I do not have many regrets in my life; nothing serious, anyway. But, I wish I had learned Latin. It was never offered to me; I never went to that type of school. I have always been attracted to Latin, not so much as a language but, as a code system of information. Take the Roman numeric system as an example. It is quite abstract in its use of letters to express numbers or dates but, at the same time this numeric code is incredibly immediate in its logic.
Palma’s Castell de Bellver is the home of the Museu de la Ciutat. There one can find a treasure trove of trophies from the Roman empire, the old Rome where Latin was invented. The treasures form part of the Despuig Collection. Antoni Despuig Dameto who later was to become Cardinal Despuig, was born in Palma in 1745. As a young man he was interested in pursuing a career in the Military but, his family edged him into choosing a career in the church instead. In 1774, Despuig was ordained as a priest and later, a Capitular of the Cathedral in Palma. In 1785, the crown of Aragón sent him to Rome where he became a senior advisor to Pope Paul VI and to Pope Pius VII, who anointed him Cardinal in 1803. Once in Rome, Despuig took an immediate interest in art and archaeology. He soon started collecting statues and epigraphic tablets from the time of the Roman Empire, a collection that during his lifetime made its way into his family’s home, Raixa near Bunyola. When the Despuig family sold Raixa in 1910, attempts were made to try to stop the collection from leaving the island. Finally, in 1918, the collection was bought and saved by two Mallorcan architects for the sum of 60,000 Pesetas who consequently sold the artefacts to the Ajuntament de Palma in 1923. The collection was exhibited from then on in Castell de Bellver and is so, to this day.
I am constantly intrigued in trying to decipher such epigraphic finds wherever I come across some. Often I do not get very far with my trials and tribulations but, I always get satisfaction from the endeavour to crack the Da Vinci Code, Palma-style.
The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 27th, 2011. The time was 14:27:02.
School Latin, if taken to a sufficient level, proves extremely useful in later life when attempting to learn a language such as Spanish or Italian. But only if one’s Latin Tutor has a “feel” for the language and the ability to convey it to his pupils. Alas, one may get an impression of my erstwhile Tutor from the comment one of my fellow pupils left on his examination answer-paper ,,,
…”Latin is a dead language; it killed the Romans and now it is killing me!” …
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