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Latin Practicum @ ACCS with Karen Moore and Tim Griffith

I am very excited to partner with Tim Griffith in bringing a full day of Latin wonder to the pre-conference for the 2018 Repairing the Ruins Conference, hosted by the Association of Classical Christian Schools. My distinguished colleague is a professor of classical studies at New St. Andrews College and the brilliant creator of Picta Dicta (click to see my earlier post extolling this site!). I have enjoyed getting to know him over the last year as we exchanged ideas and shared our passion for Latin.

Our goal as we join forces is to bring together teachers from a variety of disciplines, approaches, and backgrounds to discuss “best practices” for the various ages and stages of learning. Every teacher has their own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Likewise, our students all have various approaches to learning. The goal is to find the best ways to engage students in a variety of approaches to strengthen not only their skill sets in language, but their love for learning. Tim and I will also share a wide variety of resources for use inside the classroom as well as for teacher development outside the classroom.

This practicum will be followed by seminars on Latin during the main conference that will build on the sessions from the practicum with the aim of empowering and encouraging teachers for the new year.

Check out the synopses for the practicum as well as our individual seminars at http://2018.repairingtheruins.org/latin-practicum/.  The link will take you to a detailed description for the Practicum. The synopses for our individual sessions during the main conference are provided below.

Practicum Details

ACCS Latin Practicum Details – Tim Griffith & Karen Moore

Teaching Latin that Good Old Way but in the Twenty-First Century – Tim Griffith (main conference)

It may seem impractical to spend valuable class time learning to write or speak in a dead language. As almost everyone capable of using Latin is now dead, even those who see the value of learning the language at all usually only see the value of learning to read it. But composing Latin, whether aloud or on paper, has been proven for centuries to be an excellent way for students to learn to read it better. This workshop will demonstrate how teachers can teach Latin the old and proven way—through composition and oral composition—while using powerful tools from the 21st century.

Latin as the True Liberal Art – Karen Moore (main conference)

In sixth century A.D., Cassiodorus ambitiously outlined a program that would integrate the proven academic studies of Greece and Rome with the study of sacred writing deemed necessary to fully equip the mind and the souls of our youth for a life lived to the glory of God alone. In this text it was Cassiodorus who laid out the seven liberal arts as the pillars of such education. Today the term liberal arts is not so clear cut as it once was. Modern day students and even educators might struggle to give a clear and concise definition. We in classical Christian education still look to Cassiodorus’ framework to define this magnificent seven as grammar, logic, rhetoric (the trivium), along with arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (the quadrivium). The challenge we face in modern times is to redeem an approach to teaching these seven liberal arts as part of an integrated whole. The Latin classroom may be the last bastion of such study. As the lingua franca of urope for well over a millenia, Latin is the common thread that draws all seven studies together. In Latin we find the rhetoric of Cicero and Quintilian. In Latin we find the scientific treatises of Galileo and Newton. In Latin we find the muses who inspired Vergil and the countless poets and artists who followed him. In Latin we find the writings of the early church fathers, the chronicles of church history. Within a Latin reading course the teacher has the delightful opportunity to lead students through all these studies. Latin is not merely a study of language, but a course in world knowledge. This workshop intends to demonstrate how such readings may be woven together to showcase the seven liberal arts as students grow in their reading proficiency.

  • Hint: This presentation will include some of the lesson plans featured on this blog site that integrate the study of Latin with other disciplines!

Hiding God’s Word in their Hearts – Karen Moore (main conference)

Most of us would readily agree with the importance and even the necessity of memorizing some Scripture. This exercise seems to be emphasized particularly within the grammar school as our dear little sponges readily and eagerly soak up any data to be memorized from grammar chants to math facts to short poems, often using delightful ditties to ease the labor. However, the suggestion of asking older students to commit whole books of the Bible to memory might be considered daunting to say the least. Why? Truly the biggest obstacle may be that in this postmodern era we have no cultural precedent for such a discipline of memory. This is a discipline so far removed from what we have learned that our frame of reference feels inadequate. How can it be done? This resentation provides both an apologetic for the memorization of large quantities of Scripture and a model for accomplishing these goals. Mrs. Moore will call upon examples from Scripture and educational models from the ancient Mediterranean world as she demonstrates what upper school students are presently accomplishing at Grace Academy.

Gingerbread Construction – Recipes and Tips

On this blog site I have posted multiple projects that teach lessons in ancient architecture via gingerbread. This particular post will offer a "behind the scenes" look at the construction process. Read on for information on creative tools, gingerbread and icing recipes, and a variety of construction tips. Caveat: this post will make you hungry! Read the rest of this entry »

Edible Architecture: Hadrian’s Wall

Among the most creative of our edible construction projects was Hadrian's Wall. This project was very unique, very different from other projects of its kind. First, instead of recreating a finished structure, we opted to recreate the structure in process. Second, this project did not use any gingerbread. However, like all of our other edible architecture projects we did recreate a structure that was significant to the classical world, and every piece was edible. Read on to learn a little history behind the real wall, and then how to build your own sweet replica. Read the rest of this entry »

Columbus Day Reading: Integrating History, Language, and Science

Each October my 9th grade students enjoy reading selections from the Latin Letter of Columbus. Columbus addressed his to the monarchs of Spain, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and thus he originally wrote the letter in Spanish. The monarchs were delighted by the discovery and immediately wanted to share news of this new world with all of Europe. Therefore, in 1493 they  published Columbus' letter in Latin, and sent it throughout all of Europe. At that time Latin was the lingua franca of the day, and every well-educated man, woman, and child would be able to read these great tidings. This leaves us a wonderful sample of Renaissance Latin about historical places and events on our side of the pond. Read on to learn how I use this letter to integrate the study of Latin with American History and how this provides the basis for a creative composition assignment! Read the rest of this entry »

Art-Literature Analysis: Student Assignment

As an end of year project for my AP Latin students, I assign an art analysis paper based upon a scene from either Vergil's Aeneid or Caesar's de Bello Gallico. The students are to choose a masterpiece that accurately depicts one such scene. This assignment is a student favorite as it causes the students to look back and call upon what they have learned of the story and the language from the vantage point of one who has completed a rigorous journey and now stands upon the mountain top, surveying the view of the road from whence they came. The remainder of this post is written by one of my Latin students. This is her piece of art-literature analysis based on a scene from Aeneid VI. Read the rest of this entry »

Excavating the Circus Maximus!

Archaeologists are discovering what some call the greatest shopping complex of the ancient world. I suppose this really shouldn't surprise us at all. Modern man is not really that different from ancient man. Visit any NASCAR or Formula One race track and you are likely to find a plethora of concession stands, clothing venues, souvenir shops, and large bathroom facilities. You might also find stories posted of the greatest drivers and the cars that set records. All this has been discovered at the Circus Maximus. Several shops have been found including ancient laundromats that would clean your garments with the preferred agent of the time: urine. Large latrines have been uncovered that used the nearby aqueducts to continually "flush" water and waste through to the sewers. Archaeologists have even found images of a winning race horse by the name of Numitor, who seems to have gained some measure of fame in the great city. Read the rest of this entry »

Planning the Invasion of Gaul

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres . . . Thus begins the first chapter of Comentarii de Bello Galllico, written by General Julius Caesar c.58-49 B.C. This is a line that most veterans of Latin studies know by heart for it has long been the traditional "first book" for young students graduating from grammatical studies into original readings. The work is chosen for its excellent prose, whose arrangment is fairly easy for novice readers to follow. That is once you become adept at recognizing ablative absolutes and extensive relative clauses and very long stints of indirect discourse. The work certainly cannot be read without great attention to the author, Julius Caesar, his military endeavors and his political ambitions. This work can also be enjoyed as a study in ancient geography as Caesar begins the very first chapter by laying out the geographical composition of Greater Gaul in the manner of a chartographer. Read the rest of this entry »

Loki Loves Latin!

I have always wanted to create a course on the classical origins of comic book heroes.  So many of them have strong ties to classical mythology.  The Norse themes of the Thor series are among the most notable. So imagine my pure delight to learn that actor Tim Hiddleston, who played Loki in the recent Marvel movies for Thor and the Avengers, holds a Classics degree from Cambridge!  What better training could there be for such a role?!  In the following clip Hiddleston offers a wonderful answer to the question, “what do you do with a classics degree?”

Be prepared to take notes.  You will want to write these answers down!

Poetic Art Assignment

In a recent post (July 5) I discussed my love for exploring the connections between Latin poetry and art in my classes.

Within that post I shared suggestions for a class lesson that would integrate the analysis of poetic imagery with pieces of art.  In such lessons we must begin with the work of master artists.  We learn what is truly beautiful by studying the work of those who have mastered the art form, whether that be in the visual arts or in the literary arts.  The next step in the art-poetry study is for the students themselves to become creative interpreters of the poem.  In my last post we looked at the story of Pyramus & Thisbe from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Liber IV).  So let us continue with that same story in our next art lesson.

We begin by reading the story in the original Latin and soaking up the masterful wordcraft of the poet Ovid.  We discuss word choice, arrangement, imagery, and all sorts of literary devices.  We next look at works by master artists to see how they interpreted Ovid’s poem upon their canvases.  We discuss the art in light of the poetry (see July 5 post for guidelines).  Next, I assign the students the task of producing their own piece of art that interprets one scene one moment from the poem.  After looking upon the work of masterful artists this naturally causes a bit of intimidation.  I comfort the students by assuring them that I don’t expect a masterpiece.  I do expect their best work, careful, neat, thoughtful, with attention to the detail in the poem.   I am pleased to share the work of one of my freshmen ladies below.  This is her interpretation of Book IV, Line 71:

saepe, ubi constiterant hinc Thisbe, Pyramus illinc

Kirk_Ovid_05_2016

 

What I absolutely love about this particular piece is the manner in which she interprets the chiastic imagery from Ovid’s work.  A chiasmus is an ABBA word pattern.  Here the word arrangement highlights the tortuous juxtaposition of the two lovers separated by the wall.  The wall itself becomes an impersonal character within the story.  Later on the young lovers would talk to the wall both chastising it for their separation while also expressing gratitude for the crack (seen here above Pyramus’ head) that allows them to share secret whispers of gentle affection.  The astute observer may notice that the artist did change one word from Ovid’s verse.  The artist writes semper [always] where Ovid wrote saepe [often].  This is and intentional change.  The artist has chosen silhouettes to illustrate the spirit that remains for these young lovers – always and forever juxtaposed against the wall in Ovid’s story. Many other pieces I receive have used the death scene (my students seem to love gore) and include a greater multitude of details. This piece, however, was bold enough in its abstract simplicity to drive home the image of the wall and the manner in which it divided the two lovers, here Thisbe, Pyramus there – always.

Well done, my young poetic artist!

Art as a Poetic Interpretation

Latin poetry is without a doubt my favorite genre of writing to read with students.  The writing of poets such as Vergil, Ovid, and Horace is pure art.  I often tell students that these poets are literary artists.  The page is their canvas, the stylus is their paintbrush, the words are hues of color, and the literary devices are their brush strokes.  It is the choice and implementation of the latter two that set all artists apart as masters.

Many artists must share this view as they allowed the literary artwork of these great poets to inspire their own graphic compositions.  In fact, the Metamorphoses inspired so many paintings in the 12th century that it was called the Aetas Ovidiana [Ovidian Age].  I explain to students that the artists of this time period would have been well versed in Latin and quite possibly Greek.  They would not have read the Metamorphoses in English or Spanish or French, but would have read Ovid in Latin.  The diction, syntax, and style used by Ovid would have created images and impressions in the mind of the artist who then interpret those images upon a canvas.  I challenge students to read a piece of Latin poetry and then study a piece of art in light of that poetry.  Consider the words and arrangement of the poet.  Then seek to discover those elements within the poem.  Where does the artist interpret the poet? What lines/phrases do you see interpreted? How?  Where does the artist take license? Why?

 

Consider the following two pieces inspired by the myth of Pyramus & Thisbe in Book IV of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

 

Pyramus and Thisbe by Gregorio Pagani

  • Where are we in the story?  What has happened thus far?
  • What scenery here is described by Ovid? mulberry tree – arbor,  fountain – gelido contermina fonti (Metamorphoses IV.90), Thisbe’s tattered cloak – vestem quoque sanguine tinctam (Metamorphoses IV.107)
  • What elements are different than perhaps what Ovid may have described? Why?  The clothing is not entirely Greco-Roman, but has been influenced by fashion in the time period of the author.  The statue on the fountain is a small cupid. No such statue is mentioned, but this statue adds an element of personification to the fountain as witness to the deed.
  • How does the author use color?  Very little actual blood appears in the painting, but there are copious amounts of red.  The red appears most notably on the cloak/garment on which Pyramus is lying. Is it a red pattern? Is it blood? Does it give the appearance (with respect to color and folds) of blood pouring from Pyramus?
  • How does the author use lighting?  The light falls most notably on Thisbe who must be the center of the piece due to her position and her depicted action (clearly her death scene), but also falls greatly upon Pyramus the cause of her death.  The fountain statue (witness) also receives some light.
  • ALWAYS introduce or conclude discussion with the author, time period, and location of the work.  If possible gather information online also for any additional elements about the art that may be of interest to students or help further their appreciation of the piece. This piece is an oil on canvas painted in Florence, Italy (c. 1558-1605).  It is now on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

 

It is always nice to juxtapose two pieces to see how authors interpret the same scene differently.

Pyramus and Thisbe by Pierre Gautherot

  •  This too is an oil on canvas.  This is a more recent painting, created in 1799 by a French artist.
  • Repeat discussion questions from above noting both similarities and differences.
  • The fountain is represented in a different way (which do you think is truer to Ovid’s description)?
  • The tomb and city are present this time – cumque domo exierint, urbis quoque tecta relinquant (Metamorphoses IV.86) . . . conveniant ad busta Nini (Metamorphoses IV.88).
  • How is the clothing different?   Note that the artists both use red fabric in a similar manner.
  • How is the mulberry tree different (foliage and fruit)? – madefactaque sanguine radix/
    purpureo tinguit pendentia mora colore (Metamorphoses IV.126-127)
  • The sword in Thisbe’s hand is more directly tied to Pyramus and his empty scabbard. – Quae postquam vestemque suam cognovit et ense/vidit ebur vacuum (Metamorphoses IV.147-148)
  • Particularly note the difference in style: lighting, human form, use of color, etc.
  • Discuss how these differences reflect the genre of art and the time period.
  • HINT:  Pull in an art teacher to either give you guidance in leading the discussion, or integrate lessons by discussing in his/her class, or act as a guest instructor in your Latin class.

 

 

The story of Pyramus and Thisbe is included in the Latin Alive Reader: Latin Literature from Cicero to Newton.

In the next post titled “Poetic Art Assignment” I share a student assignment related to interpreting poetry through art using this same story.

AP Latin Tip:

For a similar art study using Caesar’s work visit the previous post: Romans Under the Yoke – an Art Study for Caesar.

For an art study on Vergil’s Aeneid visit the posts:

Low Ham Mosaic

Art-Literature Analysis: Student Assignment