Friday, April 06, 2018


Old and Trusted Friends

William Slater, "Martin Cropp," in The Play of Texts and Fragments: Essays in Honour of Martin Cropp, edd. J.R.C. Cousland and James R. Hume (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 3-8 (at 3-4, on the University of Toronto in the early 1970s):
The study of classical poetry was conducted in the leisurely matter one associated with the undemanding curriculum of Oxbridge, an unwieldy reading list accompanied by close textual reading of selected classical authors, with the emphasis on line by line translation. Classical authors were to be absorbed as once John Quincy Adams or Jowett's men had absorbed them, by a painless osmosis, carefully avoiding the Germanic vulgarities of hypodochmiacs or polyspastic choriambs. Classical authors were old and trusted friends with whom one could safely commune in quiet libraries; the biographical fallacy was either unknown or ignored or its critics deplored. The Greeks were really just like us. One could be politely reproved for failing to get to know Pindar as a human being. This cheerful symbiosis with the distant past was all rather comforting.

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