Should we ask Helen about Troy?
This text is being copied from a book I own, Art and Artist of All Nations, copyright 1900. The image comes from a painting “The Trojan Horse”, by Henri Motte.
“The classical allusion is one of the most effective weapons employed by public speakers and writers. It presents an argument in a word, and flashes before the mind all the circumstances connected with the character or incident mentioned.” (Sounds like an ancient description of a meme to me)
“It assumes historical knowledge in the person addressed, and reasons upon the theory that what has been, may be again. It not only pleases, but convinces. It not only ornaments, but strengthens discourse. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aeneid, are the inexhaustible store-houses to whose rich treasures allusion has most frequently been made. Through all the ages the sirens’ song has lured the unwary on to dangerous shores; the voice of Cassandra has continued to warn in vain against coming ills; Scylla and Charybdis still beset the course of the individual, the political party and the nation; the Lotus-eaters have infested every race and inhabited every clime ; the wrath of Achilles, “sulking in his tent,” has delayed many victories since his quarrel with Agamemnon before the walls of Troy ; Circe has not ceased to turn men into beasts with her mysterious drug ; suitor for public favor have often sought, without success, to bend the bow of Ulysses ; and many a Penelope has woven with as little progress as did the wife of the wanderer. The classics contain, perhaps no more illustrious creation than the Trojan Horse, which accomplished the destruction of the city. Often since that day have devices, as innocent looking as the famous horse, brought disaster to an unsuspecting people. Often are selfish purposes and vicious principles concealed within some simple proposition for the pretended public good.”
Tennyson’s Poetry speaks about the Lotus Eaters
“These Lotus-eaters come bearing the flower and fruit of the lotus, which they offer to Odysseus’s mariners. Those who eat the lotus feel as if they have fallen into a deep sleep; they sit down upon the yellow sand of the island and can hardly perceive their fellow mariners speaking to them, hearing only the music of their heartbeat in their ears. Although it has been sweet to dream of their homes in Ithaca, the lotus makes them weary of wandering, preferring to linger here. One who has eaten of the lotus fruit proclaims that he will “return no more,” and all of the mariners begin to sing about this resolution to remain in the land of the Lotus-eaters.”