Sunday, May 09, 2004

are you SURE you want to study classics?

'The traditional charges against Classics are as old as Greek culture itself. You all know the litany: "Why would anyone want to borrow money to study that?" "Greek and Latin won't get you a job." The study of Greek is difficult, irrelevant to the modern world, impractical, it is said, and almost unhealthy. Television, the corporations, videos, the economy did it to us, Classicists explain. After all, when a mere B.A. can cost a hundred-thousdand dollars, who can blame today's students--or their tuition-borrowing parents--for confusing educations with job training, for scouring college catalogues for something that looks "practical"? Accounting, hotel management, recreation superivision, and Radio and Sports radiate an unexpected charm. "The Theory of Walking" and "Star Trek and the Humanities"...ensure higher grades with less work than Introductory Greek. As the school loans grow, so does an Aristophanic vision of the Classics graduate as an unemployable couch potato who wields his newly acquired Socratic dialectic to convince his father that money is virtue, virtue is knowledge, and knowledge comes from Star Trek reruns.' (Hanson and Heath, from 'Who killed Homer?')

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