The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

THIS year's Summer School,  at Hatfield College, Durham, will definitely be remembered as one of the better ones. Numbers were not large—only about fifty attended—but this made for a friendly atmosphere, which was greatly increased by the unfailing kindness and courtesy shown by the staff of the college.

The school followed more or less the familiar pattern, with those few changes which show that, although the Association is anxious to preserve what has proved good in the past, it always tries to fulfil current needs. There was the usual Beginners' Demonstration Class, and the usual lessons in Latin Reading. There were no Greek Reading Classes this year, and the only regular Greek to be written in the school was in a solitary " circulus " run by Mr. Eagling. There was, of course, a good deal of Greek bandied about in one session or another ; but formal work in it this year had been abandoned in response to requests made last year. The lack in Greek this year, produced, of course, from the mobile vulgieti a request for more in future.

Such are the problems of organizer,It was only possible to make arrangements for one Demonstration  Class this year.  This made the time-table a much more comfortable affair, since it was possible to make do with only four sessions m the morning. It was perfectly obvious, however, that more considered these demonstrations a vital part of the work of  the school, and were willing to endure any discomfort that would come from having more of them in future.

The circuli this year were ingeniously arranged by Miss E. Wald to cater for all tastes and covered Classroom Techniques, Conversation at various levels, and Elementary Oral Work in Greek.  Mr. Melluish's Prose Composition classes were as popular as ever. A surprisingly large number attended Mr. Peckett's classes in Elementary Verse Composition, while the more subtle and better equipped got great satisfaction out of Mr. Wilmot's much more advanced work in the same subject. Mr. Dale lectured on pronunciation and showed, as simply as possible, what seems, in the light of the latest scholarship, to be the correct way of pronouncing both languages. His series of lectures on Colour and Form in Vergil made it quite clear that it is necessary to pronounce Latin poetry correctly, in order to assess its true value.  His quiet, ripe enthusiasm for Vergil, Homer, Milton and others introduced us to fresh fields of beauty.

Fulfilling a demand made at the last Summer School, Mr. Peckett opened the course with a lecture which tried to answer the two questions, " Why teach Classics," and " What is the purpose of this Summer School." He maintained that while the old claims for teaching the Classics as an exercise for the mind, as moral training, etc. are all correct, they are not so valid in these days of atomic bombs and universal secondary education, as they used to be in the 19th century. It is wrong, therefore, for us to try to revive the aims of the 19th century in the teaching of Classics, or even to regret their passing.

What we do need to preserve to-day is the spirit of the Classics, and not merely to preserve it, but to spread it as far as universal secondary education will allow us. The spirit of the Classics culminated not in 5th century Athens, not in Vergil, but in the New Testament, was maintained by the church during the middle ages, and burst forth again in the Renaissance, only to be lost in a welter of Rationalism, Puritanism, Jacobinism. and much else. It is wrong, therefore, to limit the study of the Classics to, say the Greek Tragedians, Vergil and Cicero, or the teaching of them to those few who can master Latin and Greek. The living spirit of the Classics must be taught to the whole community. This needs translators and interpreters, and it is the job of the teachers of Latin and Greek to produce them, just as it is the job of the Summer Schools to examine methods of training them for so important a task.

Mr. Melluish also lectured on the value of the Classics, repeating a lecture he had already given to some Indian students. His view was narrower but more practical and expressed with pungent wit. Both lectures produced lively debates, and that following Mr. Melluish's was even heated.

Professor Woodcock lectured on Properties, salting a great deal of Knowledge with some pleasant wit.  Mr. Birley, the Master of Hatfield College, gave a fascinating lecture about the Roman Wall, in which he revealed that the latest theory is that, while the Wall was built for military purposes as well as to control the frontier, these military purposes were only incidental to Hadrian's political and economic ideas. The Wall was in fact something, as the Augustan history says, qui Romanos barbarosque divisit.

Members of the course found great delight in the Cathedral and the Castle, and indeed, in living so near to both in that little oasis of beauty beside the river. Entertainment was not neglected : dancing turned Scottish, perhaps owing to the proximity of the border : Latin chanties were sung, and also ditties composed especially for the occasion by the wits of the party. The high spot of the Latin Debate was when the ignota femina, who was billed to play the part of Helen, turned out to be Mr. Craddock !

Some of these many activities are reported more fully below but no account of the Summer School could be complete without mention of the expedition to Corbridge and the Roman Wall : after a remarkably filling and varied lunch by the wayside,  Mr. Gillam, who conducted us over the sites with a knowledge that defeated all scepticism, an enthusiasm which fixed us all, and an agility which left some of us standing, and caused the eldest among us to refer to him as caper montanus


Whether one has attempted to teach Latin by the Direct Method or not, it is a valuable experience to note the various ways by which Mr. Peckett introduces boys who know no Latin to the basic grammatical ideas involved ; they learn quite early the Present Tense of the four conjugations, the genders of nouns and pronouns, the difference between Singular and Plural , as well as some differences of Case.

The boys at Durham seemed to the writer to be quick at grasping new points and showed obvious pleasure when they had mastered something fresh. It is clear that in the initial stages the Direct Method rivets the attention of the class on the subject matter and that such concentration enables the pupils to cover a good deal of ground in a short time.

Mr. Peckett warned the observers that while the lessons were intended to demonstrate method, in normal classroom practice longer time would be taken to cover the same ground, as thorough and constant revision was essential throughout the course. Successful teaching on this method should be as precise and orderly as teaching on other methods. Mr. Peckett gave his class clear notes to be copied and learnt after the principles involved appeared to be understood.

A happy and friendly relationship was quickly established between teacher and taught. Mistakes made were corrected quietly and with humour. It was assumed that all were anxious to grasp ideas, even though these were difficult, and full credit was given where it was due.  It was interesting to see how soon the boys could understand and enjoy a fabula based on their. own experience and how this used not merely to entertain but to introduce new vocabulary and to give further practice on the rules already learnt. We saw how a boy's love of activity and sense of fun as well as Is intellectual powers can all help him in his study of Latin which hue becomes truly a living language in which one can express early ordinary ideas.

One word of warning is necessary. To use this method successfully, good discipline is essential one must be able to check inaptly any unwanted exuberance. What appears easy in the hands of such a skilled craftsman as Mr. Peckett is not child's play and requires careful thought and planning. The successful lesson does not develop in a haphazard manner and the necessity of clarity, of emphasis on the important points and of methodical vision cannot be over emphasised. This is not an easy play-way, it requires all the energy and powers of a lively teacher and hard work from both pupils and teacher.



For the third year in succession Mr. Wilmot gave a course in " Advanced " Latin Verse Composition. As before great enjoyment and profit were derived from it by a class perhaps rather smaller than it need have been. Is the word " Advanced " perhaps rather forbidding ? Mr. Wilmot emphasised throughout the value of putting down quickly on paper something which both scans and translates all the English—" Find out what you've left out,"—and leaving polishing to the last. A very interesting few minutes was spent considering how the conclusions reached by Mr. Jackson Knight in " Accentual Symmetry in Virgil," to which Mr. Dale had referred in his lectures the previous evening, can be applied to the composition of continuous hexameters.

On the last morning, when the proposal to try Greek Iambics had been happily rejected, we had the interesting change of putting the same few lines of Stephen Phillips first into hexameters, then into Elegiacs and finally into Alcaics.

All through the course Mr. Wilmot was careful not to force his own ideas on us, but to build up something adequate from the varied and often conflicting scraps we offered him. It is to be hoped that in future years larger numbers will take advantage of this great treat. I am sure that those who have attended Mr. Peckett's course one year would enjoy Mr. Wilmot's the next.


Great enthusiasm was shown by the large number of member who attended the class in Latin Verse Composition given by Mr. C. W. E. Peckett. This was easily one of the most popular classes held, and was felt to be invaluable. Mr. Peckett's facilitation of handling technicalities made what had seemed to many a formidable task appear much easier than could possibly have been imagined. To many, verse composition was a new venture, which proved to be both delightful and profitable.

Mr. Peckett dealt with five types of verse form found in the dactyllic hexameter, the method employed being the use of syllabic groups, rather than splitting the line into feet. When duly arranged these groups fell naturally into the dactylic hexameter. Examples were taken from the Aeneid and were, in the initial stages, a literal translation. It soon transpired that there were three main syllabic groups which could be arranged in five ways. Each way was practised separately. After grasping the principle, the class was given lines from Virgil to translate, a literal translation being given to aid composition. The efforts of the class were then compared with the original. The eagerness of the class was such that homework was given by special request ! In the final lesson, lines from Virgil, consisting of all five types, were given, which tested the proficiency of the class.

All regretted when the classes came to an end, everyone agreeing that they had been most enjoyable, and that a class in Elementary Verse Composition should be a regular feature of future Summer Schools.



Mr. Melluish’s classes on Prose Composition—and this year we had them in both Latin and Greek—have, in a short time, made themselves one of the most   popular items on the Summer School time-table. The reason for this popularity is, at first sight obvious. While, fundamentally, his chief aim is the same as that of the most ardent " Direct Methodist," namely to achieve a lively participation from all his class—and those who have seen him demonstrate with his own boys at a Week-end Course know how successful he is in achieving this—he would himself, I fancy, disclaim any such connections for his method. Yet year after year, in a Summer School which seeks to stress the advantages of teaching Latin and Greek mainly in the languages themselves, his classes more than hold their own without any incongruity being felt. In fact, so spirited and keen among his "pupils" is the competition to be heard, that this year, for the first time, we had complaints from the less experienced members that they hadn't a fair chance : the " old hands " were too quick with a slick answer, and were threatening to monopolise the proceedings (an obvious danger this in the school classroom, too, to be guarded against) : could not a more elementary class be arranged for another year, so that the " experts " might be left to wrangle among themselves ? The management, ever sympathetic, promised to see " what could be done about it."

Wherein, then, lies the charm of these prose composition classes ? Mr. Melluish, it seems to me, besides giving valuable advice on teaching problems, is fulfilling a real need felt by many teachers, and especially by those who work single handed at school, or single-handed at advanced work. For many of these, it is a long time since they were at College ; they have had no one, for years, against whom they could pit their brains on a knotty point in Latin Prose, or even to review some basic principles that were in danger of being lost sight of in the routine of daily teaching. A long-cherished conviction, uttered pontifically ex cathedra in the class room, may well meet with vigorous opposition in such surroundings as Mr. Melluish's Prose classes afford, and this inevitably leads one at least to reconsider it, possibly even to modify it. Many a similar comment from some one else brings back a point that had become almost forgotten in a long lapse of time. In other words, the teacher is not only learning more of teaching technique ; his own skill  in composition is being developed and extended.

This year's " pupils " were given in advance three Latin passages and one Greek, to prepare. The first was a fairly well known passage, from Gibbon about the Praetorians under Maximian. The decision taken, to give the final version a Tacitean ring, was accepted, though with some misgiving in certain quarters—not because anyone queries the appropriateness of Tacitean idiom to the passage in question, but because playing about with Tacitean style is a pastime that few practising teachers can afford to indulge in wilh their classes. But some of the renderings of tricky parts of the original — like " a slow revenge coloured by the name of discipline and justified by fair pretences of the public good " and " considered themselves as the object rather than the partners of the triumph " were so neat as to win almost universal approbation from a very critical class. We next went on to an extract of a more philosophical nature, from the Spectator—with the customary liberal sprinkling of abstract nouns and such typical English phraseology as " an unjustifiable piece of rashness and folly " (which was deservedly reduced to a " characteristic " genitive of the person). The third was a really awkward piece from Macaulay about walking up Regent Street (before it became a built-up area), twenty years after the Great Plague, and shooting a woodcock there. We looked like being held up for some time, first by a digression on the natural habitat of the woodcock, and then by a discussion on what bird might most properly be considered its classical counterpart. There was relief felt in some quarters when the " master " accepted aucupari in a literal, non-Ciceronian sense as a legitimate means of avoiding the difficulty. The Greek prose was a piece of conversation from Gulliver's Travels, between the King of Brobdingnag (who was soon translated into Dionysus) and the little Grildrig (Gulliver). Although time ran out before we could finish this piece, some good points of Platonic idiom were brought to light.

But more important than the solution of difficulties peculiar to the passages studied was the general technique : when turned to the classroom, it means that the final version, even if it is  below the standard of the acknowledged masters of Latin , is one that is within the range of the class ; the continuous reference too, to Lewis and Short, and the lists of synonyms and nearly synonymous expressions, with discussion of the differences  and exact appropriateness of each. This is the real essence of translating.



I ATTENDED the Summer School at Durham as a student about to enter the University. I was introduced for the first  time to the oral method of teaching Latin, and I was greatly pressed by what I saw. However I cannot help feeling that the demonstration given by Mr. Peckett was so brilliantly done that many people must wonder if this method of teaching is practicable for most teachers. A good teacher must take a method to suit his own taste and abilities, and one can only adapt the oral method in so far as one is capable of using it profitably.

The verse composition class I found most interesting, and although to most teachers it is probably of little practical use, it is certainly an entertaining way of exercising their minds—and of recalling Virgil. Although I still do not feel that I could ever aspire to any great heights in the composition of verses, yet I now have sufficient confidence to attempt an occasional hexameter. The prose class also was of a more advanced level than is generally reached by Sixth Formers, and probably less difficult proses and smaller groups would have been more profitable. However versions of the proses eventually emerged, from which it is possible to see that a really good version can be made by considering the various possibilities and selecting the best, and that a communal effort is often better than an individual one.

The circuli were perhaps the most useful part of the course, both for teachers who have had no experience of talking Latin, and for those who want more advanced conversation. I found that it was was not as difficult to speak as I had imagined, and that despite the obstacles presented to an English tongue by the inflections, ii is possible to achieve a considerable degree of fluency even in such a short time. I think that more time might well have been spent on  the practice of speaking Latin, since it is this use of the language which is the most generally neglected in schools, and which is the special business of the Association.

I think it is desirable to lay great emphasis on the correct pronunciation of Latin, and in this respect the reading classes were helpful. Poetry was written to be read aloud and it is essential for anyone who is making a study of the Latin language to be able to read correctly and so appreciate the beauties of Latin poetry to its full extent.

In addition to seeing these classroom techniques, I enjoyed the lighter side of the course ; the general lectures and the memorable and energetic excursion to Hadrian's Wall. It was most amusing; too, to see teachers of Classics employing their wit and learning in hot debate upon the relative merits—or demerits  of Helen and Clytemnestra, and later in the evenings, with no less skill and apparently far more effort, capering round the room in the intricate figures of Scottish dance.

J. K. D.


The  Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday, August 27th, 1955, at Hatfield College, Durham. The President, Mr. A. W. Eagling, proposed from the floor, after suggesting a slight emendation, the amendment to the Constitution, notice of which was given in the last number of  LATIN TEACHING. The amendment was accepted unanimously, and to Constitution as amended will be found printed on the inside  of the back cover. The President also pointed out an error in Clause 7 of the Constitution as printed in the last issue. Clause 7, as now appears, is correct.

The Officers and Committee of the Association were then elected in accordance with the amended Constitution. Their names will be found printed on the inside of the front cover.

The Treasurer reported that, during the year 1954, income derived from members' subscriptions and a donation amounted to £108, and the profits from the Summer School £66. Expenditure Was £178, consisting almost entirely of the cost of printing and distributing Latin Teaching. The Association was, therefore, slightly worse off as a result of the year's work. Although the position was relatively stable the Treasurer emphasised that the only thing which could keep the Association solvent was a continued profit on the Summer Schools. Profit-making, however, was not the purpose of the Summer Schools, and was indeed against the policy of the Association. The only real answer was increased membership, and all members are urged to recruit new members.

The report of the Editor of LATIN TEACHING revealed that this Journal goes all over the world, into some surprising places. The work of producing film strips and pamphlets will be actively continued. The Secretary of the Archaeological Aids Committee reported that the exhibits had been made considerable use of, but that some of them had been treated very badly. She asked for help in constructing boxes in which they could be more safely distributed.

The Secretary reported that the Summer School for 1956 would be held in the Leys School, Cambridge, August 27th to September 4th. It was decided to try Oxford, Bristol and the University College of N. Staffordshire, in that order, as venues for the Summer School 1957. After the business of the meeting there was the usual discussion on the work of the current Summer School, during which more of the usual proposals were brought forward. Some wanted more Greek, some less ; some wanted more time spent on Method, others on improving their own knowledge of the Classics. All agreed of the need for more demonstration classes. The committee promised to do its best to suit all shades of opinion.

The meeting closed with votes of thanks to the Master, Bursar and domestic staff of Hatfield College, and to the Officers and Teaching Staff of the Summer School. The Director of the Summer School proposed an especially warm vote of thanks to Mr. Salinger for the most efficient way in which he had acted as organising secretary.

ARLT Summer School 1955

held at Hatfield College, Durham

Directed by C.W.E. Peckett