It's JP here, one of the TA's for the Academy this summer, and I wanted give y'all a little taste of what my elective this summer is going to be.
I will be discussing ancient Roman puns, word play, and little hidden riddles! Back when I attended Academy in 2016, a guest speaker came and delivered a lecture on Latin puns. Ever since, I have been addicted to any and every instance of ancient, witty turns of phrase. Ranging from authors like Plautus, through Vergil, all the way up through the middle ages, the writers of Latin literature snuck in little gems for their readers to find, and I want to expose you to those gems so you can start to find them for yourself!
In my lecture, I will show a few famous examples of puns and word puzzles (or rebuses as they are known by scholars), and then introduce a gold mine of word play, Petronius's Satyricon. We'll then look at two examples of puns from the Satyricon and discuss a passage that is filled with little rebuses. As a useful tangent, I will also introduce y'all to the apparatus criticus, a helpful tool for truly studying any Latin passage. Lastly, we'll finish up with two passages in which you get to try to find the word play! I'll go over them at the end so it will be okay if you don't see them right away. My hope is to open your eyes to the world of Latin puns so that you can be on the look out and find them in any of the works that you read!
I look forward to meeting you all!
- JP Wilusz
This blog will document the MMXX virtual session of the Virginia Governor's Latin Academy.