Monday, March 14, 2016


Dangers of Learning Greek and Latin

Eugene S. McCartney, "Was Latin Difficult for a Roman?" Classical Journal 23.3 (December, 1927) 163-182 (at 163):
In a composition a little girl once wrote: "Lady Jane Grey studied Greek and Latin, and a few days thereafter she died." In a more scholarly source, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, there is record of another fatality in a battle with Greek and Latin. An epitaph by a father runs as follows: "To Dalmatius, his very dear son, a boy of remarkable talent and learning, whose unhappy father was not permitted to enjoy his companionship for even seven full years, for, after studying Greek without an instructor, he took up Latin in addition, and in three days' time he was snatched from the world. Dalmatius, his father, set up this stone."2

2 Translation by F.F. Abbott in an article called "Some Latin Inscriptions," Sewanee Review, XXIX, 424-32. Unfortunately Professor Abbott did not give the reference and I have been unable to locate it.
Thanks to Google, identification of the inscription is easy. It's Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 6.33929:
Dalmatio filio dulcissimo totius ingeniositatis ac sapientiae puero quem plenis septem annis perfrui patri infelici non licuit qui studens litteras Graecas non monstratas sibi Latinas adripuit et in triduo ereptus est rebus humanis III Id(us) Fe(b)r(uarias) natus VIII Kal(endas) Apr(iles) Dalmatius pater fec(it).

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