The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

Newsletter 9: November 2003

Dear Classical Friend,

Greetings as winter seems to have really arrived. Get the slave to stoke up the hypocaust, adjourn to the caldarium with a jar of your best Falernian, and take a few minutes to read what I've picked up recently.




First, an apology. I seem to have sent the wrong password to the 'For Teachers' section of the ARLT web site. The username was correct, but the password is *******. Hope this now works for you.




Does anyone have time for special end of term lessons any more? Three ideas, if you have a spare lesson:

1. Sing a genuine Latin carol. My favourite for this purpose is this:

        quem pastores laudavere

        quibus angeli dixere

        "absit vobis iam timere."

                natus est rex gloriae.

        ad quem magi ambulabant,

        aurum, thus, myrrham portabant.

        immolabant haec sincere

                nato regi gloriae.

        Christo regi, Deo nato,

        per Mariam nobis dato,

        merito resonet vere

                laus, honor et gloria.

Tune in many hymn books, and in the old Oxford Book of Carols no 79. Beginners might manage to translate parts of verse 2 at least.

2. Read part of St Luke's account of the nativity from the Vulgate.

in mense autem sexto missus est angelus Gabrihel a Deo, in civitatem Galilaeae cui nomen Nazareth, ad virginem desponsatam viro cui nomen erat Ioseph de domo David; et nomen virginis Maria. et ingressus angelus ad eam dixit:

"ave gratia plena! Dominus tecum! benedicta tu in mulieribus."

quae cum vidisset, turbata est in sermone eius, et cogitabat qualis esset ista salutatio. et ait angelus ei:

"ne timeas Maria! invenisti enim gratiam apud Deum. ecce! concipies in utero, et paries filium, et vocabis nomen eius Iesum. hic erit magnus, et Filius Altissimi vocabitur, et dabit illi Dominus Deus sedem David patris eius; et regnabit in domo Iacob in aeternum, et regni eius non erit finis."

dixit autem Maria ad angelum:

"quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco?"<br>

et respondens angelus dixit ei:

"Spiritus Sanctus superveniet in te, et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi; ideoque et quod nascetur sanctum vocabitur Filius Dei. ..."

dixit autem Maria:

"ecce ancilla Domini. fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum."

et discessit ab illa angelus. ...

et peperit filium suum primogenitum et pannis eum involvit et reclinavit eum in praesepio quia non erat eis locus in diversorio.

et pastores erant in regione eadem vigilantes et custodientes vigilias noctis supra gregem suum. et ecce angelus Domini stetit iuxta illos et claritas Dei circumfulsit illos et timuerunt timore magno. et dixit illis angelus:

"nolite timere! ecce enim evangelizo vobis gaudium magnum, quod erit omni populo. quia natus est vobis hodie salvator qui est Christus Dominus in civitate David. et hoc vobis signum invenietis infantem pannis involutum et positum in praesepio."

et subito facta est cum angelo multitudo militiae caelestis laudantium Deum et dicentium:

"gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis."

et factum est ut discesserunt ab eis angeli in caelum pastores loquebantur ad invicem:

"transeamus usque Bethleem et videamus hoc verbum quod factum est quod fecit Dominus et ostendit nobis."

et venerunt festinantes et invenerunt Mariam et Ioseph et infantem positum in praesepio. videntes autem cognoverunt de verbo quod dictum erat illis de puero hoc. et omnes qui audierunt mirati sunt et de his quae dicta erant a pastoribus ad ipsos. Maria autem conservabat omnia verba haec conferens in corde suo. et reversi sunt pastores glorificantes et laudantes Deum in omnibus quae audierant et viderant sicut dictum est ad illos

3. Make a Latin Christmas card (members of other religions might make a New Year card).

Possible phrases: (you could use part of the carol or St Luke above) feriae felices (sint) tibi/vobis - (American-style) Happy Holiday to you

omnia felicia et fausta tibi/vobis - every good

in die nativitatis Domini - on Christmas Day

Line-art nativity scene for colouring:





One of the best bits of encouragement that I've seen recently came in the Indianapolis Star on 17th November. You can read it on their web site, but I think it's worth reproducing here, for busy teachers! If I had a classroom now, I'd print this out, enlarge it, and stick it up on the wall.

Students get hooked on a classic -- Latin

(Indianapolis star 17 Nov 2003 - By Marcella Fleming - November 16, 2003)

The Latin club scene is hotter than it's been in decades, but the attraction isn't J.Lo.

It's Cicero.

After a nearly half-century lull, studying Latin is cool again. Enrollment is up in high schools, including in Indiana. U.S. college enrollment in Latin is the highest it has been since the Modern Language Association started keeping track in 1958.

The 2,500-year-old language is becoming a pop culture phenom.

The first Harry Potter tome has been translated into "Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (the sorcerer's stone)." Irish singer Enya performs Latin tracks on four of her CDs. In the 2001 season finale of "The West Wing," a grieving President Bartlet had some choice words in Latin for God.

It's a trend that's been brewing for the past couple of years.

"Every Latin teacher in the world went nuts when the movie 'Gladiator' came out (in 2000)," said Steve Perkins, a teacher at Washington Township's North Central High School.

Latin appears to be thriving in Indiana, as well as in Hollywood.

Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers started its Latin program last year. Last spring in Elwood, outraged parents rebuffed administrators' attempt to purge the program in favor of a modern language.

While Latin courses have been dropped at a few high schools, enrollment has grown at both the high school and junior high levels in Indiana. At the Indiana Junior Classical League, a network of Latin clubs across the state, membership rose 81/2 percent, to 1,552 last school year.

Hoosier high school students enroll at a slightly higher rate than the national average, according to the Indiana Department of Education and the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language. Nationally, about 3 percent of all foreign language students take Latin; in Indiana, it's about 4 percent.

Five years after creating an undergraduate degree in Latin, Purdue University has to regularly add classes, even in summer.

Not bad for a dead language.

Latin waned to a whisper after the fall of the Roman Empire, although it survived as an education staple. But by the mid-20th century, enrollment in Latin courses began to slide. The 1960s and '70s nearly choked Latin.

"Everything had to be relevant, and there was a cafeteria approach to curriculum: Take what you want to take," said national expert Professor Richard A. LaFleur of the University of Georgia.

The Roman Catholic Church's decision to let local language dominate Mass also pushed Latin to the sidelines, he and others said.

So what's behind the renewed interest in Latin? The growing emphasis on test scores lures some students.

"It'll definitely pay off," said fourth-year student Kyle Cassidy, a senior at Elwood. "A big part of Latin is learning the etymology of words. If you know the Latin roots, you can break down a word and figure it out."

Two or more years translate into SAT scores that are 140 to 160 points higher than non-Latin students, LaFleur said.

Taking one year helped North Central senior Courtney O'Brien. Her overall score on the preliminary SAT jumped by 100 points on her second try.

"That's why I took Latin," the 17-year-old said.

Career plans lead some students to pursue Latin, the mother of all Romance languages -- Italian, French, Spanish, Romanian and Portuguese -- and the root of half the English vocabulary.

"I always ask my students why they're taking Latin," said Elwood teacher Diana Garner. "Many of them are interested in the medical field or law. When it comes to science, easily 80 percent of the terms are Latin- based."

To some experts, Latin's slow but steady revival over the past decade is a bit baffling, even though foreign language enrollment is up in general.

"After 9/11, we became aware that we needed to understand other cultures. But I don't think the Romans are going to attack us, so why Latin is up is a good question," said Louis Janus, coordinator of international programs at the University of Minnesota.

Experts say livelier textbooks and teaching methods helped spur the rebound by focusing on the way Romans lived.

Perkins' students at North Central experience what educators call authentic learning.

They call it fun.

Each year, his third-year students stage a mock Roman trial. This year's trial was Thursday morning. Roman leader Cicero -- in this case, junior Shaun Kelley -- was charged with illegally executing foreign anarchists.

Kelley, 17, and his classmates dressed the part. Each boy wore a toga pulled from the linen closet, either a bedsheet or tablecloth. The girls donned homemade Roman dresses and dangling earrings and put ribbons in their hair.

The 19 students who served as prosecutor, defendant, witnesses and judge ad-libbed their way to a mistrial, as advanced Latin students failed to reach a verdict.

Some students relish wrestling with an ancient, almost enigmatic tongue. North Central junior Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe, 16, has started the Latin version of Harry Potter and contends it's not a forbidding read.

"You feel very cool when you're reading it," she said. "You can always flip to English if you're not sure what a word means."

Cassidy, 17, the Elwood senior, values reading original works, with no other translator to separate him from ancient minds.

"I've read Julius Caesar's 'The Gallic War' and poems and speeches."

Latin is more than mere words, teachers say.

"I'm not just opening their eyes to nouns and verbs," Elwood's Garner said. "I'm opening their eyes to another time period, an ancient time when many of our ways and laws began to evolve."

Call Star reporter Marcella Fleming at 1-317-444-6089.




If your students are into pop music - and they almost certainly are - you might like to clink on this link to a list of Latin on pop music discs:




When you despair of your class getting sense out of Latin unseens, you could try this Latin to English translation assistant. The designers emphasise that it's only an assistant. It's a 6mb download, and I admit that I haven't tested it, but if any of your hacker students want to give it a whirl, here's where they can download it:




ARLT really exists to help Latin teachers swap ideas. We advertise our Summer Schools as being run by teachers for teachers, and many members find the informal interchange of ideas the most valuable part of the Summer School. In the mean time, you may find some good ideas on this American site: . There are many pages, including a message board and a long list of Latin games and activities on , including activities for Cambridge Latin Course, Oxford Latin Course and Ecce Romani. I reproduce here the index page of articles, to give a flavour (flavor?) of what's on offer:

3rd Declension Loan Words - Meredith Jackson's imaginative idea for helping students remember nominative and genitive third declension stem changers as well as increasing English vocabulary.

2001: A Latin Odyssey - Details about Meredith Dixon's FREE collaborative self-study Latin course!

AP Catullus Key NEW - From Bolchazy Carducci, this detailed poster correlates Benita Kane Jaro's novel about Catullus, The Key, with the AP Catullus syllabus, providing opening lines from each poem as well as its number in the Catullan corpus. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image. Or click here for an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

A Few Things I Learned As A Beginning Latin Teacher by Sharon Kazmierski

Enriching Your Program with a Latin Club by Sharon Kazmierski - Helpful hints for the teacher who would like to start up a club program.

Expectations Hand-Out for Latin 1 by Carol Pobst. - A wonderful first day handout for Latin class, outlining goals, expectations and classroom policy.

Fundraising Ideas for Latin Teachers by Latin Teachers - Tired of the same old fundraisers? Here are some original ideas from members of the Latinteach list.

How to Run an Invitational Certamen by Susan S. Schearer - Excellent advice that will help you organize a successful competition! Thank you, Susan!

Standing on the Table by Patrick Yaggy - How will you challenge and inspire your students this semester? And just what are you preparing your students for? Patrick answers a few of these questions for his own students.

Travelling with Students by Mark Keith - Expert advice on taking a class trip.


Another snippet from Indiana


Ian Chesterfield, a third-year Latin student at North Central High School, was Julius Caesar in a Roman trial staged by his class. The student jurors couldn't reach a verdict. -- Kelly Wilkinson / The Star


Back for a spell


The first Harry Potter book has been translated into Latin, but the wizards' spells were in the language to begin with. A sampling: • Silencing charm: "Silencio" (si-LEN-see-oh), to be quiet. • Levitating a feather: Wingardium Leviosa (win-GAR-dee-um lev-ee-OH-sa), "wing" + "arduus" high, steep + "levo," to raise up. Source: The Harry Potter Lexicon


Latin language tidbits - more from Indiana


For starters, the very word "trivia" is Latin. It's the plural of "trivium." The literal meaning is "place where three roads meet," or crossroads. But to Romans, it meant commonplace -- something you'd see on the street -- or ordinary.

Here are some more tidbits about Latin and its fellow classical language, Greek:

• Two U.S. presidents could write in Latin with one hand and Greek with the other -- at the same time: Garfield and Jefferson.

• In Finland, a weekly radio broadcast offers news reports the ancient Romans could understand.

• Famous people who majored in the classic languages include:

Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author

Sigmund Freud, pioneer in psychoanalysis

Betty Friedan, author and founder of the National Organization for Women

Penn Jillette of Las Vegas magicians Penn & Teller

Sources: National Committee for Latin & Greek, NBC, The Official Enya Web site

Happy Christmas to you