Dickinson Summer Greek Workshop: July 18-22, 2022 

Dickinson Summer Greek Workshop: July 18-22, 2022 

Moderators: Prof. Scott Farrington and Dr. Taylor Coughlan 

Want to improve your reading fluency in Ancient Greek and learn more about ancient Greek culture? Please join us for the Dickinson Ancient Greek Workshop which will once again be held online this year. Though we’d prefer to welcome you all to campus, we hope that the greater flexibility of an online seminar will facilitate participation from people far and wide. 

marble head of an older man

Marble head of an old fisherman (1st–2rd century A.D.
Roman, copy of a Greek statue of the late 2nd century B.C. Metropolitan Museum, New York)

This year’s text will be Lysias 24, On the Refusal of a Disability Benefit. Sometime in the early fourth century BCE, an Athenian citizen appeared before the Council to defend his qualifications to receive an annual state disability benefit. Revealing much about the treatment and status of non-elite citizens under democracy in Athens, the disabled pensioner delivers an innovative speech unique for its rhetorical use of humor. The defendant batters his opponent with sarcastic barbs and makes mockery of the entire legal affair. The Greek is accessible and lively. The text we will use is from a forthcoming Dickinson College Commentaries edition edited by Dr. Taylor Coughlan, Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Participants will have pre-publication access to Taylor’s notes as well as to interpretive essays and complete running vocabulary lists. A dictionary should not be necessary, particularly if you have mastered the DCC core Ancient Greek vocabulary. 

Meetings 

Online meetings will take place daily from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Eastern time US, with break in the middle. We will determine whether we meet in one section or two based upon enrollment. 

Reading Schedule (projected) 

Monday, July 18: Lysias 24.1-5 

Tuesday, July 19: Lysias 24.6-10 

Wednesday, July 20: Lysias 24.11-15 

Thursday, July 21: Lysias 24.16-21 

Friday, July 22: Lysias 24.22-27 

 If we read at a faster pace, we will also read selections from other speeches of Lysias. 

Registration Fee 

$200, due by check on or before July 1, 2022. Make checks payable to Dickinson College and mail them to 

Department of Classical Studies, Dickinson College 

c/o Stephanie Dyson 

Carlisle, PA 17013 

New at DCC: Homer, Odyssey 9-12

Thomas Van Nortwick and Rob Hardy’s commentary on Homer’s Odyssey Books 9-12 is now live. Like TVN’s other DCC commentary on Iliad 6 and 22 it has an extensive Introduction and fresh close reading essays on the whole. These essays are the fruit of a career’s-worth of research, reflection, and teaching and are not to be missed. Hang in there, Homerists, because another Van Nortwick-Hardy collaboration is in the works, Odyssey 5-8.

stone male head in water

Photo credit: C. Francese,, Chanticleer Garden, Wayne, PA

These books of the Odyssey are already fairly well-served in school editions available in print, and in some cases online, aimed at students of Greek. Our edition is distinctive in the extent of the hyperlinking to reference resources in the notes, its full and accurate vocabulary lists, and the close reading essays for the entirety.

The notes are primarily grammatical, rather than interpretive. They focus on peculiarities of the Homeric dialect and the elucidation of expressions that do not easily yield sense when translated literally. They endeavor to be economical to encourage fluent reading but include hyperlinks to grammars and other reference resources for those seeking further details. Comparative passages are cited sparingly, but hyperlinked so they can be examined directly. Typical Homeric features such as definite articles used as pronouns, tmesis, and the omission of temporal augments, are pointed out. Unusual case usages and constructions are noticed and equipped with links to Smyth’s Greek Grammar for Colleges (1920) at Perseus, or to Monro’s Grammar of the Homeric Dialect (1891) on DCC, and occasionally to Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek (1902) on DCC. Verb forms that seem likely to cause puzzlement are parsed and the dictionary lemma given. Common words used in unusual senses are translated, often with a hyperlink to LogeionLogeion now includes both Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (1940) and Cunliffe’s Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect (1924), as well as Autenrieth’s Homeric Dictionary for Schools and Colleges (1891). Linking to Logeion is intended to allow interested readers to get a fuller picture of the range of meanings that ancient Greek words can have, while also giving the opinion of the editor as to which specific sense is active in a particular passage. Another set of hyperlinks leads to the Homeric Paradigms which Seth Levin and Meagan Ayer developed for the DCC edition of Iliad Books 6 and 22, based on the charts in Pharr’s Homeric Greek: A Book for Beginners (1920). Links to these charts will allow interested readers to quickly look at all the common Homeric forms of paradigm nouns and verbs, as well as participles, pronouns, and irregular verbs. Because of the extensive occurrence of elision in Homer the notes often spell out a form where the elided letter may not be obvious. Rob Hardy’s Homeric Language Notes provides a summary of the points that recur in the notes and are especially pertinent for those coming to Homer from Attic Greek.

The lineage of our vocabulary lists is somewhat complex. The initial parsing of the text derives from the Perseids Project, which carried out human inspection of the entire text and the designated a specific dictionary lemma or headword for each word form. Bret Mulligan of the Haverford Bridge project equipped that parsed text with full dictionary forms and English definitions, though these full dictionary forms and definitions were often not the Homeric full dictionary forms and definitions. Extensive revision was necessary to fine tune the parsings, edit the dictionary forms to reflect the basics of Homeric usage, and to include English definitions that covered the Homeric meanings and were in contemporary English. This editing was performed over a long period by various people (see credits) using various resources, including the Homeric dictionaries available on Logeion and, more recently, the new Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (2015), which has been very helpful in modernizing the English for some definitions. As part of the editing process, the students who tested the commentary edited many of the definitions to make sure they were understandable to a modern audience. Many judgment calls had to be made about how many definitions and how much morphological information to include. The result is, I believe, the best Homeric reading vocabulary available. That is not to say that no infelicities remain, and I would be glad to receive notice of any issues you find or improvements you can suggest.

The notes and vocabulary lists were improved by testing and feedback from many students over several years, some of them from Louisiana State University, working with Willie Major, others from Dickinson, working with me, and others from Carleton College, working with Rob Hardy (see credits). The goal was to make sure that most of the kinds of questions that students have are answered economically in the notes, without adding too much in the way of ancillary information that would impede first time readers.

The Greek text conforms that of Allen’s Oxford Classical Text, with two exceptions. 

  • 9.239: M.L. West, in a paper left unfinished at his death but published later, makes a very good case for emending ἔκτοθεν of the manuscripts to ἔνδοθεν, so we have adopted that change.
  • 12.171: Allen prints βάλον, where West’s 2016 Teubner edition prints θέσαν. Both have manuscript support, and we adopted West’s preferred reading. 

Thomas Van Nortwick’s Introduction and essays, rather than attempting to survey all that has been written about these Books, point out significant parallels within and beyond the Homeric poems to show key themes and variations and bring out significant nuances that enrich our understanding of the text. He points to interesting ambiguities, helps us hear the tone, and see the many sides of Homer’s complicated hero. Each close reading essay includes suggestions for further reading.

How should one teach using this edition? Any way you like, but the inclusion of the running vocabulary lists makes it relatively easy to read this edition at sight. Many of the student test runs were carried on in this way. Students are assumed to know the DCC Core Ancient Greek vocabulary of 500 words before beginning, or else asked to learn sections of the core for homework. In class, the text is viewed side by side with the vocabulary list, either on Zoom for a virtual session or projected onto a screen in a classroom. If the instructor is sufficiently familiar with the notes, before too long students can work through the text fairly quickly without extensive dictionary time in preparation.

After a first pass at sight in class, homework can consist of re-reading the section and recording it aloud. The instructor can listen to the recording and determine if it shows comprehension, based on pausing, emphasis, and grouping of words. Other possible homework assignments might include morphology study, memorizing of short passages, or dictionary work (Find the five most important or emphatic words in the passage in your view; write the location in LSJ where the contextually appropriate meaning of each if these five words is listed; give the contextually appropriate translation of these five words; explain briefly why you believe each word is important in the context).

Extensive exposure leads to vocabulary acquisition, and the development of sight-reading skills engenders confidence. More subtly, the sight-reading approach re-orients attention in class toward syntax and endings, since these become key aids to making sense, rather than burdensome “extras” to be quizzed on after the work of translation is finished.

Though it bears a Dickinson imprimatur, this edition should really be considered an Oberlin product. Both Rob and I studied Homer for the first time with Tom Van Nortwick, Nate Greenberg, and Jim Helm at Oberlin in the mid 1980s. That rich and formative experience led us, multa per aequora, to this very pleasant collaboration. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who has been involved in this project, even if they have never met Tom Van Nortwick, whose gracious and humane teaching inspired its creation.

2022 Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop: Seneca’s Natural Questions

Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop: July 11-15, 2022

Moderators: Prof. Chris Francese and Dr. Meghan Reedy

The Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop will be held online this year. While this situation is far from ideal, we hope it will allow those who could not normally travel to Carlisle to participate.

First page of the manuscript De questionibus Naturalibus, made for the Catalan-Aragonese crown.

First page of the manuscript De questionibus Naturalibus, made for the Catalan-Aragonese crown. Image: Wikipedia (Public Domain)

This year’s text is one seldom read these days, the Naturales Quaestiones of Seneca the Younger. This prose work concerns natural phenomena (rivers, earthquakes, wind, snow, meteors, and comets). It gives fascinating insights into ancient philosophical and scientific approaches to the physical world, and also vivid evocations of the grandeur, beauty, and terror of nature. Seneca also comments on aspects of Roman culture, such as the commercial trade in snow and the decadent (in his view) use of mirrors. The selections we will read are from a forthcoming Dickinson College Commentaries edition of selections from NQ edited by Prof. Chris Trinacty of Oberlin College. Participants will have pre-publication access to Chris’s detailed notes and vocabulary lists.

We are delighted to welcome back Dr. Meghan Reedy as guest instructor. She is a former Dickinson faculty member and is currently Program Coordinator with the Maine Humanities Council. 

Meetings

  • Online meetings will take place daily 1:00 p.m. to 4:30, Eastern time US, with a break in the middle. Group translation will be carried on in two sections, one for the more confident (affectionately known as “the sharks”), one for the less confident (even more affectionately known as “the dolphins”) led on alternating days by Reedy and Francese.

Reading Schedule (projected)

Monday, July 11: NQ 3 pref. 1-4, 3.15.1-8, 3.30-1-8

Tuesday, July 12: NQ 4a.2.12-15, 4b.13.1-11, 5.13.1-15.4

Wednesday, July 13: NQ 6.3.1-6.5.3, 6.8.1-6.10.2, 7.28.1-7.30.6

Thursday, July 14: NQ 1.pref. 5-13, 1.13.1-14.6, 1.17.1-10

Friday, July 15: NQ 2.36.1-38.4, 2.59.1-13.

Registration Fee

$200, due by check on or before July 1, 2022. Make checks payable to Dickinson College and mail them to

Department of Classical Studies, Dickinson College

c/o Stephanie Dyson

Carlisle, PA 17013

Hack Your Latin Supplemental: Get a Grip on quidem

Fontaine scripsit

Get a grip on quidem. It’s a particle, one of the only ones in Latin. Either translate it “yes” or “(it’s) true” or don’t translate it at all. It implies or points forward to a contrast, usually marked by the word sed (but). For example, the sentence homo stultus quidem est, sed bonus means “The guy is an idiot, it’s true, but he’s good.” You could also translate that “The guy is an idiot, yes, but he’s good” or “The guy is an idiot, but he’s good.” Never translate it “indeed” since it doesn’t mean that in the English of 2016.

aliqua exempla collegi

meus vir hic quidem est. “This is my husband” (Plaut. Amph. 660)

me quidem praesente numquam factum est, quod sciam. “This never happened in my presence, as far as I know.” (Plaut. Amph. 749)

facile id quidem edepol possum, si tu vis. “I can easily do that, if you want.” (Plaut. Cist. 234)

ne id quidem tam breve spatium potest opitulari. “Not even that brief amount of time can help.” (Cornelia, mater Gracchorum, epistula, fragmenta 2.8)

nimis stulte faciunt, mea quidem sententia. “They behave very stupidly, in my opinion.” (Plaut. Men. 81)

adeo veritatis diligens, ut ne ioco quidem mentiretur. “So careful about the truth that he did not lie even for a joke.” (Nepos Epam. 3)

utinam quidem istuc evenisset! Sed non accidit. “If only it had turned out that way! But it did not happen.” (Nepos Eum. 11)

simulacrum Cereris unum, quod a viro non modo tangi sed ne aspici quidem fas fuit. “A statue of Ceres that it was forbidden for men to touch, or even to look at.” (Cic. In Verr. 2.5.187)

How consistent is Latin punctuation in PHI?

Latin punctuation is one of those classicist trade-secret things. To understand it fully takes intense study, and most classicists have views, no doubt dogmatically held. I am no purist. The bottom line for me is that Latin punctuation is just not as rule-bound as punctuation in English. Not that that is a bad thing. It’s just a different tradition. School texts have far more punctuation than scholarly critical editions. Some of the I Tatti editions seem almost allergic to punctuation. Editing a Neo-Latin text has made me newly aware of this issue, since I am frequently having to make decisions about where to put commas (trying to keep them to a minimum consistent with clarity), whether to use semi-colons (almost never), and so on. Early modern printed editions are notoriously punctuation happy. It sometimes seems as if the printer loaded a shotgun with commas, colons, and periods and fired at the page. Here is a taste:

Latin text with lots of punctuation

Joannis Petri Maffeii Bergomatis E Societate Jesu Historiarum Indicarum Libri XVI (Vienna: Bernardi, 1752; orig. 1588), p. 6.

A more minimal, modern punctuation might be:

illud praesertim summo conatu pervestigare num quis ab Atlantico in Eoum Oceanum vel mari vel terra transitus foret. Quippe iam tum, praeter acerrimum propagandae Christianae fidei studium, ad beatas etiam Arabiae gazas et Indici litoris opulenta commercia mentem et cogitationem adiecerat.

Although as a rule I would rather not have commas around prepositional phrases like praeter .. studium, it seems useful for comprehension in this case.

Various authors have explained their practices recently. My main guides are Cynthia Damon, who has an excellent discussion in the preface to her Oxford Classical Text of Caesar’s De bello civili, and Milena Minkova, whose wonderful Neo-Latin anthology I recommend heartily to anyone who wants to sample the best Latin writing in the early modern period. They both recommend a restrained approach, but Minkova insists that ablatives absolute, for example, should almost always be enclosed in commas. Damon (wisely, in my view) reserves semi-cola for independent clauses in indirect discourse. Given the flexibility available to editors, the golden rule is: a well-punctuated text shows that the editor understands the text.

In investigating this issue I have been intrigued to see the degree of variation among the modern edited texts (mostly Teubners and OCTs) reproduced in PHI, and I have never seen any collection of instances of variation or consensus among them. So, for those who might be interested in such things, here is my working list. The second column represents my policy, based on my own intuition and observations from PHI.

non modo …, sed include the comma before sed
partim …, partim include the comma before the second partim
dubium quin no comma before quin in phrases like “neque erat dubium quin”
ea lege ut comma before ut? PHI examples go both ways
non tam X … quam Y usually no comma
adeo … ut
comma before ut? Editors seem to differ a lot on this point. Some religiously include it (e.g. Marshall’s Nepos), others tend not to. In the Livy editions on PHI they tend to leave it out, which I prefer in most circumstances.
 
primum … dein clauses usually separated by comma if short, semi-colon if longer http://latin.packhum.org/search?q=%5BLiv%5D+primum+~+Dein%23
his dictis no comma after this introductory formula
factum est ut comma after est? editors seem to vary on this
eo magis quod comma after magis? Generally not
vel … vel This seems to vary a bit, but generally comma can be omitted before the second vel
introductory ablative absolute These seem to go without a comma if they are only two or three words
x adiuvante no need for commas around this kind of very short ablative absolute
     
primo … ; dein or primo … dein, or primo …. Dein? Check out the examples from Livy
postremo,
make sure to use the comma if a subordinate clause (ubi, cum), or abl. abs., immediately follows.
 
     
ut fit, ut assolet
these parenthetical expressions are normally enclosed in commas, though sometimes ut fit is not in PHI
 
is cum no comma

The Fables of Elizabeth Jane Weston

Elizabeth Jane Weston (1582-1612; English, but active in Prague) was one of the most talented Latin poets of the early modern period. Much celebrated in her own time, she is rarely read today, though she has achieved some measure of gaming fame as a character in Assassins’ Creed. Donald Cheney and Brenda Hosington translated her collected works in a book published by Toronto University Press in 2000. A digitized transcription of her three-volume collection Parthenica (1606?) is available at the Neo-Latin site CAMENA, published by scholars at the University of Mannheim. This is how I first encountered her works. There are, as far as I know, no editions meant for students of Latin, with vocabulary glosses, notes, and so forth, with the exception of this interesting 2017 blog post, which discusses a poem by Weston addressed to Ovid in exile. As a small step in remedying this I asked the students in my recently concluded Ovid class at Dickinson to produce, as their final projects, individual editions of her fables, Quaedam Fabulae Aesopicae (Parthenica vol. 2) and here they are for your enjoyment. Each includes a Latin text, vocabulary list and notes, English translation, text and translation of kindred Aesopic material, a short discussion interpreting the fable (Weston gives no explicit morals), and suggests about how they might be relevant to the author’s circumstances.

young woman holding quill pen

Fan-made image of Elizabeth Weston from Assassin’s Creed wiki

Leo et Rana (The Lion and the Frog), commented on by Jocelyn Wright

Cassita Sola (The Captured Lark), commented on by Lexi Chroscinski

Sus et Canis (The Sow and the Dog), commented on by Nick Morris

Anseres et Grues (The Geese and the Cranes), commented on by Jack Tigani

De Pulice et Milite (On the Flea and the Soldier), commented on by Carl Hamilton

Columba et Tabula Picta (The Pidgeon and the Painting), commented on by Katrina Falkner

Those looking for more detail on her interesting and difficult life are directed to the excellent introduction in the book of Cheney and Hosington, or to J.W. Binns, Intellectual Culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: The Latin Writings of the Age (Leeds: Francis Cairns, 1990), pp. 110-114. Binns’ book is now hard to find, so here is a bit of what he has to say (p. 110): 

The writings of the Anglo-Latin poet best known on the continent in the early 17th century were never printed in England. Elizabeth Jane Weston is nowadays completely ignored by literary histories; but in her day, she was widely celebrated and earned for herself the sobriquet the ‘Maid of England’. A few details drawn from her own work and from later accounts may however be given. According to the traditional view she was born in England circa 1582 and left the country in her youth, along with her parents and brother, after her father, who fell into disgrace for political or religious reasons, had lost all his property. In 1597, when the Weston family was in Bohemia, Elizabeth’s father died, and the family seemed to have been saved from destitution by the unusual talents of Elizabeth Weston herself, who attracted the notice and patronage of various influential men, especially Georg Martin von Baldhoven, a Silesian nobleman with whom she corresponded. In April 1603 Elizabeth Weston married a jurist at the Imperial court, Johann Leon, and by him had four sons, whom she outlived, and three daughters. She herself died on 23 November 1612, and was buried in Prague in St. Thomas church. (p. 110)

After surveying the letters and verse she wrote to the Emperor Rudolph II and other possible or actual patrons, Binns continues (p. 113),

The verses which Elizabeth Weston wrote to such great men, known personally or by letter, are only part of her poetry. She can recount vividly incidents from her own life, such as the flooding in Prague and her recollections of the garden of Johann Barvitius. Some poems describe the effects upon her of poverty, and her emotional states: one deals movingly with her brother’s death, and in another she compares her own fate as an exile to that of Ovid. Some handle religious themes, for instance her verses on the life of Jesus. There are poems in which she gives moral advice, and epigrams on secular and sacred subjects, including love, friendship, greed, charity and the evils of riches. She writes occasional verses on St. Andrew’s day and on her own name day. In one poem she attacks the faithlessness and duplicity of the Jews. There are several verse paraphrases of some of Aesop’s fables, including these stories of the Lion and the Frog, the Eagle and the Tortoise, and the Sow and the Dog. Certain poems allude to her weaknesses as a writer of poetry. The accomplishment and sweetness of her verse was much praised … (p. 113).

My own personal favorites so far are her poems about printing, one an ingenious celebration of Gutenberg, the other an amusing account of her visit to the shop of some hard-working and hard-drinking printers. It reminded me of the final scene of the 2019 film adaptation of Little Women, in which Louisa May Alcott watches her books being produced in pride and amazement.

Dickinson Ancient Greek Workshop 2021: Against Neaira

Want to improve your reading fluency in Ancient Greek and learn more about ancient Greek culture? Please join us for the Dickinson Ancient Greek Workshop.

What: Dickinson Ancient Greek Workshop

When: August 9-13, 2021

Where: Zoom link to be provided to registered participants

Text: Ps-Demosthenes, Against Neaira

Fragment of a terracotta lebes gamikos

Fragment of a terracotta lebes gamikos, ca. 440 BC. Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Delivered sometime in the late 340s BCE, Against Neaira traces Neaira’s life from her youth as a sex worker and argues that her children with an Athenian citizen man are illegitimate. The speech is highly revealing of Athenian society, citizenship, religion, women, and law. Its Greek is straightforward and enjoyable to read, making it an ideal text to improve reading fluency. The text we will use (edited by Deborah Kamen) has notes and complete running vocabulary lists, so if you have mastered the DCC core Ancient Greek vocabulary of 500 words a dictionary should not be necessary.

Meetings: to accommodate participants from multiple time zones, the workshop will meet daily from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m, Eastern Daylight Time US (UTC -4:00), with the rest of the day reserved for study.

Intended audience: Readers at all levels of experience are welcome, but knowledge of the basics of Ancient Greek grammar and familiarity with core vocabulary are expected. Letters of completion for purposes of professional development for teachers will be available, for 56 hours (including preparation time).

Moderator: Prof. Scott Farrington, Dickinson College. Scott is an ancient historian who earned his PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His publications have focused primarily on the Histories of Polybius and the nature and development of literary prose in antiquity. His most recent article (Classical Philology, 2021) reinterprets the ancient proverb “Nothing to do with Dionysus.” He has offered classes in the Greek and Latin languages, the history of the ancient world and its reception, and Athenian law.

Registration and fees: to register, please email Mrs. Terri Blumenthal, Classical Studies Academic Department Coordinator (blumentt@dickinson.edu). A fee of $200 is due by July 23, 2021 in the form of a check made out to Dickinson College, mailed to Terri Blumenthal, Department of Classical Studies, Dickinson College, Carlisle PA 17013. 

 For more information please contact Scott Farrington (farrings@dickinson.edu)

 

Reading Ovid Aloud for Homework

O pandemic, mother of invention. I have started assigning my Ovid students homework of submitting a recording of 10-15 lines, which we read at sight in class, read aloud rather than translated. Moodle makes this easy to submit. It’s amazing how readily you can tell if they understand. I added a part that involves picking five key words and looking them up the dictionary and explaining why they think they are important, which gets in an interpretive element consistent with my learning goals. But that’s not essential, of course. The results of the first round are so good, the ability to hear if they get Ovid’s tone so cool, the interpretations they gave in the written part so perceptive, and the homework so damn easy to grade, I had to share. I emphasized that I was not judging their pronunciation, but rather their pausing and emphasis as it reflects comprehension. I may never go back to grading written translations.

Here is the prompt:

  • Read the passage out loud in Latin with emphasis and pausing that reflect comprehension. Submit a recording.
  • Find the five most important or emphatic words in the passage in your view;
    • write the location in Lewis & Short where the contextually appropriate meaning of each if these five words is listed
    • give the contextually appropriate translation of these five words
    • explain briefly why you believe each word is important in the context

And here is the example I provided:

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.1–4.

In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas          

corpora; di, coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas)    

adspirate meis primaque ab origine mundi          

ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen!

nova: “new” (LS novus I.A), or “strange” (LS novus I.B): this is the first significant word, and separated a long way from the word it modifies, corpora, which gives it emphasis. What he has to say will be “new” and/or “strange.” Exciting!

mutatas: “changed” (LS muto II.A.1), going with formas. This whole poem is about change, so it makes sense to foreground this word in the first line. mutatas formas is pretty much Latin for the Greek title Metamorphoses (“Transformations”).

adspirate: “to be favorable to, to favor, assist (the figure taken from a fair breeze)” + dat. (LS aspiro I.A.2), governing coeptis meis (“the work I have begun”). Ovid is calling on the gods to favor his enterprise, so this is a key word, emphasized by being first in the line. It’s imperative, looking back to the vocative di in line 2. Tone is confident (?).

perpetuum: “continuous, unbroken, uninterrupted” (LS perpetuus I.A). Ovid’s song will be “continuous” and extend all the way from the origin of the world to his own time. Very ambitious! Also, if you’ve read the Metamorphoses you know it’s loosely organized, with one story after another in a continuous stream. So he may be giving us a heads up about that.

A few notes:

  • I grade these on a 1-10 scale, and they take under 5 minutes each to grade.
  • The due date is midnight on the day after we read the lines at sight in class. I don’t want it to get stale. Great way to review and reinforce, I think.
  • The students have as a textbook Peter Jones’ superb Reading Ovid. This helps the students by giving them context, interpretive summaries, vocabulary, macrons on the Latin, and excellent interpretive notes. I frigging love this book. This assignment asks them to go beyond it by investigating in the dictionary and saying what they think.

Things That Drive Me Crazy about Plato’s Republic

In a few minutes I have to teach Plato’s Republic (Books 2 and 4) to a wonderful group of first-year students in a writing-based seminar. I dread this. Every time I teach this seminar, I struggle to find something valuable to justify its inclusion in the syllabus with so many great writers, from Homer and Thucydides to Achebe and Du Bois. Every year I investigate how other people teach it. Steven B. Smith’s discussion in Yale Open Courses is available as a free podcast. I find it infuriating, the special pleading, and assertion of the life-changing greatness of the work despite the turgid appearances. The star-studded cast assembled by Melvyn Bragg for BBC’s In Our Time plump for it during the entire program, then end up in the bonus material admitting that his psychology is bogus. I feel like there are not enough people out there just complaining about the Republic, and making this list was cathartic for me. I make absolutely no claim to philosophical insight or subtlety, quite the opposite. I just had to get this off my chest. With that defensive preamble, here is my list of

Things that drive me crazy about the Republic

  1. The narrowness of his political vision. No mention of the successful Persian model of a multi-ethnic empire next door.
  2. The assumption that most people should not and cannot exercise political leadership or know what is best for them.
  3. The exile of Homer. If you can’t see that Homer is humanizing, then something is wrong with you. His view of art as epistemically inferior seems absolutely outrageous.
  4. The assertion that justice involves above all everybody knowing their place and not meddling, staying in their classes or lanes.
  5. The idea that only the educated can have moderation (σωφροσύνη) required for leadership.

On the other hand (and here’s what I find valuable in the work) he does ask some fundamental questions:

  1. How can we create a concept of justice that is separate from what those in power happened to want to enforce?
  2. How do we get beyond a politics based simply on desire and force? I want this, you want that, let’s see who’s strong enough to enforce his will.
  3. What would it look like if reason-driven people, non-self-interested people, ruled and tried to bring about the maximum happiness for the whole?
  4. What are the psychological sources of political failure and corruption?
  5. What is the best kind of education for the elite?

Ok, that’s a non-philosopher’s two cents. If you love the work, please tell me why in the comments!

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense Covid-19 Announcement

Prof. Tunberg sends the following important announcement regarding the 2020 Conventiculum Dickinsoniense and the Covid-19 crisis:

We have yielded to the force of circumstances, friends, and decided to put off the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense until the summer of 2021.  However, in July of this year, we will arrange a “virtual” Conventiculum via the internet, so that you can still experience a continuous sequence of days this coming summer at least semi-immersed in spoken Latin! We can do this through ZOOM or other conferencing software. Our “virtual” Conventiculum, which will take place from July 9 to July 14, can’t of course be the full equivalent of an event based on all day and face to face immersion, but it can still offer a lot of interaction and practice—and be fun too!

Our sessions will be designed for the sole purpose of giving those who take part maximum exposure to active Latin and a large opportunity to develop their powers in spoken expression and in understanding others speaking. And—yes—there will even be some written composition in Latin. Our conventicula are not aimed at people just beginning to learn the basics of Latin. They are designed to add an ability for some active expression in Latin for people who already have a reasonable passive knowledge of the language. Participants should know the essentials of Latin grammar and be able to read a Latin text of moderate complexity. But no previous experience in speaking Latin is necessary. So, some sessions will be exclusively devoted to people who have no (or very little) experience in spoken Latin communication. Here they will have the opportunity build up their vocabulary and awaken their powers of expression. Of course, we also welcome people experienced in communicative Latin, and we want the Conventiculum be an opportunity for them to develop and refine their proficiency.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE

The deadline for receipt of entry fees for our “virtual” Conventiculum is June 1, 2020. Indeed, we encourage people to register earlier than this deadline, when possible, since the Conventiculum may well fill up fairly quickly. We will be unable to accept more than 25 participants in this event.

ENTRY FEE

The entry fee for this new “virtual” Conventiculum will be $200. And please note that there will be no refunds of entry fees when they have been deposited in the Conventiculum’s account.

Those interested in applying for admission should write to Prof. Terence Tunberg at this address:

terence.tunberg@gmail.com