o me miserum

At school, my favourite subject was Latin. If the Classics teacher hadn’t got pregnant I’d have gone on to study Greek, too, and I suspect my life would have been quite different. Instead, over the years I’ve dabbled in maths, economics, English, Spanish, IT, poetry…

Not having a proper classical education has been one of my few regrets, so when I saw this on a poster at the university campus recently I thought perhaps I was going to have a chance to redress the situation:

Latin night poster

Much as I feel passionately about language I was a bit taken aback by the next words on the poster:
It's about to get hot in here!

Reading further, it sounded as if cookery was to be the subject of the classes rather than classics:
all level salsa class; merengue workshop
Latin night poster

It was the university context that really confused me: if I’d come across the same poster in the High Street, I don’t suppose I’d have got my hopes up.

At school we learned from a text book called Latin for Today (does anyone else remember the classes that always started with Discipuli picturam spectate – “pupils look at the picture”?).

The poster is simply a reminder that “today” is very different now from what it was then, and that the 2013 apparently needs a different kind of Latin. What can I say?

O tempora o mores.

Edit: Corrigendum: as I pressed the ‘publish’ button I realised the title should read o me miseram. Eheu! I really do need those Latin classes.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

3 thoughts on “o me miserum”

  1. I’m also not a scholar, but having had the luck of studying Latin in high school I have sudden and increasingly more frequent bursts of anger and indignation at professionals who seem to have forgotten their school years. I have an acquaintance, a surgeon, and.awell paid one, who doesn’t know Latin at all. It is a matter of wonder and study how some individuals can navigate successfully through university and not learn at all. That is a frequent source of clashes between us, dialectic of course, because she doesn’t like her would be patients to about her secret craft. I can not help it, perhaps I should go to some anger management courses, because I’m one of those whose blood pressure rises when the Spanish don’t use properly the “imperativo” in Spanish verbs.


    1. I think Latin was perhaps the most useful course I took in school. I didn’t know then that I was going to live in Spain nearly half my life, but it also helped that Latin was taught traditionally and offered all the basic grammar and structure that was missing in English classes. (And in French, too, which I struggled with until I started Latin.) And I do think that structured language and structured thought go hand in hand.


      1. Agreed. I took French, German and Latin at school and the breadth of insight and logic I have thus gained is hard to explain to someone who has not had this experience.

        Liked by 1 person

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