Review: Grene, Of Farming and Classics

February 1, 2007
By

jacket imageYesterday’s New York Sun carried a review of David Grene’s Of Farming and Classics: a Memoir that made a few insightful remarks about the atypical synthesis of classical literature and farming that lies at the heart of Grene’s autobiography.
Writing for the Sun, reviewer Victor Hanson notes that in bringing together the disparate worlds of farming and classics Grene places himself in closer proximity to the world of the ancient Greeks than one might think. Hanson writes: “Nine out of 10 ancient Greeks were rural people. The majority of them were farmers. And that truth is reflected in many of Homer’s similes in his Iliad and Odyssey, Hesiod’s Works and Days, Aristophanes’ Acharnians, or the vast treatises of Theophrastus, where so often Greek thought is expressed through the life of agriculture.”
Thus, Hanson’s review notes that Of Farming and Classics delivers to a modern audience several vital lessons embedded in an ancient synthesis of farming and philology: “First is the symbiosis between the life of contemplation and action—and just how it is that hard physical and dirty work offers real value in rediscovering nature, bringing with it a certain pragmatism that permeates reading and thinking.… Second, Grene reminds us of what constitutes success in life. It surely wasn’t nice homes, large farms, distinguished titles, or top salaries. Rather, as we read here, Grene was more interested in students, and above all in imparting some wisdom gained to others that neither Greek nor farming alone might bequeath, but could in concert.”
To find out more about Grene’s captivating autobiography take a look at these excerpts we previously posted to the blog:
Dublin Theatre in the 1920s and ’30s
Learning Greek and Latin in Dublin Schools
Honors Classics at Trinity College

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