Tuesday, 16 January 2007

The Trouble with Latin

On the democratic concern that Latin is elitist, one chap finds decrying proof that Tacitus was not of the people:
I don’t recall any arguments for social-democratic reform in the Annals, Histories, Agricola, [or] Germania. [1]
Ah, damned by our age! And what are all the erstwhile ages of the world for such a mind? Nothing, unless they lead the way to its thoughts. Stultus loquitur, se audit, putat omnium sapientiam saeclorum superatam esse.
.....
[1] Dave69, commenting on Mary Beard, “Tacitus was no elitist”, The Guardian, 16th January 2007.

10 comments:

The Tin Drummer said...

The corollary of that is that the past must also be shown to be essentially the same as the present, with people's worldviews and concerns replicated from, say, a post industrial society into a pre-industrial one. I'm thinking of the BBCs Robin Hood, of course, where apparently religion played no role at all in C12 England.

dearieme said...

Anus horribilis, that chap.

David Duff said...

"The Trouble with Latin" is that I never got past the first year!

Is a translation possible?

Anonymous said...

superatam?

Deogolwulf said...

Superatam indeed! I just noticed it before I read the comments - honestly!

Deogolwulf said...

Indeed, Mr Drummer. Everything must be "relevant".

Nicely put, Dearieme.

The translation, Mr Duff, is as follows: "The fool speaks, hears himself, and reckons the wisdom of all the ages has been surpassed".

dobeln said...

"The corollary of that is that the past must also be shown to be essentially the same as the present, with people's worldviews and concerns replicated from, say, a post industrial society into a pre-industrial one."

Well, it's laziness as well. Just sticking some cool medieval costumes on a contemporary scenario is simply much easier than bothering with lots of historical research. That you can cover it up with some high-minded rethoric is just a neat bonus.

I do believe the current TV smash "Rome" avoids this trap rather nicely - it gives you some faith in scriptwriters.

dearieme said...

The trouble with Latin was, firstly, that it was deadly dull, and secondly that the reasons given for our being obliged to study it were largely bogus, and obviously so. The moment the Scottish Universities dropped it as an entrance requirement almost all of us dropped it. Oddly, enough stuck that I find some medieval Latin fairly easy to read. But oh the wasted hours.

Deogolwulf said...

"But oh the wasted hours."

Spoken like a true engineer!

james higham said...

Regarding the subject matter of your quote:

Asinus asinum fricat

I should have thought.