Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ancient guides for shopping, bathing, dining, and dealing with drunk relatives

Edited by Morris Dean

When researchers find more than one fragment of an ancient text, they know that it was popular in antiquity. We consulted “Ancient Greek manuscripts reveal life lessons from the Roman empire,” by Alison Flood, Guardian, February 10. Excerpt:
Ever been unsure about how to deal with a drunken family member returning from an orgy? A collection of newly translated textbooks aimed at Greek speakers learning Latin in the ancient world might hold the solution....
    ...“Who acts like this, sir, as you do, that you drink so much? What would they say, the people who saw you in such a condition?....
    “Roman dinner parties were not always decorous affairs; participants might drink more than was sensible and while under the influence might do things that they would later regret,” writes [Professor Eleanor] Dickey in her book, which is published tomorrow by Cambridge University Press....
    The Latin learners are provided with examples of how to deal with visits to sick friends and preparations for dinner parties. They are also briefed on trips to the market to wrangle over prices (“How much is the cape?” “Two hundred denarii.” “You’re asking a lot; accept a hundred denarii”) and an excursion to the bank.
    “We don’t know if they would have roleplayed the scenes with other students,” said Dickey, a professor of classics at the University of Reading. “But my hunch is that they did.” [read more]
Copyright © 2016 by Morris Dean

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