11 November 2015

De Figulis; or, Potters and their yoghurt and lentils.

Vast crowds of school children, never a pleasant sight, pouring out of Cardinal College (aka Christ Church). Having visited its magnificent Hall, were they chattering excitedly about Wolsey; showing off their knowledge of Tudor History, their appreciation of English late Perpendicular architecture? No. Their every word was about "Dumbledore". I wonder how much money the House has made out of hiring its Hall for the filming, and out of the subsequent tourism.

And, on Monday afternoon, a very entertaining visiting lecture by Peter Wiseman of Balliol, Professor of Classics emeritus et non minime barbatus at Exeter University ... who, since he taught J K Rowlings Classics at that University, has been the subject of media speculation as being the model for Harry Potter's professorial and bearded mentor.

Some blogger whose name eludes me ... so many blogs, so much twaddle, as I'm sure it says in Ecclesiastes ... has recently used the rather mannered phrase "like thick yoghurt moving slowly over fine gravel". Professor Wiseman's lecture was about a nearly forgotten genre of ancient drama called the Hilarotragedy, which means more or less what it says on the label and (judging from the slides he showed us) seems sometimes to have included naked floosies upside down. He has unearthed a surviving phrase from one such play, called the Nekuia, which was written (not by Offenbach but) by a chap called Sopatros: to epi tei phakei muron [sweet balsam over lentils].

I think that's much jollier, don't you?

Go on, say Yes.


Kathleen1031 said...

I always thought it odd, or eerie, that JK Rowling had no prior writing experience before writing the Potter series. She just sat down at a table in a nearby café, and wrote the thing.

Belfry Bat said...

Kathleen, ... that surely is the story we've heard, and it sounds like the story a storyteller might like told. I wonder what the editors think of it.

May I ask, Father, if you recall ... what was like thick yoghurt? The only duckable page to use that gritty phrase seems to be this post right here.

Donna Bethell said...

Sure, Yes! But the yoghurt phrase was in reference to a particular episcopal, not to say cardinatial, emanation, for which "sweet balsam over lentils" would not be appropriate.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Does nobody ever agree with me?

Belfry Bat said...

I think Kathleen and Rose did, and quite plainly... that opinions diverge on other points does not diminish that first agreement!

(Oh, by-the-by, I seem to have found it.)