More about Casina, IV

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! This is a big day for my favorite-and-only daughter, whom I’ve mentioned from time to time in previous posts. She turns 13 today, and I wish her safe and relatively happy passage through the minefields of the teenage years! She and I will save our just-Dad-and-daughter celebration for Saturday. Like most girls her age, she loves shoe-shopping, and like her dad, she enjoys bargain-hunting, so it will be a fun day for everyone … including her little brother, who gets a much-needed break from his “bossy” big sister!

Today is also a great day for the Tres Columnae Project! A lot of great things have been happening behind the scenes, as our community takes ever-greater Ownership of the learning materials themselves. I want to highlight a recent comment, by our relatively new community member Leslie P., who noticed – and quite reasonably questioned – part of this story. Her concern: Fabius the magister charges poor Lollius more than he charges wealthy Valerius, but in ancient Mediterranean cultures (and even in some cultures today where bargaining is expected) it is normal and customary for the wealthy to pay more. In my response, I noted that Valerius, too, is surprised, and that he plōrat et queritur Lollius, exclaiming tantam avāritiam! Of course, in the end, he also gets the price for Caius’ education down (to the same price he’s paying for Lucius to be educated, in fact, since he’s the one paying for both) … and Fabius remarks that he would, in fact, have taken less. And so we wonder:

  • Is it just that Lollius is bad at negotiation?
  • Is Fabius, who seems like a sympathetic character in later stories like this one, actually greedy?
  • Or is something else going on here?

Even the simplest-looking story can, on closer investigation, open a window into deeper Understanding as well as Knowledge and Skill! I’m so grateful to Leslie for raising the issue, and I invite all of our lectōrēs fidēlissimī to comment on – and question – any aspect of the Tres Columnae Project that leaves you wondering or scratching your head.

Sometimes, of course, our lectōrēs fidēlissimī find real errors that need to be corrected. For example, I need to express grātiās maximās to our friend Paul P, whose voice you can hear on the recorded version of this story, for pointing out (very kindly, too) that the -o- in Caeliola is short. vae mihi, et vae nōbīs! I think we’ve corrected all of the text by now, and our faithful collaborator Ann is almost done fixing the audio. But please let us know if you find any other vowel-quantity errors!

If you haven’t seen it yet, Part 2 of Ann’s students’ video version of the story of Cnaeus and the horse is now available from this link at Vimeo. Lots of characters make mistakes in this story! And you may find a few imperfections in the video itself; at least, they’d be imperfections in a professional video shoot. We’re all curious to know what you think.

In all these cases, mistakes and imperfections – and the process of correcting them – played an important part. Mistakes, both real and apparent, can be a wonderful teachable moment … especially in learning a language! There’s no need to fear them, especially when they can be corrected easily. I am actually a big proponent of mistakes, for several reasons:

  • They’re going to happen anyway – everyone makes them. So why pretend to be perfect when you’re not?
  • If I as teacher make a mistake, it normalizes mistake-making and reduces learners’ anxiety – especially if those learners are perfectionists like me! 🙂
  • When I encourage you, the learner, to look for mistakes I make, it builds community between us; we’re all aiming to improve our skills, and it’s OK for all of us to offer corrections or suggestions to each other.
  • It also reduces the “power gap” that can appear when the teacher is seen as the Source of All Wisdom and the learner is seen as the Empty Vessel To Be Filled Up with Knowledge.
  • And, of course, when students have the power to find and correct mistakes, they naturally have a lot more Ownership in the learning process.

As I think about mistakes, I realize they are also an important theme in our current set of stories. Is it a mistake, for example, for Valerius to spend so much time and trouble on a cure for Casina’s morbus novissimus? Is he mistaken, for that matter, in believing that she really is sick? Is she mistakenly attempting to take advantage of his generosity? We don’t yet know, and we may not find out for a while. But we should also remember that life, by its very nature, involves a lot of situations where we don’t know the “right” answer but still have to take action. What do you think: is it better to act, and possibly make a mistake, or to be paralyzed and do nothing?

Anyway, in today’s story from our continuing sequence about Casina and the attempts to cure her morbus novissimus (and, of course, to placate the potentially angry lemur or umbra of her īnfāns mortuus), we find Casina, along with her domina Caelia and her future domina Valeria, on the way to the temple of Bona Dea. You can also find it at this link at the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site if you’d like.

per omnēs urbis Rōmae viās continuō festīnātur et clāmātur. plūrimī enim cīvēs per viās contendunt negōtium āctum. plūrimī servī per viās festīnant mandāta dominōrum effectum. senātōrēs quoque et fēminae Rōmānae per viās prōgrediuntur. aliquandō multī servī agmen dūcunt; aliquandō vel quattuor vel octō servī lectīcam umerīs ferunt. turbae cīvium servōrumque lectīcās avidī spectant. “quis in istā lectīcā nunc sedet?” rogant et respondent.

Caelia et Valeria quoque cum Casinā ancillā per viās ad templum Bonae Deae lectīcā Claudiī feruntur. “nōnne lectīcam servōsque Claudiī Pulchrī cōnspiciō?” exclāmant nōnnullī. servī tamen tacitī nihil respondent. per viās urbis ad templum Bonae Deae lentē prōgrediuntur. multitūdō enim dēnsa viās complet et lectīcāriīs obstat.

dum Caelia Valeriaque ad templum Bonae Deae cum Casinā prōgrediuntur, Valerius et Lūcius domī Claudiī Pulchrī manent. “virōs enim puerōsque haud decet templō Bonae Deae appropinquāre,” inquit Valerius. “Bonae Deae mulierēs, nōn virī sunt cordī. virōs haud licet mystēria Bonae Deae spectāre – ego igitur templum quoque vītō, quod vīta sālūsque mihi sunt cordī. nōnne multōs abhinc annōs ille Publius Clōdius, vestibus fēmineīs indūtus, mystēria Bonae Deae vidēre temptābat? nōnne comprehēnsus et accūsātus, vix poenās ultimās vītāre poterat? atavus enim tuus, ille Sextus Valerius, iūdex erat. ōrātiōnēs Cicerōnis per tōtam vītam memoriā tenēbat.”

dum Valerius rem tōtam nārrat et Lūcius avidus audit, Caelia et Valeria cum Casinā tandem ad templum Bonae Deae perveniunt. lectīcāriī fessī lectīcam dēpōnunt. fēminae sollicitae dē lectīcā dēscendunt et templum Bonae Deae ingrediuntur. sacrificia sollemnia cum vōtīs precibusque in ārā Bonae Deae offerunt. tum sacerdōtēs illās in hortum templī dūcunt, ubi multōs flōrēs multāsque herbās cōnspicantur. deinde sacerdōs Caeliam adloquitur et, “ō mulier,” inquit, “quid morbōrum tē afflīgit? quid auxiliī ā Bonā Deā petis?” Caelia “ō sacerdōs,” respondet, “nōn mihi, sed huic ancillae auxilium deae quaerō. “multōs enim diēs somnia novissima cum febribus hanc ancillam afflīgunt.”

sacerdōs vōce serēnā, “mē decet,” inquit, “cum ancillā ipsā colloquī. puella, dīc mihi: quālia somnia tē afflīgunt? quid in somniīs appāret?”

Casina perterrita paulīsper tacet. tandem, “ō sacerdōs,” respondet, “cotīdiē in somniīs appāret lemur īnfantis, quī vultū verbīsque mē terret. aliquandō somnia mē immōtam reddunt; aliquandō dominum familiamque agnōscere haud possum. quaesō, amābō tē, ō sacerdōs, mē adiuvā!”

sacerdōs attonitus tacet. tum “puella,” Casinam rogat, “quid verbōrum audīs? quid vultūs vidēs?” et Casina, “lemur īnfantis mē adloquitur et, “venī ad mē,” ait. vultum pallidum gerit, et valdē timeō!” tum sacerdōs, “num,” respondet, “est tibi īnfāns lemurī similis?” Casina lacrimīs et ululātibus sē trādit et tandem, “īnfāns meus nōn vīvit, sed in urbe Pompēiīs hōs decem annōs insepultus et mortuus iacet,” susurrat.

sacerdōs perterritus, “heu!” clāmat, “lemur ā tē abestō! lemurēs ab omnibus abestōte!” templum celeriter ingreditur precātum et sacrificātum. tandem ēgreditur sacerdōs et, “puella,” inquit, “sine dubiō somnia tua sunt ōmina maximī mōmentī.” Caeliam adloquitur et, “rēctē, ō mulier,” inquit, “hanc ancillam hūc dūcis, quod ōmina tālia fāta dīra tōtī familiae significant. nōnne necesse est ancillae tuae herbās flōrēsque hīc ēsse? fortasse tamen Nemesis ipsa, vēmēns dea, haec ōmina ancillae tuae mittit. sī Nemesis somnia mittit, ancillam quoque oportet templum Aesculapiī vīsitāre. nōnne enim Aesculapius deus, quī remedia in somniīs mittit, somnia tālia cūrāre potest? hodiē ancillam decet herbās nostrās ēsse, nocte proximā in īnsulā Aesculapiī prope templum dormīre.”

tum sacerdōs templum iterum ingreditur herbās flōrēsque quaesītum. mox regreditur et, “puella,” inquit, “tē decet haec ēsse et hoc pōculum haurīre.” Casina perterrita sacerdōtī pāret; herbās celeriter ēst et pōculum haurit. tum Casina cum Caeliā Valeriāque iterum iterumque Bonam Deam precātur. tandem, trēs post hōrās, Caelia et Valeria Casinam ex hortō templī dūcunt et lectīcam iterum cōnscendunt. lectīcāriī pedēs lectīcae umerīs tollunt, et per viās urbis ad domum Claudiī Pulchrī lentē regrediuntur.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

To keep from overwhelming you, I think I want to deal with the implications of this story in tomorrow’s post – so please feel free to let me know what issues you think we should explore, either with a comment here or with a private email. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Editing and Revision, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Welcome to a Joyful Latin Learning “first” – our first story that was actually contributed by a community member! We also want to celebrate our first Free Trial subscriber, Claire S, who will probably be introducing herself on the website in a bit. If you’ve been following developments at the website (, you know that our faithful readers Laura G and Ann M have made internal blogs at the site, and you also probably know that several of those blog posts have been in Latin. For example, here are Ann’s posts, and here is a great fable adapted by Laura. But David H, who is not a professional Classicist, is our first subscriber to submit a full-scale story; in fact, he’s submitted two to date and has graciously agreed to allow us to use them to show you a model of the Tres Columnae editing and revision process.

We think that editing and revision are very important for several reasons.

  • First (as you know if you’ve ever read any writing by young people), it’s a much-needed and seldom-practiced skill, whether in your own language or in a language you’re learning.
  • Second, it can help to build Ownership of your writing (and of the thoughts in your writing) … especially if the editor engages in a dialogue with you rather than simply “fixing it for you.”
  • Third, and perhaps most important, the possibility of editing and revising (which makes it clear that the current version doesn’t have to be the final, perfect version) makes it safe and acceptable to take risks, to make mistakes, and to learn and grow from those mistakes. Too often, in the “school world,” mistakes are seen as the enemy rather than a critical part of learning!

In any case, David H’s stories are quite good, but (like any early draft) they’re not perfect yet. So, in the mature Tres Columnae project, they would not yet be linked to the “major” or “existing” stories – not until one of our editors had the chance to look at them, engage in a dialogue with him, and ultimately approve them. Eventually, we hope that a lot of participants will become interested in editing … and proficient enough with reading and writing Latin to become good editors. Of course, they’ll receive a discount on their subscriptions if they do! At the moment, though, there’s only one available editor, also serving as Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. 🙂

Today we’ll preview David H’s two stories, and tomorrow we’ll begin to look at the editing and revision process. With thanks again to our faithful reader, here is the story exactly as David H submitted it. You should be able to see it at this link as well if you’re interested.

Casa mea pura est, nec sordida nec mucida. In una situla scopae et peniculus sunt. Cotidie pavimentum lavo. Itaque neque muscas neque formicas in casa mea vivunt. Vespas et arenas non amo, et eas quoque in casa mea non vivunt.

Ego quoque matellam habeo. Non barbarus sum! Hahahae! Iocum facio.

And here is David H’s second story, available at this link:

Quid agis? Si vales, deinde valeō sum. Quid nomen tibi est? Ortellium mē vocant. Unde venitis? Ubi habitas? Quam patriam habēs? Hibernicus sum. In Hiberniā habitō. Hibernia insula parva ac pulchra est, prope Britanniam. Dē vitā meā tibi narrare volō.

Rusticus summissus sum, atque senex macilentus et stomachosus. Nec fratres nec sorores habeō. Uxorem quoque nōn habeō. Baccalaureus sum. Quamquam multos amicos et multas amicas habeō, solitarius homo sum, et vītam quiētam ac simplicem vīvō. Hoc mihi placet.

Senex invenustus sum, nōn pulcher. Barbam longam et horridam habeō, sed caput meus calvus est. Ego quoque caecus in unō oculō sum. Genūs meae nōn bonae, sed malae sunt. Genūs meae semper tumident ac dolent. Praeterea claudus sum, ergō agilis non sum. Multis abhinc annis in lutō lapsavi et ad terram cēcidi, atque coxam meam frēgī. Paulisper ambulare nōn poteram. Iampridem iuvenis validus eram, atque currere celeriter poteram. Hodiē currere nōn possum. Difficilis est mihi ambulare, ergō baculō lentē ambulō. Claudicare mihi nōn placet.

Ō mē miserum! Tempus fugit atque senescere mihi quoque nōn placet. Quam molestus est! Interdum melancholicus et morosus sum. Quamquam senex sum et sine dubiō vita dura et onerosa est, nihilominus nōn desperō. Magnam pecuniam et dives nōn habeō, sed pauper non sum. Ut dixi, ego multos amicos et multas amicas habeō.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re an editor for the Tres Columnae project. Your goals are

  • to make sure that finalized versions of stories are “high quality” (I think that means they have good grammar, idiomatic vocabulary, and inherent interest that makes you, the reader, want to keep reading … and what other criteria would you employ?);
  • to help contributors improve their stories – and their command of the language;
  • to guide them to improve their stories, but not “do it for them” (especially in terms of grammatical or lexical problems); and
  • to avoid getting bogged down in endless “red pen” type comments, especially as the project grows and the number of submissions increases.

You may recall this post from early February, in which I shared a draft of the rather simple rubric we’re planning to use when editing stories. If you don’t, I’ll repeat the essence of the rubric here:

Acceptable Not Yet Acceptable
Morphology and Syntax Errors, if any, are typographical and require minimal editing. Constructions are familiar to the learner. No new / unfamiliar forms are used or, if they are, they’re clear from context. Errors of morphology and syntax are present. More than typographical correction is needed. New/unfamiliar forms are used without clarification, or forms are used incorrectly.
Vocabulary All important words are previously learned (on the master vocabulary list) or clear from context/derivatives. Words are used correctly and idiomatically, or there are only minor errors, easily corrected. New words are included without attention to vocabulary development. There may be evidence of “random dictionary diving.” Some words are used incorrectly or in unidiomatic ways; errors require more than minimal editing to correct.
Storyline Characters’ behavior and motivation is consistent with previous stories. Setting, tone, and other features “make sense” with what has gone before. Characters’ behavior and motivation is inconsistent with previous stories, or with “what a Roman would do” (for Roman characters). Setting, tone, and/or other features “don’t make sense” with what has gone before.

So how would you rate David H’s stories in regard to each of these elements? And what advice would you give him (keeping in mind that he’s an adult re-learner of Latin, not a professional Latinist) to improve any elements of either story?

Tune in next time, when we’ll begin with the first story; then, on Friday, we’ll look at the second. Next week we’ll return to our theme of infinitives, with some more stories about the destruction of Herculaneum and its sister cities. And then we’ll look at some stories with participles. In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! 🙂