Latin For You

Teaching and translating ancient Latin since 1986

A Few Classical Jokes

1.)  The sculptor of the Venus de Milo was very disarming.

2.)  When Odysseus' men were turned into pigs by Circe, they weren't upset; in fact, they were enchanted.  Until Odysseus made her reverse the spell; then they were disenchanted.

3.)  Aeschylus was out for a walk one day, wondering why a tortoise shell seems larger the closer it gets - and then it hit him.

4.)  During the Peloponnesian War an Athenian came up to me and said, "I've got plague."  I said, "Don't give me that!"

5.)  You can imagine if the Miracle of the Loaves and fishes happened today, what kind of reaction Jesus would have got: "I'm gluten-intolerant"  "Is this farmed or wild fish?"  "We should be serving whole grain, not white"  "Is this organic?"  "I wanted a cheeseburger"

6.) If it is 400BC and you see a girl in pink driving a T-Bird, you must be in Ancient Grease.

7.) They say Rome wasn't built in a day.  That's right.  It was built in Italy.

8.) I, for one, like Roman numerals.

9.) I knew I was dyslexic when I went to a toga party dressed as a goat.

10.) When you read about the huge number of buildings Augustus constructed, it is easy to believe that suffered from an Ediface Complex.

A Plea for the Classics

A Boston gentleman declares,

By all the gods above, below,

That our degenerate sons and heirs

Must let their Greek and Latin go!

- - - -

So give our bright, ambitious boys

An inkling of these pleasures, too -

A little smattering of the joys

Their dead and buried fathers knew;

And let them sing - while glorying that

Their sires so sang, long years ago -

The songs "Amo, amas, amat,"

And "Zoa mou, sas agapo"!

(Eugene Field, 1884)

Classical Cartoons

Here is something a bit more visually oriented.  I have been playing around for some time with some of the famous works of classical art (sculpture, statuary, frescoes, etc.), adding some captions.  Does this add another layer of meaning?  Will the intertextuality implanted in these plastic arts create a contrapuntal hermeneutic that informs on the interpolator?  Don't know.  But I do hope they are as much fun to read as they were to make.

We start of with the best known statue of the emperor Augustus.

And how about the Three Graces (Charites, for the Hellenes out there) . . .

One last one - a re-interpretation of the Ara Pacis

The New Yorker has published some very good classical cartoons over the years.  Here are some of the best:






More to come.

Classics is actually fun !!

I know it sounds bizarre and ultra-geeky, but there Classics can actually be fun.  There is all sorts of fun we can find in and around the world of Classics.  But don't take my word for it - just scroll down.

Here is an example of how funny Latin can be from Eddie Izzard on YouTube.  Noli te minge.

Some Latin puzzles, riddles etc.

There are a surprising number of Latin riddles, puzzles and other word games, or perhaps not so surprising, given how long Latin has been around.  Here is a sampling of some curious tidbits:

1.)  This first is attributed to Cicero: Tibi mitto navem prora puppique carentem.  English translation; I send you a ship lacking bow and stern.  I won't give away the answer just yet, but I will give you all a hint.  The riddle also works in English, which is pretty amazing considering it is a play on words!

2.)  This one was supposedly uttered by Hannibal against the Romans.  Is it Punic?  Carthaginian?  Latin?  or gibberish?  Te te ro ro ma ma nu nu da da te te la la te te.

3.) And now a question: can this be a grammatically logical sentence?  Malo malo malo malo?  For that matter is Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo a sentence?

4.)  Here's an interesting line In mari meri miri mori muri necesse est.  It may sound odd, but it translates into a perfactly logical (grammatically logical, that is) sentence: The mouse must die in the sea of marvellous wine. - nice way to go!

Latin Joke of the Day Archive (don't want to lose these)

1.)  From the Life of Elagabalus in the Historia Augusta we get this little gem, a pun that works in both Latin & English: "Aiunt quidam Varii etiam nomen idcirco eidem inditum a condiscipulis, quod vario semine, de meretrice utpote, conceptus videretur." (Some say that even the name of Varius was given to him by his school mates, because, as is usual with a hooker, he seemed to be conceived by the sperm of various men.)

Have fun.  There's more where these came from.

If You Give a Scholar a Research Grant

If you give a scholar a research grant,

     she’ll need to develop a topic

And, when she develops a topic,

     she’ll want to check the primary sources.

While she’s at the library,

     she’ll look up the latest scholarship on her topic.

Once she has completed her research,

     she’ll write up her paper.

Since she’ll have a paper,

     she’ll want to deliver it at a conference.

When she submits her paper,

     she’ll have to write an abstract.

After she submits her abstract and her paper is accepted,

     she’ll have to attend the conference.

While she’s at the conference,

     she’ll meet a colleague, who will invite her to submit a paper for an upcoming festschrift.

In order to write that paper,

     she’ll need to develop a topic

And chances are, if she develops a topic,

     she’ll want a research grant.  

Children's Literature in Latin

If you've read my comments on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you might (quite rightfully) think that if I know so much about translating children's literature, why don't I put up or shut up.  Good point!  Here is a short selection of some children's literature in Latin.  The goal is to provide correct but at the same time easily comprehensible Latin to students in the early stages of Latin language learning.  If the Latin seems 'unclassical', awfully simple, or to have been written from an English perspective (rather than trying to write as if I were a Roman), that is an indication that I have accomplished what I set out to do.  The idea is to have something in Latin that is accessible to as many people as possible.  If the reader is familiar with the English (from having read it or having it read to them), then the Latin will be effortless and yet they'll make the connection between the Latin on the page in front of them and the English in their mind.  Even if the reader is not familiar with the original English, the Latin should be at a basic enough level to make translation and comprehension a realistic goal.  So here are my attempts at creating children's literature in Latin:

Ova Veridia et Perna

Iste Sammus Sum!  Iste Sammus Sum!  Non amo istum Sammum Sum!

     Amasne ova viridia et pernam?

Samme Sum, illas non amo.  Pernam et viridia ova non amo.

     Amesne illas hic aut ibi?

Hic aut ibi illas non amem.  Ubivis illas non amem.

Pernam et virides ovas non amo.  Samme Sum, illas non amo.

            Inne domu illas ames?  Cumne mure illas ames?

In domu illas non amo.  Cum mure illas non amo.

Hic aut ibi illas non amem.  Ubivis illas non amem.

Pernam et virides ovas non amo.  Samme Sum, illas non amo.

            Inne arca illlas ames?  Cumne vulpe illas ames?

In arca non.  Cum vulpe non.

In domu non.  Cum mure non.

Hic aut ibi illas non amem.  Ubivis illas non amem.

Pernam et virides ovas non amo.  Samme Sum, illas non amo.

            Amesne, possis, in curru?

            Illas ede, illas ede, hic sunt.

Non amem, non possim in curru.

            Videbis, fortasse illas ames.

            In arbore illas ames.

Non amem, non possim in arbore.

Non in curru.  Mihi omitte.

In arca non amo.  Cum vulpe non amo.

In domu non amo.  Cum mure non amo.

Hic aut ibi illas non amo.  Ubivis illas non amo.

Pernam et virides ovas non amo.  Samme Sum, illas non amo.

            Agmen! Agmen! Agmen! Agmen!

            Amesne, possis, in agmine.

Non in agmine!  Non in arbore!

Non in curru!  Samme, mihi omitte!

In arca non amem, non possim.

Cum vulpe non possim, non amem.

Cum mure illas non edam.

In domu illas non edam.

Hic et ibi illas non edam.

Ubivis illas non edam.

Pernam et virides ovas non amo.  Samme Sum, illas non amo.

Dic!  In tenebris?  Hic in tenebris?

            Amesne, possis, in tenebris?

Non amem, non possim, in tenebris.

            Amesne, possis, in imbris?

Non amem, non possim, in imbris.

Non in agmine, non in tenebris.

Non in curru. Non in arbore.

Non illas amo, Samme, dico.

Non in domu.  Non in arca.

Non cum mure.  Non cum vulpe.

Hic et ibi illas non edam.

Ubivis illas non edam.

            Nonne virides ovas et pernam amas?

Samme Sum, non illas amo.

            Possisne, ames cum capro?

Non amem, non possim, cum capro!

            Amesne, possis, cum apro?

Non possim, non amem cum apro.

Non edam, non edam cum capro.

Dum pluit illas non edam.

In agmine illas non edam.

Non in tenebris!  Non in arbore!

Non in curru!  Mihi omitte!

Illas non amo in arca.

Illas non amo cum Parca.

Illas non edam in rure.

Illas non amo cum mure.

Hic et ibi illas non amo.

Ubivis illas non amo!

Pernam et virides ovas non amo.

Samme Sum, illas non amo.

“Illas non amo.” Ut dicis.

Illas tempta!  Illas tempta! Et ames.

Illas tempta et ames, ut dico.

Samme, si mihi omittas, temptabo illas.  Videbis.

Dic!  Pernam et virides ovas amo!

Samme Sum, amo, illas amo!

Et illas edam cum apro.

Et illas edam cum capro.

Et dum pluit illas edam.

Et in tenebris.  Et in agmine.

Et in curru.  Et in arbore.

Illae tam bonae, tam bonae, ut vides!

Ergo illas edam in arca.

Et illas edam cum Parca.

Et illas edam in rure.

Et illas edam cum mure.

Et hic et ibi illas edam.

Dic! Ubivis illas edam!

Vere amo pernam et virides ovas!

Samme Sum, gratias ago tibi gratias