The Growth and Influence of Classical Greek Poetry: Lectures Delivered in 1892 on the Percy Turnbull Memorial Foundation in the Johns Hopkins University

By R. C. Jebb | Go to book overview

VIII
THE PERMANENT POWER OF GREEK POETRY

IN a survey of Greek poetry, epic, lyric, and dramatic, we have seen how, in each successive phase, it was the voice of Greek life. The very word "literature" is fraught with associations which tend to obscure this fact. Writing was, indeed, the instrument by which the poems were preserved and transmitted. In the second half of the fifth century B. C. copies of the most popular works were diligently multiplied and widely circulated. But it belonged to the very essence of all the great poetry that it appealed to hearers rather than to readers. The Greeks of the classical age were eager listeners and talkers: they delighted in lively conversation and subtle discussion, but they were not great students of books. It was the interchange of living speech that sharpened their quick apprehension and gave elasticity to their intelligence. There is a striking passage in the Phaedrus of Plato which expresses the genuine Greek feeling on this subject. The written record of thought, Socrates says, is, taken by itself, an inanimate thing. There are two brothers, the spoken logos and the written logos; but the first alone is true-born; the second is illegitimate; it

Relation of Greek poetry to Greek life.

-222-

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The Growth and Influence of Classical Greek Poetry: Lectures Delivered in 1892 on the Percy Turnbull Memorial Foundation in the Johns Hopkins University
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface. v
  • Contents vii
  • The Growth and Influence of Classical Greek Poetry 1
  • II - Greek Epic Poetry 32
  • III - Greek Epic Poetry (continued) 64
  • IV - Greek Lyric Poetry: the Course of Its De­ Velopment 94
  • V - Pindar 126
  • VI - The Attic Drama 157
  • VII - The Attic Drama (continued) 191
  • VIII - The Permanent Power of Greek Poetry 222
  • Index. 253
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