Owen Ewald, the C. May Marston Professor of Classics
Lingua Latina Vivit!
(Latin lives)
While accepted wisdom is that classical languages are dying, the study of Latin and Greek at Seattle Pacific University is alive and well. Why? Sophomore Annie Haight theorizes that the answer lies in part with Owen Ewald, the C. May Marston Professor of Classics, who teaches both languages. He blogs in Latin, edits a Fungi journal, studies the classical language of Sanskrit in his free time, and has no problem filling up his class roster.
I never expected to find a full classroom in a Latin class, but that’s exactly what I found on my first day of Latin 1103. After taking Latin with six other students in high school, I figured this class would be a small group of the committed few.
At Seattle Pacific University, where most classes are under 30 people, a class of 30 usually means that the class is required — or it’s popular. Last time I checked, Latin wasn’t part of the Common Curriculum, so I concluded the latter. But really, I thought: Latin, popular?
It didn’t take long to discover the secret. You know how they say the best teachers are the ones who love their subject and their students? That pretty much sums up Dr. Ewald. I dare you to try to find someone who is more passionate about classics. He revels in the smallest details of classical history and languages, and time after time he has astounded me by answering the most obscure questions off the top of his head.
Besides being brilliant, Dr. Ewald is one of the nicest professors I’ve ever had, and treats every student with the utmost respect and sincerity. Then there are the quirks that are entirely his own, like how he’ll stop in the middle of a lecture to personally welcome students who walk in late, or how he collects homework with the exclamation, “Let the harvest begin!” There’s no denying that Dr. Ewald is extremely likeable.
“Besides being brilliant, Dr. Ewald is one of the nicest professors I’ve ever had, and treats every student with the utmost respect and sincerity. ”
—Annie Haight, Sophomore
But why take Latin, anyway? After all, everyone knows it’s a “dead language.” Oddly enough, I have learned more about the English language from taking Latin than from all my English classes combined. Not a bad deal, really, especially since I didn’t have to write any essays or read any books. And it’s fun to throw around terms like “predicate nominative” and “passive periphrastic.”
As one who unashamedly lists Latin as an interest on my Facebook profile, I’m glad that so many people take Latin at SPU. The popularity of Dr. Ewald’s Latin classes speaks for itself: Perhaps you could say he brings a dead language to life.
By Sophomore Annie Haight, Photo By Nick Onken
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