It is worth the expense of youthful days and costly hours, if you learn only some words of an ancient language, which are raised out of the trivialness of the street, to be perpetual suggestions and provocations. It is not in vain that the farmer remembers and repeats the few latin words which he has heard.
The adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man? To read well, that is to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble excercise, and one that will task the reader more than any excercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object.
Those who have not learned to read the ancient classics in the language in which they were written must have a very imperfect knowledge of the history of the human race. The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them.
– An extract from ‘Walden’ written by Henry David Thoreau