Magazine March 8, 2021, Issue

In Defense of the Classics

Marble pilaster capital, Roman, first century (Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
A tool of rigor, a source of beauty

In 1984, when I began my doctoral studies at Harvard, a professor confided about an unusual problem: This classics department had more money than it knew what to do with, far and away the largest endowment in the university’s Arts and Sciences division. Classics (Latin, Greek, and — before the Divinity School hived off — Classical Hebrew, the three languages that formed the time-honored routes to scripture scholarship) had more or less been the original Harvard curriculum, whose funding was now a nearly 350-year-old investment.

Clearly, the professor wanted me — a middle-class, midwestern, very young woman — to contemplate what

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Sarah Ruden’s most recent books are the extensively revised second edition of her Aeneid translation and her new translation of the Gospels.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners




Readers react to commentary on the federal legalization of marijuana, Zionism, and academic credentials.
The Week

The Week

That light you may have seen in the night sky, brighter than Halley’s Comet, steadier than the aurora borealis, is the Lincoln Project blowing up.


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