Today’s feature article is brought to you by Ruth Breindel.
I teach Caesar’s Gallic Wars in both my second year and AP/Latin 4 classes. Personally, I love teaching Caesar – the prose is quite straightforward, the action can be intense, and there are many things one can bring up in class about Caesar as an anthropologist, general and diplomat. As I often tell my students, “Caesar alone was more intelligent than all of us put together.”
There are 3 videos which I use with the classes – 2 for Latin 2 and one for the AP. Here is where to find them and how to use them!
Veni Vidi Vici
This video is a humorous look at a little Roman who wants to be a soldier. He has to go up against the strong, burly soldiers, but with intellect, vicit. It lasts 3 ½ minutes, and is perfect to show at the end of a class when you have about 5 minutes left.
Caesar vs. the Helvetians
This is a film of my students’ reenactment of the battle in chapters 24-28 or so of Book 1 of the Gallic War. We have small soldiers, carts, horses and a long corridor to use. John decided to film it, and then we collaborated with putting music in and the words. It’s quite eye-catching, and might inspire your students, too. Every year my students reenact this – it’s a crowd pleaser, and other students will come to see what’s going on; nothing like publicity!
Ambiorix and the Romans
This is a much darker film, which I show to the AP/Latin 4 class after we read Book 5 of the Gallic Wars. It lasts about 2 ½ minutes. As a reenactment it is extremely effective, and the scenes of battle, while violent, are done quite carefully. It gives the students a good sense of the confusion of battle and the ominous nature of being a conquering army going through the woods. This can lead to excellent discussions:
- The Romans are the conquerors – on whose side do you stand?
- How do the Belgae compare with the Americans during the Revolutionary War?
- How do the Belgae compare with the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War?
I find that videos, used sparingly, have a great impact on students. They certainly remember what they see and hear, when presented in an emotional context.