To get a First Class Degree, go to a new university

Apologies for the tabloid-style misrepresentation of the facts in my headline! I haven't seen any breakdown of Classics degree statistics. It's mostly about Science. But has a Cambridge degree, for instance, not always been more highly regarded than one from Little Trumpton University College? If the next step is to insist that employers disregard the university and consider only the class of degree, we are entering the realms of fantasy.

Better results for less work at the new universities
By Alexandra Blair, Education Correspondent

UNDERGRADUATES who study for as little as 20 hours a week are more likely to be awarded a first-class degree at a newer university than those at older institutions, a survey says.

Scientists at Cambridge have to work 45 hours a week to obtain a top-class degree; those studying physics and chemistry at the University of Central Lancashire have to study 19 hours a week for a 2:1 or a first.

The Higher Education Policy Institute survey of 15,000 first-year and second-year undergraduates questions the true value of a degree, showing that some students work far harder than others, depending on the subject. Although tuition fees are now paid upfront in a loan by the Government, graduates must pay them off once they earn £15,000. Banks estimate that by 2009 a student’s debt will be approaching £30,000, which most will be paying off until their mid-thirties.

The survey, published today, shows that while, on average, students claim to be working 25.7 hours a week in lectures, seminars or private study, medics and dentists are apparently working ten hours a week more. Overall the study shows that undergraduates on courses in mass communications put in five hours fewer than the average each week.

The differences were more pronounced between subjects than between different universities, although those at older universities studied more.

Bahram Bekhradnia, of the institute, said: “If students are putting 32 hours a week into engineering and 21 hours a week into business studies, is a degree telling you the same thing about the universities and the experience the students have had? You can get a 2:1 with different amounts of effort.”

The authors say: “This report does not prove that the degree classification system is flawed, but it certainly raises questions that need to be addressed.” They note that 60.9 per cent of students of physical sciences at Plymouth University receive a 2:1 or first-class degree for working 20 hours a week.

At Cambridge, where students may have twice the A-level points, they work 45 hours a week for the same class of degree.

About half of students were disappointed by some aspect of university — mostly with the quality of teaching. Nearly 30 per cent of overseas students — who pay much higher fees than British and other EU students — said that their university experience did not represent value for money.

Drummond Bone, of the vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK, said: “There is no national curriculum in higher education, and so we should not be surprised that different courses at different institutions involve different use of facilities, contact hours and so on.”

Commend the Classics and win a 5,000 euro prize

Vatican competition for media coverage of Latin-Greek languages

Oct. 30 ( – The Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences has announced its 2nd competition for journalists whose work demonstrates the relevance of the Latin and Greek languages to the “cultural and scientific” development of Europe. The results of the competition will be announced in May 2007, with a €5,000 prize to the winner.

The Vatican agency first instituted the prize in 2002, to counteract the general decline in appreciation for Latin and Greek. The prize is offered to journalists in an attempt to bring appreciation for the ancient languages out of the realm of scholarship and into the public understanding. The 1st competition was held in 2005.

To be eligible for the prize, articles must be published between October 31, 2006 and April 30, 2007. Details of the competition are available (in Italian) on the web site of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

from Catholic World News

One way of putting it

A nice turn of phrase in a travel piece about Provence:

The Romans drifted in during the 1st and 2nd centuries before Christ. Julius Caesar, a man of discernment, liked the area and made a hostile takeover.

Nice Guardian piece on Latin

This is the link.
Anyone wanting to know more about Elvis Presley singing “Nunc hic aut nunquam” only has to put the words into Google's little-known Latin search engine to not only get a translation but also to find a little more about the way Latin is re-surfacing in some curious places.

We should be unsurprised that the Vatican is easing restrictions on the Tridentine or Latin Mass by enabling it to be celebrated without special permission or that the Vatican newspaper should suggest (as it has) that Latin should be the official language of the EU. They would, wouldn't they? But these are only symptoms of a deeper trend. Finland, which holds the current presidency of the EU, broadcasts the news in Latin on national radio to a claimed 75,000 listeners, which on a per capita basis is reported to be more than some BBC Radio 4 programmes get. “In Latin we have more listeners in the world than for Finnish broadcasts,” Professor Tuomo Pekkanen, who does the translations, told the BBC. The Finnish presidency also publishes a regular news in brief column in Latin. One of the reasons is to remind people of “European society's roots stretching back to ancient times”.

It ought also to remind us that Latin was once the nearest to a common language Europe is ever likely to get. It is fascinating that the internet should in this way be assisting in a modest revival of Latin even if only for hearing an audio of Aesop's fables or taking Latin-speaking holidays. You can't keep a good dead language down.

Florida Latin Teacher of the Year chosen

The idea of naming a Latin Teacher of the Year may seem strange to us in the UK, but why not? This is from the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida Latin Teacher of the Year chosen

Posted October 29, 2006

Linda Renick, who teaches Latin I, II, III, IV and Advanced Placement classes at Forest High School in Ocala, was inducted into the Florida Foreign Language Association's 2006 Teachers' Hall of Fame as the Florida Latin Teacher of the Year during the association's annual conference recently in Sarasota.

The FFLA is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the study and teaching of languages and cultures. The Teachers' Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments of its foreign language and ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] educators at all levels of instruction.

The selection for Florida Latin Teacher of the Year is made by the Classical Association of Florida.

Renick, a resident of Grand Island, also was selected as teacher of the year for Forest High in Marion County.

Groundswell of support may revive use of Latin Mass

If French priests are agin it, apparently American faithful are for it. From Morning Call.

Groundswell of support may revive use of Latin Mass

Faithful have been flocking to traditional rite of Catholic Church.

By Daniel Patrick Sheehan Of The Morning Call

Four decades of change in the Roman Catholic Church have made the Latin Mass, the beloved rite of centuries, a stranger in its own house. So when an under-50 Catholic beholds the venerable ceremony for the first time, it's with the surprised and wondering eyes of a tourist.

''Introibo ad altare Dei,'' says the priest, his back facing the congregation, uttering Latin more familiar nowadays from fiction — the opening of James Joyce's ''Ulysses,'' where Buck Mulligan flippantly uses the phrase on his way to shave — than from exposure on Sunday. It means ''I will go in unto the altar of God,'' and it opens an hour of reverent, murmured worship defined as much by its silences as its words.

The Mass, formally called the Tridentine Mass because it was codified under Pope Pius V at the 16th century Council of Trent, was supplanted by the Mass of Pope Paul VI — the largely vernacular Novus Ordo, or new order — in the 1970s.

That was a decade of jarringly rapid change in the church as the reforms of the Second Vatican Council — which called for the church to open itself to the modern world — were implemented. The loss of the Tridentine rite, which could only be celebrated afterward by special permission, devastated many Catholics, some of whom departed for the unchanged liturgies of Orthodox churches or retreated into resistance or outright schism as they strove to sustain the old ways of worship.

But in these early years of the church's third millennium, the Latin Mass isn't dead. It is making a bona fide comeback, with attendance at diocese-approved celebrations growing — in part because of interest among young people — and Pope Benedict XVI reportedly preparing to further loosen strictures on the rite so that priests can offer it without having to seek permission from the local bishop. The Coalition for Ecclesia Dei, a Tridentine Mass advocacy group, estimates the number of Masses offered weekly across the country has grown from fewer than 40 in 1988 to nearly 240 today.

''There's a catholicity to it that was somewhat submarined after Vatican II,'' says the Rev. William Seifert, who has begun offering the old rite at St. Stephen of Hungary in Allentown — the sole forum in the Catholic Diocese of Allentown — and welcomed more than 100 worshippers to the first Mass three weeks ago.

Most were carry-over worshippers from St. Roch's in West Bangor, where Monsignor Charles Moss offered the Mass until his death earlier this year. They came from as far as Jim Thorpe, many clutching leatherbound copies of the pre-Vatican II 1962 Missal to guide them through the liturgy.

The women and girls wore lace chapel veils. The men and boys wore suits. They arrived early and lingered late. That alone made the gathering distinct from some new Masses, where families dressed for the day's soccer game race for the exits at the first opportunity.

Many of the bowed heads were gray, but other worshippers were of generations born since Vatican II, who have little or no memory of the days when the old rite was the only rite. For them, sentiment plays no role in how they worship. They simply find a fuller, more satisfying expression of faith in the old ways.

That appears to be the case wherever Tridentine celebrations are offered. Dozens of stories in secular and Catholic media in recent years have noted the large numbers of younger people attached to the rite.

''I guess I'm drawn to the quiet, the reverence, the fullness of the prayers,'' says Susie Lloyd of Whitehall, 40, a flesh-and-blood portrait of old-line Catholicism as she knelt with her husband and six daughters — a seventh child is on the way — in a pew at St. Stephen's. ''There's a sense of stability, an emphasis on God and the sacrifice.''

Matt Cavoto of Bethlehem, a 25-year-old Moravian College graduate who attends with his wife and infant son, says he was first drawn to the Tridentine rite when he lived in Norristown. Cavoto, a musician and composer who is forming a small choir for the St. Stephen's Mass, was enraptured by the haunting medieval chant of the liturgy.

''I wouldn't call my interest in the old Mass a preference, per se,'' he says. ''You have different rites in the church and each emphasizes different aspects of spirituality. It's the same faith either way. When someone becomes attached to a particular rite, it's not a matter of preference, it's simply the manner in which one lives one's faith.''

Old versus new

The debate over new Mass versus old — raging hot as ever these days in theological journals and on countless Web logs — extends far beyond language and atmosphere into the very nature of Catholicism. Is worship primarily an individual meeting between God and believer, or more of a communal gathering? Are the Eucharistic bread and wine — which Catholics believe to be the body and blood of Christ — to be received on the knees, with a sense of awe and trembling, or shared like the elements of a meal?

These aren't either-or propositions, Lloyd says. The Mass is a sacrifice and a meal, a private rendezvous and a public gathering.

But the new and old rites emphasize different elements, and the distinctions are evident even to a casual observer. At a Tridentine service, the priest faces the altar, not the people, and seems to be engaged in private discourse much of the time. His orientation and gestures make the sacrificial aspect of the liturgy far more explicit than in the Novus Ordo, which emphasizes the social elements of worship by using lay people for Scripture readings and including more responsorial prayers.

The Rev. John T. Zuhlsdorf, a priest and author who lives in Rome and maintains a Catholic apologetics Web site, says the old rite constitutes ''vertical'' worship, raising the congregation's attention to God on high, whereas the new Mass is ''horizontal,'' emphasizing God's presence in the community of believers.

While most of the old rite is in Latin, calling it the Latin Mass is misleading, because the new Mass is sometimes said in that language. It is also misleading to call the Tridentine the ''Mass of all time,'' as some traditionalists do, because other liturgical forms flourished before its development.

Indeed, the Mass of Paul VI was ostensibly an attempt to reclaim elements of the earliest Christian liturgies — the sign of peace, for example, a handshake or other greeting among congregants which was a prominent part of early worship. It is used in the elaborate Tridentine High Mass, but not in the simpler Low Mass.

Communion in the hand, another recent change that traditionalists view as innovation, was also part of early worship.

''There is no doubt in my mind that the people who carried out the liturgical reforms in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, continuing through today, have seen their work as an act of retrieval from those [early] centuries,'' says Mike Aquilina, a Catholic author whose work has focused on the teachings and practices of the church fathers. ''Whether they've succeeded in an actual retrieval is an open question.''

That's because the record of early worship is spotty, at best. In those years, Christians were fiercely persecuted, so gatherings were held in secret. And witnessing the heart of the Mass, the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, was a privilege reserved for the faithful. Catechumens — those receiving instruction in the faith — were dismissed before the Eucharistic prayers began.

What hasn't changed about the Mass is its core purpose. ''The essentials remain the same,'' says Aquilina, vice president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in Steubenville, Ohio. ''That is, the offering of the elements, the bread and the wine and the belief about what happens there. But the ceremonials have changed from time to time.''

Returning to tradition

Lloyd, an author and columnist for Catholic periodicals, argues that Catholics risk losing the true sense of what happens at Mass, with belief in the Real Presence — the literal transformation of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood — already in sharp decline.

In short, Catholics have been pushed toward a Protestant view of the Eucharist as a mere symbolic re-creation of the Last Supper, even though Catholic teaching on the essence of the Mass has not changed.

''This is the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary,'' Lloyd says. ''We kneel down and the priest feeds us the Eucharist. … All of this imagery is lost [in the way new Masses are offered] and the result is that people don't believe.''

According to media reports in Italy and America, Benedict is preparing a document that would ease the strictures on celebrating the Tridentine Mass by allowing any priest to offer it without first seeking permission.

That would be a step further than Benedict's predecessor. Recognizing widespread longing for the old ways, John Paul II urged bishops to be more generous in allowing old rite celebrations — not just the Mass, but all the sacraments — in 1988.

''Respect must everywhere by shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition by a wide and generous application,'' John Paul wrote. The directive, called an indult, was widely ignored, leading John Paul to reiterate his wishes in 1998.

If Benedict plans to grant even greater leeway, he may be hoping to mend the schism with traditionalist groups — especially the Society of St. Pius X, whose founder, Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre, was excommunicated before his death for ordaining bishops against the Vatican's wishes.

Zuhlsdorf says the pontiff's primary aim would be to allow the new rites and old to exist side by side and influence each other to the benefit of both. To a degree, that is already happening, he says. Younger priests who celebrate the old rite are more conscious of the congregation's desire to participate, thanks to the influence of the Novus Ordo. Likewise, the old rite serves as an example of the sense of reverence and awe that should pervade any liturgy.

Through this liturgical cross-pollination, ''the pope hopes to reaffirm the newer form of Mass,'' Zuhlsdorf says. ''It's not a criticism of the newer form. It may be a criticism and correction of the way it's being celebrated, but not of the form itself.''

French Clerics Rebel on Latin Mass

Quite a long piece from The Conservative Voice about argument about the Latin Mass.

French Clerics Rebel on Latin Mass
by Brian Mershon
October 29, 2006 02:24 PM EST

Thirty priests and at least five bishops from dioceses throughout France have expressed their public dissent against the reported soon-to-be released motu proprio that will ease restrictions for all Latin rite priests to offer the Traditional Latin rite of Mass, as well as their displeasure with the recent erection of the Institute of Good Shepherd, made up of five former priests of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and several seminarians. Reportedly, another ten priests, many from South America, have expressed serious interest in joining this newly founded traditionalist institute in Bordeaux, France.

Thirty French priests wrote an open letter recommending that the Pope and priests attached to the Church’s 1,600-year liturgical traditions “work in the world as it is…rather than plunge us back into the liturgical life of another age.” Also, the Catholic newspaper, La Croix, quoted Toulouse Bishop Robert Le Gall as saying, “This could create grave difficulties, especially for those who have remained loyal to Vatican II.”

Perhaps this was a last-ditch effort to attempt to derail a document that is reportedly in its final stages before promulgation. Indeed, Institute of Good Shepherd Superior General Philippe Laguérie expressed his sincere hope that the motu proprio would be promulgated prior to the next meeting of the French Episcopal Conference, scheduled on November 7.

Cardinal Ricard Audience with Pope

As this story went to press, the Vatican Information Service announced that Pope Benedict XVI had held an audience with Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, October 26. While no details of the topic or results of this meeting were announced, it is not unreasonable to suspect that this recent public and open dissent against the Holy Father’s plans may have been a primary topic of conversation. Cardinal Ricard also serves on the Ecclesia Dei Commission, responsible for relations with traditionalist Catholics worldwide.

Two other bishops were quoted in the French media this week expressing their misgivings about the Pope’s alleged imminent plans. “We can be charitable and welcoming but we also have to be honest,” Besançon Bishop André Lacrampe told the daily L’Est Republicain. “I’m not ready to receive them because one cannot erase Vatican II with a stroke of a pen.” Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s document on the sacred liturgy, emphasized the need for retaining Latin in the sacred liturgy, and said that Gregorian chant should be given “pride of place” in the sacred liturgy — in other words, before all else. Both of these criteria are solid fixtures in the Traditional Latin rite.

“There are very deep and painful theological reasons behind this schism,” Angoulême Bishop Claude Dagens told the Catholic weekly La Vie. “You can’t pretend that Archbishop Lefebvre’s break with the Church was only caused by the liturgy.”

The SSPX has repeatedly stressed this point as well, but perhaps what is unknown to these dissenting bishops and priests is that the traditionalist priests of St. John Marie Vianney of Campos, Brazil, and the Institute of Good Shepherd, have both reportedly accepted a theological understanding of the Second Vatican Council being a valid council of the Church, with an understanding of its documents “in light of Tradition.”

This is identical in fact to the formula initially agreed upon between the Holy See and the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, shortly before he reneged on this agreement and ordained four bishops without Pope John Paul II’s permission.

Dr. David Allen White, a professor at the U.S. Naval Institute and author of a mosaic on the life of Archbishop Lefebvre, said he believed the looming motu proprio would effect positive change in the Church and possibly with relations with the SSPX.

“It’s never a bad thing to have more Traditional Latin Masses being said,” White said. “If this step by Rome causes more priests to be able to say the Traditional Mass, that’s good.”

Priestly Slide A Vatican Concern

Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro, Una Voce consultant based in Rome, said that perhaps it is time for the Holy See to recognize the need to do something to stem the slide in priestly vocations in France. In fact, during John Paul II’s pontificate, the documents from the last synod on Europe described the state of European Catholicism generally as being one of “apostasy.”

“Most certainly, serious Church authorities have to see the dwindling numbers of vocations in the West as a clear sign of the terrible crisis that is affecting the Church after the last Council,” Msgr. Barreiro said. “At the same time the growing number of young men that wish to offer the Traditional liturgy should given them some additional matter for reflection that all is not well with the reformed liturgy.”

Msgr. Barreiro also pointed to some sobering statistics regarding the Church in France. In 1996, there were 720 diocesan priests residing in the Paris Archdiocese, while in 2006, there were only 583 diocesan priests in that same archdiocese for nearly 1.58 million Catholics.

“A serious and honest analysis of the statistical figures of the Catholic Church in France serve as an eloquent testimony that the pastoral reforms implemented after the Second Vatican Council were not very successful,” he said.

Msgr. Barreiro also indicated that these facts should raise serious questions in people’s minds regarding the “value and the wisdom of the complaints of the Gallic bishops against the Traditional liturgy of the Church.”

Msgr. Barreiro said there was only one priestly Ordination in the Archdiocese of Bordeaux last year, the new home of the Institute of Good Shepherd. In fact, the decline in priests, both diocesan and religious, mirrors that of Paris. “Keep in mind that the Archdiocese of Bordeaux is a rapidly shrinking archdiocese, like it happens in most of France, and the median age of those priests is growing rapidly,” he said.

For instance, Bordeaux had 290 diocesan priests in 1996, and was down almost a third to 208 in 2006. In 1996, Bordeaux had 97 religious priests active in the archdiocese, and in 2006 it has only 80.

Kenneth Jones, an attorney and the author of Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, a book that painstakingly documents the drastic statistical decline of nearly every area of Catholic life in the U.S. since 1965, essentially echoes Msgr. Barreiro’s comments.

During an October 2003 International Una Voce Federation (FIUV) meeting with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the late Michael Davies, teacher, author, and president of FIUV, gave him a copy of Jones’ book. “Michael Davies told me that he gave my book to then-Cardinal Ratzinger and actually sat down with him and went through it,” Jones said. Davies told Jones that Cardinal Ratzinger “was genuinely interested and concerned about the numbers.”

“I think we have a Pope who is cognizant of the crisis and who senses, at least to some degree, that the way we have been doing things for the last 40 years isn’t working,” Jones said. “Maybe that’s one reason he established the Institute of the Good Shepherd.”

Vocations Explosion in Traditionalist Orders

And in the midst of this sharp decline in France and throughout the West, an ever-growing number of young men are joining traditionalist priestly societies like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest.

Fr. Armand de Malleray, the new secretary-general of the FSSP, told the Agence France-Presse that the reported document on the Traditional Latin Mass “corresponds to a true need.” He outlined the worldwide growth of the FSSP, established in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. “We have contracts with 86 dioceses on four continents and accompanied a thousand young people to the World Youth Day of Cologne, in 2005,” he said. “In 18 years, we have grown from 12 to 330 members, including 14 priests ordained each year, for seven years.” Fr. de Malleray also expressed the FSSP’s satisfaction with the full canonical regularization of the new Institute of Good Shepherd. “The reconciliation of these brethren fills us with joy,” he said.

Both societies offer the Traditional Roman rite of Mass and understand and receive the Second Vatican Council in light of Tradition, and the Holy See has asked for collaboration by “a positive attitude of study and dialogue on the difficult points.”

Reform of The Reform In St. Peter’s

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger set the stage for the attention he would give the liturgy when he offered the requiem Mass of Pope John Paul II almost entirely in Latin, with Gregorian chant given pride of place in the liturgy, and with some vernacular, primarily in the Liturgy of the Word. Two Roman sources have reported what until now has been an almost undetected and unreported shift in the manner in which the Sacred Liturgy is offered publicly in St. Peter’s Basilica.

According to more than one source, all of the public Masses celebrated currently in St. Peter’s Basilica are being offered primarily in Latin, with vernacular reserved for the readings and the sermon. According to these sources, small booklets are handed out to all attendees with Latin in one column, and various vernacular languages such as French, Italian, and English in the other columns.

Cogito, ergo sum… confused – in the Telegraph

It looks as if the Sunday Telegraph is running a series on Latin by Harry Mount. At any rate they have this article today, and promise: Next week, everyday Latin.

Harry Mount looks at some of the quirks of Latin which have puzzled generations of pupils, including Winston Churchill

The mere mention of the words mensa, mensa, mensam… will bring on the sweats in some people. The hours spent learning all those lists. And the pointlessness.

That's what Winston Churchill thought when he was learning Latin at Harrow in the late 1880s. The method of teaching the subject was the same then as now: rote-learning of tables – in this case, literally. Churchill was asked by his Latin master to decline mensa, meaning “table”. He was confused as to how it was possible that the same form, mensa, could be used in the nominative, vocative and ablative:

“Then why does mensa [in the vocative] also mean 'O table'?” I inquired, “and what does 'O table' mean?” “Mensa, 'O table', is the vocative case,” the master replied.

“But why 'O table'?” I persisted in genuine curiosity.

“'O table' – you would use that in addressing a table, in invoking a table.”

And then seeing that he was not carrying me with him: “You would use it in speaking to a table. If you are impertinent, you will be punished and punished, let me tell you, very severely.”

Winston Spencer Churchill, My Early Life (1930)

Churchill had a point. You'd never address a table, except perhaps to swear at it, when you stub your toe. And, even then, you'd use it in conjunction with a swear-word (Sanguinea mensa – “Bloody table”).

Still, once you get used to these annoying little quirks, they soon stop jarring.

Your aim is to recognise the oddities and absorb them into a smooth English translation, not into the clumsy sort of English that sounds like it's been translated word for word from the Latin.

The genius at capturing this stilted idiocy is Molesworth, hero of the Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle books of the 1950s.

Molesworth gets the constipated feel of badly translated Latin spot on: “The Gauls have attacked the camp with shouts they have frightened the citizens they have killed the enemy with darts and arrows, and blamed the Belgians. They have also continued to march into Italy. Would it not be more interesting if they did something new?” The biggest oddity of all is word order.

'I you love' – Latin word order

We put our verbs at the start of our sentences: “I send batches of flowers hourly to Cameron Diaz.”

The Romans like to put the verb at the end, as in: “I batches of flowers hourly to Cameron Diaz send.”

So the traditional Latin word order is subject, object, verb; but you can play around with it, as lots of Romans, especially poets, did.

For example, Virgil wrote his own epitaph for his tomb in Naples and went wild with his word order: Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere; tenet nunc Parthenope; cecini pascua, rura, duces.

“Mantua gave birth to me; The Calabrians took me away; now Naples [Parthenope is the city's anthropomorphic name, from the Greek for 'maiden-face'] holds me; I sang of fields, farms and leaders.”

Even though you won't necessarily be able to translate this, you can see that the subject jumps around in each clause.

Mantua and Calabri are in the traditional position, at the beginning of the clause. Parthenope is at the end, while cecini, the verb (“I sang”), is at the beginning of its clause, English-style.

On the whole, stick to the subject, object, verb rules, but be aware that they can change.

Sex in ancient Rome

The three Latin sexes or genders are masculine, feminine and neuter. We have the same ones – he, she and it.

The difference is that most of our nouns are neuter.

We call a cucumber or a soul “it”, where the Romans considered cucumbers (cucumis -eris) masculine and souls (anima -ae) feminine.

The Latin approach is not as annoying as it seems. It soon becomes second nature that words that end in -us (such as dominus and Augustus) are masculine; -a words (such as mensa, Diana and Camilla) are feminine; and -um words (bellum, pilum, castrum) are neuter. There is, however, a minority that don't follow this simple pattern.

The other thing that becomes second nature is that adjectives should agree with nouns: ie masculine nouns take masculine adjectives, feminine take feminine and plural nouns take plural adjectives.

This can provide room for showing off in English; eg the plural of persona non grata – an unwelcome person – is personae non gratae.

The neuter adjective is wonderfully pliable. On its own, it can be used to mean an object with the qualities of that adjective. So nigrum means “black”, but it also means “a black thing”. That “thing” is itself fairly pliable and can be twisted to mean “circumstance”.

As a result, in extremis literally means “in extreme things”, but it also means “in extreme circumstances” and ended up being popularly used to mean “on the verge of death”.

Thanks to Explorator for this link.

Useful booklet on Greek pots now on line

One of the excellent series on the ancient agora published by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens is now on line as pdf, with all the pictures. It is Pots and Pans of Classical Athens by Brian Sparkes and Lucy Talcott, and was first published in 1951. Professor Sparkes' name is an indication of its quality.

You can find it here.

I hope the website has got the necessary permissions…

Acknowledgements to PhDiva for the link.

Pro and con – the Mass in Latin

Unlike many of these pieces, mainly from different places in the USA, this one from the Palm Beach Post gives the opinions of those who don't think much of the Tridentine Mass. First, the pros:

But it's the Gregorian chant and the singing of the Kyrie, the Credo and the Agnus Dei that attracted Catholics to St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Jensen Beach last Sunday for the only Latin Mass in the Diocese of Palm Beach, which includes Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties.

“You get the sense of being holy and spiritual,” said Jon Bell, director of the seven-voice choir, who drives from Fort Pierce for the Mass. “The language lends that feeling.”

About 60 worshipers attended the 3 p.m. Mass, but later in the season the Mass draws 150, said the Rev. Thomas Rynne, pastor emeritus of St. Martin. He began saying the Tridentine Mass in 1993, a year after some parishioners approached him and wrote then-Bishop Keith Symons for permission.

“They like the solemnity and the depth of some of these prayers in Latin that is irreplaceable,” Rynne said.

“It's a link among Catholics all over the world,” said Lisa Buscher, 44, who attends with her husband and two school-age daughters. “You have the same Latin Mass everywhere in the world. It's the language of the church.”

And then the cons:

But there has been no groundswell of requests for the Latin Mass, say Rynne and other clergy in the diocese.

“I haven't heard of anyone asking for it,” said the Rev. Michael Driscoll, pastor of St. Jude Catholic Church in Boca Raton and director of liturgy for the diocese. “I think to some people it's nostalgic. But some want to go back to the past. They're beating their heads against the wall” since the church is unlikely to abandon the vernacular Mass.

The current Pauline Mass, established in 1969 and named for Pope Paul VI, was designed to be better understood by worshipers and to encourage participation.

The Latin Mass, with its silence and ancient tongue, led people to say the rosary or other prayers during the service, instead of the prescribed prayers.

“They prayed in spite of the Mass, not with the Mass,” Driscoll said.