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.

13 June 2016

Lesson 24 - Being and means

After putting it off for way too long, we finally encountered 'esse' (to be) in all its present tense glory. It was interesting to see how many European languages' versions of 'to be' have their roots in the Latin forms:

We then had a go at describing celebrities using the right part of 'esse', also remembering that the adjective has to agree in number and gender.

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':

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: