Latin at the Time of Social Networks: How a Like Becomes Mihi Placet!

Award ceremony for “Nova Humanitas” the latin composition competition promoted by Sapienza's Classical Literature Didactic Area.

on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the Odeion Room, faulty of Humanities, in presence of the Rector Eugenio Gaudio, the best compositions among those submitted for the Certamen LatinumNova Humanitas” competition, will be awarded. The competition allows submission either in poetry or prose, open to university and high school students, and is promoted by the Classical Literature Didactic Area.

The theme of this II edition is the famous phrase Idem velle atque idem nolle, ea demum firma amicitia est (to desire the same things and to reject the same things, constitutes true friendship) from Sallustius's De coniuratione Catilinae: a very actual theme since social networks have a strong and stronger impact on our daily lives and human relationships. 

The Commission - lead by Leopoldo Gamberale, emeritus at Sapienza, and composed of professors: Andrea Cucchiarelli, Michelina Panichi, Michela Rosellini and Francesco Ursini, has awarded with the first prize Francesco Grotto, author of the composition Reditus in montem Ortigaram which tells the story of the return of an alpine on Ortigara many years after the battle that had been fought in June 1917, and recalls his last talks with a fellow soldier, who was killed during the fight: a brief but intense search for lost time, in which the tradition of Neolatin poetry merges effectively with that of the Alpine and with that of literature and Venetian music, on the centenary of the end of the Great War. 

Also this year the winner has given proof of linguistic sensitivity and inventiveness really worthy of note: so "be ready" becomes Estote Parati, which is the cry of the commanders, the "barbed wire" is translated into Spinea Linea, the "loopholes" of the fortification are Ballistraria, while grenade remained granata in Italian.

The winner of the secodn prize is Giuseppe Quarta, who writes an imaginary letter from Seneca to Lucilius, in which the philosopher criticizes the Sallustian phrase chosen as the title of Certamen and the conception of friendship that Sallustius attributes to Catiline contrasts another, more profound and with more firm foundations in philosophical thought .

Giovanni Bellizzi, third winner, is the author of an essay on social criticism and satire, in which the narrative voice (which is that of a girl) contrasts with the superficiality and emptiness typical of social friendships ("like" is rendered in Latin with "mihi placet!") - but also, more generally, those based on ephemeral fun - the conversation, much deeper and more reassuring, with one's own shadow.

Last but not least, the forth winner is the prose composition by Gabriele Bonini, which traces the history of humanity to reconstruct the birth and development of the concept of friendship, with a wealth of citations from both ancient (Euripides, Aristotle, Cicero) and modern (Saint-Exupéry) authors.

A special honorary mention has been given to an essay evaluated out of competition as the author, Alwaleed Alsaggaf, a student of Saudi nationality at Birkbeck University of London, is not currently enrolled in an Italian school or university institution: entitled De Amicitia Dissertatiuncula , is an erudite discussion on the foundations and on the nature of friendship, written in an excellent Latin, sometimes brilliant.

The award ceremony will be preceded by a Lectio magistralis by Leopoldo Gamberale and followed by the recitation of the winning composition and, therefore, by a concert by Coroanaroma (National Alpine Association - Rome section) directed by Maestro Osvaldo Guidotti, who will perform some songs related to themes dealt with in the winning composition, including the famous Alpine song "Monte Canino".

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