By C. Hagerman
Read Online or Download Britain's Imperial Muse: The Classics, Imperialism, and the Indian Empire, 1784-1914 PDF
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Extra resources for Britain's Imperial Muse: The Classics, Imperialism, and the Indian Empire, 1784-1914
113 Even toward the end of the 19th century, when Mathematics, Modern History, English, and the Sciences had made inroads at Oxford, the classics continued to be a key part of university culture. Latin remained the language of ceremonial, and the classics constituted a sort of common ground for undergraduates thanks to the examination structure. 114 If, as it seems, the classics were woven through the fabric of school and university culture to a far greater and presumably more meaningful extent than representations of the grammar-grind typically allow, then there is good reason to interrogate the assertion that the grammar-grind failed utterly from a pedagogical perspective.
My point is that throughout the long 19th century, classical education, as flawed and uneven as it was, succeeded in making the classics part of the mental furniture of a significant portion of Britain’s educated elites, the very people who shaped the discourse of empire in Britain and ruled the empire in India. It gave them the capacity and – vitally – the inclination to draw on classical discourse when contemplating their empire from a distance and when confronting its realities in person. 2 Classical Discourse: Imperial Dimensions If there is abundant reason to believe that classical education engendered in Britain’s elites a sense of the importance and relevance of classical antiquity to contemporary life, there remains the matter of tracing how such general sentiments contributed to specific conceptions of empire during the long 19th century.
148 In December of that same year the examiners set a question with an Indian connection: What circumstances made Alexander anxious to commence his expedition to India? What was the extent of his views? Quote any passages of Quintus Curtius that bear upon this point? Examine the statement of this author with regard to Alexander, that he was ‘semper bello quam post victoriam clarior’. 149 On this evidence it would seem that Jeremie’s successors carried on his pedagogical tradition and were not content to grind away at texts without investigating and elucidating their content.