The Greeks and Greek Civilization

The Greeks and Greek Civilization

Jacob Burckhardt

Language: English

Pages: 449

ISBN: 0312192762

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From one of the greatest historians of our modern age comes a masterpiece too controversial to be published in his own time. Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) portrayed ancient Greek culture as an aristocratic world based on ruthless competition for honor, which led, in turn, to a tyrannous state with minimal personal freedom.

















contemplative historian to the end, one o f those who attain an Archimedian point outside events, and are able to ‘overcome in the spirit’. Nor is the satisfaction of those who do so, perhaps, very great. They can hardly restrain a rueful feeling as they look back on all the rest, whom they have had to leave in bondage.85 And so, at the end o f our labours we take leave o f a lifelong friend and teacher, and hope that on the centenary o f his death we have fulfilled in part the words o f

itself, and before all other nations, that mankind was believed to have been given those aids to life which were particularly seen as the gifts o f the gods. Thebes was the home o f viticulture (Pausanias 9.38.3); pruning had been learned in Nauplia from the example o f an ass, which ate the shoots and caused the vines to bear more fruit (Pausanias 2.38.3); but it was Attica which claimed to be the home o f the more impor tant plants. The field o f Rharus near Eleusis, with the threshing floor

Cassandra would have said when the wooden horse entered Troy, or Agamemnon at the moment of being murdered, Heracles as he prepared to ascend the funeral pyre, Menelaus at the news o f his brother’s death, and many similar things.26 The dominance o f myth must have been much reinforced by the polis as the pattern o f national li fe , and by the bards. Among the German-speaking peoples, as they settled down after the migrations, besides belief in the gods and various tribal stories, a dark saga o

context, but here we will consider only the general antagonism that the distinguished man had to contend with. ‘Envy is mourning over another’s superiority, delight in his misfortune (Schadenfreude) is pleasure at what disadvantages him’37 - this definition o f things that are as old as mankind may be the right way to describe the universal grounds o f that antagonism. But envy as we know it today, which can never be avowed, but must conceal itself behind any available mask, usually operates

f archives and documentary evidence associated with the name o f Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886) laid claim to producing an account o f history ‘as it really was’. Much o f the organization o f nineteenth-century historical scholarship was oriented around the collection and publication o f archives in an apparently valueneutral way - private papers, official documents and reports, inscriptions, charters, medieval texts, coins, historical dictionaries o f European languages. But this activity,

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