About Mary Beard: a very challenging and engaging lecture to a large audience at NYPL. I can't summarize all my impressions here, because I have to go to Spanish class, which Mary thinks is alright; she just says that the best way to learn Spanish, let's say, is by studying Spanish and not studying Latin as a way to approach Spanish. Too often we have said that Latin is the best key to other studies, and that's not really why we should study the classics.
Everybody does not have to study Latin and Greek, just some people (I guess that includes us.) But we need to have respect for those who do know Latin and Greek and use the classics responsibly, find out what they are really about instead of using platitudes about them such as that the Greeks "discovered" democracy: not true, just the word for it. She is upset by misquotes and misunderstanding of classics that garble them.
People have been bemoaing the decline of the classics since the Renaissance, and talk about them as though they are a sick patient, or a dead one, for which an autopsy is in order. But if they are truly in decline, why is so much written and said about their decline, why are so many interested in it? Such conversations are mixed with nostalgia, a longing for the past. We long for a dialogue across the gap of time with with our cultural past.
We need to have a sense of wonderment about the world of the ancients. Scholars say we have so little that remains, but really there is so much, more than one person can read in a lifetime. We need to ventriloquize the ancients, I take it that means to make them real and speak today. Isn't that what you, Ginny, are doing, and Mary Beard in her book about Vesuvius which I bought?
By the way, Bryant Park, right next to the library, is a magical place this time of year, with very busy public ice skating rink and many specialty shops with mostly handmade goods and foods. The Christmas tree (and I am not a big fan of such) is splendid in silver and blue. There is seating, tables, and plenty of room for all. I wonder if Mary got to see any of this or just where she was taken after the lecture.
I'll try to get something together for ECCE. When is the deadline?