What is wrong with our society today? No one is learning the classics anymore. Instead they are studying “common core.” All art is based on that which came before, and a knowledge of the classics is essential to creating good art. Look at how many wonderful modern shows are based on classics: O Brother, Where Art Thou? is based on The Odyssey of Homer, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is based on the Rape of the Sabine Women, and West Side Story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Not that one can’t appreciate these shows without knowing the works on which they were based. However, one gets a much greater appreciation of them when one does understand the references to these classics.
Literature and theatre are not the only “classics” needed to fully appreciate modern art. Visual art and music are just as important to the appreciation of the art works of today.
Why does it even matter if we understand art? What is life without art? It is merely eating and sleeping and working and dying. As the old adage goes, “Man does not live by bread alone.”
Let’s all advocate for a return of the study of the classics, including Latin and Greek, to our schools’ curriculums. We’ll all be richer people for it.