What influence have the classics had on your understanding of literature?
I would watch a little of Jordan Peterson on YouTube in relation to Maps of Meaning or his lectures on Heroes Journey etc. Stories never change, they differ only in context, the ancient Greeks told the same stories and story of humanity we tell now. Literature helps us understand our humanity and life journey. The Greeks used archetypes (typical characters) as we do now. To study history in any topic is to understand the present and life with more depth. For more on archetypes google this word and Jung. Brilliant stuff.
I went to school at the University of Dallas, a liberal arts school near Dallas, in the 1970s. I have taught students for over thirty years at small regional campuses, and the education I received in the classics, particularly in Greek literature and philosophy, has been essential to my skills as a teacher and a scholar. Most Western literature bears traces of the influence of Athenian Greece, partly because drama and philosophy were so essential to their public culture. They even paid prisoners to see plays in their festivals. That's how important they felt literature, but notably plays, was to their identity. They were enthusiastic about language and the power of language, which is why Socrates warns his listeners (in Plato's dialogues) about sophists who simply try to make money from speeches and are not concerned about the truth.
Pathos, ethos, logos from Aristotle, rhetoric and composition from Cicero and (yet again) Aristotle, the interplay of heroic and toxic masculinity in Homeric epic poetry (and the subversive role of the feminine therein), the role of poetry and philosophy in Socrates— I can go on and on.
A deep knowledge of the Classics (especially Latin) have made me a better literary scholar, college teacher, and even creative writer. I am forever grateful to my Classics professors for opening that world to me when I was an 18-year old first stepping onto UD’s campus and wondering if I even belonged there. :)
This is an excellent question. I always like to go back to the Greeks because they are one of our first sources of literature in myths, plays, and philosophy. It is my belief that many of the ideas that we have today, even, can be traced through time back to Sophocles, Plato, or Aristotle. Furthermore, there is a school of thought that there are no new ideas; every idea ever thought was thought during Ancient Greece and other such ancient times.
In terms of the influence it's had on my understanding of literature, it's helped me see characters and their relationships on a deeper level. A specific example would be Antigone or Medea who shine light on strong women in a culture where men were considered to be the stronger sex as well as show true grief in a very relatable, agonizing ways for even me as just a reader. The philosophies I've read have taught me to look at the deeper level of what the author is really trying to say in the stories.
The main thing it has done opened my eyes and my mind to deeper messages that I might not have noticed before. I would encourage you to read the classics just to get a new perspective on more contemporary works.
<span style="color: rgb(18, 18, 18);">affords me to understand, analyse and evaluate language quite different. Structures, trends in punctuation and in the way we speak have evolved through the ages and being aware of these developments really helps us to understand better, language in its current context.</span>