Jyväskylä Human Technology City

Bene veniatis in urbem Jyväskylä

 In the Athens of Finland the Latin language is alive and kicking. The Athenis Finlandiae event invites all those interested in Latin to an August cultural event in Jyväskylä.

Wolmar Schmidt, the Jyväskylä doctor, translator and language developer, gave the Finnish language the words ‘tiede’ (science) and ‘taide’ (art). This inspired Elias Lönnrot, compiler of the Finnish national epic Kalevala, to refer to the city as the Athens of Finland. In an Athenian spirit tender care has always been taken here of education and culture, and of teaching and researching the Latin language, too.

In August friends of Latin will gather for the Athenis Finlandiae cultural event at which both science and art occupy an important role. The principal venue for the event is the University of Jyväskylä campus, which provides the occasion with a dignified setting.

“The university also provided the initial venue for the interartistic Jyväskylä Festival, which was arranged for the first time back in 1956, a year before the Alvar Aalto-designed main building reached completion. I believe that the Athenis Finlandiae event has everything it takes to achieve an equally long history”, states Professor Teivas Oksala.

According to event coordinator Tuula Poutanen cultural tourism is a growing trend, which for its part serves to justify the arrangement of a new-style event.

“We want to build the event around humour and having a good time together without forgetting that in the background there are deeper considerations regarding European culture.”

Elvis lives in Latin

The morning sessions of the Athenis Finlandiae event are dedicated to Latin courses­ and lectures dealing with the status and history of the Latin language. At the open lectures in the afternoons living Latin is much to the fore. The lecturers include country doctor Tapani Kiminkinen, writer Aino Suhola and Orthodox Christian clergyman Father Mitro.

In the Middle Ages Latin was a lingua franca, spoken in an area which is roughly the same as that of today’s EU member states. Latin is a common denominator of Europeanness, since almost all the languages spoken in the European Union have been influenced by it”, says Dr Erkki Palmén, who lectures on the position of Latin in the European Union. Intended for a broad audience, Athenis Finlandiae also offers enjoyment of the musical kind. Well-known Finnish artists will appear at a variety of park concerts.

The final evening of the event will see an appearance by Doctor Ammondt, the university lecturer who has made Finland known worldwide with his interpretations of popular songs in Latin. On this occasion the theme of the show is Elvis Lives in Latin.

Further information: Athenis Finlandiae 14.–16.8.2008, www.athenisfinlandiae.com

Photo (above): Jukka Ammondt, the university lecturer has made Finland known worldwide with his interpretations of popular songs in Latin.

Photo(below): Dr Erkki Palmén


By Pia Tervoja Photos by Risto Aalto (Ammondt), Matti Salmi