FREDERICK ADAM WRIGHT (1869–1946)
The House On The Hill: And Other Poems (1916)
Letters From The Country And The Town (1922) by Alciphron (???–???)
"Alciphron is the most illustrious of the Epistolographers, the writers of imaginary epistles, whose works in Hercher's great edition run to nearly eight hundred pages ; sixteen hundred letters of sixty different authors. Most of the collection is chiefly interesting as showing the perversity of the literary forger, and the Epistles of Phalaris hardly needed a Bentley to prove that they were not the genuine letters of the Sicilian tyrant. But Alciphron makes no pretence of historical authenticity : his letters are pure invention, and in so far as they have a model, they are based on the conventions of the New Comedy." (Introduction)
An Æthiopian Romance (1923) by Heliodorus Of Emesa (3d Century–4th Century AD) translated by Underdowne, Thomas (fl. 1566-1587)
"The Aethiopica however derives its main interest, not from the personality of its author, but from the character of its composition. It is the first and remains one of the most successful of tales of adventure, depending not on grace of literary style, or on subtlety of character drawing, but rather on profusion of incident and elaboration of plot. In the richness of his invention and the dexterity of his narrative Heliodorus can give some useful lessons to our modern novelists, and in the skill wherewith he plans his tale he may be placed almost on a level with Homer and Virgil. The Aethiopica like the Odyssey and the Aeneid begins boldly in the middle of the story, then goes back with explanatory narratives which culminate in the centre of the book, and then works up slowly and gradually to the final climax. It is in the architecture of his plot that the strength of Heliodorus lies and he does not spend much effort on the creation of characters. Calasiris, it is true, is a life-like personality, perhaps drawn from the author himself, and Chariclea is a thoroughly satisfactory heroine ; romantic, virtuous, beautiful, and in the recognition sense as skilful an advocate as Portia herself. But most of the other characters are types rather than individuals. The men are chiefly examples of excess or deficiency in the manly virtue of courage ; Trachinus, Theagenes, Thyamis, Cnemon, Petosiris going in a descending scale. The women in the same way exemplify the female virtue of chastity and its opposite, from Chariclea downwards to Persina, Thisbe, Demeneta, and Arsace. Heliodorus is not a psychologist, nor yet is he a stylist. His prose is quite adequate for its purpose, and that is about all that can fairly be said in its praise. In charm of language he stands in much the same relation to Longus as Sir Walter Scott does to Robert Louis Stevenson, or Balzac to such a conscious artist as Anatole France. You read Heliodorus for the story itself, not for the graceful way in which it is told." (Introduction)
Feminism In Greek Literature, From Homer To Aristotle (1923)
"There is a question sometimes put to scholars, a doubt often latent in scholars' minds—How was it that Greek civilisation, with all its high ideals and achievements, fell so easily before what seems at first sight an altogether inferior culture? The difficulty is not solved by a reference to military resources or administrative skill, for moral strength is the only thing that matters in history, and a nation has never yet succeeded merely by pure intellect or by brute force. The fact is—and it is as well to state it plainly—that the Greek world perished from one main cause, a low ideal of womanhood and a degradation of women which found expression both in literature and in social life. The position of women and the position of slaves—for the two classes went together—were the canker-spots which, left unhealed, brought about the decay first of Athens and then of Greece." (Introduction)
The Arts In Ancient Greece: Three Essays (1923)
Contains Ancient Greek terminology and literary fragments.
"Insensibly we have diverged from the principles that guided the Greeks through life, and the traditions of the arts which we have inherited from them have slowly been altered and falsified. Moreover the caprice of language has changed the meaning of many of the terms of art, and to the Greeks the words music, colour, and dancing, had a very different signification from that which they now convey to us. This book is an attempt to state some ancient principles again, and to show how it was that to the Greeks music was the music of words and not the music of instruments; how their painting depended on the beauty of line and not the beauty of colour; how dancing was not a mere form of exercise but a form of mental expression using the body as its medium. In each one of the arts here discussed there is a vital difference between Greek and modern conceptions; and the difference is not always to our advantage. In art at least it is perpetually necessary to go back to the fountain head, and even in social morals we have still something to learn. As Sir Henry Maine said, "Except the blind forces of Nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in origin "; and no one can neglect with impunity the source from which so much of what is really valuable in our civilisation comes." (Preface)
The Girdle Of Aphrodite: The Complete Love-Poems Of The Palatine Anthology (1923)
Martial: The Twelve Books Of Epigrams (1924) by Martial (c. 40 AD–c. 104 AD) translated by Pott, John Arthur (1865–1920)
"The chief value of Martial's Epigrams, disregarding for the moment their literary excellence, lies in the picture they give us of Roman society towards the end of the first century A.D., that period in the world's history which, beyond all others, bears the closest resemblance to our own times. It is a picture drawn by a realist, and in its mingling of light and shade far more convincing than the lurid colours and unrelieved blackness with which Juvenal and Tacitus present us. Martial is a Sancho Panza who sees things as they are: the satirist and the historian have more likeness to the mad knight, and fired by their righteous indignation tilt as blindly against the established order of the Empire as Don Quixote did against his giant windmills. Their moral earnestness is certainly impressive, and as characters they are doubtless more deserving of our esteem than is the easy-going and pleasure-loving epigrammatist; but if we wish to gain a true idea of Rome and Roman life, about the year A.D. 90, it is to the pages of Martial, rather than to Juvenal or Tacitus, that we should turn. Martial has three great advantages over the other two writers: he is good-tempered, while they are soured and disappointed men: he is a Spaniard, to whom the Empire has brought nothing but benefits, while they are Romans who can never forget the time when the world was ruled in the interests of Rome: he is one of the middle class, the great discovery of the new system, while they belong to the official hierarchy which had for centuries enjoyed the doubtful privilege of government. And so, writing from the outside without temper and without bias, Martial is able to give us a complete panorama of Roman society from top to bottom.
In the history of the Epigram Martial is indisputably the greatest name. As regards bulk of poems, variety of subject, general interest, and posthumous fame, he easily surpasses all his Greek rivals, while among his own countrymen there is no one who in this particular field can be even compared with him. He is certainly indebted in some degree—and handsomely acknowledges his debt—to Catullus and Ovid for his style; but if it is possible to improve upon the dainty lightness of the one and the glittering polish of the other, Martial accomplishes that miraculous feat. He is the epigrammatist, and it is largely owing to his predominance that the word 'epigram ' in English bears a somewhat different meaning from that which it has in Greek. Originally an inscription, whether in verse or in prose, such as might be placed on a tomb, a statue, or a temple offering, it came to mean for the Greeks a short poem having, as Mr Mackail says, " the compression and conciseness of a real inscription, highly finished, evenly balanced, simple, lucid." To this definition most of the pieces in the Greek Anthology answer, but to the wit and point which form the chief essentials of a modern epigram they make little pretension. It is of Martial that the Oxford Dictionary is thinking when it says: "An epigram is a short poem ending in a witty and ingenious turn of thought to which the rest of the composition is intended to lead up."" (Introduction)
The Complete Poems Of Meleager Of Gadara (1924)
"...he is an end he is also a beginning, the first of modern as he is the last of ancient poets. Born in Syria towards the end of the second century B.C., and living to an advanced old age, he saw the final crumbling away of the old Greek State system and the rise and establishment of a world empire. He is a Greek, but he does not look on life after the fashion of Aeschylus and Sophocles. For him it is the individual and not the State that matters, and the sorrows of his own heart are more important than the fall of nations. He is one of the first begetters of romance ; women and flowers are the chief subject of his verse...
Still, in spite of an eloquent appreciation by J. A. Symonds and a translation, afterwards withdrawn, by Walter Headlam of fifty of his poems, Meleager is comparatively unknown to English readers. There is a French prose version by Pierre Louys of a fairly large selection of his verse, an essay by Saint Beuve, and an excellent monograph by M. Ouvré. But full justice has not yet been done to his importance in the history of literature and thought. I have now attempted, I think for the first time, to translate into English all the genuine epigrams. Some few pieces commonly attributed to Meleager I discard, for the attributions of the Palatine MS. are notoriously unreliable, and these particular poems have already aroused the suspicion of scholars. Some few others doubtfully attributed to him I accept ; so that the final total, one hundred and thirty-one, corresponds to that which is generally received. They may be divided into three sections—Poems of Youth, Manhood, and Age, written respectively at Gadara, Tyre, and Cos, and it will be convenient here to follow the chronological order." (Preface)
The Poets Of The Greek Anthology: A Companion Volume To The Girdle Of Aphrodite (1924)
The Works Of Liudprand Of Cremona (1930)
"Rejecting as spurious two or three books that have been wrongly attributed to Liudprand, we have three genuine works from his pen, the Antapodosis, the Gesta Ottonis, and the Legatio. The Legatio, an account of Liudprand's embassy to Constantinople in the reign of Nicephorus Phocas, is a valuable document for the social life of Constantinople in the tenth century.
As regards the Gesta Ononis, the only fault that can be found with it is its brevity, and the fact that in spite of its title it deals fully with but one episode in Otto's reign. That episode, the deposition of Pope John XII, is, it is true, highly important in itself and moreover is connected with one of the cardinal events in history, the crowning of Otto as Emperor at Rome in 962. To this the opening chapters briefly refer and then pass on to the main subject.
The Antapodosis is considerably the longest of Liudprand's works, in bulk just three times the size of the Legatio and the Gesta Ottonis taken together, so that a brief summary of its contents may be useful. The period covered by it extends from 887 to 949, and the first three of its six books are concerned with events that happened before the author's time, each book being carefully arranged to make a dramatic whole." (Introduction)
Alexander The Great (1934)
"THIS book is intended for the general reader who wishes to know something of the greatest man that the human race has as yet produced. I have used the chief ancient authorities for his life, Plutarch, Arrian, Curtius and Diodorus, together with the modern histories of Droysen and Adolf Holm, and the biographies by Hogarth, Wilcken, and Radet. On Alexander's campaigns in India Sir Aurel Stein and Sir Percy Sykes have given me much valuable information, and throughout I owe a special debt to the writings of W. W. Tarn in the Cambridge Ancient History and elsewhere." (Preface)
Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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