Daily Archives: March 19, 2021

Learning Latin

I think we got it right this time!

UPDATE! The title of this post is more apt than I knew. I drew this quick sketch (above) of Julius Caesar writing his Commentaries (you can pick up a paperback copy here) and scribbled in his famous line: “Veni, vidi, vici” “I came, I saw, I conquered.” I did it in a hurry and got it wrong. I’d say I was nodding, like that guy Homer Bonus, but in my case it was more like a coma. Lucky for me, my pal Jim F (a newly-minted Western Civ Irregular) is a Latin master. He caught my goof not once, but twice when I corrected it wrong (see comments below). There’s a lesson here, gang. You don’t have to be smart—just be sure to have plenty of smart friends. I’m blessed with quite a few.

You still hear and read “I came, I saw, I conquered” occasionally today. A few years ago American Secretary of State Clinton joked about deposing the Libyan dictator Qaddafi:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlz3-OzcExI “We came, we saw, he died.” Vastly less cringe-worthy are Eric Maschwitz’ lyrics to These Foolish Things: “You came, you saw, you conquered me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mshV7ug8cdE  Here is Ella Fitzgerald singing it. If her voice and this song aren’t the pinnacle of Western achievement, I don’t know what is.


<p>During the Roman Empire, kids went to private schools. A teacher would set up a school and the parents paid him tuition. Not everybody went. Roman citizens—and freemen who could afford it—went to school. Poor freemen and slaves didn’t. <br /><br />Naturally, the students learned to read and write Latin and Greek. These are called ‘classic’ languages. Believe it or not, Latin was a regular part of everybody’s education in Great Britain and the United States up until less than a century ago. In the Sixties they taught Latin in New York City public schools. <br /><br />https://trisagionseraph.tripod.com/literacyf.html<br />https://erenow.net/ancient/ancient-greece-and-rome-an-encyclopedia-for-students-4-volume-set/257.php<br />https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_in_Roman_legal_system<br />https://classicalacademicpress.com/blogs/classical-insights/10-reasons-to-study-latin<br />The Latin master was a familiar feature of British education—enough so that the audience got John Cleese’s bit in Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAfKFKBlZbM<br />Do they still teach Latin in Italy? Renzo Arbore tells his mamma that he prefers singing rhythm to studying Latin: “Il Latino non va giù, aritmetica è tabu…(Latin’s no good, arithmetic is taboo)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZV0XFzKxO0<br />https://medium.com/@gentryalex13/how-learning-latin-changed-my-life-3554969eb293</p&gt;