Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cambridge and Cui bono?

If you want see more Latin in schools then visit the Cambridge School Classics Project. It is a worthy venture.

I took Latin at Ramsey Abbey (comprehensive) in the old county of Huntingdonshire. I enjoyed Latin more than modern languages because the lives of Hannibal, Caesar and Cicero were much more interesting than visiting the shops or what I did during my school holidays.

Cui bono? Wikipedia has the answer:

Cui bono ("To whose benefit?" / "as a benefit to whom?") is a Latin adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be.

Commonly the phrase is used to suggest that the person or people guilty of committing a crime may be found among those who have something to gain. The party that benefits may not always be obvious or may have successfully diverted attention to a scapegoat, for example.

The Roman orator and statesman Marus Tullius Cicero, in his speech Pro Roscio Amerino, section 84, attributed the expression Cui bono? to the Roman consul and censor Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla:

L. Cassius ille quem populus Romanus verissimum et sapientissimum iudicem putabat identidem in causis quaerere solebat 'cui bono' fuisset.

The famous Lucius Cassius, whom the Roman people used to regard as a very honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, 'To whose benefit?'

Cui bono is always a good question to ask… but nobody benefits from the loss of Latin in schools.


  1. Hear hear. I took Classical Studies at my comprehensive in Glasgow, when the MP was Michael Martin, who'd been elected for the first time. My teacher saw an aptitude and let me take home some Latin textbooks, which taught it as if it were a modern language and were, I suspect, somewhat simpler than yours.

  2. Alas, Ed says 'Balls' to Latin: