Ars est celare artem

I meant to get around to talking about Eric Idle’s Road to Mars before now, but I haven’t had the time or idleness, I suppose. I still don’t. But he uses Ovid’s famous observation that the true art is to conceal art (or, I suppose, Crispinus might want me to be more direct and say “it is art to conceal art” [though shouldn’t “est” be at the end? aren’t the verbs always at the end? I reveal my artlessness when it comes to Latin]).

This seems the task of the writer (of course), but also of the junior faculty member, who must do many things to look impressive and make them all seem possible, even effortless. By midterm, however, the juggling becomes a strain as I wonder for the millionth time how it will all get done. One step at a time, as always — and not lapsing into too much idleness (literally in this case).

More forthcoming on the White Face and the Red Nose… once I’ve finished grading.


  1. Crispinus says:

    Actually, I don’t think it’s Ovid at all. The poet has a few sentiments like this:si latet, ars prodest — “Art is useful when it’s hidden” (Ars. Am. 2.313);ars adeo latet sua arte — “His art is concealed by his own art” (meaning Pygmalion’s statue, Met. 10.252).But so far as I know he never wrote ars est celare artem. Must be a popular attribution.And verbs don’t always have to come last, not even in prose. In poetry, of course, they go where they can. Maybe the position of the est is meant to seem poetic, or gnomic. I like it — I think it’s better than ars celare artem est, which seems needlessly fussy, if not inert.

  2. Gene K. says:

    Crispinus scripsit: But so far as I know he never wrote ars est celare artem. Must be a popular attribution.Apparently so. Looks like we get to blame Eugene H. Ehrlich’s Amo, Amas, Amat, and More: How to Use Latin to Your Own Advantage and to the Astonishment of Others, at least…

  3. Crispinus says:

    And that is why I distrust all Eugenes — oh, wait a minute….

  4. Gene K. says:

    Dear Crispinus: i in malam crucem.

  5. K. A. Laity says:

    I like to see a good Latin debate starting up. Is it like the old days, boys? I’ve heard the stories — I can imagine you guys in your togas!

  6. Gene K. says:

    Sure, there were lots of Latin competitions – but it certainly wasn’t all togas. Don’t forget comics and ice fights [well, not like this one, but it’s the best I could find when Googling “ice fight”].

  7. Chuckie58 says:

    Speaking of Eric Idle, we went to see Seussical week before last and it was Goofy Good Fun.

  8. Crispinus says:

    Togas — meh, more like bedsheets and ties. (I don’t know why there were ties, but there were.)In addition to the aforementioned certamina and ice fights (o fleeting glory, to fight with ice in summer in a Budgetel: gelida pila cano…), there was also evasion of the chaperones and fighting over women. And every now and then some reading in Latin.

  9. K. A. Laity says:

    Fighting over women?Never heard about that!Do tell —

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