October 18, 2007

Read the epics in the native tongue

Here’s Mortimer Adler, from his treatise, How to Read a Book (ch. 15):
Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton — they are the authors that every good poet, to say nothing of other writers, has read. Along with the Bible, they constitute the backbone of any serious reading program.
And, I would humbly add, the backbone of the Western wisdom tradition. So, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, and the Old and New Testaments — the major epic poems of the West — are the grammar (or rudiments) of Great Artistry, from the transdisciplinary level. Note that to read each in the native tongue — which is self-evidently desirable — would mean learning Ancient and Koine Greek, Latin, Tuscan Italian, and Biblical Hebrew (on top of knowing English, of course). And the study of these works in each’s native tongue doesn’t comprise the standard for genuine education in today’s world, why?

1 comment:

  1. Kirk, TexasJanuary 02, 2008

    The more I read about classical education and how many people that we revere were educated thusly, I feel such an education would be desireable and edifying. Which is why I am learning Latin at age 44.