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Lapsed Classicists

(148 Posts)
TunipTheVegemal Tue 09-Oct-12 16:47:24

As mentioned on the Mary Beard thread.

My name is Tunip and it is twenty eight years since I last read a full-length piece of Latin or Greek literature.

However I am glowing at the discovery that I can still apparently translate 'What's your favourite biscuit?' into Latin.

Anyone else?

Poledra Tue 09-Oct-12 16:51:18

Dunno, but your thread title sounds like me when I'm pissed...

WingDefence Tue 09-Oct-12 17:05:15

Hi! I'm a bit scared though - does this mean I'm actually going to have to try to write some Latin or Greek now? I was rubbish at composition!

Can't do Greek actually as I don't have the font

I should say I'm BA(Hons) Classics, Newcastle 1998 smile

Issy Tue 09-Oct-12 17:14:13

My name is Issy and the last time I translated a piece of English into Greek or Latin was my second year composition paper in 1985. The last time I read a full-length piece of Latin or Greek literature was in Finals 1987. Actually, it could be closer to 1986 as I seem to recall that I didn't actually do much hard-core, not-in-translation in my final year. blush

1987 - that's quarter of a century ago. It's not surprising that I'm now struggling with my 11 yo's first stage of the Cambridge Latin Course.

Gigondas Tue 09-Oct-12 17:16:05

Yep about 20 years since did any- history ma with ancient history bias so did make use of my a levels.

VerityClinch Tue 09-Oct-12 17:42:24

Caecilius in via stat.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 17:42:45

I am most impressed at your biscuit skills, tunip.

I am not so much lapsed as corrupted, I'm afraid. I last read Greek (badly) about five years ago but my Latin has turned medieval, with plenty of 'michi' instead of 'mihi' and, erm, what shall we say? Crude syntax.

I used to be able to read it quite well (I never got good at Greek) and I would love to get back into it.

TunipTheVegemal Tue 09-Oct-12 17:52:06

Well, I don't know about corrupted. Mary talked about how second time round we could explore the byways we missed out first time round. Mine would be medieval Latin - I'd love to know more about it.

When I was a teenager I was weird I wanted to read More's Utopia in the original Latin and never did.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 17:54:59


I'm weird too, then, because my first thought was 'ooh! I'd love to read More's Utopia in Latin'. I bet mine'd struggle though.

Medieval Latin is easier than Classical, IMO. Or rather, when it's hard, it's because you don't know the very, very, very specific vocabulary someone's cobbled together for something, rather than because the grammar/syntax is complicated.

VerityClinch Tue 09-Oct-12 17:56:13

Canis in via latrat.

TunipTheVegemal Tue 09-Oct-12 17:57:47

Wonderful wonderful Internet! I don't even need to buy it, it's out there!

TunipTheVegemal Tue 09-Oct-12 17:58:10


WingDefence Tue 09-Oct-12 18:41:47

Ecce! Caecilius est in puellam hortem!

I only did Greek GCSE before my degree so had a lot to catch up on in my first year at uni. I never really got good at it either but NT Greek is definitely simpler, mostly because it seems to be in a more English/logical word order. I can more-or-less translate it with just a lexicon.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 18:45:12

Ooh ... that link is brilliant.

Though I would have to sit down with the parallel text and a dictionary. Boo.

wing - that's pretty damn cool! I would love to do NT Greek.

SuiGeneris Tue 09-Oct-12 18:48:53

Another weird one here who thought reading Utopia in Latin is a great idea.

Not sure whether I can join you though as I sadly gave up Latin at 19. The last full-length Latin I read was, however, 2 years ago, when Cicero's Orations carried me through some difficult breastfeeding hours...

TunipTheVegemal Tue 09-Oct-12 18:52:35

How splendid about the Cicero! Do you think it will have gone into the milk so your child can say s/he imbibed Cicero with his/her mother's milk?

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 18:54:47

Wow. Cicero carried you through breastfeeding?

You're hard core. We did Cicero for A Level and it required copious amounts of snoozing back then.

SuiGeneris Tue 09-Oct-12 19:02:41

It was at the stage when breastfeeding was painful (thrush, tongue tie, etc) so having to concentrate hard on something else was great, plus it was the Loeb edition, with a brilliant introduction and and the English translation on the next page for when I got stuck.

As for imbibing Cicero with milk I can only hope, but the antecedents are good: my mother read a long biography of a Communist giant while pregnant with me and I did turn out to be quite leftie...

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 19:05:54

Wow. You're amazing.

I like this theory of imbibing literature with mother's milk, though ... my mum was reading toddler books to my brother while breastfeeding me, and I did indeed turn out to be a Tiger who came to tea, so it must be true.

MooncupGoddess Tue 09-Oct-12 19:07:11

I can't believe you're dissing Cicero, LRD! We did his letters for A level and I loved them - they were really colloquial and immediate compared with any other texts I'd read at that stage. Some of his later dialogues are a bit stolid, admittedly.

Totally agree re earlier points about mediaeval Latin. I did try to read some of the carmina burana in the sixth form but the vocabulary is just so different and the syntax is often odd too. I loved Helen Waddell's translations of mediaeval Latin troubadour songs, though - must dig them out again.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 19:10:08


It's probably a sign I was never meant to be a Classicist, TBH. I love lots of bits of Latin but I really didn't get on with Cicero. I might prefer his letters, though.

I love medieval Latin songs - shedloads of carols have bits of Latin and bits of English. My dad just bought be a CD with a version of the boar's head carol that translates itself line-by-line ('caput apris defero'). It's gorgeous.

Plus when it is translated line by line I can understand it all! grin

MooncupGoddess Tue 09-Oct-12 19:12:19

My favourite Latin author was Tacitus - so sharp and clever and funny. I loved Euripides too and still try to go to Greek tragedy as often as I can - the National production of Antigone earlier this year was really impressive. There is something about Greek tragedy that sums up the human condition better than anything else I've ever encountered.

I love this thread!

WingDefence Tue 09-Oct-12 19:14:18

LRD I'm surprised anyone thinks reading the new testament in Greek is Cool grin It really isn't that bad, even now years and years after graduating. Because the word order is much more straightforward you don't need to worry quite as much about case endings etc as a lot of it is logical once you know the word meanings (and as I said, that's what I use the lexicon for!).

I had completely forgotten that the Loebs have the English on one side. I may have to dig out some Plato smile

MooncupGoddess Tue 09-Oct-12 19:14:21

Yes, I love carols like that too, LRD - In Dulci Jubilo is my favourite. Actually last weekend I discovered the technical term for them - macaronic. You probably knew that already!

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 09-Oct-12 19:18:25

mooncup - oh, Virgil for me. I love it. I love Greek tragedy, too. Sophocles, probably. I got to do a whole paper on tragedy as 1/5 of my degree, and I was really lucky because one of the lecturers volunteered to read Greek with me once a week, just as an optional thing, so I got to go over all sorts of lovely stuff with him just gently guiding me through, and not worrying too much about my grammar because we were reading it for the lit.

I wrote about Euripides' Cyclopes in my finals exams and felt well smug about it! grin

wing - oh, but it is cool! Because it is so lovely to be able to trace a text back to the original (or, I mean, I know Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, but you know what I mean).

I might give it a go, now you're encouraging me. I had a look ages ago, but mostly gave up.

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