Just reading a book right now that is explaining why a classical education is crucial and why the classical tradition is still relevant. It inspired me to come up with this quote (take that for what you will!):
Those who seek to liberate you will have you study the past; those who seek to control you will remove it.
I can’t help but think of when the Nazis were burning books. The bonfire of the vanities, if you will. Look at the action, and look at the intention. The Inquisition. Any time in history that we have seen massive social change followed by a period of darkness, it has begun, ironically, with a burning up of the past. To remove the past from our grasp is to give us no guide for the future but also no foundation for it as well.
And if we agree upon such a concept, then what would the removal of those past languages be akin to? It seems to be a more subtle way of burning books because to burn up the languages, we burn up the connections to those thoughts that are so influential yet so universal. How can we truly understand what is meant by Homer in his great works if we cannot read them? How can we understand Marcus Aurelius’ meditations if indeed we don’t know the words he is speaking? Virgil? Euripides? Plato? Aristotle? Ovid?
The past becomes mute. Just like during those dark epochs of history I mentioned earlier. The climate of those times usually is great arrogance – after all, what more than hubris could give birth to an idea that we no longer need the past? We do indeed live in arrogant times. Cavere, mi amice.