Lampardian Latin?

A column on Frank Lampard in Wales Online includes the following in medias res:

The former Swansea City player is also famously proud of the A* he bagged in his Latin GCSE. There’s nothing on record to suggest what sort of shape his Ancient Greek is in though.

A lot of men are proud of their material worth whether it’s the sort of car they drive, the size of their house or their earning power, but Frank’s obsession with the classics speaks of a more lofty sphere.

After all, as a fabulously well-paid, famous and accomplished footballer he can’t possibly have any other concerns.

Men who harp on about their motor, or their property or their business do it because they are worried. That’s the truth. They’re worried that their car isn’t the fastest, their house isn’t the biggest and their business isn’t the most booming.

Frank knows he’s OK, he doesn’t need to worry about that sort of thing. He just wants to talk about his Latin GCSE.

Or is it simply that he has picked a different outlet for his angst? I mean, how much does he really care about Latin?

We can never know for sure but it’s hard to imagine that Frank has spent a lot of time over the last 15 years or so going head to head with intransitive verbs and the ablative absolute.

After all, there’s not much call for Latin in football. It only tends to confuse matters. There’s nothing wrong with this of course. If football skill was in any way proportional to your command of the language we’d probably be rating A.E. Housman as the King of Football rather than Pele.

Unless of course in reality he spends long lonely nights in his Surrey mansion, head buried between the tear-stained scuffed red cover of his Latin primer as Saskia begs him to venire lecto, we’re not doing Frank a grave disservice to suggest that his footballing skills are probably a more significant facet of his being than his ability to decline relative pronouns.

What I’m trying to suggest here, is that Frank has displaced whatever anxiety he feels about himself into a safe area. He’s got his Latin GCSE, it’s not a threatening area for him. Everybody does it. It’s easier to shift your worries than face up to them.

Rather than worrying about the job you have, you beat yourself up for not being a rock star, or a stained-glass window maker, or even a professional footballer or whatever other unlikely and unachievable goal you once idly set yourself.

This Day in Ancient History

ante diem vi idus martias

  • Festival of Mars (day 10) …
  • 241 B.C. — Romans are victorious against the Carthaginians in the naval battle of Aegusa, bringing the First Punic War to an end
  • ca. 172 A.D. — martyrdom of Alexander in Phrygia

Principum Amicitias

Explorator readers are filling my box with a story about a recently rediscovered lifetime portrait of Bill Shakespeare, with the authenticity impinging on the inscription you see at the top, to wit, principum amicitias. Savvy rogueclassicism readers will recognize the line as an excerpt from Horace, Ode 2.1.4, which is addressed to Asinius Pollio. Here’s the incipit of that piece:

MOTVM ex Metello consule ciuicum
bellique causas et uitia et modos
Iudumque Fortunae grauisque
principum amicitias et arma
nondum expiatis uncta cruoribus,
periculosae plenum opus aleae,
tractas et incedis per ignis
suppositos cineri doloso.

(from Bartleby)

Most of the news coverage is translating the two-word phrase as “Beware the friendship of princes”, which is more a translation of the whole passage than those two words. It probably has a positive spin in the painting …

(photo from Time magazine via Wikimedia Commons)