New Humanists

New Humanists

Join the hosts of New Humanists and founders of the Ancient Language Institute, Jonathan Roberts and Ryan Hammill, on their quest to discover what a renewed humanism looks like for the modern world. The Ancient Language Institute is an online language school and think tank, dedicated to changing the way ancient languages are taught.


November 15, 2022 71 min

This is the second episode of our series about Livy's "Ab Urbe Condita," called "No Republic Was Ever Greater." The story of the founding of Rome continues with the story of twin brothers Romulus and Remus, as they escape certain death in a coup against their grandfather, grow up as shepherd bandits, and stage a counter-coup to return their grandfather to power. 

Livy's Ab Urbe Condita:

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This is the first episode of a new series on New Humanists, called "No Republic Was Ever Greater." We are walking through the masterpiece, "Ab Urbe Condita," by Ancient Roman historian Titus Livy and the great commentary on Livy, Renaissance philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli's Discourses. In this episode, we consider the lessons that founders and leaders can learn from Livy's account of the Trojan hero Aeneas.


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The late antique and medieval Church saw Virgil as a pagan herald of Christ, due to the seemign messianic prophecies in Eclogue IV. In a 1953 essay titled "Vergil and the Christian World," T.S. Eliot argues that the Christian sympathies in Virgil's poetry go even deeper than that single poem, and in fact suffuse the entire Virgilian corpus.

T.S. Eliot's Vergil and the Christian World:

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Ælfric's Colloquy is a dialogue between a teacher and his students, written both in Old English and Latin, designed to teach Latin to Anglo-Saxon schoolboys. It is also the earliest record of a (relatively) realistic English-language conversation. In celebration of the Ancient Language Institute's new Old English program, Dr. Colin Gorrie joins Jonathan and Ryan to walk through the Colloquy and to talk about language learni...

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Are classical educators dooming their students to poverty? Even back in the early 1800s, that accusation was gaining steam. Edward Copleston was a titanic figure at Oxford's Oriel College in the early 19th century, and inspired John Henry Newman, among others. Facing attacks by utilitarian critics of Oxford, Copleston launched a defense of classical education in his “Reply to the Calumnies of the Edinburgh Review Against Oxford...

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Is knowledge its own end? Or is it a means to something else? In Discourse Five of his The Idea of a University, John Henry Newman juxtaposes Cato and Cicero as opponents on this question, but Newman’s juxtaposition is not without its own difficulties. Jonathan’s old teacher, Dr. Robert Jackson of the Great Hearts Institute, joins the podcast to talk Newman, knowledge, and education.

John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University: htt...

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Milton and Shakespeare? Or Homer and Virgil? Why should our students study Greeks and Romans when we have English-language poets, philosophers, and historians worthy to be placed on the same level as the ancients? Maybe because the “ancients” aren’t really so ancient after all… 

So argues Thomas Arnold in his defense of the classical curriculum he instituted at Rugby School. Jonathan and Ryan use Arnold’s “Use of the Classics” essay...

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The intellectual life can’t just be reading all day. Eventually, you have to sit down and do the work. According to A.G. Sertillanges, the intellectual vocation finds its fulfillment in creation. Jonathan and Ryan wrap up their reading of Sertillanges’s The Intellectual Life as they walk through the final three chapters.

There was a software problem with recording this week. Apologies for the occasionally scratchy audio quality.


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Jonathan and Ryan continue their discussion of A.G. Sertillanges’s marvelous The Intellectual Life. In chapters 4 -6, Sertillanges touches on, among other things, sleep, the pursuit of wisdom in everyday life, and breadth of study in service of depth. 

A.G. Sertillanges’s The Intellectual Life:

Editorial Note: The mention of the “dies academicus” refers, not to our episode on Eric Voegelin (...

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July 1, 2022 55 min

The French Thomist A.G. Sertillanges, O.P., is most famous for The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. The book is a moving and handy meditation inspired by Thomas Aquinas’ Letter to Brother John about what it will take to devote your life to contemplation. This is the first episode in a three-part series on The Intellectual Life in which Jonathan and Ryan examine their own lives to see how Sertillanges can help the...

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June 15, 2022 61 min

Who is at the helm of the ship of state? Is the United States doomed to go the way of the Titanic? In the essay “Academic Leadership,” Paul Elmer More expounds on the crucial role that humanistic study plays in cultivating a natural aristocracy that guides and protects the body politic. More, along with Irving Babbitt, was a luminary of the New Humanism movement and an essayist, prolific letter-writer, editor, and Christian Platoni...

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Was Socrates a Christian? Did Plato meet Jeremiah? Are pagan myths based on garbled versions of the Hebrew prophets? Welcome to Justin Martyr’s First Apology, a plea to the Roman Emperor to stop killing Christians, a philosophical defense of Christianity, and a master class in biblical exegesis. ALI Latin & Greek Fellow Calvin Goligher returns to New Humanists to discuss the poetry, philosophy, and revelation in Justin Martyr w...

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Where is Geatland? Beowulf has been taken as a founding poem for England, yet England never appears in the poem. Linguist Colin Gorrie joins Jonathan and Ryan to discuss this heroic and tragic Old English masterpiece, the history of scholarship surrounding the poem, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s titanic contribution to modern understanding of it.

Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf:

Dick Ringler’s...

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Making humanistic education democratic and freely available was its downfall, at least in the eyes of Albert Jay Nock, as he discusses in The Theory of Education in the United States. Taking a cue as well from Plato’s Republic, Jonathan and Ryan address the apparent tension between the excellence of the tradition and the equalitarian, democratic mores of American life. Should everyone be educated? Can they be?

Richard Gamble’s Great...

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“The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force,” wrote Simone Weil. And yet, she said that Homer’s poem is “the purest and loveliest of mirrors.” How can a poem that revels in the visceral description of death and that chronicles the destruction of a great city be so pure and lovely? Jonathan and Ryan take a look into this epic mirror and into Weil’s justly famous essay on it.

Simone Weil’s The Iliad, or the Poem...

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The Lost Tools of Learning, a 1947 lecture delivered at Oxford by Dorothy Sayers, was largely ignored at the time and in England until decades later in the United States, when it became a foundation text of the Classical Christian Education movement. Despite being the lecture that launched 1,000 classical schools, Dorothy Sayers appears to undermine the classical tradition and repeatedly side with educational progressives. Jonathan...

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March 15, 2022 62 min

In one of his many letters to his nephew Lucilius, the famous Stoic philosopher, playwright, and statesman, Seneca, advises his nephew to avoid reading too much. Jonathan and Ryan take up the philosopher’s advice and consider what dangers there are, if any, in reading too much or too widely. 

Seneca’s Epistle 2 (free in English):

Seneca’s Epistles 1-65 (English - Latin...

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Should teachers teach their pupils what to think? Or how to think? The great English philosopher Michael Oakeshott says it’s not so simple. Students certainly must learn how to think, but can only do so by learning about things in particular - in other words, by learning what to think. Jonathan and Ryan are joined to discuss this excellent Oakeshott lecture on learning and education by Dale Stenberg.

The Davenant Institute: https://...

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Long before the New Humanists podcast was born, Irving Babbitt helped found the movement now known as New Humanism. University of Maryland Professor of Classics Dr. Eric Adler, along with his former student (and current ALI Fellow) Katherine Bradshaw, join the podcast to discuss the original New Humanist and what we might stand to gain from him in our debates about education, the humanities, and the canon.

Irving Babbitt’s “What Is ...

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It is tempting to dismiss T.S. Eliot’s musings on class, society, and education as the complaints of a cranky reactionary. But the great Anglo-American poet is worth reckoning with - if for no other reason than how profoundly he challenges the democratic norms that in the 21st century we simply assume as first principles. Jonathan and Ryan take a look at Eliot’s chapter on education from his book Notes Towards the Definition of Cul...

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