ClassicsWhy It Matters
Why It Matters

For generations, the study of Greek and Latin was used to train the elites of the Western World. Knowledge of classical culture, it was believed, produced more cultivated, creative individuals; Greece and Rome were seen as pinnacles of civilization, and the origins of Western superiority over the rest of the world.

Few today are willing to defend this elitist, sometimes racist, vision of the importance of Classics, and it is no longer considered essential education for politicians and professionals. Shouldn’t Classics then be obsolete?

Far from it. As Neville Morley shows, the ancients are as influential today as they ever have been, and we ignore them at our peril. Not only do they have much to teach us about the past, but they can offer important lessons for the complex cultural, social and political worlds we inhabit. Classics is the original interdisciplinary subject, offering students a distinctively open, creative and disputatious education. Classics no longer holds all the answers, but it is unusually receptive to new questions.

Introducing Polity’s <i>Why It Matters</i> series: In these short and lively books, world-leading thinkers make the case for the importance of their subjects and aim to inspire a new generation of students.

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  • March 2018
  • 140 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $45.00
  • 9781509517923
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9781509517930
  • Open eBook $12.95
  • 9781509517961
Table of Contents
1. What’s Wrong with Classics
2. Charting the Past
3. Understanding the Present
4. Anticipating the Future?
References and Further Reading
About the Author
Neville Morley is Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. He has written about many different aspects of the ancient world and its modern reception, including ancient trade, Roman imperialism, historical theory and the ideology of beekeeping, as well as blogging at and obsessively correcting erroneous Thucydides quotations on Twitter.
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"Professor Morley not only justifies his longstanding commitment to Classics but also provokes his readers to reflect upon its nature and significance. A brilliant success!"
Paul Cartledge, Clare College, Cambridge

"Morley shows how the ideas, arts, and interpretations of Greco-Roman culture have shaped the present, for both good and ill, and demonstrates how a new generation of scholars are revitalising the study of Classics."
Sarah Bond, University of Iowa

"We classicists, and others, will all be reading and discussing it, I think."
Mary Beard, The Times Literary Supplement

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