Casina ancilla, I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quid respondētis, amīcī?

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

A Turning Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quid respondētis, amīcī?

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

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

Family Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quid respondētis, amīcī?

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

Live from ACL, II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quid respondētis, amīcī?

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

Tune in next time for more thoughts about the Institute, and a story in which members of the mouse-family talk about weddings in their world. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Live from ACL, I

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! This post really is coming to you “live” from the American Classical League Institute; in fact, as I write, I’m sitting in the Benson Center at Wake Forest University, mid-morning on June 28, 2010. It’s been a wonderful Institute, with some fascinating presentations, including a couple of really interesting, engaging, and helpful plenary sessions – and if you’ve been to very many conferences, you probably share my feeling about the value (or lack thereof) of a lot of plenary sessions. In this case, though, those have really been a highlight. I was especially pleased by

  • a very well-attended session about the ACL/APA Standards for Latin Teacher Preparation (well, to be fair, since I was on the Task Force that wrote the Standards document, I did “have a dog in that fight,” as an old friend says);
  • a fascinating session previewing the Latin Reading Proficiency Examination (designed for both teachers and students, and really intended to show proficient reading and comprehension rather than “quick translation”) that’s under development by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages; and
  • the highlight for me, this morning’s presentation by Dexter Hoyos about his Rules for Fluent Reading of Latin.

I actually met and talked with Dexter at lunch the other day, and he is as charming, funny, and humble in person as you’d expect if you’ve read his Latinteach posts or his published work. He had positive things to say about the Tres Columnae Project, too, and after talking to him, I felt … well, I felt like a Little League baseball player who looked up into the (rather small) bleachers after the game, saw his favorite Major League player sitting there, went over to get his autograph, and the player complimented his grip or his stance! I’m still on a bit of an emotional high from that.

We had a full house for my presentation about the Tres Columnae Project on Saturday evening, as well, even though it was right after dinner (and right before the welcoming plenary session and all-important reception) on Saturday evening. And it was a very receptive, engaged crowd, too! grātiās maximās omnibus quī vēnistis audītum! We even had time for participants to “play” for about 20 minutes, and enough folks had brought laptops (and iPads – I was jealous! 🙂 – and smartphones and iPod Touches) that everyone (who wanted) was able to get some hands-on time with both the Version Alpha Wiki and the Instructure demo course. grātiās quoque maximās to all who had good suggestions! Thanks to you, we’ll be adding a Scope and Sequence page that describes the grammatical and syntactic points of each Lectiō in the next few days, and I’ll also have more detailed information about subscription options before too long. (Oddly, I had expected people to question why we’d need to charge for access to things – I really don’t know why I expected that, in retrospect – but no one did! We did have a great question about how, exactly, the editing process would work, and when I described the types of feedback we’re planning, the questioner seemed extremely pleased both with the process and with the fee. So, for some reason, that was a big relief.)

I’ll have more to say about the Institute in tomorrow’s post, and probably throughout the next several days. But I do want to keep my promise from last week, and so I do have a new Tres Columnae story for you today. As I mentioned last week, in the wedding sequence in Lectiō XXIV we’ll see not only the wedding of Vipsānius and Valeria, but also (in a flashback) that of Lollia, daughter of Valerius’ client Lollius (and sister of young Lucius’ friend Caius) to Vipsānius’ “poor” cousin Marcus. “Poor,” of course, is a relative thing in the Roman world; compared to Lollius, who really does depend on Valerius’ sportula, young Marcus Vipsānius is quite well off. He owns a “small” book-copying business in Naples with “only” twenty slaves! But to Quartus Vipsānius, and to Caelius and Vipsānia, that means he, gasp, works for a living – hardly appropriate for a relative of theirs, and certainly a disqualification to marriage to anyone they know! There’s a whole series of stories about M. Vipsanius and Lollia, but we’ll begin with this one:

Marcus Vipsānius, pātruēlis Vipsāniī, iuvenis ingeniī optimī maximaeque industriae, orbus pārentibus erat. quamquam Quārtus Vipsānius ipse senātor Rōmānus et dītissimus erat, Marcō Vipsāniō nūllae erant dīvitiae. librāriam parvam in urbe Neapolī tenēbat, in quō vīgintī scrībae cotīdiē labōrābant.

ōlim Vipsānius “vae Marcō nostrō!” inquit. “sēdecim enim annōs nātus, uxōrem dignam invenīre haud potest! quis enim hospitum nostrōrum fīliam Mārcō dabit? nēmō certē, quod modō tam plēbēiō labōrat ille! vae Marcō, et vae familiae nostrae!”

Vipsānius igitur sorōrī suae, Vipsāniae Caeliī, epistulam dictāvit, in quā cāsūs Marcī Vipsāniī patefēcit, et servō trādidit. Caelia epistulam acceptam servō suō trādidit et, “Ūtilis,” inquit, “tibi ad domum Valeriī festīnandum est. nōnne illī sunt multī clientēs pauperēs? fortasse ūnus ex illīs fīliam dare cōnsentiet.” et Valerius, postquam epistulam lēgit, maximē gaudēns Lollium vocāvit, cui epistulam dēmōnstrāvit et, “hercle,” inquit, “nōnne dī tibi favent? fortasse hic Marcus Vipsānius Lolliam tuam uxōrem dūcet!” Marcus celeriter cōnsentit. “nōnne enim atāvus Lolliae erat ille Maccius Plautus, comoedus nōtissimus?” inquit. “quam fēlīx sum! praetereā, Lollia ipsa docta et formōsa, pater doctus et benignus est. nōnne dī nōbīs omnibus favent?”

duōbus igitur mēnsibus ante nūptiās Valeriae et Vipsāniī, ille Marcus Vipsānius Lolliam uxōrem dūcere parābat. nūllī tamen servī lēctum sacrificiave parābant. diē enim nūptiārum, Lollia, ut Valeria, ante prīmam hōram surrēxit et togam cum bullā pupīsque lāribus dēdicāvit. Maccia, ut Caelia, crīnēs fīliae ōrnāvit, et Lollia tunicam rēgillam cum flammeō induit. Maccia tamen cum Lolliā iam cibum vīnumque cēnae nuptiālī parāverat. septimā diēī hōrā advēnit Marcus Vipsānius cum patre familiās et ūnō servō. Lollia et Marcus dextrās iunxērunt et verba sollemnia prōnuntiāvērunt. tum Cāius, ut pātrīmus et mātrīmus, facem per viās tulit, et tōta familia Lollia gaudēns pompam sequēbātur. Lūcius quoque, cui Cāius et Lollia cordī erant, pompam comitābātur et versūs Fescennīnōs cantābat. Lollia tamen et Marcus nōn domum magnam, sed īnsulam intrāvērunt; nōn in ātriō sed in cēnāculō stābat lectus nūptiālis. postrīdiē, omnēs ad cēnāculum revēnērunt repōtia cōnsūmptum. Lollia ipsa lentēs Aegyptiās et panem parāverat. Lūcius amphoram vīnī, ā patre suō datam, sēcum tulit, et omnēs hospitēs grātiās maximās Valeriō agēbant. duōbus diēbus post nūptiās, Marcus et Lollia ad urbem Neāpolim abiērunt, ubi ille librāriam prope forum tenēbat. “haud dīvitēs, sed certē fēlīcēs sumus,” Marcus et Lollia inter sē cotīdiē āiunt. in cēnāculō enim pulchrō habitābant, et Marcus uxōrī suae saepe dōna dare poterat.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • If you were at the ACL Institute and did attend my session on Saturday, I’d love to know your unfiltered, unvarnished impressions and responses. I’ve spoken to a number of lectōrēs fidēlissimī (some of whom I’ve corresponded with for years, but never met in person until today) and reconnected with a lot of old friends. But it would be great to know what you really think … especially if you have concerns or suggestions for improvement.
  • If you weren’t at the Institute and would like to see either the handout or the slides from the presentation, just let me know … or check the Version Alpha Wiki site in the next few days. I’ll try to get them uploaded there if people want them.
  • What do you think of this story of Lollia and M. Vipsānius’ wedding … and of M. Vipsānius as a new character? He’ll be important, as it turns out, in the stories of Cursus Secundus … but I don’t want us to get too far ahead of ourselves! 🙂
  • Do you think the relatively sudden jump to multiple verb tenses in Lectiōnēs XX – XXIV is too sudden, or too big of a jump? And if so, what would you suggest as an alternative?
  • What issues of social class – and what comparisons between and within cultures – are raised by the story, and how might we encourage our participants to explore them in greater depth?

Tune in next time, when we’ll hear about the last day of the 2010 ACL Institute, respond to your questions and concerns, and share another story about M. Vipsānius’ and Lollia’s wedding. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.

Wedding Stories and a Presentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here we go with today’s story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quid respondētis, amīcī?

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

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

Wedding Stories, III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quid respondētis, amīcī?

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding Stories, 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.

So Many Stories!

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! After our long series of posts about the stories in Lectiō XIV, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of connected Latin that Tres Columnae participants are exposed to – especially if you come from a grammar-translation approach to language teaching. You may be wondering how a class – or an individual student – could possibly read so much Latin in the time available … especially if you recall that we claim that Lectiōnēs I – XXX might roughly correspond to a year of high-school Latin or a semester of college Latin. You may have done the math, dividing 180 instructional days by 30 to find an approximate pacing of 6 class periods per Lectiō – and if you did that, you probably thought it would be “impossible” to “cover” so much Latin in such a short time.  (Nine stories in six days!  What is he thinking?)

I can certainly understand the concern – but stop for a moment and think about the language in it. Class periods, instructional days, pacing, cover – this is the language of a system where time is constant but learning is variable. In other words, it’s the language of the factory – and not the enlightened factories where production workers pay attention to the quality of their products, either! If we can step outside of the factory model of “batch-processing” students with severely limited time, we can probably imagine lots of ways to overcome the “time for coverage” objection. For example,

  • Students might well be encouraged to proceed through the material at their own pace. Some would finish the 30 Lectiōnēs in 30 days; some in 60; some in 180; and some in a longer period of time. But all would proceed at the right pace to achieve mastery for themselves.
  • Even if time is held constant, it’s not necessary for everyone to read every story with equal care. What’s the goal of the process? Is it for everyone to do the same activities, or for everyone to master the same knowledge, skills, and understandings? If the former, I can see that we might have a problem; but if the latter, there’s really not an issue. For example, say that the goal for a particular Lectiō is for learners to demonstrate that they understand, analyze, and productively use a particular set of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Assessment opportunities can be built in at the end of each task, whether it’s a story, an explanation, or an interactive exercise of some kind. As soon as you, the learner, demonstrate an acceptable level of proficiency with the material, you can be excused from the remaining “stuff” that’s just designed to practice those concepts. (For example, you could be asked to skim over those stories that are critical to the rest of the plot, or just to listen to the audio and look at the illustrations.) Once we stop looking at classrooms as assembly lines and start seeing them as learning communities, the possibilities and opportunities are endless!

Even so, you might have wondered about the sheer quantity of stories in the Tres Columnae Project. Even by comparison with a typical reading-method textbook, there’s a lot more Latin per Lectiō. (As I think about the “Big Three,” one usually has a single long story per chapter; another has 3-6, on average, per Stage; and the third falls somewhere in between. “Number four,” which is really a direct-method approach, is entirely in Latin, but even it often has fewer lines of reading per Capitulum than Tres Columnae has per Lectiō.)

The biggest difference between “us” and “them” is that “they” provide intensive reading, while we aim for a blend of intensive and extensive, with an emphasis on extensive. If you’re not familiar with the terminology, reading experts usually say that intensive reading is slower, more careful, and more deliberate, and the reading passages are more difficult for the reader – they’re at the learner’s instructional reading level, where he or she really needs some support and guidance from a teacher to make sense of the material. (If you’ve studied Latin formally in a classroom setting, you probably experienced nothing but intensive reading!) With extensive reading, by contrast, the goal is to read quickly, fluently, and without support from a teacher, so the passages should be at the learner’s independent reading level. According to first-language reading research, independent reading requires that you, the reader, be familiar with 95-99% of the words in the passage. Hence the very slow introduction of new vocabulary in Tres Columnae, and the constant repetition of vocabulary items.A

And of course we do know that old saying, repetitio mater memoriae. We’re strongly committed to the principle that the most efficient way to remember new words is not through lists and “memorization” but through repeated use. Of course, if lists help you (and they do help certain learning and thinking styles … a lot!), we’ll also provide lists – and we’ll highlight the words on those lists that are included in “standard” vocabulary for exams like the UK’s GCSE.

Speaking of vocabulary, here’s a brief rant: Wouldn’t it make sense for test publishers in the US to publish equivalent lists – maybe not the NLE Committee, but the College Board? Especially with the current revisions planned for the AP Latin Examination! A bit of work up-front, perhaps, but a big payoff later: no more agonizing decisions about which words to gloss! Much greater ease in choosing translation passages! No more complaints from customers about vocabulary issues? Well, that might be too much to ask!) I’m done with my rant now! 🙂

Another good reason for so many stories, as far as we’re concerned, is that our subscribers can pick and choose which ones they read carefully – they don’t have to read, or even hear, every sentence of every story. In keeping with what the iGeneration likes, we’ll probably split up some of the longer stories into paragraph-length pages, each with audio and images … then you, the learner, can decide if you want to continue with this story; just read it; just listen to it; or whatever seems best to you.

One of our models is the “fan fiction” communities that grow up around popular stories, movies, TV shows, etc. To encourage our participants to join the community, we want to have lots of existing stories … but lots of loose ends for them to “tie up” if they’d like – and even for different users to “tie up” differently, with various “branch” options. We have one example already in Lectiō 12, where you, the reader, can choose to have Vipsānia either believe Caelia or insist that there must be a potion that’s making Lucius be good.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • What do you think of our commitment to extensive reading?
  • What about our commitment to learners’ choice … and to learning differences?
  • And what do you think of the idea of combining stories, audio, and image?

Tune in again on Monday, when we’ll begin to look at the Instructure platform and compare similar exercises there and on the Tres Columnae Moodle site. I’ll really be looking for comments from you as we look at these exercises side-by-side! Then, later in the week, we’ll find out what happens when Valeria and Vipsānius are actually married. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.