Boring Latin

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Boring Latin

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Dec 20, 2003 12:54 pm

Salvete latinistae!

Just a small question: what is without doubt the most boring Latin you've ever read?

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Dec 20, 2003 1:44 pm

Salve

Maybe beacause I am still struggling through it, but I'd say Statius. I am not fond of Virgil either. I do not care much for poetry, especially when it becomes unnecessarily flowery. For Latin poets Tibullus would be my favorite. For enjoyment of reading, because of all the bizarre things he has to say, I like Pliny the Elder.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Dec 20, 2003 3:15 pm

Salvete!

Yes, I am not much of a Vergilius-fan either. I think he's a master of styles but he chose uninteresting topics to write about. Neither his eclogues nor his Georgica could enthuse me. The Aeneid was much better. The Georgica is definitely the epitome of boredom in Latin. All in all however the most boring Latin was nowhere near as boring as the most boring Greek... the church fathers was a torture to read.

The most enjoyable Latin probably belongs to Iuvenalis, in my opinion, and the stylistically most baffling to Tacitus.

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:08 pm

Salvete,

A number of my favourites in different categories :

Fun : Martialis, Priapea (anon.), Petronius

Wisdom : Horatius (one of my 'livres de chevet', as the French so beautifully call it)

Dazzling style : Lucretius (how did he do it : writing marvellous poetry about physics !)

History : Tacitus (lightening style as well)

Satire : Juvenal (I find Persius too crude and Horace somewhat too soft in this genre)

Oratory : Cicero (who else ?)

Most touching ego-document : Marcus Aurelius' Meditations (though written in Greek)

Tabloid of the billennium : Suetonius

Most boring Latin : no idea really, aside from the New Testament perhaps, except a few parables

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Feb 14, 2004 11:00 pm

Quintus Pomponius Atticus wrote:Oratory : Cicero (who else ?)


WHAT? :lol:

I would say Cicero is almost comic in his exaggerations and is a far shot from writing convincing oratory. Perhaps his speech-making was impressive but content-wise, it wasn't really substantial (like his accusing Catilina of plotting to destroy Rome!). Reminds me of the weapons of mass destruction speeches ;).

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Feb 14, 2004 11:17 pm

Salve Gnae,

Convincing, Cicero ? Not to us, but we mustn't forget that the Roman people had a very different representation of what was succesfull oratory. To them, it was simply drama. They did not ask for sound arguments but for beautiful phrases, razor-sharp verbal attacks etc.. And Cicero wàs a master at that, and can still be appreciated as such.

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Postby Curio Agelastus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 1:34 am

Salve Draco,

An utterly off-topic comment, but: The speeches about weapons of mass destruction? Factually speaking, I agree they had all the accuracy and plausiblity of Casanova's vows of fidelity, but there still seem to be quite a lot of people who believed and believe that there were WMDs, therefore there must be people who agree with these speeches! And given that Bush is hardly the greatest of orators, think of the impact that Cicero's factual inaccuracy must have had. :roll:

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 2:07 am

Salve Attice,

scripsisti

To them, it was simply drama. They did not ask for sound arguments but for beautiful phrases, razor-sharp verbal attacks etc..


I wonder how much of this is true, I find it hard to imagine an entire people taking decisions based on style figures.... Imagine the Senate deliberating on sending troops to Britannia or not. Will they reach a conclusion by looking at the pro's and contra's of the expedition or by listening to a lovely speech by a senator in which he describes the fauna and flora of Britannia in a Bucolic manner ?

When rhetorics make lousy arguments look like sound ones, then the people who are persuaded might be fooled but they will still have made a decision based on what they thought were good arguments, not on the number of obscure references to Ennius that the orator has made. And such tactics were not only used by Romans when they ran for consul.

I don't think that the Romans were a bunch of literary dreamers who expected to hear lots of hypallages during a trial instead of evidence. Their succes is proof enough that sound arguments were important to them, even though they came in the form of wealthy orationes.

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Postby Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 3:48 am

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 5:19 am

Salvete omnes

Quintus Pomponius Atticus wrote:Oratory : Cicero (who else ?)


Why, Sallustius Crispus, but of course!

Mi Lupe quoque care, between rhetorical skills and actually presenting a solid case of evidence, I think if ever you sit on a jury your opinion might be changed. Most trials are based on circumstantial evidence alone, and it is really a matter of effective presentation that wins a trial.

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 9:56 am

Salve Lupe,

I wonder how much of this is true, I find it hard to imagine an entire people taking decisions based on style figures....


Surely not, but oratory does not only cover figures of speech, which are a purely formal phenomenon, but also cleverly twisting bits of the truth, depicting your opponent as a rogue, inciting people's emotions, appealing to their convictions... all abundantly employed by Cicero in the Catilinarian speeches, to name but the most striking example.

Or take Octavianus, how he succeeded in blackening the image of Marcus Antonius, creating a black-and-white opposition between the oriental, lascivious, tempestuous Antonius, dominated by Cleopatra, as against himself, the Italian, virtuous, sober, independent leader.

Vale,

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Feb 15, 2004 12:15 pm

Salvete amici,

Quintus Pomponius Atticus wrote:Surely not, but oratory does not only cover figures of speech, which are a purely formal phenomenon, but also cleverly twisting bits of the truth, depicting your opponent as a rogue, inciting people's emotions, appealing to their convictions... all abundantly employed by Cicero in the Catilinarian speeches, to name but the most striking example.


Well, that's where I think Cicero went wrong. He was not subtle enough in my opinion.

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:lol:

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:An utterly off-topic comment, but: The speeches about weapons of mass destruction? Factually speaking, I agree they had all the accuracy and plausiblity of Casanova's vows of fidelity, but there still seem to be quite a lot of people who believed and believe that there were WMDs, therefore there must be people who agree with these speeches! And given that Bush is hardly the greatest of orators, think of the impact that Cicero's factual inaccuracy must have had.


Hmm, I wouldn't say Bush is not a great orator. He's better than most Belgian politicians (however I leave the issue open here whether he's a better politician). The idea that Iraq may have possessed or in fact possesses WMDs was not so far-fetched as Cicero's accusation that Catilina was mustering an army to destroy Rome so I would say that there is a difference.

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 4:48 pm

Salve Draco,

scripsisti

Well, that's where I think Cicero went wrong. He was not subtle enough in my opinion.


It's always hard to say if something is subtle or not, who knows how many hidden messages we don't even see in Cicero's orationes ? For example, until the 19th century the Aeneis was considered to be the ultimate praise of Augustus' rule, a laudatio without equal, making the reign of Augustus the "Golden era" which Juppiter himself had prophesized. Now, scholars are detecting more and more signs of hidden criticism in the Aeneis, dubious lines that can be read in different ways and Vergilius is regarded even more highly than before.

When we read Vergilius in translation for our amusement, we can't find any sign of criticism and it's completely lost on us. How much of Cicero is there that we aren't picking up ?

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Feb 15, 2004 5:18 pm

Why yes, there is much validity in your criticism Lupe. We may indeed be missing out on many links and intertextuality in ancient prose, poetry, sermons or speeches...

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sun Feb 15, 2004 5:43 pm

Now, scholars are detecting more and more signs of hidden criticism in the Aeneis, dubious lines that can be read in different ways and Vergilius is regarded even more highly than before.


Interesting. Could you present us with a few examples, mi Lupe ?

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:26 am

I can remember one example that my Latin teacher pointed out to me when I last read Virgil in 1984 or 1985. The Sybill foretells that the golden bough will fall lightly into the hand of the person chosen by the gods. Yet when Aeneas, claimed by Augustus as an ancestor, finds the bough, he has to rip it off the tree. My teacher interpreted this as a hidden criticism of Augustus.

I am without sources now (all my library has been in storage in Denver since 2000) so I can't verify whether my memory of the passages is correct. Is this one of the examples that you mentioned, Lupe?

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Sat Feb 21, 2004 11:04 pm

Salvete,

I am truly sorry for the late reply and even now it's only to apologize even more. I wish I had the time to elaborate on this, I would have to search some notes for this etc, because I'm really interested in this as well. However, I have a ton of work to do in the coming two weeks (including a 10 page paper on Lucanus which has to be finished in 5 days...), so I won't be able to give any real reply on this. But I'll definitely get to this once the worst is over.

For now, valete bene !
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