Thursday, June 11, 2009

Julius Caesar Vicit!

Venit, vidit, vicit! (He came, he saw, he conquered!)

Dust off your copies of De Bello Gallico and/or De Bello Civili! (No word yet as to which of Caesar's commentaries.)

According to a recent post to the AP-Latin discussion list, the Advanced Placement Latin Development Committee has announced its plan to create a new two-author AP poetry and prose Latin Literature course. Vergil's Aeneid will remain on the syllabus, but apparently the required number of lines will be reduced. The new prose author will be Caesar.

(The previous syllabus included the poets Ovid, Catullus, Horace and the prose author Cicero in various combinations, in addition to the Vergil exam. The Ovid/Catullus/Horace/Cicero syllabus was discontinued earlier this year.)

Caesar is generally read before Vergil, and was traditionally taught in the second semester of the second year in American high schools especially during the mid-20th century. The Classical Investigation of 1924 prescribed the Caesar-Cicero-Vergil sequence. Many 21st century Latin teachers have preferred not to teach Caesar, for various reasons and many modern textbook series generally don't include very much of his writing. (Caesar tends to show up more often in grammar-based textbook series.) Some object to his focus upon war. Others find him boring. Many believe that Caesar is especially unappealing to their female students. On the other hand, Caesar's writings are definitely easier to read than Cicero's and many introductory prose composition and English-to-Latin translation courses have been based on Caesar. Teachers who want to promote spoken Latin in the classroom may find it easier to discuss Caesar's works in Latin than Cicero's. (Caesar's commentaries resemble "blog posts" from the front, while Cicero's orations often employ many rhetorical devices within a complicated sentence structure.)

Alea iacta est! (The die is cast.) Here are some resources for the teaching of Caesar for those of you who want to get a head start.

Also, check out T.J. Howell's Caesar Classroom resource for some imaginative ideas.

Macquarie University in Australia hosts an outstanding numismatic site, The Coinage of Julius Caesar.

See previous Latinteach blog entries referring to Caesar.

Statue of Caesar Courtesy