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Nothing is Sacred: Except for the old pillar that holds the building

Nothing is Sacred: Except for the old pillar that holds the building

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This is a response to the online article titled "Nothing is Sacred", by Dr. Peter Rowley
This is a response to the online article titled "Nothing is Sacred", by Dr. Peter Rowley

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Juan A. Caballero Prieto on Aug 21, 2011
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12/22/2012

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Nothing is Sacred: Except for the old pillar that holds the building(A response to Dr. Peter Rowley)Dear Dr. Rowley, I am but a humble student of Classics far removed from the location in whichthis debate is taking place. I have only my voice, and no pull amongst students or faculty anywhere.Furthermore, I am writing this response in lieu to the behest of my own person, not the backing of anygroup, not even the one pertaining to the saving of Classics are Royal Holloway. Allow me to say, inaddition, that before this group came about, I had neither the slightest clue nor cared to know of anyuniversities like the afore-mentioned. Why do these trivial facts matter to you? It matters because onecannot effectively counter a man he does not know; and now that we are acquainted (for I have readabout you indeed), I will resume my apology (in the Greek sense, of course) to your post.First and foremost, you are absolutely right; about everything. Integration does not meandisappearance of the department, men not of Classics are just as smart, or even more so than thosewithin it. We classicists (forgive the title, I am a mere student, but this is more a point than a show of hubris) are more romantic than most, love good rhetoric and look down on other departments for theirhighly constituted courses that teach job-specific skills. Yes, Dr. Rowley, we can craft a lovely sentence,appreciate the boring phrasing of the Republic and form the backbone of a department in decline notonly at Holloway, but around the world. That said, are you not doing the same thing by writing that ourdepartment is not worth keeping intact? Would you not defend your department if it were to beintegrated with a related science? You would indeed, and reckon your grammatical composition wouldindeed increase if you thought that with your next letter there was not only an appeal for justice, buthope for the future success of your petition. I hope you will approve of the epitome I made of yourarguments, and understand that I have read them carefully,considering their ponderous words youplace forth. I hope that you can grant me the courtesy of listening to my own words.Classics is important because we have been studying it since man was man; we look to Rome, itlooked to Greece, and it looked to Persia, which undoubtedly looked further back into the unknownreaches of unrecorded history. But what is important about Classics is not History, we have adepartment for that. What is important is that there are men who learn from the wisdom of others;thatthere is a need to understand ourselves as human beings, and that the classicist addresses that problem.Yes, Dr., Philosophers do that; but the men whom I study as a classicist are those who begun the studyof philosophy, not only that, but of biology, astrology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. There is noscience or art (you may argue all you want but dig deep enough, and you will find the connection) thatdoes not derive from the mind of the wondering man, these original thinkers embodied in the likes of Pythagoras, Lysis, Socrates or Plato. These studies, Dr., highly romanticized indeed, provided the basis of our modern world; yet we humans, encased in the hubris of our limited professions, pretend to knowthat which we dont know. Indeed, we think that now we have no need for the original thinkers;for wehave men who specialize in all fields they of old had to research on their own; and thanks to that we aremuch more advanced that we have ever been. I would argue, Dr., that we are in a state of scientificadvance far beyond our wildest imagination, and yet we suffer a retardation of the mind that inhibitsour ability to be people; to care for our constituents, and promote freedom and justice in the world.
 
Classics has never been the main pathos of any modern man of science, but it has been the basisfor 99.9% of them. Forgive my seemingly random number, but I borrowed it from your analysis; for thestudent who does not study classics directly is indirectly learning it every day. Your yourself are learnedin Plato, you know of Spartans and Athenians, of philosophers and stoics, of the Gorgon and Hercules.Yes Dr., any child will more than likely learn mythology before anything else, whether the ones providedby the ancients or a modernized version in the form of religion, state politics or local culture. Do youassume that this knowledge can be researched and understood with the destruction of the Classics as aninstitution? I would argue in the negative. Men have twisted history enough, by taking a departmentaway you are not simply downsizing; you are destroying our capability to remain uncorrupted by thegeneralities of standard history.Furthermore, I will tell you that cutting Classics at Royal Holloway will do nothing to theprofession overall, indeed you may vote to destroy it completely, carry out the deed yourself and dragits limp body behind your chariot. You may order the Classics to commit suicide by drinking thehemlock-like cup of budget cuts until those that come out of Holloways halls are neither educated norprepared for a world that expects them to know of these romantic and ancient facts for daily use. I cantell you that the decision will be soon resented and the department will live on in other institution,perhaps to the point that Royal Holloway will find the necessity to restore it in the future. But rather,despite the arguments that can be made about world culture, this is a contest that must be won on oneconcept alone: principle.Yes Dr., the principle that tells us no man should be told what to do in life; a concept of freedomwhich ties back to the very men that created it, and which those in the department of Classics study andtry to understand, a department for which you are proposing budget cuts. Democracy, freedom and justice are unequivocally Greek, and only the Classicist will understand the moral principle of it, read thewords in their original form, spend countless hours doing thankless work interpreting the meaning of ideas written long ago and that will help us carve a better world into stone. Once more, we are notphysicists, mathematicians, philosophers, biologists or the like. We are thinkers, Dr. Rowley, taught todo all of the above by rational methodology. We dive into the minds of ancient men to find the answersthat our generation seeks so desperately today, transferring the knowledge and hoping that in theemptiness of our halls we can find the ear that will listen, the leader that will care, the curious who willapply. Romanticized indeed, wouldnt you say? A load of bollocks as you so wrote it; but let me saythis: smart men can be very dumb; and human beings who understand all about the dangers of fireconstantly burn themselves in the flames of misunderstanding and ignorance. I would like to see smartmen become wise men, a much more complicated process, and one to which your 99.9% of universitygraduates do not adhere.Thus, the reason to oppose Royal Holloways integration of the History and Classics departmentsis this: let one men die, and when the culprits hear no voice of lament, they will think it no problem tokill. If I, so far removed from England and so unimportant, allow the Classics at Royal Holloway to fail,what I am saying is that it is no problem to cut these departments elsewhere. My silent lamentation isequal to condemnation for the department I love so much, regardless of location. Royal Hollowaysleadership must know that they cannot destroy their Classics section without the lamentation of those

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