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Who said Latin is dead?

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Ira Wong

on 17 June 2013

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Transcript of Who said Latin is dead?

Who said Latin is dead?
Quick history of Rome
Highlights of Latin literature
Importance of learning Latin (and Ancient Greek)
Your aptitude for Latin
The sounds of Latin
As reader
As writer
Timeline of Roman history
Language Aptitude Test
Great writers and Latin
In praise of poetry

Founding of Rome
Remus and Romulus
Aeneas and the Fall of Troy
Founding of Republic
Rape of Lucretia
Suicide of Lucretia
Sack of Rome
Hannibal and the Punic Wars
cogito ergo sum
Destruction of Corinth and Carthage
Ruins of Corinth
Marius amidst Carthage
The sounds of Latin
Si ex his studiis delectatio sola peteretur,
tamen, ut opinor, hanc animi remissionem humanissimam ac liberalissimam iudicaretis.
Shakespeare and his sources
Milton's Latinisms
Dante's de vulgari eloquentia
nam ceterae neque temporum sunt
neque aetatum omnium neque locorum:
haec studia
adolescentiam alunt,
senectutem oblectant,
If delight alone were sought from these studies,
nevertheless, as I think, you would judge this relaxation of the mind as the most refined and gentlemanly.
For the others are not for
all times, ages or places:
These studies
nourish youth,
delight old age,
secundas res ornant,
adversis perfugium ac solacium praebent,
delectant domi,
non impediunt foris,
pernoctant nobiscum,
decorate successful affairs,
offer a refuge and comfort for adverse things
delight at home,
do not impede outdoors,
spend the night with us,
go to the country.
Chaucer and Latin
And kis the steppes where as thow seest pace
Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, and Stace.
(Troilus and Criseyde)
'I wol now singe, if that I can,
The armes, and al-so the man,
That first cam, through his destinee,
Fugitif of Troye contree,
In Itaile, with ful moche pyne,
Unto the strondes of Lavyne.'
"I will now sing, if I am able,
of the arms and the man also,
who, fugitive from Troy, first came
by his fate into Italy to the
Lavinian shore with great suffering."
(The House of Fame)
I will speak my conscience of the King: I think he would not wish himself anywhere but where he is. (Henry V)
Not "I will speak the truth" (ie. appease my conscience)
conscientia: knowledge
This sensible motion to become a kneaded clod. (Measure for Measure)
This thread will be your link with the past. Go back to it. Go back to yourself.
Not "with good sense"
sensibilis: capable of sensation
O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
Methought she purged the air of pestilence.
That instant was I turned into a hart,
And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,
E'er since pursue me.
(Twelfth Night)
... For her own person,
It beggar'd all description: she did lie
In her pavilion--cloth-of-gold of tissue--
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.
(Antony and Cleopatra)
And now for the person of her self,
she was laid under a pavilion of cloth of gold of tissue, apparelled and attired like the goddess Venus, commonly drawn in picture: and hard by her, on either hand of her, pretty fair boys apparelled as painters do set forth god Cupid, with little fans in their hands, with the which they fanned wind upon her.
(Plutarch, Life of Marcus Antonius)

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse...
Tendency to use
Latinate words in their Latin sense
Latin syntax and structure
"Him who disobeys me disobeys,"
"Who disobeys him disobeys me,"
Under his great vice-gerent reign abide
United, as one individual soul,
For ever happy: Him who disobeys,
Me disobeys...
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of deity supreme, us dispossessed,
He trusted to have seized.
"us dispossessed" = ablative absolute
"having been dispossessed by us"
... up stood the corny reed
Embattled in her field: add the humble shrub,
And bush with frizzled hair implicit: last
Rose as in dance the stately trees, and spread
Their branches hung with copious fruit; or gemmed
Their blossoms.
corny: cornu (horn)
implicit: implicare (entangle)
gemmed: gemmare (bud)
We have to ask, not merely what had Shakespeare... read, but what had the English authors read whose works nourished Shakespeare?

He lived in a world in which the wisdom of the ancients was respected, and their poetry admired and enjoyed.
On Milton
Some knowledge of Latin is necessary, not only for understanding what Milton is talking about, but much more for understanding his style and his music.

An acquaintance with Latin is necessary if we are to understand, and to accept, the involutions of his sentence structure, and if we are to hear the complete music of his verse.

The point is that Milton's Latinism is essential to his greatness.
You may write English poetry without knowing any Latin; I am not so sure whether without Latin you can wholly understand it.
And what I have said of verse can be applied to prose also:

Can we really enter into the style of Clarendon unless we have at least a smattering of Tacitus, or the style of Gibbon unless we have some awareness of the immense power upon him of the classical and post-classical chroniclers, the patristic and post-patristic theologians, who provided him with his material?
On understanding English poetry
On understanding English prose
The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
From satin cases poured in rich profusion.
In vials of ivory and colored glass,
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid–troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odors;
(The Waste Land, A Game of Chess)
The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
Burn’d on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them;
(Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra)
Extravagant and erring spirit hies to his confine. (Hamlet)
Not "spendthrift" and
"making a mistake"
extravagari: to wander outside
errare: to wander
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Not "anger" and "cheerful"
orge (Greek): temperament, anger
genius: natural inclination
Used by universities and governments
Invented language Babel
Pay attention to different forms of words
cats vs. cat; beckon vs. beckons vs. beckoned
Word order is different from English
No Babel word for "a" or "the"
Section 1
1. bats mug molti = "The king praises the servant"
2. bats mugans molti = "The king praises the servants"
3. mugas bat kadonti = "The servants hate the king"
4. mugs batans kadti = "The servant hates kings"
5. totans bats lubti = "The king likes children"
1. mugs tot kadti = ?
2. batans totas lubonti = ?
3. "The kings praise the servant" = ?
1 vs. 2
bats = king (subject)
mug = servant (object)
mugans = servants (object)
molti = (he) praises
1. mugs tot kadti =
2. batans totas lubonti =
3. "The kings praise the servant" =
Section 2
1. bats mugans nemolto = "The king did not praise the servants"
2. totas gav pelonto = "The children chased the dog"
3. filans tots lubto = "The child liked elephants"
4. filas gavans nelubonti = "Elephants do not like dogs"
5. mugs totans nikto = "The servant washed the children"
1. gavs fil nepelto = ?
2. batas mugans nemolonto = ?
3. "the servants did not wash the child" = ?
1. gavs fil nepelto =
2. batas mugans nemolonto =
3. "The servants did not wash the child" =
Section 3
1. bats palatte kipti = "The king is sleeping in the palace"
2. bataks filte hesto = "The prince rode on an elephant"
3. mugas laukanste gortsonti = "The servants are working in the fields"
4. parkanste miaulas loidonto = "The cats played in the gardens"
5. batas batakas-tu palatanste bidonti = "Kings and princes live in palaces"
1. miauls gavs-tu laukte kiponto = ?
2. totas filanste nehesonti = ?
3. "The servant did not work in the garden" = ?
1. miauls gavs-tu laukte kiponto =
2. totas filanste nehesonti =
3. "The servant did not work in the garden" =
Section 4
1. mipos bats kipti? = "Is the king sleeping?"
2. mipos gavs sti parkte? = "Is the dog in the garden?"
3. ko sonti mugas? = "Where are the servants?"
4. mipos woikanste filas bidonti? = "Do elephants live in houses?"
5. mipos miaul mugs nepelto? = "Didn’t the servant chase the cat?"
1. mipos fils palatte nesto? = ?
2. ko bataks gortsti? = ?
3. "Were the dogs in the house?" = ?
1. mipos fils palatte nesto? =
2. ko bataks gortsti? =
3. "Were the dogs in the house?" =
Schopenhauer on learning new languages
In learning a new language a man has, as it were, to mark out in his mind the boundaries of quite new spheres of ideas, with the result that spheres of ideas arise where none were before. Thus he not only learns words, he gains ideas too.
The Latinist has a wide view, embracing modern times, the Middle Age and Antiquity; and his mental horizon is still further enlarged if he studies Greek or even Sanscrit. (Schopenhauer)
Best possible exercise for a writer
I now wish I'd studied nothing but Latin and Greek in college. Writing Latin prose and verse is still probably the best possible exercise for a poet.
Apprenticeship of a writer
It is obvious that to imitate the style of the ancients in their own language ... is the best way of preparing for a skillful and finished expression of thought in the mother-tongue. Nay, if a man wants to be a great writer, he must not omit to do this;
If the threatened calamity should ever come, and the ancient languages cease to be taught, a new literature shall arise, of such barbarous, shallow and worthless stuff as never was seen before. (Schopenhauer)
nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum
urbem Romam a principio reges habuere
inveniam viam aut faciam
vae victis
Carthago delenda est
tantae origo urbis maximique imperii principium
Imperial Rome
marmoream relinquo quam latericiam accepi
Qualis artifex pereo!
laetus flammae pulchritudine
End of the Julio-Claudian dynasty
'While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;
'When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
'And when Rome falls -- the World.'
(Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)
The Fall of Rome
et tu Brute?
Fall of the Republic
ceteris paribus
et cetera
in vino veritas
veni vidi vici
Education based on Latin
No vernacular literature
All literary models were Latin
Language and allusion
Tu se’ lo mio maestro e ’l mio autore,
tu se’ solo colui da cu’ io tolsi
lo bello stilo che m’ha fatto onore.

Thou art my master, and my author thou,
Thou art alone the one from whom I took
The beautiful style that has done honour to me.
Shakespeare and his language
Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
but "what I know"
but "able to sense"
But "wandering outside"
and "wander"
But "temperament" and "natural disposition"
What is Latinism?
Eliot and the Classics
On Shakespeare
The new literature
To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.
For nothing can begin from nothing, and it is from your past, and from what you are at this moment, that what you are going to be must spring.
(André Gide, Thésée)
"The servant hates the child"
"The children like kings"
batas mug molonti
"The dog did not chase the elephant"
"The kings did not praise the servants"
mugas tot nenikonto
"The cat and dog slept in the field"
"The children are not riding on the elephants"
mugs parkte negortsto
"Was the elephant not in the palace?"
"Where is the prince working?"
mipos gavas woikte sonto?
I never took courses on how to write... I tell my students that instead of learning to write poetry, they would do better to study Latin and Greek.... I find that ... having Latin sharpens one's control over other languages. (Elisabeth Bishop, Poet Laureate of the United States, 1949-50)
just as, in the case of sculpture or painting, the student must educate himself by copying the great masterpieces of the past, before proceeding to original work.
It is only by learning to write Latin that a man comes to treat diction as an art. The material in this art is language, which must therefore be handled with the greatest care and delicacy. (Schopenhauer)
Christopher Marlowe: Lucan's Pharsalia, Ovid's Amores
Ben Jonson: Horace's Ars Poetica
John Dryden: Virgil et al.
Alexander Pope: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey
Percy Bysshe Shelley: Plato's Symposium and Ion
Robert Browning: Aeschylus' Agamemnon
Elisabeth Barrett Browning: Aeschylus' Promethus Bound
Ezra Pound: Catullus, Horace et al.
Yeats: Sophocles' Oedipus and Oedipus at Colonus
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