Due Praise, Due Forgetting?

“IT is therefore the Privilege of Posterity to adjust the Characters of Illustrious Persons, and to set matters right beween those Antagonists who by their Rivalry for Greatness divided a whole Age into Factions. We can now allow Caesar to be a great Man, without derogating from Pompey; and celebrate the Virtues of Cato, without detracting from those of Caesar. Every one that has been long dead has a due Proportion of Praise allotted him, in which whilst he lived his Friends were too profuse and his Enemies too sparing.”[1]

Nicely said. And placing a huge responsibility on those who judge, by the way. But is it really true in the end? And have those who have not been thus handed down to us as illustrious just been weighed and found wanting (as the quote seems to suggest)? Which are the factors at work in this presumed grand arbitration? And does it not only hold for politics but also for learning itself – who judges the judges? How does the academic world select who is remembered, and how, and who is not? In short, what about forgotten scholars?

A large bundle of questions which I will explore a bit further on this blog. Each friday from now on, so don’t forget to drop by!

More about the project: See About!

[1] The Spectator, 2, 1713, No. 101 (26 June 1713), p. 104.


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