Dowling’s Wheel: A webapp

My thanks to Jonathan Aquino for this piece on the Dowling Method.

“Professor William C. Dowling has a great webpage called Latin by the Dowling Method which explains his unorthodox technique for learning Latin. In a nutshell:

  1. Learn a few simple concepts about Latin grammar, documented on his webpage (1 hour).
  2. Memorize six of the tables at the back of Wheelock’s Latin (6 months).
  3. Work through Lingua Latina, a wonderful workbook on Latin written in Latin (18 months).

Today I created a webapp to help with the second goal: memorizing the six Wheelock tables. Instead of writing out the tables by hand, you type them into the webapp. It highlights correct and incorrect words in green and red.

If you’ve ever felt the urge to learn to read Latin fluently, definitely check it out.”

Well, I did try it out but failed miserably at first base. Wheelock’s tables are clearly at variance with Paterson and McNaughton’s!

Roman antiquities

From Canadian Libraries, to read online or download as a PDF file. Let me know how you get on.

Roman antiquities; or, An account of the manners and customs of the Romans, designed chiefly to illustrated the Latin classics; 5th Ed. (1801) by Alexander Adam 1741-1809



Thursday 22nd –Sunday 25th July 2010

The Ridge, Ranmoor Village,  Sheffield University 


  • Focus on hands-on approach to set texts, Ancient History, grammar.
  • Experienced teachers deliver practical, pedagogical seminars on teaching Classics at every level.
  • AS & A2 Latin and Greek texts (Cicero, Tacitus, Hippolytus)
  • GCSE Latin  (new specification GCSE – verse and prose)
  • GCSE Classical Civilisation (life in Athens and Rome)
  • IB Latin set texts (Horace and Catullus)
  • Source materials for Classical Civilisation topics (Greek Tragedy and Virgil)
  • Advanced Latin Grammar refresher course
  • Greek & Latin pronunciation
  • Brush up your Latin
  • The Communicative Approach to Teaching Latin
  • The Cambridge Latin Course (Books II and IV)
  • Junior & Prep School Latin
  • Classroom games

 Tuition can be arranged for teachers who would like help with basic translation of set texts.  Please ask for more information.

SPEAKERS include

Steven Green, Leeds University

Peter Heslin, Durham University

Peter Jones, author and classical campaigner

Clare Kelly-Blazeby, Leeds University

Robin Osborne, King’s College, Cambridge

Costas Panayiotakis, Glasgow University

Robert Patrick, USA specialist on the communicative approach

Jeremy Patterson, Newcastle University

Lorna Robinson, Iris Project

Kathryn Tempest, Roehampton University

David West, Newcastle University


Thursday 22nd July (arrival after 4pm – drinks 6:30 – dinner 7:00pm)

8pm: Robin Osborne on Empire

Friday 23rd July

Robin Osborne – Ancient History seminar: The Athenian Empire

Peter Jones: Aeneid I

Peter Heslin: Virgil and Pompeian frescoes

Robert Patrick on The Communicative Approach

Costas Panayiotakis on Roman Comedy

Option Groups

Saturday 24th July

David West on Horace

Jeremy Patterson: Tacitus on the Nature of Power

Clare Kelly-Blazeby on Greek Symposia

Steven Green on Roman Religion

Hellenic Bookservice – all day

Option Groups

 Classical Quiz

 Sunday 25th July

Lorna Robinson on the Iris Project

Kathryn Tempest on Cicero

 Option groups

Departure: 14:30 approx.

 Any additions or unavoidable changes to the programme will be posted at

  Further information from the Director:  Dr Tasos Aidonis, Fettes College, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, EH4 1QX. or the ARLT website


Roman videos

It has never been easier to lay hands on a piece of video to illustrate a point,  to lift the tedium of a dry history or grammar lesson, or simply to reward hardworking kids and give yourself a break at the same time. I imagine finding the time to trawl the internet and collecting in one place the best of media of classical interest, a one-stop shop for hard-pressed classroom teachers.

Well, here’s something to be going on with, but you will see that it still needs some trawling……..

Latrinae et Foricae: Toilets in the Roman World

by Barry Hobson: A very interesting and informative book that, to our inexpert eyes, is well thought out and executed. It will be of interest to both students of Roman Archaeology and those looking away from the monumental and heroic and more towards the daily life of the ordinary people.

The author is a Medical Doctor and ….. …… can you resist a book with chapters on, inter alia:

  • Chronology of toilets,
  • Upstairs toilets,
  • Dirt, smell and culture, and
  • Motions Maladies and Medicine

I thought not! The full review is here

Laid bare: the sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory

An Athens exhibition looks unflinchingly at classical perceptions of love and lust 

 From The Guardian: Wednesday 9 December 2009 22.29 GMT

by Lauren Goodchild

A marble statuette of a sleeping Eros and a lion next to him on display at the Cycladic Art museum in Athens.
A marble statuette of a sleeping Eros and a lion next to him The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust – and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why.
Eros, the god of love and the great loosener of limbs, was many things: irresistible, tender, beautiful, excruciating, maddening, merciless and bittersweet. There was no position, no touch, no predilection too outre to pay homage to him. From the affectionate embrace to group sex, love came in many forms.
“The Greeks were anything but prudes,” said Nicholaos Stampolidis, director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, where the show will run for six months. “Theirs was a society of great tolerance and lack of guilt.” Standing before a giant marble phallus that once graced the facade of an ancient Greek home, he added: “It had what I call balance.”                                                                     
read the rest of the article             Photograph: Yiorgos Karahalis/Reuters      

A Museum Hails Caesar

 I read this article with some nostalgia. I had the great good  fortune to be posted to Arles and  spent the academic year of 1970-71 working as an English language assistant at a CES in Arles. I had lodgings within sight of the Rhone and walked along it to reach school each morning. If you have never been to Arles, go.

A Museum Hails Caesar, Even if Some Antiquarians Don’t Agree

Arles Journal
Published: November 29, 2009
ARLES, France — Dredged up from the murky depths of the Rhône River, beneath a heap of wrecked cars, rotting tires and more than 20 centuries of silt, the statue’s white marble visage was plain as day.

A Roman bust, center, on display at a museum at Arles, France. It is thought to be the only surviving statue of Julius Caesar that was carved during his lifetime.

Arles, on the Rhône River, was founded by the Romans.

“My God, it’s Caesar!” Luc Long remembers shouting after his team of archaeologists and divers discovered the statue in 2007.The Roman appears with little hair, a wrinkled forehead, a prominent Adam’s apple and features that, for Mr. Long, “seem carved in human flesh.” But Mr. Long did not realize at the time that he had discovered what he said was “the first portrait made of Caesar when he was alive.” The bust, which France’s Culture Ministry now dates from 46 B.C., is thought to be the only known surviving statue of Julius Caesar carved during his lifetime.

Historians say images of a contemporaneous Caesar are rare — they are generally idealized versions, produced after his assassination two years later, in 44 B.C. — so the sudden news of the bust’s emergence led some of them to question its authenticity.

Christian Goudineau, a French historian who lectures on Julius Caesar at the prestigious Collège de France in Paris, was caught off guard when Mr. Long told him of the discovery. “I was bewildered,” he recalled.

Some colleagues, he said, have suggested that the Caesar found in the Rhône does not resemble the Caesar usually shown, and that the statue might more likely portray a noble from Arles, a city founded by the Romans. One skeptic, Mary Beard, a classics professor at Cambridge, pointed out in her blog for Times Online, affiliated with The Times of London: “This style of portraiture lasted for centuries at Rome. There is nothing at all to suggest that it came from 49-46 B.C.”

After more than two years of restoration and identification, the bust now sits on a white platform in a museum, part of a collection of some 700 items found in the Rhône over the last 20 years that was inaugurated last month at the Musée Départmental de l’Arles Antique. Le Monde described the exhibit, called “Caesar: The Rhône as Memory,” as “one of the most clever and beautiful exhibits of the last 30 years.”

The display includes a rare third-century, six-foot-tall marble carving of the god Neptune; an undated bas-relief of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, covered with gold leaf; and a bronze of a captured barbarian with his hands tied behind his back, presumably awaiting his fate.

The bust is thought to have been carved to honor Caesar as a patron of Arles, a city he used as a base for his campaign against his rival, Pompey, for leadership of the Roman Empire.

Mr. Goudineau said that he thought the bust showed the same face as that of the Caesar on Roman coins; he dismissed the arguments presented by those who questioned the bust’s depiction. “Which noble from Arles would order a bust of himself made in the best, the most expensive and rare marble, and ship it by boat?” he asked.

Mr. Long wrote a 20-page essay on the bust’s origins for the exhibition’s catalog. And he has brought international experts to Arles to study his discovery.

For Claude Sintes, the director of the Arles museum, Mr. Long’s findings could fundamentally shift historians’ understanding of the importance of Arles, “an intensively Romanized port where the Romans wanted to spread their power,” he said.

The sculpture of Nike, which has its original varnish and gold covering, decorated a government building, while the bronze sculpture of the barbarian is said to be part of an imperial statue.

“We might discover that Arles was much more extensive than we thought and more economically powerful than we could have imagined,” Mr. Sintes said, adding that it was too early to draw further conclusions.

Mr. Goudineau, the historian, said, “Arles was twice bigger than what we thought.”

Like many of his colleagues, he said he believed that the discoveries brought to light the Roman past of a neighborhood of Arles called Trinquetaille on the right bank of the Rhône.

“I was convinced that there was something on the other side of the river,” he added, citing Ausonius, a Latin poet from the fourth century A.D. who referred to Arles as “the double Arles.”

For an experienced archaeologist and scuba diver like Mr. Long, who grew up in Arles, the Rhône is an unexpected treasure-trove.

“I worked in Libya, Malta and Gabon,” he said in an interview. “But the exceptional discoveries — I made them just outside my window.”

The Rhône is “a gloomy world,” he said. “It offers no visibility, a strong current, a lot of pollution, a constant flow of boats and regular attacks from brown bullheads,” fish commonly called mud pouts. The filthy water has been known to cause a variety of infections and ailments, including ear inflammation.

But Mr. Long also believes that the Rhône has a secret power. “It preserves wood, limestone and marble better than any sea,” he said. The river also has “none of the abrasiveness of sea sand, and the current always runs in the same direction.”

In 1986, he dived with a friend who took him down 30 feet, to a spot rich with artifacts. For 20 years, joined by a crew of 20 art history students and professional divers, he dived several times a day, recovering hundreds of Roman vases and amphorae. He thought there would be no other treasures to explore.

But in fall 2007 came the “miracle finding,” he said, the discovery of the bust and the Neptune.

Mr. Sintes, the museum director, is convinced that the Rhône will continue to offer up marvels. “If the next discovery is Cleopatra,” he said, smiling, “we will have to extend the museum.”

from Bozo sapiens, one for the A level candidates studying Cicero this year

Cicero: Legality 

The Latin word “Cicero,” as every schoolboy knows, means “chickpea” – an insulting nickname based possibly on the shape of the family nose. Cicero was a swot from the earliest age, motivated both by a desire to excel and by a slight but rankling sense of social inferiority. Though his family was rich, it was not… precisely Roman, but Latin, from the surrounding countryside. Thus the young Cicero was apt to be treated the way Etonians treat grammar-school boys or New Yorkers treat midwesterners: “just as if he were one of us” – which is not like one of us at all.
Still, his keen brain and relentless ambition opened up for him the path to greatness: the cursus honorum by which any citizen could rise from minor office to the heights of senatorial and consular power. All agreed that his knowledge of Roman law was matched only by his command of rhetoric – and in both he had no equal. Legal battle was a spectator sport in Rome: every politician seeking glory had not only to win a victory against the barbarians, but also to conduct a successful defense and prosecution.  These performances took place in the open forum, before an audience as passionately expert in legal spectacle as its descendants are in opera or soccer: once, when Cicero finished an oration with the quick flick-flack of a double trochee, the whole court erupted in wild cheering.

He had no fondness for military life, but was not afraid to use aggressively those weapons he possessed. His first major speech was a direct challenge to the favorites of Rome’s current dictator, Sulla. Cicero hated dictatorship and felt a fierce loyalty to a republic that had not only established such an excellent legal system, “of universal application, unchanging and everlasting,” but had given a provincial like himself the rostrum from which to prove his superiority.  He was grateful – and, as he said, “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” read the rest of this article

Latin and Greek speaking in York

 A new Latin and Ancient Greek speaking Circle – “Circulus Latinus
 Graecusque Eboracensis” – has recently been set up for Yorkshire, in
 order to promote the enjoyment of Latin and Ancient Greek as living
 languages within the Yorkshire region. This is a new undertaking and
 we would like to encourage as many people as possible, of all ages, to
 join and help us! More information and contact details can be found at

launch a superliner

Carnival UK contacted me concerning the launch of their latest superliner, Azura. I thought it might be to crack the bottle over the bows or to road test their superior cabins. Something much better than that.

“We are looking for a Latin expert who could provide us with a translation of a motto that is required for the ship’s plaque.”

If you are interested, contact Katy Renwick at katy.renwick(at)

And let me know if they still need someone to launch the ship.