F. W. Garforth, Dept. of Education, University of Hull
NOW that Latin is no longer compulsory for entry to Oxford and Cambridge many are
asking how long it can retain even its present position in the curriculum. In an
age which judges by economic utility a "dead" language, they say, cannot expect to
survive; in any case, it is time children were released from the tyranny of linguistic
torture and the slow grind of Caesar. I suspect, however, that it is not Latin itself
that is moribund so much as the way it is taught: antiquated methods prolonged unnecessarily
from a time when Classics could claim almost all the time-
The first suggestion is that the range of Latin read in schools should be greatly
extended. A movement in this direction has been apparent for many years. Helen Waddell's
Medieval Latin for Schools was first published thirty years ago and the third edition
(1933) has been reprinted many times; Bell's Alpha Classics include selections from
Erasmus; the anthologies Poetry and Prose (Hodge and Kinchin Smith) and Alive on
Men's Lips (Pym and Silver) incorporate post-
I should like to plead, too, for a greater use of "made-
Third, the study of Roman Britain should be far more prominent in school Latin courses.
The reasons for this are obvious. The Romans are part of our island's history; they
gave it peace, prosperity, unity, ordered government and a fine network of communications.
For this reason alone Roman Britain has a relevance and an interest which Roman Italy
lacks. Again, the evidence of Roman occupation is still with us visibly and tangibly
in roads and villas, forts and camps, Hadrian's Wall, the Dover lighthouse and many
other remains; this too lends to its study an attractive first-
Finally, Latin teachers are far behind their modem language, colleagues in the use of oral methods. By this I mean not necessarily the full direct method, but question and answer, conversation and narrative in Latin. This is a normal technique in the teaching of French and German; there are good reasons why it should be so ill Latin too. Oral methods do, of course, lend to the lesson a livelines,,, and interest which the inaccurately named traditional method lacks. But they are advocated here for the more powerful reason that they directly assist the learning of the language. The greatest difficulty for the beginner in learning Latin is the mastery of inflexion; until inflexion endings render their meaning automatically and immediately, fluent reading is impossible and oral translation remains an exercise in incoherence. Rote learning of grammar, testing, written exercises and translation will not of themselves achieve this, for none of them involves the rapid and repeated thinking in Latin which oral practice requires. The arguments that Latin is no longer "alive" and to speak it is therefore artificial, that for modern topics new vocabulary must be invented, that Latin is learnt for reading not for speaking are all unimpressive. The basic task of the Latin teacher is to find the most effective means for his pupils to learn the language, and to enable them to do so with interest and enjoyment. To this end oral methods can make an indispensable contribution. There is little evidence at the moment that Latin is on the way out either in Britain or in the U.S.A. Figures published in a recent article indicate that it is at least holding its own ("The Present Position of Latin and Greek in Schools", S. Morris, Educational Review, Feb., 1961). Whether or not it will continue to do so against the constant encroachment of other subjects depends very largely on the teacher. He must explore new methods of teaching the language, seek new fields of interest and educational value within the total area of his subject. The above suggestions, which are far from exhaustive, may perhaps help to this end.
SUMMER SCHOOL, BRISTOL
Miss S. L. Wood
THIS was the first opportunity I had had of watching a chLs,, of beginners taught by the Direct Method and I did so witli certain misgivings, at the outset, as to its efficiency. By tlic end of the five lessons, however, almost all of these had been dispellci I What impressed me most was the amount they learnt in this short time—though Miss Wood explained that for the purpose of tlic demonstration she would cover more ground than would normally be practicable or desirable in school—and the interest shown by her pupils throughout the whole course, and not merely in the final lesson where they obeyed the injunction—"Crustulum da".
None of the girls had previously learnt any Latin, though they had all done a year's French. Before the first lesson they had been given Latin names and told how to pronounce them, so that they had some idea of the sounds they would be using. At the end of the fifth lesson they knew the present tense of the four conjugations, they had mastered the problem of gender and had met the nominative, accusative, and ablative cases of the first two declensions. Miss Wood had also taught them, by asking questions based on a simple story, that in 'Latin meaning depends, not on the word order, but on the form of the words.
I was surprised to see how quickly and easily Miss Wood's pupils were able to repeat words which they had heard her use, but had not seen written down, and this contributed much to vindicating the Direct Method in my eyes. In fact, the phrase which seemed to present most difficulty was "Gratias ago tibi", and this they had not practised before Miss Wood wrote it on the blackboard. In each lesson Miss Wood showed how points that had been mastered earlier must be revised by repeating oral drills. When a new point had been grasped after patient repetition by various members of the class, it was tabulated on the board and copied into notebooks.
By whatever method we teach Latin, a great deal of hard work and solid learning is necessary on the part of the pupils. The great virtue of the Direct Method seems to me to be that for them it ,combines this arduous task with the benefit and pleasure of being able to see language at work and of using it themselves right from the very beginning. And it is this that Miss Wood demonstrated to us, while at the same time giving us an example of the patient, painstaking, persistent, unspectacular, but ruthlessly efficient work required from the teacher to crown both pleasure and effort with success. L.J.
SECOND YEAR DEMONSTRATION CLASS
Mr. J. F. Gravett
A DEMONSTRATION class with boys taught by traditional methods was an innovation, and a challenge such as to bring much sympathy for Mr. Gravett from his colleagues. Worse followed, for the Bristol Grammar School boys turned out to be the products of four different forms, with differing syllabi. But our sympathy was wasted: we were treated to a series of entirely vital, entertaining lessons proving that a greater emphasis on oral methods can add weight to Latin teaching by any method. In the first lesson Mr. Gravett was forced to work extremely hard, but the boys soon began to grasp the importance of word order in answering questions and the mysteries of "aliter Latine". Final Clauses became gradually more fluent, with the subjunctives albeit a little "rocky". By the second day the boys were becoming more venturesome, and could be coaxed into the art of Oratio Obliqua by one of Mr. Gravett's best fabulae involving Marcus and Sextus in Egypt and an encounter with an extremely deaf camel driver. The Grammar again appeared a little insecure, and Mr. Gravett might have saved time by first tabulating the infinitives on the blackboard before starting on the construction.
Each further lesson, after a commendable few minutes revision of the previous day's work (in which the construction concerned seemed usually to have been fully understood) treated in turn Indirect Commands, Gerundives, and Indirect Questions; the latter appeared to be new to most of the class. In the case of the Gerundive Construction, Mr. Gravett was unable to make use of the Direct Method short cut . . . "aliter Latine" for Debeo, oportet, etc., and one questioned the use of the terms Gerund and Gerundive until one heard that the boys already knew them as such !
Two interesting points emerged from this valuable experiment , first, the type of
oral mistake made, e.g., "iusso" or "imperit" is unusual among those reared on Direct
Method; secondly, that the boys were noticeably surer of themselves when presented
with all exercise out of a book. And the benefits? A greater facility both orally
and in understanding on the part of the•class—for those observing, the experience
of seeing Direct Method teaching of the very best kind—lively, ingenious, with above
all a deep understanding of the workings of the mind of a thirteen year-
LATIN PROSE COMPETITION
Mr. T. W. Melluish and Mr. W. G. Boyd Once again we have been faced, like the famous
donkey, with the choice of two equally attractive and succulent feasts. Little do
the two eminent gentlemen mentioned above realise how near we come to intellectual
starvation through lack of the requisite moral courage for the agonising decision.
However, belonging as we undoubtedly do to the genus homo, sapiens, we succeeded
where the donkey failed, rose somehow to the occasion, and split up into two fairly
stable groups, one gleaning from Mr. Boyd all manner of useful wrinkles on the encouragement
and inspiration of the incipient and seemingly hopeless sixth-
LATIN TEACHING READING GROUPS
After giving a most clear and workmanlike exposition of the fundamentals of Latin
Pronunciation on the first morning, Mr. A. W. Eagling, together with Mr. Dale and
Mr. Rees, presided at practice reading groups each morning for the rest of the week.
These were, as usual, much appreciated. Many of us have little opportunity of exercising
our vocal organs on the pronunciation of Latin with any hope of knowing what sort
of a noise we make: perhaps we are over-
Mr. J. R. C. Richards In these classes Mr. Richards did for verse composition what Mr. Boyd does for prose, that is, he demonstrated to us the method he uses to introduce boys to verse composition. We played the part of the class, and after some practice, in the mechanics of pentameter and hexameter, he guided, encouraged, and "chivvied" us into turning some rather obscure lines of Robert Graves into Latin Elegiacs. Devotees of Verse Composition were clearly few, but, we will maintain, a select and enlightened few. Now that verse composition is a regular exercise in English from the very first forms of the Grammar, not to say the Infant, schools, it is hardly reasonable to treat its counterpart in Latin as an extravagantly exotic accomplishment, to be aimed at only by the Hons. I Classics typc. It is far from impracticable in itself, from the fourth year upward, and undoubtedly leads to much greater ease and understanding in dealing with verse authors. It must, however, be confessed that , especially in girls' schools, lack of time for all but the bare essential." at "0" Level does put it out of our reach before the Sixth.
These as a set item on the timetable were an innovation tl)i.,, year, in response
to numerous requests, and were clearly appreciated by those who attended them. But
there is still something to be said for retaining the more flexible idea of the Circulus
where those capable of set discussion can make groups for the purpose, while others
who suffer from the strange disability whereby the brilliant expositions and cogent
arguments which dazzle us with then scintillating array while in the bath or listening
to the sermon invariably flee, to leave us tongue-
Mr. F. R. Dale
In Mr. Dale's course of lectures on Catullus we had the opportunity of hearing several of the poems read by one who has studied them long and lovingly and obviously deeply appreciates them. For my part, at least, I far too seldom hear Latin poetry accurately and impressively spoken; we tend nowadays to miss the "music of the poetry", and to look at the printed page rather than listen to the spoken word. Mr. Dale also read us his own translations of several passages; it was interesting, for instance, to be able to follow the Latin text of the "Attis" while listening to an English translation in the same metre.
The readings formed the bulk of the course. There were also, of ,course, comments
on the aptness of expressions, and references to "echoes" of Catullus in Horace and
Virgil, but this was in no sense a series of lessons giving instruction in Catullus'
techniques, or grammar, or life-
We began with the hendecasyllables, and the iambics, with their variety of thought
in somewhat rigid metres, from the light and colloquial to the solemn and the serious.
The major work studied was No. 64. Its hexameter form is, especially at first, processional
and sonorous—its accent more definite than that of the Greek, its lines more frequently
"deseritur Scyros, linquunt Phthiotica Tempe,
Crannonisque domos ac moenia Larisaea,
Pharsaliam coeunt, Pharsalia tecta frequentant."'
but there is little sign of an immature handling of metre, which becomes less rigid and more flexible, and then slips into the "Song of the Fates" with its haunting recurrence of:
"currite ducentes subtegmina, currite fusi"
echoing, as Vergil later, the first Idyll of Theocritus.
We briefly considered elegiacs, informal in style and again varied in subject (from the sadness of the lament for his brother's death to the two lines contemptuously dismissing Caesar), and then came on to another longer poem, No. 63, the "Attis" ode, with its complex, memorable chant in the "Galliambic" metre, the distinctive rhythm suiting the strangeness of a theme which brings us a shiver at the ending:
"procul a mea tuns sit furor omnis, hera, domo:
alios, age incitatos, alios age rabidos".
I am glad to have this opportunity of thanking Mr. Dale for a most memorable course of lectures, knowing as I do that I am merely echoing the appreciation of others who are much better qualified to judge.
TACITUS: Lecture by K. Wellesley, Dept. of Humanity, Edinburgh
One of the less welcome possibilities facing Education today is that increasing specialisation at the Universities and the growing shortage of highly qualified schoolmasters may lead to a gap between the work of the Universities and the Schools—and a resultant lack of mutual understanding. Mr. K. Wellesley, himself formerly a schoolmaster and now a don, went some way to show how in one field that gap could be bridged. In an interesting lecture on Tacitus he suggested that even on such familiar ground there was still plenty of work to be done, and that there was no need for the classics teacher to abandon all hope of being able to carry out a little original research for himself. True, travel was necessary, but, given that possibility, there were some interesting lines of research to follow.
Tacitus offered to the student both a literary and an historical approach. In the
latter field the investigation of sources was perhaps an old-
We are grateful to Mr. Wellesley fora lecture which caught the imagination of the audience both by the interesting possibilities i I revealed and the sympathetic manner of the lecturer. T.W.M.
DIDACTIC POETRY: Greece, Rome and England
H. H. Huxley, Manchester
"Just precepts thus from great examples given,
She drew from them what they derived from Heaven.
The generous Critic fanned the poet's fire
And taught the world with reason to admire.
Then Criticism the Muse's handmaid proved
To dress her charms, and make her more beloved!"
Thus Pope on Greece, and Mr. Huxley on all three, with a most engaging second half depicting the Muses with their hair down; apt for one who had his lecture title changed once, from "Varium et mutabile semper femina" to "The Women of Rome"!
After a definition of the four M's—matter, mass, metre, and manner, he proceeded
to tell us what didactic poetry is not: neither Cato nor Ausonius, in essence Epic,
though giving a view of life: not a mere excursus of any sort, whether historical,
mythological, technical or geographical. For it must possess the Aristotelian ilkyEEMS
The form can be primitive, folk-
We were given amusing sidelights on the mental makeup and antics of Nicander, Columella
and Oppian, and then a post-
"False Gallia's sons, that use the ocean isles,
Mix with their sugar loads of worthless sand,
Fraudful, their weight of sugar to increase.
Far be such guile from Britain's honest swains."
Insect pests appear as "confederate bugs", rats "the whiskered vermin race". Probably
the most memorable phrase of all was the high-
LOCAL ROMAN ANTIQUITIES My. A. Warhurst, Bristol Museum
For those who wonder how to cope with the enthusiastic questioner, "Can't we go digging? My grandfather found a Roman coin in his garden".—Mr. Warhurst's lecture provided a lucid survey of how to set about gathering information and how to find sites, together with the limitations to practical investigation. It was fascinating to learn that keen observation of the growth of crops or the habits of cows in wet weather might give a clue to an ancient site, perhaps a valuable one for archaeological experts. For important additions to knowledge likely to be gained from a site could be destroyed unless excavation were carried out with the latest scientific aids, such as the proton magnetometer. Mr. Warhurst ended with some reminders about property ownership and passed round a box of local finds for close inspection.
"0" LEVEL LATIN
Mr. S. J. Tester, Dept. of Classics, Bristol University
Mr. Tester began by saying that today it was manifestly untrue that the classical student was "bred to the purple". There were many lofty, spurious reasons advanced for the study of classics but none of them would ever apply to the work of the four years preceeding "0" level. We could not in the first place claim that ancient history in relation to the contemporary world has much meaning even for the majority of adults let alone for children of under sixteen.
Although this is a powerful argument one felt that Mr. Tester was taking his stand
on too lofty a plane altogether. It is easy to say that all the major works of ancient
historians can be read in translation for half-
Mr. Tester then said that we could rule out the greatness of the literature of Rome as a reason for teaching the language up to "0" level. It was only the finest scholars who ever had any real appreciation of great literature and there was no point in it for children.
This may well be true if the works chosen are dreary in content and read too slowly
and with too much attention to the minutiae of grammar. Can it really be true, however,
that our pupils do not feel some stir of interest when Caesar landed in Britain for
example, or at the adventures of Aeneas in Aeneid I, or that they are not fascinated
by some, and nauseated by others, of the poems of Ovid? At quite an early stage,
with only a little guidance, children begin to see what is sincere and well expressed
as distinct from the bogus and pretentious. Mr. Tester went on to mention another
important reason for learning Latin—the need to achieve a pass as an entrance requirement
for a particular university. This was supported for the most part by scientists who,
in the speaker's opinion, were doing the wrong thing for the right reason as he explained
later. He hoped that Latin as an entrance requirement would soon be dropped entirely.
This brought him to the main point of his talk. When this requirement was swept away,
Latin would have to justify its inclusion in a crowded time-
Having stated that some at any rate of the usual reasons put forward had no relevance
today, he then said firmly that Latin should continue to be taught for the first
two years at least. During this time it would be possible to find out if there were
any potential scholars while the mass of the others would have,derived from flic
first two years the only real value that the language had for theill. This value
lay in the structure of Latin itself. (Greek would nol serve the purpose because
as a language it was too complicated). Latin was simpler and clearer at the early
stage than any other language and was an excellent foundation on which to build any
ol the other European languages. This was why the scientists supported it because
it provided a sound basis for learning German or Russiaii. With a thorough knowledge
of elementary Latin a child knew the structure and function of the parts of speech
and the inter-
There followed a short discussion in which the following points were raised. How
were we to find potential scholars if we stopped teaching Latin at such an early
stage ? Where were the future teachers to come from? Mr. Tester felt that potential
scholars would be obvious at any stage and that more teachers might be forthcoming
if the universities reintroduced a general honours course. Anyway children would
mostly do what they liked and resist pressures To practising teachers this seemed
somewhat unrealistic. The most blatant and subtle pressures are brought to bear and
it is only the most brilliant or self-
If indeed this is the shape of things to come, there must inevitably be bitter disappointment among many teachers that their efforts have borne so little fruit when they have themselves a deep love of the classics and a keen desire to communicate to others what they value so highly. On the other hand we must be grateful to Mr. Tester for speaking out so boldly, for stating plainly the challenge we face and for making us realise that only our own efforts can ensure that our subject stays in the curriculum.
PANEM ET CIRCENSES
(Being the lighter side of the A.R.L.T. Summer School)
It is the contrast of light-
Each evening, the after-
On the last evening, most of us were engaged in some part of the entertainment. This included a performance of "Miles Gloriosus" abridged and produced by Mr. Dunn, a charade devised by Miss M. A. Mardel, and an amazing performance of "Pyramus and Thisbe", produced by Mr. T. W. Melluish. Finally, we all sang the Summer School Song. This, as habituees know, is written afresh each year by Mr. Dunn, and makes humourous reference to characters and incidents peculiar to that year's Summer School. (We suspect that the word peculiar may sometimes and to some extent be understood here in both its meanings!).
Fresh ideas and the day's activities were talked over at mealtimes and—more freely—over