Saturday, September 02, 2017

"Authentic heir to what is noblest in ancient Greece"

In 1929, one of the great readers of the 20th century offered this astonishing claim:
. . . although Dante did not know Greek, though he had only the vaguest notion of Homer and none at all of the tragic poets . . . nonetheless he is the authentic heir to what is noblest in ancient Greece, of the "language that created men and de"; his sentences are the first since antiquity which contain a world and are simple as the lines of a primer, which express deep feeling with the clarity of thought, which pierce the heart with their quiet even measure; above all they are the first in which rhetoric does not suppress reality but forms it and holds it fast.
Erich Auerbach: Dante, Poet of the Secular World, pp. 48-49. 

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