Billeder på siden

as factors in that dominant consciousness of the Greeks under whose influence their religion, their institutions and their customary ideals had been formed. And so regarded, in general, under what may fairly be called its most essential aspect, the Greek civilisation is rightly described as that of harmony.

But, on the other hand, and this is the point to which we must now turn our attention, this harmony which was the dominant feature in the consciousness of the Greeks and the distinguishing characteristic of their epoch in the history of the world, was nevertheless, after all, but a transitory and imperfect attempt to reconcile elements whose antagonism was too strong for the solution thus proposed. The factors of disruption were present from the beginning in the Greek ideal; and it was as much by the development of its own internal contradictions as by the invasion of forces from without that that fabric of magical beauty was destined to fall. These contradictions have already been indicated at various points in the text, and it only remains to bring them together in a concluding summary.

On the side of speculation, the religion of the Greeks was open, as we saw, to a double criticism. On the one hand, the ethical conceptions embodied in those legends of the gods which were the product of an earlier and more barbarous age, had become to the contemporaries of Plato revolting or ridiculous. On the other hand, to metaphysical speculation, not only was the existence of the gods. unproved, but their mutually conflicting activities, their passions and their caprice, were incompatible with that conception of universal law which the developing reason envolved as the form of truth. The reconciliation of man

with nature which had been effected by the medium of anthropomorphic gods was a harmony only to the imagination, not to the mind. Under the action of the intellect the unstable combination was dissolved and the elements that had been thus imperfectly joined fell back into their original opposition. The religion of the Greeks was destroyed by the internal evolution of their own consciousness.

And in the sphere of practice we are met with a similar dissolution. The Greek conception of excellence included, as we saw, not only bodily health and strength, but such a share at least of external goods as would give a man scope for his own self-perfection. And since these conditions were not attainable by all, the sacrifice of the majority to the minority was frankly accepted and the pursuit of the ideal confined to a privileged class.

Such a conception, however, was involved in internal contradictions. For in the first place, even for the pri vileged few, an excellence which depended on external aids was, at the best, uncertain and problematical, Misfortune and disease were possibilities that could not be ignored; old age and death were imperative certainties; and no care, no art, no organisation of society, could obviate the inherent incompatibility of individual perfection with the course of nature. Harmony between the indidual and his environment was perhaps more nearly achieved by and for the aristocracy of ancient Greece than by any society of any other age. But such a harmony, even at the best, is fleeting and precarious; and no perfection of life delivers from death.

And, in the second place, to secure even this imperfect realisation, it was necessary to restrict the universal application of the ideal. Excellence, in Greece, was made

the end for some, not for all, But this limitation was felt, in the development of consciousness, to be self-contradictory; and the next great system of ethics that succeeded to that of Aristotle, postulated an end of action that should be at once independent of the aids of fortune and open alike to all classes of mankind, The ethics of a privileged class were thus expanded into the ethics of humanity; but this expansion was fatal to its essence, which had depended on the very limitations by which it was destroyed.

With the Greek civilisation beauty perished from the world. Never again has it been possible for man to believe that harmony is in fact the truth of all existence. The intellect and the moral sense have developed imperative claims which can be satisfied by no experience known to man. And as a consequence of this the goal of desire which the Greeks could place in the present, has been transferred, for us, to a future infinitely remote, which nevertheless is conceived as attainable. Dissatisfaction with the world in which we live and determination to realise one that shall be better, are the prevailing characteristics of the modern spirit. The development is one into whose meaning and end this is not the place to enter. It is enough that we feel it to be inevitable; that the harmony of the Greeks contained in itself the factors of its own destruction; and that in spite of the fascination which constantly fixes our gaze on that fairest and happiest halting-place in the secular march of man, it was not there, any more than here, that he was destined to find the repose of that ultimate reconciliation which was but imperfectly anticipated by the Greeks.



Achilles, 6, 33, 169.
Eschylus, on the punishment of
guilt, 25; on Zeus, 51; and
Euripides, 208; his Agamemnon,


Agamemnon, the, of Eschylus, 218.
Alcibiades, and Socrates, 170,
Andromache, 158.
Anthesteria, 12.

Apollo, Delphian, 11, 29; in
Euripides, 46, 7;
Aristophanes, 13, 20, 44; on phy-
sical speculations, 53; on com-
munism, 88; on Athenian demo-
cracy, 108; on women, 161;
on Eschylus and Euripides, 208,
213; Character of his comedies,
Aristotle, his view of the state,
69; on slaves, 73; on forms of
government, 80, 87; on property,
93; his ideal of the state, 121;
on artisans, 127; on happiness,
128; on virtue, 135; on pleasure,
144; on women, 160; on painting,
198; on music, 201; on the dance,
203; on the tragic hero, 212.
Artisans, 71, 99, 127.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

Parthenon, frieze of, 15, 197.
Patroclus, 6, 169.

Penelope, 157.

Pericles, funeral oration, 35, 160.
Pindar, 39, 45, 129, 132.
Plato, on mendicant prophets, 23,
38; on inspiration, 29, 189; on
the myths, 48; his metaphysics,
59; his ideal state, 68, 120; on
trade, 78, 94; his communism,
91; his scale of Goods, 128; on
body and soul, 131; on virtue,
134,7; myth of the two horses,
138; on pleasure, 143; on Socra-
tes, 147; description of a gym-
nasium, 151; on women, 155,
160, 164; on love, 173; on art,
189, 191; on music, 199, 202;
on the dance, 203; on poetry
as a means of education, 207.
Plutarch, on Sparta, 99, 101; on
friendship, 170,2; on music at
Sparta, 204.

Poetry, 206.

Puritanism, 17, 24, 28, 135.


Science, and religion, in Greece, 53.
Sculpture, 194.

« ForrigeFortsæt »