Latin in the Simpsons

A surprisingly thorough account of Latin in the longest-running scripted television show in America: The Simpsons.



Over the past quarter-century, almost everything has been referenced on “The Simpsons,” and Latin is no exception.  However, no one has ever compiled a list of Latin references on the series, so here’s my catalog with commentary.

Probably the most famous Latin phrase in “The Simpsons” is the motto on Mayor Quimby’s seal, “Corruptus in extremis,” which appears in multiple episodes.  Quimby is infamously corruptselling the school’s milk contract to the Mafia, using taxpayer dollars to have his enemies killedso the intended meaning is obvious, “Corrupt in the extreme.”  The Latin phrase “in extremis” usually means “at the farthest reaches” or “as a last resort,” so this could arguably have the opposite meaning, that Quimby is corrupt only as a last resortthough no one other than Quimby’s press secretary is likely to spin it that way.

Read more…

Comix: An Empedoclean Periodic Table of Elements

Savage Chickens takes on an Empedoclean Periodic Table of Elements:

Romulus & Remus Podcast

This week’s “In Our Times” Podcast delves into the wonders and mysteries of Romulus and Remus:

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Romulus and Remus, the central figures of the foundation myth of Rome. According to tradition, the twins were abandoned by their parents as babies, but were saved by a she-wolf who found and nursed them. Romulus killed his brother after a vicious quarrel, and went on to found a city, which was named after him.


Conjugate me a pop song!

The song “Paradise” by Wild Nothing is not my musical cup of tea. But I cannot resist promoting a song that takes a break in the middle to conjugate amo in present and perfect indicative. If that sounds terrible… well, I is. But hey, Latin! (aspiring musicians take note!)

The Latin starts around 2:00 into the song

h/t @DCComm

O Tempestates! Some Storms in Latin Poetry

From almost as soon as there was Latin literature, Latin poets reveled in providing their readers with spectacular descriptions of storms at sea. They served as metaphors of cosmic and psychological turmoil, as a proving ground for courage, and a symbol of the unphilosophical life.

With Sandy bearing down like on us, now seemed a good time to stay safe and dry with a few poetic descriptions of storms.

Arranged chronologically. (most links to translations, except for Pacuvius)

  • Pacuvius Teucer 350-365 W.
  • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 2.1-21 — how it is pleasant to see others in trouble:
  • Horace, Odes 3.29: The Aegean Storm
  • Vergil, Georgics 1.311-37
  • Vergil, Aeneid 1.81-123 — The Trojans, in sight of their new home in Italy, are driven to Carthage (and trouble).
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.474-572 — Ceyx & the Tempest.
  • Lucan, Pharsalia 5. 560-677 — description of the storm on the Adriatic sea during Caesar’s attempted crossing.
  • Valerius Flaccus. Argonautica 1.574-692 — will the Argonauts be drowned before their adventure has scarcely begun?
  • Silius Italicus, Punica 17. 201-90 — Hannibal, the Anti-Aeneas, sails from Italy to Africa.
  • Statius, Thebaid 1.336-382 — a rare description of a storm on land, symbolizes the internal turmoil of Polyneices on the eve of civil war.
  • Juvenal, Satire 12.1-82 — the merchant Catullus attempts to survive a storm.
  • Aldhelm, Quando profectus fueram / A Storm in Devon

Roman Shipwreck… with food!

Divers discover 2,000-year-old Roman shipwreck that is so well preserved even the FOOD is intact
Fish, wine, oil and grain found inside pots, giving new insight into Roman lifestyle
Divers believe over 200 pots are left intact on the Roman commercial ship

One of the best preserved shipwrecks ever found has been discovered off the Italian coast.

Divers say they have found a ship off the coast of Italy which they believe is about 2,000 years old.

The ship, which was spotted in the sea off the town on Varazze in the province of Liguria, is thought to be a Roman-era commercial vessel.
Read more

Divers examine vessel found in Roman shipwreck

Mnemonic for Second Declension Vocatives

Here’s the mnemonic diddy to remember the morphology of the vocative singular of the second declension (slightly refined):

“If it ends in -us, then the voc. sing. is ‘e‘,

otherwise leave it be, unless of course it’s fili

And a variant:

“If it ends in -us,

then the voc. sing. is ‘e‘,

otherwise don’t make a fuss,

unless of course it’s fili

Marginalia 4.29.2012

From my own personal Mt. Olympus (aka my living room), let’s take a look at the new and notable in the world of antiquity on-line:

  • Sortes Vergilianae & Sibylline Oracle for iOS! “This app provides to you the same opportunity as the Romans, except now it’s truly random: press a button and you’ll be presented with one passage from the Aeneid or from the Sibylline Oracles. What does it mean? That’s for you to decide, but if you don’t like it just press the “burn it” button to get a new prophecy!”

  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses & Art History (via The Guardian): “The National Gallery is putting on its show Metamorphosis to celebrate the two great Titians it has purchased in partnership with the National Gallery of Scotland. Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon both depict scenes from Ovid. But if Titian was the greatest visualiser of Ovid he had a lot of competition. Such marvels of art as Correggio’s Jupiter and Io, Michelangelo’s Fall of Phaethon, and Carravaggio’s Medusa all draw heat from Ovid’s imaginative fire. The exhibition Metamorphosis, an Olympic special tied in with new opera productions, involves works by contemporary British artists – including Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger – that respond to Ovid’s myths. The gallery is also publishing newly commissioned poems after Ovid by writers who include Seamus Heaney….”
  • David Bianculli talks “I, Claudius” on the occasion of its 35th anniversary: “The miniseries boasts impressive performances from several key British actors. Patrick Stewart, long before Star Trek: The Next Generation, shows up here. So does John Hurt, as a memorably unhinged Caligula. And the women, including Sian Phillips as Livia and Sheila White as Messalina, are deadlier, and even more fascinating, than the men. John Hurt (Caligula) and Derek Jacobi (Claudius) square off in the miniseries I, Claudius.Except, that is, for Claudius himself. Played by Derek Jacobi, it’s a performance that spans wide-eyed youth and weary old age…”
  • A nifty collection of podcasts about ancient medicine (via Love of History Blog)
  • Taylor S. (BMC ’14) reviewed Anne Carson’s memorable performance at Haverford last week.

Felix Dies Natalis, Roma!

Rome turned 2,765 years young today!

birthday cupcake

Not an authentic Roman birthday treat.


But this is: Ovid describes the Parilia, the festival Romans celebrated to mark the founding of their city. There are cows jumping over fires… and quite possibly fratricide.

Marginalia 4.21.2012

Felix Dies Natalis, Roma!


Staypressed theme by Themocracy