ABSTRACT

Theology and Philosophy, each in its own way attempting to go beyond inadequate popular belief, could only very gradually transcend the limits of those narrow communities within which their influence was first felt and reach the circles in which that popular belief held sway. During the earliest successes of the theological and philosophical spirit hardly a voice was raised that might have suggested that the belief in the imperishability and divine nature of the human Soul, of the inherence of all things spiritual in one imperishable, fundamental substance, might become something more than a mystery known to the wise and illuminated, and enter into the convictions of the people and the unlearned. " After the death of the body, the Image of Life remains alive; for that alone is descended from the gods "—such is the announcement of Pindar. But for all the confidence with which, as though anticipating no contradiction, he here proclaims the view of the soul's immortality and bases it upon its divine nature, such an opinion can at that time have been no more than the persuasion of isolated communities formed and instructed in that particular doctrine. It cannot be merely accidental, 1 that in the fragments which have come down to us of the lyric and semi-lyric (elegiac and iambic) poetry—poetry intended for a wide and unspecialized public and expressing feelings and ideas in language that all could understand—hardly a trace appears of that enhanced conception of the worth and nature of the Soul. Reflexion does not linger over such dark subjects; whenever they are illuminated for a passing moment, we discern the outlines of those figures from the spirit world just as the Homeric imagination had given them shape.