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First on the agenda (which, by the way, is a great word to use to introduce students to the gerundive) is packing for the trip to Seattle. I have a very strong history of bringing more than I can ever hope to read, both scholarly and otherwise. Any advice from experienced travelers both on packing books for travel, and planning well so as not to be wasteful?
Second, I’m still working out the details of my Latin III and IV courses for the coming Fall and Spring. Poetry is very approachable and digestible on a certain level, but authentic prose can be a killer for high school students. I’m planning to use a simple narrative of Roman history in prepared Latin as the base for Latin III, along with a systematic review of vocabulary and grammar, with bits of authentic Catullus, as well as individual presentations on Greek and Roman literature in translation. We are reading all of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in translation in Latin IV to round out knowledge of culture, literature, and reception, and of course good bits of Ovid, Horace, and perhaps Vergil in Latin, but I need to find a good sampling of authentic prose that doesn’t seem completely out of joint or redundant.
Lastly, we’ve still got many ideas brewing, but have only had time to post a few more t-shirts at zazzle. Here are the two latest shirts, neither of which tries to be clever, funny, or ironic (which should be a relief to some of you don’t like my sense of humor):
The design on the front of the Cicero shirt:
And now the back:
Pollice Verso (with the line Juvenal III):
Note: I typed the title as miscellania (sic). I think I should go back to bed. Luckily I caught it as soon as I published.
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Neil Gaiman just made several people very happy on twitter by asking for help in translating a few Latin phrases. The top prize would seem to go to Tim Spalding of Librarything fame (a little site we reviewed many moons ago).
I was behind the game doing some necessary housework and having phone problems, so didn’t have much luck in impressing my hero with my mad Latin skills, but it was still a very cool experience and one that would have been impossible without twitter.
And to think I’d twice before tried twitter and written it off.
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In George Santayana’s memoir People and Places he has this to say about his father:
As to the Romans, I am uncertain of his feelings. He often quoted them as great authorities, especially the line of Lucretius about Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
This is the most-famed line in all of Lucretius, book I. 101, the moral which the poet takes away from the tale of the slaughter of Iphianassa (i.e. Iphigeneia). In Bailey’s words: “Such evil deeds could religion prompt.” One is reminded of the oft-quoted line by physicist Steven Weinberg, viz. “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.” I wouldn’t doubt that Lucretius planted the seed of this later thought, and though Weinberg has been much maligned and criticized for the remark (especially as concerns the irreligion of those behind many modern societal atrocities), there’s something lost in the translation. Fascism, Stalinism, etc., all had a great deal of religio about them even if they opposed or rejected any or all religion, and it was religio in the form of nationalism that made the Holocaust possible.
But It was the thought, the political wisdom in them, that he cared for. He took their Greek refinements, as the true Romans took them, for mere accessories and matters of fashion. When I once wrote out for him (he had few books) the well-known little ode to Pyrrha in the first book of Horace, he was arrested at the word uvida, and remarked on the interweaving of the concordance between adjectives and nouns.
I’m always impressed by the way older generations of non-specialists read classical literature, and continually find those who are more sophisticated, more sensitive to aesthetics, and more well-versed in the literature than many today. I’m frankly in awe of the elder Santayana’s ability to be “arrested” in such a fashion, and to have felt and understood the effect of the word placement. Wouldn’t we all love to have such a sensitivity to the sounds and effects of Latin poetry that “… uvida (A) / suspendisse potenti (B) / vestimenta (A) maris deo (B)” worked such magic as it seems to have here?
I still don’t believe we’re helping students get there by spending three or four years on artificial narratives about ‘daily life,’ then reading the simplest bits of Catullus with reams of notes, and treating it like juicy gossip. But how do we get students to a genuine love or lifetime appreciation of this stuff if it’s already been lost for most of us?