Reading and learning about Classics can increase your brain power and learning capability as well as expand your cultural literacy.
As a big believer in each of us developing our intellectual capabilities, I recommend classical studies as a way to broaden your knowledge base.
Classics, or Classical Studies, deals with the literature, art, history, philosophy, and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.
Why the Classics? How could reading about classics possibly be of practical use in increasing brain power?
Of course, I’m not advocating enrolling in an intense university program in Greek and Latin, however, I do suggest you consider incorporating more classical reading in your routine.
- Because it’s fun and entertaining and provides a basis for the enjoyment of many movies, comic book heroes and video games that contain references to classical history and mythology e.g. Troy, Gladiator, O Brother Where Art Thou (movies), Hercules, The Fantastic Four (comic book heroes), and God of War (Playstation2), to name a few.
- It feeds the imagination if you want to be a writer (or aspiring blogger). J.K. Rowling author of the Harry Potter books studied Classics and uses much classical terminology and references in her books. The first Harry Potter book has been translated into both Latin and ancient Greek.
- It enriches and broadens our understanding of western culture, history and literature giving us an appreciation for where our language and customs originated, as well as a sense of connection to the past.
- It helps us understand the human condition and ourselves. For instance, Greek mythology was then, and serves today as a study in human nature, the dynamics of the human mind, human behavior, and the forces that drive us. We learn about jealousy, love, grief, narcissism, good and evil. It’s fast tracking for Life 101.
- The skills and knowledge acquired through the study of Classics are highly transferable to other areas. For example, the ability to deal with precise details, to express yourself, problem solve, think critically and manage your life are all honed and sharpened by having studied Classics.
- So much of our medical and scientific terminology is rooted in Classics that learning about the Greeks and Romans can facilitate the study of anatomy, astronomy and physics. Many of our modern sciences have Greek names because the ancient Greeks either invented them or made significant contributions to them.
Becoming familiar with classical literature gives us perspective and an understanding of European and English literary genres and their evolution. The Greco-Roman influence has had such an enduring effect on every aspect of Western culture including languages, history, philosophy, literature, science, technology and art.
Interesting facts about Classics and Classical Studies:
- The first written record of Greece and the oldest form of Greek literature is Homer’s Iliad (circa 1000- 900 B.C.)
- A book of maps gets its name from Atlas, the Titan who supported the heavens on his shoulders.
- The point of vulnerability is an Achilles’ heel, because the mythological warrior Achilles had been magically protected in all but that part of his body.
- Our calendar goes back to the ancient Romans and the 7-day-week was introduced by the ancient Hebrews.
- The statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was inspired by the statue of the Olympian Zeus by the Greek sculptor Pheidias. The designs on Lincoln’s armrests are a Roman symbol for justice and republican government.
- Law schools report that their top students come from math, the Classics, and literature rather than from political science, economics and legal studies as one might expect.
- David W. Packard of Hewlett-Packard was a former professor of Greek and Latin, and Chris Martin from the band Coldplay studied The Classics.
- E.D. Hirsch Jr. who is well known for coining the phrase ‘cultural literacy’ and for his theories on education states that “As a consequence of the fact that we learn most easily when we attach the new to the old, people who already know a lot tend to learn new things faster and more easily than people who do not know very much.”
In other words, the more knowledge and background we have of our world and its evolution in language, history, arts and sciences, as presented in Classics, the better a foundation we have for learning new and current information.