Sunday, November 10, 2019


The Barest Minimum of Greek

T.R. Glover (1869-1943), From Pericles to Philip, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1918), p. 1:
Goethe and Eckermann were once talking about Schlegel, and his criticisms of Euripides came up, and Goethe, as frequently happened, said something that Eckermann carried home with him and wrote down. "If a modern man like Schlegel," said Goethe, "must pick out faults in so great an ancient, he ought only to do it upon his knees." Goethe is profoundly right; the great vice in criticism of ancient literature is that the critic seems more often anxious to find out what is wrong than what is right. Something must be very right indeed in a man's work if it can hold and delight mankind centuries after he is dead and gone, and not only his fellow-countrymen, but every foreigner also, who can even with a lexicon's aid pick out his meaning and who has, consciously or unconsciously, any idea of what a book is. For it is only to the sympathetic, to those who somehow have the right instinct, that a book will reveal itself. Books are strange things and have strange ways—like certain insects, when they feel themselves in wrong hands, they will sham dead. With the great writers of ancient Greece this often happens, and men say they are dull, and find faults in them; but when they reach the right hands, they change and live and move, and even the barest minimum of Greek will let the right man see that they too are right, and life begins anew with all its gladness and variety.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?