Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CICERO Competition 2009 in Europe

The third annual CICERO Competition (Certamen in Concordiam Europae Regionum Omnium) for European Sixth Form Classics students will take place on Saturday, March 21, 2009 in France and the United Kingdom, and on Friday, March 27, 2009, in the nations of Italy, Spain, Andorra, Belgium and Hungary. For full details provided in a variety of languages, visit the official homepage at

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day


C.T. Lewis defines the Latin verb inauguro, -are, -avi, atus in An Elementary Latin Dictionary as meaning "to take omens from the flight of birds, practice augury, divine" or "to hallow by augury, consecrate, inaugurate, install." The ancient Romans believed that the will of the gods was shown to mortals through signs, such as strikes of lightning or the appearance of certain birds or animals . Augurs were the interpreters of these signs in ancient Rome and determined whether these portents were favourable or foreboding. The Romans consulted augurs before important political events, such as the appointment of magistrates, before the seating of the Senate, or the installation of consuls, as well as before military battles. According to William Smith's Concise Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, by the time of the Roman Republic, augurs were primarily considered ceremonial. We see the influence of the Romans in the inauguration of the U.S. President in the ritual and prayers that take place as a President assumes his office.


Those of you who are fascinated by rhetoric and oratory may be interested in an article that appeared in today's Washington Post entitled "His Way With Words: Cadence and Credibility." Henry Allen discusses the new president's use of cadence, tone and metrics, obviously influenced by African American clergy, and based in the ancient Greek and Roman oratorical tradition. Allen shows how Barack Obama and other great modern speakers have made use of the rhetorical devices of asyndeton, litotes, epistrophe, anaphora, alliteration and chiasmus.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inauguration Day Approaches

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, President-elect Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of the United States.

The Romans did not elect presidents, but citizens did vote at times during their history.

From 753 B.C. to 510 B.C., Rome was a monarchy. There were seven kings of Rome: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullius Hostilius, Ancus Marcus, L. Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and L. Tarquinius Superbus. The Romans grew tired of their kings and overthrew Tarquinius Superbus (otherwise known as "Tarquin the Proud.") As the Romans were wary of once again concentrating too much power in the hands of one person, they agreed to name two consuls, elected to one year terms. In times of war, if the consuls could not agree, there was provision for a single-man dictatorship. This emergency power was limited to six months only.

Rome was considered a Republic from 509 B.C. to 27 B.C.

According to William Smith, in his School Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the consuls originally began their duties in October. The official inauguration date was then moved to different times of the year (August, then the Ides of December, often the Ides of March) until finally in 153 B.C., the Romans settled on January and this month remained permanent until the end of the Republic.

Smith points out some features of the Roman inauguration celebration. There was a parade of the senators, knights and citizens from the home of the consuls to the capitol. The consuls offered up sacrifices and then went to the Curia, the place where the Senate met, where each gave a speech about matters important to the Republic. The consuls took a solemn oath and promised to keep the law of the Republic. There was typically a banquet, to which the new leaders invited friends and colleagues.

In 27 B.C., the Augustan Age began and Rome became an empire. The Roman Empire lasted until around 535 B.C.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Pompeii and the Roman Villa for Latin Students

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. is currently hosting an extremely popular exhibition entitled Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture in the Bay of Naples. This exhibit began last October and runs until March 20, 2009.

According to Lorena Baines, an Education Assistant who works in the Education Department of the National Gallery of Art, a large number of Latin students have enjoyed this exhibit. She recently pointed out some great online resources that are likely to be of use to Latin classes, even if you can't make it to the Gallery.

  • Pompeii and the Roman Villa: A Guide for Latin Classes Several versions of this guide are available, in PDF and Word formats. In order to accommodate students at various levels, the National Gallery of Art has made this guide available in form that is easily customizable.
  • Pompeii and the Roman Villa Classroom Guides Two PDF format guides are available. One for children at the elementary and middle school level and another for high school students.
  • Pompeii and the Roman Villa DVD Exhibition There is a 30 minute long DVD of the exhibition available which can be borrowed for free! Classroom teachers and homeschoolers are among those eligible to borrow materials from the National Gallery of Art's Division of Education.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rosetta Stone Seeking Latin Speakers

Rosetta Stone, maker of the award-winning language learning software, is seeking Latin speakers to record language data online. This data will be used to help enhance speech recognition technology and to better understand the sounds a learner of Latin produces. It takes about one hour to complete the recordings and each person will be compensated with a $25 payment sent via PayPal. Participants must be at least 18 years old (or have parental approval). Anyone who is interested should visit, create an account and do the recordings online. It’s best to use a headset with a microphone to record.

Meagan Sills, Rosetta Stone Language Resource Manager, states that the project could use as many intermediate/advanced level Latin speakers as possible. Ms. Sills would be happy to answer any questions about this data collection effort as well as inquiries regarding the research that Rosetta Stone is doing. She may be reached at

Monday, January 05, 2009

7th Annual National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week

March 2-6, 2009, the first full week of the month.

National Latin Teacher Recruitment Week is sponsored by the American Classical League, the American Philological Assocation, as well as regional and state Classics associations. For more details, visit the Official NLTRW Website. Updated for 2009 are free printable posters (scroll down to find "I Want You to Be a Latin Teacher," "Gladiatrices" and "The Top Ten Reasons to Teach Latin"). There are also several new brochures.

This year Ginny Lindzey, who runs the Anima Altera Cafe Press Shop, has created a wide range of NTLRW 2009 items: professional-quality t-shirts, mini-buttons, mugs, greeting cards, posters, and even yard signs available for purchase at cost, with no additional price mark-up. NLTRW's site has provided links to coupon codes to keep the cost of these items affordable.

IRIS Project Latin Activities

If you're looking for some creative, educational yet diversionary Latin language activities, Lorna Robinson describes several on the IRIS Project website, including how to design your own Latin passport and time traveller postcard as well as create your own Latin SNAP and Bingo games. Each activity includes a cartoon as well as a list of suggested Latin vocabulary words to get you started.

The IRIS Project promotes literacy through the Classics and hosts Latin in the Parks initiatives in inner city London and Oxford, UK, as well as publishing an educationally enriching magazine by and for students.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Conventiculum Bostoniense 2009 Speaking Latin

The Conventiculum Bostoniense (Latin by the Sea) is a full-immersion residential experience offered by UMass Boston. It is specifically designed for teachers in schools and universities, who want to gain some ability to communicate ex-tempore in correct Latin on a wide range of subjects. Two different graduate level courses are offered during the Conventiculum, one for first time attendees and one for returning participants as described below. Days are filled with instructional activities, opportunities for social interaction and excursions to the beach and local attractions.

Latin 570 – Active Learning Methodologies for Teachers of Latin (3 graduate credits) Designed as the first-year experience at the Conventiculum Bostoniense, this course introduces teachers of Latin to theories of second language acquisition and engages them intensively in speaking and writing Latin.

Latin 575 – Living Text: Vergil’s Ecologues (3 graduate credits)
Designed for repeat attendees of the Conventiculum Bostoniense or other spoken Latin programs, this course engages the participants in intensive study of Vergil’s Eclogues.

Audit Option - This option is designed for international attendees, school teachers over the age of 60 or college faculty who would like to attend the Conventiculum but who do not need graduate credit for their participation.

Costs for 2009 have not yet been announced. 2008 fees were $1500 for credit/$800 for auditors, which includes room, materials, all entrance fees and several meals.

For further information, please visit Conventiculum Bostoniense, where you can view videos and projects from the 2008 Conventiculum, get answers to questions, and download application materials.

Podcasting and the Classics

Chris Ann Matteo and Ed DeHoratius will be chairing a panel entitled Podcasting and the Classics at this weekend's meeting of the American Philological Association in Philadelphia, PA.

This panel will present four podcasters describing their experience with podcasting, both from the production standpoint and the consumer standpoint of their students. There will also be a respondent. The panel hopes to initiate a discussion, both immediate and long-term, on the advantages and disadvantages of this quickly-burgeoning technology. The session will meet from Saturday morning at 11.15 in Grand Ballroom L.

For those attending APA, there will be a listening lounge in the exhibit area with 10 iPods loaded to the gills with classics-related materials, both those of the presenters and others.

For those unable to attend, the presenters will be posting a podcast (of course!) of the session to the following website:

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Classics and the International year of Astronomy 2009

Today is the first day of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. IYA2009 is being coordinated by the International Astronomical Union and promoted by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). According to the official website, the aim of IYA2009 is to promote "worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme 'The Universe, Yours to Discover.'"

Teachers of Latin and Greek can help students make connections between Classics and astronomy by emphasizing:

  • the contributions made by ancient, medieval and Renaissance scientists, who wrote about their discoveries in Greek and Latin (eg., the Greek astronomers Archimedes, Democritus, Hipparchus, Pythagoras and Thales, just to name a few. Also, Galileo Galilei's Siderius Nuncius and Johannes Kepler's Astronomia Nova, both written in Latin and published 400 years ago).
  • the mythological origins of the names of the planets and constellations (eg. Orion, Draco, Andromeda, Canis Major, etc.) and the allusions and references made to these in literature throughout the centuries.
  • the Latin and Greek etymological roots of the scientific and technological terminology used by astronomers. An understanding of technological terminology enables scientists to speak and write about what they are studying with precision and accuracy.
The US National Node for IYA2009 has a wealth of projects, videos, photographs, ideas, resources and links that are definitely worth checking out. Classics teachers will be particularly interested in the Projects Related to Arts, Culture and Society. (For example, see the Deanspace blog, where an astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory writes a weekly article about mythology and the constellations.)

Coincidentally, the most recent issue of Prima, the print newsletter for Excellence Through Classics has a wonderful article entitled Starry, Starry Night: Latin Class Makes Connections with Constellations, in which Sherri Madden of the Master's Academy (Charlotte, NC) describes a Stargazing Night that her Latin students recently enjoyed. ETC is a standing committee of the American Classical League.

Interested in hosting your own Constellation Party? The NASA AfterSchoolAstronomy website has a treasure trove of ideas!

Happy New Year!

Novum Annum Laetum Omnibus Exopto!

(Happy New Year, Everyone!)

Ianuarius is the first month of our year, but the ancient Romans originally celebrated the New Year in March. In 153 B.C., they decided to move the beginning of the year to January because that was the month in which the consuls, their leaders, took office. Of course, on January 20th, our new President-elect, Barack Obama, will take the oath of office.

According to Murray's Manual of Mythology, Ianuarius was named for the ancient god Ianus, because "the beginning of everything was a matter of great importance to them, and Ianus was the god of a 'good beginning.'" Accordingly, the first day of January was an major holiday for the Romans.

The gates of temple which the Romans built in honor of Ianus held deep significance to his worshippers. The gates stood open when Rome was at war and were closed only in times of peace. There were only three times in the first 700 years that temple gates were closed: during the reign of Numa Pompilius, after the first Punic War, and during the reign of Augustus Caesar.

At first, the Roman year had only ten months, but this didn't work out too well with the solar calendar. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar added two new months. He named one after himself, Iulius. The other new month was eventually named for the previously mentioned Augustus. The full list of the months (menses) of the year (annus) in Latin are as follows: Ianuarius, Februarius, Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Iulius, Augustus, September, October, November, December.

To find out more about how the Ancient Romans celebrated the New Year, here's a classic feature Roman New Year.