"This is spoken with too great severity: it is necessary to relieve the mind of the reader sometimes with gayer scenes, that it may proceed with a fresh appetite to the succeeding entertainment."
— Pope, Alexander (1688-1744), Broome, W. and Fenton, E.
The Poet here opens a very agreeable scene, and describes the beauty of the Palace and Gardens of Alcinous .Diodorus Siculus adapts this passage to the Island Taprobane ,Justin Martin to Paradise ;
perhaps more elegantly. Eustathius observes that Homer suits his Poetry to the things he relates, for in the whole Iliad there is not a description of this nature, nor an opportunity to introduce it in a Poem that represents nothing but objects of terror and blood. The Poet himself seems to go a little out of the way to bring it into the Odyssey ; for it has no necessary connection with the Poem, nor would it be less perfect if it had been omitted: but as Mercury , when he survey'd the bower of Calypso , ravish'd with the beauty of it, stood a while in a still admiration, so Homer, delighted with the scenes he draws, stands still a few moments, and suspends the story of the Poem, to enjoy the beauties of these gardens of Alcinous . But even here he shews his judgment, in not letting his fancy run out into a long description: He concludes the whole in the compass of twenty verses, and resumes the thread of his story. Rapine, I confess, censures this description of the gardens: he calls it Puerile and too light for Eloquence, that it is spun out to too great a length, and is somewhat affected, has no due coherence with, nor bears a just proportion to the whole, by reason of its being too glittering. This is spoken with too great severity: it is necessary to relieve the mind of the reader sometimes with gayer scenes, that it may proceed with a fresh appetite to the succeeding entertainment: In short, if it be a fault, it is a beautiful fault; and Homer may be said here, as he was upon another occasion by St. Augustin , to be dulcissimè vanus . The admiration of the gold and silver is no blemish to Ulysses : for, as Eustathius remarks, it proceeds not out of avarice, but from the beauty of the work, and usefulness and magnificence of the buildings. The whole description, continues he, suits the character of the Phæacians , a proud, luxurious people, delighted with shew and ostentation.
The Odyssey of Homer. Translated from the Greek, 5 vols. (London: Printed for Bernard Lintot, 1725-26).