Greek and Latin: An Improper Education for Our Country

Benjamin Rush, Essays: Moral, Literary, and Political

“VII. The Latin and Greek languages are the first tests of genius in schools. Where boys discover a want of capacity for them, they are generally taken from school, or remain there the butts of their companions. Dr. Swift early discovered a want of taste for the dead languages. It would be unjust to mention this fact, without ascribing it to the voice of reason and nature speaking in this great man. He had no relish for the husks of literature. Truth and knowledge were alone commensurate to the dignity and extent of his mind.


IX. The study of some of the Latin and Greek classics is unfavourable to morals and religion. Indelicate amours, and shocking vices both of gods and men, fill many parts of them. Hence an early and dangerous acquaintance with vice; and hence, from an association of ideas, a diminshed respect for the unity and perfections of the true God. Those classics which are free from this censure, contain little else but the histories of murders, perpetrated by kings, and related in such a manner as to excite pleasure and admiration. Hence the universal preference of the military character to all others.—To the same cause we may ascribe the early passion for a cockade in school boys; and the the frequent adoption of the principles and vices of armies, by young men who are destined for other professions.

X. The study of the Latin and Greek languages is improper in the present state of society and government in United States. While Greek and Latin are the only avenues to science, education will always be confined to a few people. It is only by rendering knowledge universal, that a republican form of government can be preserved in our country.”

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2 thoughts on “Greek and Latin: An Improper Education for Our Country

  1. Can you please resubmit to me the article on “How to pronounce Ancient Greek”; the date is October 8. Thank you.–Carl Lenhart

    Sent from my iPad


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