The other day, @marciawac showed us her collection of Little Books. I call mine Miniatures, but I suppose they are just little. For scale, the shelf measures about 17.5″ by 16″. The collection of glassware on the top are 10ml Pyrex flasks.
Greek Literature (1890) is from the Literature Primer Series from American Book Company. The size of a large index card, it’s 175 pages. The last two are priceless for those of us who tend to get muddled the further back in time we go.
From the Introduction comes this:
A Primer of Greek Literature should aim at being useful, not only to students of Greek, but also to those who do not know Greek, and who will never read a Greek book except in translation. The civilized world is agreed in holding the great literature of old Greece to be one of the most precious things that have come down from the past, and all educated people, whether they know Greek or not, may naturally wish to know something of the contents of Greek Literature. This sketch is intended to serve as a framework into which those who read any of the Greek books … may fit what they read. The unity of Greek Literature is not the unity of a library but the unity of a living body. In this, more perhaps than in any other literature, we shall fail really to understand any one part unless we see clearly what it has to do with the rest. But first–Can we point to any broad characteristics which at once give Greek Literature a worth and interest of its own for modern life?–R.C. Jebb [my emphasis]
Of course we can “point to any broad characteristics which at once give Greek Literature a worth and interest of its own for modern life!” Before introducing the general structure of the rest of the book, Jebb presents five such characteristics:
- The rational energy of the Greeks (systematic thinking)
- The bearing of Greek though on modern life (continued influence in Ethics, Logic, Geometry; Christianity in context)
- Originality of Greek Literature (“the fountain-head of all Western literature”)
- Form (Greek writers guided by a sense of fitness and clarity)
- Greek Literature and the Study of Language (Greek language as the perfect instrument for human thought)
Hadn’t looked at that little book in ages. It’s a good one.