The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

Special work in Classics


General Remarks. -   When the special study of Classics begins, the time given to it is increased from thirteen periods a week out of thirty-six (eight of Latin and five of Greek) to twenty-two in the first year, and  usually twenty-five later.  This is about equally divided between Greek and Latin ;  but details differ with the class or the particular boy.   It is a matter of convenience, like another of the arrangements I have now to describe : namely, that boys of all the last three years of school work (Remove, Lower VI, and Upper VI) are taught together for a good deal of their time.  When possible, the first year has been taken separately, and that plan has obvious advantages. But as a rule, with us, all are taken together for the main  reading lessons, the first double lesson of each day, Latin and Greek being taken on alternate days. That accounts for twelve  periods ; six others are given to the Remove, or first year, separately, and nine to the remainder separately. These periods may be used for any kind of work which is needed by the boys in question. Some may be given to reading : some to translation, some to demonstrations in composition or to exercises such as Bradley's Arnold, some to discussions of literature in English. Lessons in English literature, in history, in French, German, and in mathematics are provided in  addition to these. This leave certain periods free for each boy, which might well be employed in class if masters are available. Private work: however, has advantages of its own. I propose first to deal with the special difficulties of the First Year ; then to take separately the subjects of Reading, Translation, Grammar, and Composition.

First Year.-     The First Year has a wide gulf to bridge. Hitherto the reading has been slow, and  the composition easy ; the boys have no very large vocabulary, and they have not yet tried to render a piece of natural (not simplified) English into Latin. To jump at once into a class which reads 200 or even 300 lines in the double lesson is a severe trial, and it is obvious that at first a great deal will simply be missed. If these new boys can be taken separately, the pace may be made slow at first, and gradually increased; but experience has shown that even when plumped down into the Sixth Form without preparation, they gradually find their feet, and that they feel at home before the year is out - indeed, two terms will serve for most, and even less for a clever boy. To help the difficulties of the beginners, if all must work together, those periods are used when the beginners are taken alone to go through again as much as possible of the work read that day, translating most of it at first. Here, as always, the master must be guided by the capacity of his class, and use his discretion. Vocabulary is increased by the reading and discussion, as well as by the daily Summary (see p. I 26), which also serves to enlarge the boys' knowledge of idiom.

Second Year. -  In the Second Year, boys can take their part in the reading without disadvantage ; and their treatment is the same as the Third Year, except that the Summary is still continued twice a week, once in Latin and once in Greek.

Disregarding now the accidents of organisation, let us take the four departments of school work which have been named.


Reading.  -  The Reading lessons are the most important of all: for they furnish the test of the whole training which has preceded, and they are the medium for the best that we hope to learn of the treasure of antiquity. What the boys learn by themselves and what by themselves they do, is both necessary and valuable: there is much that they can learn which will help them to understand their authors, and their composition is both an intellectual exercise of high value and a source of keen satisfaction. But in the Reading they come into touch with the choice spirits of antiquity, under the guidance of a master who takes care that they do not miss what they ought to see. And this last stage of the classical course includes the thoughts of those great men of the past on all the problems which will meet the readers in their own lives: of religion, morals, politics, and social life. Such problems are not many in number, although they meet us in many forms. Such are religious questions, whether there be a God, and if there be, how we are to reconcile His existence with the injustice of the world; how divine mercy and justice can be reconciled ; the conflict of human law with divine law ; what is the destiny of man. In morals, there is the conflict of duty and expediency; man's duty to his neighbour, and to his country; what is man's highest good. In politics, the best mode of government ; the relations of state to state ; the relations of the citizen to the state. In social life, the virtues of friendship, hospitality, and courtesy, the vices of over-reaching and snobbery, and all the various phases of human intercourse, love and hate, generosity and greed, good faith and bad faith. It seems a long list : and yet every one of these meets us in the last three years of school life, usually in a dramatic form which enforces the true lesson without proclaiming it, by unnoticed suggestion. Where there is a true solution, it stands before us ; and where there is none, we perceive the temper of the greatest of men as they face the fact, we are impressed by their courage and faith, we are less likely to be seduced by a facile despair or a contemptuous materialism. And these problem s are considered without prejudice either from without or from within: because, on the one hand, they appear in surroundings far removed from our own, and on the other hand, they are studied by those whose intelligence is quick, whose minds are open, whose instincts are generous and unspoilt . The works also in which these scenes are presented are such, that our sense of beauty and fitness is more than satisfied: it is delighted, and we have for ever a standard to which we can refer all else that hereafter we may meet with in the world's literature.

This no doubt is the classical course, in which Greek has the predominance. No more can be said of it here; but so much must be said, because Latin has its value enhanced as a part of it. Latin alone has its own benefits, but they are small in comparison : although it is true that Cicero On Duties is a most valuable guide to conduct, and is always very attractive to boys - '' Tres optimi libri " is the boys' verdict. What will be said now of method applies to both, but the illustration s henceforth will be taken from Latin.

Reading, then, is our first topic. The greatest care must be taken in reading from the very first to obtain good utterance, correct quantity, proper pauses, and intelligent expression : for upon this depends not only the pleasure of the hearer, but his understanding of what is read. Without pleasure in the act of hearing the thing read will have no good effect, but rather bad one; since it will be associated in memory with what is unpleasant, and will therefore be rejected by the mind. A good voice well used is a most excellent thing in man ; its effect is incalculable, and it is one of the most  precious of  gif ts.  We English have naturally good voices; but  untrained they are usually bad, and of ten horrible.  If an angel should descend from heaven, and proclaim great truths in the snarling tones of the city vulgarian, he would repel all sensitive hearers at once. No pains spent on the voice are wasted. Again, even a good voice is useless, if the speaker read without stops in a monotonous tone :for he will not be understood. Pauses, therefore, and modulations of infinite             variety, must be taught : and mark that this cannot be done unless the master himself can do well what he tries to teach.

Granting that this  preliminary training has been done, the master has at our  present stage a test of understanding  which will save many  questions.  If the reader pa uses in the wrong place, or modulates his tone doubtfully, it is clear at once that he does not understand what he reads; both faults must be corrected, and very often that alone is enough to convey to him and  to the class the right meaning.  But if he reads aright, it does not always follow that he understands fully ; and the master's experience of  what is likely to be missed, or what has been missed by others at the same point, will prompt the necessary questions. Such matters must be left to his discretion; and since boys differ so widely, he must eke out his knowledge of the passage with his knowledge of the particular class. In general, the questions will concern new words or difficult constructions, the  sense of  the  passage, and desirable illustrations of style ; it will in fact be much the same in Latin as the discussion of Shakespeare in an English lesson. If the passage is still misunderstood or even if the master is not quite sure, translation is a last means of making sure ; but the less of this the better in a Latin lesson, and later we shall see how the under­ standing may be tested still further.

It is always best to use plain texts; not only because the attention is distracted by notes, but because where a note is needed, it is far more effective to make it on the spot than to refer to a printed book. It is really surprising how few notes are needed: most of those printed in books are a mere clouding of counsel, being unnecessary, irrelevant, or pretentious. Parallel passages, where they help – for example, cross-references in  the author read – are best looked up on the spot ; and for this purpose, the Sixth Form room should have a library of all important texts, say a dozen copies of each, to be brought down and used when they are wanted. This gives the charm of discovery to what is otherwise dull and often pedantic. For a real difficulty, the master must be prepared with a note sufficiently complete to do as the answer for a critical paper: these notes dictated are later collected by the boys and learnt. Illustrative pieces, epigrams of Martial for instance, read on the spot, impress themselves on the memory.

But not only   the master  is concerned now in the meaning of the text : there are the other boys in the class, who take a very active part here. They have been trained with care from the beginning to ask questions whenever they do not understand; praised or blamed not according to what they know, but according to their honesty in owning to what they do not know. The meaning of  strange words, therefore, or phrases, details of that kind, will be certainly asked by some

boy, and explained by another boy, who is happy to speak if he knows the answer ; and there is plenty of lively banter.

A few examples (out of many hundreds noted) may be given of boys' explanations of difficult words.

buccae……….. genae inflatae.

robigo ……..   quasi morbus ruber qui ferrum oppugnat:
"debes thesaurum tuum in caelo reponere, ubi nec robigo corrumpit neque conopes."

commovit ………….. id quod commovet me, efficit ut irascar.

maneum ……   est id quod non completum. Mancam nomi namus felcm quae caret cauda.

vortex (Cic. Dom. 47). vortex aquae in quam inhauriuntur omnia, itaque haec est translatio,  namque absorbet omncs opes.

squamae   quasi folia per totum corpus dispersa.

cochlea   . animal quod domum suam in tergo porta t.

proinde aliis ut credat vide (Capt. 292) …….  si genio non credit, aliis certe non credet.

Explanations of a passage.

(1) A. Nescio quid fuerit origo seditionis.

B. Septima decima legio Romam redire iussa est. Tum Crispinus tribunus varietatis causa iussit arma nocte media sumere. Tum  autem alii ebrii, alii temulenti, nesciebant quid fieret: itaque seditio factast.

(2) Short compendium said at beginning of the lesson.

In priore lectione, de rebus Romanis audivimus.  Tiberius legem maiestatis renovavit, et ortum est novum genus hominum, delatores. Narrat quoque Tacitus ut Tiberius in tribunali adsederit.

A false quantity is really amusing to us ; it excites the same hearty laugh which would be caused in the Homeric circle by sitting down where there is no chair.

So was received the statement that Drusus praesedit edendis gladiatoribus (Tac. Ann .i. 74) ; one boy added, as a new wonder, In meo est textu, "continuis imbribus auctus Tiberius ! " (a misprint for 'Tiberis”)”. So the statement (Cic. Off . i. 99) delectat hoc ipsum quod inter se omnes partes cum quodam lepore consentiunt was greeted with a laugh and a cry of flevit lepus  parv ulus  (The tag of a Latin song.) So also the reading gelidus canis cum montibus (Virg. G. i. 43). When someone read in a fiercer tone si illas attigeris, dabitur tibi magnum malum (Pl. Rud. 793), he had a great ovation, and a friend solemnly offered him a small apple. So Mantua , dives avis was greeted with Non est avis Mantua ! When one read 0 qua sol habitabilis illustrat oras (Hor. Odes, iv. 14. 5), quite a dialogue ensued.

Omnes. Non est sol habitabilis! (Risus.)

Ego. Si sol est habitabilis, i tu et habita.

B.  Non in sole habitabit ille, sed in luna - est lunaticus.

That  I  think is a better way of explaining the construction than to ask, " What does habitabilis agree with? " Sometimes there is a flash of imagination beyond banter ; as when a boy read canet terra in winter time, for canet, and I asked, Si canere posset terra , quid caneret ?  He replied simply, "A Shropshire Lad."

With the same readiness, mistakes in phrasing are seen, and they often give a ridiculous turn to a sentence. Where Livy describes a vast swarm of wasps, and how they were disposed of (Livy, xxxv. 9), it was once read thus : eas collectas | cum cura et igni | crematas esse, which was absurd enough ; still more so the statement secum portantes  urbem | ingressi  sunt  (i. 34. 10), or the reading, highly enjoyed, et bulla aurea est pater |   quam dedit mihi natali die (Pl. Rud . 1171).

The most welcome evidence of wit is the use of quota­tions to sum up the occasion, or to point a jest. The practice ·of reading aloud impresses upon the memory without effort a store of words, phrases, lines, even long passages, which become a possession for ever. I  have often known a rare word (intercus, for example, which had certainly not recurred), and still oftener a line of verse, to remain in the memory for two or even three years, and then to be recalled on a sudden occasion ; but most of the specimens I shall give  recall lines of more recent use, usually from the author on hand.   Thus, on a Horace morning, I enter my room and hear some boys talking in English: I ask, Quis loquitur barbare ?  to be answered at once 'Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas.  A hideous peal of bells frequently rings opposite our school ; when I say, provoked beyond the usual, Odi tintinnahulum illud , one boy replies utile est, and another Sed non miscuit utile  dulci.   Johnson's  Virgil  falls  to  pieces,  whereat Jolley exclaims Disiecti membra poetae. A clumsy boy piles up books so that  they fall ; he is greeted  by Vis consili expers mole ruit sua. I call on a boy to read : he says, Bis hodie me iussisti recitare, and a friend  caps him with Crambe repetita. At a clap of thunder, one exclaimed, Caelo tonantem credidimus Iovem regnare. The question Quare tristes Kalendae ? (on Hor. Sat. i.3. 87) called out the response: Ea dies qua pecuniam solvere debemus - dies irae, dies illa. I said in correction, as I  thought, of a reader, Iactura nomen est, non parti­cipium ; but when he answered, 0, scio! a friend commented splendide mendax. Pictures of Titus and Vespasian were shown, with the remark, Hic est pater, hic filius, which was at once answered by Patre pulchro filius  pulchrior.    The very  air  seems  to  have caught the habit, for it is something uncanny how often the text seems to wait upon events, as witness the following dialogue :

A. Tantae sunt tenebrae ut  videre non possim. Licetne incendere lumen ?

Ego. Licet. Sulpura quis habet ?

B.   Ego. (Incendit.)

Will it be believed that the next line which the reader had to read was (Aen. ix. 270) : continuo nova lux oculi effulsit !

Some of the above quotations are not without wit ; and conscious humour or wit is a thing of every day. If Virgil says (Aen. iv. 270) qua spe teris otia terris, someone responds Non amo " teris  terris," est terribile. Or the meaning of amenta is asked, then follows the quick interchange :

B.   Fundus.

Ego. Minime vero, " fundus " valet " ager " vel " agri."

B.  Funditus erravi.

In reading Livy, xxxiv. 43, we had many jests on the Roman names Blasio, Merenda, and others, in a passage containing the words evenit P. Cornelio H ispania ulterior, Sex. Digitio citerior, when a boy burst out laughing.

Ego. Non compos corporis videris esse, nam semper sine causa rides.

B. Ecce aliud nomen, Digitius.

Ego. Quot digitos habuit ?

B. Sex !

This had a sequel two years later, when a boy in drawing a figure on the board, gave it six fingers, on which some-one instantly called out Sextus Digitius ille quidem

On an allusion to Niobe, the explanation followed :

A. Niobe saxea est facta.

B. Sicut Lotti uxor !

C. Salse dictum !

Again, a boy comes in late.

Ego. Quare sero venis ?

B. Machina mea aegrotat.

Ego. Quomodo aegrotare potest   machina   ?

B. Pneumonia credo.

Enough perhaps of these trifles, which, however, are not without significance ; they show the temper of the learners, and how real an impression has been made ; to play  also with a language is a sign of easy mastery which ought not to be missed.  The same temper of good-humour and contentment, and the same ease with wider scope, is shown in the continual banter of personal hits which goes on, and the master very properly comes in for his share.  Nothing unkind or insulting has ever been said in my twenty years' experience, and with that granted, even playf ul allusion to personal peculiarities may pass unoffending. One thing in which boys are infallible is this - they always know by instinct what feeling prompts a word : and the best of good  feeling must be in the background if this kind of banter is to be used. When the master has the sense to be one of the gay company, he will only be pleased if a score is made against himself now and then. Let this   little dialogue be an example on Virg. Ecl. vi. 74, where the two Scyllas had been conf used.

Ego. Silenus, vino sopitus, erravit : erant enim duae Scyllae. (Risus maxius.) Quare ridetis ?

A. Quia ebrius vidit duas Scyllas.

Ego. Sed erant duae.

B. Vidit ergo quattuor !

Ego. Vidit unam, more contrario! (Risus.) Error est,  sed humanum est errare : divinum autem errores corrigere, sicut ego facio.

C. Ideo ego facio errores, ut tibi materiam corrigendi dem.

It may surprise some to learn it, but nevertheless it is true, that this humorous setting does not in the least interfere with the effect of anything noble or touching. The boys pass in a moment from gay  to grave ; and although they have not, of course, the experience of  life which alone can reveal the depths and heights of feeling, they respond at once to the eloquence of Cicero the dignity of Horace, the delicacy and tenderness of  Virgil, just as they can savour the perfect art of the works they read. In judging this matter, no mistake is possible to one who knows boys. What they feel, they show, so long as they have been allowed to be natural. True and honest feeling is natural to the depths of the English heart, just as light jesting is natural to the surface : " the simple mirth of my people," as Queen Elizabeth said, "which keepeth high courage alive." This is the great secret which I have discovered in my experience. I hope I am not alone, but I think school­ masters are generally afraid to be natural ; and there is often an atmosphere of gloom and solemnity about the painfully pompous pedagogue, which we may be sure only represses the natural boy to make him mock when he is set free.

We will assume, then, that the reader reads well, that the class understand at least most of what he reads, the general meaning if not all the details, at first hearing : that is what we find to be true of a well-trained Sixth Form. Consider now what a difference it makes, that all the new work is read for the first time in class.   It is not puzzled out by each boy, alone with grammar and dictionary, his attention, it may be, distracted, and his mind a little tired; but he hears the noble tones of the ancients, read carefully by an intelligent boy amidst quiet attention, when all minds are fresh, at the beginning of a new day, with someone at hand (not necessarily the master) to solve difficulties as they arise ; and a noble thought, or a neat point, or a stroke of wit comes out as a real surprise, while his delight, being shared by a company of intelligent friends, is multiplied manifold. He hears the thoughts of the great masters, delivered in the order in which they themselves placed them, and made own by the sounds which they them­ selves chose. I will not say there is no better way ; this is the only possible way to apprehend them in their fulness.

This is why the Reading lesson is the chief part of our whole work. And when any of those problems come up which were mentioned a while since, it is the great master's hand that lays them before us, it is he who suggests what he has thought upon them ; we are ready in a reverent spirit to inquire what he would have us think, and our minds are helped to the personal solution which every man must attempt for himself. Suppose there be none, yet it is no small consolation to know that the greatest have also been troubled, and have not lost faith.


There are two kinds of translation. One is an art, an end in itself ; the other is a test or a method of ex­planation, a means to another end.

In the Direct Method, each has its place. The second is used as a test of understanding; both in the earlier stages of Latin work, and in the later for any specially  difficult  passage, or  where explanation is impracticable by action, or by explanation in Latin. Such words as prepositions, conjunctions, and some adverbs are impossible to exemplify or paraphrase in the time at our disposal, sometimes indeed are entirely so. It is better to give these before the lesson, when they are wanted, with English explanations. The same may be said for explanations within the lesson, where other methods have failed ; the translation should be intro­ duced by Anglice, or ut aiunt Angli, or the like. Longer passages should also be so treated, in case of great diffi­culty, or with a new style, as, for example, when first beginning Tacitus. It is well, further, to test the understanding of the class by having pieces of the text translated after reading, until the master is sure they are able to do without.  How often this has to be done, differs with each class. A really good class needs very little.

But the  art of translation must also be cultivated : for it is not only worth while in itself, but it is one of the great tests which await our boys on entering the university. It is a very difficult art, and implies a good mastery both of Latin and of English. But when the Latin has been understood, there is never any difficulty in expressing its substance in good English. In my experience, boys of all stages find this easy to do ; their style is good, or at least natural, and (most important of all) there is no nonsense.  Even when mistakes are made, they make sense and not nonsense.

All the boys need, in order to make good translators, is warning against likely mistakes where the idioms of the languages differ, and practice in bringing out details : for while they usually get the general sense right, they are apt to omit many small points. They must be taught accuracy. To this art, then, special lessons must be given ; they must practise translating both what

they have read and what they have not, and their work must be carefully criticised.

Very few such lessons are necessary. With a good Sixth Form, I have found it enough to give three Un­seens a week in the term of their scholarship examination ; and that is all. But each class must be judged by itself ; and many need a great deal more.

One thing is certain : the use of "construing " in the reading lesson is wholly bad. It alternates scraps of either language, and makes a blurred impression instead of a distinct one ; it causes a bad style in English ; and worst of all, it encourages nonsense. To do two things at once is impossible ; Latin and English cannot both be learnt at the same time ; and it is just these continual breaks of the attention which cause nonsense to be spoken. Boys trained on the direct method give us no nonsense ; but I have always found it common under other methods, even with intelligent boys who have come into my charge after several years of Latin elsewhere.


The ordinary accidence and syntax have been learnt before reaching  the Sixth Form ; but there has been plenty of practice, as the reader must have seen.  It will be clear also that both are well known ; for even the few quotations of boys' words which have been given contain a variety of words and constructions, and they are given exactly as they were said. But the grammar has now to be studied in a more thorough and systematised way. The boys must have a good grammar, such a Sonnenschein's  or Postgate's, for  reference ;  but for learning we depend on the texts read. Whenever a significant construction is met with, it is noted ; parallels are added to it as they occur ; and sooner or later it can be discussed fully. Notebooks are kept, or better, a portfolio in which loose sheets can be filed : then the passages in question are classified, each group on its sheet, and the sheets classified and arranged in the case. Thus  Plautus gives  the starting-point for historical grammar ; and each author has his favourite peculiarities, which are dealt with as they occur. What is not learnt in this way may be discussed in a few special lessons ; and the boy is ready for his critical paper.  But a good deal of practice in writing is necessary, before the answers given are clear and complete.


The question of Composition, as the reader must have seen, solvitur eloquendo. From the very first day, the boys have been learning and practising composi­ tion. They have only to write down what they say, or their master says, to produce composition. And more­ over, the effect of order on the sense has been so impressed upon them, that they feel it naturally ; and order is the key to classical style.

But this is only the foundation ; and the work of the third and fourth years is only the first range of the building. In the Sixth Form the whole edifice has to be completed, roofed in, and made watertight against all storms.

The composition in the first year of special work is the Summary. The work read in school is new : the evening work is to read through again, with any helps they like - dictionary, grammar, translation - the pas­ sages which were read in school ; and to write in Latin a Summary of the whole, or of part.

  •  Besides this, 20 to 25 lines of verse, and sometimes prose, must be learnt by heart three times a week ; one term Latin, one term Greek.

At first, the books are open before them, and they make use of them they are then instructed to read portions of the text short at first, longer by degrees, and to write their summary from memory. The usual length is 200   to 250 words.   In doing this, they  are to use the words and phrases of the author as much as possible. This is  how new words arc taught, and how the Latin idiom is made familiar. The master will show them, at first how to make the summary ; later the boys are left to themselves :the only check on them being this, that the more they rely on their own efforts, the faster they progress. The idle, the neglectful, the silent, do not get on at all. But these are few : the Direct Method has now for six or seven years pressed them gently but inflexibly towards self -reliance, it has taught them vigilant attention, it has made them speak, drawn them to question and answer so long that all this has become natural to them, and they do it without self-consciousness ; and they know quite well that their progress depends on themselves.

While the Summary is the regular means of teaching composition, sentences are translated occasionally to illustrate a new construction ; and an occasional piece of translation may be set to test progress. In particular, it is well to try once at least a piece of imitative verse, if any verse is being  read by the form. (See below) But neither set prose nor verse should be part of this year's work, unless a boy of exceptional gifts should appear. For such boys, rules may be broken.

In the second year, there is one summary a week of the week's work in Latin, and one set piece every fortnight for translation into Latin, usually prose, occasionally verse.

In the third year and later, the summary is not continued, but the regular work is three pieces of set composition in Latin each fortnight, usually two of prose and one of verse. This is occasionally varied by a Latin speech, or a piece of original composition in prose or verse. Experience has shown that boys are brought up to the standard of open scholarships after about thirty pieces of set composition (that is, translation into Latin) in prose, and the same in verse.

Speeches are a pleasant variety. A good  class will make them in addition to the written  composition but sometimes a less capable boy will ask to be excused one such in order to prepare a speech.  A few notes may be used, but the speech must not be written and read. The subject may be anything suggested by the work, and it should take five to ten minutes to deliver . In this way, matters of history or antiquities may be prepared by one, and by him delivered  to   the   rest instead of the master's doing it. A specially alert class has sometimes so organised them, that they delivered speeches in rotation, one every day.  One is appended.


Orphea Graeci putabant clarissimum fuisse poetam. Ante Homerum vixit. Fabulae de eo variae sunt.   Haec tamen inter plerosque constant. In Thracia vivebat, filius Oagri et Calliopes. Apollo ei lyram dedit et a Musis doctus, fascinavit omnia ut Ovidius (Ars. Am. 21) dicit :

saxa ferasque lyra movit Rhodopeius Orpheus

Tartareosque lacus tergeminumque canem.

Velut Virg. (Georg. 5, 10). Mulcentem tigres, et agentem carmine quercus. Auxilium Argonautis multum dedit, namque illo cithara canente, Symplegadae, i.e. moventia saxa quae navi imminebant, defixa erant, et serpens Colchius custos aurei velleris dormivit. Est opus nominatus Argonautica de his rebus, quod dicitur ab ipso Orpheo scriptum esse. Postquam domum rediit, in antro Threicio quodam habitabat, et conatus est Thracios, qui feri barbari erant, facere cultiores.

Uxor nympha erat nomine Agriope vel Eurydice, quae dicitur morsa esse a serpente quodam, et sic mortua. Secutus Orpheus coniugem in Tartarum, ubi lyra ita Hadi placuit, ut permiserit ei ut educeret iterum ex Tartaro ; sed vetuit Orphcum spectare coniugcm, priusquam in orbc humano essent. Sed ubi paene ex Tartaro exiverunt, amore captus, Orpheus se torsit ut videret utrum sequeretur uxor; tum vero statim correpta est in Tartarum. Tam dolore consumptus est, ut contemneret feminas Thraciae, quae ubi bacchabantur, in multas partea eum disci­ derunt. Quas partes Musae collegerunt et in Libethra propc ad Olym­ pum sepeliverunt, et Philomela carmen super eas fudit. At caput eius in Mare Hcbrum derectum est, et sic portatus est ad Lesbum. Dicitur quoque lyra ad Lesbum portata esse ; sed hoc modo poeticum aliquid, quia praecipue Lesbi quidam optime lyra canere poterant.

Astronomi affirmabant lyram Orphei constellationem factam esse. Dicitur scripsisse poemata, sed ea quae  exstant sunt, ut docti homines putant, falsa.

Seriore autem tempore putabant Apollinem, deum culturae, certavisse cum Dionyso, deo motuum animi. Et sic Orphea, qui minister erat Apollinis, a Bacchis Dionysio invidia discerptum esse.


Hymni, Theogoneia, Oracula (Fortasse Onomacritus scripsit haec?). Certe falsa : Argonautica (Hexam.), Hymni (Hexam.), Lithicae (de petris), Fragmenta.

Verses are written without difficulty, by ear. The structure of Latin verse, and the scansion of the hexameter and pentameter, have already been taught in Form IV, or when the first verse is read ; quantity has been observed with the utmost care from the first. When therefore some five hundred lines of verse have been read in the Sixth Form, the  suggestion is given, that all the Sixth, and any of the Remove who wish, make a set of verses in imitation of their author, a theme being chosen like some passage lately read. This will at once disclose any who have a special gift for verse, and it will show, in most, certain defects of ear or of knowledge which have to be corrected. The first kind, naturally rarer, will go on further without delay ; the rest had better wait until they have read more; The next step is, to set a piece of English verse, without help of any kind, for translation. Asa rule, these first exercises are quite equal in correctness, and are superior in style, to the work of those who have had a long drill in full­- sense exercises ; and the inference is, that with reading aloud such preliminary  drill is a waste of time. As a rule, all scholarship  candidates practise verse-writing ; but now and then one appears who has so bad an ear that the effort is not worthwhile. The time spent on these exercises is not excessive, being one to two hours ­- they are forbidden to use more : and all helps towards their mastery of Latin composition . It is a great mistake to suppose that this work is useless : on the contrary, verse shows what literary form is much better than prose.

It is probably easiest to begin with hexameters ; for although a good set of hexameters is more difficult to make than a good set of elegiacs, beginners find it easier to write one kind of verse at a time than two. When the hexameter is once familiar, the pentameter can soon be learnt. I may add that we imitate every kind of verse, whatever in fact we read ; Horatian lyrics of all sorts offer no more difficulty than  the hexameter. Since this is not the usual practice, I think it well to append a number of First, Second, and later pieces, that readers may judge for themselves. A very large number have been preserved, of which these are typical specimens.


The moral results of the course have already been suggested ; but it will be useful to recount what books are read. We make a point of reading all Virgil and Horace at some part of the course, or if any be not read in school, to see that it is read out of school. Besides these, the stock authors are Plautus, Lucretius, Catullus, Cicero, Livy, Tacitus, Caesar, Ovid, Juvenal,  Martial. Parts of these, complete in themselves, are always read. Plautus, in spite of occasional coarseness - which never in my experience has caused a leer or a snigger, being taken in a manly and straightforward way - Plautus, in spite of this, is a wholesome author, full of humanity, full of simple humour which appeals to schoolboys, and no less to myself , as I am pleased to own, and a dramatic genius of high skill. Terence, on the other hand, notwithstanding his cleverness, is too cold and cynical to suit the generous mind of a boy. Cicero needs no commendation : whether it be his orations, with their consummate mastery of oratorical art ;or his letters, so sincere and so full of life - he never fails to hold the attention and to win the affection and respect of the reader.  Lucretius is valuable as showing that the  ancients were  not such fools as our men of science make out ; where would chemistry be, but for the atomic theory? His noblest flights of poetry also stand on the summit of Roman achievement. Livy and Tacitus, apart from their intrinsic value, have styles so marked that it is easy to analyse them. Caesar stands by himself ; and when he is read straight through, with military comments, it becomes clear why Napoleon set so great store by him. Ovid has many charms, and his extreme cleverness in writing verse is a particular charm : while the few perfect poems of Catullus are quite in a class apart. Juvenal and Martial have a special value in illustrating social life. Apart from the main authors, those read in the mass or altogether, there is scope for variety in the reading lessons set apart specially for the  Sixth Form (Years two and three), when we can choose any author or any piece which may be specially suggested by circumstances or desired by particular persons.

The following table shows a three-years' Course :

Virgil  - Aeneid

Horace  - Odes and Satires

Plautus -  Aulularia, Mostellaria, Trinummus.

Cicero  - Verres, Actio I, Actio II, Books i,ii. Letters    selected, with De Domo,   Gratias ad Senatum, Gratias apud Populum. Pro Murena, Pro Roscio Amerino, and De Officiis, I

Lucretius  -  I.

Livy -  XXXIV , XXXV, and part of I.

Tacitus  - Histories I, II, and half of III, Annals I, II.

Caesar  - Gallic War

Juvenal  - Sat. X to end, with Martial as suggested by the text


The Fourth Year

Virgil  - Georgics.

Horace  -  Ars Poetica.

Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius  - (selections).

Cicero  - Epistles of  44-43 B.C. with two Philippics.

Livy -  XXII, XXIII, and half of XXIV.

Sallust -  Catiline

Quintilian  - X

Juvenal  -  (Most.)

At other times have been read :

Virgil  - Eclogues

Horace  - Epistles

Plautus  - Captivi, Menaechmi, Miles, Rudens.

Aulus Gellius -  Selections

Terence  - Andria

Ovid  - Parts of Tristia, Ex Ponto, Fasti.

Cicero  - Caecina, de lege Agraria I-III, pro lege Manilia, pro Quinctio, Roscio Comoedo, Rabirio, Flacco, Philippics I-IV, Epistles to Atticus I-IV, de Senectute, de Amicitia, de Finibus I-II, de Re Publica, de Officiis I-III,  Tusculans I.

Lucretius  - II

Livy - I, V, XXI, XXII.

Tacitus - Germania and Agricola

Caesar - Civil War I-II

Minucius Felix .  Octavius

Pliny .  Select Letters.

Quintilian . IX, Chapter 4

Suetonius . Selections.

Old  Latin  fragments; as  illustrating  Virgil,  and  the  X  Tables   with certain  inscriptions,  to  illustrate Livy.

Direct method 1

Direct method 2

 Direct method 3

Latin on the Direct Method

 Rouse and Appleton 1925   pdf download

Direct method 4

Direct method 5

 Direct method 6

Direct method 7

Direct method 8

 Appendix A

 Appendix B

The Direct Method applied to Latin

 Linguaphone handbook for teachers  

 Rouse   pdf download


Tales of the Old Greeks

 Books on-line

The Direct Method before Rouse

Rouse and the Direct Method - a 21st century perspective from John Hazel

W.H.D.Rouse and the Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching -  from Didaskalos no.2 1964