Sunday, November 30, 2008

Latin Christmas Carols

Soon it will be December (tomorrow!) which means it is time to start planning for Christmas and Hanukkah!

According to John Traupman's Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency (4th edition), this is how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Latin: "Faustem ac felicem Christi natalem (tibi exopto)!" Of course, the Romans didn't celebrate Christmas. They celebrated the ancient holiday Saturnalia, so according to The Bantam New College Latin & English Dictionary, Revised Edition (3rd edition, also written by Dr. Traupman) they would have wished each other "Io Saturnalia!" or "Hilara Saturnalia!" (See Mary Beard's Five Things the Roman's Did At Christmas to find out more about Saturnalia.)

Check out the Rosa Latina website for some holiday ideas! Latin teacher and author, Rose Williams, has an excellent selection of free teaching packets available there, including including Holidays for Latin Class.

Kentucky Educational Television Latin Distance Learning has some great activities for winter holiday celebrations, including The Nativity Story in Latin and suggestions for a Saturnalia party.

Visit the Minimus Etc. website to download some very creative materials, including Latin Christmas Carol song sheets, the Animals' Carol, recipes, and several skits and plays that your students might enjoy performing.

Laura Gibbs' Gaudium Mundo blog features an impressive selection of winter holiday songs - Christmas, Hanukkah and secular - in Latin.

Michael Myer has placed Cantica Adventus, a collection of religious and secular Latin lyrics on his school site.

Preces Latinae has a large selection of religious hymns in Latin for the entire liturgical year (In Temporibus Anni), including Advent (Tempus Adventus) and Christmas Time (Tempus Nativitatis). This collection includes familiar songs of praise, including Veni, Veni Emmanuel ("O Come, O Come Emmanuel") and Adeste Fidelis ("O Come All Ye Faithful") as well as many others.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Start Studying Greek and Latin Now

According to to Charlotte Higgins, a British Classicist, "to understand the next four years of American politics, you are going to need to understand something of the politics of ancient Greece and Rome." Writing for The Guardian, a major British daily, she asserts that Barack Obama is "The New Cicero," (November 26, 2008) an intellectual politician and gifted orator. Ms. Higgins gives concrete examples of the rhetorical techniques employed by the President-Elect. No matter which candidate you may have voted for, it's a fascinating article.

To learn more about Cicero and his discourse on rhetorical technique, you can read his De Oratore ("On the Orator") either in the Latin original or in English translation. An excellent resource for learning more about rhetoric and rhetorical devices is Dr. Gideon Burton's Silva Rhetorica ("the Forest of Rhetoric") at Brigham Young University.

Soap Operas and Sophocles: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Healing

Only the term "post traumatic stress disorder" is new. PTSD has been around for thousands of years. Over the centuries, this theme has become part of poetic and dramatic tradition. Ancient and modern authors have written about it and explored it in epic and tragedy.

Recently the ABC soap opera All My Children cast JR Martinez, an actual Iraq vet (and a spokesperson for the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes) in a storyline about a returning soldier who has chosen to hide his identity from his wife (whose character is also a veteran, portrayed by career actress Beth Ehlers) due to the extent of his injuries. So, what does an afternoon soap opera have to do with the Classics? Like the ancient Greeks, Americans are trying to understand what it means to have served in combat and what that does to a soldier and his family.

Soldiers, returning home from war, have always had to deal with the trauma of what they have seen and endured, often in isolation, because they cannot begin to describe the horrors of war to those who have not also experienced it. (See a recent public service announcement, Alone, from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Community of Veterans Project for a deeply moving depiction of this isolation, as well as links to support.)

On the November 25, 2008 airing of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Elizabeth Bair relates how the tragedies of the ancient Greek Sophocles resonate with audiences of contemporary veterans and their families. Listen to In Ancient Dramas, Vital Words for Today's Warriors for a powerful story of the emotional toll of war, as well as hope and healing. There you'll also find several accompanying videos from recent productions of Ajax and Philoctetes, performed for veterans at a recent Warrior Resilience Conference.

To explore more about how the Ancient Greeks can help us understand the psychic wounds of war, also see the works of psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character and its sequel Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming. Dr. Shay does an incredible job of showing the parallels between the experiences of the Homeric warriors and those of contemporary American soldiers.

Please remember the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen still serving far from home and family during your Thanksgiving this week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Can You Go For a Day Without Latin?

The Anderson, IN, Herald-Bulletin editorial staff (November 20, 2008, Try to Go a Day Without Latin) questions the wisdom of the elected leaders in some British towns who wish to ban Latin in official documents.

Meanwhile, the Lexington (KY) Herald Leader (November 24, 2008, Latin Anything But Dead at Classics Convention) reports on the Kentucky Junior Classical League, whose members love the Latin language so much that they dedicated not just a day, but an entire weekend to Latin and the Classics.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Latin and the Recession

Nuntii Latini reports this week on the weakening economy in their story Recessio in USA Gravescit ("The Recession in the USA is Worsening.")

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting this week "Bankers to Learn What 'Malus' Is." That is to say, some financial institutions are changing their policies so that when fund managers make bad decisions, they will no longer get a bonus. In fact, they will lose money!

In Latin, bonus is, of course, an adjective meaning good, whereas malus is the opposite, an adjective meaning bad.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To Read the Past is to See the Future

Read about North Central High School (Indianapolis, IN) Junior Classical League's unique charity outreach, the Libri Juliani Project, to benefit victims of domestic violence at a shelter in their city.

Ascanius Classics Institute: An Opportunity for HS and College Latin Students

Spread your enthusiasm for the ancient world to a new generation!

Ascanius: The Youth Classics Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the classical world in the elementary and middle school, is accepting applications for faculty positions at LatinSummer 2009 from now through January 26, 2009. Any high school or college Latin student is welcome to apply. LatinSummer is a two-week long program for students on the elementary and middle school levels.

LatinSummer 2009 will run in Williamsburg, Virginia, from July 24 - August 7, 2009. Faculty members earn a small honorarium. All room and board costs, and all or part of travel costs, are paid for by the Institute. For more information or for an application, please visit Ascanius on the web at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Love of Books and Languages

Anthony Marshall, "a linguist by temperament and training" as well as a bookseller by trade, writes about how his love of languages -- particularly Latin -- has benefited him (not necessarily in monetary terms) in "Minding My Languages," the current lead article in the November/December 2008 issue of Book Source Magazine, a journal of the antiquarian book trade. Interestingly enough, although customers seem to enjoy browsing through all the foreign language books that he has stocked in his Melbourne (Australia) store, these books do not generally sell very well. Mr. Marshall says his best sellers in the foreign language category are, without a doubt, Latin and Greek.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Doctor Who in Pompeii!

The fourth series of Doctor Who will start on BBCAmerica starting this weekend! What does Doctor Who have to do with teaching Latin? Well, a famous character from the Cambridge Latin Course will be guest starring in the second episode later this month!

In Episode 2, The Fires of Pompeii, which airs on Saturday, November 22, 2008, the Time Lord Doctor and his companion, Donna, find themselves in the doomed ancient city in 79 AD . (If you miss it, don't worry. BBCAmerica will carry seemingly constant re-runs and you can also download individual episodes on Itunes after the first run of each new episode.)

By the way, The Official BBC Doctor Who site has Series 4 The Fires of Pompeii wallpapers for your computer desktop!

Stephen Colbert cantat!

Stephen Colbert sang "Happy Birthday" to his mother -- in Latin -- on Comedy Central's Colbert Report TV show last night (Thursday, November 6, 2008, last segment of the show).

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Happy 88th Birthday, Mom Colbert
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Last April, he sang "Felicem Natalem Diem" to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI's birthday.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Review your Latin Grammar in Song!

The energetic teachers and students at Somerset Hills School District in Bernardsville, New Jersey, have put together a wonderful collection of Latin language resources! Included you will find helpful noun and verb charts and some clever songs to make it easier for you to remember noun and verb endings!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dickinson College Latin Workshops

Two upcoming Latin workshops at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania have been announced.

Dickinson Latin Workshop: Roman Myth

Saturday, February 21 , 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Presented by Stephen Heyworth, Fellow and Tutor in Classics,
Wadham College, Oxford University
Dickinson College, Tome 115, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA

Details: Prof. Heyworth is an authority on Latin poetry, especially Propertius and Ovid. He is currently working on Ovid's Fasti, and will share his thoughts on Roman myth in a three hour workshop, with ample time for questions and discussion. Lunch will be provided. The workshop is intended for teachers of Latin, but please pass this along to teachers of other subjects who might be interested.

The workshop is free of charge, but pre-registration is required so that materials can be sent in advance. For further details, including directions and pre-registration, please visit the Dickinson College Department of Classics website at

Summer Latin Workshop at Dickinson College - July 12-17, 2009
Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Application Deadline: May 1, 2009
Tuition: $300 (due June 4, 2009)

This year we will read Cicero's meditation on the Roman constitution, De re publica, in the edition of James Zetzel.

Tuition includes housing (consisting of single or double accommodations in college-owned houses), all meals, and access to Dickinson facilities, including library and gym. Participants are responsible for their own travel and book expenses.

Faculty: Christopher Francese, Associate Professor of Classics, Dickinson College; Meghan Reedy, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies, Dickinson College.

Further details, including how to apply for the course, are available at the Dickinson College Department of Classics Website at

Free Latin for the New Millennium Webinars

Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers is again offering free webinars (live, online presentation and voice discussion) on Latin for the New Millennium: Level 1, its recently released, innovative Latin program. Senior editor LeaAnn Osburn will be leading these sessions on these dates:

  • Thursday, December 4th, 2008
  • Thursday, February 19th, 2009
  • Thursday, June 18th, 2009

All three webinars will be free. Each will be presented at 5:00 CST (6:00 EST). The webinars will last from between 60-90 minutes depending on questions from attendees. These new webinars will also feature a sneak-peek into the forthcoming Latin for the New Millennium: Level 2 textbook which includes Medieval and Renaissance Latin. For more information on how to participate, please see Bolchazy's Webinar schedule.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nota Bene: Latin is an Elitist Language

It was bound to happen eventually. According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, some local council governments in the UK have decided to ban the use of Latin phrases in official documents. Among the phrases no longer acceptable are et cetera (etc.), id est (ie.) and quid pro quo. Read all about it in Councils Ban 'Elitist' and 'Discriminatory' Latin phrases (Daily Telegraph, November 2, 2008). Also included in the article is a handy list of English equivalents for Latin terms considering confusing.