"so much the greater longing for what is lost"

“[...] one of the most important aspects of the symbolic register of the classics: that sense of imminent loss, the terrifying fragility of our connections with distant antiquity (always in danger of rupture), the fear of barbarians at the gates and that we are simply not up to the preservation of what we value . [...] Tracts on the decline of the classics [...] are in part the expressions of the loss and longing and the nostalgia that have always tinged classical studies. [...]

The truth is that the classics are by definition in decline: even in what we now call the “Renaissance”, the humanists were [...] [rather] for the most part engaged in a desperate last-ditch attempt to save the fleeting and fragile traces of the classics from oblivion. [...] The sense of imminent loss, the perennial fear that we might just be on the verge of losing the classics entirely, is one very important thing that gives them [...] the energy and edginess that I think they still have”

Notes & Attributions
(1) Title : from the last paragraph of Joachim Winckelmann’s “History of the Art of Antiquity”
(2) Lengthy Quotes : from Mary Beard’s NYRB article “Do The Classics Have a Future”
(3) Photo: taken while searching the skies for signs of Spring