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Leap Year and Julius Caesar

2,057 years ago the first leap year was celebrated.  It was the year 45 B.C. (or  608 A.U.C.) and Julius Caesar had been named Pontifex Maximus.  As the high priest of Rome he gained control over the Roman calendar; a very powerful office indeed as the High Priest had the power to interpret the omens and decide on which days public meetings, votes, and even declarations of war could be held.  The Roman calendar by this time, however, had some major problems.  The seasons were off from their assigned months.  The original calendar had been created by Romulus and was based on the phases of the moon and a ten month agricultural cycle.  Later rulers had added two more months, but by Caesar’s day they did not fall in the proper seasons.  Caesar hired Sosigenes, an Egyptian astronomer, to help him create a new solar calendar for Rome and for the world.  Caesar moved the first day of the year from March to January.  He balanced the lengths of the months with alternating days of 30 or 31, but left February with only 29.  He then gave February the Bissextile, which was the first leap day.  The bissextile came once every four years.  In these leap years, February had 30 days.  This gave the new Julian Calendar, as he called it after himself, 365.25 days.  The seventh month, the month of Caesar’s birth, was renamed July in his honor. After his adopted son and heir, soon to be known as Augustus, took control of the empire he decided to follow the lead of his predecessor.  Augustus renamed his own birth month August.  At that time, however, August had only 30 days.  It was not fitting for the emperor’s month to be shorter than July, so he took another day from February, leaving it with only 28 and giving August 31.

The calendar has remained relatively unchanged from Caesar’s day until this.  February is still shortchanged, with a little redemption only once every fourth year.  There has, in fact, been only one significant change since Caesar’s leap year decree.  In the 16th century A.D. the Church began to realize that something was terribly amiss with the calendar.  The Easter Holiday, whose date is determined by the equinox, was off by ten days. (1600 years later and only a ten day error!)  At the Council of Trent in A.D. 1545 Pope Gregory XIII commissioned the astronomers Christopher Clavis and Luigi Lilio to determine the problem and reform the calendar.  They discovered that the Julian Calendar was off by 11 minutes and 14 seconds.  That is a difference of just .0078 days!  Amazing.  In order to better align the calendar with the rotations of the heavens, they created the Century Leap Year Rule.  Three out of every four centennial years ( a year divisible by 100) are “common.”  That is, they are a leap year.  No centennial year, however, can be a leap year if divisible by 400.  For that reason the year A.D. 2000 was not a leap year.  Did you notice?  That centennial rule will not come into play again until A.D. 2400, unless another ruler decides to reform the calendar again before then.  For now, Pope Gregory’s mandate to tweak the Julian Calendar earned him the right to rename our calendar after himself.  But remember, while the modern Calendar may be called Gregorian, it has Roman written all over it.


Nota Bene:  If you find this post interesting check out the other calendar post titled “Happy New Year!

Latin Alive Book 1 offers a lesson and activity on the Julian Calendar in the appendix for the Teacher’s Edition.


The Christmas Story

As we enter the season of advent and the school calendar moves ever more quickly towards the holiday break, I like to introduce some readings that relate to the season at hand.  I find offering a break in the routine with material relevant to the holidays really helps to maintain the interest and enthusiasm of students growing restless and anxious with anticipation.   Many years I have often given students old Latin hyms to translate.  Traditional hyms such as Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and Adeste Fideles are still widely popular today.  The students seem to genuinely enjoy learning the meaning behind the words they sing each year.  The first verses of the latter are wonderful for even younger students due to their simplicity.  The former is a little more complicated, but the poetry of the verses is powerful and moving.

Having read through both of these in years past, I gave my advanced students the Christmas Story: Luke 2 from the Vulgate Bible.  The New Testament, including all four gospels were originally penned in Koine Greek for this was the common language of commerce in the Mediterranean world.  In the late 4th century Anno Domini Jerome translated the entire Bible into Latin.  It was known as the versio vulgata, the commonly used version.  Today it is called the Vulgate.  This translation served as the authoritative work for the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.

This resource provides a wonderful opportunity for student work.  For Christian students there is certainly a caveat against relying to heavily on their memory of Bible stories or peeking at their own Bibles for too much help.  It must be emphasized that they need to understand the words and their meanings for themselves, otherwise they are short changing themselves.  At the same time, the familiarity of words and story allow a great opportunity for reading at sight.  Perhaps most valuable of all, in this time of shopping, decorating, and celebration overload, it reminds us all of the true meaning of Christmas.  God most high descending to earth in lowly human form, a seemingly helpless babe in a manger who would become our savior and redeemer. 

 gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis  

(Luke 2.14)

The following are two links for online versions of the Vulgate.  The first is a great resource for teachers and parents as it provides a side-by-side English translation.  This allows you to move through the text more easily to find the passages you want to use.  It is difficult, however, to cut ‘n’ paste text from this site.

Latin Vulgate with King James Translation:

(It should be noted that the King James translation is based off the original Hebrew and Greek, not the Latin text.)

 The Vulgate:




Tips for Learning Latin with Less Stress


As we prepare for the new school year students and parents and teachers ought to consider ways to manage their studies so that Latin can be a successful adventure and not a stressful or overwhelming test of endurance.  Recently a colleague shared a set of tips listed on the classics page for Cornell University.  This is a fantastic list!

Cornell is a private 4 year liberal arts  college situated in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  This prestigious school was awarded a place of honor among the 40 Colleges That Change Lives.  Check it out.

General Guidelines

  • Do your studying in relatively small chunks (ca. 40-60 min).
  • Do take breaks while studying.
  • Be an active and interactive learner.
  • When studying, use as many senses as possible: speaking, listening, writing, and reading.
  • Spend 45 minutes each day reading.
  • Practice with a friend.

Specific Suggestions

  • Practice saying new words out loud (or writing them).
  • Study vocabulary several times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time.
  • When learning vocabulary, practice conjugating new verbs or declining new nouns and adjectives.
  • Practice using new vocabulary in simple sentences so that you get used to seeing the word in context.
  • Practice with a friend, making up sentences about the pictures, asking questions about the story, creating short questions and answers, and quizzing each other on grammar and vocabulary.
  • Imagine a specific context (e.g., the home, the market, the tavern, the forum) and create sentences that describe what is happening in that setting.
  • Review old vocabulary and grammar before doing the written homework.
  • Study new vocabulary and grammar before attempting the written homework.
  • Re-read an old reading passage to get you thinking Latin before attempting the homework.
  • Read a new passage for content first, guessing at words that you don’t know, looking for key words to help you unravel the meaning of the paragraph.
  • Read a new passage quickly on the first try while listening to the tape, trying to get the gist of the passage (aural and visual reinforcement).
  • Read the passage aloud, trying to speak the story in phrase groups that belong together (recognizing sense units).
  • Better to read through the passage several times rather than just once.
  • Rewrite a paragraph or two of a reading passage by changing the time (tense) or the point of view (person and number).
  • After reading the passage carefully, try listening to it on tape without looking at the text (testing comprehension).


  • Don’t panic. It’s normal for language students not to master new grammar or vocabulary on the first try. Language learning is a cumulative process.
  • Don’t study for several hours in a row without a break. You’ll go nuts, and it will be less likely to become part of your long-term memory.
  • Don’t be a passive learner. If you use all your senses, if you use the language to create new sentences, you will learn it better.
  • Don’t just read an assignment to yourself: say the words or write them.
  • Don’t study vocab for more than 15 minutes at a time, preferably no more than 10 minutes at a time.
  • Don’t begin your written homework without first reviewing old vocabulary and practicing old grammar (you’ll end up having to look up too many words and forms and you’ll feel like you are spinning your wheels).
  • Don’t begin your written homework without studying the new vocab and grammar (ditto).
  • Don’t refer to grammar charts and vocabulary lists as you do your homework. If you have already reviewed the material, try to work from memory. Then go back and check your work after you have completed the entire exercise.
  • When doing a reading passage, don’t read the passage just once. This is a foreign language, not your native language. Give it time to sink in.
  • Don’t write out a literal translation of a reading passage. Better to spend the time re-reading the passage.

Bonam Fortunam! Learning Latin can be fun if you make it fun!

Book Tour, 2011


With the coming of Spring, conference season begins.  That means that Classical Academic Press will begin touring bookfairs and conferences across the U.S.A.  The following is our tour schedule.  Click on the convention title to learn more about each event.  Chris Perrin and Karen Moore will be speaking at many of these conferences.  Come by and say salve!

Date Convention Location
March 3-5 MidSouth Homeschool Convention Memphis, TN
March 17-19 Southeast Homeschool Convention Greenville, SC
March 31- April 2 Midwest Homeschool Convention Cincinnati, OH
April 15-16 MACHE MD Frederick, MD
May 5-7 SHEM Springfield, MO
May 6-7 Home School Book Fair Arlington, TX
May 13-14 CHAP Harrisburg, PA
May 26-28 FPEA Orlando, FL
May 26-28 NCHE Winston-Salem, NC
June 2-4 ICHE Naperville, IL
June 9-11 HEAV Richmond, VA
June 16-18 Association of Classical Christian Schools Atlanta, GA*
June 15 – 18 TCA: “Pursuing Excellence” Classical Conference Santa Clarita, CA*
June 23-25 Society for Classical Learning Baltimore, MD*
June 23-25 NorthEast Homeschool Convention Philadelphia, PA
July 8-9 NOVA – Conference Cancelled Chantilly, VA
July 14-16 CHEA of CA Long Beach, CA
July 28-30 Texas Home School Coalition The Woodlands, TX*

*Karen Moore will present workshops at these conferences.

ACCS 2011, Registration is Now Open!

Repairing the Ruins” Conference in Atlanta, GA

This conference is designed to provide the principles of a classical and Christian education and practical instruction in a broad range of subjects with designations for grammar, logic, and rhetoric level instructors, administrators, and board members.

When: Thursday, June 16, 2011 8:00 AM through Saturday, June 18, 2011 11:55 AM Eastern Time
Where: Renaissance Waverly Hotel, 2450 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339

Connect With Your Peers
Breakfast with other conference attendees.
Discussion groups organized by grade or content level.
Open house with the teachers from the Atlanta Classical Christian Academy.

For More Information Visit

2011 is the 10th Anniversary for Classical Academic Press!  We will be celebrating all year long with new specials each month!

This month, in February, enjoy a special on our most popular items, the Latin for Children series!  All individual items are 15% off!

The Libellus de Historia readers, by LA author Karen Moore, are also on sale.  These readers can be used to supplement any Latin curriculum.  The advanced “red” book would serve as a good supplement for LA students.

View all items on special!

(Hint:  This sale beats the usual “bundle package” deal!)

A Lesson on the Poet Martial

In this post you will find a wonderful lesson to complement any study on Latin poetry. While working on some poetry lessons I stumbled across this gem, an audio/video lesson on Martial at WorldNews website. The poet Marcus Valerius Martialis, known to us as Martial, published poetry during the reigns of Domitian, Nerva, and Trajan. He is known for his charming and witty epigrams, a fun read for students. I wish I could give proper credit to the author of this segment, but I could not find that information. This seven minute lesson will introduce viewers to the life of Martial, the political times in which he lived, and some of his celebrated work. Wonderful!

Roman Statue Uncovered on Israel’s Coast

One of the strongest storms to hit Israel’s coast in recent history has uncovered an ancient treasure.  The storm buffeted the coastline of the ancient town of Caesarea (modern day Ashkelon).  A cliff along the coast collapsed revealing a beautiful statue that early estimates date back to a Roman occupation nearly 2,000 years ago.  You can see some great pics and read more about this wonderful discovery at the links provided.

Mail Online: “The Sea Gave her Back”

Huffington Post: “Ancient Roman Statue Uncovered in Israel Storm

Washington Post: “Roman Statue Rises from the Sea”

Israel National Mediterranean Returns Lost Roman Statue to Ashkelon”

Veni Emmanuel

Veni Emmanuel, the debut music CD from Classical Academic Press, is a collection of hauntingly beautiful carols, written centuries ago by great scholars, musicians and poets for the celebration of Christmas. Some tunes will be familiar, and some new to our 21st century ears. All in Latin, laced with theology and beautiful poetry, rediscover the rich heritage of sacred Christmas music through the ages. The collection includes carols with lyrics or music from the fifth century through 1900. Recorded with harp, piano, recorder, violin and voice.

You can listen to the title song by clicking on the link for Veni Emmanuel on the right side of the screen.

Now on sale for a limited time!  Visit Classical Academic Press for more information by clicking on the image below.

Veni Emmanuel CD - click here for more information

Latin Alive and the National Latin Exam

It is that time of year when teachers will begin receiving advertisements and registration forms for the National Latin Exam (NLE). I am frequently asked advice regarding what level students using Latin Alive or Latin for Children should sign up for. My suggestions are provided in this post. Read the rest of this entry »