A thing of beauty is (now) a joy forever

You may have to watch a brief ad to read the story. “My new heroes are the Brigham Young researchers whose scanners have unveiled ancient fragments of Sophocles, Euripides and the earliest Gospels.”

“When I was a high school student studying Latin, my teacher, an owlish woman named Mrs. Hodges, would often ask us to translate on the fly as we were plodding our way through Virgil’s “Aeneid” or Caesar’s “Gallic Commentaries.” Normally, we would mangle the selected passage, and feel abashed as she frowned. But every now and then the right words would felicitously fall together and a pleased smile would appear on Mrs. Hodges’ face. And she would bestow upon us her highest praise: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”

Her words (the opening lines of Keats’ “Endymion”), pronounced in a deep Southern drawl, resonated in me over the weekend when I heard the news that researchers at Oxford University using “multispectral imaging” had achieved a historic breakthrough, deciphering a vast hoard of ancient papyrus scrolls hitherto deemed illegible. Hundreds of thousands of fragments that had been found a century ago in a rubbish heap in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus are now potentially accessible to scholars.”

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