We see with the eyes of the Greeks and use their phrases when we speak.
Seeing with Greek Eyes
In 1942, when Edith Hamilton republished The Greek Way, her already classic study which had appeared a few years earlier, the survival of the liberal Western tradition was very much in doubt. The atavistic barbarism of fascism appeared poised to wipe out the twenty-five centuries of slow progress the human race had made since a handful of squabbling, parochial Greek city-states had first liberated the human mind from the shadows of superstition and bondage to the irrational. "When the world is storm-driven and the bad that happens and the worse that threatens are so urgent as to shut out everything else from view," wrote Hamilton, "then we need to know all the strong fortresses of the spirit which men have built through the ages." 2 With the world at war, the legacy of the Greeks seemed all the more precious given the real possibility of its extinction.
More than fifty years later, the chief threats to the ideals of freedom and democracy are in abeyance. Not only fascism but communism as well has been shattered against that "fortress of the spirit" whose first bricks were laid by the Greeks. Even those cultures that seem to offer an alternative vision to the West, such as the Islamic states and China, are compelled to admit, if only by their