The Latin and Reformed Imagination

Our hearts lifted up in Nova Solyma


“The Reformation … was more a song or a symphony than a system, more lyric than lecture,” claims Peter Matheson in The Imaginative World of the Reformation. Yet lectures and systems are likely what comes to mind when we think of the writings of the early Protestants, epitomized in the Latin theological tome. No doubt theological Latin deserves lots of attention, and we can be thankful that it is getting more of it. But we rarely notice the Latin songs and stories of the early Protestants, which can renew our devotion as much as their theology deepens our understanding.

(Read more at Mere Orthodoxy…)

The Classical Polyglot

Everything You Need to Start Learning Latin and Greek


Latin and Greek are the bane of many a classical self-educator; as we adult latecomers play catch-up to get the classical education we weren’t lucky enough to have in school, it’s hard enough to find time to read Homer and Augustine in translation, let alone the original. To learn the classical languages seems simply out of our reach.

But it is possible for a busy adult to learn a language, modern or ancient. It wasn’t until halfway through college that I learned Latin on my own, and classical Greek after a semester of New Testament Greek. If you have the means to take a language course, then do so. But for the autodidacts out there, here are the practices that helped me the most when I had to be my own teacher.

(Read more at the CiRCE Institute…)

Grandinis hibernos

Songs of Nova Solyma, I.


Grandinis hibernos Boreas exsolverat imbres,
Brumaque Iudaei iam parte recesserat anni,
Et caput abdiderat lapsum tellure sub alta,
Cum petit obliquo coeli fastigia cursu
Sol pater, et lentis crudam coquit ignibus auram.
Parturit omnis ager; silvaeque herbaeque recentes;
Et viridem pictis intexunt floribus oram;
Vocibus et blandis coeli iucunda salutat
Lumina progenies pecudum; pubesque volantum
Per nemus omne canit, nidis emissa relictis.
In se mersa fluit glacies; et laeta propago
Ludit ubique vadis; nullisque offensa procellis
Aequora marmorei rident immania ponti.

Boreas’ ice-chilled breath has blown cold rains far away.
Winter, its time now passed, moves on from the country of Judah,
Hiding its wrinkled, grey head beneath the dank deeps of the earth.
Father of all, the Sun, climbing up to the towers of heaven,
Warms the spring air with his fiery blaze as he flies to his throne.
Field and stirred wood now bloom, giving birth to a sea of green,
Clothing and painting their child with endless color of flowers.
Calves, in their joy of new life, greet the high heavens with lowing,
As do the birds’ little children, flapping their wings through the air.
Streams lined with ice melt away; their shallows bubble with fish
Enjoying the days when the Sea, not raging in lonely storms,
Laughs with a quiet peace, at one with its brother Sky.

Samuel Gott’s 1948 novel Nova Solyma is peppered thick with poetry, and I have a hunch that they play a part as important as the prose. So I’ll be posting the poems, sometimes (as here) with my own translation, or I may draw from Begley’s English translation linked below.

In this translation I’ve tried to preserve the hexameter in English, like so:
BOreas’ ICE-chilled BREATH has BLOWN cold RAINS far aWAY.
WINter, its TIME now PASSED, moves ON from the COUNtry of JUdah.

source (Latin)

source (Begley's English translation)

What Is So Great about Latin?

The embodiment of an ideal


Do we have to do Latin?” Students gloomily contemplate its grammar charts, teachers of other subjects wonder what it’s doing in the curriculum, and homeschooling parents find it a constant thorn in their sides. Do we study Latin as a mental exercise, like math? To improve our English? To get a higher SAT score? Many of us aren’t sure, and we wish we could do something useful instead of studying a dead language.

But Latin is not exactly dead, and it’s not even just a language. It is the embodiment of an ideal. Let’s see how by taking a look into linguistics and history with the help of Jürgen Leonhardt’s book Latin: Story of a World Language.

(Read more at the CiRCE Institute…)

Renaissance Humanists

A classical education for citizenship


The medieval trivium has been central to the American classical education movement of the past three decades. For many of us it is our defining concept, our method against public school madness, even our child psychology. And so it may surprise us to discover that in a book subtitled An Introduction to the History of Classical Education, the trivium is not once mentioned. The title of this book may also surprise us: Vittorino da Feltre and Other Humanist Educators. Don’t worry, this isn’t the secular, atheistic humanism of our own day. The original humanists, the Christian humanists of the Renaissance, were teachers who revived a love of the Greco-Roman classics and of the early church fathers—and they didn’t do it through the trivium. No, they were determined to replace medieval education with what they believed were more classical aims and methods, and it was only through their labors that classical education survived as long as it did into the modern age. However we may feel toward them for dethroning the trivium, let’s hear them out and see if we can learn from that greatest of classical revivals. What follows are some highlights from the above-mentioned book and Studies in Education during the Age of the Renaissance, both written by William Harrison Woodward around the turn of the twentieth century.

(Read more at the CiRCE Institute…)