Copyright
William Cranston Lawton.

Ideals in Greek literature online

. (page 1 of 15)
Online LibraryWilliam Cranston LawtonIdeals in Greek literature → online text (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


IDEALS IN
GREEK LITERATURE

MLLIAM CRANSTON LAWTON



CHAUTAUQUA
HOME READING SERIES



;



:









LIBRARY

OF THE

University of California.



75"o
Class . L, N 2, 5~




O OS

<; B

Q t

H M
< Cd

go



Ideals in Greek
Literature



BY

WILLIAM CRANSTON LAWTON

OF ADELPHl COLLEGE

AUTHOR OF "INTRODUCTION TO GREEK LITERATURE,"
"ART AND HUMANITY IN HOMER," ETC.




tC^lie CJ^autauqua l^ttsi^

CHAUTAUQUA, N. Y.

MCMV




REA0JR6 ROOM

Copyright, igoiP

BT

THE POPULAR EDUCATION PUBLISHING
COMPANY



DONNBIXBV St SONS COMPANY
CHICAGO






CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGB

Preface - - - - -. - v

General Bibliography - - - - vii

I. The Older Iliad:

Comradeship in Strife. Achilles and Patro-
clus. Sarpedon and.GIaucus. - - i

II. Later Additions to the Iliad:

Family Ties. Hector and Andromache. Priam's
Grief for Hector. - - - - 17

III. The Odyssey:

Home Love. The Return of Odysseus. - 32

IV. Hesiod's Works and Days:

Rustic Thrift. - - - - - 43

V. Lyric Poetry: - - - - - 51

VI. ^schylus and the Prometheus:

The Heroism of Endurance. - - - 64

VII. Sophocles and the Antigone:

Human Law vs. Divine Ordinance. - - 102

VIII. Euripides and the Alcestis:

The Glory of Self-Sacrifice. - - - 139

IX. Aristophanes' Clouds:

Ridicule as a Moral Weapon. - - - 173

X. Herodotus:

The Battle of Salamis. - - - - 203

XI. Thucydides:

The Periclean Funeral Oration, • - - 212



217935



iv Contents

CHAPTER PAGE

XII. The Platonic Socrates:

An Apostle of Righteousness. - - - 221

XIII. Demosthenes on the Crown:

An Ideal of Civic Patriotism. . - . 237

XIV. Sicilian Idylls of Theocritus:

The Poetry of Rustic Life. - - . 346



PREFACE

The present volume undertakes to set directly before
the student a series of masterpieces which, ever since
their creation, have appealed powerfully to lovers of art
and truth. When interest in the best works has been
aroused, more detailed study becomes a delight. The
materials for such study are indicated quite copiously in
the notes at the close of each chapter. Meantime, only
what has seemed absolutely necessary in the way of
general introduction and elucidation has been offered.

In the classical Greek literature, from the **IHad'* to
Moschos's lament for Bion, there is felt a certain unity,
for in it is reflected, and idealized, the life of one remark-
able people. The Greeks had already taken possession of
the shores and islands of the ^gean sea at least three
thousand years ago. This excitable, jealous, often cruel,
but wonderfully gifted type of man appears from the first
fully conscious of his diversity from the surrounding ** bar-
barians. " The Hellenes were the most artistic of races;
most sensitive to harmony, whether in form, color, music,
or action. In art-forms they are the teachers of all later
men. The Hebrew has led the world toward spiritual
abstractions, the Roman pointed the way to a stable civic
organism, but in joyous unfolding of the individual sensu-
ous life no man, not even the Florentine, has ever rivalled
the fifth century Athenian, the typical Greek.

It is not easy for us to understand him. Our sense of
artistic beauty is but half-developed. Our sturdy, reticent.



VI Preface

practical individualism is remote from his. Yet from him
can best be learned a delightful lesson, the fullest enjoy-
ment of all beauty in nature or art. The ethical quality,
the moral purpose, is not always prominent. That it is
usually present, nevertheless, our selections should demon-
strate.



GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

The largest survey of Greek literature in English is
the work, in four volumes, of the learned, genial, erratic,
pugnacious Professor Mahaffy; the smallest, but one of
the very best accounts is the primer of Professor Jebb.
Neither contains much citation from the Greek authors.
The series of small volumes published, in America, by
Lippincott, called '* Ancient Classics for EngUsh Read-
ers," treats each great writer singly and quite fully, with
large quotations. J. A. Symonds' ** Greek Poets'* is too
verbose, but very suggestive, and contains much fine
translation. The views of the present author are most
fully set forth in his ** Introduction to Classical Greek
Literature," Scribners, 1 903.

For thorough further study two of the first requisites
are a good classical atlas like Kiepert's, and a poHtical
history of Greece, preferably the monumental work of
Grote, or the more recent and somewhat less voluminous
Holm, in German original or English translation. For
mythology an adequate book in English hke Decharme's
*'Mythologie de la Grece Antique" is sadly needed. Of
the many school manuals based on Bulfinch's antiquated
**Age of Fable" the best are Gayley's ^'Classical Myths
in English Literature" and Guerber's "Myths of Greece
and Rome." The best general reference book is prob-
ably Harper's ** Classical Dictionary of Literature and
Antiquities." All these should be contained in any
respectable city library. The solitary reader will usually



viii General Bibliography

find them too expensive. He should at least possess one
small volume of political Greek history, such as the read-
able manuals of Bury, Oman, and Botsford, the last of
which also contains sufficiently good maps. The history
of the plastic arts illuminates the story of literature,
and happily Professor Tarbell's excellent little book, **A
History of Greek Art, ' ' will be in the hands of all Chau-
tauqua students.

Most essential, however, is the perusal of complete
masterpieces in literary EngHsh versions. These will be
quite copiously catalogued under the several authors.



CHAPTER I

THE OLDER ILIAD

Comradeship in Strife. Achilles and Patroclus. Sarpedon
and Glaucus.

The ''Iliad, " a splendid epic poem in 15,000 hex-
ameter verses, had apparently approached essentially its
present form as early as the ninth century B.C., and
exerted a dominant influence on all later writers. The
poet claims to be inspired by the Muses, and to sing of a
remote foretime quite unlike his own day. The greatest
gods mingle freely in mortal strife, and even their coun-
cils, on the summit of snow-capt Mount Olympus, are
fully reported. The human heroes are often half divine
in parentage.

Nearly or quite the whole Greek race appears in the
poem as united under the empire of the selfish and vacil-
lating Agamemnon. The jealous princes, the haughty
nobility, the abject folk, all obey him. In the struggle to
restore his sister-in-law, Helen, to her rightful husband
Menelaus, all the clans have for the last ten years been
encamped in Asia, on the Trojan plain, quite ignorant of
whatever has befallen in their homes. The utter destruc-
tion of Troy, involved in the sin of the wilful young Trojan
prince, Paris, who has run away with Helen, is often fore-
shadowed.

The ''Iliad " does not directly describe the beginning
nor the end of the long contest, but only a brief episode

I



2 Ideals in Greek Literature

in the tenth year of the war. The hero is a demi-god,
Achilles. His mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, most lovely
of goddesses, though beloved by Zeus and other high
gods, was wedded to a mortal because her son was fated
to be mightier than his sire. During the war he has been
the leader in a score of forays, supporting and enriching
the whole camp by his booty. Yet Agamemnon wrests
from Achilles by violence his chief prize, the lovely prin-
cess Briseis, who was to have become her captor's lawful
wife and queen.

Achilles fiercely refuses to fight longer for a chieftain
who commits the very sin he had led forth all Greece to
avenge. While the Greek champion sulks in his cabin,
prince Hector leads the Trojans to victory, sets fire to the
fleet on the shore, and threatens the Greeks with utter
destruction.

But Achilles has one gentler side. He cannot wholly
resist the pleadings of his best-beloved comrade, the
tender-hearted Patroclus. Reluctantly he lends his armor
to his friend, bidding him not to pursue the Trojans into
the open plain. Patroclus rashly disobeys, and is eventu-
ally slain by Hector. Then Achilles, as Dante says,

'* fought, at the last, for love,"

and ended his feud with Agamemnon that he might avenge
his friend by slaying the thrice-hated Hector.

With Hector's funeral, the poem, even in its present
form, abruptly ends;

"Thus was a tomb made ready for Hector the tamer of
horses."

But, as Mr. Grote has remarked, it is not now a mere
Achilleid, as we should expect from the opening line :



The Older Iliad 3

"Sing, oh goddess, the wrath of Achilles, offspring of
Peleus.'*

Rather, by insertion of manifold episodes, it has grown to
be an **Iiiad" indeed: a picture of the whole war about
Ilios or Troy. Most scholars agree that these insertions
have been made by various hands, probably through many
decades. But the character and fate of Patroclus is essen-
tial to the main action. His death cuts the knot, and
must have been part of the original scheme.

Whether the events of the *' Iliad" had any realistic
basis can never be known. The excavations of Dr. Schhe-
mann and others have revealed ruins of a strong hill-fort
in the Trojan plain, of massive palaces or castles at
Mycenae, Agamemnon's capital, and at other points in
Greece. But no inscriptions or datable records are found.
The folk that built these fortresses were as little known to
Pericles' generation as to us. It may well be that they
were not Greeks at all. We naturally associate these
builders of real fortresses with the Homeric myth, but a
myth it remains. Superhuman forces, poetic imagina-
tion, are its very warp and woof. It must be studied as
an ideal work of art.

Yet the ** Iliad" is intensely human. Its men and
women are more real, and also more lovable, than its
divinities. To Greek minds, friendship between men was
a loftier impulse to noble deeds than love between man
and woman. Of that famihar tie, Achilles and Patroclus
formed the most inspiring example. In their companion-
ship, not in the love of Achilles for Briseis, much less the
wedded happiness of Hector and Andromache, the Greek
poet, and his hearers, saw the chief motive of the epic.
We may profitably, then, turn aside from the gory and



4 Ideals in Greek Literature

sometimes wearisome battle-scenes, and endeavor to make
the more intimate acquaintance of the gentlest and most
lovable among Homer's heroes.

Patroclus is forced to sit idle through the earlier part
of the action, and is dead long before the end. Yet we
get more than one illuminating glimpse of his kindly
nature. The first is when Achilles, standing in unwel-
come inaction at his cabin door beside the Hellespont,
thinks he sees his friend, the physician Machaon, carried
off the field wounded by the venerable Nestor, and sends
Patroclus to make inquiry. So

Before the gate divine Patroclus stood:
The old man saw, and from his seat arose.
And took him by the hand, and led him in,
And bade him sit; but he, refusing, said:
*'No seat for me, thou venerable sire!
I must not stay, for he both awe and fear
Commands, who hither sent me to enquire
What wounded man thou hast. I need not ask,
I know Machaon well, his people's guard.
My errand done, I must my message bear
Back to Achilles, and thou know'st thyself.
Thou venerable sire, how stern his mood:
Nay sometimes blames he where no blame is due. "

To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied:
''Whence comes Achilles' pity for the Greeks
By Trojan weapons wounded? Knows he not
What depth of suff'ring through the camp prevails?
How in the ships, by arrow or by spear
Sore wounded, all our best and bravest lie?
The valiant son of Tydeus, Diomed,
Pierced by a shaft; Ulysses by a spear,
And Agamemnon's self; Eurypylus
By a sharp arrow through the thigh transfixed;
And here another, whom I now but bring.



The Older Iliad 5

Shot by a bow, from off the battlefield.
Achilles, valiant as he is, the while
For Grecian woes nor care nor pity feels.
Waits he, until our ships beside the sea.
In our despite, are burnt by hostile fires.
And we be singly slain?"

Nestor reminds Patroclus of the injunctions given him
when he and Achilles left their home.

''Menoetius, Actor's son.
To thee this counsel gave: *My son,' he said,
'Achilles is by birth above thee far.
Thou art in years the elder; he in strength
Surpasses thee; do thou with prudent words
And timely speech address him, and advise
And guide him ; he will, to his good, obey. '
**Such were the old man's words; but thou hast let
His counsel slip thy mem'ry; yet ev'n now
Speak to Achilles thus, and stir his soul,
If haply he will hear thee; and who knows
But by the grace of Heav'n thou mayst prevail?
For great is oft a friend's persuasive power.
But if the fear of evil prophesied.
Or message by his Goddess-mother brought
From Jove, restrain him, let him send thee forth
With all his force of warlike Myrmidons, ^
That thou may'st be the saving force of Greece.
Then let him bid thee to the battle bear
His glitt'ring arms, if so the men of Troy,
Scar'd by his likeness, may forsake the field.
And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece,
Toil-worn; for little pause has yet been theirs.
Fresh and unwearied, ye with ease may drive
To their own city, from our ships and tents.
The Trojans, worn and battle- wearied men."

Thus he; Patroclus' spirit within him burn'd,
And tow'rd Achilles' tent in haste he sped,
1 The people and soldiery of Achilles.



6 Ideals in Greek Literature

Delayed by a task of mercy, binding up the wounds of
another Greek chieftain, Patroclus reaches Achilles's
cabin again but just before Hector's greatest triumph.
The Trojan prince has actually reached the Greek ships,
and set one of them on fire.

Thus round the well-mann'd ship they wag'd the war:
Meanwhile by Peleus' son Patroclus stood.
Weeping hot tears; as some dark-water'd fount
Pours o'er a craggy rock its gloomy stream;
Achilles, swift of foot, with pity saw.
And to his friend these wingM words addressed:
**Why weeps Patroclus, like an infant girl.
That prays her mother, by whose side she runs,
To take her up, and, clinging to her gown,
Impedes her way, and still with tearful eyes
Looks in her face, until she take her up?
Ev'n as that girl, Patroclus, such art thou,
Shedding soft tears. Hast thou some tidings brought
Touching the general weal, or me alone?
Or have some evil news from Phthia come,
Known but to thee? Menoetius, Actor's son.
Yet surely lives, and 'mid his Myrmidons
Lives aged Peleus, son of ^acus:
Their deaths indeed might well demand our tears:
Or weep'st thou for the Greeks, who round their ships
By death their former insolence repay?
Speak out, that I may know the cause of grief."
To whom, with bitter groans, Patroclus thus:
'*0 son of Peleus, noblest of the Greeks,
Achilles, be not wroth! such weight of woe
The Grecian camp oppresses; in their ships
They who were late their bravest and their best.
Sore wounded all by spear or arrow lie ;
For these, the large resources of their art
The leeches ply, and on their wounds attend;
While thou, Achilles, still- remain'st unmov'd.



The Older Iliad 7

Oh, be it never mine to nurse such hate

As thou retain' St, inflexibly severe!

Who e'er may hope in future days by thee

To profit, if thou now forbear to save

The Greeks from shame and loss? Unfeehng man!

Sure Peleus, horseman brave, was ne'er thy sire.

Nor Thetis bore thee; from the cold grey sea

And craggy rocks thou hadst thy birth, so hard

And stubborn is thy soul. But if the fear

Of evil prophesied thyself restrain.

Or message by the Goddess-mother brought

From Jove, yet send me forth with all thy force

Of Myrmidons, to be the saving light

Of Greece, and let me to the battle bear

Thy glitt'ring arms, if so the men of Troy,

Scar'd by thy Hkeness, may forsake the field.

And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece,

Toil-worn," ....

******

Thus pray'd he, all unwisely, for the pray'r
He utter 'd to himself was fraught with death.
To whom much griev'd, Achilles swift of foot:

'*Heav'n-bom Patroclus, oh, what words are these!
Prophetic warnings move me not, though known;
Nor message hath my mother brought from Jove;
But it afflicts my soul, when one I see
That basely robs his equal of his prize.
His lawful prize, by highest valour won;
Such grief is mine, such wrong have I sustain'd.
Her, whom the sons of Greece on me bestow'd
Prize of my spear, the well-walled city ^ storm'd,
The mighty Agamemnon, Atreus' son.
Hath borne by force away, as from the hands
Of some dishonour'd, houseless vagabond.
But let the past be past; I never meant
My wrath should have no end; yet had not thought

1 Not, of course, Troy itself, but a lesser town. Achilles had made twenty-
three such successful forays, by land or sea.



8 Ideals in Greek Literature

My anger to abate, till my own ships

Should hear tlie war-cry, and the battle bear.

But go, and in my well-known armor clad.

Lead forth the valiant Myrmidons to war,

Since the dark crowd of Trojans circles round

The ships in force; and on the shingly beach.

Pent up in narrow limits, lie the Greeks;

And all the city hath pour'd its numbers forth

In hope undoubting; for they see no more

My helm among them flashing; else in flight

Their dead would choke the streams, if but to me

Great Agamemnon bore a kindly mind:

But round the camp the battle now is wag'd

Nathless ^ do thou, Patroclus, in defence

Fall boldly on, lest they with blazing fire

Our ships destroy, and hinder our retreat.

But hear, and ponder well the end of all

I have to say, and so for me obtain

Honour and glory in the eyes of Greece;

And that the beauteous maiden to my arms

They may restore, with costly gifts to boot.

The ships relieved, return forthwith; and though

The Thund'rer, Juno's lord, should crown thine arms

With triumph, be not rash, apart from me.

To combat with the warlike sons of Troy;

(So should my name in less repute be held;)

Nor, in the keen excitement of the flight.

And slaughter of the Trojans, lead thy troops

On tow'rd the city, lest thou find thyself

By some one of th' immortal gods oppos'd.'*

We need not think Achilles really so jealous of his
friend's fame. Like Hamlet in his dying words to Hora-
tio, he may be merely choosing the strongest appeal to a
generous nature.

Patroclus, after many gallant exploits, is disarmed by

1 Nevertheless.



The Older Iliad 9

the god Phoebus Apollo, wounded from behind by a cow-
ardly foeman, and finally falls helpless before Hector's
spear. His last word is the name of his friend.

*' Hector, thou boastest loudly now, that Jove,

With Phoebus join'd, hath thee with vict'ry crown'd:

They wrought my death who stripped me of my arms.

Had I to deal with twenty such as thee.

They all should perish, vanquish 'd by my spear:

Me fate hath slain, and Phoebus, and of men,

Euphorbus; thou wast but the third to strike.

This too I say, and bear it in thy mind;

Not long shalt thou survive me; death e'en now

And final doom hangs o'er thee, by the hand

Of great Achilles, Peleus' matchless son."

When the evil news reaches Achilles, his lovely mother
comes, with all her sister-nymphs, from the sea-caves to
console him.

There as he groan 'd aloud, beside him stood
His Goddess-mother; she, with bitter cry,
Clasp'd in her hands his head, and sorrowing spoke:
**Why weeps my son? and what his cause of grief.?
Speak out, and naught conceal; for all thy pray'r.
Which with uplifted hands thou mad'st to Jove,
He hath fulfilled; that, flying to their ships.
The routed sons of Greece should feel how much
They need thine aid, and deep disgrace endure."

To whom Achilles, deeply groaning, thus:
** Mother, all this indeed hath Jove fulfilled;
Yet what avails it, since my dearest friend
Is slain, Patroclus? whom I honoured most
Of all my comrades, lov'd him as my soul.
Him have I lost; and Hector from his corpse
Hath stripp'd those arms, those weighty, beauteous arms,
A marvel to behold, which from the Gods
Peleu? received, a glorious gift, that day



lo Ideals in Greek Literature

When they consigned thee to a mortal's bed.
How better were it, if thy lot had been
Still 'mid the ocean deities to dwell,
And Peleus had espoused a mortal bride!
For now is bitter grief for thee in store.
Mourning thy son; whom to his home return'd
Thou never more shalt see; nor would I wish
To live, and move among my fellow-men,
Unless that Hector, vanquish'd by my spear.
May lose his forfeit life, and pay the price
Of foul dishonour to Patroclus done."

To whom, her tears o'erflowing, Thetis thus:
*'E'en as thou say'st, my son, thy term is short;
Nor long shall Hector's fate precede thine own."

Achilles, answ'ring, spoke in passionate grief:
*' Would I might die this hour, who fail'd to save
My comrade slain! far from his native land
He died, sore needing my protecting arm."

When Briseis is sent back by Agamemnon to her im-
perious lover, we get a new and unexpected sidelight on
Patroclus 's character.

Briseis, fair as golden Venus, saw
Patroclus lying, pierc'd with mortal wounds,
Within the tent; and with a bitter cry.
She flung her down upon the corpse, and tore
Her breast, her delicate neck, and beauteous cheeks;
And, weeping, thus the lovely woman wail'd:
** Patroclus, dearly loved of this sad heart!
When last I left this tent, I left thee full
Of healthy life; returning now, I find •

Only thy lifeless corpse, thou prince of men!
So sorrow still, on sorrow heap'd, I bear.
The husband of my youth, to whom my sire
And honour'd mother gave me, I beheld
Slain with the sword before the city walls:
Three brothers, whom with me one mother bore,



The Older Iliad 1 1

My dearly lov'd ones, all were doomed to death:

Nor wouldst thou, when Achilles swift of foot

My husband slew, and Mynes' town

In ruin laid, allow my tears to flow;

But thou wouldst make me (such was still thy speech)

The wedded wife of Peleus' godlike son:

Thou wouldst to Phthia bear me in thy ship.

And there, thyself, amid the Myrmidons,

Wouldst give my marriage feast. Then, unconsol'd,

I weep thy death, my ever-gentle friend!"

The purely martial scenes of the poem culminate in
the duel between the two greatest champions, which is
very fully described. Here again, as in Patroclus' un-
doing, divine trickery accomplishes more than human
prowess. Pallas Athene's resistless aid makes the Greek
the victor.

Even in the act of slaying Hector, Achilles insists that
he is wreaking vengeance for his friend's sake.

** Hector, Patroclus stripping of his arms,

Thy hope was that thyself wast safe; and I,

Not present, brought no terror to thy soul:

Fool! in the hollow ships I yet remained,

I, his avenger, mightier far than he;

I, who am now thy conqu'ror. By the dogs

And vultures shall thy corpse be foully torn.

While him the Greeks with fun'ral rites shall grace."

In dreams Achilles and his dead friend are reunited.
In the long agony of his grief

.... On the many-dashing ocean's shore
PeHdes lay, amid his Myrmidons,
With bitter groans. In a clear space he lay.
Where broke the waves, continuous, on the beach.
There, circumfus'd about him, gentle sleep,



12 Ideals in Greek Literature

Lulling the sorrows of his heart to rest,
O'er came his senses; for the hot pursuit
Of Hector round the breezy heights of Troy
His active limbs had wearied.

As he slept,
Sudden appear 'd Patroclus' mournful shade,
His very self; his height and beauteous eyes.
And voice; the very garb he wont to wear.
Above his head it stood, and thus it spoke:

** Sleep' St thou, Achilles, mindless of thy friend.
Neglecting, not the living, but the dead?
Hasten my fun'ral rites, that I may pass
Through Hades' gloomy gates. Ere these be done.
The spirits and spectres of departed men
Drive me far from them, nor allow to cross
Th' abhorred river; but forlorn and sad
I wander through the widespread realms of night.
And give me now thy hand, whereon to weep;
For never more, when laid upon the pyre.
Shall I return from Hades; never more.
Apart from all our comrades, shall we two,
As friends, sweet counsel take; for me, stern Death,
The common lot of men, has op'd his mouth;
Thou too, Achilles, rival of the Gods,
Art destin'd here beneath the walls of Troy
To meet thy doom; yet one thing must I add,
And make, if thou wilt grant it, one request.
Let not my bones be laid apart from thine,
Achilles, but together, as our youth
Was spent together in thy father's house.
Since first my sire Menoetius me a boy


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryWilliam Cranston LawtonIdeals in Greek literature → online text (page 1 of 15)