Conventus Aestivi–including one across the pond   Recently updated !

As the solstitial optimi dierum draw nigh and most of us have a brief while to catch our breath and spend time with family and friends, it’s time to think about a summer workshop or study program. For those of us interested in Active Latin workshops, it’s a banner year!

For teachers, college instructors, graduate and undergraduate students we have, in no particular order:

•The various programs of the Accademia Vivarium Novum;

•the SALVI Rusticationes at the Claymount Mansion in Charles Town, WV;

•the Septimanae Latinae Europaeae (two locations);

•the Conventiculum Viterbiense in Italy;

•the Conventiculum Lexingtoniense, to be followed immediately by the

Conventus ALF (Academia Latinitati Fovendae), which is being held in the US for the first time;

•the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense; and

•the Conventiculum Bostoniense.

Specifically for our students on the high school level, there are:

•SALVI’s  Academia Aestiva Latina at the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA; and

•Paideia’s high school programs in Italy and Greece.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I hope CANE members will take a moment to point out any egregious omissions. I’d also like to draw your attention to one interesting and friendly group in Europe that is not well known here, the Seminarium LVPAnum Aestivum, which I was fortunate to attend in 2014, when it was held August 11-17 in Poznań, Poland, at Adam Mickiewicz University.

LVPA, the Latinitati Vivae Provehendae Associatio, is technically a German nonprofit. But its active membership hails from a wide area of central Europe. In 2014 30 participants came to Poznań from the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Iceland, and Slovenia as well as from Poland and Germany. Sessions consisted of scholae on particular authors, modeling of classroom exercises, recitations of original poetry, performances of plays and music, and conventional academic papers, all delivered in Latin.

The unus sermo, voces multae problem was larger than I anticipated. The majority of participants used the restored pronunciation of Latin, including the Italians. A number of the Germans, however, used a traditional German pronunciation that I found really opaque, wherein the diphthongs are pronounced as in German: Theseus, for example, comes out /Te:ZOIS/ The Q and A after the paper I gave became something of a personal nightmare because of this.

On the brighter side, original poetry, songs and plays are much more prominent than at any North American conventiculum I have heard of. I participated in a 20-minute play about the Athenian youth sent to Minos in Crete written in lovely septenarii. And my wife Nancy, a very modest Latinist but accomplished singer, made her Polish stage debut in a  delightful operatic scene about Aeneas’ early days in Italy (Nancy sang the goddess Flora–fully clothed, I might add). These dramatic works are written well in advance by talented people who really enjoy creative writing in Latin.

And several truly marvelous Latin speakers attend, many of whom are quite young. Cäcilie (Caecilia) Koch, from Münster, Germany; and Paolo Pezzuolo, from Valdagno, Italy, are two who speak astonishingly correct and natural Latin. I must also mention Inga Pessarra-Grimm, from Kamen, Germany, the founder of LVPA; and my college friend Mikolaj Szymanski, from Warsaw, Poland, who is as sui generis a fellow as one might ever find.

Here is as good a place as any to mention that one must be prepared for the European approach to error, or perceived error, correction, which is rather more forward than American practice. And, outside of the sessions, people are very relaxed about what language you speak. This was a godsend in my case, since my wife knows little Latin. Many reached out to her to make her feel welcome.

The total cost of the week-long seminar, hotel room for two for six nights, 17 meals over 7 days, and a day-long excursion to the oldest archeological sights in Poland, was 265 Euros per person or $336 at the time. This rivals the low cost of the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense at $300. Of course, one has to _get_ to central Europe. But Polish cities are only a few hours by express train from Berlin.

Martinus Loch, who is on Facebook, is probably the best person to check in with about LVPA’s summer plans. Nota bene: Martinus prefers to correspond in Latin.

Quid Agitur? (December 4th)

CANE Happenings

•The deadline for nominating the recipient of the Wiencke Award is December 31.

Greater New England* Happenings

•The Perseus Project is having a workshop January 4-5 in Toronto. This two-day workshop aims to present some of the work currently being done in digital pedagogy for classical studies. As the field of classical studies continues to evolve, technology is playing an even larger role both in educating a new generation of scholars and in opening new approaches to data-driven humanities research.The workshop will include hands-on seminars on how to use the tools available via Perseids, in particular the Alpheios Translation Alignment editor and the Arethusa Treebank editor. Treebanking (morpho-syntactic diagramming) allows a user to identify all the dependency relationships in a sentence as well as the morphology of each word. Translation alignments allow a user to identify corresponding words between an original text and its translation. With both methods, the resulting data is automatically compiled in an xml file which can be further queried for research.Participants should plan on attending all sessions of the two day workshop, from 9AM-5PM on January 4th and 5th. Participation is open to college professors, high school teachers, and graduate students.Participants should bring laptop computers. Since we will be working in Latin and Greek, participants should have a basic knowledge of either language. Wifi will be provided as well as coffee breaks and lunch. Participation is free, but seats are limited to 40.  See this link for more details and to register.

•Every year, the Henry Bean, S. J., Classics Scholarships are awarded to two incoming Classics majors at the College of the Holy Cross.  More information on these full-tuition scholarships can be found here!  The deadline for applications is January 15.

*Sensu latissimo.

Beyond God of War: Latin and Ancient Rome in Video Games

Latin puns: Fun for the whole familia

Latin puns: Fun for the whole familia

For me, one of the funniest moments of every year is when my beginning Latin students learn the word ubi. When I was a kid, this is when we first learned the faux-Latin phrase semper ubi sub ubi. Nowadays, it’s when my students realize that the name of the French video game developer Ubisoft, which publishes some of the most successful gaming franchises in history (Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell), is a Latin pun on the word “software.”

While teachers are usually happy to embrace films (GladiatorBen-HurThe Eagle, etc.) as an entertaining way to engage their students with ancient history, video games are still slow going. As a lifelong gamer, I find that disappointing. To that end I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite games to show, talk about, and (on those rare occasions when we have a free class day) play with my students. I’ve selected games that are rated Teen or below and have some meaningful educational value to them, so you don’t need to worry about things getting absurdly violent – or worse, sacrificing historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.

Civilization VI

The Civilization Series are strategy games in which you play as the leader of a civilization of your choice. Players attempt to conquer the world through a combination of warfare, cultural influence, and technological superiority. Everything – names, building types, military units – is based on historical fact, and is a wonderful opportunity to spark students’ curiosity.

The two most recent entries, Civilization V and Civilization VI, are the only games I am aware of that contain spoken Classical Latin, courtesy of Augustus (in Civ 5) and Trajan (Civ 6).

Rome II: Total War

Known for its massive real-time battles, Rome II: Total War is for the military enthusiasts among your students. Players have the option to replay historical military engagements (how would you have fared against Hannibal at Cannae, or in the Teutoburg Forest?) or create their own with a wide variety of military units, from hastati to ballistae to war elephants. While the graphics are a bit dated now, these games give a sense of the sheer scale of ancient battles.

An expansion pack, Caesar in Gaul, could be fun during the post-AP exam doldrums.

Europe Universalis: Rome

Your more diplomatic and detail-oriented students might enjoy Europa Universalis: Rome. A so-called “grand strategy game,” you are plopped into the Roman Republic in 280 BCE, given control of one of 53 separate factions (you can control Rome, obviously, but how might you handle being in charge of Numidia? Colchis? Bithynia?) and maneuver your way to the top through bribery, diplomacy, compromise, assassinations, strategic marriage, and warfare.

EU: Rome is far and away the most challenging of these games and isn’t for everyone, but it gives players a good idea of the complexity of politics and diplomacy in the ancient world and is worth, in my opinion, the considerable time investment.

Minecraft in Latin

And finally, simply for the possibilities, is good old Minecraft. Over the years I’ve had a number of students who’ve preferred to do architecture projects in the game, which has led to some beautiful creations I still have on my hard drive.

There are also a wide variety of user generated Minecraft creations available on YouTube, which always captivate my students as a sort of “guided tour.” You can look at all kinds of baths and villas, of course, but what about a full-size recreation of the Colosseum?

For additional fun and challenge, the default language can be set to Latin.

Happy gaming!