Thursday, February 04, 2016


The Enemy

Gilbert Murray (1866-1957), Religio Grammatici. The Religion of a Man of Letters. Presidential Address to the Classical Association, January 8, 1918 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1918), pp. 48-49:
The enemy has no definite name, though in a certain degree we all know him. He who puts always the body before the spirit, the dead before the living, the ἀναγκαῖον before the καλὸν; who makes things only in order to sell them; who has forgotten that there is such a thing as truth, and measures the world by advertisement or by money; who daily defiles the beauty that surrounds him and makes vulgar the tragedy; whose innermost religion is the worship of the lie in his soul. The Philistine, the vulgarian, the great sophist, the passer of base coin for true, he is all about us and, worse, he has his outposts inside us, persecuting our peace, spoiling our sight, confusing our values, making a man's self seem greater than the race and the present thing more important than the eternal. From him and his influence we find our escape by means of the grammata into that calm world of theirs, where stridency and clamour are forgotten in the ancient stillness, where the strong iron is long since rusted, and the rocks of granite broken into dust, but the great things of the human spirit still shine like stars pointing man's way onward to the great triumph or the great tragedy; and even the little things, the beloved and tender and funny and familiar things, beckon across gulfs of death and change with a magic poignancy, the old things that our dead leaders and forefathers loved, viva adhuc et desiderio pulcriora.1

1 "Living still and more beautiful because of our longing."
I can't identify the source of the final Latin quotation.

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