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Arnold's Classicism

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  • Essay length: 1331 words
  • Submitted: 07/10/2004
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AS and A Level Classics

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Arnold's Classicism

"Who prop, thou ask'st, in these bad days, my friend?"

[To a Friend: Matthew Arnold]

With this question that concerns the whole life of Arnold, extremely sensitive to his age - an age of hurry, change, alarm, surprise, he starts, in a dramatic way, the sonnet To a Friend. And the rest of the sonnet provides us with the answer that his mental props in the 'bad age' in which he found his lot was cast, were the great figures of ancient Greece - Homer, 'the clearest soul'd of men', Sophocles, 'the even-balanced' and Epictetus, 'the halting slave', the first two being the poets and the last a moralist. Indeed, the Greek poets and moralists exercised a deep influence on Arnold's mind and colored his thoughts and style. He chose Greek subjects for poetic composition and rendered them with that sincerity, lucidity, clarity and simplicity, which the Greeks adored in their art.

"It is time for us to Hellenize for we have Hebraized too much" observed Arnold whose bent of mind was in favor of the Greeks rather than the Romantics of his century. His classicism comes out more in

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