While it may be true that “classics’ focus on Greek and Roman cultures began in the 18th century, as the discipline was forming,” the influence of Greek and Roman culture in Europe began in the 15th and 16th century during the Renaissance. Indeed, the term Renaissance, or rebirth, refers directly to this influence. Inspired by the discovery of sculpture, architecture and texts from Greece and Rome, artists, sculptors, writers and others transformed European civilization by the study of these secular cultures. In Italy and other countries these secular influences stood side by side with the dominant Christian culture, usually with no sense of conflict between the two. The Renaissance with an important step in the transition from the domination of European culture by the Medieval Church during the Middle Ages to more secular European cultures since then. In that sense, the influence of Greek and Roman culture continues to this day.
To date the influence of Greek and Roman culture in Western civilization to the formation of the discipline of the classics is to take a narrow and poorly informed view. A more complete understanding of our roots and of who we are requires an understanding of the influence of Greek and Roman culture.