Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Greek Way. Edith Hamilton (4).

Time, Inc. 1930 (4).

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 Greeks were realists, but not as we use the word: they saw the beauty of common things and were content with it.” P. 58. ………. “Hebrew poetry is directed to the emotions; it is designed to make the hearers feel, not think. Therefore, it is a poetry based on reiteration.” P. 62. “The Greek poet is concerned to get his idea across, not to emotionalize it.” P. 65. “The English method is to fill the mind with beauty; the Greek method was to set the mind to work” p. 67. ………. “Pindar’s poetry is of all poetry the most like music, not the music that wells up from the bird’s throat, but the music that is based on structure, on fundamental laws of balance and symmetry, on carefully calculated effects, a Bach fugue, a Beethoven sonata or symphony.” P. 71. ……… “Shakespeare and Milton are painters with words more than they are master craftsmen in metrical effects.” P. 72. ………. “Pindar is the last spokesman for the Greek aristocracy.” P. 74. ………. “To the fathers of the Church as to Plato, no one who desired power was fit to wield it.” P. 75.

To be continued.

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