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The Greek Genius for Adaptation

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Michael Grant describes how the Greeks borrowed from other civilizations, and how they transformed their borrowing.

An essential, though sometimes irritating, feature of classicism is that the ancient writers and artists were less interested in complete originality than in originality within a framework—the expression of old ideas in new terms and in the best possible way. One reason why this idea appealed to the Greeks, to say nothing of the Romans, is that they were not one of the world’s most original peoples. They were, instead, pickers-up of near eastern cultures, which they adapted with extraordinary genius.


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