Sunday, June 28, 2009

Latin With No Dictionaries?

Many intermediate and even advancing Latin readers often find that the greatest obstacle to reading Latin in a linear word order is vocabulary. can help! This is a specialized dictionary engine which prepares a running vocabulary list for any Latin text that you type in. It won't do all the work of reading or translating for you, but it can make the experience more pleasant by helping you reduce the amount of flipping you do through the pages of your Latin dictionary. The author of has provided many Latin authors already prepared for you to download and read!

If you join, you can create a running vocabulary study sheet for the books or text that you are reading. (Those of you who are preparing for the Advanced Placement Caesar and Vergil exam may find this feature particularly helpful! A number of books from De Bello Gallico (no word yet if that's the selected text, though) and Vergil's Aeneid have already been processed on the site.)

Do be sure to take a look at Laura Gibb's helpful notes for using first. She clearly explains a lot of the features in detail.

Other helpful dictionary reference tools to help save you time and read more Latin include:

The Perseus Project: Charlton T. Lewis and and Charles Short's A Latin Dictionary. This authoritative resource provides very detailed definitions and citations from Classical Latin authors showing each word used in context. Also available at the Perseus Project is Charlton T. Lewis' An Elementary Latin Dictionary, which is ironically shorter than the Lewis and Short version.

Available on the iPhone and iPod Touch App Store are two Latin dictionaries for download: Latin Dictionary and Lexidium. These are easily found if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch. Simply click on the App Store icon and do a keyword search for the titles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More on Power, Ambition, Glory, and the Benefits of a Classical Education

Tim O'Reilly, one of the foremost technology writers of the 21st century and the originator of the term "Web 2.0," was one of the individuals interviewed in a recent Forbes Magazine special report entitled "Power, Ambition, Glory." Mr. O'Reilly received his undergraduate degree in Greek and Latin Classics and is clearly not living a life of genteel poverty, despite having majored in the so-called "dead languages!"

Mr. O'Reilly clearly feels that his Classical education has had a profound effect upon his business career and his life. Since the Forbes report included only a very brief excerpt of his answers to their questions, he has published the entire interview, "The Benefits of a Classical Education," on his blog.

Stephen Colbert Shows off his Latin pronunciation skills!!

On Monday evening's episode (June 22, 2009) of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert interviewed Simon Schama, a professor at Columbia University and author of The American Future: A History and A History of Britain. Professor Schama quotes Cicero at the beginning of the interview, pronouncing the ancient orator's name with a "soft C" sound, prompting Mr. Colbert to correct the pronunciation with the "hard C" sound of the Classical pronunciation. Mr. Colbert also asserts that he knows who the Romans are! Enjoy!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Simon Schama
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

Friday, June 19, 2009

Power, Ambition, Glory and a Classics Degree!

So, what are you going to do with that Classics degree? Become a best-selling author? A renowned magician? A business entrepreneur? A famous politician? A Classicist?

See Forbes Magazine Business Visionaries website for a special report regarding the new book Power, Ambition, Glory: The Stunning Parallels Between Great Leaders of the Ancient World and Today...Lessons You Can Learn by Steve Forbes and John Prevas. Featured with the two videos and articles are 14 Leaders On the Classics - including Rita Mae Brown, Garrison Keillor, Teller (one-half of "Penn and Teller"), Robert Greene, and Charles M. Geschke, among others - relating how they apply the lessons they learned from their studies of the ancient world to their lives today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DonorsChoose.Org and Latin is an online charity that helps individual donors connect to public school classrooms in need of learning materials. If you watch the Colbert Report, you may have noticed that the host, Stephen Colbert, is now a celebrity spokesperson and member of the board of directors for Mr. Colbert's current mission is to raise money for schools with significant military dependent populations. However, any public school may propose a project. is partnered with its corporate sponsors U.S. Cellular, Chase, and American Express.

Through the website, philanthropists can select and contribute to a classroom project. Donors can decide what kinds of projects they would like to support (Classics, literacy education, music, mathematics, etc.) or what type of school (military population, high economic poverty, geographic location, etc.)

At this time there are several Latin language projects proposed:

Some Advice on Teaching Caesar

Professor William Harris, late of Middlebury College, wrote a short essay Gaius Julius Caesar that is well worth spending some time reading. Professor Harris provides some background relating how he believes Caesar's Gallic Wars came to be the "sine qua non" upon which Latin studies were based in the U.S. in the 19th century. He also gives some advice regarding teaching the content of De Bello Gallico, as well as the technicalities of Caesarian grammar.

At the same site, also see A Note on Caesar as Stylist.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Like "As the World Turns," But in Latin!

This weekend a very talented group of Latin students from Santa Monica High School premiered their feature-length series "Pacifica," a four-episode soap opera written and acted entirely in Latin, at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, California. It was a sold out show! Read more about "Pacifica" and its creators in the Santa Monica Daily Press!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Caesar Tweets!

Would you believe that IVLIVSCAESAR has a Twitter stream? (Okay, it's actually Laura Gibbs of the Bestiara Latin Blog. The "tweets" are based upon Plutarch's Life of Caesar.)

Objections to Caesar from the Past

Some may question whether Caesar is too easy for the AP Latin Literature course.

Throughout the 2oth century, many second year Latin books based their content upon Caesar's Gallic Wars. It is clear that for over a century, Latin teachers and professors have dealt with the question of the place of Caesar's writings in the Latin curriculum.

As early as 1916, Josiah Bethea Game wrote in Teaching High School Latin: "Classes are often not ready for Caesar at the opening of the second year...Caesar is more difficult Latin than its place in the course of study would indicate...It really ought to be given in the third year, for it is the rock on which unnumbered thousands of faithful pupils have gone to pieces utterly." (p. 76)

Moving Caesar to Advanced Placement status may at least allow teachers to finally admit that Caesar is actually quite difficult for second year students.

Another criticism of Caesar is that his material is actually fairly dry and dull.

Game spends most of his time in the chapter discussing second year Latin on how to teach Caesar effectively, admitting that "if you work under a course of study which absolutely fixes the work in Caesar, you will of course be forced to do the best you can." He notes that students don't usually learn much about Roman civilization in a Caesar course and that it is imperative that they spend time reading something other than Caesar or they may end up "feeling that Latin is of limited value." He strongly suggests that students prepare contextual themes to present to the class in order to provide coherence to the course.

Charles Bennett (perhaps the greatest champion of the grammar-based philosophy of teaching Latin) even conceded the weaknesses of Caesar while continuing to support his placement in the curriculum.

He enumerates several objections to Caesar (and especially De Bello Gallico) in The Teaching of Latin and Greek in the Secondary School (1911): "a) Caesar is undeniably difficult...b) Caesar is not interesting," and "c) the bearing of Caesar's narrative is not obvious," (pp. 112-113) summing it all up thus: " regarded by many as unique in its combination of difficulty, its dullness and its dearth of information." However, Bennett ultimately concludes that there is value in reading Caesar's Latin for his "purity of diction" and "accuracy of style" (p. 114.)

Non amo te, Caesar mi...

With permission from Professor Richard A. LaFleur of the University of Georgia, this seems to sum up the reaction of many secondary school Latin teachers to the announcement that Caesar will replace Cicero, Ovid, Catullus and Horace on the AP Latin Lit exam:

"..cum apologiis Martiali carissimo nostro (not least for the metrical fudge in "Caesar"--let's just call that a "systole"):

'Non amo te, Caesar mi; nec possum dicere quare.
Hoc tantum possum dicere: non amo te!'"

Translation: "With apologies to our most dear Martial...'I do not love you, my Caesar; I can't say why. I am only able to say this: I don't love you.'"

(Based upon Martial I, 32: "Non amo te, Sabidi; nec possum dicere quare. Hoc tantum possum dicere: non amo te!")

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

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bolchazy Summer Webinar Series 2009

Bolchazy-Carducci is presenting a series of eleven Webinars by and for Latin teachers this summer. Click below to see details on how to sign up.

The Thirteenth Labor of Hercules

It's Friday!  Enjoy this "news" article about the 13th Labor of Hercules brought to you by the Onion!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cambridge Latin Summer Workshop 2009

The theme for this summer's Cambridge Summer Workshop (July 13-16) is "Training for a Championship Season in the Latin Classroom."  The workshop will take place at the Wyndham Hotel, University Place, Pittsburgh, PA, near the University of Pittsburgh. 

Session topics include: Reading Strategies at All Levels; The Planning and Teaching of Particular Stages; Varied Assessments; Vocabulary Acquisition and Derivatives, Culture; Language Activities; and Technology in the Classroom.  There will also be optional sessions on Powerpoint and audiovisual supplements to the course.  

For more information, tuition costs, registration forms, and more visit the North American Cambridge Classics Project.