The Formation of the Greek People

The Formation of the Greek People

The Formation of the Greek People

The Formation of the Greek People

Excerpt

There is no one to whom the history of Greece does not appear as a necessary chapter of the history of mankind. The modern democracies -- rightly or wrongly -- see the Greeks as forerunners, and admire them as the people through whom the type of the citizen first appeared in the world, the people who at the very outset gave incomparable splendour to the ideas of freedom and country. With still more justice must we own ourselves indebted to the Greeks for the higher forms of our intellectual activity, science, art, and letters.

So none will contest the interest and usefulness which still attach to the study of Greek civilization in all its forms, social and political institutions, religious and economic life, scientific and philosophical activity, literature and art. But when one looks closely at history properly so called -- I mean the succession of political, diplomatic, and military events -- one feels a certain uneasiness, and one may ask whether Greek history matters to us to-day, and whether it should hold an important place in the history of the world. Within the state, we find intrigues as involved as they are petty, in which interests and vanities are at stake rather than ideas, and the personal rivalries of local magnates with no thought beyond the limited horizon of their tiny city. Between one state and another, we find endless wrangling over questions without interest or territory without value. Are the schemes and trickeries of Alcibiades and Nicias to get Hyperbolos ostracized any bigger or more important than the electoral intrigues in the bosom of some obscure . . .

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