SCS 2020 Scattered Thoughts

The annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS) is over a week in the past. I had a delightful time at the conference. A few of the highlights:

  • Presenting a delightful poem. I presented in a panel entitled, “Literary Texture in Augustine and Gregory.” (Handout, full-text, and primary text here) Late Antiquity never draws crowds, and this was no exception. However, the audience present listened attentively and asked good questions. Since I presented on a topic few people know anything about (the poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus), I knew that I had successfully connected my niche topic to texts and themes of more general interest. That’s the mark of a good conference paper, I think, at least for a large conference. As I’m now working full time as a software developer, it was quite fun to wear my “scholar of literature” hat again.
  • Meeting other digital philologists. It’s always worthwhile listening to Greg Crane talk (the nous, inter alia, behind Perseus and the Open Greek and Latin Project). I got to sit in for most of the Digital Philology panel, which meant I got to meet people involved in terrific digital projects (like Logeion and Tesserae). This also led to a meet-up about the Classical Language Toolkit, where I got to meet Kyle Johnson. Chatting classics and code with someone who’s tread a similar path was absolutely delightful. I’m hoping to make some contributions to the CLTK in the coming months. I also got to meet Luke Hollis and see some of the terrific projects coming out of the Center for Hellenic Studies. A lovely time!
  • Seeing old friends. Though I still live quite close to my alma mater, I don’t frequently get an excuse to see my colleagues and professors from Catholic University. It is always fun to catch up. Special κῦδος to my friend, Patsy Craig, for presenting a terrific paper on Vergil!

Conferences like these are best spent strengthening old ties and making new ones. By that measure, these few days were a great success! I’m looking forward already to the next SCS.

Evagrius, On Prayer 59-60

59

If you wish to carry out your prayer, you need God, who “gives prayer to the one praying.” So persist in calling out to him, saying “hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come.” His “name” is the Holy Spirit and his kingdom is the only begotten Son. After all, this is what he taught when he said the Father was worshipped “in Spirit and in Truth.”

60

The one who prays “in spirit and in truth” no longer extols the creator for created things, but sings his praise for his very self.

Evagrius, On Prayer 57–58

57

It is not necessarily the case that the mind has obtained the place of prayer once it no longer is among thoughts of day to day life. After all, it can be in contemplation of these day-to-day doings and spend its time among the explanations for these events. Even though they are just words, because these contemplations are directed at daily matters they shape and fashion the mind and lead it far away from God.

58

Even when the mind has moved beyond contemplation of bodily existence, it has not yet beheld the place of God’s perfection. For it may become enamored and divided with knowledge of the intellectual principles of things.

Evagrius, On Prayer 53–55

53

The state of prayer is a condition free from compulsion that through desire for the highest good conducts the philosophic and spiritual mind to the summit of mental and spiritual reality.

54

The one who really wishes to carry out their prayer should rule not only over their lust and anger, but become free of every compulsive thought.

55

By turning away every compulsive thought, the one who loves God continually converses with him as with a father.

Evagrius, On Prayer 51–52

51

Why do demons want to work up within us gluttony, sexual immorality, greed, anger, grudges, and the other compulsions? So that the mind would grow dull by them and thence unable carry out its prayer as it ought. After all, when the compulsions of the irrational part of the soul are in charge, they do not allow the mind to be moved in accordance with reason and to seek eagerly the God who is himself Rationality and Word.

52

We pursue virtues so that we may grasp the rational principles of the natural world, and pursue these so that we may grasp the Word who is himself rationality. Now it is precisely in the state of prayer that he likes to reveal himself.