World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.

Fidelity of the people of Cornwall

An inscription on a sun-dial at the church porch of St. Levan, Cornwall:

SlCUT UMBRA TRANSEUNT DIES. As the shadow pass the days.

The church is rich in old oak, and also
possesses a fragmentary copy of the letter of thanks
written by King Charles I. to his people of Cornwall
for their fidelity, dated from his camp at Sudeley Castle,
1643, and ordered to be printed, published, and
read in every church or chapel in Cornwall, and to be
kept for ever as a record of their king's gratitude.

(From The Book of Sun-dials)

I like how the letter thanking the people of Cornwall for their fidelity was ordered to be read. Surely, many were punished for not properly heeding its warm tone, or worse, not attending the special gathering of loyal subjects. And if they somehow forget about the King's gratitude, the letter should conveniently remind them of it.

Latin vs. Sanskrit

Monday, February 18, 2008, 14:22 - Books, dictionaries and texts, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern, Learn Latin Language
Posted by Administrator
Interesting article: ... nscrit.asp

Iíve seen a figure of 1.4 million Sanskrit manuscripts currently in existence. For Classical Greek and Latin combined, there are 30,000 manuscripts. This is Sanskritís monument, that vast scope of surviving, hand-written documents sitting in peopleís libraries and temples. The size of the corpus is absolutely enormous. And the breadth of material boggles the imagination. Everyone knows the Kama Sutra, for example, which is a manual on sexual technique. But there are also texts on elephant-raising, architecture, astrology, medicine, grammar, spiritual traditions, geography Ė the vast scope of subjects covered by Sanskrit documents is amazing.

An elderly Sanskrit scholar, who had spent 50 years studying the language, was once asked what it was like to have spent so long on the subject. He replied, ďSanskrit is a boundless ocean, and I am still standing on the shoreĒ. There is no such thing as finishing Sanskrit. You donít have to worry about getting anywhere. You should always look behind you and get your satisfaction from what youíve done, because itís a journey without an end.

What is its future?

I am the only person, possibly in the world, who truly believes that Sanskrit is the language of the future. We canít easily read Shakespeare without a glossary. Thereís no way you can read Chaucer without a glossary because English is changing so quickly. But I can pick up a Sanskrit document written in the last 2,000 years and make a good fist of it. It hasnít changed. In 1,000 years time, Sanskrit will still be the same, but every other language will have changed beyond in recognition.

How fortuitous! I was just thinking about picking up another book on elephant raising! Seriously, I have deep respect for Sanskrit literature, but my allegiance forever lies with Latin. I also know a few people who are convinced that Latin is the language of the future, of which I am highly doubtful. There is also a small discrepancy in saying that Sanskrit is a boundless ocean (and even an elderly scholar feels like he is only standing on its shore) and proclaiming that Sanskrit has not changed and one can easily understand ancient texts. True, it must have been better codified early on, but Classical Latin ain't changing either. Besides, if you know Classical Latin you can read with ease many medieval texts. Anyway, I just don't see the point in saying that a certain language is so much better and more important than others. Those other languages are equally important linguistically (kudos to Mr. Chomsky!) and may have produced great literatures, even if the people who wrote in those languages did not have much to say about elephant raising!

How I learned to identify Roman coins

Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 18:13 - Fine Arts, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern
Posted by Administrator
Well, sort of... I am not a collector, I just happened to have a few worthless coins lying around. It was rather difficult to see the name of the emperor and the design was not a very clear one. But it did look like there were two soldiers holding standards of their Legions. I went to, typed 'soldiers' in the search box and got a list of coins with pictures, some of which resembled mine. Done deal! The emperor was Constantine II and the motto on the coin was Gloria Exercitus - 'Glory of the Army'.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 17:31 - Books, dictionaries and texts, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern, Jokes and anecdotes
Posted by Administrator
I found Index Librorum Prohibitorum at a bookstore a few weeks ago. Not very old and quite moderately priced. Still, I resisted buying it, having wisely determined that these editions must be plentifully represented online. And here it is:

Really, weren't these Indices the first bestseller lists?

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