Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Into the Field!

I took some of my students on a real fieldtrip to the National Gallery of Art. We took a day over Winter Break, boarded the Virginia Railway Express (local commuter rail), and made our journey into Washington, DC to take a look at their exhibition titled "Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples". This exhibit was quite good and featured several quality items we had seen only in books or other sources. Favorites included the busts of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Caligula, and Nero, and there was also an awesome, ornate gladiator's helmet. My students and I heartily recommend it if you find yourself in DC between now and March. Afterwards, the exhibition will travel to Los Angeles for you guys on the West Coast. A must-see for all Latin students!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Comparative Studies, or is that Comparative Studying?

While grading Latin I tests yesterday, I came across some interesting notes a student had scribbled in the margin of her paper. In the section for conjugating verbs, she had written out her personal endings -o, -s, -t, etc., and then she had written out the equivalent in German! While she's just a beginning Latin student, I believe she is also taking German II or III. By the way, she did quite well on the test, earning a 97%. Needless to say, her conjugations were impeccable!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Temple of Aphaia

Time for another posting a picture for the heck of it. This is the Temple of Aphaia on the Greek island of Aphaia in the Saronic Gulf. I took this photograph in July 2004.

Tombstones as Toilets

In Latin II class today we were reading the werewolf story in Chapter 33 of Ecce Romani II. The students thought it odd that the slave and the soldier were walking down the road and then suddenly the slave would have to wait while the soldier went off into the tombstones. I told them to think about it for a moment but not say anything. Lightbulbs went off over a couple of students' heads and the others looked perplexed. I then explained that tombstones would provide some privacy for those needing to relieve themselves. A couple students, not open-minded enough that urinating or defecating anywhere but in a toilet was even in the realm of possibility, didn't believe me. Unfortunately, I was unable to provide evidence. Doing a quick search after class didn't support me either. Certainly I remember requests or curses on tombstones in the ballpark of "Don't pee on me." I'm not making this up, am I?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Amore, More, Ore, Re

While looking online recently for a good Latin quote on love, I found

amore, more, ore, re

I stopped. I reread the quote. I thought this was the most ingenious thing I had ever found! The quote was attributed to Vergil (actually it said "Virgilius") and I assumed that this was something very few people knew. Boy, was I wrong! When I googled the phrase, I discovered that lots of people already knew this phrase, called it their favorite Latin quote, used it on their blogs, and even had it tatooed on their wrists! Thirty years ago this fall I stepped into a Latin classroom for the very first time. Since that time I have been learning, studying, translating, reading, and teaching the language and literature and never came across this clever item. I felt like I had missed out on something!

Next I started to search for the source. Several people attributed this ditty to Vergil but it didn't seem very Vergilian. It doesn't sound like something Vergil would say and the meter doesn't work. Nevertheless, I began a search on the internet and had very little success. At one point I was directed toward the story of Nisus and Euryalus in the Aeneid and thought that I was making progress, but skimming the lines in the text produced nothing. I remembered that I had A Vergil Concordance and pulled that out, but soon found nothing there as well. I was beginning to have my doubts that this quote was classical at all.

I did find that the entire quote was

Verus amicus amore, more, ore, re cognoscitur

but again there was no citation... so I posted the request on LatinTeach and received a wealth of information. I should have started there!

*Robert Maier found

Amore, more, ore, re, Iunguntur amicitiae!

and suggested that it was medieval. He was among the first to mention that it didn't fit a meter.

*Dennis McHenry II found

Ob id ergo maximas agimus gratias vestrae amori et labore verus enim amicus cognoscitur labore, amore, more, ore, re.

and cited the closing of a letter by the Dutch cartographer Nicolaas Witsen (1641-1717).

*Laura Gibbs revealed: "About the widely used and re-used amore more ore re, you are not likely to find a specific literary source (i.e. in the sense of who said it "first"), and that kind of word play is not the sort of thing you would expect from Vergil or a classical Roman writer. It is much more typical of later Latin - and it shows up in the work of the Jesuit author and scholar Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) in an even more elaborate form, with clamore added in as a first term in the series: Tibi vero gratias agam quo clamore? Amore more ore re.

For the friend version - verus amicus noscitur ex amore more ore re (and also: amore, more, ore re iunguntur amicitiae), see #1436 in this marvelous collection: Philosophia patrum versibus praesertim leoninis, rhythmis Germanicis adiectis, iuventuti studiosae hilariter tradita by Julius Wegeler (1869).

It's online at Google Books - and it is a treasure trove of fun stuff (hilariter tradita indeed!). You can download the PDF of the book, or read it online - just click the "read this book" tab. http://books.google.com/books?id=iGcCAAAAQAAJ.

There are all kinds of delightful word play represented here. I especially like all the rhyming verses. Here are just a few:
- Dum canis os rodit, socium - quem diligit - odit.
- Res satis est nota, foetent plus stercora mota.
- Non de ponte cadit, quocum sapientia vadit.
- Vultus fortunae mutatur imagine lunae: Crescit, decrescit, in eodem sistere nescit.
It's a shame the ancient Romans did not go in for rhyme!"

I thoroughly enjoyed my little foray into finding "who dunnit". The bottom line? The quote isn't classical but much later. It's still ingenious, and my students love it! I noticed a couple have already written it on the cover of their notebooks or textbooks where they record and preserve those lyrics from a special song or meaningful comments or notes from friends. The phrase lives on!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Figures of Speech: Why Save Them for Upper Level?

I have gotten into the habit of introducing figures of speech to my Latin I and II students when we come across them. In Ecce Romani I, "Getting Up Early" in Chapter 8 includes Aurelia clamating:

"Agite, molesti servi!" inquit. "Cur nihil facitis? Cur vos ibi sedetis? Cur non strenue laboratis" (ll. 3-4).

This is as good a time as any to introduce anaphora, tricolon, and even tricolon crescens.

Early in Ecce Romani II, the servi in Chapter 32
"in Forum missi sunt et ibi comparaverunt holera, panem, pullos." (l. 3)
Asyndeton, anyone?

I don't dwell on these items nor do I test them in the lower levels, but it certainly makes the job a bit easier a couple years down the line when the whole list of devices appears for memorization and application.