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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Real Meat and Potatoes

Persicos odi, puer, apparatus,
displicent nexae philyra coronae;
mitte sectari, rosa quo locorum
sera moretur.

Simplici myrto nihil allabores
sedulus curo: neque te ministrum
dedecet myrtus neque me sub arta
vite bibentem.
Horace, Odes I, xxxviii

The story goes that an MA (or PhD) candidate was being examined by his professors when one of them asked for a recitation and translation of the ode. The student calmly paused, looked up, engaged the intent eyes of the learned elderly Professor of Latin that was sitting before him, and said: "Persicos odi, puer, apparatus, give me a bowl of meat and potatoes!" The student passed the test and became a Master.

In one line, the candidate captured the essence of the poem, its message. In this famous ode, Horace extols the simple things in life--not the ostentatious, not the haughty. A hearty and delicious bowl of meat and potatoes is preferable to dining at the Chez Paul and supping on a $138.00 dinner that consists of a sprig of asparagus, a sprig of parsley and a slice of veal about the size of a thumbprint. (I have done this before and promptly went to a pizza joint after I left. Best pizza I ever had!) Likewise, the simple things of life should be preferable to what the world tells us we should like. The excitement of children at opening another window on their Advent calender knowing that Christmas is approaching is much more valuable than any sort of gift we could receive. It is the little things, the everyday things--the sun rising, a child laughing--that we should take the time to savor and give thanks. Our Lord prefers innocence and humility to worldliness and fame. I suspect he would also prefer meat and potatoes.