Beloved Fictional Worlds

salvēte iterum, amīcī! This is sort of a “bonus post” – I originally had planned to include it in the last one, but that became a bit too long. In thinking about characters, plots, and settings, and in thinking about the Tres Columnae metastory, I realize it’s all about creating a fictional world – a place where many stories are possible because there are so many interesting characters, places, and events. And I wanted to pay homage to the fictional worlds that inspired me, both as a child and as an adult.

At first, I was only thinking about historical-fiction worlds, since the Tres Columnae metastory is, in essence, a piece of historical fiction. As I think of my favorite works of historical fiction, I realize they’re my favorites because they create such a world – one that really feels like the time and place where they claim to be set. I think of works like

many others – too many to mention or even to list.

I also think of the works of fantasy and science fiction that created equally strong, but imaginary worlds for me:

And, of course, there were the Classical works that created such worlds in my imagination:

  • The Odyssey and the Iliad;
  • the Aeneid, especially Book II;
  • Apuleius’ Metamorphoses;
  • Vergil’s Georgics;
  • some individual Odes of Horace, and Satire I.8 where he speaks in the voice of the scarecrow; and of course
  • countless others that will come to mind as soon as I hit “Publish.” 😦

And then there are the movies, the plays, the TV series, and all the other works of art that have created such worlds in my imagination.

As a child and even as a teenager, I aspired to write something as powerful and meaningful as these books were to me. Now, with the Tres Columnae project, my goal has shifted: I want to create a place where lots of people can work together, creating things even more powerful and meaningful, and learning an amazing language and culture in the process.

quid respondētis, amīcissimī?

  • How well have we done in creating an imaginary world here?
  • Is that an appropriate goal? If not, what should we be doing with Tres Columnae?
  • If so, are there ways to do it better?
  • And how do we get learners – I started to say “young people,” but Tres Columnae is for learners of all ages – to join in this process of world creation?

We’ll return to these questions in a few days. But first I want to take a deeper look at the grammar, vocabulary, and cultural elements of this most recent story. (Plus, it really needs a title – any good ideas?) After all, Tres Columnae is a language learning system as well as a fictional world, so we do need to make sure we’re helping people learn and acquire the language, too.

Tune in next time, when we’ll take a closer look at linguistic elements like vocabulary and grammar in the story we just constructed together.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really enjoyed observing the evolution of the story from your previous posts. The story is certainly one that has twists and turns that are, if not completely unexpected, quite amusing. I believe students will find it engaging.

    As students in my class write stories, I urge them to ask themselves regularly, “Would I keep reading this story?” Often they indicate that they wouldn’t and therefore begin revising.

    I am curious if any of these characters actually existed in Herculaneum (or nearby). My students “connect” much more if there is more “history” than “fiction” because it strikes them as more worthwhile. Even if it is only commenting on the architecture of the town, they like to construct possible scenarios that teach them about “real life” in the ancient cities.

    Of course the details of individuals’ lives can rarely be pinpointed exactly, but the use of “real” people from the ancient world (regardless of how insignificant they are) helps students identify much more easily.

    I think that a great part of the process of learning is observing the process of writing (the story, the commentary, the associated questions, etc.) and it is a beneficial model for students who are learning Latin. I think it can teach students LOTS about the culture of the Romans if the students see the process and begin developing questions for themselves. Although I do not approach the readings in this way often, I really should. I think I’ll do it today! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Randy,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and I hope your students will, too.

      As for the characters, these folks are fictional, but I would be glad to include some real Herculanean citizens, if only in supporting roles. Just by the nature of the site, we don’t have as many surviving names from there as we do from Pompeii. You’re right, though, the inclusion of “real” people is a big help.

      I certainly agree with your point about observing, and then imitating, the process. That’s one reason for this series of posts. As we move forward with Tres Columnae (and I’m still planning to have several complete or near-complete Lectiones up and accessible by the end of the month), one thing that we’ll definitely need to develop is a series of models that participants can use when they develop their own stories, questions, etc.

      Let me know how it goes when you approach the reading today from this perspective. Today was a teacher workday for me, so I spent a lot more time with file cabinets than with students. 🙂


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