Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

From the Alpha to the Omega

That many of us favor a liberal arts education should be clear to any browser of these pages. It therefore should not surprise that we would favor the study of Ancient Greek, even if we got to the study of it late, in my case in graduate school. I took an intensive Greek class one summer, worked like a dog on it--between reading Churchill, Lincoln, Shakespeare, and some basketball--but managed to flunk the final exam anyway (a translation of a page from Plato’s the trees right but failed to note the forest). The point is this: I knew the study of the thing is not useful (I also studied French, German, and other modern versions of logos), but thought it a good and beautiful thing anyway. I was right.

There has, for some four years now, been a push by the students at Ashland University to get the University to offer it again (as it did until thirty years ago). Yes, I said the students. These noble fellows, through their representative institution called the Student Senate, voted unanimously for at least three years running to request the faculty to re-institute the offering of Ancient Greek (and Latin). While the noble President and the Provost have argued in favor of the thing, the Spanish Department (I must say for reasons not so noble) has urged--and so far succeeded--and argued against it. The students have even conducted a 24 hour sit-in (the first here in decades), thinking that those faculty not being open to logos might be shamed into it. So far they are losing, but the polemos has not yet ended, so some are just learning the alphabet
on their own.

I’m now thinking that a more practical argument should have been used in favor of Ancient Greek. Just fifteen minutes ago I happened to see on CBS evening news--it was an accident that I watched it, never normally do--that the father (Stanley Johnson) of the recently elected Mayor of London (Boris Johnson) said that his son’s election was due entirely to his son’s classical education. After all, he said, "If you can master Ancient Greek, you can master anything." Thank you, Mr. Johnson. Kalos.

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