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Oxford University Press
London Edinburgh Glasgow Copenbagen
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Humphrey Milford Publisher to the UNIVERSITY

Impression of 1924

First Edition 1923

Printed in England

PREFACE

I

HAVE given in my first chapter some judgements on Greek

thought and literature by famous men of letters. If there is any truth in them, no one interested in the achievements of the human mind should be content to pass through life without forming some idea of what the Greeks achieved, and no education can be complete which ignores Hellenism.

This book is intended for those who know no Greek, but wish to form some idea of its great writers and of what they wrote. It is meant for the ordinary educated reader, as well as for pupils at the universities and in the upper forms of schools, who will never learn the language but need not be left in total ignorance of the literature and thought of Greece; and it may be used to give the weaker student, while he struggles with individual authors, a view of the literature as a whole and an idea of the doors which knowledge of the language will open to him. It is not a book about the Greeks: such books can be at best pale reflections of the central fire at which they are lit. It consists of selections from the greatest Greek writers, with such a sketch of their lives and works as may give an idea of what they were and did.

But it is not a mere anthology of selections. I have tried, as far as possible, to piece the passages together in a continuous whole, and, further, to trace the growth of Greek literature, and indicate the historical background in which it is set. Any one who reads these pages will not merely read famous or typical extracts from the great Greek writers, but will also follow in outline the most important part of that vast intellectual development which started with Homer and outlasted the Roman empire. I do not think that I have included any writer who is definitely second-class, unless Xenophon is so considered, or ignored any one before 300 B.C. who is definitely first-class

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and whose works survive otherwise than in fragments. Yet a reader will form a false idea of the richness of Greek literature who forgets that the authors here quoted are probably less than 10 per cent. of the surviving writers of Greece and less than 1 per cent. of the original total. Want of space has prevented me from doing justice to later authors, who may be dealt with in a second volume.

Some critics will object to the study of literature either in selections or in a translation. I sympathize. Every scholar knows what is lost by those who approach Greek by any other door than its own. They lose the language, the first of languages' (Gibbon), which contains the excellences of all languages (Coleridge), 'a type of the understanding of which it was the creation and the image—in variety, in simplicity, in flexibility, and in copiousness excelling every other language of the western world' (Shelley). They also inevitably lose much of the literature. Most is lost in lyric poetry; next comes drama. In Homer we lose the metre and much of the beauty of the language. In prose our losses vary with the literary quality of the work translated. Thus Aristotle has no graces to forfeit, but Plato is robbed of the magic of his style. It is infinitely better to be able to read the originals, and no lover of literature within whose grasp this power lies will be content with less.

But for very many the choice is between Greek literature in an English dress and nothing; and only a pedant would deny that it is far better to read Greek in a translation than not to read it at all. Though much is taken, much remains, and any one who doubts this can read the following pages and say if he does not get profit and enjoyment from the translations they contain. And there is a sense in which the study of the Greek language may be helped by the study of translations from it. We may reasonably hope that the small percentage of students who at present learn Greek in this country may be increased. But it will increase only as the general public comes to realize what treasures Greek contains, and it may be hoped that there is some truth in Goethe's saying: 'Translators are like match-makers; they sing the praises of some halfveiled beauty and arouse an irresistible longing for the original.' A similar plea may be urged for selections. At best they lead to deeper reading. At worst, in an age when no man can hope to cover the wide territories of knowledge, they are the only means by which a student can gain some acquaintance with districts that are not in his province but of which no educated man remains willingly ignorant.

1 What language could rival the subtlety of Xenophon's description of a trustworthy messenger as one who reported τά τε όντα ως όντα και τα μη όντα ως ουκ όντα ? No English can give the effect of the varied negative, yet the words could not be simpler. Or what language could extract as much from a particle as the same writer's description of men disguised as women-ai ôn yuvaikes?

2 The use of translations was strongly recommended by the Prime Minister's Committee on Classics for those unable to study the original languages.

I have given some helps to pronunciation, marking long syllables where any doubt can arise as to their quantity and where mispronunciation matters, but not otherwise. I have not marked short vowels nor final syllables. The latter should always be sounded and are long (e. g. Socratēs, Andromachē). On these principles I have not marked such words as e. g. Pēnělõpē or Eurīpidēs. The quantity once shown, I have not in general repeated the mark.

A reader who knows no classical mythology should buy a dictionary of it: there is one in the Everyman Series.

I could not have carried out this work without the generous help of translators and publishers. I gratefully acknowledge my debt to the following for leave to use copyright translations :

Homer, Iliad, Lang, Leaf, and Myers (Macmillan), Odyssey, Dr. Mackail (John Murray): Aeschylus, Agamemnon, and Euripides, Electra, Prof. Murray Allen & Unwin); Aristophanes, Frogs, Prof. Murray Allen & Unwin), other plays, Dr. Rogers (Bell & Sons) : Herodotus, Dr. Godley (Loeb Series,

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