12 July 2015


I have just returned from the Roman Forum at Lake Garda; if last year's was wonderful, this year's surpassed it! More about that in a day or two. You will remember that I am so primitive that, when I'm away from my home computer (which I think may be a temporis Leonis X model) my emails just stack up.

Earlier today, I had a spot of trouble with the aged computer, which delayed my reading of emails and moderating of comments. I've now been through the 300-odd emails which had accumulated, and done my best to answer those which call for an answer. I think I've enabled all the comments, except for two or three which I binned for the usual idiosyncratic and arbitrary reasons. My apologies if, in my desire to get all this out of the way, I accidentally deleted some proferred comments which I should have enabled. "Publish" and "Delete" are side by side! How can you expect a chap always to get things right?

I add, that I was very impressed by the quality, and the kindness, even of those comments with which I disagreed!

Now I must try to come down to earth. Gardone is a totally magical place; the papers which were read this year were of outstanding quality; and the conversations, especially over lengthy meals, with participants both female and male and of every conceivable age, taught me more than a dozen books could have done.

Why weren't you there? Have you booked for next year yet?


Thomas said...

Catching with your blog up too and speaking as the guilty party you cited in a recent entry, who confessed to disliking Latin at school and finding no joy in the likes of Catullus, among others, it occurs to me that we appear to have grown up in very different worlds. Not having been to a public (i.e. private and boarding) school, I simply had no access to a library stocked with Latin and Greek texts and certainly no time at school to go and read such things, even if I had been minded to. All we knew were the exercise passages presented to us in classroom textbooks. I did hear some rumours later on that there were some very rude passages in Catullus' oevre, but (sadly) I had found plenty of rude stuff freely available in my native language by then, some of it in libraries, but most of it not!

Looking back, I think there was a post-Victorian assumption that the classical world with its heroes and leaders, myths and legends, military achievements and social structures was still the cultural backdrop to our growing up. It wasn't. I probably thought Julius Caesar was the first Roman Emperor and that he had invaded Britain (don't worry, I know neither of those are true), and my only impression of a Roman culture was a vague sense of an antique world completely concerned with war and some very complicated internal politics. I had no sense of a body of literature and thought, and no inkling of its relevance to my life and world.

Not only would I have valued knowing about the likes of St. Augustine (I was quite a pious boy, going awry for a time later much as he did), but if someone had told me that I could read Isaac Newton, Da Vinci and almost all great Western thinkers of the last two millennia if I learnt Latin, I might have paid more attention. Even at college I encountered a tremendous awareness and appreciation of the ancient Greek heritage of philosophers, poets, dramatists who are the foundation of Western thought, both scientific and artistic (my gut feeling for what little Greek I have gleaned is correspondingly much warmer), but little or no understanding of Rome other than its genius for imperial expansion, organisation and administration - all of which seemed rather bleak, cold and functional to me.

Of course, I'm sure it would all have been very different had I been taught by your good self, Father. It is something I regret, but my main point is that it is an example of one of your 'lost worlds', rather than just of a lazy minded pupil, although I'm sure that was true too.

Paul Hellyer said...

I would love to go but can't afford the huge cost of hotels etc. as well as the conference fees $2900 I think. Only a poor pensioner y'know.
Any way we rely on chaps like you to give us a report. . .

Jane said...

Dear Father,

I have read with gratitude the Lake Garda Statement

In the paragraph which precedes CONCLUSION, on line 5, it reads
"human exultation". I wonder whether it should read "human exaltation". As Rorate doesn`t accept comments, I entrust this tiny observation to you. Thank you.

cyrillist said...

@Jane: The Statement is also posted on the Remnant website (co-author Chris Ferrara is a regular contributor there), and that website accepts comments.

Pater Edmund said...

Paul Hellyer, "CWR" stands for "Catholic World Report": http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3935/german_idealism_and_cardinal_kaspers_theological_project.aspx