Three thousand years ago the world was still young. The western continent was a huge wilderness, and the greater part of Europe was inhabited by savage and wandering tribes. Only a few nations at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and in the neighbouring parts of Asia had learned to dwell in cities, to use a written language, to make laws for themselves, and to live in a more orderly fashion. Of these nations the most brilliant was that of the Greeks, who were destined in war, in learning, in government, and in the arts, to play a great part in the world, and to be the real founders of our modern civilization. While they were still a rude people, they had noble ideals of beauty and bravery, of duty and justice. Even before they had a written language, their singers had made songs about their heroes and their great deeds; and later these songs, which fathers had taught to children, and these children to their children, were brought together into two long and wonderful poems, which have ever since been the delight of the world, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
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