Category: Announcements


Permalink 12:11:07 am, by Chris Jones Email , 560 words, 1803 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Roman Culture

Argument ad Madidum

I should know better than to get into arguments at parties–a few beers in and everyone’s an expert. Basically–like a typical talk-radio hosts–I let the situation get the better of me and started making indefensible claims about the Roman poet Virgil; bear with me there’s a point in all this.

Basically the conversation was about the value of the arts in general: Are they strictly for entertainment, or is there some larger value in, say, reading Dickens or understanding opera. Since Latin literature is my own personal interest, I argued that art is of course entertaining–if nobody liked Silius Italicus, I doubt copies of the Punica would have survived, so I guess director Michael Bay has a chance. But art also provides a detailed window into a different culture, and there is some practical value in comparing that culture with our own. For one thing, it will often expose the unspoken assumptions and values of our own culture; if someone wants to, say, compare reality TV with Roman gladiator shows, they really need to do better than make an offhand reference to the Coliseum and rant about the slippery slope (Quamquam cornum meum canam, here’s an old piece on Jon&Kate that illustrates a better approach).

Anyway, though I stand by that point, the quality of that argument deteriorated thru the evening thanks to the continued ingestion of alcohol. Sadly, it reached a level where we were discussing the sexual orientation of the Roman poet Virgil (as a stand-in for all ancient literary figures–it’s too embarassing to recount even in a blog post). The correct answer to the question is, we simply can’t tell. Eclogue 2 is a tanatlizing clue–although as the earliest of Virgil’s bona-fide works it is a somewhat slavish imitation of the Greek Theocritus, so who knows how much of it reflects the poet’s real sentiments. But even the modern term “gay"–and I don’t mean just homosexuality, but all the attendant cultural implications–hardly has an equivalent in ancient Rome. The best my sober self can say is that it is quite possible that Virgil was homosexual–perhaps even more likely than for other Roman figures of the same era, but even so Virgil certainluy didn’t display the “gay sensibility” of 19th- and 20th- century writers like Oscar Wilde, James Merrill, or John Ashbury.

I guess what ultimately got me riled up was the way many people use the term “gay"–unfairly in my opinion–to ghettoize artistic work that doesn’t directly engage the heterosexual identity (for the modern culture, that means movies with car chases and buxom blondes). Musical theatre is the most common example; I personally enjoy musicals and appreciate their 20th-century development into a true American art form. But I suspect there is a large contingent of young males (that covereted 18-34 demo) who would instantly dismiss a masterpiece like “Carousel” as gay–even if they personally have no issue with homosexuality. I guess I take the use of the word “gay"–at least in this context–as a more general pejorative, somewhat like the anti-Romani connotation in the word “gyp". It’s a trap I shouldn’t have fallen into, and to anyone there who happens to stuble across this blog, I apologize.

Anyway, that’s my story from an embarassing weekend…so how did you spend your Saturday night?


Permalink 12:39:58 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 161 words, 3292 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News

A Push to Reinstate Latin in English Schools

A center-right think tank in England is suggesting a return of Latin to primary and secondary schools, and that report has found its way into the hands British media figures:

A group of writers and broadcasters including Ian Hislop and Sir Tom Stoppard is calling for the return of Latin to the curriculum.

They are urging ministers to end Labour’s ‘discrimination’ against the language of the Romans and give it the same status as French, German and Spanish.

No doubt some of this is riding the recent anti-Labour trend, but the report does highlight the usual positives associated with studying Latin. I for one am a little tired of the “no native speakers” argument used against the subject, as if the only benefit of a foreign language is asking directions or booking a hotel abroad. And if English primary/secondary students are anything like their US counterparts, how many actually achieve conversational competence with native speakers anyway–much less true fluency.


Permalink 10:27:49 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 152 words, 1764 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Ars blogandi

I’m not insensitive enough to complain about workload at a time where US unemployment is hovering in the double digits, but the fact of the matter is I just haven’t had time to do any blogging over the past few weeks. Still, I manage to squeeze in some classics reading over my lunch hour–a thin bulkwark of sanity against the inane demands of the job.

So I’m changing the format of this blog a bit to accomodate a schedule I don’t see easing up anytime soon. For the next few weeks (months?), look for posts featuring some favorite snippets of Latin. These will be the kind of timeless wisdom I can set up weeks in advance, when I find an evening to post five or six posts for the upcoming days. Yeah, it’s getting that bad…

Anyhow, I’ve already got my first selection (from Horace) set for tomorrow…check back then.


Permalink 11:36:43 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 45 words, 3462 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Eheu fugaces...labuntur dies

With apologies to Horace…blogging is just not an option these days–quam negotiis astrictus sum. Look for blogging to resume in May. In the meantime…a good answer from Lively Latin for a question I hear all the time…


Permalink 11:26:23 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 27 words, 3295 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


Short break for maintenance…the comment section is really getting out of control (score one for the spammers). Should be up and running again after the weekend.


Permalink 11:17:13 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 177 words, 1602 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Something I need to make very clear

I don’t usually bring contemporary politics into this blog, unless I see some interesting parallels that more clearly illuminate classical literature/culture.

Nevertheless, I have to say I find little of value in the Classical Values blog. It’s my experience that most folks who advocate “classical values” use it as code for a far more contemporary political agenda.

If you were to rate academic subjects on a scale from traditional to modern, it would be hard to find one more rooted in the past than Latin. Yes, Latin has a very conservative reputation–I’d be foolish to deny it. But I really wish some of these folks who advocate “classical values” would read an entire work of Cicero rather than cherry-pick his more inflammatory passages (I’ve dealt with one popular Cicero ‘quote’ here). Or maybe look at the complete picture of classical life provided by history and archaeology rather than the idealized cartoon of the Victorian age and “swords and sandals” epics.

OK, there’s my little political rant…I promise to put away the rostra for now.


Permalink 10:55:39 am, by Chris Jones Email , 116 words, 3346 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

Glomerantur nubila

Ah, March has arrived, so ver affuturum, right? Well, here in the American Midwest I’m still looking out my window at aggeres nivum perfusi. As Garrison Keillor once said “God invented March so that people who didn’t drink would know what a hangover is like,” and I wonder if Ovid had the month in mind when he described the witch in Amores I.8:

Cum voluit, toto glomerantur nubila caelo;
   Cum voluit, puro fulget in orbe dies.

So enjoy the few days in puro orbe tucked between the depressing nubila–not to mention the inevitable cold snap that returns just as the weather starts to raise warmer hopes. Mox melius caelum venit.


Permalink 12:16:16 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 53 words, 3214 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Class business

To students: For class this week we are finishing section 4.7.12 of the Confessions (from ad te, domine to the end of the section), then summarizing IV.8.13 quickly before starting a new translation with book V section 5.3.3.

If you’d like to compare your work against a good English translation, try this translation at CCEL.


Permalink 11:49:15 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 136 words, 4120 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Fun & Games

Some Trifling Matters

If you’re a fan of old Loebs or need to find one that’s out of print, be careful with this link from Edonnelly–it’s the quickest way to find free copies from Google Books (and links to booksellers if your one of those who won’t settle for anything less than a red/green cover).

Tellus, described as ” magazine for poetry which sparks ancient worlds into life", looks promising. The first issue is due March10th, and it’s free…

…and it’s not quite Latin, but as a kid I absolutely LOVED 1981’s Clash of the Titans and the ingenious special effects of Ray Harryhausen. The idea of a remake sounds almost sacrilegious, but if it’s going to be in 3D, then I’m totally up for getting petrified by the Medusa.


Watch the trailer here if you dare.


Permalink 10:35:18 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 33 words, 3667 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Otium et Negotium

The holidays were hectic enough, and then I received a call for a Latin translation project. I can’t spill the details now, but expect light posting until at least the middle of January.


Permalink 11:28:44 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 536 words, 5890 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Augustine's Confessions

Who is John Gault the Bishop of Hippo?

In book III, the escapades of the 19/20-year old Augustine sound a lot like those of a college freshman. He wasted his days at the shows, fell in with a rough crowd (the Eversores), stumbled across a book that changed his life, used his newfound knowledge to examine his traditional beliefs, and joined a cult. OK, that last one was a cheap shot, but you can almost see the bemused older Augustine shaking his head at the young man who spent nine years with the Manichees. The bishiop is far more polemic in texts like Contra Manichaeos; here he sounds like a middle-aged man laughing at some old college photos he and his wife found while cleaning out the attic.



Permalink 01:21:08 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 522 words, 6951 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

"It’s a great post Man"

A little “inside baseball” now that I’m such an established blogger (ha!). Early on in this grand enterprise, I was so grateful for any comments that I never bothered to set up moderating: If you commented, your pearls of wisdom were instantly appended to my own sparkling missive. Naturally I ended up getting a lot of spam that made this Latin blog the home for lots of not-so-veiled ads touting the latest catapotium ad pondus minuendum or picturae Veneries.



Permalink 12:18:18 am, by Chris Jones Email , 833 words, 6837 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Augustine's Confessions

Untangling a difficult sentence...

In last week’s reveiw of Augustine’s Confessions, we ran across this difficult sentence in section I.9.15. Augustine had just described how he prayed to God that he wouldn’t be beaten in school, and that when he described the nature of his prayers ridebantur a maioribus hominibus usque ab ipsis parentibus. An indignat Augustine summons his complete rhetorical arsenal to vent his childhood frustration:

Estne quisquam, Domine, tam magnus animus, praegrandi affectu tibi cohaerens, estne, inquam, quisquam (facit enim hoc quaedam etiam stoliditas: est ergo), qui tibi pie cohaerendo ita sit affectus granditer, ut eculeos et ungulas atque huiuscemodi varia tormenta (pro quibus effugiendis tibi per universas terras cum timore magno supplicatur) ita parvi aestimet, diligens eos qui haec acerbissime formidant, quemadmodum parentes nostri ridebant tormenta quibus pueri a magistris affligebamur?

This is an extremely difficult sentence for sight translation, but it is essential to follow this path if we want to appreciate the effect.



Permalink 10:38:03 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 15 words, 1416 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Negotium imponit...

…and makes it a little difficult to post these days. Expect light posting thru October.


Permalink 12:25:41 am, by Chris Jones Email , 86 words, 2567 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Modern Latin

A Message from Fr. Foster

Many of you may know that Fr. Reginald Foster–the Vatican’s Latinist–has been recuperating in his hometown of Milwaukee after suffering a fall last summer. He has recently posted a message on YouTube–Latin with a few English translations–giving news of his condition.

I’ve read more than one criticism of Fr. Foster’s gravelled, Italian-by-way-of-Chicago pronunciation, but IMO that misses the point entirely. His “Latin Lover” podcast/program on Vatican radio displays an enthusiasm other Latinists should encourage rather than nitpick.


Permalink 10:46:33 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 43 words, 1589 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


…psst…you can find a download for Allen’s Vox Latina (WINRAR compression) at:

h/t to Quasus at Akela’s Latin Forum


Permalink 11:51:12 am, by Chris Jones Email , 64 words, 1510 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature


Tu modo Pompeia lentus spatiare sub umbra,
   Cum sol Herculei terga leonis adit
- A.A. I.67-8

(spatiare = spatiaris)

Ovid may have had other ideas for spending time outside in the summer, but suffice it to say the summer weather now is far too tempting for a blogger to spend indoors. Expect light posting this month while arbusta lentus spatior sub umbra


Permalink 10:25:20 am, by Chris Jones Email , 88 words, 2864 views   English (GB)
Categories: Announcements


…and as I write you read this I am likely steering a car full of kids thru the Western states, so I’ve lined up a series of automated posts on old Latin that should keep my tiny clutch of readers amused over the next two weeks. Otherwise I may find some time to do a few live posts, but as the point of this trip is to be “disconnected” for a while don’t expect much.

Should be back to full stream by the 12th…Valete ut iam est…


Permalink 11:26:29 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 60 words, 3107 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Fun & Games

Ite Romani Domum

Stumbled on a new Classics blog: Pop Classics, a fun if somewhat fastidious review of clasical influences in modern pop culture (sorry, I thought the whole Star Trek franchise was played out long before Voyager:-).

Anyway, I’ve added it to the blogroll…take a look if you’re having trouble remembering the film that translated the phrase in the title line…


Permalink 02:09:05 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 185 words, 4659 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Modern Latin

Latin Diplomas

Neque Ego Haec Intellegere Possum

Around 1960, US college diplomas started changing from Latin to English (my mother earned her BA and MA in English from the same midwestern college around this time; the BA was in Latin, the MA from two years later was in English). The Ivy League has (naturally) always been a holdout, but this op-ed by classics professor Christopher Francese argues it’s time to retire this pretentious and obsolete practice.

It’s a point I’m sympathetic to. The only reason to write a diploma in Latin today is to overawe with faux-erudition–face it, if you can’t read your own diploma, what’s the point of having it? There’s something ironic about insisting on a token of education that demonstrates your own ignorance. Worse, defending the practice simply encourages students to see Latin as an “ivory tower” subject, which means fewer students taking up the subject in school.

And before you ask, yes I wish my diplomas were in Latin, but then again I can easily read a Latin diploma–at least the ones that don’t have some unusual Neologism (hmm…what’s the Latin for “Marketing” or “Los Angeles"?).


Permalink 03:54:07 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 11 words, 1425 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Nimis Negotii...

…itaque paululum scibendi; Spero hanc rem in paucis diebus correcturam esse.


Permalink 11:30:42 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 190 words, 4000 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Literature

A little off-topic...

Author Matt Richtel has an interesting column in the Sunday NY Times about how modern technology has made some venerable literary devices obsolete. In an age of cellphones, GPS and instant messaging, could Shakespeare get away with the fake death in Romeo and Juliet or Homer the 20-year wandering of Odysseus?



Permalink 05:00:27 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 252 words, 5995 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Lost in Translation, Literature

Divites spoliavit ut pauperibus donet

Pilleo annuam to the LATINTEACH blog for highlighting the discovery of a Medieval Latin reference to Robin Hood. The image above–taken from the Daily Mails’s story about the find–shows what I presume is the text.

I’m no paleographer, but I think I can apply a few principles from scripts I’m more familiar with to decipher what is written there. If you want to give it a try, here are a few tips:

  • m is oten written by placing a line over the previous vowel. Thus the last word of the first line ends in -um, the fourth word in the second line is cum, and the first three letters of the second-to-last word in line two are com-
  • Frequently-used words/phrases have very common abbreviations; thus forms of hic, haec, hoc are abbreviated to h with a line above, and forms of tempus often are written tp plus the appropriate ending.
  • the long s–which looks like a modern script f–is found in documents as late as the U.S. Constitution, and many medieval documents will exhibit the r rotunda.
  • Frequent confusion of (by then) similarly-sounded vowels like ae and e
  • Sometimes, you just have to make a few intelligent guesses



Permalink 12:41:05 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 20 words, 2785 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


…so expect lighter than usual posting. After the winter Chicago had, it’s time to spend a week somewhere that’s warm…


Permalink 03:37:38 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 44 words, 3005 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

Modern Scholia

I read on the LATINTEACH mailist about, a new wiki by William Annis that features open commentary on ancient texts–a great idea that I wish I’d come up with. I’m getting an account–you probably should too.

Added to the blogroll.


Permalink 09:11:30 am, by Chris Jones Email , 112 words, 1749 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Roman Culture

International Festival of Latin and Greek...

…is coming to Nantes the last weekend in March; all the details you will ever need can be found here.

I wrote a brief post for last year’s festival, which included a performance by Ista!. If Boris Johnson shows up at this year’s festivities, that alone is worth the price of admission.

I visited Nantes briefly some years ago while driving north for a tour of Brittany. Besides the festival, there is plenty for fans of the ancient world to see. Gallic and Roman ruins are still preserved at the impressive Château des Ducs de Bretagne, and of course a day trip to the prehistoric alignments at Carnac is highly recommended.


Permalink 09:12:06 am, by Chris Jones Email , 97 words, 3188 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


I expected my post about the Latin on Lost would get a decent post count, but I am truly surprised by the enormous number of hits for the off-topic follow-up The Role of Destiny was a true stunner. I did a little digging, and apparently someone posted the link on a Turkish message board devoted to the American TV show. I don’t know Turkish, but that’s at least what I surmise…

Just thought you might find it interesting. I’ve found over the past year that blogging can be an odd experience; you never know who is reading…


Permalink 09:12:24 am, by Chris Jones Email , 207 words, 3135 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature, Roman Culture, Calpurnius' Bucolica

New Project...

Pastoral Northern Italy

One of the reasons I started this blog is to share my interest in Latin literature. Things have been a litle dead around here for the past month, and so I’ve been looking for a blog project in 2009 to keep me writing, something like the series of posts I did on the first book of Statius’ Thebaid.

At the same time, we’ve hired some contractors to do some work on our home. The house is a mess, but it did force me to go thru some old boxes I had in the attic. Lo and behold, I found an old paper I wrote for graduate school on Titus Calpurnius Siculus. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize the name; Calpurnius is a minor poet who wrote a set of bucolic poems (in imitation of Virgil’s Eclogues) most probably in the time of Nero.

I needed a topic to jump-start this blog, and along comes Calpurnius. So what’s say I take a look at his opera and do a little translation/analysis? If you’re a fan of Virgil’s Eclogues, these imitations will likely pique your interest.

I’ll add Calpurnius to the categories in the righthand column, and you can expect an initial post within the next week or so


Permalink 09:18:12 am, by Chris Jones Email , 60 words, 2198 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Felix Nativitas

Christmas is especially hectic this year, so blog updates haven’t been as frequent as usual. Never fear, I have some items ready to go once the holidays slow down, but between now and the 25th you likely won’t miss much.

In the meantime, see if you can translate and guess what’s unusual about this Latin sentence: Subi dura a rudibus


Permalink 03:05:43 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 57 words, 1476 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Fun & Games, Education

Terence Awards

Attention Middle/High School Latin students in the US: eClassics is sponsoring the 1st Annual Terence Awards, a program that offers cash and other prizes for classics-related videos.

If you or your class put together a Latin-related video, you’re eligible to enter; check the link for details. Submissions must be in by the end of 2008; Bona Fortuna!.


Permalink 10:58:42 am, by Chris Jones Email , 100 words, 2864 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Xmas Reminder...

If you want a little Latin for Christmas, check out my elegiac translation of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A visit from St. Nicholas".

Feel free to download and reuse the PDF at the Salutatio a Sancto Nicholao link on the right. It comes complete with drawings from a 19th century printed edition of Moore’s poem, illustrated by F.O.C. Darley.

One quick note: The macrons are there to aid in recitation; they are not indications of vowel quantity, but rather mark the ictus of each foot. If you tap a rhythm while reading, the tap should coincide with each macron.

Permalink 10:43:06 am, by Chris Jones Email , 100 words, 2933 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Xmas Reminder...

If you want a little Latin for Christmas, check out my elegiac translation of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A visit from St. Nicholas".

Feel free to download and reuse the PDF at the Salutatio a Sancto Nicholao link on the right. It comes complete with drawings from a 19th century printed edition of Moore’s poem, illustrated by F.O.C. Darley.

One quick note: The macrons are there to aid in recitation; they are not indications of vowel quantity, but rather mark the ictus of each foot. If you tap a rhythm while reading, the tap should coincide with each macron.


Permalink 04:23:24 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 55 words, 2230 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

All fixed...

Got a note from BlueHost that there was a problem that could affect post updates and stat collection–you might have noticed that every post had “No Views” for a while. Everything seems fine now, and I’m collecting stats again (~700 browser hits just today, though I’ll admit a lot of that is probably spam attacks).


Permalink 07:18:52 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 64 words, 3172 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

A Business Crisis...

…is seriously eating into my blogging and Latin reading time. Look for light posting over the next week or so; I’m reminded of Horace’s complaint from the Satires (II.6.60-2):

O rus, quando ego te aspiciam? Quandoque licebit
nunc verterum libris, nunc somno et inertibus horis
ducere sollicitae iucunda oblivia vitae?

Not much time these days for veterum libri, or even to finish this pos–


Permalink 01:38:22 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 72 words, 1466 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Modern Latin

Quick Reminder...

…Berlin’s KISS-FM broadcasts in Latin tomorrow morning Berlin time.

For listeners outside of Germany, you can pick up the free audio stream here (Thx to commenter Magistra). The morning show runs from 6-10AM local time; Berlin in 7 hours ahead of Chicago, so that’s 11PM-3AM Central Time in the US. If I can record some clips (both technically and legally), look for some audio samples here in the next day or so.


Permalink 09:20:01 am, by Chris Jones Email , 78 words, 3139 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Aeger in morbo parvo sum

A headcold has decided to punish me for years of Latin study, so expect light posting this week.

Let me also say that when the weather is nice no one is very sympathetic toward cold-sufferers, even if they feel (as I do this morning) like someone who’s entered the first circle of Hades:

Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus Orci
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae;
pallentesque habitant Morbi…

(Aeneid VI.274-6)

Three elisions in that first line…aaaaa-choo!


Permalink 10:57:43 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 27 words, 1607 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Some trouble with b2evolution...

…and I’ve been unable to get posts up because of it. Just got it working again, so look for more Latin content in the next few days..


Permalink 12:28:04 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 223 words, 5907 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Vocabulary and Grammar

"How Few"

Continuing in a series of translation challenges, how would you translate the title of this thread in a sentence like “How few sometimes may know, when thousands err!” (Paradise Lost, book VI)?



Permalink 12:20:23 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 83 words, 3159 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Affigere Gammam

This exchange at Sandra Ramos’ excellent Scriptorium Academicum Latinum blog was quite informative and amusing. Not only did I learn the history behind a certain type of literary/grammatical insult (not to mention a dirty Latin poem which uses Greek letters to describe–ahem–female body parts), but I enjoyed reading Ms. Ramos’ impeccable and playful prose. I especially like the English/Latin pun unionem - “pearl", which sounds like the English word “onion".

Hardy the putria, taediosa verba she confesses…take a look.


Permalink 08:27:34 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 38 words, 2979 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


…b2e blog stats indicate that the post right below this one has generated about double the usual traffic. I doubt it’s because of my sterling usus linguae as much as the first word of the title :D


Permalink 03:40:05 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 699 words, 6725 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Fun & Games, Modern Latin

Sex Captiunculae Cotidianae

Jeff Woodward over at Thursday Night Gumbo has tagged me along with five much more talented bloggers to complete a chain-letter style exercise. The rules:

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

I’m complying only because Mr. Watson’s request for captiunculae cotidianae is a respectable and alliterative translation for “unremarkable quirks". Ergo, continuo percensam



Permalink 11:57:57 am, by Chris Jones Email , 168 words, 1224 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Spotty updates...

Blogging in tough with nice summer weather around. I’ve been trying to keep my personal “one post per weekday” goal alive, but with this lovely weather and the Cubs in first place, updates may be a little more spotty over the next 6-8 weeks.

In fact I somewhat prefer taking an hour or so to prepare a nice “evergreen” post on words or readings than race to find the latest Latin/Roman related news to comment on (the excellent links to your right will keep you abreast of most of that). Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the British Museum’s upcoming Hadrian exhibit, and I have a few ideas for topics. But for now, expect more exploratory pieces at a lower frequency.

Bottom line: Check this blog weekly for updates in the summer, but things will definitely pick up in the fall with the new school term. I know a lot of bloggers promise that and end up never returning–I guess that’s a chance I’ll have to take.


Permalink 09:17:45 am, by Chris Jones Email , 47 words, 2823 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature, Roman Culture

Added to blogroll...

I mentioned Professor Chris Francese of Dickinson college in a post from January. He’s put together a podcast of Latin poetry, and has been kind enough to leave me a comment.

A quick check of his site shows he’s made a number of updates. Take a look…


Permalink 03:18:14 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 42 words, 3165 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Going on Vacation...

…for the coming week, so expect light posting. I’ve lined up a few more “evergreen” items on Latin grammar, vocab., and literature that will run next week, but I think we can all take the holiday off and enjoy the beautiful weather.


Permalink 11:46:56 am, by Chris Jones Email , 106 words, 8693 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Lost in Translation, Fun & Games, Modern Latin


Every on-line Latin forum I’ve visited is littered with Latin translation requests for tattoos. Some of the responses are the well-considered product of Latin diligence, while others are not much better than Babelfish. Which category do you think the following lands in:

Poena Par Sapientia

Behold the right forearm of Laredo Broncos’ pitcher John Odom, a professional (minor-league) baseball player who underwent “Tommy John” surgery to save his career in 2005 (see the scar right below the Latin). I wish this fellow all the best in his career, but hope he finds a better translation for his left arm (I think he’s going for Dolor Par Sapientiae - “Pain equals wisdom").


Permalink 11:59:10 am, by Chris Jones Email , 151 words, 1163 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Spelling and blogging

I have always considered myself a good speller, but I’ve found that the immediacy of blogging often reveals the shortcomings of intellect and age: “teh", “of” (for “off"), DOuble CApitals…I never realized how often I overlook these things until I started blogging (in my work I often complain about Microsoft word “helping” too much with its spellchecker, but i guess it catches more of these than I give it credit for).

I’ll chalk some of these up to my cheating thru typing class in high school (I’m basically an elaborate hunt-and-peck typist, with one eye usually down on the keyboard). And when I spot these in older posts, I’m reserving the right here to correct them without notice. But I’ll make the commitment now that anything more elaborate–even if i post some completely incorrect info–will be corrected using overstriken letters deletion marks, such as in this revised post.


Permalink 10:49:12 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 810 words, 6032 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Modern Latin, My Own Latin

Yes...but is it art?

In the wake of the otherwise forgettable 2005 feature film Doom–based on the video game of the same name–film critic Roger Ebert made some comments regarding the artistic value of electronic gameplay. Although they may be subtle, ingenious, challenging, even visually stunning, video games couldn’t be art because the nature of the medium (player control of outcome, investment of enormous amounts of time, no emotional catharsis beyond solving a puzzle) seems to contradict common artistic goals.



Permalink 08:44:22 am, by Chris Jones Email , 29 words, 1232 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


Been deleting a bunch of user accounts I presume are spam. If I hit yours by mistake, sorry; just re-enter and send me a Latin note mocking me inertissimum.


Permalink 11:09:24 am, by Chris Jones Email , 82 words, 1379 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Quis sum?

Haven’t been really trying to hide my identity on this blog, but I’ve only just learned how to include admin names via b2E SW on this site.

So now you’ll see me and my posts ID’ed as Chris Jones. I’m a 43 year old classics enthusiast who raises a wonderful family in the NW corner of Chicago, IL. Someday soon I’ll post that and more details in a link on the right, but just in case you were curious, here I am.


Permalink 10:02:01 am, by Chris Jones Email , 171 words, 3075 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Lavinia Speaks!

Ursula Le Guin–a novelist better known perhaps for her science fiction books, particularly The Lathe of Heaven and Left Hand of Darkness–is on a book tour now promoting Lavinia, a novel fleshing out the briefly-mentioned future wife of Aeneas from Virgil’s epic poem.

Le Guin’s website includes some information about the book and an interview the author gave to Kirkus, in which she confesses:

“The first time I really read the Aeneid was in my seventies, when I got enough Latin into my head at last to read it in Latin. Vergil is truly untranslatable; his poetry is the music of his language, and it gets lost in any other. Reading it at last, hearing that incredible voice, was a tremendous joy. And Lavinia’s voice and her story came to me out of that joy. A gift from a great giver.”

The hardcover is up on Amazon, if you’re interested. I bought a copy at the local Barnes & Noble yesterday and will let you know how it reads…


Permalink 03:31:18 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 59 words, 2900 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Oops - housekeeping issue

Been having some hiccups with b2evo software :crazy:. Nothing major, but I noticed some posts I had scheduled for later popping up at unscheduled times. Seems to be fixed now, but if you saw some posts today that are longer on the site, don’t worry, everything I have now should be up by the end of the week. :>>


Permalink 10:48:34 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 108 words, 1607 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Conventiculum Buffaloniense

I see another conventiculum for spoken Latin on the summer calendar in the US; this one is sponsored by the classics department at the University of Buffalo and slated for the last weekend in June.

Though the workshop appears geared for Latin teachers (e.g. one seminar covers best practices for classroom drills–discussed in Latin of course), my guess is there will be enough Latin discussion to interest a student. The registration fee also seems rather modest ($75, less if you’re a student, meals included; I’m certain all of that is negotiable). If you’re in the area, I’d suggest at least poking your head it for a look.


Permalink 11:53:47 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 35 words, 1358 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Modern Latin

More links

Finally got some of my own poetry up on the site, for your amusement and ridicule. Click on some of the links at the right under “My Original Latin Poetry” and send me some feedback.


Permalink 03:46:20 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 300 words, 3488 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Modern Latin

Even More Vicipaedia

Dr. Mary Beard has a problem with Vicipaedia, and in her latest column provocatively asks do we really need a Latin version of Wikipedia?

Her answer is no, and I can understand some points of her argument. I’ve written about some of the site’s problems in a previous post, and think it’s best to approach it as a “sandbox” for budding Latin scholars to test their understanding of the language:

Just because there’s an NBA doesn’t mean everyone else should stop playing basketball, or that it isn’t interesting to watch any well-played game, no matter the skill level. Vicipaedia gives the web enough tabulae rasae that there’s no shortage of personal-favorite topics for a budding Latinist to write about

So I have to say–with all due respect–Dr. Beard is uncharacteristically wrong on this one. Her point about the time wasted there on trivial arguments like “how to translate such termini technici as ‘link’ into Latin. Ligamen, nexus or vinculum?” is a good one, but I’ll submit that’s more a result of the prescriptive/analytical approach of most Latin instruction; if Latin is taught like a puzzle to solve with grammar references and morphology lists, it’s no wonder Latin students approach a new composition problem in the same way. Such an approach IMO blinds Latin students to the rather obvious solution: Don’t mandate any one term, but rather note that all three are in use and see if with steady usage that condition changes (it almost certainly will). When usage coalesces around one or more terms, that’s when it gets canonized.

Yes, I’m a descriptivist at heart, and I think it would be interesting to see if such an approach would work with a dead language. Vicipaedia offers an exciting opportunity to do just that.


Permalink 08:38:43 am, by Chris Jones Email , 21 words, 1376 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


Adding some stuff to the links/blogroll on the right, scroll down and check it out. It’s a work in progress…


Permalink 11:29:43 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 120 words, 3679 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Lost in Translation, My Own Latin

De Anno et Eius Partibus

As I mentioned in a post some weeks ago, I spent some time translating De Anno et Eius Partibus, the 1582 document explaining changes to both the then-current Julian and liturgical calendars that resulted in the Gregorian Calendar.

Although the methods described in the document are well-known–and better explained at the Wikipedia page on the Comptus, I was surprised to find no English translation of this specific document on-line. After getting over some problems with email and finally just typing out most of it from my notes, I’ve posted my translation here.

Feedback is appreciated; at the very least it ought to inspire me to publish more of my own material (that was my original reason for starting this webpage)…


Permalink 11:40:43 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 39 words, 1444 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Back from vacation...

…a nice visit to Terra Florida. Reread a bit of Juvenal on the beach (Rudd and Courtney’s text and commentary on I, II, and X; fairly good IMO). Will be posting more as I recover from the time off…


Permalink 04:46:06 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 59 words, 3037 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Going on Vacation...

…So I’ll be running a series of automated-yet-sporadic posts over the next two weeks; “evergreen” stuff on language and literature. I’ll probably check in from time to time (when I find a connection), but will mostly be deleting spam unless something earth-shattering occurs in the world of classics.

Expect postings about every other day, and feel free to comment…


Permalink 12:32:07 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 337 words, 4412 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Lost in Translation, Vocabulary and Grammar

More on the Bisextile

As if the Roman calendar weren’t confusing enough, my recent post on the Bisextile may have muddied things up a bit more. Let’s clarify, just in case (like I did) you check a reference and find the erroneous claim that the bisextile day is Feb. 25th.

To recap, the “extra day” in a leap year looks like Feb. 29th in our calendar because that date only shows up once every four years. But in a Roman calendar the extra day was tagged a. d. bis VI Kal. Mar.–like “Feb. 29th", a wording that shows up only once every four years. So it’s fair to say that when the Julian calendar was enacted, this was the extra date.

But when, exactly, is that date? It is believed early on that the Romans did not legally consider the bisextile a separate day, but rather a tack-on to the previous a. d. VI Kal. Mar. to make it a long 48-hour day, i.e. the bis - “twice” means “twice as long", not “done twice". This is based on a reading from the text of the 1st century jurist Publius Iuventius Celsus (alas, I can’t find an actual text). In any event, the third century grammarian Censorius (De Die Natali XX) has the following:

Praeterea pro quadrante diei, qui annum verum suppleturus videbatur, instituit, ut peracto quadrienni circuitu dies unus, ubi mensis quondam solebat, post Terminalia intercalaretur, quod nunc bis sextum vocatur.

Ancient sources (e.g. Ovid Fasti 639-684) place the festival of the Terminalia on the 23rd, implying that the actual bisextile day occurred on the day before a. d. VI Kal. Mar. (Feb. 24th in non-leap years) Naturally, many folks today assume an extra a. d. VI Kal. Mar. would occur after the original day, but this, again, is a result of our “count up” thinking about dates.

Confused yet? I know I was…but I’m convinced Feb. 24th is the official bisextile day. One thing’s for sure; we won’t have to worry about it for another four years…


Permalink 01:47:48 am, by Chris Jones Email , 449 words, 7397 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Lost in Translation, Vocabulary and Grammar

Happy Bisextile!

Most folks know the 365.25-day calendar we use today (more or less; some modifications were made by Pope Gregory in the 16th century) was one of Julius Caesar’s reforms when he became dictator. But they are usually unaware that technically, the February “leap day” Caesar included once every four years was not February 29th, but February 24th. Here’s why.



Permalink 12:01:28 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 305 words, 3713 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Lost in Translation, My Own Latin

Boring Latin

I’m often asked by folks–usually those who can’t afford a full-priced translation–to translate Latin documents. One I’m working on now is De Anno et Ejus Partibus, an edict from the Ecumenical Council of Trent describing reforms to the calendar; text is from the Roman Missal. Several Latin copies of this document can be found on-line, and certainly the methods described in this document for, say, calculating the date of Easter are well-known. But in my search I was surprised to find no one has posted (maybe even published) an English translation (though the last link above does have a side-by-side German translation).

Someone has asked me to translate it, and while the Latin is pretty straightforward (aside from some odd vocabulary), the text itself is rather dull and repetitive. Take this section describing the “Golden Number cycle” as an example:

Cyclus decennovennalis Aurei numeri est revolutio numeri 19. annorum ab 1. usque ad 19., qua revolutione peracta, iterum ad unitatem reditur. Verbi gratia: anno 1577. numerus cycli decennovennalis, qui dicitur Aureus, est 1., anno sequenti 1578. est 2., et ita deinceps in sequentibus annis, uno semper amplius, usque ad 19., qui Aureus numerus cadet in annum 1595., post quem iterum ad unitatem redeundum est, ita ut anno 1596. Aureus numerus sit rursus 1., et anno 1597. sit 2. etc

The entire document is over-amplified with examples like these; I think it’s enough to say the 19 Golden Numbers cycle once every 19 years. I don’t doubt it was important to spell things like this out in the 16th century, but it sure makes for boring reading now.

I’ll be working on these 20 pages over the coming week, and will likely post my translation to the web so anyone interested in this at a later date doesn’t have to plow thru the same agony. So I don’t know how much posting I’ll be doing in the meantime–duty calls.


Permalink 02:26:02 am, by Chris Jones Email , 180 words, 3112 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Fun & Games

Old Mnemonics

Over the years I’ve come across more than a few crutches used by Latin students to remember details of the language they’re studying. One in particular from my own long-lost youth:

“After si, nisi, numquid, ne,
all the ali’s run away”

The idea is to remind you that after one of these four conjunctions, a word like qui, quae, quod, quis, or quid is better translated as if it were aliqui, aliquae, aliquod, aliquis, or aliquod. An example can be found in Cicero’s opening line to his oration Pro Archia: Si quid est in me ingeni… - (lit.) “if there is something of talent in me…”

I’ve learned recently that at least one series of older textbooks came up with a whole assortment of these “concocted rhymes” (for lack of a better term). Some of them are quite elaborate, in some cases more work that it’s worth for the thing you’re trying to remember.

A little digging is in order. I’ll post some of the cuter ones when I find them, but I invite you to put your favorites in comments…


Permalink 12:47:48 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 424 words, 12764 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


I occasionally float thru Vicipaedia–the Latin version of the web-encyclopedia Wikipedia–looking for offbeat or unusual entries. My theory is that while normally students are scared off by Latin composition, I figure the personal appeal of (say) a rock group Dies Viridis is more likely to get a student to overcome that fear. So my expectations are to find latin written by folks who normally wouldn’t even bother; yes, sometimes the results are inexplicable, but there are flashes of brilliance as well.



Permalink 02:14:06 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 294 words, 3048 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

V-Day antidotes

Yes, this Thursday is Valentine’s Day; if you need a review of the sketchy Greco-Roman origins of this holiday, Wikipedia has as good a summary as any. The link with St. Valentine–who protested a preposterous order of Emperor Claudius II that forced young men to remain single by conducting underground marriages–is legend built upon legend. Further attempts to link the holiday to Roman festivals–as the Saturnalia is linked to Christmas–are tenuous at best, and most likely coincidental.

The schmaltzy romantization of Valentine’s day has eclipsed the very thing that has made Love such a source of inspiration: It is a trying, complicated, uncontrolled and inscrutable emotion, a force of reckoning no Hallmark sentimentality will ever capture.

That’s why I always turn to the Roman elegists at this time of the year. You’d be hard pressed to find any truer expressions of Love than those captured 2000 years ago by writers like Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid.

These poems–despite their obvious artistry–began as deeply personal expression, and are at their best when the interior monologue is sincere. Eventually, though, that sincerity gave way to artistry, and what was a fragile psychological portrait faded to become a archetypal commonplace. You can comisserate with Catullus when he writes odi et amo, but when Ovid says (Amores II.5):

odi, nec possum, cupiens, non esse quod odi;
heu, quam quae studeas ponere ferre grave est!

it is too ornate to be believed. Lesbia was real; Corinna just a literary trope.

Nevertheless, coming at these fresh every year has served me well as a antidote to the phony romance of this Hallmark holiday. I thought I’d spend this week posting my thoughts on a few verses from these writers. Look for them throughout the week.


Permalink 08:42:13 am, by Chris Jones Email , 54 words, 2948 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Mount again

Another review of “Carpe Diem”, this time in the NY Times Sunday Book Review section (and it includes a wholly unexpected picture of Mr. Mount). Some of the reviewer’s criticism ("no macrons"?) seems somewhat trivial, but I think he gets to the heart of the books purpose as “a better recruiting pamphlet than textbook.”


Permalink 10:37:19 am, by Chris Jones Email , 103 words, 3086 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

From the Iron Curtain?

Students in the greater Orlando area participated in the Florida Junio Classical League Region 4 Forum this past weekend. The article covering the event has this interesting quote from Aurelia Ogles, a Florida Latin teacher:

“(Latin) found a new rebirth with the computer age,” Ogles said. “We had people trying to communicate with each other from the Iron Curtain or other countries and the common language they had taken was Latin in high school.”

Does anyone have firsthand information regarding the use of Latin to communicate specifically from a former Soviet country? Though I like the language, it seems a little far-fetched to me…


Permalink 08:22:56 am, by Chris Jones Email , 110 words, 2924 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News

Weather the storm

First, let me air this disclaimer: is a Libertarian political website that seems very interested in electing Ron Paul president of the US. Nevertheless, Tim Case’s column describing how climate changes may have affected the decline of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century seems (at first glance) to be fairly well researched.

Start about midway-down, after the chart, starting with the paragraph “If we look at history we find some very interesting events surrounding temperature change and agriculture during the last years of the Roman Empire.”

If you ignore the obvious attempts to match ancient history up with Libertarian social theory, there’s some food for thought here.


Permalink 09:32:37 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 23 words, 2950 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Non Iam Invicti

Patrii a Gigantibus in Cratere Supero victi sunt, XVII-XIV! Detacto in minuta ultima impleto, Gigantes victoriam improvissimam meruerunt.

Qua de causa ludi luduntur…


Permalink 10:06:16 am, by Chris Jones Email , 39 words, 3088 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News

Hiems Atrox Redit...

In Medioccidente Americae, procella nivalis advenit, quae pedem nivis in Chicago demisit. Mane, cumulis ad genua mea constructis, ab tramitibus, angiportu, areaque autocinetum cingente, nives rutro solvi.

Quid Horatius dixit? “Solvitur acris hiems…” Utinam sit verum; uteturne rutro meo? ;)


Permalink 10:51:46 am, by Chris Jones Email , 106 words, 1364 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

"Useless, but not worthless"

Another article on the “curiosity” of a rural Wisconsin high-school offering Latin to a small class of devoted students. There is obviously a religious angle here (and at many Catholic high-schools offering the language), but I’ve always thought religious motives for learning Latin were irrelevant. At some point you either enjoy the language or you don’t. If you enjoy it, you move on to other non-religious texts; if you don’t, you abandon it as a means to religious education and rely on translations.

Either way, the students who stick with Latin do so for non-religious reasons; there’s no threat these calsses will be overrun with theology…

Permalink 10:22:21 am, by Chris Jones Email , 244 words, 3081 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

Manuscripts & A Blog Project

Thoughts on Antiquity recently posted some links to online images of Latin manuscripts from The Royal Library in Copenhagen.

I encourage anyone interested in Latin to take a look. Browsing thru cozy, mass-produced books, it’s easy to forget the enormous effort that goes into developing a text. Our sole link to the literature of the ancient world rests precariously on a few fragile and obscure hand-written documents, and I believe a rudimentary understanding of how these manuscripts are judged, decoded, and emended will lead us to a better appreciation of the underlying material.

I thought as a sample I’d take a look at one of these MSS and walk thru some of the passages over the next few days. Completely at random I selected Lucan’s De Bello Civili. I figure it’s one of those “important” texts many Latinists acknowledge but few have read:D, so I hope you’ll not only get an intro to MSS reading, but also a little taste of what most classicists call the “greatest Latin epic after the Aeneid“.

Finally, let me say that I have only an amateur knowledge of paleography (the study of handwriting in old manuscripts), so I may struggle with a few passages. The Medieval Writing website–maintained by Dr. Dianne Tillotson in Canberra, Australia–is a very good starting point for folks who wish to learn more about the subject. I think I’ll be learning as much in going thru this process as my readers…


Permalink 11:06:08 am, by Chris Jones Email , 124 words, 2943 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News


Evan Millner has created Schola, a group on the Ning social networking site devoted to Latin conversation. I like his rules:

4. NEMO LITTERAS EMENDAT. (Don’t correct anyone!) NEFAS EST.

Omnia epistolia non Latina delebuntur.

I commend the idea of just letting poeple try their hand at latin–errors be damned. Too often I see topics where you can’t write a Latin sentence without someone chiming in about an obscure point of grammar or whether or not censeo, puto, cogito or reor is the “right” verb (hey, I’ve written a few myself, so I’m not pointing any fingers). Better to dive in and make mistakes than never try at all.

Added to the blogroll…


Permalink 12:20:34 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 49 words, 2975 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Language of the Day

Briefly, rom the South Florida Herald-Tribune:

LAKEWOOD RANCH – Roughly 300 Latin students from around the Tampa Bay area are expected to attend a forum today at Lakewood Ranch High School.

The teenagers will compete in exams, games, dramatic interpretations and other activities to test their knowledge of the ancient language.


Permalink 09:45:27 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 97 words, 3212 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News

Rage rage against the dying of the light...

First there’s this bittersweet story of one researcher’s attempts to save Nepal’s Dura language from extinction. Then I hear that the last native speaker of Eyak, a language originally spoken by Alaska natives, just died. And Wednesday on Radio West, I heard a discussion with producers of the new documentary playing at Sundance. “The Linguists” chronicles the efforts of academics to preserve disappearing languages.

Latinists have chosen to study what many would call a “dead” language. Perhaps that makes me sensitive to the plight of languages now on life support, but nevertheless I sense a theme here…


Permalink 01:50:40 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 60 words, 1329 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


I’ve added an “Other Blogs” section in the righthand column just below the archives, a spot where I intend to add interesting on-line links (and a few links on this website).

The first is the charming In Rebus blog, which recently had an article regarding the etymology of “syllabus”, a fatal coinage based on some problematic readings in Cicero’s letters…


Permalink 10:15:03 am, by Chris Jones Email , 111 words, 1342 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

An excellent article about Brian Tibbets, a high-school Latin teacher in Monmouth, IL whose program is thriving despite the small size of his school.

One quote from Mr. Tibbets caught my eye:

“I’m always finding new activities to do with students,” Tibbets said. “At the end of every unit or at the end of every chapter I’m thinking about what worked and what didn’t.”

Besides the obvious energy he brings to his class, the ability to dynamically re-evaluate and alter the curriculum–instead of reciting the same canned lectures–is a key part of teaching success. Just because Latin is a “dead” language doesn’t mean it should be taught like one…


Permalink 07:22:17 am, by Chris Jones Email , 281 words, 5423 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

Horace - Ode I.16 (Intro)

I’ve had a personal theory about this ode for quite some time, so I’d like to give it a treatment similar to what I did for Alcuin’s O Mea Cella.



Permalink 11:59:14 am, by Chris Jones Email , 93 words, 1143 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Site changes

Quite honestly, when I started this blog I wasn’t sure how it all would work, and was completely unfamiliar with the blogging SW. However, I see I have a few XML subscribers and there is a modest amount of traffic, so I’ve decided to enable user accounts.

You can create an account using the links under “Misc” in the righthand column. Login if you like or remain anonymous; like i said I’m still experimenting here. As always you can contact me using the “Contact the Admin” link at the bottom of the page.

Permalink 08:10:47 am, by Chris Jones Email , 63 words, 3168 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

A Process of Elimination

The Chattanooga Times notes the decline in Latin at local district schools:

Ava Warren, Hamilton County’s director of curriculum and instruction, said the decline in Latin offerings throughout the district is tied to the difficulty of finding qualified instructors and lagging student interest.

Depressing as the article is, the reminiscences from older Latin-savvy graduates of the school system are heart-warming. Take a look


Permalink 09:00:04 am, by Chris Jones Email , 87 words, 1465 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Fun & Games


Things like this have always struck me as a little silly. I doubt Mr. Mount is serious, but if someone insists that you must use a Latin declension to properly form the plural of a word introduced by a Japanese automobile manufacturer, kindly point this peantic fool to the door. The plural of Prius is Priuses until a different term is adopted by common assent. The idea that such a thing can be dictated and Latin used to give it a sheen of authority is just ridiculous.


Permalink 10:00:44 am, by Chris Jones Email , 696 words, 8170 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

Alcuin - O Mea Cella (p.1)

An analysis of this elegiac poem. My rationale for this project can be found here.


Permalink 06:57:43 am, by Chris Jones Email , 125 words, 3434 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature, Fun & Games

Halfway There...

As you slog through this long winter, take heart from this short passage in Ovid’s Fasti (I.459-60). Ovid planned this work as a celebration of notable dates in the Roman calendar (he only made it thru half the year), and he has the following couplet for January 10th:

Postera lux hiemem medio discrimine signat,
aequaque praeteritae quae superabit erit.

Ovid says Postera lux because he just completed a lengthy story about the festival of the Agonalia, which occurred on the 9th. Take quae superabit as the subject of erit; aequa…praeteritae is a poetic construction where the dative completes the meaning as it does with the adjectives par or similis. I’m assuming the feminine quae here refers to hiems (or perhaps more correctly pars hiemis).


Permalink 04:31:26 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 111 words, 3065 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, News, Lost in Translation

Perennially young classics

This Wall-Street Journal article on the importance of the Aeneid in western culture is a little old, but still worth reading:

Like his hero, Virgil was fated to establish a new empire, in this case a literary one. His excellent modern translators, from John Dryden, at the end of the 17th century, to Robert Fagles, two years ago, have all tried to “English” the original Latin, to represent their poet in a way that does justice to both the past and the present, to the original and to contemporary audiences. Every generation retranslates the masterpieces of the ancient world. Such efforts prove that a classic is something that is perennially young.

Permalink 10:51:51 am, by Chris Jones Email , 6 words, 1484 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


A cartoon in this week’s Ephemeris:
Cogitas eadem rem quam ego?

Permalink 10:42:40 am, by Chris Jones Email , 293 words, 3683 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Reading Thread

I’d like to try an experiment on the blog. I’m going to take a piece of Latin literature I’m unfamiliar with and post my thoughts as I read thru it. This is not strictly an attempt at translation (though I’ll note interesting vocabulary and grammar), but more an analysis of the personal and artistic effect the work has (at least in my opinion).



Permalink 12:14:16 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 65 words, 3053 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


Primary elections for President occur in New Hampshire today. The process has inspired me to write the following couplet:

Terra lutum nivibus tam crassum Granita miscet
Ut nihilum possit candida ferre toga.

For those outside the US, wintery New Hampshire’s nickname is the Granite State (Terra…Granita). The quip plays on the double meaning of candidus and lutum (for the latter, cf. Cicero’s In Pisonem 26).


Permalink 08:09:10 am, by Chris Jones Email , 299 words, 2884 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements


In case you haven’t checked, Youtube has quite a bit of Latin language video. I’ll be posting links periodically, but for now here are two worth a look:

Columina Latinitatis - “a little jewel of Latinity” is a snippet from what I believe is a outing taken by members of the University of Kentucky’s Conventicula Latina to New Orleans. The first speaker is Professor Terence Tunberg, founder of the Conventicula and author of several translations of Dr. Seuss books into Latin. If you want to brush up on your conversational skills, here’s a transcript of the first segment:

Sermo Latinus non est lingua antiqua tantum; est quasi vinculum multarum gentium, et adhuc illo munere–illo officio–fungi potest Lingua Latina. Exempli gratia, sermones in hoc ipso conventu habui optimos cum hominibus qui nequaquam Anglice bene loqui possunt, neque ego eorum sermones calleo. Quapropter nobis Lingua Latina fuit quasi quoddam vinculum, quo multas res internas communicare potuimus.

Dr. Tunberg uses the uncommon verb calleo - “I have experience with". On first hearing I thought this was caleo - “I am warm", which is not only intransitive but just plain nonsense. Guess I need a vocabulary refresher…

If the Columina link is a bit much, try this crude but entertaining student production of Ovid’s Pyramus and Thisbe. It’s obviously written by the students, fairly easy to follow, and quite funny in patches. At one point, when Pyramus comes to the meeting tree looking for the missing Thisbe, the actor asks Ubi est Thisbe? Lavatne capillos suos? And I for one think the collapsing light-saber prop is irreplaceable.

Seriously though, I wish more Latin students would do this kind of thing. There are so many opportunities to be creative with the language, it seems a shame to spend most of class time memorizing verb tables…


Permalink 11:26:05 am, by Chris Jones Email , 472 words, 3915 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Literature

Apologia pro Latina Mediaevali

Let’s be frank: Medieval Latin is commonly derided as a “lesser” form of Latin. One main reason for this is that it naturally invites comparison to a classical ideal, and so by its very nature it will always fall short of that ideal.



Permalink 12:00:48 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 72 words, 2954 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Consilia anni novi

I figure by posting my intentions for the new year on this blog, I’ll be somewhat more committed to keeping them. So, here goes:

* Posting at least four times a week,
* More reading of Late and Medieval Latin,
* Ongoing threads for working thru and analyzing good bits of Latin lit.,
* At least one serious discussion of Modern/Recent Latin a month.

If you have any Latin-related resolutions of your own, please comment…


Permalink 01:09:08 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 12 words, 1191 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

Well, that didn't take long...

Angelina Jolie’s Latin tattoo; scroll down a bit to see the picture.


Permalink 08:00:00 am, by Chris Jones Email , 268 words, 3873 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements, Fun & Games

Donum Nativitatis

Light posting (if at all) over the next week or so (I’ll be celebrating the holidays with family and friends scattered throughout the midwest).

Over the past year, I composed a Latin translation of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas’ ("‘Twas the night before Christmas…"), and included it in Xmas cards this season. Link here (warning: ~400KB pdf) if you would like a copy; the poem is written in elegiac couplets, and it’s a pretty entertaining and faithful effort even if I do say so myself. The pictures are taken from a 19th-century illustrated copy of the poem; the artist is F. O. C. Darley, a well-know Victorian illustrator.

Note that the macrons in the text are not used in the standard way. Here they indicate the “ictus syllable” of each poetic foot. The idea is that if you tap your foot during proper recitation, you should hit an ictus syllable with each tap. This crutch forces you to pronounce short syllables more quickly and highlight the caesura in the elegiac distich. I’ve also taken the trouble of pointing out elisions with a short underline between the end of an elided syllable and the next word (which of course starts with a vowel); naturally the final syllables before an elision mark are not pronounced (or at least slurred into the next). I’ve found textual aids like these are an immense help to readers new to oral recitation, and like all poetry the poem is best appreciated when heard aloud.

Print a copy or distribute it however you like, just don’t sell it. Felix Nativitas vobis omnibus!


Permalink 10:04:47 am, by Chris Jones Email , 21 words, 1277 views   English (US)
Categories: Announcements

First post

Welcome! If you’re wondering why, exactly, someone would start a blog about Latin, take a look at the blog mission statement.

Qui sciet quae quoque sint modo dicenda, nisi tamen in procinctu paratamque ad omnis casus habuerit eloquentiam, velut clausis thesauris incubabit.

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