In Response to: The Color of Classics

On reading your recent “The Color of Classics” in the October 2021 issue, it is obvious that the only way to deal with the concerns raised by younger faculty in the classics department is to dissolve the department, sending faculty involved in the Greek and Latin language to whatever department deals with older, usually extinct languages (think Hittite and Aramaic), Greek and Latin history professors to history, classics philosophy faculty to the philosophy department, and so on. Of course, tenure, endowed chairs and offices in East Pyne should follow those former classics professors.

The idea of classics was always an anomaly.  The “glory that was Greece” only lasted a century (arguably, 506 to 403 BC), and the influence of Rome was also short. But educated men thought that Greece and Rome intellectual thought was the basis of modern Western civilization. Certainly, the founding fathers, now in bad odor, thought so. And Oxford and Cambridge called the study of Greek and Latin language, history, philosophy and literature the “greats.”  But, those, of course, were the bad old days before modern sensibilities straightened us out on the limitations of western European culture and its racism, sexism and colonialism. 

With all of this in mind, why should we have a classics department?  Perhaps the only impediment to getting rid of it is that faculty in departments to which former classics faculty are transferred might be wary of what those former classics faculty who, with recent success under their belts, might do to their new departments.

R. Carlton Seaver ’68
Arcadia, Calif.