The Classics Survived University Witch Hunts Before, And Will Do It Again

The Classics Survived University Witch Hunts Before, And Will Do It Again


How do you eradicate a heritage? Princeton’s Classics Department is working hard at it, with The New York Times celebrating its efforts. It is hardly the first attempt at “cancelling” the cradle of Western Civilization. The war on classics has a medieval pedigree; it is a sad irony that elite academics have joined forces.

Palimpsests reveal tangible evidence of how “deplatforming” was done in the Middle Ages. These are manuscripts, typically parchment, from which the original text has been sufficiently scraped, so the parchment could be recycled. In the Dark Ages, that meant erasing the pagan decadence of Greece and Rome to privilege Holy Writ and the writings of church fathers.

One of our key texts of political science, Cicero’s “On the Republic,” was a palimpsest that barely scraped its way (pun intended) through the Middle Ages to the welcoming Renaissance. With the ancient letters faintly recognizable, the scholarly 19th-century Cardinal Angelo Mai partially recovered this classic obscured beneath

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