In Defense of Classical Studies

The Spartans would know exactly how to shut Rush up!

I have never liked Rush Limbaugh: he’s an ignorant, racist, sexist, homophobic embarrassment of conservatives everywhere. Usually I don’t give him the time of day, but yesterday I read something on his website that infuriated me to no end. It’s called “Deciphering the Sad-Sack Story of a Classical Studies Scholar.”

In the transcript he insults a Wall Street Protester who as a Classical Studies graduate feels hopeless in this recession. He asserts that her degree is useless and calls her “Miss Brain-dead.” He doesn’t even seem to know what Classical Studies entails:

What the hell is Classical Studies?  What classics are studied?  Or, is it learning how to study in a classical way?  Or is it learning how to study in a classy as opposed to unclassy way?

If you aren’t pissed yet, keep reading:

But most of these majors are useless, such as black women studies, women’s studies, whatever studies.

So according to Rush, not only are Greek and Latin scholars worthless, but also anyone who doesn’t worship white male Republicans like himself. I don’t know which majors are acceptable to him, but if you don’t pick one he likes, apparently you’re a socialist.

Since Rush has obviously the intellectual capacity of a dung beetle, I’ll spell it out for him. Because as a Classical Studies minor who spent two years studying Latin and ancient Greek/Roman literature, I’d like to clarify that not only am I highly employable, I have skills the average college graduate could use:

Classical Studies makes you a better reader, writer, and thinker. I have an excellent vocabulary, because I understand the Latin etymologies of English words. This is essential in my job, because I teach high school students how to make educated guesses when they’re faced with an SAT word they don’t know. The analytic skills needed to translate Latin, or any language for that matter, is similar to solving a math problem: you fit together the words one step at a time and the result is achieving a higher level of knowledge–a level Rush can’t even comprehend, let alone reach.

Classical Studies is not dead. If anyone tells me Latin is a dead language one more time, I’m going to go Catullus on their ass. Latin lives in all the Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc.) and English to a great extent. The ancient Greeks and Romans created Western civilization as we know it: architecture, art, politics, education, philosophy, the list goes on and on. Next time Rush gushes over an American monument like the White House or references “the Founding Fathers” or “American democracy,” he should thank Pericles and Augustus instead of Reagan and Bush.

Classical Studies is what you make it. Every college grad is struggling right now. I know engineers who can’t get jobs, so don’t make the excuse that it’s all your fault if you picked a major in the humanities or social sciences. We are all victims of this economy, but Rush is too rich to have any pity for the middle class man or woman. That being said, Classical Studies scholars can either further their education to become professors or apply their knowledge to other fields. As a future journalist and novelist, my expertise in grammar and oration will greatly benefit my story-telling. Ever read a little book called Harry Potter? In case you didn’t know, most character names and spells are Latin.

To anyone who’s interested in the Classics, don’t despair. Learning Latin was the best decision I made in college, and now I know a language usually reserved for the most educated and elite people of all time. You can get a job no matter what you study, as long as market your skills accordingly. I’m optimistic that my minor will actually help me stand out in the job market, but I’m also determined enough to make my dream career come true.

As for Rush, I only have one thing to say to you: Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo!

Masterpiece Monday: Catullus

A Modern statue of the roman poet Gaius Valeri...

Bust of Catullus (Image via Wikipedia)

Rating: 5 out of 5

Well, today has sure been an emotional roller-coaster for me. I had a fabulous weekend with friends, but for reasons I will not divulge, my mood’s not so chipper right now. In fact, I was pretty livid earlier, so I thought I would share with you some poetic masterpieces by my favorite Roman poet Catullus.

I took a whole class on Catullus at UCSC when I was studying Latin as a Classics minor, but for those of you unfamiliar with the man, he lived circa 84-54 BCE and was familiar with other famous Romans, such as Julius Caesar and Cicero. He’s most known for his honest, often vulgar poetry about his lovers, friends, and enemies.

I try to keep my blog pretty G-rated, so I can’t share some of my favorite poems because they’re just too raunchy. Catullus was definitely a hot-head, and he had no problem unleashing his anger upon those who wronged him.

So if you’re ever in a bad mood, and feel like reading some dirty Latin poems, I recommend 16 and 42, but beware: they’re definitely NSFW!!! But if you’re not a prude, they’re so hilarious that they’ll cheer you up real quick! So Google those poems…if you dare!

However, for today I’m sharing his 12th poem, in which he insults a man named Asinius Marrucinus for stealing his precious dinner napkin. Sure, he’s petty and melodramatic, but the man can write! Makes me miss studying Latin!

Here’s the poem in its original Latin:

—Marrucine Asini, manu sinistra
non belle uteris in ioco atque vino:
tollis lintea neglegentiorum.
hoc salsum esse putas? fugit te, inepte!
quamvis sordida res et invenusta est
non credis mihi? crede Pollioni
fratri, qui tua furta vel talento
mutari velit; est enim leporum
disertus puer ac facetiarum.
quare aut hendecasyllabos trecentos
exspecta, aut mihi linteum remitte,
quod me non movet aestimatione,
verum est mnemosynum mei sodalis.
nam sudaria Saetaba ex Hiberis
miserunt mihi muneri Fabullus
et Veranius: haec amem necesse est
et Veraniolum meum et Fabullum.

And here’s my own English translation:

—Asinius Marrucinus, you do not make a pretty use of your left hand: you steal linen napkins of the neglectful in joke and drink.  Do you think that this is funny? It runs away from you, silly man: the thing is as vulgar and unattractive as you like. You do not believe me?  Believe your brother Pollio, who would want your thefts to be exchanged for one talent of silver: for the boy is filled of charms and jokes.  Wherefore, either expect 300 hendecasyllables, or send back my napkin to me, which does not move me at its value, but it is a souvenir of my companions.  For Fabullus and Veranius sent Saetaban napkins to me as a gift from Hiberia: it is essential that I love these as I love my Fabullus and little Veranius.