Family Stories

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today, as promised, we’ll begin with a few more thoughts about the 2010 American Classical League Institute, then share another story from Lectiō XXIV in which some of our non-human characters also talk about weddings – and issues related to weddings. I want to pick up on the notion of the ACL Institute as a “family reunion” – a common theme, as I mentioned yesterday, in closing speeches I’ve heard over the years – and build on it just a bit. Like any family, those of us who belong to the League and attend its Institutes each year are far from perfect, and like any family, we have our share of squabbles, conflicts, and disagreements. Some of those were certainly on display during plenary sessions – particularly the Monday session about the new Advanced Placement Latin exam and its syllabus, when some comments and questions were pointed, to say the least. And like any large family, those who attend the Institute seek out like-minded “relatives” and vent to them, at least for a short time; I’m certainly guilty of this myself, and I overheard bits of conversations, especially during breaks on Monday afternoon when everyone was tired, that led me to believe I wasn’t alone in that regard.

You might think that, in a perfect world or a perfectly functioning organization, there would be no need for such small groups. But researchers in the field of organizational change would disagree. For example, in their recent book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath describe a study of two different hospitals that attempted to limit the hours worked by their inter and resident physicians. One succeeded, and one did not. Ironically, more top administrators in the unsuccessful hospital supported the plan than in the successful hospital. The difference was that in the successful hospital, those who supported the change had a private place to meet, and they formed themselves into a support group with a common language – and a common commitment to work together to change the system. In the unsuccessful hospital, by contrast, everyone met together all the time, and the supporters never formed a cohesive group. What, on the surface, looked like a better way to build consensus actually turned out to be a less effective way.

So, if you’ve ever felt bad about forming a small group, conspiracy, or even cabal of like-minded people early in a change effort, I suppose the lesson is that those can be effective tools for change – of course, they also have certain obvious dangers. But then, as I think about tools in general, they often can be dangerous … especially if you don’t use them for their intended purpose, or if you don’t take proper precautions. You can cut yourself pretty badly with a knife or a saw; you can break things with a hammer; and let’s not even think about what an electric drill can do in untrained hands! But that doesn’t mean we avoid such tools completely; it means we need to remember to be careful. Good advice for those who are building anything, whether it’s a new approach, a new organization, or a new bookcase!

Anyway, in today’s story, we’ll hear the story of the arrangements for the marriage of Rapidus mūs, son of Rīdiculus and Impigra. I wonder if you’ll see any thematic connections between the two halves of this post! You can now find the story here at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site, and you can find yesterday’s stories here (for Lucius’ initial conversation with Fabius) and here (for Fabius’ fable).

dum familia Valeria rēs nūptiālēs parat, Ferōx et Medūsa canēs in peristyliō dormiunt. Fortis et Celer, fīliī Ferōcis et Medūsae, iuxtā parentēs dormiunt. prope culīnam, in cavō parvō, Rapidus mūs cum familiā per rīmam prōspicit. Rapidus tamen, “heus!” inquit, “nihil intellegitis! hoc enim, ut pater meus cotīdiē explicāre solēbat, haudquāquam cavus, sed cēnāculum est!”

fIliī fīliaeque Rapidum amplexī, “nōnne,” inquiunt, “pater noster, fābulam nōbīs nārrāre vīs?” Pinguissima, uxor Rapidī, advenit et “mī Rapide,” inquit, “quid, sī līberīs dē nūptiīs nostrīs nārrābis?” Rapidus subrīdēns, “certē, Pinguissima mea,” respondet, et rem tōtam nārrat.

ōlim, inquit, pater meus, avus vester, ille Rīdiculus mūs, ex hōc cēnāculō ēgressus, mihi uxōrem dignam quaerēbat. “mē oportet,” sibi inquit, “fīliō meō uxōrem optimam invenīre.” in mediā culīnā avus vester illī Ferōcī canī forte occurrit et salūtāvit. tum Rīdiculus Ferōcem, “mī amīce,” rogāvit, “dīc mihi: quis est fortissimus omnium? nam uxōrem Rapidō, marītum Rapidae meae nunc quaerō. nōnne melius est Rapidō fīliam fortissimī dūcere, Rapidae fīliō fortissimī nūbere? quis igitur est fortissimus omnium?”

Ferōx subrīdēns, “fortasse leō est fortissimus omnium animālium, mī amīce,” Rīdiculō respondit. Rīdiculus tamen, “hercle!” exclāmāvit, “mūrēs nōn decet leōnēs dūcere! praetereā, leōnēs in cavīs, nōn cēnāculīs, habitāre solent. haud decet līberōs meōs in cavīs habitāre! et leōnēs, quamquam fortēs, haud sunt fortissimī omnium! nōnne enim gladiātōrēs in arēnā leōnēs interficere solent?”

Rīdiculus igitur, avus vester, ad cēnāculum nostrum revēnit, ubi somnium mīrābile habēbat. in somniīs sē vīdit rēgiam Aeolī, rēgis ventōrum, appropinquantem. iānuam pulsāvit et, ingressus, rēgem Aeolum salūtāvit. “mī rēx,” inquit, “nōnne Rapida, fīlia mea, ūnī ē ventīs tuīs nūbere potest?” rēx Aeolus valdē rīdēns, “cūr ventum generum tuum esse vīs?” rogāvit, et Rīdiculus, “quod fīlia mihi magnō cordī est! nōnne eam decet fortissimō omnium nūbere? et quid fortius est quam ventus?”

cui Aeolus, “heus!” respondit, “ventī meī, quamquam fortēs, haud fortissimī omnium sunt! ecce turris, quī in istā īnsulā stat! centum enim annōs ventī meī istam turrim pulsant, sed frustrā! nōnne turris multō fortior est quam ventī?”

et Rīdiculus, “tibi grātiās agō, mī rēx,” respondit, “quod mihi fortissimum omnium ita dēmōnstrās.” in somniīs ad turrim celeriter advenit, quam salutāvit. “cūr mē adloqueris, mūs?” respondit turris perterrita, et Rīdiculus, “tē salūtō,” respondit, “quod fortior es quam omnēs ventī! nōnne fīlium habēs, quī fīliam meam uxōrem dūcere potest? nōnne fīlia, quam fīlius meus dūcere potest?” turris attonitus, “heus!” respondit, “turris sum, nōn bēstia! līberī mihi sunt nūllī! praetereā, tē timeō!” et Rīdiculus attonitus, “mē timēs?” respondit. “tū autem turris maxima, ego mūs parvus sum. cūr mē timēs?” tum turris vehementer tremēns, “tē timeō,” respondit, “quod cotīdiē mūrēs mē dentibus suīs perforant! vae! heu! viās per mē faciunt! nisi dēstiterint istī, ego mox cum maximō frāgōre ad terram dēcidam! abī, mūs, tē valdē timeō!”

tum Rīdiculus, avus vester, ē somniīs surrēxit et “heus!” exclāmāvit. “mihi necesse est mūrēs quaerere, quod nōs mūrēs fortissimī sumus omnium! praetereā, ventī in cavō, turrēs in campō apertō habitāre solent. līberōs tamen meōs decet coniugēs habēre, quī in cēnāculō habitāre possunt!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

Tune in next time for your comments, our responses, and the beginning of a new series of posts in honor of the new month. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Wedding Stories and a Presentation

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As you read this, I’m on the way to the 2010 American Classical League Institute in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, just a 100-mile drive from home for me. With me, in addition to a trusty laptop computer and clothing for the next few days, is a small stack of handouts for those who will attend my session tonight about the Tres Columnae Project. I’ve done a number of presentations at ACL Institutes over the years and have been part of a group that did a Pre-Institute Workshop, so the process of preparing for sessions like this isn’t at all new for me. I found my “TC” session easier to prepare, in some ways, than previous sessions about things like “Implementing Paideia in the Latin Classroom” (2006) and “Collaborative Reading Games” (2008). In those cases, I was sharing strategies and activities that I’d used successfully in my own classroom, but I found it difficult to pare the material down to the 90-minute length of a session, while still giving participants a chance to try the activities out.

Unlike those previous sessions, this one almost wrote itself! Maybe that’s because I’ve been talking and writing about the Tres Columnae project to so many people (including you, of course, lectōrēs cārissimī) for months. But I also want to thank Chip and Dan Heath, authors of books like Made to Stick and Switch, for sharing their insights and research findings about presenting new ideas. If you haven’t read either book, I recommend them both highly! I’ve just been re-reading Switch, and I can’t say enough about the metaphor of the Elephant, the Rider, and the Path.

Getting back to my presentation for a moment, it falls into four main sections: an introduction, a bit of background, a live demonstration of the Tres Columnae Project, and a conclusion. First there’s an introduction, in which we examine five critical problems that, meā quidem sententiā, are common for Latin teachers and programs in the age of what Dr. Larry Rosen, in Rewired, calls the “iGeneration.” It’s interactive, but not in a high-tech way; I want to know if, in fact, others are seeing these problems – other than you lectōrēs cārissimī who have frequently agreed with me, in blog comments and emails, that you see the problems. In briefest form, the problems I’ve seen are with

  • students’ fluency and comprehension when reading Latin,
  • availability of extensive rather than intensive reading material,
  • opportunities for creativity and sharing by learners,
  • opportunities for immediate feedback, and
  • ways to help learners build deeper Understandings along with Knowledge and Skill, to use the Paideia terminology for a moment.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you’ve perused some of the information “about us” at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site, you’re probably not surprised by the list of problems! After the introduction, we’ll explore two aspects of background: the research base that suggested to me that there was a problem, and the existing attempts to solve the problem that I was able to uncover. As you know if you’re a lēctor fidēlis, I had assumed there were lots of good, existing alternatives, but I couldn’t find them if they were out there; hence the decision to build the Tres Columnae Project.

And of course the bulk of the session is a demonstration and exploration of the TC materials themselves, both at the Version Alpha Wiki site and at the Instructure Demo site. I’m not sure how many attendees will bring their own computers and want to play independently (we’ve been assured that everyone at ACL will have access to Wake Forest University‘s wireless network), so I’ll do a “teacher-led” exploration for part of the time and will also invite computer-less participants to come up and take us on pathways that seem interesting to them. Finally, in conclusion, we’ll close with a return to the five problems we addressed in the introduction … specifically, by looking at how well the current version of TC addresses them, and by asking participants to brainstorm about improvements they’d want to see in future versions of the project. If there’s time, I’ll encourage participants with computers to think about creating and submitting their own stories and other content.

As I said, the presentation was simple to write and simple to describe. But it’s challenging in a different way: it’s a lot more participant-directed than most conference sessions I’ve presented! So there’s a lot of it that I can’t practice in advance – a difficult situation for Mr. Over-Prepared! 🙂

I think that’s why I chose to focus on the wedding stories this week: because just like a participant-driven class or conference session, you can’t practice a marriage, a friendship, or any other deep relationship in advance. Of course you can rehearse a wedding ceremony – but do we know how much the Romans rehearsed them? They may not have, since the participants had a lot less to say than the bride and groom in a twenty-first-century American wedding – ubi tū Gāius, ibi ego Gāia isn’t that hard – and relatively few things to do – join hands here, try to eat there, parade through the streets, anoint some door posts, pick up (or be picked up, depending on your gender), throw a torch or some nuts (again depending on your gender), etc. But even if you do rehearse the ceremony, you can’t rehearse the relationship; that has to be created each day by countless interactions, large and small, between the spouses. And even if you know a lot of theory about how relationships work, that doesn’t necessarily help with the nitty-gritty of this relationship on this day, does it?

Food for thought, for me as well as for you, lectōrēs cārissimī! Anyway, today we’ll return to the preparations for Valeria and Vipsānius’ wedding with this story (now available here at the Version Alpha Wiki site if you’re interested) about the preparations at domus Vipsānia. And if you’re curious about why Quartus Vipsānius bought a house in Herculaneum – especially when his own sister Vipsānia and her husband Caelius live so close by – you might want to check out this story at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site. Let’s just say that, while Caelius did (reluctantly) offer, Vipsanius (not so reluctantly) declined.

So here we go with today’s story:

hodiē māne, cum Valeria et Caelia vestēs nūptiālēs parant, tōtam per domum Vipsāniī clāmātur et festīnātur. Britannicus coquus et Ulyssēs scrība cum cēterīs Vipsāniī servīs lēctum geniālem in ātriō, lectum nūptiālem in cubiculō parant et flōribus lānīsque ornant. “hercle!” inquit Britannicus, “nōs oportet hoc officium celerrimē cōnficere. mē enim decet ad culīnam regredī, quod mihi necesse est epulās dapēsque repōtiōrum parāre!” ancilla tamen Pēnelopē subrīdēns, “tacē, Britannice,” respondet, “et labōrā! nisi enim hic lectus rīte parātus erit, haud opus erit repōtiōrum!”

aliae ancillae tōtam domum flōribus ōrnant et canistra nucum prope iānuam pōnunt. “hercle!” inquit Helena ancilla, “quam mihi placent nucēs! nōnne mē oportet multās ēsse, quod valdē ēsuriō?” “nōnne ōmen pessimum?!” respondet Xanthippē ancilla. “tē haud decet nūcēs māne ēsse! paucīs tamen hōrīs, quandō dominus uxōrem dūcet, nōnne ille plūrimās nūcēs iactābit? tum tē decēbit nūcēs captāre et permultās ēsse! nōlī illās tangere!” Xanthippē, haec verba locūta, ad iānuam festīnat oleum lānāsque parātum. “heus!” inquit, “ōleum ubi est? nōnne opus est oleī? quid, sī uxor postēs iānuae oleō unguere nōn poterit? nōnne ōmen pessimum?”

Helena questūs Xanthippēs audit et, “ō Xanthippē, nōlī tē vexāre? nōnne oleum nunc iam in culīnā est? nōnne ampullam oleī hūc ferre potes?”

et Xanthippē rīdēns, “certē,” respondet, “nōnne tamen tū quoque illam ferre potes? et nōnne tē decet? quid sī, sōla hīc cum nūcibus relicta, illās ēsse cōnāberis?”

Helena “hercle! callidissima es,” respondet et ad culīnam festīnat oleī ampullam quaesītum.

tum Ulyssēs, “nōnne tē decet, Pēnelopē, Ulysseō tuō, ut marītō, ōsculum dare?” inquit et ōs ad illam prōtendit. Pēnelopē tamen haec interpellat: “tacē, stultissime! haud tua sum! sī enim vīgintī annōs aberis, regressus mē dolentem haud inveniēs!” tum omnēs servī iocīs et cachinnīs sē trādunt.

intereā Vipsānius cum patre in tablīnō colloquitur. “pater mī pater,” inquit, “sollicitus sum! quaesō, amābō tē, mihi cōnsilium dā!” Quārtus Vipsānius, fīlium amplexus, cūrās fīliī lēnīre et mollīre cōnātur.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • If we run into each other at the American Classical League Institute – and I hope we will – feel free to tell me in person!
  • Otherwise, please comment here – whether you’d like to respond to the presentation as I’ve described it, to the story (especially the new servī et ancillae), or to anything else!

I hope to be able to write posts from the Institute on Monday and Tuesday, though they may be somewhat brief … and I’m not sure whether they’ll be about the Institute itself, the next stories in this sequence, or a combination. We’ll have to see! intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Wedding Stories, III

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today, as many of us are traveling – or preparing to travel – to the 2010 American Classical League Institute in lovely Winston-Salem, North Carolina, we’ll continue our exploration of the rather shorter journey that young Valeria takes to begin her married life to Vipsānius. Actually, today we’ll be focusing on the final preparations for the cēna nūptiālis – the first wedding feast, the one that occurs in the bride’s father’s house right after the actual ceremony, and before the dēductiō. We’ll look in on familia Vipsānia next time, in the house that Quartus Vipsānius has bought, just for the occasion, in Herculaneum … apparently he is as considerate as he is wealthy, and he decided to spare everyone a lengthy journey from Herculaneum to Milan. As a friend of mine sometimes says of such cases, “Must be nice!”

Today, though, we take a break from the emotional ups and downs of Valeria and her parents to look in on the servī et ancillae as they make final preparations for the cēna nūptiālis. For some reason, I had in mind that everything regarding a Roman wedding took place in the evenings – probably because I love the Catullus wedding hymns, with their references to Vesper and the dēductiō. But in Private Life of the Romans, Harold Johnston maintains that the first part of the ceremony (the iunctiō dextrārum, the cōnfarreātiō or coemptiō, and the cēna) took place earlier in the day, and that the ōmina were checked before dawn … which, of course, makes sense both in terms of pietās (you’d hardly want to start a wedding on a diēs nefastus, after all) and of logistics (these things do take a while).

No doubt Gallicus did the serious cooking yesterday, or perhaps he was up most of the night; in any case, he’s now working on the, um, delicious mustāceum, which (as I had temporarily forgotten) was not only flavored with must but baked on a bed of bay leaves. Not exactly what the twenty-first-century sweet tooth looks for in a dessert! But, of course, the Roman sweet tooth had far fewer sweet things to choose from than its modern equivalent … no chocolate, no refined sugar! vae Rōmānīs! But they didn’t know what they were missing, did they? 🙂

Anyway, it turns out that poor Gallicus is “in a tizzy,” as some of my relatives like to say. He doesn’t do well under stress in any case, as we discovered in this story from Lectiō XI, and his mood can’t be helped by the fact that Casina, his old friend, will soon be departing, a wedding gift to Valeria from her father. (We’ll find out more about how that happened in some stories from Lectiō XIX that I’ll feature in an upcoming series.)  Besides, Gallicus is not entirely pleased with the replacement that Valerius has bought (on the cheap) from his brother-in-law Caelius; if you’ve read this story, this one, and this one from Lectiō XIX, you may remember that Caelius was under a bit of pressure to replace some ancillae. But Gallicus’ opinion of Dulcissima is about to change, as we’ll see in this story. You can now find it at this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha wiki site, if you’d like.

dum Caelia et Valeria in ātriō Herculem precantur, in culīnā domūs clāmātur et festīnātur. Gallicus enim coquus ultimās cēnae nūptiālis epulās parāre cōnātur. “heus!” clāmat ille, “ubi est mustum? ubi folia laurea? mē oportet mustāceum celeriter cōnficere – sed quis mustāceum sine mustō foliīsque facere potest? vae! heu!”

Casina, iam Valeriae dōnō nātālī dāta et ad salūtem reducta, cūlīnam ingressa “ēhem!” inquit. “mī Gallice, nōnne tē decet mēnsam īnspicere? nōnne omnia quae petis adsunt?” Gallicus “hercle!” respondet, “adsunt enim omnia! Casina mea, quid tamen faciam, quandō tū cum Valeriā et marītō disēcdēs? quis mē adiuvābit, cum tālia invenīre nōn poterō?” Casina subrīdēns, “nōnne illa Dulcissima, quam dominus noster nūper ēmit, tē adiuvāre potest? nōn modo perīta, sed pulchra est illa.” Gallicus tamen, quī Dulcissimae nōn iam crēdit, “pulchra certē, sed haud tam perīta quam tū!” respondet. “nēmō enim tam perītam quam Casina sē praestāre potest!”

Dulcissima, culīnam ingressa, haec Gallicī verba audit et ērubēscit. paulīsper tacet; tum “ēhem!” inquit, “mī Gallice, quid petis?” Gallicus quoque ērubēscit et “Dulcissima!” exclāmat, “an ades? heus! rēs enim dīra etiam nunc accidit – cultrum enim meum invenīre haud possum! hercle! ecastor! ubi est iste culter?” Casina subrīdet, sed nihil respondet. Dulcissima quoque subrīdēns “mī Gallice,” respondet, “nōnne manū nunc iam tenēs? tibi cūrandum est, mī Gallice; facile enim est coquō, quī cultrum ignārus fert, sibi nocēre!”

“manū?” exclāmat Gallicus. “nunc iam?” Gallicus attonitus cultrum manumque spectat et “heus, Dulcissima mea, mihi ignōsce!” gaudēns exclāmat. “tē enim nōn modo pulchram sed etiam perītissimam nunc praestās! fortasse perītior es quam Casina nostra ipsa!” Casina subrīdēns, “fortūna tibi faveat,” Dulcissimae susurrat et, ē culīnā ēgreditur. Dulcissima quoque ē culīnā exit et “num Gallicus semper ita sē gerit?” attonitus rogat. “semper,” respondet Casina. tum ancillae ambae cachinnīs et rīsibus sē trādit.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of poor, frazzled Gallicus?
  • And what about Casina and Dulcissima?
  • Do you like the idea of breaking the tension with a comic episode like this one, or would you prefer an uninterrupted set of wedding stories?

The good news is that with an online text like the Tres Columnae Project, you can choose the “perfect” order for yourself. No more compulsion to read page 92 before you go on to page 93!  In fact, if you don’t want to read the stories that aren’t directly about the wedding, you can skip them completely! We promise we won’t tell! 🙂

Besides, the point of extensive reading material like this is that you, the reader, get to choose stories and sequences of stories that appeal to you! Just try that with a typical textbook … by their very nature, and by the economics of their production, they really can’t offer much in the way of extensive reading. If they tried, they’d be huge, heavy, and prohibitively expensive.

Tune in next time for another story from the sequence. Depending on how things go Saturday, when I’ll be making my presentation about the Tres Columnae Project at the 2010 American Classical League Institute, I may interrupt the series for a special report about that, or I may save that special report for the end of this series. If you have a strong preference either way, please let me know. And, once again, safe travels to those who are coming from a distance to the Institute.

intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments and emails coming!

Wedding Stories, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we begin the long-promised series of posts featuring the Tres Columnae stories about the wedding of Valeria and Vipsānius. For you lectōrēs fidēlissimī who tune in every day, I should probably warn you that there may not be a post tomorrow (Thursday, June 24), and there almost certainly won’t be one on Saturday (June 26) or Monday (June 28). As you’re reading this, I’m spending my day with a much needed but possibly lengthy car service appointment; depending on how that goes, I may not be able to write a post for Thursday. We should be OK on Friday, but then, over the weekend, I’ll be at the 2010 American Classical League Institute in Winston-Salem, NC. It’s only a short distance from home for me – just long enough that I can’t stay peacefully at home in the evenings – but it will be a busy time. You can expect a full report starting on Tuesday the 29th.

I realize that wedding stories are, appropriately enough, common in reading-method Latin textbooks; all of the Big Three have them in one place or another, for example. They’re obviously an important part of Roman culture, and they do provide great opportunities to compare and contrast specific customs (practices) as well as more general attitudes (perspectives). As we often do with the Tres Columnae Project, we’ll take things a step farther by featuring two different weddings (and eventually some others, as Lucius, Caius, and Cnaeus become young men of marriageable age) and encouraging comparisons among different Roman weddings as well as between “the” Roman wedding and “the” modern one (or even just “the” modern American one). We all know – or at least I assume we know – that there’s no single pattern for “the” American wedding, just as there’s no single pattern for “the” Roman wedding, or house, or meal, or familia. And I think we do a disservice to our learners when we don’t at least attempt to acknowledge some of the diversity – or when we acknowledge the diversity in our “English background reading” but focus the Latin readings narrowly on a single social class or a single pattern. Does that make sense?

Our stories today (and tomorrow, if possible, and Friday) come from Lectiō XXIV, just before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Lectiōnēs XXV and XXVI, which we’ll look at another time. Lectiō XXIV is all about weddings; if you’re a long-time reader of the blog you may remember that back in March, in this post, we saw preparations for the wedding of Lollia. By this point in Cursus Prīmus, our participants have been exposed to non-present tense forms of verbs, but we continue to use the “historical present” for most of our narratives. Today’s story features preparations on the morning of Valeria’s wedding, and it’s now available at this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site:

per tōtam domum Valeriī gaudētur et celebrātur.  hodiē enim vespere Quārtus Vipsānius Valeriam in mātrimōnium dūcet. Valerius igitur et Caelia mātūrē ē lectō surgunt et ad ātrium contendunt, ubi Valeria ipsa etiam nunc prō larāriō stat. Valeria verba sollemnia prōnuntiat et bullam pupāsque lāribus dēdicat. Caelia, fīlam suam amplexa, lacrimīs sē trādit. Valeria attonita, “māter mea, “ exclāmat, “num tē decet lacrimāre? nōnne tē decet gaudēre, quod Vipsāniō, iuvenī optimō quem omnēs dīligumus, nūbere iam parō?” Caelia autem Valeriae, “ō fīlia mea,” respondet, “nōnne gaudēns lacrimō? multōs post annōs, quandō fīliam tuam diē nūptiārum vidēbis, lacrimās meās memoriā tenēs intellegēs. sed ubi est pater tuus?”

Valerius enim, ex ātriō clam ēgressus, in peristyliō nunc iam stat et lacrimīs tacitīs sē trādit. “ō māiōrēs nostrī,” susurrat, “quaesō, fīliam meam servāte et tuēminī! ō dea Venus benignissima, quaesō, fēiliam meam aspicite! ō dea Iunō Lūcīna, quaesō, amābō tē, etiamsī vir sum, precēs meās audī et Valeriae meae nātūs facilēs tempore propriō dā! ō dī omnēs, quaesō–” Valerius tamen adeō flet ut nihil dīcere iam possit.

Caeliōla, peristylium forte ingressa, patrem lacrimantem cōnspicātur. attonita Valerium salūtat et, “ō pater, pater, cūr lacrimās?” sollicita rogat. Valerius, Caeliōlam amplexus, sē colligit et “ō fīlia mea,” respondet, “deōs precor ut Valeriae nostrae Vipsāniōque faveant. maximē autem gaudeō, quod hodiē vespere iuvenis optimus Valeriam nostram in mātrimōnium dūcet; fleō tamen, quod mē oportēbit fīliam meam marītō suō trādere. lacrimō quoque, quod difficile est mihi, ut patrī familiās, līberōs meōs iam adultōs spectāre!”

Valerius, Caeliōlam amplexus, iterum lacrimīs sē trādit. Caeliōla attonita, “vae patrī!” sēcum putat. “dīs grātiās agō et laetor, quod sānē difficillima est vīta virōrum!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • If you’ve read the related story of Lollia’s wedding, you probably noticed some similarities, as well as some differences, in the responses of the two fathers. Do you find their reactions convincing and appropriate?
  • What opportunities for intra-cultural comparisons do you see between the weddings of Valeria and Lollia?
  • What additional types of weddings (or informal Roman arrangements) would you like to see featured at this point in the Tres Columnae storyline?
  • What about inter-cultural comparisons? What specific things would you point out to your students … or ask them to look for and point out to each other?

Tune in next time, when we’ll see at least one actual wedding ceremony and find out whether a transfer of manus is involved or not. I hope to see many of you lectōrēs cārissimī at the 2010 ACL Institute, either at my session about Tres Columnae or at other points during the weekend. And for those of you who are coming from other places, I want to welcome you to North Carolina, my “face-to-face” home for the past 20 years.

intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Rites of Passage, VII

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll wrap up our current series of posts with a couple of stories, and then on Saturday we’ll step back and take a more “big picture” look at the how and why of Tres Columnae Project stories. Next week we’ll pick up with my first impressions of the Instructure LMS software, and we should have some examples of exercises, quizzes, explanations, and Continuing Virtual Seminar prompts for the first few Lectiōnēs to share there … and to compare with the versions at the Tres Columnae Moodle site, in case you’re interested. I’d really love to know what you all think when you have a chance to make side-by-side comparisons between similar activities on the two platforms. After that, we’ll most likely look at the actual wedding stories from Lectiō XXIV, which haven’t yet appeared on the Version Alpha Wiki site.

Today, though, let’s finish – or almost finish – the sequence of stories about the engagement of Valeria and Vipsānius. When we left them yesterday, Valeria and her family had just arrived at the vīlla rūstica of the Vipsāniī, and poor, nervous, sweaty Vipsānius was trying to avoid greeting his future bride. If you’ve ever been, or known, a teenager, you probably smiled in sympathy as you read his feeble excuse! 🙂 Today’s story picks up just after their awkward meeting, as Quārtus Vipsānius the elder is showing everyone around his “little place in the country.” You’ll be able to find it at this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site if you’d like.

Quārtus Vipsānius Valerium salūtat et “ēhem! libenter vōs in vīllā accipimus!” exclāmat. omnēs per iānuam vīllae prōgrediuntur et ātrium intrant. “nōnne magnificum est ātrium!” Lūcius Cāiō susurrat. “nōnne hoc ātrium māius est quam vīlla vestra?” respondet Cāius attonitus. “fortasse vīlla māior est quam urbs Herculāneum!” respondet Lūcius. “Vipsānius enim vir maximae pecūniae est, et senātor Rōmānus. utinam tālem vīllam habeam!” et Cāius, “utinam nē ex hāc vīlla discēdam! utinam nē ad cēnāculum parvum regrediar!”

omnēs per ātrium prōcedunt. servī et ancillae susurrant, “quaesō, dominī, nōbīscum venīte ad cubicula vestra.” et Quārtus Vipsānius, “valdē laetāmur,” exclāmat, “quod vōs in vīllā meā parvā hodiē accipiō. hodiē celebrātur et cēnātur; crās ad Circum ītur; tertiō diē negōtium agitur.” Valeria Vipsānium iuvenem cōnspicit et iterum ērubēscit. “nōnne benignus et cōmis est iuvenis?” sēcum putat. “nōnne lepidus et fortis! utinam nē innūpta ad Herculāneum regrediar!” Vipsānius quoque ērubēscit et, “dī immortālēs! quam pulchra et cōmis est Valeria!” sēcum putat. “utinam nē umquam discēdat!”

The next story in the sequence, of course, is the one we looked at back in February – the unfortunate events in the Circus. The good news, as we’ll see in this story from Lectiō XV, is that the drunken spectators do get what they deserve:

extrā Circum vigilēs Iulium et Clōdium vehementer vituperant. “vōbīs dīligenter audiendum est!” exclāmant īrātissimī. “nēminem decet in Circō ita pugnāre! nōnne rem intellegitis? tū enim, stultissime, senātōrī enim Rōmānō, virō maximae dignitātis, caput bōtulō percutīre audēs! et tū, asine, senātōrī Rōmānō ōs oculōsque vīnō foedāre audēs! nōnne in perīculō maximō estis, quod pietātem spernitis? nōnne vōs decet multōs annōs in carcere manēre?”

Iulius ēbrius et attonitus vigilēs invicem vituperat. “cūr ā servīs clāmātur? cūr ā gallīs vituperātur? ego enim et amīcus cīvēs sumus Rōmānī; vōs nec decet nōs tangere nec comprehendere! mihi ad Circum reveniendum est, vōbīs lacrimandum et flendum!”

Clōdius tamen, quod minus ēbrius est quam amīcus, sollicitus interpellat, “Iūlī! tē nōn decet vigilēs vituperāre! tibi tacendum est! nōnne vigilēs tē in carcere conicere possunt? nōnne vigilēs decet cīvēs turbulentōs comprehendere? tacē, stultissime – ad istum carcerem redīre haud volō!”

Iulius tamen verba Clōdiī neglegit. bracchium vigilī prēnsat et, “tibi audiendum est, serve! et tibi cavendum est quoque! nōnne–”

vigil tamen īrātus manūs Iuliō prēnsat et, “satis! satis! tacendum tibi est!” clāmat. vigil Iulium vehementer verberat et ad carcerem trahit. cēterī vigilēs Clōdium quoque prēnant et in carcerem coniciunt. spectātōrēs vigilibus plaudunt. “optimē facitis!” exclāmant. “nōnne bōtulum ēsse vultis?”

And the really good news is that, even despite the assaults of spectators Clōdius and Iūlius, Valerius and Vipsānius do successfully make the arrangements, with the wedding is scheduled for the following June. Check out this story:

intereā familia Valeria ē Circō exit et per viās urbis prōcēdit. familia Caelia quoque ad domum Vipsāniī regreditur. Quārtus Vipsānius ipse rīdet et “heus!” exclāmat, “spectātōrēs īnsolentissimōs! nōnne istīs ēbriīs necesse est poenās scelerum dare? rīdeō tamen, quod spectāculum novissimum nōbīs hodiē, multās pecūniās in tempore futūrō praestāre possunt illī. nōnne mē oportet istōs ad basilicam quaerere?”

Valerius quoque rīdet et, “mī Vipsānī,” vōce blandā inquit, “nōnne nōs decet dē dōte colloquium habēre?” “dē dōte?” respondet Vipsānius. “num quis fīliam meam in matrimōnium dūcere vult? Vipsānilla enim puella sex annōrum haud est.” tum Vipsānius rīdet et, “nōnne iocus optimus?” exclāmat. “nōs sānē decet dē dōte et dē matrimōniō ipsō colloquī. fīlius enim meus cotīdiē ad mē venit nūptiās Valeriae tuae quaesītum. cotīdiē mē ōrat, cotīdiē deōs precātur.” Vipsānius et Valerius tablīnum ingrediuntur pecūniam commemorātum.

Vipsānius iuvenis ērubēscit et ad iānuam currit vīllam intrātum. “valēte vōs omnēs!” susurrat. Valeria cum mātre stat et “ēhem! iuvenem pulchrum et benignum!” sēcum putat. Caelia rīdet et, “Valeria mea, num istum iuvenem dīligere audēs?” rogat. Valeria attonita rīsūs matris cōnspicit et quoque rīdet. “iuvenis sānē tam celer quam pulcher est!” respondet et cachinnīs sē trādit.

Lūcius attonitus “vah! mē taedet fēminārum!” exclāmat. “māter mea, nōnne Cāiō et mihi ad forum festīnandum est? nōnne per viās currendum est? nōs enim maximē taedet dōtis et matrimōniī!”

Caelia rīdet et, “festīnāte, puerī, sed dīligentiam maximam praestāte!” respondet. “et vōbīscum veniendum est consōbrīnō tuō!” Cnaeus “vae! heu! mē taedet viārum, et pedēs mihi maximē dolent!” respondet. Caelia tamen, “abī pestis!” exclāmat. Caelia et Valeria garrītum vīllam ingrediuntur; puerōs in viā relinquunt.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • First, what do you think of Vipsānius’ and Valeria’s response to each other?
  • What do you think of the rather relaxed, jocular relationship between Valerius and the elder Vipsānius?
  • How about Lucius’ and Caius’ response?
  • What other big issues – of characterization or of culture – do you want to talk about after reading these stories?

Tune in next time for the “big picture” questions … and your questions and answers, if you’re willing to share them. Then, on Monday or Tuesday, we should be able to start looking in detail at Instructure. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Rites of Passage, VI

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Coming up early next week, once I’ve had a chance to work with its features, will be a much fuller review of the Instructure course-management system I mentioned in yesterday’s post. It’s a remarkable piece of software … and, best of all, it’s free for individual teachers to use, and it “plays nicely” (as its founders said) with other online tools that we – and our students – might already be using anyway. Check it out and see what you think – and compare it with some of the other course-management systems out there. And please let me know what you think! It seems like a great tool for what we’re doing with the exercises, quizzes, and Continuing Virtual Seminars of the Tres Columnae project, but I suppose it might not be right for what you need such a system to do.  Anyway, I’ll let you know – and make some publicly available samples – when I’ve had a chance to explore it in greater detail.

Today, though, we’ll continue our series of posts about Valerius and Vipsania’s wedding. (I’ve also been busy writing some stories for Lectiō XIX, which – as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve looked at the Tres Columnae Table of Contents – is a bit short at the moment. It turns out that poor Casina ancilla – but I don’t want to give too much away! 🙂 You’ll have to wait until next week for that set of stories!)

Anyway, today we’ll look at this story, in which the Valeriī and Caeliī have finally arrived in Milan after Cnaeus’ unfortunate incident with the horse. It turns out that both Valeria and young Vipsānius are a bit nervous about their meeting (apparently it’s not their first-ever meeting, since Valeria had a positive response to him when her dad mentioned his name in this story … but still! It would certainly be different to know that you were about to be married to this person!)

Here we go:

post longum iter Valerius et Caelius cum familiīs urbī Mediolānō tandem appropinquant. prope urbem Valerius, “nōs oportet sistere!” exclāmat. Valerius Milphiōnem arcessit et, “Milphiō, nōnne vīllam rūsticam Vipsāniī memōriā tenēs?” rogat. Milphiō, “mī domine, nōnne ibi nātus sum? nōnne verna Vipsāniī sum?” respondet. et Valerius, “festīnā igitur ad vīllam et adventum nostrum Vipsāniō nūntiā.” Milphiō celeriter ad vīllam proficīscitur.

tum Valerius, “nōs decet ex equīs et carpentīs dēscendere dum reditum Milphiōnis exspectāmus.” Valerius igitur ex equō suō dēscendit. Lūcius Cāiusque et Caelius quoque dēscendunt. fēminae et puellae dē carpentīs dēscendunt et fessae per agrōs ambulant.

Cnaeus tamen īnsolēns in carpentō manet. “vae! heu! mē taedet itinerum!” clāmat. “crūra mihi, caput mihi, bracchia mihi maximē dolent. quam miser sum, quod iste equus est impius et neglegēns!” Prīma et Secunda rīsūs cēlāre haud cōnantur, sed magnā vōce Cnaeum dērīdent. “nōn equus, sed tū impius et neglegēns es!” clāmat Prīma. “fortasse melius est tibi iter per bovem quam per equum facere!” clāmat Prīma. Prīma Secundaque rīsibus et cachinnīs sē trādunt. Lūcius Cāiusque quoque rīdent. etiam Vipsānia et Caelius clam rīdent.

Cnaeus tamen, “vae! heu! mē taedet rīsuum et cachinnōrum! cūr mē dērīdētis? utinam nēmō mē dērīdeat!” clāmat. Cnaeus in carpentō manet et lacrimīs sē trādit.

Milphiō iam cum servō Vipsāniī revenit et, “domine, nūntium optimum tibi ferō!” exclāmat. “Vipsānius enim ipse nōs exspectat, et brevissimum est iter.” omnēs carpenta et equōs cōnscendunt et celeriter ad vīllam rūsticam Vipsāniī progrediuntur.

in āreā vīllae Quārtus Vipsānius cum fīliō adventum Valeriōrum Caeliōrumque exspectat. Valeria per rīmam carpentī Vipsānium iuvenem cōnspicit et ērubēscit. iuvenis quoque ērubēscit et, “pater, mī pater,” susurrat, “nōnne mē decet servōs arcessere? utinam nē Valeriam iam salūtem, quod valdē sūdō!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Did you find some “universal teenager” issues in this story? If so, I’m not surprised – and do remember that a large number of our subscribers will be teenagers of various ages.
  • Did you find Valeria’s and Vipsānius’ responses convincing and authentic?
  • And what about the parents, siblings, and other relatives?

Tune in next time, when the story continues at the “vīlla parva” of the Vipsāniī – which, as you can imagine, is hardly parva. If you’re a longtime reader of the blog, you’ve already seen one episode (the unfortunate incident in the Circus, when Vipsānius’ poor father is attacked by two drunk race fans) in this blog post from February, but we don’t yet know what happened right before that … or right after. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Rites of Passage, V

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As promised, today we’ll continue with the stories around the engagement and wedding of Valeria and Vipsānius; I also have two pieces of exciting news about the Tres Columnae Project to share. We’ll get to them in just a bit.

First, though, if you’ve been away from the blog for a while, you should know that we started out this series of posts last week with this fabella, in which the arrangements were made, and this story, in which Valeria’s parents celebrate the good news. Monday we looked at this story, in which Valeria’s mother summons her to talk with her father, and yesterday we looked at this story, in which Valeria is not exactly surprised, but rather pleased, to find out the good news. Today we’ll follow the Valeriī and Caeliī as they journey from Herculaneum to Mediolānum for the actual negotiations … and for a chariot race in the Circus at Milan. (In case you’re wondering why Caelius and his family are accompanying Valerius, there are several good reasons … and the best reason of all, convenience for the plot! 🙂 The “real” reason, though, is that young Vipsānius’ father is a cousin of Caelius’ wife Vipsānia … and keep in mind that Caelius and Caelia Valeriī are brother and sister. In fact, it may just turn out that Caelius had a part in making the arrangements … but you’ll have to wait and see.)

Here comes today’s story, which can also be found here on the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site:

familia Valeria tōta cum familiā Caeliā urbem Mediolānum iter facit. Valerius et Lūcius prō agmine equitant. Caelia et Valeria cum Caeliōlā in carpentō sedent. post carpentum Caelius et Cnaeus equitant. Vipsānia cum Prīmā et Secundā in carpentō splendidō sedet. servī duōs asinōs, saccīs maximīs gravātōs, dūcunt. maximum plaustrum agmen claudit.

Cnaeus laetātur et, “mī pater,” inquit, “tibi grātiās maximās agō! haud mē decet, ut īnfantem, in istō carpentō sedēre.” Caelius tacet, sed sēcum rīdet. “mī fīlī,” Cnaeō respondet, “hodiē enim optimē tē geris. equitās igitur, quod tālēs puerōs decet equitāre. puerōs tamen, quī pessimē sē gerunt, decet in carpentō sedēre, sīcut īnfantēs et fēminae. utinam semper optimē tē gerās!”

Cnaeus, “semper mē optimē gerere in animō habeō! eque, festīnā! utinam celeriter currās!” exclāmat et equum vehementer flagellat.

equus Cnaeī īrātus est, quod Cnaeus flagellō continuō ūtitur. “utinam iste puer mē flagellāre dēsinet!” sēcum putat equus. “utinam iste puer in carpentō sedeat et lacrimet!”

quattuor post hōrās Cnaeus sēcum loquitur. “multās iam horās iter facimus,” inquit. “ūtinam mox adveniāmus! vae! heu! mē taedet itinerum et equōrum!”

Valēria sēcum loquitur. “quam longum est iter!” inquit. “estne Vipsānius iuvenis benignus, sīcut ipsa crēdō? ūtinam pulcher et fortis sit!”

Prīma et Secunda inter sē susurrant. “quam stultus Cnaeus est! quam molestus!” inquit Prīma. “utinam taceat!”

“quam patiēns equus est, quī Cnaeum stultum fert!” respondet Secunda. “utinam equus effugiat! utinam frāter ad terram dēcidat et lacrimet! et utinam frāter miser nōbīscum in carpentō sedeat!”

You can probably guess that things will not end well for Cnaeus or for the horse … and you’re right. Here’s the next story in the sequence, also available at this link:

multās post horās Cnaeus subitō “vae! heu!” exclāmat, “quam mē taedet itinerum! crūra mihi maximē dolent, quod hic equus stultus est!”

Prīma Secundae susurrat, “heus! fortasse dolor capitis Cnaeō placēre potest! utinam frāter noster ad terram lābātur! utinam equus pede caput Cnaeō percutiat!” Secunda rīdet et, “num equus Cnaeum tam placidē tōtum diem ferre potest? utinam equus istum frātrem in terram iaculet!”

Cnaeus susurrōs sorōrum audit et, “heus! quid susurrātis? num mē dērīdētis?” exclāmat. “heus! quam mē taedet susurrōrum … et equōrum īnsolentium!”

Cnaeus flagellō equum pellit et, “equum ignāvum!” exclāmat, “cūr tam lentē prōgrederis?” equus īrātus celerrimē currit! Cnaeus attonitus et īrātus “heus! eque impudēns! nōlī tam celeriter prōgredī!” clamat. Cnaeus flagellō equum pellit et, “siste! siste!” clāmat.

equus subitō sistit, sed Cnaeus nōn sistit! Cnaeus per āera volat et in fossā dēcidit. Prīma valdē rīdet et, “heus!” Secundae susurrat, ” nōnne dī precēs meās audiunt?” Secunda tamen, “Prīma mea,” respondet, “num Cnaeus in fossā lābitur? fortasse volat, fortasse dēcidit, nōn tamen lābitur!” Prīma cum Secundā cōnsentit et puellae ambae rīsibus sē tradunt. Vipsānia “puellae meae!” exclāmat, “haud vōs decet frātrem vestrum ita dērīdēre!” Vipsānia tamen quoque sēcum rīdet.

Cnaeus in fossā iacet et “vae! heu! heu! vae! lutulentus et sordidus propter istum equum nunc sum!” clāmat. “utinam equus quoque in fossā dēcidat! utinam equum flagellō occīdam! utinam leōnēs et lupī istum equum in arēnā trucīdant! ubi est iste flagellus? flagellō enim istum equum interficere volō! ubi est crux? nōnne equum cruciāre dēbeō?”

Prīma et Secunda in carpentō rīsūs cēlāre frustrā cōnantur. Vipsānia quoque rīdet. etiam servī clam rīdent. Caelius ex equō dēscendit et “mī fīlī,” clāmat, “fortasse melius est tibi in carpentō iter facere. flagellum enim invenīre nōn possum, et equus multōrum dēnāriōrum est!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

And now for those two pieces of good news. First, almost all the stories for Lectiōnēs I-XX are now available at the Version Alpha Wiki site, and more stories are on the way. Second, I think we’ve found the solution (or at least a preliminary solution) for the exercise and quiz portion of Tres Columnae. I had a wonderful phone conversation and online demo today of a learning management system called Instructure. Our friend and collaborator Laura G has been piloting it and had put me in touch with the founders. So this afternoon, on my “first day of freedom,” I got to see what she’s been so excited about … and let’s just say that Instructure is worthy of the excitement Laura has felt about it! I’ll try to give you a detailed report in the next few days … but I am truly impressed. It seems to be able to do everything one would want such a system to do – and since the company hosts all course-related content on its own servers, teachers (or schools or districts or universities) don’t have to worry about site maintenance. Best of all, it’s free for teachers! You can sign up to “Try It Out” through a link on their homepage, or you can just go to and “Click to Register.” I’ll give you all a much more detailed review of Instructure when I have a chance to create some “real” assignments in it, but I was really impressed with what they’ve already done. If you’d like more details, check out this much more detailed review by Laura at the Fireside Learning Ning.

Tune in next time, when the families finally arrive in Milan and are welcomed to the “little house” of the Vipsāniī – which, as you might imagine, is hardly “little.” We’ll also find out whether Valeria and Vipsānius actually like each other when they meet face-to-face. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Rites of Passage, IV

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we continue our series of posts exploring the preparations for Valeria and Vipsanius’ wedding in Lectiōnēs XIV-XV of the Tres Columnae project … and the actual wedding in Lectiō XXIV, shortly before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. You may recall that we started out on Friday with this fabella, in which Vipsanius’ father apparently has sent a much-expected letter, and this story, in which Valeria’s parents are celebrating the good news. We took the day off on Saturday and Sunday, and then on Monday we looked at this story, in which Valeria, not unlike a young teenager today, was sitting in her room … but not, of course, multitasking as they would!

Speaking of multitasking, I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment, Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn by Dr. Larry D. Rosen. He has a lot to say about the good side – and the simple reality – of our media-saturated, constantly-plugged-in students … and everything I’ve read so far has only increased my determination to make the Tres Columnae Project happen for them. Just a quick sample: Chapter 1 is called “Why Tweens and Teens Hate School,” and based on his research, it’s because factory-model schools (though he doesn’t use the term) expect a kind of lockstep, technology-free approach to learning that’s utterly different from what they’ve been wired to do. My own children are academic achievers, and they’re too polite to complain to their teachers for the most part – but I compare the “academic” tasks they’re asked to do for homework with the engaging, interactive stuff they do online for fun, and I weep – for them, but especially for their friends and classmates, and for my own students who come to me bored and turned off from school because it’s such an alien environment for them. And yet, like Procrustes, we school people keep trying to make the children fit our model, rather than fitting the school to the learner! As our friend Cnaeus would say (and he will say, in a story later this week), “vae! heu!” I think you’ll enjoy that story, which hasn’t yet appeared on the blog or on the Version Alpha Wiki site.

Today, though, we’ll look at the story in which Valerius and his daughter have The Talk about her upcoming marriage. You’ll be able to find it at this link at the Version Alpha Wiki site, too, if you’d like. Here we go:

Valerius in tablīnō sedet et fīliam exspectat. Valeria tablīnum ingreditur et patrem salūtat. Valerius fīliae ōsculum dat et, “quaesō, mea fīlia,” inquit, “hoc mihi explicā: quālem marītum tibi invenīre dēbeō?”

Valeria ērubēscit et, “cūr hoc mē rogās, pater?” tandem rogat.

Valerius “hoc tē rogō, quod pater sum tuus, et quod trēdecim annōs es nāta, et …”

et Valeria, “et quod iuvenem in animō habēs? quis est, mī pater, et quālis?”

tum Valerius, “puella mea, quam sapiēns es! num māter tibi rem iam patefacit?”

sed Valeria, “mī pater, nōnne fīlia sum tua? nōnne tē hōs trēdecim annōs cognōscō? haud difficile est mihi hoc intellegere … praesertim cum servus mihi ignōtus in tablīnō etiam nunc stat. dīc ergō mihi: quis est iuvenis et quālis?”

et Valerius attonitus et rīdēns, “heus! num dēlātōrēs Imperātōris tam callidī sunt quam fēminae meae? rem tōtam intellegis. et Vipsānius, consōbrīnus matris tuae, iuvenis ingeniī optimī magnaeque pecūniae est.”

Valeria ērubēscit et “num Vipsānius ille quī in urbe Mediolānō habitat?”

et Valerius, “Vipsānius ipse!”

Valeria patrem amplectitur et “dea Fortūna nōbīs favet!” exclāmat.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Obviously not all Roman girls were as happy as Valeria about their father’s choice of husband. In fact, we’ll have a less-positive story of another marriage before too long. But what do you think of Valeria’s reaction?
  • How about Valerius’ attempts to tiptoe around the situation? As the father of an almost-teenage daugher, I found it rather funny … but not dissimilar to some conversations I’ve attempted to have with her.
  • And what about Valerius’ reference to dēlātōrēs Imperātōris? Keep in mind that we’ve set these stories during the Flavian era, when dēlātōrēs were very much in people’s minds … and when the memory of Julio-Claudian emperors’ behavior would have been pretty fresh.
  • And I have to ask – how do you suppose Lucius and Caeliola will respond to the news of their big, “bossy” sister’s impending wedding … and her impending departure from the domus?

Tune in next time, when we’ll follow the Valeriī – and the Caeliī – on their trip from Herculaneum to Milan for the negotiations and betrothal. Of course you know this means that young Cnaeus will either be in the carpentum, and bitter about it as in this story from Lectiō XIII, or on an equus … which might be a true disaster. You’ll find out soon! intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Rites of Passage, III

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll return to our sequence of “Rites of Passage” stories as we continue to feature the ones about preparations for the wedding of Valeria to her distant cousin Vipsānius. We started out on Friday with this fabella, in which Valeria’s father Valerius had received a letter from Vipsānius’ father, and this story, in which he informs his wife, Caelia. (You may recall that Caelia’s brother Caelius, father of Prima, Secunda, and annoying little Cnaeus, is married to Vipsania, so this is evidently a cousin on the maternal side. Perhaps Vipsānia and Vipsānius are brother and sister, but I think they’re actually cousins themselves, most likely patruēlēs since they share the same nōmen. It’s funny: even though I’m responsible for these people, I still don’t know everything about them! 🙂 Sometimes I feel the same way about my own, actual children….)

Of course, we don’t exactly know what’s in the letter, but we can make a pretty good assumption based on Valerius’ and Caelia’s joyful expressions of grātia to dea Fortūna. It would seem that the Valeriī, unlike some Roman families, hadn’t made arrangements for their daughters’ marriage far in advance … perhaps they want Valeria and Caeliola to have a bit of a say, or perhaps they’re just holding out for a good offer. In any case, they’re delighted now that one has come.

After I shared the story on Friday, I spent a bit of time speculating about the thoughts and feelings a Roman father – or his daughter – might have during the conversation when he announced her impending marriage. I have a few acquaintances from cultures where arranged marriage is still the rule, and a small number of former students (most of whom are sufficiently Americanized that it’s not an issue for them, but most of their parents did have arranged marriages.) When we’ve discussed the idea in class, as we’re reading about Roman arrangements for marriage, my “typically American” students are usually appalled, but the ones who come from arranged-marriage cultures are often able to give them some valuable insight. I remember one in particular, a few years ago now, who said it would be sort of comforting to know in advance who your spouse would be. That way, there’s none of the dating and relationship pressure that most American teenagers “have to” go through, she said, and you also know you need to get to know the person, get along with them, and become friends with them. It was really interesting to me, as mostly an observer in the discussion – I had thought my student would be very opposed to arranged marriages, given some of her feelings about other issues. I don’t think her parents were planning to arrange one for her, but she was a bit wistful about that.

Anyway, it’s always dangerous to make cultural generalizations, especially across so much time and space. We know so little, of course, about Roman family relationships. But I think of Cicero’s letters to (and about) his own daughter, and I make certain assumptions about “universal” human nature as I’m planning and writing the stories. It turns out that Valeria (who is, after all, That Age) has started thinking about the kind of potential husband she might want if the choice was up to her. As of today, you’ll find the story at this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site.

Valeria in cubiculō sedet et librum legit. “nōnne Ovidius poēta optimus erat?” sēcum putat. “utinam marītus meus ōlim tālēs versūs mihi recitet. et quem marītōrum pater in animō iam habet?”

Caelia in līmine stat et Valeriam legentem audit. Caelia sēcum rīdet et, “fīlia mea Valeriōla, pater tē in tablīnō exspectat,” Valeriae dīcit. Valeria “ēhem! māter, quaesō, ignōsce mihi! tē nōn salūtō, quod intenta librum iam legō.”

et Caelia, “nōnne librum Ovidiī poētae? nōnne Amōrēs Ovidiī?”

Valeria ērubēscit et, “num tū versūs Ovidiī legis?” inquit. “nōnne matrōna es?”

Caelia, “matrōna certē nunc, ōlim puella et, ut Ovidius, iuvenca. tē tamen oportet festīnāre, quod pater tē exspectat.”

Valeria mātrī pāret et ad tablīnum contendit. “adveniō, mī pater,” clāmat. liber in pavimentō apertus iacet. Caelia librum manibus sūmit et “eugepae! quam mihi placet hoc carmen!” sibi susurrat. Caelia in lectō sedet et versūs tacitā vōce legere incipit.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • I’ve really tried to put the focus on the women in this story – and, thereby, to raise some issues about Roman women’s experiences. What do you think?
  • What do you think of Valeria’s surprise that her mom (of all people!) has read Ovid? (As the father of an almost-teenager myself, I’ve had versions of that conversation from time to time.)
  • What about Caelia’s reading of the poem?
  • And aren’t you dying to know which one of the Amōrēs they were reading? Just don’t ask me; I certainly don’t know! 🙂 Perhaps we’ll ask our participants to take a look at the Amōrēs (in translation, if necessary; in a Latin paraphrase, if we can get some more advanced learners to make these; or even in the original, if we can) and choose ones they think are likely.

Tune in next time for the actual conversation between father and daughter; then we’ll continue with the sequence and with stories about the actual wedding, a few months later. We may interrupt the series for a bit on Wednesday or Thursday, though, since I may have some important news about the Exercise and Quiz component of the Tres Columnae Project by then. And for those of you who will be attending the 2010 American Classical League Institute in Winston-Salem, NC, later this month as I write, please look for my presentation about the project and come if you can; it’s currently scheduled as Session 3E, right after dinner on the first evening of the Institute.

intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments and emails coming.

Another New Story, VI

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll begin to wrap up our sequence of posts about the stories from Lectiō XVI of the Tres Columnae project by focusing on our characters’ application of the virtūtēs Rōmānae, and specifically of

  1. pietās,
  2. dignitās,
  3. gravitās,
  4. auctōritās,
  5. clementia,
  6. industria,
  7. iustitia,
  8. sevēritās, and
  9. vēritās

The Wikipedia article on Roman virtues also lists comitās, constantia, firmitās, frugalitās, honestās, hūmānitās, prūdentia, and salūbritās as primary virtūtēs, and the list from is (as you might expect) even longer.  But I don’t want our list to be overwhelming, and I do want to focus on virtūtēs that a domestic animal (at least, a fable-tradition talking and somewhat anthropomorphic animal) might reasonably possess. So hūmānitās was fairly easy to eliminate :-), and the others, while important to Romans in general, seemed less significant for these particular stories … except, perhaps, for prūdentia. Had Sabīna displayed a bit more of that (for example, by considering how Ferox and Medusa might respond to her presence, uninvited, in their house), there wouldn’t be a story, would there?

I struggled a bit with the organization of this post; I wasn’t sure whether to go “virtue by virtue” or “character by character” in my own thoughts. Finally I decided on “character by character,” with the first few today and the rest tomorrow and possibly Thursday. That way, either on the last day of school in my face-to-face teaching world (Thursday, June 10, if you’re reading these posts “live”) or on the first day after that, we’ll be able to celebrate the arrival of summer by starting something new on the blog, just as my face-to-face seniors, who graduate on June 9, will be doing on their “first day of freedom.”

I want to save the really important characters like Sabīna and Ferōx for later, so we’ll be looking primarily at Rīdiculus mūs today. In the process, we’ll also look at Impigra, their older children, the obstētrīx, and the human characters from this story and this one.

Let’s start, then, with poor Rīdiculus. If you’ve been trying to picture him, please take a look at the beautiful portraits of him and Impigra by our amazingly talented artist, Lucy M, and see what you think.  On the same page, you’ll find a picture of the “cēnāculum” – one that makes it clear, of course, that Impigra and the obstētrīx are right to call it by its proper name of cavus! Anyway, here are my thoughts about him in terms of each of the virtūtēs:

  1. pietās: Other than his comical obsession with the cēnāculum idea, it seems to me that Rīdiculus, in general, is in the proper relationship with all the other animals (and even humans, for the most part) in his life, at least in this sequence of stories. (I don’t think we can say the same for his foolish decision to pursue the bread during the dinner party in this story, but at least he realizes he was wrong!) He is solicitous of his wife when she’s in labor; he makes sure the children don’t pester her; he welcomes the obstētrīx (I suppose we can forgive both of them for their little exchange about the cēnāculum issue!); and he protects the whole family from Sabīna and other predators as much as he can.
  2. dignitās: Wikipedia defines this as “a sense of self-worth; personal pride,” which, meā quidem sententiā, is true enough, but hardly adequate. If I had to define dignitās in English, I’d say it was “an awareness of one’s personal and social standing, and the desire to increase one’s standing as much as possible without violating the dictates of pietās or some other virtūs.” In that light, I think we can understand Rīdiculus’ obsession with the cēnāculum terminology; to call his home a cavus, for him, would be to associate himself with common field mice. He certainly doesn’t want to call it a domus or vīlla or aula, though, since it’s clear that he’s dependent on the good-will of a patrōnus – indirectly, on the kindness (or inattention) of Valerius and his familia, and more directly on his “friends” Ferōx and Medūsa. It’s clearly closely connected with honestās, which Wikipedia defines as “The image that one presents as a respectable member of society,” but I think dignitās is more internally focused, while honestās is more external. quid respondētis? And isn’t it amazing how far English derivatives like dignity and honesty have developed from their roots?
  3. gravitās: Here’s another loaded term, especially when it’s used, unchanged, in English! Wikipedia calls it a “sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.” Rīdiculus, in general, is quite earnest and responsible – sometimes to comic excess, as with the cēnāculum issue!
  4. auctōritās: This is almost completely untranslatable – Wikipedia’s attempt, which is about as good as any I’ve seen, is “The sense of one’s social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria.” So it’s closely connected, as well, to honestās and dignitās. But you have to be at a certain level of social standing to have auctōritās, while any Roman (even a slave or a child) might reasonably be asked to display dignitās. I’m not sure Rīdiculus really has any auctōritās, though he is the paterfamiliās … or is he? Is his father still alive? We don’t actually know!
  5. clementia: Rīdiculus isn’t normally in the position to show generosity, kindness, or gentleness to an inferior or an enemy. By his nature, he’s dependent on the clementia of others – especially of Ferōx and Medusa! You may recall this story, where Sabīna tries to turn Medūsa, and indirectly Ferōx, against the mice by appealing to other virtūtēs.
  6. industria: Rīdiculus is definitely a hard worker, though not always a smart worker! I think he’s OK in this area! 🙂
  7. iustitia: Wikipedia defines this nicely as “Sense of moral worth to an action.” I don’t think it really applies to Ridiculus’ conduct in most of these stories, except perhaps for his interactions with his wife, the children, and of course the obstētrīx.
  8. sevēritās: Rīdiculus, by nature and by his very name, is not prone to either “gravity” or “self-control,” the two synonyms Wikipedia offers. But he does control himself when first Impigra, then the obstētrīx fusses at him over the word cēnāculum.
  9. vēritās: Other than his self-deception about his home – and his lack of knowledge of animal habitats, as witnessed in this story – Rīdiculus seems to be a truthful little mouse.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of our list of virtūtēs?  Are there any we should add, and are there any that (tuā quidem sententiā) are less important than the others?
  • What do you think of our definitions of the virtūtēs?
  • For that matter, what do you think of any attempts to define them “globally” – as opposed to the (much easier and safer) prospect of defining them contextually, as they appear in a particular passage or literary work?  In other words, it’s a lot simpler to define “pietās in the Aeneid” than “pietās in general” – so should we avoid general definitions?
  • What do you think of our analysis of Rīdiculus through the lens of the virtūtēs?
  • And what do you think of the other characters’ use – or non-use – of the virtūtēs?

Tune in next time, when we’ll respond to your comments and look at the other characters – especially Ferōx and Medūsa – through the lens of the virtūtēs. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.