Since the recent announcement of the changes to the curriculum in the new AP Latin exam, I have been pondering the required readings. For Vergil we are returning to the old curriculum of selections from Books 1, 2, 4, and 6; gone are the tedious selections about the hand-to-hand combat between Aeneas and Turnus in Books 10 and 12. I never really liked those passages at the end, but that could be due more to the tiresome forced march through the previous 1,500 lines than the actual content.
I am intrigued, though, with the inclusion of being responsible for the content in English for Books 8 and 12. I have long enjoyed they the episode where Aeneas arrives at Pallanteum and Evander tells him the stories associated with archaic Rome. The presentation and description of the shield are also fascinating and seems to fit nicely with the themes of history, values, leadership, and the relationship between the human and the divine. The content of Book 12 provides a good cap for the story as Aeneas reaches his goal which seemed so out of his reach at the beginning of the story.
I am a bit stumped, though, with the inclusion of Book 7 in English for Caesar's De Bello Gallico. While it is true that this book handles in large part the conflict between Caesar and Vercingetorix, it has been added to the curriculum for its content and contribution to the story in English and not for its Latinity.
What we, as teachers, need to know from the College Board is how much importance will be given to knowing the content of the works as literature instead of knowing how to read, translate, and understand the assigned Latin passages? Although knowing the stories in English has always been important for the AP Vergil exam, now that we have (again) a combination exam, why has importance been given to what the students will read in translation? Not only will we have to provide translations (for loan or for purchase) for the Aeneid, but now also for Caesar. Are there good translations out there? I will have to find out.