How others study and learn is a mystery to me. Unfortunately, for me, I study and learn by fits and starts.
When I read a book, and it is like watching a torch burn, watching it catch fire and watching as its knowledge lights another torch in turn. One day recently, I was reading an essay by the great Spanish philosopher, Ortega, Mediations on Hunting, and he made remarks about Polybius, a Greek historian writing about Rome, and I began to read him, and soon I was finishing The Iliad and began to read Greek plays that I haven’t read in 50 years.
Like everyone, I am often guilty of saying to myself that I read such and such a book in college or high school. Unfortunately, I often cannot remember what they said. Simply recalling titles is hardly praiseworthy, so when I began to study the Greeks again, I once again discovered that the Greeks are incredibly good!
Why? They are full of vital force. They don’t age. Their voices remain alive with strong and tumultuous life. They aren’t uselessly theatrical. Homer, at the beginning of The Iliad plunges us immediately into a near-violent quarrel. The king of the Greeks is Agamemnon, and while powerful, he is very self-willed and stubborn and ruinously touchy. He is known as the “wide-ruling king,” but his pride overpowers his ability to reason fairly or clearly. He is always insisting tediously that his is the greatest of all the Greeks. They grow weary of hearing it.
Here is the beginning.