Greek Literature for the Modern Reader

Greek Literature for the Modern Reader

Greek Literature for the Modern Reader

Greek Literature for the Modern Reader

Excerpt

This book is a general introduction to ancient Greek literature, mainly intended for the increasing number of readers who know no Greek and have little acquaintance with ancient history, but who nevertheless derive enjoyment and satisfaction from the many excellent translations of Greek authors now available in English. All quotations are given in translation, and no knowledge of the ancient world is taken for granted. I have not tried to write a work of scholarship, although I hope that scholars may find some interest in points of emphasis or interpretation. Nor is this a text-book. My aim was not to achieve completeness or objectivity (which, if it were possible, would be very dull) but merely to write a history of Greek literature as I see it. This personal and perhaps arbitrary approach will be apparent in my answers to some of the problems which confront anyone who attempts such a task.

Where is a survey of ancient Greek literature to end? Authors continued to write Greek, sometimes with distinction, throughout the Roman period. Are they to be included? Because this book is already long enough, and discussion of these later writers would involve the whole history of Rome, I have stopped at the 'Alexandrian' age after which Roman domination of the Greek world begins.

Which of the documents that survive from ancient Greece can be called 'literature'? Should all the philosophers be included? And the medical writers? And the mathematicians? In antiquity there was no clear dividing line. A modern writer on the subject must draw one, and his decision must be arbitrary. I have . . .

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