Since the Renaissance the classics have served as a better time and place for those wanting an education in Europe and then in America. Preference for the ancient world and its achievements derived from a lack of satisfaction with the present and its achievements. Looking back was better than looking at the present or the unknown future. But the more one looks at the ancient world, if one is honest, the more one realizes than humanity really doesn’t change over time, except in its toys, tools, and external developments. Humanity doesn’t change in its basic drives, behaviors, morality, or beliefs. These change only externally, superficially, but what is basic doesn’t change.  That is why returning to the classics is welcomed by many — not because it was a better, more intelligent, more successful time, but because it was just yesterday and no different in what really matters than today. Those who really think the ancient times were better have something bothering them and they won’t really be satisfied because they won’t find the answer in the past. Was it Mark Twain who said that the past doesn’t repeat itself, it simply rhymes with the present?

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.