Correspondence

Synchronized Grinning

The Royal Mint has struck a series of coins to commemorate the 2012 London Olympics.  Each depicts a sporting event and a Roman god.  No, you have not misread that last sentence, nor have I mis­typed it.  The Royal Mint doesn’t know its Mars from its Ares.  The howler is cast in 22-karat gold for all to see.  The Mint has not issued an apology or expressed embarrassment.  There has been, however, a retrospective explanation: As the motto of the revived Greek Olympics is in the Latin language, it is right for the gods of those who spoke it to appear on Olympic coins.

In the feebleness of that excuse lies a sad significance: The destruction of British education is complete.  Brits know that a long time ago, there were Greeks and Romans, and Greek and Roman gods; but they know nothing of who they were or what they did.  And the nation is disconnected not only from world history, but from its own past.  English schools now turn out youngsters for whom Nelson is an ex-president of South Africa, and Wellington the mere name of a boot.  We are living in an age in which a television journalist can describe a hat worn by the Duchess of Cambridge at the recent Jubilee celebrations as “made by Lockes, who made Nelson’s hat for the battle of Waterloo.”  Most viewers will have nodded approvingly, impressed.

A land in...

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