Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Great Gatsby’s Roman origins

In honor of our current advanced Latin class on the Roman novels, here’s an insight I learned while listening to the NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another”, which aired a game segment called “Working Title” this weekend: original working titles for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby included Trimalchio, or Trimalchio in West Egg!

Fitzgerald Trimalchio

Trimalchio is, of course, one of the memorable characters from Petronius’ Satyricon, and Fitzgerald references the character explicitly: “It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night—and, as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over.”

Latin for the enlightened: on the 10th anniversary of ABC’s Lost

Recently we reached the 10th anniversary of the premiere of ABC’s blockbuster series Lost (created by J. J. Abrams). One of the pleasures of the series, for a Classicist: spoken Latin!

When some of the survivors time-travel back to the 1970s on the island, Sawyer and Juliet encounter proto-“Others”, led by Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking (parents-to-be of Lost physicist Daniel Faraday). In order to prove her “Other” bona fides, Juliet addresses them in Latin to gain their trust. An astonished Sawyer asks “Who taught you Latin?” She replies, “Others 101. Gotta learn Latin. Language of the enlightened.” (Episode 5.3, “Jughead”)

Juliet Lost Latin

Leslie Knope will save AP Latin!

Parks & Recreation‘s Leslie Knope is famous for her super-intense dedication to the well-being of her fellow Pawneeans. When the school board wanted to save money by cancelling senior prom, she came to the rescue. Equally important, when they wanted to cut AP Latin, she volunteered to teach it!

Leslie Knope

“Which reminds me,” she muses, “I need to learn Latin.”

So say we all, Leslie!


Want to be a Lawyer? Start by Being a Classics Major

Derek Muller, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, recently studied the correlation between LSAT and GRE scores and undergraduate majors.

His finding? Classics majors ranked at the very top of majors, with the highest LSAT and GRE scores!

So if you are looking to go to law school, you simply cannot do better than to major in Classics!

For Muller’s report, see his blog at