Xanthus, why do you prophesy my death?
There is no need for that.
(Achilles to his horse)
“How far is Athens from Sparta?” (Silence) “Why did the Mycenaean world collapse?” (Silence) “Why did the Athenians sponsor dramatic performances?” (Silence) “What are some Western values that began with the Greeks?” (Silence)
We no longer ask these questions of recent Classics Ph.D.s at job interviews, whose mastery of the Greek and Latin languages and literatures was supposed to explicate the origins and complexity of the West to the rest of us. Instead, more likely we are asked the following by young academic candidates who study the Greeks:
“What is the teaching load like?” “Are there opportunities for junior faculty research grants?” “Should I tell you something about my dissertation?”
Why is this so?
These freshly minted Classicists are bright, young—and, increasingly, not-so-young—men and women. They read Latin and Greek,