December 2010 - 14-9-12
12/10/12 - 21/3/14
20/5/16 - 3/2/17
24/1/18 - 16/11/18
_ Audīvī ūnum ex sodālibus nostrīs carmina quaedam mediaevālia nūper Anglicē reddidisse.
Ita est. Ego quattuor carmina inter saeculum decimum et duodecimum scrīpta ēlēgī et versiōnēs Anglicās addidī. In omnibus dē amōre iuvenīlī et dē temporibus annī rhythmīs simplicibus iūcundīsque cantātur. Audīte omnēs, quaesō, initium prīmī carminis:
Redit aestās cunctīs grāta,
viret herbīs iam per prāta;
nemus frondibus ornātur,
sīc per frondēs renovātur.
Brūma vīlis, nebulōsa,
erat nōbīs taediōsa.
cum Aprīlis redit grātus
replet nemoris amoena,
et puellae per plateās
intrīcātās dant chorēās.
_I’ve heard that one of our members has recently
translated some medieval poems into English.
That’s right. I selected four poems written between the
10th and 12th centuries and added English translations.
All of them are about young love and the seasons of the
year, with simple, pleasant rhythms. Please listen to the
start of the first poem.
The summer has returned, gratifying to all,
and the grass is growing strongly in the meadows.
The woods are decorated with foliage,
for thus they are renewed with leaves.
The vile mists, the cloudy weather,
was so tedious to us.
But now with April’s gratifying return
flowers spring up on all sides,
the nightingale with its song.
re-completes the charm of the groves.
and the maidens in the village squares
dance intricate group dances.
Sī tālēs fābulae tē tenent, certissimē legendus est liber c.t. De Bello Lemures, or The Roman War Against the Zombies of Armorica.
If stories like this interest you, then you should certainly read De Bello Lemures, or the Roman War against the Zombies of Armorica.
Quamquam ūsus linguae Latīnae iam intrā atque extrā Ecclēsiam dēminūtus est, nōnne renūntiātiō pontificālis effēcit ut in nūntiōrum dīvulgātiōne multa dē linguā dīcerentur atque scrīberentur?
Ita vērō. Etiam hīc in urbe nostrā rēs se ita habēbat. Ut omnēs scītis, in actīs diurnīs quibus titulus
South China Morning Post dē Circulō nostrō quoque scrīptum est. Rēlātiō illa adhūc in Interrētī lēgī potest:
Although the use of Latin has diminished both inside and outside the Church, hasn’t the papal
resignation resulted in lots of coverage for Latin in the news media?
It has indeed. Even here in our own city that was the case. As you all know, there was also a report about our Circulus in the South China Morning Post. The report can still be read on the Internet:
Apud situm Sociētātis Radiophonicae Britannicae ēditum est relātiō titulō Pope resignation: Who speaks Latin these days?, in quā Reginaldus Foster, fautor nōtissimus Latīnitātis vīvae, Nicholas Ostler, quī librum c.t. Ad Infinitum: a Biography of Latin scrīpsit, atque Maria Beard, profestrix histōriae antīquae in Universitāte Cantabrigiēnsi sententiās suās expressērunt. Ad hoc vinculum eundum est:
The BBC’s website carried a report entitled `Pope resignation: Who speaks Latin these days?, in which Reginald Foster, a celebrated proponent of Living Latin,, Nick Ostler, the author of Ad Infinitum: a Biography of Latin, and Mary Beard, Professor of ancient history in Cambridge University, expressed their opinions. This is the link to go to:
Nōnne Marīa Beard (dīcendum est `Barba’?) ōlim dē Nūntiis Latīnīs Helsinkiēnsibus satis incomiter locūta est?
Rēctē dīxistī. In columnā quam in actīs diurnīs quibusdam Britannicīs scrībere solet, affirmāvit `Finnōs illōs amoenōs’ nūntiīs Latīne reddendīs et `paucīs exspectantibus’ ēmittendīs ōtium suum inutiliter terere.
Rēvērā multī professōrēs Latinitātem Vīvam nōn magnī aestīmant vel etiam contemnunt. Dē causīs tālium sententiārum sodālis quīdam Gregis Latīne Loquentium haec scrīpsit: `Prīmum Latīnē loquendō neque inter doctōrēs prōmovēbimur neque habilitābimur, ut ita dīcam. Deinde professōrēs scrīpta interpretārī volunt, Latīnē autem loquī dē rēbus cottīdiānīs puerōrum esse existimant neque hominum litterātōrum. Postrēmō linguam Latīnam ab aliīs, quī neque doctōrēs neque professōrēs sunt, tractārī nōlunt’. Ipse tertiam causam nōn magnī esse momentī crēdō, sed fortasse aliquid vēritātis est in prīmā secundāque.
Nihilōminus eī quibus Latīnitās vīva est maximē cordī opera sua alacriter facere pergunt. Verbī grātiā,
mēnsē Martiō apud Prosōpobiblion
Didn’t Mary Beard (or should it be Barba’?) once say something rather rude about the Helsinki `Nuntii Latini’?
That’s right. In her regular column for a British
newspaper, she claimed that `those charming
Finns’ were wasting their spare time translating
the news into Latin and broadcasting it `to the waiting handful’
In fact many professors of Latin do not think much
of `LivingLatin’ or even hold it in contempt. One
member of the Grex Latine Loquentium wrote this:
on the reasons for such attitudes: `First, we won’t
get our Ph.D. nor get `habilitated’ (so to speak) by
speaking Latin. Then the profesors want to inter-
pret texts and they think that speaking Latin about
everyday matters is for children, not for intellect-
tuals. Finally, they don’t want Latin handled by others who are not doctors or professors. Myself, I
think the third reason is not very important but perhaps there’s something in the first and second
Still, those who are real fans of Living Latin
continue their work with enthusiasm. For
example, in March on Facebook
posita est taenia in quā discipulī graduum variōrum Latīnē interrogantur. Neque tamen obliviscendum est ūnum ex sodālibus nostrīs hīs dialogīs ipsīs ūtitur ut pelliculās iūcundās ad ūsum tirōnum apud Tutubulum pōnat. Ecce vincula ad quīndecim partēs pelliculae`Dē Tē Ipsō' dūcentia:
there was a video posted with students at various levels interviewed in Latin. And we
should not forget one of our members is using
these dialogues to upload some delightful videos
to YouTube. Here is the link to the fifteen parts of `De Te Ipso':
Etiam Marīa ipsa Barba nūperrimē confessa est sē Latīnē colloquī parātam esse dummodo prīmum satis vīnī rubrī biberit!
Bene dīctum est! Nōs quoque pōcula tollāmus! Prōsit!
Even Mary Beard herself recently confessed she's ready to talk in Latin if she’s had enough red wine first!
Well said! Let’s raise our glasses, too! Cheers!
Satis cōnstat plūrimōs fautōrēs Latīnitātis vīvae dēlectāre cibō vīnōque fruentēs ūsum linguae exercēre. Suntne multī quī nōn tantum cōnsūmere sed etiam coquere sciunt?
Ita vērō. Exemplī grātiā, in `Septimānīs Latīnīs’ duce
Robertō Maier habitīs et in conventibus Lexintoniēn- sibus quae administrat Terentius Tunberg, participātō -rēs cibum ūnā parant. In TūTubulō taeniam magnēto- scopicam inveniētis in quō alius magister, Iāsōn Slanga, dē arte coquendī Latīnē loquitur
Everyone knows most `living Latin’ enthusiasts
like to practise the language while enjoying food
and wine. Are there many who can cook as well as consume?
Yes, indeed. For example, in the `Latin Weeks’
held under Robert Maier’s leadership and in the
Lexington conventicula which Terentius Tunberg organises, the participants prepare food together. On YouTube you’ll find a video in which another teacher, Jason Slanga, talks in Latin about the art of cooking.
Nūperrimē autem sodālis quīdam Gregis Latīnē
Loquentium de mūnere culīnāriō suō amoenissimē
scrīpsit: Mihi datur ut coquō familiārī parāre
apparātum ad bene cēnandum. Cum uxor vēnerit
necesse erit ut cibī omnēs (nempe esicia, holera,
iūscellum fervidum ex pīsīs cum spinaciīs
carrōtīsque factum, pānis persicus āliīs caesīs
atque oleō sparsus, acētāria ex herbīs facta) cum
suīs vāsīs atque ūtēnsilibus omnibus sint parāti et
positī in mēnsā. Īdem scrīptor in aliā epistulā dē
labōribus suīs addidit: Equidem artem parandī
cibōs dēlectābilēs amō quamvīs senectūte īnstante
nōnnumquam labōribus prae fornāculā domesticā
atque ōnere obsōnandī saltem sexcenties per
hebdomadem aliquantulum fatīger.
Bene scrīptum est neque tamen intellegō quid significent `esicia’, `āliīs’ atque `pānis persicus’
`Esicia’ est vocābulum mediaevāle, cuius sunt aliae fōrmae multae, ut `esocius’, `isicius’, `isox’, `esox’. Vocābulum clāssicum, quod in operibus Plīniī invenītur, est `salmō.’ `Āliīs’ est figūra ablātīva `ālium’ nōminis, quod `allium’ quoque scrībitur et Anglicē `garlic’ dīcitur. `Pānis persicus’ est tālis pānis quālis in Persiā comeditur. Linguā Persicā `naan’ dīcitur, ut sciunt omnēs quī apud caupōnās Indicās in urbe nostrā cēnāre solent!
Tū ipse coquere scīs?
Multōs per annōs sōlus habitābam itaque cibōs simplicēs coquere didicī. Postquam uxōrem in cōnūbium dūxi, complūrēs diēs coquī mūnere functus sum, sed in arte culīnāria adeo deeram ut coniūnx mōx constituerit ipsa culīna potīrī!
Dē cibō satis! Apud Gregem nūper dē vīnō āctum est?
Certissimē. Ecce versūs quōs composuit alius sodālis. Bacchus profectō deus est vīnī, Amphītrītē dea maris.
Quid mē Bacche iubēs? Adsum! tua iussa capessam:
Pōcula multa bibam sīn minus inteream
Sint mihi tot cyathī quot mōbilis Amphītrītē
Piscēs in gremiō quā patet usque gerit!
Pōma quot autumnus, gignit quot brūma pruīnās
Flōrēs quot vernō tempore terra pārit!
Optimē! Pōcula tollāmus ad salūtem auctōris exoptandam et exemplum eius nōbile sequāmur!
And very recently a member of the Grex Latine
Loquentium wrote very charmingly about his
kitchen job. `It’s down to me as the family cook to
prepare the equipment for dining well. When my
wife gets back it’s necessary that all the food (salmon,
vegetables, hot broth made from peas with spinach
and carrots, Persian bread sprinkled with,
chopped-up garlic and oil, herb salad) with all its
dishes and utensils have been got ready and put on
the table.’ The same writer in another letter added
this about his tasks : `Personally I love the art of
preparing delicious food even though, as old age
bears down, I may sometimes be a little tired from
labours before the domestic stove and the burden
of shopping at least six hundred times a week,
It’s well written but I don’t understand what `esicia’, `aliīs’ and `pānis persicus’ mean.
`Esicia’ is a medieval word, which has many other forms such as `esocius’, `isicius’, `isox’, `esox’. The classical word, which is found in Pliny’s works, is `salmon’. `Aliīs’ is the ablative form of the noun `āliium’, which is also spelt `allium’ and called `garlic’ in English. `Pānis persicus’ is the kind of bread that’s eaten in Iran. In the Farsi language, it’s called `naan’ as all those who dine regularly in the Indian restaurants in this town know.
Can you cook yourself?
For many years I lived alone and so learned to cook simple food. After I married my wife, for several days I did the cooking, but I was so deficient in the culinary art that my spouse soon decided to take charge of the kitchen herself.
Enough about food! Has there been any discussion of
wine in the Grex recently?
Most certainly. Here are verses another member
composed. Bacchus, of course, is the god of wine and Amphitrite the goddess of the sea.
What are your orders for me, Bacchus? I’m here! I’ll follow your commands. I’ll drink many cups but if less, let me perish! Let my ladles be as many as the fish the moving sea, where laid open, carries in its bosom! as the apples autumn brings, or frosts winter,
As the flowers the earth brings forth in spring.
Excellent! Let’s raise our glasses to drink the
author’s health, then follow his noble example!
Didicistīne linguam Latīnam in patriā tuā,
Minimē, tantum Honcongī stūdēre incēpī sed, cum lingua Hispānica simillima est Latīnae, sententiās simplicēs intellegere nōn mihi est difficile.
Audīvī post Americam Merīdiōnālem in potestātem Hispānōrum Lusitānōrumque redāctam litterās Latīnās multōs per annōs ibi flōruisse.
Ita vērō. Multa opera Latīna in Americā scrīpta sunt sed fortasse opus Americānum nōtissimum nōn in Americā ipsā sed in Eurōpā compositum est. Dē carmine cuī titulus Rusticātiō Mexicāna loquor, quod sacerdōs Iēsuīta Guātemālēnsis, nōminē Raphael Landivar, post ordinem suam suppressam in Eurōpam relēgātus, annō millēsimō septingentēsimō octōgēsimō prīmō ēdidit. In prooemiō amōrem patriae suae magnā cum eloquentiā expressit:
Salvē, cāra Parēns, dulcis Guātīmala, salvē,
Dēlicium vītae, fōns et orīgo meae;
Quam iuvat, alma, tuās animō persolvere dōtēs,
Temperiem, fontēs, compita, templa, larēs.
Iam mihi frondōsōs videor discernere montēs,
Ac iūgī viridēs mūneris vēris agrōs.
Pulchrī sunt versūs sed crēdō auctōrem vōcālēs longās et brevēs cōnfūdisse. Nōnne dīcere dēbēmus `Guātimāla’ et orīgō’?
Fortasse rectē dīxistī sed poētīs per occāsiōnem licet verba ipsa mūtāre. Nōnne Vergilius et Ovidius `Italia’ verbum in `Ītalia’ trānsfōrmāvērunt? Certissime est aliquid Vergiliānum in carmine Raphaelis. Rosa Williams, in symbolā in Interrēti positā, hōs versūs (XIV, 272-76) citat:
Sed iam laeta vocat rursum mē cervus ad arva
Cervus ab umbrōsīs veniēns ad flūmina silvīs
Cornigeram sēcum dūcēns per dēvia turbam.
En tibi septēnōs praestantī corpore cervōs,
Ingentem superant quī vastā mōle juvencum
Quībuscum versūs a Vergiliō ipsō in librō prīmō Aenēidos (189-93) scrīptīs comparat:
ductōrēsque ipsōs prīmum, capita alta ferentēs
cornibus arboreīs, sternit, tum volgus, et omnem
miscet agēns tēlīs nemora inter frondea turbam;
nec prius absistit, quam septem ingentia victor corpora fundat humī, et numerum cum nāvibus aequet]
Scrīpsitne auctor tantum dē animālibus plantīsque?
Minimē, etiam dē dīversīs activitātibus incolārum scrīpsit. In librō XV, exemplī grātiā, dē lūdīs agitur,
et haec pictūra in opere ē typīs expressō inclūditur, in quā iuvenēs fūnibus revinctī et circum stīpitem revolventēs dēpinguntur:
Did you learn Latin in your own country, Mexico ?
No, I only started studying in Hong Kong but, as Spanish is very similar to Latin, it isn’t difficult for me to understand simple sentences.
I’ve heard that after South America fell under Spanish and Portuguese control, Latin literature flourished there for many years.
Indeed so. Many Latin works were written in America but perhaps the most famous American work was not produced in America itself but in Europe. I’m talking about the poem entitled Country Life in Mexico, which was published in 1781 by a Guatemalan Jesuit priest, Raphael Landivar, who was exiled to Europe after the suppression of his order. In his introduction he expressed his love for his native land with great eloquence:
Hail, dear parent, sweet Guatemala, hail
The delight, source and origin of my life
How pleasant, mother, to think of your gifts
Climate, springs, byways, churches, spirits
Now I seem to behold your leafy mountains
And green fields, gift of spring ploughing
The verses are beautiful but I think the author has
mixed up his long and short vowels. Shouldn’t we say `Guātimāla’ and `orīgō’?
Perhaps you’re right but poets are sometimes
allowed to change the actual words. Didn’t Virgil
and Ovid turn `Italia’ into `Ītalia’? There’s certainly something Virgilian in Raphael’s poem. Rose Williams cites these lines on the Internet:
Now the deer calls me again to happy fields
A deer coming to rivers from forest shade
Bringing the horned herd in winding line
See! Seven deer with outstanding bodies
Whose vast bulk surpasses a huge bullock
With these she compares lines written by Virgil
himself in Book I of the Aeneid:
And first the leaders, holding heads high
with tree-like horns he slays, then the rest,
confusing all with spears midst leafy glades
nor stops till in triumph seven great bodies
He lays low in number equaling his ships
Did the author just write about animals and plants?
No, he also wrote about the inhabitants’ various activities, and this picture in included in the printed text. In it, youngsters are shown fastened with ropes and revolving round a pole.
Dīxistī auctōrem Guātemālēnsem fuisse. Mīror, igitur, eum in titulō nōn `Americānā’ sed `Mexicānā’ scrīpsisse.
Respōnsum dedit auctor ipse in praefātiōne suā:
`Rusticātiōnis Mexicānae' huic carminī praefīxī
titulum, tum quod fere omnia in eō congesta ad agrōs Mexicānōs spectant, tum etiam quod dē Mexicī nōmine tōtam Novam Hispāniam in Eurōpā appellārī sentiam, nūllā dīversōrum rēgnōrum ratiōne habitā.
Sī carmen legere vīs, imāginēs secundae ēditiōnis (annō millēsimō septingentēsimō octōgēsimō) apud Interrēte in hōc sitū positum est:.
You said that the author was a Guatemalan, so I’m surprised he wrote `Mexicana’ not `Americana’ in his title.
The author himself answered in his preface :
I titled the poem `Rusticatio Mexicana’ both because almost all its contents are concerned with the Mexican countryside and as I feel that all of New Spain is called `Mexico' in Europe, without taking any account of the different regions.
If you want to read the poem, a reproduction of the whole of the original edition has been uploaded to this site:
Annō bis millēsimō prīmō apparuit ēditiō ex typīs ūniversitātis Guātimālēnsis cui nōmen inditum est ex auctōre ipsō. Textuī Latīnō addita sunt prolegomena longa versiōque Hispānica, sed in Interrētī praebentur tantum versūs orīginālēs cum prolegomenīs
In 2001 an edition was published by a Guatemalan university names after the author himself. As well as the Latin text, this included a long Spanish introduction and translation, but only the original verses and the introduction can be accessed on the Internet:
Est etiam ēditiō recēns, ab Andreā Laird cūrāta, in quā textus Latīnus, versiō Anglica et explicātiōnēs amplae praebentur:
There’s also a recent edition brought out by Andrew Laird, with the Latin text, English translation and extensive commentary:
Quamquam liber huius scholāris nōn in Interrētī īnspicī potest, relātiōnem ūtilem hīc inveniēs:
Although thus scholar’s book can’t be viewed on
the Internet, you’ll find this account useful:
Dignus quoque lectū est tractātus ā Rosā Williams, Latīnistā Americānā nōtissimā, scrīptus, cuius mentiōnem anteā fēcī:
Also worth reading is the essay by the prominent American Latinist Rose Williams which I mentioned before:
Suntne alia opera eiusdem generis quae adhūc exstant?
Sciō Iosēphum Rodericium Mellium in Italiā carmen scrīpsisse c.t. Dē Rēbus Rusticīs Brasilicīs Quattuor Librī sed incertus sum ūtrum ipse Brasiliēnsis an Lusitānus fuerit. Opus annō millēsimō septingentēsimō octōgēsimō prīmō ēditum est, sed ēditiō posterior Olispone millēsimō septingentēsimō nōnagēsimō octāvō ē typīs expressa est, quam iam in Interrētī legī potest:
Are there other works of the same type still extant?
I know José Rodriques de Mello wrote a poem in Italy called De Rebus Rusticīs Brasilicis Quattuor Libri but I’m not sure if he himself was Portuguese or Brazilian. The work was first published in 1781 but a later edition was printed in Lisbon in 1798 and this can now be read on the Internet:
In hāc ēditiōne inclūditur quoque carmen `Dē Sacchāriī Opificiō’, quod composuit Prudentius Amiralius. Versūs Melliī, in quibus dē cultūrā nicotiī et bovum agitur, nūper iterum ēditī sunt et per Interrēte emī possunt:
This edition also includes the poem `On the Production of Sugar’ by Prodencio do Amiral. Mellio’s work, which deals with the cultivation of nicotine and keeping cattle, has recently been re-published and can be bought on the Internet.
Fortasse viatōrēs Eurōpaeī, quī postquam Americam vīsitāvērunt Eurōpam rediērunt, librōs Latīnōs scrīpsērunt.
Ita vērō. Forsitan nōs hodiē maximē tenent relātiō pictūraeque incīsae quās ēdidit Francofortiī annō millēsimō quīncentēsimō nōnagēsimō prīmō Leodiēnsis quīdam, nōmine Theodōrus de Bry. Affirmāvit et relātiōnem et pictūrās ab Iacobō le Moyne factās esse, quī in expeditiōne Francogallicā annō millēsimō quīncentēsimō sextagēsimō quartō ad Floridam iter fēcerat et, colōniā Protestantōrum Francogallōrum ob causās et ēconomicās et religiōsās, āb Hispānīs exstinctā, vix ad Eurōpam vīvus effūgerat. Inter perītōs dispūtātur ūtrum pictūrae ā le Moyne in Floridā rēvērā pictae sint sed certissimē dēmōnstrant imāginem Indōrum Americānōrum quae in mentibus Europaeīs haesit. Fortasse nōtissima est haec pictūra, in quā prīnceps Indus ducī Francogallōrum līmitem saxeum dēmōnstrat `insignibus Rēgis Galliae insculptum’ et annō proximō ab aliō Francogallicō, nōmine Iōhanne Ribaldō, conditum.
Perhaps European travellers, who returned to Europe after visiting America, also wrote in Latin.
Yes, indeed. Perhaps most interesting today are
the account and engravings published in Frankfurt in 1591 by a man from Liège, Theodor de Bry. He claimed that both account and pictures were by Jacques le Moyne, who had travelled to Florida in the 1564 expedition and, after the French Protestant colony was destroyed by the Spaniards for economic and religious reasons barely escaped with his life to Europe. Experts dispute whether the pictures were really drawn by le Moyne in Florida but they most certainly illustrate the image of American Indians that stuck in European minds. Perhaps the best-known is this picture in which an Indian chief shows the French leader the stone marker`engraved with the King of France’s arms’ which was set up the previous year by another Frenchman, Jean Ribault.
Liber, cui est titulus Brevis nārrātiō eōrum quae in Floridā Americae prōvinciā Gallīs accidērunt, apud Interrēte in prīmō ex hīs sitibus legere potes. Sī tantum pictūrās īnspicere vīs, eundum est ad secundum:
You can read the book, A short account of that which happened to the French in the American province of Florida, on the Internet on the first of these sites. If you just want to look at the pictures, go to the second:
Postrēmō mentiō facienda est operis recentiōris, ā magistrō Latinitātis nōmine Herbertō Nutting annō nōnagentēsimō duodecimō ēditi. In hōc librō, cui titulus est A First Latin Reader, sunt multae fābulae iūcundae simplicēsque dē historiā Americae Septentriōnālis agentēs. Ecce paragraphus prīmus:
`Quōdam in oppidō Ītaliae ōlim nātus est puer, quī Columbus appellābātur. Diū in patris officīnā labōrāvit. Sed prope erat mare, et puer saepe ad lītus ībat, ut vidēret nāvēs, quae ē portū ad terrās ībant dīversās. In nāvibus erant hominēs multī, et Colombus mare ipse trānsīre saepe voluit; tum autem pecūniam nūllam habēbat. Sed posteā, cum iam iuvenis esset, usque as Britanniam et Āfricam nāvigāvit.'
Hoc liber aut in Interrētī legī aut in computātrum dēprōmī potest:
Finally, mention should be made of a more recent work, brought out in 1912 by an American Latin teacher called Herbert Nutting. This book, entitled A First Latin Reader, includes many entertaining and simple stories dealing with North American history. Here is the first paragraph:
`Once in a certain town in Italy there lived a boy who was called Columbus. He worked for a long time in his father's workshop. Bit the sea was nearby and the boy often used to go to the shore to see the ships, which went out from the port to various lands. There were many people on the ships, and Columbus often wanted to cross the sea himself; however at that time he had no money. But later, when he was already a young man, he sailed as far as Britain and Africa.'
The book can either be read on-line or downloaded to your own computer:
Dē Centrālī Occupandā
Susceptiō quae `Centrālis Occupanda’ appellātur iam paene quattuor septimānās habētur. Iam in viīs nōn tot reclāmātōrēs manent quot in prīncipiō convēnerant sed studentēs locōs quōsdam adhūc claudunt necnōn interdum conflictūs intrā illōs et custōdēs vigilēs vel susceptiōnis adversāriōs oriuntur. Quid de hīs rēbus arbitrāris?
Ipse crēdō quae reclāmātōrēs poscunt iūsta esse neque tamen susceptiōnem prūdentem esse, nam regimen centrāle nōn cessūrum est et magna pars cīvium nostrōrum, quamquam systema electōrāle ā regimine prōpositum nōn comprobant, nōn adeō stomachantur ut ad systema melius adipsiscendum ācriter certent.
The `Occupy Central’ movement has now been
running for four weeks. There are not now as
many protestors as came together at the start but
students are still blockading certain areas and
there are sometimes clashes between them and
the police or opponents of the movement. What do you think about the situation?
Personally I believe that the demonstrators’
demands are just but that the movement is not
realistic as the central government is not going
to give way and the majority of citizens, while
not approving the electoral system proposed by
the regime, are not sufficiently dissatisfied to
fight hard for a better one.
Reclāmātōrēs affirmant rēctōrēs Pekingēnsēs nōn fēcisse
quae anteā prōmīsissent; fautōres tamen regiminis centrālis necnōn quīdam officiālēs Britannicī quī ante annum 1997 dē Honcongō Sīnīs reddendō cum Sīnēnsibus colloquēbantur dīcunt omnia secundum Lēgem Fundamentālem Hongongī facta esse.
Rēs est intricāta quod per dēfīnītiōnem verbī `dēmocratiae stat. In lēge scrīptum est administrātōrem prīncipālem nostrum annīs prīmīs post Honcongum redditum ā conciliō speciālī, posteā `suffrāgiō ūniversālī secundum modōs dēmocraticōs’ ēlēctum īrī sed fore ut candidātī ipsī semper ā conciliō nōminātīvō nōminārentur. Concilium illud ita cōnstitūtum est ut maior pars ā ordinibus commerciālibus aliīsque ēligātur, quās cōnstat ā regimine centrālī facile movērī. Annō 2017 Administrātor Prīncipālis ā populō ēligētur sed nēminī candidātus fierī licēbit nisi saltem quīnquāgintā centēsimae conciliī nōminātīvī eum nōmīnāvērunt. Sententiā meā atque, ut crēdō, plūrimōrum Honcongēnsium tāle systema dēmocraticum vocārī nōn potest, nam tantum eī quos regimen centrāle comprobābit candidātī fīentur. Itaque factiōnēs dēmocraticae iūs`nōminātiōnis cīvilis’
postulant, per quem omnēs quī numerum quemdam fau-
tōrum dēmōnstrābunt, candidāti esse possint.
Cūr regimen Pekingēnse nōn vult Honcongēnsēs modō vērē dēmocraticō Administrātōrem Prīncipālem ēligere? Quisquis illō officiō fungētur, etiamsī cōnsilia regiminis centrālis interdum culpābit, in plūrimīs rēbus cum illō collabōrābit nam inter regiōnem nostram et Sīnam continentālem vincula ēconomica tam dēnsa sunt? Nōnne autem Pekingēnsēs intelligunt quō sevēriōrēs sē in rēbus Honcongēnsibus ostendant eō vehementius Taivāniēnsēs reūnificātiōnem recūsātūrōs esse?
Sunt illīus sevēritātis causae variae. Ut mercātōrēs Honcongēnsēs, quōs sibi coadiūtōrēs adiunxērunt, timent nē sī cīvēs quemlibet ēligere possint, vectigālia augeantur ut plūs pauperibus dētur. Verentur quoque ne, autonomiā in ūnā regiōne auctā, iūra similia in aliīs partibus, praecipuē in Tibetō et Singangō poscantur et potestās factiōnis commūnisticae dīminuātur. Omnēs scīmus in mentibus eōrum haerēre memoriam Ūniōnis Sovieticae dissolūtae necnōn inceptōrum hodiernōrum ad Britanniam atque Hispāniam dīvidendam spectantium.
The demonstrators claim the Beijing leaders
have not done what they had promised earlier;
however, the regime’s supporters and some
British officials who discussed the return of
Hong Kong to China with the Chinese before 1979 say everything has been done according to Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
It’s a complicated question because it depends on your definition of `democracy.’ The law says that our Chief Executive would be elected by a special committee in the first years after the handover and then `by universal suffrage according to democratic procedures’ but that the candidates themselves would always be nominated by a nominating committee. That committee has been constituted so that the majority are selected by commercial and other organisations who are known to be under the influence of the central government. In 2017 the Chief Executive will be elected by the people but nobody will be allowed to stand unless at least 50% of the committee has nominated them. In my opinion and, I believe, that of most Hong Kongers, such a system cannot be called democratic as only those the central government approves will become candidates. So the democratic parties are demanding `civil nomination’, with all those able to demonstrate a certain level of popular support allowed to stand.
Why does the Beijing government not want
Hong Kongers to choose a Chief Executive in
a truly democratic manner? Whoever gets the
job might sometimes criticise the central
government but will co-operate with them in most things as we are so intertwined economi-
cally with the mainland. And doesn’t Beijing
realize that the stricter they are on Hong Kong issues, the more vehemently the Taiwanese will
There are various reasons for the hard line. Like
the Hong Kong tycoons who they’ve co-opted
to work with them, they fear that if the citizens
can choose anyone they like, taxes could be
increased so more can be spent on the poor.
They are also afraid that if one region is given
more freedom, similar rights might be demanded
in others, particularly Tibet and Xinjiang. We
all know that they’re obsessed by the memory
of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and also
the recent movements aimed at splitting Britain
Difficillimum igitur sit reclāmātōribus ea quae dēsīderant efficere. Impōnēturne sine violentiā inceptō fīnis?
Quamquam ūnus reclāmātor ab custōdibus verberārī per
televisiōnem vīsus est et adversāriī reclāmātōrum vim
interdum adhibuērunt, tumultūs maximī nōn ēvēnērunt.
Plērīque custōdēs pūblicī mitiōrēs sunt quam in aliīs terrīs, mitiōrēs quoque sunt reclāmātōrēs nostrī quam peregrīnī. Exspectō inceptum sēnsim ēvānitūrum esse.
Spērō sententiam tuam rēctam esse.
Dē Festīs Vernālibus apud Sīnēnsēs et Rōmānōs
Erāntne tibi multa ante Novum Annum Sīnicum facienda?
Ita vērō. Necesse erat tōtam diaetam purgāre et omnia in
locō suō pōnere. Ipse omnēs librōs ē librāriīs extrahere
dēbēbam ut pluteōs necnōn librōs ipsōs purgārem sed labor maior erat uxōrī, quippe cui nōn tantum omnia alia verrenda mundandaque sed etiam cibus et flōrēs nōbīs atque aviae emendi erant.
Cēnāvistisne diē ultimō annī veteris cum familiāribus?
Ita, ut semper illō diē fit,apud socrum meam ūnā cum
sorōre uxōris atque marītō eius cēnāvi. Deinde fīliam meam ad Forum Flōrāle condūxistī, ubi balūnam et lūsōrium ēmit.
Quid diē prīmā Novī Annī fēcistī?
Ad diaetam aviae īvimus ut inter trālāticiō nōs et ūnā
cēnārēmus. Diē secundā uxōris materteram et eius
familiam eius vīsitāvimus, vesperī iterum apud aviam
cēnāvimus et spectāculum pyrotechnicum, quod illā diē
quotannīs in portū Victōriānō fit, televisiōne spectāvimus.
So it would be very difficult for the demonstra-
tors to achieve what they want. Will the movement be brought to an end without violence ?
Although one demonstrator was shown on TV
being beaten by the police and opponents of the
demonstrations have sometimes used force, no
large-scale riots have taken place. Most of the
police are gentler than in other countries and
the demonstrators are gentler than foreign ones.
I expect the movement will gradually fade.
I hope you’re right about that.
Did you have a lot of things to do before
Chinese New Year?
Indeed yes. We needed to clean the whole flat a
and put everything in its proper place. I myself
had to take out all the books from the book-
cases so that I could clean the shelves as well
as the books but my wife had more work as she
not only had to sweep and clean all the other
things but also buy food and flowers for us
and for grandma.
Did you dine with your relatives on the last day of the old year?
Yes, as always on that day, we had dinner at my mother-in-law’s with my sister-in-law and her husband. Then I took my daughter to the Flower Market, where she bought a balloon and a toy.
What did you do on New Year day?
We went to grandma’s flat to exchange greet-
ings in the traditional way and have dinner
together. On the second day we visited my
wife’s aunt and in the evening again dined at
grandma’s and watched on television the fire-
works show that always takes place in Victoria Harbour on that day.
Estne necesse vōbīs multam `Pecūniam Faustam’ dare?
Profectō danda est familiāribus nātū minōribus, līberīs
amīcōrum necnōn custōdibus nōn sōlum in aedificiō nostrō sed etiam in aliīs quae vīsitāre solēmus.
Quid aliud facitis ad festum celebrandum?
Titulōs trālāticiōs, ut `Dracōnis Equīque Spīritus’ (`龍馬精神) `Corpus Sānum’ (身體建康) et `Exeuntī Ineuntīque Pāx’ (出入平安) in chartīs rubrīs scrīptōs parietibus affigimus.
Did you have to give a lot of `Lucky Money’?
Of course we have to give it to younger relatives, friends’ children and also the security guards not just in our own building but also in other ones which we visit regularly.
What else do you do to celebrate the festival?
We stick on the wall traditional sentences
written on red paper, for example `Dragon
and horse spirit' (Lung Ma Jing San),`Bodily Health’ (San Tai Kin Hong) and `Peace as You Leave and Enter’ (Cheut Yap Ping On).
Sīnēnsēs novum annum vere instaurant. Quid dē Rōmānīs antīquīs?
Crēdimus annum Rōmānum in prīncipiō ā mēnse Martiō incēpisse, quam ob rem nōmina Quīnctīlis, Sextīlis, September, Octōber, November, December mēnsibus data sunt quae, cum initium annī ad Iānuārium mōtum esset, septimus, octāvus, nōnus, decimus, ūndecimus et duodecimus factī sunt.
Quandō Iānuārius prīmus factus est?
Rēs est incerta. Trāduntur Rōmulus urbem mēnse Martiō condidisse et eundem mēnsem initium annī fēcisse, successor eius, Nūma Pompilius mēnsibus decem patris Iānuārium Februāriumque addidisse et Iānuārium prīmum fēcisse. Huic fābulae, tamen, historicī diffīdunt, hoc sōlum prō certō habent, cōnsulēs, ōlim Īdibus Martiīs, ab annō 153 ante Christum nātum Kalendīs Iānuāriīs officium suscēpisse. Crēdimus diem mūtātam esse quod saepe necesse esset cōnsulibus, rēbus urbānīs compositīs, ad Hispāniam pervenīre antequam tempus pugnandī inciperet.
Etiamsī aevō classicō mēnsis Martius nōn erat initium annī, fortasse festum vernāle adhūc celebrābātur?
Rectē dīxistī, nam festum Annae Perennae, quae Īdibus Martiīs incidēbat, quasī continuātiō erat rītuum quae
ōlim nōn tantum veris sed etiam annī initium celebrābant. Quamquam erant inter Rōmānōs ipsōs quī crēdēbant illam deam esse Annam Tyriam, sorōrem Dīdōnis, rēvēra nōmen eius `annus’ vocābulō cognātum est. In opere Ovidiī, cui titulus Fastī, poēta modum celebrandī hīs versibus dēscrīpsit:
Īdibus est Annae festum geniāle Perennae
nōn procul ā rīpīs, advena Thӯbri, tuīs
plēbs venit ac viridēs passim disiecta per herbās pōtat, et accumbit cum pare quisque suā.
sub Iove pars dūrat, paucī tentōria pōnunt,
sunt quibus ē rāmīs frondea facta cas’ est; pars, ubi prō rigidīs calamōs statuēre columnīs,
dēsuper extentas imposuēre togās.
sōle tamen vīnōque calent annōsque precantur
quot sūmant cyathōs, ad numerumque bibunt.
(ex Librō III, 523-532)
Ēheu, exemplum antīquum nōn sequendum est! Ut mittam sodālem tantum octō annōrum, etiam nōs plūs sexagintā nātī ēbriissimī fiāmus, si tot pōcula hauriāmus quot annōs futūrōs dēsīderāmus!
The Chinese start the New Year in the spring.
What about the ancient Romans?
We believe that the Roman year originally began in March, for which reason the names Quinctilis, Sextilis, September, October, November and December were given to the months which became the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth after the start of the year was moved to January.
When was January made the first?
That’s uncertain. Romulus is traditionally said to have founded the city in the month of March and made that month the start of the year and his successo Numa Pompilius to have added January and February to his father’s ten months and made January the first one. However, historians are sceptical about this story and the only thing they regard as certain is that the consuls once came into office on the Ides (15th) of March but from 153 B.C. on the Kalends (1st) of January. We believe the date was changed because it was often necessary for the consuls, after making arrangements in the capital, to reach Spain before the military campaigning season began,
Even if March was not the start of the year, perhaps a spring festival was still celebrated?
You’re right as the festival of Anna Perenna.
which fell on the Ides of March, was a kind
of continuation of the rituals which once
marked not only the start of spring but also
of the year. Although some Romans thought
that goddess was Anna from Tyre, the sister
of Dido, the name is really cognate with the
word `annus’ (year). In Ovid’s Fastī, the poet
described the celebrations in these verses:
`On the Ides is the pleasant festival of Anna
Perenna. Not far from your banks, stranger
Tiber, the common people come and drink,
scattered all over the green grass and each
one lies back with his partner. Some brave
the open air, a few pitch tents, and some
make a leafy hut from branches. Some, after
erecting canes for rigid columns, place
spread-out togas on them. Still they are warm
from the sun and the wine and they pray for
as many years as they consume glasses, and
drink till they get to the number.’
Oh dear, the ancient example should not be
followed! To say nothing of the member
who is only eight, even those of us over sixty
would get very drunk if we downed as many cups as we want future years!
Dē Festō Mediī Autumnī
Quōmodo Honcongēnsēs Festum Mediī Autumnī celebrant ?
Multī sunt qui mōrēs veterēs adhūc sequantur. Tōta familia solet diē ipsō domī ūna cēnāre deinde, sī caelum serēnum est, hortum pūblicum adeunt aut collem proximum ascendunt ut omnēs lūnam plēnam spectantēs placentās lūnārēs edant et līberī lanternīs lūdant.
Tū ipse Honcongō trigintā annōs habitās. Recordārisne prīmum festum Mediī Autumnī quod hīc dēgistī ?
Ita vērō. Magister eram in schola secundāria et occupātissimus. Cum sōlus illō tempore habitārem, cōnstituī ad summum Montem Victōriānum pedibus ascendere ut celebrātiōnēs vidērem. Illō modō nunquam anteā īveram, nam tantum trāmine fūniculārī vectus ascenderam, sed semper sursum progressus ad summum montem sine difficultāte pervēnī. Clāriter recordor mē statim institōri cuidam incurrisse, quī, simulatque faciem umbrivirī cōnspexit, vās metallicum cervisiae ē cistā extractum mihi obtulit. Neque tamen accēpi nam valdē sitiēbam et primum necesse erat mihi potiōnem sine alcoholī bibere. Deinde familiās lanternāsque aliquamdiū spectāvī et domum sērius revertī. Difficultās nōn erat, nam quotannīs nocte Mediī Autumnī trāmina subterrānea per tōtam noctem hominēs vehunt et postrīdiē est fēria pūblica.
Quid dē orīgine festī illīus scīmus ?
Temporibus antiquissimīs Sīnēnsēs lūnam deam coluisse videntur, sub dynastiā Tangia prīmum nōbilēs deinde plebs coēpērunt sub dīvō sedentēs dum lūnam admīrantur convīvium participāre. Aevō Sungiō diēs decima quīnta mēnsis octāvī cōnstitūta est ad hanc cēlebrātiōnem quotannīs habendam. Dē hīs rēbus in hāc pāginā legere poteris :
Et quid dē placentīs lūnāribus ?
Trādunt cum Sīnēnsēs contrā dynastiam Mongoliānam rebelliōnem facere cōnstituissent ducēs mandāta in tālibus placentīs cēlāta ad populum mīsisse.
How do Hong Kong people celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival?
There are many who still follow the old customs. On the day itself the whole family normally has dinner at home together, then, if the weather is goof, they go to a park or climb a nearby hill so that they can all eat moon cakes whilst looking at the full moon and the children can play with lanterns,
You have been living in Hong Kong yourself for thirty years. Do you remember the first Mid-Autumn festival you spent here?
Yes, indeed. I was a secondary school teacher and very busy. As at that time I was living on my own, I decided to go up to the top of Victoria Peak on foot so I could look at the celebrations. I had never before done it like that, as previously I had only gone up on the Peak Tram, but I just kept on going up-hill and I reached the top without any problem. I remember very clearly that I immediately came across a hawker, who, as soon as he saw a gweilo face, pulled out a can of beer from his box and offered it to me. However, I didn't take it because I was extrmely thirsty and needed a non-alcoholic drink first. Then i spent some time looking at the families and the lanterns and returned home rather late. There was no problem with this because every year on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival the MTR trains keep carrying passengers right through the night and the next day is a public holiday.
What do we know about the origin of the festival?
In very ancient times the Chinese seem to have worshipped the moon as a goddess and under the Tang dynasty (618-907) first the nobles and then the common people started to sit outside and join in a party whilst they admired the full moon. In the Sung period (960-1279) the 15th day of the 8th month was fixed as the day for holding an annual celebration. You can read about this in the following page:
And what about moon cakes?
The traditional story is that when the Chinese had decided to rebel against the Mongol (Yuen) dynasty their leaders sent instructions to the people hidden in cakes of that kind,
Suntne aliae fābulae ad hoc festum pertinentēs ?
Ita vērō. Dīcunt fēminam quandam, nōmine Seung Ngor (嫦娥, Chang E), potiōnem immortālitātis, ā Rēgīnā Caelī ipsā marītō eius datam, cōnsumpsisse et statim ad lūnam volāvisse. Seung Ngo ibi cum cuniculō ingentī et furciferō quōdam, quī arborem caedere semper frūstrā cōnātur, aeternō vīvit. Alii affirmant fēminam potiōnem ā marītō dolōsē abstulisse, aliī crēdunt illam bibisse nē medicīna ā discipulō marītī abriperētur. Videnda sunt hae pāginae :
Et quid tū ipse hōc annō faciēs ?
Vesperī festī discipulōs docēre dēbēbō sed postrīdiē barbacoae tuae intererō neque, ut abhinc trigintā annōs, cervisiam recūsābō.
Are there other stories connected with this festival?
Yes indeed. People say that a woman named Seung Ngor consumed the elixir of immortality given to her husband by the Queen of Heaven herself and then immediately flew to the moon. Seung Ngor lives there for ever in the company of a giant rabbit and of a criminal who is always trying in vain to cut down a tree.. Some state that the woman stole the elixir from her husband by a trick, others believe that she drank it to stop a student of her husband from stealing it. See the following pages:
And what will you yourself do this year?
I will have to teach students on the evening of the festival but the following day I'll be at your barbecue, and, unlike thirty years ago, I won't refuse a beer!