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The Association for Latin Teaching


ARLT Summer School  1998

held at College of Ripon & York St John, York

Directed by Mr W B O' Neill

Experiences of a First Timer

I hadn't taught Latin for 30 years, until 1998 when the small country comprehensive that my daughter goes to began an enrichment programme, which included the offer of Latin to be taught by me. After such a long interval I found the many-roomed mansion of my knowledge of Latin had eroded to a few grass-covered mounds. At school, in the book-swamp under the stage, I dug up a variety of classics books, many of them going back to the days of the ancient grammar school that predated the comprehensive. The newest were a partial set of first-edition Cambridge Latin Course pamphlets. We started with these, once a week for 40 minutes at lunch time.

My hope in coming to the ARLT summer school in York was to find out what relation if any our activities had to normal Latin teaching today, and to try to bring them into line – and also to rediscover some of the Latin I seemed to remember once knowing and loving. Both hopes were fulfilled, and I had a very happy and stimulating time as well. I found it thrilling to be able to devote whole days to thinking about Latin and related topics, and talking to other people who were thinking about them too. (The exquisite pleasure and indulgence of this may not be so striking to members of hard-working classics departments.) My fear was that I should be obviously incompetent and out of it after such a long interval, but the kindness and tact of everyone I met made it possible to forget that side of things fairly soon.

For my purposes, the combination of practical teaching advice (how to handle museum visits, how best to exploit the overhead projector) with opportunities to read and consider texts, and to listen to scholarly speakers was ideal. I would certainly urge other returners to profit by the support and encouragement offered by the summer school, which came as much in the form of friendly conversational responses to my muddled queries and vague anxieties as in the organised sessions.

Unlike most of the other members of the summer school, I did not live in the college in York where the course was held. Instead we combined it with a family holiday, settling all of us, grownups and children, for a week in a pair of forest lodges at Wath. The others walked and visited round about, and we met a couple of times to explore York together. It worked very well, and I got the impression that my daily absence contributed considerably to the smooth running and relaxed mood for the rest of my family. Driving back to Wath in the moonlight past medieval abbey ruins after an evening lecture,or Latin-speaking efforts at the Anniversary Dinner, or singing plainsong at the last-night entertainment, I felt I had got what I came for.

Deborah Chorlton, Beaminster, Dorset

Oratio Valedictoria MCMXCVIII

Amici Societatis Arelatinae! hac hebdomade celebravimus quindecimum lustrum ludorum aestivorum. sed iam paene – miserrime dictu! – sumus ad finem colloquii nostri et me oportet, priusquam vos valedico, commemorare, ut mos est directoris, ea quae sunt peracta.

sermones dissertissimos audivimus et colloquiis ac circulis interfuimus. ille Andreius (l) monumentis antiquis peritissimus nos docuit de Eboraci cloacis et rebus eiusmodi; tunc actores illi Dionysiaci (2) fabulis Graecis nos oblectaverunt.

postero die amicus noster Loidensis qui de loco virgultis obsito appellatur (3) deliberavit Romanitatem clari illius poetae Graeci; Ioannis noster (4) de fabulis novis et antiquis est elocutus; et archaeologus ipse de lutrarum via nominatus (5 ) nos edocuit de Eboraco et eis quae sunt ibi inventa. tertia die post epulas Apicianas exquisitissimas (6) illa"candida" vel sivis "divina" et "mollis" seu "tranquilla" (aliter Martia) (7) nos delectavit sermone de fabulis Graecis.

postremo professores illi emeriti, alter qui de robure aquilae appellatur (8), alter Occidens (9), de ingenio poetae Menandri et de satura Aeneidos nos facunde edocuerunt. interim idem Andreius (alias "os"(1)) nos excepit in illo Arcu celebrato (vel fortasse Arca?) (10) priusquam anniversarium horum congressuum celebravimus epula splendida et amoena.

et nunc ad finem paene sumus. gratias maximas ago omnibus qui hunc ludum aestivum bonum atque fortunatum fecerunt et spero vos omnes domos tutos regressos ferias laetissimas et otiosas esse acturos.

Arelates, valete!

Wilf O'Neill, Director ARLT Summer School, York 1998

1 Andrew "Bone" Jones Water Quality and Waste Disposal in Roman York

2 Actors of Dionysus who gave a presentation

3 Malcolm Heath Was Homer a Roman?

4 John Randall Old Myths, New Ideas

5 Patrick Ottaway Roman York

6 at the Roman Bath Inn

7 Jenny March Greek Myths: Images and Inspiration

8 Geoffrey Arnott Humour in Menander

9 David West The Aeneid as Satire

10 The ARC (Archaeological Resource Centre)

Song of the Summer School

(to the tune: There's a pretty little village far away.)

NOW the stresses of the term seem far away

And we're all enjoying well-earned holiday.

Some in Benidorm or Cannes

Seek a sexy foreign tan,

But the wisest of us congregate in York.

We're in York, we're in York,

we're in York, York York York York,

We're in York, we're in York,

we 're in Y. O. R. K. York.

Well, we started at the bottom. Andrew Jones

Showed us turds and beetle wings and worms and bones

That came up from underground.

And that isn't all he found

As he crawled around the sewers here in York.

Then Medea, Myrrhine, Socrates were shown

In a private Dionysia of our own.

Though we mind our Ps and Qs

Still, Groups B and C confuse

For we've swapped them, and I'm puzzled here in York.

If Greek heroes kissed each other on the lips

- an unpleasant business after fish and chips -

Homer must have come from Rome.

Or was Egypt once his home?

Malcolm Heath pursued such oddities in York.

Then our John began the great debate on myth,

Till our heated arguments were silenced with

Jenny March's verse and slides,

Leda, swan, and more besides,

To inspire us in our labours here in York.

Patrick Ottaway has led us up and down,

After sketching in the background of the town.

If he sketched a theater

That wasn't really there,

Then it should have been, as part of Roman York.

Are ancient ancient jokes abstruse unless explained?

Here's a modern one: – "We came to York. It rained!"

Will they still laugh at it when

It is A.D. Thirty Ten?

So what chance has poor Menander now in York'?

With the lecturers I won't dare which was best,

Though a strong contender's always David West.

Was it goddesses as foes,

Or the lovely wine he chose?

Either way, we're glad he made the trip to York.

There's just one complaint I want to make to Wilf,

Now I came here looking very like a sylph,

But the Roman Bath repast

With the Dinner following fast,

Leave me looking like a porker here in York.

Age brings wisdom, so they say but maybe youth

Also has a bit of insight on the truth,

So let's not forget ideas

Brought by those of tender years.

Let's go forward from the A. G. M. of York.

David Parsons.

Experiences of a First Timer

oratio valedictoria

Song of the Summer School