Answer: Austrians see their past deeply connected with their future.
During my freshman year of college, I began learning German with Herr (Dr.) Ronald Warner. Having spent five years already as a Latin scholar, as we were named by our Latin teacher in high school, I was ready to tackle German grammar systems and to cope with the challenge of acquiring a new set of vocabulary. When it came to culture and history, I soaked it all up, too. Currently, the more that I read and witness in regards to European and Austrian history and culture, the more I realize that understanding ancient Roman history and culture makes it all that much more connected in my mind.
While in Austria this summer, I saw Latin words and Roman images everywhere I went: buildings, monuments, works of art, etc. Why do Austrians bother to utilize so many Latin statements in their cities and towns? Why do they choose to employ so many Roman-themed images and stories? Why is it all still so meaningful to them?
I. Being surrounded by Roman/Greek heroes improves your looks.
|Mural from the Spanischer Saal at Castle Ambras in Innsbruck, Austria, 2013|
II. Latin lasts forever!
|Latin text from one section of the Plague Column on the Graben in Vienna, 2013|
III. Latin is where all the cool kids hide their secret messages.
|Base of a column in Graz, 2013|
|Underneath the Goldenes Dachl in Innsbruck, 2013|
- V M I I V D I I I I I V I I L V
- V D I C I V V L M V
Bonus question for the nerds in the audience: what dates are represented with each cryptogram shown here?
So many centuries later, we still think about the Romans, imagine ourselves in their myths, and use their language, because in spite of all of its awkwardness and challenges, it works. It communicates. It makes itself understood. It unchangeably defies change. To know myself, I have to know where I have been.
This one's for you, Mr. Tannas. Maximas gratias tibi ago