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To avoid offending students, UK university edits classic Greek poem, removing mention of domestic violence

Administrators at the University of Reading in England recently cut several lines referring to domestic violence from a classic Greek poem to avoid offending students.

The 2,000-year-old poem, Types of Women, by Semonides of Amorgos, is taught to first-year classics students at the school and makes reference to silencing women through violence.

Documents obtained by The UK Daily Mail include a statement by school administrators:

“The portion of the poem now omitted involved a brief reference to domestic violence,” read the statement. “That portion has subsequently been removed because, while the text as a whole is vitriolic, that part seemed unnecessarily unpleasant and (potentially) triggering.”

According to the school, no student had complained about the poem.

“This is beyond naive,” Jeremy Black, emeritus professor of history at the University of Exeter, told the Daily Mail. “It is positively ridiculous and has no place in academia.”

“If we applied this same kind of censorship to the news we would end up with a most limited and ignorant view of the world,” said Black.

The poem declares God made ten different types of women:

“One type is from a pig—a hairy sow
whose house is like a rolling heap of filth;
and she herself, unbathed, in unwashed clothes,
reposes on the shit-pile, growing fat.”

Conversely:

“Another type the gods made from a fox:
pure evil, and aware of everything.
This woman misses nothing: good or bad,
she notices, considers, and declares
that good is bad and bad is good. Her mood
changes from one moment to the next.”

Semonides suggests it is impossible to silence some types of women, even with physical violence:

“One type is from a dog—a no-good bitch,
a mother through and through; she wants to hear
everything, know everything, go everywhere,
and stick her nose in everything, and bark
whether she sees anyone or not.

A man can’t stop her barking; not with threats,
not (when he’s had enough) by knocking out
her teeth with a stone, and not with sweet talk either;
even among guests, she’ll sit and yap;
the onslaught of her voice cannot be stopped.”

‘We do not censor academic material,” a school spokesperson told the Daily Mail. “Students have access to all texts relevant to their course and are encouraged to read and discuss a wide range of material.”

“Content warnings are used to encourage discussion and study in a way that allows students to be aware of difficult or controversial material before being confronted with it.”

Read more here.

IMAGE: Anastasios71/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Senior Reporter
Christian focuses on investigative, enterprise and analysis reporting. He is the author of "1916: The Blog" and has spent time as a political columnist at USA Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and National Review Online. His op-eds have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, City Journal, Weekly Standard and National Review. He has also been a frequent guest on political television and radio shows. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Marquette University and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.