The last session of the Classics Reading Book Club, at the UFM

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, was the closing subject of the Classics Reading Club, at the Ludwig von Mises Library, of Universidad Francisco Marroquín”, informed Adelaida Loukota, coordinator of the Library’s reading clubs.

The club began this activity on May 23rd of 2006 and concluded it on June 26 of 2007.  The works read were Iliad, by Homer; Antigone, by Sophocles; The Republic, by Plato; A Vindication by Plato; History of the Peloponnesian War, by Thucydides, On Duties, by Cicero, Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, Politics, by Aristotle; and History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon.

As a memoir of the activity, Ligia Escribá, who participated in this Club, wrote a recount of damages:

“A year traveling through the classic world, jumping with stilts from place to place, making all type of maneuvers to apprehend each text, to understand each style of thought and to learn about different approaches to problems. Ideas went and came from some text to others. Actions, situations and solutions were reiterated frequently.

To come and go to every geographic site, to every historical circumstance, to every human group involved. And, after the eventful journeys, humiliations and one or another absurd& we were able to maintain the conducting string of this intellectual adventure (or I must say Academic madness)… to realize that humanity, in spite of the platonic idealism in the Republic or perfect State, the political ideas of Aristotle and the idyllic Roman world, has been congruent in its incongruence and coherent in spite of the incoherences of some historical facts.

The trip that began with the Iliad (or Poem on Ilion or Troy) with its 24 Rhapsodies where a few registered weeks of that war motivated by the overflowing human passions went through human tragedies. It went on into a trail from the epic that raises heroes to the lyric that lowers them to reality; placing man opposed to its destiny, the Gods and nature: always a fatal confrontation for the Greeks, Oedipus the king and Antigone. 

Then, the incursions in philosophical matters lead to subjects such as Justice.  In works of Plato,  A Vindication of Socrates and Cryton; to the moral questions raised by Cicero, in  On duties.

The journey became richer with works on political subjects by Plato and Aristotle, where starting with the subject of Justice they tried to organize the State, the Republic and Politics.

Two historic narrations also joined us, a Greek one ( History of the Peloponnesian War, by Thucydides) and an Both were loaded with information, in a flat format, and elements of diverse origin, agglutinated using parataxis, rhetoric and antithetic.

This count of the damages, with its pros and cons (or recons) opens the door to a new challenge, to a new adventure.. and, to mark that new principle I quote Manguel (1999):

To us, today readers, supposedly threatened to extinction, we still have to learn what reading is.  Our future – the future of the history of our reading- explored by San Agustin, who tried distinguish between the text perceived in the mind and the text read out loud;  explored by Dante, who questions the limits of the readers power of interpretation; lady Murasaki, who pleaded for the specificity of certain readings; Pliny, who analyzed the yield of reading and the relation between the writer who reads and the reader who writes; explored by Sumerian writers who impregnated with political power the act of reading; the first book makers who considered too restrictive and uncomfortable the methods of roll manuscripts reading (similar to the methods which we used now to read in our computers) and they offered us the possibility of passing the pages quickly and making notes in the margins. The past of that history is in front of us, in a future that, with admonitory intention, Ray Bradbury describes in the last page of Fahrenheit 451, a future where books are not printed in paper but that are kept in the mind.”

More photos,
here.