Archive for the ‘Latin’ Tag

Id possum tollere   Leave a comment

I’ve started on Chapter 6 of my Wheelock textbook, trying to relearn Latin. I’m focusing a lot more on the vocabulary this time around. It’s helping! I’ve never had difficulties understanding the grammar of foreign languages, but applying it practically has always been difficult, because vocab is hard. I drill myself a few days a week on it.

For Chapter 6 one of the vocab words was salvus, -i, and the definition given was safe, sound. This immediately put into my mind Capital City’s “Safe and Sound”.

I thought, Sumus salvus. I then began humming the ending of the song, which is basically “We’re safe and sound” over and over. They have the same amount of syllables, too. Suuuumus, sumus salvus — suuuuumus sumus salvus! Because I am a huge nerd. Then I tried translating the whole thing from the beginning, and then I got frustrated because I don’t know enough Latin grammar, basically.

I could lift you up Te possum tollere
I could show you what you want to see Te possum exhibere oh no I ran out of room
And take you where you want to be Et te word for take? It can’t be carpere, that is the figurative use of “take”, could it be “bring”? Is that in the subjunctive or is it ablative or what?

So I gave up and went back to studying Wheelock. But the first sentence took me a surprising amount of time. I couldn’t find a word that fit with “lift”. There isn’t a direct translation for the word, as with most English:Latin vocabulary. Latin is a very direct language. It doesn’t allow for much poetry. The first word I found that I sort of liked was “atollero”, and it took me forever to find proof that “tollere” was the same word (it has one less syllable). So the word stuck out in my mind.

So this morning I picked up my biography of Cicero. I read about the success of Marc Antony’s march on Mutina (he wanted the governorship of the Cisalpine province for strategic reasons, but Decimus Brutus already had the position, and anyway it was a big conflict between the people who wanted the Republic to stay unified and those who wanted it to have a stronger central command — an imperator or a dictator at its head). I came across this paragraph:

If the Consuls had survived and his strategy had succeeded, as it very nearly did, Cicero’s attitude towards Octavian would surely have been very different [Cicero had praised Octavian and pushed for honors and complacency towards the boy, hoping to appease him], for his usefulness to the Senate as its protector against Antony would have been at an end. In this connection it was most unfortunate that Octavian learned his “father’s” true intentions. Never one to avoid careless talk if a witty remark or a pun occurred to him, Cicero had observed that “the young man must get praises, honors–and the push.” The Latin is laudandum, ornandum, tollendum; the last word had a double meaning: to “exalt” and to “get rid of”. Towards the end of May, Decimus Brutus warned Cicero that someone had reported this joke to the young man, who had been unamused, commenting tersely that he had no intention of letting that happen.

I thought about how terrible of a Latin translator I am. And how weird of a coincidence it was that the word I had struggled over yesterday, tollere, turned out to be the central word in a pun by Cicero written two thousand years ago; and that I happened to have read that pun the day after I learned about the word. Then I thought how weird it was that Latin had a word that meant both “exalt” and “get rid of.” How often do those situations come up together?

College career path   Leave a comment

unc latin requirements

unc history requirements

I was talking with my brother-in-law the other day (I have a brother-in-law now!) and I told him that I was planning on pursuing a teaching degree at the University of North Carolina. He suggested that I apply as soon as possible, for a variety of reasons. With that in mind, I went and looked up the endorsements necessary to get into the two teaching programs I’m considering.

It appears that I am going to be a Latin teacher. Colonial history is going to have to be a hobby. For now.

Oh Cicero   Leave a comment


Finals season for the summer session is upon us! I am now doing boring things. The downside to reading scholarly articles written in the 1950s is that all of the quotes are still in Latin, because Latin and Greek scholarship was still pretty common back then. So I have to bring the old Latin dictionary out and dust out my Latin grammar, which has been sitting in the attic for months under some old tourist maps and a pile of cobwebs.

I refuse to translate this:

Vidi enim hesterno die quendam murmurantem, quem aiebant negare ferri me posse, quia, cum ab hoc eodem impurissimo parricida rogarer cuius essem civitatis, respondi me, probantibus et vobis et equitibus Romanis, esse eius quae carere me non potuisset. Ille, ut opinor, ingemuit.

Apparently it contains some zingers, but no. I refuse to try. I’m willing to translate this:

aliqua gloria iusta et merit

I think it means “Some fair and deserved glory”, roughly.

I’m not entirely sure why I find this so funny, but I do.

Designo (I draw)   Leave a comment

Be this how it may, both Curio the Elder and Curio the Younger reproached Pompey for having married Caesar’s daughter Julia, when it was because of Caesar, whom he had often despairingly called `Aegisthus’, that he divorced Mucia, mother of his three children. This Aegisthus had been the lover of Agamemnon’s wife Clytaemnestra.

But Marcus Brutus’s mother Servilia was the woman whom Caesar loved best, and in his first consulship he brought her a pearl worth ` 60,000 gold pieces. He gave her many presents during the Civil War, ‘as well as knocking down certain valuable estates to her at a public auction for a song. When surprise was expressed at the low price, Cicero made a neat remark: `It was even cheaper than you think, because a third (tertia) had been discounted.’ Servilia, you see, was also suspected at the time of having prostituted her daughter Tertia to Caesar.

…wait what?

By the way, if I had been born in Roman days, my name would probably be Tertia. BUT I SHOULDA BEEN SECUNDA.

A few more things I’ve learned from Tranquillius: when Caesar was in Africa, everyone thought only a Scipio could win a campaign in Africa. So he took Salvito Scipio with him to Africa. Salvito had horrible hygiene and manners, so Caesar spent the entire campaign making fun of him. I’m about 2/3rds through this reading, and I’m already making a movie montage in my head about Caesar. Now he has a fat, sloppy sidekick name Salvito Scipio.

Further cast members will be created as I continue to do research for my presentation.

So today I walked from my apartment to the Circus Maximus!

It occurs to me that I never show you the ugly parts of Rome. I'm wondering if I should fix that.

It occurs to me that I never show you the ugly parts of Rome. I’m wondering if I should fix that.

I just love the random Virgin and Child image on an electric box in the middle of a bunch of motorcycle dealterships and car parts stores, across the river from a great ruin. It's just meaningful.

I just love the random Virgin and Child image on an electric box in the middle of a bunch of motorcycle dealterships and car parts stores, across the river from a great ruin. It just…it’s just meaningful.

The Tiber River. I know, not a good picture, but I wanted to make sure I had a picture of.

The Tiber River. I know, not a good picture, but I wanted to make sure I had a picture of it.

This picture is included because I think it is pretty.

This picture is included because I think it is pretty.

My first hint that my walk was actually leading somewhere.  The sun behind the shadowed ruin helped.

My first hint that my walk was actually leading somewhere. The sun behind the shadowed ruin helped.

Look both ways before you cross the street!

Look both ways before you cross the street!

Now look the other way.

Now look the other way.

Annnnd the other way.

Annnnd the other way.

There's priests and nuns everywhere in Rome.  I guess it makes sense, but, uh, really, everywhere.

There’s priests and nuns everywhere in Rome. I guess it makes sense, but, uh, really, everywhere.

It was only a twenty-minute walk across the river, or so said Google Maps, but it turned out to be a thirty-minute walk, plus an additional twenty minutes of wandering around trying to find my art class. At one point I crossed the street and there was Chelsea and Allison, who were also wandering around trying to find the Circus Maximus.

Some graffiti on the Circus Maximus (now that I know it's the Circus Maximus)

Some graffiti on the Circus Maximus (now that I know it’s the Circus Maximus)

“Why is it not this gigantic ruin?” we kept wondering (some of more coarsely than others Chelsea), despite all the local’s insistence that the Circus Maximus was not the gigantic ruin. Eventually we realized that the Circus Maximus was the gigantic field right next to the gigantic ruin. The gigantic ruin was the Palantine Hill. Also, our classmates were sitting on the opposite side of the Circus from the ruin. As it turns out, that side of the Circus is the best place to draw the Palantine.

What I was supposed to draw.

What I was supposed to draw.

What I drew.

What I drew.

This pigeon hung out by my feet long enough for me to try to draw it. It walked away once it realized that I was starting at it, so I couldn't make it detailed.  But still, a very pretty bird who was my buddy for a minute.

This pigeon hung out by my feet long enough for me to try to draw it. It walked away once it realized that I was starting at it, so I couldn’t make it detailed. But still, a very pretty bird who was my buddy for a minute.

What I was supposed to draw.

What I was supposed to draw.

What I drew. (please ignore the trees, guh, once I started I couldn't stop even though they were just awful)

What I drew. (please ignore the trees, guh, once I started I couldn’t stop even though they were just awful)

What I was supposed to draw.

What I was supposed to draw.

What I drew.

What I drew.

What I was supposed to draw (for homework).

What I was supposed to draw (for homework).

What I drew.

What I drew.

Doing homework   Leave a comment

…Caesar overtook his advanced guard at the river Rubicon, which formed the frontier between Gaul and Italy. Well aware how critical a decision confronted him, he turned to his staff, remarking:

`We may still draw back but, once across that little bridge, we shall have to fight it out’.

As he stood, in two minds, an apparition of superhuman size and beauty was seen sitting on the river bank playing a reed pipe. A party of shepherds gathered around to listen and, when some of Caesar’s men broke ranks to do the same, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran down to the river, blew a thunderous blast, and crossed over. Caesar exclaimed:

`Let us accept this as a sign from the Gods, and follow where they beckon, in vengeance on our double-dealing enemies. The die is cast.’

–Tranquilius on Julius Caesar, 31-32

“The die is cast” is one of the most famous Latin quotes — alea jacta est — but really it’s the rest of the quote that caught my attention. Honestly I could not focus on this homework reading last night, but today it’s fascinating. I think I was exhausted from all the physical effort from yesterday. I find myself wondering about Tranquilius. At this point I think he was a supporter of Caesar, a member of the Populus party. I was wondering last night, but today I’m certain. Look at this quote. If he did not think that Caesar’s invasion of Rome was blessed by the gods, why would he depict a beautiful supernatural being leading Caesar to Rome? Keep in mind that in Roman times, beauty equalled goodness.

It’s just such an odd anecdote. I’m surprised I’ve never read it before.

Posted May 31, 2013 by agentksilver in Latin

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I tried to find a funny quote to put here, but apparently the internet is very serious about Vestal Virgins   Leave a comment


I will admit that this is not the most exciting video out there, with its 17-minute run, necessarily-slow pace, carefully-enunciated narration, and slow, thrumming music, but hell yes. The particular points that made me squee were the parts where Janet Stephens announces that the hairdresses were lined in purple, then showed them lined with our modern-day red, and also her conclusion, where she compares the results of her hairstyle with non-Vestal hairstyles and indicates how such a hairstyle was a trend in Roman society, indicating modesty on the part of the wearer. Tying your research into general practice? Do I need to say hell yes again?

I nearly lost it when we saw the model all decked out in Vestal Virgin gear. HY.

If you’re not up on the basics of Roman society, the hearth was considered the most important part of the home, the hearth being the gigantic fire in the fireplace. Perhaps it was born up from prehistorical times, when fire was new and we didn’t necessarily understand the science of fires. It was easier and more understandable to maintain one constant fire than to try to start a new one every day (archaeologists once found a fire that had gone for twenty years). Because fire was so crucial to survival, the hearth reached a religious status within the home, and women in particular were tied to it, just as they are tied forever to child-raising, agriculture, and cooking. Vesta is a little-known goddess in the modern day; she was goddess of the hearth. She didn’t do a whole lot, being quiet, staying out of trouble, and maintaining the hearth, although she was very popular in early ancient Rome. By the middle period of Roman history even they had decided she was too boring to think about a lot. It was common practice to nominate your enemy’s daughter to become a Vestal Virgin. By the time she got out of Vestal Virginity, she was too old to be married off and would be nothing but a burden to your household expenses. Roman society ran on marrying your daughters off to strengthen political ties. Your enemy could not turn down a nomination of his daughter, but now his daughter was useless to his career.

Vestal Virgins were powerful women. They maintained the hearth of Rome. They were beautiful and powerful. They were elite. And now we know how they did their hair.

Posted January 21, 2013 by agentksilver in Latin

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Her Pet Ology   Leave a comment

So because I am the person who has to pay attention to these things (because I nominated myself), Florida is dealing with an invasive species problem by allowing hunters to cull the herd. In this case, the “herd” is Burmese pythons. I am suspicious of things that don’t have feet.


Actually for serious, snakes freak me out. I once held a baby snake and I spent the entire time thinking about how vulnerable my wrist was to fangs, mammal-biting fangs that long for blood. It’s the head of the snake that scares me. Not the body.

Snakes can be quite lovely, actually

When I’d first heard of the snake-culling on NPR, I thought “huh, that’s interesting” and then filed it away in my brain to dump later. I did not care, is the point. NPR gave much the same analysis as the linked article above — that is to say, none. NPR reported that the population of Burmese Pythons, a non-native species invasive to Florida, had risen to the levels that the government was allowing hunters to kill the pythons at will. That is pretty much what the Miami Herald says, except that it gives a bit more information on the rules of the hunter’s cull.

The Hunter's Cull

Repticon (the convention for reptiles!) posted the Miami Herald link above, asking for thoughts. This was literally the first time I had to given the Burmese Pythons any active thought. I gave my response:

my response

And then did some serious research on Burmese Pythons, and by “serious research” I mean Wikipedia. Because that’s how things are done on the internet. According to Wikipedia, Burmese Pythons are not poisonous. “The snake uses its sharp rearward-pointing teeth to seize its prey, then wraps its body around the prey, at the same time contracting its muscles, killing the prey by constriction.” Oh, oh goody. “In captivity their diet consists primarily of commercially available, appropriately sized rats, and graduates to larger items such as rabbits and poultry as they grow. Exceptionally large pythons may even require larger food items such as pigs or goats, and are known to have attacked and eaten alligators and adult deer in Florida…” Wait, aren’t humans smaller than alligators and adult deer? “A three-metre long Burmese python can easily kill a child and a five-metre long (around 16.5 feet) Burmese python is certainly capable of overpowering and killing a fully grown adult.”

The Wikipedia article also can’t decide if Burmese Pythons are going to leave Southeastern Florida or not. First they point out that the USGS showed that, thanks to climate change, they could migrate northwards. But then Wikipedia points out that article wasn’t peer-reviewed! In fact, Burmese Pythons died of exposure when brought to Southern California! Then the USGS brought out another study saying that the Burmese Pythons could migrate north! Then herpetologists again contradicted the study! Who to trust?

I recognize that I’m focusing on only the horrible parts of the Wikipedia page, but most of it is the standard neutral data on where the Burmese Python comes from and what it does. Did you know that snakes are born with egg teeth, which allow it to break through the egg, I guess? Also, sometimes Burmese Pythons brumate! What a strange thing for a reptile to do. On the pro-side of things, Burmese Pythons are “made popular by their attractive colour and apparently easy-going nature” and that…that is about it on the pro-burmie side of things on Wikipedia. Reptiles are easy-going, guys, I’m not going to lie. Give them a hot spot and a cool spot and some food and plenty of alone time and man, reptiles are easy pets.

Now that we’re all a little more educated on the subject of Burmese Pythons, let’s see what my fellow Repticon page-followers have to say about the culling of the pythons.

Honestly, most of the responses were along the same lines as mine. “It has to be done,” most of us said. “It’s sad that animals have to die because of human stupidity, but it must be done, for the sake of the environment and the other animals.” Keep in mind that having an non-native predator with those sorts of numbers means that native predators can’t eat and the prey animals are dying faster than they ought to. There were also those who were fully against the hunt:


There were conspiracy theorists in the group:

its all a conspiracy

Could it have something to do with land development? I honestly have no idea. I do know that land down there is a goldmine. When my cousin and his fiancee visited for my grampa’s birthday, they told us about how Miami was trying to kick out Burn Notice in order to build condos. Sure, Burn Notice provides hundreds of jobs and makes people interested in visiting Miami, but condos! Perhaps more research is required on this, I don’t know.

There was also lots of advice for the hunters.


One person didn’t seem to understand the question.

That’s a fantastic song by Oasis by the way

Another person didn’t seem to understand the issue. Like, at all.

just plain incorrect

I might be new to this whole Burmese Python issue, but:

1) Burmese Pythons are non-native, meaning that they don’t belong in the Everglades and they are invading our space
2) “this” is singular and “animals” is plural, so you should have said “these animals”
3) Burmese Pythons would still need to get caught in order to get “ex-ported”
4) And anyway they’re non-native, so it would be “deported” back to their native country
5) Rainforests? Do you want to set an invasive species on the Amazon?

what are we nazis

Any answer I give to this would invoke Godwin’s Law and therefore I can’t comment.