Learning Classics is a bit like putting on a magic pair of 3-D glasses. Once you start delving into the language and the culture, you'll start to see it all around you. This blog is a record of the club's journey through the worlds and language of ancient Rome and Greece... and through modern times, too, searching for the influence of classics all around us. You'll also be able to find vocab, home tasks, links and generally enlightening info here, too.

16 May 2015

Lesson 23 - The Golden Mean

Today's session began with an exercise in translating present and imperfect variations of habere, and you're getting pretty quick and accurate. This served as a warm-up to our first totally unseen passage translation. There were a few unfamiliar words, but everyone kept an eye on the seven basic rules of translation (especially number 3 - find and parse the verb!). A new verb tense - the perfect - popped up to surprise us: more on this in the near future.

Then onto matters philosophical, specifically Aristotle and his notion of the Golden Mean. This idea is drawn from the ancient Greek idea of μηδὲν ἄγαν (meden agan), doing nothing in life to excess. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle proposes that we should aim to tread this 'middle way', and explores the impact that this approach might have on our everyday actions. For example, in situations involving bravery, he argues, it's not a good idea to be too feisty, nor is cowardice helpful: instead, somewhere in the middle of the two lies courage. Here are all of Aristotle's 'golden means':

This 'extreme' (but honest!) person was guessed straight away!
The notion that personalities can be measured on a sliding scale persists in modern life, where there is a thriving industry in the development and application of psychological personality testing. So in the true spirit of mixing ancient and modern, the Classics Club took an Aristotelean Personality Test, marking ourselves against various Golden Means (gnothi seauton!), and then trying to guess from the numbers whose name was on the test. I have to say, you lot were pretty good at reading the tests!

I realised after the session that I hadn't filled in a test myself, so in the spirit of fairness, here you are:

Next week is our mosaics workshop, so come prepared with a design that will fit in the template I gave out.