The Association for Latin Teaching

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Newsletter 7: August 2003

Dear Classical Friend,

What's this? Another newsletter hard on the heels of the last one? Yes, I'm afraid so. As I explained in the July newsletter, 2nd version, I had to send that one out twice, once on the correct date to the names already on my list, and again when I'd had time to add the e-mail addresses given me at the Summer School. That's why you had the July letter near the end of August. Now it's high time for the August letter, and here it is.


Web Site Plans

The next project for the ARLT web site is to set up a password-protected section where you, gentle reader, can access tests and mock exam papers which, I hope, your pupils will not be able to see. I haven't done this yet, but hope it will come before the end of September. I already have a certain amount of material for this section, but if the section is to be really useful, I seriously need your contributions. Such a lot of effort goes into devising tests and exams that it makes good sense to share the results. I have some teaching notes also, and shall welcome many more.


Classical Blogs

David Meadows' weekly e-mail review of ancient things on the web, "Explorator", always has something of interest for Classicists. Now David has started a Classical Blog - Web-log if you like - which you can read at Among other things he has a "This Day in History" section, which could well raise some interest in class. Worth keeping an eye on, in my opinion. Among other more or less Classical blogs is this:


How to read Latin

If you have read about the teaching methods of ARLT founder WHD Rouse (see /home/arltcouk/public_html/arlt_db.php?catID=18 for an insight into his teaching), you may be interested in a paper published in the USA in 1887 (The Art of Reading Latin: How To Teach It. An address delivered before the associated academic principals of the State of New York, December 28, 1886. William Gardner Hale, professor of Latin in Cornell University.) Professor Hale addresses a problem that I personally have wrestled with for many years:

"The attacks which have been made of late upon the study of Greek and to some extent upon the study of Latin have had at their backs the conviction that the results obtained are very much out of proportion to the years of labor spent upon these languages by the schoolboy and the college student. The danger which threatens classical study to-day in this country is due in large part to the fact that this conviction is a sound one. If the case were different, if the average college graduate were really able to read ordinary Greek and Latin with speed and relish, the whole matter would be on a very different footing from that on which it now lamely stands."

The Professor takes a long sentence from a Cicero speech, and imagines how the original hearers understood it, contrasting this with how 'modern' (19th century) students were taught to cope with it. He suggests a better way. Then he comments:

"We have already, if we have been rightly brought up, understood everything in that sentence by the time we reach the last syllable of it, without having thought meanwhile of a single English word; and we are as ready in 1886 to go on immediately with the next sentence as we should have been if we had been Romans in the Roman Forum on that day in 63 BC."

This seems very like Rouse's approach. Check it out, if you like:


From Nick Wilshere

Nick Wilshere sent us a couple of messages, which I gladly pass on: The classics section of the Xcalibre site ( ) is now rather more substantial than it was, and is ready for people to start leaving comments on the suitability or otherwise of my suggestions. If this could be made known via ARLT / JACT channels, that would be most useful.

Greek Epigrams: These have progressed to the point where it would be useful if a few teachers could spare a 6th-form lesson or two to try some different approaches to them and give some quick feedback. Do let me know if you think there's anyone who might be interested in participating. I've also sent in a proposal for a CA conference paper on this project.


Is Latin teaching bad for the soul?

Have you noticed that Classics teachers are a favourite Aunt Sally for writers of fiction? The teacher in The Browning Version is a psychological cripple, cuckolded by his wife, feared by his pupils and slighted by his headmaster. Donna Tartt's teacher was evidently not a good influence on the group. Now we have some real life bad press for Latin teachers:

"Teacher Charged With Murder in a Woman's Stabbing Death

By LAURA MANSNERUS - NY Times 20th August

"New Jersey high school Latin teacher has been charged with the murder of a woman who the authorities said regularly shared crack cocaine with him in her apartment in the shore town of Ocean Grove.

"Matthew R. Dailey, 30, a faculty member at the Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, was arrested on Sunday night minutes after the police received reports of a woman screaming for help, said Peter Warshaw, a Monmouth County assistant prosecutor. Linda Weed, 47, was found in her apartment, her throat slit.

"Mr. Dailey and Ms. Weed, who had known each other for several years, had a "partying-type relationship," Mr. Warshaw said. He said investigators believed that the two smoked crack together on Sunday afternoon and started quarreling, possibly over a threat by Ms. Weed to tell school officials about Mr. Dailey's drug use. ..."

How unlike the home life of ARLT members. By the way, and more seriously, are you ever worried by the political stance of some high-profile past supporters of the Classics? What about Carmina Burana? Orff was a supporter of Hitler, I believe. It was the Colonels who encouraged the study of ancient Greek in Greece (correct me if I'm wrong). In this anti-colonial age, are we harmed by the association of Classical education with the British Empire? Do the Classics attract people with fascist leanings?


Pompeii novel

Pompeii is so important in the Cambridge Latin Course that this may be of interest. Robert Harris brings the techniques of the police thriller to the historical novel in his explosive lava saga, "Pompeii". There's a review by Robert McCrum in The Observer, Sunday August 24, 2003:,6121,1028237,00.html "Pompeii" is published by Hutchinson at £17.99. (342 pages)


Some interesting things on the web:

There is a 17th century translation of Daphnis and Chloe on line:,%201657.txt

A four-page article on the Roman invasion of Britain could make a good introduction for pupils - though it repeats the old mistake by referring 'veni vidi vici' to Britain.

How old is the Portland Vase?

Observer article, quoting Scientific American, on the Delphic Oracle. The Sybil was a druggie, apparently. But have you examined the stone floor of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi? I couldn't see any sign of a crack (no pun intended).,3858,4725532-102275,00.html


Every good wish for the new school year.