FROM MOST TO LEAST HUMANE Those Angry Young UT Classicists “Now, what I want is, Facts. . . . Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them Stick to Facts, Sir!” From Hard Times AUSTIN A minor revolution in the field of classical studies is scheduled to come off next month, emanating from Texas, but it will probably not excite a great many people. In fact, if the general attitude toward classical studies were such that a revolution in the field would excite considerable attention, there would be no reason for calling this one. The radical intrusion will be the appearance of the first issue of Arlon, a quarterly to be pulished by the University of Texas and edited by William Arrowsmith, D. S. Carne-Ross, J. P. Sullivan, and Frederick Will. One major purpose of publishing another journal in classics \(there do something about bringing these studies out of the esoteric hole they have been in for many years and offering them once again for what they were for centuries \(before being buried by the Germanic art and ideas for people. “Around a university you don’t hear students talking about the classics,” said Arrowsmith. “They talk about Pound in the present, Shakespeare in the past. So long as the classicists themselves report no excitement in their con-, tact with the classics, where do they expect contagion to come from?” In an editorial “95 Theses” prepared for the first issue, the editors put it this way: “The most humane of all humane studies has become the least humane. Classics lost long ago its central place in education: it became just one of many cultural disciplines that compete for the attention of the educated man. But now classics is in danger of not competing et all for the serious attention of the community of letters and so abandoning all pretensions to be a humanizing force in education or intellectual life in general. . . . “Classical studies have become increasingly ‘isolated from all other literary disciplines and interests. Our literary studies, for example, exist in a closed world of their own; we employ a ‘critical language’ that bears no relation to any other critical language and our literary tokens are never brought into contact with any other critical currency. As a result classical authors have been quietly dropped as fit subjects for mature literary discussion. . .” RITTER AS THIS is, for a scholU larly editorial, it is much less emphatic than are the editors themselves, discussing the problem conversationally. Arrowsmith, for example, describes the present state of classical studies as a “dreary wasteland” inhabited by “people who ren’t willing ‘to take any imaginative risk whatever. There has been strong ‘in the profession for almost 50 years the notion that classics is almost a science . . that nothing except a fact is a contribution to knowledge. This drives out literary criticism. “At the yearly meeting of the American Philological Association, papers are aimited to 15 minutes. This effectively eliminates criticism. It limits papers to details ‘A New Tax Receipt from the Time of Caracalla,”New Light Shed on the Past Periphrastic in Ammianus Marcellinus.’ ” Arrowsmith tells of being invited to speak to the Classical Association of Midwestern States in 1959 on the subject “Modern Criticism and the Classics.” He was allotted 10 minutes. He answered the invitation by saying that he thought the subject might require more time. The Association increased his time allowance to 15 minutes. Arrowsmith told them to forget it. “The very time limit assigned disallows persuasion and style,” he said, “and I think persuasion is important stuff.” The point is, the same attitude that prevails at meetings of the classical societies prevails also, to a much more intense degree, in the classical journals, such as the Transactions of the American Philological Association the American Journal of Philology Classical Philology Classical World Classical Journal AHon breaks completely with the philological tradition established by these publications. “There will be nothing else like it, either in this country or abroad,” Arrowsmith ‘said. Anion will include translations. No other classical publication does this. Furthermore, it will include unexpurgated translations. Shocking. It will be heavy with criticism \(“not merely literary criticism, but the critical imagination applied to classical culture generally, to its art, its philosophy, its intellectual deed, for no other classical publication unbends to this extent. It will publish articles \(as it does standing graduate students: amazing, since classilcal publications are traditionally the domain of greybeards. It will be saucy; the tradition is somber. AND IT WILL BE sharply scornful of established scholars whom the editors judge to be either frauds or humbugs \(this, in a field where tradition dictates For instance, the second issue of Anion ‘is scheduling five pages of textual comparisons to show that classics whom Arrowsmith h describes as “an outstanding member of the profession, one who acts as a kind of spokesman for the profession” is a cheat and a plagarist. But he isn’t alone. “It’s our belief that plagarism is ‘allowed to flourish in this profession,” says Arrowsmith, “and we’d like to bring some honest polemic back to the country. We’re not trying to be bad ‘boys. This simply strikes us as being serious.” One purpose of Arlon ‘is to try, to give secondary school teachers of Latin and classical ‘history a shot of adrenalin. At present they are almost completely forgotten. Only Classical World includes anything for them, and it does so an a down-the-nose way. Chancellor Harry Ransom had the secondary teachers in mind when he gave the go-ahead ‘for Arlon, Arrowsmih says. “Ransom is very keen on us hitting the secondary ‘school people. For the most part, the things put out now by the universities for them are viciously condescending ‘how to make Latin Day interes’ting’ or ‘Latin in the news’and in many cases the secondary school people don’t deserve any better. But good Lord how do you ex pect them to be any better when they are treated this way?” In ‘no way, however, have the editors of Anion set out to “popularize” their material. Arrowsmith said he expects graduate students in’ classics to give a real welcome to the new journal because “there is a stror,g undercurrent of rebellion among classics students, especially in the graduate schools,” but he suspects that some of this rebellion is based on sloth and mushy perspective: “Many of them are riot worthy of the rebellion they stand for. I have no ‘patience with graduate students who don’t understand the value of philology.” Reaction against the strictly philological approach to the classics has made British journals in the field superior to American, he said, but at the same time it has carried them to a different excess, just as ‘unappealing to the editors of Arlon. William Arrowsmith “They don’t have the Germanic bug,” said Arrowsmith, “but they get so smaltzy, so damned mellow.” Asked to define smaltz, Arrowsmith came up with “those gorgeous Greeks” and “golden mediocrity.” As an example of the smaltzy author he mentioned Gilbert Highet; Sullivan in his firstissue piece on “Two ‘Concepts of Liberalism” also mentions “such cheap sneers as Highet’s at textual criticism \(‘glorified form of intelLooking in the first issue for examples of how these angry young classicists mean to joust w:th their more inflexible colleagues: Arrowmith’s translation of ATistophanes’ Knights includes such ripe passages as this, Demosthenes speaking: I4 . And then Paphlagon comes smirking around, asking for hushmoney, hinting and threatening: ‘Well, boys, you saw the licking poor old IHylas got, didn’t you? Better come across or it’s your ass next.’ So we pay the blackmailer offor else. Or else we’re whipped by ortrker of The Peepul, and when I say whipped, I mean whipped. We are, gentlemen, quite literally whipped SHITLESS.” An d another time, Demosthenes: “. . . Yessirree. Prime my brain wIlth wine, and I’l crap out such a non-stop stream of brainwaves and ideas you’d think the stinking stage were the . sithouse of genius.” Robert Sonkowsky becomes downright brutal an his review of several recordings \(Folkways ReHadas and John F. C. Richards, drawing and quartering them in this style: “We would hear oral readings very similar to the above LP recordings of Professors Moses Hadas and John F. C. Richards if IBM could design a computerphonograph programmed to store various ancient texts so as to repress every impulse of oral imagination and to shunt only vocal abstractions, the phonetic chaff, into the loud-speaker. But the IBM productions would have a slightly different sound because they would lack the interference of the individual monotones which are programmed into these LP’s by the mechanism of classroom personality.” “While Professor Richards does not show the high assurance, he makes up for it in rigid intensity and basso-nasality. The performance is at least not blase. It strives for tone-deaf impressiveness but produces pomposity, an effect which he initiates at the beginning of each selection by a certain vocal tenseness and sustains in the rest of each selection by dropping part of the tenseness and by continuing to saw the lowest bass note which will resonate profoundly in the nasal passages. Metrically, the saw never jams in the kerf, but equally there is no inner music and no dramatic projection, not to mention their proper fusion.” Then there is Carne-Ross’ criticism of Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of The Odyssey, in which he remarks in passing about the recently published and quite popular University of Chicago’s Complete Greek Tragedies \(‘to which Arrowsmith himself con”There they are, all 33 of them, eorralted at last between those dignified brown boards. The student is provided not only with a reliable translation, but also with information about such matters as the archonship under which each datable play was produced, its place in the development of the author’s art and those points where the translator has ventured to depart from received reading. “It is all very scholarly and satisfactory. When so much’ is offered it is hard to be ‘ungrateful, but it needs ‘to be said that the Chicago series is a rush job which has done a positive disservice both to Greek tragedy and to the ‘art of translation, and that of the 33 versions scarcely half a dozen are good enough, the rest ranging from the greyly mediocre to the resoundingly bad. The whole thing needs to be done over again much more slowly.” Sullivan, thmself a welcome visitor from Oxford, looks ‘homeward in “Two Views of Liberalism,” to beard none other than H. J. ‘LloydJones, Regius professor of Greek at Oxford: “Lloyd-Jones, for instance, says ‘Nothing dates so quickly as literary criticism; and that makes scholars like Housman doubt the very possibility of applying it to ancient literature. We can see where our predecessors read into ancient texts the thought of their own time: if we try to replace their critical outlook with a new one of our own, will not our work seem to our successors as uncongenial as we now find that of our predecessors?’ “Now this seems to me a curiously external way of looking at literary criticism. I was not myself aware of Housman’s doubts, particularly in view of his admiration for Arnold’s lectures on Translating Homer, nor was I aware that such books as The Lives of the Poets dates more quickly than a good edition of Manilius. But in any case, this preoccupation with time and datedness and the monumentum acre perennius are personal matters … Naturally the most immediate and most obvious value of literary criticism is for the present; its effects are or should be the preservation of a healthy and critical cultural tradition. “And the question is whether in classical studies we promote actively, rigorously and consciousAy a critical attitude or whether by our very neglect of it continue in unconscious and unexamined acceptance of the diluted critical views of the last century or our schooldays. It is not a question of importing modern prejudices, which a consciously critical spirit may control in the ways LloydJones suggestsby reference to the relevant evidencebut of living in a haze of unacknowledged preconceptions and thus more probably importing our prejudices by our very unawareness.” So much for the bloodletting in this first issue. Considerable as that .isand not surprisingly for a journal that knows it is entering a hostile world and must fight for acceptancethe merit of the publication stems of course from its much more considerable spinning out of ideas from the crystalized symbolism of the classical world, such as this from Thomas Rosenmeyer’s “Seven Against Thebes: The Tragedy ‘of War”: “. . . the shield asserts itself as the principal image of the vision of war we have been discussing: war as a meaningless mechanism, as cruel physical necessity and violence, as the impact of mass on mass. We need not rely on our own sense of metaphor to see how fitting the image is; archaic vase painting furnishes us with independent evidence. When the artist paints a duel, the contortions , of the limbs, the tautness of the facial muscles are sharply individualized. Each fighter has his own posture and his own momentum;
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