Gregory Nagy Teaches ‘The Ancient Greek Hero’

… and you can learn at the feet, so to speak, of the master himself! Harvard is offering the course as a free Open Access thing at edX. Check out the details here:

… or head straight to registration here:

Harvard Latin Commencement Oration 2012

Been looking for this one and it suddenly turned up … Michael Velchik delivers (with Classical pronunciation) this year’s Harvard Latin thingie:

(keep your eye out for the guy in the background who doesn’t seem to get/like the humour; keep your ear open for “Linsanitatem” too!). Those of you with senior Latin classes might like to show this one (it has subtitles) as it’s rather really easy to understand.

Some background on the speaker from Harvard News (inter alia):

Latin has long been a part of Michael Velchik’s life. A native of Oakton, Va., he studied the ancient tongue at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., competing in Junior Classical League competitions throughout his teenage years.

“One thing led to another, and now I’m addressing 6,000 soon-to-be alumni,” Velchik said. “It’s quite a curious quirk, this tradition that Harvard’s preserved, and one I’ve certainly embraced.”

That’s something of an understatement: Velchik’s submission to the orations committee contained footnotes (“entirely excessive and gratuitous, perhaps pompous”) that ran longer than the speech itself. His address is bookended by the inscription on Dexter Gate — “Enter to grow in wisdom/Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind” — and modeled on the rhetoric and style of his favorite authors and orators, including Caesar, Isocrates, and Cicero.

“The speech certainly repays a learned listener,” the Dunster House senior said.

At Harvard, Velchik, 22, has embraced the polymathic scholar-athlete label with tongue firmly in cheek. Though he concentrated in the classics and served as editor of Persephone, the undergraduate-produced classics journal, math and science came more naturally to him than the humanities. “I always hated papers,” he said. He picked up a secondary field in astrophysics, which he chose for its mix of the theoretical and the hands-on.

“As long as you have a telescope and some gung-ho spirit, you can get something accomplished,” he said.

As a freshman, Velchik tried crew on a lark and ended up rowing with the varsity lightweights all four years. “It’s a fun way to incorporate the ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ maxim: ‘a sound mind in a sound body,’” he said.

This summer, he’ll travel to Greece and Italy on an Alex G. Booth ’30 Fund Fellowship, an award for graduating seniors, to further his studies in Greek. For now, he’s not too worried about the long-term future — or the immediate one.

“I’m giving a speech in Latin!” he said, incredulous at the suggestion that he might be nervous. “If I mess up, who would know?” […]

See also:

Vomitorium Watch … Alas …

"Image of a CG Vomitorium. Image created ...
Image via Wikipedia

Hot on the heels of someone actually using the word ‘vomitorium‘ correctly, we lapse into our old sin … and it’s kind of surprising who is doing it. Here’s the incipit from the Times:

He owes his success to history, but the author Terry Deary has described historians as “seedy and devious”.

The bestselling writer of the Horrible Histories series added that all historians were out to “make a name for themselves”, denied that his books were history books at all and even started a spat with Niall Ferguson, one of Britain’s best-known historians.

“Historians are nearly as seedy and devious as politicians,” Deary, 64, said. “They pick on a particular angle and select the facts to prove their case and make a name for themselves … They don’t write objective history.”

Deary — whose books have sold more than 20 million copies — does not like any historians. “Eventually you can see through them all,” he said. “They all come with a twist.” However, he reserved his greatest ire for Ferguson, the former Oxford historian who now lectures at Harvard University.

… then further below, where we get some details of the Horrible History, we read:

During Roman feasts, guests could eat so much that they had to be sick, and a special room was set aside for them called a vomitorium. They would then go back into the dining room to continue eating.

… arrgh. The item concludes:

Meanwhile, Catharine Edwards, Professor of Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London, said that children “absolutely loved” the books. “If it takes toilets to get them interested in history, that’s fine. It’s the most gruesome side of things which attracts the young.”

Deary admitted that he was disappointed to be so closely linked to the Horrible Histories series, because he does not own the brand. He is also keen to turn his back on children’s books and move on to adult fiction. “It’s time for a new career direction,” he said.

via Historians are seedy and horrible, says Terry Deary, children’s author – Times Online.

I’ve got no problem with using disgusting items to get kids interested in history … but let’s make sure it’s accurate, no? Yes, it’s time for a new direction …