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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
The Greeks Us / Greece in West  

Emerson, Infinite variety, unity of cause

From Essays, First Series

      SEE the variety of the sources of our information in respect to the Greek genius. Thus at first we have the civil history of that people, as Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plutarch have given it- a very sufficient account of what manner of persons they were, and what they did. Then we have the same soul expressed for us again in their literature; in poems, drama and philosophy: a very complete form. Then we have it once more in their architecture - the purest sensuous beauty- the perfect medium never overstepping the limit of charming propriety and grace. Then we have it once more in sculpture - "the tongue on the balance of expression," those forms in every action, at every age of life, ranging through all the scale of condition, from God to beast, and never transgressing the ideal serenity, but in convulsive exertion the liege of order and of law. Thus, of the genius of one remarkable people, we have a fourfold representation- the most various expression of one moral thing: and to the senses what more unlike than an ode of Pindar, a marble Centaur, the Peristyle of the Parthenon, and the last actions of Phocion? Yet do these various external expressions proceed from one national mind.

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