Seeing things Latin

I learn from Bill Neal in Gardener’s Latin that Clematideus means “with long climbing branches; like clematis” and I realize once again that the benefits of Latin cannot be enumerated. Across the page I learn that columbinus means, “like a dove; flowers shaped like a group of doves.” One cannot drive past a Columbine Street or see a Columbine sign or even hear the word columbine without being reminded of the sad free fall of our culture. How doubly ironic, how painful, to be reminded that the bird of peace was shot down on that day.

Latin enables us to see connections that would not otherwise be visible, not only in words but in the reality behind the words. So doing, it enables a depth of perception and thus a depth of feeling that can’t be provided as readily by any other language, especially not English. Latin brings the abstractions of English (what is a columbine?) back to many of their concrete roots, thus enabling the student of Latin to experience the once firm connection between the earth and the sky, between the concrete and the abstract, between philosophy and experience.

Latin enables a student to see the world with a poetic facility.

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