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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

USA: Other Stops Along the Way

Another sign along the interstate in Connecticutt pointed me to Nathan Hale's homestead. Nathan Hale acted as a spy for the Americans during the Revolutionary War, was caught by the British, and hanged. He said, we are taught, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." At this stop I learned two things. He said 'lose'. And it wasn't original. It was a quote from the classics, Cicero, I think.

Apparently a lot of what has been passed down as wisdom from our founding fathers was really wisdom from the Greeks and Romans. Because the leaders of the revolution had all had good classical educations, they were accustomed to quoting freely, without attribution, because everyone they conversed or corresponded with would recognize the quotes. Of course, they were read and heard by a lot of people without the same education, and attibuted as original to them. And then education veered from the standard that everyone read the Greeks and Romans.

It was kind of disappointing.

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