Friday, May 27

Emilio del Río: “The Romans would salivate with a good stew”

Del Río considers himself an ex-politician (councilor in La Rioja, senator and deputy), is a university professor of classics and general director of Libraries, Archives and Museums at the Madrid City Council. And it has had a Latin section since 2012 at RNE. The only one in Europe.

Hail, Emilio del Río. Three things that make me Roman?

Hail! The language, the concept of citizens and humor. They laughed at everything, especially at themselves. They were horny

What advice would a Roman give us about the pandemic?

Stay home and prepare a good celebration for when the pandemic ends. All the vocabulary of the pandemic is Latin and Greek: pandemic, coronavirus, confinement, vaccine …

Are the classics taught well at school?

In Europe yes, in Spain no. Spain is a great country, but we have to do what the great countries of the world do, which is to study the classics more.

Are the horns and the comb your heritage?

We are Romans in our way of living, of celebrating Christmas, of celebrating friendship, of giving and also of insulting. For better and for worse we are Romans. The gesture of the horns and that of the comb come to us from the Romans. Although the gesture of the comb was used at first to ward off evil spirits.

Did the Romans like squid Roman-style?

They loved them! And they loved having them at the bar counter. Since they did not eat at home, they ate in bars and restaurants, and they had fast food establishments which are an invention of the Romans! This Christmas in Pompeii an establishment of this type has been made public, where there were remains of food.

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Latin is at the origin of Christmas carols. And the roscón …

Christmas takes its traditions and customs from the Roman Saturnalia festivals and celebrations for the Roman New Year. Among others, that of giving each other gifts, like us now in Reyes, or that of the Roscón de Reyes. As for the Christmas carols, the first ones were in Latin, and there we have the Adeste Fideles.

Recommend a menu to salivate a Roman.

A good stew, for example. The highly recommended Mediterranean diet is an invention of the Greeks and Romans.

Marcial was inspired by farts and Nero encouraged them …

Nero passed an edict to allow people to fart at meals, upon learning that a guest had fallen ill from farting. Our great Quevedo has a great poem dedicated to fart, based on the Latin poet Marcial.

Would Ovid be successful as a fashion influencer?

Ovid, the great poet, actually wrote a play on how to flirt, explaining what clothes to wear, how to put on makeup, how to comb your hair, how to combine jewelry, all to be able to flirt better. But he did write a play on how to put on makeup! He was a true influencer. He would have succeeded on Instagram.

The latrine was ideal for gatherings …

The Romans socialized by shitting, yes, yes, in the latrines, they were toilets in a room, so while they were there with the chores, they talked about their things, they did business, they met for dinner …

Did feminism exist?

It was a very patriarchal society, as society has been for thousands of years, but at the same time, there was divorce. In Spain it did not arrive until 1981.

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We have your sexual vocabulary on the tip of our tongue …

They lived sex more openly than we do. Our culture is much more modest about sex. In fact, to name certain sexual acts, we used words in Latin, because it gives us less cut: fellatio, cunnilingus …

Would the LGTI collective have lived in peace in Rome?

In classical Rome there was homosexual marriage, something that humanity has taken thousands of years to recover. There are also homophobic attitudes.

Bread and Circus. Do we still dominate that?

That famous expression, panem et circenses, is still current. We need less media circus and more humanities that train good citizens. The humanities make us freer, almost nothing!

Does the football hooligan have Roman ancestors?

The first hooligans were the Romans. They were much more than fans of their chariot teams, they were true hooligans, they hit each other and even killed in the stadiums. Like now, let’s go. I already said that for better and for worse, we are Romans.

Does Donald Trump remind you of an emperor?

I can think of some and none of them are the best.

Was there fake news?

They were masters at making up news. Augusto was a true pioneer in that. The Romans were very clear that controlling information was controlling power.

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