A chatroom in Latin, and a couple of YouTube items worth seeing

John Whelpton, whose list of Classical websites I mentioned recently, has sent me another interesting email, part of which I pass on:

There are a couple of things that might be worth looking at if you don't already know about them.

– The list already mentions the Circulus Latinus Panormitanus site but I didn't realise until recently that it had a unique feature – the Locutorium (chatroom), which lets you hold something approaching a real conversation with other users rather than simply exchanging correspondence in a forum. There's a write-up on the site in one of the case studies on Julian Morgan's Circe site. The bulk of the 260 registered members are in Europe with the core Sicilian ones regularly on-line at 10 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. I haven't myself joined in then (it corresponds to 5 a.m. here in H.K.!) but I do sometimes find others in the Locutorium at 11p.m – midnight here (late afternoon in Europe). In one session there were four of us, including a Russian based in Kazakhstan. I attach screenshots of my first `conversation' – with an Italian-American. Things seem disjointed in places because you often can't type a reply before the other person has sent something else to you.

The Latin produced is distinctly dodgy as under pressure of time you often choose the wrong word (I've got `interdiu' where I meant `interdum', for example) as well as going wrong grammatically. However, it's easy to produce the screenshots with the Print Scr key and paste them into a Word document and you can then, if you like, use the transcript to find and correct the language errors . I think it might prove a popular activity with school students who've reached a level where they can produce simple sentences – unfortunately I can't yet test that theory here as my students tend to do just 8-12 hours of Latin to see what it's like rather than study long-term..

– I originally described the speakers on the clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIVgpKGUavI just as `members of a Living Latin society'. They are in fact two of key figures in the movement – Terence Tunberg of the University of Kentucky and Caelestis Eichenseer, whose Latin obituaries I've just read thanks to the links on your blog (I'd previously just seen a few lines about his death on Nuntii Latini).

– there are several other Youtube Latin clips now available but the most fun is probably last year's Harvard oration comparing the university to Star Wars – `John Harvard – Eques Iedianus' at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47u6IJ2GVdM

[I think I mentioned this some time ago – but it's still worth watching – D.P.]

Podcasts already on line on GCSE Latin set texts

Podcasts by Clive Madel of Camden School for Girls are available here.

There's something wrong with my computer sound card, and I haven't been able to hear these for myself. I am sure you will be able to listen and enjoy.

Thanks to Clive for making these generally available.

A rather British review of an American book: Are We Rome?

A British review of the (renamed) British edition of 'Are We Rome?' appears in the Telegraph.

It is interesting to compare this review with the clutch of American reviews that I read last year.

American reviewers naturally tended to look hard for the lessons that the history of Rome might have for modern America. Noel Malcolm, the Telegraph reviewer, takes a cooler look. He points out that the parallels which the book tried to draw between mercenary armies employed by the later Roman Empire and multinational corporations employed by the White House are not close. In fact he points out other lessons which, he says, the book misses.

And he takes time to list some historical inaccuracies in the book – and to query the word 'civus'.

The review concludes:

While the grand thesis of this book fails to convince, however, there are many incidental pleasures to be had along the way. Murphy is a beguiling writer with a good eye for detail, who has read widely among both ancient writers and modern historians of Rome.

But, for a fastidious author, he makes some surprising mistakes – for example, using 'expostulate' when he means 'expectorate', or putting Bishop Berkeley in the mid-19th century, and attributing to him a quotation that comes in fact from a book published in 1885 by the Revd Dr Josiah Strong.

Charitably, let us assume that the misprint 'Civus Romanus sum' was the typesetter's responsibility, not his. But the fact that such a howler could pass unchallenged all the way through the proof-reading process suggests that the barbarians are indeed within the gates.

Read the whole review.