that the passion leads to a breach of some convention settled by common consent,1
and accordingly it is an outraged society whose figure looms in the background, rather than an offended God.
At most it was one god of many, and meanwhile another might be friendly.
In the Greek epic, the gods are partisans, they hold caucuses, they lobby and log-roll for their candidates.
The tacit admission of a revealed code of morals wrought a great change.
The complexity and range of passion is vastly increased when the offence is at once both crime and sin, a wrong done against order and against conscience at the same time.
The relation of the Greek Tragedy
to the higher powers is chiefly antagonistic, struggle against an implacable destiny, sublime struggle, and of heroes, but sure of defeat at last.
And that defeat is final.
Grand figures are those it exhibits to us, in some respects unequalled, and in their severe simplicity they compare with modern poetry as sculpture with painting.
Considered merely as works of art, these products of the Greek imagination satisfy our highest conception of form.
They suggest inevitably a feeling of perfect completeness, isolation, and independence, of something rounded and finished in itself.
The secret of those old shapers died with them; their wand is broken, their book sunk deeper than ever plummet sounded.
The type of their work is the Greek Temple
, which leaves nothing to hope for in unity and perfection of design, in harmony and subordination of parts, and in entireness of impression.
But in this aesthetic completeness it ends.
It rests solidly and complacently on the earth, and the mind rests there with it.