Archive for March, 2016

Exploring Rome’s glories … and its gelaterias

March 31st, 2016 by tjoseph

Ciao! I’m Julie Booth, a junior Classics major currently studying in Rome, Italy. When I first arrived in Rome, I was astounded by how immense the city was. With the large, metropolitan streets and busy Italians running here and there, the task of navigating this city was daunting, to say the least.

However, in the couple months that I have been here, I have learned to navigate this bustling city, converse with the locals, connect with the culture, and see the very monuments and sights I have been learning about my entire life. I have also had the opportunity to do so many things I never would have been able to do anywhere else, like attend mass presided by Pope Francis, eat pizza with the Swiss Guards, and enjoy a back room tour of the Vatican Museums with my class.

Julie Booth and Kelsey Littlefield in front of the Temple of Poseidon in Paestum in southern Italy.

Julie Booth and Kelsey Littlefield in front of the Temple of Poseidon in Paestum in southern Italy.

Rome is really a great location for studying abroad. You are never at a loss for something new and exciting to discover, as the city itself offers a rich, tangible history. Whether it is one of the many museums Rome has to offer or stumbling upon your new favorite gelateria, Rome never leaves you bored.

The city, at the heart of the country, also offers you easy access to the beautiful cities and countryside of Italy. Just a short train ride from Rome, you can see the amazingly preserved cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Ostia Antica. You can see Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus in Florence. You can explore the wineries of southern Tuscany and the cliff sides of Sorrento and the Almafi coast.

Recently, our program went on a three-day trip to Sicily, during which I got to visit the archaeological sites of Selinunte and the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. To end the trip, we visited the ancient Greek theater in Taormina, overlooking Mt. Etna. I got to learn a lot about the island and its immense Greek influence in its early settlement, while also seeing some of the best-preserved temples from the ancient world.

Throughout my time here in Italy, my understanding of the ancient world has grown exponentially by simply being immersed in its history. And I have found that having knowledge of the Classics makes one’s time in Rome all the more richer. I am constantly amazed at the beauty and ambiance of Rome and the rest of Italy, and in my last month here in Rome I’m looking forward to exploring the city more, improving my Italian, and continuing my search for Italy’s best cup of gelato.

Drawing connections between Latin grammar & photographic grammar

March 1st, 2016 by tjoseph

In February students in Introduction to Latin 2 visited the Cantor Art Gallery to visit Prof. Matthew Gamber’s exhibition Grammar, which explored the rules that govern the medium of photography. The exhibition included a variety of photographs in different styles. Prof. Gamber gave a brief introduction to the group; and students considered how their study of Latin grammar might inform their understanding of this exhibit – and vice versa. Here is the reflection by Melissa Gryan ’18.

Photography is a language that operates through images, and Latin is a language that operates through written and spoken words. In both cases, grammar facilitates creativity.

In visual images, grammar often goes unnoticed. In a two-dimensional space, aspects such as values, ground lines, and scale communicate the amount of light, the light source, distance, and size. Rules for constructing images create a methodology for understanding something abstract.

Hannah Nguyen '19, Melissa Gryan '18, and Tori Jackson '18 discuss Matthew Gamber's 3D photograph 'Stanford Bunny.'

Hannah Nguyen ’19, Melissa Gryan ’18, and Tori Jackson ’18 discuss Matthew Gamber’s 3D photograph ‘Stanford Bunny.’

Professor Gamber discussed how composition influences our perception. He explained that black and white photos are often associated with documentation and facts, although this assumption is often an underlying one that is not explicitly expressed. When viewing the exhibit as a whole, which in a way is a type of image, the arrangement forms another layer of rules that tell viewers how to process the artwork presented to them. The relative proximity of images can imply association between pictures, or spotlighting can signal importance.

Latin operates similarly. The grammar works as a necessary structure to communicate ideas. We have learned the importance of case, tense, and voice, so that we can understand the meaning and function of each word in a sentence. At this point in Latin we are learning the structure. Although confining at the moment, it is ultimately freeing. Grammar allows Latin authors to do with literature what Prof. Gamber does with photographs. These rules act as a conduit through which the combinations of words can express countless thoughts and ideas – giving a space in which to express and exchange ideas.

The masters of these rules of language can use them to create art, through poetry and prose, which communicates to its readers with precision and elegance. We have seen glimpses in the passages we have translated, especially from the Aeneid, where the positioning and placement of words and the ideas communicated employ the necessary rules of grammar to convey a delicate, carefully constructed image. Without the support and structure of grammar, Virgil would have no framework in which to convey his story.

At this point, our study of Latin is the beginning of a process, while the exhibition Grammar is the end product of an analogous process. The results of Grammar help us envision the application of Latin grammar, and anticipate the endpoint of the artistry of Latin literature.