Monday, August 9, 2010

The Greek Way. Edith Hamailton (1)

Time, Inc. 1930 (1).

Why read It? The Athenians were a people who lived their view of truth which was many-sided and often contradictory. They accepted and lived the contradictions. They were individuals who also participated in the community. They were poets who were also soldiers. They needed to suffer in order to achieve exhilaration. The ancient Greeks’ view of life is summed up in this quotation from Edith Hamilton’s The Greek Way: “The Roman games played an important part in the life of the Romans, but, as has often been remarked, the Greeks played; the Romans watched others play.” P. 320.

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated, his brother Robert F. Kennedy was completely distraught. His sister-in-law Jackie Kennedy gave him a copy of The Greek Way. That book enabled Robert to survive the tragedy in his life. The Greek Way provided a model for how to deal with tragedy.

“It is charming and instructive to find that…men of reason were not contemplative hermits.” Editor’s Preface, p. viii. ………. “Their [Greek works of art] incarnate power is such that they are not only alive themselves but give life to us.” Introduction, P. xvi. ………. “To her [Edith Hamilton] what counted most in the Greeks was their gift for life, their taste for action and for thought, their positive, unwearying search for truth, their courage in facing even the ugliest matters with candor.” Introduction, P. xvii. ………. “In their search for truth, which had for them a religious seriousness, the Greeks created the scientific spirit, which is perhaps the dominating and most impressive power in the modern world.” Introduction, CM Bowra, p. xix. ………. “None of the great civilizations that preceded them and surrounded them served as a model.” P. 5. ………. “In a world where the irrational had played the chief role, they came forward as the protagonists of the mind.” P. 6. ………. “We are observing what goes on in the world around us and we are reasoning upon our observations. P. 7. ………. “In Egypt the center of interest was the dead.” P. 9. ………. “Truth is a jealous mistress and will reveal herself not a whit to any but a disinterested seeker….” P. 10.

To be continued.

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