Core Archetypes: That Kid Who Did All The Readings In Latin/Greek In High School
Written by Bwog Staff
Remember our EC Archetypes? This time, Bwog is taking a look at the personalities in your core (or “foundations” or “nine ways”) classes. In this edition, Staffer Youngweon Lee (who admits to being that kid in her Lit Hum class) tells you about being in class with someone who already read the texts’ original un-translated versions.
As rosy-fingered Dawn spreads her fingers over another day, another Lit Hum class approaches you. You were too busy complaining about your huge workload to actually do the work, so, once again, you aren’t prepared for this discussion of the Iliad beyond the skimpy summary that SparkNotes afforded you.
You walk to class a few minutes early so you can grab a seat in the back. That kid follows you inside the classroom. They went to some fancy boarding school on the east coast or is from England, or more rarely, Greece, and read the Iliad in high school–in Greek. They sit right at the head of the table to better stare down the professor, who majored in English comparative literature during the Renaissance, arms crossed and all.
Your professor starts the class. He wants to start by talking about the relationship between Menelaus and Achilles, or whatever. That kid raises a smug hand. “It’s actually pronounced Menélaus, not Menelàus. The diacritical acute accent is on the second epsilon, not the alpha.”
The professor rolls his eyes. So does everyone else in the class. The discussion moves on. You’re dozing off at this point. Someone says something about far-shooting Apollo in line 14. The hand goes up. “Well, actually, that epithet is supposed to be on the next line because the dactylic hexameter requires that the line ends with a dactyl, long syllable, and enceps, in that order, and begin with a dactyl. It should be Apollo, who strikes from afar–not far-shooting Apollo.” Cue the smirk as they lean back and cross their arms again.
“That’s nice,” says the professor, “and irrelevant to our current discussion. Moving on…”
The expression changes immediately into an indignant sulk. Then the professor reads a line containing the phrase the “wine-blue” ocean, and the indignant sulk immediately changes into one of shock. Hand shoots up.
“That should be wine-dark, not wine-blue. The Greeks didn’t have a word for blue. That is a shameful mistranslation.”
Everyone ignores this interjection. Class continues.
Illustration via Nikki Shaner-Bradford