An Abridged History of Greek Literature

An Abridged History of Greek Literature

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An Abridged History of Greek Literature

An Abridged History of Greek Literature

Read FREE!

Excerpt

This Manual is not a work of erudition. It is addressed especially to students in the secondary schools, and to readers who wish to inform themselves quickly as to the essential facts of Greek literature. All matters of controversy, therefore, all questions of authenticity, all enumerations of obscure names that could interest only the specialist, have been omitted. But within the limits imposed by the needs of the public they had in view, the authors have remained faithful to the spirit that guided them in their earlier work. They have wished to give a continuous account, not a series of detached studies on Greek writers, and so have been led to treat the different authors from the point of view of the historic continuity that binds them one to another. For the principal character in this history is really the literary life of Greece; and its development they have traced from the beginning down to the time when it was overshadowed by the triumph of Christianity.

The great writers of a nation are those who most successfully represent the national genius in the different stages of its evolution, those by whom that evolution is brought about and made manifest. Thus a great writer is at once original and national; yet this duality involves no contradiction. An Æschylus, aPlato, aDemosthenes, may have his individual physiognomy to distinguish him from his rivals and from the obscure crowd of his contemporaries; but even the most original of writers is bound to his time by all the fibres of his being. The language he speaks, the literary form in which he moulds his thought, the very substance of his ideas and opinions, are given him with his birth. Even a writer at issue with his period depends upon it for his antagonist. Tradition furnishes him his problems, because it offers him solutions that he cannot accept, and thereby gives his thinking its direction without asking his consent. Except for the Sophists, Socrates would never have given us the philosophy that he did. Through this dependence of a writer on his environment, his work becomes part of the series of . . .

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