Virtual Seminars, III

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! In today’s post we’ll step back from the example of a Continuing Virtual Seminar, which we explored in the last two posts, to see whether it’s logistically possible to do such a thing with the technology that’s available today. Short answer: yes! Both TikiWiki and Moodle, the two software packages that serve as the “back end” for the current version of the Tres Columnae project, have “Forum” capabilities which (with just a bit of tweaking) will be able to provide Jane, John, and our other subscribers with the experience I’ve described in this series of posts. We’ll most likely use the TikiWiki forums, at least at first, since we want to make Virtual Seminars available to the whole community, including our free subscribers who won’t normally have access to the exercises, quizzes, and other material on the Moodle site. Over time, we may possibly migrate to a single “back end” software platform, but if that happens, it probably won’t matter to you as a subscriber. Anyway, either “right out of the box” or with a few simple settings, we should be able to

  • provide multiple Fora/Forums for each Lectiō;
  • require participants to respond to an opening question before they enter the rest of the Forum;
  • provide Thematic Threads within the Forum for our participants to respond to;
  • allow participants to receive email notifications of new posts in any Thematic Thread, or not, as they prefer, and change their preferences at any time;
  • include links to audio files (hosted externally) if they prefer to respond that way; and even
  • rate each other’s responses on a scale from 1-5 if our participants would like that ability.

We’re already able to manage multiple internal blogs for our subscribers, so the Learning Log blog feature is already available if anyone would like one. The audio links are the only element that may not work “right out of the box,” but if that’s a feature that participants really want, we’ll make it happen as soon as possible. Everything else should work right away. In fact, please feel free to check out this link to the Continuing Virtual Seminar we’ve been following for the past couple of days. Everything is there except the sample responses! 🙂 We’ve also included a couple of the Core questions that Jane decided not to respond to, in case you’re interested. Please feel free to post your responses and thoughts, either there or in a comment here. For this Virtual Seminar alone, it won’t be necessary to respond to the Opening question first.

And now for something a bit different! If you haven’t yet taken a look at (potential) Part III of the story of Trux’s adventures, please do, because I need some feedback about it. When you do look at it, you’ll notice that Trux has a vision, dream, or something (his friend Callidus the serpēns would probably say it was a “something”) in which the goddess Diana appears to him. I’m not sure even how I feel about this story, and I’d really like to have your feelings about it … regardless of whether you love it, hate it, or are completely neutral about it. It relates to the rather sensitive subject of Roman religion (specifically, Roman religious practices and perspectives) … a complicated area for us to reconstruct, to be sure, and one that can be fraught with peril depending on the teaching and learning situation in which you find yourself.

As I think about the “Big Three” reading-method textbooks, I’ve observed that they tend to avoid, even minimize, discussion of Romans’ religious practices and perspectives. There’s not much mythology (and, of course, most of the “Greco-Roman” myths aren’t native to Roman culture anyway), and other than at significant milestone events (births, deaths, marriages, etc.), the characters rarely seem to participate in the rituals of pietās and cultus deōrum. I’m not sure why that is!

  • Perhaps it’s because the publishers wanted to be able to sell their books and wanted, therefore, to avoid anything that might be controversial and hurt sales.
  • Perhaps it’s because the books themselves were mostly written in a period (the mid to late twentieth century) when “educated” people saw religion as a “private” matter that need not be publicly discussed.
  • Perhaps Roman religion seemed so strange to the authors that they just didn’t want to bother with portraying it.
  • Perhaps there’s some other reason I haven’t thought of.

In any case, pietās and cultus deōrum are always below the surface of the stories in these books, but that’s where they generally stay. In some ways, that makes sense, especially if you focus (as those books do) on the experiences and attitudes of wealthy, educated Roman men of the late Republican and early Imperial periods. Many of them were quite skeptical of traditional Roman religious perspectives, though they rarely let that skepticism prevent them from taking on politically expedient religious offices or performing public rituals that the voters expected of them! They were, after all, practical men! 🙂

In any case, both pietās and cultus deōrum had a lot more to do with what we might call “right action” than “right belief” or “right feeling.” (This always surprises my students, who mostly come from religious backgrounds where feeling is paramount … and even if they aren’t personally religious, that’s what they, as products of 21st-century American culture, expect religion to be.) So, in one way, it’s perfectly reasonable that the “Big Three” de-emphasize Roman religion … but, in another way, I don’t think we’re painting a completely accurate picture if we leave it out. Anyway, I want to walk a fine but important line in our handling of Roman religious beliefs in the Tres Columnae stories:

  • As a person of faith myself, I think matters of faith and religion do need to be taken seriously, not avoided.
  • If we are to provide a reasonably authentic picture of Roman life, I don’t think we can do it without at least a few references to the religious aspects of their world view.
  • But I don’t worship the Roman divinities, so I can’t fully understand the perspectives of those who do. At the same time, I recognize that there are some folks who do worship them, some of whom may well become Tres Columnae subscribers. I don’t want us to appear to be trivializing or misrepresenting their beliefs. (Side note: that’s one reason I don’t have my face-to-face students “re-enact a Roman wedding” or pretend to do haruspication or augury, as some teachers do. I gather the haruspices use eggs rather than exta … but it still bothers me.)

So, with these thoughts in mind, what do you think of somnium Trucis? I’m especially interested in your responses to

  • the appearance of Diana;
  • the other animals’ response to the dream; and
  • the viewpoint of Callidus serpēns.

Overall, do you think we should

  • keep the story as it is;
  • modify it in some way;
  • provide different versions for different users (in keeping with our idea of ITINERA); or
  • get rid of it completely?

I really need some advice here!

Tune in next time, when we’ll begin to explore the rather different path that Jane’s brother John might take through a Virtual Seminar for another Lectiō … and at the end of that, we’ll put the Virtual Seminar in place and let you participate in it, too, if you’d like. We’ll also be sharing a new story before the week is over. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments, emails, and Virtual Seminar responses coming!

Another Story, With Vocabulary

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Coming your way today is a brand-new Tres Columnae story from Lectiō XI. In case you’re wondering, we’re aiming to have an essentially complete version of Cursus Primus ready by the end of May, 2010, since we’re planning to make a presentation at the American Classical League Institute in June.

I say “essentially complete” because, in one way, Tres Columnae will never be “complete” – as long as there are new participants creating and adding stories, images, audio, and video, the project will be constantly growing and changing. In another way, though, we can say that we’re “essentially complete” when all the main or core stories are written and published online, and when all the quid novī explanations, exercises, and quizzes that we’d originally planned are finished and available to subscribers.

I considered using the word “mature” instead of “essentially complete” for a while, but I was afraid someone might take that word in its newer sense of “not intended for children” rather than its original sense of “grown up.” And I want to assure you that we won’t tolerate that type of “maturity” in Tres Columnae submissions! Not only is it inappropriate for our audience, but it’s often pretty immature! I think of my face-to-face Latin I students, who often like to smirk about things like the thermae; one easy way to outsmart them 🙂 is to invite them to have an “immaturity moment – everybody giggle really loud and say ‘naked people! naked people! naked people!’ until you get it out of your system.” It’s especially effective, I find, when I turn on my mountain-South twang and pronounce the word as “nekkid!” 🙂

In any case, we plan to be done with all of the stories in Lectiōnēs I-XXX by early May, and with the other initial “stuff” by the end of that month. Initial “stuff” includes audio and some more illustrations – if you haven’t been to our Version Alpha Wiki site recently, you may not have seen the amazing work of our illustrator, Lucy. If you need an illustrator for any purpose after May of this year, I hope you’ll get in touch with her … but you can’t have her (or her contact information) until then! 🙂 You just can’t! 🙂 We’ll have a few videos available by then, as well, but we anticipate that more videos will come as our subscriber base grows.

If you’re a school-based participant (or group of participants) who would like to create a video, we’d strongly encourage you to use Lucy’s beautiful puppet templates, which will soon be available. Not only will Lucius, Caius, Valeria, Caeliola, Lollia, and their friends always be recognizable that way, but your parents, teachers, and principals won’t have to worry about … all the things that adults worry about when kids post videos of themselves on the Internet. In fact, at this point, we think we simply won’t accept non-puppet or non-masked videos from participants who are under age 18. The safety of our Joyful Learning Community members is very important to us!

Of course, children’s safety was a very different thing in the Roman world, where childhood was a lot shorter, child mortality was a lot higher, and the attitude towards children was very different from that of most industrialized societies today. That’s one of the big cultural themes that we’ll explore in Tres Columnae Cursus Primus, of course, along with the vocabulary and the morphological and syntactic issues.

And it’s very important to today’s story, part of a sequence revolving around Lucius, Caius, and Cnaeus’ first day of school. (Yes, it’s the same day when Cnaeus had the unfortunate incident with Fortūnāta the cow … and there’s actually a story where we’ll get Fortūnāta’s perspective, too! But you’ll have to wait for another day to read that one … or go and look at the relevant page at if you can’t wait.)

It turns out that Cnaeus – big surprise! – behaved badly at school … but not as badly as another little boy named Quintus Flavius, whose father was responsible for the unfortunate mustēla incident. Anyway, Cnaeus’ father has punished him (more conventionally this time … with a beating, not a cow!) and his sisters (big surprise!) are making fun of him:

Caelius tandem Cnaeum pūnīre dēsinit et “abī, puer īnsolēns!” clāmat. Cnaeus “vae! heu!” clāmat et ē tablīnō celeriter currit. Prīma et Secunda extrā iānuam tablīnī rem tōtam audiunt et inter sē iocōs faciunt.

sorōrēs bracchia Cnaeī prēnsant et hoc rogant: “frāter noster, nōnne diem tuum commemorāre vīs?  an amīcum novum, illum Quīntum Flavium?”

“minimē, puellae molestae, nōlīte mē vexāre,” respondit ille.

Prīma autem “nōnne nōbīs dē lūdō commemorāre vīs?” rogat. et Secunda haec addit: “nōnne laetāris, mī frāter, quod puerum tam īnsolentem quam tē iam vidēs?” Cnaeus tamen īrātus, “puellās īnsolentēs!” exclāmat. “nōnne vōs decet in maximam malam crucem īre? cūr mē ita vexās? et iste Quīntus Flavius est īnsolentissimus! multō īnsolentior est quam ego!”

Prīma et Secunda cachinnibus sē trādunt. “heus! multō īnsolentior quam tū? utrum bove pater illum pūnīre solet, an taurō?” inquit Prīma. “nōn taurō, sed lupō!” inquit Secunda. “immō leōne ferōcissimō!” clāmat Prīma. “vel bālaenā maximā?” exclāmat Secunda.

“tacēte, pessimae puellae!” exclāmat Cnaeus īrātus. “nōnne mē decet vōs ambās in maximā malā crūce suspendere?”

“tacē, frater pessime! patrī verba tua commemorāre possum!” exclāmat Prīma ērubēscēns. Secunda, “verba enim impiissima!” addit. Cnaeus tamen, “num mē terrēre potestis? nōnne bracchium patris in pavīmentum cadere potest, sī mihi plagās plūrēs dare temptat? et quid poenārum minārī potest ille?”

Prīma et Secunda rīdent. tandem Secunda respondet, “fortasse nōn patrem, sed nūrum vocāre dēbēmus. fortasse Planesium tibi poenās aptās parāre potest.”

et Prīma, “fortasse nōn nūrum, sed bovem vocāre dēbēmus!” Cnaeus bracchium Prīmae prēnsat et, “vae! heu! nōlī umquam,” puellae susurrat, “istam bovem commemorāre. tē in crucem malam et maximam ipse mittere possum! tē cum sorōre tuā crūciāre volō! haec sōlus facere possum!”

Prīma et Secunda rīsūs cēlāre frūstrā temptant. Cnaeus fessus et īrātus ad cubiculum contendit. iānuam cubiculī firmē claudit et in lectum sē iactat. Cnaeus in lectō lacrimās tacitē effundit! “cūr omnēs mē dērīdēre et pūnīre solent?” sēcum susurrat. “dī magnī, cūr vōs mē ita torquēre solētis? cūr omnēs mē torquēre solent? vae! heu! heu! vae mihi!”

fortasse dī verba Cnaeī audiunt, sed nihil responsī puerō mittunt. tandem Cnaeus fessus in cubiculō obdormit. extrā iānuam cubiculī Nestōr verba Cnaeī audit et clam rīdet.

paedagōgus iam servīs et ancillīs rēs gestās Cnaeī nārrat. Planesium “Cnaeum miserrimum!” benigna dīcit. “quid Cnaeō suādēre possum? sī melius sē gerit, nēmō eum dērīdēre vel pūnīre vult.” cēterae tamen ancillae attonitae, “num īnsānīs, Planesium?” rogant. “num Cnaeus umquam bene sē gerere vult? num melius sē gerere potest?” servī rīdentēs cum ancillīs cōnsentiunt.

iam nox est, et in vīllā Caeliī Cnaeus lacrimīs et somnīs, servī cachinnīs et iocīs sē trādunt.

Beginning on Monday, we’ll look at some vocabulary-related issues with this story, including

  • the shades of meaning among oportet, decet, necesse, and dēbeō;
  • the quid novī that will address sōlus and solēre (and solēre’s relative īnsolēns);
  • “untranslatable” idioms like sē trādere and sē gerere;
  • why Prima and Secunda were so insulted by Cnaeus’ one comment; and
  • some other issues … but we’ll keep you guessing for now! 🙂

Gratias maximas to our faithful reader Elizabeth, who asked about this first point in a recent comment!  And yes, we’ll also talk about the sibling rivalry … and whether or not we feel (or should feel) any sympathy for Cnaeus. He does have two rather persistent big sisters, who do love to tease him … and then to get him in trouble! And he is less ill-behaved than Quintus Flavius, who … but you’ll have to check out this link to see what he did. I promise it was really, really bad – but entirely suitable for our audience! 🙂

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of the story … as a story?
  • What do you think of the characterization of Prima, Secunda, and Cnaeus … and Nestor and the other servī?
  • And what do you think of the vocabulary elements we’ve chosen to talk about Monday?  Are there others we should mention?

Tune in on Monday for our answers … and your answers, and your questions, too! 🙂  intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and please feel free to join us with one of the remaining Free Trial Subscriptions.

Developing Vocabulary, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodāl ēs! Welcome to the second in a series of posts about the ways that the Tres Columnae system will help our participants develop a solid, flexible vocabulary. Our faithful reader and contributor Randy F recently pointed out this link to an article by Professor Robert Cape of Austin College (TX) about the development of Latin vocabulary. Professor Cape, in turn, refers to a book by John Read called Assessing Vocabulary (Cambridge University Press, 2000), in which the author refers to three “dimensions of vocabulary assessment”:

Discrete – Embedded

Selective – Comprehensive

Context-Independent – Context-Dependent

To summarize Professor Cape’s summary, a discrete assessment would measure the learner’s comprehension of individual words, while an embedded assessment would consider how the words related to (and contributed to) the overall meaning of the text in which they occurred. A selective assessment looks at a particular list of words, while a comprehensive assessment considers the whole range of vocabulary a student has developed. A context-independent assessment considers all the possible meanings of a word (all the dictionary definitions, for example, or all the meanings on “the list”), while a context-dependent assessment considers the meaning – or meanings – that would be most appropriate in the actual context. As Professor Cape notes, most assessments of Latin vocabulary, even for advanced students, are on the discrete and selective side of the scale; he suggests several ways to move towards a more embedded, comprehensive, and context-dependent assessment of vocabulary. Given his audience, it’s natural that he emphasizes translation as a primary goal (and the main tool for assessment), but it would be quite easy to adapt this framework to a system, like Tres Columnae, which uses other measures as well. I am truly indebted to Randy for sending this resource my way, and I’m delighted to be able to share it with you! It has significantly changed this post and the ones that follow in this series.

In yesterday’s post, I pointed out ways that the Tres Columnae project meets several of our core beliefs and assumptions about vocabulary. And then I closed with this:

But what about the other promises we made? Specifically, what about

  • finding out whether the learner knows the word;
  • actual “presentation” of words that need to be presented
  • opposites and synonyms;
  • homophones and near-homophones;
  • prefixes, suffixes, and such; and
  • connections to English and other languages?

And are there elements of vocabulary learning that we’ve neglected?

I closed with a promise to begin with the first three elements today, taking up the others on Friday and sharing a story (or two) after that. So here we go:

1. Diagnosis – how do you know if a word needs to be presented?

This is a huge question in a Factory-model learning environment, where one naturally assumes that all learners (raw material) start at the same point and require exactly the same “processing” or “production” in order to become “finished products.” In such an environment, the tendency is always to “teach to the middle” – to find the words that most students don’t yet know and, somehow, present or deliver those, even if some students already know them and others aren’t ready to learn them yet. Many of us experienced that school, and some of us still teach in it! But just because it’s common, that doesn’t make it best or right.

In a Workshop-model learning environment, or in a Retail Store model, the assumption is that each learner is different … and that’s OK. Whereas the Factory is busy standardizing its production methods, these other approaches are more concerned with helping the individual apprentices or customers. As you know, Tres Columnae is firmly committed to the Workshop model, but we recognize and value the Retail Store model too. In both systems, the learner develops Ownership of his or her learning, and in both cases, the essential approach to diagnosing vocabulary needs is quite similar … and quite simple. You Ask!

In other words, in the Tres Columnae system, we’ll provide lots of ways for learners to determine their own vocabulary needs, and lots of ways to help them strengthen their vocabulary over time. You’ve seen some of these if you’ve visited the website:

  • the illustrations for every small fabella and longer fabula;
  • the audio versions of every fabella and fabula; and
  • the quid novī explanations, which sometimes deal with vocabulary as well as grammar.

Given our focus on Ownership, we’ll provide lots of possible presentations, and learners will pick the ones they need … certainly with our guidance, if they request it, or with the guidance of their teachers if they’re using Tres Columnae in a school environment. We want to send the message that it’s OK not to do everything, but how do we send that message to perfection-obsessed learners? I struggle with this question all the time, remembering a former student who burst into tears when she received a test on which she’d scored 108%! Were they tears of joy, you ask? Sadly, no; they were tears of grief and disappointment because she’d missed two questions and could have had a 110%. As our friend Cnaeus would say, “vae! heu!”

2. Presentation – how do  you actually present the word?

Speaking of presentation, you’ll find that we have several methods of actually presenting new vocabulary. We’re a bit cautious about presenting it in advance, especially given the study we referred to yesterday! Most vocabulary presentation in the Tres Columnae system happens in context, in the short, illustrated fabellae that introduce the longer fabulae. For example, in Lectio Prima, we learn the words for family members and the main forms of housing (domus, īnsula, vīlla) through pictures. If a word isn’t introduced that way, and if its meaning isn’t obvious in context, we’re likely to feature a hypertext gloss – perhaps to an external source like Glossa or the Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary at Perseus, or perhaps to an internal page of our own.

3. Synonyms and Antonyms – a specific technique

We often introduce new words through synonyms and antonyms. For example, in Lectio V, when we first meet deponent verbs, we see them with some near synonyms in this fabella:

  • Valerius cum Lolliō colloquium habet. Valerius cum Lolliō colloquitur.
  • Casina “vae! heu!” clāmat et vītam plōrat. Casina vītam queritur.
  • Milphiō ē tablīnō exit. Milphiō ē tablīnō ēgreditur.

Sometimes we’ll make specific points about the differences as well as the similarities between synonyms, as with this quid novī explanation:

quid novī?

You may have noticed that Cnaeus frequently (!) says “vae! heu!” When you look them up in a Latin dictionary, or in an online resource like Glossa, you’ll find that they both mean “alas!” So what’s the difference?

  • vae can be used by itself, but it’s frequently used with a nōmen cāsūs datīvī (or occasionally with a nōmen cāsūs accūsātīvī) in the way that English speakers once said “woe to …” or “alas for …”
  • heu is normally used by itself, or occasionally with a nōmen cāsūs accūsātīvī, and expresses a wider “range of grief or pain” according to its Glossa entry.
  • heu has a cousin, ēheu, which normally introduces a whole clause starting with quam. It’s something like an archaic English “alas, how …” expression.

We’ll handle other near-synonyms like et, -que, and atque – and, on a grimmer note, necāre, interficere, caedere, and occīdere – in a similar fashion, as you can probably imagine.

You may have noticed just a bit of semantic feature analysis in that last quid novī, though we didn’t use a formal SFA grid. And if you’re familiar with Robert Marzano’s academic notebook, you may be able to imagine how that inspired us to create an online portfolio in which our participants collect and reflect on their favorite words … and even adopt a word, or word family, and create a special page about it. Many thanks to our collaborator and friend Laura G for the idea of adopting a word! And if you haven’t seen her amazing Latin animal proverb zoo, you’ve missed a treat. Go ahead, click on the link now … we’ll wait for you! 🙂

(You did click the link, didn’t you?)

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of our application of the idea of Ownership to the learning of vocabulary?
  • What do you think of the Read (and Cape) model for vocabulary assessment?
  • What do you think of our system of offering vocabulary support without demanding its use?
  • And, finally, what do you think of our specific examples of vocabulary explanations?

Tune in next time, when we’ll address

  • homophones and near-homophones;
  • prefixes, suffixes, and such; and
  • connections to English and other languages

as well as your comments, of course. We’ll see a vocabulary-building story (set, ironically, in a school) on Saturday … or possibly on Monday if life intervenes. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and remember that there’s still time to sign up for a Trial Subscription!

Developing Vocabulary, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we begin a series of posts about the development of vocabulary in the Tres Columnae system. This has been a continuing theme of ours since the early days of the project, but I want to return to it now as we draw ever closer to our formal, official launch.

In early January, we began a five-part series about Ownership of Vocabulary with this post, in which we talked about what vocabulary acquisition is and what it shouldn’t be.

We continued with this post, in which we explored the three metaphors of learning as factory, retail store, and workshop and considered how each one would lead to a different idea about how to teach vocabulary … and even what vocabulary should be taught.

In this post, we applied the first-language reading concepts of independent, instructional, and frustration reading levels and considered some specific strategies to avoid frustration.

In the past few weeks, well after this post was written, mention was made on the Latin-BestPractices listserv of this study, which found that hypertext glossing of a reading passage actually led to better comprehension than pre-teaching vocabulary … and was actually slightly more effective than a combination of pre-teaching and glossing! It’s never wise, of course, to put too much stock in a single study, but it will be interesting to see whether our participants gravitate to previews of vocabulary … or whether they avoid them. My own thought, for what it’s worth, is that previewing vocabulary is very helpful for beginning readers – and for readers at the beginning of a selection or a lengthy text – but less useful once you’re at a higher level of proficiency, or once you’ve reached the middle of a selection or text. By then, there’s so much variation in learners’ background knowledge that it’s essentially impossible to know which words you should preview.

Anyway, in this post, I traced my personal journey with vocabulary, as both a learner and a teacher, and applied the three metaphors to my students’ struggles with Ownership of vocabulary … and with frustration in their reading. If I’d known about the Alessi study, I would have cited it here as well.

And in this post, we looked at Robert Marzano’s system for academic vocabulary, which is all about Ownership, though he doesn’t use the term as we do.

Then, at the end of the series, I listed these core beliefs and assumptions about vocabulary that guide the Tres Columnae project:

  • We think there is a minimum list of words that every Latin learner should know;
  • We’re not quite sure exactly what words should be on the list, though we’ll use the ones we’ve mentioned previously as a starting point.
  • Some words can be presented with illustrations, or with obvious English relatives, and won’t require formal work.
  • We always need to find out whether the learner already knows the word. If so, we don’t need to “present” it formally.
  • Whatever we do about presentation, it must not just mean “giving them the definition” and calling it a day.
  • We’ll make sure to include work with opposites and with synonyms.
  • We’ll do a lot of work with homophones and near-homophones.
  • We’ll make sure our learners can take words apart and put them together, using prefixes, suffixes, and such.
  • Secondarily, we’ll explore connections between English words and their Latin roots.
  • We’ll have abundant opportunities for our participants to read and hear words in context.
  • We’ll encourage participants to use words actively, by writing original stories, recording audio, or creating original video versions of stories.

If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you can see how our roots in the Paideia movement have influenced our approach to vocabulary, too. And you can probably see the marks of our other primary influences, too.

You’ve also probably noticed how we’ve implemented many of these promises in the stories and other materials we’ve shared here and on the Version Alpha Wiki.

  • We still haven’t decided on “the” list of words that every Latin learner should know, but we’ve paid attention to the available frequency lists as we developed the Metastory for Tres Columnae, and as we worked out the details of individual stories. It’s a rather Vergilian and Ovidian list at the moment … partly because those words figure heavily in the frequency lists we’ve used, and partly because I’ve been reading a lot of Vergil and Ovid with my upper-level students this semester. (In Cursus Secundus, currently a very rough draft, Lucius and Caius will both serve in the Roman army, and at least one character will consider becoming a writer. So we’ll have abundant exposure to a “standard” prose vocabulary too!)
  • We tend to repeat words (and phrases and structures) … a lot! The Big Three Reading Method textbooks do, too, and that’s one of their best features in my opinion. But we aim for significantly more repetition, and for more active repetition as our participants use the vocabulary in stories they create … and in illustrations, audio, and video that they create, too.
  • We haven’t modeled the formal presentation of vocabulary much, but if you look at the illustrated versions of Fabella Prima, Fabella Secunda, and Fabella Tertia on the Version Alpha Wiki, you can see how we’re planning to use illustrations to introduce a lot of vocabulary, and how our participants will be able to hear words (and stories) as many times as they wish.

But what about the other promises we made? Specifically, what about

  • finding out whether the learner knows the word;
  • actual “presentation” of words that need to be presented;
  • opposites and synonyms;
  • homophones and near-homophones;
  • prefixes, suffixes, and such; and
  • connections to English and other languages?
  • And are there elements of vocabulary learning that we’ve neglected?

We’ll look at these elements in our posts for the rest of the week … and yes, there will be a story or two along the way! Tune in next time when we’ll begin with a look at the first three elements in the list above. Grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus!

Another Infinitive Story

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! If you’ve been hoping for another Tres Columnae story, your wait is over. But before we begin, I’d like to point out just a few of the new, participant-created stories – and audio and illustrations, too! – that are already available at the Version Alpha Wiki of the Tres Columnae project.

We’ve already explored two contributions by our first-ever subscriber, David H:

David has kindly contributed three more Ortellius stories:

And David isn’t our only recent contributor.

  • Our friend and collaborator Laura G has built an amazing “zoo” of animal fables to accompany the Tres Columnae project (and for any other purpose you might be interested in).
  • Our collaborator Ann M (whose voice you can hear in the audio clips that are now available for Fabella Prima, Fabella Secunda, Fabella Tertia, and Fabella Quarta) has also contributed a wonderful story called Pagina Annae about Caeliola’s pet pig … complete with our first-ever user-contributed illustration!

We also have Ann to thank for our amazingly talented illustrator, who has contributed some truly beautiful illustrations for the first few fabellae. And I’d like to give a big shout-out to whose members are responsible for the lovely photographs of Herculaneum and Vesuvius. If you need great royalty-free images at a reasonable price, it’s hard to beat them … and most of their contributors are “real people” like us, rather than professional photographers. They were one of the inspirations for our Joyful Learning Community, and we’re glad to be able to give them some recognition … and some business! 🙂

If you’d like to contribute a story, an audio clip, an illustration, or a video, there’s still a very limited number of Free Trial subscriptions available. Or, if you’d like, we’ll be making the regular, paid subscriptions available before too long. It’s up to you! 🙂

Of course, we’ve also promised you a “core” Tres Columnae story that makes use of all six infinitives (present, perfect, and future active and passive) and comes from near the end of Cursus Primus, after the eruption of Vesuvius and destruction of Herculaneum. So here we go:

Valerius et Caelia cum Lūciō, postquam ex urbe Herculāneō effūgērunt, celeriter ad Neapolim prōcessērunt. postquam per portās urbis apertās cucurrērunt, ad īnsulam magnam et pulchram contendēbant, ubi Valeria fīlia cum marītō Vipsāniō in cēnāculō magnō et splendidō habitābat. īnsulae enim trēs magnae in urbe Neapolī, quīnque vīllae prope lītora, multum pecūniae Valeriō iam erant. Valerius tamen trīstis meminerat domum suam et quīnque īnsulās in urbe Herculāneō dēlētās esse. “vae servīs, vae clientibus,” exclāmābat. multīs lacrimīs effūsīs, cāsūs amīcōrum et clientium lūgēbat.

Valeria et Vipsānius laetissimē Valerium Caeliumque salūtāvērunt. Valeria affirmāvit sē per tōtam diem deōs omnēs precātam esse. Vipsānius addidit sē in templō Herculis sacrificia plūrima cum multīs vōtīs obtulisse. “mī pater cārissime,” exclāmat Valeria, “tibi apud nōs manendum est! īnsula enim tua, cēnāculum rē vērā tuum est.” Valerius trīstis dīcit sē libenter apud fīliam mānsūrum esse. “paucīs tamen mēnsibus,” inquit, “ad vīllam nostram prope Caprēās prōcēdēmus, quod nōs oportēbit colōnōs vīsitāre et annōnam accipere. fortasse in illā vīllā maximā et splendidā per hiemem manēbimus.” Vipsānius cōnsentit cōnsilium optimum ā Valeriō captum esse.

tum Valeria, “mī pater cārissime,” rogat, “quis amīcōrum nostrōrum superest? cuius fāta incerta?” Valerius lacrimāns explicat sē fāta multōrum nōn iam cognōvisse. “num clientem meum, illum Lollium, cōnspexistis?” rogat. “valdē timeō, quod Lollius vir maximae contumāciae est.” addit Valerius sē iterum iterumque Lollium ōrāvisse ut ex urbe discēderet, Lollium tamen iterum recūsāvisse. “utrum vōs Cāium an Macciam nūper vīdistis?” rogat sollicitus. “mī Vipsānī, nōnne cōnsōbrīnum tuum uxōremque Lolliam vīdistī?” Vipsānius celeriter Valerium certiōrem facit sē heri Lolliam vīdisse, nūntiumque optimum Cāiī et Macciae audītum esse. “Cāius enim, quandō iste mōns flammās ēmittere coepit, mātrem suam coēgit ex urbe fūgere, Lolliamque in hāc urbe vīsitāre,” inquit. “trīstis tamen est Cāius, quod patrī suae persuādēre nōn poterat. Lollius enim, ut dīcis, vir maximae contumāciae fuit. quamquam Cāius iterum iterumque illum hortābātur ut fugeret, Lollius pollicēbātur sē ā deīs servātum īrī quod pius esset. affirmāvit enim sē in urbe mānsūrum esse, nihil perīculī passūrum esse. fātum Lolliī incertum est, sed dubium!”

Valerius et Caelia, verbīs Vipsāniī audītīs, lacrimās effundēbant et cāsum Lolliī trīstissimē lūgēbant. Lūcius quoque mortem Lolliī, quem maximē dīlēxerat, iterum iterumque flēbat. “quid tamen nūntiōrum dē vīcīnō nostrō, illō Flaviō Caesōne, audītis?” rogāvit ille.

Valeria, cui Flavius Caesō multōs annōs odiō erat, rīsum cēlāre temptābat; Vipsānius quoque, ōre in manibus suīs cēlātīs, rīdēbat. Lūcius attonitus, “quid est?” rogāvit. tandem Valeria, “mī frāter, quaesō, ignōsce mihi; nōs nōn decet mala dē mortuīs dīcere. difficile tamen est mihi fātum illīus Caesōnis sine rīsū commemorāre. nōnne meministis illum, paucīs ante diēbus, in animō habuisse ad urbem Pompēiōs prōcēdere negōtium āctum? sēcum ferēbat illam mustēlam, Līviam nōmine, fīliam istīus mustēlae quae Milphiōnem nostrum paene necāvit! in urbe Pompēiīs manēbat ille quandō mōns fūmum cinerēsque ēmittēbat. et nēmō, nē mustēla quidem, ex urbe Pompēiīs incolumis effūgit. mē nōn decet rīdēre; rīdeō tamen, quod Flavius Caesō poenās arrogantiae certē dedit. laetissima quoque sum quod ista mustēla est mortua!”

rē vērā Flavius Caesō, vir magnae arrogantiae maximīque corporis, in urbe Pompēiīs perierat. tēctum enim vīllae, pondere cinerum lāpsum, Caesōnem dormientem presserat et statim necāverat. Līvia tamen mustēla ēlāpsa erat, quod mūrem capere et ēsse cōnābātur. Līvia fūrēns mūrem per multa mīlia passuum īnsecūta erat et incolumis ad urbem Neapolim pervēnerat. nēmō tamen Līviam agnōvit, nēmō Līviae cibum aquamve dedit. Līvia tamen laeta in angiportibus mūrēs captābat et cōnsūmēbat. “quam fēlīx sum,” sibi dīcēbat, “quod, istō dominō meō mortuō, ego supersum! ō mūrēs, mī mūrēs, ubi estis? nōnne cōnsūmī vultis? ossa vestra exspuere volō, mī mūrēs!”

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • How do you like the story as a story?
  • What do you think of our characters’ fates … especially that of Flavius Caeso?
  • What about Livia the mustēla? Like her mom Sabina, she’s quite persistent when it comes to chasing mice! 🙂
  • And what do you think of our use of ōrātiō oblīqua in this story?

Tune in next time, when we’ll take a closer look at a critically important issue: the development of vocabulary in the Tres Columnae system. How will we distinguish “core” vocabulary from “recognition” vocabulary, and how will we go about introducing and practicing new words in the context of our Joyful Learning Community? If you’ve been with us for a while, you may remember a series of posts about vocabulary from a few months ago, but we’ll go into more detail this time. In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus, respondentibus, et scrībentibus! We’re so glad that you’re part of our Joyful Learning Community.

Perfect and Future Infinitives, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! In yesterday’s post, I closed by saying

Now that we know how participles work, it will be a lot easier to deal with the perfect passive and future active infinitives, won’t it? 🙂 We’ll also find out a bit more about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius … and afterwards.

This next series of posts will deal with these three points in order, beginning with the presentation of the non-present infinitive system in Tres Columnae. Then, over the weekend and early next week, we’ll look at some of the stories about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius. We’ve already seen what happened to Caelius and Cnaeus in this post, which quotes a story that can be found here on the Tres Columnae website. We’ll have more to say about the presentation of vocabulary after that!

By the time that we reach Lectiōnēs XXVII and XXVIII, the eruption has occurred, and our surviving characters have the opportunity to retell their experiences (a natural setting for ōrātiō oblīqua with perfect-system infinitives) and to make plans for the future (which can reasonably involve the future infinitives). Here’s how the introduction of perfect infinitives will work, beginning with the perfect actives in this fabella:

  • Cāius cum mātre apud Lolliam et Vipsānium in urbe Neāpolī manēbat.
  • Lollia trīstis, “cūr pater nōn effūgit?” frātrem mātremque rogāvit.
  • “nōnne pater fortissimus erat? nihil perīculī timuit?” respondit Cāius.
  • Valeria haud crēdēbat Lollium nihil perīculī timuisse.
  • Caelius in domō urbānā lacrimāns stābat.
  • “pater, cūr lacrimās?” rogāvit Cnaeus. “nōnne fortūnātissimī sumus, quod iam vīvimus?”
  • Caelius, “mī fīlī, iste mōns vīllās nostrās dēlēvit. iste mōns multum pecūniae cōnsūmpsit. et tū asinus stultissimus fuistī, quod urbem Pompēiōs petere mihi iterum suādēbās!”
  • Cnaeus libenter cōnsēnsit sē asinum stultissimum fuisse.

As usual, there is a brief explanation:

quid novī?

You probably noticed something about the ōrātiō oblīqua in this fabella. The infinitives were different!

In each case, the action of the ōrātiō oblīqua is marked for completion before the main verb in the sentence:

  • Lollius was already done with his lack of fear (and, in fact, was dead as a result!) before Valeria found his stupidity difficult to believe!
  • Cnaeus was already done being stupid (or, at least, advising Dad to go to Pompeii because it’s a shorter trip!) before he admitted this.

So a perfective-aspect infinitive was needed! And that’s what timuisse and fuisse are. Donatus and the grammaticī called this form infinītīvus temporis praeteritī perfectī (et plusquamperfectī). English speakers usually call it a “perfect active infinitive” for short.

What I find amazing – and very revealing – is that Donatus calls this form the infinītīvus temporis praeteritī perfectī et plusquamperfectī, while he calls the “present” infinitive the infinītīvus temporis praesentis et praeteritī inperfectī. I think it’s clear that the distinction, for Donatus, is between completed, or perfective action (the perfectī et plusquamperfectī) and incomplete, or imperfective action (the praesentis et praeteritī inperfectī).  In other words, infinitives are “about” aspect rather than tense!

If you’re a veteran reader of this blog, I’m sure you can imagine the cycle of self-assessment and exercises that we’ll use to practice the new forms. And then, of course, we’ll see the deponent and passive perfect infinitives, which we’ll look at in more detail tomorrow, and then the futures.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • I’m not sure how many Classicists read what the Romans themselves said about their language! Until I started working on the Tres Columnae project, I must confess that I had only scanned and skimmed through the grammaticī. Was that a defect of my preparation and personal reading, or is it common?
  • Obviously the grammaticī didn’t have a perfectly scientific understanding of the grammar of their language, but still … they were native speakers, or were trained by native speakers! At the same time, they were deeply influenced by the Greek grammarians, and they may have (consciously or unconsciously) attempted to force Latin into Hellenic categories. (Ironically, English grammarians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in turn, tried to fit English into Latinate categories … I once saw an old English grammar book that presented the “declension of the English noun” with five or six cases, all of course the same except for the possessives!) How much stock do you think we should put in their ideas or their terminology?
  • More directly on our topic, do you find the fabellae comprehensible and reasonable?
  • And what do you think of the grammatical explanations?

Tune in next time for a bit more about the presentation of the infinitive system, and for a story or two. And, in the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus.

A Story with Participles

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Here, as promised, is the one of the first “real” Tres Columnae story that features participles qua participles, not just as slightly-unusual adjectives.  It was originally scheduled to appear on Wednesday, but life intervened! 🙂  In Tuesday’s post, we looked at the introduction of the aspect of participles and at some of the exercises that we’ll use to practice the idea. We deliberately said very little about the voice of participles; we’ll look at that in more detail later.

A bit of background: as you may recall, if you’ve been reading for a while, the Tres Columnae metastory features three primary families:

  • the wealthy Valeriī;
  • the rather poor Lolliī, their clients; and
  • the very wealthy Caeliī (Valerius’ wife is the sister of Caelius the paterfamiliās).

Many of the stories we’ve shared have focused on the children of each family:

  • Lucius Valerius, his older sister Valeria, and their little sister Caeliōla;
  • Cāius Lollius and his big sister Lollia; and, of course,
  • Caelia Prīma, Caelia Secunda, and their annoying little brother Cnaeus.

By the time of Lectiō XXIV, the girls are all old enough (at least in the Roman world) to be married, and there are a number of weddings in this part of the Metastory. There are probably also some bruised feelings, as children who have grown up together (and, if human nature hasn’t changed that much, possibly had crushes on each other from time to time) are moved into the adult roles required by Roman arranged marriage. Another factor, of course, is the difference in social standing among the families: Valerius, as we’ve seen, is unusually solicitous of this set of clients (and we still don’t quite know why!), but the Lollii are of a distinctly lower social standing than their equestrian patrōnus. We’ll explore the social and emotional issues along with the linguistic ones in the stories in this Lectiō.

In any case, with Valerius’ help, Lollius has arranged for his daughter to marry young Marcus Vipsānius, a slightly-poorer cousin of Valerius’ daughter’s future husband. In this story, we see the family preparing for their daughter’s upcoming wedding. If you’ve read Cicero’s letters regarding his daughter (especially when he mourns her untimely death), you’ll see the inspiration for Lollius’ emotional reaction. Of course, the “official” party line among Roman men was that daughters were distinctly inferior to sons….

Maccia in cēnāculō stābat et lacrimās retinēre temptābat. Lollia mātrem lacrimantem audīvit et sollicita “māter mea, cūr lacrimās?” rogāvit. “num trīstis es, quod diēs nūptiārum meārum advenit?” Maccia ā Lolliā sīc interrogāta, “ō mea fīlia,” respondit, “lacrimās laetās effundō! mātrem tamen decet lacrimāre cum fīlia nūptūra sit. tertiā enim post diē tū mātrōna et uxor eris! tertiā enim diē ille Mārcus Vipsānius tē in mātrimōnium dūcet! laetissima sum; ergō lacrimō.”

Lollia “ō māter mea, tē amplectī cupiō!” exclāmāvit. mātrem vehementer amplexa sē quoque lacrimīs trādidit. Cāius ūlūlātūs fēminārum audīvit et attonitus, “heu! num quis mortuus est? num in servitūtem pater vōs vēndit? num in servitūtem nunc iam vēnītis? cūr igitur lacrimātis?” rogāvit. fēminae tamen haec dicta neglegēbant et continuō lacrimābant. Cāius attonitus “fēminās īnsānās! vae virīs!” exclāmāvit et per iānuam cēnāculī celeriter exiit. “domum Valeriī festīnō, ubi omnēs iam mentis sānae sunt!” ēgrediēns clāmāvit, et iānuam firmē clausit.

Maccia fīliō ēgressō valēdīxit et “virōs īnsānōs! nihil intellegunt! vae fēminīs!” exclāmāvit. tum Lollia et Maccia cachinnīs, nōn lacrimīs, sē trādidērunt. Lollius, ē popīnā regressus, fīliam et uxōrem cachinnantēs per fenestram audīvit. “vae mihi!” sēcum susurrāvit, “quid nunc? mē valdē taedet nūptiārum! quārtā post diē maximē laetābor, quod fīnem īnsāniārum vīderō!”

haec verba locūtus Lollius ad popīnam regressus “heus caupō!” exclāmāvit, “fer mihi pōculum maximum!” mox caupō attonitus Lollium quoque lacrimantem cōnspexit. “num ēbrius es, mī amīce?” rogāvit sollicitus. “multōs enim per annōs tē amīcum habeō, numquam tamen tē ebrium cōnspiciō? quid agis?”

Lollius haec rogātus rīdēre temptābat et, “mī amīce,” respondit, “tertiā post diē fīliam in matrimōnium ductam vidēbō. lacrimō ergō quod laetus sum.” caupō, “certē, mī amīce,” respondit, “nōnne ego quoque nūptiās fīliārum quattuor iam celebrāvī? nōnne laetissimus quoque sum, quod iuvenēs optimī eās dūxērunt?” tum caupō pōculum vīnō implēvit. pōculum vīnō implētum hausit et lacrimīs quoque sē trādidit.

As you might imagine, reading-comprehension questions will focus on the time (or aspect) relationships between the participles and the sentences in which they occur. For example, consider the sequence in the second and third paragraphs:

Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō, ubi omnēs iam mentis sānae sunt!” ēgrediēns clāmāvit, et iānuam firmē clausit. Maccia fīliō ēgressō vale dīxit et “virōs īnsānōs! nihil intellegunt! vae fēminīs!” exclāmāvit.

We’ll ask questions like this:

quandō Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō” clāmāvit?

  • postquam exiit
  • quandō exībat
  • priusquam exīret

Learners who correctly choose quandō exībat receive positive feedback like this:

ita vērō! ēgrediēns is a participium temporis praesentis, so the exiting is not marked for completion.  It happened at the same time as his shout.

Those who choose the other responses receive corrective feedback like this:

heus! Please take a closer look at the word ēgrediēns. cuius temporis participium est?

with choices of praesentis, perfectī, or futūrī. If they correctly choose praesentis, they see this:

ita vērō! So, since a participium temporis praesentis is imperfective, quandō Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō” clāmāvit?

If they wrongly choose perfectī or futūrī, we’ll probably send them back on a “loop” through the quid novī cycle about participial aspect or tense, as we described it in yesterday’s post.

We’ll also ask this question about the next sentence:

quandō Maccia fīliō vale dīxit?

  • postquam Cāius exiit
  • quandō Cāius exībat
  • priusquam Cāius exīret

Again, if you correctly choose postquam exiit, you’ll receive sustaining feedback:

ita vērō! ēgressō is a participium temporis perfectī, so the exiting is marked as complete before Maccia spoke. If you are (or ever have been) a teenager, you may be familiar with conversations that involve slammed doors! 🙂

Otherwise, you can probably imagine the cycle of feedback.

quid respondētis, amīcissimī?

  • First, what do you think of the story itself?
    • Do you find it culturally authentic … or at least plausible?
    • Or are you skeptical of so much emotion from those “stoic” Romans?
  • Then, what do you think of the use of participles?
    • And what do you think of the comprehension questions?
    • And what about the feedback for correct and incorrect answers?
  • For those who haven’t tried using Latin questions to get at the meaning and the grammar of a passage, can you see how this could actually be made to work in your classroom or learning situation?
  • Or are you still skeptical?

Tune in next time (which may be Saturday, not Friday, depending on life!), when we’ll take a look at your comments … and we’ll also return to our previous theme of infinitives. Now that we know how participles work, it will be a lot easier to deal with the perfect passive and future active infinitives, won’t it? 🙂 We’ll also find out a bit more about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius … and afterwards.  In the process, we’ll also take up the issue of participles’ voice.

In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments, emails, and Trial Subscription requests coming!

Introducing Participles, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As I promised in yesterday’s post, we’ll look at the way that Tres Columnae handles the formal introduction of participles today … or, to be more specific, at the introduction of participles as distinct from other adjectives or nōmina. Though we start to see present, perfect, and future participles fairly early as adjectives, we’ll wait until Lectiō XXIV for a formal introduction of the verbal side of participles. By then, our participants are thoroughly familiar with

  • adjective agreement;
  • verbal aspect; and
  • the relationship between aspect and a verb’s stem (i.e., that imperfective-aspect forms are made from the infinitive, while perfective-aspect forms are made from the third or fourth principal part of the verb).

With this background, we think participles will be a relatively trouble-free addition to our learners’ repertoire of forms and constructions.

So we’ll begin with fabellae like these:

  • ōlim Lollia in cēnāculō sedēbat.
  • Maccia cēnāculum intrāvit et circumspectāvit.
  • Maccia Lolliam in cēnāculō sedentem cōnspexit et salūtāvit.
  • Lollius vōcem Macciae Lolliam salūtantis nōn audīvit.
  • hodiē Cāius per viam ambulat.
  • Lūcius per viam currit.
  • Lūcius Cāium per viam ambulantem salūtat.
  • Lūcius, per viam currēns, Cāium salūtat.
  • Lūcius, per viam currēns, Cāium per viam ambulantem salūtat.

And then, as always, we move on to a brief explanation:

quid novī?

From very early in Cursus Prīmus, we’ve seen words like sedentem, ambulantem, and currēns. We treated them as if they were the type of nōmen that English speakers would call an adjective; that is, a nōmen that describes another nōmen. But you may have noticed that sedentem, ambulantem, currēns, and salūtantis are also verba – that is, they’re forms of verbs like sedēre, ambulāre, currere, and salūtāre. Because they’re partly verba and partly nōmina, the Latin word for these types of words is participium.

We move on, as always, to a cycle of self-assessment:

On our normal scale from 1-5, how well could you recognize a participium? Would you like an additional explanation?

You can probably imagine the self-checking exercise that will appear if you say you don’t want an additional explanation, or if you rate yourself at a 4 or 5. If you do want more explanations, or if you rate yourself at 3 or below, you’ll see this:

quid novī?

Take another look at the participia in these sentences:

  • Maccia Lolliam in cēnāculō sedentem cōnspexit et salūtāvit.
  • Lollius vōcem Macciae Lolliam salūtantis nōn audīvit.
  • Lūcius, per viam currēns, Cāium per viam ambulantem salūtat.

You probably noticed another thing about the participia we’ve seen in this Lectiō: they are imperfective in aspect.

  • They’re made from the infinītīvus, the imperfective stem
  • Their action is ongoing (or, at least, not completed) at the time of the main verb in their sentence.

The Roman term was participium temporis praesentis. English speakers usually call them present participles for short.

Of course, there are also perfective-aspect participles, the participium temporis praeteritī. We’ll see some examples of those in the next fabella.

And then, of course, we’ll see this little fabella:

  • Cnaeum Caelius audīvit. Cnaeus enim “vae! heu!” identidem clāmābat.
  • Caelius Cnaeum arcessīvit. Caelius Cnaeum arcessītum castīgābat.
  • Prīma et Secunda in vīllā librōs legēbant. Planesium puellās cōnspexit et laudāvit. puellae laudātae nūruī fābulās nārrābant.

After it, we see this explanation:

quid novī?

Take another look at the participia temporis praeteritī in these sentences.

  • Caelius Cnaeum arcessītum castīgābat.
  • puellae laudātae nūruī fābulās nārrābant.

Now compare them with some participia temporis praesentis:

  • Ūtilis Caelium Cnaeum arcessentem audīvit.
  • Fortūnāta Planesium puellās laudantem audīvit.

Can you see and hear the difference between these two types of participia?

  • The participia temporis praesentis were formed from the infinītīvus, the imperfective stem.
  • The participia temporis praeteritī were formed from the supīnus.

I’m sure you can imagine the self-evaluation cycle. But I do want to show you one of the exercises: you, the learner, will be to choose the right participle to summarize or combine the two sentences, paying attention to the aspect of the verb you’re changing:

Cnaeus in agrīs Ūtilem quaerēbat. Lupus in silvā proximā rem tōtam spectābat.

Lupus in silvā proximā Cnaeum in agrīs Ūtilem ____ spectābat.

quaerentem / quaesītum

In this case, you’ll choose quaerentem because it accurately reflects the time relationship. Cnaeus was searching while the wolf was watching him, so we need an imperfective-aspect participium temporis praesentis.

canēs Lupum olfēcērunt. canēs vehementer lātrābant et Lupum agitāre volēbant.

Canēs vehementer lātrābant et Lupum ____ agitāre volēbant.

olfacientem / olfactum

In this case, you’ll choose olfactum. The dogs smelled the wolf before they started barking, so we need a perfective-aspect participium temporis praeteritī.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Do you find this treatment of participles to be helpful, or confusing?
  • More importantly, do you think that learners will find it helpful or confusing?
  • Does it make sense to you to separate the issues of case and number (the nōmen issues, as we’ve called them) from those of aspect and voice (the verbum issues)?
  • And do you want to know what we’ll say about voice of participles? Or are you, perhaps, hoping that we’ll finesse that issue for a bit?

Tune in next time for an actual early story with participles. Then we’ll talk more about voice, and on Friday we’ll return to infinitives with the perfect and future infinitives. Of course, we think you have to talk about participles before you talk about those, since many of them are made from participles! And, in the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus! Please keep those comments, emails and Free Trial Subscription requests coming … there’s still a bit of room if you’re interested!

Introducing Participles, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! As you may recall, on Saturday I promised that we’d return to “core” Tres Columnae stories and concepts today, with a series of posts about participles and infinitives. One thing you’ll notice in the mature and complete project is that present, perfect, and future participles show up quite early, but they show up as vocabulary items, not a grammatical concept. For example, in Lectiō IX we’ll see this little sequence, from the boys’ first day at school. Quintus Flavius turns out to be the son of Flavius Caeso, owner of Sabīna mustēla, whom we met in the story of the disastrous dinner party. As you might imagine, he is a firm believer in old-fashioned Roman discipline, even if he does (shockingly!) recline at table with his wife! Mirabile dictu, young Quintus Flavius is even more annoying and ill-behaved than Cnaeus!

As we pick up the story, Q. Flavius’ paedagōgus has just told him to behave because teachers normally beat bad little boys, and Fabius the lūdī magister has just greeted the students and invited them to enter the school:

Quīntus Flavius attonitus, “quid dīcis, mī magister? nōnne puerī in lūdīs vapulāre solent? nōnne magistrī sunt dūrī et crūdēlēs? nōnne etiam plāgōsī?”

paedagōgus attonitus Quīntum Flavium prēnsat et, “nihil audīs, nihil cūrās, nihil pārēs!” exclāmat. “nōnne tē crūciāre dēbeō quod tantum īnsolentiae ostendis?” Fabius tamen manūs paedagōgī exclāmantis prēnsat….

There’s no need to have an extended grammatical lecture (or even a quid novī? explanation) about present participles at this point. We’ll gloss exclāmantis (in a way that I’ll explore later this week, or possibly early next week) and move on. The most we might do with it is to check for understanding with a question like this:

Fabius manūs paedagōgī exclāmantis prēnsat.

quis exclāmat?

Fabius / paedagōgus

If a learner chooses Fabius, we’ll have a brief reminder about adjective agreement:

Take a closer look at exclāmantis. cuius cāsūs est?

  • cuius cāsūs est Fabius?
  • cuius cāsūs est paedagōgī?
  • quis igitur exclāmat?

Our only grammatical concern, at this point, is that the learners can tell that exclāmantis describes paedagōgī; our concern with comprehension is that learners can tell that the paedagōgus was shouting, and that Fabius grabbed his hand before he could beat poor little Q. Flavius. He turns out to be a very energetic, wild little boy who speaks first and thinks later (usually ‘way too late) … if at all! As you might imagine, he and Sabīna mustēla do not get along! 🙂

We take the same approach to perfect participles at this point: our only concerns are with adjective agreement and with comprehension. For example, just a bit later on the same Lectiō, we see this:

tum Fabius, “nōnne vōs intrāre dēbētis? nōnne multum discere dēbēmus?” inquit, et iānuam lūdī aperit. puerī avidī et timidī per iānuam apertam intrant.

Here, we’ll ask this question:

quid Fabius aperit?

iānuam / puerōs

I highly doubt we’ll need an explanation for wrong answers! 🙂 I hope it’s obvious that he didn’t open the boys!

We’ll continue to see participles in this way for quite a while before we pay “formal” attention to them around Lectiō XXIV. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Participles are, after all, verbal adjectives (or, as a Roman would say, verbal nōmina). We want to separate the two functions – verb and adjective – and address each one individually.
  • As vocabulary items, participles aren’t difficult. sedēns, sedentis means sitting, and is a nōmen dēclīnātiōnis tertiae (since Romans didn’t distinguish nouns from adjectives in their grammatical terminology). apertus, aperta, apertum means open. No problem!
  • Participles are all about aspect, as we noted in last week’s post. We want our learners to have a good grasp of aspect in general before we talk formally about this.
  • Once you have a good grasp of noun-adjective agreement and aspect, participles are simple! They’re also a convenient review of these two (or, actually, more than two) large concepts.
  • Like any concept, participles can be made to seem easy or hard depending on how … and when … they’re presented to learners. We prefer to make them seem easy, since our learners are more likely to be successful if we do so.
  • Participles are a critically important feature of the Latin language, and Latin participles are very different from their English equivalents. We want our learners to see them, but not worry about them, early on, and we want to build up the concept gradually.

quid respondētis, amīcī? Do you think we’re on the right track, or should we introduce participles a lot earlier … or a lot later? And do you agree or disagree with the way we’ve separated the adjective agreement issue from the aspect issue?

Next time, we’ll begin to look in more detail at the formal introduction of participles … and at some sad cases of unrequited and impossible love (or, at least, infatuation) among our primary characters as they grow up. Roman marriage customs are also an area that’s vastly different from the experiences of most of our potential learners, and we want to address them carefully. Many Tres Columnae subscribers will be teenagers (and a bit “over the hill” for marriage by Roman standards), so we don’t want to break their hearts unnecessarily. But we also want to paint a realistic picture (or as realistic as possible) of the patriarchal, arranged-marriage society that the Roman Empire was. We’d really like your input on how well we’re doing, as these Lectiōnēs are still in a preliminary draft state, and we can make significant changes to them if you, the community, think we need to.

In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus! And please keep those comments, emails, and Trial Subscription requests coming!

Editing and Revision, IV

salvēte iterum, amīcī. Today we’ll look at Editing and Revision through three different lenses. We’ll begin with editorial comments about our contributor David H’s second submitted story, proceed to consider the Tres Columnae editing process in general, and end with a look at some recent revisions we’ve made at

As promised, here’s my rating of David H’s second contribution to the Tres Columnae project. Once again, here’s the story … just in case you haven’t seen it in a while, or in case you don’t want to go and click this link to see it “live” at the website:

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.

Morphology and Syntax: Not Yet Acceptable, but quite close. We just need to help you fix those adjective-agreement problems (usually with neuter-gender nouns and masculine or feminine adjectives) and a few verbs (valeō sum?). But the accusative-for-nominative issue present in his first posting has evidently resolved itself. One other small thing: caecus in ūnō oculō isn’t very idiomatic. But there are several ways that this phrase might be improved. We also need to be consistent about macron use, but that falls into the category of “typographic” editing.

In the mature Tres Columnae system, we’d send you a suggestion for self-correcting exercises that could be used to help you practice adjective agreement … and so, rather than seeming like an impediment, grammatical exercises suddenly take on meaning because they help you improve your writing rather than taking up your valuable time. That’s one of many ways that user-created content can actually help to build Ownership of the “things” that teachers want their students to learn!

Vocabulary: Acceptable. There are, again, a few slightly obscure words, but the meaning is generally clear from context or from English derivatives. Also, we should probably change magnam pecūniam in the last paragraph (which implies a really big coin!) to something more idiomatic like “multum pecūniae.”

Storyline: Acceptable. It’s an interesting story, with some nice links to the other story about Ortellius as well as to other content on the site. It also stands nicely by itself. I continue to think Ortellius is going to be a very interesting and continuing figure as we learn more about him. 🙂 I now wonder if one of our “primary” characters might contrive to meet him somehow….

If you haven’t noticed, lectōrēs cārissimī, I’d like to point out a few things about the editing style we’ll use at Tres Columnae:

  • You may have noticed that we began with the rubric and directed all of our comments to the ways that the submission did, or perhaps did not, meet the standards of a particular level. We think that’s absolutely essential! Sadly, evaluation and assessment will often become an afterthought for busy teachers. It takes a long time to devise the project and to find the resources, so we go ahead and assign it to the students (I’ve certainly been guilty of this myself over the years) and, only then, realize we’re not sure how we want to assess it! 🙂 I’ve seen a lot of plaintive queries to this effect on the Latinteach listserv and elsewhere, and if there had been listservs in my early years of teaching, I’m sure I would have generated some of these queries.
  • You may have also noticed that we focused on the positive. That’s also a core value at Tres Columnae. David H’s work is quite good, so it’s easy to focus on the positive … but we didn’t ignore the areas for improvement, either. Too often, factory-model schools fall into an “either-or” trap when it comes to this issue. Some focus entirely on the negative (5 misspelled words! Three sentence fragments! Minus 200 points … oh, wait, not 200!), discouraging their students and making them feel incompetent or unworthy. Others focus only on the positive (“Billy, that was a very creative sentence! What does the word KQVLM mean in this context?”) and give their learners a false sense of accomplishment.

At Tres Columnae, Our goal is to help our learners have a realistic sense of their accomplishments, and to make error correction and revision an expected and welcomed part of the learning process … just as it is in every kind of non-academic learning. Imagine what would happen if you were learning to ride a bicycle and your parent said “Oh, Jenny, you fell! You’re a failure for all time!” Or, on the other hand, if the parent said, “Johnny, you did great! You did a wonderful job hitting that tree!” Poor little Jenny and Johnny would probably never get on that bicycle ever again! 🙂 Instead, the parents probably gave loving corrective feedback, and the children became capable riders. We aim to do the same for our learners.

Speaking of editing and revision, I wanted to let you know about some improvements we’ve recently made at the Tres Columnae version alpha wiki:

  • There’s now a “mind map” feature which will show the connections between wiki pages.
  • We think the TikiWiki WYSIWYG editor is now working better, for you Free Trial subscribers who have been complaining. We’d still recommend, though, that you write your stories in your favorite word processor, then cut and paste them into the editing box.
  • With many thanks to our talented illustrator Lucy M, the Tres Columnae logo is now featured on every wiki page.
  • More illustrations and audio will be linked soon, including pictures of most major characters.
  • Most stories through the end of Lectiō Sexta have now been uploaded and are available from the Table of Contents page. Lectiōnēs Septima through Decima will be coming in the next few days.

By the end of March, we’ll be giving our Free Trial subscribers access to some of the interactive exercises and quizzes. There’s still time to request a Free Trial subscription at this link!

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • First, what do you think of David’s stories?
  • What do you think of our editing and revision model?
  • What about the rubric itself?
  • And what other features would you like to see online at – and when would you like to see them?

For our readers in the U.S., we’d like to let you know that there will be a session about Online Collaborative Writing with the Tres Columnae Project at the American Classical League Institute in July 2010 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hope to see you there! We’ll also hope to be at other, similar meetings in the fall, winter, and beyond. In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming, and tune in on Monday for another series (including several stories) featuring participles and infinitives.