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By Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine, March 4, 2021
Anthony Esolen, a contributing editor at Crisis, is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. He is the author, most recently, of Sex and the Unreal City (Ignatius Press, 2020).
One of the ironic things about my diploma from Princeton is that it is written in a language that almost none of the graduates understand: Latin. It confers upon me the degree of Artium baccalaureus, literally, crowned with bay leaves for knowledge of the arts. Since most college graduates write badly, if they write at all, and know very little about the literature of their own language, let alone the fine arts, it is not clear what the degree means. I wonder whether we might substitute for it a new distinction, Barbarus artium, for people who enter college with little knowledge and less love of those matters, and who leave no wiser, even supposing they have not been taught to scorn them as having come from the dark ages, that is, from before yesterday afternoon. …