September 21, 2009

Richard Dawkins For My Birthday

Hooray!  Richard Dawkins will be speaking at the Atheist Alliance International Convention in Burbank the weekend after next, and it looks like I'll be going!  At least one friend is interesting in going with and hey, it's right after my birthday so what could be a better treat to oneself than a world-class lecture?

Here is an excerpt from his most recent book, The Greatest Show On Earth, which I'll hope to get autographed by Dr. Dawkins:

Imagine that you are a teacher of Roman history and the Latin language, anxious to impart your enthusiasm for the ancient world — for the elegiacs of Ovid and the odes of Horace, the sinewy economy of Latin grammar as exhibited in the oratory of Cicero, the strategic niceties of the Punic Wars, the generalship of Julius Caesar and the voluptuous excesses of the later emperors. That’s a big undertaking and it takes time, concentration, dedication. Yet you find your precious time continually preyed upon, and your class’s attention distracted, by a baying pack of ignoramuses (as a Latin scholar you would know better than to say ignorami) who, with strong political and especially financial support, scurry about tirelessly attempting to persuade your unfortunate pupils that the Romans never existed. There never was a Roman Empire. The entire world came into existence only just beyond living memory. Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, Romansh: all these languages and their constituent dialects sprang spontaneously and separately into being, and owe nothing to any predecessor such as Latin.
Whatever else you might say about him, the man can write. And while he might have ghostwriters working to help him put together his lectures, it's in the Q&A where he really shines anyway.

I hope to see you in Burbank next Saturday.

1 comment:

Brian Barker said...

I see that London Mayor, Boris Johnson, wants Latin to be taught in all London schools. But why not Esperanto?

Pope Benedict also used this new international language this year in his Urbi et Orbi address from the Vatican, at Christmas.

Your readers may be interested in or Professor Piron was a translator for the United Nations in Geneva.

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at