social life in greece from homer to menander

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: of life and the reverses of fortune. The gods were often ungrateful and thankless, and so the weight of public opinion inclined decidedly to the belief that honesty was indeed respectable, and of better repute than deceit, but that it was not safe to practise it without the help of superior force1. So Achilles was master of the situation, and to him lying was useless to attain ends that might be better attained by force. This subject will naturally recur when we come to compare the Homeric with later Greeks2. We pass to the third element in chivalrous honour, a sense of compassion for the weak, and an obligation to assist the oppressed. Unfortunately this duty appears to have been delegated to Zeus, whose amours and other amusements often prevented him from attending to his business. How badly he performed it in this respect is plain from the very pathetic passagesin which the condition of the decrepit father, the forlorn widow, and the helpless orphan are described. We must not for a moment imagine that the Homeric age was wanting in sympathy for children. On the contrary, Herodotus alone, of later Greek authors, shows this sympathy as strongly as we find it in the Iliad. The Homeric similes —and no similes are more thoroughly realistic and drawn from actual experience —constantly imply it. ' As a mother drives away the fly from her child when it lies in sweet sleep.' ' Why do you weep like an infant girl, who running along by her mother, begs to be carried, and holding on by her dress delays the hurrying woman, but looks up at her with her eyes full of tears in order that she may be taken up and carried.' Apollo destroys the earthworks of the Greeks ' very easily, as a child treats the shingle by the sea-side, who, when he has heaped it up in his childish sport, in his sport ...
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