The way the idea for a blog of the Oxford Latinitas Project was born tells much about its purpose. Like most if not all of our ideas, this one was conceived and gradually took shape through conversations between friends. After last year’s Septimana Latina, the annual one-week Latin course we organize at the Villa Falconieri, which houses the Accademia Vivarium Novum, I returned to an empty apartment in Madrid and tried to focus on my research, which I had interrupted to teach on the Septimana Latina. In the Villa one is constantly surrounded by interesting people, every meal turns into an exciting discussion about Vergil or Saint Augustine or Galileo, at every turn you can spark a conversation with anyone about the things you are passionate about, and the other person will respond with equal enthusiasm. For all this, it felt almost unreal to be alone in that apartment reading 12th Century monastic literature, but without anyone with whom to talk about it over the coffee break. So it was that I decided to write letters in Latin to the friends I had just spent an amazing week with. Those letters, the ones I wrote and the ones I received, were very warm testimonies of a friendship grounded in the love of literature and the shared persuasion of its importance beyond the walls of the ivory tower, in the very shaping of our lives. They were a mirror of the spirit of our community , they were personal and friendly, and at the same time dealt with important matters concerning ideas on education, and different aspects of the Humanities, around which our studies and endeavors revolve. They showed that work and study, for us, are not just things we have to get over with to continue with our lives, they are a part of us, as our memories and hopes are, they give shape to our lives, and through them, we seek to contribute to the good of a conscious and humane world
Over the summer I was back at the Accademia with other members of the OLP. I shared with them my idea of creating a virtual space, a common forum where we could manifest our vision of the importance of the liberal arts and the classical languages, and attract like-minded people to our growing community. Somewhere we could come together from the different places of the world we inhabit, and share those things we study and love because we believe in their potential to transform lives. I found out my friends had been pondering some very similar projects, and over our summer in Rome we came up with this blog and with the following guiding principles:
The first thing we seek through Humaniora Studia is to contribute to what we consider a most important endeavor, that of preserving the literature, philosophy and culture that we have inherited from our predecessors and that does not belong to one culture, country, religion, or time, but to all humans. By posting shorts essays and articles in Latin and English , we aim to uncover and communicate the treasures of beauty and wisdom that the parents of our civilization still have to share with us.
Francis Petrarch, considered by many the father of humanism, described his way of working as simul ante retroque prospiciens, simultaneously looking back and forward, or more precisely, looking ahead by looking back: tending to the future equipped and sustained in that forward motion by a firm knowledge of what we already have been given . With that in mind, our goal is not to nostalgically return to the past, nor regurgitate the same ideas. Rather we hope to bring forth content that is original and apt to people of our time, but which is nevertheless nourished by the ancient sources that still flow towards us. Furthermore by posting in Latin we wish to demonstrate two things: that this language is, suitable for treating contemporary scholarly subjects, and to express with propriety the preoccupations and desires of the modern man; and secondly that there are men and women from all over the world, many of them young scholars, who are still able to use Latin as the common language of the scholarship of the res publica litterarum, and to do so not only with skill but great joy.
Finally, we believe that Latin, like the rest of the languages, is not an end in itself but an instrument of communication. What is really important is that, which we wish to communicate. This is our sincere hope and the main goal of this blog: to offer to the readers, either in Latin or in English, texts that are in themselves worthy to be read, and that may teach, please, and move.