Rising and Evolving: Classical Studies in the News


The the Notes & Comments Article from the March 2019 Issue of New Criterion (“Decline and Fall: Classics Edition.”) presents not a moment of original thought or convincing argumentation. Instead, it is an intellectually lazy but rhetorically effective collection of fear-mongering and base-rallying. I say “rhetorically” effective because it plies the right phrases and plays the right notes to get the right people riled up about an attack on their culture they just can’t wait to complain about abide.

The essay’s first rhetorical aim is to incense and by incensing reaffirm a sense of community and belonging which is so ephemeral and hard for this embattled audience to maintain. Its second (or perhaps coterminous) aim is to inspire response and rage from its targets and those aligned from them in hopes of a juvenile opportunity to say “Look, these are savage maniacs. Hypocrites. Not (really serious) people.” Those who are…

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