All good things must inevitably come to a close, unless Jupiter decree otherwise. As much as we called upon the Muses to contrive ways for us to persuade Olympus to add days to these two last weeks, the answer was, in the end, a Sibyllic no. The King’s College summer school in classics had to kick us out of our revery. Having begun in the most auspicious way and carried on amid summer showers, the Latin language course was a delight, even for a medievalist like myself.
When you spend the day reading, discussing and writing about Bede, Einhard, William of Malmesbury or the sundry high medieval chronicles, shots of Pliny, Seneca, Virgil, Ovid, Horace or Catullus (did I forget anyone?) add meaning to a life otherwise wasted on bad Latin spelling, parataxis, solecism, Germanic lexical rape and plunder.
After years of exploring the cold, muddy, rustic world of the European 12th century, I certainly felt the need for the caldarium of a Roman bath, or perhaps Pliny’s dolce farniente at his villa in Tifernum, or even Ovid’s chucklesome account of the festival of the Roman New Year. Anything will do, really, as long as there’s a fierce ablative absolute or a laid-back supine lying around.
It is indeed hard now, everything having reverted back to the muddy middle ages, to pull myself out of bed in the morning. Yet the gloomy book VI of the Aeneid might accomplish that, if force and dread is what it takes.