Notes from the Corona Diary: Facemasks on the dogwalk


Here I am with my son out dog-walking on April 5th, 2020. As you will see, we are wearing facemasks, made for us by friends (mine has corkscrews on it, as telling a symbol of these days as the mask itself).

Is it overkill? Do we need to be wearing masks at this point if we are strolling out in the open air not near anybody? A friend noted, “I’ve read that they should be worn when shopping and in unavoidable proximity to people, but not for exercise outside when keeping distance.” I responded, “It’s interesting, isn’t it, how these things have gone? You think something is an unnecessary overreaction and, a few days later, it’s the new normal. I’m getting ahead of the trend.”

Really, we just wanted to try them out. They were new, and fashionable even. Would others have them on? Would we get odd looks?  I guess we wanted to get the feeling of whether or not this would be greeted as strange. We only came across one other person while we were walking–she had no mask on, but after she glanced over at us, she didn’t give us a second look.

Yeah, I guess this is normal.

Postscript. A piece in the Boston Globe (April 5) by Aaron Thomas called “Why I don’t feel safe wearing a face mask” adds a wrinkle I had not considered. Its subtitle, “I’m a Black man living in this world. I want to stay alive, but I also want to stay alive.” It’s depressing to know he is right. Some of us will get to have the privilege of wearing the mask based on our race.


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Protected: LATN 403 Spr 20: Agricola chap. 2 & 3

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LATN 403 Spr 20: Intro to Agricola & chap. 1

This blogcast on Tacitus’s Agricola is divided into three section. Please scroll down and listen to the audio recordings under each section.

  1. Brief Introduction to Tacitus 
  2. Life of Agricola Up to Governorship of Britain
  3. Preface to the Agricola


Some Resources 

You may want to bookmark these


OK, but before we get started though, we just need to wrap up the whole Nero and the Christian martyrs thing– this video should this clear everything up.


1. Brief Introduction to Tacitus and Agricola

Names and phrases mentioned in the audio:

  • Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56 – 120 AD)
  • Annals, Histories, Germania, Dialogus de Oratoribus
  • Gnaeus Julius Agricola
  • 69 AD: Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian)
  • Britannia
  • brevity
  • epigram (epigrammatic)
  • irony
  • Histories 1. 49, on Galba: capax imperii nisi imperasset

A useful review of Tacitus’s life and literary contribution is found on
More about Tacitus’s style can be read at this link.


2. Life of Agricola Up to Governorship of Britain

Please read chapters 4-9 of Tacitus’s Agricola before listening to this audio

  • Forum Julii (modern Fréjus, on the French Riviera)
  • Suetonius Paulinus
  • Boudicca (Boadicaea)
  • Salvius Titianus
  • 69 AD: Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian)
  • tribunate, consulship, plebeian, patrician
  • Chap. 5.3:  Intravitque animum militaris gloriae cupido, ingrata temporibus quibus sinistra erga eminentis interpretatio nec minus periculum ex magna fama quam ex mala.
  • Chap. 6.3:   … tribunatus annum quiete et otio transiit, gnarus sub Nerone temporum, quibus inertia pro sapientia fuit.

Modern statues of Suetonius Paulinus, Julius Agricola, and other Roman governors (and me)        at the Roman bath complex in Bath, England. Summer, 2018.

III. The Preface (Agricola chap. 1)

Please look over Agricola 1.1 & 1.4 before listening to the audio

Agricola 1.1

  • perfect passive participle, used as a substantive (noun)
  • objective genitive
  • apposition

Clarorum virorum facta moresque posteris tradere, antiquitus usitatum, ne nostris quidem temporibus quamquam incuriosa suorum aetas omisit, quotiens magna aliqua ac nobilis virtus vicit ac supergressa est vitium parvis magnisque civitatibus commune, ignorantiam recti et invidiam.


True of Tacitus, as well!

Agricola, 1.2-3  

And just as, in our predecessors’ times, the age was more favourable and open to actions worth recording, so distinguished men of ability were led to produce those records of virtue, not to curry favour or from ambition, but for the reward of a good conscience. Many indeed considered it rather a matter of self-respect than arrogance to recount their own lives, and a Rutilius Rufus or an Aemilius Scaurus could do so without scepticism or disparagement; virtue indeed being most esteemed in those ages which give birth to it most readily.

Agricola 1.4

  • future active participle
  • dative of reference
  • past contrary-to-fact condition (pluperfect subjunctive)

At nunc narraturo mihi vitam defuncti hominis venia opus fuit, quam non petissem incusaturus: tam saeva et infesta virtutibus tempora.


Next Blogcast: Agricola, Chapters 2-3 with Assignment #A, to be posted soon


Just For Fun:

If you are interested to know more about Boudicca’s famous rebellion, put down by Suetonius Paulinus while Agricola was on his staff, you can watch this documentary



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Protected: LATN 403 Spr 20: Agricola chap. 21

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Posted in Classics, England, Film, Language & Etymology, Military, Rome, Sewanee, Slavery, Time

Don’t go to Tennessee

From The Lexington Herald Leader (March 27, 2020):

Beshear warns: Kentuckians crossing into Tennessee could bring coronavirus back home

“I cannot control that Tennessee has not taken the steps that we have,” [Kentucky Gov. Andy] Beshear said. “…I need you to be strong in your pride in this state, and I need you to make sure that you don’t take someone else’s lack of action and ultimately bring it back to Kentucky to harm us.”

Fewer than three weeks ago, I was talking with my partners in the making of “Mine 21” about going to the Appalachian Studies Association conference in Lexington. COVID-19 was a growing issue, but the conference organizers were wanting to go ahead with it. We talked by FaceTime although Kelsey was in town and came to my office.

Yes, no? Are we going to do this? We talked around and around. “Mine 21”  had won the Jack Spadaro Award–“The Spadaro Award is given annually to recognize the producer of the best nonfiction film or television presentation on Appalachia or its people”–and we were due to receive it at the banquet on March 13th. We REALLY wanted to go to this banquet, to get this award, to widen the audience for our film and its story. We had meetings set up with people who could help us promote the movie. We had dinners planned.

But we had to acknowledge some grim realities. Things were getting worse across the country. Harvard and Princeton had closed down and sent the students home to continue the semester online. Berea College in Kentucky had gone even further. But the organizers were still planning on running the conference. They wrote, “This afternoon, we had a spirited discussion about the implications of both cancelling and proceeding with the conference. We decided today to proceed, but it was not a unanimous decision.” We made up a list of pro’s and con’s in my office, but frankly, it was hard to know how to move forward. Let’s wait and see, we decided, until maybe March 12th?

With less than 36 hours to go, the conference was cancelled. I know that was not an easy decision.

There is an alternate reality in my heart, and it is quite vivid, where none of this happens the way that it has fallen out. Corona is serious but it does not become a pandemic. We get to go to Lexington, we meet up with some valuable contacts, “Mine 21” finds a home with a distributor. In my mind’s eye, we celebrate my visiting a distillery or two and blow the prize money on too much Bourbon. The laughter, the good fellowship, the sense of accomplishment, and yes, even the hangover, are all realities that I can almost recollect, they are so distinct.

But none of it happens. Instead, the governor of Kentucky is telling people not to go to Tennessee. It’s sensible advice. I am nodding my head in agreement. But I am also shaking my head in amazement. It is only going to get worse.

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