Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:22:04 AM

 Saturday, May 29, 2004
CHATTER: Victor Davis Hanson on Grad Programs

Some interesting comments from VDH on good grad schools in history/classics. After mentioning Chicago, Yale, and Cornell he notes:

Hundreds of programs with great people are unnoticed, but excellent.  So one has to look at people rather than places per se— and that applies to graduate, law, and medical schools in general. How undergraduates can glean information like that I don’t know. And whether going to a place with less prestige and a superb faculty is better than enrolling in a blue-chip school with many mediocre professors is also problematic. Finally, I don’t think we learn all that much in graduate school and the quicker out, the better. At 40 one is judged by his teaching and scholarship, not the name of his PhD program—and those skills are mostly acquired on the job by reading and writing and working with students. [the whole thing]

I wonder how many Classicists would agree that they were ever seriously judged on the basis of their teaching ... especially those who have been doing the traditional series-of-one-year-or-two-year appointment things.

6:46:33 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

still ..
6:39:29 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

again it happens ... wordpress here I come  ....
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CHATTER: Father Foster

The International Herald Tribune (and the New York Times, which includes a photo) has a nice feature on Father Foster, whose audio bits from Vatican Radio are obviously featured here every week:

Let us now enter the inner sanctum of the Vatican. Walk past the Swiss Guards, up the marble stairways of the Apostolic Palace, through corridors adorned with wondrous Renaissance frescoes rarely glimpsed by outsiders, to a hushed spot near the residence of the pope himself.

There, in a small office, toils a plumber's son from Milwaukee with a shaved head, rascally sense of humor and fondness for janitor outfits that look as if they came from a J.C. Penney cut-rate market. (Which they did.)

He is a Carmelite priest, but do not address him as father. The name's Reggie, as he is known to admirers around the world. Or perhaps Reginaldus. Part ecclesiastical oddball, part inspirational educator, the Reverend Reginald Foster is a master classicist who has devoted his life to saving Latin from extinction. Not just quill-on-parchment Latin. Conversational Latin language of Cicero, wellspring of Western civilization and, at one time, mother tongue of the Roman Catholic Church.

It still is, technically, but in his 35 years as one of the Vatican's leading Latin translators, Foster has watched its role in the church wither.

Church documents continue to be issued in Latin, but fewer and fewer priests know the language well, if at all. Foster believes that Pope John Paul II and church leaders no longer value Latin, and as a result are spurning two millenniums of tradition. Without Latin, how can anyone truly grasp St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus, not to mention Descartes and Newton?

Foster, 64, has immersed himself in Latin since he was a teenager at a Carmelite seminary in New Hampshire. He dreams in Latin and considers it his first language.

As one of a handful of Vatican Latinists, he writes and translates a daily regimen of documents weighty and banal, from encyclicals to a recent congratulatory letter issued by the pope. Most translations are into Latin from Italian, the Vatican's real lingua franca.

Foster prizes simplicity, and his office is as spare as his work clothes, which he buys when visiting relatives in the United States. There are a table, a few books and a banzai tree. And a bottle of vermouth, which he occasionally swigs while working. Across the hall is his manual typewriter.

Foster's antics and candor have long exasperated his bosses, but he is apparently too valuable to be cast out. He does not shy from criticizing the pope, who, he said, "uses Latin less than anyone in history."

"The use of Latin in this pontificate has gone right down the drain," he added.

It is Foster's outside work - teaching classes in Rome to clergy and laity - that has garnered him much of his acclaim.

Alternately abrasive and endearing, he brings the language to life by drawing upon works of titans like Ovid and Virgil, not grammar primers. Classics professors around the world send him students.

"You people have to learn these things, and pass on this flame of Latin," he exhorts his students at the Pontifical Gregorian University. To those who complain about the language's difficulty, he retorts, "Every prostitute and bum in Rome knew Latin." [more]

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AWOTV: On TV Today

1.00 p.m. |DTC| Mystery of the Persian Mummy
Encased in a gilded wooden coffin inside a stone sarcophagus, a
Persian princess mummy over 2,600 years old was found. Follow the
discoveries that turned this archaeological treasure into a murder

2.00 p.m. |DTC| The Mystery of the Parthenon
Dominating the skyline of Athens is the ancient Acropolis—once the
center of the Greek civilization. Trace the history of the Temple of
the Parthenon, from its history of design and construction, to the
men involved in its destruction.

DTC = Discovery Times Channel

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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