Monday, August 30, 2010

The Greek Way. Edith Hamilton (13)

Time, Inc. 1930 (13).

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.

The purpose of this blog? To find interesting ideas in books.

“Euripides looked at war and he saw through all the sham glory to the awful evil beneath….” P. 256. ………. Euripides: “Again and again he shows up the gods in accordance with the popular conception of them, as lustful, jealous, moved by the meanest motives, utterly inferior to th human beings they bring disaster upon…” p. 261. ………. Euripides: “For who knows if the thing that we call death/ Is life, and our life dying—who can know?” p. 261. ………. “One thing alone to help Athens he [Euripides] had been fitted to do: he could so write as to show the hideousness of cruelty and men’s fierce ;passions, and the piteousness of suffering, weak, and wicked human beings, and move men thereby to the compassion which they were learning to forget.” P. 262. ………. “But Euripides was the arch-heretic, miserably disturbing, never willing to leave a man comfortably ensconced in his favorite convictions and prejudices.” P. 262. ………. “The dogmatisms of each age wear out.” P. 263. ………. The Religion of the Greeks ………. “St. Paul was speaking as a Greek when he said the invisible must be understood by the visible.” P. 267. ………. “People…who, above all, were trying to find religion, not the doubtful divinities of Olympus, but a solution of life’s mystery and a conviction of its purpose and end.” P. 272. ………. “…Delphi, the shrine of Apollo the most Greek of all the gods, the artist–god, the poet and musician, who ever brought fair order and harmony out of confusion, who stood for moderation and sobriety, upon whose temple was graven the great Delphic saying, ‘Nothing in excess.’ ” P. 274. ………. “Men were set free from themselves by the drama when they all realized together the universal suffering of life.” P. 277.

To be continued.

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