We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A reader directed us to a 1998 essay by Victor Davis Hansen and Joseph Heath, of the above title.
Classics is about dead.
You object that the disappearance of a tiny world of cloistered professors is not intrinsically significant. Must you suffer once again through some petty turf-war between pampered PhDs, a mock-epic struggle of nocturnal creatures croaking and scratching at each other for their tiny pad on an evaporating pond, one final Battle of Frogs and Mice? Who cares?
Yet every American should care. The demise of classics means more than the implosion of an inbred academic discipline, more than the disappearance of one more bookosaurus here and there. For chained to this sinking academic bureaucracy called classics are the ideas, the values, the vision of classical Greece and Rome. These are the ideas and values that have shaped and defined Western civilization, a vision of life that has ironically come under increasing attack here in the elite universities of the West just as its mutated form is metastasizing throughout the globe. Very few in America now know much about the origins of the West in ancient Greece -- and our citizens are moving further from the central philosophical and ethical tenets that are so necessary if we are to understand and manage the leisure, affluence and freedom of the West.
This ignorance of Greek wisdom should be of crucial interest to every American -- not because the West is being supplanted by some global multiculturalism (as so many academics proclaim), but quite the opposite: because its institutions and material culture are now overwhelming the world. The Greeks -- and the Greeks alone -- bequeathed us constitutional government, individual rights, freedom of expression, an open economy, civilian control of the military, separation of religious and political authority, private property, free scientific inquiry and open dissent. And for better or worse, these are the things most on this earth now desire.