Cena Latina at Princeton

The incipit of an interesting piece in the Daily Princetonian:

On Mondays, I try to attend the French table. On Wednesdays, I go to Arabic. And on Thursdays, I am always at the Cena Latina.

Cena Latina is Princeton’s Latin language table, sponsored by the Classics Department, and to the best of my knowledge it is one of only two weekly Latin tables in the Ivy League (the other being at Harvard). This has a lot to do with Leah Whittington — classics grad student here and classics undergrad at Harvard — who organized both.

Latin, like Lazarus, refuses to stay dead. Every Thursday at 6:15 p.m.in the Rocky Private Dining Room, some five or six regulars and a few reinforcements resurrect the language and say, “Amabo te, mitte saltem” for “Please pass the salt.” No English is spoken. If you don’t know what the word is, say, “Quomodo dicitur…”

This might seem a little necromantic to those who were told that Latin is safely defunct, but Latin shows a surprising will to life for a language with 30 endings to a regular adjective. Whenever the topic arises — and it does with surprising frequency — those to whom I mention the Latin table are always surprised that anybody speaks Latin, let alone that Princeton sponsors a table for it. Latin is supposed to be extinct. (Anybody who went through Wheelock’s textbook in high school may know the ditty, “Latin is a dead, dead language, as dead as it can be / it killed the ancient Romans and now it’s killing me.”)

… there’s more:

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