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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

R. W. Livingstone 
On the Ancient Greek Literature

From, R. W. Livingstone, Literature,
in R.W. Livingstone (ed.), The Legacy of Greece, Oxford University Press, 1921.

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

HOMER

PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

PLOTINUS

DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

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Page 2

Another part are the works themselves. Literature can only be judged by reading it, and certainly it cannot be characterized in a few pages. But a man ignorant of Greek and anxious to estimate its value might form some idea by inquiring the opinions of qualified judges. He would find them unanimous: I suppose it is true that no man of eminence qualified to speak has ever spoken of Greek literature in any tone but one. The first testimony is that of the Romans. It is borne by their literature, starting in translations from Greek, adopting one after another of their genres, permeated through and through (and most of all in the greatest writers) by imitations, reminiscences, influences of Greek, confessing and glorying in the debt. 'In learning,' says Cicero, 'and in every branch of literature, the Greeks are our masters.'[101] A Roman boy should begin his studies with Greek, Quintilian thought, 'because Latin learning is derived from Greek.'[102] The same note is repeated in the literature of the Renaissance, and re-echoed by the most various voices of our own century.

[101] Tusc. 1. 1. 2.
[102] Inst. Or. I. 1. 12.

'Though one of the Greek tragedians may seem rather greater and more complete than another, their work as a whole has a single pervading quality. It is marked by grandeur, excellence, sanity, complete humanity, a high philosophy of life, a lofty way of thinking, a powerful intuition (Anschauung). We find these qualities in their surviving lyric and epic poetry as well as in their drama: we find them in their philosophers, orators, and historians and, to an equally high degree, in their surviving sculpture.'[103]

[103] Goethe, Gespr├Ąche, 3. 387.

'Beside the great Attic poets, like Aeschylus and Sophocles, I am absolutely nothing.'[104]

[104] Ibid., 3. 443.

'He spoke with great animation of the advantage of classical study, Greek especially. "Where," he said, "would one look for a greater orator than Demosthenes; or finer dramatic poetry, next to Shakspere, than that of Aeschylus or Sophocles, not to speak of Euripides." Herodotus he thought "the most interesting and instructive book, next to the Bible, which had ever been written".'[105]

[105] Wordsworth, Table-talk.


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Cf. Elpenor's Bilingual Anthology of Greek Literature * Greek History Resources
A History of Greek Philosophy * A Sketch of the history of Greek literature
Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Greek Literature - Ancient, Medieval, Modern

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/livingstone-greek-literature.asp?pg=2