Ernest Barker and the Classical Tradition: Two Studies

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Abstract:

This paper first traces the general influence of Ernest Barker's undergraduate training in Oxford's School of Literae Humaniores on his later work on ancient political thought, and in particular shows how Idealism conditioned his view that the major ancient texts were perennially relevant and also applicable to practical affairs. The second part of the paper is based on a letter that Barker wrote to E.R. Dodds in 1953 critical of Dodds's negative perspective in The Greeks and the Irrational on the religious culture of the early centuries of the Roman Empire. This document offers a revealing insight into the gulf between Barker's Christian values and optimistic view of the evolution of the classical tradition and Dodds's pessimistic secularism, which had its theoretical basis in ideas drawn from social psychology which Barker had always despised.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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