Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Greek Way. Edith Hamilton (2)

Time, Inc. 1930 (2).

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.

“Ignorance was the foundation upon which the priest power rested.” P. 11. ………. “In India the idea of truth became completely separated from outside fact; all outside was illusion; truth was inner disposition.” P. 13. ………. “Today in India the triumph of the spirit over the mind is complete, and wherever Buddhism, the great product of the Indian spirit, has prevailed, the illusoriness of all that is of this earth and the vanity of all research into its nature is the center of the faith.” P. 13. ………. “To rejoice in life, to find the world beautiful and delightful to live in was a mark of the Greek spirit which distinguished it from all that had gone before.” P. 18. ………. “Joy and sorrow, exultation and tragedy, stand hand in hand in Greek literature, but there is no contradiction involved thereby.”  P. 18. ………. “Never, not in their darkest moments, do they [the ancient Greeks] lose their taste for life.” P. 18. ………. “A tomb in Egypt and a theater in Greece: the one comes to mind as naturally as the other.” P. 20. ………. “ ‘The exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope’ is an old Greek definition of happiness.”

To be continued.

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