Shame, where is thy blush?

Some historians deserve a box on the ear

Some historians deserve a box on the ear

If we were still lacking evidence that today’s ancient historians are not up to their tasks, the preface of Heckel/Tritle’s Alexander the Great. A New History offers just the proof we needed:

One of the strengths of this volume is that it includes contributions by scholars outside the English-speaking world.

This is overstepping the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Heckel and Tritle are of course right that a scholar ought to read articles written in foreign languages, and they are also right that this is no longer self-evident. But they should be making plans how to reach normalcy again, and implement those plans. Presenting as something special that a team of historians reaches the expected level, is the same as accepting lower standards. Claiming that it is a strength, is just insolent.

One Response to Shame, where is thy blush?

  1. Bill Thayer says:

    How many times have I gotten e-mail from people telling me they’re in a master’s (or even occasionally a doctoral) program — very often in ancient history or archaeology — and would I please translate some Latin they’ve found on my site! Greek or of course the Mesopotamian arcana you deal in Jona, OK; but Latin? But this is the future.

    I can understand perfectly well that a student, or even a great scholar, of military engineering or epidemiology might not have Latin (although even there it would be useful); but ancient history or archaeology? They’ll be condemned to depending on the translations, and thus rehashing the opinions, of those others who do read Latin. No wonder there’s such a taste for the prurient, the facile, the ahistorical focusing on such things as gender studies, and like the proverbial patron of a Chinese restaurant, in an hour the reader feels empty again.

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