On Reading-Part VII: Decline of Classical languages
The second group in our revised literary canon comes about from the decline of classical languages. Herodotus and Thucydides still make most of the lists but many other great works have fallen by the wayside now that we no longer learn Greek and Latin as basic rudiments of our education. Xenophon’s Anabasis was once read by every school child because of his pristine and clear Greek prose. We no longer read him as an introduction to Greek grammar but there is more Xenophon than prose technique. The Anabasis is a classic adventure story and is both great literature and fun reading. Also important, but rarely read today are the lively and engaging histories of Livy and Polybius.
A lot of what makes most Latin writers great is lost to us without their language. Much is lost from Ovid’s Metamorphosis as well but he fares much better in translation than many other Latin writers. All too often served up as edited or anthologized excerpts, Metamorphosis is a book that best reveals its pattern and purpose when read in its entirety.
Livy-History of Rome
~ by severalfourmany on January 15, 2013.
Posted in Ancient History, Education, Greek History, History, Literature, Poetry
Tags: Anabasis, Classical language, Greek, Herodotus, Latin, Livy, Ovid, Polybius, Social Sciences, Thucydides, Xenophon