Wojciechowski: Paterno's tragedy

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
9:47
PM ET
Twenty years ago, in a campus presentation almost comical in its modesty, the most famous and powerful man at Penn State solemnly recited a Greek oath and became an honorary member of Eta Sigma Phi, an honors society devoted to the study of the Greek and Roman classics.

Afterward, a small platter of cookies was served.

"I still have a photo of him from that day," says professor Michele Valerie Ronnick, who has since left PSU for Wayne State University.

"I was astonished he wanted to come to our little ceremony. He was very humble and gracious."

Joe Paterno has always had an appreciation and love for those classics, having read the Roman poet Virgil's "Aeneid" in its original Latin form numerous times throughout his life. In many ways, Paterno seemed to be a reflection of the Virgil character he admired most, Aeneas: selfless, compassionate, a leader without peer, morally superior, rarely questioned by his followers and almost too good to be true.

But much like Aeneas, also inevitably flawed by his own weaknesses.

To read Gene Wojciechowski's full column, click here.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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