Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011 - (Page 20)

Classics Philip Matyszak earned his doctorate in Roman history from St. John’s college, Oxford. He teaches ancient history at cambridge University, and has authored over a dozen books on Greek and Roman history, including The Classical Compendium: A Miscellany of Scandalous Gossip, Bawdy Jokes, Peculiar Facts, and Bad Behavior from the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Here, “Maty” discusses how getting to know the ancients is not only educational, but also fascinating and fun. What is it about the classical world that you find so intriguing? Some people go for things like Star Trek, but I prefer studying the ancient world. It’s an alternative reality that was, well, real. You get to glimpse a world where people did things completely differently, but were still very much like us. And if you really get into it, you’re respected. Speak Klingon, and people say, “Ooh, that’s a bit strange.” But speak Latin, and people go, “Wow.” Is it important to learn Latin today? I always say that learning another language—any language—teaches you another way to think, and that’s very important. But learning Latin gives you insight into another world. When you read Latin, you find yourself falling into the mental patterns of the people who wrote that way 2,000 years ago. It provides insight into the minds of people in the past, and there’s basically no other way of doing that. Your book The Classical Compendium is a banquet of delicious tidbits from ancient times� What prompted you to write it? I was actually following a classical tradition. Numerous books in the ancient world, including Plutarch’s Moralia and Aulus Gellius’s Attic Nights, contain collections of anecdotes and jokes. I loved writing e Classical Compendium. I think that what really comes through is our shared humanity: the fact that people sometimes made sardonic jokes under grim circumstances, that they were capable of showing unexpected compassion in various istoCk 20 imagine Nov/Dec 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011
Big Questions
In My Own Words
Latin Geek
Latin in Rome
Made in Greece ... or Was It?
Classics for All
Pillaging the Past
The Aqueduct Hunters
What’s Old is News
Selected Opportunities & Resources
Girls on Ice
Nurturing a Passion for Science at the National Youth Science Camp
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Game

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011