The Vast Advantage of Greek

William Wotton, Reflections Upon Ancient and Modern Learning:

I shall first speak of those which relate more particularly to Poetry, because it was much the ancientest Way of Writing in Greece; where their Orators owned, that they learned a great deal of what they knew, even in their own, as well as in other Parts of Learning, from their Poets. And here one may observe, that no Poetry can be Charming that has not a Language to support it. The Greek Tongue has a vast variety of long Words, wherein long and short Syllables are agreeably intermixed together, with great Numbers of Vowels and Diphthongs in the Middle-Syllables, and those very seldom clogged by the joyning of harsh sounding Consonants in the same Syllable: All which Things give it a vast Advantage above any other Language that has ever yet been cultivated by Learned Men.

By this Means all manner of Tunable Numbers may be formed in it with Ease; as still appears in the remaining Dramatick and Lyrick Composures of the Greek Poets. This seems to have been at first a lucky Accident, since it is as visible in Homer, who lived before the Grammarians had determined the Analogy of that Language by Rules; which Rules were, in a very great measure, taken from his Poems, as the Standard; as in those Poets that came after him.

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