Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reading the English on the New AP Latin Exam

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.

1 comment:

M. said...

Latinum has created a suite of Caesar material in audio for self study and revision/consolidation that covers almost all of the
required ground for Caesar for AP. The audio materials make it easy for a student to revise the text over and over again - it is easier to listen to a text multiple times, than to re-read it multiple times in the book.
The Latin-English-Latin literal translations make dictionary work
unnecessary, as the student first approaches the text with the literal
translation, before studying it intensively in Latin only, until it is
1. John Taylor's 'Caesar for Beginners'. (Book I, The Helvetic War).

2. Caesar - 'The British War ; Customs of the Gauls' - Caesar's Bello Gallico
Book 4, chapters 20 -38,
Book 5, Chapters 8 - 23, Book 6, Chapters 12-19.
The reading is Latin-English-Latin, and repeated again in Latin only.

3. Lowe, Butler and Walker's
' Introduction to Caesar' A grammar book based around Book 1 of De
Bello Gallico, including the vocabulary learning files for Book 1, and
a reading of Book 1 in Latin.

4. Cannon's 'An Open Door to Caesar' - in Latin only - De Bello
Gallico Book 1, in simplified Latin,followed by the chapter in the
original form.

5. Sonnenschein's 'Ora Maritima' is a childrens story in Latin based
around themes in Caesar covered in the AP syllabus - can provide some
light relief.