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Arms and the Man

From the New York Times obituary for Bernard Knox:

The O.S.S. later sent him into northern Italy for an equally dangerous mission with the Italian underground, and it was there that he rekindled his passion for the classics. Holed up in an abandoned villa, he discovered a bound copy of Virgil and opened it to a section of the first Georgic that begins, “Here right and wrong are reversed; so many wars in the world, so many faces of evil.”

Professor Knox recalled, in “Essays Ancient and Modern,” “These lines, written some 30 years before the birth of Christ, expressed, more directly and passionately than any modern statement I knew of, the reality of the world I was living in: the shell-pocked, mine-infested fields, the shattered cities and the starving population of that Italy Virgil so loved, the misery of the whole world at war.”

He continued, “As we ran and crawled through the rubble I thought to myself: ‘If I ever get out of this, I’m going back to the classics and study them seriously.’ ”

Margaret Soltan, August 17, 2010 3:46AM
Posted in: professors

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2 Responses to “Arms and the Man”

  1. david foster Says:

    Sounds like an interesting man. There were quite a few educators and academics involved in underground operations during WWII…Francis Cammaerts, a teacher and schoolmaster, being one. I spent part of a day with him in France during 2001. He actually started out the war as a pacifist and conscientious objector, changed his mind, and became one of the most successful agents for the British organization called Special Operations Executive.

    Leo Marks, SOE’s Codemaster, observed that Cammaerts was one of the most frustrating cryptography students he’d ever had, and was afraid he’d have to give up on teaching him the procedure for encyphering messages. What he realized, though, was that Cammaerts was basically incapable of following rules he didn’t understand, and once Marks explained to him the mathematics behind the process, Cammaerts did just fine.

  2. david foster Says:

    Also, UD…given your Polish connections, you might be interested in Krystyna Skarbek, who was Cammaerts’s SOE partner in occupied France.

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