Tom Palaima

Tom Palaima is the Dickson Centennial Professor of Classics at the
University of Texas at Austin.

Recent Articles

The Relevance of Reverence

Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue By Paul Woodruff. Oxford University Press, 248 pages. $19.95 S omething is missing from our modern lives, according to Paul Woodruff, and we know it--but we can't identify exactly what it is. Woodruff has a theory: What is missing is reverence. Reverence? American society prizes the irreverent. When film producer Stanley Kramer asked a motorcycle-gang member--a blue-collar World War II vet--"Well, what are you rebelling against? " he got a true-blue American answer: "Well, what ya got?" Marlon Brando echoed the line in The Wild One and became an icon of 1950s irreverence, capturing a spirit that was only to become stronger in the following decades. As for reverence, it's been either mistaken for a form of phony piety or discarded altogether. The title of Woodruff's new book-- Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue --is thus a bit misleading. Before we can "renew" the virtue of reverence, we have to figure out what it is and then answer the...