Sunday, April 6, 2008

Book: Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts

By Joseph Kellard

While browsing through the new books section at my local Barnes & Noble, I came across “Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers” by Carl J. Richard.

The book’s liner notes and it chapter headings spoke of individual rights, described America as a republic (not a democracy), and noted the important intellectual influence the ancient Greeks and Romans had on the founding fathers—all of which encouraged me to add this book to my “to read” list. Here is’s review:

“This lively and engaging book is the only popular work to explore the profound impact of Ancient Greece and Rome on the founding fathers. Recounting the stirring stories the founders encountered in their favorite histories of Greece and Rome, renowned scholar Carl J. Richard explores what they learned from these vivid tales and how they applied these lessons to their own heroic quest to win American independence and establish a durable republic.”

Mr. Richard’s also published a similar book in 1995 titled: “The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment.”

Again, has a review:

“While it is well known that the Greek and Latin languages and literatures informed the educations and cultural vocabularies of 18th-century Americans, few studies have fully attempted to describe and explore the formative role of the classics for the leaders of the American Revolution and the framers of the Constitution. Providing abundant examples, historian Richard (Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana) argues compellingly that the classics played a definitive role in the minds of figures such as Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Washington, and many others, providing not only theories of constitutional government, human nature, and virtue but even models for emulation.”

It appears Mr. Richard’s books may be good sources of intellectual ammunition to be used on the religionists who put so much non-objective emphasis on the founders’ faith and Bible readings as the basis for the government they established.

Joseph Kellard is a journalist and columnist living in New York.

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