HEBREW AND GREEK IDEAS OFLIFE
Uponacomparison of the Greek withthe Hebrewattitude
towardlife, it was found that theGreeks,in contrastto theHebrews,
werenot aparticularly hopefulpeople. This statementdoesnot
refer totheir beliefin a futurelife, butmerely to theirattitude
toward what the future hadin store for them here on the earth.
Their senseof man'shelplessness in the hands of amysterious
fate accounts inpart forthepeculiar way inwhich theGreek
authorsspeak ofhope.They nearlyalways speak ofit as a delu-
sivephantom-anillusion born of anuncertainfuture. Thus
Theognis (637-38) speaks ofHope andPeril as deitiesclosely
associated,equallydangerous to men.To theGreek,hopes
were,asPindar is said to have calledthem, "the dreams of wak-
ingmen."To theGreek,hope might be "the poorman's wealth,"
but while it thusmightbecomethe consolation oftheweak, it
could not bea source of additionalstrength to thestrong.
Suchaprevalent distrust of the future isclearly reflected in
Greekhistory.AmongGreek historians of the classicalage there
isabsolutely no trace of the ideathatthe human race as awhole,
or any singlenation,isprogressing toward the fulfilmentof a
divinelyordered destiny.Herodotus'history,for example, seems
asifwritten toillustrate theinsecurity of mortalhappiness.
Throughoutthe history it is inthehour ofmen'simpioustriumph,
whenthey seemmostsecure in thepossessionof life andhappiness,
that Fatebrings them tomisery, or slits thethin-spun life. To
the Greekthefuture was full of direpossibilities-poverty,exile,
sickness, death.In the faceofsuchuncertainties, the virtue
oftheGreek wasresignationrather thanhope-a calmacceptance
ofthewill ofthegods,without any joyfulanticipations.Conse-
yesterdays,he was never a man of confidenttomorrows. Inthe
absenceofhope for the future theGreeks turned forinspiration
mainly to the past, to themythicalheroes ofsong andlegend,
andto the deeds of their ancestors inthefar-offGoldenAge.
Like theGreeks, theHebrews also looked backwardto aGolden
Age when Godhad walked and talkedwithmen,when men and
animals had livedatpeace.So well had menunderstoodtheir
poorrelations,theanimals, inthat far-off timethatthey had