At the beginning of the year, Thomas Bertonneau lamented contemporary American students’ unwillingness and inability to read, learn, and understand: “Post-Literacy and the Refusal to Read.” Bertonneau followed the Orthosphere essay with a note on the widespread misologism of American youth in “Post-Literacy Continued.” Dr. Bertonneau’s assessment of today’s students matches my own observation. It is sad to watch a civilization die.
Decadence is not without its peculiar pleasures, though. A month earlier, Bertonneau shared some examination answers by a colleague’s literacy challenged students in “Supersizing the Whopper: Higher Ed in the Trenches.” They are a hoot (by Athena’s owl, naturally). A selection:
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Athene helps Telemachus and Odysseus to be reunited and restore order to Troy. This all took place around 450 B.C. but it was not written down until 800 B.C.” . . .
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Based on my opinion Homer in the Odyssey would be a man from my opinion that believed the things worth dying for were better to kill for based on his work of the Odyssey.” . . .
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Telemicus could never really become a man because he was always being run over by the suitors.”
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Odysseus, the main character, though having the hand of Venus (Venus-Isis) right on his side, is faced with much despair when he has to leave his wife and son’s behind before he goes on many ‘adventures’ and encounters things. He defeats the Cycalopse after barely being eaten and meets Nausicaa while naked then stumbling over Calypso who holds him prisoner and gives him all of the winds.”
On Homer’s Odyssey: “The ending of ‘The Odessey’ was alot like homecoming week ending with Odyssues and Athenus killing all of the suitors.”
On Homer’s Odyssey:: “Even more important than eating Odysseus’s men, the Cyclops didn’t have any ships or laws.”
On Homer’s Odyssey: “Some people probably would not have done anything so killing the suitors was more than just Odysseus saying, whatever.”
On Virgil’s Aeneid: “A large wooden horse is brought by Aeneas from Troy, which Queen Dido thinks is a sign of appreciation. When the wooden horse is opened up and a number of Greek soldiers jump out, Dido is in shock. Thankfully, Aeneas and his men show up and promise to restore her disorder.”
On Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid: “Homer’s stance on the Trojan war is different from Vergil’s but just about the same.”
On Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid: “The biggest difference between the Odissy and the Aeneus is that one is a story but the other one is more like a poem.” . . .
On the Crusades: “The Crusades was a war fought over in the holy land by the Romans, Catholics and Protestants.”
On the Renaissance: “About the same time as this there was a renizance in Italy with Greeks, and depth prespective and also numerous changes in moors and the types of thought that was allowed. There costumes were very colorful about this time. One of them, I forgot his name had a telescope.”
O tempora! O mores!