Whereas Plato's main problem had been the organization of the perfect state, and Aristotle's intellect had ranged with fresh interest over all departments of the knowable, political speculation had become a mockery with the extinction of free political life, and knowledge as such had lost its freshness for the Greeks of the Roman Empire.
The freshness, the air of leisure, the enthusiasm of discovery that mark the work of these old writers have lessons for the modern professional zoologist, who at times feels burdened with the accumulated knowledge of a century and a half.
The fingers of the clock had been pushed back; once more things were as they had been at the time of the First Crusade; once more the West must arm itself for the holy war and the recovery of Jerusalem - but now it must face a united Mahommedan world, where in 1096 it had found political and religious dissension, and it must attempt its vastly heavier task without the morning freshness of a new religious impulse, and with something of the weariness of a hundred years of struggle upon its shoulders.
While the hunting party is resting Siegfried tells stories of his boyhood, thus recalling the antecedents of this drama with a charming freshness and sense of dramatic and musical repose.
The freshness of the new field which was opened up to the imagination - so full of vivid lights and shadows, light-hearted fun, grinding hardship, stirring adventure, heroic action, warm friendships, bitter hatreds - was in exhilarating contrast to the world of the historical romancer and the fashionable novelist, to which the mind of the general reader was at that date given over.