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Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

22                              G.  K.   CHESTERTON
times; but he disappears altogether in later times. But Hector
grows greater as the ages pass ; and it is his name that is the name
of a Knight of the Round Table and his sword that legend puts
into the hand of Roland, laying about him with the weapon of
the defeated Hector in the last ruin and splendour of his own
defeat. The name anticipates all the defeats through which our
race and religion were to pass ; that survival of a hundred
defeats that is its triumph. . ..
The tale of the end of Troy shall have no ending ; for it is
lifted up for ever into living echoes, immortal as our hopeless-
ness and our hope. Troy standing was a small thing that may
have stood nameless for ages. But Troy falling has been caught
up in a flame and suspended in an immortal instant of annihila-
tion ; and because it was destroyed with fire the fire shall never
be destroyed. And as with the city so with die hero ; traced
in archaic lines in that primeval twilight is found the first figure
of the Knight. There is a prophetic coincidence in his tide ;
we have spoken of the word chivalry and how it seems to
mingle the horseman with the horse. It is almost anticipated
ages before in the thunder of the Homeric hexameter, and that
long leaping word with which the Iliad ends. It is that very
unity for which we can find no name but the holy centaur of
chivalry. But there are other reasons for giving in this glimpse
of antiquity the flame upon the sacred town. The sanctity of
such towns ran like a fire round the coasts and islands of the
northern Mediterranean ; the high-fenced hamlet for which
heroes died. From the smallness of the city came the greatness
of the citizen. Hellas with her hundred statues produced
nothing statelier than that walking statue; the ideal of the self-
commanding man. Hellas of the hundred statues was one
legend and literature; and all that labyrinth of litde walled
nations resounded with the lament of Troy.
So, too, with Christ. His argument follows the familiar
dichotomy of * aut Deus aut rnalus homo *. It is idle, he
argues, to say that Christ was merely a good man who said
some wise things about ethics or economics. For, far
stronger than the evidence for his ethical or economic
teaching is the evidence that He made certain astonishing