Our Sanctuaries: Finding Edith Hamilton

“We have many silent sanctuaries in which we can find a breathing space to free ourselves from the personal, to rise above our harassed and perplexed minds and catch sight of values that are stable, which no selfish and timorous preoccupations can make waver, because they are the hard-won and permanent possession of humanity…

A bust of Socrates, 470-469 BC, located in the Louvre, France.

A bust of Socrates, 470-469 BC, located in the Louvre, France.

“When the world is storm-driven and the bad that happens and the worse that threatens are so urgent as to shut out everything else from view, then we need to know all the strong fortresses of the spirit which men have built through the ages.  The eternal perspectives are being blotted out, and our judgment of immediate issues will go wrong unless we bring them back.  We can do so only, Socrates said in the last talk before his death,


when we seek the region of purity and eternity and unchangeableness, where when the spirit enters, it is not hampered or hindered, but ceases to wander in error, beholding the true and divine (which is not a matter of opinion).



“A great French scholar of the last century said to his class at the College de France shortly after Sedan and the triumphant occupation of Paris by the German army:

Johann Wolfang von Goethe, Free Frankfurt, 1828.

Johann Wolfang von Goethe, Free Frankfurt, 1828.

“Gentlemen, as we meet here today we are in a free country, the republic of letters, a country which has no national boundaries, where there is neither Frenchman nor German, which knows no prejudice nor intolerance, where one thing alone is valued, truth in all her manifold aspects. I propose to study with you this year, the works of the great poet and thinker, Goethe.”






“How noble and how tranquillizing.  The eternal perspectives open out, clear and calm.

Intolerance, hatred – how false they look and how petty.

A scene of Plato giving a discourse to students in his Academy as imagined by Swedish artist Carl Johan Wahlbom

Plato, student of Socrates, in his Academy, by Carl Johan Wahlbom of Sweden

“Beyond the last peaks and all seas of the world” stands the serene republic of what Plato calls “the fair and immortal children of the mind.”  We need to seek that silent sanctuary to-day.

Selections From:  Hamilton, Edith (1930) The Greek Way, 2nd Edition. Norton Library, USA.  pps. 9-10.

I discovered Edith Hamilton’s work through some discarded books in our town swap-shop.  What a treasure is her mind and perspective, as she travels through the mind of Greece via the literature that remains from over 2000 years ago!  Edith Hamilton was a brave and free thinker, and her numerous works show the great capacity of women to weave interconnections of understanding, contexts, amidst the pulsing propensities of life with an abiding inner lovingness.

A portrait photograph of Edith Hamilton as she works on her writing, glancing at the photographer.

Edith Hamilton, around 1897.

I find Edith’s thinking to be mature, uncluttered by the innumerable distractions of today.  Imagine writing in 1890’s – 1920’s!  A typewritter, long sheets of notes.  No air traffic, few cars, much less machine and electronic noises all around, where the body could feel the peace and quiet. No digital waves, EMF, flowing through it. No plastic litter…..it feels good to me, to visit those minds.  It is Edith’s way of being and living with herself that comes through her numerous works, giving  us the fruits from that Tree of humanity’s collective wisdom.

PK Willey

PK Willey, Ph.D., is an American, a Gandhian scholar, author and entrepreneur, who has delved deeply into Gandhi's Earth Ethics. Willey seeks to enhance philosophical discourse around the world where globalization has altered ethical values, particularly in the USA. Willey finds Gandhi's ideas, thoughts, and example, to be invaluable in this effort. Currently, besides numerous articles and book projects,Willey is developing a new framework for qualitative research that employs Earth Ethics, guided by a Gandhian compass and Weibust's Transformative Paradigm.

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