Archives for: July 2009


Permalink 10:58:04 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 50 words, 751 views   English (US)
Categories: My Own Latin

A trifle...

…that I’ve been noodling over my lunch hours this week…

Stulus eram, qui deliciis per iurgia dixi,
   "Nova suum vexas vexat Lesbia mente virum!”
“Si me rite ream monstrares,” illa regessit,
   "Nonne dares cordi carmina blanda meo.”

Rite ream bugs me for some reason…


Permalink 10:49:17 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 114 words, 893 views   English (US)
Categories: Modern Latin

A twelve minute film from this year’s Conventiculum Lexintoniense is up on Youtube (in two parts):

Dr. Tunberg’s Latin is quite clear and fairly straightforward. All the participants in fact display an impressive command of the language…I had to replay a few of the in-class and group-outdoor scenes because of the audio, but that’s a minor quibble.

According to the video, 77 people attended this year. Iam venturo anno mihi est comitandum. Quamquam (propter negotium familiamque) longius uno die morari non possim, non dubito quin occasio tamen inaestimabilis studio Latino sit.

BTW Scorpio is right–Ego quoque malo Belgicam Cervesiam quam calidam Britannicam gustare:-)


Permalink 09:49:48 am, by Chris Jones Email , 103 words, 3883 views   English (US)
Categories: News, Literature

Vidi te in somnis fracta, mea vita, carina...

Underwater archaeologists have found a group of Roman shipwrecks off the coast of Ventotene. David Meadows’ Rogue Classicism has plenty of details.

Ventotene was known as Pandataria in ancient times, a place of exile for at least two women from the imperial family. Tacitus notes the case of Augustus’ daughter Julia in 14 ACE:

Eodem anno Iulia supremum diem obiit, ob impudicitiam olim a patre Augusto Pandateria insula, mox oppido Reginorum, qui Siculum fretum accolunt, clausa. (Ann. I.53)

And Suetonius tells us that Tiberius–after trumping up charges against his daughter-in-law Aggripina (Maior), (Eam) Pandatariam relegauit conuiciantique oculum per centurionem uerberibus excussit. (Tib. 53). Yikes!


Permalink 11:16:38 am, by Chris Jones Email , 779 words, 7010 views   English (US)
Categories: News, Literature, Roman Culture

Quid meruisti miser ut hoc spectes?

Jon and KateI certainly wouldn’t say I’ve cut myself off from pop culture–my wife and I are avid movie fans, read two or more newspapers a day, and when you have small children you spend a lot of nights in front of the TV–but I can say I had never heard of the now-ubiquitous Jon and Kate Gosselin before about three months ago, when rumors of an extramarital affair led to their recent separation. I’m pretty much left cold by that corner of “Reality TV” where the only talent on display is shameless self-promotion. As these so-called celebrities expose the detailed minutiae of their lives for a few moments of network fame, I’m reminded of a passage from Seneca’s Epistulae Morales:



Permalink 09:58:03 am, by Chris Jones Email , 55 words, 778 views   English (US)
Categories: News

...Ut describeretur universus orbis

The classics department at Western Washington University–under the auspices of the sodales of the Academia Latinitati Fovendae at the college–has set up the first of a biennial Census of Worldwide Latin speakers. I encourage everyone to enter their data–Quod V minuta ad summum requiret.

Picked this up from Evan Milner’s indispensible Schola


Permalink 10:19:43 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 238 words, 3148 views   English (US)
Categories: Calpurnius' Bucolica

Calpurnius - Summary

After reading thru the opus totum of Calpurnius (with a possible exception in the uncredited Laus Pisonis), I thought it was worth reviewing some other sources and commentary. I found a copy of the Loeb edition that contains his poems and stumbled across this interesting article from Emory University Classic professor Niall W. Slater (I really wish I’d thought to look for it sooner).

The Loeb’s introduction to Calpurnius includes a speculative question about the order of composition. I agree that the strictly pastoral poems–II, III, V, and VI–were surely written before the political I, IV, and VII, and were perhaps an isolated exercise/imitation. I’d also agree that III is the least polished of the bunch and was therefore probably written first. But although I can understand the praise for V–the Micon soliloquy imitating Vergil’s Georgic III–I found that poem rather tedious and lacking the playful yet essential humor found in Virgil’s work. Of the strict pastorals VI–the “trash talk” between Lycidas and Astylus–was probably my favorite, but the political poems–despite the theme–display a skillful complexity that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Slater article amplifies this point; much of what he says regarding the first poem can be applied to IV and VII.

Overall I enjoyd the experience, and hope at least a few readers got something out of it. So do I move on to the Laus Pisonis now? :)


Permalink 10:41:56 am, by Chris Jones Email , 218 words, 1626 views   English (US)
Categories: Literature, Vocabulary and Grammar

Dis-creet matters (sorry about that pun)

Someone asked about the Latin phrase Creat Industria on the Straight Dope board yesterday. The OP noted the ubiquitous translation “Let industry be made", but this rests on a misreading of creat as a subjunctive. Creo looks like it should have the same forms as moneo, but it is actually a first conjugation noun.

As one poster observed, this would make the subjunctive creet, an odd-looking Latin word to be sure (other than deest and imported greek names, is there another Latin word with double e?). I was about to post that classical writers would probably avoid this form and use a cognate like cresco to form the subjunctive (e.g. crescat), but then I thought I’d check…sure enough the subjunctive creet appears in Lucretius:

nam tibi de summa caeli ratione deumque
disserere incipiam et rerum primordia pandam,
unde omnis natura creet res, auctet alatque

“For to you the supreme law of sky and Gods
I proceed to unlock, and lay bare the origin of things
From which Nature might create, grow, and feed all.”

A quick scan shows Lucretius uses the compound recreet two more times in his poem. I find no citation for these words in a classical author–another sign of the delicate pruning of the classical language by Cicero, Virgil et al…


Permalink 11:04:34 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 185 words, 3158 views   English (US)
Categories: Literature, Education

Augustine blogging

I’ve volunteered to lead a Latin book discussion with a local church/homeschool group this fall on St. Augustine’s Confessions. I’ve done this before and have always considered it an excellent text for the classroom, one that could match Caesar’s De Bello Gallico in a second-year classroom (it’s quite easy reading and the story is interesting and offers a lot of historical tangents–if you skip his last four exegetical books). Obviously its religious content and timing outside the strict classical age make that an impossibility for public school Latin teachers, but I’m still somewhat surprised no one has bothered to edit a modern student edition–especially considering the growth of Latin study among homeschoolers. I have my school copy of the Connor text, but it’s geared more to a college course, and I usually end up writing my own selections for handouts.

Anyway, if anybody knows of a good, student-friendly version of the Confessions they would recommend as a text, pipe up in comments. I plan to blog the lessons when the class starts up in the fall if anyone cares to follow along.


Permalink 10:36:50 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 83 words, 3277 views   English (US)
Categories: Literature, Fun & Games

My favorite is medio tutissimus ibis

A little old (been traveling without internet access for the past wek), but Mary Beard’s list of suggested quotes for the London Underground is well worth a few minutes of your time.

If I were to add just one, I’d suggest dum aes exigitur…tota abit hora, from Horace’s description of a canal trip in Sat. I.V.13-14. If the Tube is anything like the Chicago CTA, I’m sure more than one fare-paying passenger has lost an hour stuck on a motionless train…


Permalink 11:19:10 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 185 words, 1418 views   English (US)
Categories: Vocabulary and Grammar

Old and Vulgar

The spanish verb hablar has the Latin verb fabulari as its root. That’s interesting because this verb is quite rare among classical writers (Cicero, for example, never uses it), but quite frequent in the older Plautus. Considering that synonyms like dico and loquor were far more common, at first glance it seems odd that an archaic Latin verb would “win out” in a Romance language for the commonplace notion “to say/speak".



Permalink 10:16:06 am, by Chris Jones Email , 463 words, 1417 views   English (US)
Categories: Vocabulary and Grammar, Roman Culture

Kukla, Fran, and...

Olli and ollis are older spellings of the demostrative Latin pronouns illi and illis. The antiquarian Varro will explain:



Permalink 10:18:09 am, by Chris Jones Email , 528 words, 3161 views   English (US)
Categories: Literature, Vocabulary and Grammar

Compound Interest

It’s well known that the early Latin writers borrowed heavily from the Greeks in developing Roman literature. But this was a process of trail and error, and from their scant remains we see many false starts in these older writers. One example comes from their abortive attempts to imitate Greek compounds.

Ancient Greek writers made extensive use of compounds, a tactic that gave Greek a far richer vocabulary than Latin. The first line of the Odyssey provides a typical example (sorry, don’t know how to add accent marks on this blog):

Aíäñá ìïé, Ìïõóá, ðïëõôñïðïí

“Tell me, Muse, of the many-directions man…”

Odysseus’ epithet ðïëõôñïðïí combines ðïëõ - “many (poly)” with the verb ôñåðù - “turn, direct". The word plays on an abstract “double” meaning: Odysseus not only had many travels, but he also had “many turns” of the mind, i.e. he was “wily/crafty/ingenious". Latin, of course, follows a similar pattern in applying literal, concrete root terms in an abstract way (e.g. sto - “stand” also has the more abstract meanings “endure/persist") and then adding prefixes to clarify that meaning (e.g. insto is literally “stand on", but also means “harass, pursue, insist"). But Greek follows this pattern far more extensively; compare, for example the size of this list of Greek words beginning with ðïëõ versus an equivalent list for Latin mult-. The difference is even more staggering when you realize that the Romans began their literature with the Greek list and later created many of the mult- words based on Greek originals.

These compounded Greek forms became a hallmark of Greek literary style, so the early Roman writers tried to creatre similar compunds in their native language. Quintilian talks about the process in his Institutio:

(Voces) compositae aut praepositionibus subiunguntur, ut “innocens” (dum ne pugnantibus inter se duabus, quale est “inperterritus": alioqui possunt aliquando continuari duae, ut “incompositus” “reconditus” et quo Cicero utitur “subabsurdum"), aut e duobus quasi corporibus coalescunt, ut “maleficus". Nam ex tribus nostrae utique linguae non concesserim (I.V.65-6)

“Compound words are either joined with prepositions, like innocens (though not with two that clash with each other, like inperterritus: Otherwise two can be joined sometimes, like in incompositus, reconditus and subabsurdum, which Cicero uses), or formed as if from two separate parts, like maleficus. But I certainly wouldn’t allow it for our language from three parts”

Quntilian’s point is to recogize both the usual compounding with adverbial prepositions and a “restricted” Greek style where two nouns/verbs/adjectives are joined. It’s restricted because nostra lingua just isn’t equipped to handle triple compounds, and as always he has an example at the ready:

Ceterum etiam ex praepositione et duobus vocabulis dure videtur struxisse Pacuvius:

“Nerei repandirostrum incurvicervicum pecus.”

“Even still Pacuvius seems to have constructed (words) harshly out of a preposition and two words…”

That line from Pacuvius–an old Roman tragedian–deserves a deconstruction. Pecus Nerei is the “Nereid flock", i.e. animals that live in the ocean. Repandirostrum = re- (preposition for “back") + pandus - “bent” + rostrum “prow/nose” = “bent-back-nosed". incurvicervicum = in- (preposition “in") + curvus - “curved” + cervix - “neck” = “down-curve-backed". Even in English these sound awful–no wonder this is the only place you’ll find them in extant Latin.


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