Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop 2014 Comments


002Participants in the 2014 Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop (left to right): Christine Kahl, Will Darden, Peter Rook, Catherine Zackey, Faye Peel, Wells Hansen, Ashley Leonard, Scott Paterson, Paul Perrot, Kaori Miller, Jennifer Larson, Hugh McElroy, Janet Brooks, John Landis, Will Harvard, Daniel Cummings, Andrea Millius, Jacqueline Lopata, Bernie Gygax, and Laurie Duncan.

003We met for the week of July 13, 2014, and read selections from Lucretius, led by Wells Hansen and Chris Francese. Two new elements were a daily happy hour, with drinks and light refreshments in front of East College from 4:00-5:00; and the optional session to work on the Dickinson College Commentaries project in the afternoons from 2:00-4:00, helping harvest notes for the projected multimedia edition of the Aeneid. Here are some of the comments from participants:

Thank you! For the wonderful workshop this year. Of course–I enjoyed the reading this year–very interesting selection. I enjoyed reading and socializing with my colleagues. I think the commentary and the daily happy hour provided a great venue to get to know people better.

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other Latin teachers. Good times.

I enjoyed the camaraderie . . . the laughter . . . the intellectual stimulus.

I enjoyed the pace and friendly collegiality

I had a lovely time–favorite workshop yet.

The readings were fantastic! I enjoyed preparing the text every day and the discussions in class. Having the afternoons free was great, too–it allowed me to prep and recharge so I didn’t get too tired out.

I enjoyed spending time with a diverse group of teachers and Latin aficionados. Getting a chance to read one text in depth with knowledgeable instructors and colleagues. Just generally hanging out with Latin people and making jokes about the Dative.




Sander Goldberg on the new Virgil Encyclopedia

The Bryn Mawr Classical Review has just published a fine and very positive review of the new three-volume Virgil Encyclopedia edited by Richard Thomas and Jan Ziolkowski. After praising it and describing its emphases in comparison with its Italian predecessor, the Enciclopedia Virgiliana, the reviewer, Sander Goldberg of UCLA, makes what has become something of a standard plea in reviews of such print reference works that they could be better done on line. But he makes it in a characteristically eloquent way:

Students in particular have already found an inviting and increasingly popular alternative, though the VE‘s editors are not kind to it: ‘a printed encyclopedia of this sort is also a world apart from the web. It offers material that does not have to be unearthed by sorting through a dung-heap in which pearls of truth are buried amid mistakes, exaggerations, and misunderstandings. The volumes have been vetted and edited for accuracy and clarity’ (lxx). I share their dedication to vetting and editing. Virgil may have had to search for pearls in a dung-heap, but his modern readers should certainly be spared that experience. Yet the editors invoke what is, or ought to be, a false dichotomy: an encyclopedia of this sort is a world apart from the web largely because no effort has been made to unite the accuracy and clarity of the former with the flexibility and accessibility of the latter. It is clearly not (or not yet) in Wiley-Blackwell’s interest to do so, but it is most certainly in our interest to have it done, and at some point the editors and contributors to projects like this one are going to have to demand that their labor, their expertise, and their sheer love of the enterprise be given a more progressive format. Their own dedication to the field, so richly displayed in these volumes, deserves nothing less.

Well said, Prof. Goldberg. He also points out that the current print publishing model militates against the detailed exploration of language:

Nuances of Latin vocabulary are not as easily grasped as what even a Google search will quickly supply regarding “Accius” and “Alcuin”, while a philological question that goes unanswered is all too likely in time to become a question that goes unasked. Other technical matters are not so fully ignored, but can be significantly compressed: details may then be difficult to locate and extract. WhereEV foregrounded such matters as ablativo assoluto, accusativi plurali in –is, eīs ed es, and accusativo alla grecaVE relegates them to entries on “syntax” and “morphology”, with other, briefer treatments in “Grecism” and “Hellenism, linguistic”. These are, I hasten to add, very good and useful entries, but the compressed attention to linguistic form and structure is again indicative of a shift away from the tools of close reading and the basic philological information that modern readers increasingly require to read Virgil in Latin with a depth of understanding that the editors may too readily be taking for granted in their audience.

These are problems that DCC is committed to tackling and solving to the extent that we can. In the coming weeks we will publish a database of Vergilian vocabulary, based on the superb work of Henry Frieze, with comprehensive, accurate word frequency information for the Aeneid supplied by LASLA. This tool will be part of a larger planned multimedia edition that will have as much linguistic and stylistic help as we can pack into it for readers who want to dig in to the Latin. More information about the overall plan is here and here. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to get involved. I know for certain we will have our copy of the Virgil Encyclopedia handy as it develops!

Update 8/29/2014

The editors of BMCR published the following note apologizing for an omission in this review, and it contains some information about the possibility of an electronic version of the Virgil Encyclopedia:

A recent review (BMCR 2014.07.40) greeted the arrival of The Virgil Encyclopedia with admiration and approval. The online posting of the review is now prefaced, however, with an apology from the editors, which we are glad to repeat here. Professor Goldberg in reviewing had included information about the online edition of the Encyclopedia that was omitted when we transmitted it to our readers. The mistake was awkward inasmuch as Professor Goldberg made concluding comments about the future of reference works such as this which read very differently and very unhelpfully in the absence of complete information about this reference work.

As we understand it, the state of play is that there is indeed an e-version of The Virgil Encyclopedia available from Wiley-Blackwell, chiefly of interest to institutional subscribers. From the descriptions we have seen, it is an e-book in the contemporary mode, that is, a digital representation of a traditional print volume. It contains internal links, but does not reside in the fullness of the web of outward, to say nothing of inward, links. In Professor Goldberg’s review, he expresses regret that more movement in that direction did not happen and by implication suggests that more will happen in the new Oxford Classical Dictionary for which he will be responsible. Professors Thomas and Ziolkowski, editors of The Virgil Encyclopedia, are understandably unsettled that the review was released in a way that exacerbated intellectual disagreement with a muddled statement of facts for which we are responsible. For that indeed, we do apologize.

The larger question of the fate of reference works is one that many will continue to discuss. As always these days, we live in a moment of dazzling innovation that will, doubtless, seem palely antique more quickly than we might imagine.

Summer Projects 2014


(l to r) Laurie Duncan, Wells Hansen, Jacqueline Lopata, Hugh McElroy (foreground), Daniel Cummings, and Will Harvard, collecting notes for Book 6 of the Aeneid (photo: Chris Francese).


Jennifer Larson and Paul Perrot working on the DCC edition of the Aeneid in the Info Commons of the Waidner-Sparhr Library, Dickinson College (photo: Chris Francese)


DCC summer research assistants Lucy McInerney, Tyler Denton, and Nick Stender in the Alden Room of the Waidner-Spahr Library, Dickinson (photo: Chris Francese)

The DCC gang is hard a work this summer on several projects, including the multimedia edition of Vergil’s Aeneid, for which we are currently choosing notes. Several members of the 2014 Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop are helping this week in the afternoons (after a morning of translating Lucretius), by selecting notes for Book 6. Two DCC summer research assistants are involved in the same task, over a number of weeks: Lucy McInerney (Book 1) and Tyler Denton (Book 2). All this is taking place on Dickinson’s campus, in the Alden room of the Waidner-Spahr Library. Three other teachers are helping from elsewhere: Sarah Buhidma (Vandegrift High School, Austin, TX; Book 3), John Siman (The Old Stone School, Hillsboro, VA; Book 5), and Richard Davis (The Hotchkiss School, Book 4).

Meanwhile, Nicholas Stender (Dickinson ’15) has finished the vocabulary lists for Callimachus’ Aetia, and is now moving on to revisions to the Lucian True History site, which should go live shortly.

Very exciting things are happening at Haverford, under the direction of Bret Mulligan. Grammar links in the notes fields of the Nepos and Ovid Amores commentaries are now going straight to the new DCC version of Allen & Greenough’s New Latin Grammar, and are opening in an attractive color box, thanks to the team at Haverford. Most exciting is the Bridge, an app being developed to help take learners from the vocabulary they know (be that a particular textbook, the DCC core, or something else), to the specific vocabulary for the text or author they want to read. Just finished Wheelock and want to know what more vocabulary you need to master the DCC core or to read Cicero’s Pro Caelio? The app will tell you, and give you spaced repetition flash cards to get you there. Watch this space for further details!

The new Allen & Greenough is up, though still undergoing final revisions by Meagan Ayer at Dickinson. You will see that the first several hundred chapters look great, but it’s still slightly rough towards the end. A key advantage of our version is that it includes the index of the print book. No other version has this, and it makes a big difference when trying to find a specific construction. You can also search by chapter number, and do a straight word search as well.

With Derek Frymark (Dickinson ’13), I am editing a new digitization of Henry Frieze’s Vergilian Dictionary, and coordinating its head words with the lemmatizations of LASLA’s Dictionnaire fréquentiel Index inverse de la langue latine. In combination with some data kindly provided by LASLA, this will allow us to soon create full and accurate vocabulary lists for the whole of the Aeneid.

If you would like to get involved in any way, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. We’re hoping to have the AP Aeneid selections up in spring 2015, but covering the whole Aeneid is the longer term goal. There is plenty to keep us busy!

–Chris Francese

Choosing notes on the Aeneid

The ideal book must contain enough material to insure an adequate presentation, yet not so much as to dismay the beginner by its amount or to perplex him by its subtlety. It is a question of perspective and proportion which must be adapted to the learner’s point of view; he alone is to be considered. The progress of the pupil, not the display of the editor’s erudition, must be the constant objective. ((H.R. Fairclough and Seldon L. Brown, Virgil’s Aeneid Books I-VI with Introduction, Notes and Vocabulary (Chicago: Benj. H. Sanborn, 1919), p. iii.))

As mentioned in an earlier post, we are in the process of creating a multimedia edition of the Aeneid, to include

  • Notes, drawn mostly from older school editions, that elucidate the language and the context
  • Images, art, and illustrations, annotated to make clear how they relate to the text
  • Complete running vocabulary lists for the whole poem
  • Audio recordings of the Latin read aloud, and videos of the scansion
  • A full Vergilian lexicon based on that of Henry Frieze
  • Recordings of Renaissance music on texts from the Aeneid
  • Comprehensive linking to Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar
  • Comprehensive linking to Pleiades for all places mentioned in the text

Here is a list of the editions we are focusing on when compiling the notes. The most promising so far seem to be those of Fairclough and Brown, Greenough and Kittredge, Bennett, and Frieze. I thought it might be interesting to post the evolving  list of criteria we are using to select notes, mainly because there is such a dearth of written discussion about the process of writing annotations on classical texts. True, there are book reviews of commentaries, but few commentators themselves seem to come out with positive statements of the sorts of notes they are trying to write.

We have already published guidelines for contributors that speak to this issue, but the practical task of selecting useful notes from older editions (and omitting the dross) has prompted me to re-phrase and focus that discussion. So here, for what they are worth, and in hopes of prompting a discussion, are the rules of thumb designed to create a useful and consistent set of notes for those who have some Latin but not much acquaintance with Vergil and his style:

Choosing Notes

Include notes that explain

  • idiomatic words and phrases
  • complex word order, where the syntactical connections between words may be for whatever reason less than clear to a first-time reader (prefer notes that re-arrange the Latin to make the logic clearer)
  • unusual grammatical constructions. Choose a note that most economically and specifically elucidates the sense and helps the reader to understand the original language. Use and Allen & Greenough reference where possible. There is no need to repeat grammatical explanations that can be found in the standard grammars.
  • cultural, historical, and literary context, such as personal and geographical names, clear and important allusions to other texts, and customs and historical items that would have been familiar to the imagined audience of a text but are not familiar to non-specialists now.
  • style and tone: Notes that observe tone, nuance, and implication are more valuable than notes that simply point out a nameable stylistic feature. When naming rhetorical or poetic figures, seek out a note that discusses the effect, rather than simply points out the figure.

Avoid notes that

  • paraphrase or translate large chunks, since this only obviates the necessity of understanding the original language;
  • simply name a grammatical construction when a judicious paraphrase or translation is also required. If an Allen Greenough reference is available, give that instead.
  • give an un-translated parallel passage in place of the other types of elucidation
  • cite parallel passages without explaining why a passage is parallel and important
  • merely say “cf.” followed by something whose relevance is not clear.

Western Classics in China

The recent vigorous revival of interest in the Western Classics at universities in China was the subject of a fascinating panel at the 2014 APA, “Classics and Reaction: Modern China Confronts the Ancient West.” In the latest edition of Amphora Yongyi Li of Chonqing University surveys the latest developments with regard to Latin, noting that now more than ten universities are regularly teaching Latin, and pointing to the new Center for Studies in Western Classics founded in Peking University and to Latinitas Sinica, an institute devoted to Latin studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He ends the article with a moving summation and analysis of the meaning of this trend:

“Most importantly, this outburst of passion for the Western classics has been parallel to, and following a similar historical logic as, our belated reconciliation with our own ancient tradition. After a century’s sterile radical nihilism regarding our heritage, many of us have begun to treat our classics with the respect and care they deserve, refraining from simplified assumptions and searching through painstaking negotiations with the texts for intelligent readings that are relevant both to the original contexts and to our contemporary concerns. Likewise we believe that it is high time we discarded stereotyped generalizations of Western values, ceasing to take modern Euro-American civilizations as the “medicine” for for the “diseases” of an “inherently” diseased Chinese culture, a conviction shared by most advocates of the May Fourth Movement in the 1910s and carried to catastrophic extremes by the Red Guards half a century later. Studies of the Western classics help us understand the roots and ramifications of this drastically different tradition, and reveal ways in which any tradition can be questioned, revised, and transformed in an ongoing dialogue that steers clear of both servile dogmatism and arrogant dismissal.

“Therefore, this new life of Latin in China is not a pale ghost shunning the vital energies of the sun, or a mummy in the museum holding interest only for the curious. Rather, its pulsing arteries and flexing muscles promise active engagement in a labor of love, the building of a bridge across times and traditions, spanning the bitter divide that has stranded people in the cultural East and the Cultural West.”

Yongyi Li, “A New Incarnation of Latin in China,” Amophora 11.1 (Spring 2014), p. 14.

How can classicists living in the West further this exciting cultural dialogue? What resources are most needed? Grammars? Language texts? Translations? Articles and monographs? Academic exchanges?