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A conversation with Carla Shodde, from Australia, on Religions, Romanness & Interlingua (Modern Latin?) – Dialectics (4)

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Even the German Women were terrific fighters

Even the German Women were terrific fighters

Are the Germans ‘Always’ There?
(Why not man)

[See btw the clip at the head of the previous post]


Carla Shodde from Australia has some German DNA among the rest. A ‘budding Classicist’, as she phrased it, she is probably more than that.

We had a good dialogue at her place (see below. Here the original, not pruned, one.)


Another conversation had occurred here with Sledpress (another German, from US Virginia, this time,) which will be published as Dialectics 5, the last cherry on the pie in some way.

Why cherry on the pie?

Because Sled is a valuable writer (I have a notebook with many of her sentences since I am an aspiring non mother tongue writer in English,) she has been very much present in almost ALL discussions here and elsewhere, she being a valuable polymath (with high-level musical knowledge also,) capable of talking about everything (as our blogosphere small slice attests) … but most of all:

She has a VERY BAD temper ;-)

Which of course (any passion being powerful) is a big part of her charm and her being very good: as a writer, dialectic commentator, friend, musician (and real soul.)

Why We Love The Germans

At this point, after Easter Monday (when the exchange with The Virginian and other stuff will be already here), given the present crisis of the Euro zone, we think it’ll be high time to say aloud (from us, from many other Italians):

“Why we love the Germans and will continue to love them!”

In the meanwhile: Carla Shodde.

Impiety Among Philosophers

Found In Antiquity Carla Shodde

Carla thus presents her work and studies:

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.” – Cicero, Ad Brutum. Carla recently finished first-class Honours in Classics, writing a thesis on accusations of impiety among philosophers in Greece and Republican Rome. She loves ancient art, ancient history, theology and pretty much anything to do with the Romans.”


Uncial sample

Courtesy of Carla Shodde’s Web site soon in our blogroll. Click to enlarge and for source file


MoR:Great post. About to repost the other one, I might repost this one as well, though I’m not sure, I am overwhelmed by business, family (my strength,) and my mentor’s ‘an article a day in languages that are not your own’ rule.

You are a scholar, a beginning scholar, perhaps, but hats-off scholar nonetheless. Ciao

[PS: hai per caso qualche stilla di sangue italiano? Carla è un nome italiano]”

Carla Shodde: “Thanks so much for reblogging the other post! You can reblog whatever you like, when you want to. :) And thanks for the encouragement, I would love to cultivate scholarship in Classics.

And actually, I don’t have any Italian blood, but my parents named me after my German great-grandfather Carl. They thought I was going to be a boy but when I was born a girl, they named me Carla. Italian is a beautiful language though and I wish I knew more.”

MoR: “Sorry I’ll be the usual Italian chatter-box. My thoughts come in floods, am too tired to prune and I proceed from chaos to order – my cognitive style, aspiring towards dialectics.

This exchange in fact, should you say yes, I’d love to publish over at my blog as Dialectics 4.

I’ll prune my texts of course but not much, this being the MoR plus I’d love you to reply extensively (in case you can and want) – the exchange of ideas resulting hopefully more stimulating for readers.

This being fussily said o_O  …


Roman Bona Dea (Good Goddess)

Roman Bona Dea (Good Goddess)


Carla: “I would love to cultivate scholarship in Classics”

The personal opinion of a dilettante is that ‘you can’ lol become what you want if you really want it. You have ‘la stoffa’ (what it takes.)

You are creative, have passion but most of all you have discipline. Talent without discipline is zero.

A scholar I have not become (just a quirky researcher) for lack of guidance since I was abandoned to grow by myself like a weed (and am still, in the good sense though I hope, 1. Christianity and religions plus 2. intellectual curiosity helping.)

A Master Shows

I found the latter (2) after an encounter at 24 – id est a Master and inspiring polymath to whom I owe a lot and whom I call Magister διδάσκαλος, here.

The former (1) came after some study of the Ancient Roman religions (I liked that post of yours where you criticize those who consider the Ancient Roman religion void of emotions, of mysticism, simply formulaic (a total moronity imo.)

Via some study of cults, gods, goddesses and the mysteries etc. I realised how Roman Christianity was, plus Christianity was one of the several mysteries too (you might not agree here.)

A powerful blend, the ancient Roman religion – no need to tell you – which together with Christianity can provide strength and consolation. I am more Christian than Pagan, incidentally; although we ALL here, and elsewhere – eg some areas of the Roman Empire’s ex provinces – are (one may like it or not) a bit pagan.)

Let me add it is so refreshing to see a young woman – the age of my two daughters – so very ‘well’ doing what she does, and a real polyglot too (mandarin, wow, and German; Latin and Greek being of course necessary.)


Interlingua at Austin, Texas

Jardin de Ninos Interlingua Spanish Immersion, Austin, TX. Click for credits and source


Carla: “Actually, I don’t have any Italian blood, but my parents named me after my German great-grandfather Carl. They thought I was going to be a boy”

Italian is bastard Latin so I don’t think you’ll have difficulties though my advice, you being a polyglot, is considering Interlingua instead.

Interlingua (official web site) is not artificial like Esperanto. It is ‘biological’; and, most importantly, it was conceived by solid scholars as a modern form of Latin.

For which purpose? [one might ask] English is already the lingua franca of a vast portion of the world.

A Fascinating vacation.
No ‘Direct’ contact with natives?

Ok, but take a woman from New York for example (all English speaking people we Italians btw call ‘Anglo-Saxons’, even those not wearing furs anymore – the others having passed away many centuries ago (stole this from an English guy living in Milan).

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. Click for credits and source file

Now it turns this woman and her husband are planning a long trip to, say, Brasil, Spain, Italy and have desire to get to know the natives in a non-mediated-via-English way, ie, a more direct, ‘cultural’, way.

[As a side note, English is not much spoken the more ancient the country is (apart from India, naturally) : Romans for ex. have this couldn’t-care-less attitude thinking they are so darn universal – and they are, accepting everybody with open heart but at the same time being scared by other cultures plus also feeling superior but behaving like provincials who think they are gas nobles, or gods.]

In any case the said couple has only one solution: even if the trip will occur in 3 years (yes, they plan years in advance, the Americans lol) they nonetheless must frantically TOIL eg learn Portuguese on the first year, Spanish on the second year, and Italian on the third.

It can be done, but it’s a hard path especially until the half of it, then Latin underlying the 3 languages will make things easier.

[Getting Big Deal Man, I know ^^'  ]

Interlingua: Many Languages
at the Same Time

There is another exciting solution: learning Interlingua. It’ll take 2-3-4 months in the worst cases (or just a few weeks,) after which the couple will be able to understand and talk directly (via Interlingua) to Brasilians, Spanish and Italians, who will 70%  understand them even if they never heard of Interlingua before.


Carla Shodde: “That’s really interesting – I’ve never heard of a language called Interlingua before, but it is nice that it uses Latin-based words to connect various Romance languages together.

I’ve been fantasising about learning early Germanic languages like Anglo-Saxon, so that I could possibly connect English and German together at their Germanic roots. A friend of mine is learning Gothic and is really enjoying the language. I’d love to read an Anglo-Saxon gospel book some day.

MoR: “By studying several cults & gods goddesses and the mysteries etc. I realised how ‘Roman’ Christianity was”

I am Christian, and I find the study of pagan theology fascinating. I believe in one God, as did the fathers of the Church, and I do not worship other gods, as it would be a deep betrayal of the sanctity of God.

While I am not a pagan, I still find pagan Roman theology interesting, both as a counterpoint for early Christian apologetics and as a subject in its own right.

“Christianity was not
a mystery religion”

Regarding Mystery Cults: I follow the most recent and well researched wave of scholarship, which concludes that Christianity was not a “mystery religion” in the same vein as, say, the Mithras cult.

“The evidence we have been examining suggests that there was little contact between Christianity and mystery cults at any time. This contrasts with a long-established scholarly tradition that tried to find considerable influence of mystery cult on Christianity. Often the debate was as much to do with contemporary concerns as with the distant past. So, for example, it suited Protestant polemicists to argue that the ‘primitive Christianity’ of the early church was corrupted by the incorporation of rites and doctrines drawn from non-Christian mystery cults… And it suited critics of Christianity as a whole to claim that many elements of Christianity, including the sacramental rituals of baptism and holy communion, were taken over directly from Mithraism.” – Hugh Bowden, Mystery Cults of the Ancient World, Princeton University Press (2010) p.207

“Pagan Theology: Overlooked”

I like studying pagan theology. I think it has been so often overlooked in modern studies of Roman paganism. Instead of viewing religion as a religion (i.e. a proposed way for reasonable humans to interact with a divine being or beings) people want to see religion only as a coded way of expressing sexism, elitism or some other secular or political goal that reflects narrow-minded modern concerns. I find it very surprising that some prominent scholars who study Roman religion have openly said they are contemptuous of all religion. Little wonder that it so commonly said that Roman religion was invented for the sake of empty traditionalism alone, or that it was a tool to manipulate the unthinking masses. I think Roman religion, at least in philosophical texts and grave inscriptions, meant much more to the people than just empty rituals.”

Answer to a complex question:
Found in the Holy Week?

MoR: “Well, gosh, wow. This will keep my brain juices working for a while I’ll admit. Not for long though. And I always (90%) come back. I spot some German determination. Schodde —> Schotte? Good. I’m a Bach wrestler since I was 19 :?

MoR: “Dear Carla, I like dialectics, as you & others know too well, id est Diskurs als argumentativer Dialog so my lateinisch discursus feedback, LOL, will be:

The answer to your very-German reply is to be found, in my view, in the Holy Week (Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς) where Christians celebrate the events related to the last days of Jesus – passion, death and resurrection, among the rest.

Last Sunday I was feeling tense, tired. Therefore for some weird reason I randomly chose a Church (every 5 meters we have one in Rome) and had the luck to find a real shepherd speaking from ‘a heart’ and from a sound-theological-knowledge (as far as I can tell) brain, as well.

I’ll say I was moved to tears twice but since I never believed in signs, in the past, it is unlikely I will believe in them, in the future.

Jesus carrying the cross. Click for credits

Jesus carrying the cross. Click for credits

Regards from Rome.


About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog,, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

16 responses »

  1. Amicus, per my reply elsewhere, I think you mistook a literary reference for temper. However… I don’t deny that I have my incandescent moments. Just not recently.

    Our dear and dearly missed friend Zeus once said, “remind me never to piss you off!” But he was talking about my inclination to don the persona of an arch British spinster and write *romans-a-clef*.

    I am a little frightened by the notion of Interlingua. I don’t know quite how to convey it — I want any language I grapple to be one in which people *somewhere* instinctively think and weep and rejoice, n in which real poetry can be written from the heart. Am I old fashioned?

    • I catch fire easitly too, Sled.

      I am not a fanatic of Interlingua. To me, like to most people, what counts is learning real languages, of course.

      Interlingua is only an initial medium, a ‘bridge’ towards Spanish, English (cultivated English derived from Norman = French / Latin), French, Italian etc. Grammar, if I well remember, is that of English. You don’t stay in Intelingua forever. In Esperanto, quite the contrary.

      Here *a list* of literary works (e-libros) ‘translated’ to Interlingua.

  2. I’m assuming the raison d’etre for Interlingua is that Anglophones and Romancophones can all quite easily understand it.

    But, isn’t this also the case with Esperanto?

    Sled makes a good point about Interlingua, as she might also make it about Esperanto. As artificial constructs they have no “soul”, being as arid and etiolated as anything a computer software programme spits out.

    As for English as a lingua franca, it has the huge problem of being frighteningly difficult to learn. Hence I suggest one of the pidgin languages as a suitable lingua franca. They are simple, and people weep and rejoice in them, and write poetry in them.

    In any case, within as little as five years there’ll be portable voice recognition and language translation machines so well programmed, that through their means you’ll converse with foreigners as easily as if you actually speak their tongues and they speak yours.

    • I love it, tangentially, that we are talking about English as a *lingua franca* when Frankish is the one thing it’s not. But yes, it is used in that way and yes, it is a stone bitch to learn if you are starting from scratch as an adult. It borrows the internal logic, spelling systems and grammar of several languages — one minute you’re using ablaut, the next a standard past participle. I before E except when eight feisty neighbors seize a surfeit of weighty heifers. You could go crazy.

      But is a translation machine likely? I suppose Babelfish and Google translate foreshadow it, but I always thought it more of a science-fiction device and I still remember fondly the fellow who used the Portuguese instead of Spanish interface on one of those programs and explained that when he came to America he had only three anuses, but now he had nineteen.

    • Hi Christopher. I have perhaps replied to you too in my above reply to Sled.Ciao!

  3. @Christopher

    I might be there although I really have got no idea – biting off more than I can chew, I guess.

  4. “………Christianity was not a ‘mystery religion’ in the same vein as, say, the Mithras cult…………”
    In “The Pagan Christ”, that I read some years ago, Tom Harpur (no relation of Stephen) said there’s nothing in Christianity that hasn’t been lifted from other religions. I assume, then, that some of these other religions weren’t of the ‘mystery’ genre.
    “…….some prominent scholars who study Roman religion have openly said they are contemptuous of all religion……..”
    These prominent scholars conveniently ignore the fact that religions are the foundations of all cultures. Remove religion, cultures collapse, and their societies consequently crumble.

    • I also read that great book, advised by Paul le Canadien.

    • Isn’t that a little glib? Both America and Britain strike me as increasingly post-religious (Britain the more so), but their cultures have not collapsed and their societies are really no more crumbled than in countries where there is a more coherent religious element. On the other hand, some of the ugliest behavior I know of is excused (in some people’s views) by religion.

      I grant that religion refers to a basic instinct in the human mind to embrace mystery and express a reverence we feel in the face of Nature, and that it tends to arise organically in most cultures, but I’m not sure that it is a requirement for a society that everyone believe in a fairy tale or imaginary friend, which is the level at which most people seem to express the religious impulse. It is actually painful to me to see people ganging together in groups (those troops of Americans who are religious dressing in silly prim clothes to sit in ugly buildings every Sunday and listen to a dull person drone on about some point of doctrine, while their kids sit bored sh*tless in the Sunday school room downstairs) to pat themselves on the back for believing the same intellectual absurdity, no matter how worthy of discussion it might be as a story or what insights might come out of that discussion.

      In fact I think we would be on a more fruitful track if we said that a common story or body of story reinforces a culture, rather than a common religion.

      • All of what you say gives much food for thought.
        You say of post-religious Britain and America, “……..their cultures have not collapsed and their societies are really no more crumbled than in countries where there is a more coherent religious element……..”
        I agree that, as examples of “western” societies, they haven’t yet collapsed. But, they are crumbling, and increasingly showing all the characteristics of their constituent urban ghetto, and aboriginal societies. However, don’t worry, there’s some time yet before things fall apart!!
        ”……….some of the ugliest behavior I know of is excused………by religion……….”
        I agree. But hasn’t some of the noblest behaviour been motivated by religion?
        ”……..I’m not sure that it is a requirement for a society that everyone believe in a fairy tale or imaginary friend……..”
        While you may believe the Christ story a fairy tale, and God an imaginary friend, there are countless others who believe otherwise. Aren’t your’s and their’s simply two competing beliefs?
        You spoke of ”……those troops of Americans who are religious dressing in silly prim clothes to sit in ugly buildings every Sunday and listen to a dull person drone on about some point of doctrine…….”
        It’s been found that church-goers live longer on average than those who aren’t. So much so, that were a drug to be developed that increased longevity as much as church-going does, it would be hailed a miracle drug.

        • But would a drug that obliterated people’s awareness, individuality, intellectual autonomy, be hailed everywhere as miraculous… or disturbing???

          People who have a *karass* (look it up) are more durable than those who do not. But does that mean we should rush to legitimize the Karass of those who cluster around any long established unwarrantable doctrine? or simply explore the karass principle?

          I myself do not have, as is commonly understood, beliefs. With more than a glass of wine under my belt, I sing to a Goddess who straddles (rude image accepted) any number of religions and cry to her, Great Lady, Great Lady,. with tears on my cheeks. But cold and bitter sober, I care only for what frees everyone on the planet to find a truth or simply live a life, regardless of the strictures of religious practice. Too many women, gay people, weird kids, scientific prodigies, let’s make a list, have been ground into the dirt by religion for me to feel any respect for those self-congratulating congregations.

          • Manius Papirius Lentulus

            Bokononism? THAT is really interesting. I always dug Kurt Vonnegut. As Christopher just said you are food for thought. Problem being 1. your cats will end up dining with your body; 2. You continue to conjure up Germans, you German American ;-)

          • “…….I myself do not have, as is commonly understood, beliefs…….”
            No beliefs?
            The theme of your comment seems to be that religion is rubbish, and that those who follow religions are deluded. But, are these not themselves beliefs? And, are not any opinions you hold about anything, beliefs?
            No beliefs, you say?!!

        • Oh, Chirstopher, you have to do better than the tired “religionist” argument that people who are skeptical of religion are guilty of (1) crass, blanket contempt and (2) a “belief” that consists of rejecting belief. That is a cheap shot at the ankles, and I am wearing greaves.
          The human brain is wired for religious experience and the feeling of reverence we associate with religion is warranted and ennobling in all sorts of contexts. I have a huge shelf of Carl Jung, I just re-read Thomas Moore’s “Care of the Soul” cover to cover, and I’m in the middle of a book about creating sacred space in one’s dwelling. Religious communities have done their part to make people reflect on philosophy and morality and ecstatic experience is something of a necessity for getting through life.
          Unfortunately, religion, as it appears to commonly exist, seems to be an exercise in “believing what you know ain’t so,” as Mark Twain said. It is baldly ridiculous to believe that what happens to me after I die depends on my opinion of the judicial murder of a first-century Jew, to say nothing of my participation in any one of various gangs of people who assemble to repeat tired homilies about said person or declare that he is their “best friend.” (Speaking of which I have a lively respect for the Jewish traditions, not least because study of the Torah revolves around learning, reasoning and debate, hence Jewish families I knew growing up revered learning and intellect far more than the crass goyim to whose tribe I supposedly belonged, who seemed to regard having to read or learn anything as an imposition.)
          And an informed and well mulled judgment based on evidence and experience is not a “belief.” It is an opinion, a strongly held opinion, but an agnostic opinion. I can’t know everything, but what I do know leads me to the conclusion that literal religious belief — religious belief that supersedes our daily welfare and the evidence of our own eyes — is damaging and stupefying. Refer to Islamic extremism, or the simple soul-destroying blind-ignorance of my Southern relatives who can barely read a TV guide and think Tarot cards are “from the devil” and don’t care how shit-stupid they are because believin’ in JEEbus is all you need.
          If people like that live three years longer than someone like me, is the world really a better place? (People who meditate and the like seem to live longer too — probably getting into the same brain wave states as people singing some third-rate hymn, but without the insult to intelligence.)

          • Saying of religion, as Mark Twain said of it, that it’s “believing what you know ain’t so” is of course pithy, and guarantees patronising chuckles from those of the ilk that like to sip white wine, nibble at pasta salad, and have regular colonic irrigations.
            If ol’ Mark hadn’t been angling for laughs from the readers of his day, he might more truthfully have said of religion, that it’s “believing what you believe is true”.
            While your comment had lots of thought-provoking stuff on religion, about which there could be several different threads of lively discussion, I want only to mention three of the most prominent beliefs about God, namely:
            – Deism, that says there’s a God, but who doesn’t listen to you (I’m led to understand that most of America’s Founding Fathers were Deists)
            – Theism, that says there’s a God, who does listen to you (this would, of course, be the God of your Southern relatives, of whom you spoke)
            – Atheism, that says there’s no God
            Your comment (and the previous to that, too) leaves little doubt that you think Theism is rubbish. You haven’t, though, said what you think of Deism and Atheism.
            Since – like Theism – Deism and Atheism are beliefs that make statements about God, for which there is no proof, may I assume you think Deism and Atheism rubbish too?

          • You seem bent, Christopher, on putting words in my mouth.

            I am sympathetic with Atheists because they have fought the long and good fight against people who conspire to oppress others with naive and childish beliefs about what *their* God thinks and wants (heliocentrism is heresy, God cares what you do with your genitals, etc.). At the same time, publicly identified Atheism seems to *need* stupid religiosity to inveigh against, just as the Tea Party Christian needs homasexshuls to deplore. A plague on both their houses.

            Deism I find far more sympathetic, simply because it seems to me that if there is an indwelling intelligence in the universe, it can hardly be all that deeply concerned with what we do with ourselves. Should such an intelligence exist, it might be wise of us to attend to what it does with itself, but I cannot see where that overlaps institutions of religion, such as you claim are associated with long life and possibly a tendency to win state lotteries. (OK, that was snotty but it made good copy.)

            I do find the idea of demiurges attractive even though I correct for my poetic instincts. I find little spirits everywhere in the grass and houses and the dashboard of my car. I do sense an infinitely generous, cruel, creative, sly, powerful Goddess in the workings of nature; but maybe that is only the literary tradition I grew up with. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to sing hymns to it.

            As for your remarks about white wine, pasta salad, and colonic irrigations, again, I consider that beneath you and the conversation in general. Twain, the man who started a fictional dialogue with Sir Walter Raleigh’s fart, would have had no time for the effete, self-consciously refined mentality to which you seem to be referring (aside from which, there is nothing wrong with Pinot Gris, cold noodle salads, or even clean bowels). My objection to the celebration of naive religiosity does not stem from a desire to be condescending or appear sophisticated. It comes from a geniune horror at the things that have been done in the name of faith by churches behaving like gangs. A thousand years ago, they burned and hanged women like me for knowing which herbs were medicine, how to put a bone back in place and yes, how to keep a woman from having children until she died of it, because “if a woman cure, she is a witch and must die.” Triangulate with the devout congregations in other parts of the world that crush gay people under walls or stone women for adultery or “shun” heretics. I am willing to spot you various streams of mystical reflection, but you are not going to sell me churchiness, nor scoff me into apologizing for my position.

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