Learning Latin as an Older Gentleman


by Allan Gillis

“You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

I shall press on, inserting new blocks of wood into the empty spaces where I’ve hacked out maggot-infested “modern” notions and methods-of-thinking…    in a world where we have contempt for “the courtier”.

Last evening I was walking down the corridor of the building where my office is.  It was early evening – later than usual.  I noticed a colleague still laboring away in his office with his door open.  I rather briskly walked by, waving a friendly salute as I passed and I just wished him a quick “Murf! Have a good night sir!”.  He then (almost laughingly) replies with the popular quip: “don’t call me sir!”  I wondered as I walked to my car; when did it become unfashionable to welcome a “term of honor”?  When did we as gentlemen decide to discard our regard for quality and virtue?  How thankful I am for Baldassarre Castiglione and the manners and mores of his time!

A little more than two centuries later, the French Revolution was a tipping point in history.  How utterly disgusting the notions that blossomed there and then.  And we moderns – like dogs, keep eating and vomiting and re-eating the same shit over and over and over again in different iterations with the advent of each different generation. General George Patton was known to have said: (or at least it was a line that I just loved in the movie)  “how I hate the twentieth century!”.  I’m with ya George, the twenty-first is even worse brother!

I’m going to continue plodding along with my Latin lessons.

2 thoughts on “Learning Latin as an Older Gentleman

  1. Steve Shields

    Learning is good.
    Using basic manners is good.
    Treating people with respect is good.

    I often call people “sir” in work situations. People (especially those from other countries) appreciate it and I can get away with it because as a person in my 60’s, I am considered a quaint throw-back to an earlier time. I can wear real hats now as well (http://www.tilley.com/us_en/men/hats/best-sellers-hats-us/ttw2-tec-wool.html). Millennials treat me as a wise, but kindly grandfather and some friends from India call me the “Baba”. I embrace it all as a part of growing up, and still love to learn. We are blessed.

    Baba (Persian: ‎‎: بابا, Turkish: baba, Urdu: ‎بابا, Pashto: ‎; Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi: बाबा; Assamese and Bengali: বাবা; Punjabi: ਬਾਬਾ; father; grandfather; wise old man; sir,) is a Persian honorific term used in several West Asian and South Asian cultures. It is used as a mark of respect to refer to Sufi saints.

  2. Augustinus Augustinus

    To my two Babas: Al and Steve in our fight to save the church:
    ” I have great enemies so that my victories can be more brilliant, and I trample on many vices on behalf of many virtues…I hate any smallness, and have the largesse of noble birth and a noble heart. Others formed of baser clay and more servile spirits, without an ounce of daring, never undertake the great cause of saving a whole civilization and giving birth to its newest splendors”
    By Baltasar Gracian


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