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least, of the inflections of ordinary speech, we cannot help feeling as we follow the dialogue that the words do actually convey ideas. There may be other ways of accomplishing the same appreciation of the language, but in our methods of education they are not easily manageable, so that it is almost through dialogue alone that we can produce this impression.
Then again, as a representative form of amusement in which the Romans took great delight, and which was associated with their great religious festivals, the play is worth attention. A play was originally a rite, a fact which accounts for the extremely conventional character and frequent unreality of the earliest Greek drama. Our modern dramatic realism is a thing of very late development and, though a Roman play was in one sense far from being religious, it retained many traces of its ancient origin. The religion of the Greeks and Romans was almost entirely free from introspection, self-abasement, and asceticism. Their attitude towards the gods was chiefly one of hilarious gratitude. In worship they offered among other things the time which naturally would be devoted to business; and the natural opposite of labor was enjoyment. So that, to a Roman, attendance upon a spectacle of any kind was an act of worship just as going to church is to a Christian. To have brought before us a spectacle, which was also a rite, in a form resembling that used by the Romans, is to make a study of their religion as well as of their amusements.
There is another way in which a Latin play is instructive. Ancient poetry was a thing entirely distinct from anything which we call by that name in English. English syllables have essentially no length, though we do have a slight tendency to lengthen the accented syllables. This is the forest primeval, etc., is not dactylic in any real sense, nor is Twinkle, twinkle, little star trochaic. In fact, we could hardly write trochees or dactyls at all in English, certainly not so that one would recognize them as such without being told. Two-syllable feet are Pyrrhics and three-syllabled are Tribrachs. Feet in which one syllable is short and another long are unknown in English, and the effect produced by them in languages where they exist is, whether
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