A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

SUMMARY OF OMISSIONS

A. Part I: The Legendary Period.

B. Part II.: Chapters I.-X. These chapters contain a general description of Greece - its topography, political divisions, physical features and ethnography. The topography in general may be studied in many recent works by trained explorers to better advantage than in these chapters. Even the most superficial of readers would scarcely be interested in perusing an account of Greece which does not contain any account of recent archaeological discoveries; and the briefest account of these would cover more space than the letterpress which it would purport to supplement. Moreover, the ground has been thoroughly covered by specific archaeological works. Furthermore, it must be remembered that Grote had never qualified himself for this part of the work by a visit to Greece.

This disqualification appears in these chapters, and also in his accounts of military operations. The notes will to some extent show how far the more careful study of the ground has enabled us to correct the account he gave of battles and marches (see especially on Salamis, pp 263-267). Again, the science of Greek ethnology (e.g., on the subject of Pelasgi, Leleges, Dorians) is an entirely new phenomenon since Grote's time. To give any useful account of our present knowledge would involve the reconstruction of Grote's work. The same remark applies with even greater force to those passages which treat of ancient Greek religion. So little could have been retained that it has seemed best to omit the whole.

The omission of the chapters dealing with the early history of Sparta (V.-VIII.) calls for a further word of explanation. An inspection of these chapters, or of the corresponding sections of other Greek histories, will reveal the profound - we might almost say the hopeless - obscurity in which this subject is still involved. Whether we consider the institutions of Lykurgus, or the gradual rise of Sparta to its predominant position in the Peloponnese, we find that the details supplied by ancient historians are mostly worthless, and the best work of modern critics, notably that of Grote himself, has consisted in the negative process of sweeping away false inferences without supplying any systematic reconstruction. On the whole, therefore, it suffices to bear in mind that

-xxxvi-

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