Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom

By Victor Davis Hanson; John Heath | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
TEACHING GREEK
IS NOT EASY

… You should not go on
clinging to your childhood. You are no longer of an age to do that.

Homer, Odyssey
(Athena to Telemachos)

We are not suggesting that preserving Greek is easy; rather, at the millennium it is nearly impossible. Even when we write what others can read, stay fast in the classroom, forgo the conference, and tutor the uninitiated, stewardship of Classics is hard. Teaching the ancient Greeks to today’s students requires a special kind of dedication, a calculated imprudence, the desire to plunge in rather than slink off, allegiance precisely to what one Classicist recently dismissed as “middle-class dutifulness.” (D. Konstan, Classical World 89 [1995], p. 32).

If Western civilization is to be taught well, if we are to learn what it is to think like a Greek, someone then must teach Greek. If any are to teach about Greece and Rome, then at least a few in America must be left who know the Greek language, not just literature in translation, not merely the history of the Mediterranean. But the problem is that Greek is fairly difficult—and it resides in the shadowy world of

-161-

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Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface to the - Paperback Edition xi
  • Prologue xix
  • Chapter 1 - Homer Is Dead 1
  • Chapter 2 - Thinking like a Greek 21
  • Chapter 3 - Who Killed Homer — and Why? 81
  • Chapter 4 - Teaching Greek Is Not Easy 161
  • Chapter 5 - What We Could Do 209
  • Appendix - When All We Can Do Is Read 251
  • Afterword - A Reply to Our Critics 275
  • Acknowledgments 311
  • Notes 313
  • Index 317
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