In a week where there have been rumors that Bill Clinton is now a vegan, it is good to hear that there are people somewhere on the planet combining the learning of Latin with the ordering of junk food (although I for one think classifying pizza as junk food is a highly debatable point, certain pizza chains notwithstanding). Ted Scheinman, over at Slate.com recounts his summer of learning a dead language appropriately enough in Italy (Vivat Latinitas! On my summer vacation, I spoke a dead language
http://www.slate.com/id/2302020/?from=rss). While a certain proficiency with reading Latin was required, the emphasis was on the speaking, and not just the declaiming of verses, but the ordering in restaurants (hence pizza/placenta…).
Still, this being a Latin course, there was a certain amount of site-appropriate declaiming, much to the amusemet of other non-Latinate tourists:
We descended into the Sybil’s cave at Cumae to reel off the pertinent hundred
lines of Virgil. We drew stares in the Forum as we declaimed latine
(adv.: “in Latin”) on the various points of interest. (One elderly
Italian gentleman, several sheets to the wind, stuck with us for some time,
offering applause and exclamations of “bravi” whenever he thought
Cumae was once a Greek colony located near Naples, and the Sybil featured in Virgil’s Eclogues and in the Aeneid. The Latin students enter the Sybil’s cave in much the same way as described in Book VI of the Aeneid,
SIC fatur lacrimans, classique immittit habenas,
et tandem Euboicis Cumarum adlabitur oris.
Obvertunt pelago proras; tum dente tenaci
ancora fundabat naves, et litora curvae
praetexunt puppes. Iuvenum manus emicat ardens
litus in Hesperium; quaerit pars semina flammae
abstrusa in venis silicis, pars densa ferarum
tecta rapit silvas, inventaque flumina monstrat.
At pius Aeneas arces, quibus altus Apollo
praesidet, horrendaeque procul secreta Sibyllae
antrum immane petit, magnum cui mentem animumque
Delius inspirat vates, aperitque futura.
So Aeneas spoke, weeping, gave his fleet full
rein, and glided at last to the shores of Euboean Cumae. They
turned their prows to the sea, secured the ships’
anchors, by the grip of their flukes, and the curved
boats lined the beach. The youthful band leapt
eagerly to the Hesperian shore: some sought the means of
fire contained in veins of flint, some raided the
woods the dense coverts of game, pointing out streams
they found. But pious Aeneas sought the summits, where
Apollo rules on high, and the vast cavern nearby, the
secret place of the terrifying Sibyl, in whom the Delian
prophet inspires greatness of mind and spirit, and
reveals the future.
Somehow, I have an easier time picturing Boris in the Cumaen cave (and I would expect there are those who would prefer he stay there), than applying that broom in any useful manner (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14462001).
I wanted to end with a reading of Book VI, but the link to the audio leads to a dead end on a Harvard page. (quite entranced by the implications of the last two phrases) So, instead of ending with inspiration, how about comical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyhcTqsfT7o
(sorry about the two different font sizes, still trying to figure some of the editing features out…)
*Yes, I am still considering Latin on this blog, but the wildlife have somewhat hijacked it.