Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Latin Institute - DAY 28

Day 28 was Thursday, July 19, 2012.

We continued pushing through Cicero's First Oration Against Catiline in the morning. Over lunch we reviewed dependent clauses with verbs in the subjunctive. After lunch we did some prose composition. Later in the afternoon we read some Livy.

The big event of the day, however, was not Cicero, or Livy, or any Latin language or literature at all. The big event of the day was the Hoplite Challenge Cup, an annual verb morphology bee in the Summer Greek Institute, our neighbors down the hall. Greek students (mathetai) faced off against Greek faculty (didaskaloi Hardy Hansen, Bill Pagonis, and Aramis Lopez) in a series of one-on-one match-ups.

In each round, the student calls the verb and the form, and the faculty member has 20 seconds to generate the correct verb form on the blackboard. If the didaskalos gets the form wrong, the round is over and the mathetes earns a point for his/her team. If the teacher gets the form right, he announces two changes (choosing among person, number, tense, mood, and voice), and hands the challenge back to the student, who has 30 seconds to generate the correct form on the blackboard. Play goes back and forth for up to three turns per set until either a student or a teacher gets the form wrong. Sets continue for a full hour. There is a time keeper and a judge—vital roles this year performed by the Latin program's own Aaron Shapiro and Patrick Gaulthier respectively. I served the novel role of videographer.

Teachers trounced students by a score I will not commit to print, but a good time was had by all: it is a great honor and privilege for a Graecus (Greek student) even to step up to the Hoplite Challenge Cup blackboard with chalk in hand and face off against the likes of Hardy, Bill, and Aramis. It's not winning or losing, it's playing the game that counts. For Greeks at least. If there were a similar contest in the Latin program, I think the loser might have to lie down in the middle of the room and submit to being run through with a sword by the winner, à la Turnus and Aeneas in the final lines of Vergil's Aeneid.

Here's some video of a round in which student Daniela Bartalini goes up against against faculty member Bill Pagonis. The student chooses the verb timaō (to honor). Apologies for the narrow image—this was taken with my iPhone. But I hope it gives you a feel for the excitement of the event.

Does all of this sound too good to be true? Tell your friends. Tell your students. Just think—You could be doing this next summer!

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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