When people ask me “Why study the classics?” I give the same answer that has been given for past 2,500 years or more: So as not to end up a stupid barbarian. As G.K. Chesterton remarked nearly 100 years ago, in any generation those who count will be talking of Troy, and since today, few know of the Trojan War except through a very bad film, either Chesterton was wrong or there are fewer people today who count than there were in his time.
Barbarian, is a Greek word that was originally applied to someone who did not speak Greek. Adopted by the Romans it came to mean those who were ignorant of Latin and Greek and, therefore, beyond the pale of civilization. Down to the end of World War I, civilized people were expected to be familiar with ancient history and literature and to know at least some Latin, and, although it sounds elitist and unfair, the same as true today.