Who Killed Homer? the Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom'
by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath: notes by JZ

See also

Who Killed Homer? the Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom

The main value of this complaint about the dramatic decrease of education and interest in learning the language and knowledge of the Ancient Greeks is its book list).

Three arguments to the book [pp. xviii-xx]:

  1. [Comment: as the Greek civilization was slave-based and as it disenfranchised women, I am unlikely to embrace this argument for the Greek model as the one for the third millennium. JZ.]

    "Hellenic culture — an idea not predicated on race — is not just different from, but entirely antithetical to any civilization of its own time or space." The polis is ... an institution in deliberate opposition to Eastern approaches to government, literature, religion, war, individual rights, citizenship, and science. ... Greece ... was not Tyre, Sidon, Giza, or Persepolis, nor was it Germania, Britannia, or Gaul. The core values of classical Greece are unique, unchanging, and non-multicultural, thus explaining both the duration and dynamism of Western culture itself — culture that we as Western intellectuals must stop apologizing for but rather come to grips with, as the sole paradigm which will either save or destroy the planet."

  2. [Comment: as this is more fact-based than the previous item, it has some prospect of convincing. JZ.]

    "The demise of Classical learning is both real and quantifiable."

  3. [Comment: Based on my experience, I am not sympathetic to this argument. My experience with the brilliant and generous Classics instructor Thomas Walsh in Greek I: Introduction to Ancient Greek not only led me to complete this class. Indeed, as a result of his skill and enthusiasm, I took and completed Greek II: The Saga Continues in Ancient Greek and Greek III: into Ancient Greek text. JZ.]

    "Our present generation of Classicists helped to destroy classical education. While their hypocrisy in living their lives differently from what they advocate, their obscurity of in language and expression, their new religion of postmodernism, theory, social construction, and relativism are neither novel nor profound — the next century will scarcely notice their foolishness — they are nevertheless culpable and they must be cited and condemned. ... Our generation of Classicists ... failed utterly, failed to such a degree that the Greeks now play almost no part in discussions of how the West is to evolve in the next millennium. Worse, the dereliction of the academics was not just the usual wage of sloth, complacency, and arrogance — even to destroy — the Greeks, to assure the public that as Classicists they knew best just how sexist, racist, and exploitative the Greeks really were. "

Dipped into the book, including their subsection on Homer and Literary Theory:

"Literary theory offers unlimited ways to argue that the texts do not say what they appear to say. Rather than speak on meaning, themes, or images, or even structure, the emphasis now is no 'rhetoric' and 'discourse' ... Even studies of something as concrete as Homeric similes get lost in the theoretical jargon."

And so on.

But good parts are:

Who Killed Homer? book list

They seem to prefer authors like de Ste. Croix whom they say is "someone now angry, now exasperated". For all the authors' claims to the high ground of logic, they made two errors (20%) in alphabetizing this 10-entry list!

Some vocabulary of Books

Glossary: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.

Timeline of Foundations of Western Civilization.