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Classical myths are as relevant as ever

February 7, 2020

This piece represents the opinion of the author .

To the Editor,

In your January 31 editorial board opinion, Classical Mythology is called out for seeming “tangentially related to current issues of social differences.” Classical literature, and Myth especially, have always reflected a deep concern with the issues of social difference, not to mention the roles of power and inequity. Indeed, I take the ESD requirement very seriously, and I have continually modified the content of this course over the years to reflect the importance of this requirement to the class. In fact, as I visit and re-visit my material each year, the ways Myth compels a rethinking of modern issues become more and more obvious, and I present these investigations before my Bowdoin students. Thus, claims that “the ancient world is not our world,” and that “we should move to modern examples” ironically fail to see how the perspective of Classical Myth helps us come to grips with our own biases and gives us multiple viewpoints from which to re-examine issues that we are rightly concerned about. Myths may be ancient, but their relevance is as modern as ever.


Michael Nerdahl

Senior Lecturer, Bowdoin Classics Department


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