Thursday, February 04, 2010
Come On In, You Wounded Greeklings
Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (New York: The Free Press, 1998), p. 166:Newer› ‹Older
After the first three weeks of the beginning Greek class, 20 percent of the students are unfortunately conked, casualties of the masculine nouns of the first declension. Others are DOA thanks to the pronoun autos. They find that the autos monster can mean three altogether different things ("him/her/it/them," "-self," or "same"), depending on both its case and its position in a sentence. Students do withdraw from an introductory Greek class before they taste Plato or the Gospels, these bored, annoyed, and exhausted ninteen-year-olds, those very prospects who you once hoped would go on to Thucydidesand perhaps be one of the 600 each year in America who still major in Classics. They slide now across the hall to squeeze into the university's over-enrolled Theory of Walking, Rope Climbing, and Star Trek and the Humanities, which will assuage and assure them that they are, all in all, pretty nice kids, classes that will offer the veneer of self-esteem but will guarantee that they will probably lose what little sense of real accomplishment they had carried within to begin with. You can nearly hear those doctors of therapy, those professors of recuperation at the lecture-hall door: "Come on in, you wounded Greeklings. It's not your fault. They had no business subjecting you to all that rote; we do things a lot differently here. Relax, sit back, breathe deeply, and tell us how you feel."