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.
Small children like bedtime stories, but once they hit kindergarten they get tired of the same old fairy tales. So my son is perstering me for new ones. D’Aulaire’s beautiful Book of Greek Myths was a natural, but we’ve pretty much exhausted the suitable stories (my wife doesn’t want him to hear about Oedipus yet:-)
So now I’m ransacking Ovid…and the story of Adonis in Book X got me thinking about an image…which led to some Latin…and a verse I’ve been tinkering with in my spare moments:
Hic lucus tristes anemonas creber obumbrat
Quas dea continuis fletibus una beat.
Not sure…could this lead to anything?
…even after 2000 years! NPR’s All Things Considered reports on how a London criminal case is turning on a line from Catullus. The transcript includes an audio feed, in case you’re curious about Cambridge Don Mary Beard’s voice.
NPR bleeped both Catullus and the English translation of his line. I think it’s a little prudish to censor the Latin, but perhaps they’re pre-empting youngsters who would no doubt turn it into a trendy new vulgarity:-). Fearlessly taking that chance, I’ll guess from context that the line has to be Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo - “I’ll f*** you in the a** and in the mouth” (XVI.1), the delightful opening of a hendecasyllabic wishing the best for two of the poet’s critics. Pronounce it “PEH-DEE-CAHB..eh-go WOHS et EEER-ruh-MAH-boh,” and accent the capitalized syllables a bit to get the rhythm of the poetic meter. Some kid is going to have loads of fun with this…
Spotted the video below as part of a thread on the Latin Forum; truly an opus mirandum…
You’ll probably need the written text to follow along.
William Deresiewicz has penned an interesting essay on friendship in the age of Facebook (Vultilibris?). I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusion that Facebook has debased traditional notions of male-male friendship–I think Kate Harding at Broadsheet has a better point when she underscores the cultural roles that “force boys and men to squelch their feelings and keep their emotional distance"–but Deresiewicz does his readers a service in sketching the idea of amicitia in the ancient world:
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.
I’ve written before about archaeological discoveries uncovered by aerial photography. Now, thanks to a happy accident in the filming a BBC2 documentary, this photo from NW Wales shows what appears to be a previously-undiscovered Roman villa in Ceredigion, near the Roman fort at Trawsgoed.
I’m no expert on Roman Britain, but at some point in my undergrad careeer I read Peter Salway’s excellent survey. Traditionally, the geography of Roman Britannia is best understood via the division between “highland” and “lowland” regions–a NW diagonal line from Bristol to Middlesbrough roughly divides the lowlands south and east from the highlands north and west. The arable land and easy roads of the lowlands promoted a more domestic, civilized culture as compared to the isolated military communities of the highlands–in short, you expect to find large estates in the lowlands and forts or mining settlements in the highlands. So a well-appointed Roman villa in NW Wales should stick out like a sore thumb. Others have been found there, but AFAIK none this far NW…
The brief opening of book III provides perhaps the best of Augustine’s Latin. The famous initial sentence Veni Carthaginem, et circumstrepebat me undique sartago flagitiosorum amorum gives the reader an immediate thrill; note the bustling effect of the ingenious pun Karthago/sartago and the unusual, onomatopoeic verb circumstrepo.
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