Monday, August 23, 2010

The Greek Way. Edith Hamilton (9)

Time, Inc. 1930 (9).

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.

One thing you will recognize: There’s a significant difference between the Athenian democracy and the U.S. democracy: citizen responsibility.

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.

Xenophon: “The leader must himself believe that willing obedience always beats forced obedience, and that he can get this only by really knowing what should be done.” P. 200. ………. “No one, Cyrus always said, can be a good officer who does not undergo more than those he commands.” P. 200. ………. “Our word ‘idiot’ comes from the Greek name for the man who took no share in public matters.” P. 202. ………. “…the ideal of free individuals unified by a spontaneous service to the common life was left as a possession to the world, never to be forgotten.” P. 203. ………. The Idea of Tragedy. ………. “The special characteristic of the Greeks was their power to see the world clearly and at the same time as beautiful.” P. 206. ………. “Tragedy is nothing less than pain transmuted into exaltation.” P. 208. ………. “A tragedy shows us pain and gives us pleasure thereby.” P. 207. ………. “…strange contradiction of pleasure through pain….” P. 208. ………. Nietzsche: “…the reaffirmation of the will to live in the face of death….” ………. Hegel: “…the only tragic subject is a spiritual struggle in which each side has a claim upon our sympathy.” P. 209. ………. “When humanity is seen as devoid of dignity and significance, trivial, mean, and sunk in dreary hopelessness, then the spirit of tragedy departs.” P. 210.

To be continued.

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