465 GREECE-LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, AND ART.
not long before the Dorians employed one kind of vocalization and accent and the Ionians
another. Thus arose the three primitive forms of Greek, the Doric, the Ionic, and the
Aeolic. At first the Doric was most widely spoken, being the form of speech prevalent in
Northern Greece, in Peloponnesus, in Crete, and in the colonies of the Dorians in Southern
Italy and Sicily. The chief authors who have preserved this ancient dialect in their works
are Pindar and Theocritus.
The Ionic variety of Greek prevailed on the coast of Asia Minor, in most of the Aegean
islands, in the peninsula of Attica, and in the foreign colonies established by the
Ionians. It was developed at an early day as the language of poetry, and in this tongue
were achieved the literary triumphs of the race. Ionic had itself a threefold development-
the Old Ionic, the New Ionic, and the Attic. The first is the language of the epic poetry,
and is rendered immortal in Homer and Hesiod. The New Ionic is. the speech of Herodotus;
while the Attic, being the language of Athens, contained the great body of Greek classical
literature. It was the tongue of the scholars and philosophers-the chariot of fire in
which the lightnings of Demosthenes were driven through smoke and tempest upon the enemies
of his country.
Again the Attic dialect was itself divided, according to its three eras of development-
the Old, the Middle, and the New. The Old Attic differed but little from the Ionic. It was
the language of Thucydides. After his time there were large additions of Doric and Aeolic
words to the vocabulary, and thus was formed the Middle, and finally; the New, speech of
Attica. In this spoke the great orators and wrote the philosophers of Athens in the epoch
of her glory.
The Aeolic variety of Greek was scarcely limited to any definite territory. It was
interfused with the other dialects, and was rather a modifying element than a distinct
type of speech. It was the oldest form of Greek, and was not much inflected from that
primitive tongue which was the mother not only of all the Hellenic dialects, but also of
the Italic languages. It thus happened that Aeolic, being in a measure a
prehistoric type of language, was not fully represented in literary productions. Before
the dawn of Greek literature, the Doric and Ionic dialects had become the prevalent forms
of speech, and the poets adopted these, instead of Aeolic, as the vehicle of their
expression, for the same reason that Chaucer wrote English in preference to Anglo-Saxon.
The Greek of Athens became, par excellence, the language of the Hellenic civilization. To
speak it and write it became the ambition of the educated in every quarter of the world.
Its forms and structure became fixed by law and usage. Perhaps no people ever had so
refined a language, or spoke it with such purity and grace, as did the Athenians. For
several centuries it retained its structure unimpaired. Not until the age of Alexander,
when it had, by agency of his conquests, become the spoken language of Macedonians,
Egyptians, Ethiopians, Syrians, and of many other nations, did a difference begin to
appear between the classical Greek and the vulgar tongue of the people.
It is of interest, in this connection, to note the antecedents of that style of Greek
which, prevailing in Alexandria, became the vehicle of interpretation between the Jewish
oracles and the western nations. It appears that primitive Macedonian was a form of speech
different from Hellenic. The affinity seems to have been with Illyrian rather than with
Greek. The early Grecians and Macedonians could not understand each other without an
interpreter. Nevertheless, in the court of Philip and Alexander, Greek was the medium of
communication. It seems, therefore, that the vernacular Macedonian had been discarded by
the upper classes of the people, and the language of Hellas adopted in its stead. Albeit,
Alexander and his court spoke Greek like foreigners, and incorporated therewith many
Macedonian words and idioms. This, then, was the speech which the Conqueror carried with
him into Egypt. The term "Hellenistic", therefore, as applied to the type of Greek
employed by the Seventy in the translation of the Scriptures, is a misnomer, and should be
replaced by "Macedonian".