Isolated from teacher and without personal expansion and explanation, these
compositions confuse us with antithesis and epigram and the use of the same word in
varying senses, a style, which we should have particularly avoided when discussing
difficult problems. All this is, however, understand able if we remember that they were
not books to displace teacher but were notes to standardize teaching and to help memory.
Apart from the difficulty arising out of
the form, and the difference of purpose of the composition from that of modem books, the
distance that divides us from the day when these thoughts were propounded makes the
greatest difficulty. The reflections were necessarily hung on to the life, beliefs and
manners of those ancient times. To understand the meaning and the point of what was said
by men of a long past age, we have to get back to the circumstances of that age, a task of
great difficulty even for the most imaginative among us.