Mental Calisthenics: Latin*

I am certain,–can you hear the sarcasm yet?–that all Game conscious men at one time or another have found cause to ask himself that all important question: why should I study Latin? The answers are legion, though the questioneers might be very few.

Now I daresay you don’t see the use of all this, and don’t see why you should learn Latin at all. You may say that nobody talks Latin, and though there may have been something worth reading written in Latin by people a long time ago, yet it is quite easy to get an English translation and read it there. If it were French or German, you say, it would be different, because it is of some use being able to speak and read languages in which people speak and write at the present time.

Well, one can’t expect you to understand all the reason why it is good for you to learn Latin: but I will try to make you understand a few. -F. W. Haslam

For one, though it might not be of highest consequence, the men which Game purports to imitate, the men whom women have always flocked to, outside the consideration of sailors and soldiers, have in every age since Greek went out of fashion, studied Latin.

Is it a small thing to grow up in a study which has been the heritage of English gentlemen for over three centuries–the sign of their breeding, and the seal of their humanity? and something far higher–which has been the training of almost every great man who has made our own language famous?

All things considered then, to learn Latin because our father, or our fathers, learnt it does not appear to be the worst of reasons. -Sidney Thomas Irwin

Secondly, and this is along a similar line, if a man is reading in the manosphere, he is either disgusted at the state of the SMP and for that reason seeking the best way to leverage his assets in the SMP to their greatest gain; or, he is disgusted at the state of culture and society,– maybe both art and sex–and as such is desiring, even if only working his own small quarter of the world, to proffer change. The third possibility, which I ought to leave off, is that he is lost and having stumbled upon the ‘sphere is stuck like a man watching the burning, writhing of flesh that might crawl from the sulphurous mess of a chemical semi smashing into a school bus, and has found himself reading the demented scrawl of some half-wit would be scholar discussing the merits of a dead language with a group of men more concerned with sluts than scientiae.

For those in points one and two above: Latin is the way things used to be; before it all screwed the pooch, Latin was the sine qua non of every man, thinking or not.  That might well be reason enough; if one wishes to read widely in the Western canon he will need either an able translation–which let’s be honest, modern translations, which are decidedly advertised as written in the contemporary language, come across as books for children. A sentence need not have many words. But an author who lacks the ability to place phrase against phrase without resorting to a full stop does not possess some ephemeral Hemingway’s tongue, rather, he lacks a skill which reading and studying Latin cannot help to impart as it is a language which is suited, more so than English even, to this sort of elongated arrangement.  This isn’t the point. The point is that in studying the things that have been burned on the altars of modernism, feminism, and multiculturalism one will undoubtedly come across Latin phrases, thoughts, and mottos. You should understand them if you are to understand the West.

It is not for nothing that in Scotland they call a Professor of Latin a Professor of Humanity. Humanity is that virtue which brings you close to your fellows, which gives you a more intelligent sympathy with them, and not with their present only but with their past also– with the great men, the great movements, the great institutions– the peoples, nations and languages which have made the world what it is today. -Sidney Thomas Irwin

Irwin wrote before the walls of civilization were torn asunder; what we would say is: the peoples, nations and languages which had made the world what it was before it was completely fucked up by asshats too centered on their own navels and immediate desires to consider the beauty of the traditions they pissed upon. Or something to that effect.

There are many other reasons given through the ages. Latin’s logical structures, that understanding another grammar improves one’s understanding of his native grammar, that linguistics generally is good for the memory, vocabulary acquisition, and writing style, and all the other pet theories.  I won’t bother with these as they are as true of learning any other language; and let’s be honest, language learning is a well of time suck, one would do well to learn a language he can also swoop in. Take Roosh learning Span. . . Portu. . . Russian? Seriously, how many languages does this guy speak? Or, Frost with French only Game. If you give two shits about the West you’ll take this all cum grano salis.

Latin comprises the blocks upon which our intellectual traditions were built. Feigning the slightest interest in preserving the good–flush the bad, and with the Captain enjoy watching the water spin in the bowl–and you are left with a world built upon one language, one that was multicultural in the proper sense of transcending multiple dominant cultures and forget the rest.

Go, Learn It.

Numquam veritas perit,
The Poet

*Updated to fix a multitude of typos.  The first reason wine and blogging ought not be mixed too liberally.

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8 Responses to Mental Calisthenics: Latin*

  1. Cranberry says:

    There are numerous wonderful resources online for learning Latin, but I would suggest getting Linney’s book Getting Started With Latin. He has a companion website with pronunciation demos, quizzes, and posts on Latin grammar. His book is well organized and self-paced. You can teach yourself or use it to teach children ages 7 or older. His website is http://www.gettingstartedwithlatin.com/

    Wonderful post. Whenever I read a classic of the Western canon and then read either a modern translation of it or any other modern novel or poem, I cringe and cry a little inside at the erosion of the greatness that was the English language. Indeed, all Western classicism has steadily eroded. “Art” is whatever anyone labels as art, whether it looks drawn by a toddler or not. There are some beautiful modern artworks, but largely they disappoint as ugly and overbearing muddy footsteps on the tradition of genius, beauty and emotion that art should be. And I will not comment on modern poetry. I don’t quite know when poetry died, but its pale corpse is being toted along on puppet strings to dance for modern “poets” as a mute testament to their withered talents.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I am putting together a list of resources; I will look into Getting Started and probably add it.

      As to the piteous state of art, I could soapbox and screech as good a tirade as the next man, but then what would I write about in some as of yet unbegun article?

      • Cranberry says:

        Subsidy versus patronage. A patron gives money to produce art that promotes his vision, to an artist who has captured that vision, and offers the public (or the private viewers; some works are explicitly private) an aesthetic that is appreciable in its capacity to elicit the patron’s desired effect. This art takes the stories of human history and translates their dreams and desires for the modern public.

        Subsidy, as in government NEA grants, gives money to produce art for the sake of art, however it might be perceived. It glorifies nothing other than a solipsist’s desire for worship, and beautifies nothing other than the walls of neighborhoods that a handful of hipsters. Rather than rendering a pure emotion or pride or sense of right and wrong, it presents confusion and self-doubt and a negation of identity.

  2. LS says:

    Learning just a little Latin can enable one to pick out meanings in today’s Romance languages, medical and legal jargon and even an obscure English word with Latin roots.

  3. Cranberry: This is a reply to your second shot there. (Note to self: I need to fix the number of responses allowed for each level of comment).

    I don’t disagree with you, but I would say that even before patronage went out of style, particularly in the case of painting, bad philosophical beliefs intruded into the world of art. These were then bolstered by galleries, critics, and artist’s agents. A post-impressionist painting that could be finished alla prima could be held up beside a masterwork that was slaved upon for weeks and months, critics could extol its virtue, mediocre artist–the mediocre have always loved the sound of their own voices–could ramble the numerous theories which made bad pictures better than good pictures. For the moneyed interests: more paintings, more money.

    In addition with the end of Romanticism (and the obvious culmination of late Romanticism) the old aesthetic of beauty that was held by the likes of Schiller and Goethe, then later the Preraphelites and Ruskin, was eschewed in favor of a more emotive style in the Post-impressionist and the modernist movements of futurism, cubism, etc; compounded with a complex of moneyed critics, and some good meaning and good-natured independents–I’m looking at you James Huneker–who demonized and betrayed both the classical arts and artists, classicism struggled her last breathes before the jazz age. It has been difficult until very recently to find a History of Art written after WWI that includes the Academics of the late 19th Century when one could make an easy argument that their work was the pinnacle moment of painting and sculpture.

    All this before the advent of wide spread government cheddar for the arts. The state cheese is certainly a symptom of the issue, but as a causal factor I would call it suspect. At least till better information this way comes. The betrayal of the West has come great distances.

    • Cranberry says:

      Essentially, cultural Marxism. And the NEA is another tool for the CMs to allow the mediocre (at best) to be celebrated.

      I don’t disagree with you, either.

  4. Beppo Venerdì says:

    Damn, now I have the urge to dive back into Wheelock.

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