Plato's Modern Friends and Enemies

Renford Bambrougha1

a1 St John's College, Cambridge

In his speech of welcome to the members of the Classical Joint Meeting at Cambridge in August, 1958, the Master of Peterhouse praised classical scholars for the detachment and pertinacity with which they continue their pursuits while the world is on the edge of the abyss. The remark might be taken to have one more edge than the abyss. At a time when it can no longer be assumed that a knowledge of the Greek and Latin classics is part of the learning of any man who has any learning at all, there are two opposite temptations which beset those whose profession is the study and teaching of the ancient classics. The first is the sentimentality which goes on singing dithyrambs to the Glory that was Greece and the Grandeur that was Rome, on the assumption that the relevance of ancient texts to modern perplexities is too nearly self-evident to need explaining.