No Cure for Curiosity

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Dorothy Parker

Oh Ms. Parker, how I wuv you. As if I don’t have enough to do and never enough time to do it, my latest fascination is ancient Rome, pre-Celtic Ireland and Britain, and trying to learn Latin. And you know whose fault this is?

These boys.

I have become obsessed with this movie. It came out almost a year ago, and apparently vanished before I ever heard of it. Parts of it are weak, some of the performances are not the greatest, but Jamie Bell as the Brigantes slave Esca stole the show. He was brilliant. If you don’t recognize the name, you may know him from “Billy Elliott”. Yep, that’s him. Channing Tatum as the Roman Centurion Marcus Aquila is a stalwart soldier, single-minded in his duty to Rome. He has some good moments, the fireside chat between Marcus and Esca is one of the best I think. It’s been on HBO’s “On Demand” now for a few weeks, and I think I must have watched it six or seven times already. Since it’s going off OD soon, I betook myself to Amazon and ordered both the The Eagle DVD and the soundtrack CD. Oh yes I did. Wonderful soundtrack, nothing I like better than some mournful uillean pipes.

The movie is based on a young adult novel, The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles by Rosemary Sutcliff, published in 1954. This probably accounts for the complete lack of smut in the movie (which I find is a relief). I admit I was surprised to find out it was based on a YA novel, but then I haven’t read any YA in a really long time. I’ll be picking up these books, though.

No one actually speaks Latin in the movie, but this is not relevant. There is a great deal spoken in Gaelic, with English subtitles, although this is probably historically inaccurate. The painted Seal People would more likely have been Picts, rather than Celts, but the Picts disappeared as a people a long time ago and their language is lost completely so they speak in Gaelic in the film (and after several viewings I’m starting to catch a few words of that language). It was probably related so maybe it’s not too far off.

My interest in Latin is partly curiosity after hearing about it all my life. I’ve always felt my education was lacking in the classics, and I have a fascination with languages (plus isn’t there cachet in being able to say you know Latin? Seriously, only hardcore scholarly types even bother with it anymore. I think this restores some geek cred I lost recently). Plus,  this movie also gave me another idea for a story (TADA! there it is). Like an actor immersing themselves in a role, I like to research for my stories. But really, the idea of studying Latin just fascinates me. (It wasn’t offered in high school. We had German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Russian. Four years of German and two of Italian were all I managed then).

I’ll see how far I get with the Latin. I also want to learn Irish, somehow I’ll delve into that as well, but that’s actually more familiar to me than Latin.

For now, I leave you with my writing motto:

Nulla dies sine quingentis verbis!

(Never a day without five hundred words!)

Now, back to the movie…


24 thoughts on “No Cure for Curiosity

  1. Liz says:

    I’m toying with Scottish, but not making a lot of progress. It’s good to learn new languages, because the way you think in one language will be different than in English. That enriches us a writers and human beings. Cheers!


    • D. D. Syrdal says:

      I agree, Liz. As writers words and language are our stock-in-trade, it’s hard NOT to be fascinated by them. Good luck with the Scottish, what resources are you using? Do you have anyone to practice with? YouTube probably has tons of videos that can help with pronunciation. Let me know what you find!


  2. gypsyscarlett says:

    I’m glad there’s no cure for curiosity. I’d refuse to take it even if one did exist. 😉

    Have you read The Lake of Dead Languages? It was a pretty good mystery centeriing on a woman who teaches Latin at a boarding school.

    Much luck with your languages studies! I carry forth with my German. and now I have a friend teaching me some Russian.


  3. D. D. Syrdal says:

    How fun, Tasha! Good luck with Russian. If I had more time to devote to these pleasure pursuits, I’d pick up some Russian, too. That’s the thing, though, so little time. But, I carve out what I can because I can’t help myself! I’ll look for that book, it sounds good 🙂


  4. maryjblog says:

    Did you know that our high school had a Latin teacher, but by the time we got there nobody was signing up for the course so they transferred him to the English/Drama department (you’ll remember him as that creepy guy who supervised the AudioVisual Aids geeks)? A real shame, if you ask me.

    I want to learn Irish, too, even though I don’t have a drop or Irish blood – after visiting there last summer, I’m fascinated with the efforts made, especially in the Western counties, to keep it from becoming a dead language. There are Irish-language road signs, even all-Irish radio stations – the call-in talk shows were a hoot. On the day we visited Inis Mor, the largest and westernmost of the Aran Islands, we visited the ruins of an ancient fort, so old that nobody knows who the natives were fortifying themselves against. It was a long, uphill walk up a very rocky road, so about halfway up I sat down on a stone to rest. Out of the mist (I’m not making this up; I think it’s always misty out there,) this friendly boxer dog appeared, wandered over, and sat down next to me, leaning congenially against my leg. He was so sweet I hated to move, so we communed in silence for a few minutes until his owner showed up and observed “I see he’s guarding you.” “He’s doing a good job,” I responded, “but I don’t know whether he speaks English or Irish.” “He speaks Irish,” the owner told me, and said something incomprehensible to to the dog, who hopped up obediently, joined his human; the two of them headed down the hill and into my heart forever. I had a great time all over Ireland, but I think that was the exact instant when I fell in love with the island, the country, and the language. They have immersion classes there in the Arans, where you can learn the language by living with a host family – when we hit lotto, DD, let’s go!


  5. D. D. Syrdal says:

    Seriously?? I never knew that. Wow. I’m trying to remember who it was, I’m thinking it was the guy I had for English… musta been junior year. Name completely escapes me.

    You may indeed have some Celt in you, even if not Irish. The Celts were everywhere. They sacked Rome at one point, then just left. I love your story about the dog, bless his heart! I’m so glad efforts are being made to preserve not just Irish, but Scots Gaelic and Welsh and Manx as well. My father’s grandparents on his dad’s side were the first of my family to arrive in the US, and if my aunt is to be believed, spoke only Irish. How I wish I could have known them. I love the sound of it, on the rare occasions when I’ve heard it spoken. You’re so on: when we strike it rich we’re off to the Aran Islands 😀


  6. maryjblog says:

    I want to go to the Outer Hebrides, too – I’m fascinated with all those remote little islands, and recently when I did some cursory research on Fang’s Scottish great-grandfather, I found out that great g-pa’s clan was from Western Scotland, possibly – you guessed it – The Hebrides!


    • maryjblog says:

      There’s a terrific obscure b/w movie called “The Edge of the World” that tells the story of the last inhabitants of St.Kilda, one of the islands that was evacuated in the 1930’s – the Scottish government literally relocated everybody to the mainland because it was too hard for them to sustain their way of life out there.( It was actually filmed on one of the Shetland Islands because the director couldn’t get permission to film on St. Kilda (also known as Hirte.)

      Check this out, as well:


      • D. D. Syrdal says:

        Oh, I also have a CD by a Scottish band, The Tannahill Weavers, called “Leaving St. Kilda.” The evacuation may have been a significant event in Scottish history, I don’t know. It seems to have been commemorated by more than a few musicians. I don’t know the piece that’s played during the film clip there, but it reminded me how much I love Runrig, it’s excellent. Amazing that a film from 1908 has survived all these years. What a wonderful look at the past.


  7. D. D. Syrdal says:

    There was a lot of that. There’s a children’s movie (although I find it utterly charming) of a similar situation in Ireland, “The Secret of Roan Inish.” It’s worth watching just for the music, in my opinion.


  8. startingoveringermany says:

    Oh Latin the root or mother of all languages. I use to hear my science teacher tell me that all the time. Than later in life hubby said the same. He took Latin in college and mentioned it helped him a lot. I tip my wig off to you DD. Languages are a hard thing to learn but once you have that passion in which I know you do, you can exceed in all that you do.


    • startingoveringermany says:

      See I always told you that you are a smart cookie. Once you know the English grammar you can understand the comparison of what the Latin book is trying to say. I tutor one of my doctor receptionist on Fridays than I get tutor from my friend who know all the grammar and can explain it to me. When I tutor the receptionist and she ask why, I always tell her…I can’t explain why just that it is not right. I know understanding the reason why which is the grammatical rules would make things smoother but I am too lazy for that. So I too told her a book to order which can help her as we meet up on Fridays to do conversational tutoring.


      • startingoveringermany says:

        I think the young lady need the luck. My husband feel sorry for her, lol, because I talk slang sometime and do not pronouncing words properly. I blame it on learning the German language. I am forgetting how to spell and everything is mixing up on me. Please do keep up posted on what you think of the Latin book and on your progress. I think learning any language is a brave thing to do.


      • D. D. Syrdal says:

        The thing that amazes me is people like the ones in this movie (well, back in that time I mean) who learned languages by immersion. There were no formal courses for most people, although the gentry and upper classes would have had formal schooling. But the average joe had to learn it the hard way to trade or travel.


  9. startingoveringermany says:

    That is so true and in time they do learn. The grammar might be wrong sometime but they pick up fist on repetition and as you said immersion into a group. I had to smile reading that. There were a lot of people in my class who could talk the language least to me but could not write it or spell the word. I found that to be interested but yet again normal as we all began to speak once we learn our first word but never knew how to spell it a that time.
    DD, I have a short joke for you. When I was a teen my brother is 5 years younger than me. He use to say all the time You itch you itch. So I use to say you can’t spell it so why say it. Tell me why he learn how to spell itch and instead of saying it he spell it out to me each time he wanted to call me that word. Now that we are older we laugh about it:))


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