A Little Latin and Less Greek

I played around with my profile about an hour ago and it led me to the website for my old school. Quite extraordinary, the emotional charge of seeing classmates’ names again. The memory must be a peculiar thing. You have all that stuff buried in it, never realising it’s even there, and then a name on a screen brings back a flood. It doesn’t even have to be someone who was terribly important to you. Just the Pavlovian trigger of the register being called.

The registration form on the site invited us to add our Latin names. We had a Latin teacher called Mrs Hackett who painstakingly gave every child in every class a name, based wherever possible, on a characteristic of their English name. Mine was BALAENA, due to my maiden name being Mobey! I remember the first girl on the register was Janet Almond, so she became AMYGDALIA. And my friend Carole Hodges (who went on to play for the English Ladies Cricket Team) defeated even Mrs Hackett’s ingenuity – she called her DECIMA because she was tenth on the register! My friend Mandy Goodwright was BENEFICIA, and Carol Stringer was FIDICULARIA.

We used to put on Latin plays, too. I can still recite the opening to The Three Bears:

“In silva densa est casa parva. Et in casa parva habitant tres ursi. Ursulus patris, ursula matrica et ursulus filius.”

I had to stand on a desk and be a tree. I also remember being taught to count in Latin by means of the cautionary tale of a greedy boy named Marcus, who ate ten eggs straight until “Marcus Explodit.”

It must have worked because I got an A in Latin O Level, however I was unable to sustain this to A Level, where I got a C, a disappointment to me at the time.

Not many children, even those in independent schools, have the benefit of a classical education any more. That is such a pity. I even did Classical Studies O Level at lunchtimes, gamely ploughing through Euripedes, Cicero and Lucretius, and got an A in that. Probably helped with Oxford entrance, too.


4 thoughts on “A Little Latin and Less Greek

  1. Hi Divena Here – Ambulo, ambulas,abulat, ego sum, tu es Oh no my Latin has failed me. Lovely to read about Mrs Hackett. I went to FGS and was called Godfrey (hence Divina) I have tons of fond memories about the school and all the fun we had there. Nice to read your blog post.

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