Why Classics?

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson on Why Study the Classics?

You ask my opinion on the extent to which classical learning should be carried in our country. A sickly condition permits me to think and a rheumatic hand to write too briefly on this litigated question. The utilities we derive from the remains of the Greek and Latin languages are, first, as models of pure taste in writing. To these we are certainly indebted for the national and chaste style of modern composition which so much distinguishes the nations to whom these languages are familiar. Without these models we should probably have continued the inflated style of our northern ancestors, or the hyperbolical and vague one of the east. Continued...

Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson on Why Study the Classics?

On Saturday, July 30, Dr. Johnson and I took a sculler at the Temple-stairs, and set out for Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. JOHNSON. "Most certainly, Sir; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not. Continued...

Henry David Thoreau on Why Study the Classics?

The student may read Homer or Æschylus in the Greek without danger Henry D. Thoreauof dissipation or luxuriousness, for it implies that he in some measure emulate their heroes, and consecrate morning hours to their pages. The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have. The modern cheap and fertile press, with all its translations, has done little to bring us nearer to the heroic writers of antiquity. Continued...

Alexis de Tocqueville Alexis de Tocqueville on Why Study the Classics?

What was called the People in the most democratic republics of antiquity was very unlike what we designate by that term. In Athens all the citizens took part in public affairs; but there were only twenty thousand citizens to more than three hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. All the rest were slaves, and discharged the greater part of those duties which belong at the present day to the lower or even to the middle classes. Athens, then, with her universal suffrage, was, after all, merely an aristocratic republic, in which all the nobles had an equal right to the government. Continued...

The History Net on Why Study the Classics?
http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa071100a.htm

Drew University on Why Study the Classics?
http://www.depts.drew.edu/classics/why_classics.html