Learning Thucydides Takes Some Steady Sitting

John Ruskin, Praeterita:

“Under these luxurious, and — in the world’s sight — honourable, conditions, my mind gradually recovering its tranquillity and spring, and making some daily, though infinitesimal, progress towards the attainment of common sense, I believe that I did harder and better work in my college reading than I can at all remember. It seems to me now as if I had known Thucydides, as I knew Homer (Pope’s!), since I could spell; but the fact was, that for a youth who had so little Greek to bless himself with at seventeen, to know every syllable of his Thucydides at half past eighteen meant some steady sitting at it. The perfect honesty of the Greek soldier, his high breeding, his political insight, and the scorn of construction with which he knotted his meaning into a rhythmic strength that writhed and wrought every way at once, all interested me intensely in him as a writer; while his subject, the central tragedy of all the world, the suicide of Greece, was felt by me with a sympathy in which the best powers of my heart and brain were brought up to their fullest, for my years.”

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