Page images


First published, October, 1917

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]



This volume appears in response to the needs of one of my classes, and is meant to supply a part of the necessary background for the study of Greek and Latin masterpieces in standard English translations, and to stimulate and rectify the comparison of ancient with modern literature. But I hope it will be useful also to classical students in the narrower sense, and trust it may in some fashion promote the study of Greek in America, if only by striking a blow at the provincial notion that we have nothing to learn from the past.

Doubtless there is an element of chance in the selection of materials for a volume like this. Indeed, I must admit at the outset my inability to secure from the publishers the right to reprint Butcher's first essay (What We Owe to Greece) in Some Aspects of the Greek Genius, and Livingstone's third chapter (The Note of Directness) in The Greek Genius and its Meaning to Us, both of which I would gladly have included. But aside from these I may affirm that the choice is probably less fortuitous than may appear on the surface, since I have been guided by conscious principles in selecting and rejecting materials, and for the most part in arranging the materials selected.

Of purposeful omissions, what shall I say? I seem to have read much (of course, not all) of what has latterly been written on the nature of the Greek genius and its legacy to modern times; and a great deal of what is said on the topic strikes me as misleading. Partly under the influence of Boeckh and Croiset, I have, in the course of a dozen years, formed a somewhat definite notion of the Greek spirit, and have come almost instinctively, and yet for definite reasons, to eliminate what have seemed to me perilous deviations from a true perspective. One could not very well proceed otherwise.

The selections have been taken from humbler and loftier, and from more or less erudite, sources. I have had to keep in mind the probable effect of the part and the whole upon a certain kind of student, and have not scrupled to use any legitimate means to this end, however remote and abstract, or however homespun the means (as, for example, in the Introduction) may be; it is better to risk the ridicule of the unsympathetic than to fail in attaining one's object. The most important of all the selections, the keystone of my arch, is my translation from Boeckh's Encyclopädie und Methodologie der Philologischen Wissenschaften. No apology need be made for the length of this extract from a book of extraordinary significance in modern classical scholarship, but one that is sadly neglected by our day and generation. The selection may not offer easy reading, for Boeckh makes heavy demands upon the translator, yet to the judicious student it will serve as a touchstone for the worth of other characterizations of antiquity.

There may, in point of fact, be slight differences of opinion in the various authors represented. But when allowance is made for the diversity of sources, and the variety of special purposes entertained by the several writers, I trust that one selection will not often contradict another in any serious way, but that all will in the long run reinforce one another in such fashion that casual error will make no lasting impression, and substantial truth, constantly reappearing, will disengage itself from what is accidental, and take firm possession of the memory.

As for the order, an attempt has been made, where possible, to let one selection lead up to another, sometimes by a more superficial, sometimes by a deeper, association of ideas. In general, the sequence is this.

We pass from the external environment of the Greeks to a characterization of the race, and of Athens at the zenith of its power. Then come three intermediate selections (from Professor von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Professor Murray, and Professor Rand), representing the links between the ancient and the modern world. And finally, beginning with Dr. Osgood's remarks on Milton's use of classical mythology, we have a series of essays and extracts more directly concerned with modern times and the surviving element of antiquity. It will be found, however, that virtually every writer here included has dwelt with some force upon the relation of Greece to the modern era or our own day. An occasional reference to Rome and Latin literature, as intermediary between Hellenism and modern times, could not be avoided—nor has there been any desire to avoid it, in the Bibliography or elsewhere. Even so, the title of the book does not improperly indicate the contents.

Apart from any special interest they may have for students of literature, I could wish that the characterizations of the Greek race might meet the eye of the geographer and anthropologist. Having rather in mind the modern European nations and America, Fried

« PreviousContinue »