What the Greeks and Romans Can Teach Us

A surprising aspect of human nature during warfare is its immutability over the millennia, as classical scholar and Hoover Institution fellow Victor Davis Hanson shows in our discussion about the Peloponnesian War and the Roman Empire. He illustrates what 5th Century BC Greece can tell us about invasions, charismatic leadership, national honor and courageous resistance today.

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7 thoughts on “What the Greeks and Romans Can Teach Us”

  1. Carolee Wilson

    I must confess I have never studied ancient history or Latin. I doubt it was even offered at my college. I have always loved language & now regret that I didn’t pursue Latin on my own. I was, in my younger years, married to a British man. In England Latin was manditory. What a shame we didn’t have thoughtful, enlightened people structuring our curriculum. While most of the history Victor tells is Greek to me, I still enjoy the history lessons.

  2. Victor, what is a good resource or online course for someone who wants to learn Latin and ancient Greek? Do you have anything you can recommend?

    1. I’m no Victor, but the standard course books for Latin and Greek are Wheelock’s Latin and Hansen and Quinn’s Greek: An Intensive Course. Latin is easier to Learn than Greek. You will also want a couple readers like Groton and May’s 38 Latin Stories. Next steps should include Greek and Latin texts with copious helps from Bryn Mawr university and Greek a Latin texts with English translations from Harvard’s Loeb classical library. I would also recommend getting a Greek Septuigent and New Testament and a Vulgate. Greek works to begin with are Plato’s Ion, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Sophocles’ Antigone. For Latin, you want Caesar’s Gallic War, the poems of Catullus, Virgil’s Aeneid, Horace’s Odes, and perhaps Augustine’s Confessions. The Center For Hellenic Studies and the University of Dallas have online helps. A certificate course in Greek and Latin will ding you $8,000+. Admissions to non-online classics programs are ruthlessly competitive.

    2. Oops! Almost forgot! Geoffrey Steadman has many Latin and Greek texts with vocabulary and commentary for free online and available in print for a reasonable price.

  3. This is great, especially for teachers and autodidacts! Just a humble addition for those who want to read more but are short on time from a teacher:
    Penguin Books has a one-volume version of Kagan’s The Peloponnesian War. VDH’s own A War Like No Other is indispensable for the layperson trying to get a handle on Thucy. Neither work will win you friends among practicing classicists for political reasons, but that shouldn’t stop anyone but a vulnerable student. I also like Perez Zagorin’s (short!) Thucydides: an Introduction for the Common Reader. If it’s Romans you’re after, a good beginning is H.H. Scullard’s From the Gracchi to Nero (a little dated).

  4. Charles Carroll

    My father, a blue-collar worker all of his life, made me take Latin in high school “so you will know how to speak English”. Interestingly enough, he had gone to a Catholic school in Brooklyn taught by Dominican priests, and spoke German, French Latin and Greek. His formal education had ended in 1934 but, when I told my Greek Latin teacher about his Greek, the latter wrote out a paragraph which my father had no problem translating – in 1965, 31 years after he last studied it.

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