Casina ancilla, III

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Before we continue with the story of Casina’s morbus novissimus, I want to share some good news. As of yesterday, the Tres Columnae Project has received our first request for a full-school subscription, to start in the fall. (With well over 50 students involved, they’ll be paying US $7.50 per Basic subscription per year, or 75 cents a month. We think that’s a pretty good deal, since the students will

  • have access to Tres Columnae materials (stories, images, audio, video, explanations, exercises, quizzes, and the Virtual Seminar) from home, school, or anywhere, without having to carry any heavy textbooks;
  • get immediate feedback on their responses to exercises and reading-comprehension questions; and even
  • periodically make Single Submissions of stories, images, audio, and video to the project.

We challenge you to find a textbook that can do all of that … especially for $7.50 per user per year! 🙂

After talking with the teacher, I think they’ll save even more money by having students do joint submissions and split the editing fee several ways – and I’d encourage you to consider that approach, especially if budgets are a concern for you. Even with a Standard subscription, groups of 4 could make 4 submissions each month without overwhelming themselves or the Tres Columnae Project.

To celebrate – and to prepare for what lies ahead as our subscriptions grow – we’ll probably be migrating from the Version Alpha Wiki to a different software system. The Version Alpha will still be there, but we’ll also offer a link from it to the “production” version of the site when it’s ready. We’re still thinking about the best “backend” software to use, since we want something that

  • makes various levels of subscriptions, and Single Submission purchases, trouble-free for you, the community, to purchase;
  • allows for different types of access for different levels of subscribers, without requiring complicated log-in procedures;
  • makes it easy and painless to upload multimedia submissions – and to edit, approve, and publish them; and
  • doesn’t require a lot of complicated maintenance or programmer time to keep going.

If any of you lectōrēs fidēlissimī have good suggestions about CMS packages – or wiki engines, or anything else – that could serve as the backbone of Version Beta of Tres Columnae, please let me know! Or, for that matter, if you have any horror stories, please let us know about that, too. (The top contenders, if you’re fascinated by that sort of thing, are Drupal, Joomla, and MediaWiki (in no particular order), but we’re open to other suggestions, too. Feel free to gloss over that sentence if it’s meaningless to you!)

Regardless of our final decision about backend software, we have a lot of work to do between now and the Fall. But it’s really exciting to know that folks do want to be involved in the project on that type of scale. If you’re interested in a school-wide subscription, or know someone who might be, please let us know!

As we face important decisions about The Future, I’m glad I’ve chosen to feature the sequence of stories about Casina’s morbus this week. After all, everyone involved with Casina’s life has some decisions to make … especially Valerius, her dominus. I was interested to find, here at Google Books, an extensive preview of W.W. Buckland’s The Roman Law of Slavery; it seems that even as early as the reign of Claudius, slaves who were not treated for illness, but left to die on the island of Aesculapius, were automatically freed if they recovered … and that a master who did seek treatment for a sick slave could deduct the medical expenses from the slave’s peculium. In later stories, we’ll see how these factors and others affect Valerius’ and Caelia’s response to Casina’s sickness.

At the moment, though, we’ll pick up with this story, in which Valerius and Caelia have only just learned about Casina’s sickness … and they’re about to discover some other things they didn’t know about their favorite ancilla:

Valerius et Caelia ad cubiculum Casinae contendunt, ubi Milphiō pius et sollicitus nunc iam deōs precātur et ancillae vīnum offert. Casina tamen Milphiōnem haud agnōscit. iterum iterumque surgit et manūs extendit. iterum iterumque “ō mī infāns, nōnne mē quaeris?” rogat. iterum iterumque fessa et aegra in lectō resīdet vel ad pavīmentum lābitur. Valerius et Caelia extrā cubiculum haesitant et rem tōtam tacitī spectant. tandem Valerius “quid hoc est?” rogat. “num Casinae nostrae est īnfāns?” et Milphiō, “ō domine, īnfāns Casinae nōn vīvit, sed in urbe Pompēiīs insepultus nunc iam iacet, ā vēnālīciō necātus et disiectus. nōnne Casina ipsa mihi rem tōtam nārrāre solet ubi diēs Lemurālia adsunt?”

tum Caelia, “heus! rem intellegō!” exclāmat. “nōnne Casina saepe ē domō festīnat flētum, ubi līberī nostrī diēs nātālēs celebrant? et nōnne urbem Pompēiōs plōrāre solet? vae Casinae! et vae īnfantī sepultō! et vae nōbīs!”

et Valerius attonitus et territus, “edepol! ecastor! dī omnēs!” respondet, “fortasse Casina aegrotat, quod umbra īnfantis insepultī iniūriās suās ulcīscī vult! sine dubiō iste vēnālīcius impius nunc iam poenās scelerum luit! etiamsī dominus sum pius, fortasse lemur advenit nōs pūnītum! vae! heu! nōs oportet multa sacrificia offerre!”

subitō Casina oculōs aperit et “heus! quis clāmat?” fessa et languida rogat. omnēs ad lectum festīnant et “Casina? an nōs iam agnōscis?” sollicitī rogant. illa attonita, “domine! domina! Milphiō mī amīce!” respondet, “cūr hoc mē rogātis? nōnne semper vōs agnōscō?”

Milphiō attonitus Casinae rem tōtam nārrat. et Casina, “vae! heu!” ululat. “nōs haud decet rēs tālēs memoriā tenēre. mē oportet surgere et aquam trahere!” ancilla surgere cōnātur, sed frustrā! membra sua movēre haud potest!

Valerius, “Casina mea,” inquit, “tibi in hōc lectō manendum est! perīculōsum enim est nōbīs talia ōmina contemnere! mihi nunc ē domō exeundum est, quod mē decet augurem vel haruspicem quaerere.”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • As I mentioned above, I’d really love your feedback if you have experience, good or bad, with any of the software we’re considering for Version Beta.
  • Were you surprised by anything you learned about Roman laws regarding slavery?
  • What about Valerius’ and Caelia’s rections to Casina’s morbus?
  • And what about Casina’s own reaction? Why do you suppose she tries to minimize what’s happening to her?

Tune in next time, when we’ll address these questions and others … and when we’ll find out whether Valerius was successful in his quest for an augur or a haruspex. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus!

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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.

Wedding Stories, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it? I had feared that my day of waiting for the car repair wouldn’t be very productive … and so it was hugely productive. I even had Wi-Fi access for much of the day! So I was able not only to draft stories, but to use online resources like GoogleBooks and Glossa to do some editing and fact-checking. (I’m eternally grateful to GoogleBooks for scanning Harold Johnston’s Private Life of the Romans, which is available at this link. At almost 110 years old, it’s a bit outdated in places, but it has a huge amount of useful information – including specialized Latin terminology for things related to Roman marriage that you’ll find in our current series of stories. Grātiās maximās tibi, Professor Johnston, et vōbīs, GoogleBooks team!)

Anyway, today we’ll look at the next story in the sequence about Valeria’s wedding to Vipsānius. I realized yesterday morning, while driving to drop off the car for service, that some of you lectōrēs cārissimī, who are familiar with the Big Three reading-method Latin textbooks, might be a bit concerned about a wedding-themed story. I’m thinking of one particular book, quem nōmināre nōlō, in which the wedding turns into a disaster because the bride is secretly in love with someone else … a really exciting and gripping story-line, and one of my students’ traditional favorites. But that’s not what will happen in the Tres Columnae stories.

I’m very fond of the Pyramus and Thisbe motif, but I must say I enjoy the ironic way that Ovid treats the story far more than I would a “straight-up” treatment. So no one will die horribly in Lectiō XXIV, I promise! Or I guess I should say, to be fair, that no one will die in our primary stories! If participants and subscribers want to create stories like that, they’re certainly welcome to do so … though, of course, we also reserve the right to edit and approve. In the primary story-line, though, I really don’t want any Teenage Relationship Drama; I get plenty of that whenever I talk with my face-to-face students and my almost-teenage daughter. 🙂

Anyway, in today’s story, which you can now find here on the Tres Columnae Version Alpha wiki site, Caelia is dressing her daughter for the Big Day. I’m grateful, once again, to

  • Professor Johnston, quite posthumously, for reminding me about the tunica rēgilla and the nōdus Herculāneus, and that Hercules watches over married life (which, when you think of his problematic relationships with women, is rather ironic, isn’t it?)
  • Professors Lewis and Short, also quite posthumously, and via Glossa, for cofirming that cōmere is the verb you use for arranging hair in this context, that involvere is what you do with a flammeum, and that vīncīre applies to the nodus Herculāneus as it does to ordinary knots.

Here we go:

in ātriō domūs, Valeria togam suam praetextam exuit et tunicam rēgillam induit. Caelia crīnēs Valeriae in sex partēs hastā cōmit et vittīs retinet. tum Caelia, fīliam suam amplexa, “mihi laetandum est, Valeriōla mea, quod hodiē vespere iuvenī optimī nūbēs!” māterfamiliās, haec verba locūta, flammeō caput Caeliae involvit. tum, fīliam iterum amplexa, lacrimīs iterum sē trādit. Valeria, mātrem quoque amplexa, “ō mater mea,” inquit, “quaesō, amābō tē, nē lacrimēs! nōnne ego ipsa gaudeō? nōnne iuvenis optimus mē uxorem vespere dūcet? quaesō, amābō tē, nē lacrimās ita effundās!”

Caelia tandem lacrimās retinēre potest. Valeriam iterum amplexa, “ō fīlia,” inquit, “nōnne lacrimō quod laetissima sum? rēctē tamen dīcis: mihi haud lacrimandum est! haud decet mātrem diē nūptiārum fīliae lacrimāre! ōmina enim optima tibi praebēre dēbeō.” Caelia sē colligit et haec addit: “siste nunc, mea fīlia, et nōlī ita tē movēre! mē enim oportet nōdum Herculis vīncīre. difficile tamen est nōdum rīte vīncīre, cum sponsae nōn cōnsistunt!”

Valeria “ignōsce mihi, māter,” respondet, et statim cōnsistit. Caelia cingulum sūmit et nōdum Herculāneum perītē circum īlia fīliae vīncit. “heus,” sēcum putat, “nōnne tempus fugit? nōnne paucōs ante diēs māter mea nōdum Herculis mihi ita vīnxit?”

Valeria tamen, “māter mea,” subitō inquit, “cūr nodum vīncīre haesitās?” et Caelia “ignōsce mihi, fīlia mea,” respondet. “haestiābam enim, quod diem nūptiārum meārum in animō volvēbam.” Caelia nōdum cōnficit et “nunc iam,” inquit, “nōnne nōs decet precēs Herculī ipsī, quī mātrimōnia omnia custōdit, iam adhibēre?”

Valeria manum Caeliae prēnsat. tum māter fīliaque verba sollemnia prōnuntiant. haec verba locūtae, ambae ex ātriō ēgrediuntur rēs nūptiālēs parātum.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • If you happen to be a specialist in Roman wedding ceremonies, please let me know if there are any factual errors here! I think I’ve accurately depicted what we do know, but I’m always open to corrections. And, of course, the beauty of an online “text” like the Tres Columnae Project is that it’s easy to make such corrections – no expensive reprints, lists of errata and corrigenda, or economic decisions about new editions!
  • You can probably see that I was trying to strike a balance between “universal” emotional issues and culturally specific details in this story. And, of course, I’ve never been a bride myself, nor have I ever been the mother of a bride! So, how well does this story depict the “universal” emotions of Valeria and Caelia? That is, if you’ve been a bride (or the mother of one), can you see yourself in Valeria, Caelia, or both? And if not, what do we need to change?
  • How well does it depict the specific cultural details of Roman wedding preparations?
  • How is the balance? Is there too much of one or the other, or did we manage to get the balance “just right”?
  • And, most of all, does this story grab your attention and make you want to keep reading?

Tune in next time, when we’ll explore some other stories in the sequence. By the end of Lectiō XXIV, not only will we follow Valeria through her wedding day, but we’ll also witness

  • the servī et ancillae who are preparing for the wedding feast;
  • the nervous bridegroom, with his father and servants;
  • the recent wedding of Caius’ sister Lollia, in a flashback;
  • our friend Lucius’ response to Lollia’s wedding; and even
  • preparations for the weddings of two of your favorite mouse-children.

intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments and emails coming, and I look forward to seeing many of you this weekend in Winston-Salem, NC, for the 2010 American Classical League Institute.

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, 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.

Rites of Passage, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today, a transitional day in my face-to-face world, we’ll start looking at stories in which our younger characters make transitions. Specifically today, we’ll begin to address the wedding of Valeria, young Lucius Valerius’ big sister, to their distant cousin Quartus Vipsānius. If you’re a longtime reader of the blog, you may recall some another story from this sequence, now available through this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site … this is the story where Valeria and her family have gone to visit the Vipsanii in Mediolānum. They attend a chariot race, and Vipsānius’ father has an unfortunate encounter with two drunk race fans and a bōtulus! In this series of posts, we’ll look at some other stories from this sequence, as well as some from the actual wedding ceremony.

The sequence actually begins in Lectiō XIV with this fabella, which introduces what Romans called the modus optātīvus, and what most English speakers would call a “volitive” use of the subjunctive mood. The spectāculum to which it refers comes in Lectiō XIII and also features some unruly spectators; you can find it at this link at the Version Alpha Wiki site if you’re interested.

paucīs mēnsibus post spectāculum, Valeria diem nātālem celebrat. Valeria iam trēdecim annōs nāta est. “mea fīlia, nōn puella, sed fēmina est,” inquit Caelia. “utinam marītum Valeriae aptum inveniam!” Valerius sēcum putat.

servus iānuam domūs pulsat et clāmat. Milphiō servō iānuam aperit et “quid hīc petis?” rogat. servus Milphiōnī epistulam trādit et in ātriō morātur. Valerius in tablīnō sedet et epistulam legit. “heus!” exclāmat, “utinam ille servus dominō responsum referat!”

Valerius Milphiōnī epistulam dictat. Milphiō Valeriō epistulam scrībit. Valerius servum vocat et “heus! puer! Fortūna tibi favet! utinam ad dominum suum celeriter reveniās!”

As you probably expect, there’s a quid novī explanation about the new verbs and the word utinam, followed by some interactive exercises with which our participants gain comfort with the forms of the optātīvus. They then see this story:

Valerius per tablīnum ambulat. “ēhem!” sibi dīcit. Caelia Valerium audit et tablīnum intrat. “heus! mī marīte!” inquit, “cūr continuō ambulās? cūr ēhem continuō dīcis? num quid tibi cūrae est?”

Valerius “heus! Caelia ades!” clāmat, “num diū in tablīnō stās? multa enim in animō volvō. nōnne Valeria nostra iam fēmina est? nōnne iuvenī optimō nūbere dēbet?”

Caelia, “certē, mī Valerī,” respondet, “et nōnne diem nūptiārum nostrārum memōriā tenēs? nōnne vōcēs patrum et mātrum? nōnne –”

Valerius, “certē, Caelia mea,” respondet, “et dea Fortūna nōbīs favet. nōnne consōbrīnus tuus, ille Quartus Vipsānius, in urbe Mediolānō habitat? nōnne Vipsānius vir magnae dignitātis magnārumque dīvitiārum est?”

Caelia, “vērum dīcis, mī marīte,” respondet, “Vipsānius autem –”

et Valerius, “nunc iam in ātriō morātur servus Vipsāniī. servus enim hūc pervenit epistulam mihi portātum. et … epistulam quaesō lege!”

Caelia epistulam legit et, “prō dī immortālēs! dea Fortūna nōbīs certē favet!” exclāmat.

Valerius cum uxōre cōnsentit et, “Caelia mea, fīliam nostram hūc vocā! mē enim oportet cum Valeriā colloquium habēre.”

You can probably imagine what the colloquium is about! I’m not sure, though, that any of us, whether scrīptor or lectōrēs, can imagine Valeria’s thoughts or feelings. As a Roman girl of a fairly wealthy family, she certainly would have grown up expecting an arranged marriage, and she’d certainly be aware that she’d reached marriageable age. Would she be shocked, nervous, excited, relieved, or some combination when her father finally summoned her and told her who the man would be? And in Valeria’s case (of course, I know her better than you do … there are stories about her that you haven’t seen yet!), was she hoping for a local boy? Or was she expecting a distant relative like Vipsānius? Has she ever met him, and (whether she has or not) what does she know about him? How did Roman girls and women feel about the reality of arranged marriage anyway? And how did Roman fathers feel when they were actually making the arrangements – and actually informing their daughters about the arrangements? I think of my own daughter, who’s a bit younger than Valeria … as I write the draft of this post, she’s not-exactly-celebrating the end of school at her last dance class before this weekend’s big recital. I can’t imagine sitting down with her and announcing the name of her new husband – but then, as we know, I’m not a Roman!

I suppose I should tell you, though, that a former student once asked me if I was a native speaker of Latin … and was surprised to find out that I wasn’t! The conversation went something like this:

Her: Really? You’re not a native speaker?

Rest of class: (desperate attempts not to snicker)

Me (in my mid-twenties at the time): Just how old do you think I am?

Her: I don’t know, you’re a teacher, you must be like fifty or something.

Me: Are your parents fifty?

Her: No.

Me: Do I look older than your parents?

Her: I don’t know. You’ve got to be pretty old.

I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or terrified at the time … and many years later, I’m still not sure. Ironically, my current students tend to underestimate my age and are surprised that I’m in my early forties – “You don’t look that old!” they say. Again, should I be flattered or terrified? And no, I don’t ask how old their parents are anymore … I don’t want to know! 🙂

Returning to the two stories for a moment, though, quid respondētis?

  • In a previous post, I’ve mentioned our reasons for introducing the optātīvus rather earlier than a “conventional” Latin course would do. What do you think, having now actually seen the fabella?
  • What do you think of the characterization of Valeria … and of her father and mother?
  • And how would you have responded if you were Valeria?

Tune in next time, when we’ll look at more stories from the sequence and share some of your comments and questions. I’ll describe the exercises next week … and I may be able to send you to a live demonstration! More on that soon … we’re inspecting some different possible software platforms for the exercises and quizzes of the Tres Columnae project, and we may have some good news in the next week or so. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Another New Story, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll look at the second story in the sequence of “animal families” from Lectiō XVI. Yesterday, as you probably recall, we looked at this story about Ferox, Medusa, and their new puppies, and I left you with these questions:

  1. In general, we’ve tried to keep the animal and human worlds rather separate from each other – that is, the animals don’t talk to the people, and they don’t behave in people-like (or animal-fable-character-like) ways when the people are around. Does that make sense to you?
  2. Do you think we’ve accomplished that in this story? Or are the two worlds excessively or inappropriately mixed? Or, for that matter, do you disapprove of talking-animal stories and fables?
  3. To what extent have we addressed the themes of pietās and familia that we explored in last week’s posts?
  4. What other virtūtēs Rōmanae have we addressed – or, perhaps, failed to address?
  5. And what new insights, if any, into our characters do you have as a result of this story?

Just a few thoughts about each one before we move on to Ridiculus and Impigra’s new litter:

  1. There certainly are some interactions between anthropomorphic animals and humans in the fable tradition, but in general, it seems that the animals don’t talk to the people. I’ve tried to preserve that distinction in our stories – and, at the same time, I think we’re being faithful to a long line of talking-and-rational-animal stories where the animals don’t talk to the people.
  2. You may have noticed that Ferox and Medusa don’t talk to each other Latīnē when their owners are around – lātrant, sed nōn colloquuntur. Is that a problem for you, lectōrēs cārissimī? Do you want the animals to talk to the people, or do you prefer the separation?
  3. Regarding pietās and familia, I’m particularly interested in Ferox’s (very human) worries when Medusa goes into labor. I also thought you might like Caeliola’s plan to make bullas for the puppies, and I certainly wanted Ferox to acknowledge his children, as any Roman father would, by picking them up when they were laid at his feet. What else did you notice?
  4. Regarding the virtūtēs, it seemed to me that Ferox had a momentary loss of gravitās (but then he is a dog, so I guess that’s understandable) but recovered nicely at the end. What about dignitās? To what extent is it a factor for any of the animals – or humans – in this story?
  5. Regarding the characters, I was influenced a bit by my own dog, who did not display much gravitās or dignitās during a big thunderstorm we had on Monday. He’s convinced that thunder is the enemy, but he’s also convinced that he can drive it away if he only runs to the window fast enough, then barks or growls loud enough. (My cousin, who has two Dalmatians, admires his initiative and responsibility; she says her dogs, by contrast, expect her and her husband to drive the thunder away for them!) We’ll see more of Ferox’s pietās towards friends and, in a sense, clients in a later story in this sequence.

Today, though, let’s take a look at this second story, in which Ridiculus and Impigra are about to expand their family.  (Starting today, you’ll also be able to find it at this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site.)  Unlike Medusa, Impigra does think it’s reasonable to call a midwife….

noctū in domō Valeriī festīnātur et exclāmātur. Impigra enim, uxor Rīdiculī māterque Rapidī et Rapidae, īnfantēs parturīre parat. Rīdiculus līberōs suōs arcessit et “vōbīs,” inquit, “tacendum et exeundum est. māter enim vestra etiam nunc īnfantēs gignere parat. quandō enim mātrēs īnfantēs gignunt līberōs haud decet adesse, haud decet clāmāre.”

infrā cavum Impigra, “mī Rīdicule,” clāmat, “cūr abes? cūr nōn in cavō adest obstētrix?” Rīdiculus īrātus, “mea Impigra,” respondet, “num mē oportet hoc iterum explicāre? num omnium verbōrum meōrum oblīvīsceris? hoc enim est cēnāculum, nōn cavus!”

Rapidus Rapidaque rīsibus et cachinnīs sē trādunt. Impigra īrāta, “marīte!” exclāmat, “quandō mātrēs partūriunt, patrēs haud decet adesse, haud decet rēs explicāre! tē oportet obstētrīcem per tōtam domum quaerere!”

Rīdiculus, “vērum dīcis, ut semper, Impigra mea,” respondet. subitō obstētrix per domum Valeriī perterrita currit. “vae! heu!” clāmat illa, “ista mustēla mē persequitur! līberōs tuōs oportet cavum intrāre mustēlam vītātum!”

Rīdiculus “ō obstētrix stultissima, nōlī cēnāculum meum contemnere!” inquit, sed obstētrix haec interpellat īrātissima: “Rīdiculus mūs! num mihi istum verbum “cēnāculum” prōnuntiāre in animō habēs? num rēs rīdiculās commemorās, quandō ista mustēla per domum saevit et uxor tua etiam nunc partūrit?! num tam audācem tamque impium tē praestās? tibi tacendum est!”

Rīdiculus attonitus tacet. obstētrix cavum celeriter ingreditur. Rapidus Rapidaque quoque intrant et rīsibus cachinnīsque iterum sē trādunt.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • As for virtūtēs, it seems to me that Ridiculus has pietās down, at least as it relates to his family, but struggles a bit with gravitās and dignitās. What do you think?
  • What new insights into Impigra, Rapidus, and Rapida do you gain from this story?
  • And what about the obstētrix? It seemed to me that we needed another strong, independent female character … and a mouse-midwife would certainly be all those things? What did you think of her response to Ridiculus’ um, ridiculous fussing about the “cēnāculum” under these circumstances? (Sorry – I just couldn’t resist the pun!)
  • And what role, if any, do you expect Sabīna mustēla to play in the next story? Keep in mind that, in the fable tradition, weasels tend to be rather bitter spinsters … the thought of a soft, fluffy little mouse-baby wouldn’t exactly gladden her heart.

Tune in next time, when we’ll find out how both Sabīna and Ferox respond to the baby mice. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.