Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg and the Aeneid

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was a student of the classics, studying Latin in prep school and planning, at one point, to major in classics. (Who knew?) From a New Yorker piece by Jose Antonio Vargas:

Zuckerberg has always had a classical streak, his friends and family told me. (Sean Parker, a close friend of Zuckerberg, who served as Facebook’s president when the company was incorporated, said, “There’s a part of him that —it was present even when he was twenty, twenty-one — this kind of imperial tendency. He was really into Greek odysseys and all that stuff.”) At a product meeting a couple of years ago, Zuckerberg quoted some lines from the Aeneid.

On the phone, Zuckerberg tried to remember the Latin of particular verses. Later that night, he IM’d to tell me two phrases he remembered, giving me the Latin and then the English: “fortune favors the bold” and “a nation/empire without bound.”

Before I could point out how oddly applicable those lines might be to his current ambitions, he typed back:
again though
these are the most famous quotes in the aeneid
not anything particular that i found.
The Face of Facebook (New Yorker)
[The most famous words in the Aeneid are those that begin the poem: “Arma virumque cano,” or “I sing of arms and of a man,” in Allen Mandelbaum’s 1971 translation. (These are words in the poem, not a “quote” in the poem.) I wonder whether Zuckerberg knows about the now-gone Aeneid on Facebook project.]

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