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Editorial Reviews

The history of the extant productions of Greek literature begins with the Homeric poems. But it is evident that works so perfect in their kind are the end, and not the beginning, of a course of poetical development.
This assumption is confirmed by innumerable traditions, which record the names of poets before the time of Homer, who employed their music for the civilisation of men and for the worship of different divinities. In accordance with the spirit of Greek mythology, the gods themselves stand at the head of this succession of poets, namely, Hermes, the inventor of the lyre, and Apollo, who received the invention from his brother, and became the divinity presiding over the whole art of music.
With Apollo are associated, still in the spirit of the old mythology, a class of subordinate divinities -- the Muses.
The earliest human cultivators of the art are represented as the immediate pupils, and even (what, in fact, merely means the same thing) the children of Apollo and the Muses.
Their personal existence is as uncertain as that of other mythical personages, and for us they can only be considered as the representatives of certain periods and certain kinds of poetical development.
Their names are no doubt all significant, although the etymology of some of them is very uncertain, while that of others, such as Musaeus, is at once evident. The chief of these names are Olen, Linus, Orpheus, Musaeus, Eumolpus, Pamphus, Thamyris, and Philammon.

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