Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Classics

Why Study Classics? Journalism

Students find the study of Classics to be excellent preparation for careers in journalism.

Bob Abernethy: “When you came back from Kosovo, you spent a year reading the classics. What were you trying to understand?”
Chris Hedges: “I did that on the advice of James Freedman, the former president of Dartmouth, and it was one of the smartest things I did because, of course, Thucydides, Cicero, Virgil — all of these great writers dealt with the same issues. Virgil and Cicero came out of a very bloody civil war that ended with the reign of Augustus.

“I was freed from the cant of my own society and allowed to grapple with those issues in a way that brought them into clearer focus.

“I saw, for instance, in writers such as Aristotle how great minds in societies are limited. Even though Aristotle opposed slavery, he believed that slavery would never be eradicated. It allowed me to come back and look at our own society and my own life in a way that I hadn’t before.

“And then, quite frankly, I found that a lot of the writing of Catullus, this great lyric Roman poet, just spoke to me over hundreds of years in a very powerful and moving way. I memorized a lot of Catullus’s poems. And when I went to visit Kurt Schork’s grave in Sarajevo, I stood over it and recited the poem that Catullus had written to his own brother who died near Troy [Catull. c. 101]. It gave me a kind of continuity, a clearer understanding of who I was and the age in which I live.” (From an NPR interview, broadcast on January 31, 2003)(cf. NYT 12/01/1999)

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