Friday, December 25, 2009

forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit

Between the last week of classes and my first final on December 8, I made a flying trip to Iowa.  Who does that?!?

It was a good trip.  Did some shopping, did some networking, but most of all I wanted to attend the memorial service for Roger Hornsby, my undergraduate advisor at the U of Iowa, who died in October. 

Roger Hornsby (second from left) and his wife, Jessie (center)
at St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome

Roger was a friend of the family long before he was my advisor.  That I ended up studying classics was complete chance, and I'm so glad I got the chance to learn Latin when I did.  Gerda Seligson, who co-wrote our textbook, Latin for Reading, was a visiting professor and she and Roger devised a way to teach Latin that made the transition from language learning to application less traumatic for students. The second year courses were taught by the same method as the elementary levels which allowed us to translate all four Catilinarian orations by Cicero in the third semester, and two or three books of Vergil's Aeneid in the fourth semester.  Unfortunately I can't convince my colleagues that this can be accomplished.

We students were introduced to all that academic life entailed, including elegant cocktail parties at the Hornsbys.  Their apartment was decorated with antique furniture and deep blue velvety carpet.  Jazz was always playing on the stereo, and caterers made sure the guests had enough wine and nibbly things.  This introduction to social graces is also something I've never experienced at any other university.

In addition to Latin, Roger taught a course entitled Concept of the City of Rome which provided background about Roman institutions.  I assisted him in the preparation of a corresponding art course, Concept of the City of Rome II:  Renaissance to Fascism, which he co-taught with Dr. John "Comments or Observations?" Scott.  A few of Roger's more promising students were invited to participate in Concept of the City of Rome III: On Location, an informal 10-day tour of Rome during which he and Dr. Scott showed us everything they thought students should see on their first trip to Rome.  This included many non-Roman churches and expensive restaurants.  I still remember eating at the foot of the Temple of the Sibyl in Tivoli where every table was "Reserved" until the guests passed the riff-raff test.  Never mind that Roger's laundry bill at his hotel cost as much as my entire stay in the Albergo Lago di Alleghe for the same amount of time!

Roger wanted all of his students to share his love of Latin literature, Roman culture, travel and the finer things in life.  Many of his students are happy to pass those lessons on!

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