REVIEWSrnThe Secretary ofrnEducation Doesn’trnby Sir Hugh Lloyd-]onesrnThe Devil Knows Latin: ^STiy AmericarnNeeds the Classical Traditionrnby E. Christian KopffrnWibnington, DE: ISl Books;rn3 B pp., $24.95rnMonsignor Ronald Knox, whenrnasked to conduct a baptismal servicernin the English language, replied thatrnthe Devil knew Latin, dius supplying a titlernfor this lively, informative, and intelligentrnbook. Many of its chapters ha’ernalready appeared in periodicals, particularh’rnChronicles and Academic Questions.rnBut five of them have been made by thernaddition of four new chapters to form arnmore or less organic whole, which is tbernbook’s first sechon, enfitlcd “Civilizationrnas Narrative.” The second secfion, containingrnsix miscellaneous chapters, isrncalled “The Good, the Bad, and the Postmodern.”rnThe third secfion, “ContemporaryrnChronicles: Role Models andrnPopular Culture,” contains seven suchrnchapters, of which two are new. Alsornnew are an epilogue, called “Optafixesrnand Imperatives for the Next Millennium”rnand an appendix, called “Doing ItrnOn Your Own.” The most importantrnparts of the book are the first secfion, thernepilogue, and the appendix.rnThe first section offers an intelligent,rnwell-written, and well-informed accountrnof the importance of classical studies andrnthe reasons why their disappearancernwould be disastrous. Ignorance of thernpast history of our culture would mean arndecline into barbarism. Neither Christianityrnnor Western philosophy and sciencerncan be fully understood without arnknowledge of their origins. Kopff showsrnwh}’ a program based on “Creat Books”rnin translafion cannot be a wholly safisfactor’rnsubstitute for one in which some ofrnthem are studied in their original languages.rnOf course, it is desirable to knowrnas many languages and as nian’ culturesrnas one can; but for most people the possibilit)’rnof learning is limited, and the languagesrnthat help us most to understandrnthe culture within whose domain we livernare Greek and Latin, and next the modernrnEuropean languages. Referring tornCarl J. Ricliard’s important book ThernFounders and the Classics, Kopff showsrnthat the origin of the United States cannotrnbe fnlK’ understood without awarenessrnof its special relation to Creek andrnRoman antiquity.rnKopff casts a critical eve upon thernabiding influence of the Enlightenment.rnWith reference to the work of Hayek, hernshows how easily that influence leads torndangeroush’ sweeping generalizations,rnsuch as a belief that free trade is in all circumstancesrna good thing. In particular,rnhe finds fault with the influence ofrnRousseau, especially in the matter of education.rn1 hat influence can be seen inrnthe harmful theorizing of people likernJohn Dewe’: becairse of their prejudicernagainst Memory, who — as the Greeksrnknew—is the mother of the Muses, fiiernyears when a child’s aptitude for learningrnlanguages is strongest are wasted in an attemptrnto teach him other things whichrnare more easily learned when at a morernadvanced age. This, together with the effectrnof various elements of the popularrnculture — especially television —is re-rn.sponsible for the distressing ignorance ofrncollege freshmen which, in recent years,rnfew teachers can have failed to nofice.rnIn a chapter headed “The GhostrnDance: Liberalism in Crisis,” Kopff remarksrnthat “liberalism is drowning inrncultural relativism.” He stronglv arguesrnfor this view, with reference to AlasdairrnMaclntyre’s two important books AfterrnVirtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality?,rnand in a chapter in file secondrnpart of the book, he deals effecfively withrn”postmodernism” and “deconstruction,”rnillustrating the point by describing therndisgusting career of Paul de Man. Mac-rnIntyre, he sa}s, “sees no hope of restoringrngenuine ethics in the tradition of Whigrnconservatism, which begins with Burkernand is now represented by the Neo-Conscrvativesrnand other liberals who callrnthemselves ‘conservafives.'” Maclntrernhimself has joined the Church of Rome,rnbut one can oppose relativism withoutrnbeing a Christian, and it can hardly berndenied that others are effectively combatingrnrelativism from a standpoint notrnver- far from that of Burke.rnIn an interesting chapter on “ThernClassics and the Liberal Arts,” Kopffrnrefers not only to E.D. Hirsch’s CulturalrnLiteracy but to the Theory of Educationrnin the United States of Albert Jay Nock.rnIn a brief but useful sketch of the historyrnof classical studies in this country, hernmentions the unfortunate fact that thernfirst volume of an edition of thernVergilian commentator Servius broughtrnout by a team of Harvard scholars inrn1946 was shown bv a great European expertrnto be wholly inadequate. That doesrnnot alter the fact that the American contribuHonrnto classical studies during thernsecond half of the 20th centurv’ has beenrnconsiderable; indeed, in recent times,rnthe edition of Serxius has been resumedrnby far more competent editors. ButrnKopff is surely right to draw attention tornsome of its limitations. These are muchrnin evidence in the dreary rubbish basedrnon modern literary theories b)’ politicallyrncorrect persons positively infected withrnthe diseases spread by such gurus as Foucault,rnDerrida, and Barthes. These fashionsrnwill pass, and indeed it is ahead}-rnclear that many students are bored stiffrnwith them; but a more permanent limitingrnfactor is the fact that so many studentsrnbegin the study of ancient languagesrnso late. One remembers withrnregret that the modern school establishedrnby George Bancroft and JosephrnCogswell at Round Point (nearrnNorthampton, Massachusetts) duringrnthe 1920’s in order to remedy this andrnother such deficiencies did not survive.rnIf e’en a few more schools of this kindrncould be established, there would bernmore American classicists who knewrnGreek and Latin realh’ well.rnThe es.says in the later part of the bookrnare of somewhat uneven quality. Thosernwhich deal with popular culture, parficuladyrnfilms, are for the most part be)ondrnthe scope of this reviewer. In a chapterrnheaded “Passion and Pedantry,” Kopffrnsingles out A.E. Housman, Sir JamesrnFrazer, and Gilbert Murray as classicalrnscholars whose names were well knownrnto the general public; his main concernrnseems to be to reprove them for not havingrnbeen Chrisfians. “Feminists in classics,”rnhe tells us, speaking of Housman,rn”boast that no similar figure could surviverntoday”: Would they tear him tornpieces as the Maenads did Orpheus?rnOne chapter is devoted to the pioneerrnbluestocking Margaret Fuller (I8I0-rnMAY 1999/29rnrnrn