I was so excited when I came across this passage in Willa Cather's A Lost Lady. She understands education and its beauty, and communicates so clearly the value and the wonder of the classics.
"He did not think of these books as something invented to beguile the idle hour, but as living creatures, caught in the very behavior of living... He was eavesdropping upon the past, being let into the great world that had plunged and glittered and sumptuously sinned long before little Western towns were dreamed of. These rapt evenings beside the lamp gave him a long perspective, influenced his conception of the people about him, made him know just what he wished his own relations with these people to be."
That's exactly what an education in the classics does: it provides perspective, teaches us of other and of ourselves, and opens our world to living, and to living well. These books are not stagnant words on a page. They are living, and we get to catch them in the middle of their lives, and learn from them.