The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

Newsletter 10: December 2003

Dear Classical Friend,

It occurs to me that if this little newsletter were a computer magazine it would be labelled "February Issue". Well, I don't wish my life away, so this is just the newsletter sent out at the end of December.

I hope you are enjoying a great Christmas - this is the 4th Day of Christmas, I think. Keep on celebrating until Twelfth Night!


Classics - flavour of the year?


I have just finished listening to a Radio 4 programme (Front Row) which was all about our current media interest in the Romans, and to a lesser extent the Greeks. The programme was notable because it did not include Peter Jones, but Mary Beard was well in evidence, sensible and articulate, so that was all right. It also happens that I opened today the latest Classical Association News, edited by the admirable Jenny Marsh, and found a long and interesting survey of Classics in the Media by Philip Hooker. Robert Harris' novel 'Pompeii' featured prominently in both CA News and Front Row; you may remember that I commended the Radio 4 reading of the novel in my last newsletter. Apparently it has sold 100,000 copies.

But there's loads more. The BBC say nearly ten million watched the documentary 'Pompeii - The Last Day'. The film 'Troy' with Brad Pitt is to be released in the USA on 14th May, and Oliver Stone's 'Alexander' on 5th November. Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of Christ' with dialogue in the original languages and English subtitles is appearing on Ash Wednesday.

With the Athens Olympic Games due in 2004 as well, there is no better time to sell the Classics to pupils. (By the way, a guide at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles told the group I was in that a pan-athenaic vase was to celebrate the Olympics. A bit of teaching needed there. I bit my lip and said nothing.)


Catherine\'s view of the 2003 Summer School


CA News carries an account of the ARLT Summer School written by Catherine Marshall. Along with a good survey of what was on offer, she says: "As the only teacher of Latin in my school, I found that this course provided an extremely valuable opportunity to meet fellow Classics teachers and to be enthused by the sheer wealth of ideas and dedication to the subject of the other people there." That's the most important part, in my experience. Do book up for the 2004 Summer School in Sedburgh.

If you need to print out the Summer School leaflet and application form, you will find it here:


The USA Go Go Goes for Classics


Our good friend in ARLT, Tony Payne, has been in touch from Maine, where he is on Fulbright Teacher Exchange this year. He says: 'Add more optimistic news from USA - the Maine Junior Classical League (alone!) Fall Convention at Hampden Academy, Bangor, Maine was one big happy success - 500+ students from 12 + schools, mostly public, turned up for 5 hours of Roman cheerleading, academic testing (Dilys & I helped out with some marking/sorting) and Univ.Challenge-style quizzing. This is the 1st of 3, and there's a big ACL convention in the summer, to which State winners go. There's an essential receptivity here too to Latin - and we did contribute to last week's declared International Education Week (Nov.17th-21st) with a 30-question "Which Language-Group?" quiz, which seemed to go down well with all my classes.' See Tony has a helpful comment on my Christmas end of term lesson ideas of last newsletter: 'How about "Adeste Fideles" as a Christmas hymn? Isn't Wade's Latin so much more direct than Oakeley's translation?'

Tony's news sent me searching for more American classical activity, and I came upon these two links:

Teaching Latin on-line, with photo; from Florida, 2001: shelton_ruhle.htm

Florida school Classics day:


Publicising Classics, US style


I've mislaid the link for the following, from the on-line version of a US newspaper, but it is a good example of rightly blowing one's own trumpet, and I reproduce it in full: 'WARREN TWP. -- For the third consecutive year, Watchung Hills Regional High School students have captured the third place prize in a statewide Latin competition.

'Five advanced students of Mrs. Helene Pujari put their heads together and "won their laurels" in a contest in which 32 public and secondary schools in New Jersey competed.

'The occasion was the annual Montclair University Classics Day on Tuesday, Oct. 28, which brings together students for a day of lectures, discussions, and also competition. The teams, pre-selected for the contest from classmates who also attend the event, literally put their heads together to answer questions in mythology, history, and grammar on the test that is administered that day, with each member contributing from his own area of expertise.

'Robbie Bizzaro, Chris Norris, Liz Christian, Steve Kinney, and Dominic DiChiara were on the successful team and won medals for their efforts. They knew, of course, that in classical times they would literally won their laurels.'

(Editor's Note: Eleanor Mathews is the public relations person for Watchung Hills Regional High School.)


Role model Classicists, possibly


Two classical graduates might be worth holding up before your students, for very different reasons. One is an anti-apartheid hero, the other makes mega-bucks. Both in their own ways are examples of Classicists engaging with the 'real world'.

The first, Saul Bastomsky, lectured in classics at Pietermaritzburg university in the early 1960s, and was a friend of Tom Sharpe, Harry Gwala "and others who were not [to say the least] liked by the regime".

His involvement in the Congress of Democrats saw his banning, and his citizenship was taken from him when he left the country in 1965 for Australia. He retired from Melbourne's Monash University as head of classics and archaeology in 1998.

Bastomsky wrote to the South African high commission in 1999 asking to see his files, but was told that they could not be found, possibly having been destroyed by the former security police.

"I certainly am going to apply to see these files," he wrote. "I don't like being lied to.

"In Australia I was active in anti-apartheid doings as well as taking part in the general cultural life here. I enjoy the country. I married an Australian in 1969 and now tend to consider myself more Australian than South African. I do not associate with the newly arrived white South Africans and tend to regard them with some suspicion."

The other Classicist, Bob Hardy, works in a gilded factory on Wall Street where hired hands can make $150,000 even in a bad year.

A Harvard MBA is not required. Nor is a sterling family pedigree. Traditional tickets to the top at Wall Street investment banks and brokerage houses mean little on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, where Hardy and the 450 other "specialists" conduct trading in individual stocks.

Many specialists lack college degrees; some never finished high school. Instead, they rely on steady nerves, good memories and fierce loyalty -- which critics have called a code of silence.

Hardy, who studied classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, runs trading in a handful of international stocks.

"It's definitely more Elks Club than Union Club," Hardy said one recent morning as he prepared to open his trading kiosk after rising at 3:30 a.m. to monitor international markets and currency prices. "We've got MBAs and guys who didn't finish high school. It doesn't matter as long as you can make money." (From


Gems(?) from the Web


Want to wear a tee-shirt with the words: si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes? Then visit

A useful bit of insight from Arthur Schopenhauer: A man who does not understand Latin is like one who walks through a beautiful region in a fog; his horizon is very close to him. He sees only the nearest things clearly, and a few steps away from him, the outlines of everything become indistinct or wholy lost. But the horizon of the Latin scholar extends far and wide through the centuries of modern history, Middle Ages and antiquity.

Susanna Braund, who lectured to ARLT when she was in Exeter, has moved to Stanford from Yale. Her biography can be found at


And finally ...............


'As governor of Utah, Leavitt developed an environmental concept he called "enlibra," a Latin word meaning "to move toward balance," he said.' Someone should tell the Oxford Latin Dictionary team!

And you might like to try The Gender Genie. This site allows you to submit a writing sample and semi-scientifically determines the author's gender with 80% accuracy:

I submitted two samples of my own writing, and was told that one was by a woman, the second, longer one by a man.

Happy New Year.