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Excerpt from The Grecians, by James Elroy Flecker, 1910

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Excerpt from The Grecians, by James Elroy Flecker, 1910

Postby Helikwps » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:42 am

Posted as the continuation of an old and interesting thread, 'Tips for Self-Study'.

"The Grecians" was written as a Socratic dialogue on the perfect English education, held between three old schoolmasters on their walks through the hills above Florence. A short and amusing read...

"It is here that we must consider which dead or living tongues our guardians must know, for we shall consider at present the learning of a language merely as a means of reading a new literature.  Latin and Greek are inevitable both from the intrinsic merit of their literature and from the force of the historical tradition which Edwinson once so fluently pointed out.  But our teaching of these languages will be revolutionary except in the case of those boys who are taking them as part of their technical training in order to win university scholarships.

"There will be no writing, and certainly (if Dr. Rouse will forgive us) no speaking, of Latin and Greek.  We shall let such portions of the grammar as are not very important (genders and the parts of Latin verbs) be rather learnt in the course of reading than laboriously committed to memory.  We shall read very quickly in class, and confine ourselves to works which are either good in themselves, historically interesting, or influential on subsequent thought.  We shall divert the young with Homer, easiest of great poets, with Lucian's Vera Historia, with a few legends of old Rome from Livy, and with fairy tales from Apuleius.  We will not weary even Grecians with Thucydides when he talks about dreary expeditions into Aetolia; but all Grecians shall read the fate of the Sicilian expedition and learn by heart the speech of Pericles.  Into Demosthenes we will only dip; of Sophocles and Euripides we will select the finest plays and read them, as well as the Aeschylean trilogy, more than once.  Herodotus we shall read through lightly, as is fitting, and we shall take parts in the plays of Aristophanes in merry congress; of Plato we shall never weary, for he is good for the soul.  Nor shall we presume to forget Theocritus and the lyric fragments, or those unfading roses of the Anthology which tell how roses fade.  And only for the very young shall we bowdlerize anything, since we are dealing, not with urchins, but with the select and chosen few."

[pp. 101-103]
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