Thursday, October 08, 2015


A Peculiar Vitality and Freshness

Hugh Lloyd-Jones (1922-2009), Greek in a Cold Climate (Savage, Md.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1991), p. 230 (footnote omitted):
But the best reason of all for engaging in Greek studies is that, once the initial drudgery is over — and even that, in the hands of an inspiring teacher like my old headmaster J.T. Christie, can be a pleasure — Greek literature and art have a peculiar vitality and freshness. Greek and Latin are most inappropriately described as 'dead languages', for much that is written in them has a good deal more life in it than most of what was printed in the yellow press this morning. Greek poetry, philosophy and history are concerned not with the ephemeral problems of the moment but with the basic problems that must confront all human beings; that is why Goethe saw in them an antidote against the dreary naturalism and tedious piling up of detail that marked much writing in his time and marks still more in ours. The old-fashioned notion that we study the Greeks in order to acquire 'values' not otherwise to be obtained has rightly been abandoned; what matters to us is not so much the answers these writers gave to the questions which they raised as the way in which they raised the questions.

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