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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, The Greek goddesses. (search)
them; but it is hard to find in any language an essay which lays all these abstruser things aside, and treats the deities in their simplest aspect, as so many Ideals of Womanhood. But we must charitably remember that the Greek goddesses are rather new acquaintances, in their own proper personalities. Till within thirty years their very names had been merged for us in the Latin substitutes, as effectually as if each had married into a Roman family. It is only since the publication of Thirlwall's Greece, in 1835, that they have generally appeared in English books under their own proper titles. With the Latin names came a host of later traditions, mostly foreign to the Greek mind, generally tending toward the trivial and the prosaic. Shakespeare in French does not more instantly cease to be Shakespeare, than the great ideals vacate their shrines when Latinized. Jeanne d'arc, in the hands of Voltaire, suffers hardly more defamation of character than the Greek goddesses under the
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Sappho. (search)
, Welcker, Kleine Schriften, II. 80. See also his Sappho, a review of Neue's edition of her works, first published in 1828 (K. S., 1. 110), and Sappho unmd Phaon, published in 1863, a review of Mure and Theodor Kock (K. S., V. 228). from which all modern estimates of Sappho date, was first published in 1816, under the title, Sappho vindicated from a prevailing prejudice. It was a remarkable instance of the power of a single exhaustive investigation to change the verdict of scholars. Bishop Thirlwall, for instance, says of it: The tenderness of Sappho, whose character has been rescued, by one of the happiest efforts of modern criticism, from the unmerited reproach under which it had labored for so many centuries, appears to have been no less pure than glowing. And Felton, who is usually not more inclined than becomes a man and a professor to put a high estimate on literary women, declares of her that she has shared the fortunes of others of her sex, endowed like her with God's rich