Latin uses participles extensively. It is essential to understand how to read the various forms, for they appear frequently in Latin literature. The participle is basically a hybrid between a verb and an adjective. As with verbs, the participle will have tense and voice. As with adjectives, the participle will have number, case, and gender and the ability to modify a noun (or even act as a substantive adjective in place of a noun). Because Latin uses participles more frequently than English does, there is a great deal of variety in the way a translator can render the Latin into English. The following is a brief review of the participle forms and their meanings.


Please take for an examle the verb edo, edere, edi, esum (to eat).

 A. Present Active Participle, Stem: second principal part + -ns/-nt + third declension endings.

 Exempli gratia:  edens, edentis

             Liberi edentes crustula sunt laeti.

            The children eating the cookies are happy.

            The children who eat cookies are happy.


 An ablative noun + an ablative participle create a phrase, independent of the sentence, which may express cause or time. The present participle in an ablative absolute:

 Crustulis edentibus, liberi sunt laeti.      When eating cookies, children are happy.


B. Perfect Passive Participle, Stem: fourth principal part + first and second declension endings

Exempli gratia:  esus, esa, esum

             Crustula esa erant gaudium liberis.

            The cookies (having been) eaten were a joy for the children.

            The cookies that were eaten were a joy for the children.


 The perfect passive participle in an ablative absolute:

Multis crustulis esis, liberi erant pleni.     

When many cookies had been eaten, the children were full.


 C. Future Active Participle, Stem: fourth principal part + -ur + first and second declension endings

Exempli gratia:  esurus, esura, esurum

             Liberi esuri crustula manus lavant.

            The children about to eat the cookies wash their hands.

            The children who are about to eat the cookies wash their hands.


The active periphrastic (also called the first periphrastic) uses the future active participle plus a form of esse.

Liberi sunt esuri.        The children are about to eat.


D. Future Passive Participle, Stem: second principal part + -nd + first and second declension endings

This form, also known as the gerundive, communicates action that is a necessity or obligation (though occasionally merely a future/present reference). The participle alone:


Exempli gratia:  edendus, edenda, edendum

            Mater parat crustula edenda.

            Mother prepares the cookies to be eaten.


 The passive periphrastic (also called the second periphrastic) uses the future passive participle plus a form of esse. This construction communicates necessity or obligation. To express agency, this construction must use the dative instead of a, ab with the ablative.

 Crustula liberis edenda sunt.        The cookies must be eaten by the children.


 Nota Bene:  It is easy to get the forms of the participles mixed up when first learning them.  Use these derivatives for the model verb agere to help keep them straight.

  • agent (present active participle) – a person “doing something”
  • actuary (future active participle) – someone who computes probabilities, things “about to” happen
  • act (perfect passive participle) – a law passed, a motion made, something already “done”
  • agenda (future passive participle) –  “things to be done”


*This review is compiled from excerpts provided in Latin Alive Book 2.   A smiliar review appears in the grammar section of the Latin Alive Reader (coming soon).


Romans Under the Yoke – an Art Study for Caesar


 Caesar, quod memoria tenebat L. Cassium cōnsulem occisum exercitumque eius ab Helvetiis pulsum et sub iugum missum, concedendum non putabat

Art study is a wonderful way to bring ancient texts to life.  Artists such as Gleyre were inspired by the words of Caesar and other classical authors.  As they read the Latin texts, images began to take shape and were then transferred to canvas.  The subject below is not an actual scene from the Gallic War, but rather the memory of a scene described by Caesar: the humiliating defeat of a Roman legion at the hands of a Helvetian Army.  For Gleyre and his Swiss countrymen, it is a reminder that their ancestors were able to once humble mighty Rome.

Romans Under the Yoke by Charles Gleyre (1808-1874)

This painting portrays an event of humiliation for the Romans referenced by Caesar in Book 1.7 and 12 of de Bello Gallico.  The portion from chapter 7 is on the AP syllabus.  Chapter 12 would make a wonderful sight passage in reference to chapter 7 and this painting.  This text may be found on  Charles Gleyre (1808 – 1874) was known as the original painter of light for the manner in which he used light to draw attention to the focus of his subject.  His work hovers between the romantic period (with an emphasis on nature) and that of impressionism.  Gleyre was an instructor for many famous artists of the Impressionist movement, including Renoir and Monet.  A native of Switzerland, he displays here his pride in the Helvetian heritage.
The yoke itself is a great lesson for ancient military custom.  It was not uncommon for a defeated enemy to be forced to march under the yoke.  This forces them to bow before their enemy in a posture of humiliation.  Here the Roman soldiers, stripped of the dignity of their armour, are forced to bow before the Helvetian general Divico and their trampled standards.
Questions for Study:
Note the lines in the painting.  To where/whom do they direct your attention?
  • Note where the light and shadows fall.  What does this contrast highlight?
  • Note the white oxen to the right of the bound soldiers.  What is around their neck?  What is above the soldiers?  What comparison might be made here?
  • Where do the eyes of the Roman soldiers fall?  Why might this be significant?
  • What is the central figure in the painting?  What is the significance of this in Druid worship?
  • What do the behavior of the other figures around this central element seem to suggest?  Relate this back to the juxtaposition of the bound soldiers and the yoked cattle.

Latin Alive Series – Book 3 now available!

Latin Alive Book 3 is now available!  This text completes the grammar series with the study of the subjunctive mood and a fabulous unit on Latin poetry.  All of the reading are unadapted original texts.  We are very delighted by the list of readings that have come together for this book.  

I am also thrilled to announce that we have also completed  writing on a reader that will follow this grammar series.  The reader is now in editing and graphic design, but coming in 2014 we will be pleased to share . . .

Latin Alive Reader: Literature from Cicero to Newton

This book will serve as an excellent reading course for students of Latin Alive or any other full Latin grammar course.  You may liken this to a humanities course in Latin.  Students will have the opportunity to read a very wide variety of literary styles and genre from the late republic through the dawn of the  modern age.  They will be able to use their Latin knowledge to read the primary sources that tell the narrative of history.  Stay tuned for more information!

Latin’s Effective History

We have been blessed to welcome a number of historical contributers to the Latin Alive series.  These contributers come from several universities across the United States, each one sharing something from his own expertise and love of ancient history.  These vignettes appear in the unit reading chapters along side a piece of Latin literature.  Below is a small sample taken from Latin Alive Book 3.  The final unit of LA3 features an excerpt from Newton’s Principia.  Dr. Nodes of Baylor University writes about the incredible influence Latin Literature had on generations far beyond the fall of Rome. 

The post-classical or ‘medieval’ Latin language in use from A.D. 400 to 1400 is still Latin, and it conforms in broad terms to the same principles of use as the Latin of Cicero and Vergil.  What’s different is the freer use of the language in terms of the grammar, vocabulary, and regional variations, and the subject matter expressed.  It was common for writers of every part of that long period to speak disparagingly of the classical authors at one time, and yet use their works and even praise them at another time.  The monk and scholar, Alcuin of York, for example, is said to have kept an elder monk company as they kept vigil one night.  At dawn, when the bells sounded morning prayers, the old monk continued to sleep, and immediately he was set upon by demons, who beat him terribly.  The boy Alcuin later prayed, “Lord Jesus, enable me to keep the vigils, and if I will love Vergil more than the Psalms, let me be beaten too!”

But Alcuin was nothing less than a monument of classical learning.  He is said to have died still reciting Vergil!  How can this be?  Scholars have tried to show that the two behaviors are not incompatible, if one remembers that the medievals held classical learning as a means to the goal of spiritual wisdom, and not the goal itself. They wisely could not fail to recognize the greatness of their classical Latin predecessors as an aid to gaining clarity and depth of thought and expression, and a good measure of wisdom.

- from “Latin’s Effective History” by Daniel Nodes (Latin Alive, Book 3)

To learn more about Dr. Nodes and all those who contributed such articles to the Latin Alive series, please see the page titled ”contributing historians.”

“Latin for Teachers” FREE!

Classical Academic Press is offering the Latin For Teacher Training video free online (LFC A sessions only) for about three weeks.  This is part of a 3 day workshop I have given in order to train grammar school Latin teachers.  I use the Latin for Children text for the video, but the strategies and resources I provide here can be used for any grammar school Latin course.  This limited time offer allows FB fans to watch the material taught during the first day online for free.  In order to take advantage of this limited offer please see the link below.  Pass it on!


To see sample material and read reviews for this product, please visit the CAP website:


Janitor Graduates from Columbia

It is that time of year when senior students across the globe make that final push through semester exams, papers, and presentations to earn the honor of graduation.  Many of them have been infected for some time by that dreadful virus known as senioritis.  Graduation just can’t come too soon and the world beyond looks like their oyster, offering pearls of opportunity.  Sometimes, all too often in fact, they begin to lose sight of the true value of their education.  We all have at some point.

A recent article about a special graduate recently grabbed my attention.  A senior of another sort, Gac Filipaj (52), just earned his B.A. in Classics with honors from the University of Columbia.  Mr. Filipaj has worked his way through college working the night shift as a janitor.  This is a truly inspirational story. It reminds me how much I have to be thankful for, how blessed I am, and the true rewards of a wonderful education. Neither money nor position, but the richness within.  Equally striking is the reason why this student was drawn towards the study of Classics over any other major.  An immigrant from war-torn Yugoslavia, he was impacted the most by the writings of Seneca.  “I love Seneca’s letters because they’re written in the spirit in which I was educated in my family — not to look for fame and fortune, but to have a simple, honest, honorable life.”   It seems Mr. Filipaj does not have any plans for fame or fortune for himself.  He says the riches of his education lie within.  Learning for the sake of learning, enriching the soul.  We could all take a lesson from the class notes of such a graduate.


Read the Article:

Columbia U Janitor Graduates, Will Keep Cleaning

Latin Haiku

My students really enjoy composing their own original works of Latin.  Such assignments allow them to apply some colorful creativity to the routine of grammar.  The exercise also proves a wonderful way to reinforce lessons in Latin grammar and syntax.  I have incorporated some of these composition assignments into Latin Alive, Book 3. One such lesson is the Latin Haiku.

The Haiku, a form of Japanese poetry, is among the shortest of literary genre.  It is known for its compact yet powerful means of expression.  The Haiku should consist of three lines, 17 syllables in toto.  The first line should consist of only 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third line another 5 syllables.  This is a wonderful way to begin exploring Latin poetry, as the Romans wrote their poetry with regard to the number and rhythm of syllables as opposed to rhyme.   The Haiku typically contains themes related to nature or emotion, but you may write a bit of poetry to commemorate a person as Ennius does in the chapter reading.

Below are four examples of Latin Haiku composed by members of my 8th grade class at Grace Academy of Georgetown.


Ferus equus

In magna silva vivit

Totus sed solus


Canis effugit

Periculum nocte sed

Cadit in die


Offa suavis

suci plena rubraque

cocta perfecte


Avis non volat

Struthiocamelus est

Currit sub sole

Latin Brain Teasers

One of the Seven Laws of Teaching* states that a teacher should never attempt to begin a lesson without first having gained the attention of the student.  This can be a challenge, especially when it comes to bubbly (er . . . chatty) middle school students.  A strategy I have employed often and without fail is the Latin warm up.  I have a Latin phrase on the board ready to go before the student come in.  With very little training, students will know that as soon as they enter the classroom they are to get busy.  This eliminates wasted dead time that can creep in as the teacher waits for straggles or is pre-occupied with someone or something lingering from the previous class.  Such a warm up engages the students’ attention immediately and begins preparing their focus for the subject at hand – Latin. There is certainly no lack of pithy Latin phrases, but it is good to keep their attention by throwing in a puzzle or brain teaser amid the expected ancient proverb.  Several of these brain teasers and puzzles have made their way into Latin Alive, Book 3.  In this post we’d like to share some wonderful sources for more such diverting tidbits.

For Latin Puzzles see

For the Latin quote of the week, see

For Latin sayings, see

For handy Latin phrases, see

For palindromes, see


*The Seven Laws of Teaching is a treatise by John Milton Gregory that outlines the seven natural laws of teaching and how teachers may best work with such laws to maximize effectiveness.  It is an excellent read and highly recommended.

March 15 – political significance

Over Spring Break I took up the task of reading Caesar and Christ: The Story of Civilization by the incomparable Will Durant.  His volumes of history are highly regarded by most scholars, and I am thus far enjoying this volume of his work immensely.  Today, March 15, I happened to read chapter II where I found the following: a description of candidacy for chief magistrates in Rome.

The candidate appeared in person, dressed in plain white (candidus) toga to emphasize the simplicity of his life and morals, and perhaps the more easily to show the scars he had won in the field.  If elected, he entered office on the ensuing March 15.  (Caesar and Christ, Durant)

Most of us remember the infamous Ides of March as the anniversary for the brutal assassination of Julius Caesar,  his grand exit from the stage of political theater.  According to Durant, this same date was significant to Romans as the day when their chief magistrates began office, at least during the time of the Republic.  Yet this date marks the end for Caesar’s reign.  Oh the irony!

One might wonder why the Romans would have chosen this date.  Our politicians generally take office in early January, right after the new year begins.  It was the same for the Romans whose year once began in March.  (See the post titled Happy New Year) In the year 153 B.C. the consuls began to take office on the Kalends of January instead.  Would the Romans have felt the heavy irony to such a permanent end to Caesar’s career on this day?  We may never know for certain.  But we do know that since that fateful day the meaning of the Ides of March has forever been changed.  Even in their own day, men such as Cicero never had to refer directly to the assassination of Caesar, but could simply mention the Ides.  At the mere utterance of that word his fellow Romans did think of no other consul, but Caesar.


CAP Book Tour, 2012

As the gentle rains bring back beautiful buds we all know what season is knocking upon our door – book fair season!

It is that time of year when many of us begin making plans to attend a conference or two or three.  After a year of hard mental labor these conferences often bring a time of refreshment, encouragement, renewed inspiration, and the opportunity to browse an ocean of books.  CAP seems to be visiting more conferences this season than ever before.  Look below to see if we will be coming to one in your neck of the woods.  I will be at those marked with the asterisks.  I have been asked to present seminars at both the Association for Classical Christian Schools and the Society for  Classical Learning (more on those in later posts).  I hope to see some of you there!


Conference Where When
Great Homeschool Convention – South East Greenville, SC March 22
Great Homeschool Convention – Mid South Memphis, TN April 12


Great Homeschool Convention – Mid West Cincinnati, OH April 19
CHAP Harrisburg, PA May 11
Homeschool Book Fair Arlington, TX May 11 – 12
Great Homeschool convention – California Long Beach, CA May 24
Florida Parent-Educators Association Convention Orlando, FL May 24
Virginia Homeschool Convention Richmond, VA June 7
Great Homeschool Convention – North East Hartford, CT June 14
Association of Classical Christian Schools* Dallas, TX June 21 – 23
Society for Classical Learning* Charleston, South Carolina June 27 – 29
The Circe Institute Conference Louisville, KY July 18
Texas Homeschool Coalition* The Woodlands, TX August 2 – 4