Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Vladimir Horowitz is a badass.

Horowitz is probably my favorite classical pianist; his interpretations are at one time fiery and have sort of a nervous energy about them, and at another soft and whimsical. This, however, is not what makes him a badass.

In 1988 Horowitz was nominated for (and won) a Grammy award for his recording of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23. However, he skipped out on the Grammys in favor of receiving the National Bow-Tie Wearers Association Award. And for that he earned my undying respect.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mesomedes I

In the standard numbering of Mesomedes' poems, the first two are joined. I think it's quite a beautiful poem.

ἄιεδε Μοῦσα μοι φίλη,
μολπῆς δ' ἐμῆς κατάρχου,
αὒρη δὲ σῶν ἀπ' ἀλσέων,
ἐμάς φρένας δονείτω.

Καλλιόπεια σοφά,
Μουσῶν προκαθαγέτι τερπῶν,
καὶ σοφὲ μυστοδότα,
Λατοῦς γόνε, Δήλιε Παιάν,
εὐμενεῖς πάρεστέ μοι.

Sing to me, beloved muse,
start up my song,
Let the breeze from your sacred grove
stir my mind.

O wise Calliope,
leader of the delightful muses,
and you, wise giver of mysteries,
son of Leto, Apollo from Delos,
kind ones: stand near me.

Note the internal rhyme in lines 2, 3, 4, and 6 as well as the rather uncommon 3rd person imperative in line 4.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Thomas Jefferson Was so Smart

Thomas Jefferson's study regime when he was studying law was insane. He divided his day into five periods as follows:

From whenever he awoke to 8:00 AM-- Physical Sciences, Ethics, Religion, Natural Law

8:00 AM to 12:00--Law

12:00-1:00--Economics and Politics

1:00 to dusk--History (American, English, Greek [sources read in the original], Roman [again, sources read in the original])

dusk to midnight--Belles lettres, Oratory, Rhetoric, Criticism. Greek and Latin authors were (of course) read in the original.

It's no wonder he was probably the most learned and cultured President in American history.

Archilochus I

εἰμὶ δ' ἐγὼ θεράπων μὲν Ἐνυαλίοιο ἄνακτος
καὶ Μουσέων ἐρατὸν δῶρον ἐπιστάμενος

A servant am I, of Ares, the Lord
and skilled in the gift that the Muses award.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dative/Nominative/Ergative Subjects?!

The case system of Georgian is a giant mess. Basically speaking, Georgian is an ergative language, meaning that it uses the ergative case for 'agents' (subjects of transitive verbs), and the absolutive case for 'intransitive subjects' and 'direct objects'. However, things are not quite this simple. Georgian makes a distinction between unergative and unaccusative subjects.

[Aside of explaination]
Intransitive verbs can be divided into two main classes. Fillmore (1968) posited two general formulas for these:

V + A (intransitive, active subject)

V + O (intransitive, inactive subject)

The first type came to be called unergative verbs (more 'agentive'), while the second were called unaccusatives. Perlmutter and Postal (1984: 98-99) wrote up a list of examples of both types:

Unergative Verbs:

Willed or Volitional Acts- speak, laugh, cry, walk
Manner of Speaking- whisper, mumble, bellow
Animal Sounds- bark, neigh, roar
Involuntary Bodily Processes- cough, sneeze, belch,

Unaccusative Verbs:

Affected Argument- burn, fall, dry
Inchoatives- melt, die, grow
Existing and Happening- exist, happen, arise
Involuntary Emission of Stimuli- shine, clink, stink
[End aside of explaination]

Now, unergative verbs require an ergative subject in Georgian, while unaccusative verbs do not. Moreover, the ergative case also shows up only in past tense constructions (unless it's an unergative verb, in which case it takes the ergative case in the present, past). In the present tense, the subject will appear in the nominative. Languages of this sort have, I believe, been called 'active' as opposed to 'ergative'. Another strange thing: in the perfect tense, the subject is in the dative, of all cases. How this situation arose I have no idea.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Have Returned...

..., freed from the chains of employment. Working 10-12 hours a day doesn't leave much time for blogging, so my posts have deteriorated in number over the summer (the final count is zero).

However, more are forthcoming on an oddity of the Georgian case system, some thoughts on Greek Lyric poetry, and most likely a rant about the GRE.