The Classic Myths in English Literature and in Art


Our American educational methods too frequently seek to produce the effect of polish upon a kind of sandstone information that will not stand polishing. With such fatuity many of our teachers in the secondary schools exercise their pupils in the study of English masterpieces and in the critical estimate of æsthetic qualities before acquainting them with the commonplace facts and fables that, transmitted through generations, are the material of much of our poetry because the material of daily converse, imagination, and thought. These commonplaces of tradition are to be found largely in the literature of mythology. Of course the evil would be neither so widespread nor so dangerous if more of the guardians and instructors of our youth were at home even among the Greek and Latin classics. But for various reasons, -- some valid, as, for instance, the importance of increased attention to the modern languages and the natural sciences; others worthless, as the so-called utilitarian protest against the cultivation of "dead" languages, -- for various reasons the study of the classics is at present considerably impaired. It is, therefore, incumbent upon our universities and schools, recognizing this fact and deploring it, to abate so far as possible the unfortunate consequences that proceed therefrom, until, by a readjustment of subjects of instruction and of the periods allotted them, the Greek and Latin classics shall be reinstated in their proper place as a means of discipline, a humanizing influence, the historic background against which our present appears. For, cut off from the intellectual and imaginative sources of Greece and Rome, the state and statesmanship, legislation and law, society and manners, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and even artistic appreciation, run readily shallow and soon dry.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • William Blake
  • James Thomson
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Boston
Publication year:
  • 1911


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