“…a yardstick from which to measure the present absurdity in our midst…”

whokilledhomerFrom Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath:

Why does one go through all this to study the Greek (and Latin) language? To gain an aesthetic sense? Perhaps. To master language? Of course. To read great literature? Always. But in this present age, the few students who survive tell us they continue with Greek and Latin because they give them clear bearings in an increasingly chaotic world. The languages become a first-hand explication of evil and good, permanent and transient, relative and absolute, here and hereafter that they now cannot find anywhere else in the university. It may be that the reasons one puts up with the maddening rigors of Greek change with each generation. If so, it is clear to us that now more than ever the ancient language and its literature offer a yardstick from which to measure the present absurdity in our midst, a safe haven from, and a condemnation of, the noise and nonsense on campus that is now too often passed off as learning. As one of our students recently put it, ‘My literature class turns out to be gender, my history class racism, my philosophy class guilt, my psychology self-esteem, my anthropology colonialism, my English 1A a personal journal—my Greek class about everything else.’ After all, where now but in a single class period on thirty lines of Sophocles can a twenty-one-year-old meet without prejudice grammar, syntax, music, logic, aesthetics, philosophy, history, ethics, religion, civics, and literature?

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