It has been well said that, if we would study any subject
properly, we must study it as something that is alive and growing and consider
it with reference to its growth in the past. As most of the vital forces and
movements in modern civilization had their origin in Greece, this means that,
to study them properly, we must get back to Greece. So it is with the
literature of modern countries, or their philosophy, or their art; we cannot
study them with the determination to get to the bottom and understand them
without the way pointing eventually back to Greece.
When we think of the debt which mankind owes to the
Greeks, we are apt to think too exclusively of the masterpieces in literature
and art which they have left us. But the Greek genius was many-sided; the
Greek, with his insatiable love of knowledge, his determination to see things
as they are and to see them whole, his burning desire to be able to give a
rational explanation of everything in heaven and earth, was just as
irresistibly driven to natural science, mathematics, and exact reasoning in
general, or logic.