Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 2 online

. (page 30 of 46)
Online LibraryUnknownLibrary of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 2 → online text (page 30 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


March! march! lead forth,
Lead forth manfully,
March in order all;
Bustling, hustling, justling,
As it may befall;
Flocking, shouting, laughing,
Mocking, flouting, quaffing,
One and all;
All have had a belly-full
Of breakfast brave and plentiful;
With your voices and your bodies
Serve the goddess,
And raise
Songs of praise;
She shall save the country still,
And save it against the traitor's will;
So she says.


Now let us raise in a different strain
The praise of the goddess, the giver of grain;
Imploring her favor
With other behavior,
In measures more sober, submissive, and graver.


Ceres, holy patroness,
Condescend to mark and bless,
With benevolent regard,
Both the Chorus and the Bard;
Grant them for the present day
Many things to sing and say,
Follies intermixed with sense;
Folly, but without offense.
Grant them with the present play
To bear the prize of verse away.


Now call again, and with a different measure,
The power of mirth and pleasure;
The florid, active Bacchus, bright and gay,
To journey forth and join us on the way.


O Bacchus, attend! the customary patron of every lively lay;
Go forth without delay
Thy wonted annual way,
To meet the ceremonious holy matron:
Her grave procession gracing,
Thine airy footsteps tracing
With unlaborious, light, celestial motion;
And here at thy devotion
Behold thy faithful choir
In pitiful attire:
All overworn and ragged,
This jerkin old and jagged,
These buskins torn and burst,
Though sufferers in the fray,
May serve us at the worst
To sport throughout the day;
And then within the shades
I spy some lovely maids
With whom we romped and reveled,
Dismantled and disheveled,
With their bosoms open, -
With whom we might be coping.
_Xan_. - Well, I was always hearty,
Disposed to mirth and ease:
I'm ready to join the party.
_Bac_. - And I will if you please.


From 'The Frogs'

Halcyons ye by the flowing sea
Waves that warble twitteringly,
Circling over the tumbling blue,
Dipping your down in its briny dew,
Spi-i-iders in corners dim
Spi-spi-spinning your fairy film,
Shuttles echoing round the room
Silver notes of the whistling loom,
Where the light-footed dolphin skips
Down the wake of the dark-prowed ships,
Over the course of the racing steed
Where the clustering tendrils breed
Grapes to drown dull care in delight,
Oh! mother make me a child again just for to-night!
I don't exactly see how that last line is to scan,
But that's a consideration I leave to our musical man.


From 'The Frogs'

[The point of the following selection lies in the monotony of
both narrative style and metre in Euripides's prologues, and
especially his regular cæsura after the fifth syllable of a
line. The burlesque tag used by Aristophanes to demonstrate
this effect could not be applied in the same way to any of
the fourteen extant plays of Sophocles and Æschylus.]

_Æschylus_ - And by Jove, I'll not stop to cut up your verses
word by word, but if the gods are propitious I'll spoil
all your prologues with a little flask of smelling-salts.

_Euripides_ - With a flask of smelling-salts?

_Æsch_. - With a single one. For you build your verses so that
anything will fit into the metre, - a leathern sack,
or eider-down, or smelling-salts. I'll show you.

_Eur_. - So, you'll show me, will you?

_Æsch_. - I will that.

_Dionysus_ - Pronounce.

_Eur_. [_declaiming_] -
Ægyptus, as broad-bruited fame reports,
With fifty children voyaging the main
To Argos came, and

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Dion_. - What the mischief have the smelling-salts got to do with
it? Recite another prologue to him and let me see.

_Eur_. -
Dionysus, thyrsus-armed and faun-skin-clad,
Amid the torchlights on Parnassus's slope
Dancing and prancing

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Dion_. - Caught out again by the smelling-salts.

_Eur_. - No matter. Here's a prologue that he can't fit 'em to.

No lot of mortal man is wholly blest:
The high-born youth hath lacked the means of life,
The lowly lout hath

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Dion_. - Euripides -

_Eur_. - Well, what?

_Dion_. - Best take in sail.
These smelling-salts, methinks, will blow a gale.

_Eur_. - What do I care? I'll fix him next time.

_Dion_. - Well, recite another, and steer clear of the smelling-salts.

_Eur_. -
Cadmus departing from the town of Tyre,
Son of Agenor

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Dion_. - My dear fellow, buy those smelling-salts, or there won't
be a rag left of all your prologues.

_Eur_. - What? I buy 'em of him?

_Dion_. - If you'll be advised by me.

_Eur_. - Not a bit of it. I've lots of prologues where he can't
work 'em in.

Pelops the Tantalid to Pisa coming
With speedy coursers

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Dion_. - There they are again, you see. Do let him have 'em,
my good Æschylus. You can replace 'em for a

_Eur_. - Never. I've not run out yet.

Oeneus from broad fields

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Eur_. - Let me say the whole verse, won't you?

Oeneus from broad fields reaped a mighty crop
And offering first-fruits

_Æsch_. - lost his smelling-salts.

_Dion_. - While sacrificing? Who filched them?

_Eur_. - Oh, never mind him. Let him try it on this verse: -

Zeus, as the word of sooth declared of old -

_Dion_. - It's no use, he'll say Zeus lost his smelling-salts. For
those smelling-salts fit your prologues like a kid
glove. But go on and turn your attention to his


(B.C. 384-322)


The "Stagirite," called by Eusebius "Nature's private secretary," and by
Dante "the master of those that know," - the greatest thinker of the
ancient world, and the most influential of all time, - was born of Greek
parents at Stagira, in the mountains of Macedonia, in B.C. 384. Of his
mother, Phæstis, almost nothing is known. His father, Nicomachus,
belonged to a medical family, and acted as private physician to Amyntas,
grandfather of Alexander the Great; whence it is probable that
Aristotle's boyhood was passed at or near the Macedonian court. Losing
both his parents while a mere boy, he was taken charge of by a relative,
Proxenus Atarneus, and sent, at the age of seventeen, to Athens to
study. Here he entered the school of Plato, where he remained twenty
years, as pupil and as teacher. During this time he made the
acquaintance of the leading contemporary thinkers, read omnivorously,
amassed an amount of knowledge that seems almost fabulous, schooled
himself in systematic thought, and (being well off) collected a library,
perhaps the first considerable private library in the world. Having
toward the end felt obliged to assume an independent attitude in
thought, he was not at the death of Plato (347) appointed his successor
in the Academy, as might have been expected. Not wishing at that time to
set up a rival school, he retired to the court of a former fellow-pupil,
Hermias, then king of Assos and Atarneus, whom he greatly respected, and
whose adopted daughter, Pythias, he later married. Here he remained,
pursuing his studies, for three years; and left only when his patron was
treacherously murdered by the Persians.

Having retired to Mitylene, he soon afterward received an invitation
from Philip of Macedonia to undertake the education of his son
Alexander, then thirteen years old. Aristotle willingly obeyed this
summons; and retiring with his royal pupil to Mieza, a town southwest of
Pella, imparted his instruction in the Nymphæum, which he had arranged
in imitation of Plato's garden school. Alexander remained with him three
years, and was then called by his father to assume important State
duties. Whether Aristotle's instruction continued after that is
uncertain; but the two men remained fast friends, and there can be no
doubt that much of the nobility, self-control, largeness of purpose, and
enthusiasm for culture, which characterized Alexander's subsequent
career, were due to the teaching of the philosopher. What Aristotle was
in the world of thought, Alexander became in the world of action.

[Illustration: ARISTOTLE.]

Aristotle remained in Macedonia ten years, giving instruction to young
Macedonians and continuing his own studies. He then returned to Athens,
and opened a school in the _peripatos_, or promenade, of the Lyceum, the
gymnasium of the foreign residents, a school which from its location was
called the Peripatetic. Here he developed a manifold activity. He
pursued all kinds of studies, logical, rhetorical, physical,
metaphysical, ethical, political, and aesthetic, gave public (exoteric)
and private (esoteric) instruction, and composed the bulk of the
treatises which have made his name famous. These treatises were composed
slowly, in connection with his lectures, and subjected to frequent
revision. He likewise endeavored to lead an ideal social life with his
friends and pupils, whom he gathered under a common roof to share meals
and elevated converse in common.

Thus affairs went on for twelve fruitful years, and might have gone on
longer, but for the sudden death of Alexander, his friend and patron.
Then the hatred of the Athenians to the conqueror showed itself in
hostility to his old master, and sought for means to put him out of the
way. How hard it was to find a pretext for so doing is shown by the fact
that they had to fix upon the poem which he had written on the death of
his friend Hermias many years before, and base upon it - as having the
form of the paean, sacred to Apollo - a charge of impiety. Aristotle,
recognizing the utter flimsiness of the charge, and being unwilling, as
he said, to allow the Athenians to sin a second time against philosophy,
retired beyond their reach to his villa at Chalcis in Euboea, where he
died of stomach disease the year after (322). In the later years of his
life, the friendship between him and his illustrious pupil had, owing to
certain outward circumstances, become somewhat cooled; but there never
was any serious breach. His body was carried to Stagira, which he had
induced Philip to restore after it had been destroyed, and whose
inhabitants therefore looked upon him as the founder of the city. As
such he received the religious honors accorded to heroes: an altar was
erected to him, at which an annual festival was celebrated in the month
named after him.

We may sum up the character of Aristotle by saying that he was one of
the sanest and most rounded men that ever lived. As a philosopher, he
stands in the front rank. "No time," says Hegel, "has a man to place by
his side." Nor was his moral character inferior to his intellect. No one
can read his 'Ethics,' or his will (the text of which is extant),
without feeling the nobleness, simplicity, purity, and modernness of
his nature. In his family relations, especially, he seems to have stood
far above his contemporaries. The depth of his aesthetic perception is
attested by his poems and his 'Poetics.'

The unsatisfactory and fragmentary condition in which Aristotle's works
have come down to us makes it difficult to judge of his style. Many of
them seem mere collections of notes and jottings for lectures, without
any attempt at style. The rest are distinguished by brevity, terseness,
and scientific precision. No other man ever enriched philosophic
language with so many original expressions. We know, from the testimony
of most competent judges, such as Cicero, that his popular writings,
dialogues, etc., were written in an elegant style, casting even that of
Plato into the shade; and this is borne fully out by some extant

Greek philosophy culminates in Aristotle. Setting out with a naïve
acceptance of the world as being what it seemed, and trying to reduce
this Being to some material principle, such as water, air, etc., it was
gradually driven, by force of logic, to distinguish Being from Seeming,
and to see that while the latter was dependent on the thinking subject,
the former could not be anything material. This result was reached by
both the materialistic and spiritualistic schools, and was only carried
one step further by the Sophists, who maintained that even the being of
things depended on the thinker. This necessarily led to skepticism,
individualism, and disruption of the old social and religious order.

Then arose Socrates, greatest of the Sophists, who, seeing that the
outer world had been shown to depend on the inner, adopted as his motto,
"Know Thyself," and devoted himself to the study of mind. By his
dialectic method he showed that skepticism and individualism, so far as
anarchic, can be overcome by carrying out thought to its implications;
when it proves to be the same for all, and to bring with it an authority
binding on all, and replacing that of the old external gods. Thus
Socrates discovered the principle of human liberty, a principle
necessarily hostile to the ancient State, which absorbed the man in the
citizen. Socrates was accordingly put to death as an atheist; and then
Plato, with good intentions but prejudiced insight, set to work to
restore the old tyranny of the State. This he did by placing truth, or
reality (which Socrates had found in complete thought, internal to the
mind), outside of both thought and nature, and making it consist of a
group of eternal schemes, or forms, of which natural things are merely
transient phantoms, and which can be reached by only a few aristocratic
souls, born to rule the rest. On the basis of this distortion he
constructed his Republic, in which complete despotism is exercised by
the philosophers through the military; man is reduced to a machine, his
affections and will being disregarded; community of women and of
property is the law; and science is scouted.

Aristotle's philosophy may be said to be a protest against this view,
and an attempt to show that reality is embodied in nature, which depends
on a supreme intelligence, and may be realized in other intelligences,
or thought-centres, such as the human mind. In other words, according to
Aristotle, truth is actual in the world and potential in all minds,
which may by experience put on its forms. Thus the individualism of the
Sophists and the despotism of Plato are overcome, while an important
place is made for experience, or science.

Aristotle, accepting the world of common-sense, tried to rationalize it;
that is, to realize it in himself. First among the Greeks he believed it
to be unique, uncreated, and eternal, and gave his reasons. Recognizing
that the phenomenal world exists in change, he investigated the
principle and method of this. Change he conceives as a transition from
potentiality to actuality, and as always due to something actualized,
communicating its form to something potential. Looking at the "world" as
a whole, and picturing it as limited, globular, and constructed like an
onion, with the earth in the centre, and round about it nine concentric
spheres carrying the planets and stars, he concludes that there must be
at one end something purely actual and therefore unchanging, - that is,
pure form or energy; and at the other, something purely potential and
therefore changing, - that is, pure matter or latency. The pure actuality
is at the circumference, pure matter at the centre. Matter, however,
never exists without some form. Thus, nature is an eternal circular
process between the actual and the potential. The supreme Intelligence,
God, being pure energy, changelessly thinks himself, and through the
love inspired by his perfection moves the outmost sphere; which would
move all the rest were it not for inferior intelligences, fifty-six in
number, who, by giving them different directions, diversify the divine
action and produce the variety of the world. The celestial world is
composed of eternal matter, or aether, whose only change is circular
motion; the sublunary world is composed of changing matter, in four
different but mutually transmutable forms - fire, air, water,
earth - movable in two opposite directions, in straight lines, under the
ever-varying influence of the celestial spheres.

Thus the world is an organism, making no progress as a whole, but
continually changing in its various parts. In it all real things are
individuals, not universals, as Plato thought. And forms pass from
individual to individual only. Peleus, not humanity, is the parent of
Achilles; the learned man only can teach the ignorant. In the
world-process there are several distinct stages, to each of which
Aristotle devotes a special work, or series of works. Beginning with the
"four elements" and their changes, he works up through the mineral,
vegetable, and animal worlds, to man, and thence through the spheral
intelligences to the supreme, divine intelligence, on which the Whole
depends. Man stands on the dividing line between the temporal and the
eternal; belonging with his animal part to the former, with his
intelligence (which "enters from without") to the latter. He is an
intelligence, of the same nature as the sphere-movers, but individuated
by mutable matter in the form of a body, matter being in all cases the
principle of individuation. As intelligence, he becomes free; takes the
guidance of his life into his own hand; and, first through ethics,
politics, and aesthetics, the forms of his sensible or practical
activity, and second through logic, science, and philosophy, the forms
of his intellectual activity, he rises to divine heights and "plays the
immortal." His supreme activity is contemplation. This, the eternal
energy of God, is possible for man only at rare intervals.

Aristotle, by placing his eternal forms in sensible things as their
meaning, made science possible and necessary. Not only is he the father
of scientific method, inductive and deductive, but his actual
contributions to science place him in the front rank of scientists. His
Zoölogy, Psychology, Logic, Metaphysics, Ethics, Politics, and
Aesthetics, are still highly esteemed and extensively studied. At the
same time, by failing to overcome the dualism and supernaturalism of
Plato, by adopting the popular notions about spheres and sphere-movers,
by separating intelligence from sense, by conceiving matter as
independent and the principle of individuation, and by making science
relate only to the universal, he paved the way for astrology, alchemy,
magic, and all the forms of superstition, retarding the advance of
several sciences, as for example astronomy and chemistry, for many
hundred years.

After Aristotle's death, his school was continued by a succession of
studious and learned men, but did not for many centuries deeply affect
contemporary life. At last, in the fifth century A.D., his thought found
its way into the Christian schools, giving birth to rationalism and
historical criticism. At various times its adherents were condemned as
heretics and banished, mostly to Syria. Here, at Edessa and Nisibis,
they established schools of learning which for several centuries were
the most famous in the world. The entire works of Aristotle were turned
into Syriac; among them several spurious ones of Neo-Platonic origin,
notably the famous 'Liber de Causis' and the 'Theology of Aristotle.'
Thus a Neo-Platonic Aristotle came to rule Eastern learning. On the rise
of Islâm, this Aristotle was borrowed by the Muslims, and became ruler
of their schools at Bagdad, Basra, and other places, - schools which
produced many remarkable men. On the decay of these, he passed in the
twelfth century into the schools of Spain, and here ruled supreme until
Arab philosophy was suppressed, shortly before 1200. From the Arabs he
passed into the Christian Church about this date; and though at first
resisted, was finally accepted, and became "the philosopher" of the
schools, and the inspirer of Dante. The Reformers, though decrying him,
were forced to have recourse to him; but his credit was not
re-established until the present century, when, thanks to Hegel,
Trendelenburg, Brandis, and the Berlin Academy, his true value was
recognized and his permanent influence insured.

The extant works of Aristotle, covering the whole field of science, may
be classified as follows: -

A. _Logical or Formal_, dealing with the form rather than the matter of
science: - 'Categories,' treating of Being and its determination, which,
being regarded ontologically, bring the work into the metaphysical
sphere; 'On Interpretation,' dealing with the proposition; 'Former
Analytics,' theory of the syllogism; 'Later Analytics,' theory of proof;
'Topics,' probable proofs; 'Sophistical proofs,' fallacies. These works
were later united by the Stoics under the title 'Organon,' or Instrument
(of science).

B. _Scientific or Philosophical_, dealing with the matter of science.
These may be subdivided into three classes: (_a_) Theoretical, (_b_)
Practical, (_c_) Creative.

(_a_) The _Theoretical_ has further subdivisions: (_a_) Metaphysical,
(_b_) Physical, (_c_) Mathematical. - (_a_) The Metaphysical works
include the incomplete collection under the name 'Metaphysics,' - (_b_)
The Physical works include 'Physics,' 'On the Heavens,' 'On Generation
and Decay,' 'On the Soul,' with eight supplementary tracts on actions of
the soul as combined with the body; viz., 'On Sense and Sensibles,' 'On
Memory and Reminiscence,' 'On Sleep and Waking,' 'On Dreams,' 'On
Divination from Dreams,' 'On Length and Shortness of Life,' 'On Life and
Death,' 'On Respiration,' 'Meteorologics,' 'Histories of Animals'
(Zoögraphy). 'On the Parts of Animals,' 'On the Generation of Animals,'
'On the Motion of Animals,' 'Problems' (largely spurious). 'On the
Cosmos,' 'Physiognomies,' 'On Wonderful Auditions,' 'On Colors.' - The
Mathematical works include 'On Indivisible Lines,' 'Mechanics.'

(_b_) The _Practical_ works are 'Nicomachean Ethics,' 'Endemean Ethics,'
'Great Ethics' ('Magna Moralia'), really different forms of the same
work; 'Politics,' 'Constitutions' (originally one hundred and
fifty-eight in number; now represented only by the recently discovered
'Constitution of Athens'), 'On Virtues and Vices,' 'Rhetoric to
Alexander,' 'Oeconomics.'

(_c_) Of _Creative_ works we have only the fragmentary 'Poetics.' To
these may be added a few poems, one of which is given here.

Besides the extant works of Aristotle, we have titles, fragments, and
some knowledge of the contents of a large number more. Among these are
the whole of the "exoteric" works, including nineteen Dialogues. A list
of his works, as arranged in the Alexandrian Library (apparently), is
given by Diogenes Laërtius in his 'Life of Aristotle' (printed in the
Berlin and Paris editions of 'Aristotle'); a list in which it is not
easy to identify the whole of the extant works. The 'Fragments' appear
in both the editions just named. Some of the works named above are

Online LibraryUnknownLibrary of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 2 → online text (page 30 of 46)