Why the Classics Matter

November 20, 2016
(was 02.21.2016)

There's a lot of handwringing these days about the American Empire. Is it doomed to come crashing down the way the Roman Empire did? We'll find some unexpected lessons from Ancient Rome and even earlier, the collapse of Bronze Age civilization. We also celebrate the wisdom of the ancient classics, and hear how one philosopher teaches Plato to Palestinian students.

  1. "Every Empire Eventually Falls"

    National security, civil liberties, terrorism...those issues obsessed Romans 2,000 years ago just as they obsess us today. Renowned classicist Mary Beard says we have lots to learn from Ancient Rome, including insights into how empires rise and fall.

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  2. Dangerous Idea: Latin Can Save Your Life

    Princeton historian Anthony Grafton explains how learning conversational Latin inspired his students. 

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  3. When Civilization Collapsed

    A sophisticated global world of trade and diplomacy flourished 3,000 years ago - stretching from Egypt to Babylon- and then came crashing down. Archeologist Eric Cline says a "perfect storm" of calamaties led to the collapse of the Late Bronze Age. He points out that we face many of the same challenges today.

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  4. Reclaiming Ancient Virtues

    Have we lost sight of ancient virtues like courage, compassion and truth?  Mark Edmundson thinks we have, and he says we'd do well to read Homer, Plato and the ancient sages.

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  5. Plato in Palestine

    Carlos Fraenkel wanted to take philosophy out into the streets, so he met with students at Palestinian and Egyptian universities, and found that Plato, Maimonides and other great philosophers can open up a culture of conversation and debate.

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