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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (May 1, 1878)
BKNB.VTII THE 8UUFACK.
BENEATH THE SUIiFAOE.
In this ago of scientific development
the inventive genius of man lifts been
wonderfully displayed. Our commercial
industries have never been surpassed.
But their perfection has placed bounds to
intellectual activity, nml underestimated
the value of runner exploits. Wealth
and ambition, laying aside their musks,
have traveled the earth in every direction.
No mountain has towered so high as to
impede their progress. No sea has been
so boisterous as to wreck their brazen
bark. Grand are some of the achieve
incuts of the present century, but doplo
rable is the loss of those grander achieve
mcnls Unit man has before attained.
The historian is startled at the marve
lous events that he must record. "What"
he exclaims, " is the cause of all these
mighty works or man? Wheie is the
source or this mighty stream or progress
ive industry?" Down, twenty centuries
beneath the surface of modem civiliza
tion is a tleld that every generation since
has reaped without sowing, and utilized
without due appreciation. I rerer to that
land upon whif.h first dawned the
elements or a higher civilization, that
city which shone the brightest with hu
man intellect, and became the home or
the eloquent, the learned and the brave.
That city is ancient Athens.
Here is the fountain of our national and
social institutions, the pride of the nine
teenth century. Here nre the schools of
Letters, of Philosophy and of Law, that
to-day far back in the dark cavern gleam
out in their ancient splendor to guide us
on the way.
The influence of the Greek states upon
modern civilization is indeed wonderful.
No standard literature of the English
language is without n tinge or Attic beau,
tv. Our best proso writers have i mi luted
the Greek biography or philosophy. Our
style or poetry is only a modification of
the Lyric, the Epic and the Choral ver-
.. i t ... ... .
scs. i no moacrn uisioriun is uui too ea
ger to imitate the style of his predecessor.
Tlie poet, witli no thought of excelling,
has striven in vain to equal the works of
Homeric genius. The rhetoric and logic
of Aristotle arc in substance the text
books of modern instruction. The per
rcction that the Greek attained In litera
ture, in the rhetorical art, and in oratory
is one of the greatest features of their civ
ilization. The drama, the origination and perfec
tion of the Greek, has been the model for
twenty-four hundred years. In vain have
the dramatists or a later day attempted to
excel the tragedies of Sophocles and the
comedies of AriMophenes. The beauty
of their works tills our minds with admi
ration. In art, the pre-eminence of the Hellenic
race is acknowledged by the whole civi.
liz'cd land. Go to Florence, to Naples
and sec how much more precious tli..n
gold is the statuary chiseled by Attic
hands. Go to the Vatican at Koine, the
pirate of Athenian wealth, and you will
observe that high above the works of mod
em genius stands the perfection of Ilel
lenic splendor. Here docs the pilgrim
age or the modern sculptor terminate,
and not until the beaut' of oriental per
fection lias passed before his gaze, can he
feel his inferiority to those masters that
have nourished before him. Greece was
indeed an accomplished teacher of art.
The Parthenon, the grandest specimen of
architecture that the world has ever seen,
is to-day the study of the architect from
every land. The mighty temple at Ephe
sus has crumbled into dust, but a few rel
ics of its vanished beaut' have allorded a
style of architecture for all subsequent
Alliens, the home of self-made men has
bequeathed to us no principles of legisla
tion that were not demonstrated by prac
tice and stamped with the seal of success.
No mould cast by the ambitious mon
arch of the east, could ever be made to
fit the liberties of the Greek confederacy
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