Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Summer wanes. Today I imagine that it is gone already. The weather here is cool, breezy. Our windows are open. Our central air disengaged. We lack only the taste of autumn: the minute chill carried on the drifting breeze, or the stray leaf, red or golden, signaling an end to the earth's fecundity. Persephone goes to Hades soon. Demeter mourns. But I get ahead of myself. Summer is resilient here. It is a season not easily dismissed. It has, in the past, lingered successfully into October, forcing a terribly abbreviated autumn that became winter far, far too quickly. Summer may do so again. Knowing this, I breathe deeply the dry, cool air. I exult in my open windows. I watch the thermometer with childish glee: 74° and dropping.

I taught an Intensive Latin course this summer. We used Moreland and Fleischer's honestly, if prosaically, named book-- Latin: An Intensive Course. It gets the job done. And, dear readers, the job is grueling. The equivalent of a year's worth of Latin vocabulary and grammar crammed into four five-day weeks in August. I've been instructor for this course twice now. If I do it again, I'll be making some adjustments. While I intend to follow the book structurally, I think I'll spend more time before class begins compiling a chapter by chapter workbook with a variety of exercises. Moreland and Fleischer's drills are wholly insufficient, and their sentences leave a lot to be desired. I'll keep their adapted Latin, and maybe, if I'm feeling particularly ambitious, I'll adapt some of my own. I'd like to see more Livy on the prose side of things, and more Catullus and Horace on the poetry. I adore Cicero and Martial, the two most common choices of the textbook, but exposing students to a broader collection of Latin authors is key.

Now, however, my attention must turn toward children and their childhoods. My fall course concerns the lives of children in antiquity. I've been building this class piece by piece. A few harsh reviews, an unfortunate showing at my first conference, and the encouragement of my wife and closest colleagues have solidified my intentions and goals. Class begins tomorrow. I am ready. I have made the final arrangements. I even know, finally, where I'll be teaching. All that remains to be done is a large amount of photocopying. Oh, afternoon classes, thank you for giving us long mornings.

September is here, miloves.

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
             William Wordsworth, September

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