Teachers in Greece have criticised plans by the left-wing Soros run government to scrap the mandatory study of Ancient Greek tragedy in high schools and introduce instead classes on gender and sex education, saying that this could bring about the end of classical studies.
The plan to drop Antigone by Sophocles comes after Pericles’ Funeral Oration from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, was removed.
The government says it is trying to update the antiquated curriculum and devote more time to teaching modern Greek and new subjects, including gender equality, same-sex marriages and sex education.
“This is preposterous,” Antonis Mastrapas, of the National Federation of Classical Studies Professors, said. “Not even during Greece’s gruelling years of dictatorship were the works of ancient masters like Sophocles and Thucydides were tossed to the curb.
If passed, the move would be another blow to Classical scholarship, which is in retreat across much of the world.
Greek students have an obvious advantage since ancient Athenian texts – dating to around 450BC – are similar enough to the modern language that they could be read as easily as an English speaker might approach Chaucer.
Elsewhere, studying Greek texts in the original is an increasingly elite discipline, mostly confined to Classics departments in elite universities.
The irony is that many see the replacement of Greek Classical Tragedies with Gender Studies a tragedy in itself.