Greek Ideals and Modern Life

By R. W. Livingstone | Go to book overview
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I
INTRODUCTION

T HE title of these lectures is Greek Ideals and Modern Life. They are a plea for Greek studies -- not as a field of scholarship, not as a mental discipline, not even as the key to one of the two greatest literatures of Europe, but as indispensable to the spiritual life of our civilization. They are based on three assumptions: first, that Huxley was right in his belief that 'no human being, and no society composed of human beings, ever did, or ever will, come to much, unless their conduct was governed and guided by the love of some ethical ideal'; second, that the chief weakness of this age is a vague mind and a feeble grasp, so far as ethical ideals are concerned; and third, that Greece offers us a corrective of our errors and a guide in our uncertainties.

Those who doubt the remedy will not deny the disease. We know that the world is, economically, in grave difficulties. We have begun to see that its spiritual condition is at least as unsatisfactory, and that the future may admire us less than we used to admire ourselves. Ages are not taken at their own valuation by posterity, and the achievements which they view with most complacency often appear to their successors negligible or even ridiculous. It was so in Greece. Aeschylus expected to be

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