Columbia Library columns (v.9(1959Nov-1960May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.9,no.3(1960:May): Page 29  

What Attracts Classical Scholars
to a University?


A GENERATION or two ago the word "scholarship"
/-j\ was understood to apply exclusively to the study of
A )\ the classics of Greece and Rome. Applied to other
disciplines, as it is in current usage, the word was originally a
metaphor, and to bookish people it still rings strange when applied
to non-bookish subjects. The student of the ancients, like his col¬
leagues in the more modern humanities, is wholly dependent upon
books, and it is in the nature of his materials and interests that these
books should be both discursive and numerous. They are bound
to be more numerous in classical than in any vernacular literature
because the classics have been scholarship's central concern from
antiquity onwards and for centuries without serious rivals, and
because classical scholarship is practised in all civilized countries
alike, whereas study of vernacular literature is largely centered in
the countries of their origin. A student of English or American
literature should have some awareness of the work of continental
scholars in his field, but a student of the Greek and Latin classics
would remain ignorant of the larger segment of the work in his field
if he were cut off from the production of continental scholarship.
Limited in time and place as is the classical scholar's preserve,
within that preserve there are numerous and diverse areas, and
concern in them varies in volume and intensity as new materials
or new theories are made available or taste veers. There is place
for linguistic and for literary scholarship, for cultural history in
manifold aspects, for epigraphy and papyrology and palaeography.
Preoccupations with "classic" periods give way to interest in what
preceded and followed, with "classic" authors to those heretofore
less esteemed, with grammar and textual criticism to a deeper con-

  v.9,no.3(1960:May): Page 29