Tuesday, May 28, 2013
What is it about your field that is fascinating to you?
Reading ancient Roman literature is so thrilling to me because it is a way of communicating with people from the past. It is exciting to hear those ancient voices, and important too, since they wrestled with many of the same political and philosophical problems that we still do today.
What is it about the classics that means people still take the subject?
If people are interested in ancient history, archaeology, the history of literature, or Christian theology, then a grounding in Latin and Greek is important. But I also teach a popular course in Boston called 'The World of Rome' for students who have no prior experience in studying the ancient world, on day-to-day life in ancient Rome. Most of my students will go on to major in science or engineering or economics, yet they also love being immersed for a time in a world so different from their own. How did Romans protect themselves from malaria? What kind of insurance did Romans have? What were Roman views on educating women? These are some of the questions my students had this semester, and they all raise fascinating issues.
Do you encounter many people who think classics is not a worthwhile pursuit? How do you respond to them?
Classics is important not simply because it helps you to understand the origins of our language and culture. It also challenges you to understand the ideas and values of people distant from yourself, whom you will never get a chance to meet face-to-face. That kind of empathy and imagination is truly valuable in the 21st century world.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
- affero: to bring to, report, announce
- aufero: to take away, remove, steal
- circumfero: to carry around, spread around, divulge
- confero: to bring together, collect, discuss
- defero: to carry down, transfer,
- differo: to postone, delay, put off, scatter, disperse
- infero: to bring in, carry in, import
- offero: to offer, present
- perfero: to carry through, endure, suffer
- refero: to bring back, withdraw, return, report
- suffero: to bear, endure, suffer
- transfero: to transport, convey, carry across
Thursday, April 04, 2013
'utere sorte tua. miseri te si qua parentis
tangere cura potest, oro (fuit et tibi talis
Anchises genitor) Dauni miserere senectae
et me, seu corpus spoliatum lumine mavis, 935
redde meis. vicisti et victum tendere palmas
Ausonii videre; tua est Lavinia coniunx,
ulterius ne tende odiis.' stetit acer in armis
Aeneas volvens oculos dextramque repressit;
et iam iamque magis cunctantem flectere sermo 940
coeperat, infelix umero cum apparuit alto
balteus et notis fulserunt cingula bullis
Pallantis pueri, victum quem vulnere Turnus
straverat atque umeris inimicum insigne gerebat.
ille, oculis postquam saevi monimenta doloris 945
exuviasque hausit, furiis accensus et ira
terribilis: 'tune hinc spoliis indute meorum
eripiare mihi? Pallas te hoc vulnere, Pallas
immolat et poenam scelerato ex sanguine sumit.'
Friday, February 15, 2013
"Latinitas Sinica" (Centre for Latin Language and Culture in China) is the name of a study centre established at the prestigious Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese university specialized in foreign languages and cultures and officially opened on June 15th, 2012...
Monday, February 11, 2013
When she sees the Trojan battle-lines and the troops of Turnus the Fury, changed suddenly into the form of that small bird which, sitting late at night on tombs and deserted buildings, often sings her ill-omened songs through the shadows - changed into this shape the fiend throws herself again and again into the face of Turnus, shrieking and beating upon his shield with her wings.
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Out of interest, I thought I'd put together a similar list for NSW Schools, based on the Sydney Morning Herald's rankings from last year's HSC.
2. North Sydney Boys High School
3. North Sydney Girls High School
4. Sydney Girls High School
5. Baulkham Hills High School
8. Sydney Boys High School
9. SCEGGS Darlinghurst
10. Sydney Grammar School
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
I notice that one of the horses racing in today's Melbourne Cup is called Mt Athos. It just so happens I was translating this passage from Aeneid XII with my year 12 class today:
vertice se attollens pater Appenninus ad auras.
Aeneas was as great as Athos, or as great as Eryx or as great as father Apenninus himself with his quivering pine trees, when he roars and rejoices in his snowy peak, lifting himself up into the sky.
Mt Athos is in Macedonia, Mt Eryx (these days Monte San Giuliano) on Sicily and Appenninus in central Italy. Here is a map. I recall a few years ago there was a horse in the Melbourne cup called Sirmione - I wonder if they're somehow related.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Sed dique et homines prohibuere redemptos vivere Romanos. Nam forte quadam priusquam infanda merces perficeretur, per altercationem nondum omni auro adpenso, dictator intervenit, auferrique aurum de medio et Gallos submoveri iubet. cum illi renitentes pactos dicerent sese, negat eam pactionem ratam esse quae postquam ipse dictator creatus esset iniussu suo ab inferioris iuris magistratu facta esset, denuntiatque Gallis ut se ad proelium expediant. Suos in acervum conicere sarcinas et arma aptare ferroque non auro reciperare patriam iubet, in conspectu habentes fana deum et coniuges et liberos et solum patriae deforme belli malis et omnia quae defendi repetique et ulcisci fas sit. Instruit deinde aciem, ut loci natura patiebatur, in semirutae solo urbis et natura inaequali, et omnia quae arte belli secunda suis eligi praepararive poterant providit. Galli nova re trepidi arma capiunt iraque magis quam consilio in Romanos incurrunt. Iam verterat fortuna, iam deorum opes humanaque consilia rem Romanam adiuvabant. Igitur primo concursu haud maiore momento fusi Galli sunt quam ad Alliam vicerant. Iustiore altero deinde proelio ad octavum lapidem Gabina via, quo se ex fuga contulerant, eiusdem ductu auspicioque Camilli vincuntur.
Analyse the ways in which this extract is typical of Livy’s engaging style of history.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I think I'm going to be in Munich towards the end of October for a friend's wedding (the wedding is confirmed, it's my attendance which is still a bit uncertain). If I go, I'd also like to visit some friends in Innsbruck, and spend a few days in northern Italy as well. I'd particularly like to see the Grotte Di Catullo. I'm aware that it's not the actual house Catullus lived in, but I feel the pilgrimage would be worth it all the same. I've been to Rome a few times, but have never made it very far north and this seems like a good opportunity to do so.
While I'm there are there any other nearby sites I should make an effort to get to? The amphitheatre in Verona sounds worth a visit, but I have no idea what else is around that part of Italy. Padua and Mantua (the birthplaces of Livy and Vergil respectively) aren't too far away, but in my brief internet investigations it doesn't seem like there's actually much to make it worth going there.
Monday, July 30, 2012
...the book is a kind of satire of contemporary England—a member of its underclass wins the lottery and enters its tabloid class. Satire is—I wonder how helpful it is as a category. It was once defined in apposition to irony, in that the satirist isn’t just looking at things ironically but militantly—he wants to change them, and intends to have an effect on the world. I think that category just doesn’t exist in literature. No novel has ever changed anything, as far as I can see. And the great satirists, like Swift and Dickens, tend to write about abuses and injustices that have already been partially corrected—you write about it after it’s over. I would say I’m an ironist not a satirist. All you do is you take existing tendencies and crank them up, just turn up the volume dial.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
All I could find was this guy, who apart from being incredibly dull, was also (in my humble opinion) incredibly wrong. I couldn't bear to watch the whole thing, but he started off by saying how important it was to analyse every word - first deciding what part of speech it was, then working out the case/number/gender or tense/voice/mood/person etc., and, where more than one possibility existed, making a list of all the potential forms.
This kind of method would be ok, if you are a computer, but it has serious flaws. Firstly, from a purely pragmatic point of view, it is far too time consuming. It's not a sensible strategy for an exam context with limited time, even when you are only translating a short extract. And can you imagine (as my uni professor used to say) trying to read all 53 extant speeches of Cicero in this way? It would take forever, and it would be mind-numbingly, soul-destroyingly boring.