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Title: What Have the Greeks Done for Modern Civilisation?
Author: Mahaffy, J. P. (John Pentland)
Language: English
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                       What Have the Greeks Done
                       For Modern Civilisation?

                    The Lowell Lectures of 1908-09


                         John Pentland Mahaffy

                     C.V.O., D.C.L. (Oxon.), etc.

                      Of Trinity College, Dublin

                          G. P. Putnam’s Sons
                          New York and London
                        The Knickerbocker Press

                            COPYRIGHT, 1909
                             J. P. MAHAFFY

                       [Illustration: colophon]

               _Printed in the United States of America_

                            SANCTÆ MEMORIÆ
                           UXORIS CARISSIMÆ
                         CUJUS DULCI CONSORTIO
                         INGENII SUI PRIMITIAS
                          ABHINC JAM ANNOS XL
                          NUNC SERUM LABOREM
                           CONSECRAT AUCTOR


These lectures, delivered in Boston at the invitation of the Curator of
the Lowell Institute, in December and January, 1908-9, are now published
owing to many requests both from those that heard them and from those
that did not. They are an attempt to cover the whole field of Greek
influence, not only in the various arts in which such influence is
generally realised, but also in those departments of thinking in which
moderns arrogate to themselves an unquestioned superiority. Yet it will
be found, even in the following necessarily brief and popular sketch,
that, as regards _thinking_, the Greeks were as supreme in science as in
other departments, and, though they did not discover the powers of steam
or electricity, they nevertheless carried out in mechanics works that no
modern builder, with all his vaunted control of nature, has yet
equalled, and so in other pursuits, not only Greek form, but Greek
thought, has been the greatest and the clearest that the world has yet

And yet I believed that the high honour in which Greek studies were long
held had been exchanged for indifference, or even contempt, especially
in America, where a hurried education planned for “practical life” was
said to be taking the place of the old liberal education intended to
breed gentlemen. But I found, during my actual visit to America, that I
had been misled as to the completeness of this degradation of Greek. As
is usual, the stranger begins by getting false impressions of the
country he visits, and can only correct these gradually by detailed
experience. There were many symptoms that public opinion in the States
is by no means satisfied with the thought of an absolute reign of modern
science, or of specialising education at the fancy of the ignorant youth
or the more ignorant parent. Even employers in factories are beginning
to find out, with that plain good sense which marks the solid core of
American society, that young men who receive a liberal education are
more intelligent and useful as tradesmen or mechanics than those who
have mastered only one subject. The intellectual outlook tells even upon
the handicraft of the apprentice.

There is therefore some prospect that the mistakes of the last
generation (possibly due to the influence of Harvard and other
universities) will be corrected, and that a proper college education
will again replace the bread-and-butter studies in the earlier years of
all good courses of training. If such a recovery of sound education
takes place, it is impossible that Greek shall not resume its old
importance. We now know far more of Hellenic work than did our
fore-fathers. We can vindicate Greek studies in a manner wholly strange
to them, had they ever thought a vindication called for. But, on the
other hand, the teaching of Greek must be reformed. It must be made a
human and lively study, taught like a modern language by dictation and
recitation, as well as by written composition and reading of authors. In
many English public schools, there has been a fashion not only of
teaching the old languages as if they were indeed dead, but of spoiling
the teaching of modern languages by copying this mistake. Much of the
prejudice against the learning of Greek has been created by this
blunder, and by its radiation into kindred studies. But this also I
trust will be mended, and we shall have a more intelligent method of
teaching all languages as living vehicles of human expression. Among
these, the Greek is far the most perfect.

If this little book may help toward this great reformation, it will have
amply succeeded in its purpose.

I must not send it out without thanking my many American friends for
their sympathy and encouragement. During my visit, everybody seemed
ready to hear what I had to say, and in some of the discussions which
were the result, notably at Philadelphia, there seemed to be quite a
body of opinion in my favour. Two observations are worth making here
before I conclude: The American professors of Greek and Latin have
exactly the same experience that we have in Ireland regarding the
abandonment of Greek while professing to retain Latin. Neither there nor
in Ireland have we failed to note the deterioration of Latin teaching,
and the conviction grows upon us that a teacher who knows no Greek
cannot be a Latin scholar in any real sense.

So much for the boasted retaining of Latin while sacrificing Greek.

The next observation concerns the now fashionable attending of courses
in English Literature. In no case during my visit did I hear a literary
conversation spring up among these students of English.

They have no doubt admirable professors in great numbers, specialists
on every English poet and prose writer worth naming. But apparently
poetry learnt without labour in the mother tongue is not assimilated or
appreciated as is the poetry of classical languages, and from them the
delight in literature as such spreads into kindred studies. Wherever I
cited the poets, or indeed great prose such as the Bible, among the
young people who had studied English as a subject for graduation, I
found a strange ignorance of what ought to have been most familiar. I
was almost driven to believe the paradox that without a classical
education even the proper appreciation of English literature is unusual.

                                                               J. P. M.

On board S. S. _Celtic_, January 20, 1909.



PREFACE                                                                 ii

   I. INTRODUCTORY                                                       1

  II. GREEK POETRY                                                      31

 III. GREEK PROSE                                                       65

  IV. GREEK ART--I: ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE                          98

   V. GREEK ART--II: PAINTING AND MUSIC                                125


 VII. POLITICS--SOCIOLOGY--LAW                                         181


What Have the Greeks Done for Modern Civilisation?



After more than half a century spent on the study of old Greek life in
its art, politics, literature, philosophy, and science, I gladly adopt
this ample and dignified occasion to give a review of what I have
learned to this audience, whose intellectual standard, and whose
sympathy with the work of a student, are recognised throughout the
world. It is a great honour for any man from Europe to speak on this
platform, but it implies, in consequence, a grave responsibility, and it
is impossible to stand before you here without some feeling of awe, for
I feel I am addressing not merely this most fastidious audience, or even
the larger American public, with whom I gladly claim an old acquaintance
through my books, but the great congregation of the educated classes in
many and diverse lands.

I do not suppose that any of you will be disposed to dispute the fact
(which the very title of these lectures presupposes)--that modern
civilisation, from various points of view, owes a great debt to the old
Greeks. If there be any such sceptic here, I trust he will be converted
in the course of my conversation with him from this platform. But even
to those who readily admit the fact, explicit proofs of it may not be
useless, for they will show you the reasons that have long since
persuaded the world of teachers to make Greek essential in a liberal
education. Assuming, however, for the present the main fact, I think I
shall begin this discourse most profitably by discussing the supposed
causes which gave the Greeks this curious pre-eminence. It is perhaps,
to use familiar words, putting the cart before the horse, but you need
hardly be reminded that if in logic we often do not explain a statement
until we have established its truth, in time the order is different. The
causes of every great result are hidden in past ages, shrouded by the
mists of antiquity, covered with the cloud of oblivion, so that in the
present case the consideration of the prehistoric causes of the
greatness of the Greek intellect may well precede the evidence of that
greatness, which we gather by the lamp, often dim, of history, if not by
the searchlight of archæological science. Though this subject cannot but
prove dull to some of you, I shall do my best to relieve the dulness by
illustrations or even by digressions into kindred fields of knowledge.

I know that there are two considerations which, in the minds of people
who are easily satisfied, pass for an adequate account of this
extraordinary genius of the Greeks. It is usual, especially among those
who will not take the trouble to learn Greek, to say that it was really
through Rome that the greatness of the Hellenic race was created. Rome
conquered the Western world with her roads, her armies, her laws, her
language, and impressed even on barbarians the culture which she had
herself adopted and developed. The Latin races which were in the van of
civilisation up to the seventeenth century were the daughters of Rome
and had little direct teaching from Greece.

All this is perfectly true, but it only moves the problem one step
backward. Assuming that the Romans were the carriers of enlightenment to
the North and West of Europe, why did they depend so completely on Greek
teaching; why did they one and all confess that this was the unique
source of their progress? They came in due time into contact with the
culture of Carthage, of Syria, of Egypt. But the splendours of these
countries were never to the Romans more than mere curiosities, whereas
Greek culture was the very breath of their intellectual life. Virgil, a
very great poet, frames every one of his works on Greek models, and
translates even from second-rate Greek work. Horace, a very great
artist, prides himself on having made Greek lyrics at home in his
country, and Lucretius, whose reputation for originality among modern
critics is mainly due to the total loss of the original which he copied,
himself claims as his main credit that he had ventured to reproduce a
yet uncopied species of Greek poetry. It is hard to conceive a more
complete case made out for the unparalleled influence of Hellenic genius
upon proud and dominant neighbours. I will merely remind you how a fresh
wave of Greek influence, coming into Romanised Europe in the fifteenth
century, caused such a revolution in literature and art as to be called
a new birth (Renascence).

Let us turn to a widely different kind of explanation, which is wont to
be set forth at the opening of most modern histories of Greece, as a
_vera causa_ to account for a wonderful and exceptional result. This
theory is the echo of the famous opening of Buckle’s great book on
Civilisation, wherein it is asserted that man is the creature of
external circumstances and that these determine not only his physical,
but his intellectual increase. In particular, the greatness of Egypt and
its early victory over the obstacles of nature are attributed to the
heat and moisture of the climate; and so we are told that the temperate
airs of the Ægean, the multitude of its islands, its indented coast, its
fiords, its broken outlines, and varied scenery--these are such that the
people living among them would naturally develop the qualities which
have given the primacy in its turn to Greece. Such conclusions are based
upon very superficial and inaccurate observation. It was assumed that
Egypt had been necessarily an unity, owing to the isolation of its land
from neighbours, and to the fact that its great high-road, the Nile,
traversed the whole country. We now know this to be false, and that the
reduction of Egypt first to two, and then to one state was not
accomplished till after ages of separation among its _nomes_, and was
accomplished not by natural necessity but by the genius of a conqueror.
As regards the physical peculiarities of that country, they are all to
be found again on the Indus, with its affluents from far inland Alps
bringing down a periodical inundation, with its great delta spreading
from Hyderabad, with its long course through a desert which affords it
not a rivulet of increase: yet the peoples of the Indus have never
thriven and waxed great like the Egyptians. So far as our evidence leads
us, we may assert that had the Egyptians been settled on the Indus, and
the population of the Indus on the Nile, the respective parts played by
these rivers in civilisation would have been reversed. I am equally
convinced that had the Greek race been settled on the Adriatic, with
many fiords and islands, and over against Italy, instead of Asia Minor,
or on the west coast of Italy, with its headlands and bays, its great
and fruitful islands within sight,--these circumstances would have been
equally favourable to their genius, whereas they were not sufficient to
raise the Corsicans and Sardinians, perhaps the best situated of all,
from a very low level among nations. I will not cite Sicily, drawn from
its obscurity by the Greeks, for they were already great in the scale of
nations when they transformed that splendid island, long undistinguished
under Sikels, Sicans, Phœnicians, into a brilliant province of
Hellenedom. It may perhaps occur to some of you that the special
qualities of the race came from its being a purer branch of the great
Aryan stock than its brethren; that it was pre-eminently Japhet dwelling
in the tents of Shem, unalloyed with the dross of lower races, whose
animalism has survived in the defects of other Aryan stocks that dwelt
among them. But the very opposite seems to be the case. The more we
study the Greek language, the more we are impressed with the number of
strange roots, which point to a non-Aryan origin. Many of the words in
commonest use, such as βασιλεὑς and τὑραννος, are not to be explained
from Aryan roots, and anyone who has studied such place-names as Tiryns,
Assos, and their congeners will fairly conclude that the Greeks were not
purer from admixture than the Slavs or the Celts.[1] After all that has
been adduced, therefore, to account for the intellectual supremacy of
the Greeks, we are compelled to fall back on the ultimate fact--which
has not been explained--that they possessed a national genius denied to
their brethren and their neighbours. It is as yet an ultimate fact that
the human race is not promoted, except in numbers, by heat and
moisture. Some have been higher from the earliest moment that we can
observe, or infer, their conditions. Others have remained lower in spite
of the most favourable circumstances. This is a riddle which no
historian has yet solved. But is it stranger, I ask, than the sporadic
and unaccountable appearance, in a settled and known society, of
individual genius? This is the parallel case wherewith I cannot explain,
but only vindicate my position. Is it stranger that one nation should
emerge into history with exceptional gifts than that there emerges into
life, according to no law that we know, individual genius? If you look
back at the family history of those that have made or upset empires,
that have added new domains to science, that have created the poetry of
the world, you will find no law or reason to explain their sporadic
appearance, like that of brilliant meteors across the orderly stars of
the sky. They generally come from undistinguished parents; they have
undistinguished brothers and sisters; they do not transmit their great
qualities, save in some rare occasions, as if to show that there is even
here no prohibitive law. They may be single, or eldest, or youngest,
children, or in the middle of a large family. They need not be noted for
physical health. There was once a posthumous and yet prematurely born
infant, so puny and wretched that, but for the sorrows of the widowed
mother, little pains would have been taken to keep it alive, for it was
her first born. Charitable neighbours nursed it with amazing care, and
so saved its miserable spark of life from extinction. After a delicate
and monotonous youth, the child went to Cambridge; he was known in later
years as Sir Isaac Newton.

But if, so long as civilised societies cloak the first beginnings of
individual human life in mystery, we can only refer the sporadic
occurrence of genius to chance, is it any wonder, after the lapse of
ages has covered with its mists the childhood of nations, that we should
be unable to give any better answer to explain the occurrence of
national genius in one race, while its brothers and sisters are not
above the vulgar average? On one thing only I insist: let us not deny a
great fact because we cannot explain it.

Assuming then as ultimate that one nation may be gifted above the rest
with genius, let us consider in what the pre-eminence consists. And here
again we shall be aided by the analogy of individual genius. The first
and most superficial answer is that genius is original, that it strikes
out new ideas, new solutions of problems, new lines of research, while
the average man can only learn what others have already discovered for
him. But a deeper and more careful inquiry reveals to us that absolutely
new ideas are of the very rarest occurrence; almost the whole work of
human genius consists in assimilating what others have thought, in
combining what others have imagined separate, in recasting the form of
their thought, and so producing what seems a perfectly new thing, and
yet is only the old under a new aspect. No instance of this is more
signal than that of a great composer in music. The gift of original
melody, as it is called, is rare and precious. The possessor of it is
justly considered a genius. But no melody could possibly speak to us
except a combination of perfectly well known elements. The only
originality is in their assimilation and reproduction.

If then we admit that the assimilation of what others have done is a
most important feature in genius, we can affirm not only that the Greeks
were gifted with this power, but we can go further and say that they
settled in a part of the world eminently suited to suggest new ideas and
to afford scope for all the combinations which their genius prompted
them to make. I have already explained how widely I differ from those
who have laid great stress on the characteristics of the country
occupied by this race. External nature was the very thing that the
Greeks, all through their great history, felt less keenly than we should
have expected. Their want of a sense of the picturesque in nature has
even been cited as a notable defect. But, though repudiating all this
kind of argument, I am quite ready for widely different reasons to lay
much weight on the geographical position of Greece. It is an argument
which you will not find, I think, in your histories. This people
established their home on the confines of two very diverse
civilisations, so that they were able to assimilate ideas from both and
to weave them into a fabric of their own.

Concerning the influences coming from the south-east, there was never
any doubt. All the legends about Cadmus, Danaus, and the like assert the
importation of the culture of Phœnicia and of Egypt into Greece. The
same thing is said of the empire of Minos of Crete, which is now found
to have been a reality, and from which a very early culture passed
through the Ægean Islands to the coasts of Greece. Whether the early
graphic systems used at Cnossos made their way to Mycenæ or Tiryns we
have no evidence to determine. Most probably they did, and these may
have been the “dire symbols” which Homer mentions as sent with
Bellerophon to seal his fate with the Lycian king. But in any case the
Phœnician alphabet came in; the use of engraved seals was carried by the
same traders from Babylon; the ostrich eggs, the ivory from Africa, the
designs on many objects, tell no uncertain tale. For all that, the
earliest art of Greece--I will not call it Hellenic as yet--is not
Oriental but European, and with features of its own. And this need not
be referred to its originality; far more probably was it caused by
assimilating another kind of culture, which had features of its own and
which can be shown to have had its influence on Mycenæan art. This
civilisation dwelt in central Europe and came from the north to Greece.
It has been called Keltic, it has been called Pelasgian; we find it in
tombs, and in raths even as far as Ireland. It was from this source that
came the fancy for Baltic amber as an ornament--a thing as strange in
Greece as the ostrich egg. From here too came the shape of early bronze
weapons, probably the habit of burying the dead in beehive tombs;
actually many of the patterns used for ornament on tools and weapons.
And who can tell how much more filtered in from this source, which the
old Greeks called Pelasgian? Thus the Hellenic race was on the verge of
two kinds of culture, and created from both that distinct type which
ultimately became the most perfect in the world.

The genius for assimilating might seem to imply a collateral
weakness--the danger of absorption or degeneration into the nations
whose ideas are adopted and developed. There are cases in the history of
man where a conquered race has abandoned its language and religion and
adopted those of its conquerors. There are other cases where the
conqueror has been absorbed and the subject race has reasserted itself
in spite of dominant language and legislation intended to secure its
ultimate absorption. It is one of the salient features of the Hellenic
race that, though very receptive of foreign ideas, though always ready
to profit by the discoveries of neighbours, it never abandoned its
primacy in type, and was never absorbed into any other population,
except perhaps in isolated cases and after centuries of separation from
the mother stock. The Eretrians whom Darius brought as prisoners to Asia
and settled in the rich fields of Babylonia were doubtless in the long
run absorbed by the surrounding nationalities, but they were still
recognisable when Alexander conquered his Empire nearly two hundred
years later, and possibly they too may have kept up the affecting custom
of the people of Posidonia (Pæstum in Italy) at the other extremity of
the civilised world, who were indeed, as Strabo tells us, centuries
later, barbarised out and out by the Samnites, but who nevertheless
still met once a year to lament their fate, and to deplore their loss of
Hellenic life. Apart from these few and small exceptions, this race has
absolutely refused to be absorbed by any other, however civilised,
however dominant, and has remained the same in language and in
characteristics from the days when Homer composed for the Achæan chiefs,
down to this day, when every scholar or student looks upon Athens as the
goal of his pilgrimage.

The permanence of the Greek language is a great and striking evidence.
There was never, I suppose, a generation of Greeks from the 8th century
B.C. to the 20th A.D. which did not understand Homer; but if you are
disposed to ascribe this to sentimental causes, then I say that the
earliest Attic prose differs from the Attic prose of to-day so little as
to afford us an unique example of persistency. Let me state it in this
way: Herodotus, if you recalled him from his grave and put a Greek
newspaper of to-day into his hands, would at first find the type novel,
but would presently recognise in it his own alphabet. He would then
discover a dialect of his Greek, as he heard it at Athens, and though he
would doubtless call it very vulgar, and even barbarised, he would in a
day or two read it quite fluently. So far as my knowledge goes, you will
find nothing like this in Europe.

Turning to persistence of characteristics, it is superfluous for me to
expound to you this topic at any length, for in the book which forms the
basis of the old acquaintance between you and me, I mean my _Social Life
in Greece_, the main thesis, then, but now no longer, a paradox, was
that, though the classical Greeks did great intellectual and artistic
work which their descendants could not attempt to rival, yet the moral
features of the Homeric, the Alcaic, the Pindaric, the Platonic, the
Xenophontic, the Demosthenic Greek were much the same as those of our
friends who are now laying claim to Macedonia. There is the same
cleverness, not without a special delight in overreaching an opponent,
the same diligence, the same genuine patriotism, but also the same
undying jealousy of the success of others, the same want of spirituality
in religion, the same light esteem for veracity. The models of Phidias
and Polycletus, of Scopas and Praxiteles, were doubtless to be found in
real life[2]; so were the characters of Plato’s _Dialogues_, and in this
consisted the genius of their art and their literature, that they
apprehended and perpetuated the ideal, while the average man and average
society in Greece formed a standard of cultivated society, high, but by
no means perfect. I only mention their average qualities in order to
emphasise the fact that I do not stand before you a pedant seeing
nothing but the greatness of his favourite study, but as a plain man
estimating the history of the past in the light of common-sense.

Yet this is not easy when we stand face to face with the wonderful
performances of this undying race. What have the Greeks not accomplished
on the stage of the world’s history since they accepted the heritage of
the older and richer civilisations? First they dominated and so far
absorbed the pre-existing population as to feel themselves the only
possessors of the country. Some of them even boasted, and without
raising any controversy, that they were indigenous to that soil. Then
they spread themselves over all the Mediterranean coast, beginning with
Asia Minor, where they collided with the successive empires of
Mesopotamia. They went to Italy and Sicily, which became Greek lands, so
far as they were civilised, and then they successfully resisted the
great effort of the Persian Empire to make them a subject province. Even
their Asiatic brethren, who did fall under Persian sway for several
generations, never lost their nationality, nor could they be said to
have resumed it again when the Persian Empire fell under Macedonian
sway. When the Hellenic nationality came to dominate the kingdoms of
Macedonia, hither Asia, and Egypt, and even when the Romans supervened,
who treated it first with respect, presently with contempt, these
arrogant conquerors could never shake off the spiritual domination of
Greek literature, Greek philosophy, Greek art, and Greek urbanity. Nay,
so imperishable was the Greek influence that it caused a new boundary
line to be drawn between East and West, and founded on the old Greek
Byzantium a new capital, where Hellenic refinement and Hellenic art were
still to all the ruder Western world the acme of dignity and of
splendour. Even when this magnificence had been plundered by barbarous
crusaders, and again by less barbarous Turks, the fugitive handful of
learned Greeks, with their immortal heritage of letters, lit up an
intellectual flame in Western Europe that has never since been quenched.

This last great revival by means of the Greeks is, I think, peculiarly
instructive to us to-day. For nothing can show more clearly, or in a
larger example, how different is the effect of second-hand or
traditional knowledge from that of direct contact with the originals. It
was no doubt held in the later Roman Empire, and in the early Middle
Ages, that all the value of Hellenic culture had passed into Roman life,
that Roman law, Roman architecture, Roman organisation were far more
perfect than those of their teachers. Even the latest bloom of Greek
architecture, that Byzantine style which is still living in the
unapproachable St. Sophia of Constantinople, had been carried into
Italy, France, Germany, and England, where, under the name of decorated
Norman, it holds its place of honour in our church architecture. St.
Mark’s at Venice is the richest because it is a decadent example of that
Greek style, and so other Latin adaptations of Greek were supposed to
afford all the benefits of the originals; nay, in one case--that of the
Latin Vulgate--Saint Jerome went so far as to compare his version, with
the Greek and Hebrew originals written on each side of it, to Christ
crucified between the two thieves. There were Greek statues and Greek
temples in plenty to copy. Aristotle, confessedly the greatest and most
encyclopedic of Greek philosophers, could be had in a Latin translation
and narrowly escaped being canonised as a Latin saint. Was not Virgil
far deeper and more artistic than Homer? Was not the _Dies iræ_ far
grander in sound, as well as in sense, than the trivialities of Horace
or Ovid? So the Western world became Latin, and men were content with
the echoes of Greek in their Roman culture.

But when the real thing came to them again, as it were by accident, mark
the sudden and astonishing change. It was at once discovered that the
Romanised culture of previous centuries had degenerated from the nobler
types, that new influences from the north had in architecture and in art
altered its purity; that the gloomy splendour of Dante, the mightiest
outcome of the Middle Ages, had put out the cheerfulness and light of
Greek life, even as Virgil understood them, with a cruel and relentless
creed. With the return of Hellenic serenity, there was no doubt much
irreligion and paganism associated, but even to that point a revolt
against the spiritual tyranny of the Roman Church cannot be regretted by
those who refuse to believe that men can only be kept from crime by
threatening them with greater crime--I mean the infliction of eternal
torture upon any sentient being. The Gothic fane was no doubt the ideal
gloom wherein to worship a relentless God and his tortured Christ; the
Renaissance palace was a place of light and gladness, wherein men could
read with amazement the epic of Homer, the tragedy of Æschylus, the
comedy of Aristophanes, and learn from them what human culture had once

And so Greek studies resumed their place as the noblest part of a
liberal education. We got to know and appreciate Greek letters deeply
and thoroughly as no Roman had ever known them; we got to analyse and
understand Greek logic and philosophy and what is still more subtle, the
delicacies of Greek art. We began to add to the treasures unearthed for
us by the Renaissance, by probing for buried temples in Greece, and
searching the sands of Egypt for new texts. The culture of the
nineteenth century may fairly be called a culture that owes its
greatness largely to a thorough appreciation of the unique excellence
of classical Greek work. Never was I more impressed with this fact than
in visiting, three or four years ago, a little collection of old Greek
fragments gathered from private owners, and exhibited by the Burlington
Art Club in London. They were small things, bronze statuettes, busts,
ornaments, vases, but no intelligent man could avoid the strong and
instant conviction that all was essentially patrician art in the highest
sense. There was not a plebeian note in the whole exhibition.

These things being so, it seemed to men brought up as I have been, that
the supremacy of Greek studies, especially for the education of the
rising generation, was a fact that no man could contest.

Yet, strange to say, within the last twenty years, and possibly due to
the reaction of American influences upon Europe, the tide has turned and
the great flow of Greek studies is being succeeded by an ebb. Higher
education--formerly and indeed in the truest sense always--an
aristocratic privilege, is now to be the right of the democracy, which
has no time for it, and all of us, poor and rich, workers for our bread
and those whose bread is provided, are to pursue the same ends, and
attain the same cultivation. Need I add that the domain of modern
science is so enlarged as to demand a high place in the instruction of
those who will presently earn their living by some of its applications?
Thus the program has been enlarged and diversified beyond the capacity
of any learner, and we begin to think what can best be sacrificed in
order to save the rest. The advocates of modern science naturally set
themselves against what they are pleased to call the dead languages, and
so, as Greek seemed more remote to them, because of its strange
alphabet, they have so far prevailed as to get rid, from a vast number
of schools, of the study of that language. Even in the universities of
Europe there is an irresistible tendency to make it a voluntary subject
of study. The innovators, most of whom are ignorant in any proper sense
both of Greek and Latin, still profess a great respect for Latin and
loudly assert its importance even in modern education. But do not be
deceived. The day will come shortly when the same attack will be
directed against the second “dead language,” as they call it, and we
shall be expected to throw out another member of our spiritual family to
the wolves. For the attack is made in total ignorance of the relative
value of the topics assailed. Anyone with the smallest insight into the
matter knows full well that the loss of Latin is as nothing compared to
that of Greek. I am not going to argue that question before the present
audience. If at least three quarters of the good we get from Latin is
because Latin civilisation is based on Greek, is it not infinitely
better to study the great original than any copy, however successful?
And this brings us to the point for the sake of which I have made an
apparent digression.

Quite apart from the scientists (a very plebeian, but expressive, modern
term) who pretend that Latin is sufficient for the department of
language or the study of grammar, or of ancient history, we hear a great
many, both in England and in America, who are really fond of higher
cultivation, who feel obscurely that it is from Greek that such
cultivation comes, and who long to obtain from it what they find lacking
in modern refinement. But they strive to do this merely through
second-hand sources. They have recourse to English translations and
English commentaries and to lectures like the present, in order to fill
up the gap which they feel in their own early training. Now I will not
deny that modern translations are far more faithful than those of more
independent imitators, who were not afraid to colour Greek art with hues
from their own palette. I will not deny that the skill of the
photographer has reproduced for us the outlines of buildings and statues
far more accurately than the best of painters, albeit Turner’s
conception of Pæstum (for example) is truer in its own way than all the
photographs ever taken of that temple. But this brings me to state a
somewhat subtle truth, of the greatest import in the present context; a
great original is generally susceptible of divers interpretations,
whereas a copy, however excellent, seldom gives us more than one; so
that, while the former is eminently suggestive, the latter limits our
appreciation. The copy of a copy, in law worthless, is so also in
matters of art. In each reproduction something is lost, and remember
that the more minutely careful the copying, the more slavish is the work
likely to be. I know that there are such things as copies greater than
their originals. That is true of the Gospels in our English Bible; it is
also true of those portions of Virgil’s _Georgics_ which are translated
from Aratus. But these rare exceptions do not invalidate the general
truth of the principle I have enounced. And when even Virgil, probably
the most competent translator that ever lived, came to deal with a
master like Theocritus, how feeble the result! I may safely say that if
we had no knowledge of Theocritus save through Virgil’s _Eclogues_, he
would never have ranked as more than a third-rate poet with us.

The plain deduction is this: get at the originals at all cost. Do not be
satisfied with essays, or dissertations, or commentaries. Go and see the
originals, unlock the secrets of the tongue in which they were first
presented, and then there will open upon you such a Renaissance as
dawned upon the astonied humanists of the 15th century. The main use of
such a lecture as that which I am now delivering is that you should be
discontented with it, and should desire to pass from the illustration,
the commentary, the appreciation, to a direct study of the great
originals. Such a course may indeed be impracticable for many of you,
who in middle life cannot turn aside to the labour of acquiring another
language; for the mastering of a language is always an arduous task, and
all the more so as we advance in years. But if we cannot ourselves
learn, this generation ought at least to stimulate and direct the next.
For I fear that the present knowledge of Greek in this country is
confined to a small minority, while there is still a great majority who
have some ambition to be really cultivated. I remember some years ago
undertaking to teach a class at Chautauqua the _Alcestis_ of Euripides.
The difficulty that confronted me was that a score of Greek texts of
the play were not forthcoming, and that even in New York they were not
found without search and delay. The Greek masterpieces share indeed this
quality with other examples of perfect art, that even a copy is well
worth having, and so the many excellent translations from the Greek
which you have in all your libraries, are by no means to be despised.
But if you can attain the originals, and master them, the translations,
even if they have helped you in this task, lose all their value. I
remember seeing in Mr. Gladstone’s library at Hawarden a whole section
of his great accommodation for books devoted to translations of the
_Iliad_ into many languages. There were scores, perhaps hundreds, of
versions in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish,
Norwegian, Russian, Hindustani, and many other tongues, sent to him by
the translators as tributes of esteem for his own Homeric studies. I
asked him did he ever open any of them? He said, “No; all the time I can
spare I devote to studying the great originals.” But was there ever a
clearer demonstration than these myriad translations of the greatness of
a literary masterpiece? Even when there are many excellent versions
already published in their own language men will not be content with
these efforts, but will ever attempt again the fascinating, never
ending, never convincing task. You could tell, without knowing any
tongue but English, that there are four supreme poems which have
exercised a fascination over men that never grows old. They are the
_Iliad_ of Homer, the _Agamemnon_ of Æschylus, the _Inferno_ of Dante,
the _Faust_ of Goethe. Two of these are Greek; but note also that, while
we could find in Greek several rivals[3] which are of hardly less
importance and by various poets, there is neither in German nor in
Italian any poem that can for one moment compare with the supreme pieces
I have named. So pre-eminent are the Greeks in literature. Their other
art has not survived save in ruins or fragments. But ask any real
specialist, such as the late Mr. Penrose, or Dr. Dörpfeld, what place
the best Greek architecture holds in the buildings of the world, and he
will tell you that never again can anything equal to the Parthenon at
Athens be constructed. The huge temple at Karnak in Egypt, the
marvellous church of Justinian at Constantinople, the lovely cathedral
of Rheims are probably the best specimens of perfection in building
which we possess, yet the Parthenon, with its apparent simplicity, shows
a subtle depth of artistic knowledge which justifies us in calling it
the finest of earthly buildings. Need I say one word of Greek supremacy
in other arts here, seeing that the details must form the subject of
subsequent lectures?

The danger I see before this generation is that which came upon the
Roman world insensibly and which resulted in a decadence not arrested
till it sank into the night of the dark ages. The later empire was
content to take Greek art and Greek letters at second hand, and to
substitute Latin culture for the models which had educated their
greatest masters. But as I have already told you the copy had not the
life of the original. So we too, with all our science, with our increase
of material knowledge and our restless running to and fro, may sink into
an ugly, tame, joyless conglomeration of societies, for whom new
discoveries supply hosts of new conveniences, but no return to the
happiness and the contentment of a simpler age. Our purblind toothless
children may have their congenital defects vamped up by science, and
without it we should indeed be stranded upon the reefs of despair. But
happiness does not lie here, no, nor in motors, nor in turbines, nor in
wireless messages across the globe, nor in daily newspapers full of
inextricable fact and falsehood.

I cannot believe that the civilised world will remain satisfied with
this dark outlook,--the monopoly of these factories of material
discovery, where furnace and electric light replace the glorious rays of
the Sun-God worshipped by the Greeks. There has generally been a great
power of recovery in our race at large; and periods of decay have been
followed by periods not only of renascence but of rejuvenescence. At all
epochs when the world grew dull and desponding and the times were out of
joint, we have the mystical tendency, the inclination to brush aside
human joys and cares and to fix the mind on the Eternal, on the
ineffable delights of communion with the Spirit of the Universe. That
this tendency is alive even in modern America, cannot but be obvious to
those who have studied the pathology of so-called Christian Science. The
other tendency is the humanist, that which seeks to recover for us the
joys and beauties of life, enhanced by art and protected by the
refinement of a sound education. This was the aspect of human happiness
which is most perfectly represented, so far as the world has yet run, by
the Greeks, and hence the careful and minute study of their life must
always appeal to those who desire the æsthetic reformation of modern
society. Once and again the Greeks have exercised this vast and
beneficent influence; is it vain to hope that even still it is not
exhausted, but potent to cure the ills of man? Peradventure, the
prophecy of our great and most Hellenic of poets may yet come true, with
a fulfilment wider and deeper than even his large vision could

    A brighter Hellas rears its mountains, from waves serener far;
    A new Peneus rolls his fountains against the morning star.
    Where fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep
    Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep!



In coming before you to-day to treat of the influence of Greek poetry on
the modern world, I feel under a special advantage, which is also a
disadvantage. Many of you will know that two volumes of my _History of
Greek Literature_ are devoted to Greek poetry, and those of you who have
read them must already be familiar with my treatment of the authors and
their works in detail. To such of you, there can be no difficulty in
following the course of the present lecture. But on the other hand, it
is hard for me to give to such hearers new material, seeing that I have
already done my best in two volumes to satisfy their curiosity. To those
that are not familiar with the subject, there is the disadvantage, in
hearing a man whose intimacy with the subject is of such long standing,
that he may allude to things as obvious which to his audience are not
so, being beyond the bounds of their ordinary reading. But I may very
possibly be underrating the cultivation of this audience, which is said
to be on a very different level from that of any similar audience in
England. If so, you, like all competent critics, in contrast to the
vulgar and the ignorant, will appreciate the difficulties of my task and
will judge it with due allowance for these difficulties.

It is obviously my first duty to-day to put before you the _general_
features of Greek poetry which have made it a model for succeeding ages
and nations. Then I shall proceed, with as much detail as time permits,
to give instances of the effects, direct or indirect, of Greek poetry on
the poetry of English-speaking nations. You will find that the features
which are really the most important are not the obvious features, and
hardly those which we might name if we spoke hastily, or at random. The
chiefest and most remarkable, which permeates every Greek poet from
Homer to Theocritus, is that their work is carefully studied, and in no
sense the mere spontaneous outpouring of the human heart. “I lisped in
numbers, for the numbers came,” said, as a matter of pride, a very
artificial poet. Nothing would seem less worthy of it to a Greek poet.
He always despised what we call an untutored genius. We hear talk indeed
of divine madness and of the inspiration of the Muses, but so far as we
know, they never inspired an ignorant man, and never taught an educated
man to violate the traditions of his school. This studied work comes
before us in its full artificiality in the Homeric poems. It is more
than doubtful whether such a language was ever spoken. It is full of
strange forms, and the mixed dialect, sometimes even to us
ungrammatical, was the dialect invented or perfected by a school of
bards who did not profess to reproduce ordinary speech, but something
far higher and better, which only the educated poet could compose. And
when I use the term artificial, which has come in modern English to
signify something contrasted with natural, and therefore inferior,[4] I
must say a word in explanation of my meaning.

It is not the proper province of art to attain to a perfect
representation of nature, but a representation of perfect nature. For
example, the more the art of sculpture developed in Greece, the more
they attained to the representation of a natural but an ideally
beautiful figure, such as the Hermes of Praxiteles. So the last triumph
of a great actor is to reproduce perfectly human nature in its general
features, if not in its ideal features, and so the philosopher exclaims
in wonder at the plays of Menander, “O Menander and human life, which of
you has copied the other?” But if anyone imagines that art consists
merely in photographing vulgar everyday life, he can easily lapse into
absurdity. All our habits, so far as they are civilised, depart from
mere nature and employ artifice to conceal or improve it. If any of you
came here in purely natural attire, imagine the scene! I believe such
things were attempted in the wild society of Paris in the heyday of the
great Revolution, but even then their attire, though inferior in
quantity, was in quality not less artificial than the opinions of the

It follows from these considerations that Greek poetry was always
developed in schools possessing fixed traditions, and following strict
laws both in metre and in diction. If any man thought to break loose
from these restrictions, and write in a manner wholly free and
unchecked, he would get no hearing in Greece. Such a phenomenon, for
example, as your Walt Whitman would have been impossible, or at least we
should never have heard of it.

It is indeed quite true that this does not exclude the rise of new
schools of thought and new modes of expression. When epic poetry was
exhausted new sorts of poetry arose; when these proved insufficient
there was still further development, but all this is to be accounted for
with adherence to law and tradition of some kind. I will take the last
and therefore the most obvious case first. We have in Theocritus, the
latest bloom of pure Greek poetry, bucolic scenes and pastoral language
which were long thought to be the mere echo of the primitive shepherds
who fed their flocks in the uplands of Sicily. We know better now.
Theocritus was a learned man, full of literary jealousies, who wrote in
the sultry atmosphere of the university of Alexandria and at the highly
artificial court of the second Ptolemy. He was probably as remote from
what we call simple human nature as any modern American could be. But he
was a great literary artist, and he felt that while all the other
schools of poetry had gradually lost their contact with real life, and
were becoming obtrusively artificial and outworn in public estimation,
there was still a vein of folk-song, in scenery contrasting utterly with
the crowded sandhills of Alexandria, which might, if treated with
delicate art, appeal once more to the sympathy of a weary and decadent
society. No doubt there were plenty of pedants in Alexandria, who
despised this return to homely and common life, with its vulgar
passions, just as the great French critics repudiated with scorn the
homely scenes and characters in the tragedies of Shakespeare. The
experiment nevertheless succeeded, and this thoroughly artificial but
artistic representation of the sorrows and joys of illiterate peasants,
in lovely metre and with carefully chosen liberties of diction,
fascinated the Greek, then the Roman world, and incited the Renaissance
to similar, but unsuccessful attempts. It has produced its effects upon
English poetry down to the work of Tennyson, who shows more traces of
the influence of Theocritus than of the influence of any other Greek
poet. The secret of it was that, when other schools became exhausted,
Theocritus went back to the people, found among them rude and simple
songs which had never yet been adopted by any school or put into
artistic form, and raised these from the coarseness of nature into the
refinement of a subtle and learned art.

Was not the same process the origin of Greek dramatic poetry, though in
an earlier and far less conscious age? Are we not told that tragedy, and
comedy too, arose from the rude songs of the people and the rude
attempts at acting among simple country folk? The tragedy of Æschylus,
nay, even the perfect diction and metre of Aristophanes, are as far
removed from popular song as it is possible to conceive, yet these too
arose and matured with marvellous quickness from the rude essays of
untutored peasants, whose efforts were wholly beneath the attention of
civilised society.

We know nothing, alas! of the cradles of the lyric poetry of
Archilochus, of Alcæus, of Sappho; we can tell you nothing of the
_incunabula_ of that great and varied development which comprised
several schools. Over the whole surface of those primeval waters, which
cover the world of Greek literature down to the 7th century B.C., we
have but the one great solitary beacon, the poetry of Homer, which tells
us, like the Nantucket light-ship, that we are far, and yet not far,
from the utterances of a literary age:

    As the tall ship, that many a dreary year,
      Knit to some dismal sandbank far at sea,
    All thro’ the livelong hours of utter dark
      Showers slanting light upon the dolorous wave!

But so much the scanty lyric fragments do tell us with a clear voice:
these poets were thoroughly and even elaborately artistic, and their
very careful workmanship, if it did arise from an appeal to the songs of
the people, shows the very same fastidious care which we find in
Theocritus, to purify their art from the clay or the dross of everyday
language. Hence follows as a natural consequence, among a people of
genius like the Greeks, a perfection both in form and in spirit, which
we justly call classical and which forms the model for almost all
subsequent poetry. There are no vagaries of metre or diction; there are
no exaggerations of sentiment. Every civilised man of any epoch, every
critic of judgment, who masters the poetry in the original, finds in it
models of taste which have not since been excelled and only seldom

I need not delay long over a few apparent or real exceptions, so few
that they are only enough for cavil, not for serious criticism. We have
recovered recently the _Persians_ of Timotheus, whose musical
performances were very popular in his day. The poem is the worst that we
know coming from its age and country. But we also know that we should
merely regard it as the libretto of a musical performance, such as the
libretti of the Italian operas we used to frequent in our youth, in
which the text was not of the slightest importance and was generally
very bad. The music was the only part of the performance we criticised.
So the _Persians_ of Timotheus is ridiculous as a poem on the great
battle of Salamis, but even so is pronounced by the authorities on
metre, such as Wilamowitz, to be very careful and polished in that
respect. The _Mimes_ of Herondas, another recent discovery, are also bad
poetry, but then they are mere versifications of prose pieces, such as
those of Sophron were, and meant, I believe, for acting on a cheap stage
or for dramatic recitation. They can hardly be called poetry. In much
earlier days, there was a good deal of tame moral teaching and
proverbial philosophy expressed in verse. But that also was so, because
as yet prose had not become an ordinary vehicle of writing, and any man
who desired to teach, such as Solon, or Theognis, or Empedocles, must
express himself in verse.

I will mention but one more feature in which Greek poetry had obviously
an advantage over modern art of the same kind. Being almost altogether
composed, not for a reading, but a listening public, it was closely
associated with other arts, especially those of music and dancing, so as
to form an essential part of many great public festivals. It was the
soul which animated the frame of every national pageant. If a poet
laureate nowadays is asked to celebrate a great public occasion by a
poem, he writes an ode or an elegy, such as Tennyson’s “Bury the Great
Duke, with a nation’s lamentation,” and sends it out to countless
readers. The Greek poet, on similar occasions, would have a solemn
procession, or a dance, or a scenic display, with appropriate music, to
assist him. These environments secured two great qualities, or rather
tended to secure them, for we must not assume perfection as a general
result in any human product. It secured that the poet would aim at
_dignity_, avoiding all mean and trivial topics. It also secured
_brevity_, avoiding discursiveness, which is a fault of much modern
poetry. Thus Wordsworth’s _Excursion_ would have been intolerable to the
poet himself, had he been a Greek, and to come to a more appropriate
illustration, the exuberant and unlimited choruses in Mr. Swinburne’s
_Atalanta_--otherwise a splendid reflection of Greek tragedy--would not
have been tolerated on account of their redundancy, but the poet would
have compressed them within such limits as would not put his chorus out
of breath, or produce dizziness in his hearers.

The production of poetry for local and special public occasions was also
a main cause of the use of distinct dialects, which did not become
national property till some great work had sanctioned their literary
use. Thus the artificial Homeric dialect became the _lingua franca_ of
all epic poets, whatever their country or their date, down to the end of
old Greek history. Doric choral hymns were adopted by the Attic
tragedies and put into the interludes of Attic dialogue. Luckily for us
the Greeks wrote phonetically and did not conceal their local speech
under the cloak of an artificial and false orthography. Thus the poetry
of the nation has come to us in various dialects, but never, except with
deliberate dramatic aim at vulgarity,[5] in the mere language of the
common people.

But I must now abandon these general considerations and turn to the task
of showing you, in some famous examples, how Greek poetry, possessing
the excellence requisite for a high model, acted upon the greatest and
best of our own poets, as well as on others in modern Europe.

Every one knows that the Greeks have left us three long epic poems--one
the epic of war, the second the epic of voyage, the third, that of
Apollonius Rhodius, the epic of adventure combined with a great love
story. There were many other early epic poems composed in imitation of
the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, but they have been laid aside and forgotten,
most probably because their material has been worked up by the Greeks
into the nobler form of tragedy. For, as you know, the Greeks, who
confined themselves to mythical subjects for these tragedies, avoided
the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, and utilised what were called the Cyclic
poets. It is mere commonplace to tell you that the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_
have been the unapproachable ideals for all subsequent time. The first
and greatest foreign imitator was Virgil, and through his immortal epic,
indirectly more even than directly, the world of poets has been swayed.
It is nevertheless very remarkable that these two masterpieces, coming
complete from the early genius of Greece, as Athena leaped full-armed
from the brain of Zeus, appearing, like Melchisedec, without father,
mother, or descent, to bless the father of the faithful, should never
again have been equalled among men.

The best epic of modern Europe since the classical Renaissance is the
_Paradise Lost_ of Milton. He has given us ample evidence that he was a
great poet, and yet how far below the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ does he
fall! I need hardly tell you that the controversies which agitated his
mind, and the mind of his age, disturbed the serenity of his poetic
vision and dictated to him many digressions which are blots on the
purity of his golden pages. But that is not to my mind his greatest
defect. The action of the gods which in the _Iliad_ is a mere preamble
to the general action of the poem, or an irrelevant episode, and hardly
interferes with its thoroughly human character, is in the theological
poet far too prominent. It occupies in Milton’s poem the forefront,
compared to which the episodes in Eden are but a small matter. The
tremendous part of the poem is not Paradise lost by man, but heaven lost
by the angels that fell. It is the conflict between gods and Titans, as
the Greeks would have put it, and not the conflicts or mortal heroes
that fascinate us. Another remark obtrudes itself as we pass on. The
weakest book in all the _Iliad_ is the Battle of the Gods. It might
readily be expunged from the poem without loss. In Milton the Divine
wholly outweighs the human in grandeur and is the essence of the poem.

There is another feature in this epic which disturbs our admiration--the
great richness and even redundancy of the learned similes. In this
Milton seems to have taken as his model the third Greek epic, which is
now forgotten, but which had a great vogue in the Renaissance, I mean
the _Argonautics_ of Apollonius. His direct obligations to this poet
have been noticed in many places by the commentators. I have no doubt
that a careful study would show many more, and it is all the more
interesting to reflect how a now forgotten Greek source has had so
lasting an influence. The greatest contribution I know from Apollonius
to modern poetry is the famous scene at the opening of Goethe’s _Faust_,
where the world-weary philosopher determines to take a cup of poison,
but is suddenly recalled to life by the Easter dawn with its
Resurrection hymn. You have but to read the scene where Medea, wracked
by what she believes a hopeless passion, turns at the end of a night of
wakeful agony to the same escape, a cup of poison. But with the dawn and
the awakening of human life, the sounds of men react upon her troubled
spirit and cause her to put aside her dread resolve. With her also, and
with the Greek poet, the conception is fresher and better. It is the
youth and health of Medea, the wine of life glowing in her veins which
calls her back from suicidal gloom when cheerful sounds of human life
illumine the dawn. The effect of the Easter hymn on Faust, beautiful as
it is with our Christian associations, does not seem so natural and is
therefore on a lesser scale as poetry.

But when I have started upon the effects of the Greek epic in moulding
the great English epic, which strives so hard to assume a different
tone, with a different subject, I am understating the general influence
of Greek poetry on Milton. In the days before him we may assume that
most of the English poets knew their Greek at second hand, through Latin
copies, or through French translations. Ben Jonson indeed, we are
assured, knew Greek, and Chapman had in his excellent translation made
the English world acquainted with Homer’s _Iliad_. It is easy to
underrate this second-hand influence and to say that after all it was
Latin and not Greek. Nothing would be more misleading. A poet may feel
the greatness of another even though he does not comprehend his tongue.
Thus Shakespeare, whose drama as a whole was clearly outside of all
Hellenic influences of style, as soon as he read in North’s translation
Plutarch’s _Lives_, saw in them subjects fit for his immortal plays. And
not only as to subject, but as to treatment, he adheres so closely to
the Greek master of biography that you can feel the profound respect and
admiration the playwright had for his work. Thus the _Antony and
Cleopatra_, to cite but one example, adheres point for point to the
famous narrative of Plutarch, and adds nothing to his picture. The
influence of Plutarch on the ruffians of the French Revolution is not
less remarkable, and will, I think, occupy us in another connection. But
then these men had for a century previously been taught by their
classical drama to look to the Greeks for lofty principles and ideal
characters. Yet for my purpose it is more relevant to cite a modern
instance. No one would say for a moment that the Greek tone in Keats was
got through Latin or French versions. Yet he seems never to have known
Greek enough to read the originals, whose spirit he caught from the
echoes of classical dictionaries.

But the indirect knowledge of earlier poets, such for example as the
stray citation by Shakespeare of the words of Eteocles from Gascoigne’s
play, are as nothing when we come to Milton, who shows himself
transfused not only with Greek epic, but with the Greek drama. And from
Milton, as the great master, comes that perfection of poetic style and
of metre which has moulded all English poetry from his time onward.
Matthew Arnold even speaks of him as standing above all his successors
in this unique distinction. But when Arnold compares this excellence
with that of Virgil, he should have added that Virgil also owed it to
the Greeks. Nor do I find in Virgil’s _Æneid_ anything like the
familiarity with Greek tragedy which I find in Milton. Thus the whole
situation at the opening of _Paradise Lost_ is not due to Homer, but
rather to the _Prometheus Vinctus_ of Æschylus, where the Titan,
overcome and chained to Mt. Caucasus by the superior might of Zeus,
nevertheless proclaims his undaunted spirit; and of course this struggle
between gods and Titans, which appears so frequently in Greek mythology,
and hence in Greek poetry, is constantly present to Milton, and suggests
to him simile and metaphor all through his poem.

But why delay over these desultory allusions mixed with those of other
legendary cycles, all grasped by his vast erudition? Consider the
_Samson Agonistes_. Here we have the poet deliberately going back to
strictly Greek form and even, in his notable preface to the play,
defending dramatic poetry against Puritan objections by appealing to
Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, “the three tragic poets,” he says,
“unequalled yet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write
tragedy.” You wonder when you consider that he had Shakespeare before
him, whom he mentions elsewhere with admiration. But the same preface
tells us clearly why he would not concede to Shakespeare’s tragedy the
rank he gives to the Greek masters. He says tragedy had fallen into
“low esteem or rather infamy, happening through the poet’s error of
intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity, or introducing
trivial and vulgar characters, which by all judicious persons has been
counted absurd.” He took therefore exactly the view of Voltaire, who is
shocked at the gravedigger in _Hamlet_, and the drunken porter in
_Macbeth_. Such was also the view of Milton’s great French contemporary
Racine, who believed that he had composed his plays in the strictest
accordance with the principles of the ancients. And yet the school of
Shakespeare might easily have defended themselves by citing the practice
of those very masters, whose example they were recommended to follow. In
the first place every Greek tragic poet composed a merry afterlude,
called from its official chorus of Satyrs, a Satyric drama, and this
followed immediately upon their tragedy. Secondly, even in this, the
greatest master, Æschylus, does not disdain to bring “vulgar and trivial
persons” upon his stage, such as the watchman at the opening of the
_Agamemnon_, and the nurse Kilissa, who intermix comic stuff with the
tragic sadness of the play, and even enhance the gloom by the contrast.
Of course the tragedy of Euripides, who deliberately sought to bring
his stage nearer to our ordinary life, could not but exhibit such
passages, as any student of him knows perfectly well.

Taking however Milton’s own view of the nature of Greek tragedy, we have
his _Samson Agonistes_ not only constructed on the frame of an Attic
play, but in every scene full of reminiscences and allusions showing a
minute familiarity with the tragic Three. The opening, with its blind
and world-worn hero, seeking for repose, is taken from the opening of
the second Œdipus of Sophocles. So is the entry of the chorus, with
their surprise at the doleful sight, but presently they assume much the
same part as the ocean nymphs in the _Prometheus_ of Æschylus, and it is
from these two plays that he has borrowed most freely. In the
development there is no doubt that Euripides was his real master. The
litigious element, if I may so call it, which was dear to the Athenians;
the introduction of an insolent giant; of the treacherous Dalila, who
put forth arguments to be refuted by Samson, and so to fill up long
scenes in the play--all this is in Euripides’ best manner. So is the
irruption of the distracted messenger near the close, who narrates the

But nowhere is the thorough appreciation of the spirit of Greek
tragedy, as well as its form, more manifest than in the choruses, and in
the lyrical monodies which are the finest features of the play. He tells
us in the preface, already quoted, that he did not observe the form of
strophe and antistrophe, strictly corresponding, because this implies a
musical accompaniment and performance in singing which was foreign to
his purpose. Still less would he bind himself to rhyme, a shackle
unknown or rather very rare in the poetry of the Greeks. He writes both
lyrical complaints of Samson, and the choral odes which are interludes
to the action, in irregular rythm, which we can hardly call metre, and
which are yet in the strictest sense lofty poetry. These things are not
to the taste of the ordinary commentator. Thus Sir Egerton Brydges, in a
handsome and indeed learned edition adorned by Turner’s drawings, says
at the end of the first chorus: “Though there are magnificent passages
in this chorus, I cannot quite reconcile my ear to the rythm, nor to
some of the expressions, which are, I confess, too like prose.” It is
interesting for you to know that Cicero said nearly the same thing about
Pindar. His elaborate metres sounded to the Roman like prose. But to any
one who is intimate with Greek choruses, nothing has ever been composed
in English which reproduces their effect so perfectly. I need not add
that in substance these odes, partly poetic reflections of a general
sort, partly in direct sympathy with the action of the play, are exactly
the rôle of the chorus in Greek tragedy. In one point only we may say
that here Milton is deficient--in that lyrical sweetness which marks
many of the choruses of Sophocles and Euripides, so that we can recite
them as independent poems. Probably Milton felt his subject too great
and gloomy for such poetical digressions. For when he chose to give us
lyrical sweetness, what can exceed his _Comus_? Nor do I know anything
more Greek than the lovely though learned lyrical poetry toward the
close of that immortal masque.

I now pass from the father of English classical poetry to later but not
more varied manifestations of Greek influence. The most remarkable work
in the early eighteenth century, which took all England by storm, was
Pope’s translation of the _Iliad_. Chapman’s was already there, a very
meritorious work, and now rated more highly than its successor. But in
Pope’s day style was paramount. The _Iliad_ must read as a great English
poem, and we have Homer dressed in eighteenth-century costume, just as
the boys that played Terence at Westminster played him in wigs, powder,
and patches. It is very easy to criticise Pope’s translation. His whole
attitude was like that of Watteau in landscape; his epithets were
generally wrong, and wrong in principle. “And the conscious swain
blesses the useful light” is the conclusion of a simile. Now Homer’s
swain was not conscious, nor did he bless the light as useful.[6]

Thus we see in Jacques Carrey’s now invaluable drawings of the
Parthenon--for they were done a few years before its disaster--that he
could not even copy Phidias’s work before him, without importing the
style of the seventeenth-century Frenchman. All these things are true
and obvious, and yet the poet, who in translating another, recasts him
into his own mould, though he be faithless as a translator, may be far
greater as a poet. Ever since I was introduced to Homer by Pope, more
than fifty years ago, I have felt that, with all its anachronisms,
Pope’s poem is the greatest and best version of the Greek master, and a
proper one for those to read who cannot approach the original. No prose
translation, however scholarly and accurate, can give the least idea of
the swing of the great epic, and so I feel that the influence of Homer
through Pope has been wide and lasting and that the very defects of so
great a performance have stimulated oft-renewed attempts at reproducing
the great masterpiece. Dryden’s Virgil of course led public taste in the
same direction, so that we have an age very diverse from Greek in taste,
and very incongruous to it, nevertheless dominated, perhaps even more
than people then imagined, by Greek classical models.

The case of lyrical poetry is not dissimilar. The poets of the
eighteenth century had before them Horace’s versions of Alcæus and
Sappho, and the text of Pindar, who was, as Horace had told them, the
greatest master of all. But as he was difficult even for Horace to
understand, so he was to the eighteenth-century poets but vaguely
intelligible. Above all, the very essence of his studied, careful, and
learned genius was wholly misunderstood. He was conceived to be a poet
beyond the bounds of strict art, drunk with the muse and pouring forth a
torrent of splendid thoughts in disregard of all the shackles of metre,
which was so obvious in the Æolic school. Thus they strove to imitate
his apparent impetuosity, and the supposed irregularities of his metre,
and produced many good poems, inspired indeed by the Greek, but wholly
foreign to their model. The greatest of them was he who knew the
originals far better than the rest, and took the pains to master them
with scholarly care. We have in Gray a poet of really Greek temper and
spirit, very learned, very fastidious, very strict in form, though that
form be rich and various, and to my thinking well worthy of comparison
with Simonides or Bacchylides, both in purity of style and splendour of

An excellent American critic (W. L. Phelps) has shown very clearly how
Gray, beginning with classical training and making the pseudo-classical
Dryden his model, was nevertheless in middle life swept away by the
Romantic wave which flooded England and which made him prefer Keltic and
national subjects to those derived from Greek and Latin traditions. All
this is perfectly true, yet equally true is it, that no change of
subject could change or mar the splendid form, the pure diction, the
delicate taste which Gray derived from his careful study of the Greek
poets, and which is as clear in his “Welsh bard,” as in his “progress of
classical poesy.” No English poet had hitherto grasped the real
splendour of Pindar, not even Milton, and so the Pindaric odes of
lesser men, such as Cowley and Shenstone, have not survived as popular
poems, whereas Dryden’s _Ode to St. Cecilia_, and a whole series of
Gray’s poems, show clearly the matchless training which Greek poetry
affords the modern poet, whatever be his subject or his school.

It is in fact much more important and interesting to point out these
indirect influences, than to lay stress on the direct borrowing from the
Greek in form and diction. This very conflict or contrast may be
exemplified in Byron’s poetry. He was a leading member of the Romantic
school or fashion, and yet all his life he loved and honoured the
classical perfection of the Greeks, and not infrequently by a stray
passage proves how minute his knowledge even of fragments of Greek
poetry.[7] The political circumstances of modern Greece in the early
nineteenth century, the great struggle of the population against Turkish
tyranny--all this gave a romantic foreground to the classical taste
fostered by the higher schools and colleges throughout Europe; and so
the admiration of the old Greeks in art, politics, and literature was a
sort of classical justification for the Romanticists who had sprung
from the reaction against the false French classicism of an earlier
generation. Byron was first in adding the realities of actual Greece to
its interest as a mere frame or imaginary locus for classical poetry.
None of the eighteenth-century poets, or even the earlier historians of
Greece, showed the smallest curiosity about the actual home of Greek
literature, the actual cradle that nursed all this unequalled genius.

Even Grote and Thirlwall, long after the poets had discovered what
inspiration was to be derived from the mountains and fiords of Hellas,
wrote their immortal histories, without any feeling that they would have
gained, by a knowledge of the ground, a new and living flavour. For they
had both means and leisure to travel and yet they sought no help outside
the books of their libraries. But Byron brought into poetry at least
that realism about Greece which made a study of Greek and of Greece at
first-hand the desire of poets and of artists. Of Keats, who had not the
opportunities, I have spoken. In Shelley, we have that perfect
combination of romantic imagination with profound Greek culture that
makes him the greatest and probably the most lasting of that galaxy that
illumined the early nineteenth century. The least Greek of them all was
Wordsworth, and I venture to say that had he studied Greek poetry, it
would have taught him the essential differences which separate it from
prose--lofty style, select diction, above all, compression within strict
bounds and moderate limits--and thus have saved both us and him from the
dreariness of his prosaic _Excursion_. Let none of you think that I
underrate his poetic work. But in his highest moments it is the glow of
Greek splendour, the spiritual lessons of the august Plato that illumine
his sober genius, and translate him for the hour into the company of the

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, we see the strong desire
to reproduce the Greek masterpieces not only by people who were poets
for the occasion, like Lord Derby or Miss Swanwick, but also by the
masters who had already proved their greatness to the English world.
Robert Browning has given us versions of several plays, the _Agamemnon_,
the _Mad Herakles_, the _Alkestis_. In the last, he lays stress rather
on the psychological attitude of Euripides, on his character-drawing,
than on the lyrical portions, which are not reproduced in lyrical metre.
But how easily he could do this he proved to me when I asked him to
render a famous ode of the poet in a form approaching the original.
Writing to London from Dublin on a Monday, I had his version on
Wednesday evening. The original manuscript I have given to an American
friend who treasures it; the words appear in my little monograph on
Euripides published years ago.

Swinburne and Matthew Arnold have not translated old Greek dramas, but
have composed plays after that model. To an intelligent reader who has
no knowledge of Greek, I know no better approach than to read the
_Atalanta_ or the _Erechtheus_ of Swinburne, or, if he prefer it, the
_Merope_ of Arnold, which is not so great a poem as either of the
others, but just as faithful a mirror of Greek mind; for the exuberance
of Swinburne’s choruses, the unrestrained riot of his ebullitions
against the providence of the Gods, may be splendid poetry--they are
foreign to the chaste and moderate diction which characterises almost
all Greek literature. If there be a great exception, it is in the gloomy
grandeur of Æschylus, and accordingly no play has been so often
attempted in English as the _Agamemnon_.[8]

When we pass from this large influence of Greek drama to that of the
lyric fragments or the idylls and love stories of our modern poets, I am
met by an old assertion of the pedants, that the Greeks were wanting in
that love and feeling for nature which is the prerogative of the
Romantic school. I see no such contrast between Classical and Romantic.
Gray, the most classical of our lyric poets, was the first to insist
upon the necessity of a poet refreshing his soul with the wild beauties
of mountain scenery. If we had more of Sappho, we should find that she
too was romantic in that as in every other reasonable sense. The last
fragment recovered, which prophesies that her girl friend will shine at
Sardis like the moon among the stars in a summer night, paints the
splendours of such a night in the glowing colours of a true poet of
nature. There is in Theocritus, there is in Apollonius, ample evidence
of a delight in the sights, and still more the sounds, of nature, and so
the most classical of our modern lyric poets, Tennyson, shows great
intimacy with Theocritus, and takes not only his images but still more
his tone from that delightful original. Such images as

    Sleep that gentlier on the spirit lies
    Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes,

and again,

    The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
    And murmurings of innumerable bees,

are, if not translated from Theocritus, certainly suggested by him. A
more explicit borrowing from the Greek will be found in the comparison
of a strong man’s biceps to the passing of running water over a stone
that does not break it:

    And bared the knotted column of his throat,
    The massive square of his heroic breast,
    And arms on which the standing muscle sloped
    As slopes a wild brook o’er a little stone,
    Running too vehemently to break upon it.

But in every page of that poet which is not mere familiar home life, I
feel in the splendour of his style the very echo of Greek work, and I
can well imagine how Euripides would have revelled in the lines,

    His honour rooted in dishonour stood,
    And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.

The influence of Greek comedy is too complicated to be discussed at the
close of this discourse. For the greatest of the Greek masters,
Aristophanes, has so intensely Attic a quality that we might as well try
to imitate the work of Phidias. But his genteel successor Menander has
become, through the versions of Plautus and Terence, the father of
genteel comedy in Europe. He was extravagantly praised and popular in
decadent Greece. I for one cannot hold that his legacy stands high among
the priceless treasures bequeathed to us by his nation. But of his
influence there can be no question.[9]

It remains for me to say a word to those who ask how far this great
poetry of the Greeks was reduced to theory, among a nation who loved to
reduce everything to theory. The climax of this tendency is shown in the
work of Aristotle, as we shall see in another connection, and Aristotle
has either written, or caused to be written, among his multifarious
tracts, an essay called the _Poetic_, which is mainly, so far as we have
it, an analysis of the meaning of Tragic poetry. There are, no doubt,
some very important utterances in this tract, notably the famous
definition of tragedy, upon which so many volumes have been written.
But, on the whole, I know no poorer and more jejune exposition of a
great subject, so much so that I cannot but suspect that it is one of
the many outlying researches that he entrusted to his pupils. Here is
the kind of criticism to which I take exception as unworthy of
Aristotle: In the _Iphigenia in Aulis_ Euripides has given us one
distinct type in his wonderful gallery of heroines, all facing death for
the real or supposed public good, either freely or under the coercion of
cowardly or cruel princes. This Iphigenia is a young fresh creature just
blooming into life, and she hears the first news of her fate with an
outburst of passionate tears, and of supplication against the cruel
sentence. Yet presently, when she finds her doom sealed, she resigns
herself with the splendid dignity of an inborn gentlewoman, and so adds
greatly to the “pity and the terror” of the tragedy.

The author of the _Poetic_ says the character is not consistently drawn,
and therefore faulty. What a contemptible judgment! It is only to be
matched by the observation of the worthless pedant who tells us in his
_scholium_ that the Medea of Euripides had no business to shed tears
over her children, as she was a hard and cruel character and about to
murder them. So again this Aristotle says that poetry is essentially
different from prose, and gives as an example that the work of Herodotus
would not cease to be history even were it cast in metrical form. This
observation misses the deeper distinction of poetic and prosaic thought,
which does not depend on metrical form. There are many passages in
Herodotus which despite their prose form are essentially poetry, as we
shall see in the next lecture.

These criticisms will, I trust, console you when I add that I have no
time left for a full consideration of the _Poetic_. It is not always
given to those who do great work to expound how they did it. Even among
the Greeks there was a current theory that the poet suffered under that
divine madness which we call inspiration, and knew not the full force of
what the Muse spoke through his lips. That this inspiration did not
dispense with careful preparation, with elaborate metrical perfection, I
have already told you. We have but recently learned from the _Persians_
of Timotheus that this metrical perfection may also be used to convey
the most ludicrously silly conceits.

Let us therefore take what Time has left us with thankfulness, and not
disturb ourselves or mar our enjoyment by the application of barren
theories. From Homer to the _Anthology_, you can find great poems and
splendid fragments that will exalt you into the higher world reserved
for those that can lay aside material cares. There you will enlarge the
wealth of your souls; there you will enter upon the heritage left you by
those that had attained and taken possession of the ideal to which all
our love of beauty tends as its goal. But let me repeat to those who
cannot quaff this poetry at the source: take it from the vessels of the
English poets that are ready to your hands, not from the laboured prose
of the modern scholar. Take Calverley’s Theocritus; take Browning’s
Euripides; take Whitelaw’s Sophocles; take Frere’s Aristophanes. Thus
may you reach not the real shrine, but, like some proselyte of old, the
outer court of the matchless Temple.



I suppose the ordinary critic, when reviewing the great subject before
us, would hardly think to-day’s title one of sufficient importance to
occupy a Boston audience, and yet it ought to be shown that in prose,
fully as much as in poetry, the Greeks have been the teachers of
civilised Europe. Probably also the subject will have to you this
interest, that it is not at all so obvious as that of the last lecture.
Everyone knows about the Greek poets; many of them are the household
property of the modern world. But the origin and the development of
Greek prose is not so generally studied, and its far-reaching influence
not so widely understood. Moreover, we know something more of the early
stages of its history, and though it also surprises us with its absolute
perfection in our earliest authors, and seems to leap from the brain of
the god as fully armed as the poetry of Homer, yet we _have_ some traces
of earlier efforts; we have some inkling of what went before Herodotus,
more than we have of what went before Homer. That is mostly due to the
late origin of prose writing among the Greeks. At first, verse form was
universal for recording all topics of interest. Even genealogies were
composed in hexameters. All the proverbial wisdom of the Seven Sages was
in metrical form. Solon, the greatest of these sages, even preaches his
politics, and gives us his autobiography, in elegiac metre. We seem to
have travelled a long way from the epoch when such a man as Mr.
Gladstone or Mr. Roosevelt would address the Senate or the people in
verse; yet for all that Solon was a lawgiver, probably as great as
either of them, and a very modern man, too, far more modern in tone and
spirit than Mr. Gladstone. Nor am I sure that Mr. Roosevelt would not
enjoy composing his messages to his Senate in verse; still less should I
affirm that the German Emperor would not revel in heroic verse, as the
proper vehicle for his exhortations to his subjects.

I note this in order to bring home to you the fact that late in Greek
spiritual history the greatest men and their audiences remained
satisfied with the shackles of metre, as conveying serious teaching in a
more permanent and more popular form than prose. For of course at the
beginning of society, when there are no written records, men are wont
to clothe their legends and tales in that form, as it is a great aid to
the memory, and can be easily taught to children, who remember the sound
long before they pay attention to the sense. I will not speak of
inscriptions in prose, as they are not intended in early days for works
of art, any more than the earliest letters, which are mere messages
conveyed by writing.

But there _was_ an early attempt made, in the rich society of Ionia, to
clothe thought in an artistic form without the shackles of metre, and
that was the writing of the philosopher Heracleitus. I will speak of his
great and pregnant theory hereafter; what concerns us now is that his
obscure aphorisms were intended to strike the reader by their form, as
well as their matter.

He had apparently a single predecessor in Pherecydes of Syros. The
subjugation of Ionia by the Persians, and especially the fall of
Miletus, seem to have put an end to this early picturesque writing and
thinking until it woke up as the scientific vehicle of the Greek school
of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine.

It was in the opposite extreme of the Greek world, the far west, peopled
mainly not by Ionians but by Dorians, that literary prose made a new
beginning, which no political changes were able to crush, till all
Greece fell under foreign domination. The first of these attempts was
the composition, at Syracuse, of a treatise teaching citizens how to
plead their cases in court. It was a time when revolutions in the state
and consequent changes of property, arising from confiscations and
exiles, often reversed by a turn of the wheel of fortune, made it vital
for every plaintiff or defendant to be able to prove his case to a jury
by persuasion. This school, though Doric in origin, passed to Attica,
bred there a school of famous pleaders, from Antiphon to Demosthenes,
who paid the closest attention to the form of their speeches, and so
perfected the eloquence of the bar for all time.

In strong contrast to this school was the eloquence of display, referred
to Gorgias as its earliest master, which made elegant composition and
splendid delivery an end in itself, and, in the hands of the educators
called Sophists, often chose a contemptible or repulsive subject in
order to show how even the most trivial cause was capable of
glorification by art, just as Teniers makes the pothouse and its drunken
boors fit to take their place among the treasures that decorate a great

In these widely contrasted pursuits of careful speaking, there were
several points in common. In both, the subject was either ephemeral or
might be trivial; it was the _treatment_ which was the great point of
interest and which gave rise to theories and systems. In neither was it
the intention to instruct or improve the hearer. In the one, to effect
persuasion for the moment, in the other to gain admiration for the
moment, was the object of the speaker. In both also, though most
carefully composed, was the written word wholly subordinate to the
spoken sound. When these studies first arose, there was as yet no
reading public, no gathering of books, and studying them at home; but a
public vastly fond of talking, and of hearing brilliant talk.

There were other occasions and interests in Greek life, where the
_subject_ was of such paramount importance, that for a long time style
was regarded with suspicion, as giving a flavour of unreality to the
statements of the speaker or writer. One was the narrative of those
events that had taken place in past time; the other was the grave
deliberation of public men regarding the future of the state, questions
of justice and of policy in the treatment of citizens, or in the dealing
with neighbouring powers. The earlier leaders of Greece, such as
Aristides, Themistocles, Pericles, and the ambitious men who made
themselves tyrants, all must have studied the art of persuasion with due
care, but it was not for some generations that a professional orator
like Demosthenes was intrusted with the charge of public affairs, and
that the words orator and politician came to mean the same thing. Yet
even here, the tendency in the Greek mind to submit everything to law
and training, to turn every kind of human work into an art, was so
strong, that no form of prose writing escaped this schooling, and all of
it shows a strictness of rhetorical form which seems, at first study of
it, artificial, until we come to learn that the highest products of
human art are not spontaneous, but the result of careful reflection.

While these various efforts towards spoken eloquence were occupying men,
we find that early annalists set down either in rude metrical form, or
even in prose, past events, thus laying the foundation for the greatest
development of prose. I mean history, not merely as a record of past
events, but as an artistic product, on the same level as dramatic poetry
or as fresco painting.[10] The earlier attempts are known to us only
through names and scraps of writing; we cannot now tell how far Hecatæus
and Xanthus the Lydian were historians in the artistic sense; but there
is no doubt whatever that in Herodotus the Greeks have given not only to
the ancient, but to the modern world, a model of the _art_ of history
which has never been excelled. And as if that were not enough, we have
in Thucydides another model (one which professes not the charm of
artistic narrative, but the strict analysis of positive facts) and in
this model, which has imposed itself, or has imposed, on generations of
historians, we have another specimen of the use of prose, which is
likewise the highest model of the so-called _science_ of history. This
latter instance is all the more remarkable because the writer did not,
like Herodotus, chose a great world-subject, but a long and dull civil
war, in which no gigantic interests were at stake, and yet by his
consummate art, by his intense seriousness, little skirmishes in which a
few hundreds of men were engaged have become household words in modern
life, while elsewhere many a shock of myriads has past into oblivion.
Thus the little actions of the Athenian Phormio with his well trained
boats against a superior force have given rise to a far larger
literature than the great world-battles of Actium or Lepanto in the
same seas. There was no Thucydides to write about these latter.

As I think it easier to impress a modern audience with the importance of
Greek prose style in this particular branch of its excellence, I shall
put it in the foremost place. Nothing strikes a reader of the _Poetic_
of Aristotle (or of the treatise so called) as more incompetent than the
illustration the writer uses to show that dramatic poetry is more
philosophical than history. He says that the former portrays the general
features of human character, as they must naturally develop, whereas
history has no object but to narrate the details of what has happened,
_e.g._ what Alcibiades did or suffered. I have already pointed out to
you the astounding stupidity with which he has criticised the
development of a noble tragic character by a great dramatist--the
_Iphigenia in Aulis_ of Euripides. His notion of the portraiture of
human nature as it ought to develop is one of commonplace consistency,
excluding all those storms and passions which suddenly supervene and
which give to human character all its interest and its variety.

I have spoken to you of Aristotle’s judgments on tragic characters; but
I am now concerned with his view of history, as a mere narrative of
particulars, and I come to consider again his statement that Herodotus
if put into metre would nevertheless be only history, and not dramatic
poetry. It is a curious thing that we can here refute the critic from
historical facts which he should have, nay must have, known. One episode
in the history of Herodotus had already become a famous tragedy in the
hands of Æschylus, whom we may fairly assert to be a very excellent
judge of what was proper for a tragic subject. Another historic episode,
the _Fall of Miletus_, was made the subject of a tragedy by Phrynichus,
and if it displeased the Attic audience, who fined the poet, it was not
because the subject was failing in tragic interest, but because it
possessed too much, for it melted the whole audience into tears, and
brought home to them their present misfortunes, as well as their recent
blunders in policy, and their craven desertion of their kindred in

The whole essence of prose history, as an art, first comprehended by
Herodotus, is to regard the course of human affairs not as a mere
catalogue of events but as a great human drama depending on large and
eternal principles, wherein the rise and fall of great nations, still
more the rise and fall of the great men who sway great nations, afford
us the contemplation of “deeds, or series of events of importance and
completeness, producing through the excitement of the feelings of pity
and terror in the reader the purification of these emotions.” Aristotle
adds to this his definition of tragedy that the subject must be
sweetened by graces of diction in every part, and this is exactly what
the first great historian did, and what every one of his successors is
bound to do, if his work is to live as a work of art, and not to be laid
by as a mere repertory for learned reference. History as a matter of
style is therefore one of the great legacies of the Greeks to mankind.

But not only in the style does Herodotus agree with the definition of
tragedy in Aristotle. He does so also in his subject. This must be great
or dignified, it must have completeness in itself, and it must contain
those changes of fortune which are so peculiarly affecting to every
reader. The struggle between Persia and Greece, its inception, its
varying fortunes, the subjugation of Ionia, the anguish of Greece--all
leading to the climax at Salamis and Platea, and the craven flight of
Xerxes to his home--what greater or more complete subject could a
historian choose? And in order to sweeten it with words, there are many
pauses in the action, filled with delightful digressions, far more
various and more restful than the choruses in a Greek tragedy. These,
and all the main narrative, and the dramatic dialogues which he
composes for his actors, are presented to us in that easy and flowing
style which seems natural and obvious, because it is the most perfect

I do not know whether this admirable simplicity is ever the spontaneous
product of human genius. Whenever I have been able to reach the
evidence, I have found it the result of great labour and fastidious
care. I will give you an instance. There was no one more remarkable in
Europe in his generation for pellucid simplicity of style than Ernest
Renan. I once saw in a friend’s room a proof which Renan had sent him
for revision. I was not allowed to study it, but a glance showed me that
a thin strip of printed matter, the first draft, had been laid down on a
large blue sheet of paper, all the wide margins of which were covered
with corrections, alterations, and rehandlings of the printed sentences.
There was much erased, much added, much changed more than once. There
was perhaps three times as much in the corrections as in the original
draft. The result, as we know, was something so easy and natural that it
seemed to have flowed without the smallest effort from his pen.

But Herodotus is not the only model by whom the Greeks have established
a standard for modern writers. He has about him the air of a
story-teller, and he repeats many legends and wonders, so that graver
and more sceptical generations set him down as a credulous traveller
easily deceived by lying reports, if not as a deliberate writer of
fiction. So many of these so-called lies or inventions have turned out
after all to be true or probable (_e.g._, the tradition that the
Etruscans came to Italy from the coast of Asia Minor by sea) that even
from this point of view Herodotus has been vindicated by modern

If you want a model of the other kind of history--that which professes
to be a sober record of carefully sifted facts, which professes to
discard all that is miraculous or legendary, and insist upon testimony,
then in the opinion of all the ages you find its perfection in
Thucydides. There used to be a general agreement that in contrast to the
obviously artistic turn of Herodotus, his successor had exalted history,
as far as was possible, to the rank of an exact science. We now know
that this view is very far from the truth. Thucydides, as his speeches
should always have clearly demonstrated, was an artist just as
consciously as Herodotus, nay rather a more subtle artist, in that he
concealed his art and deluded mankind under the guise of a solemn and
dignified person, telling nothing but the unvarnished truth.[11] For he
too felt that the tragedies of human affairs were a fit and noble
subject for the contemplation of men; he too felt that the lessons
conveyed by the catastrophes in the affairs of brilliant polities and
brilliant men are as valuable as those borrowed from legendary story for
the tragic stage. The speeches he puts into the mouths of his characters
are not those actually delivered, either in language, or probably even
in substance. They are rather rhetorical expositions of the political
situations, as the historian conceived them, and reflections which he
thinks the reader ought to make. He also knows the more modern way of
dealing with this side of history. His reflections on the Corcyrean
massacre[12] are a famous specimen of this artistic or subjective
writing. I have taken pains elsewhere to show that his picture of the
degradation of politics in Greece so far as he represents it to be new
and sudden, is false. All the vices which make up his brilliant but
lurid sketch were old, well known, and ingrained in the Greek
character.[13] But it was part of his artistic scheme to represent the
vices of that age, and especially at Athens, culminating in a brutal and
wholly unhistorical dialogue with the Melians, as the proper prelude to
the great disaster in Sicily and the consequent fall of Athens. Thus
choosing a far smaller and poorer subject than Herodotus, treating it
also in a far poorer and narrower way, he has by those very restrictions
intensified his book, and infused into it such dignity and pathos as to
make it artistically worthy of the age of Phidias, of Aristophanes, of

When we ask whether the diction of this great work is adequate to its
artistic conception, the answer is not, I think, far to seek. There are
two kinds of diction in Thucydides, a clear, chaste attractive narrative
of facts, without ornament, but rising with its subject to a pathetic
earnestness, which has seldom been surpassed. This narrative, like the
dialogue of tragedy, is interrupted at suitable moments by the pretended
speeches of the actors, which by a curious inversion are like the chorus
in the play, giving the motives of the action and often the disguised
opinions of the writer. These are expressed in obscure and contorted
language, which ancient critics did not hesitate to stigmatise as
thoroughly bad style. With models of clearness before him, such as
Herodotus, Euripides, Antiphon, this fault is an idiosyncrasy of
Thucydides, and yet a defect which has not failed to bring to him
certain advantages. For obscurity always produces the impression of
profundity, especially when it occurs in a solid and weighty author.
Thus the many platitudes in Thucydides’ speeches, and the recurrence of
obvious ideas, are disguised by contortions of expression, so that the
discovery of the meaning is a mental exercise which flatters and thus
pleases the reader, if he be curious in such things, still more the
commentator, who finds wonderful scope for his often mediocre talent in
such labour. This is the quality in Mr. George Meredith who makes his
admirers think highly of themselves, while they despise others.[14]

Time fails me to illustrate further, in Xenophon and in Polybius, this
artistic conception of a period of human history as a great drama, in
which the rise, the splendour, and the fall of great men, great cities,
great nations are told us with artistic selection of the details and
artistic perfection of style. This was the conception which moved Gibbon
to write the _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_. He saw around him,
at Rome, the gigantic relics of a bygone civilisation. He felt within
him the power of style to present the facts in adequate form; and so we
obtained another work of art, in which the presentation of the facts is
not less important than the facts themselves. As the Greeks put it over
and over again, and as Cicero repeats it, history is a form of
eloquence, and _that_ history only will last which possesses the _sine
qua non_ of a great or an attractive style. This is what the Greeks have
taught us, and what many of us have ignored to our own ruin as permanent

I will conclude this part of my subject by reminding you that in
biography, which as the idyll gives a single scene, or as a cameo gives
the portrait of an individual--Plutarch has been the model to all modern
biographers. How truly dramatic was his conception and his treatment of
individual great lives will come home to you at once when I remind you
that Shakespeare found in his _Lives_ subjects for a series of
tragedies, and in his diction language which required very little

Let us now turn back to the sister developments of eloquence, wherein
the writing of history had accomplished such triumphs. These are in
brief the eloquence of debate, and the eloquence of display. And the
eloquence of debate may either be that of the courts, wherein private
individuals, the plaintiff and defendant, are pitted one against the
other, or that of the public assembly, where political deliberations are
held and in which the orator seeks to persuade the majority to adopt his
policy or to reject the policy of a political opponent. Remember that in
all these cases the Greeks were equally adverse to extemporaneous
effusions. They believed in the artistic arrangement and polished
expression of every argument. In the law courts, where litigants had to
appear in person, and not by counsel, it was the advocate’s duty to
compose the client’s speech for him beforehand, and probably to instruct
him in its proper delivery. As we never hear of any breaking down in
court, of any client unable to remember or speak out what the advocate
had prepared for him, I think it possible that the litigants were
allowed to read their speeches. In any case, the composition of these
speeches became a well-known and lucrative profession, and was
accordingly adopted by the ablest men. The practice had long suggested
the theory, and so from early times there were treatises composed, known
as τέχναι, wherein the subtleties of the art of persuasion were
carefully analysed and reduced to rule. The early treatises of this kind
are lost, but we feel their results in the remains of Antiphon and
Isæus, and can affirm that they were eminently practical, and thoroughly
opposed to the froth and fury of what we call popular eloquence. The use
of figures of speech is reduced to a minimum, the so-called flowers of
rhetoric are wholly absent. All is tame, severe, temperate, not
pretending to influence the passions but to convince the reason. And yet
this latter is to be done not by speaking the language of the heart, but
by the careful training of the intellect, and the perfection of the
delivery.[15] To us moderns these things appear at first hearing to
flavour of artificiality; the great bugbear of the modern mind, which
contrasts it with the purity and sincerity of nature. The Greeks knew
this contrast perfectly, and they met it, not by the folly of leaving
nature to follow its own devices, but by making nature the highest
artistic product. Thus the court advocates, composing for various
clients, studied not only the proper arguments to be urged, but that
these arguments must be presented “in character” and so they carefully
kept before them the personality of the speaker. In Lysias especially,
this expression of character in the speaker is part of his art, which so
perfectly apes simplicity that it requires a careful analysis to detect
behind the simple utterance of the homely citizen the subtle

This refinement of legal rhetoric seems to me to have been disregarded
or abandoned when the pleaders became so celebrated that the fiction of
a client speaking for himself was no longer plausible, and when the
public that thronged the courts went to hear an oration of Demosthenes
or Hypereides delivered by his client. Hence the speeches of Demosthenes
are not so various in ethos, and many of them being delivered about his
own private affairs, had already taught the public to recognise his
great style. In particular, so many of his orations were not court
speeches but political harangues that this latter branch of eloquence
may be regarded as that in which he best showed his pre-eminence. And
there are not a few instances where the ostensible case was only an
excuse for promoting or vindicating a great policy. The acme of all this
branch of Greek literature is the famous _de Corona_ of Demosthenes,
which great lawyers and political orators like Lord Brougham have
declared to be the very _ne plus ultra_ of eloquence intended not only
to persuade, but also to persuade by all the arts of subtle logic, of
brilliant sophistry, of red hot argument. And remember men like Lord
Brougham, though infinitely better practical judges of the effect of
such a speech than are mere scholars, did not know one tithe of the
subtleties of style, which have only been detected by the minute
studies, not only of the old Greek critics, but of modern German

Even in such a mighty speech as this you will notice the very scanty use
of ornament. There are none of what we moderns call the flowers of
rhetoric; there is no sounding peroration. It is the picture of a grave
patriot vindicating his life’s work against the carping of his enemies
and the criticism of his opponents. There are indeed passages of gross
vituperation, wherein by scathing reflections on his opponent’s previous
life, he replies to Æschines’ insinuations about his private character.
Nor has the character of Æschines ever recovered from this “raking of
his record,” which was probably not at all kept within the limits of the
truth. But the restraints which have been usual among modern gentlemen
in debate, especially the modern English gentlemen of the last century,
were not regarded as essential to the dignity of the highest Greek court
oration, and that was probably because the jury was composed of the
middle and lower classes who were not shocked by any want of refinement.

Notwithstanding this limitation, there can be no question that in the
oratory of debate the Greeks taught the Romans, then through them
Mediæval Europe, then after the Renaissance, modern Europe directly, so
that even now they are the acknowledged masters in this splendid art. It
is all the more astonishing, as we might naturally think that a society
without printing and consequently without a great reading public would
not have aimed at producing an eloquence which was not only splendid to
read when the heat of controversy was allayed, but worthy of study and
of analysis by the critics of succeeding generations. Nevertheless, with
no better means of publication for readers than manuscript copies, and
without any hope of great celebrity, or of great profit as the authors
of written speeches, these Greeks produced work which has perfectly
stood the test even of new and exacting conditions. In spite of their
limited public, the orators had attained to as clear a notion as we have
of the importance of appealing to a reading and thinking public which
could study their arguments and their style at full leisure, and so, not
content with the orations primarily intended for delivery, they also
perfected the prose essay, and even the prose dialogue, a very peculiar
form of literature, inasmuch as it is the literary stereotyping of an
apparently spontaneous conversation.

But when I speak of a reading public, perhaps I should limit it
somewhat, and say a public accustomed to hear reading aloud. That is the
intermediate stage between a mere audience and the mere readers of
books. I am quite accustomed to that intermediate stage in Ireland. You
may see there any day groups of people hearing a newspaper or book read
out, and if the great body of the public is of this class, then the
writer must think not only of what he has to say but how it will sound
when read aloud. I take the same principle to have animated the
composers of the splendid English Book of Common Prayer. They desired to
affect the hearer not only by the sentiment, but by the sound of their
Liturgy. Now this is the very step in prose writing which was taken by
the Greek students of eloquence, and most notably by Isocrates, the
father of the political prose essay in Europe.

There were no doubt accidental or personal causes which conspired to
this result at this moment. Isocrates, with great natural gifts for
style and for composition, was wholly deficient in voice and in physique
for the profession of public speaking, nor had he the extraordinary
energy and perseverance shown by Demosthenes in overcoming these
defects. So it occurred to him that he might exercise his influence by
prose writing in the form of open letters or political pamphlets, where
he puts his thoughts into the most polished periods and the most refined

I cannot but quote to you a curious parallel of a man of genius turning
a natural defect into a splendid success. When Richard Wagner began to
compose operas of the received form, he failed because of his want of
facility to produce a sustained melody. He then bethought himself of the
use of short phrases instead of sustained songs, and in spite of his
original defect he has obtained a very great and deserved popularity.
There are, of course, other great qualities in Wagner, especially his
novel and splendid use of the orchestra. But the question of melody is
always the vital one in music, and no man ever attained the first rank
that has left us so few sustained melodies. His _Rienzi_ shows what he
could do when he attempted them.

The laws of prose composition, as devised and perfected by Isocrates,
are the most subtle and complete ever put into practice by any living
man, and though of course some of them are only applicable to the Greek
language, and indeed to Attic Greek, the general principles he expounded
have been applied by many writers and in many languages.[16] It is well
known that Cicero modelled himself on this style and through him it
became dominant in Europe. The greatest English example in older days is
the _Areopagitica_ of Milton, who though manifestly inspired by
Isocrates, is far from possessing his perfect control of language,
perfect smoothness of period, perfect clearness of thinking, all of
which make up the charm of the great master. Isocrates was the teacher
of this great style, not only to pleaders and pamphleteers, but to
historians, and he was blamed for making men like Ephorus and
Theopompus, his favourite pupils, in writing their once famous works,
think more of their diction than of their impartiality or their
research. But surely the duty of making history eloquent, such as we
have it in Gibbon, is of paramount value. To this I shall not now
return. I rather desire to call your attention to the supremacy of a
great periodic style even in English, and in these latter days, when
brevity, epigram, impatience of style and an affected neglect of form
are in high fashion. Among the writers of the 19th century, I take by
far the greatest stylist to be John Ruskin, and I consider that far the
largest part of his influence arose not from his ideas, which were often
fantastic, but from the admirable way in which they were set forth. But
he was essentially the master of the long period, for with him you may
find a whole page consisting of one grand sentence, in which many
clauses are co-ordinated, many lesser ideas balanced, many strands woven
into the one great tissue which comes from the writer’s pen as from a
loom. And that is the reason why he was a greater stylist than all the
Froudes and Newmans and Paters, who either use short sentences, or if
they attempt the period, are neither melodious nor clear.

The same law holds good in eloquence, when we can find a master to
illustrate it. The two greatest English orators I have heard during the
last generation were Mr. Gladstone and Archbishop Magee. Both dealt in
the long period--the former from constant habit, which was even notable
in his ordinary life, and which spoilt his conversation; the other, who
was brief and pungent enough in ordinary talk, trained himself upon the
model of Chalmers, a great Scotch orator before my day. I have seen
Magee’s copy of Chalmers, and have noted how minutely he had dissected
and analysed it. But both produced the same wonderful effect by (if I
may say so) embarking the audience with them on the billows of great
periods, which excited wonder how they would ever come safely to land.
The rounding off and concluding of such a period not only with safety
but with splendour produced an effect upon their audience unlike
anything else that I have experienced. The style of neither, though both
knew Greek well, was based directly on Isocrates; but most certainly
their speech was based upon the principles he had taught and impressed
so well upon Cicero and his like, upon Milton, upon Jeremy Taylor, upon
Edmund Burke, all of whom appreciated and practised this supreme prose

But if the Greeks here showed the modern world the model of the highest
perfection in the prose essay, they would not have been Greeks if they
had not also shown us the perfection of easy conversation, of everyday
talk, of the play of various styles, and the expression of various
characters in the cultivated language of the day. And so Plato in his
_Dialogues_ has shown the world an unapproachable example of
conversation raised to a high art, which again created a distinct
literary form that has never died out.[17]

All these developments are (with the exception of biography) those of
the Golden Age of Greek Literature, and are the discovery of great
masters who were the glory of that age. But as we shall see frequently
in the course of these lectures, the silver age of Greece was almost as
fruitful in the creation of models for the imitation of modern Europe.
It was only after a great body of splendid authors had lived, that we
could expect to find literary criticism assuming an important place. For
the literary critic is after all a sort of parasite, who lives on the
bodies of greater and more dignified animals. We know that when the
library of Alexandria came to be collected, and the sifting of authors
and of the texts of authors became necessary, there arose a great school
of critical scholars, who purified the received copies, who apportioned
the respective value of the texts, and who developed that censorious
attitude toward the classical masterpieces which is the bane of the
modern world. We still have in the critical essays of Dionysius of
Halicarnassus and still more in the Tract on the Sublime, belonging to
the 1st century A.D., excellent models of what is good and useful in
this reflexive attitude of a later age, and of second rate ability. The
great age of production had been very simple and naïve in criticism; the
attitude of Aristophanes, and even of Plato, in judging poets is merely
a moral judgment and seems never to take into consideration æsthetic
questions. In the Tract on the Sublime we find quite a modern
standpoint, and the judgments of this author have had no small effect on
the literature of the last century. No less a person than Edmund Burke
thought it worth while to translate this tract, and how wide was the
author’s sympathy will appear at once from this fact, that he quotes as
a signal instance of the sublime the opening of a work far removed in
spirit from classical Greek literature--the book of _Genesis_, in the
Greek version.

I need not delay over the many and various Epistles left us by the
Greeks, and which you may see collected in one of Didot’s big volumes of
_Epistolographi Graeci_. But I do not think that we can call letter
writing a distinct form of literature, and it is very certain that every
nation that could use writing materials could hardly fail to adopt it
in some form. Nor do I think the letters extant are in any way
remarkable, perhaps because most of them are the compilations of men
attributing these documents falsely to the great ancients. The letters
ascribed to Plato, Isocrates, and others give us nothing additional of
literary importance.[18] I will therefore pass from these, as well as
from the moral harangues of the later rhetors and sophists of whom Dion
Chrysostom is far the most interesting. I wish modern sermons would
borrow more from this admirable and little used source, for Dion was a
man of the world, a traveller, a sound moral teacher, and gifted with a
great taste for the picturesque.

But I cannot conclude without a word about the prose novel of the
Greeks, who here also founded a form of literature that has assumed
gigantic importance in the modern world. The novel may be regarded as
the last legitimate offering, a child born out of due time, as Saint
Paul calls himself, but like Saint Paul a greater influence in our
modern life than any of his older brethren. It might have been thought
that from the modern Comedy of Menander and his rivals to a prose novel
in the modern sense was but a small and inevitable step, and yet no
branch of Greek literature had less influence upon the rise and
development of so kindred a subject. The very frame on which all
Menander’s plays were stretched with wearisome iteration, I mean the
rehabilitation of a respectable girl, who solely through the neglect or
the violence of others, has become a mother without being a wife--such a
topic would be wholly repugnant to any Greek novelist we know. For in
all the stories we possess the main interest turns upon the preservation
of the heroine’s purity through every sort of temptation, and every sort
of attempted violence. This was a topic quite strange to Greek sentiment
and foreign to Greek literature till it was imported from the East by
those who had there learned that sort of love-story. There are
indications of it in the romantic episodes of Xenophon’s _Cyrus_, but
the adoption of it as a striking topic is later, and due to Callimachus,
whose poem called _Acontius and Cydippe_ was perhaps the first
love-story of our modern type offered to the Greek world. A youth and a
maiden, whose beauties were described in great detail, meet at a
religious ceremony, and fall deeply in love at first sight. The various
and commonplace obstacles to their union which are familiar in every
modern society--worldly parents, a richer suitor for the maiden, threats
of broken hearts and of suicide--these occupy the story, which through
many untoward delays ends in a happy marriage.[19] It may cause
amazement in this audience that such a plot should ever have been new in
literature, especially in that of the Greeks, who had every sort of
human experience before them. Yet it was new in the Alexandria of the
Ptolemies, and made its fortune in that world-weary and artificial
society. In all the Greek novels we possess, some such love-story is the
necessary thread which glitters through the tissue, so much so that the
German pedants edit them under the title _Scriptores Erotici Graeci_.
Yet the relation between the lovers being absolutely pure, any
temptations which occur arise from the passions of violent people who
create no interest in the reader. By far the best specimen we have,
owing to its simplicity and its natural scenery, is the famous _Daphnis
and Chloe_, which has found so many imitators ever since the French of
Amyot has made it accessible to modern Europe. We feel indeed that the
unknown author was far from possessing the innocence of his characters,
or the spontaneous appreciation of the nature he describes. The work is
from the time of Decadence in Greek literature, and has the faults of
its generation. But for all that it is a beautiful work of art, just as
the _Idylls_ of Theocritus are beautiful, just as the _Hero and Leander_
of Musæus is beautiful, just as the Martinmas summer of your woods is
beautiful, and all the more beloved because we feel it is but “the
gilded halo hovering round decay!”

I said it was our best specimen because of its simplicity, and yet it is
not wanting in violent and improbable adventures toward its close. But
these are as nothing compared to the adventures of lovers in the other
stories of this kind, because there then was a wholly different vein of
prose story, which came into fashion with the love-story, and became
amalgamated with it, to the great detriment of both--I mean the stories
of wild adventures in strange and fabulous lands.

With the wonderful invasion of the East, there were opened to the
astonished Greeks new regions of fabulous splendour, of astounding
treasure, of amazing nature. So violently was their imagination
stimulated by what they saw that they set themselves to construct books
of travels beyond the rising sun and beneath the ocean wave, into the
homes of monstrous beasts, and still more monstrous men. The schemes of
Alexander himself were baulked by his soldiers, who positively refused
to embark in his wild dreams of universal conquest, but there was
nothing to impede the imagination of the writers of his deeds, who
combined the real narrative of his conquests with his quest after the
hidden wonders of the East. Hence we have the so-called _Life of
Alexander_, which I consider to have originated shortly after his death,
but to have been amplified and glorified by succeeding generations of
those that told their stories to delighted audiences. In this _Life and
Acts_ we have the starting point of a whole literature of Fabulous
Travels, mixed with descriptions not only of odious savages, but of
ideal societies that lived hidden away from the vices and troubles of
old and decrepit civilisation. But this literature, so popular in the
Middle Ages, is outside the pale of Hellenism. It is not only the last
child, but the illegitimate child of their once pure and lofty



It is of course an illogical division to separate art from literature.
Among the Greeks, at all events, literature in all its forms, was not
only an art but the most perfect art. No statue of Lysippus is more
perfect than a drama of Sophocles. But for convenience’ sake, and in
this age where literature is seldom an art, we may speak of Greek art as
that division of their work where they dealt not with words, but with
other materials, and where they combined the uses of life with the love
of the beautiful, as no other nation ever did. We may add that in regard
to Greek influence on modern life (which is our proper subject), none
has been greater and more permanent than that of art in this sense.
Thousands of men have copied, or imagined they copied, Greek art, who
were never able to read one word of Greek and who never cared one jot
about Greek literature. I take to-day its more solid and larger
expressions--architecture and sculpture, reserving for my next lecture
the more subjective arts and those of mere ornament.

It is not true, as you might suppose, that these latter were later in
development than the art of architecture. Far from it. In rude
pre-historic ages, when the knowledge of building had not advanced
beyond the question of mere safety, we find delicate and beautiful
ornaments put upon arms and on personal decorations. The most elaborate
tattooing of the savage is consistent with extreme rudeness in his

The earliest form of house we know, which was designed not only for
shelter and durability, but also for safety, is the _underground_
beehive house. Beehive huts of stone are common in many nations, and may
perhaps best be seen now in the huts of the monks on the wild rock of
Skellig Michael, which is the nearest land in the British Islands to the
traveller coming from America. But such huts are not easily defended
against an enemy. This latter advantage is obtained by making the hut a
chamber underground,[21] and only to be entered by a passage long,
narrow, and low, in fact a sort of horizontal shaft into which the
enemy can only creep on hands and feet, and so can have his head chopped
off as soon as it appears within the chamber, without possibility of
using his weapons. I have seen this form of house in the most primitive
village of the stone and bone age, which is known as the Weem of Scale,
on a very wild bay of the main island of the Orkneys, looking northwest
into the Atlantic. There, under the sands accumulated by the gales of
thousands of years, we find small subterranean huts, with nooks in the
stone work to hold rude vessels and implements, and with a low covered
way for the owner to creep in and find himself at home. The weapons
found in such houses, many of which are yet unexplored, are either of
stone or bone or shell. These dwellings, once a very general type--for
remember, similar wants in mankind produce similar satisfactions of that
want in the most widely severed parts of the world--usually come to us
in the stage of survival, when men had already learned other kinds of
architecture. Hence they often preserved for the dwellings of the dead
this type of underground beehive house with a long and narrow approach,
though as time went on the house was made higher, and the avenue of
approach better (as we have it in the famous New Grange in Ireland),
and they even ornamented the inner surface of the slabs that formed the
walls. As usual, the prehistoric Greeks did it all more perfectly than
the rest of the world. The beehive house known in former days as the
Treasury of Atreus, but now recognised as a tomb of some prehistoric
king, is a splendid building fifty feet high, and made of thirty-three
horizontal courses of stone overlapping as they rise, with the inner
surfaces cut to form a conical chamber. Not only are large lintel stones
used, but there were rosettes of bronze ornamenting the inner surface of
the walls, and the stately avenue (_dromos_) lined with stone work of
great finish and open to the sky, led to an ornamented gate or entrance.
A restoration of this entrance, made by the aid of the actual pillars
carried home long ago by the Marquis of Sligo, now astonishes the
student of prehistoric art in the British Museum.[22] Why do I, however,
delay over this very perfect and beautiful kind of building of which
another noted specimen is the Tomb of the Minyæ at Orchomenos in
Bœotia?[23] In the first place, to show you how the highly developed
and finished forms were the gradual perfection of the oldest and rudest
protected house, to which they merely added height, careful finish, and
ornament, which ornament we know from Egyptian parallels to date some
fifteen centuries before Christ; secondly, to bring home to you the
important fact that the beehive or round house was at an early date
abandoned to the use of the dead, and not employed for the use of the
living till quite late in Greek history, when a few round public
buildings show that the idea had not been lost. The men that built the
great and elaborate tomb of Atreus probably never themselves lived in a
round or beehive, but in a square house. They only maintained the round
form out of respect for the dead, and indeed for the sake of the safety
of the treasures buried with the dead.

To the square house (of course I include under this short word all
rectangular buildings) we now turn. It seems to me that the earliest
model which suggested this form was the hut of logs, laid one over the
other alternately at right angles so as to enclose a square space. Two
upright posts with a horizontal beam over them would supply the first
rude doorway in an opening left by using shorter logs on each side of
it, and then it was very obvious that a gable roof to cover the house
would be made by laying logs from the top of the wall to rest one
against the other at their upper ends, or of course a flat roof in a
similar way.

We can derive from this simple form the whole classical architecture of
Europe. In the first place, the gaps between the logs were filled with
clay, and so even the great stones at Tiryns are treated. Thus the wall
was made staunch against rain and wind. But then someone discovered that
by making clay into bricks and drying them slowly in the sun, they would
have a building material much more serviceable than wooden logs or
stones. And so the filling up stuff became the main stuff of the wall;
yet how persistent the idea of using wood can be inferred from the fact
that early brick walls have wooden beams built into them longitudinally
by way of giving firmness, but also affording a danger of complete ruin,
if the building was attacked by fire. The door posts and the lintels
were of wood; for the mud brick wall ending beside the door would
rapidly suffer if not protected by a facing of wood, and later on, terra
cotta casing was used to replace the wood. Ultimately, stone door frames
and pillars replaced the older wooden work. But everywhere the traces
of the primitive wood work survives. The oldest pillars were tree stems
set on a stone base. At the top where the weight laid on them tended to
flatten them out, they were probably bound with a metal band. This you
see perpetuated by the Doric pillar, standing on its base without
plinth, and at the top we have a band running round, and over it a
splaying capital with a slab or abacus over it, to protect the inwards
of the wood from being soaked with rain.

There is no more persistent ornament in a Doric Temple than that course
over the actual wall which consists of what are called metopes and
triglyphs. The metopes are not foreheads (μέτωπα) as even some persons
who know Greek might imagine, but interstices (μετόπαι), in fact open
spaces or holes between the triglyphs. Originally, when the roofs were
of opaque tiles, these openings were necessary to let in light. But the
triglyphs, what were they? Vitruvius notes them as beam ends, for he
calls the metopes _intertignia_; and why were they always marked with
three grooves, as their name implies? Apparently because two horizontal
beams, intended to make a ceiling, had a third pinned between them which
rose to the gable, where it met another, and so formed the skeleton of
the sloping roof. When marble tiles, which were semi-transparent, or
when a higher false roof was set on, the metopes were no longer
necessary to let in light, and the Greeks made the now closed interstice
an ornamented surface, showing groups, either painted, or carved in
relief, to vary the severe lines of the building.

We have drifted into some of the leading features of temples, and they
are indeed the buildings which have most influenced subsequent
centuries, but the features of the temple were originally those of the
stately house, as we can see clearly in the remains discovered at
Tiryns. The roofs and upper stories are all gone, but the arrangements
of the doorways are quite the same in principle as those of the historic
temples, except that in the Tirynthian doorways, there are many
evidences remaining of the actual use of wooden pilasters and pillars.
Pausanias in the second century still found one or two wooden pillars
surviving in the ancient temple of Hera at Olympia. As they got worn
out, they were replaced by stone, and Dr. Dörpfeld found that these
substitutions were not all uniform, but in accord with the altering
taste of the day. The capitals in particular varied from pillar to
pillar, to judge from those found among the débris of the temple,
which, by the way, contained the famous Hermes of Praxiteles.

The ultimate separation between the dwelling house and the temple was
that the house included a central court with rooms around it, which was
too large to roof over, and so the model was handed on to all southern
Europe. The Italian palaces, for example, are all dark and fortified
toward the street, and contain an inner court and a gallery running
round it on the building within, on which the rooms open. So permanent
are the right principles of architecture when once discovered by a race
of genius.

The temple or house of the gods was, of course, a single chamber of
moderate size with a treasure house behind it, and the gradual
development of it from a simple square chamber with one end opened for a
door, and adorned with two pillars between the pilasters which formed
the ends of the house wall--the doorway _in antis_, to the elaborate
peripteral temple with double rows of pillars running round it--all this
is to be found in any handbook of ancient art. From the very use of the
temple as compared with the private house, it followed that while the
temple looked outward, and was meant to show its beauty to those that
approached it, the private house looked inward--all its beauties were
reserved for the occupants, and care was even taken to prevent any
curious observation on the part of the public. But it is only of recent
years that the extant ruins have been minutely measured and studied, and
now we know that, in addition to building this rectangular house for the
god, there were the most elaborate and minute laws observed in the
proportions of the various parts, and in the optical corrections of
straight lines, which were found to appear curved. This perfection,
therefore, of Greek religious architecture was not merely the adoption
of a good practical form, and the carrying out of it in precious
materials and with clear and competent workmanship. The most delicate
adaptation of curves, the most curious and subtle applications of
harmonies in lengths and heights, were utilised to produce an effect
which all observers have long felt to be the most marvellous in the

But before I go further I will dispose of an interesting point which
many have thought a defect in the architectural genius of the Greeks.
You will see in every book that the use of the arch was unknown to them,
and that for this capital feature in our buildings we are wholly
indebted to the Romans. That the arch was not in use among the Greeks,
I attribute to the fact that the round house and conical roof were
deliberately rejected by them in favour of the square house and wooden
structure of doorways and roofs. As already observed, this form was long
since devoted to funeral purposes and to the burying (not burning) of
the dead, and so its associations were gloomy. But it seems to me absurd
to say that people who could frame a conical stone roof, by horizontal
layers of stones gradually closing inwards, should not have advanced to
the principle of the arch with its keystone. This in fact Pausanias
assumed them to have done in the Tomb of the Minyæ at Orchomenos. He
says the top stone of the vault is the άρμονία of the whole vault. If
this was not accurate in the case of Orchomenos, it at least shows that
Pausanias, a very experienced observer of old Greek building, did not
hold that this generic distinction existed between Greek and Roman
building. But, as I said, the Greeks rejected round or conical forms for
rectangular, and the Roman combination of the two, which passed on to
the Renaissance, is distinctly a modification of form to which the
Greeks would not have agreed. Still less would they have approved of the
use of arches and of architraves as the mere ornament of a building, and
supporting nothing. To the Greeks every member of their building was
there for use. A pillar was set to support an architrave, this latter to
support the beams of a roof. Flat surfaces were decorated with painting,
or with reliefs, but these flat surfaces were necessary to close in the
building from the weather. Thus, to illustrate bad building by an
example, when you look at the portal of St. Mark’s at Venice, you will
see groups of marble pillars with a highly decorated arch over them,
making a rich doorway. But there are more pillars than are wanted to
support the arch, so that some of them stand idle, as a mere added
ornament. That is only one instance of the tawdriness which infects the
decadence of a great style--in this case of the Romanesque architecture
of eastern Italy and Sicily.

There is a very widespread belief that the arch was invented and first
used in Italy, and high authorities, like Viollet-le-Duc in his famous
_Entretiens sur l’architecture_, put forth the theory that the Romans
learned its use from the Etruscans, from whom they borrowed so much of
their early civilisation. But if they did, is it certain that the real
origin was not Greek? Is it likely that this enigmatical nation found
out a great principle of construction unknown to the Greeks? I think
not; and all the more so, as I hold all the early Etruscan culture to
have been stimulated by the Greeks, with whom Etruria had an older and
deeper connection than was suspected a generation ago. For now we come
back to the statement of Herodotus, that this nation came from Asia
Minor, and by sea, to Italy. The settlers of the earliest Greek colony
in Italy--Cumæ--followed in their track, and their immigration seems not
to have been very early. Hence they may very well have borrowed their
use of the arch from early Greek teachers, and thus imposed it upon the
Romans and upon the world. But does it really matter to my argument?
Even the Romans, who perfected the use of the arch, were not satisfied
with it unless they had put it inside a Greek face of pillars and
architraves. The Greek temple has afforded a model which has been copied
in every capital of Europe, and in its most perfect form has an artistic
splendour which is second to none among the buildings of the world.

I will repeat that, as the Greeks determined at a very early age that
domed or circular buildings were the proper receptacle of the dead, so
they have transmitted that decision through the Romans to modern Europe.
The Pantheon, whatever its original use, has come to be the solemn
resting-place of national heroes. The great tomb of Hadrian, now the
Castle of St. Angelo, was built under the same prepossession, and so
through all ages down to the _Invalides_ in Paris, and the memorial to
Shelley at Oxford, all these houses of the dead are the offspring
artistically of the Treasure-house of Atreus, of the Tomb of the Minyæ,
and of the rest, consecrated by the old Greeks. Quite recently, when our
King brought me to see the Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and her Consort
at Frogmore, I was able to point out to him that the builders of this
circular chamber also, though they probably knew it not themselves, were
copying the ancient and almost universal model of a house for the dead.
The Greeks very possibly derived this old idea from a northern race. The
occurrence of similar forms in the early tombs of Ireland and of other
parts of Europe seem to show that there was some prehistoric agreement
about this form of tomb--the most distinguished, as well as the safest,
residence they could devise, first for living men, then for departed
kings or chiefs who demanded cult and sacrifice. That may be all very
true, but it does not alter the fact that it was from the Greeks that
civilised Europe adopted the idea.

       *       *       *       *       *

I now pass to another field of art, in which this gifted nation has
exercised an undoubted supremacy down to the present day. The very idea
of exceeding the excellence of a great Greek statue hardly enters the
mind of the modern sculptor. If he could but approach the work of
Praxiteles, or even of the nameless workers who carved the great tomb of
Sidon, he would regard it as an astounding achievement.

We shall find not a few who attribute this perfection of Greek sculpture
to the great opportunities they had of observing the play of limb and
muscle in their daily exercises in the _palæstra_, where men and boys
exercised naked. That I take to be so far true, that I have often
suggested to modern sculptors, who complain of the insufficiency of
their models, to make a pilgrimage for a couple of years to Samoa, or
the Solomon Islands, where they may study very noble forms, exercising
in the purest state of nature, so far as they have not been depraved
into clothes by well-meaning, but mischievous, missionaries; and I think
that the first sculptor who ventures upon this education may do great
things in his art. But it only touches a fringe of the question as
regards the old Greek triumphs. Naked figures were not the earliest or
greatest Greek achievement in sculpture. There are indeed some archaic
nude Apollos, but all the early goddesses, so far as I know, were
draped, and it is in drapery also that Greek sculpture is unique for
its supreme grace. Need I add that it is not only in single figures, but
in composition that the Greeks are still our masters? If any of you will
compare the frieze of the Parthenon, even as we have it, with any modern
composition of the same sort, it will require no argument to persuade
him of the truth of what I say.

There is another somewhat more subtle reason given for this strange
superiority in art of a people who had not a tithe of our experience or
of our mechanical resources: I shall give it to you in the words of a
gifted Italian essayist. Professor Pasquale Villari: “The problem,” he
says, “set before the famous sculptor Donatello, at the dawn of the
Renaissance, could not be solved by the mere study of ancient art. The
Greeks had no means of expressing Christian spirit or emotion. Their
quest was for outward beauty of form, and their nature, being simpler,
more spontaneous, and more harmonious than ours, could be adequately
expressed in marble. They had no experience of the mental maladies, the
tortures of remorse, or the whole inner life created by Christianity. In
their times, no ascetics, no hermits, no anchorites, no martyrs, no
crusaders, no knight errants had appeared in the world. But in
Donatello’s day all things were changed; the faculties of the human
mind had been altered and multiplied. Therefore, a new art was needed to
represent the new inner life. Assuredly, Christ and the Virgin cannot be
chiselled in the same way as a Venus or an Apollo. Outward beauty was no
longer the sole aim of art. It was now bound to express character, which
is the mind’s outward form. Even the very soul of man, with all its load
of new struggles, sorrows, and uncertainties, must show through the
envelope of marble. Was this possible, and if so, to what extent? That
was the question put to Donatello.”[24]

To criticise this interesting passage, to show what a partial and
imperfect view it expresses of Greek genius, might be a task instructive
to my hearers, but too wide and irrelevant to my present discourse. Some
points, however, will help us directly to the understanding of Greek

It is only too true that the Middle Ages, from which Donatello’s
generation was emerging, were a period of spiritual gloom and
depression. But this was due not to the larger troubles and experiences
of men, but to the spiritual tyranny of the Church, which had distorted
the sweetness and benevolence of the Gospel of Christ to include a
hideous engine of torture. The clearest picture of this odious
manufacture of artificial horrors may be seen not only in the many
grotesque representations of the tortures of hell, which were anything
but grotesque to the public of the Middle Ages, but by attending a
mediæval play, which has been brought out in Boston, as well as in
London--the play called _Everyman_, which magnifies the horrors of death
by representing the Deity as a gloomy tyrant, served by a greedy and
heartless Church, which exacts half a man’s fortune for the boon of
saving him from eternal torments. These artificial horrors were not
indeed unknown to the Greeks, for we hear that the punishments of the
wicked, not to speak of Tantalus, Ixion, and the rest, formed part of
the revelations of the Eleusinian Mysteries, but they would on no
account have been permitted a place in ordinary life or in art. If the
Attic public fined the poet Phrynichus 10,000 drachmas for bringing
before them their national sorrows in his _Fall of Miletus_, what would
they not have fined the author of _Everyman_, for importing darkness and
horror into the day of death and libelling the gods as cruel tyrants
with no mercy for the frailties of men?

But, apart from this imported gloom, it is in my opinion false to say
that the Greek was not just as experienced as any modern man in the
great problems and the inevitable sorrows of human life. The whole of
Greek tragedy consists in the representation of these dolours, and if
Professor Villari wants proofs that the terrors of conscience, the
agonies of remorse, were perfectly known to the Greeks, I ask him to
turn to the picture of the tyrant’s soul in the eighth book of Plato’s
_Republic_ or to Xenophon’s _Hiero_. The Greeks were not at all that
simple, joyous, spontaneous set of grownup children who appear in many
of our books upon the subject. They had a large and varied experience of
life.[25] But they had the good sense--or shall I say the genius?--to
confine their art to what it ought to convey. They felt that marble and
bronze should not be used to represent the violent emotions of tragedy,
the violent moments in human life, and when they lost this reserve,
their sculpture had begun its decadence. The _Laocoon_ with the two
little men representing his children is indeed a work of art of which a
modern sculptor might well be proud. It would not have been approved by
the Greeks of the Golden Age, and Phidias would have looked upon the
group with contempt, in spite of its technical excellence.

A brief sketch of the development of sculpture will illustrate this
principle. In the first place you must hold fast to the truth, not
frequently enough insisted upon, that sculpture among the Greeks
developed with extraordinary quickness after a long infancy into its
perfect manhood. The work of 550 B.C., in the full brilliancy of the
courts of Polycrates and Periander was still rude and helpless, wanting
altogether the beauty which we desiderate in that art. As soon as we
turn 500 B.C. we have such things as the _Charioteer_ of Delphi, figures
which are on the very threshold of perfection, and indeed in some
respects, such as the modelling and texture of the arms and feet, quite
perfect. In another fifty years we have the splendours of Phidias.

Not less remarkable than this rapid growth is the very gradual decay of
the art. The age of animals, as is well known, is in proportion to the
period of gestation. It was not so with Greek sculpture. Coming to
perfection in a couple of generations, it lasted all through the
greatness of Greek history into Macedonian times, when it produced such
wonders as the _Nike_ of Samothrace, down to the Roman conquest, when it
gave us the _Aphrodite_ of Melos, and even still later, when empresses
borrowed from it those splendid portrait figures which we admire in the
Vatican and the Lateran museums at Rome. And it is not only the Golden
Age but the Silver Age of this sculpture which is the eternal model for
modern artists.

The next feature of great importance which concerns us is that this
branch of art began (as did mediæval art) in the service of religion. It
was to represent the figure of the god, it was to decorate his temple,
that the sculptor made his great efforts. And I hasten to add that the
art was never dissociated from its sister art of painting, for the
Greeks always called in the help of colour; not only in architecture,
but even in representing single human figures. They felt the utter
coldness of Parian or Pentelican marble and they were not afraid to use
rich colours and even kindred materials to increase the majesty of their
representations of the Divine.

It is very remarkable how timid and sporadic, mainly from a
misinterpretation of Greek teaching, have hitherto been the attempts to
return to this sound principle. In the twelfth century, indeed,
admirable work was done by the sculptor in producing coloured statues,
generally, I think, of wood. Thus the kings and bishops of that time in
the Cathedral of Henry the Lion at Brunswick are most striking and
lifelike specimens of the art, and there are many more in the churches
and the museums of Northern Europe.[26] But it seems that the discovery
in the Renaissance of Græco-Roman statues from which all the colour had
been effaced by the action of time, damp, and the contact with clay,
misled the early sculptors of that day into the belief that Greek
statues were always in the purest white marble; that form only and not
colour was the aim of that art; and so we have had our galleries flooded
with cold figures, which are only beginning to give way, as may be seen
in the recent exhibitions of the Royal Academy in London, to more or
less delicate tinting, or even to relief in high colours, using other
materials than marble. Thus the Greeks have been our masters as well in
our mistakes as in our successes. But we can now have no doubt as to
their principles. Even in their bronze statues, they were so anxious to
give expression by colour that they commonly made the eyes of their
figures in black and white.

I turn now to speak for a moment on the principles of composition in
Greek sculpture, for in such a discourse as this it is obviously better
to spend time on general considerations than in emphasising details.
There were, of course, from archaic times single figures, first of gods,
then of men, which ultimately became portrait statuary; but in early
days a composition of figures in stone or wood was unknown till they
came to decorate architecture with friezes and pediments. Thus the
statues which adorned the state entrance to the old temple at Miletus
were simply a row of sitting figures like the rows of sphinxes guarding
the approach to the Egyptian temple, but there is no composition. It was
not till the rise of the fashion of ornamenting buildings with the
sculptor’s art that, as before said, compositions come into play; and
mainly in two forms--triangular pediments which filled the once open end
or gable of a roof, and bands of decoration along the walls of the
building. The form of the gable--a very flat triangle, with the obtuse
angle at the vertex--determined the sculptor, just as the shackles of
metre determine the poet. But even as these apparent shackles have
produced the most splendid effects in poetry, so the limitations of
space have suggested to the Greek sculptors the most poetical devices.
We now know that even the pre-Persian Parthenon had such a composition
on its gable, of which great serpentine monsters, carved in local stone,
and then coloured, have been recently recovered. But when the art
reached its perfection, we have the device of a notable mythical event,
or a struggle, with agitated or combating figures, arranged
symmetrically on either side of a central god, who is greater, calmer
than the rest; while in the acute angles, the aspects of nature--rivers,
woods, the rising and setting sun--were suggested by graceful lying
figures, which show that air of peaceful and silent indifference that is
the usual aspect of nature around a great human tragedy.[27]

These marvellous compositions, full of symmetry and of variety, have
been the examples set before scores of European sculptors, in their
imitations of classical architecture; but I cannot say that I know a
single specimen that I should like to show here to you in direct
comparison with the work of the ancients. It is in this, as in so many
walks of art: all the modern resources of science, all the study of the
old masterpieces, have not sufficed to kindle the spark of genius in our
inartistic age. We have a thousand resources that the Greeks had not--we
have a thousand volumes of exposition, analysis, criticism, telling how
these things were done--yet we are like the civilised man trying to
elicit flame from the sticks which furnish the primitive man with his
fire. All our efforts only succeed in producing smoke; the living spark
will not come.[28]

Much the same may be said of the second favourite form of Greek
composition in sculpture, the ornamenting of long flat surfaces with
rows or successions of figures, of which the frieze of the Parthenon is
the most familiar, but not the only example. We now know from the
recoveries at Delphi, especially the so-called treasury of Siphnos, that
this theme was derived by Phidias from older examples.

What is the strange fascination in this long row of figures? There is
that peculiar combination of sameness and of variety which affords us
delight in all the occupations of our life. This procession has one
general scope. It is bringing offerings to do honour to the gods, and
bringing them with pomp and circumstance. But while all these men and
maidens are bent on the same pursuit, they are represented with an
endless variety in detail. Some are on curvetting horses, some are
leading bulls both quiet and uneasy, some are carrying weights upon
their shoulders, some have them on the ground--and are lifting them.
There is the unity and difference which in music we know as harmony, and
each figure is carried out with such simple perfection, with such
unassuming grace and beauty, that it is hard indeed to point out any
insufficiency or defect. There is even this subtlety in the detail of
the work--that, as this band of figures was intended to be seen high
above the spectator, care was taken to carve the lower limbs in slightly
flatter relief than the upper, and the limbs of the horses were even
made a little lighter than in nature, in order to counterbalance the
predominance which the part nearer to the spectator’s vision might

When such are the shattered fragments of an art which once adorned every
city and every public building in Greece, it seems impossible to
conjecture what would have been the effect on modern Europe had the
great mass of it survived. Perhaps not so great as we should be
disposed to assert at the first blush of the suggestion. For we could
hardly avoid calling in the analogy of other arts, and of other times,
where the works of genius preserved and known do not inspire modern
artists. There is plenty of splendid mediæval architecture existing, and
yet our modern architects have not been able to take their place as
independent successors. In literature we have had many similar facts
discussed during previous lectures. All the models in the world will not
suffice without the divine spark in the teacher as well as the pupil,
and this gift is rare and sporadic not only in the individual, but among
the nations which have hitherto appeared in the course of history. There
is, moreover, in using workers of a remote age or country as models, one
concomitant circumstance which may make our efforts wholly
incommensurate with theirs. It is the atmosphere in which every society
lives, by which it has been created or at least fed, and which it
creates in its turn. As the modern artist cannot possibly reproduce
these surroundings, it is wellnigh impossible that he should reproduce
the subtle spirit, once the very breath of Greek art, which has long
vanished, and which has never since been recalled by the wit of man.



When we pass from the monumental arts of architecture and sculpture to
those of a more subjective character, which use more fleeting vehicles
for their expression, we have in modern life painting and music, which
we may expect to be more independent of Greek models than the rest. For,
_ex hypothesi_, pictures so far as they are on panels of wood or canvas
can hardly survive the lapse of ages of neglect,[29] and as for music,
the notation is so small and poor a clue to its real meaning, that even
if we understood it perfectly, we should still be a long way from
grasping the full meaning as felt by the Greek public. I will give you
an illustration of this from my own experience. There is in our English
and Irish cathedrals a tradition of the way in which certain anthems are
to be sung--a tradition generally derived from those who sang them in
the composer’s presence, or under his influence. The older editions of
these anthems seldom give any expression marks, the performance being
entrusted to the taste of the choir or its knowledge of the composer’s
intentions. A signal example is the finest of Blow’s anthems, “I beheld
and lo! a great multitude,” composed in the reign of Charles II. (1680),
and sung ever since by sundry cathedral choirs, amongst others those of
Dublin, where there has from long since been a great school of church
music. In Dublin, this is one of the most moving and dramatic anthems,
owing to the great liberties taken with the time by the Vicars Choral,
who have kept the tradition unbroken. I chanced to hear it sung by the
very excellent choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, on their high day--All
Saints’ Day, when it is annually performed. I was astonished to find
that they merely sang it from the text without any of the traditional
liberties. The effect was so poor and unmeaning as to be almost
ridiculous to one who had been taught to understand the inner sense of
the work.

We are not quite so destitute as to Greek painting, for we have at least
a good many fresco pictures, by more or less obscure and incompetent
workmen of the Hellenistic age, to show us what the Greeks aimed at; we
have on the many beautiful examples of pottery preserved to us the
representations of mythical or other scenes which must have had some
analogy with the paintings of the same or similar scenes. Lastly, we
have many descriptions and epigrams from those who admired the
masterpieces of this art, and although these are inadequate, and are
often the observations of incompetent rhetorical critics, they still
give us far more definite ideas than any description of a musical work
could possibly supply. As to the Golden Age of painting, we have nothing
but these, for our specimens of frescoes on the walls are all either
from pre-historic palaces, or from Græco-Roman houses. If we wish,
therefore, to obtain any understanding of this side of Greek art, we
must not be content with our poor and sporadic examples, but must enter
upon some general considerations which will afford a larger and deeper
basis for our judgment. For our inferences from the Pompeiian frescoes
to the lost masterpieces are just as hazardous as if we had lost all the
masterpieces of sculpture, and endeavoured to judge of their quality by
reasoning from the terra cotta figurines of Tanagra and other places,
which are often graceful, but almost always faulty in their modelling.
Should we indeed have inferred that the modelling of statues in marble
and in bronze was absolutely perfect?

The two æsthetic qualities requisite for success in painting are
obviously a sense of form, and a sense of colour; without a natural
appreciation of the beauty inhering in each of these, the highest
technical skill, however valuable, does not suffice. After what you have
heard about Greek architecture and sculpture, I need not say another
word to show that in the sense of form the Greeks were supreme and
unapproachable. But what about their sense of colour? On this the
evidence is not so clear and has given rise to divers interpretations.
First of all, the Homeric poets, in their vivid pictures of old Greek
life, are singularly vague and confused in their words for colour, so
much so that people used to imagine that the poet, because he was blind,
or the poets, because they were primitive, had no distinct colour-sense.
I remember this latter view being pressed upon me by Mr. Gladstone in
conversation, together with the reply he had from Charles Darwin, which
he gave me to read, that as even insects are guided by a very clear
sense of colour, it was absurd to say that the most primitive men should
not possess it. This argument seamed both to him and to me hardly
conclusive, for the faculties which are now human need not have
developed at the same rate from lower forms, or kept abreast of one
another in acuteness. Thus human development might not require an acute
sense of colour, while that of the insect made it essential, and so
lower forms of life might be infinitely more developed in some respects
than those far higher in the general condition of their senses and their
intelligence. I therefore took another line in my objection: that we
know the Egyptians, centuries before the oldest date allowed for Homer,
had at least ten distinct names for colour. And this was not because
they felt the difference more distinctly, but because in their arts and
crafts they produced the varied shades, and therefore found names for
them. Even nowadays, it is not the poet, or even the artist, that
invents names for subtle shades of colours, but the milliner or the
modiste. When I was young, there were two shades of grey known in the
phraseology of these people--one as _gris de souris_, the other as _gris
de souris poursuivie_. This is but a more minute subdivision of our
sensations of colour invented by those that produce it for trade
purposes. The want of names for colours is therefore not confined to the
Greeks. More important is the fact that their early painters are known
to have used but a few and primary colours, and also the further fact
that their temples, which they always coloured (and, to my mind,
rightly) for effect, were adorned on a simple and primitive plan,--red,
blue, white, yellow, being, so far as I know, the colours generally

Now these facts seem to me to harmonise with the small development of a
sense of the picturesque in landscape, which is characteristic of the
Greeks. The principles of reproducing perspective with lines and colours
on a flat surface were indeed discovered in the fifth century B.C., by a
certain Agatharchus, whose book on shade painting seems, however, to
have been a work on scene-painting, as an aid to producing illusions on
the stage. Nor does the idea of representing external nature seem to
have been a want felt by Greek artists, seeing that they had adopted the
very peculiar device of representing mountains and rivers by figures of
the gods and nymphs which inhabited them and in which they were
personified. The heads of the horses rising from the sea represented on
the Parthenon the advent of the day. The graceful figures of nymphs on
the pediments of the great temple at Olympia represented the scenery in
which the action was laid. Looking down the whole history of Greek
painting, from the rude frescoes at Tiryns to the decorations of houses
at Pompeii, I cannot find that landscape as such ever occupied Greek
artists, and here therefore we have one of the very few departments in
which the modern world may boast itself independent of its almost
universal teacher.

It is not so in the case of portrait-painting, and painting of scenes in
mythical or in real life, for here even the faint echoes of Greek genius
affected powerfully the artists of the Renaissance. In this field,
however, the influence of Hellenistic sculpture and of relief work was
so combined with that of the few specimens of actual painting from
Herculaneum, Pompeii, and other sites, that the separate effect of Greek
painting on the modern artists is not so easily appreciated. The
mythical subjects at all events were told and glorified in countless
epigrams of the Anthology, and as soon as this collection became known
and popular, it was sure to dominate the fancy of sentimental artists
like Botticelli. But if the direct influence of Greek on modern painting
was baulked for want of models, the indirect effect of Greek art on the
best of modern painters is very great. Consider for a moment the two
most refined of modern English painters, the late Lord Leighton, and the
still living and working Sir Edward Alma-Tadema. The latter generally
calls his subjects Roman, but anyone that knows what the elegances of
Roman life owe to the Greeks, sees at once that the whole spirit of the
artist, and of the subjects he delights in, is Greek. The case is still
more undisguised with Leighton. All his most striking pictures are from
Greek life or from Greek legend; his whole conception of beauty is
derived from the same models, and I well remember, when I used to visit
him in his delightful studio in Kensington, seeing it all set round with
copies of Greek sculpture, and his fervid utterance that to these
unapproachable models he owed all his art.

In the absence of the actual paintings, great use has been made of the
scenes painted on Greek vases of the best period, some of which attain
to quite a high level, and we cannot but feel with Sir Alma-Tadema that
from this source he has drawn not a few of his ideas. Surely the
products that inspired Keats with his exquisite Ode make clear to us how
the fruitfulness of Greek genius is not dead or even exhausted, but
still kindles a pure light in modern minds sensitive enough to catch the

It is to be observed, before we pass on to another subject, that the art
of painting among the Greeks began, and long remained, a branch of
decoration, and was therefore subsidiary to architecture, or stately
furniture, or fine pottery. The fashion of producing easel pictures
painted for their own sake, readily movable and therefore displayed in
galleries, as well as upon the walls of palaces, only came in with the
decadence or at least the full ripeness of other arts. The products of
the painter were akin to those of the epigrammatist, whose elegance may
well be called by a poorer word--_finish_--and is to us rather the
exhibition of great cleverness than the outcome of genius. It was the
day also of social decadence, when the mere artist became the idol of
society, and could parade his conceit and his vulgarity without fear of
censure from patrons who only valued him as the ephemeral fashion. The
gossip we hear about the old painters often exhibits this painfully
modern triviality.

I now turn to the topic of music, in interest second to none, but one in
which I must endeavour to make my discussion intelligible to those who
have only a practical knowledge of this subject. In most histories of
Greek art, music is simply omitted; in the special works upon it, there
is much that is not only so difficult, but so dry and technical that the
average student of Greek life can hardly be expected to approach it.

As regards existing specimens, we are just as miserably provided as we
are in the case of painting. We have recovered a few scraps of the
musical notation accompanying poetical words; and as we understand this
notation, it is an easy task to reproduce the so-called melody. We have
also a scrap or two in the notation of instrumental music (apparently an
accompaniment), a notation, strange to say, differing from the oral. But
here the melody is missing. And let me tell you at once that no living
musician could attempt to supply it with the smallest verisimilitude.
The same is the case with our texts of melody. There was a much lauded
hymn found a few years ago on the wall of one of the houses uncovered at
Delphi. In some places the surface of the stone was broken; so that
there were gaps here and there of a bar or two in the music. No living
musician who knows his business would undertake to supply any one of
these gaps.[30] Were it a modern composition, we could with certainty
offer two or three alternatives, and we could exclude a vast number of
restorations as absolutely impossible. Such is not the case with the
Greek specimens we know, neither do they appeal to our modern taste. To
say that these specimens, when played for us, are hideous, is merely the
expression of that violated taste. There are many, perhaps even some in
this audience, who would say the same thing of the plain song which the
present Pope has ordered to be used in Roman Catholic churches to the
exclusion of more modern music.

The real conclusion is that so far Greek music is to us unintelligible;
and yet in all the other arts nothing is more intelligible to modern
minds than the products of Greek taste which are our best and clearest
models. Is it that a highly artistic nation may be wanting in one
particular department? We have before us the case of the modern
Japanese, whose artistic work in most directions is of great excellence
and fully appreciated by the world, but who confess (at least I have
heard one most intelligent native confess) that their music is far below
the level of European compositions. But here we probably start from a
difference of scale, whereas the Greek scales (or at least the diatonic)
are the parents of all modern European scales.

And now that you have before you the actual problem raised by the extant
remnants of Greek music, let us turn to the Greeks themselves, and see
what light their writings throw upon the matter. In the first place
music was not only popular but universal among the Greeks. Those who did
not cultivate it were worse than Shakspere’s “man that has not music in
his soul.” All Greek poetry, even the epic of Homer, was recited
musically; the lyric poets were as much musicians as poets; great
tragedians composed the music for their choral odes, and indeed a Greek
tragedy when performed must have far more resembled an Italian opera
than a play in our sense. This is the combination which Richard Wagner
strove to realise. But to be gifted in two directions of art is indeed
very rare. The music of Æschylus and Sophocles was probably as inferior
to their text as Wagner’s text is inferior to his music. All Greek
educators imply that every boy can learn music; we never hear a word
about want of ear, a want of musical faculty. This was to me in former
years a great puzzle, for, like all of you, I was brought up in a
society where a few had gifts for music, and the remainder were
incapable of singing in time or in tune, or of learning to play an
instrument with intelligence--and so we drifted away from the older
fashion of making at least every girl play or sing as an inevitable
infliction on society, and now only those who show a keen desire for it
spend their time at music. But in the new schools, where choirs are
taught on the tonic _sol-fa_ system, I am informed by the most competent
teachers that an inability to appreciate music, or to sing in tune, is
quite rare, and that the great body of our children can be taught to
make and to appreciate good music. If this be so, the Greeks were again
right, and we in our older generation less wise than they.

In their opinion, this general possibility of learning music was a
necessary condition of another settled conviction among educators, which
is foreign to us--I mean the conviction that the practice of music has a
direct and powerful effect upon the morals of average men. On this point
the Greek educators were very explicit, and it is of great practical
importance to us nowadays to consider what they say. It was not at all
identical with a very widespread belief among modern parents that the
pursuit of music generally is a refined pleasure, and will save the
young from some lower or more mischievous recreation. That view was
quite familiar to the Greeks. But their distinctive theory was this:
that the performing or hearing of certain kinds of music had a direct
effect, either moral or immoral, upon the mind, and that therefore wise
educators must encourage the right sort of music only, and banish the
rest from their pupils. I know very well that there were stray voices,
especially from the Epicurean philosophers, saying that this is all
nonsense, that music can have no such effect, and that the only moral or
immoral part of the performance lies in the words.[31] But this only
shows that the opinion of the vast majority and of the wisest men was
not adopted without criticism, and without the other side of the
question being clearly before them. The modern world is under mental
conditions such as the Epicureans. We have generally assumed that music
as such had no influence in moulding morals. We feel that it may be so
in the accessories--that the constant singing of love duets and the
associating with theatrical company may do harm and the associating with
serious musicians may do good--but modern people seem hardly to dream
that music such as Wagner’s, apart from the words, may have a direct
effect upon morals. And yet it is here that we might have incurred a
great and honourable debt to the Greeks, and have used their wisdom to
save our youth from serious danger. This is a conviction of mine, not of
to-day or yesterday, but of forty years’ standing, derived indeed from
the suggestions of Plato, but verified by frequent contact with music
and musicians. I will here give you one striking illustration. Anyone at
first hearing of Wagner’s _Tristan und Isolde_ would perceive that it
was a most immoral subject, expressed in highly emotional music. It is
an artistic glorification of adultery, palliated by the old and vulgar
excuse of a magical love-potion. All this is so obvious that I wonder
sober people would not keep their children from witnessing the work just
as they endeavour to keep them from reading immoral novels. To me it
seemed even worse, for I could not but perceive, and had often and long
since asserted, that the composer himself wrote the music under the
influence of some such moral aberration, and that, apart from the words,
it was intended to express his criminal longings and disappointments. It
is only a year or two since the correspondence of a lady, published
after her death, showed that this anticipation was literally true, that
these phrases of love-sickness were actually composed and sent to her
because she had awakened in him a passion which she was not wicked
enough to satisfy.

I know there are people who think transcendent genius such as that of
Napoleon, or, in his way, of Wagner, affords a justification, or at
least an excuse, for such lawlessness. And you have heard much talk
about the _Superman_, whose main attribute seems to me _infra_ human,
when the rights of others are concerned. To me the veritable Superman is
not the slave of his own passions, who satisfies them at the expense of
others, but the master of himself, who, because he is pure, feels and
helps the weakness of his neighbours. Not Sir Lancelot but Sir Galahad
is the ideal of chivalry. Of the one,

    “His honour rooted in dishonour stood,
    And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true”;

but of the other,

    “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure!”

Perhaps, during this digression, the objection may have been rising in
your minds that if Greek music was so universally believed to have a
moral or immoral influence, this was because it differed wholly in
quality from that which we pursue, and that therefore an inference from
one to the other is very hazardous. This is supported by the fact
already adduced, that the actual remains of Greek music, though legible
and intelligible in the literal sense, have no power whatever to speak
to our musical emotions. We must therefore turn back from practice to
theory and prove to you that, in spite of these difficulties, Greek
music was distinctly the source and forerunner of our own. And I may say
by way of preface to this part of my discourse that the simplicity of
music, far from being a cause of its lesser emotional effect, may be the
very reason why the great mass of people feel it more deeply. The
intricacy and difficulty of our modern music tend to estrange it from
the feelings of the larger public and to confine its influence to the
special class of trained musicians. The Greeks left us no practical work
on music, no criticism of existing compositions, no comparison of the
effects produced on audiences by this or that artist, by this or that
kind of instrument. We find only obvious generalities, such as the flute
being more exciting than the harp. There is indeed one passage where
Plato goes deeper and inveighs against purely instrumental music as more
exciting and therefore possibly more mischievous than vocal music with
an accompaniment, showing that he did not lay the stress of the emotion
upon the words. Those who have gone deeply into modern music will agree
with him; they feel that the emotions produced by a symphony of
Beethoven are more subtle, and, because more subtle, deeper and more
lasting than those produced by any vocal music, unless it be eight-part
music, which approaches the richness of an orchestra.

But this suggestive remark is quite an exception. The extant musical
tracts are wholly theoretical, and are concerned with the scientific
basis of music, not its application to practice. And the first problem
to which they applied themselves, which they solved, and have handed
down to us, their heirs in art, is the determination of the proper scale
or scales in which music should be composed. This was no easy thing to
do, and if you take the trouble to hear the music of any people who have
not adopted the Greek solution, or one like it, you will at once
perceive the difference. I well remember persuading, with great
difficulty, a band of gipsies, in Hungary, to play for me not the music
of the Hungarians, for which they are so celebrated, but some of their
own Oriental stuff, which they play among themselves in private. I found
it wholly unintelligible on account of the scale, which seemed to have
thirteen or fourteen notes within the octave. All this the Greeks had
contemplated, and in some of their early scales they used quarter-tones
and intervals strange and disagreeable to us. But, after much
hesitation, they fixed upon the diatonic scale, which became the basis
of their music, and in due time of ours. The varieties of this scale
which they used were far greater than ours. We are contented with the
variation of major and minor, and repeat the same intervals in the same
order with a mere difference of pitch, very slightly modified by the
temperament of our tuning. The Greeks thought the position of the two
semitones far more important, and considered that the quality of the
scale, quite apart from pitch, was produced by the variety in the
placing of these intervals. But I must repeat that our extant treatises
are so absolutely scientific and not practical that it would be
impossible to attempt an analysis of them in a popular lecture. The
discovery of the scientific basis of concord or harmony and its
difference from discord had been made very early by the Pythagoreans,
and I have often thought that their famous theory that numerical
relations were the key of the universe was much stimulated and fortified
by finding that octaves, fifths, and fourths, which are recognised by
the ear as concords, can be produced by stopping a vibrating string at
the points dividing it into portions represented by 1:2, 2:3, and 3:4.
They did not acknowledge our favorite major ⅓ as a concord, the
proportion being more complex, _viz._ 4:5 or 5:6; and indeed if the
major ⅓ on our instruments be tuned to its full height of two full
tones, it sounds sharp and very disagreeable. In this as in most detail
we can follow and understand the Greek theory. When Aristotle tells us
that the middle note of the scale is that to which the melody always
returns, he is evidently speaking of the unaccompanied melody, and there
are scores of our melodies that move up and down round this keynote,
which may in these cases well represent the central note of the scale.

It is not possible for me to delay longer on this topic. I therefore sum
up the result thus: the Greeks had a music to some extent homogeneous
with ours; they attributed to its varieties great and direct effects on
the morals of men. Seeing that in all their other arts they were so
singularly modern and reasonable, it is surely well worth the careful
consideration of educators whether similar effects be not latent in our
music, _e.g._ whether the study of Handel, Corelli, Palestrina, may not
have a strengthening effect on the mind, whereas the study of Chopin, of
Verdi, even of Beethoven, with all the vague _Weltschmerz_ which they
contain, the unsatisfied longings, the unreasoning discontent, the
suspended harmony, may not contribute directly to the vices of modern
society, vices not unknown in the fashionable cities of this

We now turn to the subject of household furniture and decoration, in
which you will find that there are many and the best of our ideas
borrowed from the Greeks.

We have not had the good fortune to unearth a Greek town of the best
epoch from under lava or from beneath the débris of an earthquake. But
it is likely that even if the ruins of Antioch were cleared of the great
rocks that tumbled down upon it, in the many earthquakes of the early
centuries of our era, some splendid houses might be discovered. So far,
however, I do not know that, except at Delos, we have been able to find
clear evidences that the wall decorations and the furniture of a Greek
house were the same in kind as those which a century and a half of
excavation has brought up from the dead in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
These towns, as well as Naples, which was well known to Cicero as an
essentially Greek town, were in close proximity to Puteoli, which again
was for several centuries the great port for all Alexandrian luxuries
since the second Ptolemy had made friends with the Romans. Through
Puteoli, then, Greek artists and Greek designs made their way to that
coast, and even the worship of Isis, and the frequent use of the ibis
and the crocodile in their designs, show that the Hellenistic artists
had felt the influence of native Egyptian work, just as the workman of
the French “Empire” felt the breath of old Egypt, when Napoleon’s
Commission brought out its splendid work on that mysterious country.

Although, therefore, all the little texts scrawled upon the walls by
children are in Latin, I take it the furniture and decoration of the
smart houses or villas uncovered are in Greek style, and may thus give
us some suggestion of the inside of a Greek house. And let me add at
once, that the discoveries of such ruins and remains at Rome in the time
of the Renaissance moulded all the taste of that age, and produced house
decoration, in direct imitation of the antique, which has been copied
down to the present day.

     NOTE.--I thought that I could not bring before the audience the
     character of this decoration adequately, except by showing some of
     the designs, and some of the furniture, on a screen. Some of the
     pictures were taken from Niccolini’s magnificent _Art of Pompeii_
     (Naples, 1876-92), the Curator having allowed me to use the
     expensive process of photographing in colours, in order to show not
     only the design, but the rich colours of the Pompeian walls.



When I speak to you of Greek Science, of course I use the word in the
old and proper sense to include all strict reasoning, especially of the
deductive kind, particularly therefore pure Mathematics, and not merely
the inferences from observation and experiment which now commonly assume
and even monopolise the title of Science. I often see in educational
programmes Science and Mathematics contrasted as distinct things, which
indeed in this case they are, only because the Science so-called is
often unworthy of the name. Sciences of observation were, I think, not
formulated by the Greeks except in the case of Medicine, in which their
results are still quoted with respect; in the case of Hydrostatics, as
Heron’s great book shows; and in the case of Natural History, in which
they made the first collection of facts that modern men of science can
use; but we have lost what they said on their artistic observations,
namely their minute observations of the anatomy of the human body,
which, as I have told you, their sculptors learned to represent with
such accuracy that no modern anatomist can find a flaw in their work.
This was done by careful external observation, for the practice of
dissecting the human body would have seemed to them impious and
horrible. But, whenever it was possible, the Greeks went back to first
principles and framed a theory from which they deduced the facts; and
this it is which has made their science so valuable. It will not be hard
to show you how in Logic--the Science of Reasoning,--in Arithmetic, and
in Geometry--the science of the laws of lines, of figures, and of solid
bodies in space--they are our teachers to the present day.

It is well to approach the subject of Logic through the avenue by which
the Greeks approached it, through the analysis of ordinary language and
as the natural expression of thinking. The early poets and great prose
writers had so far perfected the use of language that the Greeks in the
catalogue of human acquisitions came to put their speech on a very high
pedestal. Delighted with it, and despising all other tongues as
barbarous, they convinced themselves that the Greek word adequately
expressed the nature of the thing it signified, and therefore that to
understand their language properly was to understand the nature of
things. Λὁγος meant not only speech (_oratio_), but reason (_ratio_),
and so, after first seeking to obtain clear conceptions of abstract
ideas, they advanced to the structure of sentences and analysed speech
in so accurate a way that their technical terms are our technical terms
of to-day. When you talk of _infinitives_, or _genitives_, or
_participles_, you are only using words borrowed from Latin
translations, often mistranslations, of the Greek. You find these
logical studies in their beginning, but by no means in their infancy, in
the _Dialogues_ of Plato. Whole conversations are employed in trying to
fix the connotation of important moral terms, such as _holiness_, or
_valour_, or _temperance_. And we also find in some of the dialogues an
appreciation of the difficulties contained in the form of simple
propositions, the meaning of affirmation or negation, and the nature of
the deduction of one proposition from another.

But I need not detain you with particulars about these early
preparations for science, when we have before us in Aristotle various
treatises on the analysis of speech from its logical side, and the
laying down of the laws of formal thinking with such accuracy and
completeness that nothing of importance has ever been added to it. We
hear it often said that a single man apprehended and systematised these
laws. That is not true; there were plenty of tentative essays before his
time. But if there be one achievement which has made his name and fame
everlasting, it is his treatment of the theory of Reasoning.

The mediæval universities knew this well, and so do the modern
universities of Europe which are worthy of the name. I need not bear
witness to the vast importance of common Logic by telling you that in my
own youth nothing ever woke me up like having a good Logic put into my
hands at the age of fourteen. For since that time I have been often
teaching it and have watched its effects on hundreds of intelligent
youths. Among all the subjects that we teach, not for the purpose of
supplying mere facts, but for the purpose of training youth to judge
facts and co-ordinate their knowledge, I know nothing that benefits the
average student like the study of Aristotelian Logic. May I add that, so
far as I know American education, the most serious defect I have
observed in it is the small attention paid to this subject, and hence
the vast number of your men and women who are unable to distinguish a
sound from an unsound argument, still less to point out where the
fallacy lies.

There are here present, I have no doubt, a large number of people,
otherwise highly educated, who, were I to propose a stock example for
their criticism, would feel at a loss how to deal with it. Let me give
an illustration. “Every hen comes from an egg; every egg comes from a
hen; therefore every egg comes from an egg.” Is this a correct argument?
If not, where is it at fault? If you had all been trained in Whately’s
Logic, or any other Logic of the kind, as we were in our youth, such a
question would present no difficulty whatever.

But if you have failed to derive this lesson from the old Greeks, your
English ancestors were better advised. All the subtlety of the mediæval
schools, all the disputations of their universities, were based on Greek
Logic; and, if they often wasted their time on idle problems, it must
always be remembered that by this means Europe was trained to accuracy
and subtlety in argument, and hence to weigh vague and random theorising
and to make men competent critics of any new dogma. We often remark from
our side of the Atlantic how many wild theories in religion, how many
sham theories in science, blossom and flourish in this country,
inhabited though it may be by a most shrewd and intelligent population.
The simplest answer is to point to their ignorance of common Logic, and
hence their liability to be deceived by the most vulgar fallacies. It
would be easy to mention a book popular in this country, the pages of
which any logically trained people would only use to wrap sardines or to
heat a stove.

The Greeks do not parade their logic in their writings, though we know
they were fond of subtleties; there are indeed examples of it in the
_Sophist_ of Plato, where this sort of thing is ridiculed in his
travesty of two professional educators. But there are two great and
solid proofs of the power which strict Logic had upon their minds. The
first comes out in their literature. Wherever they undertake to argue an
issue, whether political, social, or religious, their reasoning is clear
and easily followed. They of course often start from traditional
beliefs, which may not now command assent, but they always reason from
these with clear and sober thinking. There was no more important cause
for the permanence of that great literature. Its sound thinking has kept
it from all extravagance and made it acceptable to educated men of all
ages and nations. The second proof is my chief subject to-day: it is the
peculiarly logical character of Greek mathematics which has made this
too the model of the scientific thinking of the world.

Let me go back to the infancy of Greek science and give you evidence for
this statement. Setting aside for the present the metaphysical thinkers,
who will occupy us in another chapter, we may safely say that the
earliest mathematicians were the school of Pythagoras, and also that
their work started (so far as they did not start from the highest of
all--pure thinking) from Arithmetic. To this science Pythagoras and his
school attached such importance that they were supposed to hold that
numbers were the essence of the universe. If you think that such a
theory is mere nonsense, I may tell you that I have often heard my
colleagues, distinguished in modern science, discuss a theory, alive at
the present day, that the so-called material universe consists of mere
motion, without anything to be moved! At the root of these speculations
lies the fundamental distinction of form and matter, of the definite and
the indefinite; and the Pythagoreans had got a glimpse of the eternal
truth that it is only through our intuitions of space and time, and
through abstract concepts explicating these, that we can bring the
myriad phenomena of nature under intelligible law. It was an early
anticipation, so far as we can explain it, of the great theory of
Descartes, that all the universe could be reduced to mathematical
relations, and these handled by algebra, which is in its essence but a
very abstract and generalised arithmetic. If therefore all parts of the
world stand in mutual arithmetical relations, of which the chemical law
of definite proportions is the most signal example, the science of
numbers must be the capital of every scientific man.

And remember that in Greek parlance this was the strict meaning of their
_arithmetic_--a pure science, while they used the term _logistic_ (or
computation) for the working of practical rules. At the basis of their
theory of numbers lay of course the one great assumption which makes the
science possible--I mean the absolute equality of the units of any
number used for the purpose of calculation.

This is not merely the abstraction from all their differences, as when I
say that the present audience consists of five hundred people,
regardless of the countless variations existing between the units of
this crowd. It is the assumption of an ideal and accurate identity
between each of the units, as to magnitude, which makes the expression
of geometrical truths arithmetically possible.

The truth that 3² + 4² = 5² applies not only to numbers but to lines,
and probably suggested the geometrical proof to Euclid (1, 47). But it
is only true if the units in the measurement of each line are exactly

Starting from this first assumption, the Pythagoreans began to speculate
on the peculiarities of the natural series of units in use among men,
and to deduce from these general considerations various theorems, which
they believed might solve the secrets of nature. At the very outset they
were struck with the obvious contrast between odd and even, which Plato,
following them, regarded as a fundamental distinction in nature. Had
they been told that, thousands of years later, men of science would find
that a most primitive and fundamental distinction among animals is
founded on this difference, I mean that of _artio-dactyle_, and
_perisso-dactyle_, actually called by the Greek words, they would have
said that this caused them no surprise, as their arithmetic had long
since laid down the distinction as a law of nature. As simple specimens
of the sort of treatment that the science of numbers received from them,
I may cite the following: The successive additions of the odd numbers
produce the squares of the series of even and odd.[32] The series of
even numbers when added give us no such result, but rather this--that
the addition of even numbers gives us figures which are the products of
successive numbers differing by only one, _e.g._ 2 + 4 = 3 × 2; 2 + 4 +
6 = 4 × 3, and so on. These latter numbers were regarded as rectangles,
when expressed in lines. It was by the discovery of the relation of the
sides to the base of a right-angled triangle that they, so to speak,
stumbled upon irrational numbers. If the two sides are each equal to 1,
the hypothenuse is equal to √2, which is no integral number, but a
problem in itself.[33]

All the results of this Pythagorean research lived through into the days
of Plato and Aristotle and then, as we know from Euclid and Theon, into
the learning of Alexandria. The importance recognised by them in the
numbers ten and twelve was shown by the general adoption of a decimal
system of notation, and of the division of time on a duodecimal system.

You will ask me what symbols the Greeks had which could enable them to
treat arithmetical figures of any complexity, and on this I could give
you now a very definite reply, but the details would lead us away from
our subject, seeing that this notation was lost in the Dark Ages and was
ultimately replaced by the Arabic numerals. But we now know that they
had a very practical system of decimal notation based on the use of the
letters of the alphabet; and the fact that several letters obsolete in
the alphabet of the fifth century B.C. appear as symbols, proves that it
was current as early as Pythagorean days. The sign for 6 is the
_digamma_, that for 90 is the _koph_ of the Phœnician alphabet, which is
still found in Locrian inscriptions; the Phœnician letter known as
_sampi_ is used for 900. We know the practical management of this easy
notation perfectly from the mass of accounts both private and public
found on Egyptian papyri. It can express large numbers far more
compendiously than the Roman system, often more compendiously even than
ours. Suppose you desire to express any large number, say 20,050, here
it is β/ΜΝ; say 47,678, it is δ/ΜΖΧΟΗ, and if there be small gain in
simplicity here, I will give you 800,000 = 10,000 × 80 = π/Μ. But these
are practical matters, though without an easy notation even the most
scientific thinkers could not make large progress.[34]

The next great step was to pass from arithmetic to geometry as the
science of space and to show how far the same laws governed both.

If we are not well informed upon the beginnings of arithmetic, we are
more fortunate in the case of geometry, and here, if anywhere, the old
Greeks have been the acknowledged teachers of modern Europe. For we have
in the so-called _Elements_ of Euclid, composed most probably at
Alexandria about 300 B.C., a summary of all that had been discovered up
to his day, doubtless with many new things of his own. He had distinctly
built upon his predecessors; he has before him all through his book a
problem discussed in Plato, that of the possible number of regular
polyhedra, and its solution forms the climax of his work. But he begins
from the very beginning and builds up his whole doctrine with such
accuracy that a flaw in the demonstration is hard to be found.

How did this great master attain to such perfection? The form of his
demonstrations does not suggest an intimacy with the logic of his
immediate predecessor Aristotle; but from him he might easily have
obtained the whole notion of a strictly deductive science, which,
starting from the smallest possible number of primary data, proceeds to
derive from these by strict demonstration proposition after proposition.
Philosophers of our own time have often expressed wonder at the
clearness with which these data are laid down. They are three in kind:
first the _common notions_, which apply to all science and all practical
life, such as “the whole is greater than its part”; secondly, the
_axioms_ peculiar to our intuition of space, such as “two right lines
cannot enclose a space”; and thirdly the very simple _postulates_, which
amount to the use of a ruler and compass with a pencil. There are
besides very careful definitions, so careful that they are at first
obscure, because they apply to the ideal construction of the mind in its
intuition of pure space and do not concern themselves about the flaws of
actual figures. Thus his “point which has no parts” is not nothing at
all, but the minimum of definite place; his right line, “which lies in
the same way (όμαλῶς) between any two points taken upon its length,” is
simply unity of direction. Every other line varies in direction in some
of its successive parts. This is a direct appeal to intuition, without
which we can make no beginning in the science of space. Such also is the
axiom about parallel lines. Such is also the proof by superposition, to
show that two triangles, if some of their measurements be the same, must
wholly coincide.

But I must not attempt to give you a lecture on the _Elements_ of
Euclid, of which some of you may have evil recollections. For it is the
misfortune, as well as the glory, of a great work not only to be
repeated for centuries, but to be parroted and travestied by those who
merely accept its greatness from the voice of ages, and who come to
think that the words of inspiration only require blind repetition to
instruct men. So if Euclid has become in many classical schools a sort
of amulet or fetish (which must for common decency be put in the
programme but which may be learned by committing the proofs to memory
without any intelligence) such a misfortune is not the fault of Euclid,
but the most pathetic tribute to his genius. Let me also add, for the
benefit of those of you who have never seen more than six books of the
_Elements_, and who probably thought six more than enough, that these
are but the introduction to the discussion of higher and more complex
questions, which show the large advance made by the Greeks in this
science, and which explain also how in other arts, such as architecture,
there is no defect for want of scientific accuracy. Books VII-X are not
on geometry, but on higher arithmetic, and even treat, as in Book X, of
incommensurable or irrational quantities. With XI he begins to teach
solid geometry, the measurement of pyramids, cones, spheres, and the
like, ending (XIII) with the discussion of the five regular polyhedra,
of which Plato had long since spoken.

From the great sequence of discoverers and teachers of pure mathematics,
I need only here pick out three immortal names: Apollonius of Perga,
living about 200 B.C., whose geometrical treatment of conic sections is,
I am informed, a splendid monument of genius, which would still be the
basis of modern study had not the treatment of these figures by analysis
entirely superseded the geometrical method. Then there is Pappus in the
second century A.D., who gives us in eight books a review of all the
previous masters, with important additions of his own. The third name is
Diophantus, who lived much later, perhaps in the fourth century, and
whose work is considered the first great step toward the science of

All these speculations were developed in the direction of mathematical
physics by Archimedes, Heron, and other great men of the Alexandrian
school. The triumphs of Archimedes in mechanics astonished the Romans,
who, in the defence of Syracuse against their attack, found him equal to
a host. But how little Archimedes confined himself to practical problems
is shown by his famous method of determining the area of a circle by
approximation, by inscribing and circumscribing polygons of a great
number of sides, which can of course be treated and measured as a
complex of triangles. This is still, I am told, the proof admitted by
modern mathematicians as the best.

The works of Heron show not only an excellent practical knowledge of
mechanics, but of hydrostatics, from which he deduces a number of most
ingenious inventions, such as our penny in the slot, and even the
construction of a whole scene acted by marionettes moving by a most
elaborate hidden machinery. It[35] is a fine specimen of his ingenuity
in using the ordinary mechanical contrivances. He postulates a tall
hollow basis, adorned with pilasters, and having an architrave, with
boards covering its upper surface. Over this stands a little round
temple, visible from all sides, with six pillars. It is covered with a
conical roof, and on the apex is a figure of Victory with outspread
wings and holding in her right hand a garland. Under the centre of the
roof stands a figure of Bacchus, holding a thyrsus in his left hand, and
a cup in his right. At his feet lies a little stuffed panther. Before
and behind Bacchus, and outside the temple, stands an altar with dry
shavings of wood. Also on each side, outside the temple, a Bacchante, in
a proper costume and attitude. The whole concern being set up at some
suitable spot, the exhibitor will retire, and the automatic machine will
presently move forward to a fixed spot. The moment it stops, the altar
fire in front of Bacchus will light up, and from his thyrsus will flow
milk or water, and from his cup wine will be poured out on the panther
beneath him, the pilasters beneath will be adorned with garlands, the
Bacchantes will dance round the temple; drums and cymbals will be heard.
When this noise ceases, the figure of Bacchus will turn round to the
other altar and all the movements be repeated in the other direction. As
soon as this has happened the second time, the show is over, and the
whole machine will return to its original place. We have felt bound, he
adds, to make the measurements (which he gives) small, for if made
large, the suspicion naturally arises in the audience that there is a
man inside the machine producing all the movements. This precaution,
then, should be observed in making any automatic machine.

He then proceeds to give in great detail the construction of this
machine. It is as ingenious as any construction of the present day, but
cannot be presented to you without a series of figures, which are given
in his book. Any of you may read it in the Greek (Teubner text), to
which is added an excellent German translation. It will be enough to
mention that the lighting of the altar fires is done by concealing a
lamp inside the altar immediately under the wood, and by withdrawing a
metal plate which separates them. The flowing of milk and wine is
produced by concealing two little reservoirs in the summit of the
building, and leading the liquor by pipes down the inside of the
pillars, and up the inside of the figure of Bacchus, so that, when the
cocks are turned by machinery, the milk and wine flow and rise to the
level of the thyrsus and the cup, which are set underneath the level of
the cisterns. It is evident enough that people who could do these
things were capable of inventing the _sakia_ now in use throughout
Egypt, where a horizontal wheel worked round a capstan by oxen moves
another set perpendicularly, at right angles to it, furnished with jars,
which get filled below and, when they pass over the highest point of
their revolution, are emptied into a water course, and so irrigate a
higher level. This is well known to have been the invention of these
Alexandrian mechanicians, whose theory had long preceded their practice,
and whose applications of science they never valued so highly as their
pure speculations.

Perhaps before leaving the subject I should tell you what was the moving
force in the automatic machinery. It was a weight suspended in the air
by a rope over a pulley, which, as soon as it was allowed to sink from
its support, made the rope, wrapped round the axle of a large wheel,
move the wheel, that was in its turn connected with other wheels. With
very great and ingenious contrivance, as the machinery was all carefully
concealed, the exhibitor could take his seat among the spectators, and
make the ignorant believe that the whole effect was produced by some

Nor were the laws of optics and the correction of the illusions of sight
neglected. Euclid wrote a work on the subject which is now lost; but the
praise of it by competent men of the Alexandrian school shows that it
was on a level with his other scientific productions. To our educated
public, the work of the Greeks in most fields is known at least by
hearsay; the great library of Greek mathematics, scores of volumes, some
of which are only quite recently published, is, except for Euclid,
absolutely unknown. Yet from it is derived not only the scanty knowledge
of science that filtered through the Romans into Western Europe, but
also that adopted by the Arabs, and which in translations from Arabic
versions came from them into awakening Italy and Germany and France. But
let me add that now, when their discoveries in pure mathematics are
being weighed by the light of expert knowledge, we are assured by all
those really competent to judge that in no field of learning have the
old Greeks shown their amazing originality and acuteness more signally
than in higher arithmetic and in higher geometry.

The great fathers of the exact sciences are therefore in arithmetic the
Pythagoreans, whose history is too obscure to mention from it any single
name before Archytas, Euclid, and Theon of Smyrna; in geometry, Euclid;
in mechanics, Archimedes; in conic sections, Apollonius of Perga; in
hydrostatics, Heron; in astronomy, Eudoxus and Hipparchus; last, but not
least, in higher arithmetic and algebra, Diophantus; all of these were,
moreover, men who did not confine themselves to any single department,
but promoted accurate thinking in many. These, and others hardly less
great, have left a record and a legacy to posterity second to none in
its mighty consequences.

But among them all Aristotle stands out as the “master of those that
knew”--the man who attained in the Middle Ages such celebrity and
authority that he narrowly escaped being canonised as a saint in the
Roman calendar. If that distinction really belonged to the benefactors
of mankind, I know not that any man ever lived who had a better claim to
it. For his life and activity mark an epoch not only in the progress of
many sciences, but in the general culture of the human mind, to which I
know no parallel. He was brought up under the influence of the Socratic
method of inquiry as perfected by Plato, but, though in some popular
works (now lost) he adopted the dialogue as the correct method of
teaching, there can be no doubt that the sober and practical tone of his
mind made him despise all the delays and delights of character-drawing,
and of spinning out the subject, for what we have from him is
pre-eminently plain and scientific in form. There is seldom an
unnecessary sentence; if there be a metaphor, it is a mere flash of
colour across the cold severity of his argument. He writes like a man
who had no time to waste and a vast world of subjects to teach. If it
was still an age when the sciences had not entered upon the path of
observation and experiment, but were philosophical speculations,
Aristotle did more than any man to establish a separation between
philosophy and science, while fully recognising, what in our day most
scientists ignore, that positive science without a sound knowledge of
philosophy is apt to run into fatal mistakes.

Of course this immense programme which Aristotle set before him could
not be carried out without large collaboration, and so we know that, as
Plato seems to have underrated such collaboration, and thus have failed
in fruitfulness among his pupils, Aristotle, who was not chosen as his
successor by the school (I suppose as usual there were jealousies among
the commonplace and docile pupils toward the great original thinker),
formed and stimulated a band of helpers, who gathered special
observations in botany, mineralogy, zoölogy, physics as the science of
nature, and others who put into shape his views on rhetoric and on
poetry, on ethics and on theology. We have, in my opinion, a new
specimen of such delegated work in the now famous _Constitution of
Athens_, which was known and quoted as Aristotle’s through later
antiquity, but which is rather the work of a pupil and not a brilliant
one. But then we know that Aristotle either wrote or brought out 158 of
these tracts on Greek constitutions. To this I shall return in a
subsequent lecture.

Theophrastus, Eudemus, and Aristoxenus are among the best-known names of
these helpers, and from these we have valuable work extant. Physical
geography was entrusted to Dikæarchus. All these researches were carried
out in the same spirit, and with that unity of purpose that marks a
school. There was apparently but one division of all the domain of
science in which Aristotle did no original work, and yet his
contribution to it is not to be underrated. This was the field of pure
mathematics. For we know that he entrusted to his ablest pupil, Eudemus
the Rhodian, the task of writing the history of what other men had done
in this field. These books on the history of arithmetic, of geometry,
and of astronomy (then called astrology) were well known and valued, and
the modern critics declare that whatever is now known about the earlier
development of mathematics was derived from this pure and rich source.
Still more remarkable is it that this, the part of the edifice to which
Aristotle himself did not contribute, should have been the only one that
took root and flourished without any period of corruption or decay. As
to Aristotle’s personal competence in this matter, I am assured by the
best mathematicians that his not infrequent allusions to mathematics, by
way of metaphor or illustration, show a clear and sound understanding of
the subject. It is not, therefore, the vagary of an idle admirer, but
the deliberate expression of a weighty judge, when we learn from him in
his Discussion on Beauty--which he, being a Greek, of course seeks in
form, symmetry, and proportion--that the highest and noblest examples of
earthly beauty are to be found in mathematics.

Euclid was almost the contemporary of Aristotle, and so the Peripatetic
Mathematics found at Alexandria a new home and a mighty development,
which lasted for centuries and is not stayed to this day. But the rest
of the vast system of Aristotle seems, after about two generations, to
have fallen into incompetent hands. The activity of the Greek intellect
passed into other channels and became again purely philosophical and
ethical instead of scientific, as I shall show when I speak of the Stoic
and Epicurean systems.

But there was another branch of practical science which, if not created
by Aristotle, was certainly promoted by his studies in zoölogy and
botany. We still regard these sciences as a necessary introduction to
medicine, and we may be sure that in old days the order of such studies
was not different. The distinction of being the father of rational
medicine need not be added to the other crowns which adorn the great
sage. Both Greeks and moderns are unanimous in awarding that honour to
Hippocrates of Kos, where there was an old guild of physicians, of which
he was neither the first nor the last of his name. Hence the works now
known as those of Hippocrates may not all be the actual writing of one
man; for as with Aristotle, so with Hippocrates, there was a school, and
the pupils followed in the master’s path. But there is no doubt whatever
as to the character and tone of his teaching. We find even a literary
grandeur in his prose, that is not the writing of any but a great
master. The famous opening of his _Aphorisms_ is probably known to most
of my hearers. But it is a puzzle to translate without dull
amplification. Here is a paraphrase: “Life is brief, yet craft grows
slowly; the right time is instantaneous, yet experience is treacherous,
and decision burdensome.” As is the style, so is the thinking out of the
problems before him. Starting from hygiene as the proper basis of
medicine, he thinks those should be regarded as the earliest physicians
who improved the food of primitive men by crushing grain, by cooking
meat, and by selecting edible vegetables. From that time onward, there
was growing up an experience of what was healthy and what the reverse.
It is this experience which he seeks to systematise by careful
observation and so to establish laws of hygiene, and the probable
natural prophylactics or remedies afforded by air, water, and climate.
He analyses with care the proper aspect for a town and decides (in the
latitudes which he knew) for the eastern as the best and the western as
the worst. He discusses the quality of the water supply, and lays great
stress upon its altitude. He sets down careful clinical records of cases
of fever--typhus, puerperal, malarious, and the like. The results of
this rational treatment of disease were far-reaching and permanent. To
cite to you the cloud of witnesses would be mere waste of time. But I
will take one instance, closely related to the history of my great
college and of medicine in Ireland.[36] The founder of the College of
Physicians in Ireland under the Cromwellians and Charles II. was John
Stearne, a grand-nephew of Archbishop Ussher, himself also a theologian
and metaphysician. Driven out of Ireland by the stress of the Rebellion
of 1641, and educated in all the medical learning of Cambridge, he
returned with the Cromwellian restoration of order and became not only a
Fellow of his college (along with some eminent Puritans from Harvard)
but a distinguished practitioner in Dublin. By his influence was founded
the Royal College of Physicians, once an adjunct to the University and
ever since a great and dignified corporation, which has for many
generations contributed eminent men to medical science.

But Stearne, like Hippocrates, not only practised; he wrote works on
life and death; he was a theorist and a philosopher. This man, writing
from the highest standpoint of Cambridge and of Dublin in the middle of
the seventeenth century, tells us over and over again that the works of
Hippocrates are wellnigh infallible, and are the only sure guide to
medical science in his day.[37] The causes of this attitude are not far
to seek. All mediæval medicine had been ruined by the admission of
supernatural influences, special interventions, the action of evil
spirits, the conjunction of hostile constellations, and other rubbish at
which we now smile, but which men of science then deplored. The first
great feature in Hippocrates is the utter ignoring of any such
influences as the special causes of disease or cure. He is afraid of no
ghost or goblin, he never mentions an incantation. And here is a
momentous passage, which probably few of you have ever read, that
expresses the mental attitude of his school. He is speaking of a class
of patients affected with impotence who are venerated among the
Scythians and even worshipped, each man fearing for himself, as he
attributes the sickness to a special visitation of his God. “Well now I
also think that these diseases are of divine ordinance and so are all
the rest, but not one of them more divine or human than the rest, but
all are homogeneous, and all from the gods. Yet each of them has its
nature, and nothing happens without a natural cause.” He then goes on to
explain the disease from the practice of too much riding, and observing
that it attacks the rich more usually than the poor, because the latter
do not live on horseback, he argues:

     If this disease were indeed more divine in origin than the rest, it
     ought not to attack the rich and well bred among the Scythians, but
     all alike; nay rather the poor in preference, if indeed the gods
     delight in honour and service from men, and show them favour
     accordingly. For it is but natural that the rich should offer many
     sacrifices to the gods as they have both wealth and honour; but the
     poor less so, either from want of means, or want of good will
     toward the gods who have not favoured them, so that the poor ought
     to be specially subject to punishment for their transgressions or
     mistakes. But as I said before, this disease is heaven-sent like
     the rest. For everything happens according to nature.

This was the spirit that died out when the Greek world decayed, and
Europe fell a victim to ignorance and superstition. Then came the heyday
of miraculous images, of relics with power to cure, of pilgrimages, of
intercessions, of all that mental degradation which the Mediæval Church,
far from repudiating, used for its own purposes. And so the
resurrection of medical science was connected with rebellion against the
Church. Among every three physicians, are two atheists, was the word,
and even the pious Stearne, whom I have mentioned, preaches a purely
Stoic creed, and systematically ignores all the rites of his church.

Hippocrates and his school had in their day to combat similar
superstitions, just as the scientific medicine of our day has to deal
with Lourdes and with Christian Science. Within the last few years, we
have recovered from oblivion the ruins of the temple and town of
Epidauros, where the god Æsculapius had a famous shrine, and where
hundreds of pilgrims assembled to seek cures for their several ailments.
Their recreation was as well looked after as in any modern
watering-place; the theatre was the most splendid thing of the kind in
Greece, and there were porticoes, and baths, and groves to secure that
comfort and idle amusement which have a great effect on health. But as
we know from the ridicule of Aristophanes, corroborated by numbers of
inscriptions commemorating cures, the method of these Asklepiads was far
behind those of Kos; it was superstitious and not scientific. Dreams and
omens, charms and ceremonial acts still stood in the way of sound
hygiene and careful clinical observation. Not that I deny the occurrence
of cures under such treatment. The most sceptical examination of the
annals of Lourdes shows that mental influences will cure not only mental
diseases, and diseases known as nervous, but even those that seemed
absolutely physical. And what the Blessed Virgin does for the faithful
of Lourdes may doubtless be done by the influence of more human and
tangible causes. These admissions, which I make freely, will not change
the opinion now held by every true man of science. It is the opinion of
Hippocrates and his school, and that which he sought to enforce by his
theory and his practice. The great truth that work is what exhausts the
human frame, and that food supplies this waste, was laid down clearly in
their practice. The equally important principle, that no organ will keep
in health and vigour without exercise of its natural function and that
if disused it will shrink or decay, was also clearly pronounced. They
even guessed that the greatest problem of medicine (which they failed to
solve) was the passage from inorganic into organic substances.

It is of course idle to say that these practitioners were not encumbered
and shackled by many false guesses, many pretended discoveries, many
groundless speculations of their predecessors. But as the famous oath,
which every practitioner in the school of Kos took, expresses clearly
the high moral aim with which even now the physician enters on his noble
work, the solemn declaration that he will not abuse his influence or
intimacy in any house for selfish or immoral purposes, so in their
scientific aims these Greeks sought to advance human knowledge by
recording honestly their observations, even by telling of their
failures, and by seeking to leave behind them such clinical work as
might enlighten not only successors but opponents. If we compare this
truly modest and scientific attitude with that of the doctors whom
Molière scourged, and whose practice is but too well known to us from
the minute account of their treatment of princely or even royal
patients, we shall again come to the conclusion that where the Greeks
failed to teach modern Europe it was not for want of rich suggestion and
splendid anticipations of modern science.

I need hardly tell you (in conclusion) that I have not only confined
myself to touching the fringes of these vast subjects; I have
deliberately omitted large topics such as _optics_, and the correction
of optical delusions, which the Greeks attained by a subtle use of
curves, not merely sections of a large circle, but particularly by the
use of the conic section still known by its Greek name of hyperbola. I
have said nothing about their astronomy, with its prediction of
eclipses, its application to the calendar, and its use as the basis of
scientific geography. Had I attempted to weave all these matters into
the present lecture, I must have given you a kaleidoscope and not a
picture. The main fact to be impressed upon you is that the great
triumphs of the Greeks in art and in literature were not attained
without a strict education in hard thinking and close reasoning. Plato
is said to have made it the first condition of entering on a course of
philosophy that the pupil should have studied geometry.

It was in accordance with that principle that in our older universities
every student, though he were a specialist in classics, must show an
adequate knowledge of mathematics. No man in Trinity College, Dublin,
can take the degree in languages without having been taught, and having
qualified in, pure mathematics, physics, and astronomy. That was the
kind of education given by the Greeks. So far as we have departed from
it in our education; so far as we have substituted hurry for
deliberation, quantity of facts for quality of knowledge, miscellaneous
information for systematic thinking, so far we have rendered modern
culture impotent to rival their excellence.



There is no department of Greek life where we feel its modernness more
intensely than when we come to consider political and social philosophy.
The Greeks, and the Romans that learned from them, write and talk like
thoroughly modern men; the discussions of Aristotle and the treatises of
Cicero are quite fit to instruct us in the present day on the
possibilities of organising human society. The rights of women, for
example, are a topic with which they were perfectly familiar. Pass into
what are justly called the Dark Ages or early Middle Ages, and you feel
that the world has gone centuries back and not forward. The reign of
superstition, the tyranny of the priest, the miseries of the churl, the
childishness of art, the utter stagnation of literature, the
substitution of fortresses for free cities, violence for law, savage
rudeness for polished urbanity--these are the astounding conditions of
an Europe most of which once had enjoyed real civilisation.

Among other causes of this strange retrogression in history, not the
least is the disappearance of Greek life and culture into the East,
where Constantinople still adhered to great Hellenic traditions at least
in law, in language, and in art. All that Roman life and thought had
borrowed from Greece was unable to make Latin culture fruitful and
permanent, because it _was_ borrowed from Greece and not really
assimilated; so it came to pass that, compared with the brightness and
buoyancy of Greek culture, the reign of the Latin through civilised
Europe was an epoch of standstill, of formalism, of intellectual
barrenness, of ossification. So long as the Romans were mere docile
pupils of the Greeks, they made great progress in the arts of life; as
soon as they felt themselves the acknowledged masters of the world and
came to look down upon their teachers, their inborn coarseness and want
of genius began to reassert itself, and but for the influence of an
Oriental creed, domesticated among them by the Greeks, they would have
relapsed, along with their barbarian invaders, into intellectual

When we inquire into the causes that made politics so developed a
feature among the Greeks, we shall in the first place find, even in
Homer’s societies, the habit of open discussion a leading fact in
everyday life. There is a sort of instinct to have things talked over
and reasoned out, so much so that the very king, who has come to a
decision with his council, and has ample authority to fulfil it, will
not do so without calling together an assembly of the soldiers in the
camp or the free citizens in the market-place, and seeking to obtain
their approval by acclamation. This assembly, called together to
approve, without any power of voting or of reversing the prince’s
decision, is regarded by all historians as the embryo of the
long-subsequent sovran assemblies of citizens in every Greek democracy.
There seem even to have been assertions of absolute power in the mouth
of the kings in some of the old texts of the _Iliad_, which were
expunged by editors, certainly not those of Alexandria, to whom such an
assertion could contain no offence, but by earlier editors who prepared
the poems for the free cities of Greece.[38]

The next stimulant to the development of politics was the coexistence of
many small city-states, with only a few miles square of territory, each
a little sovranty where no king could maintain the mystery of seclusion
or the obstacle of a solemn etiquette, which Xenophon perceived to be
essential conditions of the great absolute monarchy of the Persians. So
it came that the old sovranties, which Aristotle tells us had been
hereditary and limited[39] as it were a model to later nations in
constitutional sovranty, passed away, often without revolution, into
aristocracies, which were the leading type throughout the civilised
world both in classical and in mediæval times, so long as the mass of
the people were too ignorant to take upon them the management of public
affairs. Aristotle tells us that the masses easily remain quiet and
contented, provided they are kept in employment and in comfort by the
good management of the few. Such an example you are all familiar with in
the Venetian Republic, which, like Carthage of old, maintained for a
long period, without serious internal disturbance, a considerable empire
with a population busy and rich by their trade.

Where the violence or the selfishness of the few in power who were
descendants of the old families of nobles which had once been the
council of the kings, or who had themselves been local chiefs--where, I
say, the neglect or violence of these men produced intolerable
hardships, we have sanguinary revolutions, at first usually under the
leadership of an ambitious renegade or soldier of noble origin, who set
the masses against the classes. Later, the masses were strong enough to
make their revolutions by constitutional or semi-constitutional means,
and so gained a political power which they could seldom maintain without
putting to death or exiling the leaders of the nobles. A reader of
Thucydides or Xenophon will recall the manner in which the exiles worked
counter-revolutions, and thus stained the face of Greece with violence
and bloodshed. These scenes of violence play so large a part in our
Greek histories that you will wonder how any such people could be a
model to others in methods of politics, and it is for that reason that I
think it necessary to notice the matter. When we look below the surface
we shall find that there were elements of order never eradicated, and
that the crimes of the leaders of society did not infect the
common-sense, or destroy the safety, of the mass of the people, until
the general decadence in the days of Polybius and the Roman

What is this evidence? It is not to be found without some reflection,
for, as I have said, it is below the surface. There is no commoner
phrase in the mouth of Greek revolutionists, or in the mouth of those
that dreaded them, than “abolition of debts, and redivision of the
land.”[40] Aristotle mentions these as the watchword of the mob-leaders.
But when I was asked, years ago, by the late Henry Sidgwick of
Cambridge, to find him actual instances of such a revolution in
authentic Greek history, I well remember my own surprise, and his also,
when I said there were none to be found. Some such things may possibly
have happened in the great Sicilian troubles, when a tyrant drove out
the old free population, and settled a town with the surrounding churls
and his mercenary troops; but on the general face of Greek history, and
in the records of the well known states, you will not find an
instance.[41] The most radical measure to which I can point is the
reduction of debts twenty-seven per cent. by Solon, who was a very
conservative statesman, and one most anxious to guard the mercantile
good character of his city. As there was no loss of public credit to
Athens in his time, it is clear that the debts lightened by this
exceptional proceeding must have been only the debts of a class,
probably those due from poor farmers or labourers to their oppressive
landlords. If so, it was not more trenchant than the present land
legislation of the English Government in Ireland and Scotland, where the
annual rents of tenants have, in violation of old and formal private
contracts, been cut down by the state, often as much as twenty-seven per

The Greeks were great traders by sea and land and no trade can be
carried on without assured public credit. Unless investments are fairly
safe, no mercantile society can thrive. The ordinary rate of interest in
Greece, twelve per cent. per annum, appears at first hearing to be
evidence of insecurity. It is nothing of the kind. It was not higher
than the average interest[42] at Rome when that dominant people held the
trade of the world, and made themselves as safe as could be. The
difference between that and our three per cent. arises from the general
scarcity at the time of great fortunes in money, owing to the difficulty
of transit and the imperfect knowledge of a token currency. Banks and
bills of exchange they commonly used, but to lend money to citizens of a
neighbouring state, living under different laws and with strange courts
of law, was never easy, and so the areas of lending and borrowing were
not as they are now, a whole continent or even the whole globe. You
might imagine such a state of things here in your country if each State
was confined to seek investments within its own limits, in which case
you might soon find a rate of interest for imported capital not lower
than that among the Greeks.

There was another strong checking power which must always have moderated
the revolutionary transports of the Greeks. It was the existence in all
the greater cities of a large population of slaves. We know from the
history both of Argos and of Sparta that this was a standing danger to
the free population, and we may be sure that in many cases free men
composed their differences, or at least moderated their victory over
their opponents, rather than risk having both subdued by a foreign

You will tell me perhaps that the fact that all the Greek world held
slaves is another antiquated standpoint, which prevents them from being
fit teachers for modern nations. But to me that question does not appear
so simple, and perhaps with the experiences of the last forty years,
even the American public that has time for reflection may have some
doubts on the matter. So great a thinker as Aristotle felt quite clear
about it; he believed that there were inferior races fit only to be
controlled, not to control, and he held that it was for their good when
these were coerced by the superior intelligence and education of Greeks.
He does not express himself, so far as I know, about the many slaves who
were Greek prisoners of war, but from his general views it is certain
that he would not approve of this form of slavery. Let me add in this
connection that he repeatedly says analogous things of those occupied
with low handicrafts, such as tinkers or cobblers, which require all
their time and leave them no leisure to educate themselves or to learn
higher things. He thinks these workers wholly unfit to be in the
governing class of any state, and maintains that wherever they gained
power it was in an extreme democracy which soon displayed the vices of
that sort of government.

You must remember that in the small Greek polity, which consisted of a
city and a territory of twenty or thirty miles square, the expedient of
choosing representatives locally and sending them to the central
assembly was never felt to be necessary. The citizen must go himself to
the assembly and spend his day there; he was liable to be chosen (often
by lot, that considers no convenience) for duties either administrative
or judicial. It was evident that those bound to earn their daily bread
must stand aside and permit the more leisured classes to do this work.
This leisured class, moreover, was greatly enlarged by the existence of
slaves, for even the poor Athenian had his manual labour done for him
and so had the necessary time for attending public duties. The Greeks
never dreamt of giving their judges or politicians large salaries, as we
do, holding that the state had a right to claim the whole life and
energy of its citizens. Against one another these citizens were amply
protected by the laws; there was no protection against the demands of
state, even when these involved the sacrifice of life itself.

Such being the general frame of mind among thoughtful Greeks and the
great object of the most perfect state being to secure the happiness,
and therefore of course the liberty, of the mass of its citizens, we
need not wonder that they paid early and constant attention to the
framing of their laws, so that these offered, first to the Romans (who
used the Attic Code when drawing up the Laws of the XII Tables) and then
to other nations, models of prudent legislation. All their theorists
further insisted, with no uncertain voice, that the success of any code
of laws must depend upon the enlightenment of the public that uses them.
I proceed therefore to speak briefly on three aspects of Greek
legislation, the _criminal_, the _civil_, and what I may call the
_international_, in order to make clear in how many ways the Greeks were
our masters, so that we may still study their methods of government with
profit. The criminal law naturally comes first, for the most urgent
essential of civilised life is public safety, enabling the citizen to go
about when and where he likes without fear of personal molestation, or
even of being the witness of violence. The Greeks were so well aware of
this that they did not think any polity civilised till men had wholly
abandoned the habit of carrying weapons, and if Aristotle or Thucydides
had been told that in America a number of respectable citizens of free
states still go armed, they would have said, “That was once the habit in
Greece also, but now we are civilised, and regard such a practice as
essentially barbarous.” If there had been any likelihood of its being
revived they would certainly have made it penal, and such seems the
proper course in any country where the losing of a man’s temper may
cause the losing of his life, as well as that of others. In modern
Europe we have happily reached that stage, and even in Ireland, where
there are often people threatened for agrarian disputes, and protected
by the police, the rest of the population walks about securely night and
day, in crowded cities and in lonely wilds, without ever thinking of
carrying a weapon.

The Attic law, which represents the highest, and also the purest Greek
feeling, was extremely jealous not only of the safety, but of the
dignity of the citizen, and any assault in the streets, even if it
caused no dangerous hurt, was severely punished by the law. As in modern
societies, even to touch a man rudely, or against his will, was punished
as an assault, and if the man assaulted happened to be performing any
official duty for the state, the offence might be considered in the
light of _lèse-majesté_, or treason against the dignity of the state.

The penalty of death was indeed inflicted, especially in the older
codes, with a frequency reminding us of the European codes of a hundred
years ago. But as regards citizens there were two mitigations which made
even these severe laws milder and more civilised than most of ours. In
the first place, there was generally facility given to the man who was
condemned to escape over the frontier, and except in cases of great
crimes against the state, extradition was not thought of. Exile was of
course a severe penalty, for it meant living abroad as a foreigner, not
protected by the safeguards that encompassed the citizens around him.
Secondly, the manner in which the death sentence was carried out was
infinitely more humane and polite than our abominable executions. The
case of Socrates is no doubt familiar to you all. He was left free of
chains to talk with his friends and the cup of poison was placed beside
him, to be taken before the setting of the sun. Even the jailor is
represented as a humane and civil man, who carried out his function with
every consideration. I will not deny that these very advanced features
in Greek law were in contrast to some still barbarous survivals; I mean
the torturing of slaves and the severity of making a death sentence
follow on the majority of one in a very large jury. But survivals of
barbarism were but yesterday frequent enough with ourselves.

Let us now turn to the characteristics of the _civil_ law, by which I
mean the laws controlling the holding of property, the making of
contracts, and bequests by testament. I cannot see in the many contracts
we have from Greece, or from Egyptian Greece, when settled by Greece
immigrants, that the general spirit or the accuracy of these documents
differs from those of our day, except that the penalties for breach of
contract seem much severer than ours. In the case of a money obligation,
the debtor who did not repay within a fixed date was commonly fined
fifty per cent. for his delay. There may have been many cases of loans
in kind, _e.g._, of seed corn, where such a penalty was not
unreasonable, for there are things which are very valuable at a certain
season, and which after that must lie useless for many months. But on
the whole I think the Greek idea of keeping a contract was stricter than
ours, and the law more severe. Such was also the case with the Roman
law, which was borrowed from the Greek.

In so cursory a review of a large subject, I can only select one or two
points as illustrations, and speak of them as specimens of the general
enlightenment of the age. I therefore turn to a particular class about
which we now know a great deal, more particularly owing to a large
discovery of documents which I was fortunate enough to make in 1890. It
is the Greek will or testament. Lawsuits concerning such documents also
form the majority of the speeches of Isæus, the collection of which has
been edited with great skill and learning by Mr. William Wyse of Trinity
College, Cambridge. It used to be thought that all this matter of
testament was due to the Romans. It seems now tolerably certain that in
this as in most of the other refinements of life the Romans only
transmitted to us what the Greeks had taught them.

In most early states it is only gradually, and not without some
jealousy, that the individual is permitted to bequeath his property as
he pleases. At first, he is regarded as the member of a clan, to which
his property reverts under certain fixed conditions; later on, the state
controls the division of it among the immediate family of the testator,
and will not permit any passing of it away to strangers, still less to
those who are not citizens. Whether the Greek states ever left absolute
liberty to their citizens in this matter may be doubted, the interest of
the state being much more jealously guarded among these small polities
than among the large modern States, when an occasional misuse of such a
power does no grave public mischief, and only excites moderate censure.
But the whole form of the wills we have in Egyptian papyri, and of which
we have examples in stone inscriptions, such as the record of the will
of one Epicteta who bequeathed her estate to public and religious
objects, is perfectly modern. Here I quote you the usual formula. First
comes the date according to the years of kings or eponymous magistrates.
Then “This is the will of Peisias the Lycian, son of X., of sound mind
and deliberate intention. May it be my lot to live on in health and
manage mine own property, but should anything human happen to me, I
bequeath to my children so much, to my wife such and such things (often
specifying the articles), I set free certain slaves, I set apart money
for religious purposes. And I appoint as executors such and such
people,” in the case of soldiers in Egypt generally the King and Queen
and their children; and then there follow the names of several, often
seven or eight, witnesses.[43] These habits, which imply a settled
society, with ordinary habits and traditions, had spread from Greece to
Greek Egypt three centuries before Christ. There is no doubt that they
spread similarly not only to the west, but throughout Asia Minor and
Syria so far as they were not in these regions already in vogue. I will
only add that if you desire to read how clearly and carefully a long
case involving the claim of a Greek in Egypt against a native
corporation was examined and decided, you will find it in the Papyrus I
of Turin[44] which was published years ago by Amédée Peyron, and which
ought to be republished and made easier of access. We have the whole
final decision of the court extending over many pages of Greek. The
record must have been found intact in the earthen jar in which it was
preserved. It rehearses the fortunes of the case from its outset, forty
years before the decision. It gives the earlier decisions and a summary
of the new evidence adduced; and it sums up the whole and gives judgment
for the native corporation against the Greek with a clearness which
could not be exceeded by the Supreme Court in America. Every word of it
speaks strict law and plain common-sense. It was a case of conflicting
evidence, and this is weighed with absolute fairness. There is not a
word of superstition, of appeals to the providence of the gods or to any
authority beyond that of educated human reason. As such, it is a
document absolutely modern in the highest sense. This then was the tone
of the civil law transmitted by Greece to succeeding centuries.

I now approach a larger subject, and one of even more permanent
interest--the lessons of Greek history regarding the international
relations of adjoining civilised states, or the relations of one
stronger state to others of lesser force or size. The condition of
Greece all through its early history affords an unique field for the
study of international law; for these numerous small cities, as we
regard them, were perfectly distinct polities or states, each living
under its own laws and traditions, and as separate one from the other in
idea as are the capitals of any two modern kingdoms. In practice the
separation was even greater, for intermarriage between their citizens,
or the acquiring of property by citizens of another polity, were against
the spirit of the age, and were generally forbidden by law. The number,
therefore, of treaties, of alliances, of quarrels between these city
states was not only enormous, but offered every variety, so much so that
if you look at any good edition of the earliest European work on this
sort of law, the famous treatise of Hugo Grotius, _De Jure Pacis et
Belli_, you will find that the great body of his illustrations is taken
from Greek history, and acknowledged as Greek in the margin of the
text. Let us approach first the question of war.

Even from Homer’s time, there was a growing feeling which softened the
hardships of war between Hellenic peoples. Poisoned weapons were not
tolerated, and if the prisoners became the slaves of the victors, ransom
was very general, and according to Herodotus there was even an
acknowledged tariff--two _minæ_--accepted throughout Peloponnesus for
the release of such a prisoner. I will not pretend that the wars even of
the Golden Age were not much fiercer and more cruel than the rose-water
campaigns we now carry on, when the wives and children of the enemy are
supported in comfort, and he is accordingly encouraged to prolong a
conflict which only affects his personal convenience. For war is a
shocking thing, and to sweeten it by such amenities is only to enhance
its cost of life and of treasure to the victor. But if you were to
compare Greek wars with those of the earlier centuries of modern Europe,
say the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, you would find the balance of
humanity most decidedly on the side of the Greeks. The non-combatants in
a stormed Greek city, though by the laws of war they became slaves, were
in a far better plight than the unfortunate people of a German town
captured by the Pandurs and Croats of Tilly or Wallenstein. I gladly
turn from this grievous subject. “War,” says Thucydides, “is a stern
taskmaker, and makes men’s hearts as hard as their circumstances.”

Let us enter on a more grateful and more instructive task, the
international relations of Greek states in peace and particularly their
political combinations or alliances for protection against external
dangers. It was obvious that a number of distinct small city-states must
be at the mercy of a strong invading force which could conquer them one
by one, and that therefore combinations and alliances among them were
absolutely necessary. Such combinations could also be made for offensive
purposes, as was the case with the Homeric conception of the Siege of
Troy, and so in after times many Greek theorists actually recommended
this policy as an engine of conquest, the very conquest carried out by
Alexander the Great. But for a long time, alliances were only made for
the moment, and to ward off an imminent danger, and they soon fell to
pieces again, owing usually to the reverting of both parties into a
selfish and jealous policy of isolation. From the seventh century B.C.,
onward, the waxing of the power of Sparta made a sort of
semi-compulsory league among the smaller cities of the Peloponnesus, and
later on, after the crisis of the Persian war was over, the Asiatic
Greeks put themselves under the leadership of Athens. Let me call it by
its technical name, _hegemony_. This was an alliance under a president
state, which was to guide the policy of the league in war, but was not
supposed to interfere with the several polities in peace. You all know
how the leading power gradually encroached upon the liberties of the
allies, who really became subjects paying tribute; and when they
attempted reassertion of their former independence, it was treated by
Athens as revolt, and crushed with military and naval force. The conduct
of Sparta when she succeeded to the hegemony of Greece was in no way
different; perhaps it was harsher, and so we have a vast amount of
protest against the tyranny of these leading states, and their
“enslaving” of the rest of Greece. They on their side pointed to the
necessity of union to prevent foreign domination; they pointed to the
labours and sacrifices the citizens of the leading state had undergone,
to the security of the seas from pirates, to the increase of trade, and
of the reputation of Greek civilisation, all produced by their efforts;
but generally this came in at the end of the argument: that having
acquired their power they intended to keep it.

Here then was a great constitutional question and one still under
dispute in the last century. Supposing that several independent states
combine to promote common objects, and make a solemn league or union; is
it lawful for any one of the contracting parties to withdraw from the
union if it considers its liberties infringed? I need not to take into
account the further complication, when some of the states involved were
created subsequently by and for the union, in fact were daughters and
not mothers of the union. You know how in this country that
constitutional problem was only solved by a great war, and this was but
the echo of the same kind of conflict endemic in Greece. Yet the tone
and temper of the world had changed in the long interval. The creation
and success of many great states led men to appreciate the advantages
thus obtained, and though there was, and still is, a strong sentiment in
favour of small nationalities coerced by the greater--you remember the
sentiment of all the European press during the recent Boer war--yet on
the whole the imperial idea is not unpopular. In Greece it was the
reverse. From the outset to the end, the right of the smaller members
of an union to secede was always maintained in theory and produced fatal
results in practice.

The very same problem assumed a slightly different form when twelve
insignificant Achæan cities combined into the Achæan League which
Polybius has made so famous. The council and governing officers were
elected in an assembly convened in one of the cities, whither all the
members of the League were entitled to go, but which of course only men
of leisure could afford to attend. Moreover each city had one collective
vote, so that numbers were of no direct consequence. The meetings were
confined to three days, and to business prepared for them by the
executive. The whole scheme (which was an early and excellent essay in
Federation, much studied by the founders of the American Union)
shipwrecked on the question whether single states had a right to enter
into separate agreements with powers foreign to the League. Perfect
internal independence was of course essential to Greek ideas, but that
the power of separate alliances with foreign powers should be allowed,
seems to us absurd. Nevertheless the sentiment of the Greeks here as
elsewhere was in favour of this absolute independence, and so the
League was pulled to pieces by the interference of jealous or ambitious

Thus you have a conglomerate of civilised communities, all speaking the
same language and with similar ideals of culture, not separated by
hostile creeds, and with the power, when united, of exercising a
dominant influence upon the world around them; and yet their power and
their development are paralysed by mutual jealousies and constant
quarrels, resulting in frequent and desolating wars. We have no cases in
Europe at all parallel except the condition of Italy in the Renaissance
and of Germany in the middle of the last century. When I was a boy and
we travelled in a carriage through that country (railways had not yet
been introduced) we used in the course of a day to pass through a whole
principality and across a border with custom houses, and a new flag, and
often a new coinage. There were then, I believe, sixty-six reigning
personages--grand dukes, electors, etc.--in Germany. You know how all
were either absorbed or reduced to one empire, or allowed to live on as
vassal states, to use rather a hard word, within the compass of a few
years. That was what happened ultimately in Greece, where the Macedonian
power played a part analogous to that of Prussia, and made itself by a
successful war against a foreign power not only accepted but popular.
The important point in which Greece gives modern nations a further
lesson is this; Revolutionary or extemporised monarchies in such a case
will not succeed. The Greeks, especially in Asia Minor and in Sicily,
where there was danger from foreign powers, had come to the conclusion
that a monarch was necessary to combine them into a strong military and
financial power, and they were therefore again willing to submit
themselves to tyrants or despots, as they had been of old, when they
wanted relief from the internecine disputes between the classes and the
masses. There were some brilliant essays in this direction made, notably
by Dionysius of Syracuse, and by Mausollus of Halicarnassus. But they
failed to found a dynasty, even as the Bonapartes failed, in spite of
their greatness and the benefits they had conferred.

Thus not only the achievements, but the failures of the Greeks may
convey to us valuable lessons, because they constituted a thoroughly
“modern” society and suffered from the weaknesses and vices of such

As this last statement may seem to some of you a paradox, I proceed in
conclusion to illustrate it, by some observations on the condition of
Greek society as described to us by Aristotle and by Polybius. The
former, in describing his ideal (for he had not yet renounced it) of a
small, well-ordered state, governed in the interest of the majority of
the citizens by good laws and humane rulers, makes it his _sine qua non_
that the middle class shall outweigh in public importance both the
wealthy and the indigent. Now that was exactly the condition which in
the days of Polybius was becoming rarer and rarer, nay, practically
unknown. This was the very class disappearing rapidly from every state
in Greece. And why? The economic conditions were changing, and owing to
the great influx of gold from the East and other causes, living was
becoming dearer every day. Luxuries were also coming to be regarded as
necessities, and so for the poor who had the bribe of large pay and
great license offered them in the mercenary service of Hellenistic
kings, emigration became the rule, and the want of labour turned farming
from the agricultural to the pastoral type. Hence the middle classes,
which had no capital to work large farms, became poorer and the rich
richer and more selfish.

And what was the remedy adopted by the middle classes to maintain
themselves in comfort? An expedient not unknown in this country and for
not very dissimilar reasons. It was the limitation of families, the
avoidance of the duty and cost of bringing up children, so that Polybius
speaks of it as the signal feature of the Greece of his day--the strange
barrenness that had come upon the once prolific inhabitants of the land.
Such a misfortune can be avoided only when great immigration exists, and
even then it results in replacing the old population, the cream of the
country, by the scum gathered from abroad. There were no inducements for
immigration into Greece and so the country which was once teeming with
population sunk into somnolence and decay.

Could I offer you a clearer proof of the modern character of this
civilisation, which had not only a youth and an age of gold, but then a
silver autumn or a Martinmas summer, when Plutarch lived in his little
deserted town, surrounded by a complete and terrible decadence? And it
may not be out of place to remind you that even with many differences of
age, of place, and of circumstances, the same moral causes that produce
decay in one civilisation are likely to produce it in another.

The societies that fell into these vices were not ignorant or
uneducated. The average Greek public was probably better trained in the
knowledge of great ideas and the enjoyment of great literature than any
public nowadays. Grote said very deliberately that the ordinary Attic
citizen who attended the assemblies where Pericles and Theramenes and
Demosthenes spoke, and where many others of like culture joined in the
debate--that such a man was better educated, in the political sense,
than the average member of the House of Commons in his day; and Grote
had attended to the business of that House for ten years of his life. It
was then, moreover, an assembly of English gentlemen, of the middle and
upper classes, with a strong aristocratic flavour. What language would
he have used had he compared his Periclean citizen to the House of
Commons of the twentieth century? But in any case, we may say one thing
with certainty, and it is one of the greatest lessons which the Greeks
have to tell us: Intellectual culture by itself is no certain antidote
to decadence in any society--nay, not even in that of Boston,

The moral conditions of refined Attic life in these dying days are best
known from the remains, or from the Latin translations of the society
plays of the famous Menander. The life which Menander portrayed has
been discussed and estimated in a chapter of my _Greek Life and
Thought_, and you will there see at length how trivial, how selfish, how
immoral, how ignoble that life was. If such was indeed the true
character of Attic society in Menander’s days, we may well congratulate
the world that the Macedonian conquerer arose to show the world that
there were greater ideals than to while away one’s time in the rotten
refinements of decadent Athens.

When I wrote that chapter, we were still dependent for our estimate of
Menander and his society in the Latin translations, or adaptations, by
Plautus and Terence, and there were those that thought the Roman
adapters had chosen the trivial side of a society which might be not
only refined but serious and thoughtful. The recent discovery of large
fragments of four plays on a papyrus roll in Egypt has dissipated any
such hopes. The same triviality, the same stupid repetition of vulgar
and immoral plots and topics meet us throughout these scenes. If there
be any moral lesson conveyed by the picture we here have of Attic
society, it is this: that the slave and the prostitute were not only
more intelligent, but less immoral than their masters. In all these
so-called pictures of life, not a single person of the least distinction
appears--not a single philosopher, or politician, or poet, or man of
letters, or benefactor--though we know that the walls of temples and
cities were being covered with panegyrics of leading citizens and their
civic and private virtues. Not a single problem of religious or
political importance is ever discussed. There is not even, in the new
fragments, any wealth of that vulgar proverbial wisdom, or
sententiousness posing as wisdom, which was gathered from the plays of
Menander by diligent collectors, and which, surviving in thousands of
lines, has given him a false importance in the histories of Greek
literature. But here, as elsewhere, the lapse of ages had separated the
wheat from the chaff; the later scholiasts and commentators gathered
from Menander the stray gems, as one might pick from the array of a gay
but stupid lady the real diamonds with which she had adorned her
worthless person.

In relation to Greek politics, which is our subject to-day, this is no
idle digression. For it shows us clearly that the higher society of
Athens had abandoned this great human interest and so had narrowed and
impoverished their spiritual life. It is usual to repeat in our
histories that the growth of the Macedonian power, of the Hellenistic
kings, of the Roman Republic, killed all possibility of any serious
Greek politics, and that in consequence serious men were driven into
anti-social philosophy at home, active men into mercenary service
abroad. In Menander’s day and long after it, there was still plenty of
work for honest and capable men in saving the liberties and the
dignities of their native cities. A century later, Polybius shows how
the total ruin of Greece and the disastrous conquest by Mummius were
mainly produced by the follies and violences of stupid and corrupt
demagogues. But these demagogues were invested with official power by
the votes of those that still practised politics, when the better
classes had retired in disgust. If this disgust dated from Menander’s
time, then we can only reflect that those who have abdicated their
influence in the day of their country’s prosperity, are not likely to
regain it when a crisis comes, and when the masses have found for
themselves other leaders.

I have seen a very similar catastrophe in the Ireland of my own time. I
have seen the old landed gentry, who had long lived a gay, idle,
hospitable life, when their privileges and their properties were
attacked by a dangerous agitation, show such want of public spirit,
such miserable mistrust in one another, such reckless folly in not
spending time, money, and energy in resisting their plunderers, that
they lost the sympathy of all their friends, and while they called on
English influence to protect them, and railed against all concession and
compromise, they have seen their land filched from them by successive
legislative inroads upon their rights, and their fortunes ruined even by
those on whom they relied to defend them. Many a time did I warn those
about me of these inevitable consequences, but there I have seen another
instance, and one which came home to me with poignant regret, of the
miseries induced by mere incompetence. _Quem Deus vult perdere, prius



In my last lecture I spoke of the small effect, or want of effect, which
a mere intellectual training in the liberal arts might have upon the
average morals of a large society. To-day I propose to take you into a
higher atmosphere, and consider what occupied the élite of Greek society
in their advanced education, and in their speculations on the nature of
things. You must not underrate the enormous advantages the well-born
youth then possessed in training his mind, as compared with the youth of
to-day. In the first place, a very moderate income would keep a
household in comfort, and remove all the grinding care which, in this
our modern life with its myriad exigencies, torments so many respectable
families. In the next place, the demon of competition had not invaded
these states, nor was it possible to do as I and many others have done,
to be a slave for some years in order to obtain a competence by passing
first in a single examination. In the third place, there was no object
in travelling long distances. What was worth seeing, lay within easy
reach. In modern life there is only Holland, and perhaps Northern Italy,
which offers the same delights within short distances. The huge amount
of time spent by Americans in travelling is perhaps one of the most
serious obstacles to their intellectual advancement. If North America
were compressed into one tenth its size, its inhabitants might gain some
leisure for better education.

The obvious thing that will strike any intelligent American, who has
only heard of Plato, and wants to make his acquaintance through Jowett’s
noble translation, is the amount of time these Dialogues waste in
arriving at a conclusion. Nay often they represent a very long
conversation which comes to no conclusion at all. Yet that feature is
essential to all higher training of the human mind. You may appear to
the vulgar to be wasting time, and yet it is not wasting time, but doing
the best you can for a great object. The earth moving in its orbit need
not delay its regular course because it revolves upon its axis, and
causes its whole surface to enjoy the blessed light of the sun. And the
next thing you will find in Plato’s Dialogues (the best exponent of
higher education I know) is that the objects in view are not those of
sense, or of the material needs of life, or of obtaining success in the
world. They all, like Saint Paul’s reasonings with Felix, have to do
with righteousness and temperance, and judgment to come. But even this
field, that of ethical inquiry, is not the highest to which Greek
education attained. For their early teachers taught them to think about
the universe and its constitution, the nature of mind, the nature of
matter, and other high questions of abstract metaphysic.

A notable point about this Greek philosophy is that the priest or the
enchanter has nothing to say to it. The sage was a layman, who need fear
no pope, no ban of the Church, in using his reason freely upon the
problems even of theology. There were indeed isolated cases, where a man
who denied the existence of the traditional gods, or was supposed so to
do, was pursued by popular indignation. Diagoras of Melos, called the
atheist, was driven from the societies which thought such teaching
dangerous; Socrates was prosecuted in like manner, because he was
suspected of spreading scepticism among the youth, but he was executed
only because he behaved in a manner highly contumacious to the
established order of the State. Had he defended himself in the ordinary
routine, he would at most have been subjected to a fine. These isolated
cases are only mentioned lest you should imagine that they were typical.
Greek philosophy being secular, was therefore free.

The earliest thinkers, those of the Ionic school, set themselves to
solve by speculation the very question which now engrosses our deepest
researches in physics. They thought out, or they inferred from their
observations, that “things are not as they seem”; they found out, what
we have attained by long experiment, that the many qualities our senses
perceive are not fundamental or primary, that as Descartes and Locke and
Spinoza taught, mechanical composition and varying degrees of motion in
minute particles of the same kind may produce wholly diverse
impressions. The most obvious and striking of these to the ordinary man
is the case of colour. Descartes had anticipated that the pace of the
rotation of particles made the differences; we know now that it is not
rotation, but vibration of ether, and so with variation in tones. But
the differences both of colours and sounds are due to the more or less
rapid motion of the vibration. This was what Thales and Anaximenes and
Anaximander felt when they said that the world consisted of one
element, that moisture, caloric, ether, were the primitive stuff of
which the world was composed. And these famous men were not mere
metaphysicians, they showed their intellectual greatness in various
ways. Thales actually predicted an eclipse, to the astonishment of his
contemporaries.[45] He showed them that the lesser bear, ending in the
pole star, was a better indication for the sailor to use than the
greater. He solved the problem of measuring the height of an
inaccessible object by comparing its shadow with that of a small one
within reach. He gave valuable advices in politics. So that his
metaphysic was both the source and the climax of a wide mental activity.
So with Anaximander. He attempted the first map of the known world and
made signal advances in astronomy. Anaximenes declared that eclipses
were the concealing of one heavenly body by the interposition of
another. These were great feats; but they were nothing in comparison to
the bold attempts at solving the problem of the origin and nature of the
world, wherein their speculations, often erroneous, nevertheless left a
residuum of thoughts that were the seeds of all our higher philosophy.

If Thales laid it down that in all the varieties of plant and animal
life there was a common element which was their real or original
substance, Anaximander thought that caloric (or the igneous principle)
was necessary to develop the original material. His book is lost, and
his views not clear to us, but we know that his geological observations
told him that our world had once been covered with water, from which
land had emerged. He was moreover the first to maintain that nothing was
eternal except the primeval substance of things.

    The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
    And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on; and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

In the largest sense, even applying it to the gods of the Greek
Pantheon, did he assert this colossal doctrine. Anaximenes went further,
and, assuming that the particles of ether are the most subtle in the
universe, he set up the principle of rarification and condensation of
matter, asserting that this was the one great cause of the differences
in the bodies we perceive. This then was the first expression of the
doctrine of the Atomists, which has lasted to the present day.

It is a common piece of arrogance among experimentalists to say that
these wonderful anticipations of modern science were mere gropings in
the dark, supported not by experiment, but by what we should call
superficial observations. The wonder is all the greater that these men
should in their theories have gone to the root of the matter, and
thought out the metaphysical possibilities of the composition of the
world. Abstract thinking--theory--is after all the true basis of every
great discovery. In complete disregard of the theological cosmogony
derived from the old poets, they openly inaugurated the birth of a
natural science engendered by pure and high thinking.

This is even more signally the case with Heracleitus of Ephesus. But I
can only give you some of his marvellous anticipations in a few words;
to go into any one of these systems would require a whole lecture, not a
passage in this discourse. In the first place he agreed with both his
predecessors, that one subtle element was the foundation of all nature
and this he sought in what the vulgar call fire, but with him a far more
subtle essence, never still for an instant. From this all the universe
had been evolved by a process of cooling, and had developed into earth,
water, and the rest, but in the end these would return into their
original condition, “so that the earth would be rolled up as a scroll,
and the elements dissolved with fervent heat.” This far-off glimpse of
Laplace’s theory, which postulates our whole planetary system starting
from a revolving mass at white heat, is less striking than another that
lays down the principle that there are endless motions in things which
the senses cannot perceive, and that absolute rest is impossible in

    The world was never made;
    It will change, but it will not fade.
    So let the wind range
    For even and morn, ever will be, thro’ eternity.
    Nothing was born, nothing will die,
    All things will change.[46]

It is but yesterday that the newest physical philosophers have declared
themselves for this doctrine, and tell us that every particle of matter
is made up of lesser particles in perpetual motion. Heracleitus was no
less clear on the relativity of the qualities of matter, which are good
or bad according to the percipient, and from that he drew the
conclusion that apparent contradictions may coexist and that all nature
consists in a perpetual conflict between opposites. Nature is a state of
war said he, using the term in a far deeper sense than did later men.

These amazing conjectures were set down in a quaint, picturesque, but
abstruse treatise, which even Aristotle found difficult to grasp, but if
ever a great imagination sowed seeds in the minds of men, which after
long generations germinated into modern science, it was that of
Heracleitus. His dark enigmas, seasoned with pessimistic utterances,
with supreme contempt of the ordinary public, were always attractive and
stimulating to keen minds.

The next great name in this magnificent series is Pythagoras, whose
influence revolutionised not only the science but the politics and
ethics of Greece, and created new ideals among men, higher and purer
than those of traditional morality. But as I have already said something
of him in a former discourse, I will hurry on to his contemporaries and
his successors.

The founder of the great school of Elea, an old Greek colony of Ionians
in the Italian bay south of Pæstum, was Xenophanes, whose main feature
was a bold criticism of the popular theology, as represented by the
poetry of Homer. He could easily show the moral defects of the denizens
of the Homeric Olympus, and hence inferring their unreality, he pressed
home the great doctrine of the unity of the universe, whether ideal or
real, and the identification of the Maker (if there ever was a Maker)
with his work--a theory which has existed from that day to this under
the name of Pantheism, and as such has fascinated the higher spirits
even among the cold and practical Anglo-Saxons. This feeling of unity in
all the world with the Eternal Cause of the world has indeed appeared in
the far East in other and strange systems of philosophy; but never was
the doctrine discussed with such variety as among the Greeks. Lofty
poetry, hard logic, bitter controversy were all called in to support it,
and among a clear-sighted, sceptical race, like the Greeks, so vague and
transcendent a theory is far more striking and therefore more fruitful
in its spiritual consequences, than when professed by mere ascetics or
anchorites who have no contact with common life, and who will not
condescend to argument. The Greek Pantheists of the early period were
men of high character in public life, respected for their practical
wisdom and their literary eminence, and it was they that forced upon
the world the astounding theory that not only are all the data of our
senses illusory and vain, but that even the assumption of any number of
original elements or substances is idle, and must terminate in the great
_One_, which embraces them all, and merges gods and men, matter and
mind, into that all-embracing Single Being, of whom a forgotten mystic
in a later age (but still a Greek) has used this tremendous metaphor:
the “gods are his laughter, the race of mortal men his tears.”

The positive side of the doctrine was mainly due to Parmenides, of whom
Plato speaks with greater respect than of any other thinker except
Socrates, and it was clearly a further development, or urging to their
extreme consequences, of the older theories which reduced all the
various qualities of the world of sense to the manifestations of a
single substance. But they had each made some one reservation and upheld
one of the data of the senses, but each a different one. Was not
therefore the inference clear that this was but a half-way house, and
that what we call mind and matter are after all not radically distinct
but only separate aspects of the primeval one?

If you think this old-world and idle speculation, I need only refer you
to Descartes, the father of modern scientific metaphysic, who held that
his two universal factors, extension and thought, were after all but
qualities of the one all-embracing substance which he called God; or I
may refer to Spinoza, the spiritual pupil of Descartes, and the most
important Pantheist of the seventeenth, or perhaps of any, century.

The positive arguments in favour of this subtle speculation, which to
the vulgar public of any age must always remain absurd, were in the
first place the untrustworthy character of our senses, which could be
shown not only to be misleading but to give contradictory reports
concerning the same thing; next the general consent of all thinkers that
there must be something permanent and indestructible in the midst of all
the changes of phenomena; then the inability of any perceived substance,
such as water, or air, however subtle, to satisfy this condition of
permanence, and to take a position superior to the attacks of rival
theories. You must therefore abstract more and more from all qualities
till you reach that pure Being, which is all and none, spirit and body,
unity and infinity, eternal, indestructible, invariable, the source and
substance of all that ever did or ever will exist.

You can well imagine how these splendid dreams were regarded by the
clever and practical Greek public, as indeed they have been by average
men from that day to this, whenever the great theory has been stated
afresh by metaphysicians or by mystics. It was the special merit of the
Eleatic Zeno (not the great Stoic who lived far later) to show the
carping critic that the difficulties which had led the philosopher to
discard the senses as guides to truth, can be raised in the case of the
common facts of our everyday life, and that the scoffer cannot solve
them. I lay stress on these intellectual puzzles, because they have
occupied philosophers perpetually down to the present day, and in no
particular case can we affirm more decidedly that the Greeks were the
fathers of modern thinking. And do not for a moment imagine that because
these subtleties lead to no immediate result, they are therefore barren.
You might as well say that physical games and exercises are of no use,
because they merely result in strengthening and improving the human
frame and the human temper, apart from any further result. Now what were
Zeno’s puzzles? I will mention but the most obvious. Is it conceivable
that sound should be made up of non-sounding things? And yet this
absurdity is demonstrable. Drop a single millet seed from your hand upon
the grass. It will not make the smallest noise. Go on with a second, a
third, and so on, till you reach thousands; it is so with them all. Yet
if you turn out a cartful of such seeds, it will make a considerable
noise. How is it possible, if each individual grain is silent? Again,
you imagine that if two bodies are moving in the same direction, one
slower, the other faster, the latter will soon overtake the former. It
is not so, and can be proved impossible. Conceive the swift-footed
Achilles trying to overtake a tortoise, and that he runs one hundred
yards, while the other is crawling but ten. When he has completed his
one hundred, the tortoise is still one ahead, when he has added this
one, the tortoise is still 1/10 ahead, then 1/100, then 1/1000, and so
on _ad infinitum_, for it is mathematically certain that neither series
can ever reach the limit, in the one case of III, in the other of II
yards. Therefore it is demonstrated that Achilles can never in all time
overtake the tortoise.

But we may go even farther and say that the very idea of motion is
inconceivable. Every moving body must move in time, and time is divided
into moments of time. At each moment the moving body must either be in
the place where it is, or the place where it is not. The latter being
manifestly absurd, the body must be in the place where it is. But then
of course it is not moving, for motion can only be defined as a change
of place. Continuous motion is therefore inconceivable.

I need not do more than mention to you, that these very problems, handed
down by Zeno to the schools, formed the subject of interminable disputes
for centuries, and if you even now, with all your boasted progress, take
them in hand, you will not easily find a logical solution. Happily we
are no longer in the condition of those mediæval pedants, of whom we
hear that not a few went mad, or died of brain fever, because they could
not reconcile the foreknowledge and foreordaining of things by God with
the absolute free will of men. Nor are any of you, I sincerely trust,
encumbered with the extraordinary fairness of mind of the mediæval ass
of Buridanus which being set between two bundles of hay exactly and
precisely alike, died of starvation because it could see no possible
reason for preferring to eat the one before the other. Nevertheless, I
trust you will appreciate that the mental subtlety we inherit from the
Greeks is no small part of our education.

But it is not merely in the hard logic of controversy that the Greek
Pantheists have left a great legacy to mankind. If I mistake not, the
higher poetry of these latter days is deeply indebted to that grandiose
theory, that all nature is but one, that all things whether mute or
speaking, whether still or moving, whether fair or hideous, are all the
manifestations of the one great All, the ineffable substance which some
call a world-soul, some the universe, some God, the supreme _One_,
without variableness or shadow of turning, though only apprehended by
man in myriad variations. You can find that view of things in Shelley,
in Wordsworth, in Tennyson, and it is not too much to say that at their
highest moments, and in their noblest verse, they are all inspired with
this Divine intoxication. It is common to call it Platonism, and my old
friend Mr. Shorthouse even wrote an essay to show that the respectable
and orderly Wordsworth could hardly be called a Christian, so saturated
was he with this Pantheistic feeling. His visions of the pre-existence
of the human soul--these were indeed Platonic; his Pantheistic passages
come from the influence which Plato acknowledges, but which he does not
allow to subjugate him. Wordsworth is the most uneven and often prosaic
of poets, but in his greatest moments he too feels that intercommunion
of all nature which is unmistakably Greek and not English--

    A sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,--
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thoughts,
    And rolls through all things.

Time fails me to go into the fascinating subject of the Pantheism of
Tennyson, and of other of our poets. It is indeed only spasmodic, but it
is there, and is a strange note in the singing of an otherwise tame and
prosaic race.

Let us now return to the great procession of the sages of Hellas. It
does not seem necessary to delay long upon Anaxagoras and Empedocles,
though both were very great figures in their day. The principle feature
in both their systems was that they felt the want of some ideal, or
semi-ideal principle to work as a cause in producing the changes in
nature. Anaxagoras postulated the original particles to be very diverse
in quality and to enter into the composition of ordinary things so as
to make up what we call their various qualities. The food we eat, for
example, affects all the various parts of human bodies, however
different, such as the tissue of the flesh, the hair, the nails, the
viscera, because there is in this food, which is made up from corn or
other vegetable and animal substances, an assortment of particles each
of which contributes to nourish the member or part akin to it. If we ask
how external bodies are brought together, and made up into unities,
Anaxagoras felt so keenly the necessity of a moving cause that he set up
his famous _Nous_, which we cannot translate by the word _mind_, for it
was still a material cause, though far more subtle and active than the
rest, such as we now imagine ether to be. But even so, Aristotle speaks
of Anaxagoras as a great and fruitful innovator, inasmuch as he saw that
brute matter cannot begin to act or even to move without some
non-material or spiritual, or ideal cause. From what we know of
Anaxagoras, he advanced but a little step in this direction himself; he
was only groping his way, but to have been pioneer to Plato and to
Aristotle is itself no mean praise. In a similar direction, the famous
Empedocles postulated the principles of Love and Hate, much as we now
postulate Attraction and Repulsion, to explain the varieties, and the
movements, in external nature.

Observe that not one of these Ionic philosophers had yet asserted the
great contrast of mind and matter, the still greater contrast of a
Divine architect and his work. The phenomena of mind seemed to them but
to be the result of a subtle and more impalpable combination of elements
not differing in kind from the nature of material substances. So when a
wholly different school came to review what the ancients had
accomplished, the _Nous_ of Anaxagoras, and the Love and Hate of
Empedocles, were hardly felt to be steps in advance. In fact for a while
the development seemed to be the other way, for the last great theory we
have to notice, before we come to the ideal philosophy of Plato and his
followers, is more decidedly materialistic than all its predecessors.
That is the famous Atomic theory of Leucippus and Democritus, which
maintained that the universe contains no elements but atoms and the
void, the atoms being hard physical particles of only one quality but
capable of myriad mechanical combinations in and by means of the void,
or empty space which existed more or less in every body. As a
hypothesis, this is the simplest that has ever been offered to explain
the constitution of matter; it has consequently lasted all through the
Renascence of learning into the newer age and has formed the very basis
of the modern science of chemistry. The original atoms were not
conceived as mathematical points, or as having any spiritual quality
like the monads of Leibnitz; they were merely very small, impenetrable,
and differing in figure. It was the density of their combination and
hence the small fraction of void spaces in any body which made the
difference of specific gravity, and the difference of their shape
produced other qualities.

But how did these atoms come together? Here Democritus showed a
prophetic clearness of sight which may well astonish modern critics. He
regarded motion in these atoms as a primal fact, probably deriving it
from the theory of Heracleitus. He held that as these atoms collided in
the void, not always directly, but obliquely, the striking and the
struck assumed a rotatory motion, and so established vortices which
either attracted suitable atoms or rejected others by the centrifugal
force of this rotation. Thus were constructed not only the great spheres
that we observe in the sky, but all the ordinary objects around us. Into
his explanations of the causes of the irregular forms of these objects
I cannot enter, by reason of their intricacy. But to what consequences
his theory led him may be told you in a sentence. He maintained, with
the imagination of a great scientific mind, that there were an endless
number of world-systems through space, differing merely in magnitude,
some furnished with several moons, some in process of becoming, others,
owing to collisions, in process of destruction, some of them wholly
deficient in moisture, and hence devoid of animal and plant life. These
are all consequences which we have drawn from the use of the telescope
and even the spectroscope, but which this wonderful man reached by way
of philosophical thinking.

Aristotle makes it his chief objection to the Atomic theory that it is
purely descriptive of phenomena without assigning any cause for the
primeval motion of the atoms; that it recognises no Architect, no
Demiurge who set the myriad crowd of particles into motion, and then
into regulated action. But Aristotle was misled by an assumption which
has infected philosophy down to the present day--the assumption that a
state of rest is prior to, and more natural to matter than a state of
motion. This prejudice did not mislead Democritus, though it is an idol
not only of the cave, as Bacon would say, but also of the forum. We
have been misled and deceived by relative want of motion, to consider
that until disturbed by an active impulse matter occupies a fixed place.
But now, I would almost say since the twentieth century dawned, this old
fallacy is giving way to the newer conception that there is no such
thing as rest in nature, nay not even within the particles of any solid
body. So then the primal assumption of the Greek thinker that motion is
the natural state of matter was a wonderful anticipation of science, and
shows once more what giant strides the human race may make by thinking
as compared with the mere recording of experiments. Even now, when
students of experimental physics are degenerating into mere mechanics,
who seek to interrogate nature by the use of delicate machinery, and
carefully recorded occurrences, I am assured by those in our great
University who have been compelled in earlier life to acquire a sound
knowledge of Greek philosophy, that the study of the old
_Hylozoists_--the Ionic schools we have reviewed--is the very best
introduction to the higher task of framing theories from experiments,
and when I have heard read in the schools essays written in ignorance of
these theories, I have often wondered at the absence of scientific
logic of consistent thinking, of clear imagining which characterises the
modern scientist. And when we are faced in our universities by the
gigantic demands of modern scientists for laboratories, machinery,
upkeep, and what not, by way of promoting what they call very
ridiculously _original research_, they should be told openly and
constantly that no mere mechanic, no mere tradesman, however splendidly
equipped, will ever be worth one straw in original research. Such a high
calling, if it is not to be mere name, a mere imposture, requires as its
first implement a trained intellect, taught to speculate, and to devise
theories which may or may not be verified or illustrated by mechanical
tools. The greatest discoverers in modern science were men with bad
tools, and small equipment. The old Greeks had none at all, and yet how
many of the world’s mysteries did they approach and solve, merely by the
force of pure and sound speculation! When we hear little modern men of
science wondering how the Greeks could have got so far without modern
instruments, we feel rather inclined to tell them we wonder the moderns
have done so much with the help of these, for in abstract thinking lies
the real basis of every great discovery.

So far, the course of Greek philosophy has led us to the side of
science, to the constitution of the world, to the immensity of space, to
the physical construction of animal and vegetable life, to the problem
of the duration of the universe, to the dreams about its origin.
Regarding all this as _natural philosophy_ (to use an obsolete but
convenient expression), there remains another orb of Greek speculation
which took rise with Socrates, passed on through Plato and Aristotle to
the Stoic and Epicurean schools, and even illumined with its setting
rays the old world passing into the night of the Dark Ages. Two things,
says the philosopher Kant, impress me always with their peerless
majesty--the starry heaven above, and the Moral Law within. It is this
latter aspect of human philosophy, bound up as it is on the one side
with profound metaphysic, on the other with ordinary practical life,
that I must now speak. But here, where the material is large, and our
evidence very complete, it is not expedient that I should detain you at
any length. It may be new to some of you that Parmenides or Leucippus
have been the fathers of modern systems; but none of you will doubt for
a moment the colossal influence of Plato and Aristotle upon modern

You must beware of exaggerating the revolution in philosophy produced by
Socrates and the Sophists. It may indeed be true in their case that they
despised scientific speculation, and did not care to make researches
into the constitution of the universe. Gorgias even erected into a
theory his scepticism regarding the reality of our knowledge, and wrote
a famous tract on the impossibility of knowing anything; and he was by
no means the only nihilist in the course of Greek philosophy. But when
we come to Plato, we find high physical speculation, we find high
theories of the universe, we find all the learning of his predecessors
woven into his system, or utilised by way of illustration. The ideas of
the Pythagoreans in particular, influenced him constantly, and his
advocacy of a training in geometry, which may, more than people think,
have shaped the curriculum of modern public schools in Europe, is
Pythagorean in spirit.

But in spite of this strong recommendation, it does not appear that
Plato himself made any advances in that science. His aim was for the
moral reform of the individual, and with him of society, by metaphysical
and ethical training. He had a higher opinion of the value of education
than even the modern democrat, or English Radical, who imagines that by
infusing knowledge into the masses, you can make them equal to the
classes in refinement and in the amenities of life. But Plato’s
education was intended strictly for the ruling minority; he did not
think the artisan or the labourer fit for this high privilege, and in
all his ideal schemes, he set up either the exceptional man as a monarch
(in the _Politicus_), a small oligarchy of guardians (in the
_Republic_), or a fixed code of strict _Laws_, with severe penalties for
any violation or even questioning of them--all clearly aristocratic
forces,--as the safeguards of society. And in spite of all these ethical
safeguards, he did not believe that any state, even if ideally
constructed, would last for ever, but that it must live through a youth
and a maturity and ultimately reach the decrepitude of age.

I will not revert to the political speculations of Plato, which belong
to another part of my subject. My present concern is with his theology
and his metaphysic. Is it any wonder that the early Christian thinkers,
such as Saint Augustine, delighted in him and called him the Attic
Moses? In his _Republic_ he goes so far as to propose for his ideal
state the expulsion of Homer and the other Epic poets, and the
establishment of a loftier creed, as necessary for pure and sound
morals. The true deity must be one, and the author of all good. He must
be free from all disturbance of passion or caprice, without love or
jealousy, without pride or interest. Any defects there may be in the
world are due, not to his want of benevolence, but to his want of
omnipotence in controlling the necessities of things, or perhaps rather
because no being, omnipotent or not, can possibly be conceived as
reconciling absolute contradictories.

It may, for example, be better and nobler for the creation that beings
should exist which have a free will of their own and which are not like
machines controlled by invincible necessity. But if they have indeed
free will, how is it possible they should not go wrong, and cause evil
in the world as the outcome of their liberty? Yet if this be the cause
of evil in the world, it implies a higher and better state than one of
perfect order, with the ideas of virtue and merit expunged from

Plato goes further than any but the highest Christian theologians when
he declares the Moral Law to be eternal and immutable, and to be binding
even on the Author of the universe. In other words, the great mediæval
controversy,--whether God does a thing because it is right, or whether a
thing must be right because God does it,--this controversy is solved in
the sense of what the Cambridge Platonists have called Immutable
Morality. If such be the obligation under which even the Deity acts, it
is an obvious corollary that nothing in the conduct of men is comparable
to justice, nothing in dignity equal to the obeying of the Moral Law,
without any regard of consequences. Nay more, to be punished for
wrong-doing is far happier and better than to escape the consequences,
and so to miss the great lesson that crime brings with it misery as a
just consequence. Accordingly, a clear knowledge of moral principles is
of the first moment to all men, and in Plato’s day it was often a more
difficult problem to choose the right course, than to follow it when
discovered. This is the meaning of those many researches into the proper
connotation of terms expressing moral ideas. What is _justice_, what is
_temperance_, what is _chastity_, what is _holiness_? On all these,
there was little difficulty in showing by discussion that the popular
notions were vague, and often self-contradictory. The first step to a
purer life was to understand its conditions, to bring the intellect, as
well as the will, to bear upon the conduct of men. Hence a man who felt
no difficulty in doing his duty, when he once saw it plainly before him,
might well say with Socrates and with Plato, that virtue was knowledge,
that right living was a science, and that therefore a high education was
the necessary condition of a noble character.

This attitude is foreign to the morals of Christianity, which accepts
the child and the ignorant as better fitted for salvation than the wise
and prudent. But such a theory, like that of a primitive Church where
the members had all things in common, may be very practical at the
opening of a revolution, yet may afterwards be found impracticable. It
was not merely owing to its supposed corruption and decadence that the
Mediæval Church came to ignore that poverty and equality of all
Christians which we find at Jerusalem in the Acts of the Apostles. There
is an aristocracy among men which no system of religion, of morals, of
politics can ignore without disastrous consequences, and that is the
aristocracy of intellect. This was the lesson which Plato taught in
every page, and this it was which made him speculate upon the nature of
the soul, and its relation to the Author of the universe, and to the
knowledge of things higher and deeper than mere ordinary experience.

It was only gradually that he arrived at his conviction of the
immortality, or rather of the eternity of the soul; probably it was
suggested to him by the mystics and theologians among the Greeks. But in
his dialogue known as the _Phædo_, he has discussed this now accepted
belief with all its difficulties. In the person of Socrates, he has
courted all the objections, and has endeavoured to show on metaphysical
principles that the soul, being a perfectly simple active principle,
distinct from, and superior to, the body, will not pass away with the
death of its tabernacle but will exist hereafter, as it has existed,
from eternity to eternity. The late Erwin Rohde, a critic not at all
favourable to revealed religion, says, I think with great truth, that
“no human teacher has ever done so much as Plato to extend this belief,”
which has produced not only the noblest spiritual life, but also the
noblest poetry. You know it in your English poets, best of all perhaps
in the sober Wordsworth--

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
      The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar.

And again:

    Hence in a season of calm weather
    Though inland far we be,
    Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
    Which brought us hither,
    Can in a moment travel thither,
    And hear the children sporting on the shore,
    And hear the mighty waves, rolling for evermore.

Need I pass on to Aristotle, and show in detail how his philosophy so
dominated mediæval learning that it was adopted and protected by the
Church, and that it became one of the efforts of the spirit of reform in
logic and in psychology to break the shackles which this great thinker
had, as the modern spirits often complained, forged to keep the human
intellect from its advance? Need I tell you that this was owing to a
travesty of the great man, learned not from his own pregnant words but
through translations and commentaries?

I will conclude with a reference to the two great systems that dominated
the Roman world after Plato and Aristotle had turned philosophy into an
ethical channel--I mean those of the Stoics and of the Epicureans, who
mapped out human character with a clearness that makes them our teachers
to the present day. Not that they avoided speculating on the nature of
the universe. The physics of Epicurus, borrowed from Democritus, are
among the most difficult of studies, and the Stoics embraced in their
view as the motive of action of their wise man all the harmony of the
universe. These speculations may now be antiquated, but as the teachers
of ethical types, as the expounders of what the highest human wisdom
finds in its search for happiness, these two schools have fixed the
types of civilised men for all time. Every man in this audience is born
either a Stoic or an Epicurean, or what is perhaps far more common,
alternates from one to the other according to circumstances. In its
simplest form the great question is: Are we to live for duty, or live
for pleasure--not of course mere vulgar pleasure of the senses, but that
refined balance of intellectual and moral pleasure which you will find
best explained in my old friend Walter Pater’s _Marius the Epicurean_;
or else are we to seek for our standard outside ourselves, in the laws
which the Moral Governor of the world has established for its welfare,
and co-operate with Him in the promotion of His great ends? Such is the
ideal wise man of the Stoics, who despised all earthly delights, all
physical pleasures, for the sake of the great law of duty, and the
great mission of living for some nobler purpose than mere animal or
social comforts. We have its best expression in the peroration of
Cicero’s account of the system[47]; or if you will have it in a more
familiar shape, in the loud clarion of Saint Paul: “As deceivers, and
yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live;
as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as
having nothing, yet possessing all things.”[48] For he too was bred a
Stoic, and was not afraid in his addresses to cultivated men of his day
to preach Stoic theology, akin to Pantheism.

If the time should ever come when men will no longer be led by
revelation, when they will reject miracle and prophecy, and determine to
be led by the mere light of reason (men have often anticipated such a
future, regardless of the fact that hitherto religious scepticism has
always ended in a recoil from this liberty, and a revival of positive
and even superstitious creeds)--if, I say, such an age should ever lay
aside the Christian faith, there will still remain the ethical types
which Zeno and Epicurus have crystallised in their systems--there will
always remain the man of duty and the man of pleasure, the man who
lives for others and he who lives for himself, in terms of modern
philosophic jargon, the Altruist and the Egoist, the Spiritualist and
the Materialist.

       *       *       *       *       *

And here I break off my unfinished task, unfinished indeed as it must
be, for beyond the many things that I have omitted though I knew them,
there are many more omitted because I knew them not, because I have not
fathomed the unfathomable depth and the myriad variety of that genius
which is living, and suggesting, and working all through the ideal
aspects of our modern life. There are probably few men who have lived
longer and more intimately with the old Greeks, in more phases of their
life, ever probing and seeking for deeper and better knowledge of their
vast legacy to mankind, of which the rodent tooth of time, the
sacrilegious hands of men, have lost or destroyed so much. The farther I
seek, the wider the vistas I see opening before me. So now, when my part
in the race is nearly run, there remains to me no higher earthly
satisfaction than this, that I have carried the torch of Greek fire
alight through a long life--no higher earthly hope than this, that I
may pass that torch to others, who in their turn may keep it aflame with
greater brilliancy perhaps, but not with more earnest devotion, “in the
Parliament of men, the Federation of the world.”



Achæan League, organisation and dissolution, 203, 204

_Acontius and Cydippe_, love story of a modern type, 94

Actium, battle, 71

_Æneid_ of Virgil, _see_ Virgil

Æolic school, characteristic, 53

Æschylus, source of his tragedy, 36, 37;
  one of the “three tragic poets,” 47;
  Milton’s view of, 47;
  characters of his plays, 48;
  judge of tragedy, 73;
  music of, 136
    _Agamemnon_: great play, 27;
      opening of, 48;
      “vulgar and trivial persons,” 48;
      contributes to Byron, 55;
      Browning’s version, 57;
      often translated into English, 58
    _Prometheus Vinctus_: model for _Paradise Lost_, 47

Æsculapius, shrine of, 176

_Agamemnon_, _see_ Æschylus

Agatharchus, discovers principles of perspective, 130

Alcæus, poet, 37

_Alexander_, _Life of_, 97

Alexandria, library, collecting of, gives impetus to literary criticism, 91

Alexandrian school, development of mechanics, 162;
  invention of the _sakia_, 165

_Alkestis_, _see_ Euripides

Alma-Tadema, Sir Edward, influenced by Greek art, 131, 132

Amyot, imitated Greek novel, 96

Anatomy, how studied by Greeks, 148

Anaxagoras, principal feature of his system, 229;
  on original particles, 229;
  Aristotle on, 229;
  his famous _Nous_, 230, 231

Anaximander, makes advances in astronomy, 216, 217;
  geological observations of, 218

Anaximenes, idea of the fundamental element of the world, 216, 217;
  theory of eclipses, 217

Antiphon, treatises of, 82

_Antony and Cleopatra_, _see_ Shakespeare

_Aphrodite_ of Melos, mentioned, 118

Apollonius of Perga, treatment of conic sections, 161, 167

Apollonius Rhodius, delights in nature, 59
  _Argonautics_: great epic, 41;
    model for Milton, 43;
    and Goethe’s _Faust_, 44

Arabic numerals, 157

Archilochus, poet, 37

Archimedes, triumphs of, in mechanics, 162, 167

Architecture, earliest form of house, 99;
  houses of the dead, 100-102, 110, 111;
  square house, 102;
  evolution of classical, 103;
  building materials, 103;
  Doric, 104;
  temples, 105, 110;
  distinction between house and temple, 106, 107;
  perfection of religious, 106, 107;
  arch not used by Greeks, 107, 108;
  Greek and Roman, compared, 108;
  purpose in parts of a building, 109;
  origin of arch, 109;
  Roman use of arch, 110;
  ornamentation of, by sculpture, 120

Archytas, 167

_Areopagitica_, _see_ Milton

_Argonautics_, _see_ Apollonius Rhodius

Argos, slaves in, 188

Aristides, studied oratory, 70

Aristocracies, in classical and mediæval times, 184

Aristophanes, as critic, 92;
  ridicules Asklepiads, 176

Aristophanes, diction and metre, 37;
  greatest master of Greek comedy, 60, 61;
  Frere’s translation, 61, 64;
  Rogers’s translation, 61;
  influence and legacy, 61
    _Birds and Frogs_: 27

Aristotle, almost canonised, 19;
  criticism of _Iphigenia in Aulis_, 62, 72;
  criticism of Medea, 62;
  distinction between prose and poetry, 62, 63;
  on Herodotus, 62, 63, 73;
  on dramatic poetry and history, 72, 74;
  and Herodotus, on style and subject of history, 74;
  treatise on Language, 149;
  treatise on Reasoning, 150;
  arithmetical proof of theorem in geometry, 156;
  on geometry, 159;
  “master of those that knew,” 167;
  brought up in Socratic method, 167;
  style of writing, 167, 168;
  system of collaboration, 168, 171;
  collaborators, 169;
  does no original work in mathematics, 169;
  competence in mathematics, 170;
  sciences promoted by, 171;
  views on slavery, 189;
  views on craftsmen, 189;
  essential in his ideal of a state, 206;
  objection to atomic theory, 233;
  influence on modern thought, 237;
  his philosophy and the Church, 242
    _Constitution of Athens_: 169
    _Poetic_: on tragic poetry, 61;
      on dramatic poetry and history, 72

Aristoxenus, collaborator with Aristotle, 169

Arithmetic, starting-point of mathematics, 153;
  importance of, to Pythagoras, 153;
  numbers the essence of the universe, 153, 154;
  Greek meaning of, 154;
  Pythagorean speculations on natural series of units, 155;
  specimens of treatment by Pythagoras, 156;
  importance of numbers ten and twelve, 156;
  Greek notation, 157;
  Euclid’s works on, 161;
  books on history of, 170

Arnold, Matthew, compares Milton’s style with Virgil’s, 46;
  writes plays after Greek models, 58
    _Merope_: 58

Art, earliest Greek, 12;
  proper province of, 33, 34;
  use of the term, 98

Artificiality of Greek poetry, defined, 33, 34

Asklepiads, method of, 176

Assemblies, in Greek democracies, 183

Astronomy, books on history of, 170

_Atalanta_, _see_ Swinburne

Athens, debts in, 186;
  leadership, 201;
  degeneration of spiritual life in, 210

Atomic theory, developed by Leucippus and Democritus, 231, 232;
  results of, 233;
  Aristotle’s objections to, 233

Atomists, doctrine of, 218, 219

Atreus, tomb of, 102, 111

Attic citizens, character, 208

Attic Code of laws, 190, 261

Attic life, portrayed by Menander, 208, 209


Bacchylides, comparison of Gray with, 54

Beehive huts, earliest form of house, 99;
  extant examples, 99, 100;
  not easily defended, 99;
  once a general type, 100;
  houses of the dead, 100-102;
  Treasury of Athens, 101;
  development of, 102

Biography, Plutarch, model, 80

_Birds and Frogs_, of Aristophanes, 27

Blow’s anthem, “I beheld and lo! a great multitude,” 126

Boccaccio, and Greek novels, 95

Botany, promoted by Aristotle, 171

Botticelli, Greek influence on, 131

Brougham, Lord, on Demosthenes, 84

Browning, Robert, his version of _Agamemnon_, 57;
  version of Euripides, 57, 58, 64

Brydges, Sir Egerton, on choruses in _Samson Agonistes_, 50

Buckle’s _Civilisation_, famous opening, 5

Burke, Edmund, style influenced by Isocrates, 90;
  translation of the _Tract on the Sublime_, 92

Burlington Art Club of London, collection of Greek fragments, 21

Byron, Lord, leader of Romantic school, 55;
  knowledge of Greek poetry, 55;
  borrows from Æschylus, 55;
  interested in Greek life and Greece, 56;
  interests Romanticists in Greece, 56

Byzantine architecture, 18


Calverley’s _Theocritus_, 64

Cambridge Platonists, 240

Carrey, Jacques, drawings of Parthenon, 52

Cathedral of Henry the Lion at Brunswick, 119

Chalmers, Thomas, Scotch orator, style, 90

Chapman, translation of the Iliad, 45, 51

_Charioteer_ of Delphi, 117

Choral hymns, Doric, 41

Cicero on Pindar, 50;
  on history, 80;
  style modelled on that of Isocrates, 88, 90
    _De Finibus_: 245

City states, in Greece, 183;
  combinations and alliances, 200

Colours, use, 118

Comedy, Greek, influence, 60, 61

Composition in sculpture, 120, 122

_Comus_, _see_ Milton

Constantinople, adheres to Hellenic traditions, 182

_Constitution of Athens_, 169

Contracts, civil, 194

Conversation, perfection of Greek style, 90, 91;
  Plato’s _Dialogues_, 91

Corcyrean massacre, Thucydides on, 77

Cornford, Mr., _Thucydides Mythistoricus_, referred to, 77

Criticism, literary, beginnings, 91;
  models of, 92;
  _Tract on the Sublime_, 92

Cyclic poets, 42

_Cyrus_, of Xenophon, 94


Dante, gloomy splendour, 19
  _Inferno_: 27

_Daphnis and Chloe_, author unknown, 96;
  best specimen of Greek novel, 96

Dark Ages, conditions in, 181;
  causes of retrogression, 282

Darwin, Charles, on sense of colour, 128

Death penalty, 192

Debts, reduction of by Solon, 186

_Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, _see_ Gibbon

Decoration, painting a branch of, 132, 133;
  household, 145, 146

_De Corona_, _see_ Demosthenes

_De Finibus_ of Cicero, 245

_De Jure Pacis et Belli_, by Hugo Grotius, 198

Delos, discoveries at, 145

Delphi, treasury of Siphnos, 122;
  hymn discovered at, 134

Democritus, development of Atomic theory, 231, 232;
  consequences to which his theory led him, 233

Demosthenes, combined orator and politician, 70;
  character of orations, 83, 84
    _De Corona_: greatest

Greek oration, 83;
  style, 84

Derby, Lord, translator, 57

Descartes, teachings of, 216, 224;
  on colour, 216;
  on extension and thought, 224

Diagoras of Melos, atheist, 215

Dialects, Homeric, 33, 40, 41;
  main cause of their use, 40

_Dialogues_ of Plato, _see_ Plato

Diatonic scale, basis of Greek music as well as of modern, 135, 142-144

Didot, _Epistolographi Graeci_, 92

Dikæarchus, collaborator with Aristotle, 169

Dion Chrysostom, rhetor and sophist, 93

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, essays of, 92

Dionysius of Syracuse, tyrant, 205

Diophantus, work in arithmetic and algebra, 161, 162, 167

Donatello’s problem, 113

Dorians, literary prose had its origin among them, 67, 68

Doric choral hymns, 41

Doric pillar, 104

Doric temple, 104

Dörpfeld, Dr., Greek critic, 27;
  discoveries at Tiryns, 105

Drama, Greek, beginnings, 36;
  influence, 46 _ff_, 57, 58

Dryden, John, translation of Virgil, 53;
  model for Gray, 54
    _Ode to St. Cecilia_: shows Greek influence, 55


_Eclogues_ of Virgil, 24

Education, Greek: ethical inquiry, 215;
  subjects of thought, 215;
  relation of
music to, 136, 137, 144;
  relation of mathematics and science to philosophy, 179;
  higher: and Greek studies, 20;
  relation of mathematics and philosophy, 179;
  essential element, 214;
  best exponent, 215;
  relation to character, 241

Egypt, greatness, 5;
  influence on Greece, 11

Egyptian art, influence on Greek art, 145

Elea, school of, founder, 221

Eleusinian Mysteries, 115

Empedocles, wrote in verse, 39;
  principal feature of his system, 229;
  postulated principles of Love and Hate, 230, 231

_Entretiens sur l’architecture_, _see_ Viollet-le-Duc

Epic poetry, Greek, 41;
  modern, 42;
  influence, 42

Epicteta, will of, 196

Epicureans, on music and morals, 138;
  and Stoics, 244

Epicurus, system of, 245

Epidauros, place of pilgrimage, 176

_Epistolographi Graeci_, 92

_Epoch of Irish History_, _see_ Mahaffy, J. P.

_Erechtheus_ of Swinburne, 58

Etruscans, and the arch, 105;
  culture of, 110

Euclid, how attained perfection, 158, 159;
  on optics, 166;
  father of geometry, 167;
  founds Peripatetic Mathematics, 170
    _Elements_: summary of all principles discovered previously, 158;
      three kinds of data, 159;
      careful definitions, 159;
      misfortune of, 160;
      thirteen books, 160, 161

Eudemus the Rhodian, collaborator with Aristotle, 169;
  his history of sciences, 170

Eudoxus, astronomer, 167

Euripides, Milton’s view of, 47;
  introduces “vulgar and trivial persons” into his plays, 48;
  influence on development of _Samson Agonistes_, 49;
  choruses of, 51;
  Browning’s version of his plays, 57-58, 64;
  and Tennyson, 60;
  Medea, 62
    _Alkestis_: Browning’s version of, 57
    _Iphigenia in Aulis_: type of heroine, 62;
      Aristotle’s criticism of, 62, 72
    _Mad Herakles_: Browning’s version of, 57

_Everyman_, represents horrors of Middle Ages, 115

_Excursion_, _see_ Wordsworth


_Fall of Miletus_, _see_ Phrynichus

_Faust_, _see_ Goethe

Federation, early example, 203

Fick, Augustus, on place-names, 7

Frere’s translation of Aristophanes, 61, 64


Geometry, Euclid’s, 158-161, 167;
  books on history of, 170

_Georgics_ of Virgil, 24

Germany, reduction of many states into one empire, 204

Gibbon, Edward, _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_,
     conception which moved author to write, 79

Gladstone, William E., style of eloquence, 89

Goethe, _Faust_: a world epic, 27;
  borrowings from _Argonautics_, 44

Golden Age of Greek Literature, 91

Gray, Thomas, Greek temper, 54;
  compared with Simonides
  and Bacchylides, 54;
  swept away by Romantic wave, 54;
  prefers Celtic and national subjects, 54;
  Greek style, 54;
  grasps splendour of Pindar, 54;
  shows influence of Greek poetry, 54, 55;
  love of nature, 59

Greece, advantageous position of, 11;
  economic conditions in time of Polybius, 206;
  modern character of civilisation, 207

Greek culture, vital essence, 182;
  Latin, compared with, 182

Greek learning, revival of, 17-20

Greek scholars in Western Europe, 17, 18

Greek society, conditions, 213, 214

Greek studies, place in higher education, 20-22;
  and Latin, 22, 23;
  source of culture, 23;
  comparative value of originals and translations, 23-26

Greeks, the, explanations of pre-eminence insufficient, 3-7;
  pre-eminence unexplained, 7-9;
  originality, 9;
  genius of race analogous to genius of individual, 9;
  powers of assimilation and reproduction, 10-12;
  important position between two civilisations, 11;
  effect of diverse influences, 11, 12;
  receptive, but not
absorbed, 13, 14;
  persistence of characteristics, 15;
  accomplishments in world’s history, 16-18;
  influence of, 53;
  not wanting in love for nature, 59;
  why no means of expressing Christian spirit, 113;
  and Christianity, 113;
  race of varied experience, 116;
  sense of fitness in sculpture, 116;
  power of logic upon their minds, 152;
  triumphs gained by hard thinking, 179;
  traders, 187;
  attitude toward monarchy, 205;
  furnish lessons in failures as well as in achievements, 205, 206;
  middle classes most important, 206;
  adopt limitation of family, 207

Grote, George, historian, 56;
  not interested in travelling in Greece, 56;
  on Attic citizens, 208

Grotius, Hugo, _De Jure Pacis et Belli_, 198

_Guesses at Truth_, _see_ Hare


_Hamlet_ of Shakespeare, 48

Hare, _Guesses at Truth_, quoted, 52

Hecatæus, historian, 71

Hegemony of Greece, what it was, 201;
  leaders, 201

Hellenic race, _see_ Greeks

Heracleitus of Ephesus, early writer of prose, 67;
  his fundamental element of the world, 219;
  on qualities of matter, 220, 221

Herculaneum, 145

_Hermes_ of Praxiteles, 106

_Hero and Leander_, 96

Herodotus, Father of History, world model of art of history, 71-75;
  subject, 71, 74, 78;
  essence of history as an art, 73;
  agrees with Aristotle as to style and subject of history, 74;
  style, 74, 75;
  so-called inventions of, 76;
  vindicated, 76;
  compared with Thucydides, 76, 78;
  on Cyrene, 77;
  quoted, 116

Heron, development of mechanics and hydrostatics, 147, 162, 167;
  ingenious inventions of, 162-164, 165

Herondas, _Mimes_, inferior poetry, 39

Hiero of Xenophon, 116

Hipparchus, astronomer, 167

Hippocrates of Kos, Father of Rational Medicine, 67, 171;
  founds school of medicine, 171;
  style of writing, 172;
  works out a system of treatment, 172;
  _Aphorisms_ quoted, 172;
  John Stearne on works of, 174;
  mental attitude of, 174;
  ignores supernatural causes of diseases and cures, 175;
  quoted, 175;
  combats superstition, 176;
  principles, 177;
  oath of practitioners, 178

Hipponax, 41

History, early annalists, 70;
  Herodotus and Thucydides, 71;
  models of the art and science of history, 71;
  Aristotle’s view of, 72, 74;
  Herodotus on history as art, 73, 74;
  views of Herodotus and Aristotle compared, 74;
  simplicity, 75;
  Herodotus vindicated, 76;
  Thucydides compared with Herodotus, 76;
  views of Thucydides, 77;
  style of Thucydides, 78, 79;
  human history as a great drama, 79;
  characteristics that will make it last, 80

_History of Greek Literature_, _see_ Mahaffy, J. P.

Homer, understood by all generations, 14;
  his influence through Pope, 53

Homeric dialect, 33, 40, 41

Homeric poems, artificiality, 33;
  beacon light, 37;
  translations, 45, 51, 52

Horace, Greek lyrics, 4;
  version of Alcæus, Sappho, and Pindar, 53

Hydrostatics, development by Heron, 147, 162

Hylozoists, study of, basis of higher work in science, 234


_Iliad_, translated into many languages, 26;
  a world epic, 27, 41;
  imitated, 41;
  model for all time, 42;
  and Milton’s _Paradise Lost_, 42, 43;
  Chapman’s translation, 45, 51;
  Pope’s translation, 51, 52, 53;
  expunged texts, 183

Immigration, no inducements for, in Greece, 207

India, civilisation, 6

_Inferno_ of Dante, 27

Interest, rate of, in Greece, 187

Intermarriage, 198

International relations of Greek states, 198;
  war, 199-200;
  political combinations or alliances, 200 _ff_

Invalides in Paris, 111

Ionia, subjugation of, checks development of Greek prose, 67

Ionic school, subjects of speculation, 216;
  study of, important, 234

_Iphigenia in Aulis_, _see_ Euripides

Ireland, landed gentry, 212

Isæus, treatises of, 82;
  speeches, 194-196

Isocrates, father of political essay, 86;
  originates political pamphlets, 87;
  devises and perfects laws of prose composition, 88;
  teaches his style, 88


Jonson, Ben, knowledge of Greek, 45


Keats, John, Greek spirit, 46;
  not familiar with Greek originals, 46, 56
    _Ode on a Greek Vase_: 132

Keltic influences on Greece, 12

Kos, school of, 176, 178


Land legislation in Greece compared with that in Ireland and Scotland, 187

Language, perfected use of, by Greeks, 148;
  analysis of, 149;
  Greek: Non-Aryan roots, 7;
  permanence, 14

_Laocoon_, 116

Laplace’s theory, 220

Latin, place in higher education, 22, 23;
  medium of Greek influence, 45

Latin culture, why not permanent, 182;
  compared with Greek, 182

Latin races, 3

_Latin Vulgate_, the, St. Jerome compares it with Greek
and Hebrew originals, 19

Law, Greek, Attic Code model for Romans and other nations, 190;
  criminal, 191 _ff_;
  compared with that of Modern Europe, 192;
  safety of citizens, 192;
  death penalty, 192, 193;
  civil, 193-198;
  contracts, 194;
  testaments or wills, 194-197;
  international, 198 _ff_

Leighton, Lord, influenced by Greek art, 131, 132

Lepanto, battle, 72

Letter-writing, Greek letters not remarkable, 93;
  Cicero’s formulæ, 93;
  exceptions, 93

Leucippus, development of Atomic theory, 231;
  father of modern systems, 236

Literary criticism, beginnings, 91;
  models, 92;
  _Tract on the Sublime_, 92

Loans, 194

Local government, not representative, but popular, 189, 190

Locke, teachings of, 216

Logic, approached by Greeks through analysis of language, 148;
  beginnings of logical studies, 149;
  treatises of Aristotle on theory of Reasoning, 149, 150;
  importance of common logic, 150;
  small attention paid to, in American education, 150, 152;
  English and European training in, 151;
  power of, on Greek minds, 151, 152;
  and Greek mathematics, 153

Lourdes, place of pilgrimage, 177

Lucretius, claims, 4

Lyric poetry, beginnings, 37;
  influence, 53-57, 59, 60

Lysias, presentation of argument in character, 83


_Macbeth_, of Shakespeare, 48

Macedonian power, 205, 211

Machinery, inventions of Heron, 162-164;
  moving force of automatic _sakia_, 165

_Mad Herakles_, _see_ Euripides

Magee, Archbishop, style of eloquence, 89;
  modelled after Chalmers, 90;
  style based upon principles of Isocrates, 90

Mahaffy, J. P., _Epoch of Irish History_: referred to, 173
    _History of Greek Literature_: on poetry, 31;
      on obscurity of Thucydides, 79;
      on Isocrates and Demosthenes, 82;
      on conversation, 91
    _Rambles and Studies in Greece_: on persistence
       of characteristics, 15, 16
    _Social Life in Greece_: main thesis, 15

_Marius the Epicurean_, by Walter Pater, 244

Mathematics, school of Pythagoras, 153, 155, 156, 161, 167;
  theory of Descartes, 154;
  arithmetic, 153, 154;
  geometry, 158;
  mathematical physics, 162;
  library of Greek, 166;
  pure, 166, 169;
  Peripatetic, 170

Mausollus of Halicarnassus, tyrant, 205

Mechanics, development by Archimedes, Heron, and Alexandrian school, 162

Mediæval schools, training in logic, 150, 151

Medicine, formulated by Greeks, 147;
  school of Hippocrates, 171 _ff_;
  mediæval, 174, 175;
  and superstition, 174, 175;
  resurrection of, 176

Menander, character of plays, 34, 94;
  translations by Plautus and Terence, 61, 208, 209;
  influence, 61;
  portrays Attic society, 208-210;
  fragments of plays discovered in Egypt, 209

Meredith, George, characteristic of his work, 79

_Merope_, of Matthew Arnold, 58

Middle Ages, a period of gloom, 114, 115;
  conditions in, 181;
  causes of retrogression in, 182

Miletus, fall of, checks the development of Greek prose, 67;
  temple, statues at entrance, 120

Milton, John, poetic vision disturbed by political controversies, 42;
  influenced by Greek epic, 42;
  influenced by Greek drama, 46;
  poetic style and metre, 46;
  Matthew Arnold on, 46;
  defence of dramatic poetry, 47;
  on Shakespeare and Greek masters, 47;
  on Greek tragedy, 47-49;
  choruses and lyrical monodies, 50;
  inspired by Isocrates, 88, 90
    _Areopagitica_: style, 88
    _Comus_: lyric sweetness, 51
    _Paradise Lost_: best modern epic, 42;
      compared with the _Iliad_, 43;
      divine and human in, 43;
      redundancy of similes, 43;
      and _Argonautics_, 43;
      and _Prometheus Vinctus_, 47
    _Samson Agonistes_: Greek form, 47, 49, 50;
      borrowings from _Œdipus_ and _Prometheus_, 49;
      development influenced by Euripides, 49;
      Greek spirit, 50;
  lyrics and choral odes, 50, 51;
  Sir Egerton Brydges on, 50

_Mimes_, _see_ Herondas

Minyæ, Tomb of the, 101, 108, 111

Motion and matter, 234

Mummius, cause of conquest of, 211

Music, first beginnings, 99, 133 _ff_;
  notation related to meaning, 125;
  existing specimens of Greek, fragmentary, 134;
  comparison of Greek with Japanese, 135;
  Greek scales, 135, 142-144;
  and Greek poetry, 136;
  relation to education, 136, 137, 144;
  effect upon morals, 137-140, 144;
  Greek music source of modern, 141;
  simplicity, 141;
  Greek works on, 141;
  Plato on instrumental and vocal, 141;
  extant Greek tracts on, 142;
  Hungarian, 142;
  problems of Greek, 142;
  scientific basis of harmony discovered by Pythagoreans, 143;
  Pythagorean theory, 143;
  Aristotle on melody, 144;
  summary of Greek music, 144


Naples, 145

Natural history, collection of facts by Greeks, 147

Natural philosophy, 236

_Nike_ of Samothrace, 117

Novel, development among Greeks, 93, 94;
  and Menander’s plays, 94;
  main topic imported from East, 94


_Ode on a Greek Vase_, by Keats, 132

_Ode to St. Cecilia_, _see_ Dryden

_Odyssey_, world epic, 27, 41;
  imitated, 41;
  unequalled, 42

_Œdipus_, _see_ Sophocles

Optics, Euclid’s work on, 166

Oratory, school of pleaders, 68;
  treatment of subject, 69;
  subject of great importance, 69, 70;
  eloquence of debate and eloquence of display, 68, 81;
  Greeks adverse to extemporaneous speaking, 81;
  art of persuasion, 82;
  arguments and manner of presenting, 82, 83;
  legal rhetoric, 83;
  speeches of Demosthenes, 83;
  _De Corona_, 83;
  Greek oratory of debate still the model of modern world, 85

Orchomenos, 101

Ornament, earlier in development than architecture, 99;
  in pre-historic ages, 99;
  in Doric temple, 104


Painting, 125 _ff_;
  examples of Greek, 126, 127;
  qualities requisite for success, 128;
  Greek sense of form, 128;
  Greek sense of colour, 128-130;
  landscape little developed among Greeks, 130, 131;
  portraits, 131;
  mythical subjects, 131;
  and sculpture, 131;
  indirect influence on modern painting, 131, 132;
  Greek vases, 132;
  branch of decoration, 132, 133

Pantheism, doctrine of, 222-224;
  positive side of, 223;
  arguments for, 224;
  how regarded by Greek public, 225;
  and Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson, 228, 229

Pantheists, Greek, character of, 222;
  legacy to mankind, 228;
  effect on modern poetry, 228

Pantheon, 111

Pappus, work in geometry, 161

Papyrus I. of Turin, 197

_Paradise Lost_, _see_ Milton

Parmenides, 236;
  gives positive side of doctrine of pantheism, 223

Parthenon, unexcelled, 27;
  J. Carrey’s drawings of, 52;
  frieze, 113, 122;
  horses of, 121;
  ornamentation, 130

Pastoral poetry developed by Theocritus, 35

Pater, Walter, _Marius the Epicurean_, 244

Paul, Saint, on Stoicism, 245

Pausanias, and temple of Hera, 105;
  and Tomb of the Minyæ, 108

Peisias, the Lycian, will of, 196

Peloponnesus, cities of, 201

Penrose, Mr., Greek critic, 27

Pericles studied oratory, 70

Peripatetic Mathematics, 170

_Persians_ of Timotheus, _see_ Timotheus

Peyron, Amédée, 197

_Phædo_, of Plato, 242

Phelps, W. L., on Gray, 54

Pherecydes of Syros, predecessor of Heracleitus, 67

Phidias, and the _Laocoon_, 116;
  his ornamentation of the Parthenon, 121, 122;
  his procession of figures, 122, 123

Philodemus, _Tract on Music_, on effect of music on morals, 138

Philosophy, relation to science, 169, 236;
  secular and free, 215, 216

Phœnicia, influence on Greece, 11, 12

Phœnician alphabet, 12

Phormio, 71

Phrynichus, _Fall of Miletus_: displeasing to Attic audience, 73, 115

Physical geography, 169

Physics, mathematical, 162;
  developed by Archimedes, 162;
  development of hydrostatics and mechanics by Heron, 162, 167

Pindar, Cicero on, 50;
  Horace’s appreciation, 53

Pindar, _Odes_, 27

Place-names, Greek, 7

Plato, influence on Wordsworth, 57;
  as critic, 92;
  on influence of music, 139, 141;
  philosophy of, 237;
  influence on modern thought, 237;
  views of education, 237, 238;
  theology, 238 _ff_;
  on moral law, 239, 240;
  on aristocracy of intellect, 241;
  on immortality of soul, 242
  _Dialogues_: model of conversation, 91;
    logical studies in, 149;
    character, 214;
    subjects, 215
  _Phaedo_: 242
  _Politicus_: 238
  _Republic_: picture of gloom, 116;
    ideal for safeguard of society in, 238
  _Sophist_: 152

Platonism, 228

Plautus, translation of Menander, 61, 209

Plutarch, model for modern biographers, 80
  _Lives_: North’s translation furnished Shakespeare with subjects, 45, 80;
    influence on French Revolution, 46

_Poetic_, _see_ Aristotle

Poetry, Greek: 31 _ff_;
  carefully studied product, 32, 37;
  dialects, 33, 40;
  development, 34, 35;
  pastoral, 35;
  dramatic, 36;
  lyric, 37;
  form and spirit, 38;
  diction and metre, 38;
  best studied in the original, 38, 64;
  examples of inferior, 38, 39;
  associated with other arts, 39;
  dignity and brevity, 40;
  and modern poetry, 41 _ff_;
  great epics, 41;
  influence, 42 _ff_;
  how far reduced to theory, 61-63;
  translations, 45, 51, 52, 64;
  indirect influence through Latin, 45;
  and music, 136

Politics, causes of development, 182, 183

_Politicus_, of Plato, 238

Polybius, artistic conception of history, 79;
  and Achæan League, 203;
  on limitation of family, 207;
  on ruin of Greece, 211

Pompeii, 145

Pope, Alexander, translation of _Iliad_, 51, 52, 53

Praxiteles unexcelled, 112

Praxiteles, _Hermes_, 33

_Prometheus Vinctus_, _see_ Æschylus

Prose, Greek, knowledge of early development of, 65;
  late origin, 66;
  poetry more popular than, 66;
  early attempt at, by Heracleitus, 67;
  Hippocrates, 67;
  beginnings among Dorians, 68;
  prose adapted for a listening public, 86;
  political essay, 86;
  laws of composition devised by Isocrates, 88;
  conversation easy, 90;
  letter-writing, 92;
  the novel, 93;
  books of travel, 97

Puteoli, gateway into Italy, 145

Pythagoras, effect of influence, 221;
  contemporaries and successors, 221

Pythagorean school, importance of arithmetic, 153;
  theory of Descartes, 154;
  speculations on series of units, 155;
  specimens of treatment in arithmetic, 156;
  results of researches, 156;
  importance of numbers ten and twelve, 156;
  discoverers and teachers of science, 166, 167

Pythagoreans, discover science of harmony, 143;
  famous theory, 143


Racine and his plays, 48

_Rambles and Studies in Greece_, _see_ J. P. Mahaffy

Renaissance (Renascence), 4;
  artists of, 131

Rénan, Ernest, simplicity of style, 75

Renascence, 4

Representation, local, 189

_Republic_, _see_ Plato

Research, original, requisite for, 235

Rogers’s translation of Aristophanes, 61

Roman life and culture, 18, 19

Roman Republic, effect of growth, 211

Romanesque architecture, example of tawdriness, 109

Romans, medium through which Greek learning was spread in
     Western World, 3, 4, 18, 19, 85, 190, 195;
  compared with the Greeks, 182

Romantic school, 59

Rome, Greek ruins in time of Renaissance, 146

_Romeo and Juliet_, _see_ Shakespeare

Royal College of Physicians, Ireland, 173

Ruskin, John, style, 89


St. Angelo, castle of, 111

St. Mark’s at Venice, architecture of, 18, 109

_Sakia_, invention of, 165

_Samson Agonistes_, _see_ Milton

Sappho, 37;
  Horace’s version of, 53;
  love for nature, 59

Satyric drama, 48

Science, definition of term as used, 147;
  relation to philosophy, 168;
  abstract thinking necessary to experiment and discovery, 235

Sciences of observation, 147

_Scriptores Erotici Graeci_, 95

Sculpture, Greek: reasons for pre-eminence 112, 113;
  nude and draped figures, 112, 113;
  Donatello’s problem, 113, 114;
  use of bronze and marble, 116, 118;
  development, 117, 118;
  decay, 117;
  never dissociated from painting, 118;
  coloured statues, 118, 119;
  principles of composition, 120;
  second favourite form of composition, 122;
  effect on Europe, 123

Shakespeare, indebted to Plutarch’s _Lives_, 45;
  indirect knowledge of Greek poets, 46;
  Milton on, 47, 48;
  school of, defended 48
  _Antony and Cleopatra_: source in Plutarch’s _Lives_, 45
  _Hamlet_: Voltaire’s view of, 48
  _Macbeth_: Voltaire’s view of, 48
  _Romeo and Juliet_: Greek origin, 95

Shakespeare, school of, and Greek masters, 48

Shelley, combines Greek culture with Romantic imagination, 56,
  and Pantheism, 228

Sicilian troubles, 186

Sidon, tomb of, 112

Silver Age of Greek Literature, 91

Simonides, Gray compared with, 54

Skellig Michael, beehive huts at, 99

Slavery, among Greeks, 188, 190;
  Aristotle on, 189

Smyly, Prof., _Essay_; on Greek notation in arithmetic, 158

_Social Life in Greece_, _see_ J. P. Mahaffy

Socrates, prosecution of, 215;
  causes revolution in philosophy, 236, 237

Solon, use of verse, 39;
  modern, 66;
  reduces debts in Athens, 186

_Sophist_, of Plato, 152

Sophists, attitude toward scientific speculation, 237

Sophocles, Milton on, 47;
  choruses, 51;
  Whitelaw’s version of, 64;
  music of, 136
  _Œdipus_; and Milton’s _Samson Agonistes_, 49

Sophron, poet, 39

Sovranties, pass into aristocracies, 184, 185;
  models in constitutional government, 184-186

Sparta, slaves in, 188;
  power, 201

Spinoza, teachings of, 216;
  Pantheist, 224

Statuary, portrait, 120

Stearne, John, Founder of Royal College of Physicians, Ireland, 173;
  theorist and writer, 173;
  on works of Hippocrates, 173;
  and the Church, 176

Stoics, speculations, 244-246;
  and Epicureans, 244-246

Stylists, modern English, 89

Swanwick, Miss, translations, 57

Swinburne, Algernon, writer of plays after Greek models, 58
    _Atalanta_: choruses, 40, 58
    _Erechtheus_; 58

Syracuse, 68


Taylor, Jeremy, style influenced by Isocrates, 90

Temples, Greek: Doric ornament, 104;
  features, 105;
  at Tiryns, 105;
  Hera at Olympia, 105;
  distinction between dwellings and, 106;
  construction, 106;
  compared with houses, 107;
  proportions, 107;
  furnish models for all Europe, 110

Tennyson, influenced by Theocritus, 36, 59, 60;
  and Euripides, 60;
  and Pantheism, 228, 229

Terence, translation of Menander, 61, 209

Thales, his primitive element of the world, 216, 217;
  predicts an eclipse, 217

Themistocles, studied oratory, 70

Theocritus, Virgil’s translations, 24;
  pastoral poet, 35;
  goes back to life of people, 35, 36;
  influence on Tennyson, 36, 59, 60;
  idealises the commonplace, 38;
  delights in nature, 59;
  best translation of, 64
  _Idylls_: 96

Theognis, use of verse, 39

Theon of Smyrna, 167

Theophrastus, collaborator with Aristotle, 169

Thirlwall, history written without first-hand knowledge of Greece, 56

“Three tragic poets,” the, 47, 49

Thucydides, has given to world model of the science of history, 71;
  subject, 71, 77, 78;
  compared with Herodotus, 76, 78;
  subtle artist, 76;
  style, 77;
  picture of politics in Greece, 77;
  artistic scheme, 78;
  diction, 78;
  obscurity, 78, 79;
  on war, 200

_Thucydides Mythistoricus_, _see_ Cornford

Timotheus, _Persians_: inferior poetry, 38, 39, 63;
  Wilamowitz on, 39

Tiryns, remains of temples at, 105

Tombs, domed or circular buildings, 110;
  Pantheon, 110;
  Castle of St. Angelo, 111;
  Invalides in Paris, 111;
  Mausoleum of Queen Victoria, 111;
  Treasure House of Atreus, 111;
  Tomb of the Minyæ, 111;
  early, in Ireland, 111

_Tract on the Sublime_, translated by Burke, 92;
  point of view of, 92

Tragedy, Greek: material, 42;
  Milton’s view of, 47, 48

Travels, not thoroughly Greek, 97

Treaties, between Greek city-states, 198

Trinity College, Dublin: some of the requisites for degree, 179

Turin, Academy of, _Transactions_; referred to, 197


Unions or leagues, question as to rights of contracting parties, 202, 203;
  European examples, 204


Vases, ornamentation of, 132

Venetian Republic, 184

Villari, Professor Pasquale, _Studies_:
     quoted, on problem of art in Renaissance, 113, 114

Viollet-le-Duc, _Entretiens sur l’architecture_:
     his theory of the origin of the arch, 109

Virgil, first foreign imitator of Homer, 42;
  compared with Milton, 46
    _Æneid_: M. Arnold compares style with Milton’s, 47;
      Dryden’s translation, 53
    _Eclogues_: 24
    _Georgics_: 24

Vitruvius, 104


Wagner, Richard, turned natural defect into success, 87;
  effect of his attempt to combine poetry and music, 136;
  effect of his music on morals, 138, 139
    _Tristan and Isolde_: 139

War, between Hellenic peoples: weapons and prisoners, 199

Weem of Scale, beehive huts at, 100

Whitelaw’s _Sophocles_, 64

Wilamowitz, on _Persians_ of Timotheus, 39

Wills or testaments, 194-197

Women’s rights, 181

Wordsworth, least Greek of nineteenth-century poets, 57;
  illuminated by Plato, 57;
  and Pantheism, 228, 229;
  immortality of soul, 242, 243
    _Excursion_: 40, 57

Wyse, William, of Trinity College, Cambridge, 195


Xanthus the Lydian, historian, 71

Xenophanes, founder of school of Elea, 221;
  doctrine of, 222

Xenophon, historian, 79
    _Cyrus_: 94
    _Hiero_: picture of gloom, 116


Zeno, Eleatic, theory of sound, 225, 226

Zeno, the Stoic, 245

Zoölogy promoted by Aristotle, 171


[1] The recent book of August Fick upon the place-names in Greek lands
shows that the great majority are not Greek, and this is particularly
the case with Attica, the purest home of culture, showing that even
here there survived a large indigenous population. This is the new
signification of the Athenian claim to be _autochthonous_, or native
children of the soil.

[2] The readers of my _Rambles and Studies in Greece_ will remember how
I was once shipwrecked in the very harbour of Ægina, and compelled to
seek hospitality in a modest private house. When I saw the woman of the
house in the morning, by the light of day, I shouted to my companions
that one of the figures of the Parthenon had walked into the room. The
splendid type was there in its perfection.

[3] The _Odyssey_ of Homer, the two tragedies on Œdipus of Sophocles,
the _Birds and Frogs_ of Aristophanes, the Pythian odes of Pindar, not
to speak of smaller gems such as the scraps of Sappho and Simonides,
the Idylls of Theocritus.

[4] Of course this common inference may be quite mistaken. Artificial
things are often a real and great improvement on nature.

[5] This is probably the case with Hipponax.

[6] This remark is from Hare’s almost forgotten _Guesses at Truth_, an
excellent book.


“Keen were his pangs but keener far to feel He nursed the pinion which
impelled the steel”

is straight from Æschylus.

[8] I know no translation of the whole seven plays of Æschylus that
I can recommend, though there be many admirable versions of the
_Agamemnon_, but among the English reproductions of Sophocles let me
call your attention to that of Mr. Whitelaw, of most of Euripides to
that of Mr. Way. Both of these are eminently the work of scholars who
are also poets.

[9] I need hardly add that the brilliant comedies of Aristophanes are
to be found in the well known books of J. Hookham Frere and of Mr.
Rogers, who has quite recently brought out another play.

[10] I say _fresco_ because this is usually occupied with historical

[11] The reader can now consult the brilliant and suggestive
_Thucydides Mythistoricus_ of Mr. Cornford on this aspect of the
historian and his work.

[12] Book iii., 82-4

[13] _Cf._ for example what Herodotus tells us in his fourth book of
the affairs of Cyrene.

[14] I must refer the audience for details to the chapter on Thucydides
in my _History of Greek Literature_.

[15] The minutiæ of rythm and harmony to which they condescended are
such that I could not possibly make them clear to you in a short
passage of a lecture, but must refer you to the chapters on Isocrates
and Demosthenes in my _History of Greek Literature_.

[16] _Cf._ § 457 of my _Greek Literature_.

[17] On this _Cf._ §§ 416, 437 of my _Greek Literature_.

[18] An exception may be made for the genuine letters of which we
have found the actual originals among the papyri of Egypt. Here we
find, among Greeks scattered abroad, the offspring of adventurous
and mercenary soldiers, all the urbanities of modern letter writing.
All the Roman formulæ of politeness we find in Cicero’s letters,
were derived from this source--the long current Greek forms of

[19] If Shakspeare’s _Romeo and Juliet_ ends not in happiness, but in
disaster, the devices of the play--the sleeping drug, the hiding in the
tomb where the lovers again unite, these are the stock devices of our
Greek novels, so clearly, that the story must have been derived through
Italian versions from a Greek novel of this kind. Boccaccio was clearly
influenced by this literature.

[20] The first beginnings of music, in the form of whistles or pipes,
are found among prehistoric remains of people who had never learned to
write, but only to draw pictures.

[21] In the rudest cases the house was not excavated but was built on
the surface, and then covered with a mound of earth.

[22] The inner lintel stone 30 feet long, 16 deep, and over 3 thick,
weighs about 112 tons. The _dromos_ is 115 long and 19 wide. The
doorway is 17½ feet high and 8 feet wide at the top swelling to 8½ at
the ground. The whole chamber about 50 feet high and 50 across the
floor. Read description in Baedeker, p. 324.

[23] The beehive chamber I take to be an importation from northern and
central Europe and therefore probably due to that strain in early Greek

[24] Villari’s _Studies_, p. 258.

[25] God--says Herodotus in the famous dialogue of Xerxes and Artabanus
on the fugitive character of human happiness--God, that has given to
man a sweet taste of life, is found grudging in his dole.

[26] Nothing is more striking in the old churches of such towns as
Lüneburg, Wismar, Rostock, than the representation of the Crucifixion
on the carved wooden work used as the reredos in various chapels as
well as over the high altar. The main figures are in high relief, the
crowd standing in front of them in the clear, all coloured richly and
in many colours as well as gilding. But for the painful subject, these
triumphs of the carver are perhaps the most splendid in mediæval art.
The magnificent tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy at Dijon are their
worthy rivals in stone.

[27] The foaming heads of the horses of the rising sun at the left
corner of the east pediment of the Parthenon are a splendid exception
to this calm in the angles of the pediment, and the subdued calmness
of the horses of Selene, which represent her setting, accentuates this

[28] This I tell you from the first-hand evidence of my son who was
for years in the Solomon Islands and saw it done a hundred times by
natives, but never even after desperate efforts by any European.

[29] A curious exception is now to be made for the panels with
portraits of the dead found on mummy cases of the first and second
centuries in Roman Egypt.

[30] And yet there were several ignorant and random attempts made to
reproduce it with modern harmonies.

[31] This is the view advocated in the _Tract on Music_ by Philodemus,
large fragments of which were recovered on a charred papyrus from
Herculaneum. There is another fragment of a similar character recently
discovered and printed by Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt.

[32] _Viz._: 1 + 3 = 2²²; 1 + 3 + 5 = 3²; 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 4², and so on.

[33] There is even an arithmetical proof mentioned by Aristotle that
the ratio of side to diagonal of a square cannot be one of whole

If it were, the ratio will be that of two numbers in its lowest terms,
and hence one must be even and the other odd, else both were still
divisible by 2.

[Illustration: graphic] here _b_² = 2_a_² ∴ _a_ is odd and _b_ even.

Now let _b_ = 2_c_ then 4_c_² = 2_a_² and 2_c_² = _a_² ∴ _a_ is even
and _b_ odd, which is absurd.

[34] Readers who wish to prosecute this subject further will find the
best exposition of it in Prof. Smyly’s paper in the volume of Essays
dedicated to Prof. Nicole of Geneva.

[35] Heron, περἰ Αὐτοματοποιητικῆς, caps. iii. and iv.

[36] See my _Epoch of Irish History_, last chapter.

[37] His theory is laid down in several now forgotten books brimful of
learning. It is the theory of four fundamental harmonies, or elements,
the relations of which produce in every body health and disease.

[38] πάρ γἀρ έμοἰ θάνατος,, said Agamemnon, according to the copy which
Aristotle quotes.

[39] ἐπἰ ῤήτοις γέρασι πατριας βασιλείας (Pol.).

[40] Χρέων άποκόπη and γῆς ἀναδασμός

[41] The abortive attempt of Agis III. of Sparta only led to his own

[42] _Centesimæ usuræ_

[43] The phrase of “sound mind and deliberate intention” (Νοῶν καἰ
φρονῶν) points to what is told repeatedly in the speeches of Isæus; on
questions of disputed inheritances, even if a will were proved genuine
and fully attested, it could be set aside if proof were given of undue
influence, such as lunacy, the effects of a philtre, or the cozening
of women, even the testator’s wife. The cases he argues might occur
to-day, and be discussed in like manner.

[44] In the _Transactions_ of the Academy of Turin, 1826.

[45] It happened May 28, 585 B.C.

[46] So Tennyson in a poem of his boyhood.

[47] _De Finibus_, lib. iii., sub. fin.

[48] 2 Cor. vi., 9, 10.

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