Friday, August 07, 2009

Vetus Novus Homo

"Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?" It has been quite some time since these words have been heard aloud in my classroom. I have to admit that I have not taught Cicero since way back in the mid-90's. When the Advanced Placement bandwagon ran roughshod over our school system's curriculum over a decade ago, the emphasis in Latin turned away from the authors of Latin prose and grounded itself solidly in poetry. Since that time we have usually finished the Latin II textbook in the first quarter or half of Latin III and then spent the balance of time in making the transition to the reading and translation of authentic Latin literature. Sure, prose authers were a big part of that, namely selections from St. Jerome's Vulgate, some letters of Pliny the Younger, and some war correspondence from Caesar, but there was never room or a time for the rhetoric and philosophy of Cicero. I reluctantly pushed him aside as Latin IV and V alternated between the epic poetry of Vergil and the lyric and elegiac poetry of Catullus and Ovid. Now, times have changed.

I have brushed off Jenney's Third Year Latin, dug through my filing cabinet, and reacquainted myself with this long-neglected prose author. I have always been an advocate of Latin prose and a fan of Cicero and look forward to his reappearance in my classroom. His return has been made possible by the College Board's elimination of the AP Latin Literature examination. The Latin teachers in my system have agreed to teach AP Vergil in the fifth-year Latin class, thus opening up (for me, at least) a class of fourth-year Latin students who now have the opportunity to read and translate a wide variety of Latin authors and works. I know by experience that Cicero will be difficult for many of my students and that the subject matter can be a bit challenging, as well. We'll take it slow and I will make every effort to make the class interesting and meaningful. Updates in our endeavors will follow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there...stumbled across one of your posts on "word order" while trying to figure out how to accurately translate a few simple phrases...would you be able to give me a hand? my email is if so. Either way, thanks for the interesting reading!