The Point Of Classics

Pocket Quintilian

The week of the Sydney Latin Summer School is my favourite week of every year. Teaching my favourite subject to old and young alike, in the company of my good friend and colleague, the boundlessly knowledgeable John Coombs, is an unalloyed pleasure. During this year’s edition, my mind also turned to the question of why we still teach this language that has not been used even as a means of written communication for several centuries. Many people derive enjoyment from it, but when it comes to a place in the school curriculum, that’s not quite enough.

Recently, a seriesofarticles has appeared on the libertarian-ish Quillette website, dealing thoughtfully with many of the issues surrounding the legacy and importance of classics as a discipline. This has perhaps become more topical lately with the culture war weaponisation of the term “Western Civilisation”, and the occasional use of classical imagery in…

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