21 August 2007

Laurentius Livermore

Everyone knows about Wikipedia, of course, but slightly fewer people are aware of Vicipaedia, the Latin Wikipedia. And fewer still have their own entry in that august journal, but apparently I do.

Actually, my presence there has little to do with any merit on my part, and much more to do with a professor by the name of Jacob Love, apparently was a Lookout Records fan (at least judging from his online screen name, which was taken from an Operation Ivy song), who did the translation work and put me among the immortals.

I only had a vague memory of this until I had a call from a Wall Street Journal reporter who's doing a story on the (alleged) resurgence of Latin and somehow had me pegged as "a Latin buff." While it's true that I hold Latin in the highest regard, think it's a tragedy that it's been removed from most school and university curricula, and hope (possibly in vain) that it will one day be restored to its rightful position as one of the crown jewels of Western civilization, I'm not sure I qualify as a genuine "buff."

While I can usually decipher inscriptions and school mottoes, not to mention most of the magical spells in Harry Potter, I'd be hard pressed to get through even a few pages of the Aeneid without wanting to strangle someone, most likely myself. It's not that I find Latin difficult - in fact back in high school I used to study it for fun, to the point where I neglected my other subjects - but I just didn't study it long enough. Two years in high school, plus lots of altar boy prayers, have left a substantial vocabulary inculcated in my skull. Hell, more than four decades on, I still remember most of the declensions and conjugations. But in order to successfully decipher the classics, I would have needed another year or two of college level Latin, and though I took one intensive course at Berkeley (six hours a day, five days a week, the equivalent of one year in 10 weeks), I stopped just short of gaining a real mastery of the material. Story of my life, really.

Anyway, the reporter and I ended up mostly chatting about our mutual Anglophilia (now there's a country that at least for a while knew the true value of Latin) before referring him onwards to Dallas Denery and Dr. Frank, two genuine classicists who, in one of those myriad injustices with which the world is rife, have yet to make their own appearances in Vicipaedia.

4 comments:

Psmith said...

Was it Rupert Murdoch?

NoMoBtown said...

So where's the autobiography that Vicipaedia says you're writing?!

Larry Livermore said...

Vicipaedia is not up to date. It was finished two years ago, and currently resides in a box under my bed.

NoMoBtown said...

Fixed!!! (Lectus, -i, 'bed'; capsa, -ae, 'box for storing manuscripts in'.)