Classics for the Working Masses

Radicals and revolutionaries found inspiration in the study of Greece and Rome.

Temple of Vesta, Rome. c. 1914

The study of Classics has long been associated with expensive schools and elite universities. But this is not the whole picture. With Henry Stead, I am writing  a book on ways in which, from the 18th century onwards, working-class Britons embraced ancient Greece and Rome. On the shelves of Mechanics’ Institutes and Miners’ Libraries, alongside Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and George Grote’s History of Greece, alternative studies presented the classical world from the perspective of the poor.

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