Permanent results of the revival.
Atticism could not quicken the dead things of Greece, nor could it permanently guard Rome against the intrusions of a false taste. Two things, however, it did, and for these it deserves the gratitude of mankind. It set correct models before those great Roman writers who, in their turn, have been examples to the modern world. It founded a Greek criticism of Greek literature in which the perspective was just, and recorded the reasons of men, whose qualifications and opportunities were complete, for comparative estimates which the sense of posterity has approved, but to which posterity alone could not have given so authoritative a sanction. Greek lived on, to be the tongue in which Marcus and Julian, by the Danube or the Rhine, asserted the late supremacy of a wisdom that carried the seeds of death, to bring the message of a hope beyond the grave and to bear on a strenuous tide the voices of men whom that promise made sublime, to be the record of empire in the city of Constantine, to write its legends on the stones of Ravenna or to blazon them on the apses of Venice and Torcello, even to keep bright the memories of civil freedom where, in a northern isolation, in the Tauric land washed by the harbourless sea, the fire once taken from Megara burned for centuries on the last altar of the hearth that had a Greek commonwealth for its shrine, and at last, in our own age, after a second deliverance from the barbarian, most happily to be
come once more the language of a free Greek people; but never under any sky to recover that balance of its native qualities which had been so perfect and so transient. Yet the writers and speakers who had moulded Attic speech were to have an influence which should be world-wide and perpetual even when it was unfelt. After that long night for Greek art which began with the death of Alexander, when the cold dawn of a new day was breaking on the earth silent under the dominion of Augustus, men of Greek race rekindled an instinct for the best things that Greece had done in the half-forgotten morning of her gladness, her glorious strength, her beauty made musical by intelligent and gracious self-mastery. As the little band of Xenophon's comrades, hemmed in by barbarians and fighting their way back to Hellas out of the heart of Asia, burst into a cry of joy as they saw from the hill-top the first light of the waves of the Euxine, so these loyal workers were rejoiced afar off by a gleam from the sunlit surface of that clear sea which ripples at the feet of a pure and an immortal Aphrodite. They strove on, and won their way to their goal: for they brought the Athenian spirit once more into the central current of human life by communicating it to the genius of Rome.