Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Latin Institute - DAY 23

Day 23 was yesterday, July 12, 2012.

Our students surprised us, flying through their Caesar faster than we expected, getting through the passage planned for afternoon sight during morning drill!

It's amazing to watch not only their skills develop, but their enthusiasm heighten, and their insight become more penetrating. The structure and function of Latin is making more and more sense to them every day. Caesar and his strange pluperfect indicatives (and this happened prior to...what?), his relentless near and far demonstrative pronouns (these men, those men...which men is that, now?), his frequent ellipsis of the preposition "in" with ablatives of place, and so on.

Students were also surprised to find the content become more interesting and the narrative more exciting than it may at first have seemed, as they began reading about the Gauls' religious practices of human sacrifice, including the wicker men, large wicker statues filled with people who were burned alive (inspiring a 1973 cult classic British horror film and a schlocky 2006 remake with Nicolas Cage and Ellen Burstyn).

We were privileged to have a visit by Brooklyn College classics professor John Van Sickle, who not only observed our classes in action, but took a place at the seminar table for a few minutes to kibbitz with us, in his inimitable way, adding his own syntax questions to my own, listening to our students' responses with interest and engagement, and sharing with us his endless well of knowledge about etymology ("Druid" comes from "dru-," "tree" plus "wid-," "to know" [cf. Latin verbs like videĊ and English words like "wit"], therefore meaning "tree knowers"and related to the English word "witch").

Class ended a bit early, giving students perhaps an hour or two to relax before studying in earnest for their midterm exam on Friday. 

More soon... 

Note: The opinions expressed in this blog entry are those of the blogger, and do not represent the opinions of the CUNY Latin/Greek Institute, its students, faculty, or administration.

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