NR Digital

Donald Kagan’s Last Lecture

by Eliana Johnson
An important career ends memorably

New Haven, Conn. – Donald Kagan’s survey course, Introduction to Ancient Greek History, has for the past four decades been an intellectual touchstone for Yale undergraduates. His final lecture of the semester, during which he recounts Demosthenes’ heroic struggle to defend Athens against Philip of Macedon, is famous for rousing students to their feet as he exits the stage.

The 80-year-old Kagan is retiring this year, and today he delivers a different kind of final lecture: his last as a member of the Yale faculty. He left the Cornell faculty for Yale in 1969; he was by then already a conservative, having been pushed right watching the fecklessness of Cornell’s administrators as black student protesters turned a university building into an armed camp.