Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday commute cvii: Baccalaureate advice of our chum

The other day, the estimable
Tim Egan, one of the few col-
umnists condemned to recom-
mendation in our Context,
Commencement speaking - or,
rather - listening, which I
was cheerfully disagreeing
with, to a much more recent
sufferer of the rite than I.

There's no doubt, that Egan
has the better case, that a
capstone occasion to a quad-
rennial opening of minds is
little disserved by indul-
ging a climactic Fool, even
in the guise of an antagon-
ist. Yet, if that's so, I'd
still argue for quality in
this mental bloodsport, and
we know where to find that:

      For two jars stand on Zeus'
      threshold whence he gives of
      his evil gifts, and another
      of the good; and to whom Zeus
      delights in thunder gives a
      mixed portion, to him befalls
      now evil, now good; but to
      whom he gives of the baneful,
      him he scorns, and evil misery
      chases him over the noble earth,
      a wanderer honored neither by
      gods nor by mortals.

Just sayin', Achilles was, as
the Iliad wound to its close;
yet for a fellow much then oc-
cupied by pressing matters, a
not-unsympathetic synopsis of
what's what. Yes, a whiff of
religiosity appears to taint
the offering, but it blows a-
way beneath a gentler breeze,
indifference. Pretty classy.

  xxiv, 527 - 533
Sir Moses Finley
  translation and criticism
The World of Odysseus
op. cit.

NB: Professor Finley (1912 - 1986)
was a more than ordinarily distin-
guished teacher and Classicist, of
of luminous standing in American
academia, until subpoenaed in 1952
by the Republican-controlled Senate
Sub-Committee on Internal Security,
and commanded to state whether he
had ever been a member of a Com-
munist Party. He declined to answer
and the Trustees of his University
summarily expelled him. Immediate-
ly, at Oxford, Hugh Trevor-Roper,
future Regius Professor, agitated for
his appointment at Christ Church; 
but Cambridge was faster to act,
and Finley's career at that Univer-
sity found him flourishing among
peers then and to this very day in
opened, grateful minds. He was
knighted by the Queen in 1979;
and only last month, a teacher of
my own baccalaureate years, was
recommending him to me anew.

This posting is for such keepers.

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