An ancient Roman fragment about Revolutionary War airports was discovered buried under a liquefied bag of parsley and several desiccated carrots in a vegetable drawer. Here is the Latin text that Trump translated and quoted in his Fourth of July speech. Latin transcribed by Dani Bostick. Translation by Donald Trump.
Nostri milites caelum complent. Partes arietis arietant. Aeriportus occupant. Peragenda peragunt. Et in monte Capitrolino, per falaricarum cruentam lucem, nihil nisi victoriam habent. Et cum Aurora venit, Signum Sideribus Splendens ferociter fluitat.
Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ram parts. It took over the airports. It did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHendry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their Star Spangled Banner waved defiant.
C. Julius Caesar (?), Bellum Incivile. Edited by Dani Bostick
Almost one hundred Democrats who were seeking the consulship gathered to fight among themselves until only one person was left standing. The young candidates kept begging the old man, who was holding power for too long, to pass the torch of power to them and that his time was up; but the old man said that the torch could not be wrested from his grip because it was stuck to his hands like pearls to a shell.
While some of the young candidates were trying to take the torch from the old man’s clutches, two other men spoke Spanish words badly and a certain woman was purifying the republic with the torch’s smoke while saying over and over again that love, not plans, will save us.
While this was going on, Manicula warned Puppet Master not to interfere with the matters of the republic, but he said these things with a hatred for dignity in such a way as to embolden Puppet Master. For Manicula even said Puppet Master was an ally and very close friend, although everyone else had considered him an enemy of the people for a long time.
Fere centum Democratici consulatum petentes convenerunt ut secum depugnarent dum una reliqua esset. Iuvenes senem, qui potestatem diutius habebat, orabant ut facem potestatis sibi traderet eique tempus non esset, sed senex locutus facem de manibus extorqui non posse, quoniam in manibus velut margaritae in conchis inhaereret. Dum plures facem a manibus senis eripere conabantur, duo viri verba Hispana male loquebantur quaedamque femina, dictitans non consilia, sed amorem nos servaturum, rem publicam fumo facis purgabat.
Dum haec gerebantur, Manicula Pupuli Erum monuit ne rei publicae intercederet. Quae odio dignitatis ita dixit ut Pupuli Erum confirmaret. Nam ipse dixit etiam se illi esse socium atque amicissimum cum omnes eum pro hoste diu habuissent.
“The man who has hoped for the fasces longs to put them down once he gets them and says constantly, “When will this year be over?” This man sponsors games which he once valued as a great opportunity for him, yet he says “When can I get away from them?” A lawyer is raised up by the whole forum and with full crowd beyond where he can be heard, but he complains “When will we have a break?” Everyone speeds their own life along and suffers for a desire for the future and boredom with the present.
But the person who portions out every moment to his own use, who schedules out every day like it is the last, neither hopes for nor fears tomorrows. For what kind of new pleasure is any hour alone capable of bringing? Everything is known and has been enjoyed fully. Fortune may by chance bring out something else, but life is already safe. Something can be added; nothing can be subtracted, and he will accept anything which is added like someone who is already satisfied and full will take some food he does not desire.
Therefore, it is not right to think that anyone has lived long because of grey hair or wrinkles. He has not lived a while, but he has existed a while. Certainly, what if you thought that he had traveled far whom a terrible storm grabbed in the harbor and dragged here and there in turns of winds raging from different directions and drove him over the same space in a circle? He did not travel far, but he was tossed around a lot.”
Adsecutus ille quos optaverat fasces cupit ponere et subinde dicit: “Quando hic annus praeteribit?” Facit ille ludos, quorum sortem sibi optingere magno aestimavit: “Quando,” inquit, “istos effugiam?” Diripitur ille toto foro patronus et magno concursu omnia ultra, quam audiri potest, complet: “Quando,” inquit, “res proferentur?” Praecipitat quisque vitam suam et futuri desiderio laborat, praesentium taedio. At ille qui nullum non tempus in usus suos confert, qui omnem diem tamquam ultimum ordinat, nec optat crastinum nec timet. Quid enim est, quod iam ulla hora novae voluptatis possit adferre? Omnia nota, omnia ad satietatem percepta sunt. De cetero fors fortuna, ut volet, ordinet; vita iam in tuto est. Huic adici potest, detrahi nihil, et adici sic, quemadmodum saturo iam ac pleno aliquid cibi, quod nec desiderat et capit. Non est itaque quod quemquam propter canos aut rugas putes diu vixisse; non ille diu vixit, sed diu fuit. Quid enim si illum multum putes navigasse, quem saeva tempestas a portu exceptum huc et illuc tulit ac vicibus ventorum ex diverso furentium per eadem spatia in orbem egit? Non ille multum navigavit, sed multum iactatus est.
For too long, the discipline of Classics has been like Uncle Roger at Thanksgiving dinner, that relative who shows up wrapped in a confederate flag, complaining about “those people” ruining his neighborhood and destroying everything good about our country. The difference is that tolerating Uncle Roger is not just a once-a-year event for Classics. Uncle Roger has been at the American Classical League’s dinner table every day for over a century. In more recent years, the main response to him has been “That’s just the way he is” or “Don’t mind him. He’s from a different era.” Active encouragement and passive acceptance of Uncle Roger has made our Classics classrooms resemble ca. 1987 Augusta National.
The lack of diversity in Classics is not an accident. It is by design. A good example of this is the secondary Latin recruitment material that was available online until Tuesday that presents a version of Classics that portrays a select few as rightful heirs of ancient Roman culture. The problematic content is not limited to a regressive use of the term “Western Civilization.” In this material, Classics is presented as a signifier of cultural superiority. I won’t mince words: This is the language of White Supremacy.
One of the most troubling examples is an excerpt from More Than Just a Language, a pamphlet that has been distributed to over 50,000 people: “Rome: a heritage shared by North and South Americans, Europeans and citizens of many third world nations helps bring students into the mainstream of western culture.” This messaging is not an anomaly. It seems to be a formal talking point. Latin in the Schools, a resource from 2015 also promotes this abhorrent appropriation of Classics: “Students of diverse ethnic backgrounds find that Latin helps bring students into the mainstream of American culture and western civilization.”
Other resources promote the idea that Latin is primarily for people of European descent. Why Study Latin, presupposes that “foreign peoples” aren’t even in the Latin classroom and presents Latin as White Area Studies: “Familiar with diversity, change and longevity of his own culture, a person is more inclined to respect the views, ideologies, religions, and economic systems of foreign peoples.” What is “his own culture”? Who are the “foreign peoples” that the dominant-culture student cannot respect without taking Latin?
In 2019, Classics should never be described as a path to civilization or acceptance into American society. In the 1830s, pro-slavery senator John Calhoun reportedly said that if he “could find a Negro who knew the Greek syntax, (he) would then believe the Negro was a human being and should be treated as a man.’” In Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi described the Enlightenment-era assimilationists who believed in the “racist idea of unenlightened Africa” and sought out “‘barbarians to civilize into the ‘superior’ ways of Europeans.’” Recruitment material for Classics should not provide a platform for these abhorrent, dehumanizing ideas.
It is not OK when this rhetoric comes from individuals or fringe groups. It is even worse when it comes from the professional organizations. We cannot pretend these messages do not represent the field when they were disseminated so recently by the National Committee on Latin and Greek, a standing committee of the American Classical League tasked with promoting Classics through lobbying efforts, developing recruitment material, and representing Classics on the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL), whose role is to “shape national policy for World Languages, ASL, and international education and to raise the profile of the language enterprise.” NCLG is supported by the Classical Association for the Atlantic States (CAAS), the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), and many other Classical organizations. In other words, member dues helped produce, support, and disseminate this content. This is particularly troubling since many secondary teachers are required to sponsor a chapter of Junior Classical League, a requirement of which is sponsor membership in ACL. I am not alone in objecting to these representations of the field, my profession, and my students.
When confronted about their material, ACL removed it immediately and initiated a productive dialogue about creating new, appropriate materials. On Twitter, however, ACL downplayed the seriousness of the complaint, writing, “This is referring to old materials that we do not distribute any longer. NCLG is working on a revision of the brochure, and our Diversity and Inclusivity Committee will be giving input.” One Latin teacher, who is also a member of this task force, wrote on Twitter, “Personally, I think Paterno’s* name on it is a duh, this is obviously old… what some would not consider offensive 5, 10 years ago is now.” This comment belies a common fallacy: “Because it doesn’t offend me, it is not offensive.” Make no mistake, this content was as offensive and dangerous ten years ago as it was on Tuesday, the last day it was available to the public on Promote Latin, the NCLG website.
Removing the material does not solve the underlying problem. The troubling reality is these are receptions of Classics that some still actively endorse and that many others tolerate or justify. The ACL exists to “initiate, improve, and extend the study of Classical languages and civilizations in north America.” The Society for Classical Studies (SCS) and regional Classical organizations share this goal along with their members. If “Classics is for everyone” is more than an empty slogan, that message must be conveyed in action and words. Too many aspects of Classics have sent the exact opposite message and have gone unchallenged. The ACL needs to be better a better steward and ambassador of the field.
There has already been some progress. Earlier this Spring, ACL released a statement affirming its core values and emphasizing that Latin is for everyone. Recently, the National Latin Exam also released a statement on Diversity and Inclusion along with plans to remove problematic questions from their online app and compose their exam “with greater awareness moving forward.” Responding to problems is better than silence, inaction, and defensiveness, but the absence of a concrete, action-oriented strategy will leave the field playing whack-a-mole with shifting manifestations of a systemic problem.
The ACL is in a unique position to transform Classics for the better. Here are some concrete steps the organization should take to make “Latin for everyone” a reality:
1) Formally condemn systems, practices, policies, and rhetoric that limit access to Classics. Appropriations of Classics as a marker of cultural superiority are hurtful and dangerous. For starters, ACL should release a clear statement disavowing the harmful ideas in recruitment materials that were available to the public until this week.
2) Establish and disseminate anti-racist expectations for secondary Classics. Set the explicit expectation that all children should be afforded the opportunity to study Classics in schools where programs exist. Be explicit that there is no reason programs should not mirror the demographics of their schools. If only one kind of student is signing up for Latin, that is a red flag.
3) Investigate the problem. We all know that disproportionality is a problem in secondary Classics classrooms. The College Board should not be the only source of demographic information about the composition of our field. The National Latin Exam already collects demographic data from the more than 150,000 participants. Adding a question about race and ethnicity for this coming year will provide important data for NLE and ACL as they implement changes to make the field more accessible.**
4) Invest in diversity training for ACL leaders. The existence of the problematic recruitment material reveals a gap in knowledge and tools. If ACL is serious about making our classrooms more welcoming (and I believe it is), it makes sense to leverage the expertise of professionals who have been doing this type of work for decades. Ignorance is not an excuse. Equally important, members of the Diversity and Inclusion task force must recognize and understand the dangerous ways classics can be appropriated, even from within the field itself.
5) Develop clear and consistent messaging. This point is difficult since organizations like ACL are so decentralized and depend on volunteers. Still, it is important that members in positions of leadership uphold the values of ACL in their communications and always prioritize the field over organizational interests. For example, nobody with a role in ACL should have excused or justified any of the problematic materials earlier this week. The focus should have been condemnation of the material. Concern for people affected by the problem should always trump the defense of the organization.
6) Create appropriate materials for recruitment and teacher support. If “Classics is for everyone” could be achieved simply by announcing it, Classics would already be for everyone. How can teachers let school counselors know to tell everyone about Latin? What messages do we want students to hear about Classics? How do we make sure all students feel comfortable and successful in our classrooms? These are questions ACL can help answer by providing practical, concrete information. There has already been positive movement on this front.
Problems within the field are impossible to solve without leadership and action that will make Classics welcoming and accessible to all students. For too long, we have normalized exclusion and failed to eradicate racist ideas about Classics from the field. We cannot afford to let another year pass without confronting these problems. Primary and secondary Latin programs represent the biggest opportunity for reforming Classics, which I discussed in greater detail in The Future of Classics From Below. As our professional organization, the American Classical League has the power to make “Classics for everyone.”
*Yes, this brochure also included Joe Paterno and listed football as a potential career for Classicists.
Fragments of this lost commentary on the Aeneid were recently found near a monument to Saint Raphael. The work, dated to 420 CE, was signed only with the name “Louis.” This comment is on Book VI when Aeneas and Sibyl subdue Cerberus in the underworld. Edited by Dani Bostick
Seeing Cerberus’ neck bristling with snakes,
the priestess tosses him a treat laced with honey
and medicated grains. Opening his three throats,
rabid with hunger, he scarfs down what she tossed, and
his huge backs relax as he falls to the ground, spread
out across the entire cave.
Cui vātēs horrēre vidēns iam colla colubrīs melle sopōrātam et medicātīs frūgibus offam 420 obicit. Ille famē rabidā tria guttura pandēns corripit obiectam, atque immānia terga resolvit fūsus humī tōtōque ingēns extenditur antrō.
6.420 she tosses a treat laced with honey and medicated grains
Here “treat” is a pot brownie. 420 is an extraordinary number. If one were to sail from Carthage to Alba Longa with a stop in Sicily, the journey would be 420 miles. Here, however, is not the number 420. You see, 4 is April, the fourth month of the year, and 20 is the twentieth day of the month (the 12th day before the Kalends). On this day, almost everyone enjoys cannabis.
Ovid once wrote, “Caesar, in April you have something which might take control of you” (Fasti 4.20). He added, “Aeneas, manifest piety, carried through fire sacred things and his father on his shoulders, other sacred things.” Ovid is telling us that Aeneas imported cannabis, “sacred things,” into Italy as a trafficker of drugs. We also know that oracles use such drugs frequently.
For these reasons, the treat consumed by Cerberus was not full of opiates, but rather cannabis. Since the treat was not only drugged with honey, but with “medicated grains,” which we call “cannabis,” Cerberus immediately passes out when he eats it. When men consume cannabis, some lose their minds and rage in reefer madness, others, calm as stones, rest on the sofa and, eager for food, satisfy their hunger with snacks.
6.420 melle soporatam et medicatis frugibus offam
Hic “offam” est crustulum cannabis.
420 est numerus extraordinarius. Si quis, commoratus in Sicilia, a Karthagine ad Albam Longam navigaret, iter CDXX milium passuum esset. Hic tamen non est CDXX, sed numerus diei. Nam IV est Mensis Aprilis, quarta mensis anni; XX est vicesima dies mensis, a.d. XII Kal. Ea die paene omnes cannibi fruuntur.
Ovidius olim scripsit: “Caesar, in Aprili, quo tenearis, habes” (4.20). addidit, “Aeneas, pietas spectata, per ignes sacra patremque humeris, altera sacra, tulit.” nobis dicit Aenean cannabim, “sacra,” in Italiam mercatorem medicamentorum portavisse. Scimus etiam vates medicamentis saepe fruari.
Quibus de causis, offa a Cerbero comesta non est plena papaverum, sed cannabis. Cum offa non modo melle, sed etiam “medicatis frugibus,” quas “cannabim” vocamus, soporata esset, Cerberus ea comesta subito obdormivit. Cum homines cannabim consumunt, alii furibundi insania cautum furiant, alii placati velut lapides in toro conquiescunt avidique cibi latrantem stomachum cenulis leniunt.
Vide: Hesychius, s.v. kannabis
Kannabis: A Skythian herb for burning which has the kind of power that it completely dries out anything subject to it. It is a plant similar to linen from which Thracians make ropes (Cf. Herodotus 4.74.)
This leaflet was found in the pocket of an article of clothing thought to be worn by Julius Caesar in his leisure time. The garment was discovered centuries ago, but its numerous pockets weren’t completely emptied until recently. It is thought the author could be an associate of the person who wrote De Imaginibus Verendorum. Edited by Dani Bostick.
Once they have children, men consider whether it is proper to set aside the toga and wear a new kind of clothing. This kind of clothing is called “cargo shorts” because they can carry much cargo. I wrote this little pamphlet so that you might understand everything about them.
Although the gods give men two hands, men desire eight hands so that they can carry as many things as possible. Driven by an insatiable desire to carry everything, a clever man once invented cargo shorts, when, having set aside concern for aesthetics, he attached as many pockets as possible to shapeless shorts. In this way, he made an unfashionable type of clothing even more unfashionable. But because of the pockets, cargo shorts are as useful as they are unattractive. For with his hands free, he was able to carry many things more easily.
Now I will answer all of your questions:
What kinds of things can be kept in the pockets? Keys, change, tissues, business cards, medicine, knives, wallets, pens, writing pads, snacks, bottles of beer, puppies– amazing to say!
Can’t maps be kept in cargo shorts? No! You see, a man who wears cargo shorts always knows where he is and how to get to every place.
Can’t feminine property be kept in cargo shorts? When a wife asks her husband to hold on to feminine things, the man responds to her either that he does not have enough pockets or that all of the pockets are already full of other things, even if his pockets are completely empty.
Do they come in Tyrian purple? That is a violation of divine law! They can only be the color of dirt or stone.
Can’t they be made to fit properly? No! As it is said: Function over form! A comfortable body through shapeless clothes! Covering only part of the knee! Always socks with sandals!
Is that a javelin in your pocket? No! I am just happy to see you.*
Filiis natis viri num togam deponere ac novum vestimenti genus induere fas sit considerant. Hoc genus vestimenti “oniferes” appellatur quod multa onera ferre possunt. Hunc libellum scripsi ut vos omnia de oniferibus intelligeretis.
Quamquam di viris duas manus dent, viri octo manus cupiunt ut quam plurimas res secum ferant. Olim insatiabili omnium portandorum cupiditate commotus vir astutus oniferes machinatus est cum curis venustatis depositis bracis informis quam plurimos sacculos applicavit. Ad hunc modum illepidum vestimentum illepidius fecit sed propter sacculos oniferes tam utiles quam illepidi sunt. Nam manibus expeditis multa facilius ferre poterat. Nunc mihi respondendum ad omnia:
Nonne tabulae geographicae in oniferibus teneri possunt? Minime! Nam vir oniferes gerens semper scit ubi sit atque quibus viis ad omnes locos advenire possit.
Nonne res muliebres in oniferibus tenentur? Cum uxor virum rogat ut res muliebres teneat, vir ei respondet aut satis sacculorum sibi deesse aut omnes sacculos iam crebros aliis rebus esse, etsi sacculi pleni araneorum sunt.
Murice tingi possunt? Nefas est! Oniferes colorem aut humi aut lapidis habent.
Nonne apte caedi possunt? Minime! Ut dicitur: fungi quam ornare! Corpus commodum per vestem informam! partem genus modo tegere! Semper socci soleaeque!
Estne tibi pilum in sacculo? Minime! Ego modo te videre gaudeo.*
*This last question was written in a different style of handwriting.
“One will say goodbye to honors and slights or to censure and praise from simple-minded persons, even if they happen to be many or few, and even if they are the strong and the wealthy. Instead, one will consider what is called “opinion” to be nothing different from a shadow, by observing that opinion often makes little of important matters and much of minor ones. And, often, it makes a big deal at sometimes and then less at another of the same affairs!”
“Envy certainly never develops towards anyone justly—for no one commits injustice in being happy and it is for happiness that people are envied. Many are hated justly—like those we consider “worthy of hate” with the result that we find fault with others when they don’t avoid people like this or fail to find them despicable and annoying.”