From my diary

No blogging in the last week.  On Monday 6th January I had a brand new and rather expensive Dell G5 Inspiron 5090 desktop delivered, with screen. I spent the week trying to set it up.  It’s time-consuming, isn’t it!  Sadly by the end of the week I had determined that there was a problem with it.  After three frustrating days of dealing with Dell, I have been promised a refund, and I have just finished boxing it up this evening for a return.  The nature of the problem makes clear that the unit was never tested or inspected at the factory.  It is a beautiful-looking machine.  But there is no getting around carelessness at the factory.  Nor is it possible to remedy matters when nobody at Dell speaks English as a first language.  I shall have to look for another machine; but I can’t face that for a week or two.

This week I have been working on the new Latin programme.  I feel that it  needs a kind of context-sensitive pop-up help.  The brief display of grammar is fine.  But sometimes you need examples, and a page or so of text.  The Eclipse, the editor used for Java software development, has such a feature in its intellisense, and I have patterned it on this.  It’s a devil to debug mouse movements, however!

As part of this, I have been taking Morwood’s Oxford Latin Grammar to bed with me, and absorbing some of the syntax.  It’s a remarkably concise guide, yet useful as well.  However it is too brief sometimes.  The old Allen and Greenough grammar still has much to offer, while being fuller, and I bought a copy of this in printed form, for bedside reading.

I also had a go at finding a printed Latin bible.  I thought that it might be nice to read some of the psalms, or the gospels, in Latin.  Your Latin always improves if you use it to read stuff.  But all I can find is complete copies of the Vulgate, and at a  massive price – $50 or more.  I had expected that there would be a glut of these, from Catholic churches.  But it seems not.  Maybe I should produce something myself!

But I leave the best for last.  This evening I have learned that Matthew R Crawford together with Aaron P. Johnson has completed a draft translation into English of the whole of what exists of Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum.  This was a point-by-point refutation, with verbatim quotation, of Julian the Apostate’s polemic Against the Galileans (i.e. the Christians – isn’t it odd how those opposed to Christians so often have to rewrite history?), in at least 20 books.  But only books 1-10 survive, plus a few fragments of later books.  It’s a fascinating work, and I hope that the translation is written in such a way that we can read it and follow Cyril’s thought, rather than use it as a “crib” for the Greek.  It will take them a couple more years to get it fit to publish, however.  Cyril’s Greek is diffuse and hard to render.  This was probably a useful characteristic in political terms – how do you criticise someone when you can’t understand? – but not great for us.  It’s a truly valuable thing to do.  It will kick-start a world of scholarship on the late 4th/early 5th century.


3 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. For the Psalms, there’s The Book of Psalms in Latin and English which I’ve always understood to be Ronald Knox’s translation, though it doesn’t say so (Burns Oates, 1948).
    Then the Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine, ed. Augustinus Merk S.J. Pontificial Institute, Rome, 1948 (6th ed.) I acquired both these some while ago so have no idea how available they are now.

  2. And Dom Matthew Britt’s Dictionary of the Latin Psalter might be useful. It can be found online as a.pdf but I on’t have the link.

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