Latin is a language as dead as dead can be…

It’s hard to maintain that you are a Roman enthusiast if you don’t know a little Latin. I can still remember the set texts for my O-level exam. We studied book five of the Aeneid, which is the one devoted to the funeral games. Presumably the powers that be felt that chapter four, the desertion and death of Dido, was rather strong meat for impressionable youngsters. I quite enjoyed Caesar’s Gallic Wars too, although I now appreciate that Caesar, like all politicians, put a good deal of spin on his recollections. I also thought that the heroic Gallic leader Vercingetorix deserved better than to take a starring role in Caesar’s Roman triumph, and then be strangled at the end of it. Personally I would have welcomed a less conspicuous role in Roman history. Incidentally did you know that there is absolutely no archaeological evidence whatever for Caesar’s invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 BC? If it wasn’t for his own account of them they would have been missing totally from accounts of British history. I think that I am also correct in believing that Caesar provides most of the evidence for the existence of the druids. Although druids loom large in ‘new-age’ and nineteenth century pagan revivals hard evidence about them, and their beliefs or rituals, is virtually absent. Has Latin been much help to me? Well at least I never miss-spell desperate as ‘desparate’ since I know the English word derives from spero (I hope).


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