The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition

By E. Christian Kopff | Go to book overview

Chapter V
THE CLASSICS, THE FOUNDING,
AND AMERICAN CREATIVITY

The United States of America is linked to the ancient past by many threads: by a language that is permeated with Greek and Latin words and concepts; by the rituals and confessions of the Christian faith, which arose in the ancient world and are still practiced and affirmed by Americans every week; by the scientific practice and its world view, which began as a gleam in Thales' eye in the sixth century B.C. and which presently employs and occupies millions. Nobody really contests these facts. But the tradition of self-rule, democratic or classical republican, is another story. Were the Founders of the Republic and the Framers of the Constitution truly influenced to any significant degree by the classical past?

A number of distinguished students of America think not. Bernard Bailyn, dean of scholars of the intellectual life of the early American Republic, agrees that the Founders quoted the

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