The substance for Blake was the dynamic of bringing together of portions of the psyche which had been divided. War is not only outward conflict, but also the unresolved divisions within the mind. If the Greeks elevated war as the appropriate way to resolve conflicting interests, they led mankind to a lower level of consciousness. The higher consciousness draws man into a vision of completeness within himself and with his brother who appears to be different.
Blake showed in the Arlington Tempera the teaching of Homer which was most compatible to his own thinking. It shows how mankind progresses by going through a cycle of falling asleep as he forgets higher truth, and awakening after having learned through experiencing the world of matter. Progress is not made by defeating an enemy but by finding within oneself the ability to incorporate the not-self into the self.
ON HOMERS POETRY, (E 269) "Every Poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homers is peculiarly so, I cannot tell: he has told the story of Bellerophon & omitted the judgment of Paris which is not only a part, but a principal part of Homers subject But when a Work has Unity it is as much in a Part as in the Whole. the Torso is as much a Unity as the Laocoon As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of knavery Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration. It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral Goodness of its parts Unity & Morality, are secondary considerations & belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule, to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of the tree of good & evil. The Classics, it is the Classics! & not Goths nor Monks, that Desolate Europe with Wars. ON VIRGIL Sacred Truth has pronounced that Greece & Rome as Babylon & Egypt: so far from being parents of Arts & Sciences as they pretend: were destroyers of all Art. Homer Virgil & Ovid confirm this opinion & make us reverence The Word of God, the only light of antiquity that remains unperverted by War. Virgil in the Eneid Book VI. line 848 says Let others study Art: Rome has somewhat better to do, namely War & Dominion Rome & Greece swept Art into their maw & destroyd it a Warlike State never can produce Art. It will Rob & Plunder & accumulate into one place, & Translate & Copy & Buy & Sell & Criticise, but not Make. Mathematic Form is Eternal in the Reasoning Memory. Living Form is Eternal Existence. Grecian is Mathematic Form Gothic is Living Form"Our blog has 23 posts labeled Arlington Tempera. Here is one which may shed some light.