By Gilbert Murray
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Thucydides, as we all remember, will be content if his work, whether interesting or uninteresting to an audience, is judged to be useful. Denys of Halicarnassus sums up the praises of the Athenians by saying, in the very language of an old Delphian decree, that they 'made gentle the life of the world'. Theologians and philosophers, especially those of the more rationalist schools, carry the conception further. The traditional Gods are explained as being so many great men of past ages who have in their various ways served humanity.
Cf. Plato, Rep. v. p. 457 b. -20- cannot surely have sprung out of a society in which no free women existed. 1 The third point is hard to discuss fully, but the explanation of it is very similar. A great deal of ancient unchastity comes directly from the institution of slavery: for female slavery was, in large part, another -- and perhaps on the whole a worse -- form of the custom of prostitution. A great deal, again, was a mere relic from the animalism of pre-Hellenic peoples. As for the myths, their immorality arises mostly from some very simple misunderstandings.
L. Myres; on points of Old French from Miss Pope of Somerville College; on Semitic matters, from my colleague Prof. D. S. Margoliouth, whose vast stores have stood always most generously open to me. In a more general way I am conscious of help received from Mr. J. W. Mackail and Mr. T. C. Snow, and above all from Miss J. E. Harrison, who read the Lectures in MS. and called my attention to much recent foreign literature which I should otherwise -iii- have neglected. The debt which I owe to her Prolegomena, also, will be visible on many of the ensuing pages.