Thusday's Letters: Enjoyment – the driving force for reading Latin

From: Paul Andrews, The Beeches, Great Habton, York.

SARAH Freeman's excellent article on the advantages of promoting the teaching of Latin in schools leaves almost unsaid the main attraction of that language, and that is its literature (Yorkshire Post, May 15).

Roman civilisation was not just the highly efficient military machine we see in the cinema, nor were the Romans only a blood thirsty lot who spent all their free time watching gladiatorial shows. Their best authors produced world-class literature which is still popular today.

For example, Plautus was the creator of racy, raucous, very funny plays which are as hilarious now as when they were written 2,200 years ago. Shakespeare used them as models for plays like The Comedy of Errors. The poet Ovid wrote books of poetry entitled The Loves,The Art of Love, The Transformations and Love Letters of the Heroines.

The Roman politician Cicero, who led a political movement equivalent to our Liberal Democrats, was also an eminent criminal lawyer. Some of his legal speeches, particularly one about some murders at an Italian town called Larinum, are as exciting as any modern thriller.

The Romans adopted the civilisation of Ancient Greece, including its rich and varied folklore and mythology, and used this as the model for their literature and art – something which is clearly evident from the wall paintings of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

In my view, much of the blame for the demise of Latin in schools lies with the way it used to be taught. There was too much emphasis on Roman military writers like Caesar or historians like Livy.

Great authors as these are, as a first taste of a great literary tradition, they always left an unsavoury impression of a very serious nation of writers who lacked humour or relevance to the modern world.

Fortunately some of us went further than O-level and were able to appreciate the real pleasure of reading Latin. For me, Roman literature has been a lifelong hobby, and the only reason I read it now is because I enjoy it.

Need to keep backing for Yorkshire

From: Ken Hartford, Durham Mews, Butt Lane, Beverley.

AS a Londoner who has conscientiously supported the Yorkshire economy for 45 years, I find it heart-rending to read that Yorkshire Forward, in conjunction with the various county councils, will not be able to continue to fund industrial, cultural and other creative projects to anything near the extent to which they have been able to do since their constantly growing success in Leeds, Bradford, Hull and other important employment centres throughout the various metropoli and various counties.

Over several hundred years from well before the Industrial Revolution, Yorkshire people had struggled to be inventive, creative and productive in many, many spheres of activity, and even towns like Beverley were selling their products on a worldwide basis.

Graham Stuart, our local Conservative MP and, indeed, the various MPs of all the other parties representing Yorkshire in Parliament, must be so crestfallen to hear, read and notice the instant disappointment of most Yorkshire people.

Hull has never been in a position since the 13th century to stand on its own feet financially. Southerners (especially those living now) do not (and have never) appreciated how much the loss of support of Yorkshire Forward will hit the economy of the whole of this area (several thousand square miles).

To cut back on the projected fruit market on the waterfront in Hull, for instance, is surely madness. The sales, in no time, would rise to enormous heights! "Bathing for Hull" would not be unlike playing football for Hull and we saw what that came to in competition against real wealth.

It is largely because of the investment in North Yorkshire that Yorkshire is becoming as popular as Scotland for holidays. Only Scarborough has ever fared really well in past decades. Now, even

Bridlington is recognised as providing excellent holiday attractions.

For Hull Forward to be "wound up" at this stage is absurd, in my opinion, as even now, all over the city there is sad and appalling evidence of Second World War damage.

Oh, I could go on, but I'm only a southerner!

Nature is best guardian

From: Dominic Rayner, Gledhow Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds.

YOU report that the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has urged an increase in funding for upland areas where some forms of land use (including grazing sheep) have become uneconomic ("Funding urged for uplands protection", Yorkshire Post, June 15).

Their main point of view, that the countryside's problems can be solved by more exploitation and better management of poor quality land, should not be allowed to go unchallenged. If grazing sheep on poor quality land is uneconomic, why invest in it?

If the land grows wild with brambles when it goes un-grazed, perhaps this is because our various native plant species are the natural occupants of this environment. If trees should take root and prosper, we could find the land returning to the state it was in several hundred years ago.

Why should it be assumed that wild un-managed space is a bad thing, and that all hillsides and moorlands need more intervention and intensive exploitation?

Surely nature is the best guardian of our uplands, and we should revel in the biodiversity of land taken "out of use". I note that the Campaign to Protect Rural England has welcomed the CRC's report, and have given their support to further economic exploitation of our wilder areas.

I hope that some other agencies of government are putting the opposite case – that allowing land to revert to its natural state, reversing the destruction of wildlife habitats, does not have to be seen as a bad thing.

Short shrift for Jamie

From: Mrs Margaret Marsh, Water Hall Lane, Penistone.

AS a nonagenarian and an employee for the Ministry of Food throughout the Second World War (along with others employed in Food Control Offices throughout Britain), may I say that I find it difficult indeed to approve of Jamie Oliver's flippant use of the assumed title he acclaims (Yorkshire Post, June 10).

Will someone please explain to him the true meaning of the Ministry of Food (MoF) being vital for our continued existence throughout air raids and naval convoy losses, whence we were sparsely but adequately fed?

Remove anomaly as way to reform capital gains tax

From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.

FOR any Chancellor seriously intending to reform and rationalise the Capital Gains Tax system, an obvious target would surely be the exemption for the taxpayer's main residence.

Yes, we own a home so we can live in it, but we all know it has a major secondary role as an investment. We stretch ourselves to buy earlier and trade up faster than we would if CGT permitted a level playing field between owner-occupied and rented property. We are then slow to downsize our homes when our children move out. Many own and occupy one very large house when they might otherwise own two smaller ones and let one out.

The obvious political objection is that many who otherwise support the Lib Dem redistribution agenda would be aghast at this suggestion (rather like the Russian in the old joke saying: "But comrade, I have got two pairs of shoes").

Pandering to hypocrisy is the stock in trade of politicians. But fortunately there is another anomaly whose rectification would substantially offset the effect of ending the first.

We have a 10,000 a year allowance against capital gains, when most of us have no such gain most years and then once in many years a gain which may be several times this. Wouldn't it be natural and fair to let us roll our unused allowance forward against such occasions?

If we are going to discriminate against some form of property holding; it should not be on the basis that it is sensibly and usefully let out to tenants, but rather because it is mortgaged or used to back debts.

We are in our present mess because those who have wealth don't invest it directly themselves but lend it for others to gamble with, via an army of parasitic and self-serving intermediaries.