Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pliny the Younger and Penmarc'h

This morning I've had the strange experience of baking Christmas biscuits in my Breton hovel whilst listening to Melvyn Bragg and his guests talking about Pliny the Younger. It brings back my decades of teaching ancient history and many relatively tedious hours of Pliny's letters in Latin. What made me glad to have come out of that world is the fact that eveything being said by scholars this morning was pretty much exactly what I was taught at university and what I went on to relay to my pupils. Pliny is inevitably something of a finite figure despite his prissy verbosity. How I prefer to be working now in the context of a living culture, attested by many thousands of individuals, alive and dead, and a range of source material to make any ancient historian weep.
Yesterday I was in very familiar territory in Pays Bigouden, renewing my close links with Penmarc'h and St-Guenolé on that unique flatly perilous coast on the south-west tip of Finistère. Highlight? The Phare Eckmuhl.

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