Sunday, March 12, 2006

Thomas Jefferson Made Me Do It

When people ask why the study of Latin and the classics is so popular in Virginia, I usually tell them that it is all Thomas Jefferson's fault. When he founded the University of Virginia in 1825, he made sure that Latin, Greek, and the classics were a cornerstone to a solid and rewarding education.

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Jefferson is from a letter he sent to a Dr. Joseph Preistly. On January 27, 1800, he wrote, "to read the Latin and Greek authors in their original, is a sublime luxury as in architecture, painting, gardening, or other arts. I enjoy Homer in his own language infinitely beyond Pope's translation of him, and both beyond the dull narrative of the same events by Dares Phrygius; and it is an innocent enjoyment. I thank on my knees, him who directed my early education, for having put into my possession this rich source of delight; and I would not exchange it for anything which I could then have acquired, or have not since acquired."

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