Greek Ideals and Modern Life

By R. W. Livingstone | Go to book overview

II
GREEK HUMANISM

WE have seen the new attitude to Greece which developed in the nineteenth century, some of whose most characteristic thinkers were interested in Hellenism as a spiritual, rather than an artistic or intellectual, model, and were attracted by the Greek view of life even more than by Greek literature and art. It was a return to the spirit in which Pico della Mirandola or Marsilio Ficino or the Cambridge Platonists had read the classics. But the nineteenth century brought to their interpretation far more knowledge and insight than did the earlier age; its need was more pressing and it drank more deeply of the spring. I stress this because the general public is, or was, apt to ignore this side of Hellenism. It knows that the Greeks carved statues in a style which art critics approve and which is popularly supposed to be appropriate to the decoration of town-halls. It may be aware that they created one of the two great literatures of the West, and even that they are the parents of European thought and the scientific spirit. But it is apt not to realize that they created something more remarkable still -- a life which has fascinated the imagination of men. This life lacked most things that we have come to regard as indispensable. No printing,

-42-

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Greek Ideals and Modern Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • II- The Growing Influence Of Hellenism 11
  • II - Greek Humanism 42
  • IV - Humanism in Politics And Economics 92
  • V - The Twentieth Century and The Age of Plato; an Analogy 116
  • VI - Christianity and Hellenism 144
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