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of Virgil, of Homer, of Cicero, of Plato, in a good translation, would be not very different from forming acquaintanceship with authors previously unknown. Parents who familiarize themselves with the series of volumes to which this volume belongs, will have it in their power to obviate, partly at least, a result so unfortunate, in the case of their children. For, with all modesty, we cherish the ambition to make many of our readers more effectively conversant, not certainly than college graduates, any of them, might be, but than college graduates, most of them, actually are, with the books represented—that is, with the Greek and Latin books usually set down to be read into, but not through, during the two stages, preparatory and final, of full college education, as in America, at least, such education is understood.
No blame is meant thus to be imputed to college instructors, who, having in this country the double office to fulfill, of professors and of tutors, to considerable numbers at once of students assembled in classes, could not reasonably be expected to do more than they do in the way of properly introducing their pupils to the treasures of Greek and Latin letters. We shall be truly grateful if we succeed in producing a quaternion of books that teachers themselves in preparatory schools and in colleges will have confidence in recommending to the supplementary reading and use of their pupils. It would be pleasant to feel that while helping scholars we were also in some degree lightening the labors of teachers. Our books, at least, shall not be such that lax and lazy students can conveniently convert them into “ponies,” as the term of school slang is, for riding luxuriously where they should foot it laboriously.
If the writer may fairly reason from his own case to that of other college graduates, he is warranted in assuring his brethren that time spent by them in an easy and rapid review, made with the aid of some such books as these will seek to be, of their undergraduate Latin and Greek, will prove to have been time not disagreeably and not unprofitably spent. In short, this series of volumes, if respectably well prepared, should find a wide and various audience.
Readers not college-bred that are wise enough to wish for such facilities as it is our primary purpose here to supply, will also be wise enough to know, without being told, that the attempt would be hopeless to enable them to gain quite all that school and college students can gain, except upon condition of their going through substantially the same long and laborious process as that which those students are expected to accomplish.
It now need hardly be added, that no one could regret such a result more than would the present writer, if an unintended and unanticipated influence of this series of books should be to make any person esteem a full course of liberal education in school and college less desirable or less important than that person esteemed it before. It is confidently hoped that, on the contrary, our undertaking will only still further spread and stimulate the zeal for culture which happily is already so vivid and so rife among us. Let everybody that can, go to college, and go through college. We labor here primarily for those who cannot. If what we do helps also others than these, so much the better. But that good, gladly welcomed, will yet be only by the way.
The specific object of the present particular volume, the initial one of the series, is to put into the hands of readers the means of accomplishing, as far as this can be done in English, the same course of study in Greek as that prescribed for those who are preparing to enter college. style the volume the PREPARATORY GREEK COURSE IN ENGLISH
Extent of territory is not chiefly what makes the greatness of a great people. Of this England is a signal example in the modern world. But of this Greece is a still more signal example in the ancient. There is something stimulating, to the degree of exhilaration, in the contrast between the petty spread of Grecian territory and the wide and enduring diffusion of Grecian fame.
Look at the map. You there see that four degrees of latitude include the whole of Greece. Two hundred and fifty miles by one hundred and eighty gives you its utmost area. Greece was less than half the size of the State of New York. This small region was divided up into separate states, the largest of them not so large as some single counties to be found in the State of Texas, and the smallest not larger than one of our ordinary townships. Attica, with the famous city of Athens for capital, was but about twice as large as the county of Westchester, in the State of New York.
Greece is in about the same latitude as the State of Virginia.
The points chiefly to be noted about the geography of Greece are the following:
1. Greece is cut up by mountain ranges intersecting each other into numerous separate districts, among which there was at first little mutual intercourse. This physical feature of the country it was that gave rise to so many independent states in Greece. The political map was due to the geographical map.
2. Greece is bounded by a greater length of sea-coast, in proportion to its area, than any other region in Europe. This is partly because of its being in one portion almost an island, and partly because of the number and depth of the bays and inlets that elsewhere indent its shores.
3. The mountainous configuration of the surface, together with the omnipresent contiguity of the sea, gives to Greece, in its different parts and different altitudes, a singular variety of climate, from the rigor of extreme northern latitudes, to the softness of Southern Italy.
4. The atmosphere has a quality of surpassing purity, lightness, elasticity, and, at the same time, a capacity of impressing exquisite effects of color on the natural scenery, whether mountain or sea.
5. The natural scenery is "beautiful exceedingly," full of perpetual feast to the eye, and, through the eye, to the taste and the imagination.
6. The limestone foundations of the mountains afford inexhaustible quarries of the finest marble, inviting to the hand of the sculptor or the architect.
7. The valleys are, or rather were in ancient times, rich in yields of wheat, barley, oil, and wine.
8. The range of mountains forming the upper or northern boundary of Greece guards the whole peninsula below from access by land on the part of enemies—the famous pass of Thermopylæ, on the eastern coast between the mountains and the sea, being the only practicable path of approach, and that being barely wide enough for a single wagon.
9. The everywhere contiguous sea, with its everywhere neighboring islands, was a constant temptation to the maritime adventurous spirit of the Greeks.
10. The situation of Greece as to the Mediterranean Sea, in ancient times the only ocean traversed by the commerce of the world, was highly favorable to the enrichment of its people through trade, and to their enlightenment through the exchange and diffusion of ideas.
The Greeks are one of the three most famous peoples in the world. The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, are the three. It is noteworthy of them, all alike, that their seats of residence were territorially very small. Rome, in fact, was just a city.
Of the three, the Greeks were the most remarkable, by far, for the variety and versatility of their genius. No other nation has ever existed that could turn its hand to so many different things, and succeed in them all so well. There were never any better soldiers; never any better sailors; never any better colonizers and traders; never any better sculptors, painters, architects; never any better orators, poets, historians, critics, rhetoricians, philosophers, mathematicians; never any better leaders, statesmen, diplomatists; never any better gymnasts, any better gentlemen, any better wits, than you will find among the ancient Greeks; and certainly, in proportion to the number of the whole people, never so many eminent, in the various ways thus indicated. Now if we add that the boast of Voltaire for the French is, the name being