Saturday, March 26, 2005


Latin and Greek

Henry David Thoreau, Journals, August 7, 1852:
When I think of the thorough drilling in which young men are subjected in the English universities, acquiring a minute knowledge of Latin prosody and of Greek particles and accents, so that they can not only turn a passage of Homer into English prose or verse, but readily a passage of Shakespeare into Latin hexameters or elegaics -- that this and the like of this is to be liberally educated -- I an reminded how different was the education of the actual Homer and Shakespeare. The worthies of the world and liberally educated have always, in this sense, got along with little Latin and less Greek.
Thoreau is recalling a line from Ben Jonson's poem To the Memory of My Beloved Master William Shakespeare:
And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek.

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