The Writers of Greece

The Writers of Greece

The Writers of Greece

The Writers of Greece

Excerpt

Greek literature possesses not only immense interest and importance, but also (despite the loss of great masses) very considerable bulk. It seems best, therefore, in a brief account like the present, firstly to provide a plan of the whole area, and secondly to add special sections upon the most famous writers.

Considered in its widest sense, Greek literature falls into five periods: the pre-Attic age, from (very roughly) 1000 to about 500 B. C.; the Attic (or Athenian) from 500 to 322, the year when Demosthenes and Aristotle died; the Alexandrian, from 322 to 100 B. C.; the Roman from 100 B. C. to A. D. 565 (the death of the Emperor Justinian); the Byzantine, from 565 to 1453, when the Turks captured Constantinople. There is attractiveness in a scheme which extends from the time of Solomon to a date little more than a century before Shakespeare; but it is in some ways misleading. The Byzantine age is only superficially Greek; in the preceding epoch excellent and valuable literature was produced, but much of it is not Greek in spirit and would have suffered little had it been written in Latin. The truth is that 'classical' Greek ceases at the death of Alexander (323 B. C.). His stupendous conquest threw the whole Middle East open to Hellenism: Greek kings reigned in Egypt, and Greek coins have been found in the Punjaub. At the same moment Greece proper, subject to Macedonia, lost the springs of her vitality. Though admirable authors abound, there is no work which shows that spiritual authenticity, that tingling sense of reality, that power in writing to keep well-nigh miraculously close to the subject, which mark . . .

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