European thought begins with the Greeks. Scientific and philosophic thinking--the pursuit of truth and the grasping of unchanging principles of life--is a historical development, an achievement; and, as Bruno Snell writes in The Discovery of the Mind, nothing less than a revolution. The Greeks did not take mental resources already at their disposal and merely map out new subjects for discussion and investigation. In poetry, drama, and philosophy they in fact discovered the human mind.
The stages in man's gradual understanding of himself are revealed in the course of ancient literature from Homer to Virgil. A rational view of the nature of man slowly established itself in the creations of epic and lyric poetry, tragedy and literary criticism, pre-Socratic thought, and early Greek ethics all the way to the discovery of humanitas and the spiritual landscape of Virgil's Arcadia. The Discovery of the Mind is a landmark work in tracing this evolution of consciousness--one of the distinguishing characteristics of the history of man.