‘Snowflake’ scholar declares war on ‘too sexy’ Roman myths
THEY are the myths that have enthralled and educated generations throughout the ages.
But now one of Britain’s leading classics scholars has found himself under attack for including ‘politically incorrect’ scenes of rape and nudity in a Latin textbook – in the latest instance of ‘snowflake’ students being shielded from offence.
Peter Jones, former senior lecturer in classics at Newcastle University, was stunned when a Latin tutor at a US university branded him ‘offensive’ and ‘sexist’ for including scenes from the rape of Lucretia and the tale of three naked goddesses in the latest edition of his renowned textbook, Reading Latin.
He said: ‘In order to understand the ancient world, you have to understand the way they thought about things, which is quite different from the way we think. It is hard to see why people who wish to understand the ancient world find material that the ancient world took for granted so unpalatable. Certain universities and students seem unwilling to get inside the head of cultures they don’t understand, and take offence too easily at other cultures.’
The Latin instructor from Ohio State University complained to Jones’s publisher about the inclusion of ‘two stories about rape’ and ‘one of the very few versions of the Judgement of Paris where Paris views Hera, Athena and Aphrodite with their clothes off’.
The instructor added: ‘Teaching Latin means encountering many uncomfortable topics with students but it doesn’t help, or make the historically racist and classist discipline of classics any more accessible when the editors of reading texts make such offensive choices.’ Jones responded: ‘It is beyond belief that someone committed to serious historical enquiry could find such an exercise “offensive”.’ He said his book features ‘three goddesses, each confidently stripping off, determined to win the golden apple from Paris’ as well as two rapes, but insisted studying legends like these is ‘crucial’ if historians are to be properly able to ‘interrogate the past’.
He said: ‘Though deities seldom compete to win golden apples these days, it is not as if rape has vanished from the face of the earth, let alone racism and classism. One might have thought that historical takes on issues of such contemporary importance were the perfect medium to explore them “safely’’.’
Many UK and US universities have banned traditional texts that might ‘trigger’ negative responses and have created ‘safe spaces’ and ‘controversy-free zones’ for students.
The Ohio lecturer declined to be interviewed when approached by The Mail on Sunday and asked not to be named.