Archive for September 2015

It’s fitting because the Adams would drill Latin into their children’s heads   Leave a comment

I was feeling worn-out and exhausted today, so I decided to pep myself up by reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln, because that is who I am now. I’m reading Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, that book that won all the awards in the late 2000s. I opened the book up to page 152 and scanned the page to see where I had last left off. On page 152, Virginia officially seceded from the Union, taking the crucial Norfolk Navy Yard with it.

With its stategic location, immense dry dock, great supply of cannons and guns, and premier vessel, the Merrimac, the Norfolk yard was indispensible to both sides.

But, of course, Virginia secedes from the Union, and Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, was unable to secure the vital navy yard before the Confederacy took it over. We shall see what the consequences of this was.

The loss of Norfolk prompted Charles Francis Adams* to note in his diary:

We the children of the third and fourth generations are doomed to pay the penalties of the compromises made by the first.

You may recognize this as my facebook status a few days ago.^ For some reason that quote has stuck with me. I stopped at that line again. I read it over a few times. I couldn’t think of why I like that sentence so much. I read it again. Suddenly I realized that to pay the penalty is a vocab term in early Latin studies (poenas dare. Had the sentence simply triggered my Classics scholarship?

I decided to translate the sentence into Latin rather than read on.

After writing out the sentence, the next step is to break it down into parts of speech. Diagramming it. However the old-school folks say it.

We the children nominative (subject)
of the third and fourth generations genitive (possessive)
are doomed first person plural indicative active present
to pay the penalties infinitive/accusative plural (infinitive/object)
of the compromises genitive (possessive)
made wait there’s another verb?
by the first ablative

I stared in horror at the last three steps. There was already a possessive and a verb in the sentence. How could there be more? I set that question aside for the moment and tried to think about the ablative.

Ablative doesn’t have a direct correlation in English, unlike nominative/subject, genitive/possessive, dative/indirect object, and accusative/direct object. The best I can explain it is as a setting. Ablative tells you where the sentence happened, when it happened, or how it happened (ablative of means). The first several chapters of my textbooks avoids ablatives, and then suddenly ablatives are everywhere. They’re hard to get across in English. When I was in high school, I wrote out English translations for every single word I diagrammed: by/with/in/on/from the troops, I would write.

My life is brilliant
My love is pure
I saw an angel
Of that I’m sure
She smiled at me on the subway
She was with another man
But I won’t lose no sleep on that
‘Cause I’ve got a plan

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful, it’s true
I saw your face in a crowded place
And I don’t know what to do
‘Cause I’ll never be with you

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful, it’s true
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you
But it’s time to face the truth
I will never be with you

But I also knew from my days in community college Latin that there was another use for ablative. And by another I mean “the way bearded dragons and komodo dragons are both lizard dragons.” That way is Ablative Absolute.

There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you <—BAM WHAM

When the angel thought up that he should be with her, the angel smiled.

Ablative absolute sets the scene like nothing else. It can’t stand on its own, it’s not a full sentence even though it might have a subject and a verb (wait-). It’s very ablative-heavy. And it always (well, typically) goes in the front, especially in Latin.

By the compromises made by the first generation, we the children of the third and fourth generation are doomed to pay the penalties.

Compromissit primis aetatibus facerunt, nos pueri aetatis tertiae et quartiae damnamus poenas dare.

Is it correct? I actually have no idea.

*grandson of John, son of John Quincy
^or you may not, I don’t know you.

Posted September 23, 2015 by agentksilver in history, Latin

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I usually curl up and read in bed for a bit before I go to sleep. It’s becoming a nice family ritual, as James reads science fiction while I read a biography. Now that Cornelius has joined the household, we get distracted and play with him as well. Last night Cornelius and I played a game where I tried to touch his belly and he tried to capture my hand and bite it. It’s one of his favorite games.

(Right now he’s laying up against me and trying to capture my toes, which I’m wiggling just to set him off)

I got home from work this morning and James asked me to not play a game like that with Cornelius before bed. “He kept trying to attack my toes,” he said.

“That’s what cats do,” I said. “They attack toes in the night.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” said James.

“Neither could I,” I said. “He kept snuggling into my back until he nearly pushed me off the bed.”

So yeah, Cornelius is a great addition to our household! Yesterday was his first vet appointment. I told them about my concerns for his ears — they are bald and scaly, and that baldness and scaliness is spreading. The vets for Wake County Animal Center had treated it like ringworm, which definitely helps. But surely there must be a way to make it go away.

My vet thinks that he might be allergic to something. We don’t know what. Most likely fish or gluten. So I had to go out and buy hypoallergenic food.

(he’s purring you guys oh my gosh)

Today I got new, clay-based kitty litter, to replace the wheat-based one I had bought on the foster’s recommendation. Hopefully in a few months the scaliness will be replaced with pretty orange fur.

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WIN_20150915_12_07_05_Pro

Posted September 15, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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