Lynn Sherr of ABC News 20/20 Thrills Crowd with Lecture on Greek Studies

Lynn Sherr
Durham and Portsmouth, NH -- On Wednesday, April 9, 2003, Lynn Sherr, a world renowned news correspondent, author, and Classicist, delivered a public lecture a the University of New Hampshire for the John C. Rouman Classical Lecture Series. Her talk, titled "Why in Heaven's Name Are You Majoring in Greek?" thrilled a capacity crowd of students, faculty, and members of the public. Following the speech, Ms. Sherr fielded questions from the audience on a range of topics from Classical antiquity to current world affairs.

The seventh prominent lecturer of the John C. Rouman Classical Lecture Series, Ms. Sherr recounted her experiences at Wellesley College as a Classics major and how these studies had transformed her and continued to infuse her career and professional activities. She was "mesmerized. . .and absolutely hooked," as were many other students, by the legendary professor Barbara McCarthy who opened a Greek 101 class reciting lines of Homer's Iliad. From that point on, the rest was history. Lynn majored in Greek. And she still considers herself a Classicist, because she "care[s] deeply about the lessons of the ancient world and find[s]. . .[herself] re-drawn to them over and over again."

She discussed reasons why the Classics have made her a better person. By studying ancient history, she "learned about the wisdom and the legends and the heroism of the ancients -- about great events and even greater literature and a time full of extraordinary human achievement," all of which she found fascinating and fun. Colleagues and friends share her enthusiasm for studying Greek. For Lynn, though, one of her "greatest joys as a Greek major" was the "constant and unexpected interaction" between the world that she learned about in

Studying the Classics can restore the soul, Sherr asserts, and help one understand how and where we fit into everything

college and the "rainbow of ways it returns today." She recalled riveting performances of Strauss' Ariadne and Euripides' Medea in New York. The war in Iraq, too, drew her inevitably to "vivid, early descriptions of war by Homer and others." She cited a passage from a current novel which recast the beginning of the Trojan War in strikingly contemporary terms. "It is scary and disturbing and yet ultimately reassuring to see ourselves so clearly in the mirror of the past. To realize that heroes up close can be merely murderers; to recognize that the glory of war is often more about bribery and egos and gore; to understand that the will of the gods is often interpreted along very egocentric lines; and -- no surprise here -- to appreciate that even the tellers of the tales can be swayed by power and cynicism." But studying the Classics can restore the soul, she asserts, and help one understand how and where we fit into everything. It is not elitist, irrelevant or even outdated. "Knowing history is the secret to dealing with the present. And the future."

So, her answer to the question -- why did she major in Greek? -- is simple: "Because I liked it. Loved it. And yes, I think it's made me a better person. Really. . . .It'll do the same for you."

The illustrious works of Ms. Sherr are recognized by every American household. She is an international icon, a well respected, leading correspondent for one of the nation's top news programs, as well as an acclaimed author. During the course of her journalistic career, she has earned innumerable awards for investigative reporting on a wide range of stories, with an emphasis on women's issues, social changes, and national politics. Her talent and visibility as a leading female figure in the United States make her an inspiration for all students, young and old alike.

In addition to a plethora of prestigious honors from media and journalism organizations, she has received national and international awards from psychological and medical associations. She is the author of American the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story Behind Our Nation's Favorite Song; Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words; co-author of Susan B. Anthony Slept Here: A Guide to American Women's Landmarks, of a number of editions of "The Women's Calendar," Tall Blondes, and numerous articles in prominent publications. Currently, she is a trustee of Wellesley College, where she earned her BA degree. Ms. Sherr is listed in Who's Who in American Women.

The John C. Rouman Classical Lecture Series was established at the University of New Hampshire in 1998 to promote and enhance awareness of the Classics in New Hampshire and beyond. Every year distinguished speakers deliver free public lectures on a range of topics from the ancient world. For more information, contact Dr. Stephen Brunet of the Classics Program at the University of New Hampshire.

(Seated, left to right) Mary Papoutsy, Advisory Board Co-Chair; Ms. Lynn Sherr, guest speaker; Dr. John C. Rouman, Advisory Board Co-Chair; (standing) Dr. Paul Properzio, Advisory Board; Prof. Nina Gatzoulis; Mr. Dino Siotis, Director of the Press Office at the Consulate General of Greece in Boston; Mr. Bill Gatzoulis, President of Paideia of New Hampshire, Inc.; Mr. Christos Papoutsy, Advisory Board; Dr. Marilyn Hoskin, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire; Hon. William Gardner, New Hampshire Secretary of State; Dr. Stephen Brunet, Advisory Board.