November 30, 2021
Each semester here at Wyoming Catholic College, we hold an “All-School Seminar.” All students, faculty, and any interested staff read the same work and meet in groups led by our seniors to discuss what they’ve read. This fall’s All-School Seminar was Plato’s dialogue between Socrates and Ion.
In the dialogue, Socrates greets Ion, a rhapsode, that is, a reciter of poetry. Ion specializes in the work of the epic poet Homer—The Iliad and The Odyssey. When Socrates meets him, he is returning from a religious festival where in competition with other rhapsodes, he took first prize for his recitation.
This week, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos, shares with us about Socrates’ and Ion’s conversation.
November 2, 2021
Because life is brief
and many are the pains
which, living and struggling, everyone sustains
let us follow our desires,
passing and consuming the years
because whoever deprives himself of pleasure,
to live with anguish and with worries
doesn’t know the tricks
of the world or by what ills
and by what strange happenings
all mortals are almost overwhelmed.
“Because life is brief…let us follow our desires” has a contemporary ring to it. Yet those words were penned in 1512 by the playwright and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli in his play La Mandragola, The Mandrake.
This semester, Dr. Tiffany Schubert is teaching Machiavelli’s play to Wyoming Catholic College juniors and it has led to amazing classroom conversations. Why would that be?
September 28, 2021
After fleeing the destruction of Troy while leading his young son and carrying his aged father, Aeneas wandered seven years across the Mediterranean. Finally, after his father's death, he and his ships made landfall in Italy. This was the land of his destiny. There he would conquer, establish the Trojans, and found the kingdom that would become Rome.
But before setting out to war, Aeneas told the Sibyl of Apollo, “Since here, they say, are the gates of Death’s king and the dark marsh where the Acheron comes flooding up, please, allow me to go and see my beloved father, meet him face-to-face.”
Dr. Adam Cooper has been reading Virgil’s Aeneid with our Wyoming Catholic College sophomores, guiding them as the Sibyl guided Aeneas into the Underworld.
September 7, 2021
In the past few weeks, this podcast has featured introductions to two of three new faculty at Wyoming Catholic College: Dr. Paul Giesting and Dr. Daniel Shields. Today's podcast introduces the third, Prof. Stephen Hill.
Prof. Hill joins Wyoming Catholic College to teach humanities and the Latin program which, of course, is taught as spoken Latin. Prof. Hill also has proficiency in speaking classical Greek.
July 27, 2021
As Aeneus becomes increasingly comfortable building Carthage with Queen Dido, the god Mercury appears to him. “You, so now you lay foundation stones for the soaring walls of Carthage! Building her gorgeous city, doting on your wife. Blind to your own realm, oblivious to your fate!” Aeneus is supposed to be headed for Italy to build Rome. Carthago delenda est--Carthage must be destroyed.
The final presentation at The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought this past June focused on the story of Aeneas and Dido from Virgil’s Aeneid, the great founding myth of Rome. The parallel with Antony and Cleopatra is obvious and was probably intended.
But there’s a most important difference: where Antony stayed in Egypt forsaking Rome, Aeneas fled Carthage for the sake of Rome.
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Tiffany Schubert offered this presentation about the two couples and the relationship of politics and eros.
July 20, 2021
The story of King David’s tryst with Bathsheba begins with these ominous words, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel…. But David remained at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1).
Just as David remained in Jerusalem “when kings go forth to battle,” the great Roman general, Mark Antony, remained in Egypt, captivated by Queen Cleopatra. “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch/Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space,” he tells her.
The result as Shakespeare explains in the title of the play is “The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra.”
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought in June, Wyoming Catholic College professor Dr. Adam Cooper introduced Shakespeare’s play and its themes.
July 13, 2021
“Let me have men about me that are fat;
“Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”
So said Julius Caesar to Mark Antony in Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Julius Caesar." Cassius was indeed dangerous as Caesar discovered on the Ides of March when a group of Senators led by Cassius stabed him to death.
They, for their part, believed their action represented the height of patriotism. Caesar would be king—an abomination in the Roman Republic. “Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!” they shouted as Caesar’s blood dripped from their knives and hands.
Were Cassius, Brutus, and the rest patriots or treasonous monsters? Dante put Cassius and Brutus in the frozen bottom of Hell endlessly chewed by Satan chews along with Judas Iscariot. What was Shakespeare’s judgment on these men and their plot? And how should we look at the conspirators and their attempt to defend the republic from what they perceived as tyranny?
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, the college’s adult learning week, in June, most of those conversations took place in seminar sessions, but Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos started the discussion with this introduction.
July 6, 2021
You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
The quote is from William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Coriolanus.” Coriolanus was a great war hero during the fifth century BC, the early years of the Roman Republic. After returning from a great victory, the Roman Senate would make him a consul—the highest office in the city. But the common people of Rome egged on by their leaders, the tribunes, believe him too proud and vote instead to banish him from the city. In anger Coriolanus cries, “I banish you,” leaves the city, and joins ranks with the enemy to revenge the insult by conquering Rome.
“Coriolanus” was the first of three plays we considered in June at the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought as we considered “’Shakespeare’s Rome.” Before we divided into seminar groups, Dr. Virginia Arbery delivered this introduction to the play, to the Roman Republic, and to questions concerning our own republic.
June 29, 2021
From June 6-11, a group of forty adult students gathered in Lander for The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Our topic was “Shakespeare’s Rome” which we then related to Shakespeare’s England—he lived during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign—and to our America.
While we can’t bring you the interaction we all enjoyed during seminars, which accounted for most of our time together, this and the following four podcasts feature the introductory remarks of our faculty to the plays “Coriolanus,” “Julius Caesar,” and “Antony and Cleopatra” and the story of Aeneus and Dido from Virgil’s Aeneid.
Dr. Glenn Arbery, our college president, delivered this lecture to introduce the week’s topic.
If you’d like to “brush up your Shakespeare” as Cole Porter famously put it, read Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Coriolanus” in anticipation of next week’s podcast by Dr. Virginia Arbery.
June 15, 2021
“Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,” begins George Herbert’s poem “Love (III).” It’s one of the 26 poems students at Wyoming Catholic College memorize over their four years and one of the most beloved.
George Herbert, an Anglican clergyman, lived a mere 39 years, from 1593 to 1633. Yet the great Puritan pastor and theologian, Richard Baxter said of him, “Herbert speaks to God like one that really believeth in God, and whose business in the world is most with God. Heart-work and heaven-work make up his books.”
Dr. Tiffany Schubert taught the poem this year and began this interview by telling us something about poet George Herbert.