Intern-al Affairs

I must first apologize for the fact that the title of this post has very little to do with any of its contents, and warn that any reader who comes to it expecting some sort of intrigue or salaciousness will be disappointed.  The punning habit dies hard.  You may take some comfort in the fact that I have selected the best of the lot, which included such gems as “Intern-al Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” which did not seem relevant to much of anything, and “Intern-Ship of Fools,” which, while perhaps accurate in at least my own case, would have started the post out in a significantly darker tone than I felt to be appropriate.  “Intern-al Affairs,” happily, is vague enough to be relevant to almost anything and bureaucratic-sounding enough to avoid sounding too ominous.  And most importantly, it preserves the pun.

I’m an intern (surprise!) with the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, which is a text series that publishes medieval literature in editions that have the original language text and an English translation side by side.  (For all you active and recovering classicists in the audience, it’s the same idea as the Loeb Classical Library, but for medieval material.)  Essentially, my job (and Jessi and Zak’s job) is to read the texts and translations of our scholars, critique them, and come up with a diplomatic way to frame these critiques.  If sitting around and reading Latin all day sounds like your cup of tea, you can’t beat it with a stick.  If it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you should reevaluate some of your attitudes and life decisions.

The first weeks of the summer were dominated by examining a forthcoming edition of the miscellaneous poetry of Venantius Fortunatus, an Italian poet of late antiquity who spent much of his time hobnobbing with members of the Merovingian court and the powerful clergy of southern France.  It is going to be a very good edition and you all should be waiting breathlessly for its release.  Until that time, however, you may whet your appetite with this epigram that I wrote in the style of Fortunatus:

Audi me, quivis ades antistes venerandus,

ut de te merito praemia magna metam.

Fortunatus, bless his sainted soul (feast day Dec. 17), had a bit of a sycophantic streak.

Once in awhile our work will demand an expedition beyond the confines of the office, generally to the library.  The library is a place of great awe, the workings of which are mysterious to even those of us who work at Dumbarton Oaks, and as a result a journey thither requires great preparation of soul and body.  It was such preparation that I undertook when a different project, a collection of the medieval Latin biographies of Muhammed, demanded a visit.  You may imagine me thus:

Image(Image in the public domain, via

Due to the library’s somewhat confusing layout, it took me some time to find what I needed, but I eventually found the book in question and got to exercise what is probably the most entertaining privilege library users have: use of the Book Trolley, which safely transports items from the library to the main house.  In my excitement, I made this video:

In the world of philology, Book Trolleys are still something to be marveled at.  With the conclusion of my adventure, I think that this is proper to conclude this post.  Stay tuned for more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s