Ancient Hairdressing

Sarah Bond (via Twitter) just made a remark in passing that reminded me that I had come across an interesting set of Youtube videos which show you how to copy hairstyles on assorted Roman statuary. We’ve blogged about the Caryatid Hairstyling Project in the past, so this post can add to your coiffing repertoire:

… and just for good measure:

Also Seen: Latin Exams

From an opinion piece in the Evening Standard:

My grandfather, who tutored classics to secondary school pupils after he retired, was horrified to discover that at a top boys’ school, GCSE Latin candidates were advised to learn an English translation of their set texts off by heart, rather than translate the passage from the Latin on the day. What a way to squeeze all the joy out of Pliny and Ovid in favour of a mere test of short-term memory. At my girls’ school, minimal attention was given to debate or deeper learning; we stuck rigidly to a narrow curriculum – if it wasn’t going to come up, we didn’t need to know it. At times, I felt like a Haribo-fuelled drone whose sole purpose was to pass exams.

To be well-examined is not the same as to be well-educated. Come August, rather than whingeing that exams “ain’t what they used to be”, we should instead ask how they came to be quite so important.

Also Seen: The Decline in Translation

An excerpt from a review-article in the New Criterion of D.S.. Carne-Ross, Classics and Translation:

That revolution in our notion of a translator’s work has altered both the course of English literature and the place of the Classics in our culture. I can point to two concrete effects. First, readers are now far less critical in their engagement with translations from the Classics. Translators, publishers, and reviewers alike, in making claims for a translator’s accuracy or transparency, have led us to assume that we are “getting,” say, Homer. But we’re not. We’re getting (say) Richmond Lattimore or Robert Fitzgerald or Robert Fagles, Americans writing a book in English, and each writer very different from the others. Readers of Classical translation today most often lack what Keats had: an awareness of the particular qualities of a translation itself, of whatever (good or bad) the translator adds to whatever of Homer has managed to come through.

A second effect has been a diminishment in the ambition of translations. The new expectation that the job of a translator is to adhere to scholarly accuracy, to become invisible to his readers, has stunted the growth of one of our literature’s fruitful boughs. The market—and it is now, as we will presently see, largely a classroom-driven market—demands a narrow sort of fidelity that would be hostile to a Chapman or a Pope. If Homer (to stick with that example) is to have a living place in the literature of the English-speaking world, as opposed to merely in the academy, he must have translators of superior original gifts, poets who can give us versions capable of inspiring readers, including poets, as Chapman had inspired Keats. But translators of the Classics now rarely speak out loud and strong.

I have been leading to this point: that for the sake of English literature and for the future of the Classics in our culture, we need critics who will attend closely to the literary character of translations from the Classics. Fortunately there has been such a critic, and a great one.

The whole thing is definitely worth reading …

Also Seen: Who was Enid?

From a piece in the Toronto Star, occasioned by the closure of some libraries:

Another autodidact remembers playing sports in a freezing rainstorm and being shouted at by his Latin teacher, “Never give up! Stop looking so miserable! Remember the Aeneid!”

Who was “Enid,” he wondered. And of course he reads Virgil’s Aeneid now and “keeps his anguish buried deep in his heart,” as Virgil put it in 19 BCE, though the emotional comfort books offer is not part of this column’s remit. Does anyone else now read Virgil? Self-taught people do.

But where do they turn now that harried teachers don’t force you to read and aren’t allowed to teach grammar because it’s too “eat your vegetables,” now that students are “customers” and learning is “fun?” Very little about the coming century will be fun for young people coated with lies that big.