There was a young man who said ‘God

Must find it exceedingly odd

To think that the tree

Should continue to be

When there’s no one about in the quad.’

Reply:

‘Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;

I am always about in the quad.

And that’s why the tree

Will continue to be

Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.’

Classicists are like Ronald Knox’s God. Or at least they believe theirs to be a Godlike subject. From the perspective of the Western world, at least, as long as there has been history, Classics has always been about in the quad. A commitment to presentism is built into Classics because, in claiming that what they study is classical, classicists claim that it runs as lifeblood through every subsequent age of at least the world of Western civilization. Of course we are going to find...

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