Two Quotes of the Day, from Mary Beard in the NYRB:
"What I have stressed so far is our engagement with our predecessors through their engagement with the classics. The slightly different spin on that would be to say that it would be impossible now to understand Dante without Virgil, John Stuart Mill without Plato, Donna Tartt without Euripides, Rattigan without Aeschylus. I’m not sure if this amounts to a prediction about the future; but I would say that if we were to amputate the classics from the modern world, it would mean more than closing down some university departments and consigning Latin grammar to the scrap heap. It would mean bleeding wounds in the body of Western culture—and a dark future of misunderstanding."
[Though she says she doesn't think this will happen. I'm not so sure, meself.]
"...The overall strength of the classics is not to be measured by exactly how many young people know Latin and Greek from high school or university. It is better measured by asking how many believe that there should be people in the world who do know Latin and Greek, how many people think that there is an expertise in that worth taking seriously—and ultimately paying for."
Read the full commentary here.
It may be worth noting that the year before SUNY Albany famously axed Classics, it had more than seventy Latin 101 students, up from twelve when I took it in the 90's. Whatev. Curse the gold-giver.