Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Edith Hamilton

1867 – 1963 CE

Historian, professor, translator, mythologist, and classicist; Edith Hamilton wrote insightful, best-selling books on mythology, Greek, and Roman culture. Her younger sister became the first woman on the faculty at Harvard University and Edith received Greece's highest honor, the Golden Cross. John F. Kennedy consulted with her and Robert F. Kennedy quoted her in his speeches. An educator most of her life in change of the only private US high school for women that prepared all of its students for college, she began her second career as an author publishing her first book, The Greek Way, when she was sixty-two. A biographer, her life was "ruled by a passionately nonconformist vision.. her strength and vitality, her appeal as public figure and author."

Eras

Sources

Roman Way

Unlisted Sources

Echo of Greece​, 1957

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 1942

The Echo of Greece, 1957

The Greek Way

The Greek Way, 1930

Three Greek Plays, 1937

Quotes by Edith Hamilton (40 quotes)

“The fact that Isocrates was the first to declare that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the first to urge giving up war as a policy and substituting good will for armed forces, sets him so far in advance of his age that on that score alone, he could not be forgotten.”

from Echo of Greece​, 1957

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“I came to the Greeks early and I found answers in them. Greece's great men let all their acts turn on the immortality of the soul. We don't really act as if we believed in the soul's immortality and that's why we are where we are today.”

from The Echo of Greece, 1957

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“It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought—that is to be educated.”

Themes: Education

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“When the mind withdraws into itself and dispenses with facts it makes only chaos.”

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“None but a poet can write a tragedy. For tragedy is nothing less than pain transmuted into exaltation by the alchemy of poetry.”

Themes: Poetry Butterfly

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“When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”

Themes: Freedom

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“The fullness of life is in the hazards of life.”

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“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.”

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“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.”

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“A people’s literature is the great textbook for real knowledge of them. The writings of the day show the quality of the people as no historical reconstruction can.”

Themes: Books

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“An ancient writer says of Homer that he touched nothing without somehow honoring and glorifying it.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

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“A man without fear cannot be a slave.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Fear Slavery

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“There are few efforts more conducive to humility than that of the translator trying to communicate an incommunicable beauty. Yet, unless we do try, something unique and never surpassed will cease to exist except in the libraries of a few inquisitive book lovers.”

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“Love, however, cannot be forbidden. The more that flame is covered up, the hotter it burns. Love can always find a way.”

from Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 1942

Themes: Love

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“Pindar is the last spokesman for the Greek aristocracy and the greatest after Homer…Of all the Greek poets, he is the most difficult to read, and of all the poets there ever were, he is the most impossible to translate… his poetry the most like music… a Bach fugue, a Beethoven sonata”

from The Greek Way, 1930

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“The comedy of each age holds up a mirror to the people of that age, a mirror that is unique... Popular comedy reflects the average person.”

from Roman Way

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“'History repeats itself' and this saying has become a truism. Nevertheless, the study of the past is relegated to the scholar and the school boy—a testimony to human stupidity. We are like youth that can never learn from age. [History] is a really a chart for our guidance... where we now are going astray and losing ourselves, other men once did the same, and they left a record of the blind alleys they went down.”

from Roman Way

Themes: History

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“The final reason for Rome's defeat was the failure of mind and spirit to rise to a new and great opportunity. They were split into the sharpest oppositions, extremes, a narrow selfishness that kept men blind when their own self-preservation demanded a world-wide outlook. Material development outstripped human development; the Dark Ages took possession of Europe, classical antiquity ended.”

from Roman Way

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“Horace is the complete man of the world, with tolerance for all and partisanship for none. A Benjamin Franklin turned poet, a poetical Montaigne, a poet whose distinguishing characteristic is common sense with that most delightful gift of enjoying keenly all life's simplest pleasures... Who would not like to see Horace walk in through his door any day in the year? Immediately everything would seem more agreeable”

from Roman Way

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“Euripides saw war as completely evil and he wrote the greatest anti-war piece of literature there is, the Trojan Women, but from first to last, he never mounts the pulpit.”

from Roman Way

Themes: War

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“Cicero was one of the two greatest orators of antiquity and few writings have had as many and as devoted readers. For centuries, he was the main channel by which Greek standards reached mankind. Today—after 2000+ years—there are speeches of his which still live.”

from Roman Way

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“spiritually minded, longing for light… called ‘the most widely beloved of all the literary treasures of Greece,’ [Plutarch] knew how to create happiness around him. To him a superstition was not a mistaken belief, a kind of religious stupidity; it was an unmitigated evil… His most profound conviction was that we must love the highest when we see it. He was Greece’s far-sighted spokesman for a change that was beginning in the moral atmosphere of the world.”

from The Echo of Greece, 1957

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“The first really dogmatic teacher in Athens was the founder of Stoicism, Zeno. It was religion first, philosophy only second.... He expressed contempt for those who held out pleasures or pains in a future life as a motive for being good.”

from The Echo of Greece, 1957

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“Epictetus—perhaps the greatest of the Stoics—was a slave to an official of Nero and doubly helpless in a court where the fortune of the greatest hung on an imperial scoundrel's whim, and he was happy.”

from The Echo of Greece, 1957

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“Demosthenes, a leader such as Greece had never known before and was never to know again. History, indeed, has known few of them... What he did all alone was almost miraculous... he lifted the whole political mess which Plato had turned from as hopeless, out of the corruption in which it was sunk up to a lofty level of patriotism.”

from The Echo of Greece, 1957

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“At heart Plato was a reformer, not the philosophical contemplative men called him. A life of contemplation was far from what he wanted for his pupils... to change injustice into justice, to put self-control in the place of outside control”

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“The modern mind is never popular in its own day. People hate being made to think... All things are at odds when God sets a thinker loose on the planet.”

Themes: Crazy Wisdom Hate

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“The creed of democracy—spiritual and political liberty for all—and each man a willing servant of the the state, was the conception which underlay the highest reach of Greek genius. It was fatally weakened by the race for money and power, war destroyed it, and Greece lost it forever. Nevertheless, the ideal of free individuals unified by a spontaneous service to the common life was left as a possession to the world, never to be forgotten.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Democracy

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“In Seneca's letters, in the discourses of Epictetus, in Marcus Aurelius' diary, there is an atmosphere of purity, goodness, noble strength, such as pervades few books in all the literature of the world.”

from Roman Way

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“The complete lack of dogmatism in an avowed teacher is startling... the Athenian did not want someone else to do his thinking for him. In a sense therefore, extraordinary man though he was, Socrates yet holds up the mirror to his own age.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

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“A civilized age, where the really important matters were not those touched, tasted, or handled; an age whose learders were marked by a devotion to learning and finding out the truth, and an age able to do and dare and endure... Mind and Spirit in equal balance was the peculiar characteristic of Greek art, intellectuality and exquisite taste balance by an immense vitality”

from The Greek Way, 1930

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“Socrates, a unique philosopher, unlike all philosophers that ever were outside of Greece... was everything rather than what we expect a learned man and a philosopher to be... The attitude peculiar to Socrates among all the great teachers of the world: he will not do their thinking for the men who come to him, neither in matters small nor great.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Teachers

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“The attitude peculiar to Socrates among all the great teachers of the world: he will not do their thinking for the men who come to him, neither in matters small nor great.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Teachers

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“He was, first and last, the born fighter, to whom the consciousness of being matched against a great adversary suffices, and who can dispense with success. Life for him was an adventure, perilous indeed, but men are not made for safe havens. The fullness of life is in the hazards of life. And, at the worst, there is that in us which can turn defeat into victory.”

from Three Greek Plays, 1937

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“To rejoice in life, to find the world beautiful and delightful to live in, was a mark of the Greek spirit, which distinguished it from all that had gone before. It is a vital distinction.”

from The Greek Way, 1930

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“When not directly under Greek guidance, the Roman did not perceive beauty in every-day matters, or indeed care to do so. Beauty was unimportant to him. Life in his eyes was a very serious and a very arduous business, and he had no time for what he would have thought of as a mere decoration of it.”

from Roman Way

Themes: Beauty

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“Civilization is a matter of imponderables, of delight in the things of the mind, of love of beauty, of honor, grace, courtesy, delicate feeling. Where imponderables are the things of first importance, there is the height of civilization”

from The Greek Way, 1930

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“It is by our power to suffer, above all, that we are of more value than the sparrows... What do outside trappings matter?”

from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Suffering

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“Men are helpless as far as their fate is concerned, but they can ally themselves with the good, and in suffering and dying, die and suffer nobly. This is the spirit of Sophocles He had the sure instinct of the consummate artist, he had a supreme gift of poetic expression, a great intellect, and an unsurpassed sureness of beautiful workmanship”

from The Greek Way, 1930

Themes: Fate / Destiny

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“Euripides was the arch-heretic, miserably disturbing, never willing to leave a man comfortably ensconced in his favorite convictions and prejudices... No poet's ear has ever been so sensitively attuned as his to the still, sad music of humanity.”

from The Greek Way

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