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Forget Boris Johnson—the classics are for the working classes too

There is nothing inevitable about the connection between an interest in the Greco-Roman world and being a posh white man

By Charlotte Higgins   March 2020

Illustration: Kate Hazell

Classics and class have the same root. That is, the verb clamare, to call out. “Classis” meant a group of people “called out,” for example by means of a census for military service; and in the late 2nd century AD, the Roman writer Aulus Gellius referred to the greatest authors as scriptores classici, “classic writers”—as opposed to second-rate authors, scriptores proletarii. We now have classic books,…

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