Making Contributions, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! While there haven’t been many blog comments recently, I’ve really enjoyed the private email conversations I’ve been having with some of our long-time lectōrēs fidēlissimī. It’s particularly exciting when people make great suggestions about additional stories they’d like to see, or backstory about characters they’d like to know, or additional ways to practice and reinforce grammatical concepts or vocabulary. Of course, you should know that if you want to do something like this, you can! You be able to make formal Submissions as soon as Version Beta of the project is ready, but even before then, please feel free to work on stories, exercises, explanations, or other things you’d like to Submit one day.

And for those of us who are concerned about financial issues, I’d like to announce a possible solution. You’re probably familiar with our proposed financial structure for access to the project materials:

  • Free subscriptions allow you to read stories, listen to audio, see images, watch videos, and make comments.
  • Basic subscriptions allow you to use the exercises and quizzes.
  • Standard and Premium subscriptions allow you to make Submissions to the project.
  • Single Submissions allow you to make Submissions on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In addition, we’ll also be inviting some subscribers (and potential subscribers) to become what we’ll call Contributing Editors to the project. Someday, we may have a vast staff of well-paid editors 🙂 … but pretty soon, as our Submission rate goes up, we’ll be in the awkward position of needing additional Editors but not being able to afford them. As a Contributing Editor, you’ll be able to make a certain number of Submissions to the project for free in exchange for editing and commenting on other contributors’ Submissions. We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but if you’d be interested, please let me know – either leave a comment here, leave one on the Version Alpha Wiki site, or send me an email if you have that address. As you may remember if you’re a long-time reader, Jeff Howe’s book about Crowdsourcing was a major influence on the Tres Columnae model; if you’re familiar with crowdsourced editing projects, you’ll probably see the influence even more clearly. Some crowdsourced projects allow everybody to make edits, but we’ll be a bit selective; we want to see your best Latin writing before we invite you to edit other people’s writings! You will, of course, retain almost all rights to what you write, though you’ll grant us a limited right to publish it … and you’ll grant other participants certain rights to use and remix it. But if anyone wants a physically published version of your writings or illustrations – or if they want a physical product with your writings, illustrations, audio, or video – you’ll be entitled to royalties as part of our commitment to Ownership.

So if you’d like to be considered as a potential Contributing Editor for the project, please get in touch! I’ll send you a private message with the details of what we’re looking for.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of the Contributing Editor model?
  • Do you think crowdsourced editing is a great idea or a terrible one?
  • Where are some places that you think we need supplementary stories? And what would you want those to focus on?

Tune in next time for more. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus!

Advertisements
Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 9:02 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Renovation and Communication, IV

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! I’m writing the draft of this post as beautiful early-evening thunderstorm is getting started – and I’m very thankful for laptops and their batteries! My own children, who’ve grown up in a wireless world, find it funny that I spent years not answering “the phone” in the house during storms because of the threat of electrocution if lightning happened to hit “the wires.” Now, safely unplugged, their only complaint is that they don’t have wireless Internet access if the power goes out. How things can change in a few short years! (I recently discovered that my alma mater has stopped installing telephones in dorm rooms because all their students have cell phones … but I remember how excited I was as a student, less than 25 years ago, when those phones were installed, replacing the one or two “hall phones” on each dormitory floor. Why did that make me feel old and young all at once?)

Anyway, Wednesday was the day I officially introduced my school-district colleagues to the Tres Columnae Project. There are four Latin teachers in the district – one at a middle school, and three of us at high schools. We’re a congenial group, but we’ve sometimes disagreed about textbooks and methodology, so I was a bit unsure about how they’d respond. And then I discovered that my most “traditionalist” colleague had decided that textbooks were useless and counterproductive for her students, so she’s been working on a story-based curriculum with an innovative order of grammatical presentation! As you might imagine, it was a wonderful day … they’re all excited and are quite eager for their students to start reading the Tres Columnae stories. I think we’ve all decided to use our existing textbook (which, despite my occasional rants, I’m still pretty fond of) as a supplementary reader and for some small-group and individual work. But there are now at least 5 schools in the world that will be using Tres Columnae Project materials regularly … and I’m sure there are more out there that I don’t know about, too!

Of course, if you just want to have your students read the stories and use the other free material, I guess I don’t exactly need to know … but it would still be nice! So please send us an email or leave a comment here or on the Version Alpha Wiki site if you’re planning to use Tres Columnae with your classes this year. I’d also love to know how you’re planning to use the project materials and whether you’d be interested in any of the paid subscription models.

If all goes well, those will be available by early September at the latest. Our biggest remaining hurdle was embedded audio, and our technological advisor has finally found a good solution for that. So Version Beta of the Tres Columnae Project should be available soon. All the stories and other content from the Version Alpha Wiki will still be there, of course (and we’ll maintain the Version Alpha Wiki “as is” after the move, too, for those who are fond of it). But, in addition to embedded audio, we should also be able to offer you

  • a much-improved interface for comments on stories;
  • a straightforward way to subscribe – and purchase paid subscriptions – online;
  • a very simple process for uploading and editing content (Free Trial subscribers who attempted to submit stories know that this was harder than it should have been with Version Alpha); and
  • some other behind-the-scenes features that will make our lives easier.

We’ll keep you posted on the developments, and we definitely want to know if you find any issues or problems with Version Beta once it’s been officially launched. And unlike the Frontō brothers’ cōnsilia in this week’s featured stories, we don’t think your response to Version Beta will be silence followed by horrified laughter! 🙂

Speaking of yesterday’s featured story, I know you’re probably dying to find out why Caelius and Vipsania responded as they did – and what those pictures looked like! And you will find out … but not today. We’ll pick up with that story in Friday’s post, or possibly Saturday’s. If you’re reading this post “live,” the school Open House is this evening, so it’s a long and late day in my face-to-face world.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What features would you like to see in Version Beta of the Tres Columnae Project?
  • Are there any features you’d like to see disappear forever?
  • What are some ways that you’re thinking about using the materials with your students (or with yourself, if you’re an independent learner) this school year?

If all goes well, though, I should be able to put the final touches on that story when I get home … or early Friday morning, if necessary. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Renovation and Communication, III

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! If you’re reading this post “live,” today is the day I’m officially introducing my face-to-face teaching colleagues to the Tres Columnae Project, with a three-hour block of time set aside for Latin teachers during our district’s fall professional-development day. The time is divided into a 90-minute morning block and a two-hour block in the afternoon. Since I already had a roughly 90-minute introductory session for my presentation at the American Classical League Institute earlier this summer, I’ll be using a revised version of that for the morning session. Then, in the afternoon, we’ll actually try to build some stories, exercises, quizzes, and other elements together.

Letting go of the characters – and letting my colleagues play with them, and with the materials – is a hard but necessary step for me … of course, very soon there will be a lot more subscribers and other participants “playing with my toys,” so to speak, as they create their own Submissions. If you’ve seen the beautiful work done by our partner school in England, you know that I know, intellectually, that there’s nothing to be afraid of – no one is likely to break any toys (to continue our metaphor for a moment), and even if that happened accidentally, the beauty of a wiki is that the toy can always be restored to its previous, unbroken state. Still, like any child at the playground, I was feeling a bit possessive about those toys!

Speaking of playgrounds and toys reminded me of this New York Times blog post about parents who “obsessively” focus on their cell phones and other electronic devices when they’re at the playground with their children. Like several people who left comments there, I’m a bit puzzled by the whole thing … and by the amount of rage and energy that people seem to be devoting to the issue! Of course, my children have always been good at handling themselves on playgrounds; even when they were small, they were more likely to dismiss their hovering parents than to request assistance. And like a lot of those who left comments, I spent many happy unattended hours as a child … usually not on playgrounds, but running around in back yards, woods, and other unsafe places 🙂 with neighborhood friends. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I’ve tried to build a safe, but still intriguing and interesting “playground” for Tres Columnae participants!

Anyway, today’s featured story doesn’t have much to do with playgrounds, but it does have to do with safety and with the idea of letting go of favorite toys … and there’s an unexpected twist that I hope you’ll enjoy. You can also find the story here on the Version Alpha Wiki site if you’d like:

duōbus post diēbus, Q. Iūlius Frontō architectus cum frātre redēmptōre ad vīllam Caeliī regreditur. manū suā librum tenet, in quō pictūrās multās iam pīnxit. frātrēs vīllam ingrediuntur et per conclāvia ad tablīnum, in quō Caelius ipse anxius exspectat, celeriter prōcēdunt. Caelius “salvēte vōs ambō!” exclāmat. Frontō librum in mēnsā dēpōnit et, “ecce, domine!” inquit. “hīs enim pictūrīs speciem vīllae tuae renovātae dēmōnstrāre volō.” Caelius attonitus et tacitus pictūrās diū spectat. tandem, “heus!” inquit, “mē decet uxōrem meam vocāre.” Caelius ē tablīnō contendit Vipsāniam quaesītum.

Vipsānia in peristyliō sedet et lānam facit. duae ancillae prope dominam stant. altera librum legit, altera cibum vīnumque offert. Vipsānia sēcum carmen cantat. laetissima est Vipsānia quod hae ancillae, quās Caelius nūper Rōmae ēmit, labōribus dīligentissimae, corporibus haud formōsae sunt.

Caelius in peristylium currit et “heus! Vipsānia mea!” exclāmat, “sine dubiō iste architectus, quem ad vīllam nostram nūper arcessīvī, vel stultus vel īnsānus est! tē oportet pictūrās novissimās, quās pīnxit ille, spectāre! quās cum spectābam, lacrimāre et rīdēre simul volēbam!”

Vipsānia attonita, “num quae pictūra tam nova est?” rogat. Caelius tamen manum uxōrī prēnsat et, “tibi celerrimē veniendum est!” clāmat. “novissima quidem et turpissima!”

Vipsānia igitur ancillīs, “heus!” inquit, “mihi necesse est dominum nostrum comitārī, vōbīs hīc manēre dum regrediar.” domina lentē surgit, lentē marītum suum per conclāvia vīllae comitātur.

intereā Frontō architectus cum frātre redēmptōre in tablīnō vīllae manet. sollicitus est Marcus Frontō quod Caelius tam celeriter ē tablīnō exiit; laetus tamen est Quīntus Frontō quod liber pictūrārum plēnus etiam nunc in mēnsā est. “mī frāter,” inquit, “nōlī tē vexāre! sī enim odiō patrōnīs sunt pictūrae meae, illī semper librōs in caput meum iactant! ille tamen Caelius librum in mēnsā relīquit et uxōrem suam quaesīvit. sine dubiō igitur illī cordī, nōn odiō sunt pictūrae.”

Marcus tamen frātrī suō, “st!” respondet, “tibi tacendum est, quod Caelius etiam nunc cum uxōre regreditur!”

Caelius et Vipsānia tablīnum intrant. dominus uxōrem suam ad mēnsam dūcit librum spectātum. Vipsānia diū tacet; tandem rīsibus et cachinnīs sē trādit. Caelius quoque vehementer rīdet. architectus tamen et frāter tacitī et attonitī stant.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • You’re probably eager to know what the pictures actually look like! And I promise we’ll find out at some point … but not today. In fact, the story in which the pictures are described may be one that Tres Columnae subscribers are invited to write for themselves.
  • Where do you see the themes of play and safety at work in this story?
  • What new insights do you have into the relationship between Caelius and Vipsania? What about the relationship between the brothers Fronto?

Tune in next time, when we’ll find out what – if any – renovations will actually be done to the vīlla. I’ll also plan to describe our face-to-face day, with my colleagues’ first real introduction to the Tres Columnae Project. We’ll see how that relates to the themes of play and safety too. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Casina ancilla, IV

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Sometime in the next week or so, I think we’ll have a big announcement about Version Beta of the Tres Columnae Project. Most likely, since our hosting friends at Arvixe offer unlimited disk space, we’ll be showing you a mock-up of what the stories, images, and audio for Lectiō Prīma of Cursus Prīmus would look like with a few different backend software packages. We’ll ask you – and our existing subscribers who don’t read the blog regularly – to look at the options and rank them from best to, um, least good on a fairly simple survey. Then, based on your feedback and on our own experience adding content to the site, we’ll have some good data to make our final choice about the behind-the-scenes software for Version Beta. Don’t worry, though, if you love the Version Alpha Wiki. It will still be there, though we may not add new stories past Lectiō XX to it.

If you subscribe to the Latin-BestPractices mailing list, you may have seen this recent message and my response to her. I’m sure there are lots of heroic volunteers like Tova out there, keeping Latin alive – or bringing it for the first time – to places where there’s not a historically strong tradition of Latin in most schools. How exciting to learn about them – about you, I should say, since I hope many of you heroic volunteers are reading these words! If you are, and if you haven’t taken a look at the Tres Columnae Project, I hope you’ll check us out and see if we meet your needs. If you just want declensions, conjugations, roots, and prefixes, we’re probably not a good match for you … but I hope you’ll take a closer look if you do want

  • engaging stories that work well with younger children as well as preteens, teens, and adults;
  • careful explanations of Latin morphology and syntax, usually using the Roman grammarians’ own terminology as well as more “modern” English terms;
  • a focus on Understanding the big ideas and values of the Romans, and on developing Skill at reading, writing, hearing, and even speaking Latin, along with Knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary; and, of course,
  • a way to build deep Ownership as your learners actually contribute to the learning materials.

In the meantime, though, we’ll continue with the story of poor Casina, ancilla Valeriī, whom we first meet at the very first Lectiō of the project. At that point, we just know that she’s an ancilla, and that she belongs to Valerius, one of our main characters. We soon find out that Lucius, Valeria, and Caeliola, Valerius’ children, are very fond of Casina – and so is Milphio, Valerius’ main servant. Gallicus, the cook, may not be fond of Casina, but he depends on her to keep him organized and unflustered, especially when he’s preparing for a big dinner party, as in this story. Eventually, we discover that Casina suffered a tragic loss at the hands of a vēnālīcius in the city of Pompeii, and then she witnesses a brutal attack on a fellow-servus by his own dominus in this story. Perhaps all these factors – and the upcoming wedding of Valeria to Vipsānius, a young man from far-away Mediolānum – have combined to cause Casina’s morbus novissimus, or perhaps there’s a purely physical explanation.

Either way, we find in this story and this one that Casina is unresponsive and having some sort of vision. Milphio and Gallicus inform Valerius in this story, and in this story Valerius and Caelia attempt to find out what’s wrong with Casina. As we pick up with today’s story, which you can now find here on the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site, Valerius is just returning from an unsuccessful attempt to seek divine assistance with the problem:

duās post horās Valerius ad domum regreditur et cubiculum Casinae intrat. “quid agit Casina?” Milphiōnem rogat, quī nunc iam prope lectum stat et ancillam dormientem dīligenter spectat. “ō domine,” respondet Milphiō sollicitus, “sine dubiō Casina graviter aegrōtat. diū enim dormit vel exanimāta iacet; aliquandō tamen surgit et īnfantem absentem adloquitur. tum paulīsper mē et Gallicum agnōscit, tum somniīs sē trādit. perterritus sum, quod nihil intellegō!”

Valerius sollicitus, “ego quoque nihil intellegō,” Milphiōnī respondet. “augur enim hoc dīcit: ‘necesse est tibi ipsī trēs noctēs vigilāre et revenīre.’ haruspicem cōnsulere nōn possum, quod ille Rōmam nunc iam iter facit diēs fēstōs celebrātum. nunc iam prō templō Apollinis sacrificium offertur, sed … quis deōrum nōbīs auxilium ferre potest? quem deōrum cōnsulere dēbeō?”

Valeria sollicia et trīstis cubiculum ingreditur et, “pater, mī pater, nōnne nūntium fers?” rogat. Valerius fīliam amplectitur et, “ō Valeria, duās horās per tōtam urbem ambulō deōs precātum et auxilium quaesītum, sed nēmō Casinam adiuvāre potest. fortasse mors iam imminet.”

Valeria tamen, “mī pater, nōlī tālia dīcere!” respondet et “heus!” subitō exclāmat. “nōnne etiam nunc Rōmae stat templum Aesculāpiī?” rogat. “nōnne et templum Bonae Deae? et nōnne diēs fēsti Bonae Deae nunc iam adsunt?” Valerius, “ēhem!” respondet. “nōn hodiē, sed paucīs post diēbus – cūr hoc mē rogās?” et Valeria, “mī pater, sine dubiō nōs oportet cum Casinā Rōmam prōcēdere. nōnne aegrōtī, quī in templō Aesculāpiī dormiunt, remedia morbōrum per somnia accipere solent? et nōnne Bona Dea ipsa herbās aegrōtīs praebet?”

Valerius cōnsentit, et Valeria, “et pater, mī pater, nōnne tē decet mihi dōnum dare quod nūbere parō? quid, sī Casinam mihi das? tum facile est tibi aliam ancillam emere.”

Valerius rīdet et “libenter cōnsentiō, Valeria mea,” respondet. “nōnne tamen Vipsānius –?”

et Valeria, “ō pater, mī pater, paucīs enim mēnsibus uxor Vipsāniō erō. paucīs mēnsibus mātrōna Rōmāna erō. nōnne māter mea rēs mātrōnārum nunc iam mē docet?”

Valerius attonitus tacet, et Valeria, “pater, mī pater, tibi exeundum est! mē oportet, ut dominam Casinae, cum ancillā meā colloquī!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • I keep asking myself whether a “typical” Roman dominus would be so solicitous of a sick slave … but of course Valerius seems to be rather tender-hearted. We’ve seen him pay for the education of his client’s son in this story and weep almost inconsolably at the thought of his daughter’s upcoming marriage. Still, I wonder whether even the most tender-hearted dominus would treat a sick slave so kindly. What do you think? And do you have any supporting evidence, either from Roman law or from hisory or literature?
  • If you’ve read the whole sequence, you may have noticed that Valerius’ response is at least partially motivated by superstitious fear as well as kindness. Given what you know about the Romans, does that seem appropriate to you?
  • What about Valeria’s response to her father, and her plan for Casina? Do you suppose she’s motivated by genuine concern for a beloved servant? Or is she more concerned with bringing a little piece of home with her when she moves to Milan? Keep in mind that Valeria is, like most Roman brides, a young teenager in our terms, so the picture may be more complicated – or more simple!

Tune in next time, when Valerius explains the plan to Casina and the trip to Rome begins. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Casina ancilla, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! For our readers in the United States, I hope your Fourth of July weekend was wonderful, meaningful, and very relaxing. For readers elsewhere, I hope we didn’t overwhelm you with Saturday’s reflections about Freedom and Opportunity. I realize they’re very American concepts, but they’re also at the heart of the Joyful Learning Community that the Tres Columnae Project will be. Anyway, I appreciate your patience, and I promise we’ll be returning to the real core of the project – the stories, characters, vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and cultural ideas on which we focus. Today, as I mentioned in Saturday’s post, we’ll begin a series of posts about a series of stories – stories of a morbus novissimus that afflicts Casina, the sometimes-grumpy ancilla of Valerius and Caelia. If you haven’t read all of the stories in Lectiōnēs I-XX on the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site, all the background you really need to know is

  • Casina has evidently belonged to familia Valeria for some time, but is not a verna;
  • She’s sometimes a bit grumpy, especially when Gallicus the coquus gets flustered (as in this story from Lectiō XI) or when Milphiō, her fellow servus, seems to express a bit of romantic interest in her; and
  • As we discovered in this story from Lectiō XIII, she has good reason to hate the city of Pompeii, where she was once sold (perhaps to Valerius?) and where her īnfāns died and (as far as she knows) still lies unburied.
  • Just before the sequence of events in this post, she’s had a very unpleasant and painful reminder of the way some servī are treated in this story from Lectiō XIX, in which a servus who looks like (but turns out not to be) her own brother is almost killed by his master.

Imagine, if you can, what it must be like to be Casina! We’ll find out how she came to be sold in Pompeii later on (actually, we’ll have several possible explanations; I’m not sure whether we’ll ever find out the whole story). But imagine the pain of losing a child – and then compound that unimaginable pain with an inability to say goodbye properly, and with the lack of a grave, or even the freedom to visit a grave if there had been one! Of all the Tres Columnae Project stories I’ve written, the one about Casina’s īnfāns was, without a doubt, the hardest – not because of the grammatical constructions, but because of the subject matter. As a parent myself, I don’t want to imagine Casina’s pain, but as I wrote the story, I could feel it … and I really didn’t want to! I did want poor Casina to find some peace, though, which is probably why this set of stories came to me. I originally had a different idea in mind for the stories in this Lectiō, but then I realized I could

  • give Casina some resolution;
  • get our characters to Rome for a brief visit;
  • explore some of the interesting Roman holidays from the spring months;
  • explore issues of healing (both medical and, um, non-medical) in the Roman world; and even
  • get our characters to some fascinating places in Rome.

And I also thought the etiology of Casina’s illness might be interesting for our participants to consider … but I’m getting ahead of myself!

I deliberately avoided uploading the stories in this sequence to the Version Alpha Wiki Site until now … and I’ll only be uploading them as we look at them. If you get impatient, you’ll Just Have To Wait … or, if you’d prefer, you can create your own suggestions about possible endings or Next Steps. For a couple of weeks, as I mentioned on Friday, you won’t be able to make official contributions to the site; we hope you’ll use that time to develop some really exciting multimedia versions, either of existing stories like these or of stories that you create. Anyway, here we go with the first story in the sequence, now available at this link at the Version Alpha Wiki site:

Casina, ancilla Valeriī, in cubiculō parvō prope culīnam dormīre solet. hodiē māne Gallicus coquus cubiculum intrat et, “heus! Casina! num dormīs?” exclāmat. “tibi surgendum est, quod hōra prīma adest. tē oportet aquam ē fonte publicō trahere.”

Casina tamen neque surgit neque respondet. Gallicus sollicitus, “Casina! quid agis?” clāmat. “num aegrōtās? tibi surgendum est!” clāmat. Casina tamen nihil respondet. Gallicus anxius Milphiōnem quaerit.

Milphiō in ātriō pavīmentum verrit. Gallicus ātrium ingreditur et “vae! heu! Milphiō!” exclāmat. Milphiō attonitus verrere dēsinit et “mī Gallice, quid est? cūr clāmās?” respondet. Gallicus trīstis “ō Milphiō, mī Milphiō, Casina moritūra in cubiculō iacet! quid facere dēbeō? quid facere dēbeō?”

Milphiō sē colligit et, “mī Gallice,” respondet, “nōnne saepe tē ita vexās? num Casina rē vērā moritūra est?”

Gallicus tamen lacrimāns, “ō Milphiō, Milphiō, sine dubiō moritūra est Casina. nōnne prīma hōra diēī iam adest? Casina tamen in cubiculō nunc iam manet. neque surgit neque mihi quid respondet. vae! heu! nōnne necesse est nōbīs dominum arcessere? nōnne vespillōnem quoque?”

Milphiō, “ō Gallice, mī Gallice,” respondet. “nōs oportet ad cubiculum regredī. sine dubiō Casina nunc iam surgit tē dērīsum!” Milphiō tamen sollicitus cum Gallicō ad cubiculum regreditur Casinam excitātum.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

Tune in next time, when we’ll find out whether there was, in fact, a good reason for Milphiō and Gallicus to be worried or whether, as so often, Gallicus has been overreacting “just a bit.” intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

A Turning Point

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today marks a transition point for the Tres Columnae Project. We’ve officially finished our Free Trial period, though a few folks who attended the American Classical League Institute have a “secret code” that will give them a few more days of Free Trial access. Of course, you can still

  • read the stories,
  • hear the audio,
  • see the pictures, and
  • use the exercises and quizzes at the Instructure Demo Course site.

But for the next few days, you won’t be able to upload new stories, images, audio, or video, or, as we say, you won’t be able to make Submissions to the project for a few days.

Before too long, though, we’ll make our regular subscriptions available, so you’ll be able to follow the “regular” process for making Submissions. In the meantime, we hope you will have a chance to

  • explore the existing stories for Lectiōnēs I-XX;
  • find some intriguing “gaps” in the storyline that you might want to fill;
  • start writing stories to fill those “gaps,” or even to create your own independent “branch” of the storyline, as our subscriber David H. has done with his stories about Ortellius; and
  • start planning the images, audio clips, and/or video clips that will accompany your story.

If you’d rather not write your own story, you can still choose to base a Submission on an existing story. For example, you might decide to

  • create your own illustrations;
  • create your own audio narration;
  • create your own video;
  • create your own reading-comprehension questions, with suggested answers;
  • create your own vocabulary pre-teaching activity (or post-reading assessment) to accompany a story;
  • create your own set of grammatical analysis questions, with suggested answers; or even
  • do something we haven’t imagined yet! The possibilities are endless.

Of course, if you do create such things just for yourself or your own students, go right ahead! We’d love for you to Submit them to us, but you don’t have to. On the other hand, if you’d like to have your creation officially become part of the Tres Columnae Project – in other words, if you’d like us to publish it for you on the Version Alpha Wiki site or its successor, or include it in the Instructure course – we do need to make sure that it meets our quality standards and doesn’t conflict with our philosophy. (For example, an exercise called “Translate this story into English” might well work for your class, but it wouldn’t be a good fit with our commitment to extensive reading and direct comprehension.) We’ll let you know here, on the site itself, and on popular listservs like Latinteach and Latin-BestPractices as soon as you can sign up for a subscription or a Single Submission. In the meantime, though, please spread the word about Tres Columnae to your friends, coworkers, students, and local homeschoolers. And please keep reading and exploring the stories and other content on the Version Alpha Wiki site and the Instructure Demo course.

And speaking of stories, tomorrow we begin a series of posts focusing on the sad life of Casina, ancilla Valeriī. When we first meet Casina early in Cursus Primus, she seems to be a bit of a complainer, but we don’t exactly know why she’s bitter and unhappy. We learn more in this story, featured in this post from May, in which we learn the cause of Casina’s hatred for the city of Pompeii … and the sadness that continually seems to gnaw at her. Then, with this story from Lectiō XIX, which we featured in this post from May, poor Casina is confronted with the near-death of another innocent servus. Perhaps the combination of memories and shock is the immediate cause of the situation we’ll feature in our upcoming series, or maybe Casina’s woes only grow as she considers the upcoming wedding of Valeria, daughter of her dominus, and the (presumably) happy fate of any children born to Valeria and Vipsānius – a stark contrast to the awful fate of her own child. Anyway, something causes Casina to become extremely ill – and her illness, in turn, will give us an opportunity to explore a number of facets of Roman culture that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to address. As we find out whether, and how, Casina will recover, we’ll also explore

  • various forms of healing in the Roman world;
  • Roman attitudes toward sickness and healing;
  • Roman attitudes about death and what lies beyond;
  • some issues regarding social class; and even
  • the geography of Rome itself, as the Valeriī decide to take Casina there (for reasons that may surprise you).

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of our plans for the future?
  • What do you think of the subscription model? If you can think of a better way, I’d love to hear about it!
  • What do you think of the upcoming series of posts about poor Casina?
  • And what ideas are you starting to have about Submissions?

Tune in next time, when we’ll begin to explore poor Casina’s fate. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus!

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.

Live from ACL, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As you read this post, I’m on my way home from the 2010 American Classical League Institute. I’ll have a longer report about the Monday sessions another time; at the moment, I’m eager to get home. So let me just say that the typical comment at closing banquets – that the Institute feels like a family reunion every year – has always been true for me. What a great way to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, all the while knowing that those friends share your passionate commitment to teaching, and to the languages, cultures, and enduring legacy of the Greco-Roman world. It’s easy to lose sight of that, at times, when one is arguing over methodology!

For those lectōrēs cārissimī who are also traveling today, I wish you safe travels and a happy return home, and I hope to see all of you (and many more) at next year’s Institute in Minneapolis.

Speaking of families, we’ll continue our wedding-themed stories today with this one, in which young Lūcius is sad about Lollia’s wedding.  It, and its sequel below, will soon be available at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site, but at the moment I’m eager to get home, so I beg your forbearance for a few hours.  I’ll get those links updated and include them in tomorrow’s post!  Meanwhile, here we go:

Lūcius Valerius tamen, postquam Marcus Vipsānius Lolliam uxōrem dūxit, trīstis per viās urbis Herculāneī errāre solēbat, quod Lollia sibi magnō cordī erat. nōnnūllōs post diēs Fabiō magistrō in viā ambulantī forte occurrit et, “salvē, mī magister veterrime,” inquit. Fabius, quī rēs maximī mōmentī in animō volvēbat, “heus!” exclāmāvit, “quis mē appellat?” mox tamen Lūcium agnōvit et “mī discipule, mī Lūcī, quid agis?” laetus rogāvit.

postquam Lūcius cūrās suās Fabiō explicāvit, ille subrīdēns, “heus!” respondit, “iuvenēs saepe sē propter amōrem ita vexant! tē tamen haud decēbat illam Lolliam dūcere. nōnne enim cliēns patris tuī est Lollius, et vir pauperrimus? tē tamen haud decēbat illam concūbīnam habēre, quod cīvis est, et quod atāvus erat poēta et comoedus nōtissimus. fortasse ancillam illī puellae similem emere poteris? nōnne cum ancillā sīcut puellā lūdere et cūrās tuās sīc levāre poteris, ut āit ille poēta Catullus?”

Lūcius tamen, “num tū discipulōs versūs Catullī legere nunc iam sinis?” attonitus rogāvit. Fabius rīdēns, “haudquāquam sinō!” respondit, “tū tamen, quod iuvenis iam es, sine dubiō Catullum legis!” Lūcius cōnsēnsit sed “num pater meus pecūniam in hoc dabit?” rogāvit. “fortasse, sī ancilla tōtam domum ūnā hōrā purgāre poterit!” inquit Fabius rīdēns, “nōnne rēctē dīcis?” respondit Lūcius. “pater enim meus cum assēs tum līberōs dīligenter custōdit!” tum Lūcius et Fabius cachinnīs sē trādunt. tandem Fabius, “praetereā, mī Lūcī, cum iuvenēs dolent, fābulae multō meliōrēs sunt quam ancillae. nōnne ōlim, cum discipulus meus erās, fābulam leōnis, quī mūrem dūcere volēbat, tibi nārrāvī?”

And then, of course, here’s the story that Fabius tells to cheer his young friend up (grātiās maximās to our friend and collaborator Laura G, who suggested the underlying fable):

“ōlim,” inquit Fabius, “leō, per silvās ambulās, forte laqueō captus, auxilium magnā vōce quaerēbat. cui appropinquāvit mūs minimus et ‘mī leō,’ attonitus rogāvit, ‘cūr tē ita vexās? cūr vehementer fremis?’ leō trīstis et īrātus laqueum dēmōnstrāvit et, ‘mī mūs,’ supplex rogāvit, ‘nōnne mē adiuvāre potes? tū enim, quī minimus es, dentibus laqueum abrōdere potes. sī mē in hōc tantō discrīmine adiuveris, beneficiōrum tuōrum semper meminerō! semper tibi beneficia libēns reddam, mē sī līberāveris!’ mūs libenter cōnsēnsit et mox rem cōnfēcit. tum ‘mī leō,’ inquit, ‘nōnne mē adiuvāre nunc iam potes? mihi enim est puella pulcherrima sed innūpta, quam nūllī mūrēs dūcere volunt, quod nihil dōtis praebēre possum. nōnne tū fīliam meam dūcere potes?’ leō attonitus, postquam rem cōgitāvit, ‘certē, mī amīce,’ respondit. ‘caelebs enim sum, et leaenam dignam haud invenīre possum. praetereā, haud opus dōtis mihi est, quod leō sum! quid mihi dōtis? libenter igitur fīliam tuam dūcam.’

“diēs tamen nūptiārum cum advēnit, rēs dīra accidit. leō enim, ad lectum nūptiālem prōgressus, uxōrem suam vidēre nōn poterat, quod tam parva erat. eam pede suō forte pressit et contrīvit! lūgēbant omnēs, sed frūstrā, quod nūpta erat mortua!”

haec verba locūtus Fabius tacēbat. Lūcius tamen, “hercle!” respondit, “rēctē dīcis, mī Fabī! etiamsī Lolliam dīligō – et proptereā quod Lolliam dīligō – mē haud decet nūptiās Lolliae cupere! tibi grātiās maximās agō, quod semper mihi optimē suādēs!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of the interactions of Lucius and Fabius?
  • What do you think of the fable itself?
  • And, perhaps more important, if you are involved in the wider profession of Classics and/or language teaching, what lessons might we draw from the fable? Are there ways it might guide us to avoid some of our more petty disagreements, while reaching a creative synthesis on the really important ones?

Tune in next time for more thoughts about the Institute, and a story in which members of the mouse-family talk about weddings in their world. 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!