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Descrição da editora
The story of the Iliad is a dramatic record of the love and hate, wrong and revenge, courage and custom, passion and superstition, of mythical Greece, and embraces in a single brilliant recital events which the historic bards of other lands, lacking the genius of Homer, have sent down the centuries in fragments. Human nature has been substantially the same in all ages, differing only in the ardor of its passions and appetites, as affected by the zone of its habitat and its peculiar physical surroundings. Hence almost every nation, barbarous and civilized, has had its Helen and its Troy, its Paris and its Agamemnon, its Hector and its demi-gods; and Hawaii is not an exception. The wrath of no dusky Achilles is made the thesis of the story of the Hawaiian abduction, but in other respects the Greek and Polynesian legends closely resemble each other in their general outlines.
The story of Hina, the Hawaiian Helen, and Kaupeepee, the Paris of the legend, takes us back to the twelfth century, near the close of the second and final era of migration from Tahiti, Samoa, and perhaps other islands of Polynesia—a period which added very considerably to the population of the group, and gave to it many new chiefs, a number of new customs, and a few new gods. That the tale may be better understood by the reader who may not be conversant with the legendary history of the Hawaiian Islands, it will be necessary to refer briefly to the political and social condition of the group at that time.
Notwithstanding the many sharply drawn and wonderfully-preserved historic legends of the Hawaiians, the early settlement of the little archipelago is shrouded in mystery. The best testimony, however, warrants the assumption that the islands were first discovered and occupied by a people who had drifted from southern Asia to the islands of the Pacific in the first or second century of the Christian era, and, by migratory stages from the Fijis to Samoa and thence to Tahiti, had reached the Hawaiian group in aboutA.D. 550. The first discovery was doubtless the result of accident; but those who made it were able to find their way back to the place from which they started—either Tahiti or Samoa—and in due time return with augmented numbers, bearing with them to their new home pigs, fowls, dogs, and the seeds of such fruits and vegetables as they had found to be wanting there.
The little colony grew and prospered, and for nearly five hundred years had no communication with, or knowledge of, the world beyond. At the end of that time their geographical traditions had grown so faint that they spoke only of Kahiki, a place very far away, from which their ancestors came. First landing on the large island of Hawaii, they had spread over the eight habitable divisions of the group. The people were ruled by district chiefs, in fief to a supreme head on some of the islands, and on others independent, and the lines dividing the masses from the nobility were less strictly drawn than during the centuries succeeding. Wars were frequent between neighboring chiefs, and popular increase was slow; but the tabus of the chiefs and priests were not oppressive, and the people claimed and exercised a degree of personal independence unknown to them after the eleventh century.