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JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY
Professor of Greek in the Johns Hopkins University.
BALTIMORE: THE EDITOR
LEIPSIC: F. A. BROCKHAUS
Wallace: ΑΡΙΣΤΟΤΕΛΗΣ ΠΕΡΙ ΨΥΧΗΣ.
Charles Lamb used to say of himself that 'darkness was his hell.' In the genius of this man there is a flavor of bright and sparkling childhood; and in making hell consist of darkness, he uttered a feeling that is common both to all children and to all nations in the childlike stage of their growth. Thus our hell itself, the Old Norse hel, the Gothic halja, is probably from the same root as the Greek kelaivós (black), personified as Kýp, the goddess of death. So, in the very foundations of Indo-germanic speech, darkness is one with death; light is at once the essence and the symbol of physical life.
This childlike identification of darkness with hell came up, as we saw in Charles Lamb's case, from the first impressions of his childhood into the ripeness of the sensitive, thoughtful man. So, with the Greeks, the conception of darkness as the awfulness of death, the conception of life as the clear effulgence of light, lasted over, as an abiding element of their imagination, from primitive days into the consummate perfection of their poetry. In Euripides, for example, the dying Alkestis, as she feels the approach of death, cries out:
σκοτία δ' επ' όσσοις νύξ εφέρπει (269). As she prays for long life for the children that she is leaving, it is:
χαίροντες, ώ τέκνα, τόδε φάος όρώτον (272). As her women pray for her parting soul, her death is for them :
τον ανάλιον οίκον οικετεύειν (437);
* This paper was prepared for the Philological Association of the Johns Hopkins University, and read before that body on the 14th of April, 1882.