Thursday, March 7, 2013

Darnay the Younger, Cato the Elder

The difference is that I’m neither a senator nor famous—and that Marcus Porcius Cato wearied the world about the necessary destruction of Carthage whereas I weary the world (in an obscure blog or two or three) about the world inevitably running out of oil. Cato’s dictum, inserted in his speeches everywhere, context permitting or not, never mind, was Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed), whereas my mantra is The World will run out of oil; that, rendered into Google Latin, is Excurrat olei mundi.

Another difference is that I still have my hair whereas Cato had lost all of his, but we are equally attractive as we look in the mirror after a shower. And if I’m to live as long as he did (85), I’ve still got nine more years to go.

Now another, and even more telling, contrast between us is that in part Carthage was destroyed because Cato was, like, on and on. Meanwhile the world will run out of oil no matter what I say. In his case navies and armies had to be set sailing and marching, but in mine one needs but turn the key in the car—which requires neither much consciousness nor emotion. But without that key, that car, lordy, what would we do?
Image of Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BC) from Wikipedia (link).


  1. Cato the Elder and Fossil fuels... everything is ancient. I do like the old reactionary, Cato.
    For all the bloodthirstiness of his endless reminder that Carthage must be destroyed, his war had a goal.

    At the risk of reinforcing my status as the most tedious person alive, it looks like Google Latin has the verb in the subjunctive rather than the future, and misses the sense of urgent and prophetic doom.

    Since you are an author, and have written in the Science Fiction genre, have you ever read Stapldon's "Last and First Men"? Particularly the part towards the beginning where the First Men (us) in their latter days expend fuel like maniacs in useless and symbolic aerial displays?

    1. Have not, Montag, but sounds like fun.

      And, by the way, what would my motto be in Montag's Latin????

  2. "Excurret" in the future.

    We could think of it as a future-less-vivid conditional, like:
    "if nothing should change, the world will run out of oil" and use the subjunctive "excurrat", so it is right after all.

    At my father's wake, I think I corrected the Latin of the priest who was to officiate at my father's funeral.


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