Thursday, July 9, 2009

Books, Botany, and Latinity!

The Chicago Botanic Gardens
Lenhardt Library

Over the 4th of July weekend, my family and I had the opportunity of visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden. I must admit, I was lexicographically and philologically perplexed by use of the terms "botanic" and "garden" in their specific arrangement. Like a good children's book narrator, hidden in the recesses of a the narrative itself, I asked the question: "why not botanical?"
And "why not gardens?" And as far as I could see, there was no definite article on the name: not "The Chicago Botanic Garden," just "Chicago Botanic Garden." It does appear that the definite article is often left out in other places, like ("the") Missouri Botanical Garden. (And note, they are "Botanical" not "Botanic." Yet New York has "The New York Botanical Garden," utilizing both the definite article and the -ical ending. Okay, I'm not completely pedantic, but I was curious. Heck, I would have just said "let's go for some creativity and call it "The Righteously Most Special Chicago and Environs Botanicalisticatious Gardens, Prairies, and Dirt Patches, along With Some Pretty Waterfalls that Were Artificially Created for Us City Folks to Gape at." Don't you all agree? Maybe a little too much, I know.

To the point, and I won't take too much of your time today, because I know I made some folks wither at my Iditarod-length blog entry on St. Louis and the ATLA conference, despite the sweetness you all gathered from my nectar'd prosody.

Nectar, pollen, botanicalistic gardens? Oh, yes. One of the highlights was the Bonsai trees at the left above, which were really quite delightful and extraordinary to look at. I wonder if there are any Lilliputians, who have attempted to harvest bonsai wood to create pulp for paper making? One step to go in the ancient art of book making. If I ever come across one of these Swiftian characters, I think I'll have to recommend they read the fine tome of Leonard N. Rosenband called "Papermaking in Eighteenth-Century France: Management, Labor, and Revolution at the Montgolfier Mill, 1761-1805," (2000). The Montgolfier brothers (Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne) were the inventors of an early style hot air balloon. But this is so tangential, I had to put it in my blogoistic journal writing here. My ever elusive points were about bonsais, botanics, books, and papermaking among little people. Of course, these little people in the photo are my darling children. But they are not Lilliputians, at least they haven't told me otherwise.

The Lenhardt Library, which was closed the day we visited, appears to be a very well-lit, attractive, and moderately sized collection of botanic (or botanical) biblio-delights. The first photo on today's entry shows the entrance of the library with its name and hours of operation.
And I will direct you kind readers to the home page of the library, which is quite splendid and has some detailed information on hours, research, and periodic lectures given by library staff, docents, and others.

See the following link for the Gardens page:

One last comment before leaving you: the library homepage offers up a fine quote from the fine ol' attorney from Roman antiquity, the golden Cicero: "if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Clearly a metaphysician too, or else he knew nothing of food and oxygen for mammalian sustainability! But in all seriousness, Cicero was a great Latin stylist. And his comment brings back many fine memories of my time living in Rome now near a decade ago. As my erstwhile master teacher of Latin and papal translator of all things Latinistique would say: "Cicero, the father of Latinity!--it's just so pure!" (accompanied by a puckered kiss of the air: either to the Lord or to BVM--the Catholics know what I'm talkin' 'bout!--or to the beautiful perfection of the Latin language coming forth from Cicero's quills!)

I will first give all due credit to Father Coulter's website, from which I've copied this image of the great Reginaldus Foster (Milwaukeensis!). I may dedicate another blog space and time to this venerable Magnissimus of Latinity, but for now, I will relate one great vignette of Fosterity, which deals of course with Cicero. On a trip to one of Cicero's homes south of Rome, the good Father Foster brought us to the remnants of the home, which now has a great church built over it. He introduced us to a pork-pie penitent, the rotund-est of religious men, whose name
was classically Don Pedro! Vestments and all. I felt like Don Quixote was about come up from behind on a mule! But above on a hill behind the church, we sat next to a stream that was rather small, but near a spot where the stream split into two streams. We pulled out sheets of "Cicerprose" as I'll call it: writings of Cicero, and read them aloud in Latin like school children in a 1843 Prussian school house. We came upon a sentence that contained the word "fluvium" or some variation, and we translated it as "where the river split." Foster Maximus lifted his hand to the sky, evoking nothing less than Woton of the Italic peninsula and shouted: "That! That was Cicero: he wrote that HERE!" (Imagine a highly cadenced voice, soprano to baritone and back again, ending with a deep throated Pagliacci "HERE!"). Then Foster points to the river splitting in front of us. Ahhhhhh...too bad there were no trees with carvings showing "Cicero was here." Hic, Haec, Hoc!

1 comment: