Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beware the Ides of March; and Study Harder!

I'm glad to see that there is at least one person in St Blog's Parish who has his head screwed on right, and not surprisingly, it is the inimitable Father Z, blogging at W.D.T.P.R.S. Sadly, the increased popularity of his blog due to his accurate Latin translations has caused his internet provider to raise the rent considerably, no ifs, ands or buts, and in the interim until he decides what to do, he has removed some of the bells and whistles from his extremely popular blog, including linking and the comments section: Today he regales us with info about one of the most important dates in history:

Happy Idus martiae!

I can see you now. You are peering at the screen in puzzlement, "But Father! But Father!" you are saying, "That can’t be right. Shouldn’t that be Idus martius?! You’ve got it wrong!"

No siree! Latin idus is actually a feminine plural! That’s right, it ain’t a masculine singular at all. So, idus martiae is correct.

The names of Roman months were adjectives and they agree with masculine mensis. That gives us Ianuarius, Februarius, Martius, etc. The key points of the months were the Kalendae, the Nonae and the Idus. The names of the months were then added to these as adjectives. Thus we have the Kalendae martiae or the Idus martiae.

There is a little verses to help you remember when the Nones and Ides fall.
In March, July, October, May,
The Ides are on the fiftenth day,
The Nones the seventh; but all besides
Have two days less for Nones and Ides.

This is the anniversary of the murder of Gaius Iulius Caesar in 44 B.C.

It's also a very important day for me, too, because it is the date before my Philosophy 2 Exam (Logic) from D. Burnham Terrell at the often mentioned here University of Minnesota. (Back in the those days, P.C., pre computer, it wasn't required that all classes had three or four digit numbers. Some even had letters, attesting to the antiquity of the school: Poly Sci A & B come to mind.

Anyway, Prof. Terrell was the one who taught me everything I have ever needed to know about Venn Diagrams (which, believe it or not, I have had occasionally had reason to recall within the past couple of years). But he pulled out all the stops on March 16, 1961 at the end of the Second Quarter (another sign of antiquity) on the final exam.

The theme of the test was the date of the test being day between the Ides of March and St Patrick's Day and using logic to determine whether the instrument used by Brutus in the assassination had any relationship to the tool used by St Patrick in driving the snakes out of Ireland and whether St Patrick possessed an engineering license to perform his task and also whether or not Brutus would have been required to get some kind of engineering permit to do his awful deed (I think I put down "no", but it probably was more a guess than anything).

So traumatic was that final Logic exam that I am compelled to think of it at least once a year.

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