Greek Social Life

Greek Social Life

Greek Social Life

Greek Social Life

Excerpt

It might perhaps be possible to collect within the compass of one small volume a series of passages, from Homer to Agathias, which should illustrate the varying phases of Greek social life in the Mediterranean countries during fifteen centuries. But such a collection, though it would have the fascination of a kaleidoscope, would also have its bewildering inconsistencies; and on the whole it seems better, considering the limitations of space, to confine our picture chiefly to that period and that city which supplies us with the largest amount of material, and only to consider here with any fullness the conditions of society of Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.

As a matter of fact, when we speak of Greek manners we usually mean Athenian manners, even as when we speak of Greek history we usually mean the period between the Persian Wars and the death of Alexander. The very different conditions that prevailed in Sparta are only taken into account as a parenthesis, and the other states of Greece, Corinth, Thebes, Argos, Thessaly and the rest, are almost disregarded. Nor is this as unreasonable as it might seem. Athens was the school of Greece, and her teaching extended over all departments of life. When Athens rose to greatness, Greece was great; when Athens fell, Greece shared in her decline.

I have therefore discarded, I need not say how reluctantly, most of the many passages in Homer that throw light upon the social condition of early Greece; and have drawn very . . .

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