Oxford “University”?
Its preference now: diversity.
The Homers, Ovids, Virgils—
Now peanuts for the squirrels!
This “school” now gives instruction
In Western Civ destruction
The classics? writing heinous!
Let’s write about the anus
And other body parts
Now central to the arts.

When Rome went down to dust
To food, and wine, and lust,
It did so for a reason:
Greatness, out of season!

So down the road we go
Of empires long ago
The past goes on forever
We’ll learn the lesson—never.



A university faculty (PhD University of California 1967, political science) and freelancer in his early career, Ted Hayes moved into full-time journalism and is now retired.

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10 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    Pithy and on point. And raises the question: if a Classics Department stops teaching the Classics, what does it teach, instead? And what owes it call itself? “The Department Formerly Known as Classics?” The obvious inference is that students are no longer interested in the subject and, to survive and keep their jobs, the faculty has to remake themselves into something more “relevant.” But Homer? That’s like a Religious Studies Department dropping their course on Christianity. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “Dead Poets.” Thanks for highlighting the matter for us.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Mr. Hayes, is this really true? The Oxford Classics Department dropping the two major epics of the Graeco-Roman world?

    I can only assume that this “proposal” was made as a joke made by some stupid Don at a faculty meeting, after imbibing too much port. Academics often come up with facetiously absurd proposals that are later forgotten. If I’m wrong, let me know and give me the names and ranks of the imbeciles who are pushing this proposal. I’ll make sure that they get some VERY BAD publicity.

  3. Peter Hartley

    Ted – Yes, as remarked above, pithy and to the point. When I was at school in the 70s even if we didn’t all do classical studies, Greek or Latin, I think probably most of us would be able to trot out the authorship of the Wasps or Metamorphoses or De Bello Gallico or what Plutarch was quite good at and Æsop famous for. My head nearly fell off recently when I saw three university students, one of whom was an English literature graduate (not even graduand), none of whom knew in what century Dickens lived. I wonder if any of them knew what century Webster or Richardson or Spenser lived? I doubt it. And try asking them the authorship of “Lamia”. They probably wouldn’t even know what a Keat is. What you touch upon is a shocking indictment of the quality of education today, when you can ask a teenager the date of the Battle of Hastings and it will tell you “That’s before my time”, and, implicitly, anything before my time doesn’t matter.

  4. Jan Darling

    How very contemporary. Classics qualifications without actually having to read Classics. I’m thinking of writing Lamb’s Tales from Homer.

  5. Jeff Kemper

    I love this poem! My favorite lines are these:
    The classics? writing heinous!
    Let’s write about the anus
    And other body parts
    Now central to the arts.

    I was a chem and bio major who hated Western Lit. in college. But a few pieces that I read in that dreaded course changed my life. I began to read for enjoyment. I read for reading’s sake. I pity the many adults who never learned to read books just to read books.

  6. C.B. Anderson

    Well yes, why would anyone read Homer when it’s possible to listen to “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”, a banjo tune plucked by Homer and Jethro? And why would anyone think that Homer was anything other than something Babe Ruth made famous? Cultural decay does not come from the bottom, like some Western version of fish sauce; it starts at the top and trickles down. The way things are going, our modern cultural decline will make the fall of Rome look like a golden age. These days, the only qualification for peer approval (and tenure) is a willingness to knuckle-under to the sheer irrationality of the leftist agenda.

    • Jan Darling

      …..and those knuckles would be dragging on the ground.
      Your picture is depressing and every day is a reminder that we come from a different age.


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