Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 188 pages of information about On The Art of Reading.

VII

What, in the next place, can I say of Greek, save that, as Latin gave our fathers the model of prose, Greek was the source of it all, the goddess and genius of the well-head?  And, casting about to illustrate, as well as may be, what I mean by this, I hit on a minor dialogue of Plato, the “Phaedrus,” and choose you a short passage in Edward FitzGerald’s rendering: 

When Socrates and Phaedrus have discoursed away the noon-day under the plane trees by the Ilissus, they rise to depart toward the city.  But Socrates (pointing perhaps to some images of Pan and other sylvan deities) says it is not decent to leave their haunts without praying to them, and he prays: 
’O auspicious Pan, and ye other deities of this place, grant to me to become beautiful inwardly, and that all my outward goods may prosper my inner soul.  Grant that I may esteem wisdom the only riches, and that I may have so much gold as temperance can handsomely carry.

  ’Have we yet aught else to pray for, Phaedrus?  For myself I
  seem to have prayed enough.’

  Phaedrus:  ’Pray as much for me also:  for friends have all
  in common.’

  Socrates:  ‘Even so be it.  Let us depart’

To this paternoster of Socrates, reported more than four centuries before Christ taught the Lord’s Prayer, let me add an attempted translation of the lines that close Homer’s hymn to the Delian Apollo.  Imagine the old blind poet on the beach chanting to the islanders the glorious boast of the little island—­how it of all lands had harboured Leto in her difficult travail; how she gave birth to the Sun God; how the immortal child, as the attendant goddesses touched his lips with ambrosia, burst his swaddling bands and stood up, sudden, a god erect: 

  But he, the Sun-God, did no sooner taste
  That food divine than every swaddling band
     Burst strand by strand,
  And burst the belt above his panting waist—­
     All hanging loose
  About him as he stood and gave command: 
  ’Fetch me my lyre, fetch me my curving bow! 
  And, taught by these, shall know
  All men, through me, the unfaltering will of Zeus!’
  So spake the unshorn God, the Archer bold,
  And turn’d to tread the ways of Earth so wide;
  While they, all they, had marvel to behold
     How Delos broke in gold
  Beneath his feet, as on a mountain-side
  Sudden, in Spring, a tree is glorified
  And canopied with blossoms manifold. 
  But he went swinging with a careless stride,
  Proud, in his new artillery bedight,
  Up rocky Cynthus, and the isles descried—­
  All his, and their inhabitants—­for wide,
  Wide as he roam’d, ran these in rivalry
  To build him temples in many groves: 
  And these be his, and all the isles he loves,
     And every foreland height,

Follow Us on Facebook