Category: Access


Learn Italian 0: Preliminaries

Many modern Italian series for Americans avoid grammar.  While this makes it easy at first, it becomes tedious and time-consuming as one goes on.  Italian, though it has lost most of the declensional forms of nouns, adjectives and pronouns, has retained most of the active verbal system of Latin and added on tense:  The Conditional.  By learning the grammatical terms from the beginning, students will make rapid progress.


The Autodidact: Latin Matters Conclusion

The American republic was founded, for the most part, by men with fine classical training, and anyone who takes the trouble to read the correspondence of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson will see that their conversation is studded with discussions of points of grammar, ancient history, and even the rhythm of ancient poetry.  Jefferson and Adams, although old friends, belonged to rival political parties.  What would our presidents have in common that they could talk about?  Football? Reality shows on television?


Learn Italian

I have been long considering a not too formal Italian class, partly to help people intending to participate in one of our Italian programs.  When I proposed it recently, I received one positive response from the Cornells–at least from Papa Cornell.


Six Crises, Podcast Episode 0: Introduction


Dr. Fleming and Rex begin a conversation on the plunge of the United States into anarcho-tyranny and on the American refusal to look reality in the face without flinching.   In the next six  (possibly seven) episodes,  they will take up, one by one, the key events that turned a naive American boy into a Jeremiah,  First up will be the  downing of  the U-2 spy plane shot down in 1960.    


Wednesday’s Child: Patria o Muerte

Van Houten, the Dutch chocolatier founded some two hundred years ago, is still in business today selling its brand of cocoa, but few remember the public-relations ploy that made it famous. Mayakovsky, in a poem written in 1914, recalls a man condemned to death by hanging who had been paid by the company to shout “Drink Van Houten’s cocoa!” from the scaffold as the sentence was being carried out.


Florence/Tuscany Update

Bowing to popular demand, the program in October we are planning will be held in Tuscany.  My current thinking is to stay for 3-4 days in Florence and Arezzo, and from those bases we shall visit a few smaller places.  Possible destinations include Chiusi, Montepulciano, and Pistoia.  


Ask Mr. Autodidact

Karl White writes in to ask which translations of Herodotus and Thucydides I recommend.  In some ways, I am not the best person to ask, since I do not spend much time reading translations, but I have used a number of translations of the historians for classes.  


Autodidact: Homer’s Iliad I

So begins an epic poem that many readers even today regard as the best work of literature that has ever been written, equalled only by the Odyssey. I never cared for such judgments—the most important theologian, the 3 greatest western movies ever made, the world’s best hotdog.  I leave the making of lists to newly wed brides who torture their husbands with “Honey Do lists” they post on the bathroom mirror.