I was dismayed to read in the PAW (May 2021) that the classics major will no longer require the study of Greek or Latin. It is difficult indeed to understand how that change would “provide new perspectives” or “make the field better.” Apart from keeping these languages as our collective cultural heritage, attracting students who have not had Greek or Latin in high school is no argument for the change; many high schools have not offered those languages in decades, while this change would make that even less likely due to fewer people being able to teach it. 

Eliminating the requirement of language proficiency means that the classics would devolve largely to being read in translation, whereas reading in the original language is necessary for full, nuanced understandings. Proficiency should be achieved in the first two years if no previous experience exists, leaving time to explore the literature in the original.

Eliminating the language requirement is a deterioration of rigor rather than an improvement. It undermines Princeton’s mission as a standard-bearer of excellence in scholarly endeavor. Shame on the faculty for its shortsightedness.  

Stephen William Foster *77
Portland, Ore.