Tag Archives: Language and Thought

Bokelmann’s shade

I am in North Frisia right now, spending a few days by the North Sea shore with my son. I fell in love with this primordial landscape when I was a child myself (rather longer ago than I care to … Continue reading

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Drama queens: Ummidia and Messalina acting it out

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure to present – again – at the JACT GCSE Latin and Greek Conference at Westminster School London. My talk covered two set texts for the GCSE Latin – Pliny’s letter 7.24 (on Ummidia Quadratilla) … Continue reading

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In memoriam Jo Cox MP

Today, the increasingly shrill rhetoric around Britain’s future position within or outside the European Union (‘Bremain’ vs. ‘Brexit’) appears to have claimed the life of Labour MP Jo Cox. We tend to think of speech as ‘mere words’. But speech … Continue reading

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Leap Day Harmony

Vergil‘s eighth Eclogue is a remarkable text. It presents a ‘song battle’ between Damon and Alphesiboeus, two pastoral poets, whose poetry is described in supernatural terms (Verg. ecl. 8.1-5, transl. H. R. Fairclough): Pastorum musam Damonis et Alphesiboei, immemor herbarum … Continue reading

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A is for … the Ancient Roman Alphabet!

Ever wondered what Latin sounded like? Here is how Martianus Capella, a writer of the early fifth century A. D., describes the phonetics of the Latin alphabet  (De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii 3.261; cf. Gramm. VIII 307-8 K.): A sub … Continue reading

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First Things First

Gaius Caelius Donatus of Oppidum Novum in the province of Mauretania Caesariensis (now Ain Defla, Algeria) was really looking forward to New Year’s Day. An auspicious day, the Romans marked New Year’s Day with religious ceremonies and sacrifice (as T. … Continue reading

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War, Combat Trauma, and Poetry: Evidence for PTSD in the Latin Verse Inscriptions?

In my previous blog post, I introduced a text that provides an (albeit anecdotal) unusual view on the Roman army, its drill, its effectiveness, and the dehumanising, romanticising narratives that prevail around it. The further one delves into the world … Continue reading

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Fruit of the Doom: an Image of Life, Death, and Letting Go in Roman Poetry

Death has been on my mind lately, having recently learnt of the untimely passing of two of my colleagues at the University of Reading. Whether death was imminent or came suddenly, whether it hits the old or the young – … Continue reading

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Howdy, Stranger . . . !

As the current debate over refugees, migrants, EU-wide quotas, and immigration-vs-national identity strikes increasingly bizarre, shrill, and discordant notes, I recently had the pleasure to contemplate in somewhat greater depth a remarkable funerary inscription from Aquileia in north-east Italy: The … Continue reading

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More Than Meets the Eye: Fragrance, Sensuousness, and Inscribed Latin Poetry

When we talk about ‘reading’ and ‘Latin poetry’ in academic contexts, we often tend to reduce complex intellectual and sensuous processes to a fairly linear model by which a text, either by acoustic or by optic means, somehow enters the … Continue reading

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