AMERICAN CLASSICAL REVIVAL
This month a nostoi, a returning, a coming home to tradition, the classical foundation that made us a good, happy, and prosperous people. Always we find ourselves coming home to parents and parents before, to houses that have been to us, home. Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Arabia are each and all Latin named, provinces of Rome and Rome’s extension. From time out of mind we have wandered the world, seen wonders, enjoyed adventures, suffered tragedies, and in joy returned. All-we-all through parents and parents before have walked the earth in ways that we children of children can never see, never know. And now we are at home in America, these united states formed by traditions born in Greece, in Rome, and in Jerusalem.
We all have many beginnings, varied and diverse, that few of us share. And yet we all share one, singular beginning in Homer, and from Homer to Athens, to Aesculus, to Pericles, to Phidias, to Herodotus, to Socrates, to Platon, to Aristotle. And then, from Aristotle’s student, Alexander, all-we-all became Greek, Hellenes, before we became Americans. America is not possible if not for classical Greece, the world’s wealth and relative peace is not possible without classical Greece, you are not possible without classical Greece. Alike swift fish we swim through an encompassing classical sea, a lifegiving water of which we are, hos epi to polu, unaware. The ocean of all the world’s civilization is, or is becoming, classically Greek, rapidly. And few notice.
Technologies, arts, sciences all grow from the seed of Athens. Of Aristotle’s 200 thesis only 31 survive, and these are the foundation of the world’s universities, the departments of each college and school. All the intellectual world is in conversation with Aristotle, and through Aristotelian logical systems we have constructed the world, classically. Here too we participate in The Great Conversation, that dialogue begun by Socrates in the Agora upon the steps of Attalos’ stoa, a dialogue that continued through Aristotle’s gymnasium, The Lyceum, and through other Lyceum, as in my Alexandria, as in Oxford, Mississippi (pictured at top), and here in the pages of The Beautiful Home.
Washington, Adams, Madison, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Jefferson, Frost, French, Pope created through an exchange of ideas with Socrates, Cicero, Plutarch, Vitruvius, our verses and our pictures, our buildings and our nation, great things born of reasoned conversation concerning beauty, goodness, truth … bourn of that genteel manner of life which encourages a human, humane flourishing. See the houses of our fathers and mothers and you will recognize that we are one classical people unnumbered in variation. Hos epi to polu.
Perhaps you feel as do I when in the house of Washington, Frost, Douglass, Kennedy, Jefferson: I feel at home, alike a nostoi, alike Odysseus upon return to the place where he was born. This month a returning, an American Classical Revival, the Neoclassical, and our Classical Renewal. Always we return to the classical, because the classical is home.
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American Classical Revival featured image: The Lyceum, Oxford, MS, 1846, William Nichols, architect. The oldest building on the University of Mississippi campus. credit: James Kirkikis
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