Greek Papyri and their Contribution to Classical Literature
Journal of Hellenic Studies
The enemies of classics sometimes say that it is a dead subject. They depict the classical scholar as spending his time in re-reading, re-editing, or re-annotating texts which have been read, edited, and annotated for generations or centuries; and they contrast him with the student of science, before whom the inexhaustible riches of nature are displayed as his quarry. It were strange, if this were true, that classical study should possess—as by the common experience of public schools it does
... schools it does possess—a capacity unsurpassed by any other subject for turning out men of practical ability and aptitude for the affairs of the world. But it is not true. The enemies of classics, in this as in other instances, have erected a dummy in order to knock it over. They may be reproducing traditions of their fathers, or of their own boyhood; but they are showing that they have not kept abreast of their own times, and that they are not competent to criticise a study of which they know so little. Even natural science, with all its wonderful discoveries, has not been a more living subject during the last half century than the study of classical antiquity. Literature and archaeology—which mean the record of the thoughts of man as expressed in words and in art, during a period when that expression was at its highest pitch of perfection—have gone from discovery to discovery, from development to development, at a rate unequalled even at the Renaissance. These years have given fresh life to the study of the heroic age of human intellectual progress; they have shown that the treasures of antiquity are not only to be enjoyed but are to be increased.