Scholia Reviews ns 9 (2000) 39.


Alta Schoeman
University of Stellenbosch


Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci,
Lectorem delectando pariterque monendo.
(Horace Ars Poetica 343f.)

'He who combines the useful with the enjoyable achieves his goal by equally delighting and instructing the reader . . .'

The truth of this maxim is clearly illustrated in a variety of editions recently published by Bolchazy-Carducci and designed for use in the Latin classroom or lecture hall. The changing approach in Latin teaching has resulted in a greater emphasis on the more enjoyable and entertaining aspects of learning a new and difficult language.

The seven textbooks under discussion fall loosely into four categories according to their topoi: 1. Music and Songs, 2. Neo-Latin, 3. Wit and Humour, 4. Catalogue.


Judith Lynn Sebesta (ed.), Carl Orff: Carmina Burana. Cantiones Profanae. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1996. Pp. iii + 165. ISBN 0-86516-268-9. US$18.00.

In the light of the popularity that Carmina Burana productions have been experiencing in the past few years[[1]] this publication has come as no surprise. Eminently suitable for teaching pupils and students this extremely thorough and useful book can be used with equal advantage by singers and conductors alike. The brief but adequate introduction with its discussion of Medieval Latin Poetry, the 'Goliard' poets, and the history of the Carmina Burana, is followed by twenty-four poems with texts, commentary, translations, vocabulary and a series of thought-provoking questions. A number of delightful illustrations, both old (woodcuts) and modern, complement the text while a comprehensive bibliography and list of available recordings provide stimulation for those wishing to gain more information.

It is a well-known fact that Latin students enjoy studying the Carmina Burana: listening to the songs becomes sheer pleasure as they become adept at understanding the words. In the case of university students, it is generally the drinking songs, such as the following, which have great appeal:

Bibit[[2]] hera, bibit herus,
bibit miles, bibit clerus,
bibit ille, bibit illa
bibit servus cum ancilla.

'The wife drinks, the husband drinks,
the soldier drinks, the priest drinks,
he drinks, she drinks,
barkeeper drinks, waitress drinks.'

Sebesta's book will most certainly 'enrich understanding and heighten appreciation of these beloved medieval poems'[[3]] and its thoroughness and exquisite workmanship will be a boon to any teacher.


Jan Novák (composer), Schola Cantans for Voice and Piano. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1998. Pp. ii + 46. ISBN 0-86516-358-8; Schola Cantans: Latin Libretto and Translations. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1998. Pp. iii + 79. ISBN 0-86516-397-9; Schola Cantans (tape recording). Filmkunst-Musikverlag: München, 1997. IBSN 0-86516-357-X. US$30.00.

Czech-born composer Jan Novák has set some of the best-loved Latin poems as well as a few prose extracts to music. The package consists of the text and translations, the musical score, and an audiotape containing the songs sung by the Voces Latinae singers.

The Latin Libretto and Translations contains a number of carmina by Catullus (including the ever-popular Vivamus, mea Lesbia), some poems by Horace, Phaedrus and Martial, the Nautarum Carmen from the Anthologia Latina, and, changing the mood from lyrical to military, Caesar's marching tune, Gallia est omnis divisa. Also part of the repertoire is the students' song Gaudeamus igitur which has the added boon of teaching the Hortative Subjunctive without too much effort.

Complementing the libretto is the Schola Cantans for Voice and Piano which contains the musical score, this of course being of special interest to those students who can read music. Listening to the songs on the tape enhances teaching and can make translating even the most mundane of Caesar's commentaries fun.


Barbara Lawatsch-Boomgaarden with Josef Ijsewijn (ed. and tr.), Voyage to Maryland (1633). Relatio in Marilandiam. Original Latin Narrative of Andrew White, S.J. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1995. Pp. i + 113. ISBN 0-86516-279-4 and ISBN 0- 86516-280-8. US$25.00.

One of the earliest Neo-Latin works composed in North America is Father Andrew White's account of the journey from England to Maryland (Terra Mariae) undertaken by a group of settlers in 1633 in order to lay the foundations of a Jesuit Mission -- an account subsequently sent to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.

Everything but a dry and factual report the Relatio is often reminiscent of Vergil's Aeneid and the Trojans' wanderings in their search for a new home.[[4]] One of the many parallels is a portrayal of storm at sea, while descriptions of weird and wonderful phenomena abound: there are descriptions of flying fish, tropical birds, giant cabbages, sulphur mountains and even cannibals, a gens effera, procera, obesa, pigmentis purpureis nitens, ignara numinis, carnium humanarum avida et quae Anglorum interpretes aliquot pridem absumpserat . . . ('a savage people, tall, plump, shining with dark paint, ignorant of divinity, eager for human flesh who had consumed several interpreters of the English not long ago', ll. 570-74).

On reaching their destination the settlers encounter Indians and buy some land from the Indian imperator. The last part of the chronicle gives a vivid picture of the way of life of the Indians encountered in the New World, and the description of the Yaocomico Indians is one of few in existence.

The whole work is pervaded by a sense of White's purpose, his missionary zeal and his trust in God: in this way it becomes a spiritual document as well. Little touches of humour delight the reader, such as the Indians' astonishment at the size of the English ship: canoam insulae similem . . . tot homines quot in silvis arbores ('a canoe similar to an island holding as many men as there are trees in the woods', ll. 723f.). Written in lucid, sophisticated and elegant prose, the work exhibits some lyrical passages, such as the description of a pineapple (nux Pinea) as coloris aurei virore mixta gratissimo ('of golden colour mixed with a most pleasant green', ll. 533-54), mollis et tenella involuta membranula ('soft and enveloped by a thin skin', l. 540), and regina fructuum ('queen of fruit', l. 544). Poetic devices, such as alliteration, assonance, and antithesis are also used with great effect.

A tightly knit unit, Lawatsch-Boomgarden's book contains an extensive introduction with historical as well as biographical information, a selected bibliography, a text accompanied by copious notes and vocabulary, an English translation, and, as pičce de resistance, a photographic reproduction of a handwritten manuscript by a contemporary copyist. The clarity of its style, the theme of the work and the human interest of the subject make the work eminently suitable for use not only in American schools and colleges, but it can also be most highly recommended as a prescribed work in any country of the world.


Gaylan Dubose, Farrago Latina. A Teacher Resource. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1997. Pp. iii + 104. ISBN 0- 86516-398-7. US$20.00.

The word farrago is defined by Lewis and Short as 'mixed fodder for cattle' or 'mash' (cf. far 'spelt'). In a less literal sense the word denotes 'medley' or 'hodge-podge', an apt title for this teacher's resource book which contains a wide range of teaching materials and a variety of activities designed for use in the Latin classroom.

The compendium of games features such all-time favourites as 'Jeopardy' (Periculum Latinum) and 'Double Jeopardy' (Periculum Duplicatum). Complete instructions and reproducible mark sheets are provided, as well as ten sets of questions for each of the three levels (novice, intermediate and advanced). The questions are divided into five categories: vocabulary, grammar, myth, word derivations and Roman history/way of life. The activity of producing 'stained glass windows' (Fenestrae Romanae) entails colouring the designated parts of a picture according to a colour code (e.g. nominatives in red, adverbs in yellow) is particularly useful for younger learners.

The list of interesting facts contained in 'Some Firsts and Probably Some Onlies' is virtually a Roman 'Who's who?' focusing as it does on famous historical figures such as the first king of Rome, the first emperor of Rome, the first Roman emperor to appear with a beard, and so on. These items form the basis of discussions and can also feature as certamen questions for in-class competitions, quizzes and tests.

The use of certamen ('contest') is regarded as an excellent way of reviewing for tests, and the repetition of certain questions as a valuable learning tool. The same five categories as for 'Jeopardy' occur randomly and contain such diverse questions as 'Who was the mother of Minos?', 'What are the two possible tenses of dederint?', and 'According to its Latin roots, what does vinegar literally mean?'[[5]] Vocabulary building in the sense of roots and derivatives is a recurring theme which features very strongly in the questions but is also incorporated into the sections dealing with information. Some of these 'surprising connections' (p. 11f.) include explanations of English words, e.g. 'salary' from the Latin word sal ('salt'), which originally indicated an allowance for Roman soldiers to buy salt (p. 11). A number of interesting plant names, like pansy from penso and dandelion from dens leonis (French dens (sic) de leon) (p. 12) are also discussed. These explanations are supplemented by self-study tasks in the form of vocabulary exercises which students can complete with the help of dictionaries. Words also form the topic of a chapter called 'Nix, Mox, Mons and Mens: Driving kids out of Their Minds' (p. 58) in which lists of words most commonly confused are supplied. Particularly helpful are those containing the mor- roots (mors, mora, morior, moror, morus), the vis and vir group, and the list containing sol, solium, solum, and solus (p. 59). (Perhaps porta and portus should have been included: confusion between the two can make or break the point of a narrative in translation).

Also included in the Farrago are notes on Vergil's Aeneid in which eight major themes (such as 'the founding of a nation', 'the working of fate', and 'the relationships of light and dark') and twenty-five 'specialties' (such as 'flame', 'fire', 'burning') are identified. In addition, some of the main figures of speech used in the poem are defined and an exercise provided for the application of these newly-acquired skills.

A list of internet resources, world wide websites, classical organizations, bibliographies, CD-Rom facilities, periodicals, and other general sources compiled by Judith Lynn Sebesta concludes the book.

Exuding the writer's joie de vivre, warmth and enthusiasm, the book cannot fail to be a constant source of entertainment and to enhance the learning process by making learning fun.


John C. Traupman, Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1996. Pp. v + 224. ISBN 0-86516-316-2. US$15.00.

Spoken Latin is without a doubt the most neglected aspect of Latin teaching today. John Traupman attempts to remedy the situation with a series of conversations dealing with a wide variety of contemporary (and ancient) topics designed to enhance oral usage in the classroom. The topics range from everyday experiences, such as greetings, daily activities, and family life, to conversations dealing with more sophisticated issues like government, war, and criminal justice. The chapters are not arranged in order of difficulty, but the three model conversations in each chapter are graded, in this way making it possible to work first through all the Level 1 conversations before proceeding to the next level.

Each of the conversations is provided with an English translation as well as a topical vocabulary from English to Latin. The way to make the most of these model dialogues is to practise them aloud with a partner, first taking on the one role and then the other. Once this is done, the idea is to form new conversations on the same topic with the help of the vocabulary provided. To promote correct pronunciation, a list of examples is provided which covers both the classical as well as the late Latin method. A chapter containing useful colloquial expressions: Miror, quid hoc sit negoti ('I wonder what's up', p. 81); mihi male est ('I'm having a lousy time', p. 80) comes in handy when new conversations are being devised. Other useful additions are the chapters on writing the date in Latin, colours, numbers, and proverbs and sayings.

Although meant as an aid for oral usage, the book can be used with equal expediency in written work. The following extract was used as the basis for the opening question in a grade 10 examination paper and supplied with questions:

A waitress waits on a senator.

Ministra: Visne panem tostum an panicellos?
Senator: Affer ad me aliquid panis tosti.
Ministra: Et quid vis potare? Caffeam?
Senator: Ita, pocillum caffeae cum crema. Et propera! Fame morior!
(Level 1 p. 41)

Waitress: 'Do you want toast or rolls?'
Senator: 'Bring me some toast.'
Waitress: 'And what do you want to drink? Coffee?'
Senator: 'Yes, a cup of coffee with cream. And hurry! I'm dying of hunger.'

Examples of grammar questions: 'From the extract write down examples of an imperative, partitive genitive, ablative after a preposition, and an ablative of cause.'

The informal tone of the passage and the familiarity of the subject matter seemed to have put the pupils at ease before they moved on to the more difficult questions.

As a resource book Conversational Latin has great possibilities for all sorts of creative uses, especially if used in conjunction with a working textbook. The vocabularies in particular contain a large number of innovative words coined for modern foods, personal favourites being gelida crema ('ice cream'), ketsupum ('ketchup'), bubula concisa ('hamburger') and hilla calens ('hotdog'). With its fresh, innovative and contemporary approach the book cannot fail to have great appeal to teachers and learners of Latin alike.


Gilbert Abbot ŕ Beckett, The Comic History of Rome. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1996. Pp. i + 308. ISBN 0-86516- 333-2. (Reprint of the Bradbury and Evans edition of 1852). US$19.00.

History books can be notoriously boring. Not so the nineteenth century publication by an author professing to assist in 'the project of combining instruction with amusement' and hoping that 'narrative in sport may be found to constitute history in earnest' (p. vi).

This comic version of the history of Rome covers in chronological order the events from its legendary origins to the end of the Roman Republic. Aeneas' act of 'filial pick-a-back' (p. 1) sets a train of events in motion which lead to the foundation of Rome and the regal period, followed by the Republican period with its internal struggles, the conquest of Italy and beyond, the Punic Wars, the rise of influential men like the Gracchi, Marius and Sulla, and, finally, the assassination of Julius Caesar.

The Roman tales are told with gusto. But to enjoy the satire the reader must be familiar with Roman history. In the story of Lucretia, 'Mrs. Sextus' consoles herself with dancing at a ball (p. 39), while that epitome of exemplary wifehood, Lucretia, is also engaged with a ball, this one of cotton, 'spinning out the long, dreary hours of her husband's absence' (p. 39). In the story of Mucius Scaevola, the brave hero displays an 'utter want of dexterity' (p. 51). The story of Virginia reads like a melodrama and is illustrated by a reproduction of an engraving in wood depicting a damsel in distress being abducted by a swarthy soldier with a horrible leer on his face (p. 78): 'Virginia screamed for assistance, and they only who have heard the cry of a female in distress, can imagine the shrillness of the shriek that rang through the market' (p. 78).

Nobody escapes the author's scathing satire as he launches vitriolic attacks on the most revered of Roman personages: Cato the Censor is described as a busybody and a meddler, owing much of his reputation for morality to the fact of his having set himself up as a professional moralist (p. 207). Cicero, in his turn, was by 'profession a dealer in philosophy, he had no stock on hand for his own use, when its consolation was required' (p. 297); and Caesar, 'puffed up with self-conceit' (p. 306), is pictured in a particularly nasty little sketch (p. 308) as staggering to the foot of Pompey's statue, 'that he might form a tableau as he expired' (p. 307).

Not only public figures but also social conventions become the butt of his criticism, illustrated particularly in a long digression in which he attacks the Roman Republic and its 'dissolute' society. Even Roman drama does not escape his criticism as he accuses Rome of having nothing new, 'for she not only copied the vices of the Greeks, but took a leaf out of their books in a more literal manner' (p. 208).

The rest of the book is written in the same mocking vein. The author seems to have an inexhaustible fund of puns at his disposal, but the word-play can sometimes become laboured and tedious as in the title of Chapter 13, 'On the Peaceful Occupations of the Romans. From Scarcity of Subject, Necessarily a Very Short Chapter'; a subheading of another chapter reads 'The Irate Pirate' (p. 275); in one passage Romulus and Remus are left under a fig tree, 'with no one, apparently, to care a fig what became of them' with a note that the fig was considered 'figurative' of the foundation of the city (p. 5); in another, Octavius was 'played upon as easily as an octave flute' (p. 236). The author's fascination with words also becomes evident in his explanations of derivatives (feretrius from fero (sic) (p. 11); curia from quiris (p. 12); 'client' from cluere 'to hear' or 'obey' (p. 13); histriones from Etruscan hister 'dancer' (p. 102).

But even if the more obvious faults of the work are taken into account, such as the excessive wordplay, the author's overt misogynism ('the Temple of Fortuna Muliebris was raised, in compliment to the women who, by their hysterical, and now historical efforts, were said to have saved Rome . . .', p. 64), his moralizing, his judgmental attitude, his scathing satire and contrived word-play, the book is still a good read. And it can be used as a teaching aid to highlight specific themes which have been dealt with in a more traditional manner (much in the same way as the satyr play serves as an afterpiece in Greek drama presentations). If used in this way The Comic History of Rome can indeed become a 'discodelectamental' and 'hilarodidactic' (terms used in the cover blurb) tool in the teacher's hand.


Alexander P. MacGregor, Ten Years of Classicists: Dissertations and Outcomes 1988-1997. Bolchazy-Carducci: Wauconda, 1998. Pp. v + viii; 1 + 105. ISBN 0-86516-405-3. US$20.00

Using the Newsletter of the American Philological Association as his source of information, the compiler has put together a catalogue containing ten years' data (1988-1997) on PhD-granting programmes in Classics in the USA. The first section consists of three directories while the second section includes 11 tables with statistical analyses.

The first of the three directories lists the names of the PhD students in alphabetical order. Data include surname and name, gender, year of first appearance in the Newsletter, area of study or 'civilization' (i.e. Classical, Greek, Roman, Latin or Postclassical), field (e.g. Archaeology, Comedy, Epic, and the like), a summary of the dissertation title, the awarding institution, and year of completion. The following example, taken at random, illustrates the modus operandi:

Burke, Mary Conley. F94. LCom. Women, Freeborn, in Rom. Comedy. Virg.

This indicates that Mary Conley Burke, female, selected a topic in the field of Latin Comedy namely 'Freeborn Women in Roman Comedy' in the 1994-95 academic year at the University of Virginia.

Directory 2 contains the fields and dissertation topics (1988-1997) arranged in alphabetical order according to the Field of study; in other words the list starts off with CCiv (i.e. Classical Civilization), with topics ranging from 'Madness in Antiquity' to 'Temple/Statue Practices in the Ancient World', and ends with XP (i.e. Christian), with such diverse themes as 'Grail Motif in Medieval Europe', 'Jerome's Translation of Exodus' and 'Sergius of Rusafa: Arab Martyr Cult'.

The third directory contains the initial and subsequent appointments of persons reported to be taking up appointments at the various institutions. This list includes the names of the institutions in alphabetical order (from Arkansas to Yale), the year of appointment, the name and rank of the appointee, and a topic summary.

The second section includes such statistical data as female/male ratio by specialty, rank by number of dissertations completed, and correlation coefficients. The information contained in this section cannot be of much interest to outsiders, but may of course, supply Classics PhD candidates in the United States with valuable information.

The author makes the following thought-provoking observation: 'There is no telling how many of the WP students listed in this study will eventually finish their doctorates; it is a fact easily ascertained, however, that of the 611 students reported as completing their dissertations between 1988 and 1997, only 324 are reported as having obtained an initial academic appointment of any kind whatsoever. The economic inefficiency of it all, or political pressure of one kind or another, may well compel some programs to exercise greater selectivity at an earlier stage of the career, before a student is allowed to undertake a 'career' in Classics that ends in early failure . . .' (p. 96). This, indeed, is food for thought, and well worth taking into account not only in South Africa, but also, I suspect, in many other countries where Latin is still being taught.


All the books reviewed above (with the exception perhaps of the catalogue) are eminently suitable for use at both secondary and tertiary level. Experience has led me to believe that students never forget the words of Gaudeamus igitur (nor the subjunctive as it is used there), that they enjoy and better understand a Catullus poem (and appreciate the lyrical aspect) if they listen to the poem being sung, and that once school-children sing along with the fine marching rhythm of Gallia est omnis divisa they are less intimidated by what they perceive as the daunting task of translating it. Neo-Latin works prove that Latin is not a dead language, but that it can used with vibrant effect to describe real life journeys by real people. Textbooks containing wit and humour serve as a foil to the many dull and dreary old-fashioned Latin Primers favoured by our predecessors, and show that it is not impossible to conduct a Latin conversation in which contemporary matters can be discussed. These books, then, can help to delight and instruct our Latin learners.


[[1]] A Carmina Burana performance (acclaimed as 'explosive') consisting of a hundred performers was presented at the Ratanga Junction near Cape Town on 15 and 16 November.

[[2]] Bibo bibere is the one word never forgotten by students after listening to this song.

[[3]] Commentary on the back flap of Sebesta's book.

[[4]] For the relevance of the topic, see the recent publication by J. M. Claassen, Displaced Persons: The Literature of Exile from Cicero and Boethius (London 1999), reviewed in Scholia at

[[5]] Some minor errors like Thebae instead of Thebarum (p. 86); 'frequentive' instead of 'frequentative' (p. 12), typing (pp. 4, 59) and punctuation (pp. 11f.) errors occur elsewhere.