though I believe the conjecture is new, that it is not the whole Trojan war, but that episode in the Trojan war (otherwise unimportant) illustrated by the wrath of Achilles, which awakens the inspiration of the poet. In fact, if under the exordium of the Iliad there lurk no typical signification, the exordium is scarce appropriate to the subject. For the wrath of Achilles did not bring upon the Greeks woes more mighty than the ordinary course of war would have destined them to endure. But if the Grecian audience (exiles, and the posterity of exiles), to whom, on Asiatic shores, Homer recited his poem, associated the hereditary feud of Achilles and Agamemnon with the strife between the ancient warriors of Phthiotis and Achaia; then, indeed, the opening lines assume a solemn and prophetic significance, and their effect must have been electrical upon a people ever disposed to trace in the mythi of their ancestry the legacies of a dark and ominous fatality, by which each present suffering was made the inevitable result of an immemorial cause.