WOOSTER, Ohio – Dante King, a first-year at The College of Wooster, earned second-place honors in Eta Sigma Phi’s 2018 Maureen Dallas Watkins Translation Contest for intermediate Latin, the honorary collegiate society recently announced. The long-running set of competitions, which consists of sight translations of a passage in Latin (or Greek), is named after the American playwright most famous for the play “Chicago.”
In King’s case, he translated a lengthy section from Livy’s “History of Rome,” with the exact passage referencing a portion of the era between 673-642 B.C., for the 68th annual Latin translation contest. It “detailed the aftermath of a battle between champions of the Romans and champions of their enemies … and ultimately, the last surviving member of the Romans’ team defeated the others by outsmarting them,” recalled King.
While King was “elated” to finish runner-up in the contest, he simply delighted in the process. “I was really proud of the work I’d done. It was just great news. I just really enjoyed translating the passage, so (the honor) was a bonus,” he said.
“Wooster’s department of classical studies is delighted to recognize Dante’s achievement. It is a real distinction to win a prize in the Eta Sigma Phi translation contest, especially as a first-year,” stated Josephine Shaya, associate professor of classical studies.
King, from Pittsburgh, has had an appreciation and love for Latin ever since being required to learn the language as part of the curriculum at Shady Side Academy, starting in seventh grade. He’s even read epic poems, such as Virgil’s “Aeneid” and Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” in their original form for fun. “Language and culture have always been interesting to me, and I’ve continued that here (at Wooster). I think the ancient Mediterranean societies in general are interesting … they’ve affected us in a big way,” he explained.
Undecided on a major, King, who is a member of the Wooster Chorus and A Round of Monkeys a cappella group in addition to Eta Sigma Phi, believes that his knowledge of Latin is helpful in other areas of study. “I’m in a logic and philosophy class. My classics experience helps me because I know what the Latin terms mean. From the cultural perspective, we (as a society) think of history in terms of periods, but the way I think of it personally is as one continuum, so you can see how one event directly affects the next. In this case, Livy’s ‘History’ directly affects storytelling,” he said.
Of course, most secondary schools no longer require Latin anymore, but King is grateful for his experience. “I’m glad that we were required to take Latin at Shady Side because if we weren’t I wouldn’t have attempted it. I would have missed out on this passion for linguistics and history and culture. It’s part of who I am now,” he noted.