Mean and Dowdy Attic Greek

H.W. Garrod, Scholarship: Its Meaning and Value

“I am going to let the flood of heretical opinion carry me yet further. For the purpose of composition, of the imitatio veterum, our reading in Greek—I speak of Oxford custom—is directed above all upon the Attic writers, prose and verse. When I taught Greek, I could not tell my pupils that these were the worst parts of Greek literature—that the fifth century B.C. marked (except for Plato) a progressive degeneration of language and style. I could not say that, but I believed it. Plato stands in his own circle of light; and the mystery of him—why he is not Attic—I have not the learning to penetrate. But when I read, first Homer, and then Pindar and the great lyrists, and then Herodotus (I think they are still my favourite Greek authors), when, after reading these, I turn to the Attics, I feel myself in a world comparatively mean and in parts of it dowdy. Atticism and the Attic— whether ancient or modern—I believe that in the heart of us we all hate it, or are all a little bored with it, and dare not say so.”

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