Yearly Archives: 2015

Grammar, Garum, and Germanic Tribes: Links 17 Dec.

Here are some of the interesting stories, articles, and miscellany we found interesting this week.

  • Phuc Tran, who studied Classics at UMASS, gives an excellent Ted Talk on identity, thought, and grammatical mood.
  • Garum discovered off the coast of Italy?
  • A site where Caesar wiped out two Germanic tribes, the Tencteri and the Usipetes, may have been found in the Netherlands.  Read the story in de bello Gallico, liber quartus.
  • Horace’s birthday was Dec. 8th, and to celebrate Tyrtarion has recorded a lovely version of Horace Ode 1.11.
  • A discussion from the blog of the Classics Department at the University of Glasgow about a rediscovered adagia manuscript.

Lights, Camera, Action! Making and Using Movies in your Classroom

In this age of Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, it’s wondrously easy for both us and our students to make short films as projects in our classes.  Editing software is often cheap, even free, and anyone who has a smartphone or tablet can capture video footage.  Students are excited about movies – adults are too (did you see how many advance tickets Star Wars: The Force Awakens sold before it’s premiere?).  So the question naturally becomes how to harness this tool and enthusiasm in a useful way in your classes.
Below I present some ideas I’ve used myself or seen used by others.

  1. Myth Movies – mythology is a core part of almost any Classics teacher’s curriculum, and what more fun way for students to connect with myth than to recreate a favorite myth with bad costumes, bad acting, and cheesy special effects?  When I first started this many years ago, I’d let students get into groups and film their adaptation of their favorite myth.  Most turned out OK, a few abysmally bad, and some have been brilliant for one reason or another.  One idea that has been very popular is a vote for Best in Show, in which laurels and extra credit are given to the movie with the most votes.  Sometimes I let a second class decide the winner (helping create a culture of continuity and expectation through the levels), and sometimes I also give a Best Reason Award and ask every student in the class to explain what part of the adaptation they liked best about their favorite film.  But after awhile seeing mostly the same myths picked year after year led me to the idea I tried last year…
  2. Myth Mash Up! – In this idea we test myth’s power of symbolism, trope/stereotype, and theme to tell us interesting things about the human condition.  Students divide up into groups and then pick a random genre, two characters, and a place that they must turn into the trailer for a movie or TV show.  Last year I filled the character and place bags with the usual suspects (Jupiter, Pan, Achilles, Medusa, Mt. Olympus, a sacred grove, the wine-dark sea, etc.) and in the genre category I had Medical Drama, Cop Show, Horror, Romance, Sitcom, Talk Show, Documentary, and Comedy.  The movies were some of the most creative I’d seen in years, and since I also asked each group to explain the motifs, stereotypes, and so on of their movie before they presented it, the groups really thought about how to use the attributes of their places and people to work within the genre they were assigned.
  3. If you’ve got a good crew of upper level Latin students who can speak at the intermediate level, you can use them to make videos that your Latin 1 students can watch and get some comprehensible input from.  I haven’t made good use of this yet, but it’s in my wheelhouse for this year or next.
  4. Our school has a school-wide Language Fair and the upper level students in all languages create videos for their peers in the other languages to enjoy.  This can be a great way to showcase student talent and maybe even get a few people to double-up in Latin next year!  Last year my students did Myth-o-Mercials – Medea sold love potions, Pandora promoted boxes, and so on.
  5. There are short videos on YouTube presenting funny situations without using any words.  Here are some examples – Wildebeest from BirdBox Studio, Dinner also from BirdBox Studio, or Snow Cat from Simon’s Cat.  While I was at Rusticatio last year, we were shown two such shorts with many stops in order to not only describe what was going on but also to wonder about what might happen next.  There’s lots of opportunity for fun discussion and comprehensible input here while everyone practices their language skills.  This is best probably in an upper level Latin class where students have some command of basic vocabulary and can speak at the sentence or paragraph level.

How do you use videos and movies in your classes?  We’d love to know!  Add your ideas to the comment section of this post.

Announcements 13 Dec.


  • The Emporium Romanum has lots of great things for any occasion!
  • Know a great teacher who’s got wit, enthusiasm, optimism, and loyalty?  Then nominate that person for CANE’s Matthew I. Weincke Award.  Nominations are due by December 31st.
  • CANE has a number of scholarships and awards for study abroad open to both current teachers and undergraduate students of the Classics.  The deadline for many of these is January 15th or February 1st.  For a complete list of funding, awards and scholarships, see our page here.


  • Fabulous offerings from ASCANIUS Youth Classics Institute, including opportunities to volunteer.
  • Registration for SALVI’s Rusticationes Tirorum, Veteranorum, and their Pedagogy Seminar is now open for July 2016.  For more information, or to find out how to apply for the Amy High Fellowship, point your browser at
  • The Boston Area Classics Calendar has a lot going on, and a weekly email digest of upcoming events.
  • If you live in the western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, or southern Vermont area you may be interested in Amherst College’s list of upcoming and past lectures in the Pioneer Valley area.
  • The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is offering the M. Alison Frantz Fellowship to Ph.D. candidates and recent Ph.D. grads. Click here for more details. Deadline is January 15.
  • The College of the Holy Cross is offering a full tuition scholarship to members of the class of 2020 who wish to major in the Classics – please let interested students know! The deadline is January 15, 2016. See here for more details.
  • The Annual Harry de Forest Smith Scholarship Exam in Greek:
    • For students of Greek, Amherst College offers a freshman scholarship to be awarded on the basis of a competitive examination taken in their senior year of high school. The next examination is scheduled for Friday, February 12, 2016, in each school in which there is one or more candidate(s) for the scholarship. Announcement of the award will be made when the successful competitor is notified of admission to Amherst College, on or about April 1. In order to qualify the competitor must have made application for admission to Amherst College. (The deadline for regular applications to Amherst College is January 1, 2016.) The holder of the scholarship will be required to take one of the regular courses in the Department of Greek during the freshman year at Amherst.For more information contact:


  • The Pioneer Valley Classics Day is being held January 15th from 9-2 p.m. at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.  There will be workshops, art contests, oral interpretations, certamina, museum visits, and a play produced by Amherst Middle School Latin students.  Please contact Bruce Arnold for details and registration packets.
  • The Paideia Institute is hosting a Living Latin in New York City event February 13-14, 2016.  Early-bird registration is due by January 1st.  See their website for additional programs and events!


  • Live in western MA or northern CT and want to practice speaking in Latin? There is a large group that meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in Hadley, MA! For details, contact TJ Howell.
  • In the Boston area? Check out the Active Latin Meetup page for events.