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The difference between "classicists" and "lat

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The difference between "classicists" and "lat

Postby Kynetus Valesius » Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:11 pm

Hey all,

I've been thinking lately about the differences between "classicists" and "latinists". Here's what I've come up with.

A classicist is one who delves into the Greek and Latin languages that he/she might have access to the cultlural and linguistic artifacts of antiquity. If he/she goes on to become a professional in the field, he/she works very much like a archaeologist, except that it is linguistic evidence that is examined instead of sherds. Everything is very carefully noted down: for instance I am currently reading a "critical edition" of the Eunuch by Terentius Afer; every variation in metrical scheme is carefully catalogued; there are even quantitative measurements comparing of the frequency of certain words or phrases found in Terentius' work with the same words/phrases in the works of Plautus. I find it pretty dry but it does serve a purpose. So that is an an example of a classicist at work. It's all about producing scholarly tomes and articles. As for the terms "classics" and "classicist", I seem to recall that they are of relatively recent vintage. If someone could write a little bit about how they came into usage, I'd be grateful. My suspicion is that these terms rose to prominence soon after latin stopped being used in European schools as the principal language of instruction for all subjects, perhaps in the 18th century.

The term "latinist" is, I believe, of even more recent coinage. I first encountered it on the "Grex Latine Loquentium" boards. Latinists, as I take it, cultivate (linguam latinam colunt!) the latin language first and foremost for it's own sake because of it's great elegance, versatility, and living heritage! They love the language and in the process of mastering it they forge a useful tool that enables them to express their own thoughts to other similarly educated persons in verse and in prose. Right now for instance, I know of a young Roman who seems to be aspiring to become of the Catullus of our age. He's got a way to go, but hey, who knows? These latinists are also sometimes called "neolatinists". I am one such person although I don't claim any particular skill as of yet. Merus tyro sum sicut dicimus. Nevertheless, I keep plodding along. There are others, however, whose skill equals or perhaps approaches that of some so-called "classic" authors. Now then, any well trained latinist who wishes to become a "classicist" may do so with relative ease for according to the teaching of the neolatinists the ancient texts automatically somehow become more transparent. This neolatin movement - for it is such - has not gained much headway in the United States but there are a few proponents whose names come to mind: Terence Tunberg (U of Kentucky), John Traupman (latin educator and author), Nancy Lewellyn (UCLA), and Steven Beard (Wenatchee College). Tunberg, Lewellyn, and Beard conduct summer sessions to teach people oral latinity. As I undersand it, the students at these events are most frequently latin teachers (trained in the classical tradition) who wish to learn to speak in latin!! Can you imagine that! I'd love myself to go to one of these seminars but unfortunately they would interfere with my summer surfing juants. Yeah, dudes, among other things, I am a "classical surfer" :)

If there are any teachers of latin among us who'd like to share their thoughts on the matter, I'd gladly read what they have to say. Do they themselves speak and write latin? If not, do they wish to learn? Or in the alternative, if they are committed classicists of the "translation only" school I'd like to hear about that too. I'd like to read the opinions of others as well.

Kynetus

PS: the movement is gaining strength - Notre Dame will be conducting two courses for credit (6) this summer in "Conversational Latin".
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Postby Deses » Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:07 pm

The word latinist stems from Medieval Latin 'latinista'. Attested in English as early as XVIth century.
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Postby annis » Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:16 pm

I'll have rather more to say on this later, but first this interesting point.

Wow. You are certainly correct about "classicist." First attestation in the OED is 1830.
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Postby Yhevhe » Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:44 pm

annis wrote:You are certainly correct about "classicist." First attestation in the OED is 1830.


That's the 19th century!
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:17 am

Yes, 1830 is the nineteenth century. Didn't I say that I thought classicist was recent? And then hazard a guess that it might have been from 18th century? As for latinist being such an early coinage, I was a bit surprised to learn that it was that early. I can't recall who commented on latinist but I would be curious know from him to what sorts of persons it was originally applied.

However, neither of these points about the provenance and earliest attestations of these terms has much bearing on the overall subject of my essay - which was the state of latinity today vis-a-vis these contending trends in latin education.

I hope I get more comments.

Valete
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Postby nostos » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:49 am

Kynetus Valesius wrote:but I would be curious know from him to what sorts of persons it was originally applied.


Kynete, it was originally applied to good speakers of Latin, namely those who structured their speech and writing to classical models. Coincidentally the term was also used, according to the shorter OED, to signify 'a theologian of the Latin Church' in the mid-16th cent. So I presume there's some connection.

Anyhow Latinist doesn't imply not using the language as a lingua franca, as there can be Latinists as there can be Anglists (a term defined as 'A student or scholar in English language or literature, esp. on the mainland of Europe' in that same dictionary). In other words, it is someone well-versed in a language not native to them, primarily, but also it can even be their native tongue if you want to stretch it and call Cicero a great Latinist :P .

'Classicist', however, assumes a kind of statis for several hundred years that it wants to study. This, anyway, is my impression of the term. You can have classicists that are also Latinists, but not all Latinists are classicists, etc., etc.

I'll have to second annis' (implied?) compliment: it was a rather brilliant induction that 'classicist' was not used until after Latin ceased to be used as the international (scholarly - and I don't mean that pejoratively!) language in Europe.

Now Classics is on the decline (although I plan to become amongst the dying breed for my PhD): first they quit using it, then they froze it to study it, and the next step will be to discard it entirely. But no, I really don't think so. Perhaps it will enjoy a renaissance.
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Re: The difference between "classicists" and "

Postby annis » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:51 am

Every time I reread your initial post, I am stunned anew by the scope of your questions. I'm not at all prepared to tackle your main question, but I can start with two smaller matters.

Kynetus Valesius wrote:If there are any teachers of latin among us who'd like to share their thoughts on the matter, I'd gladly read what they have to say.


I'm not sure we have any people actively teaching who are regular visitors to Textkit. I'm aware of one retired, and I believe one book author who's posted less than a handful of times.

Do they themselves speak and write latin? If not, do they wish to learn? Or in the alternative, if they are committed classicists of the "translation only" school I'd like to hear about that too.


I don't believe there is any such thing as a "translation only" school of classicism. The goal, not always reached even among PhD's, is to be able to read original Latin or Greek texts without translating. As a matter of practical pedagogy translation work is necessarily a large part, but I cannot imagine any classicist describing this as the goal of study.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:45 pm

According to the dictionary:

clas·si·cist (klăs'ĭ-sĭst) n.
One versed in the classics; a classical scholar.
An adherent of classicism.
An advocate of the study of ancient Greek and Latin.

Lat·in·ist (lăt'n-ĭst) n.
A specialist in Latin.

.

According to Kynetus:

classicist:
A classicist is [...] pretty dry [...].

latinist:
Latinists [...] love [...].

Are you letting your emotions drive your train of thought, Kynetus? Classicists can't love what they do, and latinists never write critical editions? Do you look at a man's heart to decide whether his Latin is classicist or latinist? Do you have Rorschach inkblots of Virgil's bald spot and ask your prospectives whether they see thistles or roses?

There's definitely folks who love their Latin and others who, after they start drawing their pay-checks from a Classics department, need to show some volume of paperwork to keep drawing them, but I think that your particular use of the vocabulary is a bit of a stretch.

By "translation only" school Kynetus is referring to the way of teaching Latin inflicted on me many years ago: take a sentence from Caesar, start looking at the endings of words, match them with your list of memorized endings, conclude what goes where, and treat the whole thing more like an equation to be solved than like the living verb incarnated. Needless to say, I speak no Latin.
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Postby nostos » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:46 pm

Bardo de Saldo wrote:Are you letting your emotions drive your train of thought, Kynetus?


Señor Don Bardo de Saldo,

If Kynetus did not let his emotion drive his train of thought (as you have done in your reply, though I think you wanted to defend something because you perceived Kynetus was attacking it, and I don't believe that's what he tried to do), then I wouldn't want to read him. This, in my opinion, must be true, even if you change your argument to fit the rules of logic: subtle emotion drives thought.

What he's saying has a very nasty and true point behind it, which you've reiterated: classics departments gotta pay for your food. That's the reason I'm going to do my doctorate in Classics (if it were up to me, I would get no degree of any sort in anything; but people don't just believe you can teach; they ask for degrees!). I expect that by the time its done, I (shamefully) won't know Greek half as well as a native five year old, but having the degree will grant me the opportunity to be hired by one of those classics departments somewhere and take care of my bread alone. I'm ostensibly becoming what I rant against, though most of my raving (which has not been brought up on these boards for precisely this reason, as well as my failure to perceive academia except in whiteoctave, who is better in Latin than probably I will ever become, and he's an example of what academia's supposed to be, not what I'm disgusted by) deals with English and Philosophy: two majors which narrow your thought substantially (I have been trained in 'how to think properly', and it's beeen so mixed with 'how to think like my professors', except for my time at Oxford, that I have a drastic aversion to it, although I can see, most of the time, where the argument has gone awry).

Don't turn his questions into a binary argument of opposed poles: we've gone beyond Hegel's synthesis and antithesis, mi querido Bardo, which is limiting in itself. He was questioning, not arguing.

And perhaps this is just my reading of y'all, and perhaps I'm very wrong, and in that case, so be it.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:43 pm

You should write a Dictionary of the English Language, nostos. It would read something like this:

broccoli n.
Disgusting vegetable fit only for hard-core vegetarians.

steak n.
Delicious slice of meat.

(Or whatever your tastes might be.)

"Don't turn his questions into a [blah-blah-blah], mi querido Bardo, which is limiting in itself. He was questioning, not arguing." ~Nostos

I haven't done anything with his questions, my dearest and most honorable nostos. I haven't even disagreed with any of his statements, I have only made a comment on his choice of words. I think that 'professional latinist' and 'amateur latinist' would fit the bill more snugly.

Classicist and latinist are almost synonimous, if one puts the Greek aside for a moment. Giving them different meanings to suit your pet peeves is, in my opinion, barbaric. :wink: [/i]
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:52 pm

Hello folks

Thanks for the thoughtful comments received so far. My purpose is not to insult anyone though I freely admit that I do characterize things broadly when engaged in disputation - which tendency perhaps makes me less than an ideal embassador for the movement that I espouse. No, my purpose is not to offend people but rather to try to move them, exhort them, persuade them. But yes, friends, I am driven by a certain passion nam latinitatis amore ardeo! My hope would be that everyone here will take up an active writing and speaking program! Without a living tradidtion, these artes humaniores will continue their lamentable slide into final nullity!

Perhaps this isn't directly related, but do you recall that "critical" edition of Terentius Afer's Eunuch I mentioned? I would say that it would be of virtually no help to someone, who, say, having diligently completed a grammar and fundaments program, wants to understand the text. Mi Hercle pro quibus scribat hominibus auctor nescio! There are no facing notes and the help with grammar and syntax provided is completely inadquate to the needs of the average individual trying to penetrate the work. My opinion.

Another thought comes to mind. If classicists are into antiquity (not that I'm in any way against that), under whose academic purview does it come to evaluate works being written today such as a supposedly brilliant history of Mexico just recently published by a nonageniarian Oaxacan priest and written, supposedly, in sublime Vergilian hexameters? I say, let Latinity be the principal field, and Greek and Roman Antiquity a subspecialty. Dixi - sed etiam nunc non ad perorationem adveni. Hoping my brush strokes have not been too broad and bright (again!), I wonder why, logically that is, should the first works a student encounters of "real latin" be from Antiquity as opposed to the Renaissance or later? If latinity is treated by teachers and textbooks as something that perished after the Silver Age of Roman Letters, it is indeed deader than bloody, great Caesar gasping pathetically neath Pompey's [?] stony stare!

Kynetus Vester
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed Oct 26, 2005 6:13 pm

Different strokes for different folks, Kynetus. If I ever learn Latin, it will be to read the Classics, not to get together with latinists for the sole purpose of speaking in Latin (speaking to oneself is a sad business, and my neighbors and yours don't speak Macaronic). Imagine how it would be if we met at an English Convention in Las Vegas just because you and I speak English: "Hello, Kynetus, do you like poetry?" "Hmm, no... do you like surfing?" "Hmm, no... how's the weather?" "Really nice!" "My taylor is rich!"

That said, if I was a Latin teacher I would be ashamed to not be able to speak Latin fluently.

(I don't know of anyone who might have felt insulted by your ideas in this forum. As Will said, Academics don't show up much around here.)
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Wed Oct 26, 2005 6:56 pm

Bardo wrote
If I ever learn Latin, it will be to read the Classics, not to get together with latinists for the sole purpose of speaking in Latin


But perhaps if you did learn speaking and writing first, you'd be BETTER equipped to understand the classics than the person who reads a grammar and runs straight for Vergil. That's the theory - although even I am not absolutely convinced of it.

Imagine how it would be if we met at an English Convention in Las Vegas just because you and I speak English: "Hello, Kynetus, do you like poetry?" "Hmm, no... do you like surfing?" "Hmm, no... how's the weather?" "Really nice!" "My taylor is rich!"


But how, Bardo, is your "convention" scenario different than what students do in actual Spanish, French, German, etc. classes? Don't they make up silly sentences to exercize the grammar and vocabularly they are learning.

That said, if I was a Latin teacher I would be ashamed to not be able to speak Latin fluently.


I don't know any latin teachers, but I suspect, on the basis of hearsay and other second-hand evidence, that the vast majority of instructors even at the University level cannot do what you would be ashamed not to do!

Cheers
KV
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Postby nostos » Wed Oct 26, 2005 7:06 pm

'blah-blah-blah' is right: I was simply blathering, using academic terminology that can be interpreted however anyone wishes. I apologise.

Also, perhaps my overtly emotional reaction was uncalled for. Though I wouldn't, as you say Bardo, write an English dictionary with all of my personal likes and dislikes involved. That died with Dr Johnson, or perhaps to a lesser extent with the first edition of the OED.

Agreed, 'professional/amateur latinist' seems to fit the bill better than classicist/latinist and all these petty distinctions.
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Wed Oct 26, 2005 8:53 pm

Nostos

I wanted an other effort at rebutting your Vegas-Convention analogy which for everyone's benefit, I reproduce below

Imagine how it would be if we met at an English Convention in Las Vegas just because you and I speak English: "Hello, Kynetus, do you like poetry?" "Hmm, no... do you like surfing?" "Hmm, no... how's the weather?" "Really nice!" "My taylor is rich!"


I haven't ever attended a summer latin festival or seminar series (I haven't been doing this very long) and as I mentioned in a previous post I've got some seriously conflicting interests for the coming year. However, from what I've heard of these events, although there might be plenty of opportunity for small talk in latin, there would also be presentations concerning classical (Catullus maybe) and postclassical subjects. To get a feel for the breadth of the movement, take a look at sample pages from "Paelestra Latina" (Catholic magazine from the 30s, Spanish) that I referred folks to a while back. There are articles, all in latin, about Vergil & his poetry, news reports on the latest archeological finds, book reviews on classical/post classical matters, hymns, guides to polite conversation, etc. With this system in place, there was a lingua franca among classicists/scholars in the Western tradition. How do they communicate today? Of course, English has become the de facto scholarly language of the époque moderne. But, when classical scholars from around the world get together for a big confab, should there in your opinion be a common language? Or should English be mandatory! If not every important book needs to be tranlated into every language in which it might be read.

But, hey, I give up! this is so obviously a loosing cause (to bring Latin back as a lingua franca). However, reforming the way Latin is taught and learned may yet be able to make some headway against the Dead Zone folks.
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Postby Thucydides » Wed Oct 26, 2005 10:11 pm

Here at Oxford I am studying for a 'Classics' (older name 'literae humaniores') degree. To us, Classics is anything in the ancient world. The syllabus can include literature, history, philosophy (even modern philosophy, which is a bit bizarre), philology, art & architecture, and archaeology. You could even do medieval Latin, Byzantine Greek, Classical influences on 20th century poetry. You could probably study Classical mathematics if the fancy took you. Or papyrology. Or epigraphy. What's exciting is the synthesis of skills - and the challenge of drawing together evidence from some many disciplines.

However, the primary way that we get our information about the ancient world is through the close reading of literary texts. No one can really spend too much time on their Latin and Greek. It means that firstly the maximum possible evidence can be wrung from the limited evidence available and that large numbers of texts can be read quickly in the search for evidence. As a result, the first half of the course is language exercises in isolation (i.e. translation, prose comp.), lots of literature - Aeneid, Iliad, something called 'texts and contexts', which is a text in its literary, historical and archaeological context, and a special subject, which can be something like archaeology or philology.

We're Latinists and Hellenists but our interest in the whole classical world makes us classicists. This is what makes Oxford Classics the best arts degree in the world. :D
Last edited by Thucydides on Wed Oct 26, 2005 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby nostos » Wed Oct 26, 2005 10:11 pm

Kynetus Valesius wrote:Nostos

I wanted an other effort at rebutting your Vegas-Conventio


Kynete, the point wasn't made by me. It was made by Bardo.

I agree with you that Latin would make a grat lingua franca, but English is the people's choice.

Thucydides,

what college?
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Postby Thucydides » Wed Oct 26, 2005 10:14 pm

Christ Church. My av is the college crest.
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Postby nostos » Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:00 pm

Thucydides wrote:Christ Church. My av is the college crest.


Of course! you have it right there under your avatar I just never look.

How so very wise of me :oops:
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Postby whiteoctave » Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:09 pm

Quite a relief it is to see sterling testimony on behalf of nostos and Thucydides with regard to the true core of Classical scholarship. It was indeed only the other day that I learnt that I had come out the victor in the Cantabrigian dispute about my dissertation, which I have written throughout in Latin. Were it not for the voice of those 'conservative' (i.e. acute) scholars, even Cambridge would have ignored the admonishing tones of the mother tongue.

~D

P.S. E., I await your advent.
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Postby chad » Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:18 am

hi, i read a while ago an interesting book on this, wilamowitz's 'history of classical scholarship' translated into english; either in that or in the intro by lloyd-jones it suggested that the most general term for classics was 'philology' which included archaeology, art &c and only later became narrower in meaning. there was also an all-embracing german word used for the goal of philology, i.e. a solid grounding in language + archaeology + art &c, i can't remember it because i don't know german but it might have started 'alterum...'!?!

i bet whiteoctave has a copy in his personal library, i remember he has a solid collection on classical scholarship itself............

yep :)

http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-foru ... ght=#38024

what are you going to work on after your dissertation dave? cheers, chad. :)
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Postby annis » Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:50 am

A discussion very closely related to this question of living Latin recently errupted on classics-l, in two threads:

Will we ever get beyond this?

How many students can get beyond this?

Just follow the "next in thread" links at the bottom.
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:58 am

Thanks, Annis, for the links to the threads on the classics-l list. And thanks as well to the scholars from Cambridge and Oxford (I hear those are first class schools!). Didn't one say he'd written his thesis all in latin? Well, I am impressed with that! I write letters but nothing very extensive and pretty full of errors too.

About the Classics-list discussions: one person noted that he/she thought it would be an achievement if advanced undergrads could get through a piddling sized book in latin in a semester; another remarked that she doubted whether students on a latin track were ever required to read more at a sitting than 60 lines or so; another confessed something to the effect that he himself had only read a handful of books in their entirety; some were concerned about how best to convey their love of communicating with dead Romans; and so the lamentations went. There was lots of talk about getting the students to read (this is what I was driving at by my earlier "translation only" comment) but nary a peep about writing or speaking. They sound like good people. But I believe (I am now getting out the big brush I use for broad stroking and excessive generalizations) these folks, if they haven't killed latin, are something like undertakers; the very persons intrusted to conserve augment refine the tradition are burying it. I don't dislike them for it and I am wearing of grinding this axe. It just all seems too sad to me that this is what it's come to: undergraduate latin majors (our bright Oxford and Cambridge friends clearly excepted) who are unable to read latin at a stretch, many teachers who can neither speak nor write. It's risible and sad at the same time. Maybe it was the fault of the Romantics or just old time's grinding away of everything? Who knows? I just hope that a rump of the real tradition (artes litteraeque humaniores) survives in small pockets. In my city there are some who are concerned with conserving early examples of stripmalls and have even organized for this purpose. They say that these structures are critical to our cultural parsimony. But who care's for the intellectual heritage of 2000 years? Ut videtur, nemo.
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Postby Thucydides » Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:00 am

nostos wrote:
Thucydides wrote:Christ Church. My av is the college crest.


Of course! you have it right there under your avatar I just never look.

How so very wise of me :oops:


It wasn't when you asked. I just added it!
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Postby Thucydides » Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:03 am

Thucydides wrote: This is what makes Oxford Classics the best arts degree in the world. :D


With apologies to Cambridge of course :)
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Postby annis » Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:57 pm

Kynetus Valesius wrote:But I believe (I am now getting out the big brush I use for broad stroking and excessive generalizations) these folks, if they haven't killed latin, are something like undertakers; the very persons intrusted to conserve augment refine the tradition are burying it.


I must disagree with this, and strongly. While I do find certain strains of classical scholarship useless and corrosive of the field (post-modernist junk, I mean), it seems absurd to blame the last people left dedicating their lives to the study of the classical languages for the decline in classical studies.

It seems to me that a very large part in the decline of classics is the huge shift in emphasis in education in general. When schools and universities are strapped for cash, what do they jettison, what do they keep? What they keep are practical subjects, where practical is defined as "useful for a job." And frankly, neither Catullus nor Sappho are of any business use, so out they go. Humanitas and arete have been sent packing, and universities (in the U.S. at least) have been gobbling up trade schools. This mercenary view of education must be at least several nails in the coffin.

As for the status of Latin, its decline seems a natural and inevitable sequel to the Reformation. So many of the early universities, and indeed education in general, were Church affairs. Latin was already the lingua franca in that context, and so it remained the language of learning during that time. It's now very easy to get good training in modern languages. If you speak one major language, learning one more is usually sufficient to get you by among educated people, at least.

It occurs to me to wonder now, just how many people were competent in Latin during the height of Neo-Latin production? When you have centuries of fine literature in easy access, it might give a false impression about just how widely refined latinity was really cultivated.
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:00 pm

Thucydides wrote:
This is what makes Oxford Classics the best arts degree in the world.


Quantam insolentiam!

not sure what you're referring there to, Th. mind you, i have heard that the philosophy there is awesome. i really hope i can get in. do you have a circle yet? what is the language consolidation like?
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Postby whiteoctave » Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:49 pm

Chad, after the dissertation (and completion of my third undergraduate year) comes my ineluctable mphil, followed by phd, both of which will be strictly focused upon matters of textual criticism, primarily on the text of Lucretius, but there may well be some Manilinian dabblage. I will of course continue in my study in Greek textual criticism, which currently lies rather unsurprisingly with the Attic tragedians.
The all-embracing term for the study of the Classics in German is altertumswissenschaft, the first great proponent of which was F. A. Wolf, whose nigh-orgasmic Latin dissertation 'prolegomena ad Homerum' we have all come to know and love.
Where do your current interests lie?

I suppose it is not for me to inform Thucydides with regard to the true state of Oxonian Classics, not least among the undergraduate ranks. But the story that history tells is not one that would fit ill with his opinion, if that it be.

~D
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Postby Thucydides » Thu Oct 27, 2005 5:52 pm

8)
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:23 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Annis. Ever holding myself lower than a blade of grass yet more tolerant than an oak, I come now to address our present topics again. Among other things you wrote, learned friend, this paragraph.

I must disagree with this, and strongly. While I do find certain strains of classical scholarship useless and corrosive of the field (post-modernist junk, I mean), it seems absurd to blame the last people left dedicating their lives to the study of the classical languages for the decline in classical studies.


My comments in my last post were not aimed so much at classical scholarship, which almost approaches the precision of hard science and has contributed immensly, as at the methods used to instruct younger students and undergraduates. Although I do wish professional classicists (perhaps you are in this group...I don't know) would try to make their professional output slighly more accessible to the intermediate practioner, my beef isn't with scholarship but with pedagogy.

I have a god-son who just graduated as the valedictorian of St. Anselms Academy, an extremly expensive and prestigous preparatory school here in Washington. He did a senior honors thesis on Catullus. During his six years of latin study he did no speaking, very little writing, and lots and lots of translating. He was in tiny classes (12 and fewer) taught by highly qualified people. Why couldn't most of the instruction, at least after the second year actually have taken place in latin? There is no compelling reason why it couldn't have? Is there? But it did not! I am convinced the refusal or inability of some/many pedagogs to engage their students modo in vivo has contributed to the latinity's lamentable decline, although certainly other factors must have had their role as you have pointed out.

There is a counter movement afoot among sensible, progressive people. Antecdotally I have read that Orberg's method is gaining some steam in Europe. However successful this movement may eventually come, it is not conceivable, however much I and others may wish it, that we can go back to the heyday of neolatinity which would be the the during the Renaissance and early Englightenment. I am no expert on any subject but a dabbler in a few. Isn't it true that the rare book libraries of Europe are basically full of latin tomes that in volume far outstrip everything from the golden/silver ages? How fluent elites were I have no idea. Maybe not very since Erasmus thought it necessary to right a conversational guide to help them out. On the other hand many an Italian gentleman dabbled in love lyrics and Queen Elizabeth herself translated Imitatio Christi into English. Not being an academic I can't say how much scholarly attention these treasures receive but I suspect that it may not be as much as they deserve.

In the "classics-list" discussions that you, Annis, referred us to, the issues at hand all related to pedagogy not critical scholarship with which I have little quarrel with per se, as mentioned above, although I would rejoice at the altars of the gods if I were to ever read a modern edition of an ancient work that was commented upon by the learned author in the latin language.

In the big pile of posts about "getting through this" I saw hardly a title of englighten and practical thought regarding teaching. What I saw was a lot of wailing and lamentation about how hard it was to get students to read with fluidity. But I saw no solutions being offerred. No one seemed to see what to me seems so obvious - their methodology is all wrong and deadening and boring and insufferable That an ignorant scribe and part-time YMCA lifeguard such as myself, who is entirely self taught (though most of the road to the lofty city even yet stretches out before me) and who dropped out of highschool ("just kidding ....not really"), has a better clue about what to do about their classroom problems doesn't speak well, friends, for America's latin teachers in my most humble opinion.

From what I gathered, all the contributors to those threads were professional teachers at one level or another. But that you might better know why I deem these people culpable of professional malfeasance I ask you all to consider whether, when the teachers of French or any the modern languages get together on the net to discuss issues of common concern, they do so in any language than the one they teach. The answer is telling, nay more! It's damning!

Now I see that I am a poor embassador of the cause that I would represent; that my rhetorical skills are inconsequential and feckless, or even worse, counterproductive. Feeling rather beleaguered, I keep hoping the auxiliaries will arrive soon. Isn't there a soul out there who can agree with me wholeheartedly that latin students and their teachers and professors as well as the higher level experts (the scholars) should all cultivate latin as a living subject matter?

Kynetus Vester
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Postby chad » Thu Oct 27, 2005 9:16 pm

hi dave, that's interesting that you will focus on textual criticism. it seemed from wilamowitz that textual criticism is the most praiseworthy contribution a classics scholar can give. he only really praised past scholars for their textual criticism abilities and works, rather than their 'classics education'/teaching ability, or general insights into a text.

this suggests that classics isn't really in decline at all if new scholars keep bringing out worthy critical texts. the fact that the masses aren't reciting the lu/w paradigm anymore is irrelevant :) and since even my little classics bookshelf has some recent critical texts, e.g. west's 1998-2000 teubner iliad, lloyd-jones' 1990 OCT sophocles, laks & most's 1993 théophraste métaphysique from the budé series, things look fine for the classics as far as i can see from the outside.

is that how you want to define yourself in the classics dave? it's interesting because us greek learners outside the academic world don't really get an idea of how the core of classics within the great unis is progressing, other than through reading new books and reviews on them. thanks, chad. :)
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Postby swiftnicholas » Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:21 pm

whiteoctave wrote:It was indeed only the other day that I learnt that I had come out the victor in the Cantabrigian dispute about my dissertation, which I have written throughout in Latin.


Congratulations :) Was the dispute about the diss. being in Latin? Was the question about accessibility for other scholars? Unless you plan to translate it into English, I'll probably never get to read it; but could you give a quick description of the topic?

Thanks,
Nicholas
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Postby whiteoctave » Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:50 pm

Chad and Nicholas,
The matter stood thus: in place of a given examination paper a dissertation of 10,000 wds length can be offered by a candidate. The statutes for the examination papers prohibit any use of a non-English language by the cunning rubric 'You must write good English' (it needs no logician to conclude that you therefore must write in English). The nomothetae for the dissertation statutes, however, appear to have neglected making such a proviso, presumably because since the option was introduced (a few decades ago) no one had been so perverse as to write in Latin. I desired, for quite obvious reasons, to write mine in Latin, and by the support of those who saw the light was able to have it passed; the statutes have now been changed, however. The topic of the dissertation is/was a form of a Latin word for 'and', namely atque, and a discussion of its curious status in Latin poets who fled leaving it in an unelided state like bats the light.

As for my wider interests they lie very firmly in textual criticism. I am glad you see the true value of this ever-the-more-maligned school of Classics. Wilamowitz attained the near-unparalleled feat of specialising in as many fields of Classics as possible whilst retaining the careful restoration and interpretation of texts as the great goal. He thus well deserves his position in perpetuity among Scaliger, Heinsius, Bentley, Porson, Hermann, Lachmann, Cobet, Madvig, Haupt, Housman, Page etc., along with a handful of those still alive.
The texts you mention are especially good, although there are some quite repulsive features in the Lloyd-Jones/Wilson OCT, even after its 1992 touching up.
Lest I say any more about myself - a most unworthy subject, whether set against the Classics or not - it should hopefully remain true for many years that I am at Cambridge attempting to strive towards the long history of text-critical excellence.

~D
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Postby Democritus » Sun Oct 30, 2005 7:42 pm

Kynetus Valesius wrote:Isn't there a soul out there who can agree with me wholeheartedly that latin students and their teachers and professors as well as the higher level experts (the scholars) should all cultivate latin as a living subject matter?


I agree. It's a worthy goal. I consider this task to be quite difficult, so I have sympathy for those who chose not to attempt it, or those who attempt it in a rather limited way. I have seen too many instructors of modern, spoken languages who fail to encourage verbal use of the target language, so my expectations about the general use spoken Latin are quite limited. But I haven't abandonded all hope. It can be done.

What about Greek? Do you think instruction in Ancient Greek should be conducted in Ancient Greek?
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Postby psilord » Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:06 pm

Absolutely yes I think ancient greek should be taught in greek with loan words being used for words that didn't exist for such (probably grammatical) topics. Immersion in a language is truly the way to internalize it.
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Postby annis » Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:52 pm

psilord wrote:Absolutely yes I think ancient greek should be taught in greek with loan words being used for words that didn't exist for such (probably grammatical) topics.


No one wanting to speak classical Greek in the classroom will want for grammatical vocabulary, I assure you.
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Postby annis » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:06 pm

O Kynete, could you please crop your image a bit more? It's squishing the text of posts.
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:20 pm

Democritus, thanks for the support - active cultivation seems nothing more to me than a sensible idea. As for ancient Greek, that might be more problematical because of the different historical development of the two tongues but in theory I would support it. When I've mastered latin (give me two more years), I will turn my attention to Greek. At that point I'll look for methods that incorporate "aural conditioning" into the instruction.

Annis, I can't really crop that image because it's a link to a remote site that I have no control over. I too noticed the squishing and had resolved to delete the image but hadn't gotten around to it when you wrote. It has now been removed.

Best. Kynetus
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Postby Carola » Mon Oct 31, 2005 12:31 am

Kynetus Valesius wrote: About the Classics-list discussions: one person noted that he/she thought it would be an achievement if advanced undergrads could get through a piddling sized book in latin in a semester; another remarked that she doubted whether students on a latin track were ever required to read more at a sitting than 60 lines or so; another confessed something to the effect that he himself had only read a handful of books in their entirety.........

I've come into this thread a little late in the day but I was rather amazed by this comment on Kynetus's reading of the discussion list (which for some reason my computer won't read properly) . Surely students taking Latin are getting through more than 60 lines? We are reading most of Seneca's "de clementia" and about 75% of Horace's book 4 Odes for this semester (and I mean reading & translating!!) This is at 3rd year level but we have covered some very very extensive sections of the Aeneid, Tacitus etc etc. Was this just a misinterpretation or am I being seriously overworked? :wink: (Sorry Kynetus, I don't mean I'm amazed at you - you are only quoting someone else's post)

I'm not really convinced we should speak Latin in the classroom, after all, it's not like a modern language where you can practice on one of the native speakers (always a good test of how well you really know the language!) However, I do think the texts and especially the poetry should be read aloud.
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Postby Kynetus Valesius » Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:47 am

Carola

Was this just a misinterpretation or am I being seriously overworked? Wink (Sorry Kynetus, I don't mean I'm amazed at you - you are only quoting someone else's post)

I doubt you are being overworked. I'm not going to go back at this point to look up again the mateial that I previously characterized. Howver, I think all of the the following are possibilities: the poster meant "at a sitting"; or perhaps he was exaggerating; or perhaps I misreported... dunno right now. The point is that students should be able to read twenty and thirty pages at a sitting without constant need of glosses! I know I can't but it is a goal of mine as a self learner! I'll consider myself an advanced learner when I can read your average latin text with the same degree of ease that I can read a Spanish newspaper or novel - Spanish is not my native tongue. I wonder what percentages of seniors in US latin programs could just read Lucretius or Tacitus with some degree of fluidity. As a student in an actual college/university you are in a better position to answer that than me. The tenor of the posts in that classics list discussion led me to believe that most of those educators would have doubts about their students ability to digest text in that way. Otherwise, forgive me because I'm prone to writing with excessively broad strokes.

I'm not really convinced we should speak Latin in the classroom, after all, it's not like a modern language where you can practice on one of the native speakers (always a good test of how well you really know the language!)

There are currently no native speakers in the world. There are however individuals who are fluent. Formerly, there were many more. There are so few today because of current pedagogy, which is what has nearly killed latin as a living patrimony of the West. This should change and there are educators (progressive, sensible, folks all) who are pushing to change it. Why not consider Terrence Tunberg's summer seminars or the new "conversational latin" summer program established at Notre Dame (I'm assuming you are from the states - but if you are not there are even more such programs being given in Europe)? Tunberg claims that many of his students are able to penetrate classical texts with greater ease as a result of their training in the conversational approach. Since the inability for many to penetrate on sight is perceived as a problem (I certainly got that impression from the classics-list discussions Annis pointed us to) and since the living latin movement is proposed as a partial solution, it might be worth investigating further. At one time students and teachers at Cambridge and Oxford communicated with one another in Latin, wrote and performed in latin language plays, etc. Those days are gone. However, they should be resurrected at least for those students choosing a career in the classics. My opinion.

I assume that you are training to become a teacher. I assume this because a great many people who major in latin (you appear to be) do so. If my assumptions are correct, I respectfully suggest that you first investigate the living latin movement through persons and institutions more qualified than myself, and secondly that once you've seen the wisdom of the new approach (really the old approach) that you so embrace it that you become one of the new generation of teachers who have decided not to teach latin strickly as a dead language. Besides, I imagine you'll have lots more fun that way.

One person who you might consider corresponding with to learn about this movement would be Nancy Llewellyn of the classics department at UCLA. I'm quite sure that she is fluent or near so and I'm sure that she actively uses latin in her classrooms. For the last several years she has led rustric retreats through California's wine country. The participants hike, sip wine, nibble at cheese etc -- but all the while they are dialoging in Latin about Ovid, Horace, Erasmus, etc. She is also the current President of SALVI - the North American Institute for Living Latin Studies. I found her email with google so perhaps you can as well.

I am curious to know from you as a student how much writing in latin do your teachers require of you?

Best to all. Kynetus
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