Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dickinson Summer Latin Camp

After the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, I spent a second week at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. We read Book IV of Ovid's Fasti, a Latin calendar-related poem about the month of April. It was written in the first century B.C.

The poem is surprisingly good. Ovid is a great author. He mixes information about the constellations and weather with stories about the founding of Rome and the aetiology of Roman religious practices. He also adds descriptions of the rituals related to the Roman rites and festivals celebrated in April.

Here is a picture of our group on the last day of camp. I am sitting in the middle. The statue behind us is of Benjamin Rush, an important doctor in Boston during the Revolutionary War and a good friend of Thomas Jefferson. He founded Dickinson. His intention was to found a college that focused not only on the humanities but on the practical application of the humanities.

Dickinson Latin Camp on the last day of reading Ovid's Fasti, Book IV, with the statue of Benjamin Rush
I will carry away two things from my reading of the Fasti besides their overall quality. One is a sweet scene where Ovid playfully jokes with Venus, the patron goddess of the month of April and, in a way, Ovid's muse. She jokes right back with him, like they're old friends, which they are. Ovid previously wrote the Amores and the Ars Amatoria, poems that centered on the theme of love or perhaps lust. So he treats the goddess in his poem as an old friend. The second is a scene toward the end of the book regarding the rituals to Robigo, the goddess of corruption (mildew, including the types that adversely affect crops, and rust, among other things). I had never heard of such a goddess before, and Ovid's treatment of the ritual and the long prayer to keep the goddess away from the crops were pretty interesting.

I sure wish I could combat mildew in my own home without the use of cleaning agents and scrubbing, or find any sure way to keep the powdery mildew off the squash plants in my garden! Wouldn't that be nice?

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