Female Voices, IV

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll look at one possible ending for the story we’ve been following for the past two days, in which our character Vipsānia Caeliae, mother of Prīma, Secunda, and Cnaeus, has come to her sister-in-law Caelia Valeriī for child-rearing advice.

I say “one possible ending” for a couple of reasons. First, if you all hate it, you might develop another, better ending to suit your liking – that’s one of the key features of the Tres Columnae system. Second, we might just provide a couple of alternative endings and let our subscribers choose, or even let different subscribers choose different ITINERA through the stories as well as through other learning materials. The idea of choosing the direction for a story is probably familiar to everyone of my generation who remembers the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books, and there have even been some Latin- and mythology-based versions in recent years. When I was first working with the idea of Tres Columnae, I experimented with a program called Quandary (from the publishers of the Hot Potatoes interactive exercise creation software) that allows you to create an “action maze” or interactive story with several possible endings. I ended up taking another path to create the “core” Tres Columnae stories as you know, but I’m still intrigued by the idea of giving learners a choice of plot directions as well as the other choices we’ve talked about.

Anyway, here’s one possible ending for the story, in which Vipsānia does not quite get the idea even after Caelia tries to explain what she should do differently. Tomorrow we’ll look at an ending in which she does get the idea. You decide which you like better … and, among other things, you’ll determine some elements of Vipsānia’s character that might be important in later stories.

Caelia et Vipsānia in triclīniō prandent et rēs minimī mōmentī commemorant. tandem Vipsānia, “prandium quidem optimum!” exclāmat. “quam mē dēlectat! sed heu! vae mihi! miserrima sum, quod fīlius tam impius mihi est. nōnne nōs decet fīlium meum commemorāre? nōnne Cnaeum meliōrem reddere potes? quaesō, amābō tē, mihi hanc rem explicā: cūr Lūcius tuus semper optimē sē gerit? et quid facere dēbeō?”

Caelia diū tacet et rem cōgitat. Dulcissima et Fēlīcissima, ancillae Vipsāniae, quoque tacent, quod rīsūs cēlāre vix possunt. tandem, “ō Vipsānia mea,” inquit Caelia, “tē adiuvāre volō. quid tamen tibi suādēre possum? quid cōnsiliī dare? haud enim difficile est fīlium pium reddere. parentibus necesse est pia laudāre, impia pūnīre, et piē ipsōs sē gerere.”

Vipsānia laetissima, “hercle!” exclāmat, “nōnne facillimum est?” subitō tamen haec addit trīstis: “haec tamen omnia ego et Caelius cotīdiē facimus. Cnaeus autem noster impiē et impudenter sē gerere solet! nōnne necesse est rēbus magicīs ūtī?”

Caelia rīdet et, “nihil artium magicārum sciō, Vipsānia mea! et haud mihi opus est artium magicārum! quaesō, hanc rem mihi explicā: quibus verbīs facta pia Cnaeī laudāre solētis? quibus poenīs facta impia pūnīre?”

Vipsānia, “heu! difficile est poenās numerāre! nōnne istum Cnaeum cotīdiē verberāmus? nōnne vituperāmus? nōnne poenās maximās mināmur? cūr igitur iste Cnaeus pessimē et impiē sē gerit?”

et Caelia, “Vipsānia mea,” respondet, “quid laudis?”

“laudis? istum puerum īnsolentissimum laudāre nōn possumus, quod nihil laudābile umquam facit!” exclāmat Vipsānia.

tum Caelia, “ō Vipsānia, laudēs multō potentiōrēs sunt quam poenae! praetereā, plagae et minae fīlium pium reddere haud solent. sī enim minās efficere potes, fīlium perterritum, nōn pium, reddis; sī nihil efficis, puer, quod verbīs tuīs haud crēdere potest, īnsolentiōrem sē reddit! num plagīs minīsque servī equōs exercēre solent? haudquāquam! eōs enim oportet dīligentiam patientiamque praestāre. et nōnne līberī nostrī multī plūrus sunt quam equī?”

Vipsānia paulīsper haesitat. tandem, “hercle! rem tōtam intellegō!” exclāmat. Vipsānia laeta Caeliae vale dīcit et ancillās arcessit. cum ancillīs per iānuam domūs ēgreditur. “heus! rem tōtam iam intellegō!” iterum clāmat. “facillimum est mihi Cnaeum nostrum pium reddere! puerī enim, ut Caelia nostra, similēs equīs sunt. ancillae! festīnāte! nōs decet ferrārium et gemmārium vīsitāre!”

Dulcissima attonita, “ferrārium, domina mea?” rogat, et Vipsānia, “certē, Dulcissima mea! nōnne verba Caeliae meae memōriā tenēs? puerī enim similēs equīs sunt. nonne necesse est mihi ferrārium vīsitāre? et sine dubiō mē oportet gammārium quaerere, quod praemium dignissimum mereō!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Obviously Vipsānia comes off as an idiot at best in this story, but do you think we’re being fair to her?
  • In any case, what do you think of the other women characters – especially Caelia?
  • What do you think of Caelia’s parenting advice? Is it good advice? Is it sufficiently Roman advice, or is it excessively tinged with my 21st-century American perspective?
  • Can you imagine the reaction when Vipsānia gets home with … whatever she buys from the blacksmith? What on earth will she buy, and what would poor Cnaeus do with it?
  • Do you find you have a bit more sympathy for Cnaeus than you did before, now that you know more about his parents? 🙂
  • And what do you think of the idea of different possible endings for stories in the Tres Columnae system?

Tune in next time when we’ll explore the other possible ending to the story – I hope that “next time” will be on Friday, but it might possibly be Saturday if “life intervenes.” Then well explore some aspects of a Virtual Seminar about Roman women that fits naturally after these stories. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

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  1. […] Thursday’s post for Part III, Version A, in which Vipsānia almost understands Caelia’s advice about training children with patience rather than screams or threats; and […]

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