Quotable: The Poetic Benefits of Latin

Frances Myatt in the Guardian, inter alia:

While drama also taught me the various names used to describe the form and structure of poetry, it was Latin that really taught me how poetry worked. It was in Latin lessons that we studied in detail why that word was next to that one, how having a verb at the beginning of a line affected the feeling of the poem, or why an unusual word gave a unique flavour to the piece of writing. The rigour of translating from Latin to English, and having to think about how to convey the effect of structure, word order, alliteration and so on, helped me understand poetry like nothing else. In one lesson our Latin teacher even got us to write our own poems in English, so that the process of creation would help us understand the Latin poetry we were reading. Writing your own poetry is a brilliant way of coming to appreciate poetry, but while we wrote poetry in Latin classes, in 12 years of English lessons I only wrote a poem once.

Hodie Papa Francesco Titiavit

I’ve long wanted to do a post analyzing the Pope’s Latin style, but I think I need to start collecting exempla first, so this is the first in what will probably be a regular series … I’m trying to display them in a ‘compact’ manner:


Ut sinant Deum clementia et mansuetudine in se uti omnes hortatur Ecclesia.

glossed by @Pontifex:

The Church invites everyone to be embraced by the Father’s tenderness and forgiveness.

… after we get a few in the ‘corpus’, we’ll begin commenting … feel free to begin commenting yourselves …

Gamifying Latin Prose Comp

From the Old Gold & Black:

In a classroom where students battle away at mythological creatures and Latin grammar, Dr. Gellar-Goad has reinvigorated an out-dated course and brought new teaching methods with a twist of adventure.

In his first year as a Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Classical Languages, Gellar-Goad has developed a unique and innovative method for teaching Latin Prose Composition, a class which is a major requirement for Latin majors. It is typically a course designed to be an intense review of Latin grammar and rigorous practice translating English sentences into Latin.

The original textbook used for the class contains material that is largely antiquated; the original publication of the book was in 1839. As Gellar-Goad pointed out, while not only is the subject matter very hard, the support in the text is not necessarily sufficient.

“This can lead to disengagement because the examples [in the textbook] don’t match the modern American experience of studying Latin,” said Gellar-Goad.

Last summer, he came upon a book called The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game by Lee Sheldon, which has inspired him to reimagine the way Latin Prose Composition is taught.

In the style of a classic tabletop roleplaying game (RPG), each student selects a character from Greek or Roman mythology at the beginning of the semester. Students then assume the roles of these player-characters and use them in class and for homework the rest of the year. The assignments include scribe spell-scrolls, side quests, dungeon maps, and more — all of which require the use of the appropriate Latin grammar.

“A typical class will consist of about half the class going over nitty-gritty grammar details — more of a traditional class format. The second half will then be an exercise on that day’s lesson or review tied to some in-game element.”

Grading in the class is also non-traditional. Instead of beginning with an A and only having the opportunity to lower their grade, students improve their grade by gaining experience points through assignments, homework, and projects.

“There is the extrinsic value of getting to the next level — which is tied to their grade — and the intrinsic value of learning Latin,” said Gellar-Goad.

Though it is only his first semester teaching the course, so far Gellar-Goad has seen encouraging student response. He finds that given room for creativity, students are able to find things which make them happy within the class material, a feature some might say is unusual of the typical course.

“The students do work extremely hard, but I feel like they don’t see it as drudgery; the improvement I have seen is amazing,” he said.

“I think we were all a little shocked the first day when we told that our class would be modeled off of Word of Warcraft and that we would all have to choose characters to role-play for the rest of the semester,” sophomore Sarah Stewart said.

“Professor Geller-Goad’s class is an experiment in 21st century pedagogy; a synthesis between technology and ancient works that makes students capable of grasping the most poignant and powerful messages of what would be highly exclusive materials,” sophomore Lee Quinn, a classics major, said.

“He teaches the students to develop a personal connection to the information,” Quinn said.

Gellar-Goad also said he is fairly certain this is the first time the course has ever been taught this way.

“It’s teaching Latin Prose Composition as a semester long mythological adventure for fun and profit,” he said.

… folks might remember Ted Gellar-Goad as one of the minds behind a lolcattish ‘Take Latin’ campaign last summer (e.g. Promoting Latin Internets Style:The Series I)

An Appeal from Rick LaFleur

In the interests of keeping online Latin teaching alive and well:

If you teach at a college/university, or know of one, that offers Latin classes online, would you please let me know off-list? UGA is, at least for the immediate future, discontinuing its online Latin offerings, and, having been involved in distance education for a great many years, I am exploring ways of continuing my online courses (currently Introductory Latin and Latin Teaching Methods), including possibly interesting another university in hosting them. GRATIAS!

… contact Doctor Illa Flora at lafleur922 AT hotmail.com