Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

A Future for Achilles?: The Role of the Classics After Humanism

Prof. Bracht Branham.

'Classical studies as knowledge of the ancient world can’t, of course, last forever; their material is exhaustible. What can’t be exhausted is the always-new adjustment every age makes to the classical world, measuring itself against it. If we set the classicist the task of understanding his own age better by means of antiquity, then this task has no end- this is the antinomy of philology.”

Nietzsche, We Classicists 62

I take my starting point for this paper from Nietzsche’s ruminations on the future of classical philology in his remarkable, unfinished essay We Classicists (Wir Philologen), in which he attempts both to satirize his discipline’s foibles and to map out what a usable past might mean for the humanists of the future. I will ask both why Nietzsche ultimately chose to abandon his project and what we can salvage from his exemplary critique of the oldest discipline in the humanities.


Prof. Bracht Branham  (United States)
Full Professor
Classics Department
Emory University

  • A Future for Achilles?
  • The Role of the Classics After Humanism
  • Nietzsche's We Classicists

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)