Greek Studies: a Series of Essays
is a collection of essays by renowned British classicist and literary critic Walter Pater, first published in 1895. The book is a reflection of Pater’s lifelong fascination with Greek culture and literature, and his deep engagement with the works of ancient Greek writers and thinkers.
The collection is comprised of nine essays, each exploring a different aspect of Greek culture and literature. The essays are marked by Pater’s distinctive prose style, which is characterized by its ornate, highly aesthetic language and its emphasis on the sensory and emotional dimensions of human experience. Pater was a leading figure in the aesthetic movement of the late 19th century, and his writing reflects the movement’s commitment to the importance of beauty and sensory experience in art and literature.
One of the most significant essays in the collection is “The Age of Athletic Prizemen,” which explores the importance of physical beauty and athletic prowess in ancient Greek culture. Pater argues that the Greeks placed a high value on the cultivation of physical excellence, and that this ideal was reflected in the works of Greek writers and artists. The essay is notable for its emphasis on the sensory and aesthetic dimensions of the athletic ideal, as well as its reflection of Pater’s broader interest in the relationship between art, beauty, and the human body.
Another significant essay in the collection is “Plato and Platonism,” in which Pater explores the philosophy of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Pater argues that Plato’s philosophy is marked by its focus on the ideal and the eternal, and that it reflects a deep engagement with questions of morality, ethics, and the nature of reality. The essay is notable for its evocative and highly aesthetic language, as well as its reflection of Pater’s broader interest in the relationship between philosophy, art, and literature.
Other essays in the collection explore topics such as the poetry of Aeschylus, the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and the character of Dionysus. Throughout the collection, Pater’s writing is marked by a deep engagement with the works of ancient Greek writers and thinkers, as well as a sensitivity to the aesthetic and emotional dimensions of their works.
Overall, “Greek Studies” is a significant work of classical scholarship and literary criticism. It reflects Pater’s lifelong engagement with the works of ancient Greek writers and thinkers, and his commitment to exploring the aesthetic and emotional dimensions of their works. The collection is notable for its evocative and highly aesthetic prose style, as well as its reflection of the broader cultural and intellectual trends of the late 19th century. It remains a significant work in the field of classical scholarship and literary criticism, and continues to be widely read and studied today.