Another Story, With Vocabulary

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Coming your way today is a brand-new Tres Columnae story from Lectiō XI. In case you’re wondering, we’re aiming to have an essentially complete version of Cursus Primus ready by the end of May, 2010, since we’re planning to make a presentation at the American Classical League Institute in June.

I say “essentially complete” because, in one way, Tres Columnae will never be “complete” – as long as there are new participants creating and adding stories, images, audio, and video, the project will be constantly growing and changing. In another way, though, we can say that we’re “essentially complete” when all the main or core stories are written and published online, and when all the quid novī explanations, exercises, and quizzes that we’d originally planned are finished and available to subscribers.

I considered using the word “mature” instead of “essentially complete” for a while, but I was afraid someone might take that word in its newer sense of “not intended for children” rather than its original sense of “grown up.” And I want to assure you that we won’t tolerate that type of “maturity” in Tres Columnae submissions! Not only is it inappropriate for our audience, but it’s often pretty immature! I think of my face-to-face Latin I students, who often like to smirk about things like the thermae; one easy way to outsmart them 🙂 is to invite them to have an “immaturity moment – everybody giggle really loud and say ‘naked people! naked people! naked people!’ until you get it out of your system.” It’s especially effective, I find, when I turn on my mountain-South twang and pronounce the word as “nekkid!” 🙂

In any case, we plan to be done with all of the stories in Lectiōnēs I-XXX by early May, and with the other initial “stuff” by the end of that month. Initial “stuff” includes audio and some more illustrations – if you haven’t been to our Version Alpha Wiki site recently, you may not have seen the amazing work of our illustrator, Lucy. If you need an illustrator for any purpose after May of this year, I hope you’ll get in touch with her … but you can’t have her (or her contact information) until then! 🙂 You just can’t! 🙂 We’ll have a few videos available by then, as well, but we anticipate that more videos will come as our subscriber base grows.

If you’re a school-based participant (or group of participants) who would like to create a video, we’d strongly encourage you to use Lucy’s beautiful puppet templates, which will soon be available. Not only will Lucius, Caius, Valeria, Caeliola, Lollia, and their friends always be recognizable that way, but your parents, teachers, and principals won’t have to worry about … all the things that adults worry about when kids post videos of themselves on the Internet. In fact, at this point, we think we simply won’t accept non-puppet or non-masked videos from participants who are under age 18. The safety of our Joyful Learning Community members is very important to us!

Of course, children’s safety was a very different thing in the Roman world, where childhood was a lot shorter, child mortality was a lot higher, and the attitude towards children was very different from that of most industrialized societies today. That’s one of the big cultural themes that we’ll explore in Tres Columnae Cursus Primus, of course, along with the vocabulary and the morphological and syntactic issues.

And it’s very important to today’s story, part of a sequence revolving around Lucius, Caius, and Cnaeus’ first day of school. (Yes, it’s the same day when Cnaeus had the unfortunate incident with Fortūnāta the cow … and there’s actually a story where we’ll get Fortūnāta’s perspective, too! But you’ll have to wait for another day to read that one … or go and look at the relevant page at if you can’t wait.)

It turns out that Cnaeus – big surprise! – behaved badly at school … but not as badly as another little boy named Quintus Flavius, whose father was responsible for the unfortunate mustēla incident. Anyway, Cnaeus’ father has punished him (more conventionally this time … with a beating, not a cow!) and his sisters (big surprise!) are making fun of him:

Caelius tandem Cnaeum pūnīre dēsinit et “abī, puer īnsolēns!” clāmat. Cnaeus “vae! heu!” clāmat et ē tablīnō celeriter currit. Prīma et Secunda extrā iānuam tablīnī rem tōtam audiunt et inter sē iocōs faciunt.

sorōrēs bracchia Cnaeī prēnsant et hoc rogant: “frāter noster, nōnne diem tuum commemorāre vīs?  an amīcum novum, illum Quīntum Flavium?”

“minimē, puellae molestae, nōlīte mē vexāre,” respondit ille.

Prīma autem “nōnne nōbīs dē lūdō commemorāre vīs?” rogat. et Secunda haec addit: “nōnne laetāris, mī frāter, quod puerum tam īnsolentem quam tē iam vidēs?” Cnaeus tamen īrātus, “puellās īnsolentēs!” exclāmat. “nōnne vōs decet in maximam malam crucem īre? cūr mē ita vexās? et iste Quīntus Flavius est īnsolentissimus! multō īnsolentior est quam ego!”

Prīma et Secunda cachinnibus sē trādunt. “heus! multō īnsolentior quam tū? utrum bove pater illum pūnīre solet, an taurō?” inquit Prīma. “nōn taurō, sed lupō!” inquit Secunda. “immō leōne ferōcissimō!” clāmat Prīma. “vel bālaenā maximā?” exclāmat Secunda.

“tacēte, pessimae puellae!” exclāmat Cnaeus īrātus. “nōnne mē decet vōs ambās in maximā malā crūce suspendere?”

“tacē, frater pessime! patrī verba tua commemorāre possum!” exclāmat Prīma ērubēscēns. Secunda, “verba enim impiissima!” addit. Cnaeus tamen, “num mē terrēre potestis? nōnne bracchium patris in pavīmentum cadere potest, sī mihi plagās plūrēs dare temptat? et quid poenārum minārī potest ille?”

Prīma et Secunda rīdent. tandem Secunda respondet, “fortasse nōn patrem, sed nūrum vocāre dēbēmus. fortasse Planesium tibi poenās aptās parāre potest.”

et Prīma, “fortasse nōn nūrum, sed bovem vocāre dēbēmus!” Cnaeus bracchium Prīmae prēnsat et, “vae! heu! nōlī umquam,” puellae susurrat, “istam bovem commemorāre. tē in crucem malam et maximam ipse mittere possum! tē cum sorōre tuā crūciāre volō! haec sōlus facere possum!”

Prīma et Secunda rīsūs cēlāre frūstrā temptant. Cnaeus fessus et īrātus ad cubiculum contendit. iānuam cubiculī firmē claudit et in lectum sē iactat. Cnaeus in lectō lacrimās tacitē effundit! “cūr omnēs mē dērīdēre et pūnīre solent?” sēcum susurrat. “dī magnī, cūr vōs mē ita torquēre solētis? cūr omnēs mē torquēre solent? vae! heu! heu! vae mihi!”

fortasse dī verba Cnaeī audiunt, sed nihil responsī puerō mittunt. tandem Cnaeus fessus in cubiculō obdormit. extrā iānuam cubiculī Nestōr verba Cnaeī audit et clam rīdet.

paedagōgus iam servīs et ancillīs rēs gestās Cnaeī nārrat. Planesium “Cnaeum miserrimum!” benigna dīcit. “quid Cnaeō suādēre possum? sī melius sē gerit, nēmō eum dērīdēre vel pūnīre vult.” cēterae tamen ancillae attonitae, “num īnsānīs, Planesium?” rogant. “num Cnaeus umquam bene sē gerere vult? num melius sē gerere potest?” servī rīdentēs cum ancillīs cōnsentiunt.

iam nox est, et in vīllā Caeliī Cnaeus lacrimīs et somnīs, servī cachinnīs et iocīs sē trādunt.

Beginning on Monday, we’ll look at some vocabulary-related issues with this story, including

  • the shades of meaning among oportet, decet, necesse, and dēbeō;
  • the quid novī that will address sōlus and solēre (and solēre’s relative īnsolēns);
  • “untranslatable” idioms like sē trādere and sē gerere;
  • why Prima and Secunda were so insulted by Cnaeus’ one comment; and
  • some other issues … but we’ll keep you guessing for now! 🙂

Gratias maximas to our faithful reader Elizabeth, who asked about this first point in a recent comment!  And yes, we’ll also talk about the sibling rivalry … and whether or not we feel (or should feel) any sympathy for Cnaeus. He does have two rather persistent big sisters, who do love to tease him … and then to get him in trouble! And he is less ill-behaved than Quintus Flavius, who … but you’ll have to check out this link to see what he did. I promise it was really, really bad – but entirely suitable for our audience! 🙂

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of the story … as a story?
  • What do you think of the characterization of Prima, Secunda, and Cnaeus … and Nestor and the other servī?
  • And what do you think of the vocabulary elements we’ve chosen to talk about Monday?  Are there others we should mention?

Tune in on Monday for our answers … and your answers, and your questions, too! 🙂  intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and please feel free to join us with one of the remaining Free Trial Subscriptions.


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